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Harry felt pain shoot through his temple as his head was shoved roughly into the wall. He heard the picture on the wall shake and hoped it wouldn't fall down, he'd probably be blamed for that as well. He didn't remember what he'd done, his head was too fuzzy... magic, probably something about magic.

The hand left his head and he fell to the floor, lying in a painful heap. He wanted to get up to leave but his limbs felt too heavy. He desperately tried to crawl away but felt a harsh kick to his stomach winding him. He rolled over trying to breathe, willing down his vomit.

He felt several more kicks, most of them around his chest or middle, but occasionally one would get the side of his head. He didn't try to get away. He knew he couldn't, so he just lay there trying not to focus on the pain.

He rolled over so as to not get kicked in the face, the last blow he felt was to the back of his head. That's when he stopped feeling anything. The room was getting darker. Everything was going black. He felt heavy but like he was floating...

Chapter Text

When he woke up there were bright lights. He sat up, the world shifted and spun and he clutched his stomach with one hand feeling like he might be sick, the other went to his head trying to stop the dizziness.

"Lie down." He did nothing, the voice was familiar, he tried to discern where it was coming from. "Tch." He felt himself being pushed down but there was no one around him.

Magic. Who was using magic on him? Where was he?

As the world came more into focus he immediately recognised where he was. He'd been there enough. He was in the hospital wing. But hadn't he just been at the Dursley's?

"Irresponsible. Sending a child there." Madam Pomfrey bustled in pushing a cart carrying a tray of potions. Harry went to sit up again but the magic stopped him. "I've already told you not to sit up yet. You'll just fall back down."

"Why am I here? How did I get here?" Harry asked, unsure if he really wanted to know the answer.

"You almost died." That voice was familiar too, but sounded different from any way Harry had heard it before. It wasn't angry or sneering but was... concerned? No, he must be hearing wrong because of his head.

He looked up to see Snape standing in the doorway, his arms folded over his chest.

"I almost died?" Harry asked. He wasn't too shocked or worried, he had almost died every year of school so far.

"Yes, but we will talk about that in a minute. Has he had the necessary potions yet?" He turned to madam Pomfrey

"I was just about to give them to him."

"I'll wait then. Thank you for summoning me." He nodded to her then went to sit down.

Once Harry had taken all his potions and was able to sit up Snape came back over. He brought a chair with him sitting down.

"We need to talk, and no doubt you have questions but first," He looked back at Madam Pomfrey making sure she couldn't hear. "I have to apologise." Harry's eyes widened, Snape was apologising and to him no less. "You don't have to look so shocked, I have apologised to people before you know."

"Sorry sir, I just didn't think you'd ever apologise to me."

"Neither did I. But I was wrong, the way I have treated you for the past five years was wrong and I honestly don't have a defence for it. You are not your father, you didn't even know the man, I should have realised that. I shouldn't have taken out my frustrations on you, I am no better than the man who put you here today, but I'm sorry and I really won't do it again. I am aware you probably don't believe me or think I have some ulterior motive, and that you have no reason to believe me when I say I won't do it again but that's okay I don't expect you too. I just wanted you to know that I'm sorry, it's up to you and your judgement whether you accept it or not."

"It's okay sir, I believe you." It would be hard not to having heard how sincere the man was. Snape actually smiled, though he schooled his features almost immediately going back to his usual stoic demeanour.

"Now, you probably have questions."

"Yes sir. Why am I here? How did I get here? What happened? Wasn't I at the Dursley's? Were we attacked? Do you know where my wand is? How long was I out for?" Harry asked everything that had been in his mind in one big rush. He felt light-headed but much better now he'd got them all out.

"Your wand is here." Snape pulled it out of his robe pocket. "You didn't have it on you when we first brought you here so I went back to get it."

"Thank you sir." Harry took his wand, feeling a lot safer.

"You were at the Dursleys. What do you remember?"

Harry shrugged. "Not much. I think I had threatened Dudley with magic or maybe burnt some eggs?" Harry rubbed his head. "I'm not really sure."

"Well, by the time I got there you had passed out completely and were barely breathing. I brought you back here and the scan showed that you had heavy bruising, not all of it new," Harry wasn't sure if he was imagining it or not but Snape sounded upset. "and trauma to the head. That may be why you can't remember, or you might have blocked it out. Either way, the memories may slowly start to come back so you should be prepared. However you weren't out for very long, it's only been a few hours since I brought you here."

"Sir, why did you bring me here? How did you know?"

"That brings me on to the other thing we need to discuss. The Dark Lord was able to feel you again. The blood wards should be able to prevent that - naturally he took this to mean that as the blood wards were broken, you no longer felt that was even partially your home."

"I broke the wards?" Harry asked, starting to panic. What was he going to do now?

"No Harry, your uncle broke the wards. This isn't your fault. But it does create problems. You are no longer safe at the Dursley's. Safe from the Dark Lord I mean, I doubt you were ever truly safe at Privet Drive." Severus said bitterly, cursing Dumbledore for putting Harry there, he would be having words with him later about that. "Now that you have escaped his clutches, although he doesn't know how."

"How did I? I mean how did you know to come and get me?"

"After I found out the wards were broken I apparated to you and saw what state you were in, so I brought you here. St Mungo's wouldn't have been safe."

Harry nodded his understanding. "So where do I go now?"

"We haven't found anywhere suitable yet. But we'll think of something and you'll be staying here until then. You need some sleep. Try and clear your mind before you do." Severus stood up, going to leave Harry to have a rest.

"I'm still doing occlumency?" Harry asked, unsure if he wanted to be left alone or not.

"It would probably be wise but it should also calm you and help you get to sleep better. Goodnight Potter."

"Goodnight Sir."

Chapter Text

Harry lay thinking about everything. He wasn't going back to the Dursley's. It was probably the best news he'd ever had, but it meant he wasn't safe from Voldemort. It also meant that they knew what had been going on at the Dursley's, though Harry knew they, or at least some of them, knew what had going on for years.

Dumbledore for a start had sent him his Hogwarts letter addressed to the cupboard under the stairs, and he'd told him at the end of the school year that they didn't feed him properly or treat him well. The Weasley's knew they'd locked him in his room and put bars on his windows. Half the order had shown up at King's cross to threaten the Dursley's, not that they had actually carried out any of these threats. They'd said that if they didn't hear from Harry for three days they would come to see why, probably thinking that threat would be enough, but Vernon Dursley hadn't changed. When he realised that they hadn't heard from Harry for over three days he took great delight in making sure Harry knew no one was coming and that no one cared.

Harry shook his head, he didn't want to think about that, besides he was supposed to be emptying his mind. That was a lot easier said than done though, Harry tried anyway remembering what happened the last time he didn't practise his occlumency when he was supposed to. He didn't want to think about that either, he'd spent most of his holidays trying to think of anything but Sirius.

Snape had apologised to him and promised to not be a git. He'd said he believed him, but Harry wasn't sure if he really did. Snape had seemed sincere and there didn't seem much benefit in lying about this but Harry still didn't know if he could trust the man. Or anyone else for that matter.

He turned onto his side, feeling his wand under his pillow. 'I went back to get it.' That's what Snape had said. He'd been thinking about Harry. He thanked Madam Pomfrey for summoning him - had he asked to be summoned when Harry woke up or did she just decide to?

Harry closed his eyes breathing deep and slow. Clearing his mind of everything. He felt his body relax a bit and it didn't take long until the deep breaths turning into little snores.

* * *

"Pampered you said!" Severus stormed into Dumbledore's office not waiting to be invited in, ignoring the disapproving tuts from the portraits.

"Severus."

"A right little prince!"

"Severus."

"Never lifts a finger!"

"Sever..."

"No! I'm talking now! You lied. Every day. Every year. You. Lied."

"You must..."

Severus picked up a small metal object, hurling it across the room. "Have you even seen his scan? What they did? I should have known any magical child around Petunia wouldn't be safe. But her own sister's... You did nothing to stop them."

"I didn't know."

"I've already spoken to Figg." Dumbledore looked down, suddenly very interested in his hands. "She said she saw him. Looked after him from time to time. Said she told you about it, how thin he was, the bruises, she would see him in the garden doing work. She said she'd been telling you for years. You still did nothing."

"The wards..." He tried feebly.

"The wards protected him from one man that was still living as a snake when Harry was five and mowing the lawn or repainting the fence. It didn't protect him from the people inside the house, the real threat for most of his life."

Dumbledore opened his mouth to reply, he knew he didn't have a defence so was glad to be cut off by the door opening. Madam Pomfrey stormed in.

"Is Harry alright?" Severus asked quickly.

"He's fine. Sleeping actually. You!" She pointed at Dumbledore who flushed. "You careless, irresponsible, heartless man."

"Is someone else going to come in to berate me?" He asked, Fawkes suddenly burst into flames. "Really? You too?" The tiny bird that rose from the ashes turned away from Dumbledore making his point clear. "It had to be done, there was no other way."

"You should have tried harder to think of another way. They nearly killed him!" Madam Pomfrey shouted indignantly.

"They couldn't have killed him, it's not what the prophecy foretold"

"There are fates worse than death." Severus snarled.

"I understand I shouldn't have let this happen but I really didn't know the extent of it."

"Rubbish." Severus growled.

"It's too late now. I can't go back and change it, no matter how much I wish I could. But he will heal?"

Severus couldn't believe how selfish he was still being, and apparently neither could Madam Pomfrey going by the way her eyes narrowed and her jaw tightened

"Physically yes, though he will need more time and potions. Mentally he will likely never fully recover."

Dumbledore had the good grace to look somewhat ashamed as he nodded his understanding. "Then he will stay in the hospital wing until he has recovered physically. It will give us time to find where he will spend the rest of the holidays."

"He won't appreciate that. He doesn't like the hospital wing."

"I agree it's not the place for a child, especially not one going through such a tough time. Besides." Severus looked straight into Dumbledore's eyes. "I don't trust you being anywhere near him or deciding what is best for him." He still couldn't quite believe that Dumbledore had let something like this happen to his saviour, though he shouldn't be that surprised since Dumbledore had always been one to turn the other cheek whenever it suited him.

"What would you two propose?" The old man asked, and while it might seem that Dumbledore was genuinely trying to get the others opinions, all Severus could see was Dumbledore trying to get them to solve the problem he had created, and have them take the blame if they couldn't.

"Perhaps the Weasley's could take him in?" Poppy suggested.

"I don't think that is the right environment for Harry to recover, and I believe Molly is still very upset about what happened at the end of last term." Severus sighed. "His friends would be the first place the Dark Lord would look regardless."

"What about Grimald Place?" Dumbledore asked. "He owns it now."

"After Black's death?" Severus rolled his eyes, he wasn't at all surprised to find out that Sirius had left his house to Harry.

" Ah yes, of course. You seem to care for the boy, why don't you watch him?" Dumbledore suggested.

"Me?" Severus was shocked but not entirely opposed to the idea.

"That does make sense." Poppy agreed. "No one would think about you when trying to find him. Also he needs potions and I can't think of anyone better who isn't a medi-witch or wizard."

"Perhaps he doesn't want to go with me?" Severus was sure Harry wouldn't, not after the way he'd treated him.

"He has very little choice of anywhere else." Dumbledore pointed out.

"He will like it better than the infirmary."

"Very well, I will ask him." Severus conceded finally.

Chapter Text

"Go with you?" Harry asked, still trying to wrap his head around everything.

"As I said, it is your decision."

"I... I don't know." Harry wanted to go, he really didn't like the hospital wing and he wasn't sure he could pass up the opportunity to see where Snape lived. But the man had only started being nice to him yesterday. Would that change once they were out of the school? Something told Harry it wouldn't but another, more stubborn, cynical voice, told him he would go back to normal, maybe even be worse.

"That's fine, there's no rush. You can take your time to decide. But you can say no." He looked Harry in the eye. "You won't be in trouble."

Harry looked down and nodded. "I know." Snape was already trying to talk him out of it, he didn't really want Harry to stay with him. Harry sighed. "You don't really want me to go with you do you? The other teachers are making you?"

Severus put a finger to his lips in thought. "I won't pretend it was my idea Harry, but I'm not being forced into anything. If I'm asking you to come and stay with me you can be sure it's because I want you to."

Harry smiled, happy that Snape wanted him to stay. He knew that Snape didn't lie to him, he was always the most truthful even if it was something Harry didn't particularly want to hear. "When would we go?" Harry asked nervously.

"Whenever you're ready."

"I don't have any of my things." Harry didn't think he had much to actually get ready.

"Not like that, I meant mentally. You may not want to be somewhere unfamiliar right now. Though we will still need to collect your things." Harry panicked slightly, he didn't want to go back for his things. He needed to, he knew that, but just thought made him nervous. Snape noticed. "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it, but I promise you don't have to go anywhere near that man again." Harry breathed out, calmer now.

"I don't want to stay here." Harry murmured "I don't like hospitals."

"Neither do I." Snape replied truthfully.

"So I could go with you tonight?"

"If that's what you want. Madam Pomfrey said you're taking your potions well and that you'd probably be better off not cooped up."

"Then yeah, I want to go today. Err... please."

"Very well then, let me just get some things sorted out at my home and have Madam Pomfrey brief me on your dosages then we can leave."

Chapter Text

Harry coughed and stumbled out of the fireplace; he would have fallen over if not for the hand on his shirt holding him up. At the feeling of someone holding him he instinctively curled into himself, but the hand just gently helped him to his feet before pulling away.

"Harry, are you alright?"

"Oh yeah, thanks sir. I'm just not very good at travelling like that." He blushed, feeling stupid.

"That's fine, I doubt you travelled by it often." Harry smiled. "Dipsy." Snape called. An elf suddenly popped into the room.

"Master Severus." She smiled brightly. "And..." She looked towards Harry.

"Harry." He said quickly.

"Mister Harry. I'm Dipsy, just call me if you need anything while you're here." She grinned at him.

"Did you do what I asked?"

"Yes master. Mr Harry's room has been sorted."

"Good. What would you like for dinner?" He turned to Harry who jumped, slightly startled by the question.

"Anything sir. I'm not fussy."

"I'm sure you're not. But what do you want ?"

"Pizza?" Harry answered uncertainly.

"Dipsy, can you make us pizza for dinner?"

"Of course master, what would you and Mr Harry have on it."

Severus looked towards Harry. "I guess pepperoni." He still didn't sound sure of himself.

"Pepperoni then Dipsy. Thank you." Dipsy nodded and left.

A silence settled over them both. Harry searched for something to say. "You have a house-elf?"

"Yes. She's the family elf, I inherited her with the manor."

"Manor?"

"Yes, we are in Prince Manor." Harry looked around taking everything in. The room was huge, though he had somehow not noticed this. The general theme seemed to be black though there were greens as well, mostly dark, and silver. None of it was tacky or overbearing, but tasteful and understated. Harry thought it fit Snape well.

"Why Prince?"

"Well, that is the family name, I am a Prince on my mother's side. The only one left."

"Oh, I'm sorry."

"Don't be. I never met any of the others, it was clear my mother wasn't welcome back when she married a muggle. The Princes were purebloods quite like the Malfoys. I'd never even set foot in here until after they died."

"Dipsy seems nice. Nicer than Kreacher, and he was raised thinking purebloods are better." Harry said, surprised at the easy conversation.

"Yes, well, Dipsy wasn't really raised by purebloods, she was raised by me and her mother, though her mother held the same sort of values as that of the Princes she never managed to pass them on. That's how she got her name, I've tried to change it but she refused."

"I never really expected you to have a manor." Harry stated, hoping it didn't come off as rude.

"Honestly neither did I. I've had this place for a long time, I still forget sometimes. Why don't I show you around?"

"Yes sir."

Chapter Text

"This is the living room and the place most firecalls will be had, if I have an important one I'll take it in my office." He left the room and Harry followed him into the hallway. The hall had more neutral tones, browns and beiges. The floor was hardwood with a rug every few feet. There weren't many portraits but Harry could see hooks where they should go. He assumed they'd been taken down because they keep shouting at him like at Grimald place.

At least none of them had been permanently stuck down... or not any that Harry could see, although he was curious to see what Snape's ancestors looked like.

"This room is my office, it's the most likely place for me to be at any given time. Other than my potions lab or the library."

It was clear to Harry that not much effort had gone into the decoration for this room but he still thought it was very Snape-like in it's neatness and order.

They left that room Snape opened the next door. "This is my potions lab. Mostly I want you to stay out of here unless necessary. I like to experiment in here so it's best if you try to keep out for your own safety."

The door opened straight into some stairs taking them below ground level. The room seemed quite like the dungeons at school, though there were less stains and a lot more equipment. There didn't seem to be a store room for ingredients, they were all on shelves that lined the room, Harry could tell that they hadn't just been shoved haphazardly onto the shelves but were meticulously put in their rightful places.

They walked back up stairs, Snape pausing every so often to point out a bathroom or random bedroom. Until they got to the library. Snape opened the large dark-wood doors with snakes carved into it.

"I don't know how much it will interest you."

The library was bigger than Harry imagined. Two floors of dark-wood shelves stacked with books. A long table ran down the middle of the room with, what Harry assumed, must be about a dozen chairs tucked under it. Behind it was a large double staircase with a red rug rolled down it.

Not all the shelves were lined with books some had curious objects that Harry presumed he wasn't allowed to touch. He wondered if it was all dark artefacts like at Grimald place.

Brown leather sofas and chairs were situated around the room on both floors. There were a couple other tables, desks and cabinets pushed up against the walls all with intricate designs and the same crest Harry thought was probably the Prince family one.

"Wow." Was all Harry could say.

"Yes." Snape moved to an old leather chair, it was clearly the most worn one. The seat sagged and the leather was wearing away on the arms and the back. "It is the most show-offy room. This chair." He began his voice darkening as he stood behind the chair his hands on the back. "Is mine. Never. Sit in it."

"Of course, sir." Harry returned, looking at the chair Snape was so protective over.

"Right well good. There's only your room and my room left then we can have dinner."

* * *

"This will be your room." Snape opened the door.

The room was red with splashes of gold. A large four poster sat in the middle under a painting of some wizards playing quidditch.

The room itself was big and warm, with a thick, plush carpet. A fireplace was over to the side of the room, with the same insignia Harry had seen throughout the rest of the house carved into the wood.

Harry looked over at Snape who also seemed to be taking in the room.

"Unfortunately I was only able to give Dipsy the barest information about you. Like your house and enthusiasm for quidditch. So it's probably not..."

"It's amazing." Harry had never had a proper room before. Not his own. And the one at the Dursley's was more of a prison than a room. But this was his, it had even been decorated just for him. "Thanks. But you didn't have to, I'm only staying for a while, aren't I?"

"You should still feel comfortable here. Besides Dipsy loves any excuse to decorate, she's still anxious to get her hands on my office. Maybe this will pacify her for a while."

Harry didn't want to leave his new room but the tour wasn't, and then he had pizza so it wasn't all bad.

"This is my room." Harry was nervous that their rooms were so close. He had a tendency to talk in his sleep, or maybe scream was a better word. Dudley always teased him about it, but he could put a silencing charm over his bed at school so no one else found out. He couldn't do that here.

Snape didn't show him the inside which Harry didn't mind. The man was letting him stay there and had showed him his office and lab, he deserved some privacy.

"This is the dining room." Snape lead him in, Dipsy was already setting out the food. The dining room was smaller than Harry expected but he was glad he wasn't going to be surrounded by so many empty chairs to eat.

Chapter Text

They ate mainly in silence, which Harry was fine with because he didn't really have anything to say, and he needed to think about how he felt about everything that had happened. Snape knew Harry would need time to think, a lot had happened in a short span of time, so he tried not to say much.

After dinner was over Snape looked at Harry. "You should get some rest but I'll need to give you your potions first. Why don't you go get ready for bed while I make sure I have everything."

Harry nodded, still not up for talking; he really was tired but he didn't want to sleep in case he had a nightmare.

He changed into his hospital pyjamas unsure where to put his clothes. He waited for Snape sitting on his bed, it was soft and warm and he really wanted to just crawl in, curl up and sleep forever.

He heard a soft knock on his door, it made him jump slightly as he was lost in thought. People never really knocked unless it was loud banging but mostly they just barged in. Harry wasn't really used to privacy.

"Y...yeah?" He answered, annoyed at the stutter.

The door opened, and Snape swept in, Dipsy carrying a tray of potions next to him. "I can take it from here, Dipsy." He told her, but she walked past him putting the tray on the table. "Or we can all congregate in Harry's room." He sighed, shaking his head at her.

"Goodnight Mister Harry." Dipsy patted Harry's knee, giving him a smile before leaving the room.

"Goodnight Dipsy." Harry returned, looking at the potions he wished he didn't have to take.

"I've already measured it all out." Snape prompted. Harry took the hint, drinking them all. "How are you feeling?"

"Fine." Harry shrugged, even as his mind screamed at the emotions he couldn't talk about.

Snape nodded. "Fine." He repeated but showed nothing as to whether he believed Harry or not. "How are you feeling about retrieving your things?"

Harry forced down the urge to refuse going, he knew he was being an idiot. "Fine." He said again lamely, Snape raised an eyebrow.

"I'm not sure how good of an idea it would be to take you back there."

"Most of my stuff is hidden." Harry said, just above a whisper.

"If you really think you'll be able that's fine, but there's no need to push yourself just yet."

"I'm not, I'm fine." Harry assured him awkwardly.

Snape nodded leaving the room. "We will discuss it further in the morning, goodnight."

"Goodnight sir."

After the potions Harry found sleep easily. Almost as soon as his head touched the pillow he was falling into a deep sleep.

He was back at the Dursley's he was running down the hall, down the stairs trying to get away. But hands came out of nowhere shoving him hard against a wall. He tried to pull away tried to wriggle out of his grasp. But it was useless he was trapped. He fell to the floor his head still spinning... but before he could hit the floor he woke up.

He could feel a hand on his shoulder shaking him gently, and could hear someone saying his name over and over. He panicked, moving quickly away from the hand.

"Don't touch me!" He croaked, finding it hard to breath. His eyes wouldn't focus and he couldn't tell if it was because he wasn't wearing his glasses or because his head hurt so much. His throat was painful and scratchy, and his head was throbbing.

He curled himself into a protective ball as though trying not to be seen.

"If you don't want me to touch you I won't, but you need to sit up to drink." Snape said, pouring out a glass of water for Harry's sore throat. Harry didn't move. He heard the sound of a glass being placed on the side and felt the bed dip as Snape leaned on it. "I presume being able to see would help." His glasses were set down on the bed next to him. Harry snatched them quickly, putting them on still curled up.

Neither of them spoke while Harry calmed down a bit. He didn't like people touching him, and he was sure Snape would be angry that he woke him, but he couldn't deny that the weight of the man on the bed next to him was helping him feel calmer.

"Would you like to be alone for a while Harry?" Snape asked softly.

Harry didn't want to be alone, he hated being alone, things were so much harder to bear when he was alone in the dark. He shook his head. "Please stay." His voice was small and his throat still hurt horribly.

"Alright." Was Snape's simple reply. He seemed to understand that just because Harry wanted him there didn't mean he wanted to talk or do anything, something none of Harry's friends had ever understood. Not that he'd ever done this in front of his friends, it was strange to think that he was more open around Snape than his closest friends. It just felt like Snape actually got it and cared.

They stayed that way for a while, Harry trying to make himself as small as possible and Severus just giving him silent support.

Eventually Harry moved, stretching himself out a bit. Snape took the glass and held it out for him. "It will help your throat but if it still hurts I can send Dipsy to get a sore throat potion." He supposed Harry still didn't want him to go.

Harry shook his head, taking great gulps of water. "I'm fine." His throat did feel better and it was pretty evident in his voice, which now came out a lot less gravelly.

"Do you want to talk about it?" Harry shook his head. "You should. It might make you feel better."

"I don't remember it, sir." Harry lied.

"You are an appalling liar Harry, but if you really don't want to talk about it I won't press the issue any more."

"Thank, sir." Harry was truly grateful he wasn't going to make him relive his nightmare.

Dipsy entered with a tray, she held it tiredly out to Snape who took it gratefully.

"Thank you, Dipsy." She gave a small bow, exiting with a yawn. Harry felt guilty that he had woken her too.

"Sir, what's that?" Harry asked - he was more asking why, he could see the objects on the tray were a tea pot and teacups with saucers, a bowl of sugar cubes and a jug of milk.

"It's tea. I thought it might help soothe you." He began pouring. "Sugar?"

"Two please, sir. I thought we weren't going to talk about..."

"There are other topics in the world Harry." Snape chuckled holding up the milk jug questioningly Harry nodded. Once the tea was ready he handed it to Harry.

"Thank you. sir."

"Now what would you like to talk about?"

Chapter Text

About an hour passed, surprisingly pleasantly, as they talked about nothing in particular. The topic went from quidditch, to school, to food and several other things. And even though the dream was still pretty fresh in his mind he felt calm, it was just a dream.

"You should get to sleep." Snape said with a yawn. "And so should I." He didn't miss Harry's nervous look. "You don't want to sleep because of the dream." It wasn't a question.

"I... don't want to wake you up again. I don't want to be a bother."

"Have I said you were a bother?"

"No but..."

"Don't you think I would have told you if you were bothering me?"

"I guess..."

"You also didn't wake me up as I wasn't asleep. If you're really worried I can give you some dreamless sleep."

"Really sir?" Harry was excited by the prospect of getting actual sleep for once.

"Of course. I'll have to get it myself, I don't think Dipsy would appreciate being woken up again."

"I'm sorry I woke her up."

"You didn't, I did to get her to make us tea, I'd have done it myself but I didn't want risk leaving you in that state."

"It was still my fault that you had to wake her." Harry whispered, mainly to himself.

"We can argue about this all night Harry, but I for one would much sooner sleep. I'm going to get you your dreamless sleep potion, I won't be long." Harry nodded waiting for him. He was surprised by how quick he was coming back.

"That was quick." Harry commented, mostly because he just didn't want to be in silence any more

"I keep some in my room, so I didn't have to go far." He poured some out. "Here."

Harry took it gratefully, he hadn't slept well in a long time and the excruciating earliness he had to get up at the Dursley's hadn't helped.

* * *

Harry woke up stretching luxuriantly and rolling over. He was still tired but not as tired; he looked over at the clock on the table. It said 9:30. His eyes widened and he jumped out of bed.

He was late. He was going to be in so much trouble.

He got dressed quickly, his stomach growling, breakfast was probably over! He'd have to wait until lunch if he even got anything at all.

He for the first time wished he was back at the Dursley's, he knew where the food was there. He hid some in his room and knew how to steal from the kitchen. He didn't even know where the kitchen was here. Maybe that was the point, he couldn't steal food if he didn't know where it was kept.

He opened the door, rushing out and nearly running right into Snape.

"I was just coming to see if you were awake. Are you alright?" He took in Harry's scruffy appearance, like he'd dressed in a few seconds, and the fact he was hurrying around. Snape wondered what was wrong with the boy.

"I'm fine sir, I'm sorry I'm late."

"If you mean late for breakfast, that's fine. Dipsy will make you anything you want."

"I didn't mean to sleep in so much." Harry apologised again, not really listening to what Snape was saying.

"It's only half past nine Harry, and I gave you dreamless sleep... it knocks you out for eight hours. That's why I was coming to see if you were awake now."

"Oh, okay."

"Harry, it's the holidays, you can sleep in if you want to, you clearly need it. And I'm not going to withhold food from you. Ever. Okay?" Harry nodded though he wasn't sure, he could easily go back on his word, there wouldn't be much Harry could do. He reminded himself again that Snape had never lied to him before, he hoped he wouldn't now.

"There is something I need to talk to you about though." Harry looked at him nervously, wondering how he'd done something wrong already. "There's no need to worry, it's nothing terrible. But have your breakfast first. I'll be in the library."

Harry went to the dining room. He wasn't sure how much better he felt.

"Mister Harry!" Dipsy greeted him happily, Harry hoped she wasn't annoyed that he'd woke her up last night... or at least been the cause of it even if Severus had said it was his fault.

"Hello Dipsy." Harry stood awkwardly.

"Why don't you sit and tell me what you want for breakfast?" Dipsy pulled a chair out for him.

"Just some toast or cereal or something." Harry was bad at decisions, it wasn't his fault he didn't get to make them often. And when he did he was always certain he'd made the wrong one.

"And a drink?" She asked.

"Oh... erm... water. Please." At least he knew they'd have that.

She left coming back shortly with everything he asked for, while she was gone Harry thought about her and how she spoke better than a normal elf, not that normal elves spoke particularly badly but they had little quirks that Dipsy didn't have. Every house elf he'd met spoke in third person but Dipsy could quite easily pass for a human.

He thought about what Snape had said about her and her mother. Where was her mother? Was she here? Or was there an elf head stuck on a wall somewhere in the manor that looked like Dipsy? It was shameful for house elves to not be like a house elf, unless your master is a blood traitor or something, since Kreacher wasn't ashamed that he'd turned on his master, though he'd never seen Sirius as his master. Was Dipsy's mother ashamed of her? It seemed so from what Snape said. She had basically named her stupid because she didn't believe that having pureblood mattered.

Harry hoped he wouldn't come across Dipsy's mother.

He ate all of it, even though he felt full after his cereal he forced the toast down not wanting to waste any of it. He looked at his empty plate unsure of what to do with it.

"Dipsy?" He asked, wondering if she'd answer - she'd said to call if he needed anything.

She popped in immediately. "Mister Harry?"

"Hi, I'm... Done."

"Okay." She took the empty plate, bowl and glass balancing them on top of each other, Harry stared at them slightly mesmerised wondering how they weren't just falling over. "Anything else?" She asked, turning to him.

"No, I'm full, thank you Dipsy."

"Master's in the library." She said before popping out again.

Harry walked to the room he remembered as the library, opening the door nervously, unsure whether he should have knocked.

Snape was sitting in his special chair - Harry tried not to laugh at the thought of Snape having a special chair – reading, he looked up when door opened. He nodded towards the chair opposite him. "Have a seat." Harry sat, watching the man anxiously as he put down his book and sat up. "I am going to fetch your things today. You said last night that you hid them, I'll need to know where."

Harry was shocked, he didn't expect this to be the conversation and he didn't expect to get straight into it. "I thought I was going with you."

"I have decided it wouldn't be good for you to go back there. Not this soon at least."

Harry was relieved he didn't have to go but he hated that Snape thought he wouldn't be able to do it. He wanted to prove he could. "I'm fine, I can go too... it will be easier."

"Finding your things will be easier, but travelling and being stealthy will be harder with two. I'm not one hundred percent sure the Dark Lord isn't still watching their house. Though I believe he'd have moved on by now, knowing the Order would already have found a safe place for you."

"Can he still sense me?"

"Yes, but he can't track you. The wards on my house aren't as strong as blood wards, but they should stop him seeing things."

"Are you sure I shouldn't come with you?" Really Harry wanted him to say that he couldn't, but he didn't want him to think he wasn't capable.

"I don't think the stress it would put on you mentally would be worth it." He paused as though sizing Harry up. "This isn't about whether I think you can do it. I'm sure you can. I just don't think it's necessary for you to go, or deal with any more than you already are."

Harry breathed out a sigh of relief. Snape didn't think he was an inept child, he was just making sure Harry wasn't under too much stress. The thought that someone actually cared about any of Harry's stress made him feel oddly warm.

"Okay sir." Harry told him all of his hiding places, hoping he remembered them all. Snape listened carefully, making a mental note of each one.

Chapter Text

Snape scowled at the house he had visited more times in the past three days than Dumbledore probably had in the past 14 years. He knew what was going on, and never once tried to stop it or tried to take Harry away. He just didn't think it was his problem... or maybe he couldn't be bothered to think up another way of hiding the boy.

Severus had been thinking the past few days of everything he had done to the boy. He was truly sorry for all of it, even the things he just thought, the things Harry didn't even know about. He knew he shouldn't have treated Harry like that even if he wasn't being abused or manipulated, but he had seen it as more justified before, when he had seen him as a spoilt brat. It wasn't justified, even then, but he'd been blinded by his hatred of James, of all the marauders. That was wrong too, but he was going to try and make up for it. Not just for his own guilt but because Harry really did need someone to lean on. He didn't deserve to be used and abused by everyone.

No one deserved that.

He knocked on the door; he didn't want to use magic around the house in case there were any Deatheaters close by who might feel his magic. Though he did genuinely doubt it, they tended to move on quickly if things weren't working, changing or adapting their plans.

The door opened Petunia stood on the other side a wide fake grin on her face until she saw who it was, her face changed to a pinched look like Severus was a bad smell.

"What do you want?" She asked venomously.

"I'm just here to pick up a few things, Tuney." He sneered, sweeping past her as though she wasn't even there, heading up stairs.

"Get out of my house!" Vernon stormed into the hall. Severus who was halfway up the stairs paused, turning to acknowledge him.

"If you could get Harry's school things from the cupboard. I would use magic," He smirked when he saw them flinch. "But I don't particularly want to, and I don't want to waste my new shoes on kicking the door in. I'll also be needing the key for Harry's room."

"Don't talk to me like I'm the help!"

"Indeed. That would require you being helpful."

Vernon didn't know how to react to his scary calm so he settled for his default... intimidation tactics. "Now you listen t..."

Severus had started walking back down the stairs, absently playing with his wand, Vernon backed up making him smirk. Severus stopped in front of him looking down. "Unfortunately for you I am not a little boy you can push around." He stated coolly

Severus' eyes darted to the wall to see a dent around Harry's height and below it barely visible scratches and small fingernail sized chunks missing. As though someone had been scratching at the wall to keep themselves up. He scowled staring down at Vernon contemptuously.

"I am not scared of you Dursley, and doesn't that just terrify you?"

"You were always a freak." Spat Petunia.

"Stop before you hurt my feelings." He said sarcastically, rolling his eyes. "Now." He pressed the tip of his wand into Vernon's neck. "I really was just going to come here and collect Harry's things but..." He'd love nothing more than to curse the bastard but he didn't need to - he was pretty sure he was getting his point across.

"T... the k... k... keys are in the k... kitchen." Vernon stammered.

"I didn't ask where they were." Severus sneered.

"I... I'll go get them." Vernon scampered away.

"You really picked a great man there." He turned to Petunia. "I'm sure he could really protect you... from a swarm of angry rabbits."

"You know nothing about him."

"Well, I'm just going off what I've seen. And from what I've seen he's a coward and a bully."

"That boy is a liar and a freak."

"That boy's name is Harry and he is neither of those things." He growled, raising his wand to point it at her heart, or at least where it should be.

"When did you start caring about him so much?"

"You may consider him under my protection." He spat back, he'd been wondering that himself.

Vernon walked back in with a bunch of keys. He held them out to Severus, who had turned around lowering his wand but not putting it away.

"Open the cupboard and then give me the keys." He said as though talking to a small dim child. Vernon did so while Petunia watched on angrily. "Very good." Severus sneered patronisingly, Vernon grit his teeth handing the keys back.

"Now get his things out, I will be upstairs. Oh, and I'd make sure it's all there if I were you, you wouldn't want me to have to come back now would you?" He swept up the stairs, already knowing which room was Harry's by all of the locks and the cat flap, he couldn't help the growl that left his throat seeing it.

He fiddled with the keys and locks for a while until the door was open. He stepped in. The room was basically bare apart from a bed, bedside table and wardrobe.

There was a Gryffindor flag on the wall above his bed, the only decoration in the room. Hedwig's cage was sitting on the bedside table; this was also covered in locks and heavy chains. Hedwig did not look pleased.

The owl squawked at him he searched through the keys and released the bird. She jumped onto him, gratefully pecking at him.

"Yes, yes, I'm a knight in bloody armour... get off." He opened the window. "He's at Prince Manor." She flew around the room once then soared out of the window.

He then got to work prying up all the floorboards Harry hid things under.

"Is he alright?" A nervous voice from behind him asked. He turned around to see Harry's cousin. After seeing him he could clearly see how differently they treated Harry to their own son.

"He's fine... now." Severus answered dismissively.

"Good... Can I... Help?"

"They should have got his trunk out by now." Severus stated, clearly telling him to go and get it.

"Okay, I'll just..." He went to go get it while Severus continued getting Harry's things. He was shocked to find actual work scrolls and books under the floor. It explained how he got his work done with his things locked away.

He found other things too like food, a photo album and probably every card and letter the boy had ever been sent. He heard voices downstairs.

"Don't take it."

"How dare he threaten you like that."

"I'm not being threatened."

He heard scraping and footsteps then saw Dudley struggling with the trunk, putting it heavily on the floor. Severus regarded the boy for a minute.

"You're better than your parents. You at least see what you did was wrong." The boy looked shocked at the praise. "Most people say thank you when they get a compliment." Severus said rolling his eyes, though there was no real bite to his words.

"Oh yeah, thanks."

Severus rolled his eyes again, moving the trunk to the bed, opening it and packing meticulously. He checked the wardrobe, turning to Dudley.

"Is this all there is?" As far as he could see there were a few jumpers courtesy of Mrs Weasley, a set of pyjamas issued by the school, and a few well worn shirts that were for Harry - everything else seemed to be the other boys clothes.

"Yeah probably, they never brought him clothes... he has my old stuff."

Severus raised his eyebrow at the boy, imagining Harry, a small starved child, in the boys clothes. He doubted if they would even stay on. "Right..." He threw the things that would fit in, leaving the rest. "Where are his shoes?"

Dudley pointed to the to the trainers at the bottom of the wardrobe. Snape had missed them, presuming it to be rubbish. He picked it up inspecting it, the sole had worn away and they were kept together with tape and glue.

"How long had he had these?" He asked with disgust.

"They were mine first."

"Obviously."

"But maybe like nine years."

Severus looked at them; they weren't exactly the right shape for shoes any more, but he still didn't understand how Harry was getting his feet in there. He threw them in anyway. Harry needed some shoes until they could get him some more, they would just have to do.

"I think that's probably it." Severus closed the trunk and lifted it, holding the cage in his other arm. "His broom is still downstairs yes?" Dudley nodded. "Good." He walked away heading for the stairs.

"Can... can you tell him I'm sorry... or something?"

Severus was going to just walk away and leave him but paused thinking. He had also wronged Harry and was looking for forgiveness, and wasn't that what this boy was doing? It wasn't an excuse but Severus had to admit the boy wasn't entirely to blame when his parents were such terrible role models.

"Fine." He said quietly.

He apparated once he had got Harry's broom, proud of himself for not inflicting any serious injuries or any injuries for that matter. He deserved a medal.

Chapter Text

Harry was sitting alone in his room, waiting for Snape to get back with his things. What if he couldn't get them? What if they didn't let him in? Snape wasn't really the kind of person you can say no to.

He heard a knocking on his window that made him jump.

" Hedwig !" He said happily, opening the window. "Guess this means he got in there then." Hedwig nuzzled him affectionately. "You're probably hungry, aren't you? I could ask Dipsy for something." He wasn't sure if he was allowed, but since Hedwig probably hadn't eaten in several days he was willing to risk it.

"Dipsy?"

She appeared. "Mister Harry? Ooooh..." She reached up to stroke his owl. "You have a letter?"

"Oh no, she's my owl." Harry explained. "She's hungry, can you... erm..."

"I will get her some food. Do you want anything?"

"No Dipsy, but thank you."

Dipsy left and returned with some food for Hedwig. She squawked happily at them both, having not eaten this well since the owlery.

"Dipsy, do you think I'd be allowed to send letters to my friends?"

"Master won't mind, but you can ask when he gets back if you're worried." Dipsy said, still enamoured with Hedwig.

"You're sure he won't mind?" Dipsy nodded, then left the room. Harry sat confused, wondering where she had gone. She wasn't like any of the house elves he'd met before, even Dobby.

She came back quite quickly carrying ink quills and parchment. She dumped them on the desk, before laying them out properly.

"Thanks Dipsy, but where did you get this stuff?"

"Library." She replied. "There's more there if you need more, or just call me. Lunch won't be long, Master said he'd be back for it."

Harry nodded, sitting down at his desk. He opened the ink, wondering who to write to first.

He didn't know how much to put in his letters and he didn't want to think about how the blood wards broke, so he just told them that they had for some reason and now he was staying somewhere else.

He didn't tell them who with, he wondered about putting hints but even that seemed too risky. He apologised for not being able to tell them more. And apologised to Ron for what happened to Ginny.

It seemed so long ago but really it was only a few weeks. He sighed, signing the letter and putting his quill down.

He heard a crack he knew must be Snape and looked at the time, it was about time for lunch. Harry stood stretching his legs; he hadn't been sitting for long but they had been hurting more recently. He supposed it made sense, the potions were helping though.

He opened his door peeking out nervously. He saw Snape with his trunk, broom and cage. He walked out quickly to offer his help.

"Sir, should I take those?" He asked, expecting him to just leave him to it however.

"Yes. Can you get the cage for me? I'll take this." Harry lifted the cage and they started towards Harry's room.

Dipsy walked in. "Master Severus." She seemed excited to see him. Then she turned stern. "How did it go?"

He chuckled. "Dipsy it was fine." She crossed her arms, she clearly didn't believe him. Harry wasn't sure what they were talking about. "I didn't even use magic, except to apparate." He said defensively.

She eyed Harry. "You don't need magic to hurt people." She returned, looking hard at Severus.

Severus' eyes darted over to Harry too. "I didn't do anything. I just went to get his things."

She stared at him still, then her face softened finally believing him. She patted his leg as she walked past. "Master gets extra ice cream." She proclaimed.

"I'm not a child!" He grumbled. "And I'd prefer a medal."

"Order of Merlin?" She called from down the hall.

"First class." He shouted back. Harry had never seen him so human. "Come on." Harry was brought from his reverie. "Let's get these into your room."

Harry smiled, 'my room' he thought to himself. He caught up to Snape who was already at the door of his bedroom. They entered, Snape put Harry's trunk on the bed and opening it.

"I didn't bring everything. Clothes, I mean. Most of them..." Severus trailed off, not sure of the best way to put it.

"Would look like I was wearing an elephant skin." Harry supplied.

"I couldn't have put it better myself." Snape gave a half smile. "I thought we could go get you some more suitable things."

"Really?" Harry asked eagerly. "I don't have any Muggle money." He added anxiously. "But I have some gold at..."

"It's fine, Harry... we'll sort it later, okay?"

"Yes, sir."

"You were writing?" He asked, nodding towards the desk to change the topic, he didn't really want to tell Harry that he would pay for his clothes. It only made sense really, Harry was in his care, making sure he was comfortable was his responsibitility.

"Yes sir, I was writing a letter... that's alright isn't it?"

"That's fine. Who were you writing to?" He sounded conversational but Harry was nervous, he wasn't allowed to write to his friends at the Dursley's and Snape actually knew, and didn't particularly like, his friends.

"Ron and Hermione." He said cautiously.

"It would probably be best if you didn't mention where you are or that you're with me."

"I know, I didn't. Do you want to..." Harry had lifted the letters.

"No, I believe you." Harry breathed out a sigh of relief, he didn't really want anyone but Ron and Hermione reading the letters. "If you want to finish them I can put your things away." Snape offered.

"They're already finished. I just thought I should ask you before I sent them."

"You can send letters if you want to Harry."

"Okay, thank you sir."

"You should be taking your potions soon." He remembered. He apparently wasn't the only one as Dipsy walked in with the necessary potions as he said it.

"I knew you'd forget." She laughed.

"I just said about it. I don't forget things."

She nodded patronisingly. "Lunch will be ready soon."

"What are we having?" Harry asked nervously, Snape said he wouldn't withhold food but maybe he'd go back on it. Harry looked at him, Snape said nothing to him or Dipsy about Harry not getting food but he was looking at Dipsy with slight interest.

"Chicken salad." She announced proudly. Snape didn't seem particularly keen but said nothing.

Later they were at lunch, large platefuls of chicken salad laid out in front of them. Harry tucked into his happily, Snape just ate the chicken and a small amount of the salad.

Dipsy popped back in, she looked disapprovingly at Snape's plate.

"I don't do rabbit fodder." He shrugged. "I'm sure you said something about ice cream." He changed the topic quickly, seeing the look she gave him.

Harry liked watching the way they interacted, but at the same time felt like an intruder like he was imposing on something he shouldn't.

He realised she wasn't like a normal house elf because she was more like a family member. Harry suddenly noticed how little family Snape actually had.

"Finish first." She tapped his plate, giving him a look when he groaned like he was a petulant child.

"Fine. Better be worth it. Better be chocolate." He grumbled stabbing a lettuce leaf more aggressively than necessary.

"It is." She popped back out of the room.

He didn't seem happy about it but he finished his meal with what looked like some difficulty. He noticed Harry watching him.

"Are you still hungry?" He asked.

"No sir." He was still a bit hungry but nothing he wasn't used to.

"Damn, you could have had the rest."

Harry laughed. "She's your elf though, couldn't you just... order her to get you food you want?"

"Never." He pointed his fork at Harry. "Get on the wrong side of Dipsy. Trust me!" He warned seriously.

Harry laughed, he'd never joked with Snape before never really thought he ever would. A week ago he'd have said he hated him. And while he still didn't trust him, he really couldn't say he hated him any more. He wondered if Snape felt the same.

Chapter Text

The rest of the day Harry spent doing some of his homework. He thought it would be best to get it out of the way, and now that he could actually do it in the open he decided he would. He didn't bother asking if he was allowed, something told him Snape wasn't going to tell him off for doing his homework.

He started to regret sending Hedwig off with the letters, he was feeling kind of lonely. He wondered if it was the loneliness that was making him look forward to dinner with Snape. Dipsy came to tell him dinner was ready so he went to the dining room to find that Snape was already there.

They talked for a while, Snape asked what Harry had been up to all evening. Harry felt quite proud when Snape praised him for doing his homework early. It wasn't really praise but Harry figured it was probably as close as the man ever got.

Snape also told him he didn't have to stay in his room. Harry was glad he had permission to roam around the house, but he also had no idea what he would do anywhere else. At the Dursley's the rare times he left his room he did chores.

Snape seemed to be able to read his thoughts. Really he actually could, but Harry was fairly certain he hadn't. "There's a garden here. It's warded as well, so if you want to you can take your broom out there."

Harry's eyes widened and sparkled. "Really?" He'd never been able to fly in the holidays before.

"Yes, as long as you stay within the wards."

"How will I know where..."

"Just keep within where the fences are."

"Okay sir, I will. Thanks. Can I after dinner?"

"Yes, that's fine."

So Harry spent the rest of his evening in the grounds flying. It was colder as it was getting later, but a warm breeze ruffled Harry's unruly hair and whipped through his shirt as he flew. He'd started by practising his diving and control but it had quickly turned into messing around and just enjoying the freedom.

Especially when the sun started to set. He just hovered, watching as the sun disappeared from the pink sky. He was having too much fun to notice how late it was getting - in the end Dipsy had to go and get him.

He didn't realise how much his legs hurt until he got off the broom and nearly fell over. Dipsy grabbed him, steadying him.

"Thanks, Dipsy."

"You shouldn't spend so much time on your broom when you're not well."

"I'm fine, Dipsy." He said, worried he wouldn't be able to fly until he'd recovered fully if she told Snape. She helped him into the house. After walking a bit he found it easier to do so and let go of Dipsy. "Let's just keep this between us, okay?" He asked the elf when he saw Snape coming out of his office.

Dipsy promptly ignored Harry's comment, walking to Severus. "Mister Harry's hurt." She folded her arms expectantly.

"What happened?" He looked at Harry concerned, his mind flooded with images of Harry falling from his broom.

"Nothing, my legs are just a bit sore." Harry mumbled - he was happy that Snape was concerned for him but he was annoyed Dipsy had told him.

"I doubt it's anything to worry about, you were outside for a long time. Just limit yourself next time." Snape said, relieved.

Harry sighed, resigning himself to the fact that he'd not be able to fly as much as he wanted, still though it was more than at the Dursley's. "Okay."

"I didn't mean you couldn't look at a broom ever again! I just meant don't spend hours all at once." Harry felt his hope rising again, he smiled.

"Okay, sir." He said, brighter.

"Potions then." Snape said. "Dipsy could you bring them?" Dipsy nodded and wandered off to the lab.

Harry watched after her, still annoyed.

"She just does what she thinks is best." Snape cut into his thoughts about the elf. "And annoyingly she's usually right." He said with experience.

Harry nodded and they walked to his room in companionable silence.

Harry took his potions and a dose of dreamless sleep. Glad he wasn't going to have to worry about waking anyone up or bad dreams, he changed into his pyjamas and curled up in bed.

Chapter Text

Harry yawned feeling refreshed, he rolled over and looked at the time. It was seven! He had a slight panic, then remembered what Snape had said and calmed down again. Snuggling into his quilt he found himself drifting back off.

When he woke up again he decided to actually get up. He dressed, glad that he actually had a change of clothes, and walked off to the dining room.

Snape was in there, reading a newspaper. He looked up when Harry entered.

"Sleep well?" He asked.

"Oh, erm... yes, sir. Did you?"

"Yes." He answered, as Dipsy popped in.

"Liar." She laughed lightly at him, he swatted her with the newspaper playfully but said nothing back.

Harry smiled, watching - still standing he felt even more like an intruder, until Dipsy pulled out a chair for him and asked what he wanted for breakfast. Not wanting to ask for too much again he just asked for toast. She nodded and left.

After about a minute Snape put down his paper. "I was thinking we could go into town today and buy you new clothes... or at least some new shoes."

Harry went to tell him about the money issue again but Snape held up a hand to stop him, he didn't miss the flinch from Harry when he did... as though preparing for a strike. He lowered it quickly.

"I have already sent Dipsy to Gringotts." He pulled out an envelope, passing it to Harry. "There should be two hundred pounds in there. Enough to buy you some decent new clothes."

Harry stared down at the money. He knew he had a small fortune at Gringotts, but he wasn't sure if he could really afford this. He didn't really need new clothes... well he did, but he'd already dealt with it this far. He had to keep that money, it was all he had. He needed it to buy a house and he still needed to get through school, Hogwarts isn't cheap.

"Sir, I'm not sure I should be spending this much, the vault money is all I have."

Snape had finished his breakfast and stood tucking his newspaper under his arm. Harry wondered if he'd annoyed the man.

"I never said the money was from your vault, Harry." He returned, leaving the room hoping to avoid any awkward questions.

Harry just sat there stunned, the two hundred pounds in his hands was Snape's. He couldn't believe it. He half expected the man to walk back in saying ' it was from your vault but I never said that. ' It seemed a Snape thing to do.

Although by now Harry had realised he didn't really know what a Snape thing to do was, since he wouldn't have assumed taking Harry in, not taking advantage of that fact, and being playful in general - but especially with a house elf - were Snape things to do. However he stood corrected on all of these assumptions and more.

Dipsy popped in. She put the plate down and patted Harry's knee. "What's wrong?" She asked, looking up at Harry.

"Nothing Dipsy, I'm just thinking."

"Both liars." She laughed.

"Oh yeah, why did you call him a liar?"

"Master doesn't sleep well." She said, sighing and pulling out a chair to sit on. Harry was shocked, even Dobby only sat down if prompted.

"Maybe he's stressed or something?" Harry suggested - he found it so much easier to talk to the elf.

She nodded. "He is, but he's never slept well ever since I met him."

"Right." Harry wasn't really sure what to say to that, he decided to change the subject. "You went to Gringotts didn't you?"

"Yes."

"Did you get this money out of my vault or..." He trailed off.

"Masters vault." She answered simply. "Toast's getting cold." Harry nodded, picking a piece up, the coldness was unlikely to stop him but she was right so he took a bite.

"Why did he use his money?"

"I didn't ask, I just did as told." Dipsy replied truthfully, she didn't know for certain but she could make a guess that it was because he was responsible for the boy, and despite what he'd prefer to think, he really did care about the boy.

Harry nodded, it made sense - that's what house elves did - but Harry wasn't sure he wanted to ask Snape himself.

* * *

After breakfast Harry went back to his room to find Hedwig tapping loudly on the window, not looking happy. He opened it and she hopped in onto his arm.

"So soon?" He asked but he couldn't help smiling. He took the two letters out of her beak, she looked at him waiting for food. "Alright. Dipsy?" She popped in already carrying owl food. "How did..."

"I'm clever. Mister Harry, you can keep this in your room so you don't have to call me."

"I suppose that would be easier." Harry replied. Hedwig flew to her cage waiting for her food to be put out. He was glad that he wouldn't have to bother Dipsy any more.

Harry turned the letters over in his hands. He saw his name in Hermione's neat little handwriting, the other had Ron's name in his own script. He frowned; the seal hadn't even been broken, he hadn't opened it just sent it back, that's why Hedwig was early.

"Something wrong?" Dipsy asked.

"I'm fine, Dipsy." He lied. She shook her head and narrowed her eyes.

"Mister Harry didn't get the letter he was expecting." Harry couldn't help but be taken aback - elves weren't usually this smart - but he supposed that someone who lived with Snape for so long would probably pick up a thing or two about reading people, or getting a lot from a little.

"It's fine, he's probably just busy."

Dipsy hummed in agreement before leaving, but he could tell she didn't believe him.

Harry lay on his bed; he dropped his letter to Ron on the table, opening the one from Hermione instead.

It was the usual update on her holiday, telling him that she was going to Paris later on in the holiday, asking if he'd been doing the work and telling him not to worry about not being able to say much. She ended it saying she hoped he was okay and that he might not get a reply from Ron. She didn't say much about it, and Harry knew she knew more, but from what she said it was pretty obvious Mrs Weasley wasn't happy with Harry nearly getting them all killed, or with what happened to Ginny.

There was a knock on his door around eleven.

"Yeah?" He still wasn't used to it.

Snape opened the door, stepping in. "You'll have to take your potions before we leave... any particular time you want to go?"

"No sir, I'm fine with any time."

"Alright, we can go after lunch. Your owl's back." He pointed out, turning to Hedwig who nuzzled her head against his hand. Harry was shocked that Hedwig was being so affectionate to someone she didn't really know.

"Oh, yeah." Harry held up Hermione's letter Snape eyed the single letter curiously; he knew Harry had written to two of his friends but said nothing. "She doesn't usually take to people that easily." Harry gestured to Hedwig.

"It's probably because I freed her at Privet drive." Snape replied. "Does she have a name?"

"Hedwig."

"Any reason why?" He asked, thinking it was an odd choice.

"It was just a name I found in my History Of Magic book." Harry said lamely, no one had really asked before.

"Ah, Saint Hedwig." Harry nodded - he wasn't surprised, Snape seemed to know everything.

"Sir?" Snape pulled his gaze away from Hedwig to look at Harry. "You never told me how it went... at the Dursley's I mean."

Snape thought for a moment, absently stroking a trilling Hedwig. "Your uncle is a nasty piece of work, your aunt hasn't changed and your cousin was... unexpected."

"He's been nicer since I saved him last year."

"He wanted me to tell you that he's sorry and asked if you were okay. He also helped me pack for you, though his parents didn't seem to approve."

"Really?" Harry was shocked. Dudley had been better but he didn't think he'd really care that much. Snape simply nodded. "What do you mean my aunt hasn't changed?"

"I knew her when we were children."

"So you..." Harry trailed off, he'd never known someone who knew his mother as a child, no one ever spoke about her, not really. He knew countless stories about his dad from Sirius and Remus, but they only spoke about his mom in relation to his dad.

"I knew your mother as well." Harry could see the pain in the man's face.

"I knew you... I just didn't know how much." Harry really didn't want to bring up the memory.

"Maybe another time. I have some work to do." Snape left and Harry cursed himself.

"Guess we're not getting new clothes today." Harry sighed to Hedwig, resigning himself to the fact that he'd have to wear those clothes for longer. But to his surprise Snape showed up later with his potions and seemed to be alright again.

"Do you want lunch now, or would you rather have something while we're out?"

"We're still going?"

"Yes..." Snape answered confused. "I said we would."

"But then I..." Harry hesitated in bringing it up.

"I apologise that I gave you the impression I wouldn't take you out. But I'm a man of my word and you haven't done anything worthy of not going out. Besides, even if you had you really need some new clothes."

Harry couldn't help his smile, and the man wasn't wrong... he really did.

"And he wears the same thing everyday." Dipsy had popped in, Harry laughed.

"Yes, thanks Dipsy! Why are you here? Other than to criticise my fashion choices."

"Need to know about lunch." She shrugged, sitting on the bed.

"And?" He prompted, knowing this wasn't the full story.

"And I'm bored." She replied, swinging her legs.

"Of course." Snape chuckled. Harry felt oddly homey in a way he'd only ever felt his first couple years at Hogwarts.

Chapter Text

Harry and Snape had decided to eat at the manor, and discuss where they were going to go.

Harry thought they might go to Diagon Alley but Snape said they could just go into town and buy some muggle clothes. Harry much preferred that idea, he didn't really like the idea of filling his wardrobe with robes. He definitely felt more comfortable in his usual casual clothes.

Harry put on his best fitting, least stained, clothes. Then stared at his trainers with hatred, and a bit of embarrassment that Snape had seen them. He was glad the man hadn't said anything about them... well except saying they needed to get him new ones.

Harry wasn't that shocked to see Snape in normal clothes, since it was pretty much what he had been wearing most of the time Harry had been there. He also seemed more comfortable in them.

Harry also wasn't surprised that Snape still wore all black muggle clothes, or at least dark colours. He was suprised how much better he looked in them.

They took a bus into town - Harry was just glad it was just a normal bus and not the Knight bus.

Snape led him around the shops, knowing he wasn't going to be able to get a whole new wardrobe with a couple of hundred pounds, but it would be enough to start with. Harry had agreed, but he didn't care as long as he got enough to last him a few years.

He was pretty embarrassed that in most of the shops they went to he had to shop in the child's section because even the extra small mens hung off him, but at least Snape didn't make fun of him, and it's not like anyone else had to know.

They got back home with three pairs of jeans and some black trousers, several new shirts in mostly just plain reds, blues, blacks, and greys. Snape left Harry on his own to buy his socks and underwear, which Harry was very grateful for. Then Snape insisted on Harry buying at least one proper coat, even though Harry explained he already had a jacket.

They had managed to get a lot more than Severus had thought due to the summer sales.

Harry was most excited about getting new shoes. After he had brought a new pair he still had some money left... it wasn't enough to buy a second pair though. Snape saw him looking wistfully at the trainers and gave him an extra ten pounds, walking away before Harry could argue.

They got back on the bus home with several full bags. Harry had never had a day out like it before and he hoped he could again.

Chapter Text

Unfortunately being unpredictable British weather, it was tipping it down by the time they got to their stop. Which didn't drop them right outside the manor, but about a five minute walk up the road.

They were greeted by Dipsy when they got back. She smiled up at them both.

"What do you look so happy about?" Snape grumbled taking off his dripping coat. Dipsy reached up, taking it.

"'Cause Master's back and in one of his good moods." She laughed, turning to take Harry's coat. "New." She stated.

"Oh, yeah. We brought it today... it looks better dry."

"It does." She smiled, Harry raised an eyebrow before looking down. He was completely dry; he looked at Snape, who was also bone dry, confused.

"They really don't teach you anything of value at that school." He said, simply sounding more like a dad than any of them really realised.

Harry really wanted to ask if Snape would teach him, but maybe he wouldn't want to teach Harry things like that... or anything really. Especially after the Occlumency lessons. Before he could drown in his thoughts Dipsy's voice had cut in.

"You should teach him."

"He's not old enough to do magic outside school."

"You'll be there when he goes back." She rolled her eyes, like it was obvious. She went to hang the coats up by the door, leaving them both looking at each other.

Snape shrugged, breaking the silence. "I could." He turned to Harry. "If you want."

Harry nodded eagerly. "Err... yes, please sir."

"Alright then. When we're back at school. You take the clothes to your room and put them away. I have some business to take care of."

Harry nodded taking the bags to his room contentedly. He took his time putting them away, relishing having an actual wardrobe with clothes specifically for him, and, unlike the jumpers from Mrs Weasley, were chosen by him. That's not to say he didn't appreciate them, even liked them, but they wouldn't be his first choice of clothes.

He sighed thinking about Hermione's letter. He doubted he'd be getting a jumper this year.

Harry walked to dinner dragging his feet, his mood dampened somewhat. He sat down at the empty table, resting his head in his hand and drumming his fingers.

He heard Snape and Dipsy halfway through an... Harry hesitated in calling it an argument it was more of a disagreement.

"You're being dramatic."

"I'm always dramatic, you should be used to it by now!"

"Ask!"

Snape closed his eyes, taking a breath. "Fine."

" Now ." Dipsy replied.

"Fine!" Snape grit out, huffing before sitting down - Dipsy stayed standing, clearly waiting for something "...I'm not doing it with you watching."

Dipsy rolled her eyes before popping out of the room.

Harry and Snape looked at each other, confusion evident on Harry's face, Snape's features carefully schooled into their usual stoic look.

Chapter Text

They stayed looking at each other for a while until Harry was about to just ask. Snape finally opened his mouth, coughing before attempting to start.

"Would you... ahem, like... to havesomefriendsround?"

"Sir?"

"I'm really not going to ask it again." Snape had looked away.

That was what Dipsy had been trying to convince him of? Harry couldn't really understand Snape and Dipsy. Why did he listen to her? Snape didn't even really listen to people let alone a house-elf.

Harry didn't know how to answer. He did want to have his friends round, he couldn't tell them everything in his letters and they couldn't either. He wanted to know why Ron hadn't read his letter. Even if it was just from Hermione.

But on the other hand, would them being here change things? He liked the situation he had found himself in... would they understand that? And it was so much easier to leave out the hard to say bits when he was just writing it. Snape clearly didn't want them there - would he change? He'd been being really nice, would that stop?

"I... errr..."

Dipsy popped in with a plate in each hand. She put Harry's down in front of him but kept a hold on Snape's. "Did you ask?" She asked, holding the plate away from him.

"Yes." Snape groaned.

"Good." She set the plate in front of him then and popped out to let them talk.

"Ron's... erm... well, he didn't get my last letter and Hermione doesn't really have... you know... access to a floo or anything."

Snape raised an eyebrow, he didn't believe for one second that Weasley didn't get the letter. Not with the owl Harry had. The Granger thing was probably true, she was a Muggleborn, but Harry was clearly making excuses.

"If you don't want them to come that's fine. It's not as though I'll be upset."

"It's not that I don't... I just..." Harry groaned, he wasn't sure. He did want them to, but the things he said were true - sort of - and there were so many more problems.

Snape regarded the boy for a minute, wondering what he was thinking. He knew the boy cared a lot for his friends - he was a Gryffindor after all - so why was he making excuses? Well, the Weasley thing was obvious - he knew that Molly was still upset about what had happened at the Ministry. He couldn't really blame her, they could have been killed or expelled, and Ginny's leg was still recovering. But he couldn't understand why he didn't want Granger here to spend time with.

"As long as we set it up properly I could just apparate Granger here. You'd need to ask her parents first through or I could find myself in trouble for kidnapping a student."

Harry wondered why Snape was trying to make it easier when he didn't want them here. "I thought you didn't want my friends here?" Harry questioned.

Snape didn't see any point in lying. "I don't, but they're not coming to see me. I doubt I'll even see them, other than to bring them here and take them home."

"Them!" Harry said bitterly, he didn't understand why Ron couldn't just send him a letter to explain. "It's only going to be Hermione."

Snape looked at Harry. He looked miserable... after everything the boy had been through, thinking he'd lost his friend was really the thing that got the biggest reaction. He sighed, it was annoyingly similar to his own reactions.

"You have other friends." He tried to remember them. "You're friends with Longbottom and Lovegood, aren't you?" He wasn't sure how close friends they were, but he remembered them from Umbridge's office and they were involved in the fight at the Ministry.

Harry shrugged. They weren't not friends - Luna was Ginny's friend and Neville talked to her often too, maybe they would know more about Ron. Plus they were both Purebloods so they'd likely know what was happening in the Wizarding world.

"We are friends, but I don't know if they'd want to come."

"You don't have to ask them, but if you wish to you are welcome to do so." Snape really hoped he wasn't setting Harry up for more rejection.

Chapter Text

After dinner Harry took his broom into the garden for a while, remembering not to stay on it for too long because of what happened the last time.

When he finally went in he wrote to Hermione to ask if she'd want to stay. He couldn't tell her much, he made sure the letter was just asking if she wanted to come because he'd probably have to show Snape. He wasn't sure where to start with the others.

He didn't want to go straight in with asking them over. He asked how their holidays were going and mentioned the idea that they could come and stay. Hoping it wouldn't seem too weird, he'd never actually invited anyone over to stay with him before.

Not surprising really, he didn't have friends at the Dursley's, they had seen to that, and even if he had it wasn't like he'd ever have been able to have them over; it wasn't as if they could hang out in his cupboard.

Harry shook his head, he didn't want to think about there. He wasn't there anymore and he needed to stop thinking about it.

He gave Hermione's letter to Dipsy to take to Snape, not wanting to be there when he read it. She brought it back saying that it was fine and that, as long as she had her parents permission, he'd apparate over there and explain what he couldn't put in the letter to her parents. So Harry sent Hedwig off with the letters.

The night from there followed the usual routine of Harry taking his potions and Dreamless Sleep.

It was weird to think they had a routine but the more Harry thought, and the longer he stayed there, the more he saw of their routine. Snape had also noticed how much Harry had been settling in and the few days between the replies were nice and relaxed.

Harry had gotten a reply from Neville first telling him about his holiday so far. It didn't seem all that exciting from what Harry could tell, he didn't have many plans just homework and a few family events. But Neville had also said that he'd like to come over and had even offered for Harry to go to him.

The next reply was Luna. This made sense because they had their own family owls, whereas Hermione had Crookshanks meaning she had to rely on Hedwig. Luna's answer was mostly the same, with a few more random animals Harry was almost certain didn't exist thrown in, but she also said she'd love to come. Her main reason being that she wanted to see where he lived to make sure she could ward away the Nargles.

Harry wasn't sure whether to be touched or creeped out. He decided creeped out, and that he should make sure she knows she can't do anything when she comes. Snape seemed alright but he doubted that would last if she started putting cork necklaces everywhere.

Hermione was last back, being delivered by Hedwig. She rather appropriately was the most excited. Especially because she wanted to make sure Harry was safe.

Harry told Snape they'd all said yes and Snape said he sort it out.

Harry wasn't the only one relieved they'd all said yes. Snape thought he might have made a mistake and by he he definitely meant Dipsy. Harry wouldn't be able to take any more rejection or disappointment.

* * *

Flashback

"This is all your fault, you know." Snape accused Dipsy, who was perched on the edge of his desk swinging her legs happily, pacing his office anxiously.

"You've said." Dipsy laughed. Snape stared at her; could she not see the severity of the situation? "It's only been a day."

"What if they don't reply or say no?" He asked, clearly worried.

"Didn't they follow him to the Ministry?" Dipsy pointed out, obviously unconcerned.

"That is not the point."

"Maybe his worry is catching." She suggested with a smirk, finding her silly, worried Masters funny.

"Then you are clearly immune." Severus glared at her pausing in his pacing specifically to do so.

"You really care about him."

"Don't be disgusting." He said, but there was no bite in his words, he couldn't be bothered with pretences with Dipsy, he did care for Harry. Not that he was really ready to admit that out loud properly yet, he knew Dipsy understood though. She understood way too much.

She shook her head at him, swinging her legs from the desk she was situated on. She looked around as though in thought.

"What?"

"This desk would look better over there." She pointed to the side.

"Do you ever stop?"

She shook her head again, going back to redecorating in her head. Severus smiled fondly at the elf, not that she was ever going to touch his office, he had it how he liked it - she had decorated the rest of the house.

End Flashback

Chapter Text

Harry didn't want to reply telling them to come straight away, so he settled for sending more letters. He was surprised at how pleasant it was. He was really starting to like Neville and Luna, and felt kind of bad for judging them so harshly at first.

He got to know them more through the few letters they'd exchanged than all his years at Hogwarts with them. He found out, for instance, that Luna was an excellent artist by the picture she had attached to one of her letters. It depicted Harry flying on a broom seemingly racing a Thestral, and was very realistic.

A little over a week had passed since he'd received the original replies, and Harry couldn't wait for them to come. He had been starting to get bored. There really wasn't much to do. He was either writing or flying, but there wasn't really anything else.

Harry came back in after flying, with his broom slung over his shoulder, it had been raining but that didn't bother him and he'd stayed out there the same amount of time as usual.

"Floor!" He heard Dipsy's voice, and felt himself being lifted and pushed back. He looked around and saw Dipsy staring down at muddy footprints on the floor. He realised they were his, and she's put him back on the door mat.

"Sorry, Dipsy." He said, quickly removing his shoes. "Here." He picked up a sponge, helping to scrub at the floor. She gave him a smile and started on the floor as well.

Dipsy stood up, leaving to get a mop to sort out where Harry had been dripping.

Snape walked out of his lab, watching Harry confused. "Is there reason you're doing Dipsy's job."

Harry hadn't noticed Snape, too engrossed in his task, he jumped slightly. "Oh hi, sir. I was just helping because I..."

"...Tracked muddy footprints all over my clean floor." Dipsy cut in, putting down a mop and bucket.

"Ahh, that's an offence punishable by death usually, you got off lightly."

Harry laughed. "Yeah well luckily she caught me before I got too far, so she only had to Crucio me." Harry had been warming up to Snape, he wasn't how he'd thought he was at all. He still felt weird about talking to him, but he always felt more comfortable after a fly.

Severus chuckled while Dipsy's mouth hung open in mock offence. Snape shrugged. "I believe it."

"I'd never Crucio Mister Potter. You!" She pointed at Snape. "I make no promises about." Pointing to the rug. "Off."

He rolled his eyes stepping back onto the rug. "My apolog..." He began, stopping and closing his eyes before taking a breath. Harry watched him nervously, unsure what was happening. "I'm being summoned. Dipsy see to it Harry gets the proper potions if I'm not back." He turned around going into his office, leaving Dipsy and Harry in silence.

After about a minute there was a loud crack to signify Severus apparating, startling Harry slightly. He looked over at Dipsy who had taken up the mop and was sorting the floor.

"Was he summoned by Vo..."

"Yes." She cut him off, gravely.

"Do you think he'll be..."

"Master... knows when to be quiet."

Harry nodded, Dipsy was right - Snape was smart, he'd be okay. Right? He was worried. He couldn't quite believe that he was worried about Snape, but he was. He looked at Dipsy, she looked nervous too.

"Once the floor's done I can help you make dinner." Harry suggested, maybe it would take their minds off everything and Harry didn't think he wanted to be alone right now. "I can cook, honestly, I did all the time at the Dursley's."

"Okay." Dipsy replied, she didn't seem to want to be alone either.

They finished the floor, not speaking much and any conversation they did have was short and didn't go anywhere. Just awkward small talk, like they'd just met. Trying in anyway they could to not discuss the thing on both of their minds.

Once they were in the kitchen, a room Harry had never been before, they managed to get a conversation going about Hermione, Neville and Luna, and when they were coming.

It wasn't the most interesting talk in the world, but it sufficed for something to break the silence.

Dinner didn't take long and after a brief discussion about whether it would be worth the effort of taking the food upstairs when they could just eat in the kitchen, it was decided they would just eat where they were.

For the first time Dipsy joined him in his meal, and he was immensely glad he didn't have to sit alone at an empty table wondering about Severus.

They went back upstairs so Dipsy could give Harry his potions, which he took easily until it came to the Dreamless Sleep.

"I want to be awake when he comes back." Harry shook his head, putting the potion down.

"He might not be back until very late."

Harry shrugged. "I don't mind."

"He won't talk much." She warned.

"I just want to see he's okay. That will be enough."

Dipsy sighed. "Okay, but you're taking blame."

Harry laughed. "Deal."

So they sat there waiting for him to return. It reminded Harry of the night they spent at Grimald place, waiting to see if Mr Weasley was okay.

He didn't want to think about that. Or about Sirius. Or the Weasleys. Maybe he did just want to sleep. He yawned, his eyelids drooping. He didn't want to sleep, he wanted to see that Snape was okay.

He sat up a bit straighter, hoping it would make him less tired. He looked over at Dipsy, she didn't look tired at all. He wondered if house-elves slept, he supposed they must since he'd woken her up with his nightmare that one time. The last thing he remembered was it being two in the morning, and Snape still wasn't back. After that he must have fallen asleep on the couch because when he woke up it was four, and Snape was back... and carrying him?

Chapter Text

Severus stumbled, barely able to stay on his feet, as he apparated into his office; Dipsy was already in there, sitting waiting for him, ready with a pain potion. She held it out to him and he nodded gratefully, not ready to speak yet.

"Thanks." He said gruffly, coughing a little and stretching.

"You're welcome." Dipsy replied, wrapping an arm around his leg, he let out a chuckle laying a gentle hand on her head.

"I'm fine, Dipsy. Barely even sore." He assured her, she still didn't move though.

"Mister is in the livingroom, he was worried, he was going to stay up to make sure you were safe," Severus couldn't hide the smile at the fact Harry had been worried about him, to the point that he decided to stay up and wait for him. "He fell asleep though, I thought it best to leave him and wait for you here."

"It's probably best that he gets some non-medicated sleep anyway, though I think I should move him somewhere more comfortable." Severus said, walking to the livingroom with Dipsy walking along beside him.

Harry was asleep on the sofa, curled up cutely with a cushion under his head and a blanket pulled up over him, he assumed courtesy of Dipsy. He smiled at seeing him looking so at peace, happy he wasn't having another nightmare.

He remembered that night when he'd heard Harry screaming, he'd never understood what it was to be truly afraid until then. Until the sickening second he thought Harry was being attacked, had been found by Voldemort or his Deatheaters, until he was racing up the hallway to Harry's room, his wand out ready to kill any intruders.

But the only person in the room was Harry, curled up under the sheets, not the way he was now but terrified and shaking, trying to be a small a target as possible. Severus had put his wand away and stepped closer to the terrified boy, he'd needed to wake him up but had known that would make things worse and scare Harry more.

He'd done it anyway and he had been scared, he'd curled away from Severus and screamed for him not to touch him, for Harry touch likely only ever meant pain. Severus had wanted to pick Harry up and hold him, show him that that wasn't always true but that wouldn't have worked, and it wasn't about what Severus wanted so he didn't touch. Instead, he'd sat on the bed - careful not to touch him - and given him his glasses, all he could do was be there for him, provided he even wanted that much from the man.

It had only been the first night of Harry staying there. Severus would probably have rejected any level of comfort if he was in Harry's position, but Harry had asked him to stay when he gave him the choice. And, despite the fact that Snape was sure even Harry didn't know why he wanted him to stay, he had. They'd had tea and talked; before Severus would have said it was just responsibility, but he'd also enjoyed himself in Harry's company.

Severus sighed at the memories, bending down to lift Harry up bridal style, the way he had before when all of this had began. He'd managed to get out of the livingroom and partially down the hall before Harry woke up.

"Sir?" Harry blinked, not as alarmed as he should be waking up in the arms of his Potions professor. He stared up at the face of the man, checking he wasn't hurt. He didn't have any marks on his face and he was carrying him, so he couldn't be badly hurt anywhere else.

"We're nearly at your room. There didn't seem any point waking you. Real, non-medicated, sleep will be good for you." Severus gave him a brief explanation

Harry rubbed his eyes, taking in what Severus had said. "Okay. Are you alright, sir?"

"I have been better, but yes, I'm fine." He replied truthfully, the Dark Lord hadn't been in a particularly bad mood, especially considering Harry had escaped him and he could no longer sense him.

Harry saw the door to his room open and wondered if it was magic until he saw the tips of Dipsy's ears going past. Severus carried him to his bed, putting him gently down - the boy was already in pyjamas so there was no need to wake him up properly. Severus knew he didn't weigh much because he'd been starved, and was still way too under nourished... besides he'd carried him before.

Harry wasn't too happy when Snape put him down, it was surprisingly comfortable in his arms.

Severus left Harry, who had already drifted back to sleep again, heading for his own room before he collapsed from exhaustion himself.

* * *

Harry's dream seemed to pick up from where it last left off, despite the fact it had been weeks. He was in the Dursley's house, blows raining down on him from all sides until they suddenly all just stopped and he felt new hands on him. Gentle hands that didn't want to hurt him. They lifted him carefully, he recognised who it was even before he saw their face.

He could tell by the way the hands held him and the incredibly realistic scent of sandalwood and stale potions - a smell he found oddly calming. He knew the man holding him was Severus.

He moved closer into the arms, barely conscious, only awake enough to seek more warmth from the man. Things suddenly went dizzy and they were somewhere else, Harry couldn't see where but it felt familiar. He could hear Severus speaking in a panicked voice and heard Dipsy's familiar squeak. He smiled, not paying attention to what they were saying, just letting the gentle hum of the voices cloud his mind, dulling the pain.

Suddenly he was in a fireplace, travelling by the floo, he wondered if he was going to be sick. He hoped not, that seemed a rude thing to do to your rescuer. Even in a dream.

A new smell overpowered his senses, of powerful cleaning products and antiseptic. He pressed his nose into the firm chest beneath it so as to breathe in Severus' calming scent.

Chapter Text

That's when he woke up. Harry had to admit he was disappointed, he wanted to go back to the man's arms. Everything seemed okay there.

He wondered if it was real. If that was what had happened that day, or if it was just his mind creating memories from Severus carrying him last night.

He checked the time; it was only nine, but he thought there was no point sleeping in. He wasn't sure if Severus was going to be awake, he'd have to ask Dipsy.

Leaving his room he decided to be quiet in case Severus was sleeping. He tiptoed past Snape's room carefully. He looked up, getting the prickly feeling of being watched, to see Severus standing there, obviously still in his pyjamas - some jogging bottoms and a white shirt - with a towel draped around his shoulders.

"What are you doing?" He asked, understandably puzzled.

Harry blushed. "I thought you might be asleep... I was trying to be quiet."

"That's... very considerate of you." Severus replied, jerking his head to tell Harry to move because he was stood right in front of Severus' bedroom door. Harry obliged, moving to the side and letting Snape through. "I'm going to get dressed then, I'll join you for breakfast."

"Okay, sir." Harry smiled, strangely happy he was going to eat with him considering he hadn't thought he'd be able.

Dipsy was in the dining-room when he went in, plating up scrambled eggs and bacon. Some days she took orders, some days she didn't. Harry wasn't fussy either way, it was more Severus who complained about her choices. It was funny sometimes to see Severus look as though he was moments away from throwing a right tantrum. Especially over something as simple as what they were having for lunch. It was even funnier to see Dipsy deal with him like he was an irritating child. She could be very stubborn when she wanted.

Harry wondered what Hermione would make of her. She wanted house-elves to be free but Harry couldn't imagine a Dipsy without Severus, or really a Severus without Dipsy.

Severus came in and looked at the food Dipsy had laid out. He smirked. "Sentiment." He teased without venom, Dipsy just nodded and patting his knee with a smile.

Harry looked up, already having started his food. "What do you mean?" He wasn't so worried about asking questions any more when Dipsy was there, he was a little more nervous when it was just him and Severus.

Severus looked up with a ghost of a smile. "It's my favourite." He pointed towards the food. "She always... When I come back from the meetings."

Harry nodded, looking down, suddenly feeling he'd asked something very personal. He wondered if he should apologise but never made a decision as Hedwig flew in, landing in front of Harry and holding her leg out expectantly.

He took the letter off her leg, giving her a bit of bacon, and she flew back out of the window, likely to settle herself in her cage tired after her long trip.

The letter was from Hermione, Harry smiled opening it. She had been to Paris for the week and was giving him an in-depth analysis of the place in Wizarding culture, she also said she'd got his birthday present from there but she wasn't going to say what that was. She asked when she could come over to give him the present in person.

He had been wondering that himself. He couldn't wait to have them over, he'd told Hermione about inviting the others and she'd taken a more the merrier approach, but as time went on he felt more and more nervous about the whole thing.

"Granger?" Severus asked when Harry put the letter down.

"Oh. Yeah."

"Is she still in Paris?" He asked conversationally.

Harry frowned in shock and confusion. "Sir, how did you know that?"

"You told me." He replied as though it was obvious.

Harry thought, he did remember telling him randomly the other day. "I hadn't really thought you were listening." He admitted.

Severus shrugged. "Either way you haven't answered my question."

"No, she just got back... She wants to know when she can come."

"Whenever you want. She has her parents permission?"

"Oh yeah... and so do Luna and Neville." He added hastily.

"What about sometime this week?"

"Please, sir." Harry said eagerly.

"Alright then. I'll fire-call Lovegood and Longbottom. You'll have to write to Granger."

"Okay sir." Harry jumped out of his seat, going to write her back.

"Where do you think you're going?" Severus asked, his voice stern.

"To write Hermione..." He said, his mind started to fill with doubts. Was this all a joke? To get him happy and excited then take it away? Was he going to say they couldn't come over? Was it his fault? Had he done something wrong? He'd tried to be good.

"There's no need to rush, you have all day. Sit down and finish your breakfast please." Severus said, gesturing to Harry's half full plate of forgotten eggs.

"Oh." Harry blushed slightly, feeling stupid for jumping to conclusions and being so eager. "Sorry."

"It's quite alright." Severus lifted his newspaper thoughtfully.

Chapter Text

It was around mid-day when Dipsy walked into Harry's room in a huff, flopping down onto his bed.

"Are you alright?" Harry asked from over his Defence Against The Dark Arts book to the elf sitting at his feet on the bed.

She crossed her arms. "Have to hide away." She grumbled.

"Why?" Harry asked curious, what was going on?

"Muggles." She sounded annoyed but not like Kreacher, not like she hated Muggles but clearly irritated.

"What about Muggles? Are there some here?" Harry closed his book, staring at Dipsy like she had all the answers.

She nodded. "Master invited them. So I have to hide."

Harry nodded sympathetically, he understood what it was like to be forced to hide away from company because you were too freaky to be seen.

"But why did he invite them?"

She shrugged. "He said he would show us later."

"Oh, okay. How long will they be here?" Harry wondered if he was expected to hide from them too.

"Master said not long, but he lies about things like that."

"I'm sure it won't be too long." He hoped so at least, he was staring to get hungry... they hadn't had lunch yet.

"Oh, master said to get him if you're hungry or need your potions because he might forget if he's busy." Dipsy said, swinging her feet absently in her usual fashion.

"He doesn't want me to hide too?" Harry asked, Dipsy stopped swinging her legs abruptly.

"Master doesn't want to hide us. He has to hide Dipsy 'cause Muggles don't know about elves but he doesn't have to hide you, so he won't... Only from the bad people. But master wouldn't invite people who want to hurt you."

Harry nodded at Dipsy's ramblings, happy that he wasn't being hidden away like before... well only from the Deatheaters and Voldemort, but he didn't really mind hiding from them.

It actually didn't take that long for the people to go away, a lot shorter than the average dinner party which Harry was accustomed to hiding away for.

Severus knocked on Harry's door. "Yeah?" Harry called from inside, the door opened and Severus walked in.

"How did I guess you would be here?" He asked Dipsy, putting the tray of potions down.

Dipsy shrugged. "Mind reader?" She suggested teasingly.

"Legilimancy is not mind reading." He glared. Harry thought that Dipsy was probably the only living thing in the world that that glare didn't work on.

"Sir?" Harry asked cautiously. "Why were there people here?" Dipsy had said he'd show them later, so he presumed the question was not out of bounds.

"I suddenly realised that I had never finished with my modernising of the Manor." He replied, measuring Harry's potions carefully.

"What do you mean?"

"You'll see in a minute. The first are ready, take them while I measure the rest. I doubt you'll have to take them much longer. Maybe we'll cut it down to taking them once a day." He said thoughtfully.

Harry was excited by the prospect, he hated having to take them. Especially since he felt like an inconvenience.

Once his potions were done Severus took them to the new thing. Harry hadn't expected what it was. A phone. A landline.

Dipsy looked curious, not sure what to make of it. Harry looked at Severus. "You got a phone?" He hoped he'd be allowed to use it to call Hermione.

Severus shrugged. "I'd been meaning to get one but never bothered, until I thought it might be easier for you to contact Granger."

Harry beamed - not only was he allowed to call Hermione he'd sort of got the phone for that purpose. "I'll send her the number in my letter." Severus nodded to show he thought that was a good idea.

"I got something else I believe you'll appreciate."

He took them to a room Harry had never been before; it was another livingroom but smaller than the other main one where the floo was. Only a sofa, a chair, a coffee-table and a TV were in the room. Harry did a double take. A TV?

"And before you ask, yes, you can use this as well. Not all the time though."

Harry didn't care if he was only allowed to watch for twenty minutes a week, he'd never been allowed to watch TV before. He had to settle for squatting in the bushes and listening when the window was open at the Dursley's.

Severus turned it on, passing the remote to Harry whose eyes had glazed over. He chuckled. "I can see you're happy with the decision. You haven't got long till lunch but you can come back after." And with that he left the room, Dipsy following along behind him, while Harry navigated his butt to a seat without taking his eyes off the screen.

Chapter Text

Dipsy laughed when they were out of the room and Severus looked down at her curiously. "You never mentioned a phone."

Severus lifted his head up proudly. "I talk about it all the time. You are just a poor listener."

Dipsy shook her head. "You got it for him. All of it."

"I did want the television." Severus replied truthfully. There were some old Muggle films he still loved, but hadn't been able to watch in a long time.

"Is master going to do some 'research' now?" She asked meaningfully. Dipsy had known Snape for a long time, she almost always knew what he was thinking and she definitely knew what he had been researching the past few weeks.

He narrowed his eyes, catching her hint. "I... needed to think of something, it seemed a good fit... I know it's not likely..."

"Still possible." She said shrugging. "He likes you too, you know."

"Don't you have a shelf to dust or... I don't know... lunch?"

"Not for you if you don't watch it." She warned jokingly.

"You wouldn't refuse to feed me."

"No, I'd just make you salad."

"You wouldn't!" Severus turned to face her sharply, but Dipsy just gave a smirk before popping out of the room.

* * *

As Severus walked to lunch he passed his new television room and he decided to pop his head round the door to get Harry for lunch. He almost didn't want to disturb him - he'd had a smile plastered on his face since he'd seen the phone and the TV, Severus was quite proud that he'd thought of getting them. He knew Harry would likely be bored but they should as least serve to keep him entertained for some of the day.

"Lunch, Harry." He expected the boy to wave him away and say he'd be there in a minute so he could finish his program, but he turned the TV off immediately and started to get up. Severus decided not to comment on it.

"Sir?..." Severus had noted that Harry always seemed nervous when asking questions or starting a conversation. He hoped that answering them and not punishing him, getting angry or making it seem like he didn't care, would aid in Harry being more open and asking things if he was curious... or asking for things if he needs them. For the most part it had, though Dipsy had told him that she thinks he prefers to ask her for things and that when he does he often asks if Severus would mind.

"Yes?"

"What's for lunch?"

"I don't know, but I fear I may have condemned myself to salad."

Harry still wasn't sure why Severus didn't just order Dipsy to make him whatever he wanted but didn't say anything about it, just nodding as they made their way down the hallway. Snape decided to try to start up another conversation.

"Have you written your letter to Granger yet?" He asked, somewhat curiously.

"Not yet sir, but I can do it after dinner if you want."

"No rush." Severus shrugged, giving Harry a smile. "I know you were distracted by the TV. I assume you like it since you've been glued to it since you saw it."

"Yeah, it's pretty cool." Harry mumbled. "I guess that's as much as I'm allowed to watch today."

Severus gave a small chuckle. "You are free to watch as long as you like, except for meals and I'm sure you'll probably still want to fly."

Harry stared at Snape in shock. "I can watch as much as I like?"

"I presume you weren't allowed to watch it at the Dursley's," It wasn't a question. "I know they had one, I saw it."

"Yeah." Harry murmured, shoving his hands in his pockets and scuffing his feet on the floor, surprised at the anger in Snape's voice.

"I'm not like them Harry. I know our past, among other things, will make it difficult to trust me but I won't treat you the way they did. Especially not any more. Do you have any ideas that might make you more comfortable?"

Harry shook his head, not sure he could even speak... not that he had any ideas anyway. He wanted to trust Snape, or really anybody, but adults always seemed to be out for themselves and didn't even genuinely care about him. Snape seemed different though - he'd taken Harry in. He knew there were probably few people left really willing to do ... Sirius was gone, the Weasley's didn't like him any more, Lupin wouldn't be able - and even if he could he probably wouldn't want to - and Dumbledore didn't seem to care where he ended up. Despite all his better judgement he liked it there with Snape and Dipsy, it seemed to work and he felt like he sort of fit there.

"Well, just have a think about it, it doesn't matter if you can't think of something. I didn't think you'd just learn to trust me overnight, and the Dursley's will always be in the back of your mind, things like that take time." Severus said evenly, opening the door of the dining-room and pulling Harry's chair out for him before sitting down himself.

"I know, erm... thanks." Harry knew Severus had a habit of doing little things for him, not in a patronising way, he did them casually the way he did with Dipsy. Harry had thought they were kind of patronising at first until he saw him pull out Dipsy's chair or open the door for her, he knew she'd never put up with him, or anyone for that matter, being patronising to her.

She came in with their dinner deciding, uncharacteristically, to join them. Severus didn't point this out or suggest it was anything unusual, so Harry thought maybe she regularly joined Snape before Harry got there, and he certainly didn't have any problem with the elf's company.

The night went well, Harry continued watching the variety of channels Snape had brought, Dipsy joined him for a while, interested in the new object. She watched an assortment of soaps while Harry used the coffee-table to write to Hermione, eventually Severus came in to tell Harry it was time for bed and his potions before trying to convince Dipsy EastEnders was a documentary.

Chapter Text

When Harry woke up it was to loud thudding coming from the kitchen, he rubbed his eyes confused, getting up and putting his glasses on. He crept down the hall, thinking he probably shouldn't be there. He moved silently, nearly jumping out of his skin when the door opened. Snape came out looking pretty scared himself and closed the door quickly, just in time for something to hit the door, making a loud thunk.

Severus breathed a sigh of relief, before looking at Harry. "I wouldn't go in there... Dipsy's not in the best of moods."

Harry raised a eyebrow in confusion, trying to imagine something that would make Severus Snape run for his life and anything he could think of didn't really fit the description of Dipsy. Maybe this was what he meant when he'd said to never get on her bad side.

"Are you okay, sir?" Harry asked nervously, the man looked kind of shaken.

"I'm fine. She just has a tendency to... try and save my life." Severus explained, Harry nodded - he was well aware of the ways elves helped to 'save your life'.

"Oh... Save you from what?" Harry asked, hoping he wasn't being too pushy.

"She doesn't want me to go on a mission for the Order." Severus answered - he knew Harry would have to find out at some point, he'd only told Dipsy first because she was the one who'd have to look after Harry.

Harry still wasn't quite used to getting straight answers from adults, they all tended to hide things from him and even if Snape didn't give him the whole truth he told him more than most. It was nice to not have to sneak around just to get information.

"Are you still going?" Harry asked, he'd have thought that having Snape gone for a few days, possibly weeks, would be fun but he just felt like he wanted the man to stay, like he needed him if only a little.

"I... haven't decided yet." He said looking at the door distractedly, then turning to Harry to look at him seriously. "Do you want me to stay?"

Harry felt flustered, he did want him to stay but he knew the mission was probably important, and that Snape would likely want to go on it, but then he thought of the night he had waited up for Snape when he went to the meeting and how worried he had been. He just didn't know how to answer, there were lots of questions Harry didn't know how to answer at Prince Manor.

"I... erm... it doesn't really matter what I want." Harry shrugged, thinking this was the correct answer.

"Of course it does, you are under my care, are you not?"

"Yes but..." Harry wasn't sure how to finish the sentence. 'The Dursley's never wanted to hear my opinion.' 'It doesn't usually matter what I want as long as everyone else is happy.' 'I never make the right choice, people just end up getting hurt.' None of these were good choices, they may be truthful but they weren't good.

Luckily Harry never had to finish his sentence as the door opened, showing Dipsy with her arms crossed and knives sticking out of the door. Harry guessed that was what the thumping and the thunk was.

"You're not going, I won't allow it." Dipsy stated decidedly.

"I'd gathered that." Snape said eyeing the knives, before taking them out of the door and out of Dipsy's reach.

Harry stared at the knives. She'd thrown them at him?! He couldn't even imagine Kreacher doing that and he'd hated his master.

"We were trying to talk." Severus grumbled at Dipsy.

"If a conversation is important, don't have it in the kitchen hallway." She said with a slight smirk, Severus smirked back - it was clear to Harry that they had somehow made up. He wished it was that simple with Ron.

"Harry?" Severus asked, turning to him. "What were you saying?"

"Nothing I just... I don't really want you to go." He expected Severus to ask him why he didn't want him to go.

Instead he just said. "I will tell Albus that I don't think it's a good idea for me to go on this mission"

"Good." Dipsy said, sounding satisfied, half turning to go back into the kitchen before remembering something. She turned back around holding out her hand to Severus; he placed the knives in her hand before adding.

"Remind me to dull those at some point."

Harry and Severus walked back down the hall together, Harry heading for his room to get changed and Snape heading to the library to get some reading in before breakfast.

"Did she really throw the knives at you?" Harry asked, unable not to - even for the Wizarding world this seemed odd.

He didn't expect the chuckle he received "Yes, she gets like that." He looked at Harry's shocked and worried face before going serious. "She won't hit me, she's quite skilled. House-elves lives and deaths are... different from our own; I doubt she quite understands what she's doing is dangerous. She wouldn't hit me and anyway, as I said, she's incredibly skilled with knives."

Harry nodded, he didn't think he'd ever understand having that much trust in a person... or elf. He still didn't think it was a good idea for her to do that, although this sort of explained how Dobby tried to save his life before. He started talking before he had really thought of what he was going to say.

"A house-elf I know tried to save me in second year, he didn't seem to understand what he was doing could kill me."

"Dobby?" Severus asked, giving a chuckle when Harry stared at him like he was magic... which he was.

"How did you..."

"Lucius ranted for days." Severus laughed putting on a pompous, whiny voice. "That Potter boy lost me my servant!" Harry started laughing too.

"That's a good impression, sir." Harry said, wiping a tear from his eye.

"Well I was always destined for the stage, before I was a teacher I mean."

"You're dramatic enough." Dipsy popped into the room. "I like Dobby, he gave me a sock. Just one, I don't think he understands the concept. I managed to get him to wear two though they never match, like master."

"My socks are all black!" Severus exclaimed.

"You still wear the wrong ones. The variation in length you wear astounds me."

"If we could just move away from the topic of what I wear on my feet."

"I swear you wear one ankle sock and one knee length sometimes, I don't understand it." Dipsy said, not willing to drop the topic.

"Now you're just being dramatic." Severus said rolling his eyes. "Weren't you making breakfast before you decided to come over and be snarky?" Dipsy crossed her arms, raising an eyebrow. "You don't have any knives on you, do you?" Severus asked in a mock anxious voice, making Dipsy laugh and pop out of the room. "That wasn't a no!" He shouted, knowing she would hear. Severus turned back to Harry. "Sorry if we woke you." He said off-handedly.

"You didn't..." Harry trailed off, realising he was still in his pyjamas and had clearly only just rolled out of bed. "It's alright."

"Next time I'll give Dipsy bad news in the afternoon so you can sleep in." He smirked before heading off to the dinning-room, having given up on reading before breakfast. "I'll see you at breakfast then."

"See you, sir." Harry said, disappearing into his room to get ready.

A while later they were sitting at breakfast, Dipsy hadn't joined them for their meal again but Harry didn't mind much, he was getting used to being alone with Snape and so he didn't panic so much when he started speaking.

"Have you sent your letter to Granger yet?" Severus asked. He usually read his paper in the morning but he hadn't even lifted it yet, he didn't when he wanted to talk to Harry, he wanted Harry to know that he was actually listening.

"Yeah, I sent it last night." Harry replied, he was going to wait until morning but had been too eager for Hermione's reply that he didn't want to wait longer than necessary, and he knew Hedwig loved flying at night.

"Good. With your owl I wouldn't be surprised if you got a call from her before dinner." Severus said, he didn't have any worries that Hermione wouldn't call as soon as she knew she could.

Harry smiled, he hoped that Hermione would call him as soon as she got the letter. "Sir?" Severus inclined his head a little to show Harry he was listening and to go on. "...You did say that they could come over this week." He said resolutely but shyly.

Severus gave him a reassuring smile. "Provided you still want them to."

"I do." Harry said quickly. Then he started thinking and getting nervous. Did he really want them to? Would Snape change? He was being nice to him but would he stop if Harry's friends came over? Maybe they wouldn't want to come over if they knew Harry was closely associated with a teacher.

Severus noticed the change, Harry had seemed sincere when he said he wanted them over but maybe he was having second thoughts. "Is there something wrong?" He asked, not sure if the boy would answer truthfully.

Harry didn't know whether to be honest or not. He didn't get much choice in the end as soon as he opened his mouth his worries came out of their own accord. "I don't know. I think I want them to come but I've never really had anyone come over to my house before. Well, Ron came once to pick me up but didn't stay long and it didn't really go very well. I don't know what's going to happen, or how they're going to be, or what to do." Harry was blushing and slightly out of breath by the end of the confession. He half expected Severus to roll his eyes and say he was being ridiculous, and laugh at him before deciding that they just shouldn't come.

Instead Severus nodded. "It's not that surprising that you're nervous about them coming, but if you like you could just have Granger over first to help you get more comfortable with the idea." Severus suggested.

Harry thought about it it did seem like a good idea and it meant they could catch up away from the others at least the first time. "Can I really do that?" He asked.

"Of course, and I doubt she'll be that opposed to the idea either."

"Okay, I'll do that then, please."

Chapter Text

The phone rang later on and Harry practically ran to it, it could only be Hermione.

"Do you mind not run around the house like a lunatic?" Severus asked sternly from the library, the door had been open so he'd seen Harry streaking past.

"Sorry, sir." Harry said before picking up the phone, slightly out of breath. "Hello?"

"Harry!" Hermione said back happily. "It's been so long since we spoke. I missed you. Have you been running?"

"Oh yeah, the Manor's pretty big, I was in my room."

"The Manor? Where are you?" She asked, she hadn't expected the safe house to be a Manor.

"Oh, it's hard to explain." He said, more not really wanting to explain anything yet.

"I suppose I'll find out when I come. When is that? You said this week, right?"

Harry was glad to hear how eager she was. "Yeah, this week, I'm not sure when though. I'll have to ask..." He hesitated before admitting who he was living with. "Erm... Snape." He braced himself for Hermione's reaction.

"Snape?! As in Professor Snape?! That's who you're with?!" Hermione was shocked, she had no idea Harry would be with Snape... he hadn't said who he was with in his letters.

"Yeah..." Harry said awkwardly, he wanted to tell her that Snape actually wasn't that bad but he didn't think the man would appreciate him ruining his reputation.

"Is he alright to you?" Hermione thought of how Snape was with Harry in lessons and was starting to get worried.

"Yeah, he's okay. He brought this phone so I could call you." Harry replied, it was the first time he'd realised that Snape had done it specifically for him. He remembered the other things he had done like buying him clothes, not making him go back to the Dursley's when he clearly wasn't ready, making him potions and then making sure he got them everyday and never once seeming like Harry was being an inconvenience. Harry could talk to him and he actually listened, he calmed him down after a nightmare and whenever he can't be there - like if he's summoned by Voldemort or might have to go on a mission - he makes arrangements for Harry to be looked after by Dipsy, who Harry is certain is more than qualified to look after anyone.

"Really?" She asked shocked, she hadn't expected that, she just thought that Harry was only just allowed to use the phone.

"Yeah, it's alright here. It's hard to explain." Harry wasn't sure if he wanted to explain that he and Severus weren't just okay, they were... well not friends, but family maybe. Or it felt like that, Harry doubted that Snape felt the same. He started to wonder if he was getting too comfortable there.

"As long as everything is okay. He's really letting you have people over? He has a Manor or is it not his?" Hermione had hundreds of more questions but they could wait until she could see Harry.

"Yeah, everything's fine, and he is, I was surprised too. I think he thinks I'm getting bored. The Manor is his, it's really nice." Harry answered, blushing when he heard Snape getting up in the library, he was certain Snape could hear him and might come out but he just heard the big library doors close. Snape was giving him privacy.

"Are you bored? What do you even do all day with him?" Hermione asked, she'd probably spend extra time with a teacher asking for lessons or picking their brains but she couldn't really imagine what Harry would do.

"It's boring sometimes but I don't spend the day with him, usually I only see him around meal times; I'm allowed to fly around the garden and things, and he's got a library, there's not much else though. Oh, and of course there's Dipsy, sometimes we hang out."

"He's got a library? Who's Dipsy?"

Harry laughed - of course Hermione would be interested in the library. "Yeah, you'd love it, there's got to be a thousand books in there, it's huge. And Dipsy's his house-elf."

"Do you think he'd let me look around it? He's got a house-elf?"

"I guess, he doesn't mind me looking around, he even told me a book that would help with my homework. He got Dipsy with the Manor."

"Does he treat Dipsy okay?" Hermione asked. Harry was pretty sure Dipsy would be offended if someone thought Snape would hurt her, he wondered how Dipsy and Hermione would get on.

"He's fine with her," He didn't really want to get into the fact that Dipsy was nothing like a normal house-elf and Snape was nothing like a master, that they saw each other as family. "You're not going to say anything about it are you?" He asked, he didn't want her to do anything that might make Snape say she couldn't come back.

"Harry, I have to... it's part of S.P.E.W."

"I know you want to free them but Dipsy's happy here, she wouldn't want to be free." Harry said anxiously, Hermione had hidden clothes around Hogwarts so the elves would pick them up, he didn't think Hermione would be able to dodge the knives if she freed Dipsy.

"I don't see how someone could be happy being a slave," Hermione replied. "Besides her name's Dipsy, don't you think that's cruel?"

"Well, yes," Harry said truthfully, he didn't think it was fair that she was called Dipsy but that wasn't Snape's fault - he'd never done anything to her. "But she chooses to keep that name, her mom gave it her not Snape, he tried to change it, she refused."

"Are there more house-elves?" She asked.

"No, it's just Dipsy." Harry hadn't seen or heard any other house-elves, not even dead and mounted on the wall, so he presumed there were no others though there must have been at some point. "Look, Hermione please don't do anything," He wished Ron was there to help try and dissuade her. "He might not let you come again if you free Dipsy."

Hermione could hear the panic in her friend's voice so she sighed. "Fine, I wasn't going to free her anyway. I still want to talk to her though."

Harry almost laughed at the idea of Hermione telling Dipsy that she's a slave and that she should be treated equally. Especially when it was her idea to invite his friends anyway. "I don't think you're going to change her mind."

"I can still try. So when can I come?" She asked eagerly.

"I'll have to ask Snape." Harry said again.

"Well go ask him now," She urged eagerly. "Then phone me back."

Harry groaned a little, not really wanting to go and ask, it still felt kind of weird asking Snape questions and things, he was better at talking to him when he initiated the conversation. "Okay fine, I'll phone you back in a minute." He said, trying to sound casual.

"Okay, hurry. Bye."

"Bye." Harry hung the phone up, walking slowly to the library; he knocked this time, and the door opened without anyone touching it, so Harry assumed that Snape had used magic.

"You don't have to knock to come into the library." He said, he was shocked Harry was off the phone already but maybe Granger was going out or something. He nodded to the chair opposite him because Harry was barely through the doorway. Taking the hint, Harry made his way to the chair - as always Severus was in his special chair which Harry had been warned off sitting in. "I thought you'd talk to her for longer."

"I'm gonna phone her back, I just need to ask you something." Harry paused and Severus nodded, a sign for him to continue. "Hermione wants to know what day she can come."

"Whenever you like, as long as she's free." Severus shrugged. "I should probably talk to her parents about it though."

"Oh, okay." Harry said - he hadn't been sure if she'd be able to come whenever, it wasn't often but sometimes Snape went to order meetings or would be summoned by Voldemort. "Thanks. Do you want to talk to them now?" He asked, since he was phoning Hermione back anyway it seemed now was a good time.

"Yes." Severus stood up, Harry following him. "You phone her back and tell her I want to talk to her parents."

Harry nodded, he wondered if this was what it felt like to have a dad before shaking his head to get rid of the thought. He picked up the phone, he didn't need to know Hermione's number he just dialled last call and was soon talking to Hermione again.

"Harry?" She answered the phone.

"Yeah, erm," Harry looked up at Snape, it seemed weird talking about him when he was right there, he turned away awkwardly. "I asked, he said whenever you're free... and he wants to talk to your parents."

"Okay good. I'm free tomorrow, is that okay?"

Harry smiled, he hadn't thought she'd want to come that quick, not that he was opposed to it. "Yeah, I guess."

"I'll get my mom, back in a sec."

"Okay." Harry moved the phone from his ear and turned back to Snape. "She's getting her mom." He explained.

"Did she tell you when she could come?"

"She said tomorrow... if that's okay." Harry asked anxiously, if he hadn't expected her to want to come the next day he doubted Snape had.

"That's fine." Severus shrugged. "I'll discuss with her mother when and where I can pick her up."

"Harry?" He heard Hermione ask.

"Yeah, I'm still here." Harry answered. "I'll give you to Snape" Harry said handing the phone over to him, Severus took it and Harry couldn't help but think that it felt kind of wrong for Snape to use a phone.

Snape and Hermione's mother came to a pretty simple arrangement that Snape will apparate over and pick Hermione up to take her back to Prince Manor and that she should be home before nine. Severus had decided he'd pick her up at eleven so Harry could get some proper sleep, and take his potions before Hermione arrived in case he was embarrassed by them and didn't want her to know.

Chapter Text

The rest of the night went well after being on the phone with Hermione; Snape explained that if he did get summoned, or if something else came up, Dipsy would take Hermione back. Harry didn't know how Severus knew this was a worry but he seemed to. Then they went to the TV room where Dipsy was already comfortably watching a game show.

"I knew I should never have brought this, shouldn't you be cleaning something?" Severus asked, Dipsy just smirked at him. They all knew that it was Dipsy's job to clean really, but you were equally as likely to find Snape or Harry cleaning.

The Manor was big but besides a small amount of dusting, sweeping or mopping there wasn't really much cleaning to be done, pretty much anything else was cleaned up by whoever made the mess. If Snape was making a particularly messy potion he'd clean it up himself, and if Harry knocked over a pot of ink while trying to finish his homework he'd clean it up. Harry laughed thinking about this along with his conversation with Hermione, he doubted she'd ever believe Dipsy wasn't a slave but it was funny to think that she was seen as one while having probably the most power in the Manor.

They sat together watching TV, it was the first time Harry had seen Severus in the TV room it was almost as strange as seeing him on the phone. It was surprisingly homey, them all sitting together just watching TV until Dipsy went off to make dinner. After dinner Severus suggested that Harry go to bed early to get some sleep. Harry decided to take Snape's advice and went to bed after having his potions.

* * *

Harry woke up at nine, stretching out and deciding to have a shower before going for breakfast, he passed Severus as he headed for the bathroom.

"You're up early." Severus pointed out when he saw Harry.

"I thought I should have a shower, Hermione's still coming isn't she?" Harry started to worry slightly, maybe Snape had changed his mind, maybe Hermione had.

"As far as I'm aware." Severus replied. "I'll be phoning later before I just apparate into their livingroom, but I doubt she'd have changed her mind." He could see that Harry was worried but was certain he wouldn't really want to talk about it.

"Okay, eleven still?" He asked to make sure.

"Yes, I'll leave your potions in the dining-room, take them after breakfast."

"Okay sir."

"Good, I'll leave you to your shower now." Severus said walking off to breakfast Harry assumed, they didn't always have it together since Harry slept in a lot. Harry just nodded and went for a shower.

Eleven o'clock seemed to come way to quick for Harry, it wasn't that he didn't want to see Hermione he was just nervous. He double checked his room, making sure it was tidy. It was, of course, since he didn't really have much to mess it up with. There was a knock on his door.

"I'm going to pick up Granger now." Snape said through the door.

"Okay." Harry called back, he heard the loud crack of someone apparating, and he looked over his room again and checked his face in the mirror.

Harry didn't often look in mirrors, his hair could never lie flat and was the bane of his life, his scar just irritated him - even more so now after Dumbledore's confession - he hated his glasses with a burning passion, the only thing he really liked were his eyes... everyone said they were like his mothers and he wondered if Snape thought so to. He felt different this time though... well his hair was still a mess his, his scar still stuck out as a prominent red gash on his forehead, and his glasses were still a crime against fashion, but he looked different - healthier, happier. His clothes fit and he actually filled them out a bit, he knew it had only been a few weeks but life with Snape seemed to suit him. He wondered if Hermione would notice.

He sat out in the hall waiting for Snape to apparate back with Hermione. It was only a few minutes wait and they had apparated in and Hermione had flung her arms around Harry in a crushing hug.

Severus coughed awkwardly and said, "Lunch is at one." before taking his leave.

"Harry, I was so worried, I'm glad you're okay." Hermione fussed, moving back so she could look at him.

Harry gave a laugh. "I told you I was yesterday."

"I know but I needed to see for myself." She looked ready to wrap herself around him again. "Are these new?" She asked looking at Harry's clothes.

"Oh, yeah." Harry replied looking down. "Snape..." He wasn't sure if he should say that the man brought them for him, would that be strange? "Took me into town to get some actual clothes."

"That was nice of him." Hermione said - Harry remembered all the times he and Ron had accused Snape of something and Hermione would say he was okay because he was in the Order. He realised he didn't have anything to fear from Hermione knowing that he actually kind of liked Snape.

"Yeah, I told you he's alright." They started down the hall to Harry's room. Hermione was shocked when she saw it.

"It's a bit Gryffindor for Snape's Manor." She commented.

Harry nodded. "He didn't decorate it, Dipsy did. I don't know what it looked like before, she decorated it for me." Harry couldn't keep the smile out of his voice.

"I thought you weren't going to be here long. Just the summer holidays." Hermione said confused, much like Harry had been when he first found out that they'd bothered to decorate a room specifically for him.

He just shrugged. "Snape said it was so I'd feel more comfortable and that Dipsy likes to decorate, she won't leave his office alone." Harry laughed, remembering the arguments they had about it regularly. Hermione smiled, it had been a while since she'd seen Harry happy, she was glad he liked it there. "I guess it's just for the summer." Harry mumbled, not laughing any more "I don't know what I'm going to do though, now that the blood wards are broke."

Hermione sighed resting a hand on Harry's giving it a squeeze. "Dumbledore will figure something out." She said.

Harry wanted to point out all the things Dumbledore had done and all the mistakes he'd made. He didn't trust Dumbledore. He couldn't believe that he'd thought he ever could. He shook his head. "Dumbledore was the one who put me with the Dursley's in the first place." He didn't have to elaborate on that point, Hermione squeezed his hand harder.

"Then we'll just have to figure something out ourselves." She said optimistically, Harry gave her a smile before deciding to change the subject.

"I haven't finished my transfiguration homework, do you know the answer to fourteen?" So they worked on homework until lunch.

* * *

Severus didn't join them for lunch and neither of them could say this was a bad thing, Harry liked Severus and looked forward to eating with him most days, but today he thought it would be awkward trying to talk to Hermione while he was there and he was certain Hermione would prefer eating with just Harry too.

Dipsy popped in to serve them lunch, Harry hoped Hermione would be too distracted that she wouldn't really notice but of course that was too much to ask for.

"You're Dipsy, aren't you?" Hermione turned to Dipsy giving her a patronising smile.

"Yes, and you're Hermione." Dipsy replied equally as patronisingly, Harry hid his smirk, ignoring this Hermione continued.

"So Dipsy, do you enjoy working here?" Harry rolled his eyes, turning his face away from Hermione so she wouldn't see. "I know the Professor can be a bit strict at times." Dipsy gave Harry a look clearly asking 'is she serious?'

Dipsy gave a small smirk muttering, "Subtle." Hermione didn't hear it but Harry did giving a snort that he quickly covered up with a cough, lifting his glass to his lips. Dipsy turned away from them both dramatically, lowering her head and giving an over the top sniff. "No, my Master beats me everyday." She began, laying the back of her hand on her head. "And only feeds me the scraps from his plate. It is a pitiful existence"

Harry laughed, unable to hold back spitting his water everywhere. Hermione glared around at him, shocked that he would laugh at such a thing before her mind caught up, and she looked back at the elf, who laughed and tossed a towel at Harry before leaving the room with a gleam in her eye. Hermione crossed her arms irritated, watching Harry mop up his mess still laughing and coughing every so often.

"That wasn't very nice, I thought she was in real trouble."

Harry just gave a shrug. "I said she wasn't a normal house-elf. She doesn't like it when you insult Snape."

They finished their lunch, Harry wondered if Hermione would stay mad at him and Dipsy but she was fine after a few minutes, although Harry did have to assure her again that Dipsy was in no danger from Snape and that it was in fact more likely to be the other way around. She asked what that meant and Harry started telling her stories like the knife throwing incident the day before.

They both calmed down from laughing having finished their lunch.

* * *

Meanwhile Dipsy was taking Severus' lunch down to his potions lab. He groaned when she entered the room. "I told you I didn't want to be disturbed." He said, not looking up from the recipe he was poring over.

Dipsy ignored him, carrying the tray over to the table he was working on and putting it down before looking at the recipe he was staring at, he didn't try to hide it from her. "You can't just not eat." She said not commenting on what she read.

He reached out with a glare to take an apple, he bit into it harshly. "How are they?" He asked with his mouth full.

"They're fine." She said before slapping his wrist. "And don't talk with your mouth full."

"Ow." Severus grumbled rubbing his wrist. "Do you have to be so vicious?" Severus asked taking another chunk out of his apple.

"Oh, don't be a baby." Dipsy rolled her eyes. "And she really thought you would hurt me." She said with a laugh.

Severus opened his mouth to ask a question but closed it again at Dipsy's glare, swallowing his bite first. "What do you mean?"

Dipsy shrugged before explaining what her first encounter with Hermione had been like. "She made out that you were abusing me, so I may have played it up a bit."

Severus laughed and shook his head. "Of course you did."

Chapter Text

"Can I see the library now?" Hermione asked since they were done eating.

"Yeah, sure." Harry guessed that Snape wouldn't mind as long as he wasn't in there, he hadn't said that they had to stay in Harry's room.

Dipsy came back to clear up their plates and things, Hermione didn't try to talk to her again, but Harry asked her where Snape was and she said he was spending the day in his lab. Glad that they basically had free rein of the Manor they headed for the library, Harry leading the way.

Hermione's jaw dropped the same way Harry's did when he first saw the library. She immediately made her way to a file cabinet, opening the drawers, her eyes wide with curiosity

"Wow." She muttered under her breath. "This is better than the school library. There's even muggle books." Harry was surprised, he hadn't known that.

"Yeah, he likes the library, it's where he is most." Harry said, catching sight of Severus' chair. "That's his chair," He said pointing at. "He's pretty protective over it." He laughed a little.

"This library's amazing. It's the kind I always imagined having." Hermione was still looking around in awe, normally Harry didn't understand Hermione's fascination with books but even he had to admit the library was impressive. "Do you think he'd mind me looking through some?" Hermione asked, her hand hovering over a book she was clearly interested in.

"I don't know, he said I could." Harry figured if he was willing to let him look through his books he probably wouldn't mind Hermione doing it, especially since she would be much more careful.

She pulled the book out, leafing through it and reading bits here and there. Harry smiled... at least Hermione was still the same, unable to resist a good book. He decided to go on a hunt for muggle books while Hermione was busy reading, curious to see what kind of muggle books Snape enjoyed.

He found a variety of books in other languages like French, German and Latin; he wondered if Snape could actually read them or if they were from the previous residents. He continued skimming before finding a bookshelf shoved right at the back of the room out of the way, hidden mostly from view behind a bookshelf dedicated to herbs and their uses. The bookshelf was filled with comics, ranging from expensive limited edition collectors items to fifty pence ones you'd get from a corner shop.

Harry smiled to himself and was about to tell Hermione before stopping himself, pretty sure that Snape wouldn't really want anyone to know. Especially since he had shoved the shelf right to the back of the room, where no one could see it if they just came in... or even really if they looked around a bit.

Harry picked a comic off the shelf, waiting anxiously in case an alarm or something went off - when nothing happened he settled himself in the corner on the floor to read it. They spent a few hours like this, Harry sitting, flipping through comics, and Hermione moving from long, difficult book to the next. After a while Hermione realised she couldn't see Harry in the library so called for him, he quickly jumped to his feet, putting the comic back and heading back to Hermione.

"Sorry, I got lost in the botanicals." He said coming out from behind a shelf.

Hermione laughed. "It's a nice library, I almost don't want to leave, but why don't you show me around the rest of the Manor?"

"Sure, er... where do you want to see?" Harry asked, there wasn't really many interesting places in Snape's Manor.

"I don't know, you're the tour guide." Hermione shrugged as they left the room, turning down the corridor.

"Fine, but it's mostly just bedrooms and bathrooms, most of them are locked." Harry looked around trying to think of something interesting.

"I guess you've tried them then." She smirked.

"What's that supposed to mean?!" Harry asked, knowing that he he had a habit of nosing into other peoples business, especially when that person is Snape.

"That you're incurably nosy."

Harry opened his mouth in mock offence. "How... Actually, do you want to see the garden?"

* * *

They walked off to the garden, Harry figured she wouldn't like it as much as the library since that was more Hermione but he thought she might like it or be slightly curious. She gasped when they entered the garden, Harry had never really looked at it properly before but now he could see how amazing it was.

The garden was a huge mass of colours, bright green grass with yellow, red, purple and blue flowers Harry didn't know the names of lining the gravel paths that twisted around the garden. At the far end there was a small wooded area full of tall eerie looking trees, that Harry had only noticed in passing when flying trying not to hit them. Right in the middle of the garden was a greenhouse and surrounding it, the only part of the garden that was unkempt, was a circle of weeds giving a look that they were radiating from the greenhouse; the rest of the garden however was perfectly maintained to a point that Harry thought even Petunia wouldn't be able to find a word against it.

Harry realised how little he'd actually paid attention to the garden since despite all the time he'd spent out there he had never really looked at it, too busy flying to properly look around. He wished he had before, the garden really was beautiful.

"Oh my God Harry, it's amazing." Hermione said breathlessly already walking along the path, Harry followed her slightly awed himself.

"Yeah, wonder why they left all those weeds though." He said thoughtfully looking at the at the patch of weeds. It seemed odd that Dipsy would leave them since she'd gone to such trouble with the rest of the garden, he knew she must have left them since he saw her working in the garden sometimes when he went out there.

"It's probably for potions, these kinds of weeds are really good for certain potions." Hermione explained, it made Harry smile to know that she hadn't changed, she still knew basically everything.

"Makes sense, I guess." Harry shrugged, looking around the tall stone walls before noticing a bench that was pushed up against it. He started to walk towards it regretting sitting on the hard floor for so long, his legs were starting to ache the way they had before when he'd rode his broom for too long, he didn't want to have to tell Hermione he was in pain because she'd only fuss. Which would have been fine had the bench been even slightly comfortable.

Hermione followed him sitting down next to him, she didn't seem to realise why he'd done so, and Harry breathed a sigh of relief despite the fact he was still stiff and uncomfortable and in a bit of pain.

"You said you'd tell me about Ron." Harry said so suddenly he'd surprised himself, but also quite forcefully, he needed to know.

Hermione gave a long drawn out sigh, she really didn't want to be the one that told Harry Ron wasn't his friend any more "He's still angry about... the Ministry and everything." She said awkwardly.

"I didn't ask him to come." Harry said defensively, he'd have been just as willing to go on his own as long as he could save Sirius but he hadn't even managed to do that. He knew really that it was his fault, all of it, had he not believed the vision he wouldn't have gone and none of what happened would have happened.

"I know, but it's not just that, his parent's are still... you know. And Ginny's still hurt..."

"I didn't ask her to come either." Harry exclaimed angrily, standing up nearly falling back down immediately.

"Harry!" Hermione grabbed him just in time and hauling him onto the bench. "What was that?"

"Nothing... my legs just ache a bit sometimes, the potions Snape is giving me are helping a lot." Harry mumbled embarrassed, not only because he fell over but also because of his outburst.

"Are you okay?" She asked worriedly.

"Yeah, I think I just need to sit down for a bit." Harry said awkwardly, they both sat in silence for a while.

"Harry..." Hermione broke the silence. "You never said how the wards broke."

Harry shrugged, he didn't want to talk about it. "I don't know, we never found out."

"Are they still trying to figure it out?"

"Probably." Harry answered indifferently, enough people already knew how they broke and he didn't want to talk about it.

"Don't you want to know? Maybe they could fix it."

"So? Why would I want to go back?" He stood up again, still a bit unsteady but ready this time. "I just need to go do something, I'll be right back." Harry walked back into the Manor in a hurry to get away, leaving Hermione behind worried she had said something wrong.

Harry bumped straight into Dipsy as soon as he got inside the Manor, she looked him up and down.

"He's in his lab." She said simply.

"I... I'm not looking for Snape." Harry said awkwardly, not convinced by his own words even though he really hadn't gone in looking for him.

"He's in his lab and dinner will be in an hour." She started walking towards the kitchen before stopping, without looking back she simply said. "Don't leave your guest for too long, I'm sure she didn't mean it."

Harry's eyes widened but before he could ask anything she was already too far down the corridor. He shook his head in confusion and without thinking started towards Snape's lab. He'd been told to mostly stay out of there but that was when Snape wasn't in there, Severus had said he could go in to get him if he needed him. Did he need him though?

Harry wasn't sure if need was the right word. Perhaps want was better.

Chapter Text

Harry decided to be cautious, knocking on the door first, he was greeted with Snape's voice.

"I told you I didn't want to be disturbed, and since when did you start knocking?" He asked, Harry could tell he sounded more frustrated than he actually was, before wondering when exactly he'd started being able to read the man.

He poked his head round the door. "It's not Dipsy." He said, he could see Snape hunched over a cauldron and some books on his desk. He turned around sharply, closing the books and dropping them in what Harry assumed was an empty cauldron.

"Oh, what's wrong?" Severus knew Harry was unlikely to disturb him unless it was an emergency, but he didn't seem panicked.

"I don't know, Dipsy told me to come here. She went all Yoda on me." He said, playing with his fingers nervously and still teetering at the top of the stairs.

Severus nodded towards a chair in his usual fashion. "Come in." Harry walked down the stairs carefully, trying hard not to fall down them. "Are your legs bothering you?"

"They're just a bit sore from being on the floor." Harry said, hoping Snape wouldn't get overly worried.

"Right. Where's Granger?" Severus knew if Harry wasn't with her something must be wrong.

"She's in the garden still, I guess. She started asking me..." Harry wondered if he should tell the man, but figured he'd come this far, besides knowing Snape he was already looking through Harry's most recent memories to find the right one. "...why the wards broke." He ended meekly, looking down at his hands and swallowing, preparing himself to be thrown out.

"If you're not ready to talk about it you shouldn't let anyone force you." Severus replied calmly.

"She doesn't even know that I know, she probably thinks I do but I never told her I know." Harry confessed. He always hated lying to his friends, but he had so many secrets and all of them hurt too much to talk about.

"Miss Granger is your friend, she should respect your privacy... just tell her you are not ready to talk about it."

Harry thought about it; he wasn't sure it seemed like a good idea, he knew Hermione would understand that he didn't want to talk about it but at the same time he didn't want to worry her.

"Thanks sir. I...I'll do that." Harry struggled up, his legs felt better sitting in Snape's comfortable chair but still weren't the best.

"Glad I could help. Do you want a potion or something?" His eyes flicked worriedly to Harry's legs.

Harry looked at them too, normally he wouldn't really ask for one. The pain wasn't bad enough to require one, and even if it was he didn't want to be a bother - especially unnecessarily - but since Severus had offered, and since Hermione would only get more worried about his legs, he said yes.

Severus of course had the right potion on hand and in a few minutes Harry was back out in the garden, sitting on the bench with Hermione, his legs feeling much better and his heart just a little bit less heavy.

He told Hermione that they didn't know for sure the cause, but they had a vague idea, and that he didn't really want to talk about it, happily for Harry she seemed to be okay with this. She had grown up a lot in the almost six years he'd known her, she wasn't quite as pushy and was better at leaving things alone when she could tell they were important.

He found out that while he had been talking to Severus Dipsy had gone to see Hermione. At first he was slightly embarrassed, not sure what they might have talked about, but in the end it turned out that Dipsy had just decided to tell Hermione where Harry had gone and give her a vague idea of when he would be back. Something that apparently she was eerily accurate about.

Hermione seemed to be taking to Dipsy, despite their first meeting. Although she was still adamant that house-elves should be freed, she did agree that Dipsy seemed happy and healthy... from there the conversation turned to Severus.

"I mean it's just so weird. You living with Snape." Hermione laughed lightly, and Harry had to agree it was an odd concept, in fact it was a weirder concept that she knew.

"It was at first but we just sort of... fit together." Harry tried to explain, Hermione made an 'oooo' sound giving Harry a nudge, he rolled his eyes. "Not like that. Like... I don't know. Like, he actually cares and wants me to be okay. He's not just in this because I'm..." He went to say the saviour from the prophecy but stopped himself... that was something he certainly wasn't going to try approaching yet. "...Harry Potter. You know what I mean?" Harry asked, and even though Hermione nodded he was certain she didn't know. How could she? He wasn't telling her the full story.

"You know I care about you too Harry, but I'm glad you get along with Snape. If you didn't I'd have complained to Dumbledore." She said sternly and Harry smiled, he doubted going to Dumbledore would really have done a lot of good but it was a nice sentiment.

"I didn't think we would but he's been nice since... since he brought me here and it just sort of... worked. I suppose it's only because he's not an arse when we're here but it's actually alright. I like it here, I almost don't want to go back to school. It's not like it would be much fun anyway, with everyone talking about me, I don't have to blood wards to protect me any more and I don't know... it's hard, you know, living up to all the unrealistic goals everyone puts on me. It sounds stupid."

"It's not stupid, I understand. Like I said, we'll figure something out. You really seem to like it here. I'm glad you're happy."

Harry wasn't sure if he would describe himself as happy, even now, but he didn't feel as bad as he had before. He was more worried than anything, it was nice that Hermione said that they would figure something out even if he didn't really believe her.

"Dipsy said dinner is soon." Harry decided to move the topic on, just in case he accidentally started talking about how much he loves it there and how much he genuinely liked being with Severus.

They went to dinner; Snape still didn't join them, Hermione asked Harry if he usually does so Harry explained what usually happened. Hermione tried to picture Harry, Snape and Dipsy all sitting down together eating or watching TV but it just seemed too weird, Harry didn't dispute it, it seemed weird to him sometimes. He managed to restrain himself from saying that Snape's Manor seemed more like a home to him than anywhere else he'd lived, even Hogwarts. Even if he didn't say it he had a feeling that Hermione thought it, and for some reason that didn't bother him.

The topic changed to other things, eventually coming round to when she could next come since it was nearly Harry's birthday and she wanted to give him his present. Harry said he'd ask Snape and then asked what Hermione really thought about Neville and Luna coming over. She just reiterated what she's said in her letters, she didn't mind. In fact she liked Neville, and despite the fact Luna was a bit strange and insisted on believing in creatures that obviously didn't exist she was smart and alright to talk to sometimes. Harry believed her since she seemed pretty sincere, and it's wasn't like Hermione was really one to hide when she was annoyed about something.

After dinner Harry suggested they watch some TV, and Hermione wanted to see it citing that she wouldn't believe Snape owned one until she could actually see it with her own eyes. They spent the rest of the evening that way, watching an assortment of programs or just having it on in the background while they talked.

Dipsy popped in when it was time for Hermione to leave, Harry said goodbye and Severus came out of his lab for the first time since Hermione had came to take her back home.

Chapter Text

Harry gave a sigh dropping down onto the sofa, Severus walked in after him.

"How are your legs now?" He asked sitting down himself.

"They're fine now." Harry shrugged. "...Thanks for what you said... it helped... a lot."

"Good, I'm glad. I don't usually give advice. Let alone good advice."

They both sat quietly for a while staring blankly at the TV, neither really sure what to say.

"She's free you know." Severus said finally, Harry looked up questioningly. "When I first found that I had inherited the Manor I didn't really want it, or the elves that came with it. There were three of them, and Dipsy she was – well, is - quite happy and stubborn, thus I didn't particularly like her. Not that I liked the others either, one was her mother and she wasn't kind to Dipsy, I don't believe the other one was a relative but he wasn't either. She's not really like an elf at all. I didn't want them so I gave them clothes; her mother I believe works in Malfoy Manor now, I've no idea what happened to the other, but I presume that he has found work elsewhere.

I gave Dipsy clothes one day too, while she was dusting. She thanked me and then told me it would be washed after she finished the shelves. I tried to explain. I even gave them to her again, but it didn't help. She just wouldn't leave. I tried to send her away, order her, but she told me - respectfully and plainly - that I had given her clothes and so she was a free elf and I held no power over her. It made me laugh, I hadn't laughed in a while so I decided she wasn't that bad. I also thought I'd be able to get away from her when I went to Hogwarts. She followed me there too." He chuckled. "She's free, I don't know why she stays. I suppose at first she just didn't have anywhere else."

"And now?"

"Now I couldn't imagine being without her."

Harry smiled to himself. "I couldn't imagine you without her either." He replied. Normally he'd be embarrassed to say something like that but for some reason he didn't feel that way. Not with Severus. "Sir? How come you told me that? About Dipsy, I mean." Harry asked, wondering why Severus had just randomly brought it up.

"Dipsy told me about her first meeting with Granger." Severus gave a smirk remembering what she said.

"Oh." Harry said, not sure how else to respond.

"I just thought you might like to know, or reassure your Granger that I'm not really an evil master."

"You don't mind me telling her?" Harry asked, he was never sure what he could say about Snape to any of his friends.

"Why would I?" Severus shrugged.

"I don't know, I guess I was just thought you wouldn't want me talking about you." Harry tried to explain.

"This may shock you, but I don't really care what your friends think of me."

"I suppose that makes sense. Yeah, she'll be glad to know Dipsy's here because she wants to be. Hermione wants all house-elves to be free."

"I gathered that." Severus chuckled. "I can't say I wholly disagree, the way some people treat their elves is disgusting but it's unlikely to do much good, freeing a house-elf just means they go somewhere else to be a slave, usually just ostracised from their families in shame." He said more seriously.

"I've told her she shouldn't make that decision for them." Harry said, he didn't like seeing house-elves because they were slaves but he still thought Hermione's ideas weren't right, he'd seen what being freed had done to Winky.

"You're a good kid." Severus said and neither of them thought it was strange, although Harry felt warm inside, not that he really understood why.

"Can Hermione come again? ...On my birthday? It's the 31st."

"I know when your birthday is." Severus smiled, everyone in the Wizarding world knew Harry Potter's birthday. "But yes that's fine, you can have whoever you want over for your birthday."

"Thanks, sir." Harry said, beaming happily, he'd never really had a birthday with anyone else before, he was getting excited again.

"It's fine. Now, be quiet, I've been wanting to watch this." Severus said, relaxing back to watch a gardening documentary, Harry wasn't really that interested in it but decided to stay anyway.

It was actually kind of fun watching the documentary with Severus, he told Harry about some of the plants and their uses in different potions. Harry asked about his greenhouse and Severus laughed at the fact that Harry had missed the whole garden, despite how much time he had spent out there flying. Harry's only defence being that he couldn't really see it while he was in the air.

They continued their talk about gardening, Harry finding out that Severus and Dipsy both did the gardening together, the image of which made Harry laugh a little causing Severus to hit him lightly with a cushion. A little while after the documentary had ended Dipsy came in, declaring they were being too loud and anyway they needed to go to bed; Severus joked about it just being her big ears, earning him two swats to the leg, one for the ear comment and one for putting his feet on the table.

Chapter Text

Harry woke up a few days later, on his birthday, to Dipsy standing on a stool by his bed in a dressing gown, slightly too big for her so it dangled past her feet, and with a party hat perched precariously on her left ear, holding a cake that had 'Happy Birthday Harry' iced on it and several candles, Harry presumed sixteen. Behind her, a little way back from the bed, was Severus shaking his head at Dipsy and laughing lightly, probably at Harry's confused face. He wasn't wearing any ridiculous hats but was still wearing his pyjamas, a black fitted shirt and some loose grey pyjama bottoms.

"I told her there were less terrifying ways to wake you up, but she insists it's tradition." Severus didn't look entirely pleased about it. "I did manage to talk her out of singing though."

Harry gave him a smile, it was a surprisingly nice way to wake up... which was strange to Harry, since all the other times he'd woken up to a house-elf inches away from his face he'd nearly jumped out of his skin. He was certainly glad not to have anyone singing at him though.

The candles lit themselves but Harry couldn't tell if it had been Snape or Dipsy who had done so.

"Blow them out." Dipsy demanded. Harry nodded quickly, putting his glasses on first.

"Make sure you get them all or else you don't get a wish." Severus smirked, his voice dripping with sarcasm but there was no bite to his words, they were just joking. Dipsy still shot him a glare, Severus put his hands up defensively. "He is sixteen."

"I suppose that would make you much too old for cake when it's your birthday then." She said, warning in her voice.

"There is no such thing as being too old for cake, but by all means you can keep the candles off next year." He said petulantly.

"I'd have to anyway, they'd probably be a fire hazard." Dipsy sniggered, making Harry laugh.

"I'm not that old." Severus grouched. "Just blow out your candles before the wax gets all over the cake."

Harry, who had been enjoying Severus and Dipsy's back and forth, hadn't noticed the candles still burning down. He quickly blew them out, getting all of them. Dipsy put the cake down on the side and clapped happily, jumping down from her stool.

"Presents now."

Harry's eyes widened. "Presents? You didn't have to buy me presents." He said quickly.

"I did or Dipsy would have skinned me." Severus said, Dipsy nodding absently likely unaware that she was agreeing to possibly skinning her friend, or possibly completely aware and just not bothered. Harry felt a bit deflated, Severus noticed and held out his present with a smile. "I'm joking, I wanted to but she would have skinned me. It's nothing special mind."

Of course, though it was to Harry and he opened it happily, just barely noticing the beautiful wrapping that had been done to it. The paper was purple, with silver ribbon tying it neatly together. It was the shape and size of a book, which wasn't that shocking since it was a book. A Potions book. Severus decided to explain before Harry could say anything.

"It's for this school year. I set the books so I..." He trailed off... it seemed like a pretty poor present now that he'd actually gave it to Harry.

"It's great," Harry said brightly, it wasn't his favourite present but it wasn't that bad and he was just pleased that Snape had given him anything. "It's practical." He refrained from adding 'like you.'

Severus gave him a smile, and was about to make a joke about Harry being too well mannered to say what a crap present it was, when he felt something being pressed into his back, he turned around and saw Dipsy holding a present out to him. She glared at him, so he took it raising an eyebrow.

He gave Dipsy another glare before turning around and handing Harry his unplanned second present. He didn't know what it was but he trusted Dipsy so he gave it to Harry, who looked at the present in amazement, unable to believe he'd got another one from the man. He opened it, it felt soft and Harry suspected it was probably clothes since that also seemed practical.

Harry was right, it was clothes but not particularly practical ones. It was a leather jacket. Harry's eyes lit up and he would have jumped out of bed to try it on had he not been too self conscious to do so. Severus raised an eyebrow at Dipsy, who was smiling smugly.

"Thanks sir. It's amazing!" Harry said slightly breathless, and unable to contain his smile.

"You're welcome." Severus returned - he knew Dipsy must have something much better as her present to Harry, he just wasn't sure what.

Dipsy hauled a large box up onto Harry's lap. Harry looked down at it - he couldn't really guess what Dipsy had brought him. He started tearing at the red paper, and he gasped when he saw what it was.

A big wooden box with small intricate patterns all over it, all the patterns were Quidditch based - little snitches and bludgers and quaffles decorated the box. Harry opened it and it was very like the box at school that contained all the balls for Quidditch, only slightly different. The balls were just a bit smaller than usual, except the snitch which was probably too small to make any smaller. And of course the box didn't have the Hogwarts insignia.

"Wow! Dipsy. Thanks." Harry said staring down in wonder. "You didn't have to..."

Dipsy held up a hand, shaking her head. "It's your birthday." She said simply, and Harry knew better than to argue. Dipsy lifted the cake and turned around. "Happy birthday, come to the dining room when you're ready for cake." She gave Harry a smile before she left.

Severus followed after her. "Happy birthday Harry." He also gave Harry a smile before departing.

* * *

Once he'd closed the door Severus turned to Dipsy.

"What was with the jacket?" He asked, he'd been wondering since she gave it to him.

"Did you not like it?" She asked innocently.

"It's a nice jacket," Severus conceded. "Why did you say it was from me?"

"Because I knew you'd get him a terrible present." She said simply, as though it was all obvious.

"What do you mean you 'knew'? I didn't get him a terrible present." Severus returned defensively, even though he was well aware it was a bad present.

"It was a Potions book." She said with derision, rolling her eyes.

"Well, I don't know what to get teenage boys."

"You were one." She snorted.

"A million years ago."

"I thought you 'weren't that old'." She smirked, quoting him.

"Besides I'd have liked a Potions book."

"Yeah well, you were always weird."

"You didn't know me back then, you weren't even alive."

"I'm going on what you're like now."

Chapter Text

Harry walked down to breakfast unbelievably happy. He'd never really had a birthday like this, or even a birthday at all really. He'd never been woken up like that ,with a birthday cake - well Hagrid had, when he first found out he was a wizard, but that wasn't exactly the same thing.

He was looking forward to his friends coming over in the afternoon, it would be the first time Neville and Luna would be coming over and the second time for Hermione. He was a bit nervous how everyone would get along but figured it would all be fine, or at least he hoped it would.

He got to the dining-room, still smiling to himself, he hadn't bothered to change clothes since he was going to have a shower after breakfast before anyone came. Severus nodded when he came in to acknowledge him while Harry sat down with a yawn. Severus also hadn't bothered to get properly dressed yet, still in his pyjamas. It still surprised Harry how comfortable they were around each other.

Dipsy gave him the choice between cake for breakfast or an actual meal, he obviously chose cake along with Snape and Dipsy herself. She cut them each a slice before sitting down to join them. They ate together chatting easily.

Harry went back to his room to get some clothes, seeing his new jacket lying on the bed, he smiled and decided to try it on after his shower. Once he'd had his shower he pulled on some jeans and a T-shirt before trying his jacket on for the first time - it fit well and he looked pretty good in it even if he did say so himself. He looked at himself in the mirror, feeling pleased with the way he looked for once.

He tried to comb out his hair, not that it ever really worked, but stopped halfway when he heard Severus calling him. He didn't know why but he went to find him, worried it was bad news.

He found him in the library.

"Harry, have you been going through my comics?" He asked, his voice didn't give away any emotion.

Harry didn't want to lie but he also didn't want to get into trouble so he stood not really saying anything for a while before saying a small, "Yes." to the floor.

"Okay, well put them back in the right place next time." Snape said turning around and disappearing behind a shelf, Harry followed.

"That's it?!" He asked in disbelief, he'd been sure he was in for it.

Severus gave a heavy sigh and turned back around to Harry. "Yes, that's it. You didn't do anything wrong, I gave you free rein over the library, I was just curious because they'd moved."

"Oh, okay then. Sorry I moved them."

"It's fine. Are you alright?" Severus watched him carefully, studying his face and body language.

"Yeah, I'm fine." Harry said awkwardly, he did feel fine, mostly, though there was just a weird feeling he couldn't shake. Birthday's weren't pleasant experiences at the Dursley's and it seemed that even though he wasn't there it was always in the back of his mind.

Severus raised an eyebrow but didn't push him, he knew no words he could say would help and he was sure Harry wouldn't want to talk about it. He doubted his birthday had ever been anything nice before, he was pretty sure the Dursley's would have squashed anything that made the boy feel even slightly special. "Alright. You look good by the way." Severus nodded at the obvious effort Harry had made.

"Oh," Harry looked down, pulling on his jacket a little. "Thanks. Erm, when are they coming?"

"About an hour." Severus said, checking his watch. "I was going to read for a bit," He took a comic off the shelf and checking he had the right one, he nodded then held it out to Harry who gave him a confused look. "It's a good one. Unless you'd rather clean your room for the tenth time." He gave Harry a knowing smirk before turning back to the shelf to browse.

Harry looked down at the comic, he trusted Snape's choice, but he felt kind of embarrassed. He had tidied his room several times because he was anxious, cleaning always seemed to calm him, even at the Dursley's.

They both went to sit down, Severus predictably in his normal worn armchair and Harry in one close but not right next to the man. They spent just under an hour relaxing and reading in comfortable silence.

Snape was right, the comic was good and interesting but Harry got distracted when he saw Snape reading his own comic. He didn't look the same as when Harry saw him reading a big book in Latin or something, probably because he was concentrating more so he obviously looked more focused, he looked more casual with a small smile on his face, sniggering every so often. It still shocked Harry a bit to see him looking so human even though he knew it probably shouldn't by now.

Severus stood closing his comic and heading to put it back, he stopped turning around. "Your friends will be here soon, I'll put that back for you then apparate to Granger's. Okay?" He asked, holding his hand out.

Harry nodded and gave him the comic. "Erm, yeah okay... thanks. This was better than tidying my room." They smiled at each other. "Should I call Hermione?"

"That would be very helpful, thank you." Severus was already walking to the back of the library, not that that made the words any less special to Harry.

So Harry rushed off to phone Hermione. He'd only just got off the phone with her when Dipsy walked into the hall, Neville following behind her.

Chapter Text

"Hi, Harry." Neville greeted, seeming as awkward as Harry was feeling.

"Hey." Harry said back. "Hermione will be here soon." Harry tried to make things less weird.

"Oh, okay. Erm, happy birthday." Neville held a bag out to Harry.

Suddenly Harry realised that it would have been Neville's birthday the day before and he hadn't gotten him anything. Feeling like an arsehole Harry took the bag. "Thanks Neville. Happy birthday to you too... for yesterday."

"Thanks." Neville smiled and nodded towards the bag, a suggestion that Harry should open it. Harry went to open it, still feeling like an arse, when he saw Neville look down nervously not saying anything.

Harry looked around to see Severus behind him, he felt hands on his shoulders as he edged past him. "Do you have to stand in front of the door?" Severus asked, he sounded a bit exasperated but he wasn't sneering and Neville looked a bit surprised.

Harry knew Neville had known that he was living with Snape because he'd fire-called him but he'd hoped it wouldn't matter, now though he could see that Neville was still at least a bit afraid of Snape.

"I'm going to get Granger now." Severus said, with little to no emotion in his voice. Harry wasn't surprised at how quickly he could go from being how he normally was with Harry to being the stoic teacher again.

"Okay, sir." Harry said, Neville still didn't say anything or look up, Snape apparated and Dipsy popped up behind Harry making him jump.

"You left this in your room." She said quietly, giving him a meaningful look. He frowned at her confused, she gave his shin a kick and nodded to Neville.

He looked down at the present she shoved into his hand, seeing the label said Neville. He smiled at her, trust Dipsy to have thought of everything. He muttered a truly grateful 'thanks'.

"Here," Harry held the present out, Neville looked shocked.

"Oh wow! Thanks, Harry." He said happily, he clearly hadn't expected Harry to remember or even care.

Dipsy left the hallway. "I think your other friend is trying to get in." She said before departing, leaving Harry and Neville to their presents.

They looked at each other before tearing into their presents happily. Neville had given Harry a box of wizarding sweets, the box was charmed to hold more sweets than you'd expect and Harry doubted he'd need to visit Honeydukes for a year. Harry, or rather Dipsy, had given Neville a book on Herbology and Harry couldn't believe how accurate Dipsy had been with her gift.

Luna joined them in the hallway. Harry was glad to see she still had the dreamy look to her and a wand stuck behind her ear, it was nice to know some things hadn't changed.

"Hi, Harry." She said in her usual soft voice. "Hello, Neville." She held out two necklaces unceremoniously out to them both. "Happy birthday."

"Thanks." Harry and Neville said accepting the necklaces, giving each other a look when Luna wasn't looking.

Harry inspected his necklace, of course it was a cork one, he shrugged at Neville and pulled it over his head. Neville followed suit awkwardly.

"I like your jacket, Harry." Luna started, Harry opened his mouth to thank her again but closed it as she continued. "It's nicer than your normal clothes, they're always too big for you." She said poking around some flowers.

Harry floundered unsure of what to say, so Neville jumped in. "Errr, yeah. It looks new, did you get it today?"

"Yeah." Harry said gratefully, he was even more grateful when Snape apparated back with Hermione, who again promptly threw herself at him making Harry stumble back.

"Happy birthday." She said happily. "You got a new jacket," She stood back, straightening it. "And a necklace." Her eyes flicked over to Luna before turning around to Neville. "Happy birthday Neville for yesterday."

No one had noticed Snape slinking off to hide back down in his lab, away from annoying teenagers and the house-elf that would almost certainly show up regardless.

Hermione picked up the present she'd left on the side so she could properly hug Harry, holding it out to him. "Open it." She demanded eagerly, Neville and Luna looked over to see what Hermione had got Harry.

Harry opened the package, ready for the insincere thanks he was going to have to say if it was a book or something, he was certain this was the most presents he'd ever got for his birthday and probably for Christmas too. He was wrong about it being a book, it actually ended up being a new broom cleaning kit since his first one was basically unusable. There was no polish left, there was no amount of scougify's that could make the rag clean again, and the only thing that actually still worked were the scissors to shape the bristles.

This new one was bigger and had more products, ones Harry didn't even know he needed. Along with a better manual that included more than broom care and tips, but also formation and flying.

"Thanks, Hermione." Harry smiled, flicking through the manual quickly. "Erm, maybe we shouldn't just stand around the hall," Harry said, looking around. "Here." He took them into the library. "Erm, sit down, make yourselves comfortable."

They all walked in, only Hermione not taken aback by the library, though Neville and Luna showed their awe in different ways. Neville gasped and stepped slightly back, bumping into the door, while Luna with her usual calmness and difference hummed to herself and skipped around, interested in the new room.

Harry watched Hermione as he set his broom kit on one of the long tables in the middle of the room, he wanted to make sure she wasn't bothered by the others; he didn't know if they'd talked through the holidays but he guessed he'd consider himself friends with all of them. She didn't seem to mind them and was actually talking happily with Neville.

Harry breathed a sigh of relief and turned back to his new kit, he wondered if it would be rude to go and get his broom while everyone was busy. Only jolted by his thoughts by a scream.

He turned around but could tell instinctively that it was Neville.

He saw Neville on the floor with Hermione kneeling down next to him, he had both hands clutching his butt, clearly in pain. Harry looked up and saw that he'd tried to sit on Snape's chair, which apparently had a stinging charm placed on it, and as much as Harry wanted to feel bad for Neville he couldn't help the relief that washed over him as he thought of the times he'd talked himself out of sitting on Snape's chair.

The door opened as Harry made his way over to Neville, Snape stormed in looking like thunder.

"What idiot..." Snape cut himself of seeing Neville on the floor. "Of course." He sighed. He rubbed his head with one hand, his other casting a wordless spell at Neville whose pain seemed to disappear in an instant. "Harry, I believe you should explain the rules of that chair." He said before leaving.

"Erm... Sorry Neville, I probably should have said that's Snape's chair." Harry held his hand out for Neville to help him up.

"It's fine, it doesn't hurt any more." Neville said, taking Harry's hand.

Once Neville was on his feet Harry helped him over to a chair that wasn't likely to attack him, sitting him down. Neville smiled at him gratefully and asked if he could look at Harry's new broom cleaning kit, Harry shrugged and nodded over to it.

Hermione moved over towards Harry.

"I've had a thought, you know... about what we talked about last time." She said, Harry looked at her interested. "Should we...?" She asked, nodding towards the door. Harry shook his head, knowing how their sudden disappearance would look to the others.

"It's fine, I don't mind them knowing." He shrugged, he figured that if the plan was good it would have to happen and they'd find out anyway. He's also probably have to tell Severus.

"Well," Hermione began cautiously, looking around. "You could do a blood ritual, with Snape... you said you liked him and I know how you are with him. If you did a bonding ritual with him, it would change your appearance slightly, enough that you'd be able to hide, and you'd not have to go back home since he'd be legally adopting you."

Harry thought about what she was saying. It was a strange idea - and Snape would probably never agree to it - even if it seemed like it could work or at least buy them some time, Snape wouldn't want Harry as a problem forever though.

Harry was so lost in thought he didn't notice the others, who had heard everything that had happened.

"It's not like an adoption," Neville said suddenly. "They would literally be blood. It's not the kind of thing you do if it's not serious."

Luna nodded her agreement.

"It's only a thought, besides it's Harry's choice." Hermione pointed out.

"And Snape's." Neville replied.

Harry, sensing something of an argument coming, quickly said. "It's not like anything's going to really come of it, he'd never agree to it."

"You don't know that unless you ask." Hermione said sternly, refusing to be swayed.

"It's a good idea, I just don't think it will work." Harry tried to sound calm, being cautious; it was a good idea but Snape wouldn't want him so it didn't matter anyway.

* * *

Dipsy wandered down the corridor, carrying armfuls of freshly cleaned towels and bed linen, going to put them in the airing cupboard. She could hear voices in the library as she walked past, obviously coming from Harry and his friends. She wasn't paying much attention to what was being said until she heard the words 'blood ritual'. Curious she moved closer to the door, stopping just outside.

She let one of the towels drop to the floor in case someone came out of the library or opened the door – it was always best to have a good excuse when eavesdropping, something one picked up when you'd lived with Snape for a while.

She almost laughed at hearing the rest of the conversation but forced herself to remain calm, deciding she should have a little chat with Severus. She put the laundry away quickly and went towards his lab, where he was of course hiding away from - what he would describe as - hordes of children in his house.

"If you're here to get mad at me about the chair thing, I've already sorted it and I don't care so you can go." Severus greeted her with as soon as she entered his lab.

"Hello to you to." She smirked, seeing him pouring over his books again. When she could see he wasn't going to say anything she started on why she was down there in the first place. "Still working on the rituals then?" She asked, jumping up to sit on the table next to his work.

He said nothing, just moved a few things out of her way and grunted to acknowledge her. She looked down at the papers he was rifling through, none of it made any sense to her since it was in German.

"For your information," He began, after a while, taking the papers out of her line of sight, never liking people reading, or trying to, over his shoulder. "I've moved on to long-lasting glamours now."

"Sounds riveting, but you should probably go back to the blood rituals."

Snape looked up suddenly. "Why?" He demanded.

"He's already aware of them." Dipsy replied with a shrug, not in the least worried about Severus' tone.

"What have you told him?!"

"Nothing, you always said they come up with hare-brained schemes, apparently they've been thinking about this as much as you. The one with the hair is telling Harry about blood rituals and bonding. The other two don't seem to think it's a good idea."

"They're pure-bloods, they probably understand it better than Granger."

"You should ask him, there's only one month before school starts back up."

"I've already told you, I've moved on. Alright?"

"Sure you have." Dipsy nodded sarcastically.

Chapter Text

On the whole Harry's birthday was pleasant; he showed the others around the Manor, once again the garden was quite a shock but Neville was incredibly interested in the plants muggle and wizard and Luna was... well, Luna.

Dipsy had clearly gone all out on the food, setting out a large buffet in the dining room, with a second cake.

Everyone left the 'party' happy, closer and about five stone heavier.

Snape came up out of his lab to take Hermione home at the end, and saw Neville and Luna off to the floo.

Later Harry walked into the dining-room where Severus was sitting at the table eating the left overs from the buffet. He nodded his greeting to Harry as he had his mouth full.

"Hey sir." Harry said sitting down near Snape, neither of them felt awkward about it any more "Have you seen Dipsy, I called but she didn't come."

"She does that. She's probably busy, she'll find you when she's ready. Anything I can help you with?"

"Nah, it doesn't matter, just something this afternoon." Harry shrugged bored, he wondered if he should bring up Hermione's idea but he decided against it, Snape would never go for it and it would probably just make things awkward again.

"Okay then."

Dipsy walked into the room, large ears bouncing as she did. She narrowed her eyes at Snape as she saw him eating from the buffet, he promptly pushed his plate in front of Harry and looked innocently away from her.

"Smooth." She said. "Stop spoiling your dinner."

"You don't want it to go to waste." He pointed out.

"It wasn't going to, you were going to have it for breakfast." She smirked at his scowl.

"Harry wants to talk to you." He said in an effort to distract her, she looked at Harry with interest.

"Oh, yeah. Thanks for the whole Neville thing. How did you know?"

"I know everything." She said dismissively. "You owe me money."

"We should record you and prove to Granger you're not the poor beaten down elf you like to make out you are." Snape sniggered, receiving a glare from Dipsy.

"Then you'd show that you're not really evil or scary." She smirked back. "I'm going to get dinner, leave that alone." She said taking Snape's plate as he tried to sneak a sausage roll from it and getting an irritated tut from him. "Don't you two have something you need to discuss?"

"Do we?" Harry asked, he wasn't sure what this was going to be but he doubted it was going to be something good, it rarely ever was.

"No. I don't think so." Snape said, Dipsy glared at him.

"I think you do and you'd better... unless you want me to tell him."

"Fine. We need to talk."

Satisfied Dipsy left the room, giving Severus a look that said clearly if he hadn't told Harry by the time she came back he was going to regret it.

"What do we have to talk about, sir?" Harry asked, Snape hadn't even realised that he hadn't started speaking.

"I... Well, I've been thinking about... you and what's going to happen when you go back to school..." Snape started uncertainly, Harry nodded along wondering if he'd thought of something. "And I've found something viable, if you're willing of course."

"What is it?" Harry trusted Snape, not completely but definitely more than he trusted anyone else. Snape hadn't lied to him so far - he didn't think he would but he was always wary - he didn't just see him as Harry Potter but as Harry a normal teenager, and actually cared about the mundane things that he needed being a normal teenager like entertainment and friends. No one else had ever shown that they cared about Harry like that, even when they did it was all just superficial stuff that didn't really matter.

"We would have to do a blood bond, it would mean that you were my... son or at least in the eyes the law you would be, but the point is that it would change your appearance enough you wouldn't be recognisable and you'd be able to go back to school as my son." Severus said in a rush.

Harry almost laughed with relief, he couldn't believe this was it and that he'd been even a little bit worried - he also loved how Snape and Hermione had both came up with the same idea, he supposed that meant it was the absolute best solution. Too busy thinking and trying not to laugh he didn't realise that he'd left Snape hanging, until he heard him say slightly panicked.

"You don't have to of course, it was just a thought and it wouldn't work anyway if you weren't willing to do it, so you don't have to worry that I might do it anyway secretly or something." He said quickly, he knew it was a bad idea telling him... why would Harry want to be stuck with him as his guardian, even for just a few years. This was the last time he ever let Dipsy talk him into something so foolish.

"No, no I want to." Harry replied equally speedily. "Actually Hermione already came up with that idea but... I didn't think you'd want to do it, I didn't think you'd want to be stuck with me." He looked away from Snape, not sure why he was being so honest.

"I wouldn't be stuck with you," Severus said, not looking either. "This is the easiest choice but I wouldn't have suggested it if I didn't think it was a good idea. I don't know how much Granger told you but I'll explain it more and answer any questions you have, and then you can make your decision. It can only work if everyone involved is willing. I want to be someone you can count on." Severus didn't know why he was being so honest either. Dipsy however, listening carefully outside the door, smirked to herself as she made a mental note to put the truth potion she'd 'borrowed' back in Severus' stores – it might not be as powerful as Veritaserum but it did the trick, encouraging them to be more honest than they might usually be with each other.

Chapter Text

They spent the rest of the night talking about the ritual. Severus took Harry through everything - from how things would be afterwards, to what the ceremony would entail, to what the ritual meant and any ways they would be affected.

It took Harry a few days to finally tell Hermione, and a day after that Neville and Luna. Hermione was ecstatic they were going with 'her' idea, though Harry explained it was Snape who suggested it, and Neville and Luna still seemed hesitant but were relatively happy for him.

Harry wasn't sure how to feel about it, and if it wasn't for the small amounts of Dreamless Sleep Snape was giving him every night he'd probably have spent his nights lying in bed thinking about it. Sometimes he couldn't wait, the times when they already felt like an actual family; like when they were all relaxing in front of the TV, chatting or the comfortable silence of sitting in the library reading together.

There were other times however when Harry felt like it was a terrible idea. Not because he didn't want to be Snape's - son?- he wasn't sure what they would be, but because he doubted that Snape would want him as a... whatever he'd be to him. The way Snape had explained it, and Hermione, Neville and Luna, it was clearly something that was practically forever binding. Harry didn't know if there was a way out and asking Snape seemed like it would be an insult, it might seem like he didn't want to do the ritual.

Harry was having one of those moments, he felt like he was having a panic attack. He was pacing around the library trying to sort things through in his mind while also trying to keep himself calm. He felt like he was going to hyperventilate, he couldn't catch his breath and was starting to feel dizzy. His chest felt heavy and his hands were getting cold, making him shiver.

Dipsy, always having a sixth sense for that kind of thing, walked in as Harry was doing so. In regular Dipsy fashion, never one for tact, she said. "Your pacing is making dust, will you sit down."

Harry looked over to her, it was weird but her calmness was sort of calming to him as well, not that that meant he wasn't still panicking. He'd never been part of a real family, the one he even sort of had didn't want him, Severus was eventually going to realise that he didn't want Harry but he'd be trapped in a blood ritual with him because once again he had to mess up everyone else's life by needing to be protected. Snape especially, he was coming to realise, had sacrificed so much to just keep him alive, and he'd made it about a hundred times more difficult. He'd be right back where he was if Snape decided he didn't actually like Harry and didn't want him but was trapped in a blood ritual, unable to get rid of him. It would end up being like the Dursley's again, Dipsy might still like him though but she was loyal to Severus and would probably hate him too.

As though she could see and understand every thought in Harry's head, Dipsy stepped forwards to solve the problem the best way she knew how. Raising both of her hands, she put them flat on his stomach pushing him with more strength than you'd give her credit for, forcing him onto a chair.

Harry looked at the elf, it had certainly taken his mind off his thoughts but he was more confused than ever now. He looked down at the chair he was in, it was more comfortable than he would have expected the barely worn chairs of the library. He jumped out of it immediately clutching his arse when he saw it was Snape's chair.

"Wait..." Harry said, looking at the chair confused and moving his hands, blushing a little. "That didn't hurt..."

"He's added you to the spell," Dipsy said, like it was perfectly obvious. "Still hasn't added me though." She grumbled, flopping into another chair.

"Why...? Why would he add me?" Harry asked, too shocked to think straight.

"Because he doesn't want you to get hurt if you accidentally sat on it." She answered, rolling her eyes. "And because he trusts that you're not going to sit there... high praise, he doesn't trust anyone."

"He trusts me?" Harry breathed.

"Was the chair not enough evidence?" She asked sarcastically. "Let's see," She started counting on her fingers. "He's shown you a side of himself he never normally lets anyone see, he lets you read his comics and lets you roam freely around his house, or did - I suppose it's also your house now - and he's doing a blood ritual to bond with you. I think it's safe to say he trusts you."

Harry smiled, Snape trusted him and he did say he wouldn't have suggested the blood ritual if he didn't want to do it; he even appreciated Dipsy's sarcasm, it was nice to know that even if other things were changing she was still the same Dipsy.

"Have you finished with your moment?" She asked. Despite the way it was put she sounded genuinely quite concerned.

"Yeah, I think so... Thanks, by the way." Harry blushed, remembering how stupid he'd been. He still had doubts but as Severus had said before, that stuff takes time to go away, he'd just have to see if Severus proved himself worthy of Harry's trust and Harry suspected that he would.

"Good, now you can be worried about more important things like getting his nose." She said with a laugh.

Harry laughed too, he felt a bit bad laughing at Severus but it wasn't spiteful it was good natured and he felt that if Severus was there he wouldn't mind. Severus actually had a pretty good sense of humour when he was relaxed.

"I hadn't thought of the nose. What would a nose like that even look like on my face?" Harry asked, trying to picture it.

"It's alright on his face," Dipsy began. "Because he's got a long face, you'd look ridiculous." She burst into a fresh set of laughter.

"Thanks for that." Harry said, though he had to admit she was right and started laughing too.

Severus had been passing the door when he heard the laughter, curious he stepped into the library. "What's the joke?"

"Nothing." Harry said quickly.

"We definitely weren't talking about Harry possibly getting your nose." Dipsy said sniggering.

Severus' lip twitched at the image of Harry inheriting the Snape nose. "What's wrong with my nose?" He said, playfully offended.

"Do you not own a mirror?" Dipsy replied with a smirk.

Severus gave a chuckle. "You know what they say, big nose..."

"Big handkerchief" Dipsy snorted, the others following suit.

"Hilarious," Severus said dryly, though he was still smiling. "Have you thought any more about who you want to witness it?" He asked turning to Harry.

"Oh, yeah, Hermione."

"And she'll be willing?" Severus checked.

"Yeah, she's really excited actually," Harry smiled, remembering how happy Hermione was when he told her he wanted her to be his witness. "What about you?"

Dipsy coughed, raising her eyebrow at Harry and giving him an impatient glare.

"Of course, Dipsy will be my witness." Severus said, defusing her before she could start.

Chapter Text

The next few days Harry didn't really see Snape, the potion was very difficult to brew so he had been spending his time doing that, Harry was glad to have some alone time to think things over a bit. Snape had given him a book on the ritual so he'd know what to expect, he even offered to send Hermione one but she was way ahead of him. He also spent a lot of his time on the phone with Hermione, for once he was actually enjoying himself and felt vaguely normal.

The day it was going to happen arrived and so did Hermione, who flung her arms around Harry in their customary greeting as though she hadn't seen him in years, making Severus look away and shuffle his feet awkwardly before proclaiming they needed to go prepare. Harry and Hermione followed him down to his lab, Dipsy was already there.

"This is my lab, touch nothing." Snape said as they entered. Harry nodded, knowing Severus was talking more to Hermione than him because he already knew this rule.

Harry glanced out of the small window at the top of the wall - it was the only one in the room – and he could see the moon. When Severus had said they had to wait for the moon to be in the right stage in it's cycle he'd expected it to be a full moon, but it was a crescent moon they were waiting for; Harry had learnt from the book that that was equally, if not more, magical for most spells but specifically this one needed a crescent moon. Harry thought it was prettier anyway.

Severus began lighting candles and handing them out to Dipsy and Hermione, as he handed Dipsy hers he gave her a smirk. "Watch you don't singe your ears." She gave him a glare, not that he seemed to notice.

"Watch you don't singe your nose." She smirked back, Hermione was watching them with something between curiosity and irritation. She didn't think they should be joking around at something like this but it was also interesting to see them interact and how unafraid Dipsy was of Snape; she already knew some things about Dipsy from Harry but some of the things seemed a little far fetched.

Then Severus pulled out some parchment and handed them each to the girls. "I've highlighted to bits you'll need to read." He explained. "I'll also be reading, Harry come over here so you can bleed." Severus said, gesturing for Harry to stand by him next to the cauldron, Harry frowned slightly at the way Severus said it but took a deep breath to calm himself.

Harry made his way to Snape in the dimly lit lab, standing directly in front of him. Severus pulled out a small jewelled dagger and took a gentle hold of Harry's arm. "We need to cut each other and bleed into the potion." He explained. "I'll do you first so you know how it's done." Harry nodded, steeling himself for the feel of the blade, he closed his eyes not wanting to see it breach his skin.

He felt Severus briefly rub something on his hand but didn't feel anything else. He cautiously opened one eye, seeing blood welling up in his hand before Severus carefully guided it to the cauldron, turning it upside down and letting the blood splash in.

"I didn't feel anything." Harry said confused.

"I put numbing potion on first, fast acting."

"Oh, thanks." Harry said, he wasn't too surprised that Snape had even thought of that, he was a bit surprised that he'd bothered though.

"The potion doesn't require us to be in pain so it wasn't necessary to go without." He mumbled in response. "I'll clean your cut and the dagger, then you will cut me." Harry nodded again.

Severus took great care cleaning Harry's hand and wrapping it in bandages, putting a healing potion on before so it would be healed at most by the next day. Then he cleaned the dagger and handed it to Harry. Severus rubbed the potion on his own hand then held it out for him. Harry froze, not really wanting to cut someone who'd been so nice to him and that he actually cared about, even if that was a fairly recent thing.

Eventually he decided he had to and he knew Severus wouldn't feel it, he closed his eyes subconsciously.

"Don't close your eyes, that is my hand you're about to cut." Severus said, sounding slightly panicked.

"Oh, yeah, sorry." Harry said, opening them and lowering the blade. It cut Snape's hand easily having clearly been sharpened, leaving a long line across it that started to bleed profusely. Severus put his hand over the cauldron, letting the blood drip in and chanting something Harry didn't understand in Latin.

A few seconds later the others joined in, Harry watched them wondering what it meant, standing slightly awkwardly without a real part to do. He knew why he didn't have a part - sometimes this ritual was done with small children or babies who wouldn't be able to do the reading parts - but it still made him feel like a spare part.

Once the chanting was over Severus poured some of the potion into two glasses, handing one over to Harry. Harry gave it a cautious sip, nearly vomiting at the horrendous stench.

"I don't suppose there's anything you can do to make it taste better?" Harry asked somewhat hopefully, Severus shook his head gravely, clearly not enamoured with the idea of drinking it either.

"All of it." Severus muttered, Harry wasn't sure if he was talking to him or just reminding himself not to spit it out but it didn't matter either way.

They both took a deep breath before downing the potions. Now both of them looked seconds away from vomiting.

"Is that it?" Harry asked, once they had calmed down a bit and the taste was dissipating

"That's it." Severus confirmed. Harry looked down, he didn't feel any different... well, maybe a bit tired but nothing else seemed to have changed. Severus pulled two small vials out of his pocket and handed one to Harry, downing the other himself.

Harry looked down at it before doing the same, immediately he could taste an over powering minty flavour, almost too strong, before it died down a little leaving him feeling more like he'd just thoroughly brushed his teeth. He gave Severus a grateful smile.

They all left the lab, none of them really wanting to hang around the unpleasant fumes any longer than they had to. Once they were outside Hermione turned to Harry.

"Are you alright?" She asked, he nodded.

"I'm fine, that was much worse than the Polyjuice potion though." He grumbled a bit.

"Do you think I'll be allowed to stay?" She asked hopefully, they'd talked about her maybe being able to stay over sometime but Harry hadn't asked Snape.

Harry shrugged. "I don't know, you just want to stay so you can see what I look like." He accused.

Hermione laughed lightly. "Maybe," She turned to Snape with more confidence than Harry would have had. "Professor, would you mind me staying over?"

Severus turned around, caught slightly off guard by the question. "I... erm... yes, that's fine." He said, flicking his eyes over to Harry briefly. "I'll be in my room, goodnight." He said before leaving hastily.

Harry and Hermione gave each other a confused look, while Dipsy laughed and followed her strange master - they decided he was probably just tired, Harry knew he was. He kept looking at himself in the mirror once they were in Harry's room.

"It's not going to happen straight away, you need to give it time to settle into your face." Hermione pointed out, lying on the bed with Harry's homework in front of her, checking it as was her custom. "You should get Professor Snape to look at these, or at least the Potions ones, he could probably really help you."

"But then what would you do when you come over?" Harry joked.

She shook her head at him. "You should sleep or something," She commented, Harry did look tired and she knew the potion and the changes it made to the body made you tired. "I wouldn't mind an early night either."

Harry sighed, he knew she was right but he felt a constant need to check if anything had changed yet, or wonder he would look like once he had changed, he hoped it wasn't too different. Maybe he'd just look like a younger version of Snape, maybe he'd look like himself with just a few features from Snape, would he still have his scar? He hoped not, that would be a dead give away. He supposed he'd just have to wait and see.

Chapter Text

"What's up with you?" Dipsy asked as they got into Severus' room, sitting on his bed, her lip quirking slightly, showing that she clearly already knew what was up.

"What? Why would anything be 'up' with me?" Severus asked, looking awkwardly in the direction of Harry's room.

"Because you said 'goodnight' and then ran away, even mister noticed you were acting weird and he's oblivious to everything."

"What do you think about Hermione? Well... Harry and Hermione?" Snape asked, blushing slightly and not looking at her.

Dipsy burst out laughing so hard that she fell over onto her side clutching her stomach, her little legs kicking helplessly, Severus shifted awkwardly not impressed with her reaction. "Oh my gods, you think they're in there having sex." She all but shouted.

"Will you be quiet?" Severus hissed, looking towards Harry's room again nervously. "They might be, they're sharing a room... he's a teenage boy and she's a teenage girl..."

"It's not a requirement, you know." She said still giggling, wiping a tear from her large eyes. "He's clearly not interested in her that way."

"Oh, it's so clear, is it?"

"Yes, they're friends."

"Then why is she always all over him?" Severus asked, crossing his arms and raising an eyebrow.

"Because, unlike you, some people actually like physical contact." She smirked, rolling her eyes.

"I don't hate physical contact." He muttered petulantly.

Saying nothing Dipsy stood on the bed and moved forwards; Severus watching her nervously, she leaned up wrapping her arms around his neck. Severus' hands dangled by his side, torn between wanting to push her away and wanting to prove a point. In the end comfort won.

"Okay, okay, I get it, you can stop now." Severus said, pushing her off him while she giggled to herself. They were silent for a short while... well silent apart from Dipsy's quiet laughter and Severus' almost tangible seething. Severus opened his mouth to speak, an uncomfortable thought had just come to mind. "Harry won't want me to... Will he?"

"You're going to need to give me more than that." Dipsy said, rolling her eyes and settling herself again.

"He won't expect... hugs and... things, will he?" Severus said visibly worried, he was okay with giving Harry affection just... from afar.

"He's knows you too well for that." She laughed, patting his leg patronisingly.

"I think I'll go to bed now." He said staring hard at Dipsy, crossing his arms, to tell her to leave.

"Yes, yes, I'm going." She said jumping down from the bed, while he turned around to get his night clothes out of the chest of drawers.

He paused, biting his lip awkwardly as his hands lingered on some jogging bottoms. "Are you sure they're not..." Still worried about what might be going on, not that there was much he could do about it.

"Yes, I'm sure!" Dipsy groaned, cutting him off before leaving them room.

* * *

Harry woke up the morning after the ritual, he rubbed his eyes realising he could actually see more than a foot in front of him. He rolled over to see Hermione next to him, fully dressed, reading a thick book.

"Morning." He yawned.

"Harry..." Hermione said staring at him, studying his face. Harry stared at her questioningly before remembering the ritual, he jumped to his feet and ran to the mirror.

He immediately noticed his longer hair, it wasn't much longer just a few inches, hanging just below his neck, it was weird and tickled him a little, he ignored it lifting his fringe to look where his scar should be but it wasn't there... just smooth, very pale, skin. He checked the rest of his face anxiously, it wasn't much different - he didn't have Snape's nose, for which he was eternally grateful - he still had his mother's eyes and a couple of his fathers features but his cheekbones were sharper and his face was longer, obviously from Snape. He definitely looked different. He just hoped it was different enough to fool everyone.

He turn back around to face Hermione. "What do you think?" He asked.

"You really look different... not bad different," She added quickly. "Just different."

"You think it's good enough?" He wondered aloud, holding his arms out to look at his hands and noticing his pyjama top had ridden up to almost his elbow. Looking down he saw the same could be said for his bottoms as they were pushed up somewhere around his shins. He hadn't noticed how tall he now was, he guessed he was somewhere around Ron's height.

"I doubt anyone will figure out it's you." Hermione assured him, still not quite believing he was Harry as she squinted at him.

"Good," Harry said before his stomach growled loudly.

"Maybe we should go to breakfast now." Hermione suggested with a smirk.

"I just need to get changed first." He said, grabbing some clothes. "I'll take these to the bathroom."

Harry quickly found out that his night clothes weren't the only things that didn't fit him any more, his jeans were about four inches too short and his shirt cut him uncomfortably under the arms. He stepped out of the bathroom to find Hermione waiting outside, she couldn't help her soft snort when he came out, he did look a little ridiculous.

He was used to his clothes not fitting but now it had gone the completely opposite direction, now being far too small for him.

He pulled his jacket over the top, it still fit perfectly, he raised an eyebrow wondering how it had changed to fit him no matter what.

They made their way to the dining room, discussing whether Snape would be there or not, it turned out he was; they found him sitting in his usual place at the head of the table, with a piece of toast in one hand and a newspaper in the other, he looked up at them over it suspiciously. His eyes widened almost imperceptibly as he took in Harry's new appearance.

"Sleep well?" He asked, Harry and Hermione nodded casually sitting down next to each other. "I hope the floor wasn't too uncomfortable."

"Oh, no one slept on the floor, we both took the bed." Hermione explained, pouring herself some orange juice from the large jug in the middle of the table.

'I knew they'd had sex.' Severus thought, not sure how to respond. "I hope there was enough room for you both." He replied awkwardly.

"The bed's big enough we could probably get six people in it." Harry shrugged, wondering why Snape was so obsessed with their sleeping arrangement.

'Six?! He's already moving onto orgies.' Severus thought spluttering a little, before regaining himself and deciding that now he definitely was being a bit over the top. "Well... good." He said, clearing his throat and taking a sip of his tea.

Luckily Dipsy showed up before there was any more awkward conversation.

"Hey stretch, where's the flood?" She asked Harry, who turned around and gave her a blank look, clearly confused.

"Oh, the clothes." He realised, Dipsy nodded tugging on him until he stood up.

She walked around him, everyone now watching, finally she nodded apparently content. "I'll sort them," She said, tapping a long finger against her lip in thought. "I have just the spell. But first I'm taking breakfast orders."

"Just toast for me thanks Dipsy." Harry said, looking at Hermione and hoping she didn't start with any spew stuff again.

"I'll have some porridge please Dipsy, if you have it." Hermione asked politely, Harry breathed a sigh of relief.

"Toast and porridge, fine." She said remembering the order, she was about to leave when Snape asked.

"What do you think about..." Severus started, he wasn't sure how to ask Harry about his new face, he gestured to Harry's face.

"Oh, it's okay, I think I like it. I'm glad I don't have the..." Harry gestured to his face.

"The nose." Dipsy nodded in understanding, leaning against the table.

"The scar." Harry corrected with a smirk.

Severus nodded, glaring at Dipsy, who just gave him a smile before popping out of the room; Harry and Hermione tried not to laugh. "It would have been a bit of a give away; you're a lot taller." He pointed out.

"Yes," Harry said, scratching the back of his neck awkwardly. "It's weird, I've already out grown all my new clothes."

"Dipsy will fix those for you." Severus said, he could see Harry was nervous about it, no doubt he still remembered that Severus had been the one to pay for his clothes and doubted he'd want to to it again. Even if Dipsy had already stated she could fix it easily. It's not as though being left with clothes that don't fit him would be a new thing for Harry but Severus wasn't going to do that.

"Why does Dipsy have to do it?" Hermione asked, she was somewhat okay with Dipsy being his house-elf but she didn't want to bite her tongue when he was forcing loads of work onto her without her even being in the room.

"She has a gift for tailoring spells." Severus answered unfazed.

"She's free, Hermione." Harry said, sounding exasperated.

"Oh..." Hermione said awkwardly, not sure how to respond; she hadn't known Dipsy was free but she still couldn't really understand why someone would want to stay as a servant if they were free.

"Am I going to be Harry Snape now?" Harry asked, moving the conversation on.

"I think that may be too obvious," Severus pointed out. "We'll probably have to give you another name."

Harry looked a little sad. "I don't know if I want another name." He'd always been Harry, he couldn't really imagine being anyone else. He knew that he wasn't going to change just because his name did, but it still didn't feel right.

"It would only be until the end of the war." Severus pointed out, though he could understand Harry not wanting to change his name, he'd already had to change his physical appearance, he wondered if maybe this was the best way to go about things after all. It was most important that they hide him for the time being though, so he doubted he would take it back.

"What would your name be?" Hermione asked, she wasn't particularly in favour of Harry changing his name either but she knew it had to be done.

Dipsy - always picking her moments - decided that was the best time to pop in with their breakfast. "Severus Jr?" She suggested as a choice, smirking as she put Harry and Hermione's breakfast in front of them.

"No." Severus vetoed immediately, glaring at her.

They batted ideas around for a while longer before finally settling on Seth.

"Seth Snape?" Harry said thoughtfully. Everyone watched him eagerly waiting to see if he wanted it or not. "Yeah, I think I like it."

"Finally." Dipsy said with a groan, it had taken them a while.

Hermione spent a large part of the day with Harry before she had to be apparated home by Snape, once she was gone Severus decided to have a chat with Harry about how he was feeling with the changes. He seemed to be dealing with it well, not that he had much choice. Regardless, Severus hated the fact Harry had so little choice, but at least he knew Harry had chosen this - as far as becoming his son and changing his appearance - because blood rituals can't be forced; at least this one couldn't... he knew several dark ones that didn't need to participant to be actively involved.

He also wanted to talk to Harry about getting his school things from Diagon Alley, it would be the first time Harry would be in public with his new look - or in general since school - and he wanted to see how Harry would handle it, along with testing whether the disguise would work, though there was little room to doubt. Harry seemed quite excited to be able to go out and not be recognised for once, so he told him they would be going some time soon.

After their conversation, Dipsy came to inform them that Harry's clothes were finished being tailored, happy that they had talked about everything they had needed to talk about they all lounged about for the few hours they had before they would be going to bed.

Chapter Text

Harry's Hogwarts letter came carrying his school books list. He read through it, guessing they were going to be going to Diagon Alley soon since he needed to get them. He also figured he should get some new school robes and things. He was worried about going to Diagon Alley as 'Seth', he was still Harry to himself and Dipsy, Severus or any of his friends really who still referred to him as such.

"My school list's come." Harry said holding it up to Severus, who reached out to take it, scanning over it.

"Hmm, when do you want to get them?"

"I don't mind." Harry said bored, leaning on his hand on the table.

"We'll go later then. I doubt we'll need to go to Gringotts, I think I have enough to cover this." Severus said thoughtfully, he was always pleased when he didn't have to speak to goblins.

Harry sat up quickly. "It's okay, you don't have to pay. You already paid for my clothes and..."

Severus shook his head, holding a hand up to stop him. "You're in my care, and while you're in my care I will take care of things you need. I know you've always had to do things by yourself but you don't have to any more"

Harry smiled but still felt a bit awkward about it all, it was nice to actually have someone to rely on.

* * *

They left for Diagon Alley a while later, Severus doing a sidelong apparition to get them there. Harry looked around, he'd sort of expected everything to be different or for everyone to run up and see right through his disguise but no one paid any attention to him.

"What's wrong?" Severus asked looking down at Harry, who was staring around the place.

"I don't know, it just feels like things should have changed."

"You have to remember, this is just a normal day for everyone else, they haven't all changed their face in the last week."

"I guess... where are we going first?" Harry asked, still looking around waiting for things to change.

"This way." Severus said busily, Harry could tell the man already had the most direct route planned out in his head, Harry followed him to Madam Malkin's.

"Pop your jacket off, dear," The woman said as soon as Harry entered the shop, Severus following behind. "We'll get you measured and sorted out."

Harry nodded, taking his jacket off walking over to the stool she gestured to stand on. He heard a familiar voice from behind him.

"Good afternoon, Professor." Draco drawled. Harry turned awkwardly around, not completely, just enough to be able to see Severus standing with Malfoy, who also happened to be on a stool, getting some new robes, and his mother.

Severus and Narcissa seemed to be deep in conversation, Draco occasionally adding a word here and there but mostly just standing listening to them.

"So... what are you doing here?" Narcissa asked. "I wasn't aware you ever bought new robes, or did you decide you wanted to add a few extra buttons to one of them?" She teased good-naturedly, it was clear they were friends. Harry found it weird to think of Snape having friends, he knew Dipsy was a friend but 'people' friends never really seemed to be something he was interested in.

Severus rolled his eyes. "Actually, I'm here because my son needs some robes." Severus smirked as her mouth dropped, crossing his arms.

"What?!" She asked, even Draco looked interested. "Since when have you had a son?! Why was I not informed?! You can't just slip that into a conversation!"

"I'm sure I've mentioned it before." Severus said nonchalantly, tossing his head.

"You have not! I think I'd remember something like that!" She said, slapping his arm.

"Careful Cissa, your Slytherin mask of indifference is slipping."

"Shut up!" She said slapping his shoulder, practically beating him at this point, Severus chuckled. "Where is he?" She asked, looking around for him.

"Seth!" Severus raised his voice so Harry would hear him, Harry jumped nearly falling off the stool he was on, it wobbled precariously while he barely maintained balance, Draco gave a muted laugh. Madam Malkin pushed the stool somewhat upright with a sigh at being interrupted while measuring him up. "Come and meet Mrs Malfoy."

Harry nodded nervously, stepping carefully off the stool and hurrying over to the others.

Narcissa smiled at him, she looked him over. "Just like Severus, more height than he knew what to do with..."

"Cissa..." Severus tried to cut her off, looking a little embarrassed.

"He was clumsy too," Narcissa finished, Severus crossed his arms huffing impatiently. Her eyes fixed on Harry's and Harry was almost certain she knew it was him, she turned to Snape. "You really DO have a thing for green eyes, don't you?" She teased.

Severus shook his head at her. "Narcissa, must you!"

"When my so-called friend has been lying to me for years? Yes."

"I never lied. I never said I didn't have a son, I just didn't tell you that I did. There's a difference."

"Not much of one. You could have said something."

"You never asked." Severus shrugged.

"It's not really something one just asks randomly when they've known someone since childhood. 'So Severus it's been a few months, had any children?'" While they squabbled playfully, Draco's attention was on Harry.

"Draco Malfoy." He said, extending his hand to Harry.

"H... Seth Snape." Harry said accepting it, almost messing up and introducing himself as Harry - he'd need to get used to that. He noticed Severus' eyes flick over to him, having heard the slip, luckily Harry had covered the mistake with a cough.

"Where's your mother?" Malfoy asked, curiously.

Fortunately Harry was prepared for this, Snape had made him up a whole backstory... or at least enough of one. "My mother's in Egypt, she thought it was time I spent some time with my father, I came for the holidays. I couldn't do NEWT's back home so father suggested I do them here, at Hogwarts." He said, hoping he hadn't missed anything or messed anything up, Severus said the most important thing was keeping the story straight.

"What school did you used to go to?" Draco asked, Harry couldn't really believe he was having a pleasant conversation with Malfoy but a lot of things he couldn't believe had happened recently.

"I was home schooled." Harry answered quickly.

"If you're starting your NEWT's you'll be in my year." Draco drawled, he sounded his usual self with a bit of something else mixed in, though Harry couldn't tell what that was.

Harry opened his mouth to say something else but there was an irritated cough from behind him from Madam Malkin, and soon he was being whisked back onto the stool to finish getting fitted for his new robes. Severus finished his talk with Narcissa and joined Harry.

"I think that went well." Severus said as they left, they had about an hour before Harry's robes would be completed so they had enough time to get Harry's school things and get back.

Harry nodded. "I didn't know you were friends with..." Harry trailed off.

"Anyone?" Severus finished.

"No, just... well, sort of, yeah."

Severus chuckled. "I don't have many friends, a mixture of being quite picky, not trusting anyone and being hard to put up with."

"She seems nice, not really how I expected her to be."

"Cissa's a good friend, she's one of the few people who has stuck by me," Severus said, a small smile on his lips. "Friends like that are hard to find." Severus added slightly bitterly, as they entered Flourish and Blott's.

Chapter Text

Harry noticed bright red hair out of the corner of his eye, turning around to see if it was actually who he thought it was. He was sort of shocked when he saw that it was the Weasley's. Mrs Weasley, followed by Ron and Ginny. He veered to the side, following them without really being conscious of it, Severus raised an eyebrow but followed after Harry.

He too had noticed the Weasley's, and he was aware how much Harry had wanted to talk to the boy.

"We've already done the secrecy spell, so if you want to talk to him and tell him who you are, you can." He said to Harry, who was watching the group from around a corner.

Harry looked up about to deny what he was doing but changed his mind. "You really don't mind?" He asked hopefully, he didn't know much about the spell, he knew it was similar to the one on Grimald Place but the secret was Seth's true identity rather than a location, and there was more than one secret keeper, both Harry and Severus. So far Hermione, Neville, Luna, Dipsy and Severus knew but if any of them, apart from Severus, tried to tell anyone the secret it would come out as nonsense.

Severus gave him a nod, his lip quirking at Harry's smile but he calmed himself keeping his usual sour expression for the public, he was glad Harry could see past it. "I'll go and look for your books, I'll find you once I'm done."

Harry left to talk to Ron; once he got close, he realised Ron must have seen Severus because he was talking about him. He hadn't really thought much about the way Ron would take the news, he doubted it would be favourably but he figured he'd come round to the idea, he stood listening to him talking to a giggling Ginny. Mrs Weasley wasn't paying much attention to them, busily looking for their books, as Snape was for Harry.

He decided to talk to him, he didn't want to continue listening to him talk about Severus, he knew that was how he used to talk about Severus too, but not any more. He still didn't think he should get too mad at Ron for it, it wouldn't be very fair, Ron really didn't know Snape.

"Ron." Harry said, forgetting that he wouldn't know who he was, Ron eyed him suspiciously.

"Do I know you?" Ron asked.

"Not looking like this," Harry said giving a nervous laugh. "It's... erm... me, Harry." He said wishing he'd never walked over, Ron continued to stare.

"Yeah, right," Ron rolled his eyes going to shove past Harry, Harry put his hands up to stop him. "Don't touch me." Ron growled jumping back.

"No, really, it's me, I can prove it," Harry said, trying to think of something that would prove to Ron he was Harry. "Erm..." He blushed slightly. "My first kiss was with Cho, around Christmas, she was crying."

Ron watched him, his arms crossed, he didn't look happy but he didn't look like he didn't believe him any more "Why do you look like... that?" He asked, Harry wasn't sure how in-depth to go.

"I did a blood adoption with Snape." He said, hoping to rip the plaster off quick, he waited biting his lip awkwardly.

"Snape?!" Ron asked with contempt, Harry nodded. "Why would you do something like that?! The papers are right, you are crazy!" He spat, unfortunately it was about what he expected.

"No, you don't know the full story," Harry tried to explain. "He's really not that bad."

"It was bad enough when you were leading us all to danger because of your insane visions, now you really have lost it." Ron seemed to not even be listening, Harry glared at him.

"I never told any of you to come with me," He shot angrily back. "And you know the vision was something Voldemort was doing, I'm not insane!"

"You believed it," Ron hissed. "You could have got us all killed, you did get Sirius killed and he was the one you were trying to save." Harry felt his head pound and suddenly he was on top of Ron, who let out a yelp of surprise.

A flurry of fists, red hair and robes was all that could be seen for about thirty seconds before Harry felt firm familiar hands on him pulling him back. Ron ran for Harry but a flick of Snape's wand left him hovering in mid-air flailing wildly and spitting curses. Harry tried to jump him again but was held back by Snape's hands on his shoulders, Harry hadn't even noticed his tears or bleeding nose.

The fight may have been short but both had got a few hits in, Harry's nose was almost certainly broken but Ron was sporting what promised to be a pretty magnificent black eye and had a cut on his left check.

Harry struggled a while longer, the whole shop was watching them. Mrs Weasley took Ron down and dragged him off, Ginny gave Harry a smile that went completely unnoticed.

Severus hauled Harry outside, taking him to the side out of everyone's way. He squat down to Harry's level and pointed his wand at him, Harry glared at the man, he was angry and his heart was heavy with guilt and betrayal, he didn't care what Snape did to him.

"I don't care if you Crucio me," Harry grit out. "He deserved it."

"You think I would Crucio you in a public place?" Snape asked calmly, his calmness irritated Harry but seemed to be calming him as well. Severus muttered the spells he was using, one Harry easily recognised as a cleaning spell, the other he didn't know but his nose felt better, he raised a hand to it, it came back with no blood nor did it hurt to touch. "Or at all?"

"You might," Harry shrugged, the Dursley's didn't need an excuse but if they'd found Harry fighting he'd definitely be in for it. "I'm in trouble, aren't I?" Even if Snape had told him he wouldn't hurt him, that was before... maybe he'd pushed him too far or maybe things were different now he was actually Snape's son.

"Yes, but that still doesn't mean I'm going to hurt you," He promised. "It does however mean you don't get to have your broom for a week," Severus said, standing and heading back to Madam Malkin's "We're getting your robes and then going home."

"That's it?" Harry asked.

"Yes, we have everything else on the list." He said thoughtfully.

"No! I mean... you're just taking away my broom? That's it?"

"I can have you scrubbing cauldrons as well if you want," Severus said evenly. "Though I thought you'd have had enough of that while at school."

"I don't... that's not what I meant." Harry said, crossing his arms indignantly.

Severus stopped in front of Harry, facing him. "H... Seth," He began. "I'm not going to hurt you, not here and not when we get home - never, okay?" Harry nodded, he could see hurt in Snape's eyes and immediately felt bad. "We'll talk about it when we get home, I want to know what happened."

Harry scuffed his shoes on the pavement, his head down, he didn't want to talk about it. He wanted to be left alone, he did better on his own.

* * *

Dipsy greeted them when they were home - Harry hadn't noticed they'd both been referring to the Manor as home, Harry's home, a real one - she seemed to sense that something had happened.

"Could you make us some tea, Dipsy?" Severus asked, hoping to get her out of the way so he could talk to Harry alone.

"Of course I can." She said watching Harry closely, not moving, Severus pinched the bridge of his nose.

"Will you?" He tried again, Dipsy huffed.

"I suppose." She muttered before leaving, he shook his head at her and pointed to Harry, nodding towards the living room.

"We need to talk." Harry sighed and followed Severus grumpily, Snape lead him to the living-room taking a seat, Harry stayed standing awkwardly. Severus tried to ask him to sit down but Harry cut him off.

"I'm sorry... about the whole Crucio thing, and erm... thinking you would... whatever. I know you won't, I just... forget sometimes." Harry said looking down, he really did feel bad, after everything Severus had done for him.

"I'll admit that it hurts that you would think I would use an illegal spell on you in the middle of Diagon Alley, however, it's perfectly understandable given what you've been through," He nodded to the sofa. "Come sit."

Harry sat down. He wasn't sure where to go, he didn't want to sit too close and make them both uncomfortable but he didn't want to sit too far away and make Severus feel like he didn't trust him. He tried not to over think it and just sat, Snape said nothing for a while, contemplating his words.

"What happened?" He asked patiently, Harry could tell he was actually going to hear him out, he shrugged.

"We had a fight." He said, he didn't want to talk about it, he didn't want to think about Ron or Sirius or that it actually was his fault.

Severus gave him a small smile. "I noticed that, I'm assuming something happened before that." He prompted carefully, he still didn't know who attacked who.

"He was being rude about you and when I told him who I really was he started calling me insane," Harry said bitterly, Severus could see he was getting angry again, he understood why - he'd had a year of people calling him an insane murderer after he came back with Cedric, it was obviously going to still be a sore spot. Especially with everything Voldemort had been doing to his mind during that time, he had probably thought he really was going insane. Harry crossed his arms and Severus could see him ball his fists. "Then he started about Sirius." He said turning his face away, Severus looked down; he may not have liked the man and he couldn't really say he was broken up about his death, but he was important to Harry and with everything that happened he had no doubt Harry blamed himself.

"I understand you were upset but you can't fight people in the middle of a shop," Harry opened his mouth to argue but Severus continued. "That is not to say that anything Weasley said was warranted, I can see he was provoking you, especially with the last bit but right now it will only attract attention, and attention is something we don't need right now, yes?"

"Yes," Harry huffed, still irritated, he already knew he shouldn't have attacked Ron even if he did deserve it, at least Snape didn't seem angry, he was at most disappointed. Somehow that seemed worse to Harry. "I'm sorry." He mumbled less sulkily.

"It's not me you should be saying sorry to."

"I'm not apologising to him!" Harry said fiercely, giving Severus a glare that dare him to try and make him.

"No," Severus agreed. "I doubt it would do any good regardless," He knew it never did any good the times the Marauders had been forced to apologise to him, or vice versa. "That's it then, you're free to go," Harry nodded and went to leave. "Harry," Severus stopped him. "It's finished now, I'm not going to bring it up again," He saw Harry visibly relax. "You still can't have your broom for a week." He warned, in case Harry had forgotten.

"I know," Harry said, halfway out of the door, he was glad it was all over, he didn't feel much better but he felt alright. "Should I bring it to you or..."

"No, keep it in your room, I trust you not to use it." Severus said nonchalantly, Harry felt proud to have the man's trust, even if it seemed insignificant to someone else Harry knew Severus' trust didn't come easily and he wasn't going to let him down again.

Chapter Text

"Are you sure you've packed everything?" Severus asked. They were leaving for Hogwarts soon, some of the teachers went back early and Severus was nearly always one of them so he could brew for the Hospital Wing.

"Errr, yeah, I think so."

"Remember you can leave some things here, you'll be coming back in the summer," Severus reminded him, Harry nodded but said nothing, he was kind of nervous about going back to school. It was weirder going back to school after a good summer than it was going back after a bad one - he didn't mind so much when it was bad, school was much better than the Dursley's. "We're going to apparate to the gates," Severus went on. "Like when we went to Diagon Alley. Dipsy will bring our things."

* * *

Harry came out of his room, hauling his trunk and broom behind him, he dragged them over to where Dipsy and Severus were standing shrinking their luggage and arguing.

"Will you be careful? You nearly stepped on my entire potions supply." Severus grumbled, picking the small box off the floor.

"No I didn't, do you always have to fuss so much?"

"I'll do this, you go and help Harry." Severus said, pulling his own trunk away from Dipsy to sort out himself, Dipsy huffed at him and stomped off to help Harry; shrinking both his trunk and his broom, she placed them gently into her pocket.

Once it was all sorted they apparated to the Hogwarts gates, Severus with Harry and Dipsy carrying Hedwig. Harry could feel himself shaking, he hoped no one would notice though. They made their way up to the big oak front doors of the school.

"We'll get our things set up in my rooms, I wouldn't bother unpacking everything, and then we'll go and talk to the Headmaster, I'm sure he'll have some questions." If Severus was nervous about talking to Dumbledore he didn't show it and Harry was impressed, he was terrified what the man might do or say, though he supposed there wasn't really anything he could do now.

"You can sleep in my study," Severus said, as they got to his rooms - they weren't what Harry expected. He'd always thought they would be small, damp and uncomfortable, a deterrent against visitors, but they were more like his Manor. Comfortable, stylish, Slytherin and definitely decorated by Dipsy. "I'll transfigure you a bed, it's only for this week though, you'll be in your dorm after that."

Harry made a noise of agreement, stepping into the study Severus had directed him to; he saw a few pictures, most of them were pretty generic but one of them had his mother in it. Harry raised a hand touching the frame, she was laughing and dragging a young Severus into the picture, he didn't seem willing to have his picture taken but was smiling back at her.

"I never liked having my picture taken, she was always trying to force me. This is one of the few she ever got me in... I wish I hadn't had such an aversion to it now." He said sadly. At the time he hadn't ever really thought he'd want to remember what he looked like or what he'd been doing, he wished there was more of them together though.

"I didn't really know you were friends," Harry said thoughtfully. "No one's ever really told me much about my mom." He knew a lot about his dad, some things he didn't want to know about him; it pissed him off more now, knowing that Snape wasn't really an arsehole and that his own father and his godfather treated him like shit but Severus still adopted him and looked after him when no one else cared.

"I did say I would," Severus said putting his hand on Harry's shoulder in a familiar way that Harry liked. "But how about after we talk to the Headmaster."

"Really?" Harry asked, he remembered the first time he'd asked him about it and hadn't ever thought he should bring it up again, though he had hoped he might tell him something about her.

"Of course," Severus promised, he was sure it was going to be hard, he never really spoke of her because he felt he had let her down. He had let her down. He wasn't going to let Harry down. This wasn't just for her any more. "I have some more pictures of her, I'll get them out if you want."

"That would be great." Harry said eagerly, he was desperate to know more about her, no one ever told him about his mom, everyone just seemed to tell him about his dad.

They finished getting the study turned into a makeshift room for Harry, taking out anything Severus would need. Dipsy was missing for most of it, Severus speculated that she was catching up with some of the other house elves, the 'less annoying ones' as she referred to them, most of them just thought she was insane and were disapproving of her.

"What's going to happen...? When we tell him, I mean." Harry asked before they left to see Dumbledore.

Severus considered the boy for a minute. "He can't take you away, it's done now you're my son. There is nothing he can do about it." He assured him. Harry nodded, noticeably less tense but he was still worried.

"But what about the... well, everything. He's not going to be happy about it, he didn't want this." Harry said, not sure he was explaining himself properly.

"It doesn't matter what Albus 'Oh but the prophecy!' Dumbledore wants," Severus answered, Harry smirked. "This is about what's best for you, something no one seems to have taken into consideration before. He's not going to do anything and if he tries... well, he'll have to go through me," Severus said calmly but Harry could see the fierceness in the man's eyes, he really meant it, he was going to look after Harry. Harry couldn't really believe Severus would go against Dumbledore for him but he knew if it came down to that he would. He'd already made Harry his child behind Dumbledore's back. "And if he tries to do anything to me he'll have to go through Dipsy, so you've nothing to worry about." He finished with a smirk, Harry laughed a bit feeling better.

They walked to Dumbledore's office, Severus stormed as though on a mission, Harry shuffled along next to him occasionally having to jog to keep up - he didn't want to have this talk but he knew it was necessary. Severus said the password and soon they were stepping into the man's office; Dumbledore was as usual at his desk, mid-conversation with a portrait, who stopped abruptly when they saw visitors.

"This is not up for discussion," Severus began firmly as soon as they were at his desk, Harry recognised the voice he had used to use on him. "As you can see it's already done, Harry is now of my blood and from now on anything involving him from now on will go through me first."

"Honestly, I'm shocked, this was not what I had in mind when I sent him off with you, this is very unexpected," Dumbledore said genuinely shocked, his eyes fixed on Harry, especially on his forehead. "I'd have thought young Harry would have learned from the Ministry debacle that perhaps it's more sensible to run things past me first." Harry looked down awkwardly, feeling Severus' hands on his shoulders giving them a squeeze.

"I'd have thought you would have learned to be more tactful than to bring up a sore subject for Harry, especially to use it against him," Severus growled. "Harry needs a way to hide, he also needs someone looking out for his interests, which he is sorely lacking."

"I did my best."

"Well it wasn't good enough, was it?" Severus sneered, he didn't necessarily believe Dumbledore had ever really had Harry's best interests at heart, that didn't mean to say he thought he had a nefarious plan but he couldn't say he really cared, not after all he had overlooked.

"How will he go back to classes like that?" Dumbledore asked, not responding to Severus' remark, he couldn't really.

"He won't be here as Harry Potter, he will be here as Seth Snape and he will have to be re-Sorted." Severus said with little room to argue.

"Oh, I don't think we'll need to go that far."

"Well, I do think we need to go that far." Severus crossed his arms. "And since, for all intense and purposes, I'm his father, I think it matters more what I want."

"Why don't we ask what Harry wants?" The Headmaster asked turning to Harry, no doubt believing Harry wouldn't even want to risk leaving his friends.

"I want to be re-Sorted." Harry said, he'd have to be if he wanted to blend in and pretend he wasn't Harry... besides there was no way he wanted to be stuck in the same House as Ron, he'd never be able to get away from him.

"That's settled then." Severus said smugly.

Dumbledore sighed. "Very well then, I suppose we'll do it at the Welcome Feast."

"We'll see ourselves out." Snape smirked, and left the room with Harry.

Chapter Text

Harry couldn't believe how well it had gone with Dumbledore. He wasn't stupid enough to believe the man would leave him and Snape alone, but for now they were okay and Severus had been pretty formidable while they were in there.

He also couldn't believe it when they came back and Dipsy handed Severus a box that he had apparently asked her to dig out. It was the pictures Severus had promised to show Harry; they sat down together and he got them out, telling Harry some stories, it was nice hearing the fondness in his voice. It was something he'd only heard once before in Snape's voice, when he'd been telling him about Dipsy.

It wasn't all just pictures either, it was more a box of memories. Harry could see some tickets, a flower crown, a book and some origami animals inside. Harry wanted to take them out but he thought that would be rude. He waited while Severus told him about the first time he met Harry's mother.

"I called her a witch! It might not have been the best thing to say," He chuckled. "She wasn't very happy with me. She came back later though, when she realised I hadn't meant to offend her." He smiled, plucking out a picture of them both, a young Lily and Snape laughing in front of a tree, he held it in front of Harry. "That was where we first met, a few months after though, we would meet there all the time, it was our place."

"You both look really happy." Harry commented.

"We were, usually. Not when I used accidental magic and caused Petunia to fall out of a tree," Both of them laughed loudly, neither of them feeling sorry for her. "Needless to say, Lily didn't find it as funny as we do."

Severus continued to flick through the pictures, some were muggle, some weren't. He would hand them all to Harry after he had looked, occasionally he would stop on one to tell Harry about it.

"We made a swing once, out of some old rope and a plank of wood, we hung it on the tree. It didn't last very long, we met there one day and it was gone. I believed it to be the work of a jealous Petunia, but I didn't want to upset Lily by blaming her since the knocking her out of the tree incident was somewhat recent."

Harry learnt a lot about his mom; all he had known about her was what he had seen. He had seen her leave someone she called a friend when he said something he didn't mean. He hadn't realised the first time he saw that that she had been Severus' friend for six years yet she still just left him after one mistake at the worst time in his life. Then she went off and married someone who had mercilessly tormented the person she had once called her best friend. Yet Severus was still sitting there talking about her and telling Harry how nice she was, he didn't omit times when she wasn't all that nice, he had a much more accurate view of his mother than of his father, whom everyone just said was great but Harry could only really see him as a bully.

Severus then moved on to some of the other things, he pulled out the ticket. "This was for 'The Godfather', we lied about our age so we could go and see it, they were more relaxed about it back then." He smiled fondly, Harry looked at the flimsy ticket, trying to work out how old it must have been, yet it was still in good condition.

"This is a book she brought me for my birthday, 'Huckleberry Finn', she said he reminded her of me, I don't see it." Harry looked at the book, he knew he'd heard of it somewhere, he wondered it Snape was really like that boy.

Harry opened the first page, there was writing on it;

'To Sev,

Happy Birthday. We read this book at school and the boy in it reminded me of you so when I saw it again I knew I had to buy it for you.

Lot's of love, Lily.'

"This," He said fishing out the flower crown. "Lily made for me, she made one for herself as well, I put a stasis charm over mine so it wouldn't wilt."

"Did she make the origami as well?" Harry asked intrigued.

"We both did, we had a habit of passing notes during lessons. I didn't keep them all, you can look at them if you want."

Harry hesitantly pulled the animals out of the box and turned them over, opening them out. He opened a frog one first, it was a conversation between them;

'Binns is so boring, I want to fall asleep.' It started, it his mom's flowery handwriting, Harry could recognise Snape's by now, he'd been seeing it since he was a first year writing in red ink all over his essays.

'If you fall asleep you can't copy my notes.' Harry smiled, it reminded him of Hermione.

'That's not fair.'

'Okay, you can really.'

':)'

It was kind of sweet, he imagined his mom and Severus passing notes, it was a funny sort of thought. The next was a crane, he remembered the one Malfoy sent him. This one wasn't a conversation but a picture of two ties intertwined, a Slytherin and a Gryffindor.

"Who drew that?" Harry asked.

"I did." Severus said, glancing over at it.

"I didn't know you could draw." Harry said, looking at the drawing thoughtfully.

"It was just something I scribbled down during lesson." Severus shrugged.

He opened out the rest of the animals, most of them were just little chats, complaining about the lessons or talking about where they should meet up afterwards, they seemed to really be friends. Harry smiled as he read them.

"Did you ever try to make it up with her?" Harry asked instantly regretting it, he bit his bottom lip as Severus visibly stiffened.

"A few times," He answered, he was sure it had came out more testily than he'd meant it, it was a hard subject but he knew he shouldn't take it out on Harry; he calmed himself, taking deeper breathes. "Some things are just unforgivable."

Harry didn't think that was right - what his aunt and uncle had done was unforgivable, what Voldemort had done was unforgivable, calling someone something you don't mean out of embarrassment and humiliation wasn't unforgivable, especially not when they are your friend.

Chapter Text

Severus had let Harry keep some pictures, he put them in his photo album to keep them safe. The next week Severus told him a few more stories about his mother and his childhood - he didn't often talk Harry about when he was at Hogwarts, Harry presumed that was because he didn't have many great memories at Hogwarts.

Harry lay on his makeshift bed in Severus' study, he was waiting for the school to be full of people again. He and Severus had talked about what would happen when everyone came back. Harry was worried about being resorted, he didn't know where he'd end up. He could well go back into Gryffindor but that wasn't particularly appealing considering the way Ron had been acting besides he remembered clearly what the hat had told him when he'd first been sorted.

"What about when I'm re-Sorted?" Harry asked Snape, anxiously.

"You'll go up with the first years." Severus explained, but Harry shook his head.

"I mean what about where I'll be Sorted?" Harry tried to get him to understand.

"You're still you, so you could easily end up back in Gryffindor."

"What if I end up in Slytherin?"

"Maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing," Harry looked up at Severus confused. "You'd be closer to the Slytherin's and despite my attempts I can't do much to stop them going down the same path I did, perhaps you could save some of them, if you were Sorted into Slytherin... of course no one would blame you if you couldn't." Severus added quickly, he didn't want to add more to the boys already full plate.

"If you were in Slytherin, master would have a decent seeker for a change." Dipsy piped up, Harry laughed.

"Draco is a fine seeker." Severus rolled his eyes.

"He'd be a better chaser." Dipsy shrugged. "Mister's a better seeker."

"Fine, if Harry gets Sorted into Slytherin he can be seeker."

* * *

They heard rather than saw the school fill with children, Harry was shocked how quickly it had gone from calm and quiet to hundreds of chattering children. Severus nodded for Harry to follow him, which he did silently, too nervous to talk to anyone.

"Go join the first years with Professor McGonagall." Severus said, sending Harry over to the right place, it was familiar to Harry but incredibly strange.

He didn't look too out of place in his plain school robes, though he was obviously much taller. Several of the first years looked up at him but not for long before they all started chatting excitedly again. The chatting died down when McGonagall started her preamble, Harry didn't pay much attention, he'd heard it all before.

Harry remembered the anxious lines that must have been uttered by every first year as they waited outside the Great Hall nervously.

"How do they sort us into the houses?"

"Maybe a test?"

"In front of the whole school?"

Harry almost laughed remembering how he had felt, he had been so worried as well, it was a relief when he found out all he had to do was beg a hat to not put him in Slytherin.

They walked in, Harry the only one not looking around in wonder, most of the teachers had already met him though they didn't know who he really was. Harry had been quite shocked at how much Severus kept hidden from everyone, to the point that no one batted an eye when he came back with a child he'd never mentioned.

He could feel most eyes on him, he knew he stuck out like a sore thumb but couldn't muster the energy to care after a while. He did have to wait a while for his name to be called and to finally ascend the steps for the second, and hopefully last, time- though Harry had learnt not to rule anything out if this summer was anything to go by.

McGonagall put the Sorting Hat on his head, it fit a lot better this time and he could see most of the Hall, he could see Ron, who was glaring at him, no doubt because of his last name, like the rest of the school.

"You again," The Hat said as a greeting. "Ready to be sorted where I thought you should go from the start?"

"You saw Slytherin in me but put me in Gryffindor," Harry said. "Why?"

"It's not as if you seemed particularly keen to go to Slytherin," The hat answered, and while Harry couldn't really deny that he knew there was more. "I put you where you needed to be at the time, things change..." Before Harry could ask what that meant the H

at shouted. "SLYTHERIN!" And Harry found himself walking towards a table of cheering children in green and black robes.

He reached the Slytherin table, unsure where to sit - at least his first day in Gryffindor he'd had Ron to sit with. He was about to sit on his own when he saw Draco making his way up the table.

"Come and sit with us," He said, dragging Harry down the table and forcing him onto the bench next to him. The others were looking at Draco as though he was insane but neither of them paid any mind. "I'm sure your father's pleased you're in Slytherin." He said, Harry shrugged.

"I guess." Severus' face was devoid of any emotion when he looked up the table at him but when he caught his eye he received a curt nod, almost imperceptible if anyone else were to be looking.

The Feast continued a while and he could hear Ron loud voice behind him at the Gryffindor table. "Who's even surprised he ended up in Slytherin? I'm just surprised it took the Hat so long to put him there. And of course Malfoy will be sucking up to Snape's son. He's such a kiss ass."

Once the Feast was over they went back to their dorms, Draco showed Harry to them; as they were getting there though Severus came out and told 'Seth' to come with him. Harry had followed him to his office, wondering what he was going to say.

"Harry," He said quietly. "You didn't choose to be put in Slytherin because of what I said, did you?" Severus had thought more on what he had told Harry and decided it wasn't a good idea to go looking for trouble by trying to get people to say no to the Deatheaters "About stopping others becoming Deatheaters, because that's not your responsibility."

"No sir," Harry said, a smirk appearing on his face. "I chose Slytherin so you might have a chance at winning the Quidditch cup," Severus laughed but Harry could see he was still worried. "Actually I didn't choose at all, the Hat has been trying to put me in Slytherin for years."

Severus said nothing about that, he didn't seem very surprised. "Good, I probably won't see you for the rest of the night while you get settled in so I'll say goodnight now, remember you can come to me anytime, it won't seem odd. Do you still remember your backstory?" He checked, Harry nodded. "Good, and Dipsy wants me to tell you you can summon her whenever. She said to let you know that includes during lessons, but I want to stress that you are not to call for Dipsy during lessons."

"Okay sir, I won't. Goodnight." Harry said, feeling anxious about heading off to the Slytherin rooms for the first time, they had been welcoming at the Feast but he had no idea what it would be like.

"Goodnight Harry." Severus said, giving him a small smile and patting Harry's shoulder gently as he walked to the door.

When Harry got to his new dorm he couldn't believe Draco had saved a bed for him, next to his own. It was strange to have Draco being nice to him but he guessed as Ron had said, it was just because he was Snape's son.

Chapter Text

Harry sighed nervously. After unpacking his stuff in the dorms, he had headed down to the common room for a while. He was always nervous on his first days and – even though he felt he shouldn't be now since he wasn't really new to Hogwarts - he was. Draco noticed his nervousness.

"Are you alright?" He asked, Harry nodded.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine." Draco looked at him as though he didn't believe him but said nothing more on the subject.

"I'll show you to your lessons tomorrow if you want." He offered. Harry didn't understand why Draco was being so nice to him, he'd never thought of Draco as nice.

"Why?" Harry asked; he hadn't really meant to, he just hadn't been able to stop himself.

"You seem alright," Draco answered. "And my mother told me that I should be especially nice because you're new," He shrugged. Harry nodded, of course he wasn't doing it because he was actually nice or wanting to be his friend, he hadn't really expected anything like that, but if Snape could change so dramatically by just getting to know him he sort of thought others could too.

Draco shook his head, it was obvious what the boy was thinking. He couldn't understand how someone with Snape as their father could show any emotion, but then he guessed Seth never really had Snape as a father. "Slytherin's take care of their own, she only told me that in case you weren't put into Slytherin. Though if you'd been a Gryffindor I doubt I'd have bothered," He said truthfully, he patted Harry's arm. "You can stick with us though." He said pointing over towards Crabbe, Goyle, Zabini and Parkinson.

"Thanks." Harry answered.

* * *

"Seth! Seth, wake up!" Harry groaned hearing someone shouting close to him, it took him a few seconds to remember he was Seth and that it was Draco's voice next to him standing over him.

"Yeah?" He asked with a yawn, rubbing tiredly at his eyes.

"It's time to get up."

Harry looked at Draco questioningly, reaching for his clock and turning it towards himself. "It's seven!" He said, he'd never got up so early at school. "Why would I get up at seven?!"

"That's when I get up." Draco shrugged, his hair sticking up oddly from being in bed, he started brushing it carefully, Harry could see an array of haircare products set out in front of him. "It takes time to look this good."

"Well, it takes me two seconds to run my fingers through my hair so I'm going back to sleep." Harry said back, not in the mood in the morning, to his surprise Draco laughed.

"Definitely Professor Snape's son." He muttered, opening a jar of hair... something and starting his meticulous process of smoothing his hair back.

"I'll tell him you said that." Harry warned still sleepy, it was weird how easy it was to talk to Draco and he'd only 'known' him for a day. It wasn't the comfortable friendliness he had shared with Ron and Hermione, but without the tension of being 'Potter' and 'Malfoy' he could see potential. He tried not to linger on the thought of Ron and Hermione – especially Ron - for too long.

"You wouldn't!" Draco said, looking genuinely quite stricken and ridiculous with only half of his hair slicked back while the other still flopped down rather sweetly.

"Nah, not really." Harry said with another yawn, he tried to get back to sleep for a while but with Malfoy wandering around the room, along with the others waking up, it was difficult. Eventually with a groan he just hauled himself up and declared he was going for a shower, he stopped for a while watching Draco putting his hair into a pony tail with a black ribbon, though he wasn't sure why that made him stop and watch.

Draco actually seemed nice, nicer than Harry would have given him credit for, though he supposed Draco had tried to make friends with him before... he just seemed to be bad at it. He'd given Snape a chance and that had gone well so he'd give Draco one as well. Besides he was stuck in Slytherin for the time being and it would be best for him to make some friends, do some spying himself.

Draco introduced 'Seth' to the other Slytherins at breakfast, they didn't seem to like him much but were all clearly trying to stay on his good side because of his father. He didn't know why they weren't fond of him but he got the impression they didn't like the attention Draco was giving him, even he couldn't explain it, it really seemed to bother the other Slytherins though. He supposed they'd been trying to best each other for Malfoy's attention for years and now 'Seth' had come in and messed up the pecking order.

Ron was being loud and obnoxious across the room but before Harry could say anything back Draco had shouted for 'weasel' to shut up and sat Harry down next to him, explaining that Gryffindors don't like his father.

Ron followed them as they headed outside into the Entrance Hall after breakfast, most of what he was shouting was complete gibberish because of the spell preventing him from spreading any information on who Seth really was, but some of it was clear. Like him constantly shouting about Seth hanging around with Malfoy.

They stared at Ron for a while, Draco was confused, Harry didn't know what to say, eventually Draco piped up with. "Have you completely taken leave of your senses, Weasel?"

Ron was about to break out into a fresh rant but suddenly the whole hall seemed to get quiet and everyone was looking, not at Ron, but above him. "A word, Mr Weasley." Severus drawled, turning on his heel, clearly expecting Ron to follow which he did begrudgingly, still mouthing angrily at Harry and Draco.

"Is he always like that?" Harry asked, realising that for 'Seth' this wouldn't have made sense.

"Usually," Draco shrugged. "Especially when Potter's not around."

Harry looked at him confused. "What?" He asked before he could stop himself.

"When Potter's around he reigns him in a bit, I suppose, but apparently he hasn't come back this year, too busy saving the world to be at school with us mere mortals." He said rolling his eyes, Harry winced, trying to look like the statement didn't bother him.

"Maybe he's hiding." Harry suggested.

"You don't know Potter, he doesn't hide. If there's anything happening, he'll be there."

"You sound like my dad." Harry laughed, Draco chuckled too and they walked off to lesson, oblivious to the glares they were getting from Crabbe, Goyle and Pansy.

* * *

That afternoon they were studying in the library, complaining about the amount of work they already had, trying to find the best book to help them with a hellish essay Snape was making them do.

"We haven't even done this yet." Harry moaned, he wished he had Hermione to help him get on the right track as he flicked through book after book, trying to find something to do his next paragraph on. He needed to thank her the next time he saw her, he really took her for granted.

"Don't look at me, he's your father." Draco pointed out, he nodded to the book in Harry's hands. "There's nothing in that one." Harry sighed and shoved the book back where he'd got it.

It might seem to the rest of the school as though Harry had latched onto Draco because of his father, or his influence, or even just because he was new, but it was really the other way around, Draco constantly trying to hang around Seth. He didn't spend his life kissing up to Seth's dad either, despite what people believed, he complained about him as much as he did the other teachers, he was actually pretty fair.

He was surprisingly having a pleasant time with Draco, he hadn't really expected that. While he was contemplating what it meant if Draco was an actual person and not the complete arse he had expected, Luna came drifting in looking, as she usually did, like she had no idea where she was or how she'd got there but glad just the same. She smiled when she saw them and walked over.

"Hello Seth, hello Draco." She greeted warmly.

"Er, hi Luna." Draco said quickly, glancing over at Harry awkwardly.

"How do you know my name?" He asked, of course Harry knew that but 'Seth' didn't, he just hoped Luna knew enough to play along.

"You're Professor Snape's son." She said dreamily.

"That... Doesn't answer the question." Harry said, Luna just giggled and changed the topic.

"How's your father Draco, I heard he's in Azkaban." She sounded genuinely concerned, Harry was sure if anyone else had asked Draco would have his wand in his hand instantly, but to his surprise he just sighed.

"You know we discussed the fact that there's some things you don't say to people, that's one of them." He said in a low voice, not in a dangerous way but more as if he was trying not to let anyone else hear.

"You're so funny Draco," She giggled. "Tell your mother I said 'Hi'." She said skipping off, still laughing.

"Yes," Draco said. "She is always like that."

"I wouldn't have thought you'd hang out with someone like that." Harry said genuinely shocked, Luna had definitely never mentioned it and Draco wasn't going to let something like that slip, it wouldn't really go with the image he'd built up for himself.

"I've known her since we were children, some people think it was her mother's death that pushed her over the edge, it wasn't, she's always been slightly insane. The Lovegood's are blood traitors but mother likes her." Draco explained.

"She seems alright." Harry shrugged.

"I wouldn't let any of the other Slytherins hear you say that." Draco advised, before pulling out another book and flicking through it, Harry was sure he saw Draco quickly wipe away a tear but said nothing, pretending to still be browsing the shelves.

Chapter Text

Harry's life had become a balancing act, not in a particularly bad way... difficult but not necessarily bad. He couldn't let anyone know he was friends with Hermione, Neville and Luna, though Draco knew about Luna but he didn't care as he was hiding the same secret. At the same time though he had to hide from Hermione, Neville and Luna that he was friends with Draco; well, obviously they knew he was friends with Draco, but he was deliberately giving them the impression that it was to keep his cover.

At first it had been but now he couldn't be sure, he really did like Draco, more than he'd thought he would.

Regardless it was hard trying to keep up with all of them and be secret about it, and do his homework and lessons and everything else normal teenagers did. He was enjoying being normal for once though.

He also liked to keep up with Severus; he had gotten quite used to calling him 'father' around the others but he mainly called him Professor Snape. Sometimes he wondered if the man had been 'Professor Snape' for too long, and doubted whether he'd actually ever call him father or dad or anything like that genuinely. It didn't bother either of them... regardless of what they called each other they were family, and Harry was enjoying having a family too.

Ron was the only thing Harry wasn't enjoying. Severus had spoken to him and he had laid off Harry a bit since, or at least there had been no more big scenes going on but occasionally he would start. No fights or even real arguments had broken out since the first time and Harry wasn't going to let it, he was determined not to disappoint Severus and if that meant ignoring Ron's inane waffling he was more than happy to oblige.

Ron seemed to have finally realised that he couldn't actually tell anyone who 'Seth' really was, or he'd been told by Severus when he had his 'quiet word', but he had stopped bothering with it. Instead he'd moved on to just spouting random abuse in the corridors and trying to provoke Harry, who was trying to stay as calm as possible.

It was actually usually Draco who stood up for Harry and got Ron to leave them all in peace, though Dipsy had definitely done her part.

When Severus had told him never to get on the wrong side of Dipsy he hadn't been kidding. She had been strolling down the corridors actually looking for Harry when she found him being harassed by Ron, who was on another of his tirades, this one in particular about how all Slytherins are disgusting and evil. Evidently this didn't sit well with her.

"Slytherins are all just Deatheaters and..." They never got to hear what else Slytherins were because he was cut off abruptly, his mouth stitching up, the obvious work of a silencio. Harry and Draco frowned, wondering who cast it.

They looked around, Harry saw Dipsy and watched Ron being magically forced into a broom cupboard, hearing the lock click. Draco stared eyes wide, not having seen Dipsy, who was sauntering down the corridor, whistling nonchalantly, deciding she could talk to Harry later.

"We're going to be late for lesson." Draco said nudging Harry. Harry hovered for a second wondering if they should get Ron out but, between the prospect of a peaceful lesson where he wouldn't have to listen to Ron berate him or his family and Draco's insistence, he gave in and they left - Filch would find him eventually and if he wasn't out by the end of the day he would go back.

As it turned out he was only in there a little under an hour, one of the professors heard him banging on the door as they walked past. He immediately blamed Draco and Seth, luckily it fell on their Head of House to give them punishment.

"Professor," Draco started respectfully. "It wasn't us."

"I know exactly who it was," Severus said and there was a definite chuckle from the elf behind him; he turned around with a glower, she just shrugged at him, entirely unrepentant. "As such you're both off the hook. Seth, I would like to talk to you however." Harry nodded, he wasn't sure why Snape wanted to talk to him but it sounded serious.

"Do you want me to wait for you?" Draco asked, Harry shook his head.

"It's fine, save me a spot at dinner." Draco nodded before leaving, Harry turned to Severus nervous he had done something wrong, even after he had tried to be so good.

"Harry," Severus said softly. "Why didn't you tell me Weasley was still harassing you?"

Harry frowned, that's what this was about? "I didn't see the point bothering you with it." Harry answered easily, it wasn't like it was a big thing, besides he'd been harassed by they Slytherins for years and no one had ever cared, least of all Severus.

"I see," Severus said, tapping a long finger against his lip in thought. "You know you can come to me about anything," He said after a pause. "You don't have to carry your burdens alone any more, I know it is what you're used to but if you let me know about these things people don't end up locked in broom-cupboards." He directed the last part to Dipsy, who was still stood leaning against the desk.

"I didn't tell her to do that." Harry said quickly in his defence.

"I know," Severus stated calmly. "I was just making a point."

"So was I." Dipsy muttered with a smirk before popping out of the room to avoid Snape's ire.

Harry and Severus chuckled shaking their heads before Severus cleared his throat, going back to being serious. "I mean it, Harry," He said looking Harry in the eye, it had once unsettled Harry to look Snape in the eye but now as he looked at Severus he found himself feeling an odd security that he'd never felt before. "You can come to me about anything, I'm your father, it doesn't matter if you believe you'll be bothering me, I want you to tell me if something is upsetting you. Furthermore, I am your Head of House and any bullying of my Snakes should be reported to me."

Harry nodded, he couldn't help his smile, it was nice knowing someone cared. "It wasn't that bad," He still mumbled shyly. "It was just annoying."

"I'd still have sorted it out," Severus said gently, stepping closer to Harry and giving his shoulder a squeeze, they stayed still for a moment. Harry wondered if Severus was going to put his arm around him, he sort of hoped he would but instead Severus said. "Well, we should be getting to lunch, you don't want to keep Mr Malfoy waiting."

Chapter Text

"Harry!" Hermione greeted as he walked into the Room of Requirement. "We were starting to think you didn't get our note." She said, releasing him from her hug.

"I was just trying to get away from the others," Harry chuckled, settling himself in one of the armchairs, it was Hermione's choice of room, at least judging by the large cosy library it was. Neville tended to go for somewhere that looked like the Gryffindor common room while Luna's could be anything she felt like - though she had been put on a ban since she had flooded the Room and, by proxy, the corridors after deciding they should hang out underwater. "They were trying to get me to play gobstones." By 'they' he mainly meant Draco but he didn't want to say that.

"It's fine, we were just talking." Hermione said, sitting herself on a red velvet sofa with some scrolls next to her.

"Luna and I were talking," Neville corrected. "Hermione was checking my Potions assignment." He laughed, he'd gotten a lot more confidence recently, Harry half hoped it was because of them but he was glad for Neville either way, it was good he was coming out of his shell.

"I was still listening, they were talking about Ron getting locked in the cupboard." She said, she had long since cut ties with him, as had most people; they either thought it was unnecessary or unfair to pick on Seth just because of his dad, or they were too scared of Seth's father to be associated with Ron, so most people stayed away.

Harry nodded, that's what most people had been talking about, especially since Ron hadn't stopped bitching about it, Harry couldn't exactly blame him. He knew how it felt after all, but he really hadn't been in there long and he had been harassing Harry for weeks - even so Harry really didn't wish any ill will onto Ron, he'd rather they just stayed civil but apparently that was very one-sided.

"Oh, right," He didn't really want to talk about Ron. "Will you do my assignment too?" He asked, stretching out with a yawn.

"Your father is the Potions professor." Neville pointed out with a smirk, Harry shrugged.

"He doesn't give me the answers, he just points me to reference books."

"Have you finished it?" Hermione asked doubtfully.

"Yes, actually... nearly, me and Draco started it." He said casually, making them stare at him slightly shocked, he realised how familiar it sounded a second later and sort of hoped no one would bring it up.

"You're spending a lot of time with Malfoy." Hermione said, she didn't sound angry or as if she was judging him, just a little bit awkward.

"Erm, yeah..." Harry said, equally as awkward.

"Draco's nice." Luna said, she hadn't even seemed like she was paying attention, Neville and Hermione looked disbelieving.

"Maybe not nice, but certainly not as bad as he seems." Harry interjected.

"Harry he hates Muggleborns." Hermione pointed out.

"Honestly, I think a lot of that is an act," Harry said thoughtfully, looking into the fire. "Around the other Slytherins he's sort of like that but when we're alone he doesn't seem to care. He doesn't even seem that interested in becoming a Deatheater - that's what most of the other older Slytherins talk about but he's never even mentioned it, he just seems to want to pass his exams." The more time he spent with Draco, the more it became obvious to Harry that he was disinterested in the whole thing.

Everyone was quiet for a time, pondering this information. Hermione wasn't sure how much of it she believed, it could easily be an act around Seth, but she couldn't think why Draco would bother. Neville was trying to remember what Draco was like as a child, he was a spoiled brat but he wasn't exactly horrible, it was Luna who spoke first though.

"He's sad," She said evenly. "But he's been happier recently." She finished, picking up her magazine and skimming through it.

Their talk stopped there, Hermione going back to marking their homework and doing her own. Harry and Neville started a game of Exploding Snap in front of the fire and talked about a new plant that Professor Sprout had left Neville in charge of, he was very proud of all the plants he had helped nurture and raise.

* * *

Later Harry was walking back down to the Slytherin dungeons, he'd had a pleasant evening, he hadn't seen Ron all day and now all he wanted to do was go to his dorm and go to bed. When he got to his dorm though Blaise stopped him before he could open the door.

"I wouldn't, Draco's gone off on one." He warned, Harry raised an eyebrow, he quite liked Blaise as well.

"What do you mean?"

"He got some bad news," Blaise told him quietly. "We don't know what but it must have been pretty bad." Harry nodded but went into the dorm anyway, he wasn't sure why he was so bothered by the prospect of Draco being upset but he wanted to help if he could.

He walked in and found Draco sitting at his desk, his shoulders were hunched, not sitting up straight and tall as he usually did. "I told you to..." Draco growled, turning around to see Seth. "Oh, it's you." He muttered.

"Yeah, I can go though, if you want..." Harry said, suddenly losing his nerve stepping back towards the door.

"No, stay, it's your dorm too," He said, ignoring the fact that if it hadn't been Seth he'd have told them to leave regardless of it being their dorm too.

"What's wrong?" Harry asked, sitting on Draco's bed to be near his desk, Draco lifted a letter he had apparently been pouring over.

"My father's out of Azkaban," He said, he sounded torn by the news. "He said he's paving the way for me to 'take my place as one of the Dark Lord's inner circle', becoming a Deatheater." His words were like venom.

"Isn't that a good thing?" Harry said awkwardly. "I mean, that's what everyone talks about and..."

"My fathers a liar," Draco spat. "He's acting like he's the Dark Lord's right-hand man."

"He's not?"

"Hardly, I don't even know how he managed to talk his way into getting the Dark Lord to break him out, maybe he was high-ranking before but not now, he treats me like I'm an idiot!"

"Maybe he just doesn't want to admit the truth." Harry suggested, he didn't know Lucius Malfoy, not really, but he knew enough to know he was a proud man.

"He should take mother's advice and grow up a bit," He said with a heavy sigh. "I'm sorry, he just... bothers me," Draco took out his wand flicking it, Harry raised an eyebrow in question. "To stop people listening in," He explained. "Your father taught it me." Harry smiled, he knew Severus was a friend of Narcissa's and he was aware that he had been a sort of 'uncle' to Draco, it didn't shock him that Severus had taught him some basic privacy spells.

"Sounds like him." Harry muttered, Draco smiled.

"Seth, your father's a Deatheater isn't he?" Draco said seriously.

"Er... yeah." Harry answered awkwardly. "Why?"

"But you don't know anything about it, doesn't he... doesn't he want you to become one?"

"No, why would he want that?" Harry asked suddenly, outraged by the notion, he calmed down quickly. "I mean, he wouldn't force me or anything." Draco nodded, sighing again.

"Lucky." He mumbled, looking back at the letter.

"You mean you don't want to be one?" Harry pressed.

"What would you do to keep your family safe?" Draco asked rather than answering Harry's question, Harry didn't need to think.

"Anything." He said softly.

Chapter Text

Draco had been slightly awkward around Harry after their talk; Harry was certain Draco was worried he'd given too much away, he couldn't see Draco telling anyone things about his father and his doubts, he couldn't fathom why he had told him, Seth, of all people.

It made him feel almost bad, like he was leading him on. They still spent a lot of time together and it was still enjoyable but Harry noticed the way Draco had been eyeing him, like he was expecting something, or his nerves whenever he got a letter. Draco didn't really seem to have anyone else. Harry definitely knew how that felt, he didn't want anyone else to feel like that, not even Draco. Especially not now.

He understood things better now, being on the inside - he saw the pressure on the people around him. They didn't show it, none of them, but they were all... Harry couldn't think of the right word, he just thought of Severus, or rather Snape, a man he had thought was completely unfeeling and evil.

Yet out of everyone he was the one to save Harry, to care when no one else did. When he talked about Harry's mother it was obvious the emotions he held for her, he loved her, whether as a friend or as something more, he loved and cared about her. It was very clear - no matter how much they sniped at each other - he loved Dipsy like she was family. Draco, Narcissa and who knew how many other people, he felt so much and Harry had just never seen it.

As for being evil... Harry just couldn't see it in the man any more. He was flawed, yes, swayed by loneliness, certainly, but evil? No. Never.

He understood though why he had never seen it. Severus had never let him, never let anyone because he couldn't.

It was easy being on the outside, seeing the Slytherins do things and how they were branded evil but they were just children, the same as everyone else that went there. Sure, one or two were horrible but that could be said for every house.

Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, whenever they did something - a tripping jinx in a hallway, maybe - it's a harmless prank, but if a Slytherin did it they were despicable and shouldn't be allowed in the school.

As bigoted as everyone makes them out to be it was returned to them in full force. Harry had assumed they were all Deatheaters before actually being there, it had to be said, and a lot of them were... but there was still plenty who wanted nothing to do with it, Blaise was indifferent about the whole matter really. He tended to side with the ones who had parents faithful to the Dark Lord because there were a fair amount of them, particularly in Harry's year, and it wasn't as if anyone in another house would befriend him - everyone, especially with the rising tension, were giving Slytherins the wide berth.

He sighed, contemplating everything, he had never imagined it would be so bad as a Slytherin. Honestly he hadn't noticed the kids being rude, other than Ron, he was used to that, he only realised afterwards they didn't know that he was Harry Potter so they had no cause to behave like that. He actually realised in lessons - he always thought Snape was biased - which he definitely still was, entirely unapologetically so - but the other teachers were as well.

They were just more subtle; just small jabs and remarks, little things about Slytherins, very much a 'well what can you expect' sort of looking down their noses attitude with every little thing they did. That's why they are always on guard, why they are always ready to fire back at someone.

Hex them before they can hex you.

It's why they go around in groups, for protection. Harry never realised how rare it was to see a Slytherin on their own, they were always together. He'd been stopped several times, with other Slytherins, by teachers believing they were up to something when they weren't doing anything but studying or hanging out. He'd thought Snape was bad, now he had to deal with all the teachers popping up out of nowhere to accuse them of things; at least Severus had had cause - Harry was usually up to something, but as Seth the worst thing he'd done was handed a report back late.

Another thing he'd noticed was how hard they worked in Slytherin; in Gryffindor doing your homework the night before was a legitimate way of studying, in Slytherin no one did that and when Harry did they all looked tense for him. He understood after a while, they all had high ambitions, they wanted to do well and if they didn't... well, their parents weren't what one would call understanding. At least not a lot of them.

Harry got up, he'd had enough of thinking, he needed to talk to Severus, he wanted to talk about Draco. Severus knew him, had known him for a while, maybe he could explain some things, maybe he could explain things about Slytherin as well.

He walked into Severus' office without knocking, he hadn't even realised until Severus pointed it out.

"It's customary to knock before barging in." Severus said, looking up from his writing.

"Oh, sorry." Harry said uncomfortably, looking at the door.

"It's fine, just remember for next time," Severus said, gesturing for him to come closer, Harry walked over to the desk and Severus handed him back his homework. "You did very well, I think you've really grasped the Draught of the Living Death." He said, he didn't look comfortable giving praise, Harry knew he didn't do it often.

"That's the equivalent of him giving you a hug." Dipsy said, nudging Harry's leg as she walked past, Harry smirked, Severus grunted thoughtfully.

"Would you, er, like... me to hug you?" He asked, shifting slightly in his seat, Harry watched him smiling in understanding.

"Not right now, no." He answered, he couldn't lie and say no, he'd never want one, but as Severus had told him, it would take a while for him to trust the man; equally, Severus wasn't going to suddenly be open to things like hugs for a while.

"Alright," Severus answered clearing his throat. "Tell Granger her marking was impeccable." He said nodding to the homework, Harry chuckled.

"I'll let her know." He promised.

"Not that you need one but is there a reason for your visit?" Severus asked, he didn't want Harry to think he had to have a reason or that he was bothered by seeing him, he enjoyed their talks.

"Not really but sort of," Harry said as if that made sense. Severus raised an eyebrow but nodded, waiting for him to go on. "It's about Draco." Harry took out his wand using the spell Draco had before, Severus sat up a little.

"Where did you learn that?"

"Draco taught me, he said you showed him."

"I did, a while ago, it's a very useful spell. What would you like to discuss about Draco? Is everything alright?" Severus knew the boys to be friends and he didn't really doubt that Draco was a good kid, if a little misunderstood, but he knew how quickly people could turn, especially in Slytherin.

"Yeah, I'm fine at least. Draco seems kind of on edge... His dad's been released."

"I'm aware." Severus sighed, Lucius wasn't a bad father as such, but he always put his name and himself above everything and everyone. Being released meant paying the Dark Lord back, they all knew the Dark Lord needed more followers.

"He's not ecstatic about it either," Harry slumped down in a chair, his experiences with Lucius had never really been pleasant but he'd thought that Draco would actually like him, he was his dad after all. "Does the Mark have to be taken willingly?" Severus looked taken aback.

"Not necessarily, no. Why?"

"I just... I don't think Draco wants to... he said..." Harry cut himself off, he wasn't used to talking to adults about things like this, and while he knew he could trust Severus he couldn't help his hesitation. "He was just asking me if you wanted me to become one and things like that. He's been weird since."

"I'm not surprised," Severus said after some thought. "Neither about him not wanting to become one, nor him acting oddly after your chat. He always struck me as doing it out of duty and to make his father proud, his mother doesn't want anything to do with it either and I can count the number of times he's ever ventured to talk to me about 'the cause' on one hand."

"He doesn't talk about it like the others always are," Harry agreed. "That still doesn't explain why he has been so off around me, he already knows I'm not part of it."

"How would he know that?" Severus looked amused, Harry evidently hadn't wrapped his head around Slytherins yet.

"I told him."

"Who's to say you weren't lying to gain information?" Harry realised suddenly why he'd been so off and nervous, he was waiting for Seth to tell everyone. "You seem to have a knack at getting Slytherins to be vulnerable, must be Gryffindor courage." He smirked.

"He thought I would tell everyone." Harry said sounding slightly hurt; of course he wouldn't betray someone he saw as a friend, no matter how recently. If he was honest with himself even after what Ron had done, if he saw he was in trouble he'd help him. Maybe he was too loyal, he could probably have been placed in Hufflepuff just as soon.

Seeing that Harry was upset Severus quickly changed back to serious. "You shouldn't be offended, being confided in at all by Draco is a compliment all to itself, but you can see how afterwards he might not be particularly comfortable. When he realises he'll come round."

Harry nodded hopefully and changed the topic for now, and they just talked about random things until it was time for Harry to get back to his room.

Chapter Text

Harry had taken Severus' advice and was just going to wait it out, Draco would realise eventually that he was someone he could trust. He could tell that Draco was relaxing more around him again.

They were walking down to the pitch, brooms slung over their shoulders, it was the first match of the season, Slytherin vs Ravenclaw and Harry was excited to actually be able to play again. He was practically buzzing, Draco looked at him with a bewildered expression.

"Are you nervous?"

"No, why?" Harry asked, he'd been spaced out thinking about their plays and he had been caught off guard by the sudden question.

"Because you haven't stopped fidgeting all morning."

"Oh, no, I'm just excited."

"Even though your father's going to be there?!" Draco stared at him in shock.

"Yeah," Harry shrugged, Snape had seen him play lots of times. "He'll be alright. We'll win anyway."

"You're far too sure." Draco laughed, shaking his head.

The match started and was going pretty well, Harry hovered at about fifty feet watching out for the snitch. He caught a glint of gold racing past and threw himself immediately in the direction of the object. He followed it, his arm stretched out, leaning forward to go as quickly as possible.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw a bludger cut past him and he watched it's path, seeing the bludger heading towards Draco, who was facing away, completely oblivious; Harry pulled off course and sped towards him. He chased the bludger down, beating it to Draco and hauling him out of the way just in time, then looking around finding that the snitch had disappeared.

Harry caught the snitch eventually, ending the match, but he was aware of Draco watching him throughout the game. They landed and Harry got a very Slytherin congratulation from his team.

He was used to people lifting him up, and while that was fun sometimes he just wasn't into it; from the Slytherins however he received stilted 'well done's, a pat on the back and a few hand shakes. Harry recognised it as them being too awkward to emote around the whole school.

Draco bounded over, broom clutched tightly in his hand. "Good catch."

"Thanks."

"You could have caught the snitch before, but you came and pulled me away from the bludger." He said, his voice was accusing but he looked confused.

"Yeah," Harry rubbed the back of his neck. "But I caught it in the end." He shrugged.

"Why?"

"Because you didn't see it, it would have knocked you off your broom. You could have got hurt, we were like... forty foot up."

"I... you're so weird!" Draco said storming off, Harry wondered about following him but decided against it.

"He probably wants to be alone." Harry said to himself, wandering up towards to castle, hanging back from everyone else.

"Hey stranger," Hermione said coming up from behind him, Harry jumped and turned around. "How was playing on Slytherin's team? You did well."

"Thanks, er... yeah, it was weird... it was okay but it was weird. Apparently looking out for your team mates is strange."

"You know, it's okay if you're friends with Draco, right Harry?." Harry stopped suddenly, just staring at her.

"I... I'm not..." He stammered, Hermione chuckled.

"It's fine Harry," She assured him and they continued to the castle, moving away from each other when they started to get closer to the other students. "See you tomorrow?" She asked before moving away.

"Room of Requirement?"

"Of course."

They split up and Harry hurried quickly into the school, practically being tackled into Snape's office by Dipsy.

"I found him!" Dipsy announced.

"Abducted him seems more accurate," Severus shook his head. "Are you alright?" He asked, knowing that sometimes Dipsy was a bit rough and excessive in her enthusiasm, Harry nodded. Harry and Severus stood in front of each other for a short time, before Severus pulled Harry into an awkward but love filled hug. "Well done." He said quickly, letting go.

Harry pulled back, not hiding his smile, which seemed to make Severus both more brave and more nervous. Then it was Dipsy's turn - with her there was no preamble, she just jumped up, wrapping her arms around him.

"You just won me so much money!" She said, Harry chuckled. "I bet all the elves you would catch the snitch," She went on. "They remembered when master was a child and could barely sit up straight on a broom, so they didn't think you'd win at all. I didn't doubt you for a second."

"But you know I'm really Harry Potter." Harry smirked at her cunning.

"Semantics." She jumped down waving him away.

Chapter Text

The door to the Room of Requirement opened, Harry looked at the floor, kicking some sand with confusion.

"Where did the sand come from?" He asked, dropping his school bag next to a coffee table in front of a deep red sofa.

"Guess." Hermione said dryly, looking over at Luna, who giggled.

"I thought a beach would be nice," She said dreamily, Hermione sighed and shook her head but Harry could tell she wasn't as annoyed as she used to be. "It's where the three-horned jelly-snail lives, you know."

"Right..." Neville said, breaking the small, awkward silence that tended to follow most things Luna said. They all shared an amused look

Harry shifted uncomfortably, trying to decide the best way to tell his friends about Draco, he didn't want to hide things from them. He took a breath. "I'm friends with Draco." He blurted out quickly, Hermione had said it was okay and even if he couldn't tell Draco he could at least tell the others.

He waited for the inevitable backlash but it didn't come. He looked at them all, they were just sitting doing as they had been before.

"Like actually friends, not because I'm pretending." He added.

"We know Harry," Hermione laughed lightly. "We've known for ages, we just wondered when you'd tell us. It was taking too long, so I thought I'd give you a gentle push after you gave up the snitch to drag him out of the way of a bludger."

"You've known for ages?!"

"You're really not that subtle." Neville pointed out.

"Nor are you a good enough actor to 'pretend' that well." Hermione added, Harry sat down with a huff, so they'd known all along and had just gone along with it. Dicks.

"I think you're a good influence on Draco," Luna put in happily, Harry smiled at that, maybe he was. "His vibes are better now."

"We talked about it between us." Hermione

"You've been talking about me?" Harry asked - he wasn't angry as such but it did put him on edge slightly.

"Just to agree that if you think Draco's not that bad then he probably isn't." Neville added hastily.

"Although you have been wrong before, like with Ron." Luna pointed out, once again an awkward silence followed, mainly consisting of Hermione and Neville staring at Luna wondering why she would bring that up and Harry just sort of flailing, unsure what to do or think. He knew there was no ill intent, that didn't stop it hurting a bit however.

Hermione cleared her throat. "Anyway... we just wanted you to know you don't have to hide it from us."

Harry smiled and they all settled back down happily.

* * *

Harry found it was easier to be around his friends since he'd told them about Draco. He could talk to them about him without worrying what they would think, it made him look forward to being with them even more. He'd not really seen much of them since they had to be secret and he'd sometimes not wanted to go because he felt guilty, not just because he was lying to them but also because he felt like he was betraying Draco every time he denied their friendship... now he didn't have to.

He practically skipped into the Room of Requirement and found Neville in the middle of the room in some sort of strange yoga pose with Luna in front of him, seemingly sketching him - however when Harry looked over her shoulder he could see that she was instead drawing an admittedly very good picture of a cat.

It was nice but had nothing to do with Neville being hunched over in what looked like a pretty painful and hard to hold position, at least if the shaking was anything to go by.

Harry watched, suddenly struck with a moral dilemma, not sure whether he should tell Neville or not, because it was actually quite funny but not telling him definitely made him a prick. In the end he didn't get to make a choice because Hermione had whisked him over to the sofa to talk and relax.

"The Halloween feast is coming up." She said excitedly.

"Er, yeah, should be good." Harry replied dispassionately, he didn't really care about the feast much, he didn't even know if he wanted to go. It seemed like something bad always happened at the feast.

Hermione frowned before launching into a discussion about what she was going to wear, and that her and Luna would be getting ready together.

"What's Luna going to wear?" Harry asked, thinking that was probably more interesting than some boring red dress Hermione was talking about. Hermione's face went tight.

"She won't tell me."

Harry smirked slightly, turning his head so she wouldn't see. "That's a shame." He didn't need to look back to know he was being glared at.

"Are we all going to sit together?" Neville's voice was strained, and then he looked down remembering that Harry couldn't sit with them. His arms gave out and he fell with a bump to the floor.

"Neville!" Luna said irritated.

Neville got up rubbing his back. "Sorry Luna," He said, quickly adding. "Sorry Harry, I know you can't join us, I meant because Luna's in Ravenclaw."

"It's okay," Harry shrugged, it bothered him a little not to sit with them but he still had Draco to be with so it wasn't all bad. "I'll be with Draco anyway." Luna smirked with a knowing look, Neville edged round her to look at her drawing.

"I didn't mess it up too much, did I?" He asked, his eyes going wide when he saw what it was. "Wha... That's not me!"

Harry snorted softly, Hermione got up to see what was going on. "Luna, that's a kitten." She said, unable to hide her smile herself.

"I know it's a kitten." Luna answered rolling her eyes dramatically, clearly not understanding everyone's confusion.

"Then why was I posing?!"

"You were being my muse."

"What about Neville screams 'kittens' to you, Luna?" Harry asked, getting a cushion thrown at his still grinning head.

"I'm glad you all find this so funny." Neville grouched going to slump on the sofa and refusing to move because of his aching muscles. It wasn't too long though before Neville came around seeing the funny side too, though he utterly refused to be Luna's 'muse' ever again.

"I will sit with you two," Luna said out of nowhere, everyone having forgotten the question but it had apparently stuck in Luna's mind. "I'd sit with you and Draco," She said turning to Harry. "But Draco wouldn't like it."

"He does like you." Harry said sincerely, he knew Draco didn't show it but he really did, he just couldn't let anyone else know, Harry knew how he felt.

"I know," Luna said brightly. "But he wouldn't like others to know."

"All of this segregation between houses is ridiculous," Hermione declared. "The houses are wrong anyway, they have to be if Harry managed to be sorted into two different houses." Everyone nodded in agreement, bar Luna who looked thoughtful.

"I think he doesn't want others to know because I'm quite insane." She said evenly, going back to her reading, this too was followed by an awkward silence that no one bothered to fill.

Chapter Text

Everyone had noted Seth's sudden happiness that he seemed to radiate wherever he went. Draco seemed to finally understand that he wasn't going to betray him, his friends accepted his friendship with Draco and were just great, and Severus and Dipsy were... well, Severus and Dipsy, and that alone made him very happy.

So everything seemed to be going well... there was just one problem and that was Pansy, who seemed to spend all of her time chasing Draco, trying to get him to go to the Feast with her. Harry didn't know why this bothered him, nor did he know why it irked him so much when she touched Draco's arm or batted her eyelashes at him, and especially when Draco would go over to her first.

He watched them both from across the hall, his arms crossed, gritting his teeth as Pansy simpered at Draco, stroking his arm and giggling in that irritatingly fake way she had. He longed to get up and drag Draco away, but Draco didn't seem to mind her attentions and Harry didn't understand why he did if Draco didn't. Regardless it wasn't his place to say anything.

He definitely didn't remember ever feeling this way about Ron or Hermione. Harry supposed he was just annoyed that he might have to share Draco, who was his only really friend in Slytherin, and that he might end up alone at the Feast.

He was pulled abruptly from his thoughts by someone sitting down next to him, far too close. He turned to them and found it was Ginny. He hadn't talked to Ginny so far that year, and really he didn't mind one way or the other. She was okay but she didn't know who he was and her brother hated him so it wasn't as if he'd expected it.

She slid as close as possible, pressing herself against him and putting a hand on his leg rubbing it, making him incredibly uncomfortable.

"Err..." Harry said, trying to move away; her hand was moving from his leg to closer to his crotch. "I... really don't..." He was trying to be gentle, he didn't want to hurt her feelings but he definitely didn't want her that close, or to have her all over him either.

"Do you want to go to the Feast with me?" She asked, trying to sound seductive.

"I... erm, I don't like..." He wasn't sure how to finish that sentence, he couldn't really say he didn't like people but he'd never really been attracted to anyone, even the Cho thing had been more because he'd felt like he should like her than he actually did. So he just left it hanging awkwardly and tried to move away from her.

"I know it's you, Harry," She said with a giggle, her hands still firmly all over him, he stared at her in shock. How? How could she know? "I heard you tell Ron in the book shop," She said, flashing him another smile before kissing his cheek. "Do you want to go to the Feast with me?" She asked again. Harry's eyes moved back over to Draco, who was standing the other side of the hall, still deep in conversation with Pansy.

"Look, I don't... er... like you... like that," His eyes were still fixed on Draco, Ginny looked round too, she scowled. "I don't like anyone like that." He added quickly.

"You seem to like him." She growled.

"No, I... erm... we... we're just friends." He said, not really very confident in his answer, he just wanted her to get off him. He'd always seen her as more of a sister than anything, he definitely didn't like her pressed against him, touching him and kissing him, it was just... uncomfortable. He tried again to move her away, or move away himself.

"Oi! Weasley!" Draco's voice rang out; Harry looked up, wondering when Draco had got there, he grabbed Harry and pulled him up, out of Ginny's vice like grip. "Seth doesn't like gingers." Draco sneered, he could clearly see how uncomfortable Harry had been. He didn't know how Weasley couldn't... or if she could, why she hadn't let him up.

"You have no idea what he likes." Ginny said and Harry's stomach dropped wondering what she was going to say. He realised immediately that she obviously believed Harry had an interest in Draco - whether that was accurate or not Harry didn't know yet, he guessed he had some thinking to do, but instead of saying anything she just tossed her hair and flounced out of the room. Draco hauled Seth over to the other side of the hall.

"Ignore her, she's the school broom." Draco said, sounding angrier than Harry thought he should, he didn't know what Ginny had been trying to do but he hadn't liked it at all.

"That's not fair." Harry said awkwardly, even if she was being weird he didn't think Draco should say things like that about her.

"Oh, don't get me wrong, she's not just a whore, or anything... it's all to make Potter jealous."

"Why?" Harry asked, genuinely shocked.

"Who knows, loads of people want to get in his pants, she's been trying for years though."

"They do? She has?!"

"Yeah, probably because he's a hero or whatever, but she's always been going on about him. Even since before she met him." Harry stared at him in shock, he hadn't known, a lot of things were starting to make sense though.

"Are you going to the Feast with Pansy?" Harry asked, changing topics abruptly.

"Her?! Oh, no, I told her I was going with you." Draco said, giving him a rare half smile, Harry grinned back and they left the hall.

Chapter Text

Draco had tried to get Seth to go to Snape about the Ginny incident but Harry had denied that it was really anything, not wanting to make a fuss, though he was glad Draco had found them when he did; it wasn't something he wanted to happen again, but he doubted it would and felt it would just be easier to leave Severus out of it. He had said Harry could tell him anything but he really didn't think this mattered, and mostly just wanted to stop talking and thinking about it rather than drawing more attention to it.

In the end Harry had managed to distract Draco with quidditch and they had rushed to get their brooms and go practise.

It turned into less of a practise and more into showing off to each other. Draco watched Seth do some dangerous and impressive dives then after Harry sat back and applauded Draco's catches.

The black ribbon tying Draco's hair back flew out suddenly, being whipped away by the wind, and, seeing it in the corner of his eye, Harry chased after it. Flying though the air with his arm outstretched he caught it quickly.

They landed, Draco shook his hair out, Harry stared at him for a second letting his broom drop.

"Er, here." He said holding out the ribbon, Draco smiled and took it.

"Thanks," He took it, pulling his hair back, running his fingers though it to smooth it out. Harry couldn't stop watching him as he did. "Ugh, I missed a bit." He groaned, Harry took it off him gently, not really sure what he was doing or why.

He stepped closer and scooped Draco's hair back, tying it in the ribbon. He wasn't sure what it was, whether it was just being so close to someone, but his trousers started to get tighter and to his horror he realised he was getting an erection. He looked down to make sure it wasn't visible, finishing Draco's hair hastily.

Once he was done they started back towards the castle together. "Your broom." Draco stopped Harry before they before they could get off the pitch.

Harry covered his crotch quickly, blushing. "What?!"

"You left it over there." Draco said, fortunately not watching him but looking back and gesturing vaguely in the direction of the broom.

"Oh! That broom... I mean, my broom." Blushing harder Harry rushed back over to retrieve it.

"Yes." Luckily Draco didn't seem to have noticed Harry's strange behaviour.

"I really need to polish my broom tonight." Harry muttered to himself, fastening his robes tighter.

"If you're doing that anyway do you want to polish mine?"

"Yes, that's the problem apparently." Harry sighed.

"What?"

"Nothing."

Once they got back to the castle Harry told him he was tired and was going to nap until dinner. Draco looked a little surprised but just shrugged and asked if Harry would take his broom back to the dorm for him, and Harry agreed, if only to get away more quickly to deal with his problem, glad he wasn't going to be there.

Back in the dorms Harry dropped the broom onto Draco's bed and threw his own near his trunk. Climbing onto his bed and closing the curtains he cast a silencing spell around himself and undid his trousers.

He sighed in relief to be out of his constricting jeans that were getting tighter by the second.

He couldn't stop thinking about Draco and the effect he was having on him. All he'd done was put his hair back, it wasn't as if it was even sexual.

They had been close though. They had been touching. He could feel Draco breathing and hear how close it was.

His cock twitched at the thought and he groaned, quickly quietening himself. Even with the spell he was nervous, he didn't do things like this often.

He knew it might not be that normal but he never really got aroused, he didn't know how much was normal for a boy his age. He never talked about it nor did he ever really think about it.

Ron sometimes joked about it and he would laugh along but he was really pretty innocent to it all. It wasn't as if he'd had anyone to give him 'the talk', he supposed he had Severus now but he didn't really relish the idea of talking to Snape about something like that, anything like that.

It felt wrong to be touching himself while thinking about Draco though, and he wasn't really sure why. It wasn't because they were guys - while Harry had never really thought about another man like that he didn't mind it, he'd also never really thought of a girl in any kind of way other than friendship and the sort of crush he'd had on Cho. Harry was totally fine with the prospect of being gay, if that's what he was, he wondered how others might take it though...

Regardless there were plenty of other reasons his mind put forwards for it not being right for him to be getting off to the thought of Draco. For one Draco was his friend, and he couldn't think of a friend like that, it was just... weird. He'd never think of Hermione, Luna or Neville in that way, and he'd never thought of Ron like that when they were friends, and despite what Ginny might like he didn't want her that way either.

Or there was the fact that Draco didn't really know who he was, 'Seth' didn't really exist, he was Harry, someone he knew Draco didn't like... in fact someone Draco hated.

Chapter Text

Harry didn't know what to think after the whole Draco thing, so he went to the only person he knew who would know about this stuff.

"Hermione we need to talk." He said, sidling up to her after lesson, blending into the crowd leaving the Charms classroom.

"Of course Harry, right now?" He nodded and led her into the Room of Requirement.

"Well?" She asked, rounding on him, obviously concerned. Harry wavered for a second but thought it was probably just best to say what he had to say and hope it made some sense.

"I like Draco."

"I know."

"No, I like like him." He clarified, raising his eyebrows.

"Yes, I know Harry."

"Do you just know everything?! Cause I'm getting fed up with it." He grumbled, pointing at her bitterly.

"I can't be blamed for your obviousness."

"I'm obvious?!"

"Harry, have you listened to the way you talk about him?" She asked, rolling her eyes and crossing her arms.

"Oh, shut up. I can't have a crush on Draco, he hates me."

"Obviously he doesn't."

"He hates me," He prodded his own chest. "He likes Seth."

"This may shock you but you and Seth are the same person."

"Not really..."

"You are, it's just that now he's actually had the chance to get to know you without the 'Harry Potter' name over-shadowing you."

"Exactly! I'm Harry Potter, can you imagine how much danger he would be in if we were involved and someone found out who I was. Voldemort could use him against me."

"True, but that goes for any of us who choose to be part of your life, Harry. I always made my own choices about supporting you no matter what, even when half the Wizarding world thought you were a nutter or that we were dating.” They both shuddered before grinning at each other. “Draco should be allowed to chose whether he wants to take that chance or not too. I'd be careful when you tell him though, because he tends to hex first and ask questions later."

"I'm not telling him." Harry said firmly, folding his arms over his chest and looking away. "I don't need to tell him because there's nothing going on between us."

"Have you seen the way he looks at you?"

Harry paused, he hadn't seen Draco looking at him in any particular way but it was better to not dwell on that. "Even if something could happen it doesn't mean it's going to."

"You're going to the Feast with him."

"As friends... you're going with Neville and Luna, it's no different."

"Draco turned down Pansy to go with you."

"Yeah." He smirked.

"Your smug grin is so not helping your case."

"I'm not smug! I just... don't like Pansy, alright?"

"Because she's trying to steal your man."

"He's not my man!"

"You just wish he was."

"No... well, yeah but... ugh I thought you were going to be helpful."

"I am being helpful, you're being obtuse."

"But Draco's my friend, I shouldn't want him like that."

"Harry, if you're looking for guilt then you chose the wrong person. I can sit here and tell you that I don't think it's a good idea, that you're wrong for feeling the way you do, but I'm not going to because I don't believe it. You deserve to be happy, just like anybody else, and if Draco is what's going to make you happy - and I know you will make him happy - then the universe is just going to have to accept it and so are you."

"Nothing's going to happen." Harry said resolutely.

"Sure..."

* * *

Harry's heart stopped as he stared at Draco from behind. They were in their dorm room, the Feast was in a short while and Draco had been getting ready for about an hour, while Harry had at no point ventured to get off the bed.

The blonde had spent the most time trying to decide which of the dress robes his mother had sent him he wanted to wear. He'd settled on a emerald green robe that hugged his hips and was longer and slightly ruffled at the back. On his back, partially covered by his hair, was a silver embroidered diamond and snakes.

For his hair he had curled it and tied it back with a, predictably, green ribbon. He turned to face Seth, showing his black dress trousers and shoes and then plain white shirt, the top few buttons undone.

"What do you think?" He asked, dropping a hip and giving him a good look. Unable to speak Harry just nodded dumbly.

"Erm, yeah, you look... great." He finally managed.

"I suppose that's better than nice." Draco snickered, turning back to the mirror. "I like it. Are you going to get ready or are you going like that..."

Harry looked down at himself. "I guess I should." He said with a heavy sigh, hauling himself to his feet.

"Do you want to borrow something? The robes are tailored but something else?"

"No, I'm good."

"What about hair then?" He asked, standing behind Harry and playing with the dark strands, letting them slip through his fingers and running his fingers through them. "I think this could look really good."

"Well that's not a back-handed compliment." Harry laughed, rolling his eyes. He didn't want to move away from Draco and his warm breath on his back, or the scent of his, probably over-priced, aftershave but he couldn't stay there and still kid himself nothing was going to happen between them. He stepped away, taking his clothes to get changed.

"You know I didn't mean it like that."

They entered the Great Hall together, Harry spotted Hermione, Neville and Luna all congregating around the Ravenclaw table. He could see Ron as well, sitting with Seamus at the Gryffindor end, he paused watching them, having forgotten how to move.

Draco took his hand dragging him over to the Slytherin side. "Ignore the lions." He said softly close to his ear.

They took their seats chatting as the Feast started and the empty plates in front of them filled with food. The food was good as always and Harry was enjoying himself, though they kept getting interrupted, mainly by Pansy but a few of the other Slytherins as well. It was a little annoying, but Harry selfishly enjoyed the way Draco would either ignore them or point out that he was already talking to Seth.

As it started to get darker and later the Feast started to get louder as people were talking rather than eating. It was getting to a point where you could barely hear the person next to you so Draco suggested he and Seth head outside for a bit of fresh air.

As they made their way through the people and out of the doors Harry and Hermione made eye contact, she saw Draco holding Harry's hand and gave a smirk and a wink, Harry just dramatically rolled his eyes and shook his head slightly. She simply stuck out her tongue with a disbelieving look and turned back to the others.

"It's a nice night." Draco said looking around, for the end of October it wasn't that cold, a warmish breeze was enough to keep them out there.

"It is." Harry agreed looking up at the purple sky with a contented sigh, he could see himself living out there for ever, trapped in the calm moment.

"I'm glad we came together." Draco said slipping his arms around Harry's waist and resting his hand on his hip, Harry tensed, making Draco pause in his movements. "Are you alright?" He asked, the underlying 'is this alright?' abundantly clear.

"Yeah." Harry mumbled, swallowing; he really hadn't expected anything like this, he'd thought Hermione was just being nice when she said Draco looked at him in that kind of way. "It's fine... I'm fine."

Draco moved closer, pressing himself against Harry, who moved his arm to put it around Draco, unsure what to do but not wanting his arm to fall uselessly at his side. They stayed that way, just enjoying the closeness of each others company for a while and watching the clouds move behind the forest.

Draco leant over slowly, stopping a few inches from Harry's face.

"You're very close." Harry whispered, swallowing to try and fix his dry mouth.

"I can get closer."

"You... you want to?"

"You're such an idiot." Draco laughed, lightly pressing their lips together. Their arms wrapped around each other and Harry found himself pushed into the stone wall as Draco attacked his mouth. Harry's hands slid down to grope Draco's ass the way he'd been imagining, both of them moaning into the others mouth.

Chapter Text

The boys clutched at each other, pressing themselves as close as possible.

They were having a good time... until Pansy showed up. Having got wind that they had gone outside and not willing to let Draco get away she had gone out after them. She shrieked loudly, making Harry and Draco pull away from each other suddenly.

Just in case the rest of the school hadn't heard her first scream she continued, screeching excessively. Thinking someone was being murdered - which at this school was entirely possible - the hall started emptying itself onto the school grounds.

Harry and Draco were now at a modest distance, but Pansy wasn't keeping shy about what they had been doing, shouting it still at the top of her lungs.

Not really wanting to stick around for the aftermath of the highest ranking Slytherin and the son of Snape snogging outside the castle, Harry and Draco shuffled away through the crowd, that was also beginning to disperse, obviously not as disgusted as Pansy had been but happy for the gossip. Everyone went back to the Feast, bar Seth and Draco who made their way to the Slytherin common room.

They stood together awkwardly, their moment ruined before heading into their dorm room and changing into their pyjamas. Harry pulled back the curtain around his bed.

"Night then." He mumbled, Draco gave a nod and did the same, climbing into his own bed.

"Goodnight."

* * *

Harry lay silently, he couldn't sleep, he was too busy worrying over the kiss. It wasn't the kiss itself, that had been amazing and all Harry wanted was to be back in that moment. It wasn't even that half the school had walked in on it, though that had been quite embarrassing.

No, what was bothering Harry was that he was Harry and not Seth, the boy Draco had actually kissed. He knew Hermione had told him they're the same person, and they were, technically... but to Draco they weren't, and he couldn't help but wonder if Draco knew he was Harry would he have kissed him like that? Well, the answer was an obvious 'no', but hypothetically, if he had got to know Harry this past few months and not Seth, would it still be the same.

He doubted it. His name ruined any chance of happiness he could have.

He'd thought Ron had liked him as a friend but really he only cared about the Gryffindor golden boy hero, and so had Ginny. On the other side people hated him because of his name, Snape had, all because he was a Potter and Draco did, but it wasn't even just his name, there was a history behind them that he wasn't sure Draco could overlook.

He heard the others come back in, signifying the end of the Feast but he still stayed silent. He didn't feel like talking to anyone, he wanted to sleep but his mind was too busy. He was exhausted and he could tell it must be late simply by the way everyone just got into bed as soon as they got back, but all he could do was lie there and think.

It was awful, he wished he could just settle down happily. Anyone else who had just kissed their crush would but of course it wasn't that simple not for him. He grit his teeth and clenched his fists, it wasn't fair, why couldn't things just be simple, just for once.

Why couldn't he just be happy without the immense guilt that came along with it. It's not like he wanted to lie to Draco and he had planned to just live with the crush he had, it was Draco who had made a move... but he knew he needed to tell him who he was before Draco tried anything else.

He didn't know how to tell him though... or even if he could.

* * *

The next day Harry was trying his best to avoid the awkward situation of having to discuss what had happened. He didn't know much about things like this but he assumed a talk was going to have to happen at some point, and he was going to do everything he could to put it off for as long as possible.

He had woken up before Draco, for the first time ever, though waking up implied that he had actually slept at all. He had got up before anyone and was going to rush off to breakfast and then probably hide in the Room of Requirement.

Unfortunately hurrying to put his clothes on had woken Draco, and a few others up but being a Sunday the others went back to sleep. Draco however was shocked to see Seth, of all people, up and about when he could be sleeping in.

"Where are you going?" He asked, his drawl not quite the same as usual due to the early hour.

"Just... you know... out. For a walk."

Draco squinted at him, not believing him but too tired to be certain.

"Do you want to study later?"

"I can't," Harry said, trying to think of an excuse. "I'm... studying." He cringed as he said it. "With someone else."

"With who?" Draco asked, raising an eye and sitting up.

"My... er... my dad." Harry said quickly. He hurried out of the room, pulling his jacket on as he went. He practically ran to Severus' rooms, knowing the man he would be awake regardless of the time of day.

He rushed in, slamming the door closed and lying back against it, breathing heavily. Severus looked up, a paper in one hand and a fork in the other.

"Yes?" He asked, with a raised eyebrow.

"Oh, hi! I didn't mean to interrupt."

Severus shook his head, gesturing to the seat opposite him. "I'm sure Dipsy will fix you something." Harry sat down, chewing his lip nervously. "What's wrong?"

Harry jumped slightly lost in thought. "Oh, nothing." He said, shrugging it off.

"Is it Weasley again?" Severus asked, unwilling to let the subject go.

"No, no he's been... quiet?"

"Quiet?"

"Suspiciously so." Harry said, only just realising how little he'd seen of him recently and when he did see him he didn't really say anything. He shot him looks that could kill but never said a word.

"You really are becoming more Slytherin." It was obvious how proud Snape was.

"Thanks, I wonder why he stopped though."

"I wouldn't think about it too much." Dipsy said, popping in.

* * *

Flashback

Ron rolled over, barely awake. His nose touched something hard causing his eyes to open, before he even had a chance to adjust to the darkness he could see two big bright eyes clearly in front of his face. He jumped, going to scream before a large hand clamped firmly but gently over his mouth.

The face in front of him became clearer and he saw it was... a house-elf?

"Mr Weasley, I need a word." He gulped at the tone, whoever it was certainly didn't sound like a house-elf. "Here's what you're going to do. You're going to stay from Seth. You're not going to say anything to him, you're not going to do anything to him, and if I here any different you will live to regret it. So, do we understand each other?" Ron nodded, still wide eyed and staring. "Good." She said, simply patting his cheek, hopping down off the bed and popping out of the room.

End of Flashback

* * *

Severus looked at Dipsy dubiously but pulled his eyes away to look back at Harry. "So what is it then?"

Harry chewed the pad of his thumb, he knew he couldn't hide it from Severus... well, he could but not forever, besides the gossip would get round to him eventually. He needed to ask for Severus' permission, and advice, anyway before he told Draco who he was, if he was going to do that. At this point the people who knew could probably start a club, though it hadn't really been his fault that Ginny found out... it did mean that if he told Draco it had to be somewhere secluded.

"I feel bad about, you know, not telling Draco who I actually am." Severus was obviously listening but it was hard to tell whether he thought it was a good idea or not. "It just feels wrong to lie about something like that since we're getting close."

"Very close." Dipsy smirked knowingly, Harry blushed, Severus looked between both of them thoroughly confused.

"I feel like I'm missing something."

"You are." Dipsy agreed popping out of the room again, Severus glared at the spot she'd been in before turning to Harry, looking for an explanation.

"See... erm... last night... after... well, during the Feast we... Draco and I... we kind of..." He struggled for the words. "Kissed... and..."

"I think that's all I need to know." Severus cut him off abruptly, also turning a dusky pink. Harry nodded in agreement, not actually wanting to go into detail about it with Snape. "So you're worried that if you let things go further with him he'll be even less forgiving about the Seth thing."

"Yeah, pretty much."

"I won't lie to you Harry, he's not going to be happy about it."

"I know." Harry muttered, staring down at the table. "Do you think I should though?"

"No, I think you should build a relationship off of lies." Sarcasm dripped from his words. "Of course you should tell him!"

"I'm allowed to?" He asked, making sure he had permission, he didn't want Severus to be upset with him later.

"Of course, I'm glad you asked me first though. He won't be able to tell anyone anything anyway."

Dipsy came back with a plate of pancakes for Harry who tucked in happily, he was still worried about telling Draco but he knew it was the right thing, even if it didn't go well in the end. It was better than stringing him along.

"Do you... You've known Draco for a long time, haven't you?" Severus nodded. "Do you think he'll forgive me?"

"I don't think he will be happy, he doesn't like being lied to." Harry sighed. "However Draco is far more understanding than anyone gives him credit for, and being in Slytherin and a Malfoy he well understands duty and the necessity of certain lies."

"If he's worth it he'll listen to your side before passing any judgement." Dipsy said pointedly.

"Okay, I'll do it then." Harry said standing up, taking a deep breath.

"I'm sure it can wait until you've finished your breakfast." Severus said, pointing to the half eaten pancakes still on Harry's plate, Harry sat down with a small 'Oh yeah', finishing them.

Chapter Text

After talking to Severus, Harry had resolved to tell Draco to truth. It was the right thing to do. If he didn't he either couldn't be with Draco, or he had to spend the rest of his life pretending to be someone he's wasn't. Telling him though came with the risk of Draco hating him, but the possibility that he wouldn't - or at least would eventually forgive him - made it worth the risk. He'd never met anyone he liked the way he liked Draco.

Harry headed to the common room, he wanted to talk to Draco now, before he lost his nerve.

* * *

"Seth, I wondered where you were." Draco greeted, smiling up at him, Harry wavered he didn't want to ruin this but it would come eventually.

"Draco we need to talk." His eyes darted to the Slytherins next to them. "Privately."

"Fine." Draco said slightly defensively, he could tell by how serious Seth was that this wasn't going to be a pleasant talk. "Where?"

"Erm, follow me."

Harry lead him outside and towards the forest, he naturally didn't want to go too far in but he didn't want to have anyone around listening in, it was too dangerous to do inside the school. Draco said very little but gave him the occasional glance as they wandered around the edge of the forest.

"What do you want to talk about?" Draco stopped, refusing to go any further in, Harry stopped too, deciding they were probably far enough away. He could tell there was something off about Draco but couldn't think what it was, he hadn't told him anything yet and there was no way Draco could have guessed.

"Are you alright?"

"I'm fine just... go on." He said dismissively.

"Okay, well, this is... Well, it's going to be a shock. It doesn't really mean anything though, and I hope you'll forgive me and understand why I did what I had to do and..."

"What are you talking about?! Just tell me to forget about the kiss and we can be done."

"What?! No! I... I don't want you to forget about it!"

"Then, what is this?"

"I'm not really 'Seth'... I'm Harry... as in Harry Potter."

"Is there a punchline to this because we walked for a while to get here and I'm cold?" Draco asked dryly.

"It's not a joke! I can't really prove it..." Harry looked around as if for inspiration, thoughts of third year came to mind, hiding from himself with Hermione. "Erm, Hermione punched you in third year!"

They were silent for a while as everything clicked and settled in Draco's mind.

"Get away from me." He exclaimed, storming back out of the forest.

"Maybe that wasn't the best one to go with." Harry thought aloud, following Draco briskly. "Draco, I'm sorry!"

"Don't call me that, Potter." He snapped, turning around, his eye narrowed and arms crossed. "What, so that's," He gestured to Harry's face and body. "Just a glamour then? What about Severus? Where does he fit?"

"It's not a glamour, I bonded with Severus, he actually is my dad now."

"Why would he do that?"

"I don't know..." Harry admitted softly.

"And why would you tell me this?"

"After the kiss I thought things might... progress and I couldn't lie to you any more I really am sorry, it was never meant to be like this."

"Just... get away from me. Leave me alone." He stamped out of the forest, Harry let him go. It was the best thing really. If Draco went off and thought about it and forgave him that was great, if he didn't then Harry would just have to learn to live with it, like he did everything else.

* * *

Draco slumped off towards the castle, taking a detour round the back, he didn't want to see anyone. Shoving his hands in his pockets he wandered around the empty grounds, the wind whipping up his robes and making his hair fly in his face.

So it had all been a lie. Of course it had, it was far too good to be true, he shouldn't have let himself get sucked in. He never thought even Potter would stoop so low though, to play with him like that, to mess with someone's heart like that, he's glad it didn't work out because that's disgusting.

It would be fine. The kiss would be regarded as a mistake that ruined their friendship. No one would know how Potter played him or how easily he fell or how much he still wanted him, still loved him.

How much it hurt to walk away.

He seemed so... there just wasn't a word for it. Maybe perfect, but even that didn't feel good enough. The longer he thought about it though, the less malicious it seemed... that just didn't fit with the Potter he thought he knew, ever the noble Gryffindor.

Maybe it hadn't been a lie or a prank, maybe he truly had - did - care. There was no way he could have pretended that well, acted the whole time. He just couldn't. It would have been impossible.

And he was telling him now before they went any further; that didn't sound like someone laughing at him, it sounded like someone who wanted to be with him but didn't want to lie to him.

He sighed, maybe he had just got too caught up in how nice Seth was, how – it was almost laughable now - but how genuine, and of course how hot. Maybe not conventionally attractive but there was something about the way he tilted his head when he smiled, and threw it back when he laughed. He seemed so calm and at ease, Draco had only ever known people to be on edge, not trusting each other. He knew where trusting people got you but as much as he wanted to deny it he had trusted Seth, or Harry, whoever he was.

Turning a corner he found himself in a small clearing, Luna was standing in the middle petting a Thestral, or at least he assumed she was, he couldn't actually see anything and he wouldn't put it past her to just waving off one of her imaginary creatures. She looked up, smiling when she saw Draco and waving him over, he sighed but joined her.

"Hey Luna." He muttered, still slumped.

"Something's wrong." She stated, giving him a concerned look.

He milled around, careful not to walk into any Thestrals, and rubbed the back of his neck. "It's fine, it doesn't matter."

"Seth told you who he is, didn't he?"

Draco huffed out a laugh. "Of course you already knew. Does everyone know? Is everyone just laughing at me behind my back?"

"No one's laughing," She said dreamily. "Only Harry's friends know, and Ron and Ginny."

"Don't they count as Potter's friends?" Draco asked, now that he thought about it, why would Weasley have been following them shouting abuse when he knew who Seth actually was.

"Not any more, they aren't very nice." That was an understatement.

"Oh, right... who does know then?"

"Me, Hermione, Neville, Professor Snape and Dipsy."

"So it was just them who were having a laugh at my expense."

"We weren't laughing, Harry really likes you... and you like him."

"I like Seth, not Potter." He said the name with contempt, Luna laughed lightly.

"Would a rose by another name smell as sweet?" She quoted softly, plucking a flower from the grass.

"Luna, that's a daisy." Draco said dryly, he was certain Luna was trying to cheer him up and he had a feeling that she was talking some kind of sense, but he couldn't for the life of him understand it. He decided he would rather be alone so, saying goodbye to Luna he walked off back towards the castle, heading for the dorm.

He thought about what she said on the way, pondering the meaning.

'Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet?' He thought to himself. He understood what she was trying to say, and he even understood why Harry had had to keep everything quiet... but could he accept that he liked Harry Potter, or that Harry Potter liked him. Truly liked him, not pranking him.

Could he really believe that he had been so wrong, for all these years. That Harry Potter wasn't this big ego'd, annoying person who deliberately tried to get on his nerves and show him up with everything he did, and was instead just a somewhat normal sixteen year old who wanted what everyone else wanted. Who wanted to be like everyone else, even just for a bit.

He was still the boy he had fallen in love with, regardless of name. Besides he'd tried hating him and yet he couldn't, he still loved him. He still wanted a life with him.

He opened the large doors to the castle, wandering down the stairs, and wasn't even surprised when he bumped into Seth... he shook his head, no, Harry. He gave him a small smile. Was it worth it? Trying? Seeing if he could accept him? He wanted to, wanted to trust him and be with him, he didn't want to lose him.

Draco took a deep breath before walking towards him. "Can we talk, Harry?"

Chapter Text

Harry stared at Draco. He hadn't expected that, hadn't expected that name, in fact he hadn't expected Draco to be anywhere near him this soon... or possibly ever. He nodded dumbly, and looked around as if for inspiration as to where to take Draco.

"Erm, come this way." He said, leading him to Severus' room; he knew Severus would be out, either in his office or roaming the school taking points from random Gryffindors.

"Is this alright...?" Draco asked, looking around - he'd never been in Snape's rooms before, but he could guess that's where they were.

"Yeah, I don't think he'll mind." Harry said hastily, unsure of himself.

"I understand that you didn't mean for any of this to happen,” Draco began. “And that you did this... well, for good reasons, but what we had - even if you weren't who I thought - what we had, it felt genuine."

"It was." Harry said earnestly, unable to keep quiet.

"I'm not done." Draco said, shooting him a look, not wanting to lose his concentration, Harry nodded silently letting him continue. "I'm not really used to genuine. You know what they're like down here; liars and snakes, everyone fighting to get to the top. I'm Malfoy to all of them, the heir, but to you I was... more. I was..."

"Draco." Harry said softly, not caring if he was interrupting, he understood it all too well.

"Yes, and that... it was nice."

"I... I know what it's like to be just 'Potter' but you're more than 'Malfoy', you're Draco and that's more than enough." Harry promised, putting his hand tentatively on Draco's back. The blonde leant into him.

"Harry is more than enough for me too." He muttered, laying his head on top of Harry's.

"Does this mean..."

"I'm still mad." Draco cut him off bluntly, but he didn't move away, instead snuggling closer to him. "I still love you though."

"You love me?!" Harry asked, his heart beating faster than ever and that said a lot, considering what he'd been through.

"Harry, I've loved you since I saw you in the robe shop."

"Which time?"

Draco just smirked, turning his face away. "Not that I want to force you or anything but..."

"Oh, sorry. I love you too."

" Good. "

They sat in silence for a while just enjoying the others quiet company. This wasn't a moment for words, none would have been good enough, the silence spoke loudly enough. Sending a clear message of forgiveness and understanding.

Harry was feeling lucky, lucky that Draco understood and didn't hate him. He was still mad at him but that was fair enough, and he was just happy to have Draco anywhere near him without him trying to hex him or something.

Draco however was almost laughing about how obvious it should have been that Seth wasn't really who he said he was. It was small things, like the way he was shocked and confused by his own hair, constantly grumbling and pushing it out of his face, and how unaware he was of how to style it in any way. Or how he was always going to touch his nose, which now that he looked back was probably Harry forgetting he wasn't wearing glasses and pushing them up on reflex.

"You kissed me and didn't tell me who you are." Draco said suddenly into the quietness, Harry blushed a little but Draco didn't sound angry, more amused.

"Actually you kissed me." Harry pointed out playfully.

"You grabbed my arse." Draco accused, sitting up properly to face Harry.

"You pushed me against a wall, I was trying to get purchase."

"What did you think was going to happen, that you were going to slide away?" Draco laughed, Harry joining him. "But you know what this means?"

Harry tilted his head like a curious spaniel. "What?"

"It means I've never kissed you, I've only kissed Seth."

"Don't worry, I can fix that." He said leaning in to capture Draco's lips in a passionate kiss. It didn't take long before they were entwined in each other, nor for Draco to take control of the kiss. Lying Harry back, his head resting on the arm, while he leant down nibbling on his bottom lip teasingly.

He pulled back smirking at Harry. "What?" Harry asked, staring up at him, hands still roaming Draco's back.

"Seth was better." Draco chuckled, getting pulled back down onto Harry. He may outweigh Harry but having never done the same kind of work Harry had, they were well matched in strength.

they tussled playfully for a while, tumbling off the sofa onto the floor where they laughed loudly, still rolling around, barely missing the coffee table. They only stopped when they heard the creak of the door opening before slamming shut. Heavy footsteps lead to the middle of the room before stopping.

"I don't mind you bringing friends here Harry but I have to draw the line somewhere."

"Sorry, sir." Harry and Draco said together, all of them blushing, Severus trying not to think about what he might have walked in on, and Draco and Harry knowing that's what he was thinking about.

"Nice to see you're taking this well Draco," Severus said, before pointing to the door. "Now take it elsewhere."

The two boys smirked and hurried out of the room to continue 'making up'.

Chapter Text

"So... Seth and Draco then." Minerva said nudging Severus good-naturedly, wiggling her eyebrows. It was dinner and they were sitting at the teacher's table.

"What about them?" He asked, taking a sip of his wine as he glanced over to them.

"Severus!" She said exasperated, unable to believe that Severus, of all people, hadn't heard the gossip. "It's all over the school that they were caught together in the grounds having... relations."

"I was told it was just a kiss." He replied curtly.

"Yes, most likely, but you know how it is - you cough on one side of the school and by the time it gets to the other you're dying of the plague."

"Very true. It's not any of my business anyway."

"Oh Severus, don't you try at all with that poor boy? I mean, you come back here having never even mentioned the child, and then take no interest in his life whatsoever."

"I'm very interested in his life, but there are certain parts that not only do I not want to delve into, and I'm sure Seth doesn't want his father snooping around his love life or personal affairs either."

"I suppose not but I still think you ought to keep an eye on him, especially if it's Draco Malfoy he had his affections set on." Severus merely shrugged. "Are you ever going to tell us about this mother of his?"

"It's unlikely."

"I suppose we'll just have to keep making up the gossip then. Have you heard anything about Harry, has Albus told you anything?" She asked, changing topics suddenly; she was very interested in Harry's whereabouts and this wasn't the first time she'd asked. Severus understood why - she cared a lot for Harry, perhaps more than most of the other Gryffindors - and he knew he could trust her with knowing who Seth really was if necessary, but there was no need to involve anyone else or complicate things further. Things were already complicated enough as it was.

"Nothing more than he's training."

"Training with who though, and where?"

"You know Albus, he knows many people. As for where he is... anywhere, he might have moved him out of the country."

"It doesn't make much sense though, removing him. It's good timing though, what with Ronald's recent disposition."

"Has he changed, I hadn't noticed."

"I know he wasn't always kind to your snakes but they can be very antagonistic, Severus. He never seemed to be bad to the other houses though, and especially not his own. He's turned completely on Miss Granger, even though I heard they had a blossoming relationship last year, and Mr Longbottom."

"He had a blossoming relationship with Longbottom?" Severus mumbled half-heartedly.

"I meant he's turned on him too, as you well know! It must be his mother over the holidays, filling his head with rubbish. I know they shouldn't have gone to the Ministry, I'm the first to say that, but can she not see what kind of position Harry was in, he doesn't always think things through but he didn't mean them any harm. Ginerva didn't even seem to blame Harry for her ankle being injured, it was her mother who started that. I apologise for ranting Severus, but it been bothering me quite a bit. I wouldn't be surprised if Albus saw this outcome and kept Harry from Hogwarts because of the Weasley's."

Severus nodded but was now only half listening, busy watching Ron, or glaring at the boy might be more appropriate. "He is a total prat, isn't he." He said, watching the boy stuff his face, every so often turning to look at Hermione, Neville and Luna who were sitting on the Ravenclaw table - they usually sat there now, probably pushed off the Gryffindor one by Ron's abuse.

Minerva nodded in agreement, Ron had been making himself very unpopular all year, even with the teachers.

Recently he'd been keeping away from Harry. Severus suspected Dipsy's involvement but he was certainly not going to correct her. Apparently though, the idea of Harry now being in a relationship with Draco was too much for him, and not even Dipsy's threats could make him hold his tongue.

Draco and Harry left the room after dinner, laughing happily together as they did. After the rocky morning things had been very pleasant for them, they had left Severus' rooms and found a disused classroom that they could pick up where they left off from in. Their roller coaster of a day took another plummet however when they noticed Ron following them down the hall.

"Get lost, Weasley." Draco growled at him.

"If you only knew!" Ron said threateningly, with a smirk. Draco merely sighed and folded his arms.

"Knew what? That he's Harry Potter and not Seth Snape?" He asked, rolling his eyes. Harry had already explained the secrecy spell to him - to anyone else not in on the secret it would sound like complete gibberish, but to Harry and Ron it would be perfectly clear. Ron went pale, he couldn't believe that Draco knew.

Instead of trying to retort Ron pulled out his wand. Draco and Harry's hands moved to draw theirs, but Ron immediately shot something particularly nasty at Draco before he could even finish drawing it. Harry, quicker on the draw, saw it and cast a Protego over Draco, not noticing Ron's jinx coming towards him in his haste.

Luckily Ron hadn't cast it particularly well and the result was just the jinx knocking him to the floor, which didn't hurt as much as he thought it would. When he looked up he saw Dipsy, and behind her Ron running far and fast down the corridor.

"You could have helped." He grumbled as she helped him to his feet, she smirked.

"I did! I cast a cushioning charm."

"You could have cast a shielding charm." He pointed out.

"Your fight, not mine... besides, I knew you could handle Weasley." She shrugged turning to Draco with a smile, he was already standing himself.

"Thanks, Dipsy." He muttered.

"You two know each other?"

"Of course, Snape's elf." Draco said casually. "Mother sends her a present every Christmas, and Father curses her name at every opportunity."

Dipsy nodded. "As it should be." She said simply, before popping back off again.

Harry laughed. "Does your mother really send her presents?" He asked, it was almost unbelievable.

"Of course, she adores her. Father doesn't see why, he thinks she's a nuisance. He thinks Snape should have a better hold on her... he's obviously never tried to actually get a hold on her!"

"I'd love to see him try though." They laughed together, heading for the dorm room to bask in front of the fire and play Exploding Snap.

Chapter Text

Severus watched from afar as Ron Weasley, grinning smugly to himself and running a hand through his hair to mess it up a little, walked towards Lavender Brown, broom in hand, clearly trying to seem casual. He was glaring at the boy. How dare he mess with Harry and Draco, or anyone else at the school for that matter. He'd never liked him but recent events had cemented it.

He was evidently trying to woo the girl, Severus thought to himself with distaste. If she had any sense she would run for the hills, but she obviously liked the attention he was giving her so hadn't moved.

In an attempt to show off Weasley went to mount his broom, the broom however seemed to have other plans as it lurched forwards before he could. Not speeding off, just moved a few feet so he stumbled, barely maintaining his balance.

He chuckled awkwardly playing it coo,l but Severus could see through him, he could see through Lavender as well, the way she was looking around to make sure no one had seen - if she was already embarrassed by him it was doubtful she'd stick around that long with the idiotic boy.

He tried again, more ambitiously this time, aiming for further up the broom. Again it moved away not allowing him on.

Severus smirked at the couple; he couldn't hear what they were saying, but he could surmise that she was trying to persuade him to not try again and to just leave it. He pushed her away however and tried again while she watched, almost pained, when the broom of course slipped out from under him once again.

Ron threw the broom roughly to the floor. Severus could hear his whiny voice clearly as Lavender walked away, Ron repeating the same few phrases - 'It's just the broom, I'm usually much better!' and 'It's just a piece of shit, it's not my fault!'

He smothered his laughter when he watched the boy continue to try and mount the broom. Even trying to sneak up on it as though that might work. Severus knew immediately what was going on - someone had charmed the boys broom to try and get away from him.

It could have been anyone in the school, it was a pretty advanced spell boy but the boy had angered a lot of people. Still Severus was fairly certain he knew who had done it.

"Dipsy?"

Dipsy popped in, looking up at him innocently but her eyes flashed deviously. "Can I help you master?"

Severus gestured to Ron, still trying to hold to broom in place as he jumped on, the broom moved and he fell with a bump to the floor. Dipsy hid her smile and gave Severus a bewildered look that he didn't for a moment believe. "Wouldn't be anything to do with you would it?"

She gasped, placing a hand over her heart and putting in all the sincerity she could muster. "I would never!" She said vehemently, but her smirk gave her away as she left.

* * *

Only a scant few days later and Neville was getting dressed, he tried to spend as little time as possible around Ron as he could. It couldn't be helped during the morning or at night though as they shared a dorm, but otherwise he would stay clear of him.

He was just buttoning up his shirt when he heard a scream, he looked up and found Ron lying on the floor, his trunk in front of him but nothing else that would have caused that reaction.

"Peeves?" Dean asked sensibly.

"Er, yeah, maybe." Ron answered his ears turning red. "My trunk just," He opened it and tried to pull his uniform out. The trunk snapped down and he only just managed to get his arms out of the way as he leapt back, screaming again. "Did that!"

The boys laughed, even Neville chuckled a bit, even as he tried to hide that he was looking. Ron caught his eyes and glared, making him look away. Ron didn't find it remotely funny.

"It's trying to kill me!"

"It's a trunk." Dean laughed, walking over and opening it himself and reaching in, nothing happened, he withdrew Ron's uniform and threw it onto his bed. "You must have just been knocking it," He nudged Seamus. "We're gonna be late." They left, Neville rushed out too, not wanting to be left with Ron but still snickering and ready to tell the others.

He heard Ron bemoaning the fact that Dean hadn't got out any underwear or socks for him, and then heard a muted scream and the snap of a trunk. With a chuckle he hurried down the stairs, meeting Hermione in the dorm room and told her what had happened.

Later they were brought into fits of laughter again when Ron sat down in Potions and his trousers rose up slightly, revealing that he wasn't wearing any socks. Snape eyed them, which was enough to make them stifle their laughs as best they could, but he didn't say anything and that irritated Ron even more as he bristled at them.

* * *

In the end though, the thing that really made Ron repent about the things he had done was his desserts. For some reason every time he tried to eat one it tasted like someone had swapped out the sugar in it for salt. It had been like it for a week, since Halloween.

At first he had just ignored it; everyday he would try again, he'd taste every dessert and see if it was different. It never was. He had tried to get other people to taste them and they had, but they all said everything tasted normal. He knew someone must have cursed him and he knew who.

He'd been ignoring it though, until the treacle tart pushed him over the edge. It was his favourite, but as with all the other desserts it was inedible and he had finally just had enough. He slammed his plate down bitterly and stomped over to Harry and Draco, who were sitting calmly at the Slytherin table together.

"Call that evil elf of yours off right now!"

"Are you quite mad, Weasel?" Draco asked, edging slightly in front of Harry and snaking a hand into his.

"I don't know what you... ohhh. Dipsy." He said thoughtfully, taking a sip of water. "Sorry, but I don't have any control over what she does."

"Yes you do! She's your elf!" Ron looked desperate now.

"She's her own elf." Harry said mildly, although privately he was thinking that maybe he should have a word with her, before Ron completely lost it.

"And you should leave before she decides to check on us." Draco added warningly. Ron looked around worriedly, and scuttled back over to the Gryffindor table.

Chapter Text

Harry's breath sped up when he felt Draco's arms wrap around him, dropping his head into his neck and kissing him softly. He all but melted, closing his book and tilting his head to give Draco more room.

Eventually Draco pulled back, stepping around the sofa and settling down next to Harry, who curled into him slightly, resting his head on his shoulder. They basked in the warmth of the fire.

"What are you reading?" Draco asked, lolling on him and taking the book curiously, Harry let him, sighing.

"Just History of Magic, it's not interesting." He said, rubbing his eyes tiredly.

"Huh, he looks just like the portrait of the bard we have at the Manor." Draco said pointing to a picture of a wizard Harry had been reading about.

"Why do you have a portrait of a bard?"

"He was the family one." Draco said conversationally, Harry sat up suddenly, jerking him.

"Wait, you used to have a bard?!"

"Well, not in my lifetime, but naturally the Malfoy's have had bards."

"Don't say that like it's such a casual thing."

"It is!"

"You had. A bard." Harry said slowly, trying to impress upon him how weird it was.

"Who else would sing about the rich and powerful Malfoy's?"

"I can't tell if you're being serious or not."

"Of course I'm not," Draco tutted at him. "We did have one though and he did look like that. You'll see when you come over."

"Er, when I come over?" Harry asked, confused.

"Well, you don't have to but I assumed you would, some time."

"Yeah, that would be... I'd love to." Harry grinned, Draco chuckled at the wide smile. He didn't really understand how much it meant to Harry.

"It's nearly Christmas, you can come then if you like."

"I don't know," Harry said uncomfortably, he didn't know whether Snape would let him. "I usually stay here over the holidays and Snape..."

"I'm sure he won't mind, he's free to come too anyway, Mother would love to see him... and Dipsy of course..." He paused trailing off and just staring into the fire, Harry tapped his shoulder nervously.

"Dray?"

"Oh, sorry, I just realised, we can't. Father's lending the Manor to the Dark Lord so there's Deatheaters wandering in and out."

"In your house?!" Harry asked, he really didn't like Lucius.

"Trying to get into the Dark Lord's good books," Draco scoffed. "I think I'll stay here, with you."

"I think that would be nice." Harry said, relaxing into Draco, he liked the idea of spending Christmas with him.

"It means you have to get me a present though." Draco warned jokingly.

"Obviously, I was going to get you one anyway. What do you want?"

"Anything's fine, I have most things anyway," Harry rolled his eyes, he loved Draco but sometimes he was just so annoyingly arrogant without even knowing it. "What do you want?"

"You don't have to get me anything."

Draco laughed lightly, shaking his head. "Of course I have to get you something," He said, leaning over to kiss Harry softly. "I can't very well just let you get me something and give you nothing in return."

"Alright but I don't mind, I'm sure whatever you get me will be great."

"Well, I could never skimp on the person I love." He said wrapping an arm around him, holding his hip.

"You two are disgusting." Blaise said, watching them from the armchair, rolling his eyes.

"Shut up Blaise." Draco said, getting up onto his knees and straddling Harry's lap to kiss him fiercely on the lips.

Blaise chuckled, especially at Harry's taken aback expression of pure bliss. "Does he still kiss well?" He asked Harry, who stared at him confused.

"I never kissed you." Draco pointed out.

"Not on the mouth anyway." Someone chipped in and everyone laughed, Harry sat back bewildered.

"I don't know what anyone's talking about." He stated, still thoroughly confused.

"Just Blaise being an idiot, we only did it once." Draco said, dismissively.

"You went out with Blaise?" He asked, he'd never noticed and they didn't seem to have a connection like that.

"No, it was just sex. Like I said, only once anyway."

"I didn't know you liked him like that."

"I mean he's attractive, but I don't like him like anything really."

"I'll try not to take offence to that, shall I?" Blaise snarked.

"Leave it Blaise, looks like there's going to be a lover's quarrel."

"I guess Seth doesn't know the ways of Slytherin yet."

Draco rolled his eyes and stood up, taking Harry hand he lead them out of the common room. A crowd of Slytherin's watching curiously, smirking.

"What did they mean 'the ways of Slytherin'?" Harry asked, it all sounded pretty ridiculous to him.

Draco chuckled. "They're just being stupid, I'm sure it's pretty much the same in most Houses."

"What?"

"Hook-ups and things."

"Hook-ups?"

"Just meaningless sex, one night stands, fuck buddies, whatever." Harry was shocked, he wasn't really familiar with the concept.

"So you and Blaise..."

"Yeah, and there's been others."

"Really?!"

"There's nothing to worry about, that was before I met you. You're who I want to be with."

"Like as a couple or just..."

"No, no, of course I want you to be my boyfriend. The others meant nothing, you mean everything. I love you, you know that. I sort of just figured you'd be the same. I guess it really is just a Slytherin thing."

"You really, like..."

"It's not a big deal, like I said it is what it is and it was just sex. I'm guessing it wasn't like that in Gryffindor."

"Not really no... or at least no one talked about it. There was a just lot more Exploding Snap to be honest."

"No wonder Gryffindors are so frustrated! Though I suppose if it had been like that you'd have realised Ginny had a thing for you sooner. Slytherins just don't find it shameful or something that needs to be kept secret, no one cares." He shrugged, Harry still couldn't quite wrap his head around it all, but he wasn't worried about Draco running off with someone else. He was curious about something however.

"When do we have sex then?"

"Whenever we want to, when you're ready to, I don't think there's a time limit. Just when we both want to."

Harry tried to think about things clearly. Draco had had sex, more than once, while he had barely so much as kissed someone. He didn't really even understand how sex with Draco would go; he understood with a woman but Draco was definitely not a woman.

This, Harry decided, required him asking someone's advice.

* * *

Harry hesitated outside the door to Severus' rooms, before forcing himself to knock firmly.

“Enter!” Harry gathered his courage and walked in. Severus looked up and smiled faintly, and for a minute Harry basked in the feeling of having someone always happy to see him.

“Is there something wrong?” Severus said, when Harry just stood there, fidgeting, for several moments, not speaking.

He took a deep breath. “Um... I have some questions and... can you answer like my teacher and not my dad?”

Chapter Text

"Um... I have some questions and... can you answer like my teacher and not my dad?"

Severus' eyes widened and he quickly composed his face, he was almost certain that neither of them wanted to have whatever conversation Harry was starting and he thought he could guess what the talk would be about. "Of course," He said immediately, before looking down and deciding to buy himself some time to properly think about what he would say... or at least get some advice. "But I think this will require my full attention, and this marking is rather urgent... so I'm sorry but can you come back in twenty minutes?"

"Oh, yeah sure. Sorry to interrupt." Harry said, edging back towards the door.

"Don't be sorry, it's my fault." He felt slightly bad that he was sending Harry away when he needed to talk. "Are you sure it can it wait?"

"Yeah, it's fine, I'll come back later." Harry left, feeling quite glad to have a bit of extra time to get everything he needed to talk about straight in his head.

"Very well." Severus said with a small smile, watching Harry disappear through the door. As soon as he was gone however his face showed evident panic. "Dipsy!" He called desperately.

"You screeched?"

"Do you think Harry may need... The Talk?"

"I doubt it." She said, narrowing her eyes at him, confused. As omnipotent as she liked to seem, sometimes she had other things to do and missed things.

"Why?!" He asked shocked. "Do you know something I don't?"

"Many things I should think, but to answer your question... I think he's purer than a unicorn."

"Well, he came in asking if I could answer something... as his teacher, rather than his father."

"He called you his father?"

A smile spread over his face and his eyes softened. "He did," He sighed happily before shaking his head suddenly. "Look, this is not the time. I should probably give him an overview, shouldn't I? Safety and the like."

"Aww, you'll be teaching him to shave next." She smirked, leaning casually on the desk.

"You're not being helpful."

"Then may I suggest some books?" She asked, conjuring some and holding them up in her large hands. "Such as 'Why Is There Hair There?' or 'Wizard Weekly: Tips & Tricks To Please Your Man'?"

"I am burning these... immediately!" He snatched them off her, tossing them into a drawer. "Why on earth do you have them anyway?"

"I was going to give them to you when the time was right... or if I thought it was likely you were ever going to get any."

"I'm a grown man!"

"In the time I've known you, the hall bulb has gone out more times than you have." She snickered, lounging back.

"I'm just choosy." Severus protested, standing to pace.

"And apparently you've chosen celibacy."

"What should I say then?" He asked, stopping to glare at her. "'Do it as much as you can lest you be judged by your interfering house elf'?"

A knock at the door cut them off, and they turned to see Harry open the door slightly and peek in. "Sorry, it's been twenty minutes."

"Of course. Come in, Dipsy was just leaving."

"Was I?"

"Yes." Harry and Snape said together, firmly.

"Sit down," He gestured to the chair in front of his desk, going back to his own seat. "What did you want to ask?"

"I really like Draco." Any planning Harry had done while waiting for Severus to finish marking was gone, his mind was drawing a compete blank.

"I had noticed."

"I mean I really like Draco," He said, leg bouncing up and down rapidly as he tried to think. "And you know when you really like someone you do... things together." His palms were sweating as he played with his hands, far more interested in them than looking at Snape.

"I think I can see what you're getting at."

"Good," Harry sighed, glad he wouldn't have to spell it out. "But I don't really know."

"He's not pressuring you is he?" Severus asked sternly, getting defensive.

"What? No, no! He's not that bothered about it. I mean, I don't really know how. He's had a lot of, erm... a lot and so I don't know... He's just less awkward about it than me. I don't really know much about it. I've never done it and I don't know how to with a man." He realised how lame he must have sounded, so quickly added. "I understand with a woman but Draco, you know, doesn't have the same... parts."

"Well, I think first you should know how to be safe."

"Oh," Harry brightened up a little, glad that he already knew some things. "I know how to be safe from like... infections and well, I suppose there's not much chance of either of us getting pregnant." He said, thoughtfully.

"Not really no," Severus was quite pleased to be able to skip things. It seemed Harry was aware of the safety spells at least, and was just confused about being with a man. "So... well, with gay sex there are those who prefer to... ahem, give or 'top' and those who prefer to receive or 'bottom', and some like to switch, meaning they're happy with either role, though I would say most have a preference. You haven't done anything and so you don't know your preference and that's fine, but you should probably discuss this with your partner and ask him to help you explore both." He tried to treat the whole conversation as much like a lesson as possible.

"What if he doesn't want to be with me when he finds out?"

"Then Harry, he isn't worth it. It doesn't make a difference and you shouldn't feel ashamed about it. You're young, most of your peers won't have done much if anything yet regardless, and certainly less than they're going to make out."

"Oh, okay." He'd never thought that people could be lying really. "So how would we..." He asked, trailing off but trying to get them back on track.

"Well, it's the same concept as with a woman, which you said you knew. In this case however the penis will be inside the others anus." He said, giving an uncomfortable cough as he glanced down at Harry, who seemed to be contemplating the information carefully.

"Really? But isn't that..." He said, unsure how to finish but his nose wrinkled in disgust and confusion.

"There are ways to clean it, a gentle scourgify would work."

"Oh."

"It should be said though, that as it's not necessarily supposed to stretch like that - it is harder than with a woman."

"Will it hurt?" Harry asked worriedly.

"It shouldn't be painful, and this would be where you'll be glad to have an experienced partner. You could stretch yourself before-hand or be stretched by... him, whichever you prefer. It might be a little uncomfortable at first but it shouldn't hurt and if it does tell him, don't just let him continue." He said with what Harry thought was an air of experience. "You're both supposed to enjoy it."

"Okay, is that it?" He asked, he supposed that would be all, it didn't seem like a difficult concept. He wondered how it would feel though.

"I think so, if you have any other questions you know you can always come back." Severus assured Harry with a smile, Harry nodded.

"Good, great. Thanks... for helping me and not getting all, you know..."

"It's what I'm here for, besides you're both 16 and consenting so..."

"Actually, I do have another question."

"Yes?"

"Well, you were in Slytherin, weren't you?"

"Yes..." He said, wondering where Harry was going with this.

"Has it always been... well, everyone was saying that everyone you know... does it."

"Oh well, yes... when I said that most people your age are probably exaggerating I meant everyone else, Slytherin is a bit of a different case. Since most of them are purebloods and married off as soon as they get out of school, they experiment quite extensively... and of course, there are power dynamics at work too. I was never really one to partake of course."

"I didn't know that about purebloods. Is it the same with Draco?" Harry obviously didn't like the idea that Draco would have to go off and marry someone else once they left school.

"Lucius would like it, and Parkinson and her family have had their eyes on Draco since he was young, but Narcissa would never hear of her son marrying for anything but love."

"She sounds nice." The more he heard about Narcissa the more he wanted to meet her, properly meet her. He still had no interest being anywhere near Lucius however.

"She can be, she can be fierce too." Snape said fondly, transitioning back from teacher to father seamlessly. "What would you like to do for Christmas?" He asked, he'd been meaning to and as it was getting closer and Harry was there he thought he'd just ask.

"Aren't we just staying here?" Harry shrugged.

"If you like, or we can go to the Manor, have it there."

Harry grinned, his chest felt lifted with the thought of a proper Christmas at a home, with stockings and doing whatever they wanted and just his family. He could barely believe he was being asked, there was no question of what he wanted to do.

"I'd love to have it at the Manor." He said eagerly, before his face fell, Severus noticed immediately.

"What?" He asked softly, wondering what could be wrong.

"Well, Draco and I wanted to spend it together so..."

"And he couldn't come to the Manor with us?" Severus asked with a smirk when he saw Harry's face light up.

"You mean Draco can spend Christmas with us, at the Manor?" Harry asked, sitting up and looking at him wide eyed and hopeful.

"Do you want me to answer that as your teacher or your father?" Severus teased.

"Which is more likely to let him?"

"After your revelation? Neither." Severus chuckled.

Harry blushed, stammering quickly. "I... we wouldn't... not in your house."

"I'm joking! Of course he can come. If his mother lets him." He added quickly.

"Can I go and ask him now?"

"Of course." Severus said gesturing to the door, Harry jumped to his feet and rushed to leave the room. Severus stopped him before he reached the door. "By the way Harry, it's our house."

Chapter Text

Everything seemed to be going well for Harry. Ron hadn't bothered any of them since the incident in the Great Hall and his mystery time in the hospital wing the following day, thick red hair growing uncontrollably out of his neck. Who was responsible for that, however, was uncertain, as his list of enemies had been rapidly growing - even Madam Pomfrey didn't seem in a rush to get him well again.

Draco and Harry spent hours just talking, partially because Draco had complained that he didn't know what was Harry and what had been 'Seth'; though it was really only his history that he'd made up, and Draco already knew part of his actual history, much like the rest of the Wizarding World. He hadn't wanted to talk about his time at Privet Drive of course, or why he was now bonded with Snape, and Draco had been surprisingly understanding about it.

Harry was becoming increasingly anxious though... he didn't think he could be happy, at least not for long. Something was going to happen. Something was going to ruin it. He couldn't think of what it was - if he could he'd have stopped it - but something was going to happen. He could feel it.

He was pondering the feeling as he made his way to the dorm, he didn't know where Draco was, he'd been with Neville and Hermione in the Room of Requirement; Luna hadn't been with them, he supposed she could have been with Draco but he was still nervous to be seen with her. He didn't want to be seen with Hermione or Neville either, which Harry understood - he couldn't be seen with them either - but he also didn't want to hang out with them. He said that he already had to deal with the shock of being in love with Harry Potter, he couldn't take the stress that he might like them as well yet.

He supposed that Draco just didn't want to be friendly with them, and as much as it bothered him he was also glad that they could stay separate - he had his friends and then he had Draco, and that was good, it worked. It would have been nice to be able to be with them all at once occasionally though.

He sighed, opening the door and dragging his mind back to less sombre thoughts, like the imminent doom he seemed to be feeling recently. He rolled his eyes at himself, things were probably going to be fine. They never usually were but there was a first time for everything.

He pulled the curtains back, leaping out of his skin, practically to the next floor and screaming deafeningly.

Dipsy looked up at him frowning and covering her large ears. "Yes?" She asked, raising an eyebrow and bringing her hands down.

"What do you mean 'yes'? You scared me half to death!" Harry panted heavily, all but keeling over.

Dipsy waited impatiently for Harry to catch his breath and sit down next to her. Someone knocked on the door, calling in confusedly.

"Seth?"

"I'm fine." Harry replied, glaring at Dipsy. "Just a mad elf." He muttered, Dipsy hit him with a fairly heavy pouch.

"I don't have to give you this." She warned, Harry tilted his head.

"What is it?"

She tossed it to him. "Master said it's Hogmeade weekend soon and that he hasn't been giving you your pocket money." Harry opened it peering inside, it was indeed several coins. There was at least 5 galleons

"Not that I would rather find Snape in my bed or anything but why didn't he bring it?"

"He's busy... and uncomfortable being nice, he prefers to do it from afar." Harry nodded, that sounded like Snape.

"Well, I can't take all this, he knows I have my own money and..." But before Harry could finish Dipsy had gone and he was sitting alone talking to himself. "Nevermind then." He sighed, dropping the pouch on his bed, meaning to give it - or at least some of it - back to Severus later. He couldn't take it, it was far too much, he didn't know what a normal amount of pocket money would be, and he knew that Severus was probably making up for not having giving him any so far, but it was still far more than he would ever expect. Well, to be fair he'd expected nothing.

He'd already brought him all the new clothes, and then there was everything else he had done, new books, robes and all that kind of stuff as well. In the few months Severus had been his father (and a bit before that) he'd already spent more on Harry than the Dursley's had in 15 years.

"I heard you've been screaming in here without me." Draco smirked, interrupting Harry's thoughts.

"Dipsy." Harry said simply, the only explanation needed. "It's Hogsmeade weekend soon."

Draco frowned, he hadn't seen anything about it posted on the notice board. "I suppose so, it's usually around this time. How did you know?"

"Inside information."

"Your father," Draco laughed. "Would you like to go together? I know a nice place, where we can be alone together."

"It's not Madam Puddifoot's is it?" Harry asked, memories of Cho and naked fat babies throwing confetti into his tea springing to mind. Draco laughed at Harry's horrified look.

"No, not there," He answered, wrinkling his nose in disgust. "Somewhere nicer, you won't have been there." Harry gave him a puzzled look - after three years of going to Hogsmeade he'd pretty well been everywhere. "It's very exclusive."

"Of course it is, why did I expect anything less?" Harry snorted, pulling Draco playfully onto the bed next to him. Draco let out a soft scream and a grumble about his hair, hands quickly coming up to slick it back. "A Malfoy would never eat and drink with us mere mortals! Of course he'd have his own private club, everywhere and anywhere." He teased, Draco shoved him.

"I just thought you'd like a nice quiet place, but maybe you're too boisterous for such polite and elite company."

"Probably." Harry smirked. "Am I too boisterous for your polite and elite company?"

"I think you're just right."

* * *

It wasn't long until Hogsmeade weekend rolled around, and Harry and Draco were making their way down the hill towards the village. Draco lead the way to the exclusive club he had talked about, but nothing could have prepared Harry for what he was walking into.

He stared at the big crystal chandelier twinkling above him, one of three that decorated the entrance hall ceiling. Draco was still casually talking to the usher, trying not to smile at Harry's adorably shocked and confused face while he gazed open-mouthed around the room.

"Come on," Draco said, taking Harry's arm. "This way." He chuckled, practically having to drag Harry down the corridor.

"Was I being weird?" Harry asked anxiously, looking back at the few people waiting to get in, who were still watching him.

"No, you were being adorable." He said, slipping his arm through Harry's.

They went up several floors and down several halls before they finally got to the room Draco had booked them. It was about as extravagant as Harry had expected. It reminded Harry a lot of the Slytherin common room but this room was coloured a dark almost blood red and had a small circular dark wood perfectly polished table, laid out beautifully for two.

"It's not my usual room, but I thought you'd appreciate the red." Draco said, in his usual drawl that Harry didn't often hear any more, he had noticed that Draco tended to use it when he was nervous.

"It's great." Harry said with a smile, sitting down at the table and fiddling with the fire-flowers in front of them, ash sprinkling the table that immediately cleaned itself. "I didn't expect all this but it's lovely, thank you."

Draco sat too, smiling contently, he called in a house-elf to take their orders and within an instant they were eating and laughing and enjoying themselves.

Draco watched Harry all but assaulting his meal, chuckling to himself as he played with his own, far more interested in his date.

"What?" Harry asked, blushing at the way Draco was staring at him.

"That is entirely the wrong fork." Draco smirked fondly.

"Bite me!" Harry said, narrowing his eyes before snickering. "Or is there not a correct fork for that?"

"Oh no," Draco leant closer to him, kissing his neck. A personal favourite spot of Harry's, that never failed to make him melt. "You're definitely finger food."

"Aren't there rules about fondling your guest?" Harry asked putting his hand over Draco's, who had his placed on Harry's thigh.

"Of course, you always have to be polite but you have to wait until the second course to be gallant, and it's never permissible to be tender until dessert. There are rules on everything... it doesn't mean I have any intention of following them." He squeezed Harry's leg, other arm wrapping around his waist as he scattered tender kisses over his jaw.

Harry leant into the kisses before bending down to press his lips to Draco's softly but insistently. They continued to touch each other gently, hands running through each others hair, lips finding every inch of skin they could. They had to stop when a house-elf came in to see if they were done.

Draco shook his head affectionately when Harry sprung away in shock and embarrassment, looking around innocently.

Desserts were laid in front of them and the elves scurried off again, Harry thanking them quickly as they did. Then he looked down, studying the vast array of cutlery arranged before him. He peeked over at Draco to see what he was using but Draco just rolled his eyes and pointed to the right thing. He didn't really care if Harry hadn't spent half of his life learning proper etiquette, he liked him exactly the way he was.

"I think I should get some Christmas shopping done while we're up here." Harry said thoughtfully, he still had no idea what to get Draco.

"I do most of mine by order owl, but I did want to see if there was anything here."

"I don't know how to do owl order."

"I'll teach you."

"Really? 'Cause I have a lot of presents to get this year and I'm worried I won't be able to find something for everyone."

"It's fine. It's really easy."

"Good, I still don't know what to get Severus or Dipsy... or you, really. They need to be good for our first Christmas together, and it's going to be like a proper Christmas," Harry said his face lighting up. "With a tree and decorations and presents and Christmas dinner and..." He trailed off wistfully.

"It's really not that exciting." Draco laughed, Harry pouted.

"I think it is, I've never had a Christmas at home before, not with presents and a hot dinner..." Harry stopped himself, looking slightly uncomfortable. He hadn't meant to ramble, and he'd certainly not meant to bring up anything about the Dursley's

Draco studied his face, he already knew that Harry couldn't have had an easy time at home, wherever or whatever his old home was, otherwise he wouldn't be with Snape. They'd never talked about it though, it was just small tells of Harry's that, now he was spending so much time with him, he'd been starting to pick up on.

"Well," Draco said firmly, looking Harry in the eye and taking his hand across the table. "I'm going to make this Christmas the very best Christmas you've ever had." Harry smiled bashfully at Draco's sincerity.

When they were finished Harry was shocked to find the room turning into an almost completely different room. The floor and walls and fireplace all stayed the same but the furniture turned from a dining room to a more comfortable lounge area. They stayed for a while, sitting together in a comfortable silence.

Draco was busy thinking about how he could make Harry's Christmas the most perfect Christmas in the world, and Harry was trying hard to think of anything he could get anyone. He knew he was useless when it came to presents, he never knew what to get anyone.

They left eventually, Hogmeade had started to die down. Most people were over their initial excitement, or finished with their shopping so they had gone back, and despite wanting to stay and shop earlier Harry and Draco decided they would go back to the castle too.

That was until Harry saw Hermione waving him over. He wavered, rocking on his heels awkwardly. Draco stopped next to him, wondering why Harry wasn't walking.

"Is it okay if I go and shop with Hermione now?" Harry asked anxiously, Draco shrugged casually, secretly glad that he was going to be able to get away from Harry. He wanted to shop for him - he needed to get him more gifts if he was going to make this a memorable Christmas.

"Of course! You don't need to ask me."

"Well, last time I did this my date stormed off." Harry said, remembering Cho and the awful date they had been on, it made the date with Draco look even better and it was already pretty great.

"I'm not worried about Granger trying to steal you away.” Draco laughed. “I'll see you later."

Harry paused, turning around to give Draco a kiss on the cheek, before pulling his cloak out of his bag and slipping it over his head, rushing off to find Hermione. Draco slightly dazed turned around to find him, but only saw the swish of a cloak before Harry was completely lost to him.

Draco smirked to himself as he meandered into a nearby shop. 'Of course he'd have that with him at all times,' He thought to himself. 'He's getting as bad as uncle Severus.'

Chapter Text

Harry thoroughly enjoyed shopping with Hermione. It was somewhat difficult to navigate Hogmeade when he was completely invisible, but luckily it was quiet due to how late it was and not swarmed as it had been earlier in the day.

He still needed Hermione buying the things for him though. He had hoped to find everyone's presents there, but supposed he was going to have to rely on owl post to get most of them. He didn't understand how everyone he knew was so difficult to shop for.

Severus didn't seem to enjoy anything outside of a few hobbies that Harry certainly didn't know enough about to buy him anything for. Draco already had everything and anything he wanted. As for Dipsy... what does someone even get a house-elf? He had a feeling she wouldn't be as happy with socks as Dobby was. He was fairly certain Luna would find a use for anything he gave her and Neville would be polite about whatever he got him; Hermione was easy, she just plucked a book from the shelf and declared that he was buying her that when he had asked her.

He complained about his dilemma to Hermione, detailing how hard it was and why, and practically begging for some inspiration.

"I'm sure Draco isn't that difficult, if you can't get him anything material maybe you could give him something else." She said with a wink, chuckling when Harry looked completely at a loss.

"Oh, er... yeah, that. No, I can't do that."

"Why not?"

"Well, we've not done anything like that yet. Well, we've kissed... a lot." He smiled to himself, almost walking into a pillar.

"Has he not tried anything?" She asked shocked, she wouldn't have thought that from a Slytherin.

"Well," Harry began, stopping and pulling Hermione back to explain it to her softly. "There was almost a thing at the club, it didn't really go anywhere though."

"What? Why not?"

"Because I jumped off his lap." Harry said, frowning when he got a bark of laughter from Hermione.

"Why?!"

"A house-elf came in and then it kind of felt awkward to pick up where we'd left off. It might not have been a thing anyway." He said dismissively, obviously unsure.

"You were on his lap, you were kissing... it was a thing Harry. Maybe that's your problem."

"What's my problem? I don't have a problem." Harry said, defensively.

"Yes, you do." She said matter of factly. "You don't know when things are becoming things and so you don't follow through and make it a thing."

"You lost me at one of the things."

"Next time there's a thing, don't screw it up and make it awkward."

"How am I supposed to know?" Harry asked - it all seemed far more complicated than he had thought.

"If it's a thing... you'll know."

"Clearly, I won't!" Harry groaned.

"Do you want there to be a thing?" Hermione asked curiously.

"Well, of course."

"Then just look out for it! You'll be together, alone, close, hands all over each other, lips fighting for dominance..."

"Yes, Hermione, I get it." Harry said cutting her off and blushing furiously, glad she wasn't able to see him. "I'll look out for a thing." Harry said firmly, promising himself that he wouldn't miss one, if one were indeed going to happen.

* * *

When Harry got back to the castle he rushed into the dorm room, shoving everything he had bought under his bed. He'd got Draco a few safety presents, if he couldn't find anything else, and didn't want him to see them.

Draco slipped in behind him, not even looking at the bags Harry was hastily hiding. He walked over to him, wrapping his arms around him from behind and swaying him slightly as he kissed the back of his head. Harry went limp in his arms, relaxing into him, a daft smile on his face.

Draco sat on the bed and pulled Harry down onto his lap. "Since we didn't get to finish this in the club." He murmured into Harry's ear, sending shivers down his spine.

They pressed against each other, kissing, desperate to taste whatever they could. Harry gasped, tilting his head back while Draco littered gentle love bites to his collar bones. Almost without noticing Harry thrust his hips forward needily into Draco's stomach. His cock growing steadily, he blushed and bit his lip, wondering if Draco had noticed.

Suddenly their positions were flipped and Harry found his legs open with Draco kneeling over one of them, his hand on his thigh dangerously close to his crotch. Harry felt his breath hitching... this was a thing. This was definitely a thing.

"Do you mind if I touch?" Draco asked, Harry widened his legs slightly and nodded.

"Can I?" He asked shyly in response.

Smirking Draco nodded and guided Harry's hand to his clothed dick, rocking into it. Harry choked, feeling the hard length, his eyes staring up at Draco - he'd never touched anyone else there before. His was soon taken out of those thoughts though as Draco's own hand moved to rub him, squeezing him through his jeans.

Harry moaned, open-mouthed, at the feeling and tried to replicate it on Draco.

"Fuck." Draco breathed, one hand coming to rest in Harry's hair while the other groped and rubbed him. "Does it feel good?"

"D...Draco, yes. It's good. It's so good. I'm close. I think... I'm close." Harry said, slightly panicked. He didn't have much experience of any of this, would Draco think he was lame if he came so soon? Should he try to put it off? Luckily all the anxious thoughts springing to his mind made it near impossible to cum anyway.

"Yes, cum for me Harry. I want to see you cum. Can I see you cum?" He asked, licking a line along his jaw.

"Uh-huh, t...take my... my trousers off, Draco." Harry almost cried, hand that had previously been propping him up coming round to rest on Draco's arse.

Wasting no time Draco undid Harry's belt and fly, pulling his cock out to pump it properly. Harry fumbled with Draco's trousers, feeling a little exposed.

"I wish I could taste you." Draco whispered, licking his lips and stroking Harry, his pre-cum more than enough lubricant to make his movements fluid and slick.

Harry shivered, finally managing to take Draco's cock out of its confines; he instantly felt out of his element, uncertain of what to do or where to begin. Seeing this Draco took Harry's hand, bringing it up to his lips. Staring lustfully into Harry's eyes he licked up the palm, flattening his tongue and fluttering his eyes, before guiding the hand back down to his dick. Helping Harry wrap his hand around him and moving it up and down until Harry took over, doing it himself.

"That's so good. You going to make me cum Harry. Oh, yes, make me cum." Draco praised, not neglecting Harry as his hands went back to fondling him.

"Draco, Draco, Draco..." Harry chanted, burying his face in the other boy's chest.

"Fuck, you're so cute." Draco grit out, pressing his crotch down onto Harry's and wrapping his hands around both of their cocks. Rutting against Harry's dick as he pumped them both.

Harry's hands fell to his sides as he lay back in abject bliss, his own hips meeting Draco's thrusts.

"Don't stop." Harry begged fisting his hands into Draco's shirt, his stubby nails digging into his back, leg coming to wrap around him pulling him in closer. "So hot." Harry said, his eyelids fluttering closed as he lay his head back, mouth open with silent moans.

Draco took the opportunity to capture him in a kiss again. Sucking his tongue gently and biting his lip. He broke the kiss only to state. "You have no idea what you do to me. I love you." He was so close to orgasm and just needed one last sensory push.

Harry came loudly and messily. "Ah, ah. Draco, Draco."

Draco almost immediately followed him, still stroking them both throughout. His hands slid down to cup Harry's balls, massaging them until he'd fully rode out his orgasm. Once he was finish he turned Harry, pulling him into a cuddle. Running his hands through his hair and kissing the back of his head and neck affectionately.

"How was that?" Draco asked, though he was fairly sure he knew the answer.

"Brilliant." Harry said, laying limply against him, his limbs feeling like jelly. "What about you?" He asked anxiously.

"Amazing. You were stunning when you finished." He answered, giving Harry a peck on the lips.

Harry flushed in both pleasure and embarrassment. "No, I wasn't." He argued weakly.

"Were to!" Draco said simply, kissing Harry's head again as he stood, pulling Harry up too. "Come on. We both need a shower." He said, leading the way to the Slytherin bathroom.

Harry giggled as they got into a cubicle together, though nothing more than helping to scrub each other down happened. It still felt slightly naughty and sexy.

After their shower they were both ready for bed, and some of their dorm mates had joined them. Harry had planned to just go back to his own but Draco held out his hand, inviting him to share.

Almost skipping Harry jumped into Draco's bed. Both of them settling down comfortably - no one else said anything or even seemed to pay any attention to them.

He curled into Draco, and Draco wrapped an arm around his stomach and hooked a leg around his, effectively entwining them. Harry fell asleep, he had never felt more secure in his life.

Chapter Text

Harry and Draco were sitting excitedly on the train going home. Hermione, Neville and Luna were also in their compartment, no one would pay any attention to it, they'd assume that the train was just packed and they'd had to sit together. Really though they were having a great time.

Harry had never been on the train at Christmas, he hadn't expected it would be much different and it wasn't but there were decorations in every colour and of every shape and size dotting the place, lining the walls, even some small trees. He was already getting into the Christmas spirit just being there and he was certain it was just going to get better.

"So we're going to come for New Year." Hermione clarified, Harry nodded. Hermione, Neville and Luna were all going to their homes for the holidays while Draco was coming to the Manor with him; Severus had let him invite them all for New Year though, and he couldn't wait to have everyone at the Manor with him, like a big family. He'd always liked the idea of having a big family.

"Yeah, Dipsy's setting up a whole party so it should be good." Harry grinned.

"Should we do presents now, since we won't see each other on Christmas." Neville suggested.

"We can't have our presents until Christmas," Draco said firmly, before pointing to Harry. "He's not letting anyone."

"We can if everyone wants to," Harry said, somewhat shyly. "But then we'll have less on Christmas, and it's not really a Christmas present if we do it now and..."

"It's fine Harry, we won't do them now." Neville chuckled, it wasn't a secret how much Harry wanted this Christmas to be perfect. Mostly because Draco had sought out everyone he could think of and informed them that this was going to be the best Christmas ever, not just for Harry but mostly. He'd thought he might need to persuade them or bribe them or something, but once he explained that Harry was just really excited for his first 'proper' Christmas everyone was on board, even Severus had shown a bit of a festive side.

They sat back for a bit, discussing what they were all going to do over the holidays, predicting what they were going to get. Chatting about being glad that they weren't going to have to take exams as soon as they got back. General things and an all around pleasant time.

They left the train separately, Draco and Harry going one way while Luna, Hermione and Neville went the other. No one suspected anything.

"Looks like your parents aren't here yet, Draco." Blaise said casually as he passed Harry and Draco.

"I'm sure they'll be here soon." Draco replied, Blaise just shrugged and took his trunk dragging it off the train.

"Didn't you tell anyone you were staying with me?" Harry asked, as they pulled their trunks down.

"I prefer to play things... closer to the chest." Draco said carefully. "You never know what can happen."

"You sound like Severus." Harry laughed. They took their things and met Snape, having to wait around until he had got everyone off the train and herded them off to their families, making sure no one left anything behind. Harry was shocked at how much Snape had to do with his teacher duties, it was more than he'd previously thought.

"You don't ever go home for Christmas." Harry said to Severus as they all walked out, he'd shrunk their trunks so they were safely tucked away in their pockets. "Do you normally come here and go back?"

"Only when it's my turn." Severus answered. "A few of us have to come, the only one who always comes is Minerva."

They flooed to the Manor because it was easier since Harry and Draco didn't have their Apparition licenses yet. When they got there, Dipsy was already waiting impatiently for them.

The Manor itself looked like Christmas had it in a headlock, with streamers and dried fruit, garlands, wreaths, holly and mistletoe. Harry felt like he had walked onto the set of a family Christmas film and he was loving it.

In the background loving it a little bit less was Severus, who wasn't overjoyed to see the way his home looked. He normally liked to keep it fairly simple and plain, which this definitely wasn't, but the ecstatic look on Harry face was enough for him to keep his snarky mouth shut.

Draco was indifferent about the whole thing, it didn't look unlike his own home when decorated for the holidays. Though it was obviously a bit less expensively done.

"We'll go and unpack your things." Harry said to Draco.

"I've prepared a room for him, next door to yours." Dipsy said, Harry and Draco nodded gratefully, Harry leading the way upstairs, leaving just her and Severus behind.

"Next door? Don't you think that's a bit close?" Severus asked, getting nothing more than a shake of the head from Dipsy as she lifted a box teeming with more decorations. "And haven't you over done it a bit with the decorations?"

"This is Harry's first Christmas here." She said simply.

"He's got to you as well, has he?" Severus asked. He couldn't deny that he thought it was very nice of Draco to be so determined to make Harry's first proper Christmas the best one in what Severus could only assume was history, but he did think all this was a bit overboard.

"I've no idea what you mean." Dipsy said, with a smirk.

* * *

Up in Draco's room, Harry was sitting on the bed, looking around. He looked at the design carved into the bed, tracing his finger over it, it looked familiar. The room was nice, not as nice as his though, at least not to him, but he supposed Draco liked it, Dipsy was very good at everything she did.

There was a lot of green, and it was plush and expensive, not really Harry's style but Draco was already feeling more at home there.

"She didn't need to do all of this, I'm not that high maintenance." Draco said, as he put his things away.

"You keep telling yourself that." Harry laughed, getting some balled up socks to the face. "She just enjoys it." He shrugged. "She did the whole Manor."

"No wonder it looks so good, I doubted it was Snape. She even got the details." He said, pointing to the suit of arms Harry was touching.

"What is it?"

"My coat of arms." Draco said, slightly shocked Harry didn't recognise it.

"I think I have one in my room."

"Of the Potter crest?" Draco asked.

"Wait... I have my own?"

"Of course, you're a Potter... well, Potter-Snape now. Technically you'd have two, or they'd be merged, to form one. I have Malfoy and Black because of my mother and father, they aren't usually put together though, normally they're separate. That one is though, I like it better."

"Well, you learn something new everyday." Harry said, clambering off the bed. "Would you recognise my one... if it was Potter or Snape, or both?"

"Maybe, but it won't be Snape, it would be Prince."

"Oh, yeah. I suppose it would." Harry said thoughtfully.

They moved onto Harry's room, Draco looked around.

"It might as well be the Gryffindor common room." He laughed at the red and gold.

"Speaking as someone who's been in both, your room looks much more like a common room than mine."

"Well, you can't have all this red and gold now that you're one of us." Draco teased, patting Harry's ass as he passed him.

"You sound like a zombie! Just look at the thing." He gestured to the bed.

"If I didn't know any better I'd think you were trying to get me into your bed." Draco said, climbing onto the bed and peering at the coat of arms.

"I'm not trying to get you to do anything." Harry said, flopping down next to him.

"I know." Muttered Draco. "Yeah, it's the Potter one." He thought about his own one day mixing with this one... that was if they were married or bonded though, and that wasn't likely to come yet. He wouldn't mind if it did though.

"Cool. I have a coat of arms." Harry thought aloud smugly.

"You don't have to brag, so do I." Draco said, rolling over and pulling Harry onto the bed next to him.

"What if someone comes in?" Harry asked, blushing but not trying to get out of the cuddle.

"They'll find us having a friendly hug." Draco answered.

"Alright." Harry acquiesced, Draco's hand moved down his body but Harry remembered his promise to Severus and stopped Draco's hand. "Not that friendly." He said tentatively.

"Alright." Draco chuckled, moving his hand back up to instead rest on Harry's hip. "Just a snuggle then."

"It's not that I wouldn't want to... do anything, but I told Severus that we wouldn't." Harry said anxiously, he didn't want Draco to think he didn't want to, just that he couldn't.

"It's fine." Draco soothed, stroking Harry's hair. He had known Harry for a while and was well aware how insecure he could be about things. Especially when it involved people. He didn't mind that though, he actually liked that Harry wore his heart on his sleeve, at least more than he was used to people doing. He liked knowing that Harry wasn't secretly out to get him, even when Harry hated him he had been obvious about it and not pretended.

"We could go out though or something."

"Into the Muggle world? With Muggles?" Draco asked, not particularly disgusted but definitely cautious.

"Yeah, we might even see a wild one... don't worry though, I'll make sure they don't touch you or anything, and they shouldn't have too many diseases." Harry joked, Draco nudged him.

"You know what I mean. I've never been anywhere Muggle before."

"They're not that different. Would you want to then? We could go out and get dinner or something."

"Yeah, it sounds fun."

"Anything to get me alone." Harry smirked, Draco rolled his eyes.

"It was your idea. Is Severus okay with it?"

"I... we'll have to ask him."

Chapter Text

Severus agreed to let them go out together, after a little bit of persuasion from Dipsy, who knew how nervous the thought made him. In the end however, he decided that it would probably be in their best interest to not baby them.

Harry couldn't wait for the evening of their date, he had plans to put some moves on Draco and had been equal parts anxious and excited all day. For what he had planned he knew they would need to go to a chemist after they had eaten.

He'd only been to the town with Severus once and wasn't sure where everything was, but Severus had given him an overview of things and it didn't seem all that different to a normal shopping centre. He was sure he'd be able to find his way around.

He wanted to get dressed up but he wasn't sure what he was supposed to wear. He'd not dressed up really for any other date but he wanted to look nice. Eventually he chose his leather jacket, some black jeans and his school shirt in an attempt to look a bit formal.

He wasn't sure how well he'd done but when Draco saw him he told him he looked great, and then asked for help on what to wear around muggles. Draco had some muggle clothes that would work fine, he just didn't know they were muggle. He assumed that the strange things the wizards wore at events like the Quidditch World Cup, where they could be spotted by muggles, was the right kind of thing and he had no intentions of wearing anything like that.

Harry helped him pick out the same sort of thing he had on, though Draco's shirt was a deep green silk and complimented his pale skin.

Dipsy found them standing around in the corridor, neither of them quite sure when they should leave or what they should do.

"You two look smart." She said, receiving two blushing thanks. She pressed a large key into Harry's hand, whispering to him as she passed. "It's to the old Coach House."

He frowned in confusion but by the time he had found any words she was already gone.

"What was that about?" Draco asked confused, he hadn't heard what she said or seen what she'd given him.

"I don't know..." Harry said awkwardly, completely bewildered. He shrugged it off and they walked into the living room to tell Severus, who was lounging in there casually, that they were off. "We're off now." Harry said shyly.

"Okay, have fun," He said before rethinking his statement. "Not too much fun though... an appropriate amount of fun."

"Okay." Harry laughed.

Then Severus turned to Draco. "Both of you are to be back by ten or you'll," He emphasized the word, glaring at Draco. "Be dead by eleven."

"Okay sir." Draco swallowed nervously. He'd never had such an intense stare on him.

Trying to alleviate some of the uncomfortable atmosphere, Harry took Draco's arm and started exiting the room. "We'll be back by ten," He called to Severus, halfway out of the door. "Bye."

Severus gave a curt nod of goodbye and tried to settle down again but he was already nervous about his decision. Dipsy popped in.

"Do you know how old you sound?"

"I've only had a son six months and he's already found boys!"

"I know, they grow up so fast." She smirked, flopping down onto the sofa next to him.

* * *

"Are we going to walk there?" Draco asked, since they didn't have a car or anything waiting for them.

"There's a bus stop up here." Harry said, remembering it from his time going shopping with Snape.

"Bus stop?"

"Yeah, a place buses come to and stop so we can get on." Harry said, it was kind of cute how little Draco really knew about the world.

"The knight bus stops anywhere." Draco said thoughtfully.

"Muggle buses can't do the things the knight bus can do." Harry answered.

They waited in the small stop for a while, Harry explained the gist of how to get on and everything, Draco was somewhat fascinated with the strange currency

"You've really never held muggle money before?" Harry asked once they were on the bus.

"Well, it's not as if it was just lying around in the Manor." He said defensively.

"I know."

* * *

The evening went pleasantly, they went to a small restaurant and had a nice dinner together. Harry had worried that people would give them odd looks or something, but they either didn't care or didn't notice that they were two men having a date and Harry was pleased about that.

Harry hadn't made his move yet but he was going to, he just needed the right time... and the right things.

"I just need to go in here." Harry said suddenly, seeing that they were passing a small shop he was sure would be equipped with the things he'd need.

"Okay." Draco said following him in, confused. He looked around. He knew it was a shop but had no idea what it sold, it seemed to be a bit of everything. He browsed the shelves, as did Harry, both on different quests.

Harry was glad Severus had got so much money transferred for them, he knew he had enough to comfortably buy what he wanted. He wasn't sure which though so he perused the shelves for a while and chose what he needed.

It was an awkward transaction, going up to the shop keeper and handing him the condoms and lube; the man didn't seem to care, Harry was just another customer, but Harry knew he was blushing as he practically proclaimed, I'm going to have sex, to this random stranger. The guy though just scanned the items and took the money completely unaffected.

Harry shoved them into his bag and called Draco to tell him he was finished.

"What's that?" Draco asked curiously, trying to see into the flimsy plastic bag.

"It's for us, for later." Harry said, lowering his voice in what he hoped was a sexy way and trying to ignore his pink face.

"Oh? And what comes later?" Draco asked in a tone Harry could only describe as devilishly seductive, wrapping an arm around his waist.

Harry just smiled. "It's a surprise." His hand came to rest on Draco's ass, giving it a squeeze.

Harry had thought of almost everything - he'd gone through everything in his head several times. They would have dinner, a nice date, he could get the things they needed and then make his move and they'd go off and have sex. However something he hadn't factored in was where they would be going. He had always ended it with 'and they'd go off'… but go off where?

He started to panic and made a snap decision, he pulled Draco into an alley and pressed him against the wall to kiss him. Draco allowed himself to be caught, happily losing himself in the moment. It wouldn't be his first time doing something like this outside.

Harry broke the kiss only for a second to open the bag and pull out the box of condoms, trying to open it while Draco's hands ran over his body, pulling his shirt out from being tucked in and running his hands over his chest.

"What's that?" Draco asked, squinting in the dim light, it was cold but both of them were sweating, getting worked up. He kissed Harry's neck as he tried to open it.

"It's a condom you put it over your..." Harry gestured to Draco's dick. "When you have sex." He managed to get one out and opened it, Draco took it to stare at the rubber. He immediately regretted his decision when he felt it.

"Eww, has it already been used." He asked unrolling it, tilting his head trying to work it out.

"No." Harry said, exasperated. He'd tried to make a move and Draco was far more interested in the protection than in him, both of them had stopped touching the other.

"Then why does it feel like that?"

"It's got lube on it."

"Why?"

"Well, what do you use to protect from infections and things?"

"I'll try and not be offended by that," Draco said dryly. "The Spell." He answered Harry's question, still looking over the condom intently.

"What spell?"

"You don't know The Spell?" Draco asked, looking up suddenly.

"Well, it's not as though Flitwick was pulling that one out in Charms. What spell?"

"The Spell."

"You couldn't have said this before I had to go buy these?"

"What else did you get."

"Just some lube." Harry said blushing, he'd thought this was normal.

"There's a spell for that as well, but if that's what you want to use." Draco said with a shrug.

"Maybe we should just get back." Harry said with a sigh, unfortunately he knew the moment was ruined and should probably be left as it was.

"Alright." Draco said, putting his arm around Harry and kissing the side of his head. "I had a really nice time though." He told him truthfully, hoping to lift his spirits a little.

* * *

They sat on the bus going back and Draco couldn't handle the fact that Harry wasn't happy. He wasn't showing it, he was smiling and leaning against him, but he could tell that Harry was still uncomfortable and had really wanted to try something. He waited until they were off the bus and walking back up to the Manor before all but pouncing on him.

"I'm sorry I ruined it earlier, we can do it your way." He said pulling Harry to him as they entered the long winding garden.

"I told Severus we wouldn't do it in the Manor." Harry answered, liking the attention Draco was paying to his body. His hands seemed to be everywhere and his knee was firmly between his legs, allowing him to rub against it.

"We can do it out here." Draco said, he assumed that was what Harry wanted anyway since he had tried in an alley.

"I don't know... I..." His hand slipped into his pocket as he thought and found the key he'd put in there from Dipsy. "I have an idea." He said eagerly. "We just have to find the Coach House." Harry said, he wasn't even really sure what one was.

"They're usually around the side." Draco said, laughing, and wrapped up in each other they made their way to the Coach House.

It was like a big stable and obviously hadn't been used in years. It looked quite clean though, and at the back they found a bedroom that had clearly been for whoever kept the horses. It had a bed in it, a small double bed and a gas lamp.

Draco lit the lamp and Harry climbed onto the bed.

"Do you want the... erm, stuff?" Draco asked, pointing to the bag, Harry shook his head. Draco climbed onto the bed and over him kissing his lips gently. "Alright. Tell me what you want then and I'll do it."

"I don't know. Just... you." Harry said, wrapping legs around Draco to pull him in.

"I think I can do that." Draco chuckled.

Their lips connected and their hands danced lightly over each others bodies briefly, before beginning to divest the other of their clothes. Draco almost ripped the buttons off Harry's shirt in his haste to get it off, Harry arched his back off the bed, moaning when Draco's mouth latched onto his nipple.

Harry's hand came to rest of Draco's head, inadvertently gripping his beautiful platinum strands, pulling him away and pushing him all at the same time. He wasn't sure what he was feeling, it was good but too much but not enough.

Draco chuckled against his chest, moving up to nibble a collarbone, his hand gripping Harry's jutting hip.

"Draco, Draco," Harry chanted, his hands undoing his own trousers, that were becoming increasingly tight. "Draco." He muttered, clinging to him.

"I know." Draco said softly, taking off his own trousers and boxers. Once Harry had kicked off his trousers and underwear he put a hand on Harry's ass, pressing a finger to his entrance cautiously. When Harry tried to pull him down onto him he took it as a sign Harry was expecting to be the bottom, Draco was glad about that since Harry was still fairly innocent. "Want me to prepare you?" He asked. He'd known people who preferred to do it themselves, a fair amount of Slytherin just did it themselves anyway, trust was a big issue among a lot of them.

"Yes," Harry nodded eagerly, he didn't know if he knew how to do it properly himself. "Don't stop touching me."

"I won't." Draco hummed, smiling at his cute love.

He muttered the spells, he would have to teach them to Harry later. Harry wriggled at the odd sensation. Draco stroked his stomach to calm him slightly, his fingers, now slick, pushed inside him. He cautiously started with one but the second was quickly added.

Not wanting to break or hurt his adorable lover he opened him slowly and methodically, rubbing his prostate firmly and scissoring to stretch him gently.

"Draco, hurry up!" Harry whined under him.

"I don't want to hurt you." Draco said adding a third, hoping to pacify Harry. It worked for all of two seconds before Harry started to whine again. He didn't manage to make any actual words but Harry's impatient grunts were fairly obvious.

Eventually, with a shake of his head, Draco knelt up, pulling Harry up so his ass was more firmly against his cock. He lined it up, pushing slowly into Harry, and they moaned in unison.

Harry stared up at Draco, gasping and holding onto him as Draco thrust into him slowly, building up and letting Harry get used to the feeling he knew was foreign. He dropped his head down into Harry's neck, hips still pistoning in and out of him, he kissed his jaw, neck, licking a drop of sweat from his collar and whispering praise to him, not even sure if Harry could hear him.

Harry clung to him with a death grip and tried to push his hips down to take Draco deeper, hoping he was doing it right.

"Draco, I..." Harry warned, feeling himself getting closer to the edge, he took his his dick in his hand, stroking himself with Draco's thrusts.

Rubbing Harry's soft ass, Draco nodded at him. "It's okay, do you want me to pull out?"

Harry shook his head emphatically. "No, in... stay in." He came, dragging Draco over the edge with him.

They both emptied themselves, mouths open in silent groans. Draco pulled out, Harry gave a small keen at the sudden emptiness, curling into Draco who lay next to him. An arm wrapped around Harry's shoulder and they lay for a while together, the winter chill cooling their warm bodies.

"How was that?" Harry asked looking up at Draco, biting his lip.

"Best I've ever had." Draco told him sincerely, looking at the time on the clock on the wall. He had no desire to die, not now that he'd found Harry, and so it would help to get them back on time. It was only half past nine so he settled down, calmly with Harry by his side.

After half an hour of snuggling they had to drag themselves up to get re-dressed and then rush off to the Manor.

* * *

"He's late." Severus said panicked, as he sat in bed, trying not to stare out of the window.

"It's two minutes past, he's not late." Dipsy pointed out.

"Do you think he's okay?"

"I think he's fine."

"Wait," He said, holding a hand up to shush her. "I heard something outside, go check."

"What do you want me to do? Go down there?" Dipsy asked, rolling her eyes and crossing her legs, to show that she wasn't going to do that.

"Just look out the window."

"Fine." She snapped, getting up and pulling the curtain back.

"Don't be obvious!"

"If you want sneaky you can look yourself." She said unapologetically. "It's them, they're on the doorstep talking." She said, watching them for a few second before closing the curtains.

"They've been there a while," He said, after they hadn't come back in in a minute. "They better not be doing anything out there."

"What are you going to do? Lean out of the window in your night cap and wave your fist at them? 'Get your hands of my son you wretched child!'." She laughed, dropping into a chair and angrily waving her fist.

He threw a pillow at her, with a groan. "You're not taking this seriously."

"I'm really not."

"Shh, I heard the door open. They're coming upstairs."

"They'd have to, to get to their rooms." She said dryly.

"Shhhh!" He hissed at her, turning off his light and lying down.

* * *

Harry knocked on the door opening it slightly, he didn't know if Severus was sleeping or not but he wanted to let him know he was back if he wasn't. Since every other light was off he assumed he wasn't still downstairs.

"Yes?" Severus asked with a yawn, sitting up and pretending to have just woken up.

"Hey," Harry said quietly. "I just wanted to say I'm back, I'm a bit late though." He admitted, hoping Severus wouldn't mind the few minutes, they would have been on time but in case Severus was up they had spent a while straightening themselves out so as to not let on.

"Oh, it's fine, I was just asleep. I wouldn't have even known you were late." Severus said casually, Dipsy snorted at the blatant lie.

"Dipsy?!" Harry had only just noticed the elf in the chair, just sitting in the darkness. "Why are you in here while Severus' asleep?"

"Yes, why are you in here while I'm asleep?" Severus asked, an intense glare coming from Dipsy.

"I guess i just like to watch you sleep." She said before turning to Harry. "I hope you had fun." She winked, hurrying out of the room.

"Why did you wink?!" Severus asked but she was long gone, he turned to Harry. "Why did she wink?"

"I don't know," He said, genuinely confused. "Were you two waiting up for me?"

"We... err..." For once Severus was at a loss for what to say.

"I saw the light go out." Harry told him.

"Then yes, yes we were." He conceded.

"Okay, well I'm gonna go to bed. Night." Harry said, going to leave.

"You're not angry?" He asked, he knew he wouldn't appreciate someone prying into his life.

Harry shrugged. "It's nice knowing you care."

"I do. Did you have a nice time?"

"Yeah." Harry said, blushing, hoping Snape couldn't see. "Draco's gone back to his room to..." He paused, not wanting to say shower in case Severus got ideas. "Sleep. Being around muggles exhausted him."

"Alright." He said, lying down to actually sleep this time. "Goodnight Harry. Now go away."

Harry laughed leaving the room and closing the door softly, a wide grin spread over his face.



Chapter Text

"Did Harry give you his list of demands?" Severus asked Dipsy curiously, as she placed his usual cup of tea and newspaper in front of him. She inclined her head slightly, confused. "For Christmas." He added.

"Do you mean his list for Santa?" She laughed. "No, he's sixteen."

"Hmm." Severus ran a finger around his teacup thoughtfully.

"Leaving presents a bit late, aren't you?"

"I've brought him presents," He answered defensively. "I'm just... worried they're the wrong ones."

"I'm sure you'll both live."

"I might not," Severus smirked. "Draco's determined to make this the perfect Christmas for Harry. I'm assuming that means good gifts."

"Speak of the Devil." Dipsy said as Draco entered the room, looking as perfect as always, hair and clothes immaculate though he'd obviously just come from bed. He eyed Snape carefully, checking that he knew nothing of what he and Harry had done the night before.

"You were talking about me?" He asked sitting down, he was well accustomed to talking to Dipsy as he would anyone else. He barely even thought of her as a house-elf.

"Nothing awful, just about Christmas." Severus told him while Dipsy took his breakfast order and left. "Have a nice time in the muggle world last night?"

"I didn't see much of it but it wasn't bad. The restaurant was nice," A bit cheap for Draco's usual taste but it was rude to point that out, especially to your host. He didn't really mind anyway, it was just an observation, Severus seemed to know what he meant anyway. At least Draco thought so by the way the man was looking at him. "We went to a shop after that sold the most bizarre things."

"Such as?" Severus asked, curious to know what kind of shop Harry had dragged Draco into.

"It had toys and sweets, alcohol, cigarettes and then food. It was a weird assortment. There was even things for sex that I've never even heard of before."

"I think I've heard enough." Severus put his hand up to stop Draco before he went any further, lifting his paper, shaking his head behind it.

Seeing that the conversation was over Draco stayed silent, getting himself a glass of juice. He liked Severus - he was never exactly pally with him and hadn't seen him much outside of school, other than the odd times he would come over to see his mother, but he usually stayed out of the way. He'd known him since he was a child though and had always sort of looked up to him, perhaps the same way that he looked up to his mother - they were the only two people he ever saw who didn't bow and scrape to his father.

Until recently he had thought a lot of his father, but even then it was quite cool to see his mother and Snape obviously go against him and laugh at what Draco now realised was Lucius' ridiculous ways and notions. All of his father's other friends hung onto his every word, and thought the world of him... to his face at least. The way Draco's old friends from Slytherin had, but he was well aware that if he stumbled or fell none of them would pick him up... in fact it was more likely that they were the one's who tripped him or would trample him trying to get his position.

Harry wasn't like that though, nor was Snape or Dipsy or Harry's friends. He wasn't sure if he could ever bring himself to like Hermione and Neville; he liked Luna and had done for a while, he felt bad sometimes when he had to pretend otherwise but it was necessary. Lots of things were just necessary... it was changing a bit recently however, and Draco for one really liked it. Hermione and Neville though, well they just weren't really for him, Harry liked them though so that was enough.

Harry wandered into the room, yawning loudly and sat opposite Draco, in his usual seat. He scratched his absolute mess of hair and rested his head on his hand tiredly. Draco smiled at Harry's indifference to his appearance.

His smile dropped however when he saw Harry's neck. He bit his lip anxiously and looked over to Severus; a large purple love bite that he'd left last night was plainly visible to anyone who looked, Harry obviously hadn't looked in a mirror that morning.

"It's a bit cold," Draco said suddenly. "Maybe you should put on a scarf or a jacket or something, Harry."

Harry stared at Draco, clearly thinking the statement was weird. "Why would I do that?" He asked. Draco gestured discreetly to his neck, not that Harry understood what he was doing at all.

"If you're cold I can turn the heating up." Severus said, looking at Draco over his paper.

"I'm not cold," Draco said slowly, hoping to keep Severus' eyes on him. "But Harry's only wearing pyjamas, he should probably put something warmer on," Draco said, nudging Harry's leg under the table. "Or fix his hair in the mirror." He exaggerated the word, but still Harry just gave him a blank look, wondering why exactly Draco was being so strange that morning.

Severus could tell something was going on and looked over to Harry, breaking eye contact with Draco. The hickey immediately drew his attention, his cheeks flushed slightly, not at all wanting to know what they got up to last night.

As though sensing the situation Dipsy popped in.

"I'm fine, not cold at all," Harry said, still trying to wrap his head around everything. Dipsy couldn't keep her eyes off his neck as she placed Draco's plate on the table. "Why do you want me to put a scarf on?" He asked, thoroughly confused.

"Probably because you've got a massive..." Dipsy was cut off by Snape's hand covering her mouth. He sighed loudly.

"Draco, Harry doesn't need a scarf nor is he too cold. Harry, you're an oblivious idiot, who should look in the mirror before coming to breakfast. Dipsy, please get Harry something to eat. Now, I'm going to sit here and enjoy my paper in silence, without discussing what you two hormonal dunderheads get up to while I'm not around." Severus said, putting a sudden end to everything. He didn't want to know anything about Harry's love life, and listening to him try and awkwardly stammer away the mark on his neck was not something he needed this early in the morning. He picked up his paper again and buried himself in it.

Dipsy took Harry's order while Harry blushed furiously, having been told in a whisper by Dipsy that he had 'one hell of a love bite'.

Chapter Text

Harry stretched awake, rolling over to go back to sleep until he realised what day it was. He leapt up and out of bed, not bothering to check the time. It didn't matter... it was Christmas. His first proper family Christmas!

Grinning widely he sped off down the hall, he wanted to look in at the sitting room before anyone else was up.

It seemed magical to him.

They had all helped to decorate the room. The furniture had been rearranged to allow for the great bushy Christmas tree they had agonised over for hours to make perfect. Dipsy had been the one to put the angel on top, Harry and Draco lifting her up while Severus watched on in disapproval, ready to rush over with a first aid kit.

Luckily it wasn't needed and they managed to get her high enough to put it on top and, slightly clumsily, put her down unscathed. It didn't make Severus' disapproval any less pronounced, though he was certainly impressed that no one broke a neck.

During the night the room had been filled with presents of all shapes, sizes and colours. Four separate piles that signified each person showed an obvious difference.

Harry ran a hand over a ribbon on one of the gifts. It was easy to tell that the largest pile was Draco's but he wasn't sure about the rest; he figured Snape wouldn't have so many presents and was right as he looked at the labels of the few presents on the table next to a chair, he recognised the one he had got for the man himself.

Dipsy and Harry's were arranged on the floor like Draco's and Harry was surprised to find that he had the second most presents. He was less surprised when he noticed most of his said 'from Draco'. He laughed to himself, of course, Draco was very sweet in his own way.

He felt a presence behind him and turned, jumping a little when he found Severus standing in the doorway, a small smile on his face, watching him.

"I haven't opened any." Harry assured him anxiously.

"I know, it's fine, I just heard you get up and wondered what you were doing."

"Oh, I didn't mean to wake you."

"You didn't, I was in the library. You've done well." He pointed out, looking at Harry's overflowing pile of gifts.

"Yeah." Harry blushed. "Most of them are from Draco."

"I'm sure." Severus smirked. "He's not the only one to have gone overboard on you though." Severus had only meant to get him a few things, but it kept piling up and he didn't know whether Harry would like the things he got him or not, so he was hoping for at least quantity over quality. Harry smiled, he wasn't used to so many people he cared about making a fuss of him, people made a fuss of the Boy-Who-Lived - whether good or bad - but Harry had never really got the same treatment.

"What time is it?"

"Far too early to be waking anyone else up." Severus chuckled at Harry's eagerness before picking up a small delicate box from the top of Harry's pile. It was one of the presents he'd got him, it had been the hardest but he was the most proud of it. "Here. Why don't you open this for now?"

"You're sure?" Harry asked barely above a whisper, he was so excited.

"I won't tell anyone."

Harry tore the paper off quickly with shaking hands. There seemed something extra special about opening it before anyone else and it just being the two of them. He couldn't wait until everyone was up and things really started, but their gentle quiet moment was what he really wanted for now.

He opened the little box, a silver locket shaped like a book looked up at him. He lifted it confused, he wasn't really one for jewellery. Opening the locket he found a picture of his mother on one side and his father on the other, he stared at it for a minute unable to say how pleased he was.

"Now open it the other way." Severus said, growing more nervous at Harry's silence.

Harry did so, and found instead of his mother and father there was now a picture of Severus and, on the other side, of Dipsy. Without really knowing why he laughed, tears rolling down his face. He was glad he'd been allowed to open it now, doing this in front of the others would have been embarrassing.

Severus stared at Harry alarmed, he hadn't meant for him to cry. It didn't seem like a bad cry though. Still he found himself pulling an unsuspecting Harry into his arms softly. Holding him close and giving his shoulders a squeeze.

Harry was shocked. He'd had hugs from Snape before, quick ones that he understood perfectly... Severus wanted to show his affection but he wasn't really sure how. Now however he was on autopilot, he wasn't stopping to think, just hugging him.

They stayed quietly holding each other for a few moments as Harry's tears stopped, Severus started to feel a few himself. They pulled back and Harry looked up.

"Will you... erm... put it on me?"

"Of course." Harry lifted his hair while Severus did the necklace up for him.

He looked in the mirror to see what it looked like, it couldn't be seen under his shirt which he liked, it made it secret and special. He pulled it out though and felt tears pricking his eyes again.

He laughed at himself and rubbed them away. "I'm being ridiculous. It's a really nice present."

"I'm glad you like it." Severus told him again, not thinking before he kissed the top of Harry's head. He tensed waiting for Harry's response, which was to lean in closer, holding his locket tightly as though he were giving everyone in it a hug. "I'm going to the library, you can come too if you like."

"I'll stay." Harry said, wanting to be alone for a few minutes before he went to see if Draco was awake.

* * *

"Mother!" Draco greeted in surprise as the floo in his room flared up and he could see her smiling back at him. He climbed out of bed, putting his slippers on and shuffling over to her. He knelt down. "Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas, Draco." She said, she was smiling but her eyes were sad and Draco could tell she wasn't herself.

"Are you going to put father on?" He asked - as much as he didn't like him half the time he couldn't necessarily say he hated him, and he honestly did want to wish him a Merry Christmas.

"He's in a meeting." She told him and he understood why she was so sad. His father wouldn't take a business meeting on Christmas Day, so that meant it was with the Dark Lord.

"That's fine. I'll probably have to go soon anyway." Draco said trying to change subject, his mother caught on.

"How is Seth? And Severus and Dipsy? You'll send them my love, won't you?"

"Of course, they're fine. Great actually. I've never seen Severus so happy. Dipsy is her usual self and Seth is..." He smiled trying to find a word, his mother laughed knowingly.

"That good? Well, I'm glad you've finally found someone, and at least Severus' son is likely to have some sense. Especially as you're getting older." She said morosely. "Old enough to make your own decisions." She told him in a way he felt seemed important. "You know that, don't you?"

"Yes, of course."

"Even if you think people won't approve, you should do what's best for you. It's your life, Dragon."

"I know." He said slightly stunned, he had no idea what to say. She hadn't called him 'Dragon' in a long time. It all felt so meaningful and cryptic, but before he could ask anything she sighed.

"I'm going to have to go. Just remember, you come first. Goodbye and Merry Christmas, Dragon."

"Bye mom." Draco muttered as she left. It was unlike his mother to not just get to the point, but then it was also very unlike his mother to floo unannounced, even if he was her son.

He sat on the floor for a while staring into the fire as though she might just come back.

Someone knocked on his door before entering quietly.

"I thought I heard you up." Harry said. "What are you doing down there?"

Draco wavered, about to lie, but shook away the thought. Harry wasn't like the others. "Mother flooed to wish me a Happy Christmas. Merry Christmas, by the way."

"Merry Christmas. That's nice of her." He decided not to ask if his father had.

"She sends her love as well. Is it time to get up?"

"I think so. Severus it awake. I don't know about Dipsy."

* * *

Dipsy was busy in the kitchen, preparing the turkey and all the trimmings as she did every year. Although this year's turkey was much larger than their usual. Bigger than the four of them really needed, but leftovers were always welcome.

She looked around - everything was perfect! Well no, the kitchen was a complete mess and she herself was smeared with flour and all sorts, but otherwise everything was ready. Either in the oven or waiting to go in once the rest was done. She sighed blissfully and looked at the time, she was earlier than she'd thought.

With a proud smile she clicked her fingers, the mess was cleared away at once, dirty bowls and cutlery cleaned and jumping into the proper cupboards and drawers. She was cleaned up too, and a Christmas jumped put on instead of her previous, less festive, boring blue jumper.

She skipped up the stairs two at a time, bumping into Harry and Draco out in the corridor.

"We were just talking about you." Harry said amiably.

"Wondering if you were awake." Draco added, he knew that most elves took it as a bad sign if they were being talked about. It was an elves job to do their duties largely unnoticed.

Dipsy wasn't bothered though.

"Presents are in the sitting room." She said. "I'll get master."

"He's in the library." Harry said as he and Draco made their way up the hall.

"I know." She called back.

* * *

Soon they had all been corralled into the sitting room and directed to their presents.

"Is there a reason we couldn't have done this after breakfast?" Severus asked, his stomach growling. He wasn't that bothered about presents as he usually only got a few, this year he had got the most in a long time, if ever.

"Are you telling me you could actually sit down and eat, knowing in the next room there are presents for you?" Draco asked in disbelief, making a valiant effort to get through all of his presents before next Christmas.

"You know what? I really believe I could." Severus muttered picking up a present and squinting at it as though he didn't believe his eyes. "Why is Granger sending me presents?"

"She never told me she was sending you one." Harry said looking up, Draco caught the chocolate frog that had tried to get away while Harry was distracted. He handed it back to Harry, who popped it in his mouth quickly so it couldn't run away again. "It'll be a diary." He said, mouth full.

Severus unwrapped it, finding that Harry was right and it was indeed a black leather bound diary.

"She gives everyone diaries and planners." Harry said swallowing. "She isn't going to let a little thing like a war get between her and her NEWTs."

Draco snorted, but he could understand where Hermione was coming from, he was very proud of his school work and spent a lot of time and effort on it.

"That's... thoughtful of her." Severus said, still slightly uncomfortable but making a mental note to thank her when she came for New Year.

Dipsy gave him an approving smile as she thrust a bag at him so he could throw the wrapping paper away. She knew the man wasn't sure what to make of anyone being nice to him when he wasn't expecting it, but he was trying to be less closed off recently.

It didn't take long for Dipsy and Severus to open all their presents, but much to Severus' chagrin Dipsy had banned anyone from leaving the room until they were all done, so he couldn't wander off and get something to eat while Harry and Draco got through their stuff. He didn't mind so much though... he had never felt more like a father than sitting with a coffee, watching Harry kneel on the floor unwrapping presents with a wide grin.

Seeing Harry beam like that he knew he couldn't really complain. He noticed as well that Harry occasionally touched the locket next to his heart, barely realising he was doing so. He was glad that at least one gift had gone down well, though Harry had seemed pleased with the others. Then again he'd pretended to like the book for his birthday and apparently that hadn't been good.

He could see Draco glancing at Harry often, Severus smiled amused when he realised the boy was thinking the same as him, in that he was worried Harry wouldn't like something he'd brought him. It seemed Draco had also gone for quantity over quality too. Or maybe he just really thought that was a normal amount of presents to give someone, Severus wouldn't be shocked - it wasn't a secret that Draco was spoiled.

It was nice that Harry could be for a change.

He turned his attention back to Dipsy who had also turned into a child as soon as she saw presents. Hers were all open and she was excitedly going through them. Wrapped from nearly head to toe in the long scarf Narcissa had brought her.

"Is there any chance of you finishing some time today?" Severus asked. Everyone was finished except Draco, who was now handicapped by Harry clinging to his back.

"There's not many left," Draco shrugged, not rushing at all. "Maybe you'd get more if you weren't so rude." He said under his breath, making Harry chuckle.

Dipsy slapped Severus' knee. "Don't be a Scrooge."

Severus sighed in defeat, it was hardly his fault it was so boring, he'd been sitting there for two hours with nothing to do.

* * *

Eventually they were all done and enjoying a late breakfast of sausage sandwiches. Still in the sitting room in pyjamas, all but Severus still sat on the floor, with Harry and Draco together under a blanket to keep warm and Dipsy still enjoying her scarf.

After breakfast Dipsy went to continue sorting out everything in the kitchen. No one was really sure what she was doing but were warned by Severus that when Dipsy was in a cooking mood it was best not to ask or disturb her.

They sat around, a little bored until Harry suggested a game of cards.

"Didn't you get a pack?" Harry asked Draco, who nodded and looked around for them.

Harry hunted the deck down, it had somehow found its way under the tree along with a few Christmas cards that must have slipped down.

"Here you missed these." He said, passing them to Draco and going over to the table to shuffle the deck.

"It's not more presents is it?" Severus asked in good natured exasperation.

"Not yet." Draco laughed. "Just cards."

He shuffled through them to see if any were important. He saw immediately the one that bore his fathers handwriting. His own name in his fathers cursive scrawl. He shoved it to the bottom of the pile and decided he'd open them later. There was something about the card that looked more like a letter, and the cryptic message his mother had seemed to be trying to convey that morning, that made him not want to open the almost ominous envelope.

He dropped them on the floor and joined Harry and Severus at the table.

They enjoyed a pleasant hour or so losing to Severus' superior card skills before the man went off to read the comic Harry had brought him. He had managed to hide it from Draco, smuggling it out of the room without him seeing or ever being suspicious.

Draco was fed up with cards, not able to concentrate on anything but the letter. Still Harry wanted to play so he humoured him for a while.

At least until Harry realised that he was a little off. He took his anxiety for boredom and offered to do something else instead. Neither of them had any ideas though, so they just sat and talked for a while, Harry building a spectacular house out of cards.

Their late breakfast proved to have been a good idea and lunch passed everyone by easily.

Harry, the only one who had eaten since breakfast, still stuffing his face with all manner of sweets he'd been given. Draco rested his head on his hand, watching Harry digging through his Bertie Bott's, aiming for one that wasn't going to make him vomit.

"What?" Harry asked, looking at the way Draco was staring at him, a small smile on his face slightly distorted by the way he was leaning.

"You're just cute."

"You're cute too." Harry grinned back.

"I think that's enough of that," Severus said, wandering in with mock disgust at the barely romantic display. "Dipsy wants us." He said when they didn't move he added. "Dinner's ready."

They jumped up instantly, very excited. It was the best part of Christmas after all.

It was the only part Draco had not done anything about. He trusted Dipsy - and even if he didn't he thought Harry would enjoy Christmas more if his boyfriend was actually alive for it, so he wasn't going to question Dipsy's culinary skills.

He was right not to question her, not only because it was all but a death sentence but because she was an exceptional cook like most house-elves, and had made one of the most delicious meals Harry or Draco had ever tasted. Even Severus noticed that she had put a lot more effort into it now that it wasn't just the two of them.

Not that that meant she had ever skimped before.

Though it didn't seem as though Severus noticed anything about the food, as he didn't seem to care about any of it but the cranberry sauce that he sought out as soon as they all entered the dining-room. No one else wanted any, so in addition to the same dinner as everyone else Severus also polished off a tin of cranberry sauce by himself.

Harry was loathe to leave any of his food but was full from the sheer amount of sweets he'd indulged in. Still he ate a fair amount and didn't seem at all bothered knowing that the food would taste just as good the next day.

Draco and Dipsy had the most each having much more than seconds.

"That was delicious." Draco said, truthfully as well as politely. At once everyone agreed.

"Really good."

"Marvellous."

"Oh, stop." Dipsy said bashfully but smiled and leant forwards in a way that said 'go on'.

* * *

The day ended enjoyably in the living-room, introducing Draco to television.

"I thought muggles didn't have moving pictures."

"It's not really a moving picture." Harry said, unsure how to explain when he himself wasn't quite sure how it worked.

"Oh... so how do they get the people so small?" He asked, thinking the only other logical explanation was that it was tiny people placed inside the TV.

Harry laughed. "No, it's more like..."

He began explaining, being joined by Severus a short while later who was much better at getting to the point than Harry was.

They ended the night happily in each others company. Harry and Draco cuddled up on the sofa next to Severus and Dipsy.

* * *

The letter had completely slipped from Draco's mind at some point between dinner and the amazing muggle contraption - he was beginning to understand Arthur Weasley's fascination with the ingenious things they came up with.

Dipsy had fallen asleep resting her head on Severus' knees effectively stopping the man from being able to move. Later they were all barely keeping their eyes open as the blue light from the TV lit up the dark room and flashed across their eyes, so they all retired to bed.

Dipsy wasn't to be roused however and so Severus lifted her and took her to her room. Harry and Draco shared a sweet, tired goodnight kiss, and went to their separate rooms.

Dipsy had moved all of their things to their rooms and seeing that Draco hadn't opened all his cards put them on his bed so he didn't forget. He sighed remembering the letter. He supposed he should read it, it was probably important.

He tossed the others onto the floor and sat in his bed to scan through the letter. His eyes widening at the words.

Chapter Text

Draco,

It is a shame you decided not to come home for the holidays, your mother and I were very disappointed to not be able to spend it with you and watch you open your presents as usual. However we have one last present to give you that will necessitate you coming home, but I am confident that you will be just as ecstatic about it as we are.

I have managed to get you council with the Dark Lord, which as I'm sure you know is a difficult thing to do. He believes, as do I, that you would make a great asset and will flourish as one of his loyal followers. If you work hard I am sure you will even eventually be able to join his loyal inner circle, as I have.

He wants you, and a select few others, to receive his Mark during the holidays. If it is not done soon, the next opportunity will not be until over the summer, and He wishes to induct you as soon as possible - I'm sure you feel the same too.

This will, of course, be very good for you, but also remember that it will be good for your Mother and I also, as well as the Malfoy name as a whole. We are, naturally, very proud of you but you are growing up and you need to make more mature decisions as well; this will not only help you in your future, but boost you to new levels of greatness. Making the kind of connections this will facilitate will be of great use to you once you leave school and take your place in society.

The ceremony will take place on the 28th. I will, of course, expect your arrival on the morning of the 28th, but I will expect a letter in return, confirming my letter found you well.

I know your Mother is looking forward to seeing you again, she always misses you dearly when you are away, as do I.

I will end this letter now as it is getting quite long, but I wanted to make sure you were completely informed of the situation and had all the information you needed. I will see you soon, and hopefully when you leave for school again you will have joined the ranks.

Your Father, Lucius Malfoy

* * *

Draco stared at the letter, he didn't know what to think. He always dismissed most of what his father said as a pack of well-crafted lies, but there was usually some truth in it and this wasn't something he'd lie - or even exaggerate - about. The parchment shook as his hand trembled and he wondered what he was going to do.

He looked down at the pale, unblemished skin of his left arm and crunched the letter in his fist as he imagined it ruined with moving black ink.

He couldn't do it. He wouldn't go. His father didn't know where to find him and surely his mother wouldn't tell.

His mother... he thought about what she had said to him. She knew he was getting this letter and she hadn't told him. Well not really, she had alluded to something but he'd had no idea what. He had known this was going to happen sooner or later, although he had hoped not at all and definitely not at Christmas.

She had told him to do what was best for him, that it was his life. He threw the crumpled letter onto the floor, kicking it under the bed as he climbed in and lay down with no signs of sleeping, his earlier exhaustion forgotten.

His life? He thought. Was it really? Had it ever been? Could it be? Not if he took the Mark! He'd be giving up his life, whatever there was left. He smiled in the darkness, Harry, there was always Harry, but... he frowned. He'd be giving up Harry too, even Harry wouldn't be able to overlook the Mark, even if he explained. But he'd be giving up his parents lives if he said no.

Voldemort would surely kill them. His mother was no part of this, but that wouldn't stop Voldemort or his followers, and his father would certainly die.

Neither were attractive thoughts, he didn't want anyone to get hurt. He didn't want to let down his parents, but he also didn't want to add to the long list of people who had already let Harry down.

It wasn't fair that he was faced with a choice like this. He didn't want to chose whose life he was going to ruin when the only certainty was that one of them would be his.

It was a terrible ending to an otherwise thoroughly lovely day.

Everyone else slept well after the festivities and good food, only Draco still lay awake, unable to sleep as he tried to wrap his mind around what he could do. He didn't fall asleep until hours after reading the letter, the house was silent and the sun was beginning to creep up slowly by the time he actually managed to rest.

* * *

Harry woke up late but bright, bounding out of bed happily and going to breakfast - he was sure everyone else would have already eaten but enjoyed having just Dipsy for company and listening to a few of her stories. She had some really great stories, funny ones of Severus or the elves at the school, or more gossipy ones of things she had seen students, and even teachers, up to. Elves really could get everywhere, and no one seemed to pay them any mind.

Harry vowed to check every room in the school thoroughly before talking or doing anything with anyone from now on, however.

After breakfast Dipsy left to clear up and Harry decided to look around for Draco.

He looked in on the living-room wondering if Draco might have been in there mooning over the TV but it was only Severus alone, lounging on the sofa with a thick potions tome.

"You don't know where Draco is, do you?" He asked, hovering in the doorway.

Severus thought for a second before answering. "No, I haven't seen him. Why?"

"Just want to find him, he said he wanted to do some flying today. Did he say anything at breakfast? That he was going out without me?"

"He wasn't at breakfast." Severus answered casually. He didn't seem to think much of this remark but Harry was taken aback by it.

"Did you sleep in?!" Harry asked, thinking it was the only explanation.

"Never. He's probably in his room."

"Draco's always awake before me," Harry said seriously. "Without exception."

Severus chuckled. "Well it was a long day yesterday, he's probably having a lie in. I can't blame him."

"Hmm..." Harry hummed non-committally. He knew Draco well. They had been sharing a dorm since the beginning of term and he knew all the boys sleeping habits, you just learnt them when you had to share for so long. He could still recall all the Gryffindor boys habits and sometimes woke up confused as to why it sounded different, but had easily settled down to the strange new sounds and pinned them to each person.

He decided it was a waste of time to argue. Severus' logic wasn't wrong, but Harry knew Draco, and knew that that kind of logic didn't apply here so he left in search of him again.

Fortunately it didn't take long since as Harry made his way to Draco's room, Draco walked out. Harry studied him carefully.

He was sure to anyone else Draco looked his normal, immaculate self but there were certain things that didn't look right. His hair while it was slicked back and tied with a ribbon that, of course, matched his outfit it wasn't impeccable, and stray hairs stuck up. His clothes were the same as usual but less care had been taken putting them on and so were wrinkled in places. It was only small things but to Harry it meant everything.

Something was wrong with Draco. He'd thought there might be when they had been playing cards the day before, but Draco had assured him he was fine; he'd taken it to mean he was just bored, so had moved them on to something else, but even then he had felt there was something not quite right. Whatever it was had seemed to go away though around dinner, now apparently it was once again rearing it's ugly head.

He wondered what it was but wasn't sure how to go about asking.

Draco was a Slytherin and he didn't like sharing things. Harry wondered about telling Severus, maybe Draco would feel better talking to another Slytherin about it. Or perhaps the Gryffindor method of just charging straight in and asking would be better - Draco didn't usually respond badly to him doing that.

He didn't know, all he knew was something was bothering Draco, he didn't like it and he wasn't going to just leave it.

Chapter Text

Harry decided to be direct; they were almost adults, surely they could have a calm conversation about whatever it was, and Draco knew he could always talk to him, didn't he? "What's wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong." Draco said too quickly, not quite meeting Harry's eye.

"I'm not blind Draco, there's obviously something you're not telling me. You've been off since yesterday."

"I told you, I'm fine. What more do you want?" He asked, starting to wander down the hall to the dining-room, Harry caught his hand and held him in place.

"You slept in, your hair and clothes aren't right. I can tell something's up, why won't you just tell me? You know how much I care about you, you don't have to hide things."

Draco's face darkened, he had tried so hard to look fine, and had been sure no one would notice, so now that Harry had put his finger directly on what he had hoped so desperately no one would see he was starting to panic. Harry still didn't know what was going on but Draco was sure it was just a matter of time with all this prying.

"I know, for Merlin's sake Harry. Nothing's wrong!" He tried to sound easy but knew he had failed, he didn't want his last day with Harry to be a bad one.

"If nothing was wrong you wouldn't be getting so defensive about it."

"I would because you're pestering me. Can't you just leave well enough alone?"

"Is it me?"

"What?"

"Have I done something to upset you? Whatever it was I didn't mean it, just please tell me."

Again Draco felt like punching the wall but he knew better than to do that, and had no desire to escalate the argument further and make anyone else come to see what was happening. It bothered him that Harry was blaming himself when it wasn't his fault at all, and the obvious anxiety in his boyfriend's face made him want to cry.

"Not everything is about you, you know. I know things are usually about the Golden Boy but my life doesn't just revolve around you and what you do."

Harry turned around sharply, tears in his eyes, it had been such a nice time, why was all of this happening? Why wouldn't Draco just tell him what was wrong? He was sure he hadn't done anything.

He opened his door to storm into his bedroom before something clicked in his mind at hearing a small pained, but almost relieved, sigh come from behind him. He swung back round, letting his door close behind him, facing Draco angrily.

"No! You know what? I'm not going to let you push me away. Not like you do to everyone else. Just talk to me."

"I would if there was anything to talk about."

"There obviously is and we both know it, so why don't you just say it and then we can sort it out." And go back to being happy Harry thought hopefully.

"Sort it out? Do you really think you can just sort out every problem? There is no solution. But fine, if you really want to know, my father sent me a letter to tell me that in two days time I have to go back home to get the Dark Mark; if I don't the Dark Lord will almost certainly kill my parents, and if I do I will have to give up what little life I have left and you. Happy now? Where's your solution for that?"

Harry stared taken aback, of all the things he'd thought could have been wrong, he had never imagined that. He tried to speak but words failed him. There wasn't a right thing to say or even enough words.

"Draco." He said softly, it seemed to be all he could manage as he placed a hand on Draco's shoulder.

Draco shook it off. "I don't want your pity, but at least you can see how hopeless the situation is and how pointless all of this was."

"It's not pity, I'm upset because I care about you and you're hurting. Why do you always have to assume everyone's out to get you?"

"Because they usually are." Draco snapped and turned to leave.

"Not me," Harry said quietly, stalling the other boy as he reached for the doorknob. "Or Severus. If we tell him I'm sure he'll be able to help, to do something."

"You don't understand." Draco scoffed and slumped back into his room. "I want to be alone." He said - he didn't sound angry any more, just defeated, and honestly that hurt far more than if he had been screaming with rage.

Harry hovered in the corridor shaking with a sudden mix of emotions - anger that someone he loved was going through this, and that that person was being so annoying and obstinate about it, confusion as he tried to wrap his mind around how anyone could do that to their son. Even if it was Lucius Harry really hadn't expected this, his heart ached for Draco even if he was slightly mad at him, but mixed in with it all though was a small amount of hope that was Severus. He truly believed the man could do something.

* * *

Dipsy popped into the living room. She had, as she often did, been listening in on the goings on of the Manor and so now she was sure that Harry was going to go and find at least some comfort in Severus' company, and felt compelled to tell the man.

"Harry's going to come in in a minute. He and Draco have had a row. Whatever you do, try and not be yourself." She popped out again, giving no more information. She, of course, knew well what it was all about and trusted Severus to do the right thing if Harry told him, but it wasn't her thing to tell, only Draco or Harry could do that and she didn't believe there was any need for her to interfere... Not yet.

Severus stared at where the elf had been and tried to prepare himself for what he guessed would be petty teenage drama, but when Harry walked in looking so grave he could tell something was really wrong.

"I told you something was wrong with Draco," Harry began, unsure where else to start. "Lucius," Severus sat up as soon as he heard the name, most bad things could be traced back to Lucius Malfoy. "Has set up for Draco to get the Mark. He sent him a letter to tell him yesterday."

Severus' face softened when he saw Harry looking so downcast, and he could only imagine what it must feel like to Draco. He put his book down immediately and gestured for Harry to sit by him, which he did.

"I take it Draco doesn't want to get it?"

"Of course he doesn't!" Harry exclaimed, then sighed and looked down. "He will though, he thinks Voldemort," Severus winced but said nothing. "Will kill his parents if he doesn't."

"He probably will." Severus replied evenly, Harry stared at him wondering how he could be so calm.

"Narcissa's your friend!"

"I know, but things aren't as simple as all that Harry." He said softly, trying to calm the boy. "She is my friend and it would upset me to lose her, but this is a war and I know that not only would she do anything for Draco, but also anything to end this war early. I want to help Harry but I'm a spy, it puts me in a very difficult position."

"No, it puts you in a great position to get them out." Harry argued.

"The risk isn't worth the valuable information it would mean giving up if I were caught."

"You don't know you'd be caught, and even if you are it's just information. We could get it from somewhere else or someone else."

"It would also mean that, while you aren't technically 'Harry' any more, you'd be targeted by Deatheaters for being my son if I were discovered; right now they either don't know about you or aren't interested in recruiting you."

"But you could be caught at anytime."

"All the more reason not to push my luck."

"So you're just going to let them die, or let Draco sacrifice himself?"

"What else would you have me do?"

"Hide them, bring them here and hide them, Vo... the Dark Lord can't get here, and there's enough room. You're just choosing to do nothing. Both of you are quitting before you've even tried!" He stood up and stomped out. "And don't bother telling me I don't understand, Draco already has."

Severus sighed, rubbing his temples. He knew Harry was right but he couldn't do anything. Could he? Harry seemed to believe he could. He had a lot of faith in him. He couldn't fathom why.

"What did I say?" Dipsy asked fiercely, he looked up wearily, pain shooting through his head. "I said don't be yourself, now Harry's off crying in the garden."

"I'll go and talk to him," He said getting up, Dipsy pushed him back down. "I won't make it worse." He promised.

She didn't look particularly believing, however she let him go.

* * *

"Harry." Severus began, pretending to not see the way Harry wiped his eyes quickly before turning around.

"What?" He asked trying to sound like he was okay, even though they both knew he wasn't.

"I know I seemed a little abrasive."

"A little?!"

"Okay, very abrasive. Sometimes it's difficult to remember that it's not been decades for everyone, and it's hard to get out of that mindset. Of course I want to save them and I'm willing to look into it, but we only have two days and I can't promise anything."

"That's okay," Harry said, leaning into Severus' chest - Severus awkwardly put an arm around him, patting his back. "You will try though?"

"Of course. First we'll need to talk to Draco, and you need to remember that Lucius may not want saving."

"If the Dark Lord's snapping at his heels, he will."

Chapter Text

"I said I want to be alone!" Draco snapped opening his door to Severus, who was knocking on it. "Oh, sir. Sorry." He said solemnly.

"Can we come in?"

Draco nodded and moved out of the way; Severus and Harry entered the room, Severus pulled up the chair from the desk, while Harry and Draco sat on the bed. Draco eyed them both nervously. He didn't know what was going to happen, or what Harry had told Snape.

Severus decided to clear the air immediately. "Harry told me about your father's 'Christmas present'." He said bitterly, he really hated Lucius sometimes... usually in fact. It was a wonder that Draco grew up as sane as he did, or would be a wonder unless you knew Narcissa.

"We think we've got a plan." Harry told him, Draco didn't want to hope, and so decided to hold off until he found out about everything. Surely they couldn't have.

"Not quite," Severus said calmly. "We think bringing them here would be best. They could hide here and, of course, that would mean that you would too - you couldn't go back to school with the other Slytherins. I suppose you aren't the only one who's supposed to be getting the mark during the holidays."

"No, father said there would be others. I think it's all supposed to happen on the same day. The 28th."

"That could help, he'd probably call all his Deatheaters."

"So you could be there without it being suspicious." Harry said eagerly.

"Yes, I'd be able to find out what's happening, but I think we should get them out before the place is swarming with people." Severus said, tapping his finger on his lip. "It won't be too difficult to get them out but we'll need to cover our tracks, that means not taking the floo - I'll have to take Dipsy so she can bring them here."

"She'll have to be disguised." Draco said at once, Harry laughed.

"As what?" He imagined her in stilts and a long coat but he doubted that was what anyone was suggesting.

"As a normal elf. That's fine, we can dig her something out." Severus said coolly, their plan seemed fairly smooth "I'll send her with a letter today, no one will notice her. She can give it to Narcissa and explain what we have in mind. We'll go tomorrow night."

"What are we going to do afterwards? If you manage to get them here." Draco asked, worrying his lip between his teeth.

"We could ask Dumbledore and the Order for help?" Harry suggested but Severus shook his head, standing suddenly to pace.

"Albus wouldn't help one Malfoy let alone three, he only offered to help me save your mother because I pleaded with him on bended knee. He's not pleased with us anyway because of our bonding." He stalked up and down the room restlessly.

"He didn't know about it?" Draco asked shocked, he hadn't pried about the bonding because it made Harry bristle whenever he mentioned it - or how he and Severus had even got close enough to bond - but he had assumed that it was forced on them both, and they had discovered that they liked each other. Finding out they did it behind the Headmaster's back was a bit of shock.

"No, and it seems to have upset his plans. This, however, is a conversation for another day."

"Okay, is that it then? That's how you'll get them? What if my father refuses to come?"

"That's why we'll tackle your mother first, I'm sure she will get him moving." Severus said with a sigh. "I'll need to brief Dipsy."

"No need." She said popping in, making everyone jump.

"I wish you wouldn't do that. But good, fine, you'll sort out an appropriate house-elf outfit while I mull over what's going to happen. I'm hoping to do this completely secretly but I'll prepare for a fight in case something goes wrong." Dipsy nodded. Harry and Draco looked worriedly at each other, there was something about Severus' voice that made them feel like they really were at war. It hadn't really hit either of them yet just how real this all was.

"It shouldn't of course, if everything goes as it should I shouldn't even be there when they leave. We'll think of what will happen afterwards. Even from the 28th there is a while before school, enough time to sort it all out and whether you'll be going back or rather who, if anyone, will be going back. We're all perfectly safe here, the Manor is under very strong wards and protection spells, it also can't be found unless someone is brought here by either, Harry, Dipsy or I and no one has this floo so try not to worry too much."

Harry and Draco nodded as Severus and Dipsy left to discuss the finer details of the plan but they did worry. Though neither of them wanted to talk about it, or even really knew how to bring it up, they both thought about it and were restless.

"Why don't we go to the garden?" Harry offered after a long pause, he wanted to at least try and take Draco's mind off everything. "Fly like we had planned. It'll be fun." He gave him a nudge. "My broom's outside already, grab yours and we can go straight out."

Almost as if on autopilot Draco stood and grabbed his black firebolt from the corner of the room. He had lots of things weighing on his mind but there was only one thing he could clear up right then.

He touched Harry's shoulder gently as they made their way to the garden. "Harry." He began. "I'm... sorry, I shouldn't have said what I said. I should've told you."

"It's okay." Harry shrugged amiably.

"No, it's not. I was trying to push you away and I shouldn't have. If it wasn't for you I'd be brooding in my room with no way out of an awful situation. Thanks." He slipped a hand around Harry's waist pulling him into an awkward half hug. Harry laughed and took the broom off him, dropping it on the floor and returning the hug properly.

"You're so cute."

"I'm not cute." Draco grumbled, picking his broom back up and glaring at Harry, not that he could ever stay mad at him for long. "I'm just sorry, now come on." He stomped out into the garden.

"So cute." Harry said under his breath, jogging to follow him.

It didn't keep their minds off everything for long, but for a few sweet hours they could just be. Secure in the knowledge that Severus and Dipsy were going to help them and that they still had some time.

* * *

"What do you think?" Dipsy asked striking a pose for Severus, who cast a critical eye over her.

"Perfect. Where did you find it?" He asked, wrinkling his nose at the stained rags draped over Dipsy and pinned into place.

"Mothers old one." She sneered plucking at it, Severus nodded but wisely said nothing, busy poring over his note to Narcissa anyway, putting final touches on it. "Elves aren't allowed clothes, but you'd think she could have washed it."

"Perhaps it's fortunate for us that she didn't," He said, handing her the finalised note. "Time for your good little house-elf routine."

"I am a good house-elf." She snapped playfully, snatching the parchment. "Master." She added as an after thought.

"Amazing." He rolled his eyes; he knew she could play up being a normal house-elf, she did it sometimes to spy on people, or more recently to put Harry and some of the others at ease. "I'm fairly certain part of being a good house-elf is not obviously reading messages that aren't for you." He said firmly as she wasn't even trying to hide her nosiness, she just shrugged and put it into one of the rag folds, he winced at the thought of anyone touching it after that.

"I'll go now then?" She asked, popping out before he could even answer.

He sat down, the plan was fool proof, everything would be fine. He was certain... as certain as he could be anyway. No one would suspect him - he hoped no one at the school knew where Draco was staying but he could just deny it if they did. If anyone said Draco had stayed with Seth he could just claim they were lying, or that Draco had been lying.

None of them would be going back to the school. Dumbledore wouldn't like it but he wasn't even sure if he was on Dumbledore's side any more. He had always been the lesser of the two evils but he had never been the hero. That was Harry, or it was supposed to be.

He rubbed his head uncomfortably. The whole situation was enough to make him sick. He had bigger more pressing problems right now anyway, like Narcissa and Lucius.

He wondered how long Dipsy would take.

* * *

She wandered the never-ending corridors of Malfoy Manor, keeping her eyes out for Narcissa. One of the many doors had the shrill cackle of Bellatrix behind it, she steered clear of that room, only too well aware that the lunatic thought of elves as sport. She couldn't keep a low profile if she had to murder someone.

Turning one corner Dipsy bumped into two obvious Deatheaters, she didn't know them though, or if she did she couldn't remember them. They looked the type to stalk Knockturn Alley though so she put her head down and tried to scurry past, one of them stopped her however, putting a wide leg in her way.

"What are you doing up here?" He barked, she hunched herself down, imagining several ways she could easily get through him, under normal circumstances, to keep her calm.

"Master called for Gerki." If she was going to be dressed like her mother she might as well just impersonate her, she thought, and if she happened to kick them in the shins and they went looking for any elf with that name... well, that wasn't her fault.

This didn't happen however as Narcissa herself happened to round the corner, coming from the same direction they had. She recognised Dipsy immediately and wondered what on earth she was wearing, and why she was calling herself that.

"Elf," She said, gesturing for her to come. "You've been keeping us all waiting. Come with me." She glared at the men until they moved to let Dipsy, who hung her head in a good approximation of shame, through.

Narcissa lead her to her personal drawing room, rounding on her instantly. "Dipsy," She greeted with a soft, sad smile. "Does this mean Severus isn't far? He hasn't brought Draco has he?" She asked apprehensively.

"About that," She said, searching her rags. "I have a note."

"Why are you dressed like that?" Narcissa asked, accepting the parchment anxiously.

"I'm undercover."

The woman would have laughed if she hadn't already started reading, tears flooding to her eyes so that she almost couldn't understand what any of the words meant. Severus was going to help them? He was going to hide them - her, Draco and Lucius? She could see the first two but she couldn't believe he could actually help Lucius, though she supposed he understood losing the ones you love, and as annoying and stupid as Lucius was she did love him.

"He's going to help us?" She asked, relief evident in her voice.

"We're going to help you, all of us."

Narcissa nodded and took a deep breath, composing herself and taking a moment to reply. "Thank you, and tell Severus we'll be ready and waiting. I'll make sure of it. We'll be in our rooms."

* * *

Narcissa sat delicately at her vanity, brushing out her hair and surreptitiously watching her husband in the mirror, who was also preparing for bed. She hadn't told him that Severus and Dipsy were coming for them tonight and she had no intention of doing so. She had allowed Lucius to dirty the family name enough, it was time she put her foot down.

As Lucius was shucking his dressing gown and kicking off his slippers to climb between the covers she saw him drop face first onto the bed. She smiled in satisfaction and picked up the ornate clock on the vanity, just as Severus and Dipsy popped in.

"Right on time." She said, placing it back down gently.

Severus looked around, noticing Lucius immediately, lying face down on the bed, silk pyjamas half visible from where the dressing gown had been half thrown off, one arm was still firmly through it though. He studied him carefully, noting the slow rise and fall of his back, sighing.

"I thought he was dead." He half laughed, they knew that the silencing spells over the room would ensure their secrecy and with Lucius unconscious there was no way anyone would find them out. At least the chances were slim, they weren't likely to push their luck though.

"Don't be ridiculous." Narcissa tutted, floating down trunks from the wardrobe and miniaturising them, before placing them in her handbag.

"Should I assume he made a fuss?" Severus asked.

"Of course not! I didn't ask him." She shrugged aloofly, tying back her hair, obviously meaning business. Severus chuckled, shaking his head, he never had to wonder why he liked her. "Better to ask for forgiveness than permission." She said simply. "You'll have to take him." She added offhandedly.

Severus sighed and rolled Lucius onto his back before heaving him into a fireman lift, hurling him over his shoulder. Narcissa called her head house-elf and gave him instructions for the Malfoy house-elves to follow them on to the Manor with the most valuable and precious family things. Then she offered her hand to Dipsy, who promptly popped her to Prince Manor.

* * *

Harry and Draco were up waiting for them all. They had complete faith in the plan but were still curled up anxiously together on the sofa in the sitting room. As soon as they heard a crack they knew that Severus was back, Draco stood up suddenly.

"Are they here?" He asked as Severus came in, Lucius draped over his shoulder. "Is he alright?"

Severus nodded. "Just drugged." He puffed, flopping Lucius onto one of the sofas. He looked back at Draco and Harry who were evidently confused. "It wasn't me!" He said defensively, huffing and cracking his back painfully.

Narcissa and Dipsy walked in next, and as soon as Narcissa saw Draco she flew at him. Wrapping her arms around him and forgetting any effort to remain proper, she kissed his cheek and then gave Harry a smile.

"Mother!" Draco blushed, not looking back at Harry or at his mom. "Why have you drugged Father?"

"Because he's an arse," She answered simply, pecking him on the forehead once again. "He'd only have caused a fuss. You should get to bed."

Too dazed to complain Draco disentangled himself from her and wandered off to bed, Harry following, a small smirk on his face. Severus hovered uncomfortably, assuming he would be needed to move Lucius again to bed, before he could offer however Narcissa had rounded on him, apparently it was his turn to have a hug inflicted on him.

It seemed to be all people were doing recently.

"Thank you for saving my son." She said softly into his chest, he put an arm around her shoulder.

"It's quite alright." He answered apprehensively.

"Having a son hasn't turned you soft has it?" She asked, pulling away with a laugh.

"Of course not." He snapped playfully, with a hint of worry that it actually had. "What are we going to do with him in the morning?"

"I'm going to give him his options," She said resolutely, clearly having put some thought into it. "And tell him some home truths. Goodnight Severus." She made to leave the room.

"And what are we going to do with him for tonight?" He asked, she just shrugged.

"Leave him there, he's used to it." She said casually, exiting. Dipsy showed her to her room, and they chatted companionably on the way.

Severus shook his head looking down at Lucius - his home was turning into a mad house. He thought he should at least put a blanket over him or something. He didn't have to do anything in the end however as the Malfoy's elves, who had followed them on, came to sort out their Master.

So Severus retired to bed like everyone else, setting an alarm he was hopeful would wake him before Lucius.

Chapter Text

Lucius woke suddenly, pushing himself upright he was shocked to find himself in unfamiliar surroundings.

“What...? Where in Salazar's name am I?” He asked scanning the room, eyes eventually settling on his wife, sitting serenely nearby. “Narcissa? How did we get here? Someone will pay for this outrage!”

“Oh do shut up, Lucius.” She tutted, he stared at her dazedly. “And close your mouth darling, you look most unbecoming with it hanging open like a simpleton.” She wasn't in the best of moods with him, and this discussion had been coming for a long time.

“I don't understand...” His confusion showing on his face.

“Clearly, dear,” She gave him a small, sympathetic smile. “So let me clear some things up for you.” Narcissa sat forward a little and patted his hand. “I hope I have your full attention?”

Lucius nodded, looking as though he'd recently been Stupefied.

“Good. Now, to answer your questions; we are somewhere safe, and as to how we got here... I arranged it.” Her husband opened his mouth to speak but she held up a hand to stop him. “No, Lucius. I have listened to enough of your nonsense over the years, now I will have my say... and if you interrupt me I will Silencio you." He gulped, Narcissa didn't often get like this but he knew he wouldn't be able to just talk his way out of it. "I have stood by you Lucius, through everything. I have defended and supported you, even lied for you. I have watched while you have dragged our family and our good name through the mud, but enough is enough. Your ancestors, your father, would be ashamed of what you have become! Nothing more than a lackey, crawling at the feet of a power-mad, barely-human half-blood...”

Lucius jumped up, incensed. “I am the Dark Lord's right-hand man, he relies...”

Narcissa pushed him back onto the sofa, standing over him menacingly. Even he wasn't stupid enough to try and get back up again.

“Don't be ridiculous, Lucius! I'm not blind, neither is anyone else. We all know you have fallen out of favour. After the debacle at the Ministry you're lucky to be alive... I saw the state you returned to the Manor in after he freed you, though you tried to hide it. If anyone has the right to call themselves his right-hand man it's Severus, and let us be honest - the Dark Lord's favour is a fickle thing.”

“I was trying to fix our mistakes.” Lucius said, clearly cowed by his wife's home truths.

Your mistakes Lucius. This mess is all thanks to you; you were the one controlled by the promise of power, you're an embarrassment to the Malfoy name.”

“Can't you see, everything I've done I did for you and Draco, for what we stand for...”

“All I can see is terrorists and murderers walking in and out of my home as if they own it! All I can see is my son being dragged down by you and your quest for power. All I can see is the pitiful shell of the man I married.” With every accusation she bore down on him more dangerously, until she gave a small sigh and slid to her knees by his side, eyes softening as she looked at him. “What happened to you Lucius? Malfoy's are the power behind the throne, manipulating things in private while showing our public face to the world. Malfoy's don't crawl for scraps of power at the feet of creatures such as the Dark Lord.”

Lucius looked at his wife as she stood, beautiful, controlled, regal, and wondered - not for the first time - what he had done to deserve such a prize.

She smiled sadly down at him. “I'm sorry it has had to come to this Lucius, but have no doubt, you have a choice to make. If you wish to leave... well, I'm sure that can be arranged, but it will be the end of our family - Draco and I are no longer willing to be second to your Lord. We are safe here, and we are staying. That creature has taken my home, my husband, my family name, my reputation... he will not take my son too!

She nodded to him and swept out of the room. Lucius sat back, dumbstruck.

'So that was what she really thought? That's how she saw him? Was that how everyone saw him?'

* * *

Severus hurried to get dressed and go down to Lucius. When he got to the sitting room though, he heard the distinct voice of Narcissa giving Lucius a severe ticking off; with a smirk he decided to leave it all to her and changed directions, going towards the kitchen instead.

He found Dipsy wandering aimlessly around the corridor and not in the kitchen as she usually was in the morning.

"They've taken over." She said - he knew she meant the elves from Malfoy Manor. They naturally wouldn't agree with her way of doing things, and he knew she wouldn't want to be in there and have to face her mother. "And she's still just as bossy."

"You must have known she was coming," Severus said, leading her back down the hall as they walked together, she couldn't very well spend the whole day hanging around outside the kitchen. "You knew Narcissa said for all of them to come."

"I forgot."

"That she worked there?"

"That she was still alive." Dipsy grumbled morosely, Severus chuckled.

"Charming. I suppose I should see how they're getting on." He nodded to the sitting room, Dipsy looked interested too. As they got up to the door Narcissa was sweeping out. "How did it go?"

"As well as you could expect. He'll probably be sulking for a while." She rolled her eyes, she was sure he'd see sense in the end. "You should talk to him before you leave." She said. None of them knew when that would be, but Severus would obviously have to go for the ceremony, and it would be a good way of seeing what everyone was making of the Malfoy's disappearance.

He nodded and stepped swiftly inside to Lucius, who jumped slightly, having been lost in thought and was shocked to see Severus there too.

"Severus?! What are you doing here?"

"This is my home."

Lucius looked around with derision. "This is your hovel in Spinners End, is it?" He asked warily, feeling a little more like himself.

"You know it's not." Severus snapped. "You've been there."

"It looks similar..."

"This is Prince Manor." Severus growled, regretting saving him at all.

"Oh yes, it's a shame the line died out." Lucius muttered, getting up. "Why am I in the servant's quarters?" He asked imperiously.

"This is my sitting room." Severus said through gritted teeth.

"Of course. I suppose this is what passes for sitting rooms in... other houses." Lucius said, edging towards the door, Severus stepped back with him.

"Well, unfortunately for you, you are fresh out of options. I'm sure Narcissa has made her thoughts on the matter very clear."

"Narcissa and I have discussed it."

"'Discussed' is very diplomatic of you, it sounded more like Narcissa telling you what would happen and you doing as you're told." Severus sneered, amused. "If you want to maintain the little family you have left."

"What would you know about family?" Lucius scoffed. "Or is all of this in aid of that son of yours that has suddenly appeared? What made you sell out our Dark Lord? You can hardly expect me to believe you're hiding us for nothing. One of the Dark Lord's favoured."

"I found something more important." Severus said softly. "Something the Dark Lord could never provide... and it took me a lot longer to find than you would. The people who love you, who were willing to enslave themselves for you and have kept your undeserving head above water for the past however many years are right outside that door. Do you really want to put your son in the position you're in? That we're in? Sending him to the Dark Lord, never knowing if he'll actually come back again. We never know Lucius, when he could just snap."

"I never knew you were so scared." Lucius mocked, but he felt it too. Felt every word that left Snape's lips.

"We're all scared Lucius, he built his entire army out of fear." Severus said sharply, he had never really said how scared he was out loud before, but he was scared and when he looked at Lucius he could see that he was terrified too.

Lucius didn't speak for a few minutes, just staring at Severus silently. Finally he walked towards the door purposefully. "I need to have a word with my wife." Severus nodded and stepped out of the way, he had said all he could - perhaps not all he needed to say, but he supposed it was fine.

* * *

Narcissa was waiting around outside, apparently engaged in conversation with Dipsy. Lucius wrinkled his nose and tried to speak, but she made it clear that she intended to finish her talk first. He resented waiting, especially the indignity of being second to a house-elf but he waited and eventually the elf left.

"If this is what you want, then fine." He nodded curtly and left to find their room - he at least wanted to know what they had brought with them. He wasn't going to parade about Severus' Manor with only his pyjamas on any longer than he had to.



Chapter Text

The morning had been uneventful, Draco and his father had exchanged polite pleasantries but Lucius had been sulking off in his room for most of the time - he had joined them all in the sitting room now, however.

Severus had finally had to leave to go to Malfoy Manor to attend the Deatheater meeting, but before he went he'd given Lucius, who was now fully dressed, some weird cream for his arm to put over his Mark so he wouldn't feel the pull.

Harry coughed awkwardly looking around. They were all sitting uncomfortably in silence. No one was talking, no one really knew what to say and he certainly wasn't going to start a conversation or break the ice. He could barely bring himself to open his mouth.

He was sat worrying about Severus in a room with his boyfriend, who looked just as scared as he did relieved, and his boyfriend's parents, who might not even know they were boyfriends. Narcissa, who he had only met briefly once before, was mostly sitting regally, sipping her tea, she said nothing but occasionally gave both Harry and Draco a soft, motherly, grateful smile.

Lucius, who was mostly responsible for the tenseness in the room, was glaring because things hadn't gone his way. Harry had heard some of the things said in the row the Malfoy's had had that morning and Narcissa had definitely come out on top. So the man sat silently glaring, pissed off and holding a white peacock.

Harry wasn't sure why peacocks had come but he knew they had, and were all in the garden, save for the one Lucius was petting affectionately. Everything had come, as far as Harry knew, the elves as well - they were preparing their Master's rooms, or rather redoing them. Dipsy had already done so of course, but not well enough for the Malfoy elves apparently.

Harry prepared to be Seth again. It wasn't hard to slip back into the role, and if anything it was a blessing, he certainly didn't want to deal with Lucius as Harry. If Lucius knew who Harry really was the man would have cursed him on sight and taken his corpse back to Voldemort.

Harry frowned, 'Why was this man in their house again?'

Dipsy was the one to break the tension; she had put on her new favourite item of clothing, her scarf, and walked in to serve them some more tea and some biscuits. Doing her best impression of a good host.

Lucius tutted while Narcissa smiled, pleased to have the opportunity to chat without it being about something so dire.

"It looks beautiful. I had worried it would be too long." She said at once, lifting the end that dragged along the floor as Dipsy walked, Lucius all but groaned.

"I don't know why you insist on feeding into Severus' foolishness and making her clothes." He muttered to himself, snatching up a cup and peering into the tea with disgust.

"Because our elves wouldn't accept it, and you won't wear anything I knit because you only wear things that are ridiculously expensive." She snapped back, shutting him up effectively.

Harry smirked, hastily smothering it when he saw Lucius narrow his eyes at him. The man stood up and stomped out of the room, no one knew where he was going but no one asked either. Draco just rolled his eyes, shaking his head, wondering what Severus would think when he returned to find the peacocks in his home or how exactly he was going to deal with his fathers nonsense. Lucius was going to have to get used to not being on top any more.

Dipsy and Narcissa took up a conversation about knitting and how much Narcissa had loved it when she was younger, so taking the cue that the awkwardness had mostly subsided Harry and Draco began to talk too.

No one forgot their concerns but for the moment they didn't matter as the sitting room became lively and full of conversation.

* * *

Severus came back not long after. He wanted to shower before going in to the others, it had been a vile meeting and the rituals that accompanied getting the Mark weren't a nice, easy bonding. He stank of brimstone and blood, and wanted nothing more than to be rid of it.

As he made his way to his bathroom he passed the library and, looking in casually to see if anyone was there, he found Lucius reading in one of the high-backed ornate chairs Severus had always felt were too grand, a peacock stalked around, ducking in and out from under the table.

"Why is that bird in my house?!" Severus demanded, his shower forgotten in his anger.

"Being moved has unsettled him." Lucius said simply, seeming bothered to be interrupted by Severus' questions.

Severus raised an eyebrow, wondering if it was possible for Lucius to be projecting onto a bird. "Oh, and you let him inside your house do you?" He asked, crossing his arms.

"Of course not!" Lucius said, scandalised. "Don't be ridiculous! My home it not the place for livestock."

"Neither is mine. Take it outside before I have Dipsy put it on the menu." Severus snapped storming down the corridor; he had no doubt that Lucius would do as he said and if he didn't? Well, he had no trouble carrying out his threat.

Chapter Text

"How did it go?" Narcissa asked, as casually as if she were asking how his brewing was going. A newly clean Severus sighed heavily and sat down.

"Well, with valuable artefacts missing and your rooms left in disarray, they think you're either abducted or dead."

She nodded inclining her head slightly in thought. "And what of Draco?"

"He knows you're alive."

She chuckled but said, "Severus." A warning in her voice.

"They don't know; they believe he's at school, but some of the children said they saw him on the train. The peacocks being missing from the grounds has a few more of the superstitious among the Dark Lord's followers thinking you're all dead." This was mostly due to the fact that the Malfoy's had been cultivating the Legend of the White Malfoy Peacocks since before Lucius had even been born. Absolute rubbish of course, about the peacocks that infested the grounds - as inbred as the people infesting the Manor – and how supposedly, if the peacocks deserted the Manor gardens, the Malfoy line would fall. Though Snape was more inclined to believe that most people thought the legend was true because no sane person would run away with more than a dozen peacocks.

"Good, it's just as well then. I hope you don't mind them being here."

"I'd prefer they weren't wandering my house."

"That's just Abraxus, Lucius will keep an eye on him."

"Abraxus?" Severus asked raising an eyebrow, Narcissa just shook her head and rolled her eyes, the sign of a woman who had long since given up trying to understand anything her husband did. "Wasn't his father called Abraxus? He named his favourite peacock after his father?"

"And doesn't it just explain a lot."

* * *

The transition of the Malfoys becoming a part of the everyday routine for Harry and Severus wasn't as difficult as they had thought. Narcissa had completely made the transition - after just a few days it seemed like she had lived there for months, she always knew their meal times and the way around, she helped out where she could, no room she exited was left in a mess for the elves to attend to if she could do it herself. She fit around them as she was in their home, unlike Lucius who pushed against them constantly.

He never seemed to stop complaining about the things that weren't exactly the same as he was used to. Things were never cleaned to his standard, meal times were always inconvenient and the bathrooms were too far away, nothing was quite right and he made sure everyone knew it.

For the most part Harry stayed out of his way, they hadn't talked at all and neither of them made any move to change that. If they were left in a room together Lucius would awkwardly interrogate Harry about his history, and Harry would inevitably remember somewhere else he needed to be and leave. Severus hadn't sought out Lucius at all, but they were somewhat polite when together - it was really Lucius and Dipsy who butted heads the most.

She had no time for his nonsense - much like Severus - but unlike with Severus, Lucius didn't think she was worth being polite to and so they tended to get caught in arguments. It was often small things, little quips that irked the man or general disrespect from him that Dipsy didn't accept like the other elves he'd encountered did.

"I think I'll pass on the tea, thank you," Lucius said with a sneer, as Dipsy poured out several cups. "It doesn't seem to taste quite... normal." He finished with derision - they all knew 'normal' meant 'expensive'.

"That's odd, we used yours." Dipsy said back, with a mock puzzled expression.

"Must be the water then." He snapped imperiously, while everyone in the room rolled their eyes.

"Don't be so pretentious Lucius, perhaps they just left out the poison I always put in at home." Narcissa suggested with a sly smile. He pouted but bit back a retort, there was never any winning against his wife.

Just little things like that - now for instance he was still sulking from dinner the night before.

* * *

"Where's my dessert?" Lucius asked suddenly, the dinner itself had gone fine that was about to change however. "Your elf has made a mistake," He said, loving the idea of pointing this out and taking her down a peg. "Doesn't she know how to correctly feed more than two people?"

Severus glared at him. "Dipsy doesn't make mistakes," He said coolly. "But I'll ask her. Dipsy?"

"Yes?" she asked respectfully, popping in.

"Where's Lord Malfoy's dessert." The title was said with derision.

"He doesn't get one because he's been rude." Dipsy told them simply, Lucius looked about ready to kill in the background.

"There's your answer."

"What do you mean there's my answer?" He asked Severus shocked, how could he be siding with the insane elf? "Make me one at once!" He growled at her, she didn't even flinch as she glared back at him, folding her arms.

"No, you don't deserve one."

"I have never been so disrespected." He said suddenly rising to his feet, everyone looked a little nervous. Harry pulled back slightly though the man was not close to him, Severus caught his eye checking him quickly, he gave him a sure smile so he relaxed. Draco was looking over his food only occasionally flicking his eyes up to look at Dipsy, but never at his father. Narcissa looked calm but obviously bothered by Lucius' demeanour. Dipsy was the most serene. "You do as I say elf!"

"I do as master says." Dipsy said politely, looking over to Severus.

"Well, Severus?" Lucius asked, rounding on him expectantly.

"I'm sure if you're good you'll get one tomorrow." He said, enjoying the situation more than just a little bit.

"I demand..."

"Calm down, dear." Narcissa said in a virtuous voice, pulling him down. "I'll give you some of mine while her back's turned." She told him playfully.

"I didn't come here to be treated like a child."

"Where do you usually go?" Dipsy asked, and that seemed to be the final straw for Lucius, who pulled away from Narcissa.

"I'm going to my room." He announced, flouncing out of the room.

"That'll convince us all you're an adult." Severus muttered, but Lucius was already gone by then. "Dipsy, was that really necessary?" He asked tiredly, it had been such a nice peaceful day.

"Yes." She said, popping out of the room.

"I think I like your elf." Draco told Harry with a smirk.

* * *

With things being so hectic no one had really been thinking about anything other than Narcissa, Lucius and the Dark Lord, so when Luna suddenly walked into the sitting-room everyone was shocked.

 

Chapter Text

"Luna?" Harry asked; she was looking around the room curiously, not seeming to realise that no one knew why she was there.

She held up a letter. "I think Neville wants to come through." She said calmly.

"Why does...?" Harry began but was cut off by Severus.

"It's New Years Eve." He said suddenly, they were all shocked - not only at what day it was but also that all of them had forgotten.

"Hermione." Harry jumped up and rushed out of the room. He hadn't really thought about her the past few days, she normally called him if he didn't call her but she'd not phoned. It hadn't seemed like that big of a deal, he'd been so caught up in everything, and it had consumed his mind so much, that he'd assumed that was why she hadn't talked to him, but she didn't know. He feared the worst as he rushed down the hall to the phone, Draco following him because he looked anxious.

Lucius, who was in the library, saw them run past and wondered what was going on so came out to check.

"Why's it like that?" Harry asked, staring at the phone that was lying off the hook on the table.

"That thing?" Lucius asked, peering around the corner at them. "It was making a terrible noise but I fixed it."

Harry rubbed his forehead but said nothing, it wasn't going to be an easy explanation so there was no point. Even Draco seemed to understand that his father had done something wrong - he didn't really understand the phone but he knew the noise meant something.

"Is that Lovegood's daughter?" Lucius asked, squinting down the corridor. "What's she doing here?"

She was walking into the sitting room with Snape where there was a floo, the one she had presumably come through. Harry was busy dialling Hermione's number, she picked up so quickly it barely had time to ring.

"Where have you been?! I've been worried sick! You haven't answered for days and I have no way of getting to you!" She shouted immediately; Harry hoped she had caller id and wasn't just greeting everyone like this.

"I know, I know, I'm sorry but some things have been happening and we just didn't think. S..." He cut himself off looking over at Lucius, who was still lurking interestedly. "Father is going to sort it I think. I don't know if you'll be able to..." He paused again, this time because Neville, Luna and Severus were adding to the ever-growing crowd. He doubted it would be long before Narcissa and Dipsy joined them too, but then Dipsy was probably just using whatever elf skills she had that let her hear whenever someone summoned her to listen in and give a running commentary.

"Is she ready?" Severus asked, placing a hand on Harry's shoulder.

"Hermione?"

"Yes, I'm ready... just hurry up!" She snapped sharply and put the phone down.

"She's ready." He said. Snape nodded and apparated to her house without another word.

Lucius looked very interested as he silently watched events unfolding - Neville was edging away nervously, trying to get away from the way he was glaring down at them.

"Let's go to the TV room." Harry said, dragging Neville because he didn't know if his feet would move on their own. Draco steered Luna in the right direction before she could wander off, he gestured to his father to not follow them before doing so.

They all sat down, Neville waiting for permission and looking worriedly at the chairs.

"There aren't any charms on them." Harry assured him so he sat, still wary.

They all sat in silence. Neville and Luna wanted to ask why Lucius was there and why Hermione wasn't when really they should all have been there hours ago, and had Luna not shown up they might still be waiting, while Draco and Harry wanted to explain everything but didn't know where to begin. Harry felt that he should be cautious talking about it, Draco might not want everyone to know what his father was like, though it's probably the worst kept secret it still wasn't fair to just tell anyone.

They just looked at each other feeling at a loss, Neville looked slightly red and the skin under his eyes was puffy like he had been crying, he remembered Hermione's response - it was definitely one of someone who had felt like they had been forgotten or was simply being ignored. He felt a twinge of guilt and hoped Severus and Hermione would hurry so he could explain the misunderstanding.

Luna, of course, looked perfectly fine and Harry wouldn't have put it past her to already know what was going on and everything down to what they had had for breakfast. Naturally with Luna it was also possible that she had no idea what day it was and had just turned up by chance. She wasn't saying anything though, just gazing dreamily around at the unfamiliar surroundings.

A sudden crack sounded down the hall, Harry hopped over to the door and gestured to Hermione. She marched his way and though he knew he had a good excuse he swallowed nervously and ducked into the room, hoping for safety in numbers and taking refuge behind one of the high backed chairs.

"What the hell is going on?" She demanded, sitting with the rest of them.

"Narcissa and Lucius are here. We're hiding them. Some stuff happened and... well, they aren't loyal to the Dark Lord." Harry said quickly, Luna stopped looking around listening intently.

"Lucius? Why would you hide him?" Hermione asked, settling down a bit but still hurt that she hadn't been told, judging by the faces of the others however she hadn't been the only one, so she didn't feel too bad. She suddenly realised what she had said and looked at Draco. "No offence."

He shrugged and lent back. "None taken." He waved his hand dismissively.

"He's Draco's dad and Narcissa's husband, and they... care about him - I know none of us want him here but..." Harry started.

"This is actually starting to get quite offensive." Draco cut in.

"But he's alright...ish. It doesn't matter anyway, what matters is that they're safe and we're hiding them here."

"Do they know who you are?" Hermione asked.

"No. And they aren't going to." Harry said firmly, glaring around at them all. They couldn't tell anyone but he still wanted to make sure. It was such an intense glare that no one, not even Luna looked willing to defy him, that was until he looked at Draco.

"We'll have to tell them some time."

"Hmm." Harry answered non-committally. Draco decided to let it go... for now at least, but they would be talking about it privately. "Anyway, so that's what's been going on and that's why we didn't remember... well, anything."

"So, should we... go or...?" Neville asked anxiously.

"No... Severus wouldn't have brought you here if he was just going to send you home again. Even if we can't have the full stuff we planned we can still have fun." Harry assured everyone - honestly after the week he had had he was willing to cling on to anything even slightly resembling fun.

"Gryffindors." Draco muttered, rolling his eyes, though he was looking for some optimism himself.

 

Chapter Text

Before any of them could decide what to do next Dipsy had entered with trays of food and drink, and was laying them out on the table. She had brought everything they needed before they'd even got to the Manor so it hadn't been a problem making them some things.

She left them wordlessly and in less than a second they had pounced on the food.

It was only then that Harry realised what Luna was wearing. He frowned, a pumpkin pasty half in his mouth, at her attire - it was a mass of clashing colours and strange shapes that somewhat formed a dress. That wasn't necessarily what he was looking at though, actually he was staring at the flamboyant hat perched on her head. It resembled fireworks with some sparklers sticking out all over the place, spitting sparks randomly.

He thought it best not to bring it up and so did everyone else, though it seemed that all of them had suddenly noticed this too.

Neville distracted them by holding up some Daisyroot Draught. "Do you think she meant to put that in?" Draco took it off him and read over the label.

"Probably." Harry laughed. "What is it?"

"Alcohol."

"Just." Draco chuckled, putting it down and perusing the other bottles. "This is more my style." He pulled out a bottle of champagne.

"Yeah right."

"At events like this. I have Elf wine with dinner." He said casually, they all just stared at him. "Father's always allowed me half a glass with dinner." He'd thought it was perfectly normal. "Must be a Slytherin thing."

"I think it's more a 'your dad' thing." Harry nudged him playfully.

* * *

"Why are Longbottom and Lovegood here?" Lucius asked, he didn't sound annoyed just thoroughly confused.

"They're Seth's friends, he had invited them over before everything happened. Now, I think I have a potion to attend to."

"You're not going anywhere." Narcissa told him, sweeping into the room with a bottle of champagne in her hand.

"Where did you get that?" Severus asked, as far as he was aware they didn't have any alcohol in the Manor but who knew what Dipsy was hiding.

"I brought it with us."

He looked over to Lucius, who was nodding his head as though this was normal. "You were running for your life and you stopped to bring champagne?"

"There is always time for the necessities," She waved dismissively, pouring out some glasses. "And you need to be prepared for every eventuality."

"And an eventuality you prepared for was entertaining?" He chuckled, taking one from her.

"Of course, one never likes to be caught unprepared." She smirked, sinking into a seat next to Lucius, bringing the glass elegantly to her lips.

* * *

Harry and Hermione had been introducing the others to muggle music; they had just got to 'Saturday Night', which Luna actually recognised and she was currently teaching the dance to Neville, who might have had a bit too much Daisyroot Draught.

They'd all had a bit to drink and were laughing tipsily, partly due to Draco finding some Gigglewater. Apparently it had a good chortle volume, but no one knew what that meant other than they couldn't really stop random bouts of hysteric laughter after every shot.

Wiping her eyes Hermione turned to Harry. "Can you take me to the bathroom?"

He got up at once, still chuckling quietly and walked her part way up the hall before she stopped him. "Okay, what is going on here?" She asked, she knew there must be more than what he had been telling them all. There was no way Lucius Malfoy just saw the error of his ways.

"I thought you..."

"Harry..." She sighed, rolling her eyes - he was always so oblivious when it came to... well anything really. "Anyway what the hell happened?"

He launched into an explanation of everything to her, though he barely understood it himself. He tried to keep it brief while she listened intently, shocked by Draco's dad's plan and approving of Narcissa's.

"That's pretty much it, but don't tell Draco I told you." He wasn't sure how Draco would feel, but Hermione was his best friend.

"Obviously." She promised warmly. "What's going to happen now?"

"We're still figuring it out."

" And what about you and Draco, any 'things'?" She asked with a smirk. "All alone in this big house."

"We're not alone! Severus and Dipsy are here, and now Draco's parents, but yes there was a thing." He grinned remembering it.

"Well?!"

"We went on a date to the muggle town..."

"Draco in the muggle world?"

"I know, weird, but listen, we went for dinner and then came back to the Coach House, it has a really comfy bed, but that's all I'm saying." He smirked proudly.

"You didn't."

"We did... did you know there was a spell?"

"You mean The Spell?"

"Why does everyone except me know about the spell?" He grumbled under his breath. "Anyway we should get back."

Edging past Luna, who was still dancing wildly though Neville had given up and was actually chatting with Draco. Harry sat on him, he had been rooted to his lap for most of the night.

"Have a nice talk?" Draco asked knowingly, he knew Granger wouldn't be able to accept the story without finding out more.

"I just helped her find the bathroom." Harry lied badly, but Draco just shook his head kissing his neck.

"What time is it?" Neville asked, everyone immediately looked for a clock or cast a Tempus.

"It's nearly time." Hermione said excitedly.

"We need to go outside." Luna said suddenly. "To see the fireworks."

"Oh, yeah. I'm sure there'll be some about." Harry said thoughtfully, as they all got up and followed him out into the garden.

He unlocked the door and lead them into the garden, he doubted Severus would mind them being out. As soon as they were outside Luna took off her hat and found a good place, she put it down in the middle of the path and then stood back.

Everyone watched her nervously, this didn't seem like one of her quirks but before they could ask anything the hat started to make strange whizzing noises and parts of it launched off into the air one by one. It became clear that they must be from the twin's shop as big snakes, ravens and lions chased each other around the dark sky.

"Luna?!" Harry shouted panicked. "What if that had gone off inside?!"

"What if it had gone off on your head?!" Neville added.

She paused thinking. "I never thought of that." She said eventually.

They all looked at each other confused, before their attention slowly turned to the beautiful fireworks display above them.

* * *

"We're in the middle on nowhere, who has fireworks?" Severus asked, naturally looking out of the window at the loud bangs.

"The children?" Narcissa suggested.

"Where would they get fireworks from?" He asked.

"Lovegood is down there." Lucius pointed out.

* * *

With colourful sparks still lighting up the sky Draco wrapped his arms around Harry. "Not long now," He said slightly above a whisper, so Harry could hear over the fireworks. "Will you be my New Year's kiss?" He asked with a laugh, nibbling Harry's ear.

Close by they heard, and joined in with, the countdown coming from Hermione and the others. At one Draco spun Harry around and kissed him as the fireworks steadily reached their crescendo.

They were too busy to see Luna lean up and give Neville a kiss, but pulled away in time to see a bright red Neville standing somewhat dazed and Hermione jokingly pout.

"I didn't get one!" She said, so Luna kissed her jovially too. Hermione blushed as well and decided to not tell her she was joking, at least Neville didn't feel as uncomfortable.

They stayed up for a little bit longer but had to go inside once all the fireworks were done because it was far too cold to be out there long. Neville and Hermione had returned to their normal colours, no longer flushed red. Draco had permitted Luna to kiss him but only on the cheek and Harry feeling left out did the same.

* * *

By 2am Snape had managed to get away from Narcissa, who had insisted on him enjoying himself, and came in to say goodnight and wish Harry a happy New Year... and he supposed everyone else. On his way he found Dipsy, who seemed to have enjoyed a few Butterbeers as she was stumbling down the hall. He lifted her over his shoulder in one arm and went in to see the others.

They wished him a happy New Year awkwardly and half-heartedly promised to keep it down, while a drunken Dipsy tried to tell them where their rooms were... but it was probably just easier to check every room until they found them than follow her garbled directions.

They went to bed at about 4am, but only because they had been looking for their rooms for about an hour... and part of that was because no one could remember where Narcissa and Lucius' bedroom was and didn't want to accidentally walk in on them.

Eventually everyone was in their rooms, except for Draco who slipped into Harry's room after everyone else was in bed.

Chapter Text

"Draco, we can't... not with Severus and your parents here." Harry whispered, as Draco's arms went around him.

"They must be under the bed then because I can't see them." He joked, nuzzling Harry's neck.

"You know what I mean."

"Yes, but we don't have to do anything." He promised. "I just like the idea of greeting the New Year with you in my arms." He gave him a squeeze for emphasis.

Harry smiled and curled back into Draco's chest, sighing happily. He felt somewhat over tired and not really ready to sleep yet. "What did you think?" He asked thoughtfully, Draco inclined his head, it was an odd feeling on the top of Harry's head.

"About what?"

"Hermione and Neville. I already know you like Luna, but you weren't sure about them." He adjusted his pillow, rubbing his check on it tiredly. He was curious and nervous, he knew Draco would tolerate his friends - he had been fine with them all night, even pleasant - but he wanted him to actually like them, and for them to like him.

"It's not that I wasn't sure but they weren't - and still aren't - my type of people." Draco told him calmly.

"What's your type of people?" Harry asked with a yawn, Draco smirked.

"Cute green-eyed boys with dark hair and a great arse." He said, hand running over Harry's great arse.

"You're just a suck up."

"I haven't sucked anything yet." He teased.

"I can't sleep if you get me aroused." Harry grumbled, but he was smiling.

"Even better."

"Shut up."

* * *

When Draco first woke up and felt Harry writhing next to him, he thought his movements seemed vaguely sexual and believed he was having a very different dream. When he saw Harry's expression however, dimly lit with just a line of light from the crack in the curtains thrown over his face, his features were contorted in terror and the wriggling he had noticed before seemed more like a helpless panicked animal than the conclusion he had originally come to.

Immediately, hating to see his partner scared, Draco sat up and tried to wake him as gently as he could.

"Harry? Harry? Wake up." Draco raised his voice slightly, shaking Harry by his shoulders.

Harry opened his eyes but he didn't seem to see Draco, he was looking at him but Draco could see his mind racing as he tried to figure out who he was and what was happening. Draco could tell by Harry's face that whatever he had been dreaming was different, it wasn't simply a nightmare that he could write off as just a dream - it was real, or had been, Harry was playing out a moment of his life, a memory.

After a minute of silence Harry sighed and regained himself.

"Sorry." He mumbled, rubbing his eyes.

"It's alright, you were having a nightmare."

"Oh." Harry nodded. Draco squinted at him, it was hard to see in the dark but he thought Harry was blushing. It didn't seem like nightmares were random one-off things for Harry. Though thinking about it, with all the things Harry had seen and been through of course he would have regular nightmares.

He reached out to touch Harry's face gently, to let him know he was safe but Harry twitched back, his eyes closing with a sharp intake of breath. He got himself under control quickly but Draco saw the sudden motion.

"What's wrong?" He asked urgently, he'd not meant to startle him.

"What's wrong with what?"

"You flinched when I went to touch your face. You moved." He told him worriedly, he didn't want Harry to be scared of him.

"Oh, I...I don't know. Sorry."

"You can't help that you flinched," Draco's voice softened. "I just... you know I don't want to hurt you, don't you?"

"No... I mean, yes... yeah, I know. I know you wouldn't hurt me. That's not why I flinched. Of course you wouldn't hurt me."

"Then why? Was it the nightmare, I didn't surprise you."

"I just flinch when people raise their hands sometimes." Harry admitted reluctantly, before adding dismissively. "It's not a big thing."

"But why..." Realisation dawned over his face. "When you said Snape saved you, you didn't just mean from Deatheaters did you?"

"No. I didn't. I'm sorry I didn't explain."

"Harry, it's fine. That's your business - you can tell me if you like, or you can keep it between you and Snape. I love you regardless. As long as you aren't scared of me, I don't care."

"Why would I be scared of you? All I'd have to do is mess up your hair and you'd have a fit."

"Bitch."

"Oh no! Malfoy's gone all improper, someone help me." Harry said in mock panic, Draco laughed and rolled on top of him and placing a kiss on his nose.

"As if anyone could help you now." They looked at each other in the dimly lit room, Draco gave a contented sigh and lay back down next to him. They both cuddled down again, there wasn't long left until morning. "I'm glad you're alright again now." Draco said, giving Harry's middle a squeeze as he closed his eyes and began drifting back off.

"Yeah." Harry muttered back but he didn't close his eyes, nor did he drift off. He didn't want to sleep and risk what he might see again, so he just lay in Draco's arms, feeling his strong chest rise and fall against his back and his breath tickle his neck.

* * *

In the morning Draco could tell that Harry was exhausted, he tried to get him to go back to sleep for a bit but he insisted on getting up and going to see the others. He had no choice but to let him, short of forcing him back into bed and lying on him to keep him there he couldn't do anything. Well, he could slip some Dreamless Sleep into his drink, but that didn't seem like a good idea so he was holding off on that for now.

He tried to think of anything he could do and remembered something Harry had said that night. Snape had saved him, from what he didn't know but he felt like it had something to do with the dream, you don't shy away from people's touch because you've fought Voldemort, and he wouldn't have been taken to a different home if his original one had been fine. Harry never talked about where he used to live or who with, though he knew from going to school with him and getting small amounts of information on him for years that he lived with his aunt and uncle.

He'd seen Harry's body - he was far too thin, even after all this time, and he was surprisingly short, though after the bonding he'd gained some height. Still not as much as Draco but not as small as he was before. There were just signs that Harry's old home, wherever that was, wasn't a good one.

He didn't care what Harry's background was, it wasn't any of his business, and if Harry wanted to tell him he was sure he would with time, but for now at least it didn't matter. Snape must know though, and if these nightmares are a recurring thing as he suspected, he'd probably know about them too.

He knew Harry would never go to Snape - not only did he hate being a nuisance, and would rather just suffer on his own, he had seen him the previous night, how embarrassed he was when Draco woke him. He had always guessed that Harry had a Silencing spell around his bed in the dorm, he didn't make any noises when he slept - not just snoring, but the bed didn't creak or the mattress squeak - and he knew Harry moved around when he slept, but now he was wondering how many nights Harry had woken up terrified, shaking and alone, and he didn't know because Harry never said and he had never heard.

He resolved to go to Snape, if he couldn't help Harry then he just had to go and find someone who could.

* * *

Severus was shocked when Draco wandered into the library, he looked as though he was preparing for a business deal as he swaggered, head high in smart but casual clothes, his face confident and determined.

"To what do I owe the honour?" Severus asked, rummaging through the file drawers, obviously looking for something. He barely looked up, only raising his head slightly to give an acknowledging nod.

"Good morning sir," Draco greeted pleasantly. "It's about Harry."

That got Severus' attention, he snapped his head up suddenly. He didn't look too worried - Draco wouldn't be this calm if something was terribly wrong - but he still sounded dire. "What about him?"

Draco broke out into the story about what had happened and what he thought about it, and finally his expectations that Severus was going to do something about it.

Severus listened to everything without stopping him until he got to the end. "Where is he now?" He said finally.

"Off with the others."

"Tell him to come here."

"Yes sir," Draco said, stopping as he turned to go. "You won't be too obvious, will you? He doesn't like to talk about things."

"I'll do what I can." Severus promised, sounding more confident than he felt. "Go keep the others busy, Gryffindors are nosy." He said, shooing Draco away so he could collect his thoughts and think of the best way to go at this.

Draco left and fetched Harry, just telling him Snape wanted to see him, taking his place in the game of Gobstones that had been set up.

"Sit." Severus said, hoping it didn't come across too sharply, he was aiming for warm but sometimes his tone didn't match what he was trying to convey. "Please." He prompted, since Harry was just standing uncomfortably in the doorway.

He sat in an armchair opposite Severus, sinking into it comfortably though his leg bounced nervously. They sat in silence for a while. Severus didn't want to bring up the nightmare directly - not only could it start an unnecessary argument between Harry and Draco, but because he already knew that Harry didn't like to discuss his dreams and he wasn't going to force him.

He hoped he would, in time, but until then he just wanted Harry to know that he was there for him; he knew that he could tell him as much as he liked, but actions were still always going to speak louder than words, and he was going to prove to Harry that he was there and could be trusted. Even when no one else was.

"What happened that day? At the Dursley's?" Harry asked quietly, almost out of nowhere.

Severus was shocked but not disappointed, he had worried his idea wasn't going to work but Harry was a lot more forth coming when he wasn't being interrogated.

"I don't know, Harry." Severus told him thoughtfully, not looking up. "I don't know what happened. I know they hurt you. I know the wards went down and that you no longer regarded that place as home. I know that I rushed there to get you away and was completely shocked and angry by what I found."

"What did you find?" Harry whispered.

"You, on the floor. So small and pale, bruised and broken." His voice broke a little, so he took a second to steel himself. "I thought you were dead... or dying. I took you where I knew you'd feel at home and be healed."

Harry didn't believe he'd ever seen Snape look so sad, it was obvious the man wanted to think about it all as much as he did. Again a silence descended as Harry thought about what he'd said. He had nearly died several times in his life, but this one seemed to be simultaneously the best and the worst.

There was something more awful about a normal man trying to kill him in his own home, though that wasn't his home any more, than a half dead lunatic. It was just less human when it was Voldemort and somewhat easier to understand or explain.

At the same time however it had given him Snape and Dipsy, a small family but the best he's ever had. It exposed his fake friends and gave him new ones and then of course there was Draco, someone he would willingly take a hundred deaths for.

"Do you think I'll ever fully remember what happened?" He queried after some time.

"Maybe. Maybe not." Severus tapped a finger on his lip as though trying to decide what to say very carefully. "I told you before, it might come back all at once or it might never come back at all. Do you want to remember?"

Harry thought about it. Did he? Not really, he'd spent most of his time trying to keep it out of his mind and usually it worked, but occasionally bits came back, often in the form of nightmares or just things he saw and did. Flinching when Draco trying to touch him, that had brought things back. But not knowing seemed to be what kept drawing him back, kept him thinking and trying to work it all out.

Would that even work though? Or would he just be creating more problems for himself.

"Not really but I don't not want to remember. I don't think I'm making any sense." He sighed rubbing his head as he tried to get his thoughts out but the words wouldn't come, he couldn't explain how he felt and it was frustrating.

"Do you think that maybe it would be easier to let go if you knew the details of that day?" Severus asked, trying to give him prompts to explain what he meant.

"I don't know. Maybe? I just... I haven't thought about it in ages. I thought I had let it go and then I had this dream and was flinching away from Draco." He eyed Severus nervously but he didn't ask Harry to elaborate. "He'll want to know the truth. He wants to understand and help but I...I can't tell him." He looked up to Severus silently begging for help and guidance.

"It's perfectly okay to not be fine." He began, hoping he wasn't going to say anything stupid or put his foot in his mouth. He was just as nervous about this talk as Harry, he didn't want to do anything wrong and he wasn't well known for being comforting. "You shouldn't just wallow in your past and let it eat you up, but sometimes knowing can be beneficial. It's hard to move on and you've been doing tremendously well, even with everything else going on. I'm glad you can enjoy some normalcy for a bit. As for Draco, he'll understand not wanting to talk about certain things, so you can just tell him the truth. You aren't ready to talk about it, not with him anyway, and you may never be."

"Is it really that easy?" Harry asked, mumbling half-heartedly.

"I don't think it'll be easy. It will take a lot of courage. Luckily, you're a Gryffindor." He gave Harry a smile.

"Do you really believe the Houses mean anything?"

"Perhaps they do at the time... but no one is 11 forever, we change and grow and learn."

 

Chapter Text

"You stink." Harry laughed as Draco dropped several stones into his hand bitterly. He was feeling a lot better after his talk with Severus, they had talked for a little while longer and Snape had offered him some Dreamless Sleep if he needed it, but Harry had declined for now.

"Your stones are terrible, they don't work." Draco grumbled haughtily back.

"I'm sure that's it." Harry agreed sarcastically, he leant up to whisper in Draco's ear. "Did you tell Severus about last night?" He asked, it was obvious it hadn't all been a coincidence

"Yes," He admitted. "I was trying to help." He added quickly, getting a peck on the cheek from Harry, he smiled back at him glad that Harry didn't mind. "I'm going to shower, they're all eating." He answered before Harry could ask.

While Draco walked off to the bathroom Harry made his way to the dining-room and joined Neville, Hermione and Luna at the table. Draco didn't come back from his shower until they were finished and had gone off to find something to do. They hadn't seen each other in over a week and had spent the night relaxing so now they were restless and looking for anything to burn off the abundance of energy they had suddenly discovered.

"What's in there?" Luna asked, pointing to a random door right at the end of the corridor, tilting her head thoughtfully.

"I don't know." Harry shrugged, he hadn't really been most places in the manor, Severus had given him a run down of the most important rooms and he had supposed the rest wasn't his business, but Luna and subsequently the others were already marching towards it.

The door was hesitantly thrown open and everyone gazed at the large set of rotting wooden stairs, it was only about three steps before it took a sharp left turn and continued up. They all stared at them not sure what to think - well Draco knew what he thought.

"It's some dusty stairs." He said indifferently.

"But where do they go?" Neville asked,

"An attic?" Draco rolled his eyes. "They look like a death trap anyway." He pointed out, gesturing to the eaten away wood. "And Merlin knows the kind of insects crawling all over the place."

They were about to just close the door and ignore it, and find something else to do, when Luna started delicately up the stairs. She wasn't careful about the occasionally bowing wood but was light-footed enough that she barely even made a sound, and they hadn't noticed that she was halfway up until they saw her long blonde hair disappear behind her.

"Luna?!" Harry said rushing up after her, creaking considerably more. "Luna, this place could be dangerous." Harry said, mildly chastising her and about to tell her to go back down.

"It seems fine," She said, stamping her foot curiously. Harry cringed and heard the others coming up, worried by the sound, but it seemed pretty secure. "Look at all these things." She gestured around.

Harry squinted and saw the outline of boxes. Draco was right it was an attic but it looked kind of interesting. He groped his way in the dark room to a stack of boxes and looked inside, Luna seemed to be able to find her way around by sheer intuition as she moved gracefully to a box.

The room suddenly spilled light from Draco and Hermione's wands as the other three joined them.

"You're not seriously going along with this?" Draco asked seeing the big frame in Harry's hands, Harry looked down now seeing clearly a picture of a young moving boy in a sailor outfit crying and pointing to his ice cream that was unfortunately on the floor rather than on his ice cream cone.

"What's the harm?" He asked, shrugging and frowning at the picture before putting it gingerly on the ground and going back through the box.

"You know the Prince's were a dark family once, don't you? There could be dark artefacts around here."

"He's right, Harry." Neville intoned, looking anxiously at the boxes, hugging the wall.

"Surely professor Snape would have got rid of anything dark." Hermione said, gravitating to a box herself.

"Have you met him?" Draco scoffed. "He'd love it." But he walked to a box himself, blaming his curiosity on the vibe in the room.

"Yeah, so they're probably all in his lab or hidden away. He wouldn't leave them up here." Harry muttered, blowing dust off a magazine. "I hope there's no ghouls though." He shivered thoughtfully, looking at a rocking horse that was swaying on its own in the corner.

"In Prince Manor?" Draco laughed derisively. "Hardly! Only common houses have ghouls in the attic." Harry and Hermione shared a smirk and they continued in their search.

"What's this?" Harry asked, trying to read the faded words on the magazine. There had been a large stack of them in the box and all of them seemed to be the same. "Wayward Witches?"

"Wizard porn." Draco answered easily.

"Eww. Oh, I touched that. Gross!" Harry said, dropping it back onto the pile and eagerly trying to find somewhere else to look. He joined Neville's search; he'd found a big toy chest and was going through an array of horrifying children's toys that had all rusted or wilted away, leaving it more a mass of tetanus waiting to happen, furry strewn limbs and an absolutely terrifying doll that they had quickly slipped to the bottom of the pile.

"My dad has a whole collection." Draco said, having picked up the hastily tossed magazine. Hermione peered curiously over his shoulder.

"We didn't need to know that." Harry said, still recovering from his traumatic experience, though they were such old magazines the worst he was going to see was an ankle.

"It's degrading to women," Hermione declared. "Men don't have to debase themselves this way."

"I have several copies of Wayward Wizards." Draco argued.

"Really?" Harry perked up.

"There's a quidditch one you'll love."

"Can you two do this later?" Hermione asked.

"Or not at all?" Neville suggested.

"I wonder what this does?" Luna said from the corner, having been unusually quiet.

"Oh, Merlin," Draco sighed. "No one was watching Luna."

* * *

Narcissa Malfoy wasn't someone who mooched around other people's things, or snooped and spied on other people. Well, she was a Slytherin and so naturally she did do these things, but she wouldn't call it that. She couldn't help it if, while she was walking, she knocked some papers and in her haste to right them she glimpsed a few important documents; and if she happened to sit a little less tall in her high-backed chair that faced away from whoever was walking in, and they simply didn't notice she was there while they took a fire-call... well, if anything it would be rude to interrupt, and much better to just stay quiet and act as if she wasn't there. She couldn't be blamed if some vital information was discussed.

So when her suspicions about Severus' mysterious son began she had been very careful in her ways of trying to discover the truth. She had almost believed in the child, but there had always been a niggling doubt and that had only grown when Seth's friends had arrived at the Manor. The boy had been sorted into Slytherin and, while she knew quite well that Luna didn't mind being friendly with Slytherins, she doubted Neville and Hermione felt that way, especially if he was dating Draco as well.

She might be Draco's mother but she had never been blind to the high-handedness and racism Lucius had tried so hard to instill in him. She knew he didn't feel the same as his father, but one might behave however was necessary to keep favour with people, even if they were the wrong people. She didn't support it herself, and had never had problems with people of any bloodline or any other magical creatures.

It was quite by accident when she found, what one could describe as, exactly what she had been looking for. She was making her way to the garden and bumped, quite literally, into a beautifully crafted wooden box - it was a quidditch kit if the carvings were anything to go by.

She bent down to push it out of the way and inspected the fine engravings covering it, she easily recognised it as Dipsy's work, but what drew her attention the most was the coat of arms on top. She knew immediately it was the Potter insignia. Curious she opened it and looked for any other signs of who it belonged to and what it could be doing in Prince Manor.

It must belong to young Harry Potter – he was the only Potter left after all - but he wasn't at the Manor, and it was unlikely he would even know who Dipsy was, though it must have been a gift from her. Things to Narcissa were starting to make a lot more sense.

* * *

They hurried over to her, toys and porn forgotten as they went to check what she was up to. She had found a sort of crank.

"Oh," Hermione sighed, relieved. "It's probably just for a light." She said reasonably.

"I wonder who put the light at the other side of the room." Draco thought aloud.

Luna started cranking it but nothing happened, it wouldn't move. She pouted at it and inclined her head. "It won't move."

"It's probably just stiff after so long." Harry suggested stepping up to help, eventually with a loud grinding noise it moved and suddenly - rather than lights flickering to life - a large hole began to open up in the floor.

They all jumped back and away from it, staring into it confused. The hole stopped growing when it got to the size of about a meter across and had the beginning of stairs jutting out. Harry stopped cranking but it remained as it was, so he started again.

"Why would you keep doing that?" Draco asked, slightly distressed having been quite close to the hole that had opened.

More steps started to slide out.

"It might lead somewhere," He shrugged. "Come on, team adventure." He joked, Luna looked enthusiastic, Neville and Hermione were snickering while Draco rolled his eyes.

After several minutes of cranking tirelessly there was a distant clunk and scrape that they assumed meant they had hit the bottom.

"Oh look, more dusty stairs." Draco muttered indifferently.

"Where do you think it goes?" Neville asked as they all tried to look down.

Hermione shone her wand down. "I can't see the bottom." She said. "Just more stairs."

"Well go on then." Draco nudged Harry.

"What?"

"Go down. I didn't stand here waiting for you to crank that thing to not see where it leads. You're the one keen on this," He grinned. "Come on, team adventure." He gave him a small shove.

"You're lucky we don't share a room or you'd be sleeping on the couch." Harry warned, but started down them steadily.

Draco followed using his wand to light the way, soon all of them were descending the stone steps as carefully as they could. They seemed to wind on forever but eventually came to a smallish wooden door with a large metal lock bar.

Harry and Draco lifted it together, grunting with the effort, they deposited it on the ground with a clank and opened the door slowly, peeking inside. All of them were huddled together as they tried to look in as quickly as they could.

It was just a study.

A big, round, comfortable study. With a single high backed chair sat in front of a grand polished dark wood desk, a fireplace at the other end with a sizeable portrait over it in an ornate silver frame. It was of a man, posed in the same study and the same chair, though the chair in the painting was moved to be in front of the fire so the painted man could bask in its warmth.

Bookshelves of plants that shouldn't still be alive and decaying tomes were dotted about the room, hiding more of the peeling wallpaper and cracked dado.

"Visitors?!" The portrait greeted as they entered, the light came as a shock to them and their eyes were still adjusting when they jumped at his sudden voice. "Come in, come in," He said, though they already were. "How wonderful," He said excitedly. "I've not had real visitors in years, only the funny elf that keeps my beauties alive," He gestured to the plants. "Please, make yourself at home. I'm afraid I don't have any more chairs, only the one. I always spent most of my time down here alone you see. That was so long ago now." He remembered wistfully.

Having recovered from the light the others began to look around, Neville headed straight for the plants, while the others looked about the room from their original positions.

"We didn't realise this was anyone's room." Harry said apologetically. "We just came across it."

The man shook his head and smiled. "Not at all. I remember being young myself though it's been a good many years since I was young. Nearly 300 I should think. Doesn't the time fly? It reminds me of a time when I was... oh, I was older than you lot, not by much though, still very young and in many ways unaccustomed to the world. Perhaps about 25? No, probably older than that... 30 maybe? No I shouldn't think that... oh, I remember! I was 27 exactly," All of them were looking at each other, wondering what on earth they had just walked into. "Because it was Bertie's 30th birthday and he was three years older than me. Yes, so I was 27, or perhaps it was cousin Michael's birthday in which case I'd have been..." While the man paused to do some maths, counting out the numbers on his fingers, Draco decided to cut in quickly.

"Does it matter?" He asked as politely as he could while fighting the urge to rip down the painting and put his foot through it.

"No, you're right, I don't suppose it does. But I remember remarking to him then that the day had been so pleasant, I had remarked upon it because I had thought that it wouldn't be. Things are often like that you know, you think they're going to be unpleasant... like dying. You wouldn't think dying was pleasant but the time seems to have raced by and I find myself not really minding it. Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes, I told him that the day had been most pleasant and had gone so quickly I hadn't even noticed that it was by then well into the night. It seemed that I had had him talking for such a long time, a very lovely time though." Just when he seemed like he was about to continue Hermione spoke before he could.

"We should be going now." She said softly but firmly and tried to edge out of the room.

"Oh, you don't have to leave yet," He said dismissively. "I see you are interested in my plants," He pointed to Neville, who shuffled on his feet and nodded. "I'm always prepared for a nice chat about plants."

"You had to mess with the plants." Draco grumbled lowly.

"Are you perhaps a fellow botanist yourself?" He asked enthusiastically.

"I like Herbology, sir."

"Herbology! Then you should go and have a look around my old greenhouse, the stories it could tell." He whispered thoughtfully.

"I'm sure you'll get to them." Draco huffed, Harry nudged him but had to suppress a smirk.

"The greenhouse in the garden?" Harry asked, keen to find a way to leave and promising to look around a greenhouse seemed a good enough option.

"There isn't a greenhouse in the garden," He frowned. "Well, I suppose after 300 years there might be but no, no. My greenhouse was always behind the garden, further back in the trees."

"We'll go there right now." Draco declared and everyone was eager to follow along, before the man started reminiscing again.

Chapter Text

"Severus, can we have a chat?" Narcissa enquired.

"What about?" He asked cautiously, suspicious of her suddenly innocent tone.

"About Harry Potter being your son."

"No, no we can't." He said after a short pause and made to walk away, only to be hit with an Immobulus, freezing him in his tracks.

"It's my fault," She apologised politely, helping him through the door she had tactfully waited until he was in front of to speak. "I shouldn't have given the impression that this was a request." He narrowed his eyes at her but made no fuss, he trusted her enough that he didn't believe she was going to kill him, and even then Dipsy was only ever one word away. He didn't want to have anyone coming out to investigate if he could avoid it, so while he was indignant about the embarrassment of being pivoted into a random out of the way room he allowed it.

* * *

"Are we actually going to the greenhouse?" Draco asked, somewhat irritated. He wasn't used to doing anything like this - finding secret rooms and following the orders of a portrait, that was more Harry's thing - but that didn't mean he wasn't enjoying himself... not that anyone else needed to know that.

"Yeah, why not?" Harry shrugged casually, he liked the idea of finding a secret greenhouse and he wondered if Severus knew about it

"Because that man sounds insane."

"We don't even know if it'll be there still."

"It's worth a look. You don't all have to come, we can just go." He patted Neville on the back, it was obvious that Neville was eager to see the greenhouse. He'd been interested in Snape's but everyone was forbidden from going in there.

"I think it will still be there." Luna said dreamily. "He said the funny elf was keeping his plants alive."

"But he might have just meant in his study."

"Why would they only look after the ones in his study?" She asked, and that seemed to be the end of the conversation until they got out into the garden.

"So where now?" Hermione asked. "Aren't the trees out of bounds?"

"Out of bounds? This is Harry's home." Draco frowned, confused.

"It'll be fine." Harry shrugged, but in the back of his mind he was wondering if they really weren't allowed that far out. They hurried over to the trees trying to remain unseen, not that anyone but the peacocks were around, as they scurried over grass and gravel round to the back.

A long strip of trees practically fenced the garden, it didn't seem like much but as they actually got over there the strip seemed more like a wood. They looked but there wasn't even the hint of a worn-down path - if there had ever been one, age and lack of use had gotten rid of it. Without thinking too much about it they wandered into the trees and looked around.

The wood wasn't as thick with trees as the forest at school so light shone, dimmer naturally but still beautifully, through the leafless branches. They found their way fairly easily to a clearing far out along the trees, it was almost certainly outside the bounds of the house but evidently still on the grounds, Harry wondered briefly where the grounds ended, the Manor and gardens were already vast.

To Harry it just look like a regular greenhouse, full of plants; he didn't think a forest was the best place for them, there was a good amount of light but nowhere near what he thought plants needed and this was when the trees weren't thick with leaves as he had seen them when he first arrived.

Neville raced towards it, peering in along with Luna who skipped over. Harry fiddled with a lock, for a greenhouse the locks were quite drastic and he wondered why someone was locking a greenhouse anyway, he doubted even Snape's was locked but he hadn't looked. Of course it was possible that the locks weren't to keep people out... they were to keep something in. He frowned but opened the three bolt locks and a regular twist one.

"This is a bit much for some plants." Draco voiced exactly what he was thinking.

"Not just any plants." Neville pointed out eagerly as they stepped inside, he pointed to one. "That one was banned 200 years ago." His eyes shone with excitement. Just as Harry was about to ask why a plant was banned, it answered the question for him and tried to take a bite of Neville's finger. Neville screamed and jumped away. Some of the plants clearly didn't like the noise, as they started hissing and spitting; one of them spitting what Harry assumed was acid since it killed the grass it landed on, others seemed to be enjoying the scream and decided to join in themselves.

"You know what? I get the locks now." Harry said, covering his ears until all the rowdy plants seemed to have settled down.

"Some of these plants are dangerous." Hermione said shocked, it had not been what any of them were expecting.

"You don't say." Draco said sarcastically, hanging around the door because there was no way he was risking being killed by some foliage.

"I mean, the Ministry should take all of these. They shouldn't be out here."

"They're living creatures! Of course they should be in a greenhouse or in the wild." Neville said affronted, getting what seemed to be support from the plants around them. One of them sounded eerily like a human child cheering at the statement.

* * *

"Are you going to cease the spell?" Severus asked, lying rigid on the sofa.

"Are you going to run away?" She asked, putting locking and silencing wards all around the room.

"Of course not." He tutted and rolled his eyes, still struggling.

"It wouldn't be the first time." She chuckled but muttered a Finite Incantatem.

"Aren't we getting a little too old for this?" He asked, sighing as he stretched out his arms and legs, waggling his fingers in as dignified a manner as he could.

"You would think, and yet here we are." She said, spreading her arms gracefully.

"What do you want?"

"You know very well what I want. I want to know what on earth is going on, and why Harry Potter is suddenly Seth Snape!"

"There were circumstances," She opened her mouth to ask but he held up his hand. "That I cannot disclose." Still she didn't seem satisfied so he continued. "They are not my secrets Narcissa but yes, you have surmised correctly. I bonded with Harry about five months ago. It was the only way to keep him safe, he is my family and I will not betray him."

She smiled softly. "I'm not asking you to." She assured him. "Your reasons don't concern me and I understand why you couldn't tell me," He breathed a sigh of relief before she added. "At first."

"I could hardly tell you now. With everything going on. How did you find out anyway?"

"He must have left his quidditch chest out, I bumped into it on my way to the garden and it had his crest on it. Dipsy did a fine job."

"Dipsy has an obsession when it comes to woodwork." He rubbed his head at the temples. "I'd better go and put it away."

"It's back in his room," She shrugged. "It wouldn't do for Lucius to find it, now would it?"

 

Chapter Text

Harry dropped into the arm chair next to Severus with a yawn, it had been a long day and he was glad that it was nearly over... if only so he could go to bed and actually get some rest. He'd spent his afternoon with the others and was feeling socially drained, so he'd left them to themselves and decided to go spend some calming time with Snape.

"How was your day?" Severus asked giving Harry a soft smile, he had somewhat missed their quiet moments together; perhaps Harry really was turning him soft, he didn't think he minded that much.

He needed to tell Harry that Narcissa knew that he wasn't Seth Snape but he didn't think he should start on it immediately.

"We found a study in the attic and a greenhouse out the back of the garden, and then a feral plant tired to eat Neville... it was good, yeah."

"What?!" Severus asked trying not to sound too severe, he was fine with Harry wandering around his home, it was also Harry's now after all.

"Luna wanted to know what the stairs at the end of the hall lead to, so we went up, then there was this weird crank on the wall and stairs appeared in the attic so we went down and found a study - there was this annoying portrait in there that told us about his old greenhouse and we promised to check on it for him. Neville said there are some rare plants in there and banned ones." Harry rushed, nervous that he had done something he shouldn't, he only had Severus' patient face to reassure him. "You'd like it." He added quietly.

"I... What?" It seemed to be the only word he could manage.

"Dipsy knows about it."

"Dipsy knows... Dipsy!" He called and she popped in at once, looking shocked to be called when she didn't expect it.

"Yes?"

"There's a secret greenhouse in the garden?"

Dipsy tilted her head wondering if her master had finally cracked up and leant casually against the leg of a table. "It's not a secret... it's right in the middle of the back garden and you go there all the time."

"No, behind in the trees." Harry explained, gesturing with his hands.

"Is there?"

"I thought you were looking after them."

"Why?" She asked puzzled - she stayed away from the plants, that was Severus' thing and he was likely to flay anyone who tried to take it over.

"The portrait said the 'funny elf' was."

"You found a portrait?"

"In the attic... well, in a secret study in the attic." He blushed, aware he sounded like a lunatic.

"Riiiiight.... well I have things to be getting on with so..." She popped out of the room leaving just Harry and Severus.

"Perhaps you should show me this greenhouse." Severus sighed pushing himself out of his chair, he didn't want random unidentified dangerous plants in his back garden. "I have something to tell you on the way."

"Oh, is it serious?" Harry asked anxiously noticing the man's tone, it wasn't quite grave but it wasn't far off.

"Narcissa knows who you really are."

"Is... am I in danger? Is she going to tell Lucius? What about Draco?"

"You're not in any danger from Narcissa and no, she won't be telling Lucius, but you should perhaps stop leaving your quidditch set out. She's not threatening your relationship with Draco, she actually rather likes you."

"Really?"

"Yes, though I can't think why." He smirked as they crunched down the gravel path and out into the wooded area.

* * *

"I've already done that." Dipsy snapped confronting her mother, who was in the hall polishing a small spotless table.

"Can't tell." She answered with a sneer, flicking her eyes over to Dipsy only to look her up and down before going back to her work.

"Have you been coming here and taking care of a portrait?" She asked, cutting to the chase.

"Gerki is loyal to masters, new and old." She answered dismissively with the same voice Dipsy remembered - the nasty scornful tone that told her she didn't believe Dipsy was a real loyal elf. It irked her, her mother had always had a way of getting under her skin but she didn't deign to answer.

"Is that a yes?" She asked huffily instead.

"Poor old master, left alone in old study. Gerki helps him."

"You don't work here any more." She didn't understand why her mother felt the need to interfere so much.

"Gerki is loyal to real Prince master, not nasty half-blood."

"That 'half-blood' is the real Prince heir, and he gave you clothes." It was a low blow but it was true, he had given Dipsy clothes too but it took more than that to get her to leave; in some ways she was rather similar to her mother, but she pushed that thought from her mind as quickly as it had entered.

"Gerki is here with her new master, a proper master. Gerki has been here for a week and you has said nothing."

"I don't have anything to say to you."

"I's your mother." She snapped standing up and stepping forwards threateningly, Dipsy just narrowed her eyes not moving.

"You can't tell."

"Respect Gerki!" She barked, raising a hand and bringing it down harshly against Dipsy's cheek.

"I only respect people worthy of respect." Dipsy hissed, shoving her mother away and storming down the corridor.

* * *

Once Harry and Severus had made it to the secret greenhouse Harry watched Severus' face light up, he was grinning like a child on Christmas and wasted no time opening the greenhouse and pacing the few rows of greenery with interest.

"Who did you say this belonged to?" Severus asked. The Prince's weren't exactly dark, not as dark as the Malfoy's, but they had never been light either... still it struck him as odd for them to have so many banned plants that had been obviously well cared for.

"We didn't get his name, it was a portrait."

"A portrait?" He asked curiously. He had never seen a portrait in the Manor, even when he moved in he had only found frames and when he spoke to Dipsy, who had been there longer than him, about it she had said she'd never seen any either. "Strange. The attic has a study in it?"

"Sort of, yeah. Didn't you know?"

"I've never gone up there... well, not that part anyway. Dipsy has from time to time but she said it was all rubbish from previous Princes. We use the other end," He gestured vaguely, though they couldn't really see the Manor any more being so far out, the sun had set a while ago so only the light from Snape's wand and the stars were guiding them. "The attic stretches right over but it's broken into two halves."

"Oh, right," Harry nodded, it explained why it had seemed so small he supposed. "Are you going to go up there?" He asked. He tried to imagine how Severus would react to the boring chatty portrait but all of the scenarios ended with the painted man being thrown into the fire.

"Perhaps, not tonight though. Thank you for bringing this to my attention."

"Are you going to get rid of them?"

"No, they'll stay there, I'll tend to them. There are several potions I would like to try with some of them."

"Neville will be disappointed," Harry muttered while Severus locked up. "He's big on Herbology."

"I don't have to kill them to harvest from them," He wasn't big on killing plants either, especially not ones as special as those, or ones that could cry out. "As long as you lot aren't poking at them everything should be fine and no one should get eaten."

"I'd rather admire them through the glass," Harry admitted. "I'm sure some of them are carnivorous."

"Some are, I'll look further in the morning and..." He sighed. "If Longbottom wishes to join me, you can tell him he's welcome to." Harry had to stifle his laugh. A year ago he would have laughed at himself if he'd been told that he would one day see Snape as kind of cute and awkward, but life had been sort of funny as of late.

Chapter Text

When Harry got back to his room he found a note on his bed, it was from Draco and simply said 'Meet me in the Coach House'. He gave an animated smile and bounced with excitement. It was already late, and he knew most of the others were in bed - or at least in their rooms - so he didn't have to be very discreet as he made his way outside and towards the Coach House.

Draco was sitting on the bed when he got there, everything seemed to have been cleaned up since their last time there; his face lit up when he saw Harry and he immediately jumped up to take his hand, leading him to the bed. He sat down pulling Harry on top of him, grinning against his cheek.

"I feel like I haven't been able to get you alone in days." He said feeling Harry desperately, drawing him closer as he did.

"And I don't think anyone will find us here." Harry pecked Draco's lips softly.

"Do you know how hard it is to sit with you in that Manor, desperate to touch you, to kiss you, take your clothes off and just fuck you in the living-room."

"That escalated quickly... but yes, I know exactly what you mean."

Giving a small growl Draco leant down, giving Harry a shocking hickey on his collarbone. "This time hide it before you come to breakfast." He chuckled, pulling back and running a delicate thumb over it.

"Maybe you shouldn't bite me so much." Harry gasped, his hands planted firmly behind Draco's head, gripping a little roughly at his silky hair. "I'm sure you're part vampire."

"Why would I need your blood? I already have your heart." He replied, pushing Harry's shirt up as much as he could, exposing his chest before bending down and sucking a hickey on to his left pec, an approximation of where Harry's heart is.

"You're so gay." Harry laughed fondly, slipping his arms through his shirt and taking it off.

"It's a good thing, don't you think?" Draco smirked, trailing his hands over the soft skin of Harry's stomach.

"Definitely," Harry agreed, tugging at his tightening trousers, trying to position them to not dig into his cock. "Fuck, these trousers are..." He trailed off with a grunt of effort.

"Here." Draco undid them gently and tugged them down enough for Harry's dick to poke through, Harry gave a sigh of relief fumbling to open Draco's fly as well. It took a bit of help from Draco but eventually both of them were as naked as they cared to get. He pulled his own shirt off, nipples peaking as they were exposed to the air of the cold room.

Harry stared breathlessly at his bare chest for a few seconds before grabbing his smooth sides, holding them tightly while Draco wrapped his hand as well as he could around both of their hard pricks, pumping them together. They felt so hot and slick in Draco's fist, pre-cum coating their cocks and Draco's fingers.

"D... Draco, that feels so good." Harry moaned widening his legs, kneeling on the bed so he could straddle him properly and thrusting himself into Draco's fist. "Keep going. Don't stop." He hunched over Draco, burying his hot face in his neck.

Draco's other hand held Harry's hip, venturing to pinch his arse occasionally. Harry's arms moved up to wrap around Draco's neck desperately trying to keep himself grounded as his hips bucked into Draco's hand and against his cock.

He pulled back from Draco's shoulder not sure what to do with his building excitement at the new experience, within an instant Draco's mouth was on his. He sucked Harry's bottom lip into his mouth biting it lightly until Harry threw his head back and moaned.

"D... Draco."

"Fuck, yeah. Keep doing that." Draco hissed, moving his hand against his and Harry's thrusts, creating a delicious friction for them both.

"Don't stop." Harry pleaded, feeling himself getting close to the edge.

Taking his hand from Harry's jean-clad arse and rubbing circles into Harry's nipple, Draco could see that Harry wasn't going to last much longer but he was excited to see him cum.

He came quite suddenly when Draco bit down on his neglected nipple, covering both of their stomachs with white fluid.

"Sorry." Harry panted, blushing furiously.

"It's fine. I'll just have to get you hard again." Draco grinned lecherously, pushing Harry up a bit to lick some cum off his stomach before returning to kiss him. Harry tasted himself on Draco's mouth and felt his cock beginning to rise again. "Can you bend over the bed for me?"

"Is this okay?" Harry asked, getting on his knees and draping his torso over the bed, leaning up on his elbows to look back at Draco.

"Mmm, perfect." Draco answered, bringing his hand down a bit heavily on Harry's ass and getting a small but pleased yelp from him, groping it while he leaned in, muttered a quick spell under his breath, and licked up Harry's cleft.

Harry jumped not expecting it at all, but felt his limbs turn completely to jelly and found no desire for Draco to remove his tongue. "Isn't it kind of... dirty?" He asked awkwardly anyway, fisting his hands in the sheets and pushing back on Draco's talented tongue.

"Cleaning spells, you virgin." The other boy chuckled, pressing a soft kiss to his backside then pulling back to give Harry a short break.

"You know I'm not a virgin." Harry grunted, with a soft whine at the loss of contact though he was glad to get his breath back.

"Mmm, then stop acting like one." He bit him lightly, descending onto his hole again. Flattening his tongue to lick upwards and flicking it as skilfully as a serpent every so often just to feel Harry squirm. "Fuck. Draco. Draco. Draco." He moaned with every thrust of Draco's tongue.

"You taste amazing. Relax a bit so I can open you." He said feeling the muscles relaxing under his attentions, adding a finger then quickly a second to stretch him. He still leaned in to add his tongue as he massaged him with his fingers.

Harry's knees went weak and soon the only thing holding him up was the bed his top half was sprawled over. "Hurry." He grunted insistently

"Demanding aren't you?" Draco chuckled fondly. "How do you want me to fuck you?" He asked, deciding that Harry was almost fully stretched and wondering if Harry wanted to change positions.

"Quickly." Harry groaned, wrapping his legs backwards around Draco's bent knees.

Again Draco smiled at him, indulgently stroking his back, softly pulling his fingers out to pump his dick a few times before pressing into him. He took Harry harder than he had intended to, but he couldn't help how much he wanted Harry and Harry wasn't making any fuss about how rough Draco was being... in fact he was obviously enjoying it. Moaning and calling for more which Draco happily supplied.

Once they were done Draco pulled out, kissing the small of Harry's back, helping him up and onto the bed. Harry winced as he moved his stiff knees, his arse sore from Draco's pounding.

"We can't sleep here, can we?" He asked, flopping onto the bed and getting comfortable.

"Probably not, but everyone's in bed so we don't have to rush." Draco climbed in next to him.

"Good." Harry yawned and closed his eyes.

"That looks like going to sleep."

"Mm, it should." Harry nodded. "I think you've bruised me you know." He grumbled, rubbing a hand over his ass, wriggling slightly.

"And they all think I'm the dramatic one." Draco rolled his eyes, but couldn't hide his genuine smile.

"You are the dramatic one."

"Then it's a wonder we don't spend our lives in pieces."

"We do... but I like your pieces."

They lay together for a while, Harry was half dropping off and Draco doubted he would be able to stay awake for much longer.

"Let's go back." He suggested.

"But my arse," Harry grumbled, emphatically rubbing his sore behind. "And it's freezing." He drew the quilt closer around himself. "Whose stupid idea was it to have a Coach House in winter for a..."

"Sex den?"

"We're not calling it that."

"It was your idea by the way and you didn't seem cold earlier." Draco smirked, getting up and tossing Harry his discarded shirt, neither of them had managed to get completely out of their jeans.

"Dipsy gave me the key." Harry argued, dragging himself reluctantly up and into his shirt. "I'm coming."

"Three times in one night? And I haven't even touched you this time." Draco snickered.

"Prick. And I bet I am bruised." He complained as they wandered outside, he didn't really hurt much. It was actually quite pleasant, but he was definitely going to complain about it if he had to get up when he was so tired and cold.

"It doesn't really hurt, does it?" Draco asked anxiously, as Harry limped deliberately.

"Yes. Agony!" He said, but tried to make it as obvious as possible that he was being sarcastic so he didn't worry his partner. Draco waited behind him a second, not long enough for Harry to register that he had stopped, and then ran up and lifted him. "Hey! Merlin, warn me next time!" Harry shouted, his heart going at a hundred miles per hour.

"No. You're cute when you're surprised."

"I'm not a rag doll you know."

"It was hard to resist." He kissed Harry's neck. "And you deserve it for making me worry.”

"I didn't know you were this strong."

"There's a lot you don't know about me."

Chapter Text

The next day Harry did manage to remember to hide his hickey's, Lucius' face if it came out who had given them to him was enough to force him to do so, though he would have anyway as he had showered before breakfast, shocked at just how dirty he could get in less than an hour. Still, it had been an enjoyable night and he hoped there would be more relatively soon.

He had also remembered to tell Neville what Severus had said about the greenhouse. Neville had leapt at the opportunity of going back to the greenhouse – in fact he was so clouded by the promise of seeing the plants up close again, he hadn't realised who he'd be going with. So when Severus wandered in and snapped a quick 'Come along Longbottom' the way he jumped out of his skin set everyone off giggling softly. He followed Severus, blushing scarlet and desperately trying not to look the man in the eye.

"I can't believe you've thrown Neville to the wolves." Hermione chuckled, eyeing Harry from her place on the sofa.

"Severus isn't a wolf... he's family, and he's harmless." Everyone laughed at that. "Okay, not harmless... but not evil."

"They'll get along, they're quite alike, you know." Luna put in simply, in her usual clear but airy way.

"Snape and Longbottom?" Draco frowned in disbelief, he couldn't see it but then Luna often saw things others couldn't.

"If all else fails, their love of slimy green things will see them through." Harry chuckled and leaned back against Draco, wondering at what point his life had turned so right.

Neither Neville nor Severus had come back by lunchtime, but Dipsy had gone to give them their lunch and have a look around herself. She came back with wild tales of seeing Neville's lifeless body with Snape hunched over him, and giving dramatic fairytale descriptions of the events leading up to it. Everyone was enraptured by the creative fables - though the only morals in them seemed to be that if Severus ever invites you into a dark wood you should probably say no; even Lucius had been unable to hide his smirk when he heard a particularly animated one based off Hansel and Gretel, depicting Severus as a hag and Neville as a pie, told by Dipsy and Luna in turn. He had muttered something about elves making fun of their masters and that it was a disgrace, but everyone had seen his lip curl and the way he lingered until it was finished.

* * *

Just before dinner Harry met Hermione in the library, where she could usually be found, flicking through the files of what was in there. Severus had given her free reign mostly, so he didn't prolong the conversation when she asked him if she could look around - though he somewhat regretted it, as it meant he could no longer relax in there as every free minute she had was spent there. He either took his books to his lab or put up with her silent company, sometimes he didn't even think about it and it was starting to make him nervous.

"What were you up to last night?" She asked Harry with a smirk.

"I don't know what you mean."

"Well, I happened to see you outside, quite late."

"I was out for a walk." He shrugged jokingly, he didn't really mind telling her.

"You were in Draco's arms."

"Okay," He grinned turning to her. "Officially, my lips are sealed. Unofficially..." He pulled his shirt down enough to show a few hickey's.

"Good for you Harry." She clapped him on the back. "And good for Draco." Her eyes widened a bit as she prodded at his bruise. "He's got some teeth on him, hasn't he?"

"And a tongue." Harry beamed.

"I wish I had one." She said, wistfully gazing at it enviously.

"We've never been in any doubt of you having a tongue Hermione." He chuckled getting a slap on his shoulder, he fixed his shirt to hide everything again.

"You know what I mean."

"I'm sure Neville would be happy to give you one." Harry suggested, but Hermione gave a snort. "...Or Luna."

"I can't believe she did that on New Years!" She flushed bright red.

"She was just being friendly."

"That's what they say when a dog humps your leg."

"She's good and you know it." Harry said, grinning.

"Yes, but it was still mortifying."

* * *

Eventually Neville and Severus came back, Neville was quite a mess but had clearly thoroughly enjoyed his day with Snape, Severus didn't look as though he had even stepped foot in the greenhouse. Where Neville was covered in goo and slime, a leaf stuck here or there and a twig behind his ear, Severus was his usual immaculate self; the only thing suggesting that he had done anything was his rolled up sleeves, something that he was quickly putting right as he entered the Manor.

"The lamb has returned!" Draco greeted a grubby looking Neville from halfway down the hall. He and Harry had been walking up by chance, happening to catch him.

"Lamb?" Neville asked, running a hand through his hair, smearing more green goo through it as he did.

"Well, if Snape's the big bad wolf..."

"The big bad wolf went after pigs." Harry laughed, rolling his eyes.

"It was a lamb!"

"It was pigs!"

"You're talking nonsense."

"The story's called 'The Three Little Pigs'. You know, with 'hair on their chinny chin chins'?"

"Okay, you dreamt that."

"I did not!"

"It was a lamb, Harry." Neville agreed with Draco, apparently noticing for the first time that he was filthy and trying to not get anything anywhere else.

At that moment Hermione exited the library holding a thick leather book, Harry noticed her and called for her. "Hermione, who did the big bad wolf try and kill?!"

"The three little pigs... is this some kind of code?" She asked amused, as she wandered over.

"See." Harry said triumphantly glaring at the other two, pleased to have had his point proven.

"What are you talking about?" Hermione asked staring at all of them in abject confusion.

"Those two think it was a lamb." He scoffed, still smug.

"They're thinking of the wizard version. We learnt the difference between muggle and magical fairytales in Muggle Studies."

"The big bad wolf also tried to eat Little Red Riding Hood." Luna said, popping up out of nowhere as she somehow did.

"I think this is all enough about fairytales." Draco announced.

"Only cause you were wrong." Harry sniped playfully.

"I'm never wrong." Draco rumbled, moving seductively towards Harry.

"How was the greenhouse, Neville?" Hermione asked, interrupting the two lovebirds before they became too sickening.

"It was great, I mostly took notes though."

Draco's eyes snapped from Harry to Neville, looking him up and down. "How did you get like that taking notes?"

"Oh, I was allowed to check out the more harmless ones. Some were a bit... excitable. It was fun though and Snape wasn't... what I expected." He didn't want to say as bad as he imagined, because Harry might take offence to it if he did as Severus was his father now technically.

"See, I knew he wouldn't kill you." Harry laughed, and they continued all together roaming the hall.

Neville only stayed with the group until he found a close by bathroom to wash in, but came back to relax with them later.

Harry was pulled from them for a few minutes however by Snape, who asked to have a word with him.

"Yeah?" Harry enquired, still in high spirits and hoping that whatever it was was good news.

"I don't want you telling your friends yet, they'll find out tomorrow anyway, but I've been thinking for a while now what we were going to do about going back to the school, and whether we should. Draco obviously can't, he's wanted by the Deatheaters to at least get his Mark, and with the Malfoy's ostensibly missing it's better all round for him to just not go back. We however have a decision to make. Neither of us has to go back, or only one of us. I can ask the Dark Lord to be assigned to looking for the Malfoy's, no one else will want the job and I am high enough up that even if they do he will rule in my favour. I will likely do this anyway but I can tell him it will require my full attention, I've not been able to get him any good information recently anyway, so he'll not see it as a great loss. You as Seth Snape can simply go back to your 'mother', or I can decide to not send you back to school after I quit. Dumbledore too has little say over any of this, he cannot decline my resignation and he has no power over you, nor can he expose who you are. If you really want to go back then you can, but I will be blunt when I tell you that I will not be going with you. You will have your friends though, and you may rest assured that I, as well as Narcissa and Lucius, will be keeping Draco safe."

"I don't want to go back." Harry said firmly, after digesting the information. "Not without you or Draco."

"That puts us in a better position." Severus said thoughtfully. "I'll be glad having you here and knowing you're safe."

Harry smiled at him, and went back to join the others.

Chapter Text

The next morning, only a few days before school was supposed to start up, Severus told everyone to meet in the library. Everyone but Harry was a little bewildered - Harry was fairly certain he knew what the talk was going to be about and he wasn't looking forward to it.

As they all waited for Severus to join them Dipsy couldn't resist, she started pacing in front of them all, her hands clasped behind her back. "I've gathered you all here today because there is a murderer in our midst." She said gravely, in a decent impression of a detective from an Agatha Christie book. Everyone turned to look at Lucius, who pursed his lips but decided not to speak, fortunately Severus saved him from having to reply anyway.

"Dipsy, sit down." He ordered lightly, sweeping into the room in a way Harry had only seen him do as a teacher - it seemed somehow out of place in their home. "I will get straight to the point.” He said, capturing all of their attention. “Obviously Draco cannot return to Hogwarts, but I have also decided that Seth will not be going back either." He had brought them all together this way because they all needed to be on the same page, and he doubted Harry's friends - particularly Granger - would agree with his decision, so they needed to get that out of the way immediately. "This means that it is likely I will not be going back either, I will inform the Dark Lord that I see no reason staying there as Harry is no longer there - or as far as anyone can tell is not anywhere - and Albus doesn't give anyone any information any more, instead I will offer to lead the hunt for the Malfoy's."

"What about his NEWT's?!" Hermione exclaimed.

"You won't need NEWT's if we all die." Dipsy said simply.

"Dipsy, what did I say?" Severus asked - he could see the way everyone was squirming uncomfortably at her cool indifference, it was after all a very real possibility and not one that any of them wanted to think about.

"To sit down."

"Well... be quiet as well." He sighed, turning back to the rest. "NEWT's can be taken at a later date. I've been thinking on this for a while."

"If Seth stays I'm staying too." Hermione said firmly.

"Me too." Put in Neville equally as obstinate.

"I'm Spartacus." Luna declared, leaping to her feet.

"Is that another one of your creatures, Lovegood?" Lucius sneered imperiously, leaning back in his chair and rolling his eyes.

"She means her too." Hermione clarified, yanking Luna to sit her back down.

Harry was touched that his friends were refusing to leave him, especially Hermione who he knew school meant a lot to, and Luna who was supposed to be taking her OWL's that year.

"This is rather a lot for a boy you met less than four months ago." Lucius said with disdain.

"I think he's very trustworthy and worth standing by." Narcissa agreed firmly, Lucius lifted his head in haughtily.

"He just bobbed up out of the blue, and if you ask me, that nose doesn't look like it's been anywhere near the Snape family tree."

"You've caught us," Dipsy said, throwing her hands up in the air. "He's really Harry Potter disguised as Seth Snape posing as master's son."

"There's no need to be facetious, elf." He snapped, casting an irritated glance around the room, everyone was chuckling. Before Dipsy could snipe back Severus cut in.

"If we could keep to the conversation at hand." Severus put in severely, everyone looked a little chastised. "With the war hotting up as it is, many parents are taking their children out of the school. I would need permission from all of your parents however, and as your parents are muggles Miss Granger, and unlikely to know about the war, we will spread a rumour that you have gone to join Potter."

"What if the boy turns up and says it's not true?" Lucius asked.

"It's only a rumour, it doesn't need to be true, it just needs to distract... and I doubt Albus will be bringing him back from wherever he is any time soon, so it's highly unlikely we'll be contradicted." Severus stated dismissively, he didn't want to delve too much into Harry or his whereabouts.

"Are you sure so many sudden disappearances won't look suspicious?" Hermione asked anxiously.

"Also sudden appearances." Lucius added staring directly at Harry, who glared straight back... though he felt distinctly uncomfortable at the thought that Lucius might guess who he was. Of course Narcissa had, but she had proved to be much smarter than Lucius, still he was worried.

"Honestly," Narcissa said dismissively and clearly exasperated. "You and your conspiracies. That is Severus' son." She said quite honestly. "He's looking after him because the poor boy's mother can't. Just because you can't believe that you're not as all seeing and all knowing as you thought does not make it a reason for suspicion. I'm sure this situation is as much of a surprise to them." She was right there, Harry thought, he admired the way she so effortlessly intertwined truths with lies until she blurred the lines even to him.

"Maybe he won't think anything of the disappearances." Harry suggested, wondering if Voldemort would really care about three students not going back to school for unexplained reasons.

"It has been happening a lot recently," Dipsy pointed out. "Why only last week the Malfoy's vanished without a trace." She snickered, unable to take anything seriously for an extended period of time.

"If we could keep this conversation on track." Severus sighed, rubbing his temples and wishing he could get some sense out of someone. "As friends of Potter you will likely be targets anyway... in fact you will safer away from the school, where you could be in danger from those loyal to him. The Dark Lord is extremely paranoid, no doubt his suspicions will be aroused that we have all left at the same time and he is... difficult when suspicious, but there is nothing to be done about that."

"He wouldn't try to kill you would he?" Harry asked anxiously - he wasn't prepared to lose someone else, he couldn't go through that again.

Severus hesitated. "I don't know what he will do. The Dark Lord is a strange man and acts more on whims since returning. If he believes I am still helpful he would be unlikely to take it that far... I can't really know how he will react. But his army is dwindling and Lucius leaving was a blow to it... however small," He added, simply out of spite. “He will not be culling us without at least a trial." Of course, by trial he meant a thoroughly invasive sift through his mind until he found the answers he wanted, but there was no point saying that out loud. It wouldn't be the first time it had happened, and probably wouldn't be the last.

Chapter Text

"I went back to the study." Hermione began, closing her book and laying it on the table in front of her. They were all in the library - Neville was researching some of the greenhouse plants for Snape to add to their notes, while Harry and Draco were just resting together in a armchair.

"Why would anyone go back there?" Draco asked, he really didn't understand Gryffindors.

"That's the thing, I couldn't. The crank wouldn't turn."

"Why not? It was easy enough when I did it." Harry asked, genuinely puzzled. There was no way Hermione wasn't strong enough, the crank had moved easily for him, maybe it was a bit rusty though.

"It wouldn't even budge." She went on. "There's something not right about that study or the portrait in it."

"You don't say." Draco rolled his eyes.

"He seemed nice." Neville mumbled evenly.

"Just because he also has a hard on for plants doesn't make him nice." Draco smirked, getting a swat from Harry.

"It's sad, he's up there dead, alone, and was just trying to be nice, while we're down here... slagging him off." Neville couldn't help feeling bad for him, though like the rest he wasn't sure if he really wanted to go back there.

"Dipsy has no idea who he is." Harry said, suddenly remembering how confused she had been when he brought it up.

"Then who's been helping him?" Draco asked, actually sitting up a bit.

"I don't know..."

"You're right, this guy is weird." Neville agreed, wondering if the portrait had been lying.

"Has anyone else noticed that he's the only portrait in the whole of the manor?" Hermione asked, leaning forward into the group conspiratorially

"The other ones were taken down." Harry shrugged, though now that he thought of it no one had ever said that, he'd just assumed.

"I haven't found them."

"Just how much have you been snooping around?" Draco asked.

"That doesn't matter, what matters is there are no others, that I could find. Not even a talking mirror."

"That's not surprising... Snape abhors anything that tries to talk to him. Except you." Draco added, patting Harry on the back.

"Thanks." Harry grinned, but he couldn't help his eyes flicking to Neville as he thought of the day before when he had seen Severus and him talking animatedly in the garden.

"But a manor and family like this..." Neville said slowly.

"Exactly. But you know what I did find?" She asked, leaving a slightly dramatic pause. "Frames."

"Ooh, spooky." Draco gasped, sarcastically.

"What do you mean frames?"

"Frames," She repeated simply. "Just frames. Lots of them and none of them had portraits in, he's the only one."

"Weird." Harry frowned bewildered, there was a lot he didn't understand about that man, they didn't even know his name, Hermione seemed to be thinking the same thing.

"We need his name, then we can look him up in the Prince's history."

"Why look him up?" Draco asked. "If we go back there he'll tell us his whole history."

"You don't have to be involved." Harry pointed out.

"Well, I can't move until your bony arse is off my lap, can I?" He leaned close to nibble Harry's shoulder.

"He said 300 years ago when we were there so I've gathered all the books from then." Hermione went on, ignoring the two boys and feeling very glad that the library books were so well documented and organised.

"Where's Luna?" Neville asked, suddenly looking around. It had just struck him that she'd left.

"She was here a minute ago," Hermione said, looking between some shelves wondering if Luna might be lurking around them. "I'm sure she was back here."

* * *

"I only took up knitting because I never really enjoyed embroidery, and mother insisted a proper young lady should have some kind of handicraft." Narcissa told Luna as the needles in her hands effortlessly clicked together to make a black jumper. "Bella loved needlework though... of course stabbing something hundreds of times is her idea of a perfect afternoon."

Draco burst in, all of them were in a rush to locate Luna and make sure she wasn't up to anything she shouldn't be. "There you are," He greeted her before looking over to his mother, who was talking. "Hello mother." She gave him a smile in acknowledgement. "Luna, we're having a 'team adventure' meeting." He said, nodding to the door.

Narcissa smirked, she didn't know what they were up to but she knew it was something. She watched the teens fondly as they left.

"I found her." Draco called, Harry ran down the hall to join them.

"Luna, you really need to stop running off." He panted but once again she was down the corridor, darting up the old stairs. Harry and Draco shook their heads, snickering to each other before following along after her.

Hermione and Neville were already up there, their wands lighting up the room. They were by the crank, Neville pulling it ineffectually.

"It's really stuck." He said with a final grunt before letting go.

"Harry managed it." Draco pointed out, storming over to have a try but for him it still wouldn't move. "How did you do it?" He asked, trying to push instead, wondering if he was going to wrong way.

"I just did." Harry shrugged, as soon as he touched it it cranked easily, it still snagged occasionally from rust and age but otherwise it wasn't hard at all, he didn't even have to apply much force.

"Only you can do it." Neville said in confused wonder.

"Maybe it imprinted on you the first time you did it." Hermione thought aloud.

"Luna touched it first."

"It's your study, Harry." Luna said in her dreamy voice.

"I... er..." Harry didn't know what to say. "I don't think so..."

"Well, you're the only Prince out of us so it's yours." She replied simply.

"She's right," Hermione announced. "It's because you're a Prince."

"I'm not a..." Harry started to laugh. "Oh, yeah, I am, aren't I?. Oh. Is that... it then?"

"Why don't we ask the guy?" Neville suggested.

"If we must." Draco groaned.

Harry started cranking; of course he'd be the only one who could do the actual hard work, they were some long stairs. The others waited impatiently, even Draco who had no desire to see the boring portrait again looked as though he was enjoying himself. Luna was swaying, lost in her mind as usual, bouncing on the spot gently as though listening to music.

She stopped, suddenly thudding her foot on the floor. "Clunk." She said as the stairs themselves gave a small clunk. They all stopped and stared at her and she looked up, confused that the scrape of the stairs had stopped. "Didn't you hear it?" She asked.

Harry thrust the crank backwards, pulling the stairs back up a bit, and while they all remained completely silent and listening he started to crank again. The gentle scrape picked back up until... clunk.

"I wonder what that is." Harry said, peering down the stairs.

"Don't you dare." Draco stepped forwards, he could see the look in Harry's eyes. "They aren't all the way down. You'll fall and break your neck."

"How far down are they Luna?" Harry asked, squinting into the dusty abyss.

"Nearly all the way." She answered after a thoughtful pause.

He put a foot cautiously onto the step as though they might all crumble beneath him but they stayed firm and after a few he figured they'd be fine. Draco grabbed his arm roughly.

"Harry, you're an idiot." He told him before letting go. He highly doubted being able to talk him out of it so he descended the stairs with him. Keeping a solid grip on him in case he made a misstep and needed Draco to pull him back up.

Shining their wands around they could still barely see anything. It was all just grimy stone walls anyway nothing particularly interesting.

"That's the end." Draco said a note of panic in his voice that he quickly tried to hide. "See there's nothing here, let's go back up."

"No, look." Harry said somewhat obliviously bending down to a metal grate. It was dotted with holes from rust and screeched when Harry tugged on the handle.

"You're going to get a disease from that." Draco wrinkled his nose as Harry fought against the once sliding door.

"I think it's rusted shut." Harry sighed.

"Oh, no, what a shame. Should we just go back up then."

"Wait," Draco sighed and rolled his eyes, pointing his light below them, he could see the floor it was a little far down but for the most part a fall from there wouldn't kill you. He blew out a breath in relief and leaned back against the wall. "I think I've... just about..." Harry said, after a while of only making grunting and squeaking noises.

Before he could actually get it open however the stairs started to move again, they were going back up, and they found that the stairs didn't go down the steps came out of the walls but now they were going back in.

Draco grabbed Harry and shoved him in front of him, there was no way he was going to let Harry - the only one would could move the stairs, and his boyfriend - get trapped down there.

"Guys!" Harry called up as they took the stairs several at a time.

"We're trying to stop it." Hermione called back sounding strained.

They got up in good time and the others sighed in relief as they let go to the crank they were all desperately clinging onto the keep it from moving. It flew quickly round and in a matter of seconds the stairs and hole in the room were gone.

Harry and Draco lay on the floor out of breath, the others crowded around them. "What was there?"

"An old vent." Draco snapped derisively, he wasn't having any fun any more.

"It's not a vent. Who would put a vent there?" Harry asked.

"Who would put a secret study in an attic that needs to be cranked open only by a Prince and tries to kill you if you take too long?!"

"It wasn't trying to kill you," Hermione said rationally. "It's on a release, the time limit is shorter when they aren't fully down. It must just be how it was built but we didn't stay to see how long the stairs stayed the first time." She said thoughtfully, giving the same look she had in lessons when she came across a particularly knotty problem.

"Well, we were up close and personal this time," Draco growled. "Add it to your notes, I'm going to lunch." He stomped off down the stairs.

"I'll just..." Harry nodded towards Draco, the others nodded and let him go after his partner, tactfully staying the attic a few extra minutes before going down too because there wasn't much they could do up there now.

 

Chapter Text

"Draco! What's wrong?" Harry asked, running to catch Draco up.

"Look Harry, I know you have to kill Voldemort. I don't like it but I've accepted it, but it's like you... actively seek out dangerous situations. Finding the stairs and study was one thing but we could have died or got trapped down there."

"The others would've gotten us out."

"You're the only one who can open the stairs!"

"Oh... yeah." Harry said, quietly thoughtful.

"You never think before you do things, you could have fallen straight off those stairs."

"Severus could've opened the stairs!"

"This isn't about the stairs, Harry." Draco sighed.

"Then what is it about, because it was definitely about stairs a second ago."

"It's about you putting yourself in unnecessary danger."

"Fine, we'll look into it more before we go back. Hermione's already researching them." Harry looked at him earnestly and Draco shook his head – how was he supposed to resist that look?

"I just don't want you to get yourself killed." He said eventually.

"I'll try not to... but I'm not promising that trouble won't find me."

Draco snorted. "I wouldn't want you to change that much."

* * *

True to his word Harry told the others that they were going to have to leave exploring further for a bit, but as it happened they didn't really get a choice anyway. Severus declared the next day at breakfast that he had fire-called Neville's gran, who had been very reasonable in regards to Neville not going back to the school. He'd felt no reason to lie to her and told her quite frankly what was going on, with a few side steps around the truth slipped in; she wasn't an member of the Order herself but she knew that Severus was, and trusted him to keep Neville safe.

Luna's father hadn't been any trouble and Severus got the feeling that he could've told the man his daughter was on the moon and he wouldn't have minded, as long as she was okay with it. The only people he hadn't spoken to was Hermione's parents, largely due to the fact he had no idea where to start.

If he should lie or if he should come out with everything about the war and her safety. He didn't know them in the way he knew the others and tackling them would be much harder because of that.

When he informed Hermione that he hadn't asked them yet, though school was going to be starting again in a couple of days she told him that she would tell them herself. He was far too relieved to complain about it but he did hover around the phone for a while, lurking in a room nearby to hear what she told them.

According to Hermione she had been accepted into a gifted and talented program and was going to be studying away from Hogwarts for a while, at a place where they could cater to her education. He wondered briefly if he should storm out and tell them the truth but he supposed that, at least for now, that was all they needed to think. It would probably be better if they didn't know all the details or any.

* * *

They had a few more days of peace, but the first day they were supposed to be going back was the most uncomfortable. Severus decided that their tutoring would start the day after since none of them would concentrate as they thought of their friends back at the school, unpacking again, wondering where they were, talking about their holidays and discussing gossip, as well as the looming threat that they might be found. That someone from the school might show up at any moment.

Severus had sent in his resignation, he didn't know if he'd ever go back even once the war was finished but he certainly wasn't going back now. Albus had fussed slightly but when Severus told him the Dark Lord had set him on a mission that would take up too much of his time he relented on the condition that Severus had to explain it to him at some point. He was more embittered that he had lost Harry, but even that he relented on when Severus told him he'd be giving him some personal training, for the time being he was keeping it secret that the others were with them.

After they struggled through the tense anxiety of the first day Severus laid out the work they were going to do, handing them all parchment with timetables carefully drawn out.

"Just because you aren't going back doesn't mean you aren't going to work just as hard." Severus informed them, Harry was the only one to audibly groan.

"I can tell I'm going to be bottom." He sighed. Hermione loved learning and studying, Draco didn't exactly enjoy it but he was good at it and didn't particularly hate it, Neville felt the same as Harry but was too quiet to say anything about it and Luna, well, she was Luna, and she wasn't a Ravenclaw for nothing.

"No son of mine is going to be bottom." Severus stated firmly.

"Too late." Draco snickered, unable to help himself.

Harry slapped him hard under the table, his cheeks tinged a dusty pink, Neville had gone full blown red while Hermione snorted, putting a hand over her mouth to try and stop her giggles. Luna was sitting passively and no one was sure whether she understood or not. Lucius was completely oblivious even as Narcissa snickered discreetly behind her hand next to him.

Severus coughed to get the room back in hand, only Narcissa dared to continue to snigger to herself when he did, though quietly. "That's quite enough of that." He told them severely, his face was completely unreadable but the note of embarrassment in his voice was more than enough. He composed himself with a deep but imperceptible breath and continued. "I will be taking you for Dark Arts, Defence Against The Dark Arts, Herbology and, of course, Potions. Narcissa will take you for Charms and Transfiguration."

"What about me?" Lucius asked, everyone stared at him but no one was shocked. When the idea was first brought up he thought it was pointless, but now that he wasn't involved of course he wanted to participate.

Before any argument could start up, and thankful that Dipsy wasn't there to pick one as soon as Lucius gave an opening, Severus spoke. "You will help me with Defence, I can't duel against myself," Lucius looked a little nervous at that as he adjusted his collar. "And I've no doubt I can find other ways to make you useful." He said dryly. Lucius seemed as though he was going to protest but he knew that would look ridiculous now and as though he was afraid. He would simply refuse Severus if he tried to force him to do any errands for him, so he made no fuss.

Severus and Narcissa had evidently been planning it all for a while since everything was already for them. Narcissa's lessons were alright, for their first lessons with her she just wanted to know what they could do and what they struggled with so they were fairly easy and somewhat dull.

Severus they had had for a teacher for almost over five years so they knew his style, and it was much the same now, but as it was the few of them and he was somewhat comfortable around them he wasn't as curt or cutting and was much more inclined to actively help.

For their Herbology lesson he took them to his greenhouse. Neville was the only one who had ever been in there, and when one of the more friendly looking plants shook its leaves excitedly at Severus and Neville but ignored the others Harry couldn't help the pang of jealously at never having been invited in before.

Not that he'd ever really wanted to, it didn't interest him, but it interested Severus and he wanted to share that, but he had Neville to share that with now.

They were dragged over to a small brown puddle where Severus instructed Draco to stand in it, Neville giggled obviously aware of what was going to happen.

"Now what?" Draco asked, looking at the puddle curiously.

"Now, the others try to get you out before it ruins your hair." Severus smirked, taking half a step back as everyone took in his words.

"What?!" Draco snapped, trying to pull himself out but his feet were stuck firmly in the trap.

They managed to get him out when he was about waist deep, the trick in the end was to add water to make the consistency wet enough they he could climb or be pulled out.

Severus held out a hand to Draco, who took it but looked up at him with distrustful eyes, all the man did though was haul him up onto his feet out out of the puddle. It wasn't really dangerous, as the puddle would've simply spat Draco back out before his head was even under but it did make them work successfully as a team, which he knew they could already do but that was why Draco had been the one in the puddle. He needed the Slytherin to see what it was like to work as a team and to participate, but not be in the position of power or able to just sulk because no one was listening to him, he had to help but his help was limited.

The rest of the lesson consisted of Severus explaining where a puddle like that might be found and why he thought it would come in handy to learn about them. There were several plants he owned that they would never need to know about because they would never come across them. That was why they were in his greenhouse and not the other one as all of those plants were long ago thought to be extinct, were illegal or regulated.

He ushered them inside once they were done to get them to their Defence lesson, which he'd decided was going to be held in the dining hall to give them plenty of room, all the chairs had been removed and the long stretching table was pushed up against the wall as out of the way as possible.

Before they could get there they bumped into Dipsy. "So, when do I get to teach them?" She asked.

Severus frowned, Dipsy hadn't expressed any interest in teaching them, and as her magic worked much differently from theirs there wasn't much she could teach them. "What would you teach them?"

"Well, first it would be how to wipe their shoes when they come into the house." She said gesturing to the five sets of muddy footprints being tracked down the corridor, Severus was as usual immaculate. The others however immediately flooded her with apologies. She waved her hand dismissively and all the prints were gone as well as the mud on each of their shoes - even Draco, who had only had a quick cleaning spell from Severus that still left him feeling some of the crusty dried dirt on his trousers, looked and felt spotless.

Chapter Text

Severus frowned, inspecting the cork necklaces wrapped around the banisters. He looked up as Harry wandered out. "Do you know anything about this?" He asked, trying to sound as casual as possible so Harry didn't think he was accusing him.

"Luna," He grinned in explanation "Apparently they keep away evil."

"No, that's Dipsy."

"I can tell Luna to take it down."

"Don't bother," Severus told him dismissively. "I don't mind, as long as she keeps it to the banister."

"She will." Harry said with more confidence than he actually felt about it. As they were each about to go off to wherever they were heading Severus stopped abruptly, causing Harry to turn back too.

"Do you know where Neville is?" He asked. Harry stared at him in slight shock.

"Neville?" He stammered, he'd never heard Severus call Neville anything but Longbottom.

"Mm," Severus nodded oblivious to Harry's annoyance and confusion. "There's some re-potting in the greenhouse I need to do and I think he'll enjoy it." He hesitated, wondering if he should invite Harry too but decided that Harry would have no interest in it anyway.

"No, I don't know." Harry said as casually as he could, before running off to Draco's room.

* * *

Draco was relaxing back on his bed, lounging back on his pillows with his legs crossed at the ankle, when Harry slammed in and flopped into the chair at his desk. "Are you alright?" He asked, peering over his book.

"Of course I'm alright. Why wouldn't I be alright?" Harry snapped, pulling a thick text book from a pile and dropping it heavily onto the desk.

"You just seem a little stressed."

"Me? Stressed? No. I've only just got a dad who apparently wants to spend more time with Neville than he does with me. Why would that bother me? It's fine. I'm fine." Harry growled, decidedly not fine.

"He doesn't want to spend more time with Neville." Draco rolled his eyes, attempting to be helpful.

"And Neville's scared of him." Harry aggressively opened the book to the wrong page, glaring down at it not reading anything, ignoring Draco's input.

"Can you blame him?"

"But why are they spending so much time together? He hates Neville. He's always hated Neville."

"He hated you." Draco pointed out.

"And I've only just got a father, why has he got to try and steal him?"

"Neville doesn't really have one either."

"Go away, I want to talk to you on my own. You're more helpful in my head." Harry grouched, tossing the book back where he found it, groaning as he turned to face his boyfriend snippily.

"Oh, you want helpful? Fine. Neville is not trying to steal Snape, he just likes Herbology and wanted to be let into the greenhouse which Snape won't let him into alone. As for Snape, of course he still doesn't particularly like him, he tolerates him for you and because as a Slytherin he understands the merits of free labour. Feel better now?"

"Yes." Harry mumbled moodily, climbing onto the bed next to him. Draco shuffled over and wrapped an arm around him.

"I love you." Draco told him softly, kissing his cheek.

"Love you too... but I'm still annoyed." Draco just chuckled, turning Harry's head to capture his pouty lips in a passionate kiss.

"I've found him!" Hermione announced, storming into the room triumphantly. She paused when she saw the couple curled together on the bed. "I can come back." She offered but the moment was already over.

"Just come in." Draco groaned.

"Found who? Portrait guy?" Harry asked excitedly.

"Yes! Also known as Laurence Prince." She told them, thrusting a book in their faces, she had been going though old Prince family volumes for days.

"So, what's there about him?"

"He was born and he died." She answered flatly.

"Anything in-between?"

"Not according to this."

"What nothing?"

"Maybe he didn't do anything remarkable. He's a mysterious portrait now, he could've just been normal when he was alive."

"If it's only remarkable things the Prince's put in their family trees they should raise their standard for 'remarkable', most of them record everything.” Hermione snorted. “Even his sister has a whole section dedicated to her life - which wasn't very interesting - he's barely mentioned in it, only that she was 'really looking forward to her new baby brother', almost nothing after that, after he was actually born; but we know he grows up because he's an adult in his portrait and was even the owner of Prince Manor for a week before his death, and it looks like that part was reluctantly written."

"Alright, but was all this necessary to barge in on us for?" Draco drawled, but as much as he would liked to have said he didn't care about the portrait man, Laurence, he couldn't help being sort of interested - he still thought the information was pretty lacklustre though.

"I didn't know you were going to be doing anything..."

"We weren't doing anything!" Harry blushed, cutting in defensively.

"And I couldn't find Luna, Neville is with Snape but I knew you two were studying, or supposed to be." She smirked, Harry blushed more and busied himself with inspecting the small picture of a younger Laurence.

A knock made them jump and the door was opened again. "Ah, Seth," Lucius greeted them, Harry willed away his red face and looked up in response to his pseudo name. "I thought you'd be with Draco, with you being such good friends. I'm taking you for a duel now."

Harry nodded and stood up; he already knew that Lucius was going to be taking him and Draco for duels instead of Severus, partially because he had made such a fuss about being involved, and partly because no one trusted him duelling with the other three less able duellers. Though Harry wasn't sure how much he trusted Lucius when they were alone he hadn't actually shown any signs of trying to kill him yet.

Hermione looked at Lucius and Harry disappearing through the door and turned to Draco with a quizzical eyebrow.

"He's glad that I've finally got a friend I'm close to." He shrugged, Hermione rolled her eyes and left. None of them spent much time with Draco when Harry wasn't with him, something he was grateful for. Harry's friends had grown on him and he could even say he liked them now, but they were still best in small doses, & preferably accompanied by Harry, so he said nothing and went back to the book he'd been absently studying.

* * *

Lucius took Harry to the dining-room, their usual practise room. He felt his nerves rising at the thought of being in there with just him and Lucius, Severus was usually there for their lessons but today he was outside.

"So," He cringed, he hated whenever Lucius started a sentence with 'so...', it almost always meant he was going to say something stupid. "Your mother's a witch then?" He asked, Harry barely held back from rolling his eyes, it was obvious the man had been bursting to ask.

"Yes." He said truthfully.

"And her parents?"

"I don't know. They're dead."

"Hm." He hummed unsympathetically as he opened the door.

Harry breathed a sigh of relief when he saw Narcissa sitting in there, on a chair next to one of the enormous tables pushed against the wall, she greeted them both with a smile.

"Seth, Lucius. Not harranging the poor boy I hope." She said with a knowing air.

"Of course not," Lucius replied immediately, like a school boy who had been caught smoking behind the broom sheds. "I need this room to teach." He said, regaining his imperious air easily.

"I won't get in your way."

"I would hate for a stray curse to hit you."

"So would I,” Narcissa said, a hint of warning in her voice. “but I'm sure my shields are more than up to the task. I'd quite like to watch." She added in a final yet casual tone that made Lucius nod and gesture for Harry to follow him to the middle of the room. "I'll mediate." She offered, giving Harry a grin behind Lucius' back.