Sequel to Mine
"Harry, what are you doing?"
Snape smelled the blood even before the boy turned and his heart froze for a moment in his chest. He stepped forward and grasped Harry's pointed chin and tilted his head up.
"What happened? Who did this to you?" he said sharply.
Harry licked a drop of blood on his lower lip, and grimaced. His eyes were wide and shiny but his face was dry.
"I falled down," he said ashamedly. "I was climbing the bed curtain. I didn't break it!" He hurriedly added.
"You could have broken your neck," Snape muttered, gently pulling down Harry's lower lip with his thumb. "You've knocked a tooth out."
Harry nodded and held out one hand. A small tattered tooth lay in a drop of blood on his grubby palm.
"It was loose anyway," he admitted.
"It's fortunate we're going to see Madam Pomfrey. She'll take the pain away in an instant."
Harry nodded agreement and made to climb down from in front of the wide bathroom mirror, but his father stopped him with a touch to his arm.
"Why didn't you call me, Harry?"
Harry frowned. "I didn't make a mess," he insisted. "No blood on the floor or anything."
Snape stroked a small streak of blood from Harry's chin. "I'm not talking about the bedroom, Harry. You were hurt, you should have come to me."
Harry blinked, genuine confusion on his face. "Why?"
Snape was at a loss for words for a moment. "Because you can," he finally managed. "If you need anything you can come to me. That's what fathers are for." Or so he supposed, he'd never been one before and his own hadn't been an ideal role model.
Harry absorbed this for a moment, slanted green eyes thoughtful. "Do you kiss it better?" he said curiously.
"Do I what?" Now he was the one confused. His first thought was of some kind of healing spell, except Harry hadn't even known what a spell was a few weeks ago.
Shrugging, Harry climbed down from the chair. "Nothing," he said matter of factly. "I fall down sometimes. It's nothing to make a big fuss about."
"It's not nothing, Harry," his father said insistently, following him from the bathroom. He could hear echoes of those cold hearted Muggles in that statement.
"You could have been seriously hurt. You must learn to come to me if there's a problem." He touched the boy's jet black hair gently and Harry stopped and looked up at him, eyes a little shadowed now. Snape met those eyes, wondering why he was making such a song and dance about this. Surely it suited him better for Harry to be self sufficient? He would have been the first to complain if the boy ran to him with every little scratch and scrape.
And yet... Harry was still such a little boy. Self sufficiency was one thing, but not even understanding enough to realise it was acceptable to seek comfort when hurt... He thought of the nights Harry had crept from his bed into the wardrobe. Was this why he hadn't sought his father out in the next room? Didn't he realise he could?
Snape crouched and grasped narrow little shoulders. "Harry. It's all right, you know? If you're hurt or afraid. Or just if you want to see me for some reason. It's all right to come to me."
"It's... It's a bother," Harry said uncertainly, lifting his hands and holding his father's forearms with slender little fingers.
Words came without bidding but they tasted right in Snape's mouth as he spoke them. "You could never be a bother." He caught his son's eyes, emerald darkened to jade in the shadowed hall. They looked back at him, the old fear in their depth almost more than he wanted to deal with. Almost more than he felt capable of dealing with. As usual words never felt adequate to reach this child.
He tightened his hands a little and Harry squeezed his arms, their eyes still locked together, jade green lightening a little as the moments stretched.
"Okay," Harry finally agreed, and Snape felt a little of the tightness in his chest ease.
"We should get you to Madam Pomfrey," he said, squeezing gently one last time before standing straight again. he kept one hand on Harry's shoulder and the boy circled his wrist for a moment, long little fingers soft and cool. Then Harry looked up at him and nodded, his smile showing the gap near his lower front teeth. "You remember you're to stay with her while I meet with Professor Dumbledore?"
"Can't I come with you to see the Perfessor?" Harry said quickly. "I'll be quiet."
"Not today," Snape said absently. "Come, Harry, or we'll be late."
Snape forced himself to take a deep breath and then another.
"You cannot be serious?"
"Severus," Dumbledore chided fondly. "Would I joke about something like this?"
This time he forced himself to count to ten, but he only got to four before his temper got the better of him. "Under no circumstances," he grated through his teeth. "Will that werewolf come anywhere near my son!"
"If you'd just think about it, Severus," Dumbledore began reasonably.
"No," Snape snapped, jumping to his feet. "I will not think about it! I have given into you every step of the way but on this I will not bend!" He paced the room, ignoring the muttering from the surrounding portraits in his rage.
"I wouldn't say you've given in," the headmaster denied reasonably. "And after all, hasn't everything worked out for the best?"
"Best?" Snape jerked to a halt, his long robe swirling round his ankles. "Best?" he repeated incredulously. "I've given up my life and my home to come here! I'm being trained for a job I have no desire or calling for, and living in a place I can scarcely bear surrounded by people who look at me and still see a snot nosed first former! How exactly is that best?"
Dumbledore steepled his fingers and looked thoughtful. Snape prepared himself for some maudlin soliloquy about Harry, but the old wizard merely inclined his head. "I appreciate that it must be difficult to work with witches and wizards who once taught you," he agreed.
"Difficult?" Snape spat angrily. "McGonagall once called me an addle-pated nitwit! In front of an entire class full of Gryffindors!"
"That was unkind of her," the headmaster murmured into his beard.
"And Binns once set fire to one of my essays. Set fire to it! Just because I'd misspelled a few goblin names."
"Bagnock the Brave, wasn't it?" Dumbledore recalled softly with that annoyingly pinpoint memory of his. "Or Bigcock the Brave as you renamed him."
"The Bold actually," Snape corrected with a smirk. He'd forgotten the prank that had led up to his humiliation at Binns hands. And actually, now he thought about it, McGonagall had only called him a nitwit when he transfigured her favourite thistle brooch into a toad that proceeded to hop out of the window.
He crossed his arms defensively. "This is all beside the point," he said loudly.
"The point being Professor Lupin."
"Professor?" Snape bit out sarcastically. "Who in their right mind would hire a werewolf to teach their children?"
"The parents of a child infected by a werewolf?" Dumbledore said quietly. "Such children aren't always welcome at schools and unfortunately prejudice against those afflicted can even run to family members. And sadly money is often too tight for folk in that position to afford a private tutor for long."
Snape remembered his desperate young customer and grimaced. Why were people constantly attempting to tug on heart strings he didn't possess? "So your candidate for the job of teaching my son is a wizard who is shunned by most of society and considered virtually unemployable by decent folk?" Snape sneered silkily. "I know you said you'd pay his wages but don't you think we can aim a little higher?"
"As it turns out I think Remus is perfect for the job," Dumbledore said firmly. "He will make a wonderful tutor for the boys."
And when he is 'afflicted'?" Snape said sarcastically. "He has a disease, headmaster! I will not take the chance that my son may contract it."
"You know better than that, Severus," Dumbledore said reproachfully. "At the times that Lupin is infectious he will be safely asleep, thanks to your marvelous potion." He paused for a moment. "Did I mention that his contract states you will be supplying him with the sleeping draught every month?"
Snape opened his mouth, silent in sheer outrage but Dumbledore rushed on, not giving him a chance to express it.
"Anyway, I'd have thought you'd welcome a werewolf nearby to experiment on, in a controlled manner of course. Dolly Bright tells me you're working on a more complex potion for one so afflicted?"
Snape gritted his teeth. "Dolly Bright is still a bloody great-"
"Well well, never mind!" Dumbledore interrupted jovially, eyes twinkling. "Seriously, Severus, it's not as if I have unlimited choice for the position. Qualifications are only one aspect. Lupin was a member of the Order and he has my absolute trust when it comes to both Harry and Neville."
"He doesn't have mine," Snape shot back. "Nor can I believe Mrs Longbottom will welcome a werewolf as a tutor for her precious grandson."
"You forget that her son and his wife were good friends of James and Lily as well as Remus and..." Dumbledore broke off, his lined old face sad.
"And Sirius Black," Snape finished nastily. "You all trusted him too. Look how well that turned out."
Dumbledore just gazed at him for a long moment and Snape finally looked away irritably. He hated how the old fool could make him feel like a worm without a word.
"Fine," he bit out, standing abruptly. "Hire a werewolf. I wash my hands of the whole matter. It's your responsibility, headmaster."
Dumbledore sighed and nodded his white head. "And like my other many responsibilities, Severus I do not take it lightly."
Snape swept down the corridor, anger driving his footsteps. He had another half an hour before he had to pick up Harry from Madam Pomfrey and he felt it prudent not to go back to the boy in his current mood.
Fuming silently his long legs ate up the worn stone floors, footsteps unconsciously leading him on old familiar pathways. It was a Hogsmeade afternoon and most of the school was empty. Out on the Quidditch pitch the first and second formers were enjoying their free run and the exclusive use of the school brooms. It was only as he felt the cold chill of the breeze on his face that Snape realised his footsteps had led him to the top of the Astronomy Tower overlooking the pitch.
How like Dumbledore to expect him to calmly accept a werewolf as a tutor for his only child and then turn it all around by looking hurt at accusations of meddling. The old troublemaker should have been awarded an Order of Merlin for the bloody sport, he certainly excelled in it. Look how he had dragged Snape into all this from his perfectly peaceful life!
Snape kicked at a crumbling bit of stone and sank back onto a familiar old seat. How many hours had he spent up here alone, attempting to study? Away from the torment of enemies and the sly machinations of housemates. Seeking peace.
Snape took a deep breath now and tried to calm his angry mind, feeling the quiet solitude of this high place soaking into him.
It wasn't that he had anything against werewolves as a whole, he mused reasonably. Only the ones that had actually come close to killing him.
Snape scowled irritably. Of all the wizards in the world Dumbledore couldn't have picked one more designed to spark his bad temper.
Remus Lupin. The last of the Marauders.
Actually that was kind of pathetic when you thought about it, Snape thought, his mood improving slightly. The four Gryffindor hooligans who had thought themselves such bigshots and who had worked so hard to make his life a misery every chance they got. And where were they now?
Sirius Black. Mad as mongoose like the rest of his inbred family, locked away for life in Azkaban.
James Potter, recklessly getting himself killed before his twenty fifth birthday, and leaving Snape's own flesh and blood to be raised by his half blood wife's Muggle family.
And that crawler, Pettigrew. Blown to bits by one of his best friends, serve the little rat right.
That just left the werewolf. Shunned by society, forced to beg for work from the man he had once tormented.
That was actually rather a pleasant idea if you thought about it.
Snape snorted, studying the view absently. That was not a good enough reason to resign himself to this. Employing a tutor for his son could not come down to petty revenge. This had to be about Harry and what was best for him.
After all, that seemed to be what every decision was about these days, Snape thought, not without some small measure of bitterness. Not that he resented or regretted his decision, not at all. But really, how many sacrifices was a man expected to make for a conception he hadn't even got a decent orgasm out of?
The setting sun was casting long reflections over the Quidditch pitch and Snape followed the path of one future Seeker as he boldly swung his broom through each of the three hoops in quick succession and then did it again without his hands touching his broomstick.
Snape leaned back against the cold stone parapet and closed his eyes. Perhaps it was time for honesty, at least to himself. He sighed deeply. Self truths. That was always such a bore.
He wondered if Dumbledore knew? Probably, that cunning old wizard always saw more than he let on. But it wasn't an unreasonable position to take, was it? After all, Harry was his now. He'd earned the right to call him that after giving up so much to be with him.
Was it so unreasonable then not to want one of James Potter's best friends teaching the lad?
Right now Harry was his and his alone. He heard Snape's version of events and trusted in them, innocent green eyes unquestioningly believing every word his father said. But the time would come, it would invariably come when Harry began to hear other versions of events, when Harry learned the truth.
All the truths.
Was it so unreasonable of Snape to want to keep Harry to himself for a little while longer?
And that's what he had to admit, and that's what Dumbledore had doubtless already figured out. He wasn't worried about Harry being infected by the Gryffindor werewolf so much as he was worried about the lad being influenced by him.
Below him on the pitch Snape noticed Madam Hooch whistling for all the brooms to be bought back to the shed and with a start he realised it was nearly full dark. He stood hurriedly, cursing under his breath. He'd promised to pick Harry up at four and he was well overdue. The lad would be worried.
The doors to the infirmary were wide open and ghosts were streaming out. Nearly Headless Nick doffed his head and spoke bracingly to him as he glided past. "Buck up, old chap! We'll find him!"
Suddenly panicked Snape rushed through the doors to be met by an anxious Madam Pomfrey, wringing her hands in her spotless white apron. "Severus!" she exclaimed. "Where have you been?"
"Where's Harry?" he said urgently, looking down the length of the ward.
"He was so impatient for you to arrive!" she said, hands still wringing the cloth. "He wanted to go looking for you but I said you were just late and you'd be along."
Snape caught her shoulders and shook them roughly. "Where is he?"
"I don't know," she whispered, her eyes damp. "He ran out of here and by the time I got out into the hall he was gone! I've sent the ghosts looking for him, and Mr Filch."
"Harry's afraid of the ghosts," Snape said impatiently. "Has anyone tried our rooms?"
"I sent some seventh year girls who were working with me today off to your tower. I'm so sorry, Severus-"
Snape cut her off, turning sharply on his heel. "I'll go to the potions dungeons, he's been there with me few times. Message me if he's found."
He hurried down the hall, cursing himself under his breath. He knew better than anyone how Harry worried every time his father left him alone. How could he be so thoughtless as to forget him?
Harry's name echoed down the corridors as he took the steps down to the dungeons two at a time. Students voices had joined in the chorus now and Snape concentrated on keeping his feet on the dark narrow stairs, trying not to think of Harry alone and afraid in one of these darkened halls. What if he wandered into an unsafe area? What if he met the Bloody Baron or Peeves the Poltergeist?
The dungeons were locked up tight and Snape pulled one of the everlasting torches from the wall and held it high to illuminate every corner of the dank old corridor, calling his son's name.
"Harry? Harry, don't be afraid, it's me. It's..." he broke off, leaning against one of the walls for a moment. "It's your stupid father," he finished to himself. "The one who forgot you while he wandered off in a bad temper. What did you think, son? That I'd gone away and left you? How could I forget every night when you quietly ask me not to go anywhere while you sleep?"
A flapping noise behind him had him spinning and he instantly spotted the paper bird that sped towards him. It opened its beak and Madam Pomfrey's voice squeaked out tinnily. "Severus! The Fat Friar reports Harry has been found outside! Some Gryffindor boys are bringing him in."
The paper bird flapped a moment or two longer before dissolving in a shower of confetti, but Snape barely noticed. Outside? That was even more terrifying than the thought of the child lost and alone in the castle. Outside was the Forbidden Forest and the depth of the lake and could Harry even swim?
Extinguishing the torch with a thought and flinging it aside Snape leapt up the stairs, counting the worn old risers with every heartbeat as he hurried back up into the castle and down the halls to the main entry. Ghosts were pouring down followed by students and teachers but the wizard barely noticed, his attention was on three students still mittoned and wrapped against the cold and the shivering child walking between them, wrapped in someone's discarded scarf and coat.
"Harry," he breathed in relief and Harry looked up and saw him, even though he couldn't have heard him from that distance. Bright green eyes devoured him for a moment, but Harry didn't break away from his guard and run towards him. Instead he dropped his chin to his chest and stopped dead in the middle of the hall.
Snape's long legs ate up the distance and careless of the watching crowd he dropped to his knees and ran rough searching hands over the boy, looking for signs of injury.
"He's all right, sir," a boy said and Snape tore his gaze away from Harry's bent head, looking up and seeing the black boy from earlier who had been playing with Harry in the snow.
Charlie Weasley was there too, still holding Harry's other hand and shivering a little. Snape noticed dimly that he was without his scarf and that the long woolen one wrapped several times about Harry's shoulders was red and gold.
"We saw him from a distance, sir, as we were bringing our brooms back to the shed."
"He was walking towards the forest," the black boy said. "And we didn't think he should be alone, sir. We bought him right back."
Suddenly aware of the staring faces around them Snape lifted an unresponsive Harry into his arms and held him close.
"All right, show's over," a brusque voice sounded and Professor McGonagall swept down the stairs. "Mr Weasley, Mr Thomas, Mr Oliver, I suggest you all get back to your dorms and dry off. We'll talk later about why you were so far from the pitch with your broomsticks."
"But, Professor!" Charlie protested. "If we hadn't been we wouldn't have spotted Harry! He was heading for the forest!"
Snape shivered and turned towards the staircase, pausing only for a moment to look around the crowd. "Thank you for your efforts," he said stiffly.
"Quite all right, dear boy," Nick said graciously, sweeping off his hat again and this time remembering to leave his head on his shoulders.
"You get that boy into a warm bed, Severus," McGonagall counseled softly in his ear before turning back to the crowd. "Away with you all now!" she ordered gruffly and reluctantly the gawpers moved on.
Harry was uncharacteristically silent in his arms and for a moment Snape wondered if he should take him to Madam Pomfrey to be checked out. But as he pushed past the people on the stairs he decided abruptly that all he wanted was to be back in their own little rooms with the doors shut and barred against these intrusive eyes and curious whispers.
"Come on, Harry," he murmured. "Let's get you home."
Harry stiffened in his arms and pulled back. Small hands came up and grabbed his shoulders, gripping like claws. "Home?" he said thickly and up close now Snape could see his face was red and swollen with shed tears, their tracks still obvious on his grubby little face.
"Our home," Snape said quietly.
Harry swallowed and sniffed, green eyes suspicious. Then they shuttered themselves again and the boy leaned his head back on his father's shoulder. "Where were you?" he whispered. "I looked and looked for you."
"Why were you outside?" Snape said tightly as he trod carefully up the stairs to the entrance to their tower.
Harry was silent as they reached the door to the tower and Snape softly spoke the password. Snape carried him over to the big soft armchair and sank down with him, sitting him on his lap and holding him close. "Harry?"
"I was lookin' for you," Harry said brokenly, then he was dissolving into tears, trying to hide his face in his hands.
Shocked and horrified Snape clutched the thin shaking shoulders and turned Harry's face into his chest, realising with a start that this was the first time he'd known the boy to shed a tear.
Now Harry was wracked with them, his narrow chest shaking, tears pouring out and wetting his father even through the fabric of his shirt and jacket. Snape could only hold him close, sensing that these tears were long overdue and perhaps even necessary. That didn't stop the guilt that choked him as his son wept his heart out against his chest.
For a moment he longed for someone else to be there, for someone else to take responsibility for this. It was all too much, he thought, panic filling him. He couldn't cope with this. Harry was too damaged, too scarred by a lifetime without love. He had no trust in him, how could he have when the very people who should have been comforting and reassuring him his life long had ignored and reviled him?
And yet he had love in him, Snape thought achingly, running shaking hands through Harry's soft damp hair. Much more than his father had ever had. Even at five years old, neglected and ignored as he had been he still had so much love in him.
"Harry," he whispered. "I know you don't have cause to believe me, son. But I meant what I said before. I will never leave you again."
"B- b- but you din't come," Harry sobbed, breath shuddering.
Hoping that the worst of the storm was over Snape cupped the silky little head and tilted it gently back. Groping for his wand with his free hand he summoned a handkerchief and gently wiped under tear swollen eyes. "I was just late," Snape said as reassuringly as he could manage, dabbing carefully at the sodden little face. "Madam Pomfrey must have told you I was just late."
Harry shook his head fiercely. "I mean before," he said loudly, pushing the handkerchief away with shaking hands. He sniffed and rubbed his eyes with his fists. "All the other times I wanted you and you never came! You forgot about me!"
There was a pain in his chest as he absorbed the blow of these words. How could he deny them? How long had Harry been holding them inside?
"I'm sorry, Harry." That was all he could say in the end. "I should have come a long time ago. I'm so sorry I didn't."
He waited to be pushed away again, for more shouting and scorn, knowing it was the very least he deserved, but instead Harry's narrow shoulders slumped and he leaned back against his chest, frowning fiercely.
"I'm still mad at you," he sniffed, rubbing at his running nose now and spreading copious amounts of snot across his face. Grimacing despite himself Snape set to work with the hanky again and this time Harry submitted, scowling fiercely.
With a pang Snape realised the boy had inherited more than his father's jet black hair and long nimble fingers. It seemed he had his temper as well. Seeing no alternative Snape doubled the handkerchief and held it to Harry's small nose. "Blow," he commanded resignedly and Harry did.
Reflecting that a man who regularly handled disgusting potion ingredients without flinching shouldn't be so squeamish about a five year old's snot, Snape banished the offending hanky to the clothes hamper and summoned another one.
"I don't blame you for being mad at me, Harry," he said carefully. "But I'm here now, aren't I? It's all right here, isn't it?"
Harry nodded grudgingly, and it occurred to Snape that if these were the first tears he'd seen then today was the first day he'd seen any signs of this temper too. Could it be a good sign? After all, this was the little boy who'd been worried he would be sent back to the Muggles if he was bad. Despite his panic in the hall at the mention of 'home', had Harry gained enough confidence in their relationship to test it a little?
Wondering if anyone had written some kind of handbook on all this Snape again wiped wet eyes and cheeks. Harry was still scowling up at him and the look was so familiar he couldn't resist the urge that rose up in him to lean over and press his lips to the boy's creased brow. When he drew back the scowl was gone and had been replaced by a surprised expression.
"You kissed me," Harry said in wonder, lifting a grubby paw and touching the spot.
Slightly self-conscious Snape shrugged, feeling Harry rise and fall in his arms at the motion. "I was comforting you," he said defensively.
"I didn't know daddies kissed their little boys," Harry said. He blinked a few times and then a corner of his mouth lifted and he smiled a tiny smile. "I liked it," he said shyly.
Snape sniffed to cover up his relief and embarrassment. "Don't get used to it," he said gruffly. "You need a warm bath and some hot cocoa." He set Harry back onto his feet and began to unwrap the damp red and gold scarf. "And then, young man, we need to discuss why you should never run away from Madam Pomfrey or anyone who is caring for you."
Harry submitted to the descarfing, eyes still wet but full of wonder.
"And then we need to talk about the Forbidden Forest and whether you can swim and what happens to little boys who wander where they oughtn't."
"Yes, daddy," Harry said, huffing a resigned sigh. But his tentative smile was still in place and Snape unbent far enough to tousle his unruly mop of hair.
"What am I to do with you, boy?" he sighed, but Harry only wrinkled his nose and smiled. Which wasn't really much of an answer, but would have to do.
End of Part Two