Disclaimer: not mine. J.K. Rowling created the Harry Potter series; I'm just playing in her playground.
so, here are chapters one through five of my fic Life Out of Balance, I hope you enjoy them.
Thanks to my beta Eirie for taking the time to edit this fic!
"POTTER! What the hell are you doing with my son?" Snape's bellow could be heard from across the Great Hall all the way to the Gryffindor table where sixth year student Harry Potter sat amongst his friend with a little boy on his lap.
The child hid inside Harry's robes, scared of his father's yelling. He was barely 3 years old, with big, searching chocolate brown eyes and hair exactly the same shade. He looked a lot like his father minus the nose; he had a perfect button nose and the most charming smile.
Severus Snape was furious. He had woken up to see empty beds where his two sons should be sleeping on them. This was a new experience for him and his first reaction was to panic and run to the Great Hall in search of the Headmaster for help in his hunt for the boys. But, as soon as he entered the Hall he saw the oldest, Evan, sitting under the teacher's table right where he sat every day, his nose in a book as always.
As he scanned the room for Julian, he spotted him sitting on the Golden Boy's lap. At first he felt relieved, but then anger took over at the thought of his son being influenced by the conceited hero--that was something he would not allow. He owed it to his late wife to be a good father and he would not let his son be dragged into the Harry Potter fan club.
In 1981, Harry Potter took care of the Dark Lord Voldemort, also known as You Know Who, making Severus Snape a free man. Well, free only figuratively speaking, since he still faced charges as a Death Eater and was at risk of going to Azkaban, but then Albus Dumbledore defended him and he was set free. He took the job as Potions Master at Hogwarts and lived at peace, or Snape's equivalent of it, for the next nine years. At the end of that time, he met a nice girl in Hogsmeade, they started dating and after a while he proposed.
When he went to Headmaster Dumbledore, and told him the good news, Snape came in for a shock. The old fool, as Severus (usually) affectionately called Albus, needed Severus around for the next eight years because, The Boy Who Lived, Harry bloody Potter was starting school soon, and Albus would not trust anyone but Severus with the child's safety. So sure, he could get married but since he owed the old man, he couldn't just take off. Besides, there were rumours of Voldemort not being entirely dead, rumours that he was looking for a way back, and if that happened, they would need a spy amongst the Death Eaters and who better than Severus himself, Harry's professor.
Therefore, Severus decided not to marry the lovely girl but let her go. He didn't count on her own stubbornness; the minute she heard his reasoning she refused to leave him. So, eventually, he married the maiden, whose name was Victoria, Vicky to her friends, in secret so neither the side of the light or the dark knew about his wife and couldn't use her against him.
Keeping it a secret turned out to be a good thing since by the time Harry was through his first year, Evan was born. After this, Severus felt he had even more reasons to hate the Wonder Boy, because every Christmas he had to stay at the school babysitting the brat instead of going home to his lovely wife, and son.
Years passed, adventures happened, near misses occurred, children where born and Dark Lords were resurrected and in the fall of 1996 Lord Voldemort discovered Snape spying and tried to kill him. Snape was tortured and beaten within an inch of his life but the thought of his family kept him alive. Ironically, his Occlumency walls caved in and the Dark Lord learned of Snape's wife and children and sent a group of Death Eaters after them.
Even though sixth year had seen Harry's vast improvement at Occlumency, he still had a link with You Know Who, so he saw everything that was happening. Harry ran to Dumbledore and told him what was going on, but even so, help was a little late and the Order of the Phoenix barely managed to save the children and Snape, who had been taken to see his family being murdered. Victoria was killed and Severus Snape was left to raise two small children he barely knew.
We left an angry Severus, a scared Julian and protective Harry confronting Severus in the Great Hall...
Harry held the little boy in his arms tightly; seeing Julian so scared brought back all of the anger he had felt towards Snape since the Occlumency lessons and the death of Sirius (Harry feeling that Snape was to blame for the whole incident, since he refused to successfully teach Harry how to block his mind) with a vengeance.
"Would you stop that, he's scared and you're making it worse! I just found them wondering around the castle unsupervised and brought them here, but this one," (he pointed towards Julian) "wouldn't let go of me."
Snape looked down at his scared son and his face softened. Potter was right, Julian was trembling and clutching the Gryffindor's robes and it seemed he was crying. Snape was not a patient man; he didn't know how to handle a scared 3 year old. Black had escaped when Evan was three and Julian not yet born and Severus had barely seen his youngest son. He shifted uncomfortably and tugged at the collar of his robes, not knowing what to do.
But still, this was his son and he wasn't about to leave him with Potter. He cleared his throat and knelt beside them. "Julian, look at me." The little boy lifted his head and turned to look at his father, while still holding on to Harry's robes. He had a runny nose, bloodshot eyes and tear tracks on his face.
"I'm sorry I screamed, I'm not mad at you, now come with me and we'll have breakfast," Snape extended his arms. Julian raised his face to Harry, who nodded, and threw himself at his father. By now the entire Great Hall was in shock; the feared Potions Master had a heart, it was amazing. Snape gave Harry a glare and walked towards the staff table to have a talk with Evan.
While all of this had been going on, Evan had stayed under the table with his nose in a book. The six year old barely noticed his father standing right in front of him with a scowl on his face.
"Evan?" Snape asked and got no response from his eldest son.
"Evan," he said again, with just a little more force but soft enough to not frighten Julian. At which point Julian screamed "EVAN!" at the top of his lungs, and managed to gain his brother's attention.
Evan calmly looked up and said, "Oh, hello father" and tried to get back to his book. Snape took a deep breath and gently took the book from the boy. "Oh no you don't, young man! Would you care to explain the reason why you and your brother left our quarters unsupervised?"
"We were hungry and you were sleeping and I thought I remembered where the kitchen was so we left. But we got lost, and then Harry there," (he waved at Harry) "found us and brought us here. And this is where you sit so I was waiting for you here." All of this was said in a calm and even tone.
Three deep breaths later, Severus found his voice. He sat Evan and Julian beside him at the table and turned to them, "Children, our lives are in danger. It is important for you to be with an adult at all times, or with a student I approve of. You cannot talk to strangers or anyone that's not me or one of the teachers or some of the students."
At this Julian opened his mouth for the first time, "But Papa, Hawwy's not a stranger, he was there when we left the house, after mommy died and he took care of us while you were sick, I like Hawwy, he's nice and funny and smells good."
He crossed his little arms on his chest and gave his papa a pout. Severus looked at his youngest and recognised Victoria's stubbornness, and gave up in exasperation. "We'll talk about this later."
Chapter 2: the one where the plot makes an appearance (or maybe not...)
There was something wrong in the room, something that had woken Harry Potter up. A feeling of unrest washed over him and four of his five senses came alive. Constant vigilance, you know. Smells, the ones of a room for five boys, not too good. Sounds, Ron was breathing deeply in sleep on his right, Neville was snoring as always, Dean and Seamus were sound asleep, but there was also something else. Taste, bad morning breath and touch, his glasses on the night stand and wand under his pillow.
He still refused to open his eyes; it wasn't his scar, he didn't feel any pain, and if he did open his eyes, no matter the time he would be awake, and nothing could make him go back to sleep again.
The feeling was still there a few minutes later. He was defeated, so he opened his eyes.
"Oh jeez no, please no, please no..." he grumbled, and buried his face under his pillow. What could possibly be so bad? Well, a three year old staring at him unmoving, that's what. Now isn't this just my luck, he's worse than his father at always getting me into trouble.
He was still hiding when a little hand pulled at his covers and a hushed "Hello Hawwy" brought him out from his hiding place. A groan escaped him and the hurt that crossed by the face of his little 'alarm clock' was enough to make him feel like shit. He gathered Julian in his arms and put him on his lap. "Hey Julian, what are you doing here at...," he took his wristwatch from the bedside table, as well as his glasses, "3.30 am?" He was trying to use his most soothing voice to make up for his lack of tact the moment before.
"I was lonely, I wanted to see you."
Ok, now Harry knew something was wrong. "Where's your father?"
The little boy just shrugged, and for a while it seemed like he wasn't going to answer, but finally he did, "He's not here."
Well of course he wasn't there, if he were Harry would be asleep and Julian would be with his father, but, "What do you mean he's not here--here in this room or here in the castle?"
"Here, here Hawwy, no papa in my room, no papa in his room, no papa here."
Oh, of course, obviously, "Ok, Julian. So, do you know where he is?" A shake of the head. "What are you doing here, then?" A bright smile, "I was lonely, and I don't like the dark, so I looked for you." Why me, oh dear Merlin and his hairy legs, why meee?
Naturally he didn't say this to the kid. To him, Harry said "Ok, then, let's get you back to bed. If we're lucky maybe we'll run into your dad; he must be lurking around the halls."
Our poor hero put on a sweater and shoes, grabbed the kid, set him on his hip and carried him back to his own room. On his way to the dungeons, Harry kept his eyes open for his potions master, all the while thinking thoughts like Great, great, great! The one night I was actually getting some sleep and I have to make a trip to the dungeons.... and All those times of trying not to get caught and running into Snape in every corner, but when I really need him to be around the bend he's nowhere in sight.
They finally arrived at the dungeons, Harry had never been to a professor's chambers, but the portraits were of great help as they pointed out the right way. One thing Julian knew was the password to the rooms he shared with his father. Of course, when the three-year old pronounced it, it came out "Aaaaquillla non caput muscus"* or something like it, and the portrait of a very old man looked at the strange pair, but since it wasn't his place to comment, he only said "You still need practice saying that, young master," the boy pouted, "but I'll let you in anyway," which made him smile once again.
The room was surprisingly neither black nor green nor silver. The first thing Harry saw was a sitting room, a small one with a fireplace on the right side and two comfortable looking brown leather chairs in front of it, a plant, a library off to the side, and a sleeping Evan on a couch.
There was also no sign of Snape and he couldn't just let the kids stay there in dungeons by themselves when Julian had proven he couldn't be contained. So Harry made up his mind, and set Julian on one of the chairs, found a couple of blankets in a linen closet, he found between the two bedrooms and covered the sleeping Evan with them. He then sat down on the chair where he had put Julian and settled the boy on his lap, placed the blanket over the both of them and relaxed in front of the fire.
There was a chance Snape was at an Order of the Phoenix meeting or on a mission and he didn't want the children to be alone if that was the case.
Severus Snape was a very tired man; he was tired of hiding, he was tired of meetings, he was tired of war, but most of all he was tired of The Dark Lord. That egomaniac kept using the Mark to summon him, knowing he would not meet him, all as a way to torture him. His arm, because of the pain of the Mark, was almost useless, and to top it all off Albus had made him suffer through hours of an Order meeting that had been trying to find a cure or a counter curse for Cruciatus.
He was currently walking, or rather, stalking down the stairs towards his rooms, where he would be safe and protected and tormented by the fact that he had no idea what to do with the two boys down there. He was in a word exhausted.
It did not help that as soon as he opened the door of his rooms, the first thing he saw was Evan lying on the couch soundly asleep and his favorite sitting chair occupied by none other than the bane of his existence, Harry Potter. He was about to scream at the top of his lungs when something ran into him, leaving him out of breath. He looked down, only to find his youngest son beaming up at him.
"Papa! You're back," Julian said in an excited tone. Severus picked him up and gave him a kiss. He then asked "Hello Julian, do you know why Mr. Potter is lying on my sitting chair?"
"I was lonely papa, I didn't want to be alone and I couldn't find you so Hawwy took me back here and kept me company," the boy wrapped his little hands around his father's neck and gave him a kiss on the cheek. Just then Harry woke up. Seeing this scene made him gasp and the Snapes turned towards the sound.
"Hawwyyy you're up!" A smile shone on Harry's face at this, but soon turned into a scowl to rival Severus' as he noticed the man. The older man placed his son in his room and with a cold, low voice addressed the teen. "What the hell are you doing, Potter?" he spat, more than said, the name, "what were you doing outside of the Gryffindor tower that led you to run into my son? Why did you stay here? What do you want with them, Potter, with me?"
+Aquila non capit muscas is Latin for "Eagles don't capture flies."
A flash of anger shone on Harry's face but was there barely a second; he was trying very hard not to lose his temper since Evan was still asleep on the couch. He took a deep breath, "Look, Professor, is there somewhere we can have this conversation without waking Evan up?"
Snape was taken aback. Who was this rational, calm person standing in front of him and what had he done with Potter? He scowled. He wasn't about to take orders from a student, but a little voice inside his head reminded him it wasn't an order, but just a suggestion.
"Very well Potter, follow me." The second door to his right led into his private study. He settled in front of his desk and pointed to a chair in front of himself to Harry, who sat down without a fight. "Explain."
After another deep breath, Harry did. "I was asleep in my bed in Gryffindor tower when something woke me up. That something was your son Julian; I have no idea how he got there, and he wouldn't tell me. Anyway, I knew you would be worried about him so I brought him down here; he didn't know where your rooms were so I asked the paintings and they gave us directions. Julian kind of knew the password, which, by the way, could you make any more difficult for a three year old to pronounce?" As Harry was on a roll, he didn't notice Snape's frown. "So the painting let us in and afterwards Julian wouldn't let me go; he fell asleep in my lap and I couldn't leave."
He was panting by the end of his explanation. He took a couple of calming breaths and continued, "Can I ask you something, Professor?" He didn't wait for an answer and kept on going, "Where were you? You shouldn't leave the children all alone in the middle of the night, you should have a child-minder or something."
By the look on Snape's face Harry had crossed the line. He waited for the usual bellow but didn't get what he expected.
"I know I'm a terrible father Potter, don't you think I know? I practically killed their mother and almost got them killed too. I have no idea how to cook, how to be kind and loving and everything a parent should be. I left them alone tonight because I had an Order meeting and I didn't think they would wake before I got back," he put his face in his hands and hated himself for showing weakness in front of Potter, and let a cold laugh escape him.
"You can go back now to your dorm and boast to your pesky little friends how the greasy git (yes, I know you all call me that) is an inadequate father, and a good for nothing... go on, what are you waiting for?"
Harry didn't know what to do; even though the potions master's voice was cold, his face betrayed his anguish and Harry felt bad for him. So he gathered his Gryffindor courage and spoke once again.
"I wouldn't do that, Professor, because it's not true. I've spent some time with your sons and they adore you. You're a great father to them, they love your cooking and all they talk about, well Julian because Evan barely speaks, is 'my papa said this' and 'my papa did that' and they truly respect you. You just need a little help, that's all."
"Are you offering your help, Mr. Potter?" A trace of suspicion could be seen in Snape's demeanor and heard in his voice.
This surprised Harry and he choked out, "What... no... I... well... you see, Quidditch, classes you know, I couldn't possibly...You HATE me!"
"Yes Mr. Potter that may be correct, but you're also the only other person they trust. Not even Albus can get too close before they panic. So, I ask again, are you offering to help Mr. Potter?"
Typical, just typical: just when he's ok with his life, another thing comes and throws it all away. He tried to use his mind to get out of this one, "But I would be a danger to them, what with Voldemort always chasing after me."
But Snape was not going to let him out of it. "They're all ready in danger by being my sons, Potter."
"But what about school and Quidditch and homework....?"
"This is the first time I've ever seen you preoccupied by your homework, Mr. Potter but I'm sure we can work some sort of schedule. In fact if you do this, I'll do something for you."
"And that would be..." Maybe he'll be less of a git to me?
"I will resume your Occlumency lessons and try to calm my temper when we do so."
Well, Harry did need the lessons that had been cancelled since the incident last term, and if he said no to this deal, he definitively wouldn't get them. Dumbledore had tried to teach him but had given up because it was too dangerous. He tried to do his exercises and such, but from time to time he still got visions. Hermione had attempted to help, but that led to them getting into a fight, and she hadn't spoken to Harry for a week. So he made up his mind to agree, but not without some conditions.
"Very well, I'll do it but you have to be less... you to me and my friends."
"What do you mean less 'me'?"
"You know, less nasty and unpleasant and not being a bastard all the way." Oopppsss.
"How about I'll be 'nicer' to you when my sons are around and during Occlumency lessons?"
Harry held out his right hand with a grin on his face, "You've got yourself a deal, Professor Snape." Snape shook said hand and then he felt a twinge of fear at what he was getting into, but pushed it down because how much harder could his life be than it already was?
"YOU WHAT?!" At times like these, Ron Weasley really proved why red heads were famous for their tempers.
"I agreed to look after Julian and Evan when he's unavailable," Harry repeated for the third time that morning. He was a little exasperated with the way Ron was taking this. It wasn't as if he'd agreed to move in with the man...
"You do realize, Harry, that you're talking about Snape here, right?"
"The greasy git?"
"The man who hates you just a little bit less than You-Know-Who?"
"Yes. Ron, yes, I know, and I'm not doing this for him but for Julian. Can you imagine if he had gone anywhere else last night? He could have been kidnapped or murdered! And he might be the son of Snape but he's also a very sweet kid and I don't want to see him suffer just because his father doesn't properly know how to be a father."
"Let him be Ron, he's right." Hermione had that sympathetic-bordering-on-pitying look that Harry hated so much on her face.
"Very well, it is after all your hide we're talking about here, not mine."
"Yes it is, now, can we change the subject?"
"Umm Harry, you might not want to look now but Colin's with the first years again." At Ron's statement Harry let out a long-suffering groan. Ever since the return of Voldemort, he had become more of a public figure, the epitome of hope and all that was light and pure for the wizarding world. He had been having problems with Colin Creevy selling pictures of the Boy Who Lived to the first year girls. It really got on his nerves.
"COLIN CREEVY, YOU BETTER NOT BE SELLING PICTURES OF ME IF YOU KNOW WHATS GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH!" Harry stomped towards the small teen but Colin scurried away before he got there. Stomped was too strong a word when he had Hermione and Ron clinging one on each arm, trying to prevent their best friend for committing murder.
Harry had tried being patient, he really had. But Colin with his pictures and the younger years with their following him all over the castle was driving him insane--and the giggling, dear Merlin, the giggling...
Harry wrenched his mind back to more important topics. Like... "You know we'll have to reschedule our training," Hermione commented.
"I was thinking about that Hermione and we really don't have to, we can work around it. The fact is, we don't even know when he's going to call me, so let's keep going as usual and if we miss one we train double the next day."
"Harry, we now have to think about the most important training of all--Quidditch. You're not quitting are you?" Ron had that lost puppy look full of despair. It made Harry and Hermione work hard to try to keep straight faces.
"Because you know," he continued "it's all about rearranging your priorities and Quidditch must be as high on the list as they come."
That completely broke the pair of friends and they fell crashing to the floor, holding their bellies which hurt from laughing so hard.
Meanwhile, in the lower part of the castle, Professor Severus Snape was having an abysmally bad day. He had gotten two hours of sleep before his hyperactive youngest child woke up and started the day. Minutes later Evan was also up and ready for the day. The battle started as always with, "I don't want a bath, Papa, noooo," and it carried on with breakfast, "Evan, keep the food off the book and into your mouth; Julian, keep the food in your mouth and off of your clothes," followed by a double chorus of "Yes, Papa." At which point, every female in the Great Hall would aww and make goo goo eyes at the pair of them.
Next the children would spend the morning with Madam Pomfrey or Madam Hooch. They would teach them the basics, math, reading, biology and such. The afternoons varied from day to day: Mondays Minerva had them, Tuesdays, Hagrid, although Severus really didn't want them near the half giant and his monsters that often. Wednesdays saw them with Professor Flitwick, Thursdays with himself and Fridays with Sinistra. He refused to let Trelawney help.
As today was a Thursday, the children walked with their father towards the infirmary where Poppy was waiting to start their morning lessons. The problem always came when Snape tried to leave them. Julian would pout and start to cry while Evan stared at him with a lost look on his face. It was moments like this that he missed his departed wife the most. He just didn't know what to do, and always left the infirmary with a heavy heart.
Three days later, Harry and his friends were having a quiet evening outside, under a tree in front of the lake. It was getting cold as the year grew closer to December but it was still bearable. Surprisingly, well, at least surprisingly for Ron, they were all quietly reading and taking notes. It was nearing dusk and they had to strain their eyes but they were so comfortable they didn't mind. This comfort was broken when out of nowhere came Draco Malfoy, and to their surprise, he was alone.
Instantly, Ron was on the offensive as always, "What do you want, Malfoy?"
A sneer graced the pointy face of the other teen as he answered in his usual drawl, "Not that it's any of your business, Weasel, but Professor Snape asked me to come fetch Potter, he said something about an agreement..."
Harry took a deep breath. Of course he had to be called on a perfect Sunday afternoon, Merlin forbid he have some time to himself. He picked up his books and waved goodbye to his friends. He followed behind Malfoy without uttering a word. He really couldn't waste energy fighting with Draco when he had to spend who knew how long with a hyperactive toddler.
Apparently Malfoy didn't appreciate his efforts "So, Potter, taking care of the kids, what a perfect little house wife." He didn't respond to that, as he hadn't responded to any of the insults and jibes thrown his way this year by the Slytherin. He just didn't see the point on losing his temper when that was exactly what Malfoy wanted.
But it was more than not wanting to give Malfoy the satisfaction of seeing him upset. It was more because of something he had seen before boarding the train at the beginning of the year. When Uncle Vernon had left him at the front steps of Kings Cross, it had been too early to go anywhere, so he had stayed on the front steps of the station for a while, his trunk and his owl beside him.
Around nine am he saw the Knight Bus appear from nowhere and park near him. He was very surprised to see Draco Malfoy getting out, dragging his trunk and an animal cage. He had a lost look in his eyes, like he didn't know what to do. There was neither smirk, nor sneer on his face and he just looked like a normal teenager. At that moment, Harry saw a boy he could have been friends with and that really hit his mind hard. He realized he didn't truly hate the other boy; he didn't really know him enough to hate him. Harry didn't want to hate more people than he had to; hatred wasn't a positive feeling and with Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange he had enough people he hated.
So he just ignored Draco.
Draco Malfoy was no longer pissed. It didn't matter how many times Draco tried to bait Potter, he wouldn't give in. It was as if he just didn't care. And while if this had happened before, it would have killed him, it didn't upset him anymore. Nowadays Draco just did it to see if something had changed, but it didn't give him the perverse happiness it used to.
Things had changed since the elder Malfoy had gone to Azkaban. Draco felt as if a great weight had fallen off his shoulders. He was no longer expected to be the perfect Malfoy; his mother didn't really care, she had spent the summer trying to keep the family money from being taken by the Ministry. Who, since the money came from a long line of Malfoys and various legitimate Malfoy businesses and therefore had nothing to do with his father being a Death Eater, but that didn't stop them from trying to make mother and son's lives a living hell.
He was left to his own devices in Malfoy Manor that summer. It gave him time to think. He truly believed in his father's ideals. In Purity of blood over Mudbloods and Muggles. His father had told him many times, "You are a god among insects. Never let anyone tell you different," but if that was true, and Draco genuinely believed it was, then why was his father bowing down to and kissing the hem of You-Know-Who's robes and even more, why was his father now in prison?
The two teens continued the journey to their Professor's quarters in silence. Each was lost in his own thoughts. They parted without a word as Snape opened the door to his chambers. He raised an eyebrow in question at the picture they made: no screaming, no insults and best of all, no hexes. Maybe there was hope for the two of them after all.
"Well, are you coming in?"
Harry woke from his stupor abruptly, "Oh, yes Professor, good evening." He entered the room and found Julian jumping on the couch while Evan was nowhere to be seen.
"I think Dobby gave Julian some chocolate, I'm going to have to talk to the Headmaster about this. I'll never get him to sleep if he keeps eating sugar."
Harry rushed to protect his house-elf friend, "No, Professor, I'll talk to him, he won't do it again."
Snape gave him an unbelieving look but finally gave a nod in agreement. "I have called you here, Mister Potter, because I have not been able to work in the last three days and the piles of parchment just keep growing. Therefore, I give you my littlest bundle of joy to care for while I get some work done. Evan is in his room doing Merlin knows what, probably reading another book; honestly I don't know where he gets it from."
Harry tried not to laugh. Of course Evan got it from Snape, all Harry had to do was just look at the millions of books that lined the walls of Snape's rooms to see that.
Julian noticed Harry immediately, and bounced off the couch to run to the teen.
"HAWWYY! Papa, you brought Hawwy to me! I love you, Papa, I love you Hawwy and I love chocolate!" At this point, with Julian stuck to his leg and a sneer that looked very much like a smile coming from Snape's mouth, Harry was afraid, very afraid. What have I gotten myself into this time...
A/N: find the quote and you get a special gift! You also have to say who said it, and where. Clue: it's a movie quote.
By the way, I just read "Blind as a Bat" by Spinner. Excellent. Please go read it; it's funny and messed up and not really slash but something like it, something excellent.
Chapter 5: The sun shines, what a revelation!
It was a beautiful morning in the school of magic known as Hogwarts. In the upper towers, children were awakening and getting ready to meet the new day. In the lower dungeons, the Potions Master was grading papers at a desk on the right side of the sitting room. Evan Snape was seated on one of the smaller chairs, recently showered and ready to go, and Harry Potter was on the couch tying his shoes.
He had slept overnight at the Snapes' because the night before there had been an Order meeting followed by a Death Eater raid in which Snape had participated and been lightly wounded. When Snape had come back at five in the morning, he had seen no point in waking Potter to send him to his tower for another half an hour of sleep when he looked so comfortable curled up with Julian on the child's small bed, and truthfully Severus just didn't have the energy at that hour to be his usual prickly self in front of the teen. So he had let him sleep, and woken them all up at 6:30 to start the day.
So, out came young Julian Snape, dressed in swimming shorts and a fluffy white towel wrapped around his neck. "We are going swimming," he announced with propriety and his little hands parked on his hips. For a moment he looked the part of a mini Severus Snape with lighter hair.
Since Julian had said it while looking at Harry, Severus decided to just watch from the sidelines to see how the teen would solve such a problem.
"We're going swimming, huh?"
"Yes, we are!"
"But it's cold outside."
"You can do a warming charm on the water."
"I can, can I?"
"Yes, you can Hawwy; you put it on my scarf and my robes when we go outside!"
"That I do... then what about the grindylows and the Merpeople and the giant squid?"
"I'm not scared of them, and besides you'll be with me."
A snort was heard from the other side of the room but Harry paid no mind to it. He continued his conversation with the child.
"Come here, Julian." The child settled on his lap. "You know I would love to go swimming with you, right?"
"I know," Julian answered, getting excited that he was getting what he wanted.
"But, we have to be rational about it. You remember what I said about being rational?"
A little frown marred Julian's brow. "You said that being rational is when there's a good reason not to do something and that you have to think about it first and about the consepuences." Evan corrected him, "Consequences," and Julian continued, "That's what I said, consetuences, and you said that if the consetuences are more than the good things of what I want to do then not to do it because it's not worth it."
He sat in Harry's lap so proud of himself for being able to remember that conversation.
"You are right, Julian. Now, think, am I really able to take on a hundred grindylows, some more Merpeople and the giant squid and at the same time produce a heating charm strong enough to defrost a lake and take care of you?"
Julian scrunched up his little face in thought and came up with a tentative "No?"
Harry gave him a negative shake of the head and asked, "Do you know how to swim, Julian?"
Another tentative "No?" was the response.
"Then can you imagine me doing all of that and at the same time teaching you how to swim?"
Now came a "No" followed by a pout. "Does that mean we're not going swimming?"
"How about we do this: when summer comes and the weather is nice, I promise to take you down to the lake and teach you how to swim, what do you think?"
A scrunch of the nose, and seconds later a bright smile illuminated the child's face. "Deal!" He put out his hand for a handshake and Harry shook it with all the propriety required. He then lowered Julian, saying, "Go on kid, change into your robes so we can take you to Madam Pomfrey. Evan, go help him."
He was again attempting to tie his shoes when a voice interrupted. "I must say I am impressed Mr. Potter, you not only averted a possible war and an enormous tantrum, you also managed to make him think."
The relationship between the teen and Professor Snape had, as of late, become less strenuous, although not yet amicable. They had made a sort of peace with their past; Occlumency lessons had gone smoothly and as long as one didn't talk about what the other saw, all was well. Snape was no less nasty than normal in classes, but at least he no longer felt the need to attack Harry every waking moment they shared, which had the positive effect of letting Harry concentrate on potion making, which in turn raised his grades.
"He's a smart kid, Professor, and he's as stubborn as they come. When I say no to him, I don't just say no, I say why not and what possible consequences his actions might have. He thinks about it, and if he still wants to, I explain until I make him understand why not." He paused and gave a small laugh "There are times when he comes up with his own logic and beats me at my own game, but most of the time he relents."
"My, my, Potter, when did you become such a barrel of wisdom?" The irony was heavy in his voice.
"I did learn some things from last year, Professor. I'm learning to use my inner Slytherin, I try not to jump to conclusions, and I try to have a cool head when faced with a problem. I won't let more people die because of me."
The serious look on his face, the determination with which he spoke, made Severus think that maybe there was more to Harry Potter than fame and arrogance. Maybe, just maybe, he was more than his father's son. To that, Severus added what he had seen in the teen's head, the way his family had treated him for years, the long nights in a cupboard, the way he was shunned by his peers when it was revealed he was a parselmouth, the hurt when his best friend had abandoned him in fourth year, and the realization that he might have been wrong about the boy hit Severus like a brick wall.
The conversation was stopped by the entrance of the children, now wearing normal robes. Well, not entirely normal since Julian's was of a bright lime green, although Evan's was a more common royal blue.
Harry stood up from his chair and asked, "Ready, guys?" A chorus of "yep's" answered.
"Well, have a good day Professor, thank you for letting me spend the night. I'll drop the kids off at the infirmary. Will you be needing me tonight?"
Severus was still rendered speechless by his revelation, but managed to respond as if nothing had happened. "No, Mr. Potter, that's all right, just tell Poppy I'll pick them up at the usual time."
"All right, sir."
"Oh, and Potter?"
Harry turned from the door where he held each child by the hand, "Yes?"
"Thank you for your assistance."
Harry had no idea how to respond to that. Snape never, ever had thanked him for anything and thus this came as a shock. The only thing that could come from his stunned mouth was a "You're welcome," and as Julian was starting to get impatient, they left, leaving behind a very confused Potions Master.
The Quote: "You are are god among insects. Never let anyone tell you different" Magneto; X-men 2.