Chapter 1: one through five
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.
Chapter 2: forget what you think you know about anything
"What time is it?" Harry was trying to get his watch to work but it seemed it had given up. He was having breakfast as usual with Hermione and Ron to his right and Neville to his left.
"7:30 ... why?" Ron asked, with a yawn interrupting his words.
"Ron, first, gross and second, I promised to take Snape's kids to Madam Pomfrey. He's busy with the Wolfsbane potion. And I better get going or I'll be late for Care of Magical Creatures."
"Ok, mate, see you then."
Breakfast continued with Ron eating as much as he could and Hermione helping Ginny with her homework.
As Harry was leaving, Anthony Goldstein, a fellow sixth year from Ravenclaw followed him outside and asked if he could walk with him for a while.
"I need to talk to you about something."
"Sure, Anthony, no problem, ask away." The other teen seemed a bit nervous, Harry had no idea why, maybe he was going to ask about the DA or something.
"Uhmm, Harry I was wondering if you're going to Hogsmead this weekend?"
Ok, weird question. "I might be. Why?"
Anthony got even more nervous then, "It's just that there's a new book coming out on defense techniques and since I know that you like the subject maybe you would like to go with me and see it?"
"Yeah, sure Anthony."
The Ravenclaw was obviously relieved as he said, "Great! I'll meet you at the Entrance Hall at ten, ok?"
Goldstein gave him a huge smile and left, shouting, "Great, Harry, see ya then!"
That's all? What was Anthony so nervous about?
"Potter, make yourself useful and help Evan get his shirt on while I finish dressing Julian."
Harry rolled his eyes as he watched the scene before him. The youngest Snape was running around the sitting room with his clothes on backwards, a different shoe on each foot and no socks, with Snape senior chasing after him.
Evan was having a serious fight with his shirt, which had decided it didn't want to be worn that day. Therefore, it had shrunk the head hole and trapped the boy half way in.
A chuckle left him, and Harry hurried to help Evan before Snape heard him. He convinced the shirt to be worn and finally Evan was ready.
Ten minutes later, one child was correctly attired and the other had at least most of his clothes on and they even kind of matched. Since Julian absolutely refused to wear socks and it was getting late, they left for the infirmary.
At five minutes to eight am, you could see Harry Potter running towards the infirmary with Julian on his back and Evan trailing along. It didn't matter, in the end; he was still late.
"Harry, you're late!" Hermione scolded her friend with her hands on her hips and a frown on her face.
"Yeah mate, you're lucky it's Hagrid or you would be dead."
"I know, I know, but first Anthony Goldstein stopped me and then Snape didn't have the kids ready and he wouldn't even give me a pass, can you believe it! And then Evan wouldn't let me go, he wanted to play and I had to leave the poor kid with a promise of spending lunch with him. I'm beat!"
He threw himself on the grass besides Ron and gave Hagrid an apologetic smile.
The class continued, and he was glad they had it with Huflepuff. He was in no mood for Slytherins right now.
"So, what did Goldstein want?" Ron was chewing on a piece of grass, clearly bored out of his mind by the little creatures they were studying in Hagrid's class that day.
"Ron, pay attention, or at least don't disturb Harry, this is important you know?"
"How is a moke important? It's a lizard, Hermione, it shrinks and that's it. No more."
"Well, it could be important, you know, for our project."
"There's no way I'm...." The pair of hands on top of his mouth stopped him from continuing that phrase.
Changing the subject, Harry told them about his encounter with Goldstein.
"It's weird, you know, it's like he was nervous or something. I thought it was something important, but he didn't say any thing else, he just left."
Hermione gave him her I can't believe you can be so daft look. "Oh Harry, how can you be so oblivious?"
"Did I miss something?"
Ron gave a frustrated growl. "Mate, he was asking you out on a date for crying out loud, so I'd say yeah, you missed something because it looks as though you agreed."
Both friends answered with a hissed "YESSS!"
Harry was very confused. "But he's a boy?"
At this Ron slapped his hand to his face and muttered a hushed he is my best friend. I will not kill him. "Harry, pal, what's that got to do with anything?"
Now Harry was utterly lost. So Hermione came to the rescue. "Ron, remember that Harry was raised by muggles, and they are not as open about same sex couples as wizards are. Knowing the Dursleys, they are probably homophobic. "
Now Ron had a lost look on his face. "Homo- what?"
"They don't like gay people."
"You lost me."
"And I've been lost for a while, so could you please explain?"
"Ok, Ron, you wait. Harry, wizards don't believe in... divisions. They like who they like, be it the sex that they are or no. They are all, what muggles would call bisexuals, therefore it's just normal as to be asked out by a boy as a girl. It doesn't matter. Do you get it now?"
Harry scratched the back of his head and gave a slight troubled nod.
"So... I have a date on Saturday with Anthony Goldstein?"
"It appears so."
"What do I do? How do I know if it's really a date?"
"Oh, it's a date all right. I know Anthony and he's not that shy. If he was nervous about asking, and if he said it like you said he said it, then it's a date."
"Ron, you're not helping." Harry had his knees to his chest, with his elbows resting on them and his hands over his face. Ron was helping even less by snickering besides him.
"It's not so bad Harry; Anthony's a good guy and you know he at least won't be crying halfway through your date." Hermione's comment did it for Ron, and it was a blessing class was finally over, because he would have disrupted it again by his choked laughter.
They started walking back towards the castle and Hermione put an arm around Harry's shoulders. "You know, Harry, you don't have to go if you don't want to. You can just tell Anthony that you misunderstood him and that while he's a good guy, you're not interested."
"Yeah mate, and if you do go, just don't do anything you don't want to do and that's it."
Harry felt a bit better. But Hermione was not done.
"Personally, Harry, I think you should go. It would be good for you to go out and forget about the war and just enjoy yourself for a while. My mom says that you have to try things at least once before you say you don't like them. Answer me this, what do you think of Anthony?"
Harry gave it some thought. "He's nice, a good guy. Did ok in the DA."
"Ok, physically, what do you think of him?"
Harry turned bright red.
"I have no idea..."
Hermione looked at Ron for help, and for once in his life she got it.
"I think that he's good looking, not extremely handsome but pleasant to look at. He has freckles, which I don't like, but his eyes are nice."
Hermione was beaming at him; it gave Ron a warm feeling and a goofy grin on his face.
"Well, he is nice. Looking, I mean, and how bad could it go, right?"
"Right, so that crisis averted, I'll see you both after Arithmancy."
Hermione left them and Ron and Harry made their way towards the tower where they had Divination.
They walked in silence for a couple of minutes while Harry assimilated the recent information.
"You know, Ron, you should ask Hermione out."
Ron dropped his books and turned tomato red, which did not go well with his fiery red hair.
"I'm not as dense as you all think I am. At least not when it comes to my two best friends."
Ron spluttered a little but Harry held up a hand before he could talk.
"Don't try to deny it Ron, you get all misty eyed when she says something nice to you and you watch her all the time, amongst other things. You should ask her out this Saturday. Use me as an excuse. You can say you want to keep an eye on me in case things with Anthony don't go well."
Ron gave him a hopeful half smile. "Do you think she'll fall for it?"
"Ron, the only person in the entire school that doesn't know you two like each other is you; everyone else knows it, and I think there's even a betting pool going on. Look, you're my best friend and she's probably the only girl I've ever loved, so I am going to say this: if you hurt her, if just one little bushy hair of her head gets hurt because you're being a git or something like it, I'll kill you, or at least hurt you very badly.
Because I can handle you being an insensitive prick with me, I can handle it if you are sometimes stupidly jealous of my so-called privileged life, but I cannot handle you hurting the one person I am completely sure loves me for me and not for being the savior or hero. For the record, I know you do, too, but it's different with Hermione. She's like my sister, and I swear that if you hurt her our friendship will suffer greatly. Don't worry, she'll probably get the same speech from me as you. I just wanted to make my opinion on this issue known and make sure that it's clearly understood before anything happens.
They had stopped under the stairs of the tower where Divination was held, and Ron was looking at him with wide-as-saucers eyes that said, who is this guy and what did he do with Harry? He then smiled and put an arm around his smaller friend's shoulders.
"Been practicing that speech, haven't you?"
"Little bit. Did I rush it? Felt like I rushed it."
"No, it was good, I liked it."
They were late for Divination and it seemed in revenge, Trelawney killed Harry eight more times than usual and incapacitated him twice just for good measure. Ron didn't escape either, as he got killed by a runaway lion, trampled by a herd of fire crabs, and drowned in the prefects' bathroom.
1. A moke is a small lizard that can shrink at will. From: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander.
2. Find the quote, who said it, and where, and you'll get the next update first.
3. Don't worry, this is still HP/SS, but it's going to be a while since Severus just lost his wife. It wouldn't be right to throw him in with Harry while he's still in mourning.
Chapter 3: Chp. 7: visions, dates and jealous Potions Masters
Hiiii! Yes it's been a while but see explanations at the bottom, plus this is an extra large chapter so all of you better review!!!
Thanks to my wonderful beta Eriverde. A marvelous job as always and I am complying with your request on next chapter.
One last thing, there is kind of a quote and it's not from a movie. I don't think anyone will get it but if you do you'll get a price. The winner for LOoB 6 was Juliana Edwards and she got she prize soooooo with out any more babbling until the end of the chapter, here's LOoB chp 7.
Last time: Harry got a date, Julian was on a chocolate high, and Hermione and Ron made Harry see he had a date. More or less this is what happened.
Chp. 7: visions, dates and jealous Potions Masters
"He's doing it again."
"The twisty thing with his mouth that he knows drives me crazy."
"Oh, why are you so sure he knows it drives you crazy?"
"It's not natural, and it's way too sexy for it not to be intentional."
"Tony, we're talking about Harry Potter here, the king of oblivious when it comes to sexual matters. I heard Granger had to actually explain to him you two were going out on a date. I can assure you he does not do it on purpose, he's not even looking this way, so stop it now, please."
Anthony Goldstein looked at his best friend Terry Boot with scary blue eyes. He couldn't wait until Saturday for his date with Harry Potter. He had liked the green-eyed Gryffindor since last year when he had gotten to know the raven haired boy during the DA. He had wanted to ask him out for a long time but he had thought Harry was going out with Cho Chang. Since they had not been seen together in the entire school year, he figured the Gryffindor was now single and available.
Anthony pouted a little and crossed his arms around his chest, "Do you think he won't like me?"
"No, Tony, you're a great guy, I'm sure he'll like you well enough. Still, I don't want you to get your hopes up. Just wait and see what happens."
"Terry, do I detect a bit of lack of trust, to say it politely, in my seducing abilities?"
Terry couldn't help but smile at his best friend's antics.
"Seducing abilities? Tony, you're fifteen years old; you have no 'seducing abilities.' You've never even had a boyfriend before, and it's not that I don't trust you, it's just that from what I've seen Harry doesn't want to be involved with a fan. He's the kind of guy who wants someone to like him for who he is, not for his fame or whatever."
"Now that is just ridiculous. Terry, you are my best friend, and you have been my best friend since we were five years old. You know I would never do that to Harry."
Terry gave a frustrated groan, let his head fall on the table, and took a deep breath.
"It's not that Tons. If you like him and he likes you, be my guest and have a 'relationship.' I just want you to be careful and not see things that aren't really there. Promise me you will take things slowly with Harry."
Anthony gave his friend a patronizing look.
"Very well Terrs, I will take things calmly but I will not deny him if he doesn't want to take them that way."
With that the conversation was over. A preoccupied Terry Boot and a happy as hell Anthony Goldstein left the Great Hall and headed out to Greenhouse Six where they had Herbology with the Slytherins.
He could hear children crying. The screams were beginning to pierce his skull and the pain was unbearable. He recognized some voices, of Death Eaters. And in the background, there was Voldemort.
Harry Potter woke up with a scream and the hands of his best friend Ronald Weasley shaking him awake.
A sheen of sweat glistened on his forehead and he felt a strong burning on his scar. Another nightmare.
Screams, tortures and evil plots, that's what his dreams were made of. It would have driven any other person insane. But Harry was not any other person. He was a hero and as such, he had a burden to bear.
"A memory, a vision, or a prophecy?" Ron asked while handing him a glass of water. It was the same routine after every dream: Glass of water. Write it down if it's a prophecy, try to forget if it's a memory, and in the worst of cases, if it's a vision, run to the Headmaster to try to avoid it or at least do some damage control. Though, because of Occlumency, Harry was having fewer and fewer of those.
"Prophecy, I think; it was very blurry. But it had the same feel as the last four nights. I think I'm going to have to ask Madam Pomfrey for some Dreamless Sleep potion."
"That's not going to work mate, you know she said only two a month, and she already gave you three this month."
"I know, I know." He was so tired of it all. He didn't believe in divination, but as his Occlumency classes advanced, he still kept having some strange dreams. After analyzing the dreams, the three friends, along with Headmaster Dumbledore and Firenze, realized that Harry would dream of some events before they occurred.
Harry got up from his bed and put some clothes on.
"Where are we going?"
He turned to see Ron trying to pull his arms into an old Weasley jumper that had stopped being his size five minutes after he got it.
"Oh, no Ron, you are not going anywhere. You have to finish your homework very early tomorrow morning and I am not going to be responsible if you don't wake up because you are too sleepy."
"Aw, come on, Harry. You are in no condition to go running around the castle after curfew, and as a perfect I can give you detention for it."
"Nice try Ron, but I fear the wrath of our 'Mione if I don't go see the Headmaster more than your possible detention-giving if I do. Besides, I'm just going to see if the Headmaster's awake; this is not urgent but it could be."
"Yeah, right, you just don't want me to come because you're meeting up with Anthony Goldstein for some snogging."
That comment did exactly what Ron expected it to do. Harry turned a bright shade of red and started to splutter and shake his head.
"Ronald Weasley, you big wanker. I am not going to be snogging with Anthony Goldstein tonight, you know that very well. I don't even know the guy."
Then Harry's Slytherin side took over.
"You just want to come with me so you can wake up Hermione and go snogging yourself."
Ron let a small chuckle escape him and raised his hands in a sign of surrender.
"I won't deny it mate, I won't deny it."
Harry walked slowly, trying to gather some composure or at least steady his trembling hands. Hiding it from Ron had not been easy, but the dream had a disturbing effect on him. He had a permanent pass for this kind of situations so he wasn't worried about getting caught by Filch. He was, however, very tired of all the dreams, visions and ghosts of a war in which, whether he wanted it or not, he was a key player.
He reached the statue of the gargoyle that guarded the Headmaster's office and gave the emergency password.
"Dog star." Sirius...
The password would set off an alarm alerting the Headmaster to Harry's presence in his office. Harry took a seat while he waited. He looked at the sleeping portraits and phoenix. Minutes passed and he wondered what could be taking the Headmaster so long, since usually he was in the room before the stairs deposited Harry in the office.
The student was startled by the sound of the Headmaster's voice coming from the fire place.
"I apologize for startling you, my boy, but I am currently at Professor Snape's chambers. Would you terribly mind coming down? There's a special corridor that should be open now, and it will make your journey to the dungeons shorter."
"Sure Headmaster, I'll be right down."
As he turned around, Harry found the library that covered the right wall had opened and through it could be seen a secret passage. He took it and walked for a while, making abrupt turns and trying not to fall down the steep stairs. He was surprised to realize that it ended behind the library of the potion's master's sitting room.
The headmaster was sitting on the sofa with a pot of tea freshly made in front of him.
"Thank you, sir."
"Tell me, child, what brings you to me at these hours?"
"A dream sir, a prophecy I think, although if Professor Snape is out, then it might have been a vision."
He paused to accept the cup of tea he was offered and took a sip before continuing.
"It was outside a village, I don't know the name, there's an orphanage, a muggle one. It was being attacked by Death Eaters, they killed everyone there, the children and I think there were nuns, too. Wait, there was a full moon, so it wasn't tonight. Oh and Bellatrix was leading the attack. She was looking for something; the nuns were trying to hide it from her. And for every time she had to ask where the thing was, I couldn't hear the name of it, she killed one of the children. When they told her it wasn't there anymore, she killed them all, all the children, then the nuns, and then she set the place on fire and left the Dark Mark floating above it. I woke up after that."
He took another sip of his already cold tea.
"I know it doesn't help much, but that's all I know."
"Don't mind yourself with that, Harry. At least we have something to work with, and maybe our new spy will be able to learn something. You have given us a lead, and we would probably be lost without it."
"Uhm, Headmaster? Where is Professor Snape? Isn't it dangerous for him to leave the school grounds?"
"He's doing an errand for the Order, Harry; don't trouble yourself thinking about it."
The teenager let it go since there was a little voice coming from one of the bedrooms. He ran to take care of Evan before Julian woke up.
"Hey Evan, are you ok?"
He settled on the bed besides the groggy child, putting an arm around him and rubbing his arm in a soothing motion.
"Harry?" It was a small, sleepy voice. "Where's father?"
"He's out, but I'm here with you. Go back to sleep, you're safe with me."
"Ok." And just like that, the seven year old went back to sleep.
Harry settled him back under the covers and returned to the living room to find Dumbledore looking at him with that knowing and annoying twinkle in his eyes. He raised his eyebrow in question. Albus just chuckled and motioned for him to sit beside him.
"You seem used to this."
"I am. Evan has nightmares occasionally; it's almost as if he knows Snape's not here and he gets worried. Sometimes Julian wakes up, too and then nothing will get them back to sleep but the arrival of their father."
"I see, and what do you do then?"
"I read to them, we sit on the couch and wait and I tell them stories and stuff."
He was getting embarrassed and worried by the twinkle that looked more like a beacon light, it was so shiny. The Headmaster was up to something and he definitely didn't like it. He was brought out of his musings by the familiar sounds of the wards to the room being opened by Snape.
Severus found them sitting on his couch, and was a little surprised to find Potter there, although he didn't let it show. His face was as stoic as always.
"Severus, your report can wait. Mr. Potter here has had a vision."
Harry found himself blushing and was a little upset at Dumbledore; he didn't want to give Snape the idea that he liked getting attention or anything like that. He repeated his dream and waited for some kind of information, but all he received was a cold dismissal.
"Very well Harry, you can leave now, it's late."
As he was letting himself outside, Snape stopped him.
"Mr. Potter, I have to leave the castle all day Saturday without the children, I'll meet you here at ten am."
Harry didn't know if he should feel offended or happy about the fact that Snape expected him to spend the day taking care of his children without a second thought. He really didn't know how to tell him he couldn't make it.
"Uhm, Professor, I'm sorry but I kind of have this thing on Saturday and I can't break it."
"A thing, Mr. Potter?"
"Uhmm yes, I kind of have a date and since I already said yes, it would be rude to cancel the day before."
Harry rushed to explain, getting a little afraid of the sneer on Snape's face. It was a sneer that hadn't been directed at him in months and that he never wanted to see directed at him ever again.
"Yes, you see Anthony Goldstein kind of invited me to Hogsmeade. And I didn't know he wanted a date but he did, so now I have to go out with him. But if you can't find anyone else to take care of the kids, I'll get out of it and take care of them, sir."
He knew he was rambling, but he really didn't like the sneer on Snape's face.
For a second Snape thought of telling Harry to cancel the date but the look the Headmaster gave him made him aware Dumbledore would not put up with it. And besides, he didn't know why the thought of Potter on a date made him feel uneasy.
"That's all right Potter, go on your little date. I am sure Draco will not mind helping out."
Oh, to be replaced by Draco Malfoy! That was a low blow to his ego, but he would not give Snape the satisfaction of seeing that he had struck a sore spot. It didn't matter that the ferret had been somewhat decent recently; taking care of Snape's children was his job and no one was supposed to do it for him. He nodded to the two professors.
"Very well, Professor, I'm sure he will be ecstatic to help. I'll see you tomorrow."
That night Harry had nightmares of Draco Malfoy taking Evan and Julian away from him and Snape laughing at the sight.
It was a fairly nice Saturday morning. Birds were chirping, snow had fallen, and the grounds were covered in it in a way that made them look like clouds. Everything was pristine and untouched. It had Harry Potter in a good mood. Not only was it a lovely day, but he had had no nightmares the previous night, of any kind, and it kind of had him looking forward to his date with Anthony in a curious sort of way.
He'd never thought about dating a boy. It had simply never occurred to him, but now that he thought about it, he kind of liked the idea. At least he'd have much more in common with Anthony than with Cho, and it was almost a given that this Ravenclaw would not burst into tears every five minutes like the first had. And, most likely, he wouldn't want to go to Madame Puddifoot's.
As he walked down the stairs to the Gryffindor common room, the oblivious boy never saw it coming.
"Harry!" It came as a shriek from two voices at once.
Hermione and Ginny assaulted him at the bottom of the stairs. All he could hear were mumbles and screams as they dragged and attacked him mercilessly. He could hear snippets of their rambling.
"What are you wearing? - old clothes - no sense of style - what is that? - the hair- Hermione, look at the hair! - and - men!" This last was huffed by Ginny in her exasperation at poor Harry's fashion sense.
"All right, calm down girls, stop it or I swear I'll hex you! Don't think I won't."
Both girls backed down but kept on looking at him with contempt.
"Ok, now tell me what is this all about?"
"Oh, Harry Harry, Harry, you cannot possibly think we would let you go out with those clothes?"
" 'Mione, these are my regular clothes."
"I know, but this is not a regular day, is it?"
"I guess not..."
"No it's not, and that hair... Harry, I love you like another brother but I cannot let you go out with that mop of hair running amuck on your head. I've lived with seven men, trust me dear, that thing does not impress anyone," Ginny started.
Suddenly Harry was very, very afraid.
"Well, what do you suggest, then?"
Twin mischievous grins sprung on the girls' faces. They had a willing victim on their hands.
"First, we have to go back upstairs and change those clothes. I'm sure Dean and Seamus won't mind if we borrow something..."
Ginny carried on with the sentence.
"And then we are going to style your hair, Lavender and Parvati taught me tons about it in fourth year. You'll see, Harry, you won't be disappointed; we'll make you look smashing."
The giggling that followed made Harry even more nervous than he was, and his beautiful morning was turning into a nightmare.
He led them into the boy's room, but was stopped short by Hermione's scream.
"Is that... Hogwarts: a History on the floor?"
A very creeped-out Harry nodded.
"What the devil is it doing on the floor?" exclaimed Hermione irately.
Harry tried not to laugh.
"Hermione, this is a boys' room, everything is on the floor."
It was the appointed time and Anthony was waiting for Harry on the front steps of the school. He was very nervous but confident that he at least looked good. He was wearing muggle clothes as they were more comfortable than robes, and also because he knew that since Harry had been raised by Muggles, he would probably wear them, too. Harry did wear them all the time, Anthony knew; he paid attention.
He was wearing baggy grey-ish blue jeans and a light blue polo shirt with trainers and a coat. Elegant but casual. He was not his dormmates' favorite person right now, since he had woken up at six am and started looking for the perfect outfit, waking them up in the process. They had not been very supportive. In the end, though, he really thought it had been worth it.
It hadn't helped that yesterday in Potions, Professor Snape was crueler than ever, especially to the Ravenclaws. It was very strange, since usually he was only like that with the Gryffindors and the Hufflepufs. Worst of all, he seemed to have it against Anthony in particular. Snape had asked him a million questions, criticized his potion, which had been perfect, by the way, and given Anthony detention for allegedly talking back to him. It was absolutely unheard of!
He was shaken out of his musings by the vision of Harry coming down the stairs. He was wearing light low rise Diesel jeans courtesy of Dean--they were a little bit too long since he was the shortest in the dorm--a long-sleeved dark blue t-shirt that hid half of his hands (thanks to Seamus), with a bright yellow short-sleeved t-shirt over it that amazingly brought out the green of his eyes (that was Ron's, of course), dark blue trainers that were his own; he had bought them last summer, although he had had to hide them from his "family," and finally over his hands a jean jacket, Seamus again.
He looked good. His hair was not tamed, as that was practically impossible. Hermione had styled it so that, even though it was messy, it looked like it was deliberately mussed. It, too, brought out his eyes. Ginny had insisted on transfiguring his glasses so that now they were thin and silver, which made his face look less childish and more sophisticated.
The girls had tried to put some make up on him but he had absolutely refused. He was not going to wear it, even if they claimed it would hide his scar. It would be useless anyway since he still looked very much like himself. Maybe he would use it on another opportunity when the purpose of his outing was less public, more undercover.
"Hi, Harry. Here, let me help you."
Anthony ran to help Harry put his jacket on. The green-eyed teen felt awkward but let him anyway. They stepped outside and Harry was glad of the heating charms he had applied to his clothes. It was freezing and without them, this attire would do nothing to fight the cold.
They headed towards Hogsmeade, walking in uncomfortable silence until Anthony struck up the universal subject of Quidditch. They talked about brooms, players, teams, and the possibility of Harry playing professionally after graduation, which was slim given that Voldemort might still be around.
Once the ice was broken, Harry had an enjoyable time. They talked about classes, the houses, anything but the war. It was relaxing for Harry; he didn't have to think about the Order, what Dumbledore was hiding from him this time, Draco Malfoy taking care of 'his kids,' and especially Severus Snape. The latter had regained his title of greasy git status in Harry's mind, even though he was not greasy when outside the potions classroom.
They went first to the bookstore. Then they went on to Zonko's and later had lunch at the Three Broomsticks. All was going well, that is until they felt a flash going off to their right. As Harry turned, he faced at least seven reporters and a handful of photographers that zoomed in on them.
"Harry, are you having fun on your date?"
"Has he kissed you yet?"
"Have you kissed him?"
He felt anger rising; had he absolutely no private life? Who could understand these people? One day they loved him, the next he was insane, then he was a liar and the next day the only hope of the wizarding world. He couldn't take it. He looked over at Anthony, who didn't seem uncomfortable, but that was because he wasn't getting all the heat.
He grabbed Anthony's hand and headed towards the exit. He did not want to lose his temper in front of his date.
Anthony stopped to pay Madam Rosmerta for their meal, and they were on their way back to Hogwarts. They walked in silence most of the way, side by side, stealing shy glances at one another, neither knowing what to say.
"I'm sorry they ruined our date."
"What? Harry, there's no need to apologize. If it's anyone's fault it's my own. I should have known they would have found out about this and decide to follow you around. It's not the first time they've done it. Besides, it wasn't ruined; did you have a good time?"
At Harry's shy response, Anthony gave him a huge grin and took his hand. Neither one stopped walking. The feel of Anthony's hand on his own made Harry feel nice, although something was missing. He didn't mind, besides, this was their first date anyway; nice was just fine by him.
"So, if you enjoyed the date and I did, too, then there's no need to let those reporters ruin it."
A/N: So, I hope this was god enough. It was really hard to write since I didn't have a computer half of the time and then I started classes and it has been hell I have to read soooo much it's making me crazy. I hope you all like it.
Chapter 4: Chapter 8: How was the date? And, SeverusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s day
A/N: So, I really thought I was writing Julian after my niece and nephew but I just arrived from a trip where I met Devin, my brother's girlfriend's kid who's three, and this chapter is completely based on him. He's the cutest kid alive; he makes friends wherever he goes, young and old, he's super hyper and as much like the Julian that I have described as possible. My brother tells me he's usually very well mannered and obedient, but, who knows why, he decided I would be his new toy, so he pulled my hair, and threw water, cups, and stuff in general. He got in so much trouble and I felt really bad because I thought he was going to hate me, because anytime he did anything to me his mom punished him or scolded him or something. It's either poor kid or poor me!! So, this chap goes to the cute, although he might hate me, Devin.
thanks to my beta erieverde and see disclaimer in chp 1
Chapter 8: How was the date? And, Severus's day
When Harry arrived at his house's common room after another date with Anthony, he was mobbed by a blur of brown hair. Hermione, had been waiting for him and wanted to know every detail of the day. But Harry wasn't in the mood; it had been his fifth date with Anthony in three weeks and something was off. He had a strange feeling.
Hermione noticed his state as he knew she would, but instead of leaving him be as he wanted, she immediately threw a question at him.
"What's wrong, Harry? Did you have a bad time?"
He gave a sigh. Maybe if he talked about it with his friend, she would help him figure out this strange feeling. They moved towards a secluded part of the common room and he started talking.
"I don't know what's going on. I just have this weird feeling, but it might be me being paranoid."
"What's it like? Is it about Anthony?"
"Yes and no. I don't know. It's like, we go out and he's great, he's funny and attentive and he's interested in everything I have to say, you know?"
"But then you see how he's with me when it's just the four of us, right?"
"Yes Harry, he's very nice, polite and sweet, what's the matter?"
"Let me just give you an example. Today he waited for me after every one of my classes, he walked me to the next class as well as back here after classes, all the while carrying my books or holding my hand as if we were this long time couple. And it felt kind of weird. He smiled to the people looking at us and, I don't know, it was as if he craved the attention and you know how much I hate it."
"That's it, 'Mione. I don't think he really cares for me, Harry; he cares for me the celebrity and stuff. He doesn't even know me and yet he's very taken with me, he's always complimenting me and saying he really likes me and he's talking about a serious relationship when we've barely even kissed. I mean, he kissed me the other day and it was ok, better than Cho's, but not exactly mind blowing. Am I expecting too much, Hermione? Am I so damaged I can't enjoy what all my friends seem to? I know it's ridiculous to think about hearing bells ring and seeing stars flash when you kiss, but I thought it would be more."
"Oh Harry!" She turned and gave him a tight hug. "Why would you think you're damaged? You are a normal boy, you just don't work on autopilot as many boys your age do. Maybe you just need the right person to kiss."
He felt a bit better but not much. His defeated tone gave him away.
"No my 'Mione, I am damaged. All those years of living without any love, or anyone who cared for me, while growing up left me without the ability to love or to feel. I have a vacant body."
"Harry Potter, don't you dare say that ever again! You are as normal as anyone else, and you do know how to love, you love me, right? You love Ron and Evan and Julian and Ginny? You loved Sirius, right?"
She felt bad for bringing the painful topic that was Sirius up, but she had to get him out of this funk. He looked at her with a bit of hurt in his eyes, so she kept on going.
"How can you say you are a vacant body when I can see millions of emotions flashing behind your green eyes? No one is as passionate as you; when you get mad, you get furious. When you're happy, you're ecstatic. When you're sad, you're devastated. And when the day comes and you fall in love, I know, my Harry, that you will love more passionately and profoundly than anyone else and until that day comes you just have to be very patient and keep the hope alive."
They were embracing now. She was talking into his neck and he leaned into her as much as he could, trying to capture as much of her warmth as possible. Suddenly, he didn't feel as hopeless as before and he let go.
"So, what do I do with Anthony then?"
"I'm sorry Harry; I don't know what to advise. Do you like him?"
"He's a nice guy, but I don't feel anything for him."
"Ok, do feel like you will develop feelings for him, are you attracted to him?"
"No, definitively no."
"Then you have to stop this thing you two might have before he falls in love with you and you really break his heart, or it evolves into something you don't want."
"You know what? You're right. He's very infatuated with me and I feel absolutely nothing towards him. I have astronomy with him tonight. I'll talk to him."
"Just make sure you don't screw things up, Harry. Try to have some tact, let him down easy."
"Ok 'Mione, thank you very much. I was very confused, but now I feel so much better."
"That's all right, Harry, that's what friends are for."
He gave her a hard hug and muttered into her hair, "No, 'Mione, that's what sisters are for."
He stood up, gave her a kiss on the top of her head and left her sitting there with the beginning of a tear in her eyes and a silly smile on her face.
Ron found her like that seconds later.
"Hermione? Are you ok? Did something happen?"
She turned to face her boyfriend with a pleased look on her face.
"I'm not an only child, Ron, I have a brother! He's a little bit clueless and a little bit rash, but he's my brother and I love him so much I would give my life for him."
"Hermione, what are you talking about? What brother?"
"Harry, Ron, Harry. I just realized he's my brother now; he's always been, actually, and I just now realized it."
Ron didn't know what to say or do, so he just gave her a hug and held her for a while. He didn't know what had brought this on, but sensed now would be the perfect time to just let it go. She would explain it to him later. He didn't feel threatened; Harry was his brother, too, and a part of his family and Ron knew there was nothing more than filial love between his two best friends. It had always been that way; he had always felt something different for Hermione than what Harry felt for her. It just took a little time to stop being so stubborn and do something about it. He reckoned that's why they used to fight so much...
No, that wasn't it. They still fought like cat's and dogs, they just made up differently now.
Astronomy class was hell. Harry had been a ball of nerves since the moment he had seen Anthony waiting for him outside the portrait of the Fat Lady. Blessed Hermione had stayed right by his side until it they arrived at the Astronomy tower, talking to Harry and trying to ease his nerves.
In class, Anthony had paired up with him, so they shared a telescope. Harry tried to avoid the touches and innuendos made by his partner; now that he had a clear head and knew that the Ravenclaw was not what he wanted, he didn't particularly like being fondled by him. By the time the class was over, he was ready to dump the other teen down the stairs.
"Class is dismissed. Be sure to finish your charts for next class."
With that, the class was over and for a moment, a wave of panic washed over Harry. It quickly washed away when Anthony put a possessive arm around his waist.
This has to end tonight.
He motioned for his friends to go ahead. Hermione gave him a supportive hug and Ron, who had been filled in on what was going on, gave him a thumbs up.
He then motioned to Anthony to follow him, and walked towards the Room of Requirement. He paced three times in front of the tapestry, all the while thinking of a neutral place where he could break up with Anthony, and a door appeared out of nowhere.
Meanwhile, Anthony was ecstatic. Harry had walked him to the Room of Requirement, and that could only mean one thing: a very good snog. He could not have been more wrong.
When they entered, Tony was surprised to see a plain room containing two armchairs facing each other, with a small coffee table in between them and placed in front of a fireplace. Not exactly what he expected, but he would make do. He moved to embrace Harry but was stopped by the green-eyed boy.
"No, Anthony we need to talk."
Ok... "Sure babe, what about?"
Babe! "Take a seat, please"
They sat facing each other. Harry fidgeted for a bit but finally found the courage to say what was on his mind.
"You know, Tony, you're a great guy."
"I think you're great too, Harry."
It seemed he was not going to have it easy. But he had a fail-proof plan to break up with Tony right now, and stay friends with him at the same time. It was perfect.
"Ok, I have something to say and I need you to hear me out. Try not to interrupt me, please." Anthony gave a nod and Harry took a deep breath and kept going.
"Ok, I think you're a great guy but I've been thinking and I'm not ready to have a relationship with you and I don't think you are ready to have a relationship with me, either."
The change in Anthony's face would have been funny had it not been so sad. His expression completely fell to the floor, but Harry held up his hand to stop him from making any comment.
"Let me be honest with you. For a while I thought I was a normal person and that I could have a normal life. But let's face it, a normal person doesn't have a madman after him and a normal person doesn't live his life on the front page of the Daily Prophet. We are in a time of war and to tell you the truth, I cannot make you a target. I have lost many loved ones to Voldemort and I can't get in a relationship with you and have a clean conscience while I know for a fact that he will, as he has done in the past, target anyone that I care for at all. To tell you the truth, I don't think I'm even ready for any type of relationship, regardless of that bastard."
He took another deep breath. Everything he was saying was the truth. He was baring his secret fears to Anthony and he hoped it would work.
"I have a responsibility, however unwanted it might be, to be an active part of this war. I am not ready to give my heart right now, and I also really don't want to put you in danger."
He felt bad for the desperate look Anthony had on his face.
"Harry no, you're safe in Hogwarts, and I'm safe, too. There's no reason to put your life on hold until the war is over; you never know what might happen, and meanwhile you can't close yourself to love. I know I won't."
"Are you really ready to die for me, Anthony? People I love have the tendency to do that. Are you ready to be tortured because of me? Hogwarts has proved it's not as safe as it's supposed to be; just look at how the third task of the Triwizard Tournament went. We had a Deatheater as a teacher, for crying out loud. Think about it. I don't think you are ready and I am not going to let you try. It's been fun going out with you, Tony. You have opened my eyes to a whole new world but the consequences are more than what I'm willing to pay."
With that he rose and left a very stunned Anthony in his wake.
Things went back to normal for Harry. Or, as normal as they can be for a guy like him could be. In the following week, he had two more visions of the same burning town, and some more nightmares; he went to classes sleepy, and tried to stay awake in them. The good part was that even though it looked like Anthony had taken their "break up" hard, he was not pursuing Harry anymore.
Harry took care of Evan and Julian as he had always done. He was a bit worried as time passed and Evan remained very introverted, but since Snape had said this was normal of his eldest son, Harry wouldn't say anything about it. He did try to get Evan outside more, though.
It was Friday afternoon when Harry went to visit his favorite pair of boys, and found himself helping the Potions Master cut some weird looking roots.
"So, Professor, how was your day yesterday? Did you enjoy your time with Malfoy?"
How was my day yesterday, he asks. Did I enjoy my day with Malfoy?
In truth, Snape's day had been a nightmare. His usually nice and well mannered younger son had acted completely out of character. Julian had pushed around, yelled at, thrown water on, and spat on Draco, as well as pulling his hair. It was so utterly unlike Julian to do those things that Snape couldn't understand the boy's bizarre behavior.
It had all started the previous day, when he had been working with the younger Malfoy on a delicate potion that needed all of their attention. Harry had been with them for a while, taking care of Evan and Julian. The latter had been a bit crazier than usual, but nothing that could not be explained by the chocolate frog he had eaten earlier that evening.
As soon as Harry had left, stating he needed to study, Julian had gone insane. He had cried for Harry not to leave, jumped on the couch, and played with his father's instruments, which he knew his father had strictly forbidden him to even touch. He got sent to his room three times, and when bedtime came, he refused to go to sleep.
"Daddy, I want water, I have to go the bathroom, I don't want to sleep, Daddy, where's my blanket, my pillow, my juicy cup, can I have another glass of water, can I have juice, can I stay up..."
It went on and on and on for hours, until Draco left. The potion was not ruined by some miracle, but this new behavior of his son worried Snape. Sure, Julian could get a bit out of hand, but he had never before acted spoiled or anything like he had done that day.
Harry had been told of the situation by a very disgruntled Malfoy, who had come up to him that morning while walking towards DADA, and asked him "How can you stand that kid?" and then proceeded to tell Harry everything Julian had done to him the previous evening.
They had walked together while they talked, and when Harry had sat down with his friends he had realized they were looking at him strangely.
"You were really chummy with Malfoy, coming in."
Harry was a bit startled, but instead of reading anything into it he turned a cheeky grin towards Ron.
"Why? Are you jealous?"
"Harry! Stop being an ass and tell me what the ferret wanted."
"Ok, ok! He didn't want anything; he was just telling me about what happened last night at Snape's place. It seems he didn't get along well with Julian."
"What? I know Malfoy's not being a git this year, Harry but do you think it's wise to get all friendly and conversational with the son of a known Death Eater?"
"It's ok, Ron, I think he's coming around. And I don't care who his father is, if he wants to be civil towards me, then I'm not going to throw that in his face."
"All right mate, if you say so, just don't expect me to like the little ferret."
"I wouldn't dream of it, Ron, and don't worry, you're still my best mate."
Ron blushed but a huge grin took up a quarter of his face. Class went on and nothing else was said about the subject until the three of them where walking towards Care of Magical Creatures, when Harry took up the subject of Julian's behavior with Hermione.
"Hey 'Mione, do you know anything on child psychology?"
"No, Harry that's not one of my areas of expertise but tell me what you want to know and we can research it."
Harry groaned but told her of Julian's behavior anyway, thinking it could only help. During lunch Hermione was nowhere to be seen. Later that afternoon they had Transfiguration together again.
"Harry! I found something that might be interesting."
"Well, I found a book on child rearing and it says that sometimes, when children Julian's age feel threatened on their affections of their parents or close ones, they will act out against that threat, in this case, against Malfoy. So, I wouldn't worry so much about it; Julian will get used to Draco, or at least realize that no one can take his father's love away from him, and stop acting out."
"Thanks 'Mione that's a lot of help. I'll tell Snape tonight."
And that's why Harry was in the dungeons that same night, helping Severus put the children to bed and very relieved to see that Julian had gone back to being his sweet self.
He saw the opportunity to tease his teacher about it, though, before he told Snape about what 'Mione had found.
How was my day yesterday, he asks. Did I enjoy my day with Malfoy?
It said a lot about the changes that had occurred in their relationship when instead of biting Harry's head off, Severus answered the question honestly.
"It was a nightmare. I have never had so much trouble with Julian, not since he came to live here. I don't know what got into him, but he was on his worst behavior. I had to give him three time outs and in the end, the only way he went to sleep was when he got tired of crying, and believe me it was a long time from when he started to when he finished."
Harry tried very hard not to burst out laughing. It wasn't working and the affronted look on his Potions Master's face only made the problem worse.
"I'm sorry, Professor, but you should have seen your face!"
"Oh sorry, sorry."
He did a better job of stopping his laughter, brushing a tear from his cheek and turning back to the disgruntled Potions master. They spent the rest of the evening discussing the book Hermione had loaned Harry and possible scenarios on how to reassure Julian that they where not going to love him any less just because there was someone else around they may care for as well.
It was later, while safely under the covers of his bed in Gryffindor, that Harry realized that Julian's behavior had applied to him too. Julian had been outright nasty to Anthony during a break when Harry had taken the children outside and Anthony had joined them for a while. They had had to go back in when Julian had thrown a handful of mud at Anthony's backpack.
Harry smiled contently; he was sorry for Anthony but this meant that Julian saw Harry as a part of the Snape family, and it gave Harry a sense of great satisfaction and belonging, for the first time in many years. It also gave him a warm fuzzy feeling that he didn't know quite how to analyze but he was so happy that he didn't want to think about it.
Chapter 5: chp 9: where doves cry
disclaimer in chp 1
thanks to erieverde for betaing
LOoB 9: where doves cry
He was dreaming of strong hands and dark eyes when the vision hit him. He was completely unprepared for the intensity of it; it was almost as if he was there. He could smell the smoke of the fire as well as the acridity of the burning flesh.
Harry woke up throwing up, Ron by his side as always.
This time the immediacy of the situation kept him from arguing with his red headed friend. The vision was going to happen that night and he had to stop it. They ran through the castle barefoot, with only their thin cotton pajamas on, mindless of the numbing cold. They had to get to Dumbledore.
They reached the gargoyle in record time. Corridors opened out of nowhere, the stairs moved accordingly, suits of armor got out of the way and even the gargoyle was part of the process of allowing them passage without a password. It seemed like the castle knew their urgency and tried to do its best to help.
They found the Headmaster waiting for them behind his desk. His eyes were not twinkling, his face dead set in concentration.
Harry took big gasps of air, trying to regain his breath in order to talk.
"It's tonight Headmaster, it's tonight. We thought it was the full moon but it's tonight the moon just looks like it's full, I'm sorry. It's at an orphanage, there are nuns, it's in the country, the name is St. Paul's Orphanage. There will be at least twenty Death Eaters. They're going to kill them all."
He stood there, resting his hands on his knees, catching some air. He felt Ron's hand on his back and he turned to see the look of shock on his best friend. Ron knew of the visions but not how bad they could be. The tired voice of the old Headmaster made them turn.
"How much time?"
Dumbledore was standing by the fireplace, throwing Floo powder in and yelling orders to some unseen source. At the same time he was tying a letter to Fawkes' leg and sending the bird ahead. Harry checked his wristwatch; it was one am.
"Not too much, maybe a couple of hours. It seemed I couldn't find a clock but the moon's position might have been at three or four am. I'm sorry Headmaster, there was too much chaos to concentrate properly."
"Nothing to apologize for, my boy; you've done enough. I'll be leaving for the Order's headquarters. When Minerva comes, tell her what you have told me, relay the entire dream and all you can remember. We will try to stop this from happening."
He paused for a second and then asked, "Was Voldemort there?"
Ron gasped but Harry was expecting this question,
"No, he wasn't. But Bellatrix was."
"Very well, thank you Harry, you know what to do."
With that the old man left the two teens in his office. Ron had never been privy to this part of the process. Usually he would wake Harry up, help him get dressed, argue about going with him and lose, and then wait until his friend came back. Tonight it had been different. This was big. As it seemed, children's lives where at stake and he just didn't know what to do.
Luckily, Harry did. Since they had discovered that, between nightmares and Voldemort's visions, there where some dreams that remained unaccounted for, true prophetic dreams, Harry had been working on trying to differentiate them, and to identify each time, date and location.
He taught himself to find the what, who when and where of the prophecies. He did not do it all on his own. Hermione found the information on how to tell time by the position of the sun and the moon, and Ron helped him pore over geology charts and maps to determine unique geological characteristics to look for, as well as pictures and locations of landmarks such as Stonehenge and famous castles and manors.
All of this took place in-between classes, training and life in general.
It had been hard work, most of all because Harry had to teach himself the difference between a vision and a prophecy. In a vision, Harry felt part of it; he was one of the protagonists. On the other hand, in the prophecies he saw what was happening as an observer, like in a Pensieve. The prophecies only came with sleep while the visions could hit him at any time, although with Occlumency he hadn't had a vision in a long time.
His job now was to go down to the dungeons and keep watch over the younger Snapes. He took Ron with him as he didn't feel like waiting by himself. Pictures of his dream still flashed in his head and he was a little nauseous. When they arrived there, Snape had already left but there was a note for Harry.
Children are asleep. There's pain potion in the cupboard, take the blue one as you should know, and all else is in its usual place. You should know what to do by now. Don't know when I'll be back.
Harry swallowed the blue potion, and took a seat by the fire, Ron beside him. Now it was time to wait.
Soon the silence was too much for Ron, who was unaccustomed to the waiting.
"What I don't get is why that particular orphanage? It's practically in the middle of nowhere and it has absolutely no tactical advantages. Not even as intimidation since it's highly improbable anyone from either the Muggle or the Wizarding worlds will hear of this attack."
Harry gave him a calculating look as if figuring out how much he should say. It was a look Ron had seen plenty of these past weeks, although not always directed at him. He didn't like it much anyway.
Finally Harry seemed to find what he was looking for because he started talking.
"This is personal for him."
Ok, now it's even more confusing.
"Personal for who?"
"Whom?" [Nice touch]
Ron rolled his eyes.
"Whatever, 'Hermione'. Personal for whom and why?"
Harry gave him a tiny smile and Ron felt proud of himself for being the one to achieve putting it there.
"Voldemort. That's where he grew up."
Suddenly, Ron didn't feel like asking any more questions.
They sat in silence for an hour before Ron passed out on the couch. Harry sat quietly beside him and kept waiting. Later, Julian seemed to sense something was wrong and without fully waking up, shuffled towards Harry's lap and settled there for the rest of the night.
Harry held the small child close to him. He loved this boy; he loved both of them. He loved them dearly and that realization hit him like a brick. He would protect them not just because Snape had ordered it, but because he loved them deeply. He could not imagine living without these kids and it had only been a few months since he had gotten close to them.
Julian snuggled closer and Harry gave him a kiss on the top of his head and held him a little bit tighter. He felt afraid. Afraid of losing these children; of seeing them being hurt just as the orphans might be hurt, those who the Order was trying to save right that minute.
He then looked at his best friend and feared losing him, too. Ron was his comfort at night after a nightmare, vision or prophecy. Ron wasn't exactly one to know what to say or have much tact, but he was a soothing presence that gave Harry strength to bear his burden. His friends and these two children were the reasons he kept on fighting. He trained hard so that when the time came, he would be prepared to eliminate the menace that surrounded his life and the life of those he loved.
Lately he had been re-doubling efforts because he wanted Evan and Julian to have the childhood he had never had. He wanted them to be free from fear. He wanted them to be able to attend a normal grade school, have friends their own ages and later come to Hogwarts, and be sorted into Ravenclaw and Gryffindor, just so that Snape would have a heart attack. As sneaky as Julian was, he was a brave little boy, and he had the lion painted all over his personality.
Harry chuckled lightly; he could almost savor it. But he frowned as he realized that chances were he would not survive long enough to see that happen and even if he did, he would have his own life apart from the Snapes. Somehow, that made him very, very sad. This at the same time made him very, very confused since he couldn't understand why he would miss the elder Snape. Yes, Severus was less mean to him, and they had had a number of civil conversations but would he really miss the obnoxious prat?
His musings were cut short by the arrival of said prat. Snape entered the room through his side office door, proving that he had arrived by that chimney. He was covered blood and grime, his robes had tears in them, and he grasped his wand wearily in his hand; he looked tired but not in pain.
"Are you hurt?"
Severus was taken by surprise by the hushed voice. He had expected Harry to be asleep; after all, it was five in the morning. He shook his confusion away and turned to the seat the Gryffindor was occupying. He stared at the young man who was holding a little bundle of blankets with a sock-encased foot hanging out that he vaguely recognized as his son.
"No, Potter, I'm not. I... why would you think...?"
It seemed that he hadn't been able to get rid of his confusion after all, but he was so tired of fighting that he just could not muster the energy to be nasty to Harry. Not tonight. Harry sensed his teacher's state.
"It's just that... there's blood all over you, Professor. Are you certain you're not hurt?"
Snape started even more. Blood? What blood? He looked at his hands and it hit him.
"It's not my blood, not my blood at all..." He needed a drink.
Harry understood that something must have gone terribly wrong for his professor to be in this condition. So he stood up, keeping Julian in his arms and set the boy on his own bed, placing a Sleeping Charm on him just in case, so that he wouldn't wake up and find his father as he was. Harry then returned to the living room, where Snape was seated in front of the fire with a glass of an amber liquid that he figured must be Firewhisky.
He sat on the ottoman in front of the Potions Master and settled in for what he figured would be a long talk.
It took awhile for Snape to acknowledge him and when he did, he looked like he was having an internal battle about what to say.
"Just tell me what happened, Professor; chances are my visions were worse than what occurred tonight."
Snape looked at him intently, and after a while gave a slight nod.
"It was a massacre. We arrived just in time to witness the first wave of attack by the Death Eaters. It took the Muggles completely by surprise; of course, they didn't have any reason to expect such an attack. The first victims were the nuns; they were defenseless until we arrived. The Death Eaters had already blocked the entrance to the orphanage, so when we arrived, they divided forces; half tried to keep us from going inside to protect the Muggles and half carried on torturing and killing anyone that came their way..."
He paused. He didn't know why he was telling Potter of all people this, but he was compelled to continue. Something shone in those big green eyes and it was they who urged him to continue, to unload the stress of the night. He knew for a fact that Harry had seen even worse things in his dreams and it was true nothing Severus said could shock him.
"We managed to break through their barrier and from then on, it was an all out battle. The Death Eaters had gotten to the children seconds before we did; they managed to kill two of the nuns guarding them, and I don't even know how many of the older children were gravely hurt. The children were scared, crying, and screaming and it was then, when the Death Eaters saw themselves cornered, that they Disaparated out of the orphanage, leaving behind eleven dead Muggle adults and three dead children... one of them was Evan's age. He had brown eyes, and for a minute I could have sworn I saw my child dead in front of me."
Harry didn't know what to say or to do. How do you say that it's ok that the dead child was not Evan but another orphaned boy? So Harry did the only thing he could possibly do. He stood before his Potions professor and gave him a hard-earned hug. If anyone needed comfort right that minute, it was Severus Snape, who had seen monstrous things in his life, and had committed some atrocities himself, but tonight had seen the frailty of life in the form of the image of the dead body of his eldest son.
Snape basked in the comfort of the embrace. He was too tired to feel embarrassed for needing it or to be able to refuse it. He buried his lanky nose in the mop of black hair of the shorter man who, even through his short stature, managed to hold Severus just as well as his own mother had when he was a child.
They stood there, by the fire, holding each other, until the grunts of a waking Ron made them part. They each looked into the other's eyes for a few moments, and a secret agreement was made to not speak of this, whatever this was.
The sleepy question voiced by Ron shook them out of their reverie and Harry quickly walked over to crouch next to the couch which held his groggy friend.
"Yes, Ron, wake up. We can go now, Professor Snape is back and we need to get some sleep before classes tomorrow."
At the mention of his feared Potions professor, Ron shot out of the couch.
"Um, hullo there, sir. Nice couch. We'll be leaving now."
He was out the door before he could get an answer. Harry moved to follow but paused at the doorway.
"You know, Professor, I won't let anything happen to your children. If you believe nothing else about me, believe that."
He turned and left a very confused Potions Master behind. He didn't hear the whisper that followed his exit.
"I do, Harry. I do."
Severus finished his drink and retired for what was left of the night.
Chapter 6: Chapter 10: If you don't mind, I'm gonna pass out / part of the landscape
Disclaimer: not mine. J.K. Rowling created the Harry Potter series; I'm just playing in her playground.
Thanks to my beta Eirie for taking the time to edit this fic!
Chapter 10: If you don't mind, I'm gonna pass out / part of the landscape.(1)
There was a lull in the normal noise of the Great Hall when Harry entered it for breakfast the next morning. He was late; the Daily Prophet had already arrived with the mail and news of the Death Eater attack had reached the Hogwarts community. He reached his usual seat in the middle of the table and sat besides Ron facing the other house tables.
"Do they blame me for this, too?"
Ron almost choked on a piece of bacon.
"What do you mean, mate?"
Hermione, who was seated across from them, threw a piece of toast at him.
"Honestly, Ron, it's like you don't know him at all! He means does everyone blame him because he didn't stop last night's attack."
Ron was not at his brightest in the morning, but he was a good, loyal friend who always stood by Harry and from time to time, he would give some brilliant piece of advice that would make up for his less than appropriate comments on other occasions.
Hermione reached across the table and grabbed Harry's hand.
"Now, Harry, you can't let them get to you; you are not responsible for every little thing You Know Who does and you did all you could to stop what happened last night. Things could have been much worse had you not warned the Headmaster. Besides, people should learn to fight for themselves and not put their lives on the hands of a sixteen year old. Now eat your breakfast, we're going to be late to class."
She was aware of the fact that half the school had heard her. She had done it on purpose. They should all be ashamed of themselves for expecting Harry, an untrained wizard, a young boy, a teenager at best, to save them all with his bare hands. Real life did not work that way and her fellow students needed to see that in times of war it was necessary to learn how to defend themselves and not lie down and prepare to die, just waiting for a knight in shining armor to come along and help them.
Harry finished his breakfast quickly. He was aware of what Hermione was up to and he was grateful. Just as he finished, a tingling feeling began radiating from his scar and he knew he needed to get out of there as fast as possible. He stood from his seat and calmly left the Great Hall; it took just a look to Hermione and Ron and they knew something was not right. They followed Harry as far away from the Hall as possible. In the end, this wasn't as far away as they would have liked. Harry was blinded by a flash of pain from his scar half a corridor later. Ron held on to him and Hermione opened the door to a closet and helped get Harry inside, casting a Silencing Charm as an afterthought.
Ron held him in his arms while Hermione ran her hands through Harry's hair. They sat on the floor of the dusty little closet for a long while, not aware that their first class had ended a while ago and people would most likely be looking for them. Harry remained unaware because he was in agonizing pain and Ron and Hermione were because they were worried about their friend.
The time passed quickly and finally Harry stopped trembling. Slowly, he became aware of his surroundings, his head on Hermione's lap, the soothing motion of her hands, the sound of Ron's quiet voice and the feel of his rough hand holding his own, the hard and cold of the floor and the mustiness of the air. The pain had calmed and was now a dulling throb, but he could still feel the ghost of it, lingering behind.
He gave a tired moan; his throat was dry and scratchy. He heard Hermione's worried tone.
He realized that this had been one of the first times she had seen him in this position. It was always Ron who took care of him after his nightmares, what with them being roommates and all. He turned to look at her face but the upward movement made him dizzy, so he settled for looking into Ron's worried face. The redhead gave him a crooked smile and asked,
"A memory, a vision, or a prophecy?"
He gave a tired chuckle; that was the Ron he knew and loved.
"None of the above. An emotion, anger, he was really, really mad."
They realized he didn't want to talk about it yet and since it wasn't urgent they didn't need to press him.
"Do you want to go to the infirmary?"
"Nah, I'll be fine, just... just get me to Snape so we can tell him that the past two months of training have been for naught."
He gave a pathetic little chuckle and Hermione felt the reality of their lives on her shoulders.
It would have been an awkward hug with him still lying in her lap so he tried to stand up but was still too weak. So he lay there, giving his friend a backwards hug while trying not to burst into tears himself.
"It's ok, Hermione. I'm fine."
"I know, I'm sorry, I got scared at seeing you like that, I thought the worst. I'm really sorry. Let's go, can you stand?"
They tried it but his legs were made of jelly and he was forced to hold on to Ron.
They made their way to the dungeons, with Hermione in the lead making sure the way was clear and Ron supporting, almost dragging Harry. They made slow progress; it was near the end of second hour when they arrived at the door of the Potions Master's chambers. It was a Wednesday, so the children were with Professor Flitwick.
Harry said the password, Confusion, and Ron dragged him to the couch. Hermione ran to the Potions classroom to get their professor. Neither noticed curious gray eyes following their every move from the hallway.
The Potions Master entered the room in all his robes billowing glory. He stopped by Harry's side and checked him over. Once he was sure that Harry was not in immediate danger, he sat down in his high backed chair and addressed the teens.
"My scar hurt, Severus. Voldemort was mad, no, furious, angry, maniacally infuriated. He tore through every Occlumency barrier I had, although I don't think he knew he was doing it."
"I see, and would you happen to know what got him so upset?"
"Last night. He doesn't know how The Order knew he would attack the orphanage, and he's upset because Bellatrix didn't get him whatever he was looking for."
"What he was looking for?"
"I don't know; whenever these bouts of anger come, by all I know is pain, pain and more pain."
He was frustrated and he knew he shouldn't take it out on Snape, but he hated being useless and even more he hated to be mentally attacked as he called these bouts of pain from his scar.
Snape raised an eyebrow in question and Harry felt ashamed of himself. He also felt like crying. The past few days had been hell and it was as if his limits were being tested and he was failing [or something] the test. His eyes shone with suppressed tears and then, to his (and all others present in the room) surprise, Severus Snape knelt in front of him and gave him a comforting hug.
The sky had fallen. Ron and Hermione stared at the tableau [tableau is a fun word...] in a state of morbid shock, acting like bystanders staring at an accident who are unable to look away. Meanwhile, Harry just melted. He felt safe, protected, and a rush of tears came forth. He held on to his teacher, who lately had become more like his friend than anything else, and he knew that here, in the warmth of Severus' embrace, he did not need to be the strong hero but just himself, Harry.
That evening, Harry was wary of going to sleep; he was tired of the visions and memories and just all the baggage that lay on his brain ready to come out once he fell asleep and lowered his defenses. He didn't even want to think about the hug, though it had felt so nice; he could count the number of times he had been hugged on one hand, but the identity of the person it had come from completely confused him and he didn't want to think about that, period.
He decided a bit of physical training would tire and calm him enough to gain at least a couple of hours of restful sleep. He left his cloak hidden, as it seemed that he risked more getting caught with it than without it. He could always play the 'I need to see the Headmaster' card.
He walked the halls of Hogwarts and felt the castle move and become alive with the sounds of the night.
Just as he was reaching the Room of Requirement, he noticed a figure following him in the shadows. Harry felt his heart start pumping faster and a rush of adrenaline cleared his mind while his training took charge. He walked forward in a seemingly normal manner and turned a corner; he then stopped and waited for his prey. As the other came near a ray of moonlight fell on him and Harry was able to identify him. He lowered his guard somewhat but did not put away his wand.
He then walked away from his hiding space and moved to stand under a nearby window. Seconds later he felt his persecutor behind him, waiting.
"What do you want, Malfoy?" Harry was neither angry nor frustrated, he was just tired.
Draco came out of the shadows and stood beside him.
"What happened today?"
Who would have thought, Malfoy asking an innocent question. Yeah, right and I'm really that naÃƒ¯ve...
"When, exactly, are you referring to, Malfoy?"
"After breakfast, when you and your two friends went into Professor Snape's private chambers and they practically had to carry you to get you inside."
Again, there was nothing but curiosity in his tone. Hmm, curious. And how the hell had Malfoy seen that? They needed to be more careful.
"It was noth..."
But Draco interrupted before he finished.
"Don't tell me it's nothing. It was something. I saw you, Potter, you were pale, deathly pale and you couldn't even stand on your own two feet. Is this the hope of our world? We're doomed."
Harry gave a sigh; he felt exhausted and really did not want to fight right then.
"Why do you want to know, Malfoy? I never asked to be anyone's hope but I am, and there's nothing I can do to change it. Shouldn't you be happy that I'm failing?"
Draco came to stand beside him under the stained glass window. They were both lost to their thoughts for a while until Malfoy's voice broke the silence.
"I've watched you over the years, know thy enemy and all that. Our world is fickle with their affections; one day they love you and the next you're a pariah. Every single thing you do is observed by everyone and reported in the Daily Prophet. And you still fight for them?"
"'To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.' As you should know, I'm not very good at doing nothing. You didn't answer my question."
Malfoy gave a small chuckle.
"No, I didn't. Can I come back to it later?"
Harry's chuckle was a little louder. Malfoy intrigued him. Since their last talk the blond had been quiet, thoughtful even.
"I've watched you, too. You have changed; you're less arrogant, you think things through more. Maybe you're weighing your options?"
"Why would you like to know?"
Harry gave him his most charming smile; the one that always got him out of trouble with Hermione and the one that he had seen Julian trying to learn.
"Know thy enemy and such."
He gave Draco a small smile and for the first time in his life he saw Malfoy return it. It wasn't really a true ear-to-ear smile, more like a twitch of the lips, but he would take it anyway. They sobered up quickly and returned to gazing outside.
"I have to go, Malfoy. It's late and I'm tired, but before I leave let me tell you something I read this summer. 'In Germany, they first came for the communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Catholic. Then they came for me -- and by that time there was nobody left to speak up. Think about it."
He turned and left a perplexed Draco Malfoy behind.
Thanks for all the reviews send me an email if you want to be a part of the mailing list!
(1) Quotes from the movie Ronin and are both said by the character sam and the second part the complete quote goes: Either you're part of the problem or you're part of the solution or you're just part of the landscape.
(2) 'To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.' Quote by Elbert Hubbard at: http://www.useful-information.info/quotations/inspirational-quotes.html
(3) "In Germany, they first came for the communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Catholic. Then they came for me -- and by that time there was nobody left to speak up". Martin NiemÃƒ¶ller about the Holocaust
So, after much researching in various web pages (more than 10) I found two versions of the Martin Niemoller Poem, therefore, I'm leaving it as it is because when recalling something you've read a couple of times by memory you may not get it exactly as it should be word by word. Here are the two versions I've found so just take it as you might want to.
"In Germany, they first came for the communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Catholic. Then they came for me -- and by that time there was nobody left to speak up."
"First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me."
I also know Draco shouldn't know what Harry is talking about but I feel he should get the meaning of it. I feel it works so...
Chapter 7: chapter 11: Our children change us; anything that is too stupid to be spoken is sung
AN: crappy title I know I know!!!!!! But it's 12 at night and I'm tired and just bear with me, thanks for all the reviews, I looooooooveeeee them! So keep them up.
I am so not sure about this chapter, after I finished it , I don't know if everything I've written comes up to this or what but lets hope it works.
This chapter is unbetaed.
See disclaimer in chapter 1 (also I do not own anything that sound's familiar at least I don't think so... like the quotes from Ronin and reservoir dogs)
Last in LOoB: "I have to go, Malfoy. It's late and I'm tired, but before I leave let me tell you something I read this summer. 'In Germany, they first came for the communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Catholic. Then they came for me -- and by that time there was nobody left to speak up. Think about it."
He turned and left a perplexed Draco Malfoy behind.
Chapter 11: Our children change us; anything that is too stupid to be spoken is sung.
Severus Snape's heart beat incredibly fast as he ran through the halls of the dungeons towards his rooms. He heard the screams of his youngest echoing through the walls. As he reached the door he slowed down and opened it an inch while he peered into his rooms. What he found floored him.
There, on the floor of the living room, was his youngest son mock wrestling with none other that Harry Potter, laughing so hard they were gasping for air. The tiniest of smiles crept onto the Potions master's face. There had been many changes in the past semester, some good, some bad, others worst. But this, just to see them both - who only a few months ago had been so sad and heartbroken, now playing with shining eyes and a ready smile-made things more bearable.
He fixed the small smile that had sneaked its way onto his face, putting on a mock scowl and opening the door with a bang. The two boys lying on the floor stared at him in fear, and then surprisingly turned into mirth when the professor couldn't keep the scowl up, and was completely erased by a deep, unbound laugh.
Harry looked at Julian and gave him a signal, and when Severus least expected they attacked, tickling the Potions master who fell to the floor dragging his attackers with him.
Minutes later they were all lying on the floor in a mess of limbs, breathing hard from the exertion.
"Yes?" his answer was distracted since he was trying to grab Julian's nose.
"He's... in his room, said we were too loud - Julian I'm trying to talk here..." what ever else Harry meant to say was lost in laughter.
Snape sat on the floor, worried for his eldest child. Harry noticed his preoccupied look and apparently, Julian did too since he stopped tickling him and sat on his lap.
"Is something wrong?"
Severus took his time, being that the answer wasn't very clear.
"Do you think he is a normal boy?"
Okay...not exactly the question I was expecting.
"Um, I don't know what to say... I mean, how would I know what normal is?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, for me a normal boy could be one completely spoiled and huge as a whale, or really skinny and short and mistreated. I used to see the other children at school and they were all different, some were loud - others weren't. I suppose Hermione would have been like Evan when she was his age, before Ron and I corrupted her. The truth is Professor, he's his own self. Yes he is extremely quiet, but I have only known him for a few months - I don't know how he was before the 'incident'. I do know he's an extremely sweet child, who loves to read and make paper airplanes. He protects his younger brother and adores his father. He doesn't like to talk much and even bonded with Ron because of their dislike of spiders. He's shy and sometimes, when he thinks no one is looking, he loses himself in his thoughts and a shadow of pain crosses his eyes. Why?"
Severus was floored. However in the world did Harry Potter ever get to be so insightful? But before he could say anything else, Julian interrupted.
"Hawy, can you describe me like that too?"
And just to guarantee he got what he wanted, he let the heavy artillery out - sad puppy dog eyes. Harry looked up to his teacher and asked for silent permission. It seemed Snape understood and gave a small nod in assent. So Harry knelt down in front of the small child and patted his head softly.
"You, my dear little Julian are a little devil in angels clothing. You are sweet and smart and so very insightful..."
The teenager and the Potions master laughed with out any malice.
"Insightful means that you see the true nature of a situation. You know exactly what is going on and it's very hard to fool you. Do you understand now? May I continue?"
Julian didn't really understand that much but he figured it was a good thing, so he just nodded his tiny little head.
"Ok, so, you are insightful and so very brave. You also know exactly how to get what you want and you have every single person in this castle trapped in your little hand."
He punctuated this by picking up the child, hugging him close and kissing his head, then he resumed his previous tickling and that conversation ended with Julian in tears of laughter, closely followed by a Harry Potter in almost the same state and with the very odd picture of Severus Snape grinning at the picture they made.
Harry hadn't forgotten Snape's question though. He put Julian to bed and afterwards came back to the sitting room.
"Why did you ask me if Evan is a normal child?"
Snape deposited the quill he had in his hand in the quill holder and made sure there were no traces of red ink on his fingers. He walked to the sitting room and sat on the couch, patting the space besides him for Harry to sit on. Once they were settled he started to talk.
"It has come to my attention that even though I have not been the best father to my children, I did know them before the incident. Although Evan has always been very quiet and tranquil, he would talk to his mother and he did have a number of friends he would play with in the summer in the lake near our house. Now, he just reads. He doesn't do much more and it worries me. This cannot be normal, can it?"
And the surprises kept coming for poor Harry Potter. Who knew what kind of secrets Snape hid behind his snarky attitude, first the whole having a family business then asking Harry for help in taking care of the children, a few days back a hug and now asking for advice? This was insane. he was tempted to ask, who are you and what have you done to Professor Snape, and do a revealing charm, but somehow he knew this was the real Snape, so he just tried to answer as best as he could.
"You have to understand Severus, I don't know a thing about children, nor parenting. I did not have the best example in the Dursleys, but that's beside the point. The point is that I think we need help and that the only person I know with the necessary experience with children would be Mrs. Weasley. Now don't do that face- she had seven children, she must know something about them. I know she was a Gryffindor and you don't like us just for the principle of it, but she is our best shot at helping your child. So I'm owling her tomorrow, and I'm sure she will be so happy to help. She will most likely come to the castle right away, and then you will have all of your doubts cleared."
Severus was still scowling, but Harry was giving him a knowing 'you know I'm right' look. He still felt the need to protest even if it was just to save face.
"I will not have that woman turning my children into Gryffindors!"
Harry couldn't help but laugh.
"That is just so typically you, Professor. Don't worry, I'll talk to her, advise her to not try to order you around nor to criticize you that much. It will be fine."
He then stood and left the dungeons with a chuckle. Severus Snape hadn't the slightest inkling of what he had just agreed to.
It was midnight and Harry Potter was once again in the middle of disturbed sleep. The only thought that ran through Ron Weasley's mind was, Oh please, not again, give the poor guy an entire night of sleep... He then rose from his bed, walked to Harry's nightstand, poured a glass of water from the pitcher there and tried to wake Harry up.
He had noticed a pattern in Harry's burden. He could be easily woken from nightmares, visions were a little bit more difficult, and he just could not rouse him from a prophesy, they would just run their course and then Harry would wake on his own. He truly hoped it was a nightmare, for as horrible as they were Harry had learned to get over them and would at least try to go back to sleep. But if it was any of the others, Harry would have to report and it would be bye, bye sleep until the next night - for both of them as well as for the Headmaster.
Ron knew his place as Harry's best friend. He had known since fourth year how important his friendship was to Harry, he was a support and he gladly gave up sleep just to be there with him. Not because he would be in the middle of everything and most likely be privy to top secret information, but because without him Harry would lose strength. His mate needed the moral support and Ron was happy to provide it. The redhead knew there would come a time when Harry would fall in love, and that particular job would fall on someone else; but right now he was the closest to family that Harry had and he loved him as much - if not a bit more - than he loved his brothers. Well, more than Percy in the very least.
"Harry, Harry wake up"
No luck, it must be a vision, damn those are the worst...
"Harry, come on mate, wake up, wake up or I'll sing, I swear Harry, you haven't heard me sing mate and I guarantee it isn't going to be pretty..."
A groan was his only answer.
"Harry... I promise I will sing and crack the windows if you don't wake up right now..."
Still no answer
"Ok, don't say I didn't warn you... 'If you really wanna see what we can do for you
send the crazy wildin' static if you really wanna see what we can do for you send the crazy wildin' static... lalallalalaaaaaaaaaaaaa"
Harry came from the mists of his vision when he heard weird noises, like nails raking through a black board, or like when Crookshanks got wet that day in the common room and mewled all night long. It was torture and it woke him up faster than anything else ever had. He opened his eyes to see Ron by his side singing, or something like it.
"Argh! Ron, stop! What are you doing? Why are you trying, and failing to sing and what the hell is that song..."
Ron was very relieved that Harry was finally awake and a little bit mortified when Harry heard him singing. A slow blush covered his freckled face.
"That was me, your very best friend ever, trying to wake you up - again - and resorting to singing. And as for what that was, it was a song by a new muggle thing called a band-boy that dad got in one of his toys and that Ginny insisted to listen to all summer. Now, to the reason we are here- nightmare, vision or prophesy?"
Harry tried really, really hard not to laugh but the affronted look on Ron's face was too much and he felt better after the giggling fit was over.
"Are you done making fun of me?"
Harry nodded but a few more giggles escaped him.
"Ok, now answer the question."
"Oh, um, prophesy,"
And then Harry realized the importance of what he had just seen and started putting his shoes on and grabbed his robe, shouting to Ron over his shoulder as he was heading out.
"Come on Ron, Important prophesy, are you coming?"
Ron did not need any more prompting. He was heading out right behind Harry as they rushed to the castle, shouted the password and waited in the Headmaster's office.
The old man was with them within minutes.
"Harry my boy, what bring you over in this lovely night?"
The two teenagers looked at each other both thinking, Dear Merlin he's barmy. But Harry decided to speak anyway.
"Prophesy sir, the non painful kind. Lucius Malfoy is getting out of Azkaban, I don't know how or when but he's getting out and he's pissed...
To the reproachful look Dumbledore sent his way he rephrased that.
"Um sorry, I mean he's very angry, as I saw it. Wormtail asked him, 'How does freedom feel?' and he looked at him from above his shoulder and answered 'It's a change,' all cool and mighty. He looks very bad though, like he didn't have any fun in prison and then Bellatrix came in and said that he was there to 'retrieve the item' and that's about it. But I think Malfoy's the only one that can find this item. I don't understand the point of these prophesy things if they don't tell me anything and make me guess like an idiot..."
And then he saw that Ron and Dumbledore were looking at him with amusement painted in their eyes, and realized he was kind of rambling.
"Are you done there mate?" Ron couldn't help from asking
Harry was tempted to stick out his tongue but felt that would be counter=productive to do that in front of the Headmaster (not to mention childish) and head of the Order. So he settled for a death glare.
"Yes, Headmaster, could this 'item' thing be something like the diary of Tom Riddle? Maybe something that Malfoy got at the same time that he got the diary?"
"That is exactly what it's all pointing to. I want you to be very careful Harry, I do not want a repeat of first year, no running after any stones. Whatever this 'item' could be, you have done right by coming to me with this information and I will do my best to keep you informed of what is happening, it will not do any of us any good to have you running after mysterious things without the necessary information. We are at war and I have promised to keep you informed. I will keep my promise. Now Harry, Ronald, please retire to your dormitory. It is late and you have a long day tomorrow."
With that dismissal the two friends left the Headmaster's office. They walked in silence until they arrived to their common room. Ron made a move to go upstairs to bed, but Harry sat on the couch closest to the dying fire.
"Something wrong mate?"
Harry didn't know the answer to that question, but felt compelled to talk.
"For some time I've been kind of working on Draco Malfoy"
This alarmed Ron and he came to sit next to Harry.
"'Working on' how? Please don't tell me you like the git! Although if you do then I will try to support you, even though he is a mean spirited ferret and all but hey, if he makes you happy - which by the way, ew - then that's, well, not ok by me but I'll manage..." he was cut by Harry's hand on his mouth.
"Ron stop, nothing like that, though I appreciate the sentiment. I've been talking to him, trying to make him see he doesn't need to become a Death Eater. That Voldemort is a madman and that joining him would not be very smart. I think I might have cracked through his barrier the last time we talked a couple of nights ago, but now that his father might escape or get out, I'm afraid all that would have been for naught."
"Well Harry, I don't know what to say. I don't know why you would want that ferret on our side, but I can say that no matter what, the seed of doubt has been planted and that maybe he'll still come to the side of the light."
Harry was getting used to this new, coherent Ron. But he wanted to make him understand the importance of Malfoy changing sides.
"Don't you see Ron - Malfoy is a leader in Slytherin. If he comes to our side or even if he declares himself neutral, others will follow, or we will at least have the possibility of a new spy. In the end, it would mean less people joining Voldemort and less familiar faces we'll have to fight, and possibly kill, in the battlefield."
Ron had nothing to say to that. After a while they walked in silence to the dorm and fell asleep for the last few hours before sunrise.
(1) quotes from the title, the first part is really : Our children change us...whether they live or not. Lois McMaster Bujold, "Barrayar", 1991 US science fiction author
2nd part: "Anything that is too stupid to be spoken is sung."- Voltaire (1694-1778)
(2) The song is 'We've Got It Going On' by the backstreet boys. I know they came in 1997 but assume that it was in 1996 for chronological purposes, since this story is right now in early December of 1996.
(3) Joe: How does freedom feel?
Mr. Blonde: It's a change. From Reservoir dogs
Chapter 8: Ch: 12 Daddy kissed Harry...
THIS IS THE BETA'D VERSION thanks to Erieverde for that
disclaimer in chp 1
Last chapter on Life Out of Balance:
"Don't you see, Ron - Malfoy is a leader in Slytherin. If he comes to our side or even if he declares himself neutral, others will follow, and we will have at least the possibility of a new spy. In the end, it would mean fewer people joining Voldemort and fewer familiar faces we'll have to fight, and possibly kill, on the battlefield."
Ron had nothing to say to that. After a while they walked in silence to the dorm and fell asleep during the last few hours before sunrise.
Chapter 12: "Daddy kissed Harry..."
The next day Harry wrote to Mrs. Weasley asking for advice on the Evan situation. Two days later he received an answer while eating breakfast in the Great Hall.
How nice of you to write. It's very good of you to remember this old woman in your hour of need. It is certain my own children won't even write just to say hello, but that's neither here nor there. Now, on to your little dilemma, I haven't had the pleasure of meeting the two young Snapes in question, therefore I cannot say what is or is not normal. You must also understand that each child is his or her own universe they each have little personalities. I should know: from Bill to Ginny one could not be more different from the next. Even the twins, as alike as they would like you to think they are, certainly are not; they have subtle, but different things that mark them apart. Let me tell you a secret, Harry. It is an old game of theirs to try to confuse me by dressing alike and telling me one is the other but between the two of us, I could tell which one is which with my eyes blindfolded. But I digress once again. As I said, I would have to meet the young boy in question to assess the problem; therefore, I would like you, Professor Snape and the children to spend Yule holidays with the Weasley Family at HQ's. I will not take no for an answer.
Also, my dear, eat up-- you're as thin as a stick,
Harry groaned. He loved Mrs. Weasley to pieces but now he would have to tell Snape of this and if he knew his professor at all, he would not be happy about this. Harry groaned and let his head fall on top of the table. When Hermione and Ron asked what was wrong, he showed them the letter and after a moment, he felt a pat on his back.
"I feel for you, mate, I feel for you. Ow! Hermione, I'm just trying to be supportive here!"
Hermione gave him a You're not exactly helping look and turned to Harry.
"Look at it this way, Harry, now you get to spend the holidays with all the people you care about, Remus is going to be there, Tonks, and even Hermione is going to spend New Years with us."
Harry let out another groan and received another pat for it.
"Have you heard the latest?"
"Harry Potter dumped Anthony Goldstein for Ron Weasley; they were seen outside the Gryffindor Common Room late last night. I wonder what Hermione Granger has to say about that..."
Rumors are very nasty little plagues that spread poison in the minds of people, and in a boarding school full of children with nothing better to do, rumors can be very, very damaging.
Just look at Harry Potter: at any given time there could be anywhere from five to seven to a million rumors going on about him, on everything from his temperament to who he was dating. This had been a common occurrence since he had first stepped foot in Hogwarts. The rumors had ranged in topic from the accusation of being conceited in his first year to the heir of Slytherin in second to an attention seeking cheater in fourth and (his friends often felt) the best one, a homicidal maniac in fifth. These rumors had all floated around as well as many, many, many others regarding, most of all, his love life, which his friends knew was completely null.
Still, Anthony Goldstein has always believed every single rumor and lie passed around school about Harry Potter and his feeling towards The Boy Who Lived were as changing as the tides of the sea. The latest rumor was that he, Anthony, was completely in love with Harry and as this was true, Anthony was convinced that the rest of the latest rumor also had to be true, that evil Ron Weasley had used his closeness to Anthony's Harry to tear them apart and now had seduced the helpless Hero. Well, he, Anthony, wasn't going to stand for it, and that is how, at the beginning of History of Magic, Anthony Goldstein stopped Ron Weasley with the intention of confronting him. What was said in that meeting is unknown to outsiders (though Hermione coaxed them out of Ron later) but words were exchanged and they were not pretty. All this took place without the presence of Harry or Hermione, who had both been late to class because of an accident with some first years that's neither here nor there.
At the end of the afore-mentioned History of Magic class, as they were all heading out, Harry was surprised to see Anthony practically shoving Ron with his shoulder without saying sorry.
"What was that all about," Harry asked.
Ron kept on walking and kind of sulked a little while mumbling, "Nothing..."
Ok, now I know there's something going on here!
"Ron, what is the thing I hate most in the world?"
"Hm... when people call you the Boy Who Lived?"
At this, there was an impatient tap of feet and crossing of arms here as well as the snickering of a bushy haired girl.
"Well, I do hate that but I hate something else way more."
The response was a little voice and big toe scuffing on the floor.
"You hate when people keep things from you?" Ron said in the little voice, with a sheepish look.
"Right. So tell me!"
"Ah, Harry, you're not going to like this but there's this rumor that you and I are, you know, more than friends, so Anthony kind of believed it and walked up to me before you guys came to class and we kind of fought but not really and well, I might have said that you had made the right choice by dumping him because he was an arse so he kind of got offended and in the end I think that might have confirmed the rumor instead of proving that it's a lie although I did say it was a lie..."
"Ron, shut up." Harry finally snapped making Ron flinch.
"I'm sorry, mate, I shouldn't have snapped at you."
"No, I'm sorry, I should have told you right away. I just know how you hate the talking and stuff, and there I go babbling again..."
Hermione couldn't keep still anymore--indeed, she had only done so thus far because the issue had been something the boys needed to resolve by themselves and for the first time she felt no need to interfere (ah the her kids were growing up) --so she grabbed them both into a big hug, taking them by surprise and making all three fall onto the ground.
"I love you both so much! I can't believe how much you've grown! Harry, let me help you with those glasses..."
"Great, Hermione! Now instead of rumors of a romance between Harry and me there will be rumors of a threesome!"
They burst into laughter while they righted themselves and then started walking towards their next class, still giggling and in a general good mood. Just before they entered the classroom behind Hermione, Ron turned to Harry and said,
"Barmy, that one."
By the end of the week, rumors had been forgotten, classes were grueling and free time was scarce. Harry hadn't had time to talk to Snape about the whole Christmas with the Weasleys deal, but he felt pretty confident about what Snape's reaction would be - first denial, then anger and then acceptance - the four stages of Severus Snape. That is, the first three stages; acceptance would come reluctantly and only because it would be in the best interests of Evan. Snape would mope and be grouchy the entire time there, but in the end he would have a pretty ok time, not that he would admit it, ever.
It was Friday night and Harry had not seen the Snapes in the last three days, as Julian had had a bit of the flu and Snape hadn't wanted Harry to go down there and get sick and then get everyone in the Tower sick. The Potions Master and his children had been quarantined for an unlimited time but today Severus was needed for a top-secret meeting at the Order's Headquarters, so the Headmaster had asked Harry to look after Julian and Evan.
When he arrived at the Snapes' chambers, Harry was surprised to find it in the state of utter disaster it was in when the teen arrived. Clothes were thrown all over the floor (obviously from Julian having a tantrum about what to wear--or in his case what not to wear--and by the look of the ill-fitting lime green robe he was wearing, he had won), Severus' clothes were rumpled and decorated with stains of spit and snot obviously belonging to the sick child on the couch. Severus was trying to feed a hyperactive Julian, but in true toddler fashion Julian wasn't having any of it, opting instead to jump around the room using his green robe as a cape and yelling something about being Smelly Frog, the superhero of the Wizarding world...though it might have been something else, Harry wasn't really sure.
Evan, a usually manageable kid, was cranky and acting like a bit of an ogre. There was no denying who his father was, when it came to drinking his flu potion. At least his sickness had brought something good; a sign that Evan hadn't withdrawn into his shell completely since his mother died.
Still, what was worst to see was Snape's face, he was truly sick and it showed. His large nose looked even larger than usual and was also bright red and he was sniffling (Me? Sniffle? You must be out of your mind, Potter, though I always knew you would lose it at some point or another, he would state later). It was all so undignified; his cheeks were pink (a traitorous thought came into Harry's brain, It takes illness for his shallow face to take some color. It looks nice, but better not say that, though), most likely from high fever. He had a nasty cough and his normally sexy voice (at least that's what the seventh year girls had been discussing in the library the other day before Madam Pince threw them out) was not up to its usual scalding tone.
All in all his feared Potions professor, the greasy git and absolute terror of Hogwarts, didn't look that intimidating and Harry nearly felt like mothering him. He wanted to make Snape lie down and drink some flu potions and maybe some chicken soup like Harry had seen his aunt Petunia do for Dudley whenever he was sick. It was a good thing, Harry realized, that he never got sick because he didn't think Aunt Petunia would do any of that for him.
All these thoughts spurred Harry into action, and he went into child-minder and what goes where mode. He took out a new robe for Snape, picked up and changed Julian with only a minor amount of fuss and then fed him, covered up Evan and got him a new book with larger letters to make it easy on the child's puffy eyes.
Harry was like a soothing balm to the Snape family nerves; the room seemed to get calmer by the second and then it was time for Severus to leave, to do some job for the Order, though Harry wondered what the hell he could possibly do in that state. Nonetheless, he lined the children by the door so that they could say goodbye to their father. Evan first, standing beside Harry bundled in quilts and resting his head on Harry's hip, and Julian was in Harry's arms, giggling while the teen tickled him.
Severus was obviously distracted when he knelt and gave Evan a kiss on his snotty nose, making him giggle quietly, then patted on Julian's head and gave him a peck and finally turned to Harry and gave him a kiss on his scar...
Time froze for Harry; he was wide eyed when Severus stepped back. The professor hadn't realized yet what he had done, until he saw the look on Harry's face, and to add insult to injury, Albus Dumbledore decided to step into Severus' quarters at that exact instant, eyes twinkling like crazy.
The moment was broken when the child in Harry's arms spotted the headmaster and with a squeal started chanting,
"Uncle Ambus, Uncle Ambus, Daddy kissed Harry, Daddy kissed Harry..."
AN: thanks for all the reviews
Chapter 9: chapter 13
Disclaimer: see previous chapters
Thanks for all the reviews they kept me going even when the block was so thick I was beginning to give up on LOoB, but I'm back now and this will be finished no matter what!!!!
Erieverde you are the best beta ever!!
Chapter 13: We must not say every mistake is a foolish one.
A sense of dread filled the potions master as he stood in between his children, Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore. He knew he must have done something wrong but his muddled mind couldn't quite grasp what. The cheers of his youngest son made no sense.
He? Kiss Harry Potter? Impossible... right?
Yes, yes, impossible--but he could still feel the warm skin on his lips...
He must be hallucinating; there was no possible way Severus Snape had just kissed Harry Potter...
Maybe going out was not such a good idea...
Harry was in shock, unable to say or do anything--except to be really glad Julian was not a baby, because he had almost dropped the kid when he felt the hot lips of his professor right besides his scar. Just a bit to the left and the man would have smacked one right on the scar. Harry didn't know what to feel. It had been the first time, he assumed, since his parents' death that anyone had kissed his forehead. It was oddly comforting and for just a minute he had felt a part of a family, not a borrowed one like the Weasleys', but a family in which he had a real place where he belonged.
He was brought out of his musings by a groan that came from the Potions Master.
Albus sensed his discomfort and, holding Severus by the forearm, helped him to the couch.
"Well, Severus, maybe young Harry is right and you should stay home. You seem very ill." He couldn't keep the mirth from his voice and Harry could see his eyes twinkling like mad.
At least someone was having fun from his abject humiliation. As for Harry, he could just hear the screams when Snape started thinking again and realized what he had done. He would hate Harry all over again and this thought made the young Gryffindor very sad.
The headmaster could read the distress Harry was in and decided to put the Gryffindor out of his misery.
"I believe you, Harry; Professor Snape is indisposed. Come now Severus, there's no need for you to get worse just to attend a meeting." It was testament to Snape's condition that he didn't even try to protest the fact that he was sick.
Dumbledore took Severus back to his rooms and helped him to bed. When he came back, he saw that Harry was still standing by the door with Julian in his arms. Evan had already made himself comfortable on his side of the couch.
"Come along Harry, let's allow the professor some rest. Take the children to your common room. I believe there is a large number of girls enchanted by them, yes?" Harry snapped out of his stupor and followed the Headmaster out.
It was an eventful night in the red and gold Common Room. With two young children running around, well actually one toddler running around and one older child quiet on a couch, it was quite a busy place. But if Harry had been asked later to describe what went on there that night, he would not be able to tell you what happened at all. His mind was on other things, like a certain kiss a certain professor had given him. It was a good thing there were girls like Ginny Weasly with a maternal instinct a mile long and enough energy to run around after the younger Snapes who were present that night.
Hermione noticed Harry's withdrawn state and proceeded to, in her very subtle and feminine way (that is, bluntly and to the point), make him get it off of his chest. He was sitting with her and Ron in their private little corner of the common room in such a way that Harry could still pay attention to what the children were doing.
He didn't really know how to say it, so in true Harry fashion he just blurted it out.
"Snape kissed me."
Now, had he been less out of it, he would have seen the hideous shade of red Ron had turned. Unfortunately for Harry, he missed this sight.
He then received a "Come again?" from Hermione and a "He did what?" from Ron. It might have been the tone, or perhaps the volume, that finally made Harry snap out of it.
"No, Ron it's not like that... he's feeling ill and he was saying goodbye to his children and I guess I was just in the way... Besides, Dumbledore was there."
"He was?" Hermione looked confused.
Ron didn't look too convinced but Hermione's question caused him give her control of the conversation.
"Yes, he was there, he saw everything. And then Julian starts screaming, 'Daddy kissed Harry, Daddy kissed Harry!' and can you imagine how embarrassing that is to experience, and how Snape's going to react once he remembers what he did?"
He was interrupted by a very excited little voice that by now he knew very well.
"... And then, daddy kissed Harry..."
The silence in the Common Room was complete. Not a sound was to be heard, that is, until Harry regained his bearings and ran over to Julian, who was in the middle of a group of fifth year girls.
"Julian!" He picked the boy up from his comfortable position on Ginny's lap and turned to the girls, "It's not like it sounds, really," and ran back to his corner of the common room, followed by whispers and the beginnings of rumours.
He sat Julian in his lap and took a series of deep breaths, trying to calm himself and not scream at the child. He turned to Hermione and asked her to bring Evan over to them as well to stop any more catastrophes from happening.
When she came back he sat them both on the floor in front of his chair and looked them in their eyes.
"Julian, you have to stop saying that your daddy kissed me, it was a mistake and as soon as your daddy finds out that everybody knows he's going to be very upset."
"Why?" That seemed to be Julian's favourite word.
"Because, Julian, your dad's a professor in this school and I'm a student and it wouldn't be proper." Just by the look the child was giving him, Harry knew Julian didn't quite get it.
"Because your daddy could get in a lot of trouble and even lose his job and I could be expelled. And that means I would have to leave the school and I'd never see you again."
Maybe that was a little harsh seeing that the kid now had tears in his eyes and his pouty lips were trembling.
"I'm sowwy Hawwy, I don't wanna stop seeing you ever!"
Harry gave him a long hug.
"You're not going to lose me, the Headmaster knows it was an accident, but you can't say anything about it again, ok?" Julian nodded. Harry turned to Evan
"Do you understand, too?" Evan nodded and climbed up to join his brother on Harry's lap. It was a bit crowded with both children there but the three of them needed it.
Later that night when the children were asleep, Harry, Ron and Hermione were sitting in the common room once again, though it was empty now.
"You know, Harry, I have a theory of what happened?"
"You always have a theory, Hermione."
Harry swatted Ron on the back of his head.
"Let her speak Ron, need I remind you of how many times her theories have saved your hide?"
"Uh, no, go on, go on, m'lady."
"Humph, anyway, it's like this, you know those conveyor belts in doll factories? Where the conveyer belts carry all the doll bodies to the machine that sticks on the heads?"
The boys clearly had no idea what she was talking about but knew there was a point there somewhere so they just nodded dumbly.
"That's what happened to Professor Snape, he put Harry on the belt and ended up kissing him. You know, he kissed Evan, then Julian and then your forehead was just there and he was confused, and you've spent so much time over there taking care of the children that it just came naturally to give you a kiss too. It was just a production line error." She sat there looking very proud of herself.
There was silence for a few moments and Harry had a pensive look on his face.
"So, I'm just the defective doll?"
"Oh Harry, don't be silly, you are not a defective doll, you were just there..."
"Hermione, I don't think you are doing any better now..."
"No, it's ok Ron, I get it, and it makes sense. He's really feeling sick, you know."
And they left it at that. Soon the three friends retired for the night, although sleep came late for Harry; he couldn't help a sort of uneasiness that filled him.
The whole "production line error" theory was thanks to tinkering done on a review left for chapter 12 so kudos to tinkering!!
Ah and the title is a quote from cicero