Disclaimer: I do not own HP.
a/n: Uh, yeah...sorry this took forever. No excuses, I'll try and do better next time. I've been using this fanfiction as a way to break my writer's block with my own novel. Hopefully one day it will be published ;-) I've been having writer's block for THIS story though, so anything you guys want to see? I have a general idea of where I want the story to go but am having a bit of trouble.
Sorry this chapter isn't super long, I wanted to post what I have since I have made you all wait FOREVER.
I also went to London for a while. I saw the Cursed Child parts 1 and 2 and IT WAS MAGICAL.
Thanks to all of you that reviewed-they mean so much to me. I won't abandon this story, no worries there...although I no longer can make updating promises. Reviews DO help me stay motivated to write.
Harry was feeling so jovial that he literally bounced into the Great Hall Monday morning for breakfast. At first he didn't register the stares and whispers that were directed his way, that was until he sat down across from Ron and next to Hermione. That's when the questions started from some of his not so understanding dorm mates.
"Is it true, harry? Did ya really let yourself get adopted by a Slytherin?"
"Is he forcing you? What did that greasy bat do to you Harry?"
"Harry's a traitor now!"
The questions relentlessly came, and Harry was immediately overwhelmed. Him? A traitor? Those harsh words coming from Dean Thomas, a fellow year mate, really stung. Harry was used to being hated and treated unfairly by others, but he had hoped that things would be different at Hogwarts. Sighing to himself, he decided to ignore their questions and butter a piece of toast.
"Oi! Stuff it, Dean! Leave Harry alone! He's not a traitor!" Ron yelled down the table, earning a thankful look from Harry and a slightly disapproving one from Hermione. He apparently forgot about his earlier outburst when he learned the same information, but now that Ron accepted it he wasn't about to let anyone else bully his best mate.
"Ronald, while I'm sure Harry appreciates you sticking up for him, there is no need to sink to Dean's level by yelling at him across the table while people are trying to enjoy their breakfast."
"Hermione, it is too early in the morning for a lecture from you. Just...go read another book or something." Ron said, though Hermione didn't seemed to be phased by his rudeness.
Harry watched his two friends with an amused expression on his face. It was good to be getting back to normal after the crazy week he had. He was excited about returning to classes and he was sure that this third week of school would be the best one yet. It was crazy to him to think that he had only be at Hogwarts a little over two weeks with so many life changing things going on.
He really didn't enjoy being accused by some of his fellow Gryffindors, but he was pretty used to being loathed by those around him, so it didn't phase him too much. Harry munched on his breakfast looking around the Hall, a soft smile seemed to be permanently on his face. Nothing could get him down today, he was sure of it.
Pain. That's all Harry felt during Defense Against the Dark Arts class. He had no idea why, but he continued to have a throbbing headache throughout the entire two hour lecture. The constant sharp pain made it nearly impossible for him to concentrate on what Professor Quirrell was saying, let alone attempt to take any notes on the subject. In fact, if it wasn't for Hermione he might not have known that they were assigned an essay due the next class period.
Ron was currently walking next to him as they lumbered up to the Transfiguration classroom, his complaints about homework were not helping the lingering headache that Harry was battling. Hermione walked on the other side of Harry, concern evident in her eyes. Harry huffed a sigh. 'How am I supposed to make Dad proud of me when I can't even concentrate through Quirrell's lecture? I'm gunna fail and he's gunna be so mad...he might even change his mind about wanting me. I just need to work harder and not be such a freak. I'm 11 years old, I shouldn't have this much trouble paying attention and writing and reading.'
Harry shuffled along next to his friends, trying to act normal. He just wanted to run back to the dungeons and hide in his bed until his Dad came. After all the life-changing excitement of the past week or so, Harry was left a bit emotionally overwhelmed. Tears were threatening to fall from his emerald eyes, but Harry was determined to remain strong, at least in front of his friends and classmates. They all had one more double period for the day, then he could go back home.
Transfiguration wasn't much better than DADA, though Harry's head didn't throb painfully the whole time. They were continuing to work on turning a matchstick into a needle, and Professor McGonagall assigned them a short essay, due the next period, explaining the theory behind that specific transfiguration as well as the necessity for proper wand movement and pronunciation. Harry did not have any problems with the practical side of this class. In fact, his transfiguration ended up being tied for first with Hermione's, though he was dreading the written work he would have to turn in.
As all the student hurried out of the classroom and to their common rooms to relax before dinner, Harry said goodbye to Ron and Hermione, not intending on emerging from the dungeons until the next day. He was utterly exhausted. Physically, mentally, emotionally exhausted.
Saying the password that his new Dad shared with him, Harry entered his new home with a relieved sigh. He shirked out of his school robes and toed out of his shoes, leaving both by the door, though out of the way so his Dad wouldn't trip when he came home. After placing his school bag on the kitchen table Harry reluctantly sat down to start on the two essays they had been assigned that day. He knew that he wouldn't have time to do them tomorrow, so he had to get them done right away.
Severus had explained to him briefly that morning that if Harry wanted (he did) that he could play on the Gryffindor quidditch team. This year though, each house would only play each other twice over a short period of time, and whichever house team won out would be the team that represented all of Hogwarts at the First Annual International School Quidditch tournament which would be held in the spring. Harry was really excited about Quidditch. He was actually good at something, and he really wanted to make his Dad proud of him.
Homework, and school work in general, was definitely not his strong suit though. Harry glared at the blank parchment in front of him. What was he supposed to be writing about again? He couldn't remember off the top of his head, but he knew that Hermione made him jot it down before leaving DADA. Now, if only he could find that scrap of paper where he wrote it...AHA! Harry snagged the stray scrap from the bottom of his backpack and smoothed the essay topic out on the table in front of him.
He began to work, re-reading passages in the book to try and understand the concepts presented. He was trying, he really was...but the words were just not making sense to him. Worse still, every word he tried to write with his quill and ink took an agonizingly long time and more often than not he had to use the special blotter to remove nearly all the ink so he could start over. Harry was getting increasingly frustrated. He HAD to get these essays done. His Dad told him that he could only play Quidditch if he kept his grades up, and he was already behind.
He couldn't help but feeling utterly worthless and like the stupid freak that the Dursley's accused him of being. Maybe his Aunt and Uncle were right...maybe he really was stupid, beyond the point of any help and as such he would never amount to anything in life. Maybe his new Dad just had not seen that in him yet. His frustration was boiling over. He spilled more ink on his parchment and scrubbed at it so hard it tore a hole through it.
"ARGH!" Harry wadded up the ruined parchment and hurled it at the door, tears starting to overflow from his eyes. A moment later Severus walked through the door, a stunned look on his face.
"Harry, what in the world is going on?" Severus inquired, concern evident on his face. He looked around and saw Harry's school items everywhere, obviously tossed about in frustration. Seeing the tears dripping from the young boy's eyes Severus swiftly made his way over, crouching down in front of his new son.
"Hey now, what's wrong?" Severus said soothingly. He grasped both of Harry's small hands and a moment later Harry's knees buckled forward, causing the small boy to fall sobbing into his chest. Severus was shocked. What happened to cause the boy to fall into such a state. He brought him arms around the boy's bum and hoisted him up. Making his way over to the vacated kitchen chair Severus sat down with the boy still clinging to him.
"Shhh...it's alright. It's alright now. I've got you." Severus rubbed Harry's small back in soft, soothing circles. He looked at the table in front of him to see Harry's books and supplies. 'Hmm, apparently someone is frustrated with their homework...but that couldn't possibly produce such an extreme reaction, there has to be something else bothering the boy.'
"Harry, what's wrong son? Please tell me…" Severus implored, still providing the young boy with the comfort of his arms around him.
"I-I'm t-too stupid for my h-homework!" Harry stuttered out between his hiccuping sobs.
"You are most certainly not stupid young man. Whatever gave you that idea? Are you having trouble with an assignment?" Severus inquired, his right hand now gently smoothing down the back of his son's messy hair.
"I'm stupid because I just am. I can't do anything right. I can't read fast and i-it takes me forever to understand what it's about and I can't write and I won't be able to do this and then I'll be kicked out of Hogwarts and I won't be able to p-play quidditch and you'll end up not wanting me and then I'll be all a-a-alone!" Harry sobbed out, his words leaving his mouth with such speed as to almost be unintelligible.
Severus took a moment to makes sense of what his son just sputtered out. 'He's going to need a lot of reinforcement of the fact that I won't ever abandon him…'
"Hey now, I think you're getting worked up over things that are not true. First off, you are not stupid. You may be struggling with certain aspects of your education, but that's something that we can work on together. Also, Professor Dumbledore isn't in the habit of kicking students out of Hogwarts, and I can assure you there is nothing you could ever do that would make me not want you or to ever leave you alone. Got it?" Severus said the last part in a soft but serious tone. He wanted his child to know how deeply he meant what he said.
Harry looked up to stare at his father. The concern and care that he saw in Severus' dark eyes overwhelmed him, and his tears started falling faster. Severus saw Harry break down once more, but knowing it was no longer about things that were untrue he simply pulled the young boy closer to him and held him protectively to his chest.
The pair sat like that for nearly 20 minutes until Harry's cries turned into hiccups and then just the occasional sniffle. Severus summoned a damp flannel and wiped the salty tear tracks from his son's face. Harry still sat sniffling slightly on his Dad's lap, after Severus finished wiping his face, Harry turned his gaze downward to stare at this socked feet, embarrassed.
"Feeling better?" Severus asked, concern lacing his words. His hand still rubbing the boy's back in comforting circles.
Harry merely nodded to his Dad's question, not trusting his voice. How could he possibly tell his Dad that, though all the things he said to him were nice to think about, Harry knew they were not true. At least not for him.
"Now, why don't you show me what you were working on, and I will help you." Instead of making the boy sit on his own, Severus simply readjusted his small back to sit against his chest as he leaned forward facing the table.
"I have an essay for Defense that I HAVE to do tonight and I'm too stupid to read this book!" Harry said, his frustration once again making itself known.
"Hey. Stop that, Harry, I am serious. If you keep saying things that are untrue I will punish you for telling lies, do you understand me?" Severus hardened his voice a bit to sound stern, knowing that Harry needed to understand the seriousness of his self deprecating comments.
"Y-yes, sir." Harry said, looking sheepish at his Dad's reprimand.
Severus gently patted Harry's right thigh, "Good boy. Now, about this essay, what is it about the reading that you are struggling with? Do you not understand the vocabulary used or is the whole thing difficult?" Severus was slightly worried that his son may have some learning disadvantages, and he wanted to be sure before he pursued that line of thinking any farther. It would not help Harry's self esteem if it turned out he did have a learning disability, but Severus would help him see that just because he learns differently from others does not mean that he cannot learn or that there is something wrong or broken with him.
"Well, *sniff* I feel stupid because it takes me forever to read even one paragraph and then I have to read it like a billion times in order to get what it's talking about. And even then it still confuses me."
Severus furrowed his brow slightly in confusion, though when Harry saw this he began to panic again, thinking his Dad was anger at him.
"I-I'm sorry! I'll try harder, I swear!"
"What? Oh, Harry I'm not mad at you, I'm concerned. Reading your textbook should not be this difficult for you. They are written with eleven year olds in mind."
"So, I guess that means I AM stupid then…" Harry looked down at his hands which were now wringing themselves in his lap.
"No. No. You are most definitely NOT stupid, Son. We just might have to figure out if there's a medical reason why you are having such trouble and then adapt your school work accordingly."
"What do you mean medically wrong? I'm a freak arn't I…"
Taking his son's face in his hands and turning the boy's face to directly line up with his Severus said, "No. Harry, do you hear me. There is absolutely nothing freaky or stupid about you. I do not tell lies, Son. I know that you may night believe me fully right now, but I will continue to reassure you as much as you need."
Though Harry did not fully believe what he was hearing, he nodded his assent.
"Right. Now, let's do this homework together. I am sure that we will be able to finish this well before dinner time, and then maybe we could play some games before your bath and bedtime. Sound alright?"
Harry sat there in his dad's lap in shock. The man phrased that last part like they were in this together, and he had never felt so much love in his life. His dad was angry with him, nor was he disappointed that he was having trouble with his homework. A small, bashful smile made its way on the little boy's face and his eyes shown up at his dad with love.
Severus looked down at his new son, emerald green eyes looking up at him, wide and with a sense of awe. It hurt his heart to think how something as simple as a little reassurance and some homework help could make his little boy so happy and grateful. He was concerned, however, about the specific problems that his son described having. He would have to call his personal healer later once Harry was in bed to discuss getting him fully checked over, physically, mentally, and educationally. No need to worry the boy with any mention of this right now, thought Severus.
Not being willing to leave his dad's lap so soon, Harry just turned his whole body so he was facing the table and pulled his parchment and textbooks towards both of them. He could work on his homework with his dad from his current spot, thank you very much.
With Severus' help it still took Harry another hour and a half to get through his reading and craft an acceptable essay. His dad had him reading the text aloud, which was embarrassing but seemed to help him in that his dad could help with the words he didn't understand. He would stumble on a word and get a little flustered, irritation making him almost growl, but Severus would be there giving him a quick reassuring squeeze or rubbing his back.
After finally finishing, Harry reluctantly slid off his Dad's lap, he needed to clear his school things off the table so that they two of them could get ready for dinner. Severus made his way over to the fireplace to put in a floo-order to the house elves. His mind was wandering to his son while absentmindedly ordering. Severus was worried that Harry had a learning disability which was hindering him from reaching his potential in his studies. A call to his own personal healer would be necessary once he had Harry tucked in for the night.
The two sat and talked comfortably throughout their meal, with Harry even making Severus chuckle at one point when the boy told him about his first impressions of Hagrid. After dinner the two spent some time together with Severus telling Harry stories of his mother. Harry fell asleep that night, tucked snugly into bed with a soft smile on his face.