Harry hummed to himself as he read over a charms book. The lush gardens had a pagoda in the middle with a bookshelf and a large table to study on. Snape had him on a study schedule in an attempt to have him catch up to the rest of his year group. He didn't really want to have to repeat the whole year if he could help it. The sooner he got done with school the better. He had considered dropping out the instant he turned seventeen but in truth he had no idea what repercussions that would have on him in the future if he didn't have his NEWTs completed.
Lily squealed to his right and Harry turned to see Snape holding onto Lily's hand, helping her walk as she reached for a butterfly hovering near her. She pointed it to Snape who nodded as she babbled and answered back as if having a conversation with her. Snape mostly enjoyed showing her the different potions ingredients and trying to get her to learn some of the words. So far he had been unsuccessful but he was persevering.
Harry smiled. He'd never pictured Snape to have much of a way with kids and yet here they were.
"There you are, Potter!" Malfoy spat with disdain. Harry turned to see Draco coming from the manor. His face didn't show the disdain his voice carried. "You said you'd help me train and then you went and vanished on me. Unacceptable." He said.
"Hello to you too, Malfoy." He said turning back to the charm he was currently practicing.
"I had to go the try-outs alone! Father still won't speak to me and mother was having none of it! A Malfoy? As a quidditch player? Never! How embarrassing! What would the people say?" The dramatic flare as in full swing this morning it seemed.
"You did alright didn't you?" Harry said. They'd spoken about it briefly through owls but the other had yet to receive a response.
"I guess. Say, I'm going to be wearing sky blue very soon, how do you think that'll look on me?"
"I'm guessing it will look like Draco Malfoy wearing sky blue clothes." Harry said simply and turned back to the charms book. As the silence stretched he made the connection. Sky blue was the Tutshill Tornados' uniform colour. He looked up at Malfoy in shock. "You got in!"
"You are looking at the new substitute seeker for the Tornados."
"That's amazing, I told you you could do it!"
"Yeah well, I start training with the team mid-august. I still… I still can't believe it." Malfoy said and began pacing in the middle of the pagoda.
"What does that mean? You're not coming back to Hogwarts?" Harry asked surprised.
"Oh, that would be impossible. I would be training during classes, no it wouldn't work. Not to mention that I now have to run the Malfoy estate. No, I will be getting private tuition until I get my NEWTs." Malfoy said.
"You're not going to miss me, are you Potter?" Malfoy said in a teasing manner.
"You know, funny enough, it's not going to be the same without you there."
"Actually, or with you. You have the Potter estate to run. I've been educated my whole life on how to manage that task. You? You probably don't even know how to manage a household ledger, let alone a holdings ledger."
Harry looked up at Malfoy. What the heck was he talking about?
"Manage a what?"
"Normally the wife manages the household ledger and the husband manages the holdings ledger. It's why father was so insistent on my taking a bride. But I can do both. You have absolutely no clue what I'm talking about." Draco rambled on and Harry frowned.
"Does it really take that long to do?" Harry asked.
"Well, it's a constant task. You have to check your properties and keep accounts of all transactions." Malfoy reached to the fruit bowl in the corner, taking a bite off an apple with merriment, watching Lily as she chased butterflies. "That's not even taking into account Lily. You already had a rough number of months when in school."
"So… I can't go back to Hogwarts either? How am I supposed to get my NEWTs then?" Harry asked. Malfoy turned to him as if having come up with a brilliant plan.
"Why don't we share tutor? We could split the fees." Malfoy suggested.
"Private tutoring? Hmm… I'll talk to Snape about it. It would be better for Lily if I didn't have to leave her with the elves all the time." He reasoned. "Although I have a faint suspicion you just want someone to brag to about your 'professional quidditch training'."
"Dwayco!" Lily squealed and broke into an awkward run toward the Slytherin. Harry chuckled seeing Lily so excited.
"Hey Lily! Look at you! You're running already! I should get you a baby broom as a present! That way we could get you flying." Draco cheered and picked her up just as she tumbled onto the grass. She babbled to him too, probably narrating her thrilling chase of the butterflies and Malfoy humoured her by nodding his head.
"It's so weird seeing you smile like that. The closest you ever came to a smile in school was a smirk." Harry said.
"Well, mother said babies respond better to smiles, so I adapted." He said.
"Sounds painful." He joked and that smirk returned.
"It's nice to see you again, Draco." Snape said.
"Hello Professor. I got in!" It seemed Malfoy couldn't contain his excitement. To think he almost didn't want to go to the try-outs.
"Congratulations. You'll need a private tutor. It wouldn't do for you to give up on your schooling entirely."
"You sound just like mother. Yes, that's what I was telling Potter. We might get a joint tutor."
Snape looked at Harry surprised and a conversation ensued on whether a tutor would be appropriate. By the end, it was decided. Harry and Draco would be tutored together. Severus would take over teaching them potions and defence, not accepting any tutor to take over that side of their education.
Hermione was excited for him, Ron was horrified for him. Both wished him good luck and demanded that he write every day.
Draco spent several hours going over how to manage the finances of an estate and Harry spent several hours hitting his head against the gold-leaf-decorated oak desk after Malfoy left.
"This is so stressful." Harry whined.
"Oh yes, being so wealthy and blessed must truly be taxing." Snape said sarcastically and Harry looked at him annoyed. The annoyance faded as he saw that Snape brought him over some tea and cinnamon biscuits.
"Can't I just hire an accountant?" Harry whined.
"Old money is jealously guarded and kept private by the other families. However, it's up to you."
"Yes, please. Find someone. I can't deal with all these percentages."
"Very well, I'll look for someone trustworthy." He said and turned to Lily who had crawled over and pulled herself up to her feet, giving her a cookie. "You should take an afternoon off."
Harry thought about it. There actually was somewhere he'd wanted to go.
Severus followed Harry only on the boy's insistence. He didn't feel like he should be here. He looked at the tombstones, some names illegible from the pass of time. Potter was looking for one in particular. Never having been here, the boy was looking blindly.
Severus knew exactly where his parents' final resting place was but didn't say anything. The boy was going in the right direction. Finally he saw the familiar names and stopped. Lily looked around the empty graveyard.
Birds fluttered about, chirping merrily in the small cemetery. The sun was shining bright through the trees surrounding the graveyard and the sky was a deep blue. It was a beautiful day and Severus saw it all go unnoticed by Harry as his eyes filled with emotion as he looked at his parents' grave.
Potter pointed his wand at the tombstone and cleaned away the dust and overgrown greenery. Lily sucked her thumb as she stared at the flower crown of lilies that Potter charmed to appear.
Severus watched Harry stare at the letters carved to the stone but said nothing. Five minutes later they were gone and Potter had still not said much. Lunch was a quiet affair. Lily seemed to sense something happening so she played by herself, making her dolls talk to each other before trying to eat one of them.
"Potter, are you alright?" Severus finally asked as Harry sat himself down by the window of the study. Harry looked at him and was going to say something when a snitch fluttered over and the boy caught it.
"I couldn't control it but… it would have been nice if I could have brought my parents back too."
A cold chill coursed down his back as he realised that Potter had remembered. "No one fully understands what happened, there's no use pondering on what could have been."
"I had all the Hallows. The wand, the cloak, and the resurrection stone. That's what happened." Harry said softly and brought the snitch to his lips. A second later the snitch opened up to reveal a black stone that Severus remembered seeing it on Dumbledore's cursed ring.
"The resurrection stone." He realised.
"Nape! Up!" Lily broke the quiet moment and Severus looked down to pick her up. She took to playing with one of the buttons of his robe.
Potter closed his eyes as he squeezed the stone in his hand. When he opened his eyes Severus saw three ghostly forms appear before them and he had to look away. Black, Potter, Lily.
"Mom, dad." Harry whispered and Severus looked to the door. He needed to get out of here. "Sirius. I'm so sorry."
"It wasn't your fault." All four of them said and Severus flinched as the three ghosts turned to look at him. Black mildly annoyed, Potter slightly amused and Lily with immeasurable gratitude.
"Ant faut!" Baby Lily repeated, wanting to join in the chant and Harry chuckled, taking her into his arms and kissing her cheek, showing her to his parents.
"Look Lily, this is your granddad and grandma." Harry said. It was strange, considering the spirits before him didn't look a day over twenty years old. Black however, looked just as he did when he died, only looking much more at peace.
"Hi baby. She's beautiful, Harry." Lily said sweetly, reaching to caress Harry's face but Severus saw the flicker of hurt on the boy's face. He probably felt nothing.
"You've made us so proud, Harry. So proud." Potter said, coming to pat Harry on the back. Again, Severus saw no impact on the boy.
"I always believed in you, lad." Black said, smiling at Harry and Harry smiled back.
"We love you so much, Harry. That has never changed." Lily spoke and the boy smiled though his eyes were bright with tears. Lily looked up at him and smiled warmly. "Thank you, Sev." She said ever so softly and Severus felt the weight of guilt in his soul.
"Lily… I'm so sorry." He said softly. Lily's apparition smiled and nodded.
"It ok." Baby Lily, not really knowing why Severus was apologising but forgiving him anyway. Severus chuckled as baby Lily broke the tension and the spirits too smiled at the child fondly.
"I'm happy now. I'm happy here, with Snape, with my friends, with Lily. I'm happy." Harry said softly and the spirits smiled.
"I wouldn't wish for anything more, my boy." Potter said and let go of him. Finally they vanished and Severus turned to Harry, who had put the stone back in the snitch and put it away.
Harry turned to look at him and reached for a hug. Severus offered him one gladly. It had hurt to watch the boy receive only the ghost of a comfort from his parents and it had hurt the boy.
"I'll always be there for you too." Harry said, shocking Severus who looked down to see the honesty in the boy's eyes. He chuckled and shook his head.
"Of course you will." He replied. "Thank you, Harry. Now come, mustn't keep the Weasleys waiting."
The boy nodded and went to get Lily ready to go and dine with the Weasleys. For now they would take one day at a time. He would let the boy enjoy his summer, and then, it seems, he would have to prepare a study schedule for his two students.
He'd already sent his resignation to Minerva. He wouldn't miss it. Watching Potter struggle in a potions class where his only competitor was Draco Malfoy, now that would be amusing. Not that he was going to let his charge fall behind.