Author Notes: Hello, everyone! Season's Greetings and A Happy New Year! This is the final installment of Stories for my Daughter, featuring Severus Snape and his adopted son, Harry Potter.
Summary: Fourteen year old Harry Potter is determined to help another someone for Christmas. Featuring an unsuspecting Severus Snape and another little being. Father/Son relationship.
Warnings: Contains OOCness, fluff and disregard for the more serious plots in canon like the Triwizard Tournament, Nagini attacking Arthur Weasley, Harry finding out about Neville's parents, etc.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter is the brainchild of JK Rowlings.
- Story Start -
A week before Christmas...
She was born from a sea of prayers, from a thousand hopes and wishes, whether voiced aloud from fervent lips, or silently spoken within longing hearts.
She didn't know her own name, but she knew enough. For one thing, she knew she wasn't like those creatures of darkness.
She didn't look like them; they were born from despair, clothed in black tattered hoods and cloaks.
She didn't sound like them; their breaths rattled like broken bones, driving icy fear into the hearts of their victims.
She didn't smell like them; they reeked of decay, rot and death.
She wasn't brought into being by sadness and despair. She wasn't brought into the world to feed off hopelessness and to make it a million times worse, to steal every last bit of happiness and hope from their victims and suck out their souls.
Her mission was to undermine theirs, to brighten lives, to spread happiness and peace, and most of all, to bring hope and succor.
And she knew what her first mission was. Somewhere out there, in a school for young wizards and witches was a child, nursing an old wound in his heart, a wound almost as old as he was. He was grieving and in pain for something that had been torn from him. He still had family, but that relationship lacked the warmth and love a child needed growing up.
There was another child in that school with circumstances very similar to the first one. He too, was an only child who had lost his parents at a very young age and spent the next ten years with family who did not love him. But unlike the first child, he had found a father figure whose stern and unyielding demeanour hid a soft heart and an equally lonely childhood. They had each other now and no need of outside help.
She didn't know who that first child was nor what was his story. She only knew he needed her help. She was out of that safe warm shelter as soon as that knowledge took root in her head, flying towards Hogwarts.
- o -
Severus Snape awoke when Sasha crawled from the crook of his arm to nestle in the warm spot between his shoulder and neck. Eyes still firmly shut, he slid a hand from under the covers and touched the tip of his nose. It was icy. When he opened his eyes and exhaled, he could see his breath in the air, thanks to the dim light from the embers in the fireplace.
It was going to be a very cold Christmas. In fact, it had already started snowing yesterday. Severus grumbled under his breath, very reluctant to put a foot out of bed, or even a toe for that matter.
Why was it that Dumbledore had no qualms about cancelling classes anytime he felt like it, but kept quiet and gave beatific smiles when the Great Hall's enchanted ceiling showed stormy gray skies and steadily falling snow all day yesterday?
With a deep sigh, Severus sat up and brought Sasha out from inside his nightshirt, tucking her into a warm fold of his covers before she could squeak in protest. He grabbed his wand and cast a warming charm on his slippers before shoving his feet inside them.
It was time to begin his day.
- o -
When Severus reached the Great Hall half an hour later, he was surprised not to find his usual welcoming committee waiting for him at the doors. He could count the number of times this had happened on the fingers of one hand, and still have one finger and one thumb leftover. He looked up and down the corridor, but couldn't find Harry's messy head, Hermione's bushy one or Ron's red hair anywhere.
Nodding at the respectful greetings from the other students which only made the absence of more boisterous greetings more obvious - not that he missed them, of course - Severus swept into the Great Hall and up to the Staff Table. He ignored the twelve enormous decorated Christmas trees lining the walls, the multitude of candy canes and golden baubles floating in midair, and the several dozen tiny fairies flitting about, batting them away whenever they tried to perch on his nose. He also ignored several sprigs of mistletoe hovering over all four House tables, no doubt put there by the older students whose hormones had kicked in a while back and showed no signs of leaving.
At the Staff Table, he sat down at his usual seat, greeted Albus and Minerva on either side of him and glanced at the Gryffindor Table. Harry and co weren't there either. He served himself black coffee after first removing the tiny peppermint at the bottom of his cup and he decided the trio must have overslept. It wouldn't be the first time and it would serve them right to miss breakfast – delicious, hearty oat porridge with berries, nuts and honey. And no, he wasn't going to summon the trio to his office during their free period for cookies and hot milk.
Nodding to himself, Severus passed a cranberry to Sasha - anything to stop her infernal upside down swinging from his left earlobe which was making Minerva's shoulders shake silently - and started on his breakfast.
- o -
Harry, Ron and Hermione hadn't overslept after all. Severus spotted them and Longbottom emerging from an empty classroom not far from the Great Hall. All four children stopped abruptly when they saw him approaching, robes billowing.
"Oh! Morning, dad!" Harry exclaimed, causing Alfred and Tom to appear from inside his school robes and scamper up to his shoulders.
"Good morning, Professor Snape," Hermione greeted.
"Morning, Uncle – uh, sir." That was Ron.
"G-good morning, Professor Snape." That was Longbottom.
Nodding at the four children, Alfred the little white mouse, and Tom the little yellow poult (who hadn't grown an inch since he was adopted a month ago), Severus folded his arms across his chest.
"Have you all had breakfast?" he asked and blinked. Wait - that wasn't what he had meant to ask. Well, it was, but he meant to word it differently, something along the lines of 'Now, why would four Gryffindors such as yourselves not be in the Great Hall filling your empty stomachs with hot porridge when it's snowing outside and the castle halls are drafty and cold?'
"Well," Harry began and stopped when his stomach growled. Alfred and Tom on his respective shoulders leaned forward to exchange looks before shaking their heads at Severus.
Sasha climbed on top of Severus' head and leaped onto Harry's. She climbed down to his shoulder, Tom hastily making way for her, and started squeaking a scolding into Harry's ear, making him wince.
Severus nodded in satisfaction.
"Well?" he demanded and received sheepish 'No, Professor Snape' from Ron and Hermione and a silent head shake from Longbottom, who looked downright miserable, eyes red, nose pink and... ugh, leaking.
With a sigh, Severus conjured up a clean handkerchief and thrust it at the sniffling boy before producing four vials filled with murky green liquid from his robes.
"Liquid nutrition," he intoned, ignoring the children's instinctive blanch. "Drink them now. Your Charms lesson starts in three minutes and you may be sure I will ask Professor Flitwick about any tardy students when I next see him at lunch."
"Yes, sir!" All four children gulped down their potions, shuddered in unison, passed back the empty vials and took off down the corridor.
Severus pocketed the empty vials and strode off in the opposite direction. It wasn't until he reached the Potions classroom and swept inside that he realised Sasha was still somewhere on Harry's person.
He sighed. That boy was a veritable walking zoo.
- o -
"Sorry I got you three in trouble with Professor Snape, Harry," Neville apologised. "I hope his punishment won't be too… well, you know."
"It's fine, Neville," Harry chuckled, stroking Hedwig's feathers. "That nasty potion was it, I reckon."
"That nasty potion as you put it, Harry, was for our own good," Hermione reminded him.
"Doesn't excuse how nasty it tasted," Ron reminded her, making a face at the remembered taste.
The Fourth Year Gryffindors had a free period and were making the most of it in their House Common Room, crowded around the blazing fire and playing Exploding Snap. Harry and his three friends were in a corner of the room, eschewing the extra warmth for a bit of privacy. Hermione was petting Sasha in her hand. Ron was fussing over Alfred and Tom was on Neville's knee.
"So, why were you crying in that classroom, Neville?" Hermione asked point blank, causing Ron to roll his eyes at Harry behind her back.
"Oh. Uhm. Sorry you had to see that," Neville mumbled and looked down. What little of his face that could be seen was turning red.
The trio exchanged glances, but after a moment, Neville looked up, his eyes growing shiny again.
"I miss my parents so much. I know it's been years, but it... it just gets worse closer to Christmas."
The trio exchanged another round of glances. It was common knowledge that Neville had been brought up by his strict grandmother, but none of them had thought long and hard about what that meant.
"S-sorry," Neville apologised again and grimaced. "Not the most c-cheerful of news when Christmas is just next week."
"It's OK, Neville," Harry told him and squeezed his shoulder. "We're your friends. If you want to talk about anything…" he trailed off and looked at the other two.
"Just let us know, alright?" Hermione quickly said added, patting Neville's other shoulder.
"Yeah." Ron added his support.
Neville gave them a teary eyed smile and sniffled.
- o -
Neville wasn't in the Fourth Year boys' dormitory when Harry and Ron woke up the next morning, nor was he in the Common Room or the Great Hall.
A worried Harry, Ron and Hermione then made their way to the empty classroom where they had found Neville yesterday, ignoring the excited, chattering students around them. They knocked on the door and after a moment, it opened and Neville peered out.
A wave of warmth wafted out, enveloping all of them in an invisible blanket of wellbeing. The trio blinked, their worry dissipating at once.
"Do you all feel that?" Ron exclaimed, his blue eyes wide.
"Shh," Neville whispered as he saw group of Hufflepuff second years coming down the hall. He looked over his shoulder.
"We were worried about you," Harry said even though he didn't feel in the least bit worried now. Strangely, Neville didn't look upset either.
"Oh." Neville looked over his shoulder again.
"Are we interrupting something?" Ron asked, trying to peer past Neville's shoulder.
"No! Well, that is… " There was a soft whispery sound from inside the room and then Neville pulled open the door and gestured them in.
"Come in then. Quickly!"
They trooped inside and Neville quickly closed the door and cast a locking charm. The trio didn't notice, their attention captured by a hooded, cloaked figure floating in the air in the middle of the classroom.
It might have been a frightening sight if the figure wasn't the size of a six year old, and the cloak wasn't a bright pink.
"What's that?" Ron asked and pointed, too astonished to mind his manners.
"Who's that, you mean," Harry corrected him.
"And what is she doing here?" Hermione asked.
Neville cleared his throat.
"She - I think it's a she... and I think she's a Dementor," he said.
The trio swung around to stare at him and then back at the floating figure, and then back to him.
"Dementors are big, black and scary creatures, mate," said Ron.
"And they feed on sadness and despair," added Harry.
"But where did this one come from?" asked Hermione, ever the practical one.
"Don't know. I... I couldn't sleep all night so I got dressed and left Gryffindor Tower early, thinking of waiting in the Great Hall until it was time for breakfast. But when I passed by this classroom, I felt like something was calling me and I found her. Actually, I think she found me."
The trio turned to stare at the pink hooded figure again who nodded at them.
"She can't be a Dementor," said Hermione at last.
"She doesn't seem scary," admitted Ron.
"And she doesn't make me feel cold or hopeless," added Harry. Or relive all my worst memories, he added to himself.
"In fact, I think she's nice," declared Hermione and stepped forward, holding out her hand to the little pink Dementor.
It tipped its head to one side and then drifted closer and held out a hand as well. It was small and clawed, but the skin was smooth and pink and-
"Oh! She smells like hot chocolate and cinnamon and peppermint!" Hermione exclaimed in surprise.
"She does?" Ron bounded forward.
With a squeak, the little pink Dementor shot backward, holding out two small hands in alarm.
"Don't scare her," Neville said reprovingly. "She's a bit skittish."
"But where did she come from?" Hermione persisted.
"And why is she alone? I thought Dementors stay in packs," Harry said.
"No idea. I don't think she talks," Neville said slowly. "All I know is that I've been remembering the good memories I have of my parents before you three came. I feel better now."
The little pink Dementor floated over to him and rested a hand on his shoulder. Neville beamed at that, his eyes bright and his back straight. He looked nothing like the crying, forlorn boy Harry and co had found yesterday.
"I feel good too," Ron said. "Still starving though."
The rest of them chuckled.
"Let's go and have breakfast," Harry suggested. "Are you coming, Neville?"
"Will you still be here?" Neville asked the little pink Dementor who nodded and made shooing motions with her hands.
"We'll ask my dad about her at lunchtime. He might know something," Harry suggested.
- o -
But when Severus Snape saw the little pink Dementor, he seemed to be struck speechless. He stared at the small form hovering before him, his expression slowly filling with wonder.
"Dad?" Harry asked after a long moment. He had never seen this particular look on his adopted father's face before.
Severus blinked and shook off the memories of a vivacious red haired girl with green eyes, and the many fun filled days they had had together. He cleared his throat.
"Dementors thrive in conditions of despair, depression and hopelessness," he said. "I remember reading an article many years ago in which someone hypothesised that since Dementors are born of despair and hopelessness, a creature might also be born in the exact opposite circumstances."
"Like what?" Ron asked.
Severus stared thoughtfully at the little creature who was now trying to pet Alfred on Harry's shoulder. The little mouse was squirming and squeaking happily. Tom was hopping up and down on Harry's other shoulder as if begging for the same attention. Hedwig perched on a desk nearby, ruffling her feathers as if exasperated, but staring expectantly at her nonetheless.
"It could be nothing more than a place filled with peace and hope and prayers," Severus said.
The students stared at each other and then Hermione inhaled sharply, her hand half raised.
"Like a church... or a temple! A place of worship?"
"Exactly," Severus replied. "Is that where you came from, little one?"
The little pink Dementor looked up and nodded, but offered no more information.
"But what should we do with her, dad?" Harry asked. "We can't keep her here in this classroom and we don't know where she came from."
Severus blinked at him, wondering if - oh dear, not again! - Harry was planning to adopt her, like he had Alfred and Tom. He ignored the fact that he too had adopted Sasha; that was Harry's doing too.
"Well, she could come with me and Gran to visit my parents tomorrow?" Neville suggested in a hesitant voice. "I wouldn't feel so sad then."
On the way to Severus' office earlier, Neville had finally revealed the sad truth about his parents and why there were still staying at St. Mungo's.
"I will talk to the Headmaster," Severus offered. "He knows the Head Healer there and they might be able to arrange something."
Albus Dumbledore promised to speak to the Head Healer at St. Mungo's. He seemed just as fascinated by the little pink Dementor as the rest of them were although he didn't know anymore than Severus did.
He even offered her a lemon drop which she shook her head at.
- o -
The next morning, Neville and his grandmother visited Frank and Alice Longbottom at St. Mungo's accompanied by the little pink Dementor, Severus and Harry (having left Hedwig, Alfred, Tom and Sasha at Hagrid's).
The little pink Dementor's mere presence seemed to chase away the shadows of illness and sadness that pervaded the hospital walls. Everywhere they went, patients turned to stare at their group and smile, their tired eyes lighting up with hope and happiness, their pale cheeks gaining a little more colour. Even the visitors, Healers and staff rushing about were affected.
But the best thing of all was that by the end of Neville's visit, Alice Longbottom was staring at him with the tiniest spark of recognition in her previously vacant eyes.
- o -
A few days later...
It was Christmas Eve and Hogwarts was mostly empty. Almost all the students and half the teachers had left for the holidays yesterday including Ron, Hermione and Neville.
In the Great Hall, the four long House tables had been replaced with a single round table for those who would celebrate Christmas at Hogwarts.
Harry stared up at the little pink Dementor who was playing tag with the little fairies, ducking around the decorations with ease while the fairies giggled and tried to catch her.
"She... can't stay here for Christmas, dad," Harry finally said. "She loves to be in a place where she can help and almost everyone's gone home for Christmas."
"You know the castle isn't completely empty, Harry."
"But we don't need her help and there are so many others who do," Harry said and offered a winning smile.
Severus smiled back, thankful for the day his adopted son had come into his life.
"In that case, can you think of a place where she can be happy?"
Harry's smile widened as he nodded.
- o -
And so it was that the little pink Dementor went to stay at St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, bringing smiles, cheer and hope to everyone there, from the patients to the Healers and the rest of the staff.
It was indeed a very cold Christmas, but no one minded that too much.
Severus Snape and Harry Potter continued to visit the little Pink Dementor each month without fail, accompanied by Neville who was finally hopeful of bringing his parents home one day, and Augusta Longbottom who had started smiling again.
And if the hospital rules and regulations did not allow animals inside the premises, no one said a word about Hedwig, Alfred, Tom and Sasha.
After all, Harry Potter and Severus Snape had given St. Mungo's their best Christmas present ever.
- Story End -
A/N: Thank you for reading! Please leave a review if you enjoyed it :)