Thank you everyone for the great reviews, follows, and favorites. I apologize for the long wait on this chapter, but I hope you enjoy!
Harry carefully poured the coffee into a mug and set the pot back down on the coffee maker. He poured in a small amount of cream and a teaspoon of sugar, stirring carefully. He set the mug on a saucer, setting the spoon in the sink, then carried the saucer up the stairs. He pushed Severus's bedroom door open and tiptoed inside, making his way over to the side of the bed and setting the saucer on the nightstand table.
He heard movement and stepped back and waited as Severus slowly sat up in his bed with a stretch and a yawn.
"What are you doing?" Severus asked.
"I made you coffee," Harry answered, smiling up at Severus.
He waited patiently as Severus waved a hand, causing his curtains to slide open so streams of early sunlight came through. Severus picked up the mug and took a small sip, his eyes on Harry. His brows shot up as he swallowed and set the cup back on the saucer.
"I'm impressed," Severus said. "You remembered how I like it."
"I watched you make it yesterday," Harry said while grinning. "Now you don't have to inconvenience yourself and I can make it for you."
"I appreciate you doing so this morning," Severus said, now frowning, "but it's not an inconvenience. Do not feel obligated to do something for me, I do not mind making my own coffee. And what did I tell you about heading down to the kitchen without me?"
"You said I couldn't make breakfast without asking you," Harry said. "I didn't make breakfast. I made coffee."
"You found a loophole. Very well, I'll let it go. Go get dressed for the day and meet me back downstairs."
Harry nodded and shuffled out of Severus's room and back to his own. He didn't know what a loophole was, but he had made Severus happy and that was the important thing. He found a set of clothes laid out for him on his nightstand and changed into those. As he left his room, he ran into Iris, who was wearing a simple dark purple dress and black leggings. She was still holding a brush.
"What's the dress for?" Harry asked.
"To wear," Iris said, twirling in it. "And we're going out today, and I like dressing up to go out."
"Where are we going?"
"I don't know. Out."
Harry wondered if the clothes he was wearing was suitable for "going out." He was in simple blue jeans and a monster truck themed shirt. Then he wondered where on earth they were going out to. He hoped it was somewhere close to home, or even to see Aunt Petunia. It wasn't Wednesday yet, though, so Harry doubted it was where they would be going. He wondered what Aunt Petunia might think of this strange family he had found.
"Come on," Iris encouraged as she led the way down the stairs. "Time for breakfast."
Harry sighed and followed her. There was not much he could do about it now. He didn't know the way back home, and according to his newfound father, Aunt Petunia wasn't even home but in jail—and all because of him. His lower lip trembled slightly, but he was quickly distracted by Iris's cheer.
"My favorite!" Iris exclaimed. She jumped in her seat at the table, set her brush down, and dug into the flaky, steaming round discs covered in a yellow stickiness. "Thank you, Daddy!"
"I don't believe those are the clothes I set out for you last night," Severus said. He crossed his arms and frowned at his daughter.
"But we're going out today." Iris sat back in her seat and gave Severus a sad pout. "I never get to where it. Please? I won't get anything on it. I promise."
Severus tapped his fingers against his arms before unfolding them with a sigh.
"Fine," Severus relented. He picked up the brush and began brushing out Iris's hair while she ate. "Just this once. I would appreciate it if you wore what I set out for you next time. We might be going out, but we could have been going somewhere you might get dirty."
Severus spotted Harry and pointed to the chair next to Iris.
"Come eat, Harry," Severus said. "We have a busy day."
Harry slowly slid into the seat and eyed the fluffy things on his plate.
"What are these?"
"Banana hotcakes," Iris said. "Try it—you'll love it. Put honey on it! And whipped cream!"
Harry spotted the bear shaped container and reached for it. He drizzled it on the two hotcakes, then added a scoop of whipped cream as Iris had done. He used his fork to try a small bite. The food melted in his mouth, and the sweetness of the honey coated his tongue, and he slowly savored the new food. It was so sweet and sticky, and he grabbed the honey again and poured more on the hotcakes and eating another bite. Iris smiled at him as she finished hers and asked for more.
Severus finished brushing her hair and gave her more hotcakes, glad to see Harry enjoying them as well. While the honey was a little overboard, he knew it was an easy clean up, and it was probably Harry's first time eating these types of foods. Severus quickly used the brush to touch up Harry's hair before sending it flying back to Iris's room.
Harry ate one full hotcake, then the next hotcake. They were small, but it was by far the most he had eaten in one sitting. He licked his lips, savoring the taste of the honey on his lips. The fruitiness of the banana and strawberries still lingered on his tastebuds. He eyed the hotcakes sitting in the middle of the table, and his mouth watered for another one. He looked up at Severus, then lowered his head. He would not be greedy. It was nice of this man to feed him as much as he had already. It would be rude to ask for more.
"Would you like another, Harry?" Severus asked. Without an answer, he slid a spatula under a hotcake and set it on Harry's plate. "You're always welcome to help yourself to seconds."
"Me too!" Iris smiled, digging in to her second helping.
Harry smiled and decorated his hotcake with more honey and whipped cream. He ate the whole thing quickly, and while Severus was in the kitchen, Iris grabbed another hotcake for herself and gave Harry another. More honey and whipped cream later, Harry reached for one himself when Severus returned and grabbed Harry's wrist before he could lift the spatula.
"Hey, how many have you had?" Severus asked.
Harry shrugged, then paled. A sudden heat built up in his body and he yanked his hand free from Severus's hold and pushed out of his chair, running down the hall to the bathroom where he expelled his sweet breakfast into the toilet. He shook slightly as tears welled in his eyes. He was such an ungrateful child; he couldn't even hold down the food he was generously given.
A hand on his back startled him, and he looked up at Severus.
"What are you apologizing for?" Severus asked gently as he summoned a small handkerchief and cleaned Harry's face. "I'm the one who should be sorry. I think that may have been a little too rich for you right now. I didn't think you'd eat everything I put on your plate."
"I really liked it," Harry whimpered, "but I sicked it all up."
"That's okay." Severus helped Harry to his feet. "Maybe in a few weeks, your stomach will be ready for that kind of sugary food. For now, would you like something bland to soothe your stomach?"
"I don't want to eat anymore." Harry leaned against Severus.
"Not even a banana?"
Harry shook his head.
"What about toast? No butter."
Harry thought about that. He had eaten unbuttered toast many times growing up and never had a problem with it. His stomach growled even after vomiting. He nodded.
"Good." Severus walked Harry out of the bathroom and back to the table. Iris shared a concerned look as she muttered a soft apology that Severus waved off.
"He's okay," Severus reassured. "He's just not used to sweet foods like that. Let me get you your nutrient potion and a stomach soother as well."
Harry made a small pout at that. The nutrient potion tasted nice, like strawberries, but all the other medicine potions he has had tasted like dirty socks and gross dirt.
"There was one time," Iris said, "I drank a lot of chocolate milk at school, like six of those little cartons, and I made myself throw up too."
Harry spared her a glance but said nothing.
Severus returned with two vials and handed the stomach soother to Harry first, who made a face as he swallowed the potion, then readily accepted the nutrient potion to wash away the gross taste of the first one. Toast was quickly placed in front of him, and he nibbled a corner of a slice.
Severus glanced at his watch and he hastily moved to the front door and pulled coats off the hangers.
"Don't feel rushed to eat it," Severus began as he handed Iris her coat, "but you're going to have to bring that with you. We're running late. Come, let's get you in this."
Harry allowed Severus to put his coat on then followed him and Iris out the door and to the car. He climbed into the child seat, allowing Severus to buckle him in as he did for Iris. He nibbled at his toast and stared out the window, hoping to see familiar territory for a change. Alas, each turn and stop was a new sight. They drove for about twenty minutes before Iris began squirming excitedly in her seat, smiling as she looked around expectantly.
Harry tried to look for what might be making her so happy, but he did not know this area at all, and he sighed impatiently, swinging his feet. He didn't like not knowing what to expect. Even at his relatives, he had a list each day to follow, even on school days, and if he didn't complete the list . . . well, there was only so much he could expect: less to no food, being locked in his cupboard, a sharp smack across the face. It all became repetitive, and that was perfectly fine with Harry. Seeing the same faces, the same places, and doing the same things each day gave Harry a strange comfort that he had come to rely on. A comfort that was slowly fading away, replaced by new strange feelings of desire to belong to this family, and fear.
Fear of a world that was becoming bigger every day, with no lists of tasks for him to perform, no written expectations, no rules he was familiar with. It was unsafe territory, and he didn't know what one wrong step might do to him. There was magic in the world, but he couldn't tell anyone about it. Unless those people were also magic. That was confusing. He also had magic. Was that why he was freaky? But if Severus and Iris were magic but not freaks, was he like them? He didn't know what to think anymore.
Finally, the car rolled to a stop in front of a house in a suburban area. Two older people stood outside the house waving to them. One was a salt-and-pepper-haired, tall woman with sunken cheeks, and the other, a broad older man with dark brown hair. The two walked down the steps of their porch toward the car.
Iris freed herself from her seat and jumped out of the car, running for the couple.
"Nami!" she cried. "Pappy!"
Iris jumped in the man's arms, and was tossed in the air, emitting a loud squeal from her.
Harry lingered in his seat watching Iris. He jumped when Severus reached around him and unbuckled the seatbelt for him. Severus smiled at him and helped him out of the seat.
"I would like you to meet my parents," Severus said, taking Harry's hand and leading him around the car and to the house where Iris was chatting a mile away in her grandfather's arms. The couple were smiling at Iris, but their eyes trailed from hers to Harry's as Severus pulled him closer.
"Ma, Dad," Severus said, "this is Harry."
Harry tried his best to slouch behind Severus, avoiding eye contact with the new strangers. This family just kept getting bigger. Where did all these people come from?
"Harry, these are my parents," Severus said, trying to pull the child out from behind him. "Tobias and Eileen Snape. And therefore, your grandparents. Come say hello."
Harry wrapped an arm around Severus's leg, keeping himself in place so he wasn't pulled into view. Severus sighed and gave an apologetic smile to his parents.
"Sorry, he's still . . . adjusting," Severus said.
"That's okay," Eileen said, offering a small smile to Harry. "He can take all the time he needs."
Eileen eyed Severus and Harry for a moment with a concerned look.
"You don't think he'll . . .?"
"It'll be okay," Severus said, waving her off. "Just go ahead of us."
Tobias set Iris down and she took both of her grandparents' hands and skipped inside between them. Harry didn't let go of Severus as they walked after the grandparents and Iris, which made it slightly awkward for Severus as he continued trying to unravel Harry from his leg. He paused at the entryway of the small house and kneeled in front of Harry.
"There's no reason to be nervous, okay?" Severus said. "Tobias and Eileen—who like to be called Nami and Pappy—are very good people. They adore Iris, and they'll love you, too. And . . . I think they might have a surprise for you."
"I don't like surprises," Harry said, his lower lip puckering out.
"It's a good surprise," Severus said. He massaged Harry's shoulders. "You'll see. Relax. You're okay. I'll be right here with you the whole time. In fact, would you like me to carry you?"
Severus was surprised when Harry dived into his open arms. He stood tall, rubbing Harry's back and contemplating his entry into the house. He felt bad that the whole situation was making Harry more nervous than excited, but there was nothing he could do about it now except be at his child's side. He sighed and pushed the door open.
"Welcome to the family!" Several people inside the house cheered loudly, including Iris, who was standing next to two other kids who looked about her age.
Harry hid his face in the crook of Severus's neck, clinging tightly to the man with his arms. Severus gave everyone an apologetic look as he patted Harry's back. He was glad he had picked Harry up before entering—he had a feeling the child may have bolted. There was an awkward but understanding pause from everyone as Severus reassured Harry that everyone here was a friend.
"It's okay, Harry," Severus whispered. "Addie is here, you remember her. And her husband and youngest daughter, who brought her kids along. And then it is just Nami and Pappy. They all came to meet you and to get to know you better."
"I don't want to meet anyone."
"Are you sure? I think they might have even brought gifts for you."
"I don't get gifts."
"Says who? We are celebrating today in your honor to welcome you to the Snape family. Didn't you want Snape as your last name?"
Harry thought about it for a second before he nodded.
"Well, you have to meet everyone else, too."
A hand tapped Severus's leg and he looked down at a little brown-eyed, curly haired boy. The child smiled at Severus before tapping Harry's leg. Harry peeked down.
"Hi, Harry," the boy said, "I'm Joshua. Want to play monster trucks with me?" Joshua held up two large trucks with bright colors and decorations.
Harry looked around comically before pointing at himself. "Me?"
"Yes, you," Joshua laughed. He waved Harry down. "Come on!"
Harry squirmed in Severus's arms until he was put down. He chased after Joshua into the large living room space, and they were quickly followed by Iris and two other girls, one six, and the other three.
Severus breathed a sigh of relief and looked at Addie's daughter, Tori, who gave him a thumbs up. He muttered a thank you to her as he walked over to the dining table where the other adults have settled down into chairs. Tobias pulled out a deck of cards and began shuffling it, figuring they would give Harry some time to relax and open up to the idea of a party. Severus eyed the small table set up behind the dining table, where a small cake with the words "Welcome Harry" in blue frosting waited to be cut into. Colorfully wrapped boxes and bags, large and small, surrounded the cake.
"Poor kid," Tori said, using a hand to push back her brown coils so she could clearly see her kids and Severus's kids playing in the living room. "I don't think I've seen a child who didn't jump on a pile of presents with his name on it."
"I've told you what that awful woman did to him," Addie spoke up, raising a glass to her lips. "It still makes me so angry just thinking about it."
"How is he adjusting?" Eileen asked, leaning into the table to see Severus better from where she sat next to Tobias.
"At home, pretty well," Severus said. "But he isn't letting go of his old life so easily. I mean the second day I had him, he climbed up my chimney and took off."
"Mama told me about that," Tori said. "My husband nearly choked on his tea. He was rather impressed and wanted to see if Joshua would fit up our chimney." Tori rolled her eyes. "Sometimes I wonder how we got this far in our relationship."
The adults shared a laugh while Tobias started dealing for Nap, sending five cards to each player. When the cards were dealt and everyone was judging their hand, Eileen spoke.
"Are you really taking him to see that wretched woman? A prison is no place for a child. And seeing her could set him back emotionally and you've been working so hard on getting him settled and comfortable in his new home."
"I'm afraid I don't have much choice," Severus answered. "Knowing he has that visit is the only thing keeping Harry from running off and trying to find his way back to Surrey. He doesn't understand the gravity of the situation with the Dursleys, and I'm still not sure if he understands that he is living with me now permanently. Petunia had him wrapped around her finger and he's brainwashed into believing that she truly loved and cared for him and that everything that happened was acceptable. The trial will begin soon—he's going to end up praising Petunia on the stand in front of a jury."
"I'm sure the jury will see what is wrong with the picture though," Tobias said. "No one in their right mind would force a small boy to climb up a chimney, or sleep in a cupboard when there were clearly more bedrooms available in the house. Even if he is sympathetic toward his aunt, the jury will not be."
"Regardless of what the jury thinks," Addie's husband said, "the judge has the final say if the jury doesn't rule in favor of the law, and I know Judge Meyer. He has a soft spot for kids."
Severus set his cards down and looked back at the kids. Harry and the older boy were playing with the trucks, while Iris and Ruth were busy putting nail polish on the three-year-old girl. He smiled at them.
"Has he been registered at the school yet?" Addie asked.
"Not yet," Severus said. "The paperwork is in processing and I'm still waiting on his previous muggle doctor to send me medical records."
"What will you do tomorrow, then?"
Severus sighed, leaning into his elbows as he rubbed his face, his hair falling forward slightly.
"I guess I'm taking him to work with me. There's no way Albus doesn't know that Harry is with me by now, and I'm sure he's just dying for me to get back to Hogwarts."
"What do you think he'll have to say?" Tobias asked.
"You know who will be jealous that she's not going to Hogwarts?" Addie pointed out, changing the subject off of Albus.
"She's been to Hogwarts a million times," Severus reasoned. "She'll live."
"She won't think so," Addie smirked, while the other adults shared knowing smirks.
Meanwhile, the kids had their own important conversations. Harry had learned that Joshua was Addie's daughter's eight-year-old son, and the two girls, Ruth, who was six, and Esther, three, were his sisters. They all went to the same school as Iris, except Esther, who went to daycare when Addie wasn't available to babysit for Tori, who was also expecting. Joshua was hoping it would be a boy.
"Could you imagine another sister?" Joshua asked.
"I don't know," Harry answered. "I just met mine."
"Well, I guess they're okay sometimes. But most of the time their annoying. Esther is always coming into my room and messing with my things."
"Iris is cool," Harry said as he pushed the monster truck over a rolled-up blanket. "I don't really have anything of my own, so she shares hers."
"Well, now you do," Joshua said. "We got you your own monster truck. That way, whenever we visit, we could play together instead of having to play with the girls and their stupid tea parties."
"My own monster truck?" Harry asked.
"Oh, oops!" Joshua put a hand over his mouth. "It's your present from mum and dad. Don't tell them I told you."
"Present? For me?" Harry asked.
"Yeah, for you. Welcoming gifts to the family is what mum said they were for. Well, we're only like family because Granny was Severus's nanny growing up, and now she's your nanny. Your presents are over there on that table. Want to see?"
Harry nodded, and Joshua led the way past the adults and to the small table. He pointed out the cake, which Harry recognized his name even in the fancy writing, but the other word he didn't know. Then Joshua dug through all the gifts before grabbing a green wrapped box and handing it to Harry.
"What are you boys doing?" Tori asked.
All the adults were watching the boys with smiles, their card game abandoned, cards still lying in the middle of the table waiting to be studied. Harry lowered the box back on the table, but Joshua shoved it back in his hands.
"Can Harry open his monster truck, mum?" Joshua asked.
"Joshua," Tori scolded gently, "you're not supposed to tell him what it is."
"Sorry, it kind of slipped. So can he?"
Everyone eyed Severus, who snorted and nodded his head. Harry smiled and held the box to his chest. When Joshua grew impatient, he reached over to help Harry rip the paper off the box. Slowly getting the idea, Harry finished unwrapping the gift to reveal a red and gold monster truck. His smile brightened while Severus groaned and glared at Tori.
"Are you trying to make my son a Gryffindor?" he asked.
"I mean, it is the best house," Tori teased.
"Those are fighting words, honey," Eileen smirked.
"This one's from us, too!" Joshua said, grabbing another box off the table, interrupting the adults' bantering.
With the whole family's encouragement, Harry opened his gifts one by one, with help from the other kids, who handed him gift after gift, barely giving him time to really appreciate each toy he opened, despite Tori's constant "slow down" reminder to her kids. He was quickly surrounded by transformers action figures from Tori and her family, a plastic dinosaur toy set and more truck toys from Addie and her husband, a new coat, boots, sneakers, and books from Eileen and Tobias, and a real cookware set of smaller sized pots, pans, various serving spoons and ladles, an apron, and oven mittens from Severus.
"You couldn't get him a playset?" Tobias asked.
"I don't think he would have been satisfied with plastic cookware," Severus said. "At least he now has something his size he can handle a little easier."
As Harry did with everyone else who had given him a gift, Harry ran over to Severus.
"Thank you, Daddy," he said. He hugged Severus.
"I have one more for you."
"Where?" Harry looked back at the empty table that now only had the cake.
Severus waved his hand and a bag appeared in his grasp. He handed it to Harry.
"Are you sure?" Harry asked as he took the bag but held it hesitantly. It was all so much, and he did not deserve any of this. He did not do anything to earn a reward lately, not that he ever did something to earn something. "I already have so much and I didn't even clean the house yet. How am I supposed to repay everyone?"
The other adults awed while Severus gently held Harry's chin and tilted his head up so they were eye to eye.
"No one here expects or wants you to repay them," Severus said. "They are giving you gifts because they want to, not because they expect something from you in return. And I'm giving you this because I love you, not because you made me coffee or anything like that."
"Really?" Harry asked, frowning at Severus.
Severus leaned forward and kissed Harry's forehead.
"Really," Severus said. "Now open your gift so we can start this party for real. Nami had a lot planned to do with you kids."
Harry smiled and pulled the tissue paper out. He gasped as he pulled out a green stegosaurus plushie with brown spikes. He squeezed it lovingly.
"I love him, Daddy," Harry said, hugging Severus once more. "Thank you."
"You're welcome, son."
Tori waved her wand and vanished the wrapping and tissue paper. Severus used his wand to shrink and summon all of Harry's new toys save for the stegosaurus. He pocketed everything for now.
"Who wants cake?" Eileen asked, grabbing a knife to cut into it. Joshua, Iris, and Ruth jumped around the table excitedly for a slice while Esther ran to her mother and pointed at the cake being cut into. Harry didn't move away from Severus. When Eileen asked Harry if he wanted the first slice, Severus shook his head at the size Eileen had for him.
"Ehh, could you give him a slice half that size and very minimal frosting?" Severus requested while Harry looked back and forth between the two.
Eileen didn't question it and did as Severus asked, handing Harry his slice of cake.
"Why don't you try that and see how you do?" Severus said. "Do you want me to hold your dinosaur?"
"Spikes," Harry said, handing his dinosaur to Severus and pulling the cake closer to him. Harry took a small, eager bite. He had always wanted to try cake; it always looked so good when Dudley had it at his birthday parties.
"Spikes," Severus corrected himself. "What a very fitting name."
Harry managed to eat his entire slice of cake without an issue, then tried to slowly steal more from Severus's plate. Severus saw him and moved his plate away. However, Iris popped up at his other side and stole a large bite for herself. Severus gave up on protecting his slice and allowed his kids to have the rest.
"That is sneaky teamwork," Severus scolded playfully, tickling both kids at his sides.
So, as it is with any rehoming situation, there's always a sweet grace period where every thing is okay and easy and happy go lucky before all hell breaks loose. I think we're nearing the end of Harry's, and now Albus comes into the picture as well. Let me know your thoughts so far!