Disclaimer: Same old, same old. I don't own it, I don't make money, don't sue me. Please! I'm poor. Unless you're interested in a couple paperclips and an old rubber band, I swear you'll be getting nothing good.
It was very late at night when Dumbledore woke with a start. Opening his eyes, he found himself nearly nose to nose with the half demon child that Hagrid had found earlier that evening in the Forbidden Forest, gifted with the name Severus by the Grounds Keeper.
Startled by the Professor's sudden movement, Severus half tumbled, half scampered away from him with a small cry of surprise.
Dumbledore sat up slowly; barely able to make out the child huddled at the end of his bed. "Severus," he called softly to the boy, and held out his hand toward him. "Come here."
Dumbledore watched as Severus inched cautiously closer and then sniffed the offered hand carefully before placing his own small hands in the Professor's much larger one.
Dumbledore pulled Severus to him and when the child didn't resist, lifted him onto his lap. Severus squirmed in his arms until he turned enough so that he could inspect his new guardian. "Would you happen to be nocturnal, Severus?" Dumbledore asked, trying to hide a yawn as the child proceeded to curiously touch his face and hair.
The child had woken up shortly after entering the Hogwarts castle and had stubbornly refused to sleep no matter how many times Dumbledore returned the small boy to the bed that he and Hagrid had made up for him. Idly Dumbledore wondered if Severus's sleeping habits were a result of living in the Forbidden Forest, where being alone and asleep at night was like inviting death, or whether it was a result of his demon parentage.
Indeed, it was remarkable that the child was still alive. He was much smaller than his years dictated and problems with finding the proper nutrition had taken nearly every smidgen of baby fat from his tiny body. But his large black still held that sweet innocence of his age and his straight black hair that was cut long to hide his oddly shaped ears curled at the ends to frame his face.
Dumbledore sighed as he allowed Severus to tug on his hair. He was tired and a bit at a loss as to what to do. He knew that he was probably the first human that the little child had come in prolonged contact with. It would be his job, with the help of Hagrid, to teach Severus how to talk and behave. He had no illusions that would be easy. And while he was not one to flinch from a challenging project, it was very late.
"Don't you sleep?" he asked Severus, knowing that the child didn't understand his words. He placed a hand on the side of the boy's face and ran a gentle thumb over the soft, pale cheek. "Sleep?" he asked again.
Severus just starred back at him with unnaturally dark eyes. Dumbledore smiled kindly and shook his head. Carefully, he picked Severus up and, leaning over, returned the boy to the nest of pillow and blanket on the floor that served as the child's bed. "Try to sleep," Dumbledore whispered, his hand lingering on Severus's black hair.
Severus looked up at him blankly and Dumbledore pulled one of the blankets over the small body before lying back down himself.
Dumbledore listened for the sounds of Severus refusing to settle down, but he heard nothing and hoped that child had finally gotten the idea and had fallen asleep. Yawning again, he closed his eyes and was almost asleep when he felt the mattress give slightly under the meager weight of the little half demon who had somehow managed to get back onto the taller bed without making a sound.
Dumbledore kept his eyes closed, pretending to be asleep as Severus slowly crept closer. Presently he felt the small boy settle on top of his chest. Expecting to find Severus starring at him again, Dumbledore opened his eyes.
To his surprise, the boy was lying down on top of him; his black eyes closed and undeniably close to sleep. Careful so not to disturb him, Dumbledore pulled the blankets over the boy and smiled as a small hand twisted into his nightshirt and held fast.
Dumbledore wrapped his arm around Severus and gently moved his hand in soothing motions up and down the tiny back. Severus snuggled closer to him and yawned.
Then to Dumbledore's surprise, the tiny half demon began to purr, a low, pulsing, contented sound like that of a kitten. Laughing very softly, Dumbledore closed his eyes and fell asleep listening to the quiet purring of the demon child.
When Dumbledore woke the next morning he found Severus still fast asleep. Well, given how the boy had been awake most of the night, it wasn't surprising that he should be tired. Severus had turned his face away from the window and had his head buried under Dumbledore's beard in an attempt to avoid the radiant morning light.
Being careful to not wake the child up, Dumbledore moved Severus to the bed beside him and got up. Severus rolled over and buried his face into the pillow. Dumbledore chuckled and turned to charm the windows to block the light. He didn't know much about young children, but he did know that they had a tendency to be very cranky if woken up before they wanted to be.
Dumbledore pulled on his dressing gown over his nightshirt and tied the cord before opening the door for Hagrid, hushing him as he ushered him inside. "Severus is asleep," Dumbledore explained as Hagrid took a seat. "And he was up almost all night. I don't know how long he's going sleep."
Hagrid nodded seriously. If there was one thing he understood, it was the protection and care of those things that were scorned by the majority of society. "It don't matter, sir. I'll take good care of him."
"Yes," Dumbledore said, smiling though a yawn, "I'm sure you will." He glanced quickly at the clock on the wall and was visibly startled at the time. "Please excuse me," he said to Hagrid as he moved into the next room, "I'm a bit late."
Hagrid watched as the Transfiguration Professor ran around his room, getting ready for the day and gathering up what he'd need for the meetings that generally occupied the Professors' time in the weeks before school started again.
Fifteen minutes after Hagrid got there, Dumbledore was washed and dressed to leave. Giving Hagrid some last minute instructions for watching the little boy in their care, he grabbed his cloak hurried to the door.
Hagrid glanced from the clock to Dumbledore and then shook his head, amused. "Good luck with the Snitch," Hagrid called before Dumbledore shut the door.
The Snitch, of course. Dumbledore winced and hurried faster to the Head Table for breakfast, hoping that someone else would be there later that him.
But no such luck. He was a full ten minutes late and everyone was already seated, leaving one chair empty. Sighing inwardly and pulling his face into a wide grin, he said a quick apology to Headmaster Dippet for being late and, acknowledging his collogues looks of sympathy, took the only seat left, the one left next to HER.
Minerva McGonagall, aid to the ailing Headmaster, former Gryffindor, and all around tattle tale. The nickname 'Snitch,' had been gifted to her by one of the other professors, and generally adopted by the rest of them. No one dared put a single toe out of line while she was around; she'd be off to tell the Headmaster in an instant. Her animagus form only made it easier for her to prowl the Hogwarts halls.
"You're late," Minerva said, suspicion and curiosity coloring her words even as she added a little more food to the nearly blind Headmaster's plate.
Dumbledore nodded once and began selecting his breakfast from the serving dishes. "Yes," he said calmly, making sure to look her straight in the eye, "I overslept." He almost laughed then, at the irony of his choice of words.
True, he did oversleep, but he was not about to announce at the table and in front of her that the reason he had overslept was because he and Hagrid had brought home a wild little half demon child that didn't sleep much at night. Who knew that SHE would do if she found out?
After breakfast, it was off to the meeting about the lessons planned for the year and curriculum. The whole time Dumbledore had to do his best to sit still and not fidget or play with his quill as his thoughts constantly drifted to how Hagrid and Severus were getting along.
As soon as the teachers took a break for lunch, Dumbledore decided to forgo eating with the staff and hurried to his rooms to check on Hagrid and Severus.
At his quarters, Dumbledore threw open the door and gasped. It was like a hurricane had gone through his rooms. Books and all sorts of odds and ends were scattered on the floor; nothing untouched.
From the top of a bookcase, Fawkes screeched angrily when he saw him. Dumbledore stopped to console the irate bird and then looked around for the half giant. "Hagrid?" Dumbledore called, a little worried.
"Here, Professor," came Hagrid's reply from one of the side rooms. Shaking his head at his own foolishness, Dumbledore swept through the damage and pushed open the door.
Hagrid was sitting in the center of the room, an open box of gingersnaps beside him and a very rumpled Severus with a biscuit in each hand on his lap. At Dumbledore's entrance, Severus tensed and bared his sharp little milk teeth.
Dumbledore instantly dropped to his knees in an attempt to seem less threatening to the small child. "It's alright, Severus," he said, smiling kindly, "It's just me."
Severus calmed when he recognized the older wizard and, only pausing to grace his guardians with his first smile, turned back to his treat as if he had never been upset.
Dumbledore laughed, smoothed his hand over the dark hair, and took a seat on the floor next to Hagrid. The larger man looked a mess. His hair was sticking up wildly in all directions and there were small holes in his clothing as well as a few stains, one of which looked like blood. "What happened?" Dumbledore asked mildly. He didn't care about the destruction of his rooms; it was just stuff.
Hagrid laughed and pat Severus on the head. "Oh, he was a mite upset when he woke up. Didn' care much for his bath neither. You might wanta send a House Elf though there first."
Dumbledore smiled and shook his head. He had guessed the Severus would be difficult, he could see the stubbornness in the child's eyes. But then, to survive alone for who knows how long in the forest, he had to be stubborn.
A sharp, unhappy whimper drew Dumbledore's attention back to the present. His looked down at the child became alarmed when Severus wrapped his short arms around his stomach and made that pained sound again.
"What's wrong with him?" Hagrid asked, alarmed at the sudden change in the little boy. "Is he okay?"
Dumbledore didn't answer, but instead reached out and grabbed the open biscuit box. It was over half empty. "Hagrid," he said, shaking the box, "Did he eat all of these?"
Severus cried out again, miserable, and Hagrid paled as he nodded an affirmative to Dumbledore's question. He had given the little half demon one of the sweet biscuits, knowing that children generally like sweet things, and then Severus seemed to like it so much, and he had thought, 'what was the harm?'
Dumbledore took Severus from Hagrid, whispering, "You poor dear," before wrapping his arms securely around the distressed creature. Then he looked up to find Hagrid still awaiting an answer. "Would you get some water brought in for him?" Dumbledore asked the half giant, "His system isn't used to so much sugar. It's making him sick."
As Hagrid hurried off to get the desired water, Dumbledore held Severus, doing whatever he could to ease his discomfort. Severus peered up at him with large black eyes that betrayed a slight fear. "You're going to be okay," Dumbledore tried to assure him.
Hagrid came back quickly with a pitcher of water and a goblet. Severus starred at the goblet, wanting the water instinctively, but apprehensive about the drinking container.
Making sure Severus was watching him, Dumbledore took a sip of the water first and then offered the glass to the child. Severus put his small hands on either side of the goblet and dunked his head forward, trying to drink the water much too fast, and began to cough.
Hagrid took hold of Severus and eased him away from the glass; holding him still until the coughing had passed and he could breath again.
Trying it again, Dumbledore held the goblet, angling it as needed, and Hagrid held on to Severus. This time, together they were able to help the child drink.
Still, somehow Severus managed to get a lot of the water on himself and down his clothes and even the ends of his hair wet so that he began to shiver.
"That's enough adventure for you today," Dumbledore said, standing and taking Severus from Hagrid. "Let's get you changed into something dry." He paused and realized that he was going to have to transfigure another thing from his own wardrobe.
"Tomorrow, Hagrid," he said, balancing Severus on his hip, "We need to go get Severus some clothes of his own."
"An toys?" Hagrid added, his dark eyes delighted; such the over grown child himself.
"Of course," Dumbledore agreed. Something to keep the young mind occupied, books too. Lots of pictures.
By the time Dumbledore came back out with Severus, Hagrid had taken the initiative to order up lunch. For Severus, unused to anything actually cooked, the House Elves had prepared a rather under cooked meat that they had cut into strips.
"Right then, Severus," Hagrid said, taking the boy from Dumbledore, "Here we go." And he placed Severus on the chair in front of his plate.
Severus looked back and forth between his keepers, scowled, and rolled off the chair onto the ground.
The dilemma of getting Severus to sit on the chair lasted a few minutes, both men suffering several scratches and bites from the resistant half demon, before they decided unanimously to work on it another day.
Hagrid placed Severus's plate on the floor. Severus sniffed the contents and then promptly dragged the plate under the table to eat, settling at Dumbledore's feet.
The rest of the lunch hour passed quickly and without incident. When Dumbledore was ready to return to the meetings, he decided to check on the silent child that had yet to emerge from under the table.
Moving the tablecloth aside, it was a charming site that met his eyes, and it made up for all the small wounds that the child had given him. Severus had finished what he had wanted of his food and had curled up in a ball at his feet and fallen asleep.
With a smile and shaking his head while wondering how it was possible that the child should capture his heart in such a short time, Dumbledore retrieved Severus from under the table.
"Now ain't that cute," Hagrid said, grinning.
Dumbledore didn't disagree and adjusted the sleeping child to a more comfortable position in his arms. "He'll probably sleep for awhile," Dumbledore told Hagrid, using low tones that wouldn't wake the little boy. "I'll be back as soon as my meeting is over."
Author's Note: Don't worry, their opinion of Minerva will change.