Daniel silently made his way downstairs; it had been more than a week since his mother had found him ill in bed, but he was feeling much better now. His parents' constant hovering had been nice in the beginning, but soon became too much. He somehow felt they were trying to make it up to him, but Danny couldn't help but feel that it would not help. In a few more days everything would be the same way that it was before, so there was no sense in really getting used to it.
The teenager opened the door to the street as silently as possible. His parents had confined him to bed for a long time, despite his repeated reassurances that he was doing much better. Finally, today he had had enough. He had missed enough school as it was, and he had been feeling fine for at least three days. Sure, he still had a bit of a cough, but that would not disappear in a few more days yet. Knowing he had an exam today, he decided it was time to return to school. Sighing in relief when the front door closed behind him with no reaction from the adults sleeping inside, Daniel put his shoes on, took a better hold of his bag and hurried out of the porch. It was a bit earlier than he needed to leave, but he would need to get some breakfast on the way to school since he had not had the chance to eat anything at home, afraid he would wake someone up.
Richard rubbed his eyes as he woke up. The still half asleep man got ready to face the day before going to his son's room to check on him as had been his ritual for the past few days. His sleepiness disappeared at once as he noticed that the boy's bed had been made and that the room was empty. A quick look through the house only showed Jasmine stumbling to the bathroom. Starting to get worried, Rick returned to his son's room and finally noticed the small piece of paper that rested on the boy's pillow.
I have an exam today, and since I've been feeling fine for the last few days, I decided to go. I know I'm going against your wishes and will probably be in trouble, but a bit of a cough is no reason to miss an exam.
Severus rubbed his eyes, feeling a headache forming already. What on earth was he supposed to do in this situation? Truthfully, he knew that Daniel was well enough to go to school, and had they been at Hogwarts, he suspected the boy would have left Madam Pomfrey's care long before now. And he had gone to school, not to some frivolous outing. On the other hand, he had left without saying anything to anyone, and probably quite a bit ago to avoid detection. That was not something he could in good conscience allow. What if something had happened?
Shaking his head, the man folded the paper and put it in his pocket. He would have the whole day to meditate about his response to this. Walking out of the room, he went to the kitchen where Jasmine was already starting on breakfast.
Without turning, the woman greeted him. "Good morning, Rick. Is Danny awake?"
The man snorted softly. "Awake and gone."
Jasmine turned sharply, nearly upsetting the bowl where she had been battering eggs.
Rick raised his hands at her half panicked cry. "He went to school, Min."
The woman took a calming breath. "I thought we agreed that he would not be going till next week."
The blue eyes looked at her seriously. "I didn't say I had anything to do with this. I just found a note on his bed. He had already left when I went to wake him."
pressed her lips together and headed to the phone. Checking the time,
she quickly dialed a number and waited for an answer. Richard watched
in amusement as his wife quickly confirmed that their son had made it
to school without any problem.
Once the witch had hung up, he could help but make a remark. "He has gone there for months; he is not likely to get lost."
Jasmine threw him a dirty look. "I was more worried about him not going at all, but I hardly could tell the woman that I wanted her to check because I was afraid he might have run from home."
Rick blinked and frowned slightly. "I doubt Daniel would do that."
Jasmine snorted and returned to her cooking. "And why not?"
"Because he held it out at the Dursleys for many years, and because, despite our mistakes, he doesn't have it bad here."
The woman snorted again. "Ask him that after I finish with him this evening."
Rick chuckled softly; it was obvious the ex-Gryffindor Head of House was much more upset with their son than he was. His wife turned to glare at him. "I don't think it's funny!"
That caused the man to laugh fully.
"Richard! Our son just got up and left while we had told him to stay in bed because he was ill, how can you be laughing at a moment like this?"
"I just find it ironic that you are much more upset than I am. I always thought that if Daniel ever got in trouble, I would be the one disciplining him, and you would be the one trying to defend him."
Jasmine gave him a reluctant smile. "So, you're going to defend him?"
The man shrugged. "Not that I have much experience in such things, but I can always try. The child didn't really do anything dangerous; he just went to school."
Jasmine nodded and put a plate in front of the man. "He is ill."
"He only has a bit of a cough left, he'll be fine. He actually was up to going to school a few days ago."
"He still went against our wishes."
Severus started to eat. "He had an exam. They are important to him, Min, and I doubt he would like having to make them up later on."
Jasmine sipped he tea. "He could have told us that instead of sneaking out in the middle of the night."
The tall man put his fork down for a moment. "Now, I doubt it was the middle of the night. And as for telling us, we should have known. And in the second place I don't think he thinks we would have relented. He probably didn't want to cause a huge argument."
Jasmine rolled her eyes. "Are you actually saying we should just let it go?"
Rick quickly shook his head. "No, of course not, he disobeyed us. I was just pointing out that it was actually justified. He was fine and he had an exam, but he needs to learn that he cannot do just what he wants. When he doesn't agree with us, we can discuss matters. I doubt either of us would have put much of a fight against him going to school if we had known he had an exam."
Danny was quite apprehensive as he walked home. He had been half expecting his parents to show up at the school to drag him home, and as the hours passed, he started to think maybe they had gone to their respective jobs, not caring that he had left. Even though that thought was gaining strength, a small part of him expected them to be there and to be quite angry at him. As he saw his home appear in front of him, he hesitated for a few minutes. He really didn't want to go in there, because he would face an empty house or an angry set of parents. Taking a deep breath, he finally gathered his courage and entered. The house was completely silent which made his heart begin to break. Sighing in disappointment, he started walking up the stairs only to stop short. His mother was standing at the top of them, glaring sternly down at him.
Jasmine's glare didn't soften as her son lowered his gaze. "Do you have any idea how worried we were?"
Danny shifted slightly. "I just went to school."
"And couldn't you have told us so instead of sneaking out? Do you think you're in a prison or something like that?"
The teenager flushed a bit. "No, of course not."
The woman walked down the stairs until she was standing next to her son. He was nearly as tall as she was, but he seemed to shrink under her glare. "How are you feeling?"
Danny blinked and looked at his mother from under his bangs; she didn't look any less angry than she had a few moments ago, but there was also a worried frown around her mouth.
"I'm fine, really."
Jasmine crossed her arms over her chest. "That's good because you're going to spend the next few evenings helping your father in the lab. I'm sure he'll be able to convince you not to pull such a stunt again. Get going now."
The boy hurried upstairs, that hadn't been as bad as he had been expecting. Though he still had to face his father. That wouldn't be fun. Working in the lab with the man wouldn't be fun either. But at the moment, he didn't care much. They had been here, and that was all that mattered to him at the moment. Entering his room to leave his things there, he noticed a robe on his bed. He had not worn such an item since they had left Hogwarts, and he couldn't say he had missed it. But his father probably didn't want him to get his clothes dirty. Sighing, Daniel quickly put on his robe before reluctantly heading towards his father's lab.
His soft knock was swiftly answered and he had no choice but to enter, despite the reluctance he was feeling. Surprisingly, Severus was not bend over a potion as he had been expecting. Instead, he was taking notes from a rather large book. The man looked up as soon as he closed the door. Danny looked intently at his expression before lowering his gaze. The Potions Master's face didn't give anything away, and Daniel could not tell just how upset he was at him.
"I see you spoke to your mother."
The boy repressed a snort. There hadn't been much talking involved. "Yes, sir."
Richard nodded and pointed to a table tucked away in a corner. Several things had been placed there, most of which Harry recognized from his Potions Lessons. "There is a list of things I need you to do. Mostly you need to prepare ingredients so that they can be stored. You will need to complete the list. The time you'll take to complete the tasks will determine just how long your punishment is going to last. So, I would recommend you don't dawdle. Also, keep in mind that anything not completed to my satisfaction will need to be done again, so if you have any doubts about anything, ask first. Any questions?"
Danny had listened in growing dread as his father explained what he had to do. He was sure that with his father's opinion on his abilities he would never be able to complete the assignment. Sighing, he resigned himself to weeks of work. "No, sir."
Severus nodded and returned his gaze to his book. Harry slowly walked over to the table and looked down at the piece of parchment laid out. To his surprise there were only about ten things on the list. Quickly looking over them, he realized this would not be as impossible as he had thought. The tasks were not difficult, just that they would only be incredibly dull. Sitting down, he got the large bag of tea leaves and started to crush them.
Three hours later, Danny felt like his arms were about to fall of. He had been repeating the same movement over and over again. One hour into it, they were starting to hurt, but he had been determined to not utter a sound. Now his whole back was hurting and his neck was incredibly tense. Suddenly gentle hands were on his shoulders, startling him out of his miserable thoughts. Turning slightly, he saw his father's dark form bend over him and take the mortar out of his hands. Then he started to knead the tense muscles, making his son hiss in pain before he began to relax a bit.
"You're going to hurt yourself if you keep that up."
Daniel blinked slightly in confusion. "But you said I needed to finish it."
Rick rolled his eyes slightly. "You do, but why do you think there are different things on the list? You can alternate between them, you know."
The boy nearly smacked himself. Of course, how could he not have thought of that? His father hadn't really said what needed to be done first. He just had said he had to do everything. With a sigh he leaned back against his father's chest, enjoying his ministrations as they helped ease the pain he had been feeling.
"How comes you're not angry?"
The question was out before Danny had time to realize, and he winced slightly as the man's hands stopped the massage. He had been wondering about that all the time he had been here. Sure, his father had been stern when he had explained about his punishment, but he hadn't done anything else. Daniel had expected him to hover and criticize his work every few minutes. Kind of like in potions classes.
"What makes you think I'm not?"
The boy shrugged slightly. "You don't act like you are. Mum seemed much more upset with me."
Rick smiled slightly at that. "Well, I am angry. Just doing whatever you want to when you don't feel like agreeing with us is not something I will allow. You are old enough to voice your opinions and express your point of view; I suggest you start doing that else we're going to have no end of trouble. And I might be tempted to go ahead with the original punishment I had intended for you."
Danny flushed slightly. "Do I want to know?"
Rick snorted softly. "Probably not." But the man refused to explain more than that. "Anyway, about your mother, I believe she was more scared than angry."
The boy blinked. "But why? I go to school every day, and she has never had a problem with it."
Daniel omitted the rest of the thoughts that ran through his brain. It was not as if his parents knew what he usually did anyway. He could have stayed out for hours after school, and they wouldn't have noticed. He had actually been tempted to do just that a few times, but in the end, common sense had won out, and he had gone back to the empty house.
The older man didn't seem to sense the bitter thoughts as he quickly squeezed his son's shoulders. "She was afraid you wouldn't come back. That you had ran from home so to say."
The boy bit his lip and stared ahead of him. He had thought about that too, far too often for his peace of mind. "I see."
This answer seemed to disturb Richard as the man quickly tugged the boy so he was standing in front of him. Daniel fidgeted as his father's intense blue eyes studied him seriously.
"Had you considered that?"
The boy tried to lower his eyes but the older man put gentle hands under his chin, forcing him to look back up. "Daniel?"
Sighing, he nodded as much as possible. "A few times already."
Richard stepped back. "Are you so unhappy here?"
The boy lowered his eyes and hugged himself. "I don't want to be a bother, and I don't like feeling as if I'm made of thin air. You can just ignore me when you don't have the inclination to deal with me."
The Potions Master closed his eyes is pain, he had not realized they had messed up that badly. Jasmine had obviously been more perceptive in this instance. Opening his eyes, he gazed sadly at his son.
"We'll try to do better from now on."
But Danny didn't react to that; he just didn't believe it any more. Richard made a decision then.
"Let's make a deal."
The boy looked up, and Richard was startled to see that his eyes were filled with tears. "What deal?"
The older man passed a hand over his hair. "Give us three months to try and prove it to you that we really want you here with us. If you are still unhappy then, we'll make other arrangements."
Daniel frowned slightly. "What if you convince me, and then you go back to the way things were after the three months are over?"
Richard raised an eyebrow. "What would be the point of us trying to make it up to you and then just going back to how things were? I assure you it is just as easy to make other arrangements now than in three months. If we didn't want you here, we could have come up with something else from the beginning. I just want you to give us this chance to try and make it right again. We both have many things to learn too, you know."
"I guess so. What if in three months I'm not sure but I don't want to leave?"
The older man walked closer to him and hugged him tightly. "We will never throw you out, Danny."
Jasmine, for her part, was not happy with her husband when he retold her what had happened. Daniel had long gone to bed and didn't witness her mother screaming at his father while the man calmly sipped his tea.
"How could you make such a deal with him?"
Rick swallowed the small sip and looked up at his furious wife. "It seemed like a reasonable deal to me."
Jasmine threw her hands in the air. "How can you call that reasonable? You told him he could leave if he didn't like it here. He's not even sixteen years old, he cannot live on his own."
The man raised an eyebrow. "I didn't say that. I said we would make other arrangements, which is quite different."
The witch threw herself in a chair. "As if there are so many options."
Richard nodded. "Actually, there are quite a few if you start to think about them, especially for Daniel. After all, the wizarding world wouldn't react to him like they would to me."
Jasmine shot him a horrified look. "You would send him back there? With Dumbledore?"
The man shot her an annoyed look. "Don't be so narrow minded, Min. The wizarding world doesn't equal to Dumbledore, you know. If Daniel wished to complete his education, he could go to several other schools, with his looks as they are now, no one would recognize him."
The woman sighed. "Sorry, you're right of course. But I somehow don't think he would like that. I can't help but think that he hasn't been missing magic at all, he has not cast a single spell since we got here."
The Potions Master nodded. "I noticed, but that doesn't mean he will never want to go back. After everything he went through, it's not strange that he needs a bit of time to get over it."
Jasmine nodded reluctantly and returned to the previous subject. "What if in three months he doesn't want to stay here but he doesn't want to go to a magical school either?"
Rick sighed, couldn't she give up already? "There are several people in the wizarding world who would be able to care for him and keep their mouths shut about it. Lupin or the Weasleys would probably keep Dumbledore at bay if Daniel asked them to."
The former Gryffindor raised an eyebrow. "You would actually entrust Lupin with this?"
The blue eyes glared at her. "Not if I had a choice in the matter, but if our son is going to be unhappy enough to run away, I prefer to have him safe and know where he is."
Jasmine had to reluctantly agree with him. She didn't like the idea that she was not able to care for the child, but Richard had actually bought them a chance to try again. She hoped they wouldn't mess it up this time.
A few days later
For the tenth time that evening, Daniel looked towards the closed storage door. It would be his last day of punishment after a long week of working in the potions lab during his free time. His father had told him he could take a break on Sunday but Danny had refused, wanting to finish it as soon as possible. It was now Tuesday, and he was completing his last assignment. But his mind was not on the task; instead it kept wandering to the small vial he had discovered three days ago, packing the sliced hearts so they would be kept fresh until his father needed them. Once that was done, he cleaned up, and with some trepidation, approached the cupboard. After placing the packages, he looked up to the vial still innocently standing there. Without barely looking, he took it and put it in his pocket. He still hadn't decided, but it would be best if he was prepared just in case.
Closing the door softly after him, he left the lab and went to his room. There he hid the potion in one of his closets and went to shower.
That night, long after his parents had gone to bed, Daniel sat at his desk, the vial standing in front of him as he wrote. He had come to a decision, and now he needed to put his thoughts on paper before proceeding. He had reviewed the potions characteristics from the book he had nicked from his father's lab a few days ago to make sure there would be no side effects. It was actually quite straightforward; he would only need to have a clear thought in his head on how old he wished to be and then drink the full dose. Once he had scratched his name on the letter addressed to his parents, he got undressed. He assumed the process would be confusing enough to his younger self; he didn't need to find himself dressed in much larger clothes. Then, with slightly shaking hands, he took the vial. This was the last moment to reconsider his decision, once he drank it, there was no going back. But there was no hesitation left in him, he had thought over everything in the last few days and his wish to re-live his life was stronger than his doubts.
In a decided motion, he uncapped the vial and drowned the potion, one single thought running through his mind. He wanted to be a child again.
Severus' eyes snapped open, and he was instantly alert. A glance at the clock showed it was barely two in the morning, but something had woken him. Briefly he considered dismissing the feeling, but he quickly reconsidered. Something had woken him, and he would not be able to go back to sleep until he was sure that everything was as it should be. Standing up, he put on a house-coat and left the room. His first thought was to check on his son. The boy had been very quiet for the last few days. Neither Jasmine nor he had pressed the child but they had been a bit worried about what he was thinking so intently about. Silently he opened the door to his son's room. His gaze immediately moved to the bed, and to his alarm, he noticed it was empty. Quickly, he looked through the rest of the room gasping as his eyes fell on an empty vial lying on the floor.
Severus recognized the vial at once and his anxiousness increased. If what he suspected was true, he had to find his son at once. Once again he scanned the room, trying to find a clue as to where the boy might have gone. Then he spotted one of the closet doors standing ajar. He suddenly remembered Daniel's words from a few months ago, about how the Dursleys locked him in a cupboard. Silently, he moved to the door and opened it, allowing a soft light that came from the window to fill the space. His eyes immediately settled over the small form of his sleeping son. The boy was breathing peacefully, lying completely naked on a few jumpers Jasmine and him had bought him. Gulping, Richard reached out and took hold of the small body. He didn't know much about children, but he assumed that sleeping like that would do the boy no good. With a wave of his wand, he summoned a pair of pajamas and shrunk them until they would fit the child. Then, trying not to wake him, he clumsily dressed Daniel in the warm clothes. The child didn't wake though he grew a bit restless as he was jostled a bit.
After Danny was dressed, Severus quickly tucked him into bed and then let himself fall on the chair in front of the desk and buried a hand in his hair. What on earth were they supposed to do now? Looking at the table with unseeing eyes, it took him several moments to notice one of his books lying there, he knew very well that that book told about the effects of the youth potion, which dismissed the thought that Daniel had acted rashly. Pulling the book closer, he noticed there was a piece of paper stuck between two pages of the book. Opening the tome, he saw the paper was marking the page where the potions effects were described. Turning his attention to the paper in question, he realized it was a letter addressed to him and Jasmine.
Dear Mom and Dad,
I'm sorry if finding me like this upset you much. If everything went all right I am now back to being a five year old and the likelihood of me returning to my former age is slim to none. At least, not until I grow again. I apologize for adding this burden to you, since I realize it will be much more difficult for you to care for me now that I am a child again. I want to assure you that you don't need to uphold your promises to me now. I will completely understand if you wish to find other accommodations for me. I only ask that you make sure I will have a happy childhood. I know I can trust you with that.
You are probably wondering why I decided to take such a drastic and permanent step. Yes, I know how the potion acts and that there will not be going back for me once I have taken it. The obvious reason is so that I can experience that what was denied to me because of that monster. I have longed for a long time for a childhood that I was denied because of my supposed safety. You know that my relatives were nothing but cruel, narrow-minded bastards, that stopped very short of physically abusing me and had absolutely no problem in verbally abusing me. Despite my best intents, they have left their mark on me, something that will probably haunt me the rest of my life, but that I hope will diminish in this second chance. There was a more important reason to do this. I have now effectively killed Harry Potter, unless you choose to tell everyone the truth. No one will be able to establish any connection between the supposedly deceased Harry Potter and a child more than ten years his junior. I believe this is for the best, the wizarding world is quick to judge that which it doesn't understand, and I no longer wish to be at their beck and call, to perform all their expectations only to be carelessly vilified when something is not to their liking.
The only thing I want now is a childhood; with normal parents that will regard me just as Daniel or whichever name you decide to give me. To be able to grow up free from any unreasonable expectations. To maybe finally be able to chose my own path freely, without anyone controlling what I should or should not do.
I really hope you will understand why I did this. I assure you once more it was a very meditated decision and one that I don't think I will ever regret. I hope you will not be very angry with me for putting you in such a difficult position.
Richard read through the letter several times before folding it carefully. His eyes moved to the peacefully sleeping child. He understood what Daniel had been feeling. He had often wished to go back and redo everything, but he had never considered such a move. Maybe he had been too old for that and his conscience would not have allowed him to leave everything behind. He had needed to atone for his mistakes. But in Harry's case, it was different. The boy had not chosen his own path; he had been thrust in the middle of the war without anyone asking whether he wished to be involved or not. They had denied him the chance to be himself, and Danny had taken what should have been his. Shaking his head, the Potions Master stood up, decisions needed to be made, and it would be better if they were done before the child awoke.
Jasmine had been having a nice dream when she was gently shaken awake. Groaning, she buried her head in her pillow.
"Is it time to get up already?"
Her husband's voice sounded far nearer than she had expected when he gave an affirmative answer. Turning around, she saw that he was sitting on the end of her bed and that he was still dressed in his pajamas. A quick look at the watch showed that it was nearly three in the morning.
"Richard? What are you doing here so early? Is something wrong?"
The man nodded and stood up. "Yes, and I'll need you to be awake for this. Come on, I'll start on the coffee while you wake properly."
Anxiously she hurried to the bathroom and took care of her needs before following Severus into the kitchen. The man had lit all lamps in there and was quickly arranging the coffee, a very serious expression on his face. On the table, Jasmine spotted a folded piece of paper.
Assuming the man had not left the paper there just for the fun of it, she took it and sat down. Dread started to grow when she saw her son's messy writing filling the page. The first few sentences left her stunned. She had to re-read them to believe what was written in them. The she slowly read the rest of the letter. When Richard placed her cup of coffee in front of her she had read the letter at least a dozen times.
Richard took his seat in front of her and nodded. "Yes, he did. He took the youth potion I had prepared for you. I'm not sure what woke me up, but when I went to check on him, I found the vial on the floor and Daniel sleeping in the closet."
Jasmine rubbed her eyes. She understood what had driven Harry to do this. She had also gone through the same, and although it had been a temporary arrangement then, she doubted she would ever wish to go back to being Minerva McGonagall. She really should have seen it coming. "How much will he remember?"
Richard frowned. "What do you mean?"
The woman sipped her coffee pensively. "I remember mostly what my life was before I took the potion. Will it be the same for him? Will his much younger mind be able to cope with all his memories?"
The Potions Master shook his head. "The potion is very focused on intent, Min. You remember your life because you want it so. I doubt Harry wants to remember much of it."
"He was in the cupboard; he must remember something."
Richard shrugged. "I expect it will fade rather quickly; give him a few days and he will swear he has never heard the name Dursley before."
The ex-Gryffindor head of house nodded. "That's good I guess. Is he right that the process is irreversible?"
"Yes, as far as I know. I could try to look into it."
Jasmine carefully placed the cup down. "But you won't."
Richard mirrored her movements. "It was not my intention, no."
"It seems we no longer have the time to just try doing things right, Rick." Jasmine smiled softly, a bit anxious about what was going to happen from now on. "I guess now there is no going back."
"There is always another way."
The woman looked at him seriously. "I'm not planning on abandoning that child."
nodded in acceptance. It had neither been his intention to put Daniel
elsewhere, but it had to be a mutual decision, he could not care for
a child on his own. "I think we'll need to relocate. Despite the
impressive wards too many people know Daniel. If there is suddenly a
child running around with the same name people will notice. And I
doubt the Ministry would remain oblivious to the fact that we are
around the neighborhood."
Danny blinked sleepily and frowned; he felt like he was waking from a very deep sleep.
His mind was quite fuzzy, and he wondered if he had been ill. Sitting up, he shook his head. A small part of him was confused; he should be in his cupboard. The moment passed and Danny relaxed; he must have had a very weird dream. He was in his room, safely tucked under the covers. He was about to get out of bed when the door to his room opened and a tall man entered the room.
Richard stopped short when he saw his son looking around the room. When the boy caught sight of him he saw the flash of confusion that crossed his eyes before his expression lighted in a small smile.
"Good morning, Daddy."
Richard kept a neutral expression at the child like voice; it was very different than Harry's voice had been but that was to be expected. Silently, he moved towards the bed, cursing his wife in his mind. She should be the one that was here now. How was he supposed to know how to deal with this? But she had insisted he needed to make sure the potion had not had any adverse effects and that he would need to learn how to deal with the child since she was not going to do all the work. So, now, here he was, unsure how to approach his young son, while his wife had left earlier in the morning to tend to her resignation at the school.
Danny shifted on the bed, and Richard returned his attention to him. "Good morning, Daniel. How are you feeling?"
The child frowned. "Am I ill?"
Richard reached out and put a hand on his forehead. "Why do you ask?"
Daniel shrugged. "I feel weird. As if I am dreaming, but I know I am awake at the same time."
The man nodded and withdrew his hand. "You drank one of my potions, don't you remember?"
The child's face scrunched up in confusion and tried to remember something, only to come up with a well of thoughts, memories, and feelings that overwhelmed him. Richard was alarmed when he saw tears start to form in the child's eyes; he had surely not meant for that to happen. Before he could do anything about the incoming torrent, Danny started to sob.
"I don't remember what happened! Was I bad?"
Driven by pure instinct, the Potions Master picked the child up and cradled him against his chest, shushing him slightly.
"No, you were not bad; you were just not feeling well and took a potion." While trying to comfort the child, he wondered how on earth he was supposed to explain the situation. Finally, he just settled on being as vague as possible, the boy didn't need to know that yesterday he had been 16 years old.
Danny buried his head deeply in his father's shoulder as his tears stopped. This was nice; he had half expected his Daddy to scream and get red in the face and shake him, but that was obviously result of the potion. He knew that his father only lectured him when he had done something really wrong, and he would never shake him.
Once Danny stopped crying, Severus moved towards the door. "Let's get you some breakfast; I suspect things will get less confusing the longer you're up."
The child nodded, face still leaning against the man's shoulder. A frown appeared again on his small face. "Where's Mommy?"
While he asked, two pictures of two very different women appeared in his mind. He felt like they were both his mother, but that couldn't be right; he only had one mommy.
"She has gone to the school; she needed to talk to the headmaster about us moving."
"Does she have red hair?"
Severus paused for a second on the steps. "No, Danny, your mother has black hair, remember?"
The boy nodded as one of the two pictures took force and settled into his mind. Then what his father had said entered his mind. "You're leaving?"
Richard felt a shudder run through the small body he held in his arms and gently patted his back. "We are all leaving. We decided to move to another town so Jasmine won't be able to keep teaching at this school."
The child frowned, he didn't remember anything about a moving away, but as long as he was going with his parents, everything would be all right.
Once they reached the kitchen, Richard settled his young charge in a chair before heading towards the fridge.
"What do you want for breakfast?"
Shaken out of his thoughts, Daniel looked up, frowned and jumped out of his seat, padding to where his father was. "I'll make it, Daddy."
The man looked up from the fridge towards the small boy, who was standing next to him. "I think you're still a bit too young to be doing such things, Daniel. You can not even reach the stove."
The child frowned. "I've been making breakfast for a year now. I'll just use the chair."
Richard cursed the blasted muggles in his mind. He had not been aware of that little piece of information. How could they force a five year old to make breakfast? "You most certainly will not. You could get hurt if the hot pan fell on you, or you could get burned by the stove. You are forbidden to approach this stove until your mother or I say so. Understood?"
Daniel's annoyed scowl transformed to one of confusion as he listened to his father's stern rebuke. Seeing the child wasn't sure what to make of everything, Richard gentled his tone and returned his attention to the food he had been selecting.
"Go sit down; I'll make you some pancakes."
Daniel was left with no choice but to obey. He returned to his seat and put his head on the table. He didn't understand what was going on. Why was he being so stupid? Of course his father was not going to allow him to make breakfast. They had told him often enough that he was not allowed near the hot stove, but at the moment he had spoken, he had been sure he should be doing breakfast or something bad was going to happen. Shaking his head once again, he turned it slightly so that he could gaze at his father's tall form. He was quite startled when he saw the man wave a stick while muttering. Burrowing his head on his arms that were resting on the table, the child tried to make sense of his jumbled thoughts. One side of him found the situation incredibly familiar. His father was using magic to make breakfast, just like his mother did. There was nothing wrong with that, it was the way it had always been. But another part of him shuddered at the thought of magic; it was wrong, freakish, and he should not even think of the word.
He was startled when a hand settled on his bowed head. Unconsciously he tensed, expecting a slap, but the hand just ruffled his hair slightly.
"Sit up, child, breakfast is ready."
Blinking, the boy did as he was told and smiled slightly when he saw a stack of pancakes on the table, just in front of him. His father took an empty plate and served him two pancakes before taking two himself and sat in front of the child. They had just started to eat when the door opened and Jasmine entered, her thunderous expression clearing when she saw them sitting at the table.
Richard raised an eyebrow at her, not missing the frown that had just disappeared.
The woman shrugged and threw her bag in a free chair. "The headmaster was being obnoxious, but everything is solved."
Danny watched silently from his seat as the woman took her jacket off. He was sure that the woman was his mother, but he felt a bit shy right now, maybe he was wrong about that too, like with making breakfast? But then the tall woman turned to him and smiled gently. As she approached him, he felt a sudden fear that she would take away his breakfast, which he had barely started to eat.
If Jasmine noticed how the child suddenly clutched at the plate of pancakes, she didn't mention it. Instead, she bend over and gently kissed his head before ruffling the black hair.
"And how is my baby boy doing this morning?"
Blue eyes blinked up at her and he smiled shyly, relaxing his grip on the plate. "I'm fine, Mommy."
There was a small hesitation at the end there, which made Jasmine glance at her husband. The man was watching them intently, a cup of tea in his hands.
"He is all right, just a bit confused at times, which is to be expected."
The witch nodded and sank into a seat, taking a few of the remaining pancakes. Danny watched his parents as they both turned to their respective breakfasts. He felt fuzzy inside, his parents were so nice to him; he smiled slightly when his father looked up.
"Eat up, Daniel, we have many things to do today."
After breakfast was done, Richard left. He needed to get an adequate house for the three of them as soon as possible. No one could see Daniel as he was now; there was no way they could explain that away. Jasmine and him had had a long talk that night; they had not returned to bed that night, instead they had come to several agreements that ranged from where they were going to live to what kind of school they would enroll their son in. Jasmine had wanted to remain in London, feeling safer among the large number of people. He, on the other side, thought they would be better off somewhere else; there were several small cities which had a wizarding part in them. He thought it important that Daniel attend a wizarding school as one of the major points of him going back to being a normal child. Living as they were right now was not conductive to learning about magic. Also, even though he hadn't said it, Richard was getting tired of having to limit the use of his magic; he had to constantly watch what he did and what he said.
It had taken a bit of persuasion but in the end Jasmine agreed with him, her only remaining worry was that someone would recognize them, but Rick was pretty confident that would not happen. After all, if the wizarding world was still looking for any of them, it would be him, and he doubted anyone would even think he was Severus Snape when he had a wife and a five year old son at his side. No, unless for some reason his potion failed, no one would ever find them. And if Severus trusted anything at all, it was his potions.
Jasmine was packing her clothes while keeping an eye on her son. The boy had settled onto her bed and was playing with a couple of horses she had transfigured for him. At first he had been a bit reluctant to touch the toys, and the witch couldn't help but wonder if it was because of the magic that helped create them or the fact that they were toys. The more she thought about it, the better she liked her husband's idea. It would really not do to try and raise Danny in a muggle neighborhood, especially when he started to show signs of magic. The child didn't need any sign of his parents disapproving of magic and telling him to keep it quiet. Now she only hoped Richard would be able to find them a suitable house. Not that she didn't trust him, but she had images of dreary mansions and cold marble halls flashing through her eyes.
The woman shook herself out of her thoughts and turned her attention to the young child standing now next to her. "Yes, honey?"
"How can I help?"
The witch smiled softly down at the child's serious eyes. "Tired of playing already?"
The smile turned into a frown when the boy lowered his head and shifted slightly. Jasmine saw the longing glance the child threw towards the toys. "Danny?"
The boy looked up at her, but didn't say anything. She knelt down so she could look him in the eye, and he didn't need to look up at her. "Son, do you want to play or to help?"
Jasmine waited patiently till a small voice finally answered. "Play, Mommy, but I should make myself useful and earn my keep."
The Gryffindor pressed her lips tightly, trying to reign in her anger. "Danny, you father and I may assign you with some chores, and you will be responsible for completing those, but it is not a question of earning your keep. You don't need to earn your keep. You belong here, with us, and the only thing we really require of you is that you listen to us and behave."
"And will you lock me up if I don't behave?"
Jasmine shook her head. "No, child, you will be in trouble, but we will never lock you up." Seeing the still doubtful look, she ruffled his hair and sighed softly. "Why don't you go back to your toys; I will be finished here shortly and then we can go to your room and look at what you want to take with us."
The former Gryffindor head of house looked sadly as the child returned to the bed. Maybe her husband had had it right from the start; they would need time to solve their son's issues, but Jasmine promised herself that they would manage.
A/N: Thanks for all reviews and sorry about the long wait. Lots of thanks to my beta-reader, Vinnie.