Muggleville by Jan AQ
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all other known characters and places in the Harry Potter world belong to J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury, Scholastic, and Warner Bros. The story and original characters belong to me.
Chapter 29: Family Meeting
A/N: I did not plan to write this chapter, but Severus demanded it.
Last chapter: [Snape] reached in with his fingers, pulling out some white cakey mush. Then Snape started to spread it on Harry's sting, the cool creaminess making the pain disappear almost immediately. Harry felt himself sighing and relaxing in relief.
"Is that better, Harry bean?" Hoppity asked, carding her fingers through his hair.
"Yes. Much," was Harry's response.
"Of course," Snape said, smirking as he wiped his hand on the back of the cloth. "Now I believe that it is time for a family meeting."
Harry blinked in surprise at Snape's pronouncement, then looked away, feeling guilty. He was sure that this meeting was because of him.
"I agree," Hoppity stated, still carding her fingers through Harry's hair from where he was leaning against her. One of Hoppity's arms was wrapped around him, one hand comforting him through his hair.
Snape picked up Harry's foot and inspected his work before lowering it off of the couch, turning Harry a little in the process.
Despite his pretend Mum's ministrations, Harry started to get anxious. He had vague recollections that a family meeting was bad, or at least disappointing. An old mantra repeated in his head, the origin unknown, Stay out of sight, pretend I'm not there.
Harry was worried that this meeting was called because he had done something, or perhaps several somethings that Snape objected to, and it wouldn't matter if Harry was innocent or not.
"I realize that you have not known the boy for very long," Snape started, directing his first comments to Hoppity, "But you should know that he is a magnet for trouble. Not only does he goes looking for trouble, but trouble seems to go looking for him."
Harry frowned and sat up, "I don't go looking for trouble!"
Snape gave him a look, offering Harry a chance to explain himself. Harry couldn't, of course. He couldn't remember much besides what happened these last weeks, and he was not completely innocent in all cases. Okay, maybe most cases...
He decided to fold his arms and close his eyes instead, burrowing into the sofa next to Hoppity. It didn't seem like Snape wanted Harry's input anyway, and Harry didn't want to acknowledge someone who wanted to put him in a bad light.
Snape narrowed his eyes but allowed this for now. He knew the boy was listening and this way maybe there would be fewer interruptions.
"The boy is a risk taker, there is no doubt of that. The Headmaster fosters an attitude of indulgence at the school Harry has attended the last few years. And as you are no doubt aware, Harry himself possess certain... qualities that make some people in authority reluctant to punish him as much as is warranted." Like the Headmaster, and Minerva. Certainly not Delores Umbridge, or any of the Dark Lord's or the Ministry's lackeys. They would skewer him if given the chance.
Hoppity listened and nodded, allowing Severus to say his piece, carding her fingers through Harry's hair all the while. As far as she could tell Harry was rather sweet, well-mannered, and anxious to please. He didn't seem to disobey or do anything too dangerous, besides grabbing bacon off of hot pans and burning himself, climbing up tall iceboxes in the kitchen, throwing his dinner on the floor, and stepping on bees... Perhaps that was rambunctious for a six year old, but perhaps it was just right. Hoppity did not have a lot of experience with children. Harry did seem like an angel most of the time though.
Before this summer she did not know much else about him besides what everyone in the Wizarding world knew; that he was the Boy-Who-Lived, and he was the winner of the Triwizard Challenge at Hogwarts over a year ago, and fought a dragon and won. In the past three weeks she had learned more about the true nature of "The Boy-Who-Lived." In comparison, Severus knew the boy for years before Hoppity even met him, but Severus also seemed very strict, making Hoppity uncertain of the truthfulness of his interpretation.
Snape continued, "The leniency applied to the boy is also in part due to his status in the Wizarding world." And his orphaned status, but Snape did not wish to go into that. Dumbledore seemed to think that because Harry was an orphan with a target on his back he deserved to be allowed free reign over the school. There were certainly other orphans, other people with targets on their backs who did not get the same consideration.
It was merely an old man's pity, and Snape refused to pity the child. Furthermore, Snape felt it his duty to make sure the boy stayed out of trouble, and was punished for getting into it, whenever Severus could enforce it under Dumbledore's watch.
He was determined to make up for Dumbledore's foolishness, and he was determined to make sure that Harry learned that he was not a Golden-child, able to get away with anything... like his father.
He owed it to his mother too.
No! He wouldn't go into that. Snape ruthlessly pushed his meandering thoughts away and focused on the present, mainly convincing his ill-conceived partner of the need for greater rules and oversight where the Potter boy was concerned. She took more after the Headmaster than he cared for.
"This leniency, and perhaps encouragement has resulted in the boy getting away with things that other students in the past have been expelled for."
Hoppity gave a slight gasp, barely noticeable but it was enough. He knew that she was starting to at least see his side.
"Hey!" Harry piped up, turning away from the couch cushions to face Snape. "I don't do bad things like that!"
Snape stayed silent for moment, allowing Harry to speak up and explain. He didn't. Perhaps because...
"You don't remember." Snape knew that this particular potion made one forget their past, more and more as time passed until they are reminded of things, or they take the antidote. He was still surprised at how well it was working. It was probably for the best, the boy had wonderful memories, to be sure, but also nightmarish ones too. Severus tried his hardest to not remind the boy of certain things; he preferred a nightmare-free Potter.
Harry folded his arms. "Well, that's not fair then, if I can't defend myself because I don't remember!"
"How about attacking teachers, disobeying rules left and right, causing mischief and mayhem-"
Harry interrupted, "No! You're telling it wrong!" He was sure of it, but he couldn't remember.
"We will have a discussion about this when you have returned to your proper age," Snape promised, "And then you will have a detention for disagreeing with me."
"Severus!" Hoppity admonished, "You can't give him a detention for something he does over the summer. Besides, I'm sure that he was appropriately punished for all those things."
It was almost sad, the belief she had in the Headmaster. Severus was not loath to shatter it. "I assure you, many times he was rewarded."
Hoppity gasped again in shock, then seemed to come back to herself. "I'm sorry but I'm not sure I can believe such blatant favoritism." But her forehead was creased in doubt. He was swaying her, at least a little.
"No matter. When we get back to the school we will have a chat with the Headmaster." No doubt he will tell the truth from his certain point of view, make her believe what he wants her to believe. Severus would just have to do his best to convince her elsewise.
He continued, "In any case, I believe that we can agree that Harry should be protected, not only from the usual childhood woes, but from people who actively wish him harm, death even."
The change in subject created a sense of sudden seriousness over the gathering.
Hoppity's eyes were as wide as moons, "But he's safe here." She subconsciously pulled the small boy to her, holding him close. "That's why we came all the way over here to America, so that he would be safe."
"We'd like to believe so. History, however, has shown that the places we believe are the safest are in actuality the most dangerous. His care requires vigilance."
Hoppity breathed out heavily, and Harry turned to her, concerned. "Don't worry, I'm sure I'm safe with you," he said, reaching up to awkwardly pat the side of her arm.
"Thank you, Harry," she said, giving him a small smile.
"Indeed. I believe that we have been safe, and are safe at the moment..."
Hoppity and Harry looked at Snape, both feeling better at his pronouncement.
"As long as the boy follows certain rules."
There it was. Harry was sure that this meeting would come back to him and the trouble he gets into.
"Hey, I follow rules! Erm... most of them," he amended at Snape's look.
Hoppity suggested, "Perhaps we should go over them again and explain them all. I wasn't aware that Harry wasn't to hop in large children's rides, for instance."
Snape sat up and cleared his throat. "This was my intended purpose for this meeting."
Harry felt like groaning. He hated rules. Furthermore, he wouldn't be able to feign ignorance after this if he broke one of them.
Snape tapped Harry's knee. "Sit up and pay attention."
Harry wiggled to a more attentive position next to Hoppity, his bare feet still hanging straight off of the couch, his legs not long enough to have them bend at the knee unless he sat more forward.
"I suppose that we should write these down." Hoppity reached out and pulled a Muggle pad and pen to her that had been sitting nearby on the coffee table.
"Rule number one, obey the rules."
"...Obey the rules." Hoppity wrote down. "And what will happen if he does not?"
"We will come up with appropriate punishments as we go. The situation will dictate it. It is probably better not to overwhelm him with too much at once." It was unlikely that the boy would remember the rules as it was, and Snape liked to have the threat of dire punishments hanging over Harry's head, even if he never intended to go through with them.
Harry swallowed. He hated talk of punishments and consequences, but he was glad that they were not talking about those now. Talking about rules was bad enough as it was.
"Rule number two, you will do as I say."
"Ahem, as we say," Hoppity interrupted.
"Yes, as we say," Snape amended. "It is important to do as we say, especially in times of danger. Even if you think that you are safe, you must obey us. This is important, Harry. Do you understand?"
"I think so, but what if what you say is stupid?"
From next to him, Hoppity gave a chortle and tried to cover it up.
"I never say stupid things." You just hear stupid thoughts, like the idea that adding crushed dung beetles before the gnome spittle is a good one.
Hoppity patted Harry's head to get his attention, "What if you were walking in a muddy puddle, and I told you to duck because someone was throwing the killing curse at you, only you didn't know that and thought I was stupid for telling you to jump into a muddy puddle?"
"Hm... I guess it wouldn't be stupid then," Harry conceded.
"Yes, but you wouldn't know that."
"But what if you told me to do something just to be mean?" Harry had plenty of experience with that.
"We promise not to do that to you, Harry. Right Severus?"
Harry turned to look Snape in the eye, and the man gave one curt nod.
Harry relented. "Okay, but if you break your promise you have to have a punishment."
Hoppity beamed in amusement at Harry's idea.
"That's absurd," Snape said.
"It's only fair," Hoppity countered. "Anyways, you don't mean to ever misuse your authority, do you?" She gave the Potions Professor a measuring look, her eyes taking on the same piercing gleam as the Headmaster's when Albus was sizing him up. It made Severus slightly uncomfortable.
"No, of course not." Snape tried to lead back to the topic at hand, "Which leads me to the next rules: No lying, no stealing, no trespassing, no pranks."
"Do you know what trespassing is, Harry?" Hoppity asked as she wrote.
Harry nodded. "It means going somewhere you're not supposed to be."
"In this case our rooms, or the basement." Snape thought for a moment, "Unless there is an emergency and you need help. That is the next rule, you are to find and tell one of us if there is an emergency. I expect to know if you are ill, hurt, in trouble, or have a bad feeling about something."
"That is a good rule," Hoppity murmured into her paper. She asked Snape to repeat it, and he did.
"But what if I just stub my toe?" Harry asked. "Does that count?"
"Of course not, Potter-"
"Harry," Hoppity corrected.
"Harry, unless your toe swells up and your toenail falls off. I would consider that an injury."
Harry made a face. "Ew."
Hoppity seemed concerned. "I would hope that you would not wait until that happens."
"No, perhaps not that long. Just consider that I have healing potions and poultices," Snape said, "And that I can heal you. If however, you would like a plaster and a kiss to make it better, you may see to your other guardian."
"You may see me anyway." Hoppity smiled, and gave Harry a peck on his head. "I have kisses to spare."
Now Snape was the one making a face. Harry didn't care, he was getting love and Snape wasn't getting any. So there.
"I have the next rule," Hoppity said. "No leaving the house without permission."
"Yes, and make sure that we know where you are at all times. No wandering off. No dangerous activities without permission. Perhaps we should change that to fun activities."
"Oh, don't be ridiculous Severus. 'Fun' does not mean dangerous."
"I beg to differ. Quidditch?"
"Not dangerous... really."
"Well I have a question now," Hoppity said as she put down her Muggle pen. "Is this why Harry shouldn't play on the Muggle bounce ride? Because that is quite safe. There were lots of other children in there. It was made for children, in fact."
"Falling from tall heights is always dangerous, the boy was at least over my head. It only takes one bad fall to break a leg or get a concussion. Furthermore, if he falls wrong he would likely have to go to a Muggle healer, or a previously unknown magical healer we may not be able to trust. The only other option would be to risk using our emergency transatlantic portkey, which would jeopardize the mission of Harry's safety. I also doubt that the boy would take such a journey well in an injured state. I would rather not risk it. I am sure that since you care for the boy, you would not like to risk it either."
"Yes, but how was Harry to know all this?"
"I previously caught him doing flips on a similar contraption, and made him promise not to do it again. Isn't that correct, Harry?"
Harry swallowed. "Yes sir, but I didn't think that this was the same!"
"But now you know better." It was a statement, not a question.
"Yes sir." Harry watched his hopes to play on a bouncy ride dash to pieces.
Hoppity looked affronted, "Well it would have been nice if you had told me as well! I had no way of knowing about your agreement, or your reasoning."
"I see that now. For future reference, Harry is not allowed to risk his life, or neck. Jumping more than one meter high especially counts." Unless there is cushioning charm, which there won't be here. One meter should be enough to ruin any 'almost dangerous' fun like Muggle jumping contraptions.
"So, no endangering yourself," Hoppity wrote on their list. She supposed that the danger was based on Severus' reasoning. She still didn't see Muggle children's toys as dangerous, but she did see his point that there could be some danger... as slight as it was, however it was better not to risk it because of their circumstances. "And, tell each other if there is a new rule."
"Go to bed when you are supposed to." Severus knew to specify it that way; many a snake had stayed up until someone literally told them to go to bed. "Eat your meals."
"And I get meals," Harry demanded suddenly. "No shutting me up in my room when I'm hungry."
Snape raised one eyebrow. "You will get all your meals unless you throw them on the floor."
Harry turned a little red at the reminder of his poor behaviour the day before. "I won't."
"Even so, you will not be allowed to skip more than one meal unless you are sick," Snape said sternly. "Then of course, you are to inform one of us."
Hoppity came up with the next, "And Harry is allowed one treat every day."
Snape appeared as if he was tasting something terrible, but he agreed in his own way, "He may have one serving of a sugary snack each day, as long as he has been good, which reminds me of the next rules: No fussing, and no arguing."
Augh, there were so many rules! Harry didn't know how many more he could take! But at least he was allowed one treat a day, and Snape promised him that he would eat. And Snape more or less promised that he would heal Harry if he was hurt, and Hoppity promised him a kiss!
The fact that his guardians were part of the rules also made him feel better about them.
Everyone was silent for awhile, as if thinking. Perhaps they were done?
Hoppity put down her pen and looked at him. "Harry, do you have any other rules you would like to add?"
Harry thought for a moment. What did he want to make sure his guardians couldn't do? "No locking people in cupboards. Or their rooms."
Snape was giving him a look, no doubt wondering why.
Harry continued, "Unless they don't belong here. Like if they are a bad guy. But not Michael. He's not a bad guy."
"Okay Harry, let's add no unnecessarily harsh punishments as well. I think locking someone in a closet would go under that. We won't lock your friend in a closet while he is here playing with you, will we Severus?"
"No, of course not."
Hoppity peered over her spectacles at Snape. "I have one last rule to add: No detentions during the school year for things over the summer!"
"Really now..." Snape started.
"I mean it, or I won't sign!"
"We're signing this?" Harry asked.
"Well of course! How else would we show we agree to them all?"
"Fine," Snape grumbled. He decided that he would simply have to get the boy in trouble at the start of the school year. It was not difficult.
"Alright, nothing else? We can always add more later..." Hoppity looked around, and at everyone's negative nod she started to read the list, lowering it so that Harry could look on. She didn't know if he could read yet or not, but it couldn't hurt.
"House Rules: Obey the rules Do as your guardians say, even if it's stupid Broken promises and rules will have a punishment (to be decided depending on the situation) No lying No stealing No trespassing (except for emergencies) No pranks Tell your guardians when you are ill, hurt, in trouble, or have a bad feeling No leaving the house without express permission No wandering off No endangering yourself - ask permission Tell each other if there is a new rule Go to bed when you are supposed to Eat your meals Don't go more than one meal without eating something (unless you are sick) Limit sugary snacks to one serving a day No fussing No arguing No locking people in cupboards (unless they are bad guys) No unnecessarily harsh punishments No detentions during the school year for things over the summer We, the undersigned, agree to abide to these rules as long as we are together..."
Hoppity wrote her name at the bottom in a big flourish. It looked bubbly, just her first name. She wasn't sure who would be reading it so she wanted to make sure that she didn't put her real, full name, just in case.
Severus took the list next, and signed his first name in a scrawl below Hoppity's before handing it to Harry.
"Go on Harry," Hoppity encouraged.
Harry looked at the list. He couldn't read all of it, but he recognized most of the words, and he watched Hoppity write them down as they added them. He took the pen clumsily from Snape's hand, and then wrote his name out in careful letters.
"Well done! I think we should stick this to the icebox. We can look at it tomorrow, and then until we learn it." Hoppity got up to hopefully find some cellotape, or a magnet. She loved magnets.
Harry was left along with Snape. He went to get up and follow Hoppity.
"One moment," Snape said, pulling him back onto the couch. "How is your foot?"
Harry considered it for a moment. It hardly hurt at all. "Much better. It hurt so bad before, but now it's better. Thank you."
Snape might have looked pleased, but Harry wasn't sure. "Let me have a look at it." Harry lifted his foot up, and Snape peered at the white crust he put over Harry's bee sting. "Indeed it looks less red... I shall put more on before you go to bed, which will be soon. You are still being punished for your little show yesterday."
Harry sighed. He hated early bedtimes.
"But first, I believe a healthy snack is in order."
"I hope it's not-"
"Yes, vegetables." Snape did look pleased then. "Up you go, to the kitchen and I will make you a nice, steaming hot plate of vegetables. And this time they will end up in your stomach and not the floor."
"Do I get noodles with them?"
"I suppose, if you eat your vegetables first. Stand up, does it hurt to walk on your foot?"
Harry tested it. There was a sharp twinge where he got stung. "A little. I don't want to walk on it." Perhaps he could hop, or crawl to the kitchen.
"Alright," Snape said, "Just this once." And then he was picking Harry up, securing him in his arms to carry him to the kitchen.
Harry did not expect it, but then he realized that he felt safe.
I wasn't planning on this chapter, but apparently Snape was. I suppose that they should have done this earlier, but it probably wouldn't have been as interesting then.
Not beta'd. Please list mistakes after some nice feedback. Reviews appreciated. Thanks! :)