DISCLAIMER: My dog and I own nothing except an old car, some old clothes, the computer I'm typing this on, and a broken porch swing. Other people own everything else. J.K. Rowlings and others own all things Harry Potter. I'm merely borrowing them for the fun of it.

Author's Note: This is my first "Chapter" fic. PLEASE take a moment to review and honestly tell me what you think of it! Thank you and God bless. Randi.

Harry Potter and the Child Legilimens

Randi Weasley

SUMMARY: Harry Potter's family was warned by the Order that they should give him better care this summer. That clearly meant more free time and nutritious food. But, when Uncle Vernon throws a seven-year-old daughter into the equation, it's a roller-coaster ride wilder than any Gringotts' cart could provide. Rated PG for some mention of child abuse.

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

Chapter 1

Miranda Comes to Stay

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

It was a normal evening among many for the residents of Privet Drive in Little Whinging, Surrey. A normal evening that was about to end at Number Four, and, for once, no one could blame its ending on the teen currently occupying the smallest bedroom at the head of the stairs.

The beginning of the end started with the ringing doorbell. "Are you going to get the door, Boy?" bellowed the Head of the House from his comfortable easy chair before the television.

Recognizing that this was not a rhetorical question, the teen-aged boy in the smallest bedroom jumped up and bounded quickly down the stairs. "Yes, sir, Uncle Vernon."

Harry Potter, for so the boy was named, was not a normal teen. This was the main reason his relatives did not like him. They despised and feared the magic he could do as a wizard.

'At least I'm not locked in my bedroom like other summers,' he thought. 'There have been years when I would have been glad to be able to answer the door. And I don't have to think about Sirius while I'm answering the door.'

A look of intense pain crossed his face at that thought. Sirius Black, his godfather, had been killed a month before. He had gone with a group of other adult wizards to rescue Harry and his friends who had snuck into the Ministry of Magic in the mistaken belief that they needed to rescue Sirius.

'If only I hadn't been so very quick to act...If only I had listened to Hermione...If only I didn't have this 'saving people' thing...If only...'

These were the thoughts that had been occupying Harry's brain since he'd returned to Privet Drive from his school, Hogwarts' School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, for the summer holiday. While still at school, he had tried blaming others for Sirius' death, namely his headmaster, Albus Dumbledore and his least favorite teacher and Potions Master, Professor Severus Snape. He was still not entirely convinced that they were guiltless, especially Snape, but since his return to his relatives' home, he had started putting most of the blame on himself.

He had also been spending a lot of time thinking about the Prophecy which had led to the disaster at the Ministry of Magic, a prophecy the headmaster had told him about just hours after Sirius's death. The prophecy basically predicted that he, Harry James Potter, was the only person who had the power to defeat the evil Lord Voldemort, who had killed Harry's parents and tried to kill Harry himself when he was only fifteen-months-old. His parents' deaths were the reason he lived with his mother's sister and her family at 4 Privet Drive.

Forcing all thoughts of Sirius, Voldemort, and prophecies from his mind, he opened the door to find a tall, prune-faced woman wearing a pinstriped business suit. Her hair was neatly pulled up into a bun, and she wore a lightweight leather car coat as protection from the night's chilly dampness. For a moment, he thought she was alone. Then he noticed the little girl half-hidden behind her. The child's strawberry-blond hair was as wild as the woman's was neat, and she was clad in a dirty, sleeveless denim dress that was a size too small for her. She had no jumper or jacket and shivered violently from what Harry suspected was a combination of cold and terror. She looked to be about four- or five-years-old and was very pale and extremely thin.

"Hello," he said pleasantly, smiling at the girl before turning to the woman. "May I help you?"

"I am looking for the Vernon Dursley residence," announced the woman in a coldly severe tone. "Is this the right house?"

"Yes, ma'am," Harry assured her politely. He was just about to ask her name when his aunt, Petunia Dursley, came into the hall.

"You brought her tonight?" Petunia gasped. "Well, come in and let's see what we'll do."

The visitor pushed past Harry roughly. "Toe Rag, heel!" she barked.

The child scrambled in after her. It was only when she tripped that Harry noticed she was wearing pink flops that were about three sizes too large for her feet.

Catching and steadying her before she fell, he smiled as she glanced at him. "My name's Harry. What's yours?"

Before the girl could respond, if indeed she had intended to respond, Business Suit snapped at Petunia. "Of course I brought her now. We left immediately after I rang off. The brat is your niece. She's nothing to me but a bother and expense!"

'Did she just say niece?' Harry wondered, looking at the obviously neglected child before him with a new interest. 'She's a member of our family?'

"Vernon!" Petunia called into the living room, her horsy face pinched with worry. "They brought her tonight. She's here now!"

Vernon Dursley, overweight and under-exercised, came galloping into the hall, his bushy mustache flopping from side to side in his haste. "Now?" he repeated. Then, stopping and staring at both woman and child, he demanded, "What is the meaning of this? Why is the child dressed so shoddily? Where is her baggage? We'll need to change her immediately!"

"She's clothed!" snapped back Business Suit. "What more do you need?"

If it hadn't been for the terrified child before him, Harry would have been sorely tempted to at least smile at the expression on his uncle's face then. It was definitely a satisfying feeling to hear someone talking to Vernon in exactly the same way Vernon addressed him.

Petunia tried to effect a conciliatory tone. "The boy can bring her things up from your auto then." She jerked her head briefly toward Harry.

"Absurd witch!" snapped Business Suit immediately. "There is nothing of hers in my auto. She comes just as you see her."

Harry paled and hastily drew in a quiet breath, waiting for doomsday to befall the woman visitor unfortunate enough to have referred to something magical in the Dursley home, to say nothing of to the Dursleys' faces.

Vernon turned purple and puffed up like a blowfish. However, Aunt Petunia once again intervened. Turning to Harry, she demanded curtly, "Take the child upstairs. See to it that she has her bath, and try to find her something to wear."

"Yes, Aunt Petunia," said Harry quickly, discovering that he was not at all sorry to get away from the tension-filled entry. "Come on then, Mite," he added gently. "Like I said before, my name is Harry. What's yours?"

The child was helped on her way by a none-to-gentle shove from Business Suit. The woman followed this up with a kick to the child's buttocks. As the point of her high-heeled shoe connected, the child's mouth opened in a soundless shriek.

"Never speaks, that one. Not one ruddy sound in days. Unnatural that, I say."

Harry quickly positioned himself between the woman and the girl as he gently shepherded the latter up the stairs. From below, he could all too clearly hear the sounds of Vernon Dursley demanding explanation of this unnatural child who was being left on his doorstep.

Leading the way into his bedroom, he smiled again at the girl. "Let's find you something to wear then, Mite. After that, you can have a nice bath." Glancing the child up and down, he realized it was as he'd suspected. Dudley's clothing would never fit the small pale tike before him. Dudley's clothing didn't even fit him!

With a small sigh, he opened his school trunk and drew out one of his school shirts. "Here we go then," he smiled. "This won't fit you like it does me, but you can wear it anyway."

Having heard Business-Suit's remark that the child never made a sound, he was very pleasantly shocked to hear the raspy whisper from the no doubt long-unused voice. "Thank you, Mr. Harry, sir."

"It's not 'Mr. Harry, sir,' Mite. I'm just Harry, Harry Potter. Do you have a name?"

The child nodded her head with a serious expression. "I'm just Miranda, Miranda Elaine Bentley, but I like how you call me 'Mite.'"

"Well, I'll still call you that, but it's nice to know that you have another name as well." Harry led the girl into the bath and started running water in the tub.

"Mommy and Daddy gave me that name before they went to become angels." The girl's lower lip started quivering violently. "I don't like them being angels, but Auntie Nell said she couldn't make them come home to me again. Can you make my mommy and daddy come home, please?"

"No, Mite," said Harry gently. At first, he could think of nothing else to say. Then his mouth seemed to open of its own accord and words, which were as much a comfort to him as he hoped they would be to the child before him, emerged. "My mummy and daddy are angels too. I bet they're showing your mummy and daddy all around so they're not scared at all. That's what I'm going to do with you when you're finished with your bath. Is that your Auntie Nell downstairs?"

"Oh, no!" exclaimed Miranda. "Auntie Nell is still in Hawaii. She took me and putted me on a big airplane. Then a nice lady putted me on another airplane. Then that woman metted me at the plane place. She didn't tell me her name."

"That's okay," smiled Harry. "She didn't tell me her name either. Let's get your bath now, Mite."

He got up and left the bathroom, only to find the child following right behind him. Gently shooing her back into the bathroom, he said, "Go take your bath and put on the shirt I left in there. Then I'll show you around."

"Aren't you gonna wash me?" she asked. "Mommy, Ee-ee, or Auntie Nell always washed me. Now Mommy's an angel; Ee-ee had to go and live with the blond-haired man; and Auntie Nell is still at her house, but it's in Hawaii. That's too far away for her to washed me. She said so herself." An emphatic nod greeted that last sentence.

"Uh, okay," mumbled Harry embarrassed. "I'll wash you. Do you think you could tell me how? I've never washed anybody else before."

"All right," said the child. "I can show you how Mommy washed me. I liked her way best." Taking Harry's hand, she led him back into the bath and stood with her arms over her head. "Now you grab the bottom of my dress in both your hands, one on each side of me. Then you pull it off over my head."

Harry did this and found the child standing in the buff. She wasn't even wearing knickers.

"Most times, Mommy would always tell me to take off my undies and she'd take off my undershirt. But the kids at that woman's place stoled all my nice clothes. They stoled my mommy-bunny too. Can you get my mommy-bunny back for me please?"

"Uh, what's a mommy-bunny?" asked Harry.

"A bunny that's a mommy with babies in her tum-tum. My mommy had a baby in her tum-tum. I was supposed to have a brother or sister to love, but then Mommy became an angel and her baby went away." The lower lip was quivering again.

"I'm sorry, Mite," said Harry gently. "What do I do now?"

"Hold my hands, please, while I climb in." The girl bent and removed the flips from her feet. Taking Harry's hands and using him for balance, she climbed into the tub and sat down. "Now you wet the rag and rub my body here and on my back." She ran her hand in a circular motion around her chest.

After Harry succeeded in washing her and shampooing the wild hair, he helped her out of the tub and dried her off. After putting the shirt on her, he drained and wiped down the tub.

Aunt Petunia met them on the landing. "Go and put her smock in the washing machine. She'll have to wear it again tomorrow. Come downstairs with me, Child, while I fix that hair."

Just as Harry was turning on the washer, he heard his uncle bellow from the living room, "Get in here now, Boy, and tell us what you've done!"

"Now what's going on?" muttered Harry as he headed down the hall. "Yes, sir, Uncle Vernon?" he asked, stepping into the room.

"What do you mean burning up the comb in your aunt's hand, Boy? After all we do for you: feed you, clothe you, give you a roof over your head, let you use Dudley's second bed-"

"Uncle Vernon," interrupted Harry, before his uncle really started raging. "I didn't do anything to Aunt Petunia. If you don't believe me, I can prove it to you. There are no owls sweeping into the house with expulsion letters, for one thing."

"It wasn't him, Vernon," said Petunia in a weak tone. "I-I think it was-." Breaking off, she nodded fearfully at the girl, curled up in tears in the corner.

"Oh!" the child wailed, as Harry went to kneel beside her. "This is worse than spitting out the potion with the 'spensive birdie tears. When Daddy stops being an angel, he'll smack my bottom red!"

"What?" bellowed Vernon Dursley, louder than before. "Another one in this house? My own niece is a-a freak, like him?"

Crossing the room quickly, Vernon pulled the child to her feet and started to slap her about the back and arms. "You will not be a freak; you won't! I'll beat it out of you; I swear. We weren't allowed to beat it out of him, but no one will stop me with you. You are my niece. You are to be my daughter. No child of mine will possess that freakishness. Do you hear me?"

The child's cries when the blows first began to fall had increased to a fever pitch. Vernon's yells had raised in volume to be heard over hers. Aunt Petunia was hovering around imploring her husband to remember the neighbors.

For his part, Harry wondered where his guard was. It sounded as though the child were being murdered in a most painful way. Why weren't Order of the Phoenix members breaking down the door, demanding to know what was going on?

Maybe, he decided, it was because he was not the one complaining loudly. His guard might be under orders not to interfere in things that did not specifically affect him. Raising his own voice louder than Vernon's, he screeched, "Stop it! You won't get rid of her witchcraft by pounding on her. It doesn't work that way. Stop it, I say! You're hurting her."

Vernon and Petunia both stared at him, shocked. He'd never taken that tone with either of them before. His aunt gasped about the volume at which he discussed 'm-word things.' His uncle stepped forward and landed a beefy fist in the boy's solar plexus.

As the wind was knocked out of him, Harry fell backward onto the carpet. 'Now would be a good time to show up,' he willed the Order of the Phoenix as Vernon advanced on him, his fist once again raised.

Suddenly, however, both Petunia and the child were between the two men. "You can't, Vernon," said his wife, severely. "You mustn't. You remember what that gang at the train station said. Let's go into the kitchen, have some coffee, and discuss this calmly. You two come with us."

Harry picked himself up, with the 'help' of the child tugging his T-shirt. 'That was some gang all right, Aunt Petunia,' he thought sarcastically. 'Tonks, Professor Moody, Professor Lupin, Hermione, and the Weasleys. They're real terrors in the wizarding world. Now, if it had been Voldemort and some of his Death Eaters...If it had even been Snape and some of his Slytherins!' The mental picture of Draco Malfoy threatening Vernon Dursley while Snape stood in the background applauding elicited a laugh from Harry. "Come on then, Mite. Let's see if my gang and I can straighten this all out!"

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

"I won't hear of it; do you understand me, Girl?" Vernon was still raging, five minutes later. "You will stop this, here and now! You will relinquish your freakiness! You will become normal!"

"I don't think it works that way, Uncle Vernon." Harry repeated for the fifth time. "She can't help it. It's just who she is."

"Who she is is my niece," Dursley roared. "It's WHAT she is that's the problem here. I won't have a freak in the family, do you understand that, Girl. He ruined my wife's family; I won't let you ruin mine!" The man was apoplectic with rage. "She's all yours, Boy! If you don't want her, she goes back to that orphanage to live. Either way, she is no longer a daughter of mine! If you take her, you can both stay here for the summer, but that's all I'm going to do!"

"Uncle Vernon, I'm fifteen-years-old. I rather think that's too young to have a five-year-old for a daughter." Harry tried his best to modulate his tone, but it still came off annoyed.

"Seven," said Aunt Petunia, stepping between Vernon and the girl. "She's seven-years-old. Not five."

The child in question snuck around Petunia to run to Harry. "Those other kids hurted me. Don't let him send me back there, Harry, please! Maybe your gang could help you?"

"I don't have-," began Harry. Then he stopped and a mischievous gleam appeared in his eye. "Yes, my gang will help. You remember them, don't you, Uncle Vernon? The Bully-Busters. You met them at King's Cross Station."

Vernon Dursley just growled in reply.

"Let's go write a letter, Mite," smiled Harry.

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

The Order of the Phoenix meeting at Number 12 Grimmauld Place was interrupted by the appearance of a bushy-haired girl and a lanky, redheaded boy, both around the age of fifteen.

"Would anyone be going to Number 4 Privet Drive after the meeting?" the girl asked breathlessly.

"Is this an important interruption, Miss Granger?" came a silky voice from the front of the kitchen. "Because I assure you that my report, which you have so rudely interrupted, is VERY important indeed."

"I'm sorry, Professor Snape," said Hermione Granger, with a deep breath. "Hedwig showed up an hour ago with an urgent message from Harry. He needs this potion by 1 AM tomorrow morning."

Most of the Order members around the long table had tensed at the mention of 'urgent message.' Molly Weasley immediately turned to Dumbledore and demanded again that Harry be moved to the Burrow. Remus Lupin suggested that Headquarters might be safer. Severus Snape, however, was glaring at the phial in Hermione's hand.

"I doubt the boy is ill. That is not a fever-reducing potion. Nor is it any medicinal potion that I recognize. It is neither a dreamless sleep potion nor a calming draught. So nightmares are not the cause of this unusual request, despite the strange hours the boy keeps." Snape's voice, while low in pitch, cut easily through the uproar brought on by Molly's words. "Might I see the phial, Miss Granger? It appears that I am the unfortunate soul guarding the boy tonight."

Hermione handed over the lilac-colored bottle carefully. All eyes were on the Potion Master, as he raised it toward his nose and, uncorking the phial, wafted some fumes toward himself for a sniff. Frowning slightly, he cautiously dabbed his little finger into the potion and rubbed it against his thumb. Next, he held his hand to his mouth and even more cautiously touched the finger to the tip of his tongue. Then he smiled-a most unpleasant, Grinch-like grin that many around the table instantly hoped never to witness again.

"Headmaster," he sneered, in his silkiest tone. "I bow to your infinite wisdom and planning. I might be stuck with the unpleasant task of standing in a Muggle yard under an invisibility cloak for the sole purpose of protecting the life of your insufferable Gryffindor Golden Boy. However, I must thank you for permitting it to be the one night when I get to witness young Mr. Potter making use of a girls' hair-calming potion!"

Everyone turned to stare at the two teenagers then. Ron looked embarrassed and slightly sickened, but Hermione merely stated, "Harry said to leave it on the back stoop by the kitchen door after the downstairs lights go out, and he would come and get it at 1 AM."

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

The downstairs lights had been out for some time when Snape stepped forward and put the phial on the steps. He had just gotten back into position across the lawn when the screen door opened part way. He heard Harry's voice whisper, "We can never open the door farther than this, Mite, because it has a squeak that oil won't take away."

"OK, Harry," a young, feminine voice replied in a very loud manner.

"Shush!" hissed Harry. "You'll awaken Uncle Vernon, then we'll both be sorry. Not even my gang could help us then."

'Gang?' thought Snape. 'GANG?' Oh, this was going to be a good night! First, a girls' hair-calming potion and now a gang of Potter's own admission. He might actually volunteer for this duty next time if he thought it would stay this good!

Without warning, his mind was under assault by a Legilimens with a power surpassing the Dark Lord's. He hadn't felt power that strong since his-no! He must not think about him now. The pain was still intense, even after all these years. The cure, and the work leading up to it, hadn't really helped. In fact, when that Hawaiian healer had contacted him, begging for help for his only child, hadn't Snape dispatched the owl with a Howler to the effect that he never wanted to be bothered again? The child was probably dead now. He grieved for her as much as for the one his heart longed to forget. That he'd sentenced another couple to that pain because he could not bear to remember haunted his waking moments and tormented his sleep with dreams. Who was attacking his mind now, though? The attack had subsided when he'd Occlumened, but the presence was still there, like a lingering shadow. Potter didn't have the ability and everyone else in the area were Muggles, weren't they?

Suddenly, through the half-open door slipped a small girl with hair that stuck out from all sides of her head in rats' nests. She was clad in a Hogwarts uniform shirt which would have reached below her ankles were it not held up by a Gryffindor tie cinched around her waist. What Snape paid the most attention to, however, was something that Muggles and Potter would never notice. The child's mind reached out everywhere in uncontrolled abandon, the mind of a natural-born Child Legilimens.

"He's here, Harry!" she exclaimed excitedly, as Potter slipped out the door behind her. "And guess what? He's an Invisible Man!"

Harry was not paying attention to her, however, because he had just found the potion on the steps. "Oh, good. Hermione managed it, Mite. Somehow she always does. Now, sit still and let me put this on your hair."

"OK, Harry." The child sank down onto the step below him. "Do you know the story of the Potions Master and the Legilimens' Lament?"

"No," laughed Harry, uncorking the phial. "I don't believe the Weasleys have ever mentioned that one."

Snape stood frozen, as if transformed into a block of ice. Could this be the child of that Hawaiian healer, alive after all these years? No Child Legilimens had lived beyond the age of two in over a century. The disease was fatal. Even the potions he'd invented did not cure the illness. They merely managed the symptoms-or they were designed to manage the symptoms. His potions were untested, therefore unpublished. The knowledge of them would die with him and no one would be the wiser, except for the Potion Masters' Review Board and Albus Dumbledore. Yet, here was this child talking about a disease whose name she shouldn't even be able to pronounce.

"If I tell you the story, will you ask the Invisible Man about my potions? Daddy will be angry that no one's given them to me since he became an angel this many days ago." She held up one hand with all five fingers extended. "You need to tell him not to yell like his red envelope did, though. That will really awaken Uncle Vernon!"

"I don't think your daddy would awaken Uncle Vernon, Mite," Harry murmured, dumping the phial onto the top of her head and starting to massage the oily substance into her hair. "What's the story? Sit still so I can work this all through your hair now."

"It's a sad story, Harry," she replied with a little wiggle. "It's about a young potions master and his wife who had a baby boy. The boy was born a Legilimens, and children who are born Legilimens get very sick, you know-"

"No, I didn't know that, Mite. All of them get sick?"

"Yes, every one, Harry, for more than 150 years."

"That is a sad story, Mite. What happened with the family?"

"Well, they loved their baby boy very much and were very worried when he got sick. They took him to a special hospital and that's when they learned about the Legilimens' Lament. That's the name of the disease, you know, Harry."

"I do now, Mite. What happened then?"

The girl sighed heavily. "They took their baby back home and the young potions master started looking for a cure. He sat up very late every night reading from big thick old books. Then he got an idea, so he put down his books and took out his cauldron. He brewed many potions, but none of them were the right one. All the time, his little boy kept getting sicker and sicker. Finally, one night he got the potion right. He carefully carried it to his son's crib, but it was too late. The little boy died. His mommy and daddy missed him a lot, you know, Harry."

"I would imagine so, Mite. Is that the end of the story?"

"Oh, no, Harry! The mommy missed her little boy so much that she went to be an angel with him and left the daddy all alone. The daddy cried and was very sad. He tried to give the world his potions so that no other little boys and girls would die like his son did. But the world didn't want his potions, because not many children are born Legilimens. He couldn't prove that his potions worked, you see, Harry."

"That's a shame, Mite."

"Yes. Well, the potions master became angry as well as sad, and he said, 'My potions will die as my son died.' He screamed it into a big red envelope and owled it to anyone asking about his potions. He said that he wanted to forget his wife and son, but in his heart, I know he loves them too much to ever forget. He pretends to be a mean and bitter man, Daddy said, but his wife and son still love him, even though they are angels, and their love will win him back in the end."

"Wow! I hope so, Mite. Nobody deserves to hurt like that."

"We have a prayer, Harry, that Mommy thought his little boy would say if he were still alive and in Hawaii with us. Mommy, Daddy, Ee-ee, all the house elves, and me would say it every night before I went to bed. Will you say it with me now, Harry?"

"Uhm, OK, Mite. But you'll have to teach it to me first."

'Oh, Merlin, it's the child!' Snape thought, his breath catching in his chest. 'The Hawaiian healer's child that I thought I'd sentenced to death. But what is she doing here with Potter? Where are her parents? And, most importantly of all, how did she manage to live?'

The girl was speaking again, and Snape held in his breath so as not to miss a word. "I'll say a line; you repeat it after me, then I'll say the next line, OK, Harry?"

"OK, Mite."

In a sweet, plaintive tone, Miranda sang and Harry repeated a song that went straight to the Potion Master's cold heart and nudged into wakefulness something he'd forgotten was there.

Every night as shadows fall,
Little toys now put away,
A curly head, beside a bed
Knelt down and started to pray,

"God bless my daddy
Who's over there,"
Says a tiny little boy
In his tiny little prayer.

"Please tell my daddy
He must take care,"
Says a tiny little boy
In his tiny little prayer.

"When the sandman is near
Mommy turns out the light.
Oh! How I wish he were here
So he could kiss me goodnight!

"I hope in dream land
We'll meet somewhere."
Says a tiny little boy
In his tiny little prayer. (1)

The something awakened in Snape's heart was forcing long-unshed tears down his cheeks. He could easily imagine little Salazar, his deceased infant son, kneeling by a little crib on a golden cloud and singing that to him. 'That healer's family is amazing,' thought Severus. 'Any other father would have cursed me through the Seven Hells, and rightly so, for refusing to help try to save his child. But this man led his entire household in a prayer for me each night. A prayer that they knew little Sal was not alive to say for himself.'

"Do you think the Invisible Man would be angry with me, Harry?" asked the child fearfully. "Would he send me a screaming red envelope if he knew I'd used his little boy's prayer for my daddy when he became an angel?"

"I don't think so, Mite. I was just thinking the prayer about my daddy too."

'Is this really Potter?' thought Snape then. 'The boy who never shows his emotions unless it is to blow up at people. The boy who bottles everything up inside as if he is the be-all and end-all of existence? Or do I have a Polyjuice impostor on my hands?'

"Would you come and ask him for me, Harry, please. I'm scared of the red envelope that screams. Would you ask him about my potions too? Daddy said I must never miss and I've missed five times already."

"Your potions? What potions, Mite?" Harry looked suddenly panicked.

"The potions the Invisible Man invented for his little boy. I'm a natural-born Child Legilimens too. Without my potions, I'll become an angel like his little boy. Daddy didn't want that. Mommy didn't either. Nor did Ee-ee or the house elves. Nobody wanted me to be an angel yet, so they all worked hard to get me the potions, even the icky-tasting one with 'spensive birdie tears in it. Daddy wrote lots of other letters and learned how to brew them himself, even though he wasn't a Potions Master. It will take too long if you have to start over writing all the letters too. I'm sorry, Harry Daddy. I'm sorry that I'm sick and the Invisible Man will be mad at you."

Harry grabbed the girl's arm and turned her to face himself. "You're not kidding, are you, Mite? This isn't a game. You're really a Legilimens; that's why my head feels funny like when I'm around Professor Snape sometimes?"

"Yes, Harry. And now you need to ask the Invisible Man to give us the way to make the potions, only he sends red screaming envelopes, and Uncle Vernon will yell some more."

"I need to ask whom about your potions, Mite? Slow down a bit here. Who exactly sends Howlers?"

"Severus Snape, that little boy's daddy. He's the Invisible Man too, but nobody told me that before. Maybe they didn't know?"

"Professor Snape had a-a son? One who died? And a wife who died too?" Harry was flabbergasted, so much so that his mind seemed to have shut down. He didn't feel he could handle many more surprises that night.

"I told you the story, Harry, just like Daddy told it to all of us every night before we said the prayer. He said one day Severus Snape would find the love of his wife and son again, and the bitterness would leave his heart. We all hoped he'd find a happy life then and maybe marry again and have another child to make him smile."

The greasy-haired git married with a child to make him smile? Harry couldn't picture it happening in the past, let alone in the future. That might not be the most productive thing to think on now, however. Didn't fathers try with everything inside of them to help their children? He could easily imagine Arthur Weasley doing that. What would Mr. Weasley do if he learned that Ginny were sick and needed potions? Harry decided that he would move Heaven and Earth to get them even if they cost all he owned. So Harry would do no less for Miranda. "Professor Snape knows how to brew the potions that you need, Mite? He invented them himself?"

"SEVERUS Snape knows how to brew the potions, Harry. Nobody called him 'Professor Snape' to me before, but if the Invisible Man standing over there is Professor Snape, then you're right, because I know he's Severus Snape, and, oh! No! He's coming this way!" She jumped up and tried her best to crouch between Harry and the screen door, though there was not a lot of room for her.

Before Harry could begin to formulate a response, Severus Snape did indeed materialize out of the air before him, draping an invisibility cloak over his arm. "Don't try to hide back there, silly girl," he commanded, though without his usual malice. "Don't you remember how Potter says the door squeaks and would awaken his uncle? We have a lot of work to do before dawn if you have indeed been without your Hoijin Potion for five nights. The last thing we need to deal with is angry Muggles. Now come here and let me examine you."

"You aren't mad at me for saying your little boy's prayer to my daddy, are you, sir?" Miranda asked in a quaking voice.

Snape responded in what, for him, was a kindly tone, though most people would think it cold. "No, I'm not angry with you at all. I thought the prayer was, uhm, well, lovely, and I think my son would have been glad for you to use it; therefore, I am glad as well. Now come and stand here before me. What is your name? As you already know, my name is Severus Snape, but you may call me Professor Snape."

"How do you do, sir?" whispered the child, as she crept down the stairs and over to him. "My name is Miranda Elaine Bentley, but you may call me Miranda."

"Well, Miranda," said Snape, peering into her eyes and pressing each fingernail gently between his fingers before peering at them too. "Do you know the names of your potions? The orange one is Hoijin. What others were you taking? Where is your mother? I shall need her permission for you to take the potions when I brew them."

"Both her parents were killed in a car crash five days ago, Professor," Harry spoke up for the first time. "She's come here to live with us. Uncle Vernon adopted her or something tonight but then disowned her when he learned she was a witch. He-he gave her to me. She's my daughter now. If-if you would take care of getting her potions for us, Professor, I will pay you for them and for your trouble. Mum-Mum and Dad left me some money in a vault at Gringott's. Hagrid gave me the key when we went to get my supplies for first year. There's not a lot of money, but I've tried to be very careful with it. As long as I have enough for school supplies this year and next, I can pay you with the rest. After graduation, I'll get a job and continue paying you. Miranda will be going to Hogwarts the year after that so I'll also save money for her school supplies and-"

Severus had been listening to this recital in undisguised amazement. Gone completely was his unemotional veneer. At last, unable to restrain his tongue longer, he interrupted, "Potter, what do you mean she's your daughter now? No one can just GIVE you a child! There are laws to be obeyed and procedures to follow."

"Then, please, sir," said Harry, grimly. "Can you tell me what procedures there are, so I can follow them? Miranda was abused at that orphanage, and I promised her she would never have to go back there while I-while I lived. I intend to keep that promise, Professor. I do!"

Staring into the emerald-green orbs before him, Severus Snape took a moment to admit to himself and digest the fact that he had been mistaken about the Boy-Who-Lived. There was none of James Potter's arrogance in the boy's tone but a great deal of Lilly Evans Potter's determination. 'Albus was right in warning me that the son is not the father. I really should have listened all these years. He's still a brat but maybe he's salvageable after all.'

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

To say that Albus Dumbledore was amazed to get a call from Severus Snape on the Order's emergency two-way mirrors at two in the morning would be an understatement. He was even more amazed, however, by what was said.

"Headmaster, if no one is available yet to relieve me here, I shall have to bring both Potter and the girl to Hogwarts with me. I have emergency potions to brew. It could be a matter of life-or-death. I will be there within thirty minutes. Do I have a relief here?"

"Severus," sighed Dumbledore. "We've been through this already tonight. The reason I asked you to guard Harry was that no one else was available. There is still-"

"Fine," interrupted Snape. "WE shall be there within thirty minutes. Please try to have Poppy Pomfrey and Arthur and Molly Weasley in attendance when we arrive. We shall be explaining more at that time. Goodbye." The connection was abruptly severed, and, try as he might, Albus Dumbledore was unable to reestablish it. With a sigh, he moved to the fireplace to floo and awaken the Weasleys before calling downstairs for Poppy to come up to his office at once.

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

Exactly half an hour later, Harry Potter, clad only in a pyjama bottom much too large for him, stepped out of the headmaster's fireplace. He was followed immediately by Severus Snape carrying a small girl dressed in a white uniform shirt cinched with a Gryffindor tie. Her hair hung limply around her head and seemed to contain a large amount of oil.

"Headmaster, Arthur, Molly, Poppy, you already know Mr. Potter. This is his daughter, Miranda Elaine Bentley. She is that Hawaiian healer's daughter, Albus. She has Legilimens' Lament and has been without potion for five nights since her parents were killed in a car crash in Hawaii. That is an unacceptable amount of time to go without Hoijin and Konks. I shall need to remedy this immediately. The potion will require three phoenix tears, if you would be so kind as to talk them out of that infernal bird of yours. Once I have them, I shall retire to my office and leave Mr. Potter to explain further."

Fawkes, who had been resting on his perch, flew to Miranda's shoulder as Severus placed her on her feet. Opening his beak, he trilled before staring into her eyes.

"You're a pretty birdie," said the girl, matter-of-factly. "My name's Miranda. What's yours?"

"His name is Fawkes," smiled Dumbledore. "He is a phoenix."

"Oh! You're the birdie who gives the 'spensive tears. Would you please give Professor Snape three for my Hoijin Potion? Harry is my daddy now, and he will pay you for them, won't you, Harry, please?"

"Payment will not be necessary," smiled the headmaster as Snape removed an empty phial from his robe pocket. He held it under the bird's head as Fawkes tilted it to the side. Three silvery tears fell from his eye into the phial, then the Potions Master corked it carefully before heading out the door without another word.

"Thank you very much, Fawkes," beamed Miranda. "Mommy and Daddy didn't have a nice birdie like you. They had to buy tears at the 'pothocary."

"Your daughter, Harry?" questioned Arthur Weasley, his gentle brow furrowed in confusion. "How is that possible?"

"Well, Uncle Vernon says that she's supposed to be, Mr. Weasley, but Professor Snape says that there are laws to be obeyed and procedures to be followed in order for that to happen. Could you please tell me what they are, sir? I want to do everything properly. Could you please also teach me how to be a father. You're the best dad I know of, and, if Miranda grows up to be just like Ginny, then I'd be very happy."

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

When Professor Snape returned one hour later with Miranda's potions, he was secretly gladdened to note that many things had been ironed out in his absence. Harry was talking in something resembling his normal manner, and Poppy had given Miranda a thorough going-over and healed both children's bruises. Albus had promised to look into the adoption of Miranda and the Weasleys were giving Harry many pointers on guiding the life of a child.

"Here are your potions to take now, Miranda. First, your Konks." He passed her the phial, which she obediently drank down. "Then your Hoijin." The girl gazed at him wistfully, seeming to hope he'd change his mind. "Come on now," Severus shook the phial at her. "The icky orange one with the 'spensive birdie tears is part of the deal too."

"I know, Professor Snape, sir. Daddy would never let Ee-ee add honey to it either."

"I should hope not. Any kind of sweetener would ruin the effectiveness of the potion. Now swallow it before you anger me."

Taking the phial, the child downed the whole of it without another word, though she did grimace as she finished it.

"Good girl!" praised Arthur brightly.

Snape raised a brow at that. "Taking her potions is only what is to be expected of her. Certainly it does not deserve such high praise."

"Now, Severus," said Dumbledore lightly. "I think that is for Harry to decide."

Everyone turned to look at the teen then.

"I think you should be required to take your potions as expected, Miranda," Harry said decisively. "Although it's all right for Mr. Weasley to say that. I think you should tell him 'Thank you,' too."

"Thank you, Mr. Weasley," smiled the girl.

"You're very welcome, Miranda."

"Now then, Potter," said Snape. "Here are Hoijin and Konks enough to last her for four days. They do not have a long shelf life, so that is all you need at this time. I shall leave more on the back stoop later this week. This is a strengthening draught with the properties of healing draught added. Give her one teaspoonful every morning half-an-hour before her breakfast. You should begin this morning with that. -"

"Er," said Harry nervously.

"Why does that require an 'Er' from you, Potter? Is it too difficult for you to comprehend?" sneered the Potions professor then.

"No, sir. It's just that I haven't been getting breakfast and I'm not sure if that will change now that Miranda has arrived."

"WHAT?" simultaneously exclaimed every adult in the room.

"Why didn't you tell us, Harry?" asked Mr. Weasley. "We would have come and set those Muggles straight."

"It didn't seem important when it was just me," shrugged the teen. "But now, for my daughter..." He waved his hands helplessly before him.

"I think," declared Albus Dumbledore decisively, "that this is the perfect job for Dobby." So the house elf was summoned from the kitchen and plans were laid.

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

That is how Harry Potter, the fifteen-year-old Boy-Who-Lived, came to be carrying his sleeping daughter through the back door of 4 Privet Drive at four in the morning, with shrunken potions and ham sandwiches in his pocket, charmed to magically expand in three hours. He also had the promise of food, delivered to his room by Dobby each morning at five. The guards would be warned of Vernon's abuse and ordered to step in and take appropriate action if they heard any uproar from the house. What Harry Potter carried in his heart though was the most important change that day. No longer did he feel Severus Snape and Albus Dumbledore wanted or relished his godfather's death. Without the animosity those thoughts had caused, he found his spirit a lot lighter. The grief, the loss, the worry over the Prophecy, it was all still there within him, but he did not have to go it alone. The support and friendship he now felt made the burdens easier to bear as support and friendship always do in anyone's life.

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

(1) Title of Song: 'God Bless My Daddy' Source: David Michael "Tane" Kaipolaua'eokekuahiwi Inciong, II - One of the first renditions of this song was recorded by falsetto artist George Kainapau