Disclaimer: No, sorry. I don't, she does.
AN: Yayyyy, it's me again and here is another chapter.
Warning: ANGST – violence – get some Kleenex. Oh, and OOC? Of course!!! You should know that by now, LOL.
The Painful Guardianship
Chapter 31 – Silly I
Harry stood at his window rubbing his very sore bottom, pouting and feeling very sorry for himself. His evil father was talking with Draco now and they were waiting for Lucius to come take him. Harry sighed. Last night was a big eye-opener for him. At least Uncle Vernon wasn't his father, wasn't even related to him by blood.
No wonder Draco was always nasty, lashing out at other people, it was part of his … what did Snape call it .. ah yes, insecurity. Like a safety barrier. If he hurt people first, people wouldn't hurt him. But still, why on earth would Draco cling to his father like that? Snape said that he adored him, that he knew his father couldn't help it. How exactly could a person not help beating his son bloody??
A few moments later, Snape came to his room, "Harry, I assume you have that infernal invisibility cloak?"
Harry turned, and blushed bright red when he discovered that he was still rubbing his backside. "Yes, why?" he asked defensively.
Snape scowled, "Watch your attitude, boy."
Harry blushed even further, "Sorry."
Snape nodded, "Get your cloak."
Harry kneeled by his trunk and took out his cloak and held it up for his Dad. Snape was looking at him in bewilderment. The boy was giving him the cloak. The cloak that held a very high sentimental value for him, not withstanding that it was most probably the highest priced magical item in existence. And the boy was just offering it to him, just like that, no questions.
Snape's face softened, "I am not taking it, Harry. I want you to put it on."
"Oh," Harry pulled it around himself, "but why?"
"Lucius will come by in a few minutes to take his son. I am sure he won't come up here for any reason, but still, stay her under your cloak. I am not leaving anything for chance."
"Okay, but … what about Draco? He will tell his father that I was here."
Snape smirked, "No he won't. I have already blackmailed the boy and believe me it is in his best interest not to breathe a word about it to anyone."
Harry grinned, "ohhh what do you have on him? Is it good?"
Snape raised an eyebrow, "And that is your business, why?"
Harry pouted, "Fine!"
Snape chuckled, "Stay here, brat." And with that he turned and left.
Harry pulled the cloak tightly around him and waited for some time. He heard the fire flaring and the murmur of conversation going on. Harry cursed in his mind. One day, his curiosity was going to kill him, he was sure. He crept out of his room and very slowly started going down the stairs one by one. He heard footsteps and looked up, Draco was coming from the direction of the upstairs study. Harry tried to move quicker without making a sound, but it seemed that Draco was satisfied by eavesdropping at the top of the stairs. Harry continued down and saw a very impatient Lucius pacing in the living room. Snape was sitting calmly in his chair.
"Come on, Severus, where is he? Why are you torturing me?"
"Lucius, I told you. You have to calm yourself down first. Sit!"
Lucius rolled his eyes and flopped himself unceremoniously in a chair, "So what's next? You want me to roll over."
Snape smirked, "As entertaining as it might be, but no thanks."
Lucius jumped up and started pacing again, "Call him, Severus, NOW!"
Snape shook his head, "I don't appreciate being yelled at, Lucius, and in my own house at that."
"Snape, I want my son, now," Lucius growled.
"Yes, I gathered that much. Now SIT!"
Lucius flopped himself on a chair again. Snape snorted, "Stop acting like an unruly child Lucius, it doesn't become you."
Lucius merely glared. Snape waved his wand and a tray holding a bottle of brandy and a glass came floating in. Snape poured a small amount and held it to Lucius, who snatched it and swallowed the liquid in one go. He smacked the glass hard on the side table, "There, now would you call him?"
"Of course, but tell me Lucius, what do you intend to do next time? What if you hurt Draco so much that he leaves you permanently? What if he couldn't apparate away in time? Would you kill him?"
Lucius started pacing again, "Why are you doing this? I can't help it. Stop torturing me."
"My concern is Draco, Lucius, and believe me I don't care if I have to literally torture you to make sure he stays safe."
Harry's eyes widened and he held his breath. Malfoy was going to hex him now, he was sure.
But contrary to Harry's belief, Lucius stopped his pacing and looked intently at Snape, "I am sure you would." He simply stated.
Snape inclined his head. Lucius nodded, "I am leaving. Do not send Draco back. Let him stay with you. At least he would be safe."
Harry heard a gasp and looked up to see Draco's shocked face, as pale as a ghost.
Snape was sitting calmly in his chair grooming his nails while Lucius reached for the floo powder. His hand was frozen for a moment, then he turned back and sat in a chair opposite to Snape, "Severus, I … I need him to be safe."
"I know. Just keep that in mind. And keep in mind that I would go to any lengths to keep him safe from you … and from others." Snape looked pointedly at Lucius.
Lucius stared at Snape, then a look of horror crossed his face. Horror turned to determination and he stood up very composed. "I understand. Thank you, Severus. Please call my son now."
Snape nodded and simply called up the stairs, "Draco, you can quit eavesdropping now and come down."
Harry watched as both father and son schooled their expressions to cold indifference. Harry marvelled at that. Draco came down and stood regally beside Severus, "Yes, Sir?"
Snape shook his head and pushed Draco towards his father.
Lucius however, couldn't keep his façade any longer, "Draco … last night … I believe …"
Draco nodded, "I know, Father. I know." Draco touched his father's arm, "It's alright. Severus healed me." Then Draco cocked his head to the right sneering, "I hope the damage he did to you this time wasn't too bad?"
Lucius gave Draco an impressive glare, and then snorted when it had no effect whatsoever on his son. He growled, "It is not comparable to the damage that would happen to you if you get too smart with me, boy."
Draco smirked, "Oh, you're alright then, if you're threatening already."
Lucius rolled his eyes, then suddenly pulled Draco roughly by his arm … "ouch, hey". Lucius ignored it looking him over thoroughly, prodding him, touching his chest and shoulders and arms, until Draco whined, "Fathhher, stop already."
Lucius held Draco by his shoulders, squeezing him hard, "you're alright? Really?"
Draco sneered, "No, my shoulders-"
Snape cut Draco off, "Malfoy, unhand your son now. He's fine but he won't be for long with your prodding."
Lucius opened his mouth, then shut it again. He finally nodded leaving Draco who immediately started massaging his shoulders.
Lucius then walked to Severus and stood very straight in front of him, his chin held up high. Severus narrowed his eyes.
Lucius cleared his throat, "Severus Tobias Snape, your services to my heir are highly accepted and commended. As Head of the Ancient and Most Noble House of Malfoy, allow me to offer my utmost gratitude."
Snape's mouth dropped open as Lucius took his wand out and laid it on his palms, stretching his arms in front of him, "My magic is witness! I name you my heir's Protector."
Harry followed what was happening wide eyed. What was that? Some kind of ritual?
Snape stood stunned for a few moments, Lucius waiting patiently with outstretched arms. Snape swallowed then nodded. He copied Lucius pose putting his wand on his palms and stretching his arms, "I accept your gratitude. I hereby lay my magic for your heir's protection. He is mine as much as he is yours."
Lucius took his wand and touched Severus' wand with it. A bright blue light engulfed both wands for a few seconds then died out. Both men locked gazes for a moment, then Lucius smiled. Harry raised an eyebrow, Lucius Malfoy, the Head of the bla bla House smiled. A real genuine and joyful smile. Wow.
Severus looked to Draco and snorted, "Close your mouth, Mr. Malfoy, would you?"
Draco closed his mouth with a snap, but was still wide-eyed as he stuttered, " I … you .. he …"
Lucius rolled his eyed, "Really boy. You've had the best speech tutors on the continent. I am sure you can do better."
That caught Draco's attention. He stood straight saying, "Of course."
Harry pouted. Ha! A speech tutor. I should've known! No wonder Snape is always complaining about his eloquence and such.
Draco walked to Snape and stood beside his father, chin held high. "It's an honour to be yours, Protector." He then smiled, "thank you, Severus."
Severus pulled Draco close and laid his hands on the boy's shoulders, "Draco, I never needed a bloody ritual to protect you. You know that, don't you?"
Draco nodded smiling. His smile however fell off when Snape added with a smirk, "You realize of course that you wouldn't get away with trouble anymore, hm?"
Draco scowled and muttered, "Do I ever?"
Snape laughed and coughed the boy upside the head, "Go, my little dragon."
Draco smiled and went to stand beside his father, who put an arm around his shoulder and apparated away.
Harry belatedly remembered that Snape had ordered him to stay in his room under the cloak until he came to get him himself. Harry's stomach knotted and he reached back to rub his still sore behind. He started creeping towards the stairs, pulling his cloak tightly around him, but then jumped as Snape whispered threateningly, "Move one muscle, boy and you won't be sitting down anytime soon."
Harry whimpered but stood still. Snape was talking to the room at large, "Show yourself, brat," he ordered.
Harry removed the cloak from around his head, looking sheepishly at Snape, "um, sorry?"
Snape snorted, "Come here."
Harry groaned and kept his distance. Severus growled, "I said Come. Here."
Harry's head floated slowly to where Severus was standing, and Severus, wasting no time, latched his iron grip to the boy's ear.
"Owwww!!" Harry complained pathetically.
"How many times do I have to punish for disobedience and putting yourself in danger?" Snape asked conversationally, his fingers never relenting on the brat's ear.
"Ow, but I was under the cloak, owww."
"And I had clearly said Under the Cloak in Your Room." Snape punctuated each word with a painful tug on the boy's ear.
"Owww" Harry whined, "OK Okaaayy I'm sorry comeeeoon!"
Snape finally relented but not before giving the boy a hearty cuff. Harry pouted rubbing his ear, "You have a very hard hand. It hurts."
Snape smirked, "Good!"
Harry scowled then stuck out his tongue. Snape chuckled, "Go to your room, brat, and stay there this time."
Harry turned to go, thanking his luck moons and stars for getting away lightly. Then he turned back again, "But … what happened? What does it mean?"
"A protection bond."
Harry rolled his eyes, "I know that much. But what is it?"
Snape sighed, "It means that the blond brat has now become my responsibility, as much as he is his father's. I have always considered him my responsibility anyway, but now, I have the magical power to protect him, even against his own father."
Harry was silent for a few moments, turning Snape's words in his head, "You really care about him."
Snape's expression softened, "Yes. I do. I have been there when he was born and I held him in my arms for the first time even before he got cleaned up by the healers."
Harry studied his shoes. He felt a tightening in his chest. But he shouldn't feel bad, should he? After all, Snape knew Draco since he was born, he had cared about him even before he came to love Harry. And he still loved him, right? So why was he feeling awful now?
Harry startled when cool fingers raised his chin and he looked up to his father's concerned face.
"Harry, Draco has a very special place in my heart. I knew him since he was a baby and I watched him grow up until he came to Hogwarts. He loves and respects me. I was always his confidant and mentor. I guided him and protected him all through his life. … But Harry, you are different. I might not have watched you grow, I might not have had any place in your life before, but now you are my son in everything but blood. I swear, I love you more than I have ever thought possible. Nothing and no one will ever change that. Don't ever doubt it. Do you understand?"
Harry's eyes felt hot with suppressed tears. He nodded not trusting himself to speak and leaned forward to rest his head on his Dad's chest. Snape held him tightly for a long time until Harry was ready to pull back.
Harry awkwardly cleared his throat, "Um, that's good then, isn't it?"
Snape raised an eyebrow, "What? Me loving you? Yes, I had assumed it is," Snape said dryly.
Harry rolled his eyes, "the protection thing I mean. So, um … Malfoy won't punish him again now, right?"
"Punish him? Certainly he would, but beat him bloody? … well, over my dead body."
"But how would you know? He might do it when you're not around."
"No, he couldn't. If Lucius did anything to hurt him, my magic will jump up in a protective shield around Draco. It will solely depend on what I feel is endangering the boy's wellbeing." Snape smirked, "And that of course doesn't include a sound spanking."
Harry rolled his eyes, "Yeah, figures. You're evil and that's settled."
Snape chuckled, "And don't I always thrive to be, brat."
Harry blinked innocently at his Dad, "Oh, then I suppose I could always ask Dumbledore to be my Protector. You know in case you decide to … er punish me again?"
"Not in your dreams, boy, not in your dreams."
Harry sighed theatrically, "Well, I had to try really."
Snape glared, "You do realize that I had ordered you to your room, don't you. Of course if you prefer another type of punishment, I could always oblige."
Harry's eyes widened and he scampered up the stairs to his room, hearing Snape's laughter until he slammed his door shut.
An hour later, Harry was sitting on his bed cross armed and pouting. How much more time would he have to stay in his room? It wasn't a big deal. Come on! Harry sighed. Really he had no objection to stay in his room if his Dad was there as well.
Harry smiled. Who would have believed? And why, for pity's sake, did he want to stick to Snape all the time and never let go? The man needed to breathe after all.
Snape stood watching the brat from the doorway. As usual, he was pouting, but for some reason, he managed to pout and smile at the same time. Snape swallowed a chuckle. The brat was very entertaining. His brat! Snape sighed. Who would have believed? And why, for pity's sake, wasn't he able to stay away from the brat for even a few minutes? The brat didn't need him breathing down his neck all the time, he was sure.
Snape cleared his throat, and predictably, Harry jumped, almost falling right off his bed. Snape smirked, "I'm glad I have this effect on you."
Harry sneered, "Not in your dreams, Professor, not in your dreams."
Snape raised an eyebrow, "Impressive! I am sure Minerva will have a field day. I should just move you to Slytherin and be done with it."
"Oh? Let me remind you Mister Potter that 1) you have been living with a Slytherin for over a month now, and the Head of Slytherin at that, and 2) you have almost been sorted into Slytherin, and 3) ah .. I always loved number 3, let me see …." Snape took his wand out.
One hex later and Harry was almost gagging, "ewwwww, YUCK! No, do something yuck yuck yuck!"
Snape watched in satisfaction as Harry tried to rub the grease off his skin and clothes. The beauty of it was that there was none, only the brat felt it. "Now, who's slimy, boy, hm?"
A few moments later, Snape relented and Harry was as good as new. The boy shuddered for a second, then pouted again, crossing both his arms and legs, "You're mean!" Harry stated.
Snape smirked, "Of course!" Snape sat beside Harry looking around the room. How it had changed. He still remembered when this room was almost bare except for a small bed and a trunk of clothes. Severus closed his eyes. All he could see think of at the moment was a beautiful little girl. Her hair was as black as night, long and silky, falling to her little waist. Her black eyes sparkling and twinkling as she blinked her long black lashes over them. Innocent, mischievous, funny, and with a heart as pure as gold. God, how he missed her.
Snape opened his eyes and swallowed thickly. He cleared his throat, "I grew up in this house, Harry. The room that you are sleeping in was my little sister's."
Harry's eyes widened, "I didn't know you have a sister."
Snape swallowed painfully, "Had. She was five years younger than me and died when I was fifteen."
"I am sorry," Harry whispered.
Snape smiled bitterly, "This is the first time I mention her since my mother's death. Mother had never gotten over it. Always thought it was her fault. Nothing I ever said or did changed that conviction."
Harry wanted to ask how she died, but didn't dare hurt his father more than he already was. Snape seemed very troubled and Harry didn't know what he could do to comfort him. He put his hand on Snape's shoulder, "Sir, it's alright. You don't have to continue. I don't want to know"
Snape snorted, "Yes. As if I would believe that!"
Harry smiled weekly but stood his ground. If it was going to cause his Dad that much pain, he didn't want to know. "You have to believe me, Professor. If it hurts you that much, I don't want it."
Snape cupped Harry's cheek with his hand, an act that he knew the child cherished more than anything else. "You deserve to know, Harry. Everything. Because you are my son. Mine. You deserve to know everything about me."
Harry didn't know what to say to this. How could anyone respond to what Snape said? And how could anyone bear the fierce tenderness that he was seeing in his Dad's eyes?
If tenderness could ever be fierce, that is. He just nodded.
"Alright, where was I, brat? Ah, yes, I was talking about Silly."
Harry blinked, "Sorry? Silly?"
Snape smirked, "Yes, Silly. My little sister. That was her name."
Harry blinked again. "You sister's name was Silly?"
"Well, that was what I called her. She was a little silly thing most of the time. Her real name was Sylvia."
Harry grinned. Snape had been a mischievous child, it seemed. Severus curled his lips, "Mother always threatened to hang me by my tongue to the ceiling whenever I called her that. Never knew why, though. She was silly and the name suited her well in my opinion."
Harry laughed, "I don't think she ever did, though. Hang you by your tongue I mean."
Snape smiled, "No, she didn't. She was good at dashing out the most ridiculous threats in existence. Filch's imagined punishments pale beside her creativity. But the threats had never worked with me. I used to sneer at them, and then wisely tell my mother that of course she wouldn't, because I would then cry and she hated to see me crying. Always glared at me and dashed another horrible threat when I said that. Nasty woman," Snape said … fondly … and Harry grinned. It was like when Harry called Snape evil vampire.
"Mother had prepared me since she knew of her pregnancy. She made me listen to the baby in her belly, and count the days till the date of birth. At that time, she could still leave the house, and she took me everywhere to buy things for the baby and prepare a room for it, your room, Harry."
Harry had to bite his tongue to stop himself from asking questions. Where was Snape's father? What did he mean when he said his mother could still leave the house? He waited patiently for Snape to continue.
"When my mother discovered that the baby was a girl, she sat me down and explained that as her older brother, I would be her protector, that she would be my responsibility as much as she was mother's. I loved my sister since before she was born. And when she finally came to existence … she was the prettiest little thing I had ever seen."
Harry beamed. His father's face had lit up, his eyes glittered and he was wearing the fondest smile that Harry thought existed.
"When I saw how tiny she was then, it only made me feel more responsible. I promised to protect her. She was mine, and I fell in love with her immediately. And since then, we were never separated until I went to Hogwarts. When she was a baby, I insisted to hold her and feed her, and my mother always let me.
"After her first birthday, I was sitting beside her as she crawled around and I got distracted. I was almost six at the time. Silly really hated it when I wasn't paying attention to her. The little tyke took hold of my hand and bit right through it with her little sharp and still growing teeth." Snape showed Harry his hand, and there it was. Little teeth marks, where the thumb met the palm.
Harry was laughing hard as he looked at the marks. He just couldn't imagine the incident. Poor little Snape … er … Severus.
Snape sniffed indignantly, "Well, it wasn't funny then. And that was when the silly thing got stuck her name. Silly."
Harry, still laughing, said, "She did earn the name. That was really silly of her."
Snape's demeanor changed in a flash, and Harry cringed. What had he done now to provoke his Dad?
Snape bared his teeth, "Are you calling my baby sister silly?"
"Wha …. Hey. You called her silly!"
Snape crossed his arms, "Of course. She was my sister. I could call her whatever I wanted, but you, brat, will not call her any names, understood?"
Harry stuck out his tongue.
"Watch your attitude, boy."
Harry crossed his arms.
Snape narrowed his eyes.
Harry raised his chin.
Snape reached for his wand.
And of course … Harry gulped while Snape smirked. "It would do you good to remember your place every now and then Harry, wouldn't it now?" Snape said silkily.
Harry nodded emphatically hoping to satisfy his sadistic Dad, stopping him from any 'foolish wand waving'. Ha! … That was Snape after all. Nothing was going to stop him once he got hold of a wand and a Harry at the other end of it.
Satisfied, Snape used his want to summon an old photo album. Harry looked at it curiously. It was beautiful. It had a wooden frame with exquisite carvings on the edges. In the center, there was a black and white muggle picture. Harry watched as his Dad lightly caressed the picture, looking at the photo with a small smile on his lips. But Harry looked at Snape's eyes and his heart ached. There was so much pride and love in his eyes, yes, but there was as much longing. Harry was familiar to those feelings. He had experienced them hundreds of times before, when he was looking at his family's photos in his own album.
Snape looked up to see Harry studying him. He smiled and pushed the album towards him. "This, Harry, is my mother. And this is Silly."
Harry studied the photo. There were only three persons there, a woman, who seemed to be in her late twenties, and two children. The woman had very long black hair. She had very dark eyes, and Harry wasn't sure if they were black. Her beauty was striking. And that's when Harry realized why Snape looked so different. The woman reminded him of the Greek statues of the goddesses that Hermione had once shown him in her Ancient Runes book. And Snape looked a lot like her, the same dark hair, dark eyes, pale complexion, long nose, … er … well, not really that, but his nose would have been good looking like his mother's if it wasn't so crooked. The woman was sitting on a chair, her legs crossed at the knee, smiling at the camera. She looked regal, like a princess.
On her knee sat a little girl of no more that two years old, a miniature of her mother … only with mischief written all over her little face. Even in the muggle photo, Harry was sure that the child was about to run off, do some mischief and return back to sit innocently on her mother's knee. The little girl was waving to the camera with one hand, and with the other, holding the hand of a small boy.
Harry did a double take. Was that little, scrawny, pale, and sweet child, Snape?
Little Severus looked about seven in that photo. He stood beside his mother, his arm around her shoulder and holding his little sister's hand. He wasn't looking at the camera, he was looking at them.
"Your Mum looks very beautiful."
Snape smiled, "Yes, she was. The Princess, I used to call her."
Harry shook his head as he laughed, "You called your Mother, Princess, and your sister, Silly?" Weird family. Or maybe all families were like that but Harry didn't know.
Snape's lips twitched, "Yes, my sister deserved it. And my mother did too. She was beautiful, elegant, and graceful, and well, she also had the authority to raise or cut my allowance." Snape smirked, "So, naturally, she became the Princess whenever I needed to raise my allowance."
Harry raised an eyebrow, "How Slytherin!"
Snape curled his lips, "Well, it didn't help that had been a Slytherin herself. She blackmailed me into doing extra chores and studying whenever she felt like it."
Harry laughed at the look of indignation that crossed Snape's face as he talked. So practically, Snape's mother was … Snapeish. No wonder that was how Snape turned out.
Snape opened the album, the first photo was of a naked baby, grinning toothlessly at the camera. Snape quickly flipped the page.
"Hey, I wanted to see that," Harry complained.
"You will do no such thing," Snape growled, two red blotches covering his pale cheeks. Harry pouted.
There were several photos of a little baby Severus and a toddler Severus with his mother playing, smiling, sleeping, and even taking a bubble bath. Harry looked on in fascination. Little Severus seemed happy, full of excitement and life and his mother seemed very proud of him.
Snape watched the boy. He seemed to be enjoying himself. Of course he was. After all, he was looking through the photos from before it happened, the photos of happiness and safety, before his father came back home, when they had still lived without fear or pain.
Harry flipped to the next page. Snape's mother was standing looking at the camera and holding Severus' hand. The boy looked about 4 years old in this photo. He wasn't looking at the camera, instead he was resting his head on his mother's overly large belly circling it with his arms. His mother was watching him and laughing.
There was something different about that photo. It was moving. The first magical photo in the album. Harry watched as little Severus hugged his Mum's belly to him and rested his head on it, his mother throwing her head back and laughing. Harry smiled imagining her laugh. He was sure she had a beautiful laugh. Harry looked up at Snape, amused at his Dad's little self's antics, but his smile fell off his lips. Snape was looking at the photo with such pain that Harry closed the album with a snap.
"Dad, what's wrong?"
Snape smiled reassuringly, "Nothing, Harry, it's just that … that photo … it was what had started it all."
Harry squeezed Snape's hand as the man continued, "My mother was a very talented witch. She had specialized in building charms and making designs for magical buildings. My father, a muggle, was an architect. They had first met in one of the joint renovation projects for ancient buildings between both the Ministry and the muggle authorities. They fell in love very quickly, and my mother accepted his proposal for marriage. Her family, the Noble Prince family, was very angry. They tried everything, from persuasion to blackmail to torture even, to dissuade her from that marriage, but to no avail. When they couldn't do anything else, they threatened to cut off all ties with her, but she still insisted. She left her family and married him. They bought this house and settled here.
My mother was happy. He was everything she had hoped for. She never felt any regret for leaving everything for him. After a few months, her family used their power and connections to make life difficult for them. She couldn't find a job in the wizarding world and at the time, she wasn't yet very used to the muggle world, at least not enough to find and survive a job with muggles. It was then that she discovered she was pregnant and she decided to stay home." Snape closed his eyes and sighed, "I remember her telling me that for her I was more important than all the jobs in the world."
Harry sneered playfully, "Oooh, little Sevvie was spoiled by his Mummy."
Snape snorted, "Far from it, brat. Mother was very strict. And she was vicious with a wooden spoon."
Harry blinked, then stared, "She …. You … er."
"Eloquent as ever, I see. You did not hear that from me. Or you will get a taste of the wooden spoon yourself. Understood?"
Harry nodded frantically. Snape didn't really need a wooden spoon after all. His hand did enough damage as it was.
Snape continued with a glare, "My mother's family waited until I was born to take the next step. They used their connections in the muggle world, and soon my father found himself without a job. He left the engineering career and settled for any small jobs he found, but he never continued in any of them. It was always a matter of days until they threw him out. A year later, things weren't looking good, they couldn't buy enough food or medicine, they couldn't pay the bills, and they were even considering selling the house.
"It was at that time, when they were most desperate, that my father received a job offer in his field in the Far East. It was a good offer with a very good pay but it included extensive travel between countries and he was told that he had to leave his family in Britain. The story had lots of inconsistencies, but at the time, they were desperate. My father agreed immediately and that was the last time my mother had seen the person she knew as Tobias Snape, the kind-hearted man, the one she had loved above all else and had left everything for.
"The person who came back for a few days every three or four months was a very different person. At the beginning, he seemed distant and tired. He didn't care about what my mother said or did, and stopped caring about me altogether. When he came to visit, he just left us money, spent his days sleeping and then left. Mother didn't understand what was wrong with him." Snape snorted, "She had even thought he had fallen in love with another woman while traveling. As the years passed, she came to accept her new life, and the fact that she was living alone with me. We grew very close, we did everything together. I became all her life, and she became mine.
"Through time, I began to dislike his visits because he made my mother cry. He was cold and distant, and very harsh. Then it happened! I had just turned four and was waiting excitedly for my father to come home to celebrate it with him. In that visit, it was the first time that he turned violent. He argued with my mother, I don't remember why, and he … slapped her. So hard, that she fell against the table. I screamed and ran to him, kicking and biting. He … he held me up by the neck and hair and … and threw me against the wall, and turning back to my mother, he started b-beating and kicking her. It triggered my magic and I lashed out, for the first time ever, stunning him. It was too much for me and I fainted."
Snape's lips were white and his breathing ragged. Harry had a hard time, keeping his own tears, but he willed himself to be strong. Snape wanted him to listen, and he would listen. And he would be strong. He gently put his hands on Snape's clenched fists, "It's alright, Dad," he whispered. "He's not here anymore."
Snape swallowed, "Harry, you … you don't understand. I had never … No one else had ever heard of …"
"Hush, Sir. I know. I understand. You know I do. Tell me." Harry urged as Snape took a deep breath to calm himself down.
"The next thing I knew, I was in my bed in my mother's arms, hurting all over, and she was weeping. She gave me a potion for my bruises and told me that my father had left and she didn't know if he would come back.
"It was then that my mother made her decision to begin my education. She started teaching me to read and write and count. I learned the difference between our two worlds and the histories of both. I learned the story of why we came to live here and why we weren't living among wizards and witches. When she discovered I was still too young to learn magic, she made me practice potions. She taught me ancient runes, arithmancy, astronomy, the theories of charms and transfiguration, and she showed me all the wand movements for spells, hexes and curses. She wanted to make sure I knew how to defend myself."
Harry followed Snape's words with wide eyes. Was it possible for a 4 years old to learn all that?
Snape smiled weakly, "And of course, all that was under the very strict instruction 'never to touch Mummy's wand'."
Harry shook his head, "You learned all that when you were four? Wow!"
"I'll have you know that I was a very intelligent child," Snape scoffed.
"You were?" Harry faked bewilderment, "I couldn't have guessed, the way you are now, you know." And as expected, the boy got a hearty cuff to the back of his head in response.
Harry stuck out his tongue, then said, "Well, I am sure you got enough cuffs for using the Princess' wand behind her back."
Snape cheeks reddened, "Yes, well, more than cuffs really."
And Harry gulped, "Yeah, um, so what happened next?"
Snape took another deep breath and continued, "On his next visit, he was even more violent, he stopped talking, his only communication with us was with his hands, fists, belts, and boots. It was during that visit that Silly was conceived. My mother tried using her magic against him, tried to protect me, but her magic had stopped working against him altogether. We didn't know why at the time. After my father left, her magic worked again, and she healed me.
"Then she discovered she was pregnant, with another magical child. Despite what my father had done, she was very happy." Snape closed his eyes, "She said: Now I can stop worrying about you. Now I know you won't be alone in life if something happened to me."
Harry had never seen Snape so upset … so shaken before. Then it dawned to him. This was the first time in Snape's life that he opened up like that, the first time that he even talked about his life, and he had chosen to do it for him. Harry closed his eyes. Such honour it was that Snape had chosen him to respect and trust that much.
Harry simply curled up beside Snape and waited. After a moment, Severus cleared his throat and continued, "Mother's pregnancy started showing and she feared that father would hurt the baby if he discovered her pregnancy. She didn't know what to do, and it dawned to her. Her family had always hated Dumbledore. He had become the Headmaster when she was in her last year and she remembered how angry her father had been when he knew she would learn under his leadership. Lord Prince had always said that Dumbledore's power was wasted, misplaced. And my mother decided that if any one was going to help her, it was Dumbledore. He was the only person who was powerful enough to protect us against her family if we returned to the wizarding world.
"She wrote a very long letter to Dumbledore describing all what happened to us and begged for his help. She then took me to Diagon Alley. She wanted to floo to Hogwarts from the Leady Cauldron, but she was told that he was out of the country for a few days. Mother knew she might not be able to go to Diagon Alley again, so we went to the Post Office and she had to beg the man there to send an owl to Dumbledore without paying. She didn't have any wizard money and she couldn't go to Gringotts for fear that someone from her family might see her there. On our way back to the Leaky Cauldron, a man with a camera stopped us. He told her that he was promoting his new magic photo shop and that he took random photos of people in the Alley free of charge." Snape closed his eyes and trembled chanting again and again, "it was all because of me. It was my fault…"
Harry's throat constricted as he squeezed Snape's shoulder, "Dad? Dad … Professor, please …" Oh God, what should I do?
It took sometime until Snape stopped rocking and he opened his eyes to see a teary Harry looking at him pleadingly, "No, Dad. Please, stop, I don't want to know. You're hurting."
Snape shook his head, "I'm all right Harry. It's … it had been some time since I remembered the details. You should know Harry, you are part of it … it's your story too."
Harry looked at Snape in bewilderment, "My story? What do you mean?"
Snape let out a long breath, "All in time Harry, all in time!" Snape sighed again and continued, "It was me, I insisted then to get photographed by the man. Mother had told me that the wizarding photos moved like a television and I wanted to see it. I kept nagging and pleading with her until she agreed. And … he did, he took our photograph, this photograph." Snape pointed at the photo in the forgotten album that was still open on his legs. "It was all because of me."
Harry jumped, "Dad, Stop. Stop blaming yourself for whatever happened, you were 4 years old, a child, whatever happened because of this photo was not your BLOODY FAULT."
Snape stared at Harry, and Harry stared back, shocked at his own daring, "…er … sorry?"
Snape shook his head and snorted.
"Heyyy, I was only trying to make you feel better!" Harry pouted.
"Yes, shouting at me is very effective in doing that I am sure, just as effective as giving you a sound spanking," Snape said dryly.
"Humph, well you are feeling better if you are threatening me already!" Harry unconsciously repeated Draco's words and crossed is arms. He was feeling very pleased with himself, yes he hadn't meant to shout like that, but well it worked, and Snape returned to his evil vampirish self, so who was he to complain?
Snape chuckled, "Yes, it is a very good indicator. So now you know whenever I feel depressed, just put your bottom on the line, it will do miracles."
Harry pouted, "You're evil."
"Good." Snape nodded, satisfied.
"And I still love you!" Harry said matter of factly, and Snape's expression softened. He squeezed Harry's shoulder, "And I wouldn't have loved my own flesh and blood more than I love you."
Harry grinned with pleasure, then immediately scowled as Snape added, "And if you ever yell at me like that again, I will make sure you can't sit for a week."
Harry stuck out his tongue and received back a cuff upside the head. All was good again with world!
This banter however did not continue after lunch, for Snape took Harry to the study and continued his story.
"It was a few days after we came back from Diagon Alley, and there was still no response from Dumbledore. The response however, came from another party. My Grandfather came to visit. It was the first time that he set foot in our house, but it wasn't the last. My mother stood stunned at the door when she saw it was him, and he silently stepped in. I was sitting on the floor practicing some spelling. He looked down his nose to me, then kicked me in the chest. My mother screamed and shielded me from further kicks as I started coughing and sobbing feeling hurt and confused. I didn't know why a perfect stranger would come to our house and hurt us like that.
"He gripped my mother by the hair and thrust a copy of this photo in her face. 'So you're still alive.' He said. 'I will make sure that you continue to be, and your life will be a living hell.' He took out his wand and chanted in Latin for a few moments, then without another word, he left the house leaving us huddled on the floor weeping.
"Mother tried to heal me and it was then that she discovered what he had done. He has stripped her of her magic. She had become a muggle. She kept trying and trying, but her wand never responded again. She carried me to the basement and gave me as many healing potions as she could.
"She then sat me down and calmly explained that she wouldn't be able to protect me against my father anymore. She told me that I have to leave. I was shocked. I didn't know what she meant by me leaving. She said she would sell all our possessions and put half the money in a bank account in my name. She would hide the other half until my sister is born and put them in account in her name too. She calmly stated that she was taking me to an orphanage where they would take care of me, where no one would find me."
Tears were now rolling freely over Snape's cheeks. Harry's heart ached for him. To have living parents, a loving mother, and to be forced to go to an orphanage, God! That was horrible. And he thought his life was difficult. But then, Snape had said that he was never separated from his sister until he went to Hogwarts, did she go to the orphanage too?
Snape continued, "But even that unbearable solution was denied us. I was in a daze and hadn't said a word since my Grandfather left. Even as my mother dressed me to go out and start searching for some place that would buy our furniture. As soon as she opened the front door and set one foot out, a very powerful magical barrier flared. She was thrown back inside the house. She tried again and again but with the same result. After the tenth time, she was bruised and bleeding from hitting the walls and furniture and I was helpless. I couldn't do anything except cry. She took me in her arms and we slept right there on the floor for a long time, both of us exhausted emotionally and physically.
"Afterwards, things became even worse. My mother tried every day to go out but she still couldn't and we quickly ran out of food. Although we discovered I could still leave the house, I was still a four years old child and couldn't possibly go and buy anything alone. Oh, I had tried, several times. But every time I failed. Some shops refused to sell to me, others thought I stole the money from my parents and many have tried to call the police to tell them there was a small child with a bunch of money alone wandering the streets and shops. And every time I barely escaped, running as fast as I could with my week legs. The most I had got was some candy and a pat on the head. On the last day, I resorted to stealing. I found a small fruits' stand. I crept to the stand and hid behind it until the salesman was looking away. I gripped a few bananas and a bunch of grapes then ran home as fast as thunder.
"As soon as I came home, I heard the screaming. My father was home and he was beating Mother viciously. I stood there frozen with the food in my hands. He turned to me and was about to grab me when my mother jumped on his back hitting and scratching to keep him away from me. He threw my mother off him and kicked her belly. She screamed and curled up trying to protect her baby and that was the second time that my magic lashed out. My father was thrown back and hit the wall. He slid down to the floor unconscious.
"I ran to Mother and all I could think of at the moment was how I hungry I was. I kept stuffing grapes in her mouth as she wept thinking that maybe if she ate, she wouldn't feel hurt anymore. After some time, she calmed down a little and gripped me very tightly by the arms.
"Severus, look at me. I want you to concentrate. Very hard." She took the child's hands and put it on her belly, "I want to think about your sister. Protect her. I want you to protect her, concentrate Severus. Imagine her, what do you think she would look like? She is so small, so week. Protect her, Severus. Think. How could you protect her? You have to use magic. It's all in your hand, you fingers. Hold her to you. Come on, close your eyes, you're holding her now. She is very weak. She needs you. Protect her Severus, with your magic, now, my baby, now, shield her. You can do it. I know you can …"
Eileen kept urging him patiently until the boy believed her. Yes he would protect the baby. He could. Suddenly, his hands erupted in a very powerful light. It engulfed him and his mother and focused on his mother's midsection. Severus felt it. It was as if something leapt out of him and lodged itself inside his mother's body. The light died out, and Severus blinked. His Mum was crying. She was healed and the baby was safe.
End of flashback.
"And I have been able to do wandless magic since then. I never told anyone that I could. And it only happened when I am protecting people that I care about."
By now, Harry was very pale, his eyes filled with tears. He couldn't speak or respond to the horror he had heard. He wrapped his arms around his Dad, "I am so sorry, Dad, I am sorry, I don't know what to say."
Snape held on to Harry seeking comfort from the child. He could feel the small body trembling in his arms and he held the boy tightly. That was enough for today. It was too much for the boy. The rest of the horrors could wait for another day. But for now, he was exhausted, his body was aching in remembrance, his heart was heavy and the image of his crying mother was imprinted in his memory forever.
Sniff …. TBC