Nursery School Part 2:
Snape stalked up and down the rows of desks. The third year Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws had lost more points in this class alone than they had all year thus far.
"McFallert," he snapped. The boy's trembling hands dropped the chopped liverwort, scattering it all over his workstation. Snape's glare deepened, "10 points from Ravenclaw, for sloppy preparation. The ingredients clearly state finely chopped. Does your liverwort look finely chopped?"
"I-I, erm," the boy stuttered, trying to push his mess into a pile.
Snape flicked his wand and banished the mess. "Do you need a detention as well?"
"Then get another liverwort," Snape snapped, "and chop it properly!" The boy quickly scrambled to do as he was told. Satisfied, Snape moved onto the next hapless student. He was not going to allow any potions disasters, not again. Not for a moment would he relax his tired body. Nor would he contemplate his young wards... how Draco handled waking up in a strange environment... or if Harry ever stopped crying...
"Whitsett!" he shouted, stalking down to the front of the room.
"I'm gonna get you," Remus taunted.
"Ahhhh," screamed a chorus of toddlers as they scattered across the room.
"Rrraaahhhh," Remus growled, grabbing Dean, the closest victim. He started to tickle the helpless boy who giggled like mad.
A group of toddlers, lead by Pansy, followed closely by Hermione, Draco, Parvati and Blaise, attempted to ambush Remus and help their comrade escape. At the last moment, Remus let Dean go and turned to the others. The last to notice the development, Parvati, was captured herself and tickled.
"Remus," Mrs. Figg called, "you're riling them all up."
Distracted by Mrs. Figg, Remus didn't notice the toddlers second advance until it was too late. Both Draco and Hermione simultaneously launched themselves at his back. He fell forward, carefully rolling to the side so as not to squish Parvati. More toddlers landed on him, successfully pinning him to the ground.
"Help," he called.
Other toddlers came out of their safe hiding areas to help pile on or to tickle Remus' sides. Laughing uncontrollably, Remus tried to struggle his way free, but at the same time he was careful not to inadvertently hurt one of the toddlers. At least all the toddlers are happy and occupied, he thought. Even Harry was helping tickle. Remus knew any sort of mischievous activity and the boy would get the famous Potter glint in his eyes.
Around midmorning, Harry had stopped his constant crying and nearly abandoned his vigil at the door. His distraction had been thanks to painting, an activity that seemed like a good idea at the time. The room and the toddlers were nearly clean. So as long as Remus was able to keep everyone busy, they were all happy (for the most part), not killing each other, and a semi chaos (instead of utter chaos) was maintained.
"Papa Albus!" half the toddlers called.
Remus blushed as he noticed the headmaster enter the room. He knew his hair and robes were disheveled--not to mention he was sure there were some tiny purple and green hand prints on his face, back, and sleeves that he had yet to banish. Added to the fact, he was sprawled gracelessly about the floor with various toddlers pinning him down.
"Lunch will be here shortly," Albus announced cordially. "Until then, who would like to hear a story?"
"Me!" replied the children as they all made their way to sit at the man's feet.
Remus was glad the headmaster had come. He gratefully took a moment to stand and fix his robes, having a few toddler-free moments. It was only lunch time and he was already exhausted.
"Nap time is after lunch," Mrs. Figg said in a hushed whisper, adding a knowing wink. They could both use a break for a while.
Remus was unaware he was being followed until he smelled the acid scent of urine. Looking behind him, he noticed Harry staring down at his wetted feet, a look of terror on the little boy's face. His fear quickly dissolved into tears as he tried to take a few bow-legged steps forward.
"Oh, Harry," Remus consoled, "it's just an accident."
"Wet!" Harry cried. "Yucky."
"Let's get you cleaned up," Remus responded. He hadn't really been paying much attention to the toddler's bathroom needs. Occasionally, he'd noticed Mrs. Figg shuffle the children off to "go potty" or discretely take one aside for a nappy change. But now that he thought about it, Harry had been avoiding Mrs. Figg as if she were the plague.
Quickly, he banished the mess off the floor and Harry's robes, but to be truly clean, Harry needed fresh clothing. Walking Harry over to the toddler bathroom, he fetched clean robes out of a conveniently supplied extra clothes bin.
"Harry," Remus said, kneeling down to strip the boy of his soiled clothes, "are you sure you're potty trained?" Remus felt a little odd asking the question.
Harry stared back at him, his face looking a little blank, as if he didn't quite understand. The toddler bit his bottom lip. Still sniffling from the ordeal, he took a moment to respond. "Harry big boy," he replied quietly.
"Yes, Harry," Remus said, "you're a big boy. But do you wear nappies or pants?"
"Pants," Harry said, his eyes watering up. The boy looked like he was on the verge of another crying fit.
"Then where do you go potty?" Remus asked.
Harry shivered a little, his body being fully exposed to the cold. Remus, noticing the boy's thin frame, cringed inside. As a baby, Harry had always been on the light side, but never as malnourished looking as he was then.
"Pee in toilet," Harry suddenly announced. "Sev'vus say, pee in toilet."
"That's right," Remus smiled. Although still feeling a little hesitant, Remus dressed the boy in pants and then a fresh robe.
Harry's excitement quickly faded. "I want Sev'vus," the boy whispered. A few tears fell down his cheeks. "Harry be good boy."
"I know you're a good boy," Remus said. It was heart-breaking to see how distraught Harry was. The boy had always managed to put on a good show when he wanted something. Whether it was more time to cuddle with mum or an extra strawberry, Harry'd always managed to look so desolate.
"Severus will return when he's done teaching classes." Thankfully, Harry accepted Remus' words, and instead of fighting to get away, he leaned forward into the man's welcoming embrace. "I wish you'd give your old pal Mooney a chance," he said, patting the little boy's back. Harry relaxed in his arms, undoubtedly growing tired as well. As they walked back to the main room, Remus was glad to note that the table was set. Soon lunch would be over and they all could rest.
Even with five adults--Professor McGonagall and Madame Pomfrey had joined them--lunch had not gone so well. The children were getting increasingly tired. Pansy had glued herself to Minerva's leg and wouldn't sit long enough to eat, unless the woman stayed with her. Crabbe and Goyle had finished their plates and were busy trying to steal other toddlers' food, even when house elves had brought them seconds. Ronald had managed to fall off of the climbing structure, landing right on his nose. Currently, Poppy was taking care of a sobbing boy and his bloody nose.
By the time the playing area had been cleared and the mats laid out, more than half the toddlers were crying. Remus wished that Albus would just shout, "Silence," like he'd do to calm the Great Hall. Eventually, against all odds, the children where settled down on their individual mats, complete with a little pillow, blanket and their stuffed friend. In what seemed an incredibly short amount of time, most of the toddlers went fast to sleep. A few stragglers, Bulstrude, Lavender Brown, and of course Harry, were still fighting the pull of sleep. But at least they were all being quiet.
Discretely, Albus waved to Remus and Mrs. Figg, signaling that they could leave to take a break for a while. Remus wasn't half way to the door before Harry called after him.
"Mooey!" Harry cried. The boy stood up, clutching his owl, and started to follow after him.
Remus knelt down to talk to the boy face-to-face. "Listen, Harry," he comforted, "you need to take a nap. While you're sleeping, I'm going to go for a walk and get some fresh air. I'll come right back."
Harry dissolved into tears, "I go walk with Mooey."
The boy's cries grew louder and more desperate, as Harry attempted to climb into Remus' arms. The toddlers nearest them began to stir. Remus looked towards Poppy and Minerva who were both biting their lips, waiting for chaos to insue. Remus pointed at Harry and then to the door and mouthed, "should I just take him?"
In response, the both nodded fervently.
"Harry," Remus said firmly, "if you're going to come with me, you need to stop this fit right now, do you understand?" Sniffling, Harry nodded against Remus' shoulder and quickly calmed down. "You're going to take a nap–" Harry grew tense. "–in my quarters. I'll stay with you, but you're getting over-tired."
"Kay," Harry replied.
As Remus made his way through the halls, he decided to take a small detour. He wished that Harry could remember him. It was sad to think about how the little boy had forgotten about him, his parents and Sirius. Remus shook his head; now was not the time to grieve. The little boy whose head was resting against his shoulder needed only to be reminded of happy times.
Stepping into Gryffindor Tower, Remus was glad that the castle was relatively empty. Most students were still in the Great Hall for lunch. He put Harry down on his four poster bed and opened up the boy's trunk. At first he started to riffle through the boy's things, but then grew concerned about protecting the boy's privacy. Toddler Harry could care less, as he gazed curiously over the edge of the bed, but sixteen-year-old Harry had always been a private boy.
Making up his mind, Remus drew out his wand and said, "Accio Harry's photo album." Remus was touched to note that the small book resided under the boy's pillow. Toddler Harry's eyes lit up at the floating book and kept an eye on it for the duration of their trip to Remus' quarters.
Going to his room, Remus sat down on his bed and leaned against his headboard. Positioning Harry comfortably in his lap, he opened the album.
"Harry!" the toddler shouted in excitement, pointing to his baby self.
"That's right," said Remus. "And who's that?" he ask, pointing to the red-haired witch who was holding the baby.
Harry chewed on his finger before pointing. "Mummy," he said reverently and then pointed to the figure next to her, "Daddy."
"That's right, Harry," Remus congratulated, "that's your Mum and Dad."
Harry's smile faded, "Where Mummy an' Daddy go?"
Remus sighed. He didn't think that the photos would lead to this type of questioning... but really what was I thinking. Deciding that perhaps the truth was the best, no matter how hard it was, Remus explained, "A bad wizard came and he killed them."
"Bad light," Harry added.
Remus paused, feeling a little startled that Harry remembered such a horrible thing for a little baby to see. "Yes, Harry, the bad wizard used an unforgivable curse that made a green light."
"Bad light get me," Harry said, pointing to himself.
"Yes, and it didn't hurt you. You lived and stopped the bad wizard. That's why you're called the Boy-Who-Lived."
Harry shook his head and pointed to his forehead, "owie."
Remus took a deep breath, regretting his earlier words. "Did the light hurt your head?" he asked quietly.
"Yes," Harry said seriously.
Remus bent over and kissed Harry's scar, "I'm sorry."
"All better," Harry replied. Using his little hand, Harry turned the page to look at more photographs. When he got to a photo of the Marauders, Harry easily picked out Remus. "Dats you," he said.
"Good job, Harry, that's me."
"Daddy," Harry picked out easily. Next his slobbery finger lingered over Sirius' head.
After a moment, Remus said, "That's Padfoot. You remember him?"
Harry perked up, "Pa'foot!"
"Your Godfather. Sometimes you called him Se'rus, for Sirius, but usually you said Padfoot." Skipping over Pettigrew, he pointed back towards James, "And your Daddy's special name was Prongs, do you remember that?"
"And then I was Mooney," he pointed to his younger self.
"Mooney," Harry repeated.
Remus smiled, "Good job Harry, you can say it correctly now. Do you remember why we had special names?"
"Woof, woof," Harry imitated, pointing towards Sirius.
Remus' hold tighten around the little boy; he was practically beaming. "That's right," he said, "Sirius could turn into a dog. Do you remember when your Daddy turned into Prongs?" Remus continued to tell Harry all about a day when James and Sirius had transfigured themselves and let Harry ride around on them (with Remus' assistance). And how angry Lily had gotten when she returned home to see the mess and one over-tired baby. After a short while, toddler Harry leaned back into the man's chest and fell asleep sucking his thumb.
For the next hour, Remus sat watching his best friend's son sleep. Harry looked so tiny, much too skinny, it tore at his heart. He'd wanted to adopt the little boy, a few months after Lily and James' death. It had taken him a while to get over the shock. He'd lost all his friends in a matter of days, Lily, James and Pettigrew–or so he thought. At the time, Sirius was worse than dead, when Remus thought he'd betrayed them. It was early January that he'd filed a request with the ministry for adoption rights. But werewolves had no such rights, according to the ministry. Then he went and pleaded with Dumbledore, who managed to convince him that leaving Harry with a family was best. And Remus had accepted the matter.
Brushing the fringe out of Harry's face, Remus barely managed to contain his anger. As a baby, Harry had never looked so insecure--in fact the boy had been beyond spoiled. He'd noticed a change in Harry during his third year, but he figured the boy had matured over the years. But to see such a profound difference between the baby Harry he knew and the toddler before him... Remus pulled his anger in. He'd save that for later, for a little chat with Dumbledore.
When Draco woke up after his nap, it was because he'd been sat on again. He'd thought for a moment he'd bite the stupid boy who had sat on him, because he remembered Pansy biting him and that was certainly effective. The Figg woman came and took the boy away, though, so Draco didn't get a chance.
He sat on his mat clutching his dragon, scowling at the room. He was tired of this strange place and all the noise. The funny man was gone, and so was Papa Albus. Only the fussy women remained. If he was told to go potty one more time... Draco rolled his eyes as he noticed Pansy strolling towards him. He wanted his space.
"Go 'way," he shouted.
"Hi, Dayco," she smiled.
She walked onto his mat and looked ready to sit down. Draco had had enough. He stood up and shoved the girl with all his might. He was glad to note the "oof" sound of the mat as she landed hard. Then without another glance, he sauntered away to look for his Harry. He hadn't made it four steps before someone grabbed his arm.
"Draco Malfoy," the old lady scolded him. "You do not push." Draco held up his nose. Of course she'd say that, what with Pansy hanging off her leg as if she were mortally wounded.
"I sayed go 'way to her," Draco defended himself. It was a valid issue in his mind. After all, the girl had been bugging him all day.
The woman had other ideas. "That does not mean you can push," she said, leading him over to the corner chair. Draco started to struggle; he knew what the chair meant. "You will sit here and think about what you've done."
"No," Draco struggled, "Draco not naughty." Tears were threatening to fall as Draco grew desperate. He hated sitting in a naughty chair and he still couldn't find his Harry. What if Uncle Sev'vus had come and taken Harry, but forgotten Draco?
He tried to stand up just after she sat him down. "No you don't young man," she said as she sat him down again. She stayed there, too, arms crossed, as if to say no matter if he tried to get up again, she'd make him sit forever.
Draco did bawl then; everything was too much. "I wan' Sev'vus," he cried. "Where Harry go?" Draco decided, then and there, if he saw his Harry again, they'd make a break for it together. If Sev'vus did know how bad it was for them, surely the man wouldn't have left them, would he? Draco hugged his dragon tighter. Maybe he'd have to go alone.
Minerva stood, her arms folded, staring firmly down at Mr. Malfoy. She was determined to be strict with the boy. Perhaps with a little discipline as a toddler, he'd be a little less spoiled when he re-aged to a young man. His desperate pleas for Severus were getting harder to bear, though. He was just a little boy after all. And after he'd been punished, Miss Parkinson had wandered off to play, as though she'd been fine all along.
"Mr. Malfoy," she called, still maintaining her firm voice. Big gray eyes looked up at her. "I trust you'll keep your hands to yourself from now on."
He nodded, "Draco be good boy."
"All right then," she said, grasping Mr. Malfoy's hand, "let's take you to the potty shall we?" She was confused by the boy's scowl and ignored it. In any case, he followed her lead willingly. He'd only parted with his dragon after she'd solemnly sworn to give it right back. He quickly did his business, washed his hands, and then returned for his trusted companion. It was then that Minerva felt guilty; perhaps there was more to Draco that being Lucius' son...
When Harry returned to Nursery School with Mooney, he was a little more prepared. He was still really sad that Sev'vus wasn't there, but at least he had Mooney and his Draco would be there. And Harry was a patient boy, for the most part. He could wait for his Sev'vus to return, because Mooney had reassured him, again and again, that Sev'vus would be returning from teaching class.
Harry was a little put out when Mooney put him on the ground to play. He'd rather be patient and wait as the man carried him about the room. He didn't have much time to protest, though, as Draco came and gave him a hug. He noticed the boy was sniffling.
"Dayco?" Harry asked.
"Where Harry go?" Draco asked.
Harry felt a little guilty; he hadn't meant to leave Draco behind. "Mooney taked me to nap."
Draco nodded, seeming to accept the explanation. "We go find Sev'vus now," Draco said.
Harry's eyes grew wide, "Sev'vus come back." But now his conviction was fading, If Draco was worried, maybe he should be worried, too.
"Bubbles!" some of the other toddlers shouted.
Draco and Harry both turned to the sounds. Harry's eyes lit up in amazement. A shower of clear bubbles fell from the ceiling. He followed Draco as they went to investigate. These bubbles were amazing! Harry decided. He tried to catch one, but it popped, sending bits of wet all over his hands. He forgot all his worries over finding Sev'vus and was lost in the wonder of bubbles.
Severus' last class of the day was a free period. Usually during this time, he'd go through the student stores to make sure the ingredients were well-stocked. Often times he'd also begin to brew various salves and draughts that Madame Pomfrey used commonly. He also used the time to correct essays, draft test sheets, answer correspondence, and a number of other things that usually demanded his time. Instead, though, he was making his way to the Room of Requirement. He knew he'd probably be one of the first to pick up their brats. But Severus rationalized matters by convincing himself the added time would give the toddlers the opportunity to settle in before dinner, making the evening a lot more pleasant than if he waited another two hours. It was not because he was worried about them... no, Severus did not worry.
Entering the door to the Room of Requirement, he was surprised to find all the toddlers giggling and popping bubbles. He easily spotted both Draco and Harry, neither of whom where in duress. Severus had expected to see one or both sitting in a corner crying... or perhaps bleeding–-not that he worried. He momentarily contemplated stepping out of the room, letting the boys play, but Harry spotted him like a hawk.
"Sev'vus!" he shouted, in what could only be described as pure bliss. Somewhere on the journey between the bubbles and the door, Harry's joy turned to tears. "Harry be good boy," he sobbed. "I go class with Sev'vus."
Severus picked up the small boy. "Calm down," he directed, "I'm done teaching for the day." He awkwardly patted Harry's back and hoped the werewolf didn't notice him.
By now, Draco had spotted him as well and although the blond wasn't crying, he did seem less than pleased. "Draco be'd good," he said, holding up his hands, no doubt wanting to be carried as well. "Harry throwed fit all day!" he tattled.
As Severus bent over to address Draco, Harry surprised him by kicking out at the blond boy. "No!" he shouted, and then clung tighter to the Potion Master's neck. "My Sev'vus."
For a moment, Severus stared at Draco, unbelieving, as the little boy clutched his forehead. "Harry James Potter," he scolded the boy in his arms, "you do not kick!" He smacked the boy's behind for emphasis, and then put him on the ground. He quickly scooped up Draco into his arms and examined the boy's head. A red mark was quickly forming and no doubt would bruise.
Draco, ever dramatic, screamed as though his skull had fractured and Harry was a ball of tears, screaming his sorrys and be-goods. Any chance of going unnoticed was gone. The entire room of toddlers were staring in rapture, the bubbles long forgotten.
Severus groaned. "Both of you stop your theatrics," he ordered. He briefly put Draco down in order to get Harry off the floor. He then picked up both still crying boys and started to haul them out the door.
"Owl! Owl!" Harry screamed, motioning to his stuffed friend he'd dropped on the floor. Begrudgingly, Severus turned and retrieved the damned thing.
At least by the time he'd neared the dungeons, both boys stopped their cries and settled for pitiful sniffling. The halls had been somewhat clear, as most students were still in class. Those few students unlucky enough to be in the halls were treated with the deadliest of glares. If anyone had been doing anything remotely questionable, they'd have likely gained a weeks worth of detention.
Finally, he made it to his quarters, sat down on the couch and relaxed his arms. Both boys scrambled to sit on their bit of lap, but neither dared lash out at the other. "Now, boys," Severus drawled, "what has possessed you to act like a couple of screaming banshees?" They both started whining about the other, pointing fingers and sticking out tongues. "It seems as though you both need a long nap," Severus interrupted. Both boys grew silent. After relishing a moment of peace, Severus pulled Draco away from him in order to get a better look at his forehead. It was bruising. "See what happens when you kick other's in the face," he said to Harry, making sure the boy could see what he did.
Harry gasped. "I sorry, Dayco," he said seriously. The boy leaned across Severus' lap and gave Draco's forehead a gentle kiss.
"No kick 'gain," Draco scolded.
Harry nodded. And then both boys gave each other a hug.
"You two are going to be really embarrassed when you re-age," Severus pointed out. "Accio bruise salve."
"Harry stay with Sev'vus?" he asked as he once again leaned against the man.
"Draco stay?" the blond added.
"Yes," Severus sighed, catching the salve, "you're both going to stay with me." He carefully smoothed the salve across Draco's hurt forehead. When he was done, he put the salve aside and then relaxed back into the couch. Both boys rearranged themselves, snuggling into their individual sides.
After the boys ate their snacks, they were sent off to play. Harry was still awfully clingy, but Severus had no intention of sitting around on the couch all day. He really should have taken his free period to work on planning, especially since he'd been occupied all weekend. His students were in dire need of a pop quiz. Not that he gave his students pop quizzes just to set them on edge–-although he'd never say anything to the contrary. If they expected a quiz at any moment, then they'd spend the appropriate amount of time studying each night. In fact, he was ready to double the number of pop quizzes just in case it could prevent another accident.
Severus was diligently writing such quizzes, but one very annoying toddler was distracting him. Since he'd told the boys to go play and to not leave their room, Harry of course was standing in the doorway. The boy had managed to look as pitiful as possible. And although Severus was not moved– in the slightest–it was still distracting. Besides, Draco kept shouting for Harry to come play.
Grumbling, Severus finally gave in and took his work to their room. He sat down at their toddler-sized table and maneuvered himself into one of their chairs. Harry, of course, was glued to his side, and Draco was soon to follow.
"Both of you are to play," he commanded in his firmest of tones. Neither of them moved or made any sign of having heard the man. "Otherwise," Severus continued, "I'll go back." He made a motion to gather his things and smirked when the toddlers scrambled.
Harry was the first to return. He carted with him a pile of paper and a box of the coloring sticks. Picking the chair closest to Severus, he sat down and started to color. Moments later, Draco sat down as well. More time passed and Harry started to hum. Draco hummed as well.
Severus clutched his quill, almost snapping it. "Boys," he warned. They grew more quiet, but he was sure they were still humming. At least it was semi-quiet, but that too was interrupted when the wards buzzed.
Someone was at the door.
"Don't you two move," he ordered the boys. He was half way to the door before he realized they were both following him... well, he could scold them later.
Opening the door, Severus was shocked to find the wolf Lupin standing there. He was slightly amused to note the man's frazzled composure, especially as he struggled to get Dean Thomas' finger out of his mouth. A quick glance at the hallway and Severus was relieved to note that Longbottom wasn't there.
"You've lost one of your toddlers," Severus sneered, making no movement to allow Lupin into his quarters.
"He's afraid of you," Lupin replied easily, finally setting Thomas down with a firm grip on the boy's arm.
"What do you want?" Severus snapped.
"To talk," Lupin said, "about Harry."
"I'm not trading. If you don't like Thomas, pester someone else."
"No, no–" Lupin waved him off. "Today he had an accident and when I changed him I noticed how skinny he was."
"Yes," Severus drawled, "I'm well aware he's undernourished. Now if you'll please just leave." Severus started to shut the door, but the infuriating wolf stopped him.
"Severus would you just stop being so... so–" Lupin stammered.
Severus raised an eyebrow. "Yes?"
"Obviously, Harry's been abused... he was never like this before. With James and Lily–"
"I can hardly see why I should discuss this with you," Severus said casually. He was well aware Harry had been abused. He had every intention of taking up the appropriate action when the boy returned to his teenaged-self. There was little they could do at the moment.
"Oh, stop being so insufferable!" Lupin shouted. In his anger, the wolf's eyes gleamed a bit more dangerously and the sharpness of his canine teeth were more dramatic. Involuntarily, Severus took a step back. He'd hoped the little lump he'd stepped on was a stray piece of his long robes and not a toddler-sized foot. Lupin visibly restrained his temper, "Albus mentioned that if the toddlers weren't sixteen by Wednesday, he was going to start contacting parents and guardians." Remus took a deep breath and ran a hand through his hair. "I told him my thoughts on Harry and he said that I was jumping to conclusions, that- that we don't know for sure the Dursleys–"
"Idiot!" Severus shouted, "of all the dim witted– Do Poppy and Minerva know?– I can't believe Dumbledore could be so stupid!" Severus shook his head and then glared at Lupin as if he were merely a representation of the headmaster himself. "Rest asured, Lupin, Harry is not now or ever going to be sent back to those muggles. Even if I have to tender my resignation and adopt the boy myself!"
Lupin stood there, dumfounded, with his mouth hanging open. Even under the circumstances, Severus found it amusing.
"Now, if that's everything," Severus said, once again in an even tone. He'd almost had the door shut before Lupin stopped him. "Oh, one more thing," Lupin said as he trust a book forward, "Harry really likes his photo album."
Severus scowled one last time for good measure and then finally managed to shut the door in the wolf's face. He turned around to see the toddlers looking up at him.
"That Mooney," Harry announced.
Severus turned up his lip, "Indeed." He thrust the photo album out towards the toddler. "Go entertain yourselves," he announced.
For the next hour, Severus got to listen to Harry as he showed the photos off to Draco. At least Harry was smart enough to not bring the blasted photos to show him. Or...
"Look, Sev'vus," Harry said, pulling on his robe sleeve, "dat's baby Harry. An –"
By the time eight o'clock rolled around, Severus was more than ready to put the boys to bed. In fact, he couldn't wait till tomorrow to cart them off to Nursery School. The little brats had found some supply of paints and had been secretly "decorating" the wall behind him. By now, Severus scolded himself, he should always be leery of silence.
"Boys," he called, "it's time for a bath." Draco and Harry came running with flushed cheeks.
Draco had finally managed to pry Harry from Severus' side and convinced the boy to try the climbing structure. For the remainder of the evening, they had climbed up one side and slid down the other. Over and over and over... never tiring of the activity.
Severus walked the boys into the bathroom, and even allowed Draco to chose what color of bubbles. Harry was still tentative, but this time there were blue bubbles and quacking toys, so his fear was ruled out by curiosity. He washed both boys fairly quickly... the sooner they were in bed, the better. He dragged Draco out first, since he'd been in first and wrapped him in a warm towel. Then he turned back for Harry, who was readily holding up his hands. As he wrapped Harry up in his towel, he noticed his godson was missing. He stared at the discarded towel momentarily, as if somehow the boy may have vanished on the spot.
"Draco," he called. A quiet giggling was his only response. "Draco come back here right now!"
Severus turned and glared towards Harry, daring the other boy to move. He left the bathroom in search of Draco. He found the blond menace hiding behind the rocking sofa. Draco squealed in delight and ran towards the sitting room. Severus hurried after him, "Draco, this isn't funny and I'm not playing."
Draco, meanwhile, continued to giggle. Out in the sitting room, the little boy had more obstacles to hide behind and was quite good at evading the Potions Master. And try as he might, Severus could not maintain his frustration. Draco was going to be really embarrassed when he re-aged. He finally outsmarted the boy, pretending to round the sofa, but then doubling back moments later. Draco screamed in mock terror, but came easily.
As he was heading back to the room, Severus caught sight of Harry with a similar mischievous gleam in his eyes. "Harry, don't you dare," he warned.
In turn, Harry giggled and took off towards the kitchen area. Severus, still carrying Draco under one arm, took after the boy. Both toddlers were laughing hysterically, especially after Severus nearly ran into the table. Eventually Harry was cornered, captured, and then carried back to the bathroom under the other arm.
"We're not doing that again," he said firmly, putting the boys down and then positioning himself in front of the doorway.
After dressing them both, Severus helped the boys brush their teeth and then allowed them to pick out one book each. He sat down on the rocking sofa, and then pulled the boys onto his lap. Each boy settled back to get comfortable. Harry held his owl close and started to suck his thumb and play with a lock of his hair. Draco held his dragon close and started to chew on his index finger. It took one and a half books before each of the boys were snoring quietly. Severus finished the last book and then rocked the boys a tiny bit longer... just in case. Gently, he tucked each boy into their own big boy toddler bed.
"Good night, boys," he said– even as he cursed himself for sentimentality.
Author's note: Sorry it's been so long since update. Been busy and all that (excuses, excuses...) Anyway, I'm hoping to begin updating more regularly from now on. But I don't give any promises as of now... Reviews are welcome. Thanks! BTW, sorry to anyone who suffered through the odd way the original format of this chapter... I fixed it.