Chapter 89 Severus stood off to the side of Madame Maulkin's Robe Shop, the dillusion charms well in place. He had wanted to take Harry himself, but that would have raised far too many questions both with his fellow Death Eaters and the Wizarding world as well. Minerva had been unable to take Harry having to watch for too many other first years, and making sure all of them were accounted for. This had left Severus no other option but to bring along Hagrid. The half giant had at first gone quite bonkers, reaching for Severus' throat to choke him, but after a very swift side step and a body binding he explained that he meant no harm to the boy. The giant still wasn't convinced, stating he would rather be sent off to Azkaban than to let anyone bring harm to the lad.
Severus had spent the better part of a day going over every detail of how he and Harry had come to be friends, even telling Hagrid he had adopted Harry to give him a proper home. He regretted it seconds later as he found himself producing a large cloth as Hagrid blubbered on and on about how Severus was such a good man. Severus wanted to both smile and sick up at the sweet sentiments pouring from him. Obliviate, yes, the moment the trip to Diagon Alley was over. Hagrid wasn't someone you encountered everyday, and it kept most people away from him, hence the perfect person to take Harry. Severus knew however that the half giant couldn't keep a secret for long, so once the day was over, he would be erasing his memory fast.
Everything was in order or so he thought when Hagrid and Harry entered Flourish and Botts. All Harry had to do was to get his books for the term and head home, but as he entered Hagrid left, saying something about needing to pick up something across the street. Sure, he gave strict orders to Harry not to leave the store, but that didn't keep Severus from wanting to strangle him for leaving the child alone.
It was now a decision whether to reveal himself or not, as none other than Dracp appraoched. The boy didn't seem as smug as he had been when Lucius was alive. His upbringing had taught the boy to show nothing but detest for anyone beneath him, and Draco Malfoy played the part well. "Coming to the store alone are you Potter? You might want to be careful, hexes and curses could very well fly at anytime around here."
Harry looked behind him and then straight ahead at Draco. "I am not alone, Hagrid came with me."
Draco snorted. "So you came with that oaf? Even I didn't think you would sink that low Potter. No mum or Dad to speak of but anything would have been better than that."
Harry looked livid, Severus noted. "Some of us aren't fortunate enough to hide behind our mother's skirts all our lives Malfoy. Some of us have real friends, the ones we don't pay to be around, though with your bad attitude you must have to pay plenty for friends." With that Harry turned to exit the store. He held his head high as if Draco's words hadn't offended him, but Severus could see it in his eyes that it had.
As he stepped out of the store Hagrid came rushing across the small street, nearly barreling over a few wizards in his haste. "You aren't supposed to leave the store Harry. I could have been killed if I had lost you."
"I wasn't going far Hagrid honest. I just didn't want to be around Malfoy any more." Harry looked to the cage Hagrid was carrying, as surely anything that was inside would have spilled out by now just from the run over. "Happy Birthday Harry!" Hagrid exclaimed, patting Harry on the shoulder and knocking him back two feet.
Underneath the small cover was a snowy white bird, the most beautiful owl Harry had ever seen. "It's really mine?"
"Why o'course it is. I never got you a proper present before, so I thought I would now. Isn't she a beauty?" Harry's eyes misted up. Sure, Severus got him presents before, but Harry had never had a friend give him anything. Friend.... it was a nice word to both say and think. Maybe, just maybe he would fit in for a change at Hogwarts. Perhaps there he wouldn't stand out so much, and he could just enjoy doing well in school.
"I think I will call her Hedwig," Harry said, stroking her feathers through the cage. He was so caught up in his new pet he didn't even notice the group of redheads bustling by till he was nearly knocked over by one of them. "Pardon," the lady said, as she ushered the herd of children past Harry. He wondered what it must be like to have that many siblings. He often had wished for at least one, but then Dudley would do something incredibly nasty and Harry would rethink that. Knowing his luck a sibling would only have better access to torture him.
"Can we go now Hagrid?"
"If you are ready then I suppose, but don't you want to look around a bit?" Harry honestly didn't, but the giant looked so sullen all of a sudden.
"I guess, but I really am tired." Harry tried to look exhausted, and Severus caught what looked like a very worn out Harry standing next to the giant. Harry looked through a few of the books, and watched as the red headed children with what he assumed was their mum looked through the bin that was for used books. After selecting a few they stood in the line to pay for their things. Harry counted five kids, and wondered how the woman stayed sane. They seemed very nice but also very loud and Harry knew children weren't supposed to be that loud. He giggled a bit to himself as he thought of that much noise around his Dad. The picture of Severus turning as red as the hair on the children's heads in front of him sounded about right.
"Excuse me," the smallest of the children said as she tried to pass by him. Harry looked up to see beautiful green eyes. Not that he had ever thought of girls as anything but gross, but this girl didn't make him want to sick up, this girl made him smile, as she passed by him.
"Come on Harry," I think your Dad might be wondering where we have gotten off to. "Wouldn't want to have him worry now would we?" That was all that was needed to prod Harry towards the door. Taking one last look back Harry saw the Mum and Dad laughing and joking with the five children. He hoped some day he could bring his Dad here, and then he wouldn't feel so out of place.
After another stomach churning trip through the floo Harry said his good-byes to Hagrid and went to put his things up in his room. All he wanted to do was take a nice bath and crawl into bed. He wasn't even hungry, just tired. It was a good thing he had gone to his room, for he hadn't heard the spell being cast.
"Such a good boy he is Professor. Never thought I would see him again after we sent him away to those nasty Muggles. He turned out just fine though didn't he, and you the proud Dad and all. All he talked about all day long was taking his Dad out, how you and he made potions, and went to the beach."
Severus' patience though much better than before had still worn thin. He wanted to speak with Harry, and Hagrid didn't appear to be able to stop chattering on and on. "I thank you for taking him today, and now I am sorry but this is a delicate matter, and one I am forced to keep to myself for another day."
The blast for his wand sent out a blue aura and then a puzzled Hagrid stood before him. "Professor?"
"Thank you Hagrid, the unicorn hairs you brought will be quite sufficient for my potion. Give my regards to Madame Pomfrey and tell her the school supplies will be ready by tomorrow."
Hagrid shook his head, "O' course," he said, not truly remembering having delivered any such thing. With another nod of good-bye he was gone, completely oblivious to the day. Severus called for Gertrude. "Can you have soup and sandwiches brought to Harry's room."
"Gertrude is going, but Master Harry is not long for being awake. He is already yawning." Severus knew the food would be there quickly,.for Gertrude hated for the boy to miss a meal. Just as quickly he went down the hall, and knocked on the door before entering.
"Well, did you enjoy your day out?" he asked. Harry's face lit up seeing his father.
"It was great!" Harry exclaimed, and that saddened Severus just a bit. He had hoped Harry would have wanted him there, but his face showed no sign of that. Instead he told Harry to hurry along and put on his night clothes, and to get into bed.
"It's only seven though," Harry tried to protest in between yawns. He was really fighting a losing battle as Severus' eyebrows rose as yet another yawn came. Just as he slid underneath the covers Gertrude was there with a hot bowl of soup, and a ham and cheese sandwich. Harry really wasn't hungry, but he knew his father wouldn't allow him to skip a meal unless he were ill.
Severus took a seat beside Harry, watching as the boy obviously was choking down the small amount of food. "You know I think for tonight I will let you get by with perhaps only half a sandwich. You have had a long day, and are probably tired."
Harry again tried to shake his head. He was eleven now, much too old to go to bed before the sun even went down, but yet another yawn was making it seem less likely he would be awake for much longer. "Dad, I really did have a good time today." Harry had noticed Severus was very quiet. Though he usually wasn't a talkative thing, they always discussed Harry's day. He laid his sandwich down, and stared at him. "I wish you could have taken me."
Severus' heart did a slight jump. His son had wanted him there. "Be that as it may we must keep this guise up. It wouldn't do for everyone to know." He didn't tell Harry the constant danger and ribbing he would receive should everyone at Hogwarts find out. Letter would go flying out to Slytherin parents in minutes, telling them all about the greasy Potions Master being the golden child's father.
Grabbing Harry's tray from his lap, Severus tucked the covers up around him. Though he was of age now to go to Hogwarts, the boy was still so small for his age, making it seem he needed to be coddled from time to time.
"Sleep Harry, tomorrow you go to Hogwarts. So you will have to get up early to get to the train."
"Will you be on the train?"
"Yes, of course. He could see the fear in Harry's eyes."
"Worry not, nothing will happen. Close your eyes and I will tell you a story."
"What kind of story?"
Sverus began the tale of how he and Lily snuck off to Hogsmeade, warning Harry he shouldn't ever attempt it, but his words fell on deaf ears, for Harry had fallen asleep. Once again Severus tucked the covers up and pulled Harry's glasses off, laying them on the table. This child, his child would head off to Hogwarts tomorrow. Here at home he was Dad, always there if Harry needed him, but there he was the most feared and hated teacher of them all. Severus could admit to himself that he was worried. Looking out the window of Harry's room, he hoped somewhere Lily was watching. Stepping away from the window he went to soak in a hot tub. He didn't think he would sleep tonight, no, he would be pacing the floors for tomorrow would be a huge day.