When the Kicked Dog Bites Back
Harry remained sitting on the foot of Severus's bed after their father left the infirmary. After a couple of minutes of talking to his brother Harry fell silent as Sirius approached the bed.
"Hey, kiddo, how are feeling?" Sirius asked Harry sounding a bit nervous.
Harry didn't answer just shrugged his shoulders wondering what was making Sirius so nervous.
"Something particular you needed, Black?" Severus asked without emotion, his face even lacking his trademark sneer.
"I was just wondering if I could speak to Harry for a moment." Sirius spoke directly to Severus in the most neutral tone he could manage.
Severus looked at Harry with a raised eyebrow indicating that it was his decision.
Harry looked at his brother and shrugged one shoulder before sliding off the bed indicating to Sirius that he would talk to him privately.
Sirius led Harry to Madam Pomfrey's office, the medi-witch was busy with patients and not present, closing the door behind them. Turning to look at his godson Sirius sighed and ran a hand through his hair. Harry was looking at him expectantly arms crossed and to Sirius it was like looking at a younger Severus Snape. But this wasn't Severus, this was Harry.
"Dumbledore is sending me on a mission and I have to leave soon, but I wanted to talk to you before I left." Sirius began in a hesitant voice as though he were trying to skirt the issue that he had wanted to discuss. Closing his eyes he took and deep breathe before opening them and looking at Harry. In a tone that betrayed his tired sadness he attempted to convey his thoughts since the day Harry had been deaged. "I'm sorry, Harry. I overreacted, that day at Grimmauld Place. Its just that I…James was…" Sirius stumbled for a moment as he began pacing a little. "I always thought you'd call James dad, and after so many years…" Sirius swallowed thinking of his days in Azkaban. "Its very strange hearing you call someone else dad."
Harry waited for a moment before answering in an understanding tone. "But he is my dad, Sirius. He…he's not the way I imagined a dad to be, but he's my dad."
"I know that now," answered Sirius. He continued in a quiet almost contrite tone. "Seeing him with you over the past couple of days…I know that he's your dad."
Harry smiled at his godfather and Sirius felt like a huge weight of lifted off his shoulders. Moving forward he enveloped Harry into a big hug. He hadn't lost his godson.
Tobias left the Headmaster's office morosely. He allowed himself to slouch (something he rarely ever did) with his hands in his pockets, feeling as though he had betrayed his son now more than ever. At the same time, however, he felt like shooting something, preferably Albus Dumbledore.
As he slowly walked down the corridor, away from Dumbledore and the Infirmary, he couldn't help but wondering if Harry (and Severus for that matter) wouldn't be better off without him. Perhaps he should turn around go back to Dumbledore, demand he have charges brought up against the Dursley's and leave once he knew his son would be safe, even if it wasn't with him. As his thoughts drifted through the conversation with Dumbledore and his decision to drop charges against the Dursley's for his, and his sons' safety, Tobias slowly made his way to the Entrance Hall of the castle. He stood there for a moment and looked around in wonder. He could only imagine what his sons must have felt when they saw this place for the first time as small eleven year olds.
With a sigh and a last glance around the grand Entrance Hall, Tobias opened the doors and walked out of the castle.
A couple of hours after lunch, Harry went to the Hospital wing. Not long after he and Sirius had a talk earlier, he and his friends and gone for a walk around the castle. They had eaten lunch in the kitchens then gone to see Hagrid for a while. Now his friends were in the headmaster's office being sent to their new home. For their safely, the Headmaster had set up a new safe house in London for the Weasley's and the Grangers to reside in. This new house, which Harry knew nothing about, would also be the new temporary Order Headquarters. The Grangers would be accompanied with at least one Order member whenever they left the house (for work and such), but Hermione, Ron, and Ginny were forbidden to leave the premises for their own safety. Also, for everyone's safety, Harry was under no circumstances allowed to contact his friends.
Before this summer, Harry would have felt extremely alone under these circumstances, but he didn't this time. Now, he had a brother and father to spend time with and keep him company. Now, he wasn't alone. He would miss his friends, but he would not be as desperate for their companionship.
After saying bye to his friends, he had looked for his dad but couldn't find him anywhere. A couple portraits said they saw him walk outside, but a quick but through glance around the grounds and a trip to Hagrid failed to produce his father. Feeling a bit disappointed, Harry went to the hospital wing. He had hopped to find his father alone so they could talk, but apparently that wouldn't be the case. Walking into the Infirmary, Harry saw Severus pulling a shirt over his head, but no sign of his father or his…mother…for that matter.
"Hey, Sev?" Harry began amazed at the casual tone he could now speak to his once-feared potions master with. "Where's dad?"
Severus turned to look at his little brother and began walking towards him as he answered casually. "I don't know. The last I saw of him was with Dumbledore."
Harry's face crinkled a little bit in confusion. "I can't find him anywhere. Some of the portraits said they saw him leave the castle, but other than that no one knows where he is."
"I'm sure he's around somewhere," Severus tried to sooth his younger brother, but was equally confused about his father's disappearance. It just wasn't like him. "Come. Maybe he went to my quarters and is hiding out there."
The trip to the dungeons was quiet but not at all uncomfortable for the two brothers. Upon reaching his chambers Severus gave the portrait the password and it swung open to reveal an average-sized living room. Sitting on the sofa in front of the fire was not Tobias, as Severus and Harry had been expecting, but Eileen.
Eileen turned her head when she heard the door to her son's chambers swing open, expecting to see Tobias. If she was surprised to see her sons enter instead she didn't show it.
It was silent as mother and sons stared at each other, the tension in the room palpable. Eileen could plainly see the anger growing in both her sons' eyes and slowly stood up from the couch crossing her arms over her chest. Her face remained emotionless. Impassively she questioned her sons. "Where's Tobias?"
"We don't know." Severus ground out through clenched teeth, his dark eyes boring into his mothers.
"Why?" asked Harry in a small but angry voice.
Eileen raised an eyebrow but otherwise remained emotionless. "Why what?"
"What do you think?" Harry shouted the thin amount of control he had on his emotions shattering. "Why did you cast Imperio? Why?"
"I didn't have much choice." Eileen remained impassive.
"Like hell you didn't!" It was Severus who shouted this time, cutting off anything his brother might have been about to say. "You could have cast a dozen different spells on him to make him more complaint. You didn't have to use an Unforgivable. Not to mention you could have told him first."
"And if I had told you first?" Eileen's indifferent facade was quickly being replaced by anger. "Had I told you, you would have wasted precious time trying to decide what to do instead of escaping. We needed a quick solution. It was the only option."
"Yes. Of course, it was." Severus said in a mockingly sarcastic tone that betrayed his rage. "After all, it was easier and you can't be troubled with something that requires patience. Even if it means abandoning your sons!"
"Don't change the sub…" Eileen began with a raised voice but was interrupted by Severus.
"Why? Why the hell not, mother?" Severus spat this last word out with contempt as he advanced on Eileen until he stood directly in front of her. He towered over her in what all his students would have considered an intimidating manner, but Eileen seemed unfazed.
It was silent for several tense minutes before Eileen spoke in a quite voice. "What do you want me to say, Severus?" Eileen paused staring up into her son's dark ebony eyes. His father's eyes. She had never really noticed before, but Severus had his father's eyes. She had noticed they were the same in color, yes, but she had never realized they held the same depth, the same knowing as Tobias' until now. When she spoke her tone became harsher until she spit the last sentence out with more sarcasm then any seventh year potions student would know what to do with. "Do you want me to apologize? Do you want me to stay with you? Do you want us to be one big happy family?"
Eileen watched as her son took a small step back and shook his head, not in answer to her question, but in despondency. Soon her youngest child was by his side. The boy looked ready to cry and yet she could feel no pity for him.
"Get. Out." Severus said quietly, not meeting his mother's eyes. He looked down at his brother, meeting tear-filled, matching black eyes. He suddenly felt angrier than ever. He had given up on having a mother years ago… but Harry. Harry still held on to that hope. A hope that was being crushed at this very moment. "Get! Out!" Severus repeated turning his gaze, filled with hate, to his mother.
Eileen seemed unfazed by any of this. Without a word she, still using Nick's wand, gathered up all her things, which Dumbledore had arranged to have brought to the castle. Once done, she turned back to her sons, both looking at her with unadulterated loathing. She began moving towards the door before asking a question. "Where's your father?"
"We don't know." Harry answered with a wavering, but irritated voice.
"Well," began Eileen, and though her tone remained even she was shaking with rage inside. "I do hope you said your goodbyes then, because he's probably waiting for me so we can both leave."
Eileen knew it was petty, but they had infuriated her to no end. This was why she couldn't be a mother. She exited her son's chambers quickly and soon disappeared around a corner. She knew Tobias wouldn't leave Harry, but she also knew that Harry didn't believe that entirely and that Severus wouldn't be able to convince his brother otherwise. She knew she had hurt the boy and yet all she could feel was anger. All she wanted to do was turn back around, march back to her son's private chambers, and hurt both of them. Clenching her fist she reached the main doors of Hogwarts and was soon out the main gates and apparating away.
It took a couple of minutes after the door slammed ominously behind Eileen for her parting word to sink in. When it did, however, Harry swore his heart stopped. It couldn't be. His father wouldn't leave him. He had promised. Harry vaguely heard his brother talking to him, but couldn't make out the words Severus was whispering to him over the rushing sound that had come to his ears. It was as if the whole world was caving in on him. He couldn't seem to take a proper breath. He had to find his dad. He had to find him now.
Ignoring everything else, Harry took off at a run he was vaguely aware of someone chasing after him and calling his name, but that only made him run faster. He had to find his dad. Running around a corner and ducking into a secret passage that the twins had shown him, he managed to lose the person chasing him. He rubbed at his stinging eyes, refusing to cry. He had lost everyone else; he couldn't lose his dad even if it meant searching the entire castle top to bottom. Even if he had to pull it apart stone by stone. He had to find his dad.
Tobias wasn't sure how he had ended up in the run-down looking wizarding tavern in Hogsmead, but he had. He sat at the deserted bar staring into his third glass of something called fire whiskey. All he could do was run through his conversation with Dumbledore over and over again. Occasionally breaking away from that to think of how his sons would react. He closed his eyes and took another sip of the strong amber liquid in the glass before him.
He could tell his mind was beginning to become muddled and fogged from the alcohol (apparently wizarding drinks contained more alcohol then their muggle counterparts) and sighed when he realized he would have to go back once he finished the glass. He sat there for several minutes in the blissful silence of the tavern trying his best not to feel. For some reason when Eileen walked through the door, he wasn't surprised.
Eileen glanced around the tavern before spotting Tobias and made her way over to him. She sat down on the bar stool next to him. When the bartender came over she ordered a glass of something called a 'Twisted Manicore Tail.' Tobias raised an eyebrow when the drink came in a large goblet with smoke rising from its contents. Eileen bent over and seductively blew the smoke away revealing a dark blue liquid. Tobias continued to watch as she raised the goblet and her perfectly shaped lips pressed against the rim of the cup as he took a sip of the interesting drink.
Eileen sat the goblet back down well aware that Tobias was watching her. For a moment she reconsidered what she was about to do. It would be so easy right now to convince him to leave with her, but…he would never forgive her… or himself, for that matter. Though she had gone searching for him with the intention of leaving with him, she had reconsidered on the walk here. Whatever sort of relationship they had only survived with long absences and sudden reappearances. She was not so naïve as to think that mere love would now or ever could hold their relationship together. Of course, they did love one another, but it wasn't enough. They were just too different. Perhaps in another ten years or so things would be different.
Eileen opened her mouth to give voice to her thoughts but before she could make a single sound, Tobias's angry voice reached her ears.
Eileen cocked an eyebrow her tone betraying her surprise. "Excuse me?"
"You heard me," said Tobias harshly. He had finally had enough. He refused to let her kick him around any longer. She had done more than her share of damage and he was through picking up the pieces every time she got bored and decided to leave.
Eileen stared at Tobias shocked for a moment. She had never expected that from him. Then as quickly as the shock came, it was replaced by anger, narrowing her brown eyes they turned dark and when she spoke it came out as a hiss between clenched teeth. "How dare you…How dare you tell me to leave!"
Tobias, who at some point turned his attention back to his nearly empty glass, turned to face her, a flame in his dark eyes not unlike the one she had just seen in Severus's. His face was suddenly centimeters away from her own and her breath caught with him in such close proximity.
"I'm tired." Tobias began, not sounding the least bit tired – more provoked and livid, actually. "I am tired of you waltzing back into my life whenever you feel like it and expecting me to welcome you with open arms…Well it ends now. Leave, now, and don't expect a warm welcome the next time you come knocking at the door. You've already hurt Severus more than once and now you're hurting Harry, too. It ends now, Eileen. All of it." Tobias paused for a moment taking in Eileen shocked and angry face before turning his attention back to his glass. "Leave, Eileen, and don't come back this time."
With that final comment, Tobias stood up from the bar and, dropping some money on the counter, left Eileen and his half empty drink at the bar, ready to go back to the castle and face his sons.
Did the blasted boy honestly think he wouldn't be able to catch up with him? Severus thought angrily as he pulled an unresponsive, yet obviously distressed Harry back to his private chambers. Though the short-cut his brother took had taken him for a bit of a surprise, he did have other means to find a wayward student. Even if in this case, the boy was not a student but his distressed baby brother. Of course, if he had a wand it would have been much easier. He would have to talk to Dumbledore and arrange for Harry and himself to take a trip to Olivander's…soon.
Unable to talk sense into his young brother in the middle of a rarely-traveled corridor, he merely took hold of the boy's arm and began pulling him back to the dungeons. Yes, he knew Harry was upset, and he wasn't angry with him, but he was angry and he needed to calm down before trying to talk to his brother.
The walk back to his chambers was uneventful as Harry remained silent, no longer panicking, but deeply depressed. Severus was still angry as he pulled his brother back through the door and his angry only increased as he saw who was pacing his living room.
Severus slammed the door behind his brother and turned to face his father. The fury burning in his eyes was matched only by the volume of his voice. "Where the bloody hell have you been?! Do you have any idea what…"
Severus was cut off as he stood face to face with his father. Tobias spoke quietly, but with such a tone as to make Severus's yelling seem like a kittens meow. "Do. Not. Speak to me like that."
Severus's mouth snapped shut and he lowered his head looking for all the world like a contrite child. It wasn't that he was afraid of some sort of punishment his father would deal out to him, but because he respected his father enough to demonstrate his respect. After a moment he met his dad's eyes again and in the most respectful tone he could muster replied. "I apologize. I shouldn't have lost my temper like that."
Tobias nodded, knowing that his son really did have every right to lose his temper; he just didn't know it yet.
"Do you know where…" Severus seemed to search for the right term for a moment before settling on an appropriate one. "Do you know where your wife is?"
This had not been the question Tobias was expecting. Slightly confused, but more angry he replied. "No and I don't care. With luck she's on the other side of the planet already."
Severus seemed shocked by this answer, but before he could form a proper sentence Tobias sighed and spoke again in a quite, resolved voice.
"Perhaps we should all sit down to finish this conversation."
Some time after they had relayed their conversations to each other and Tobias had settled down on the large armchair while Severus and Harry sat on the sofa, they sat in silence contemplating their actions. It was Harry who finally, in a small voice, broke the silence.
"So, she's gone…forever." Harry looked up from where he had been studying his hands and glanced at Tobias and Severus seeking confirmation.
"Yes," answered Tobias with a long suffering sigh. He couldn't really believe it himself.
"Good riddance," said Severus firmly angry laced in his voice. A look at his brother and father showed that they were unable to share his sentiments regarding the conclusion of the subject. "She hasn't exactly done anything extraordinary that would keep us longing for her continued company, now has she? She admitted from the moment we saw her that she wasn't planning on staying. Why should we be sad that she's gone?"
"Because she was my wife, Severus, and, though not a very good one, the mother of my children," Tobias said with more emotion then either of his sons usually heard. "I fell in love with her the moment I saw her and… we had such magnificent, if rather naïve plans for our future. Then…I grew up… and she didn't. Or maybe she did and in doing so we both grew apart and suddenly our future plans separated into two completely different aspirations. But I still loved her. I think I always will."
"Do you regret it?" Harry asked. He was amazed at the feelings his father held for the woman who had walked out on them.
Tobias gave a sort of half smile before replying. "Everyone has regrets Harry. The older you become the more you have, but at some point you realize how total useless those regrets are. All that regrets and, 'what ifs' do is make us wish for the impossible. What's done is done and even if we were able to change it at a moments notice, we shouldn't because its what we learn from our mistakes, especially those we regret, that make us into the people we are." Tobias sighed and leaned forward in his chair resting his elbow on his knees and his head down on his hands. When he lifted his head he looked directly into Harry's eyes and spoke softly but steadily.
"I am, however, sorry Harry about what happened before we entered the tunnel. At the time it seemed like an acceptable solution. You were near panic and at any moment Death Eaters and Voldemort could have come down the stairs and who know what would have happened then. Though Eileen's solution may not have been the best, it was the first conceivable idea anyone had. I am sorry Harry, but I don't regret it."
Harry was unable to look anywhere except his dad's eyes. He had to ask himself if he really understood. In a bizarre way, he thought he did. How many times had he done something that seemed like the only option at the time and later looked back to see how dumb it was? Without consciously realizing it he nodded his head. "I understand, but…it sucked."
Tobias half smiled at the very teenagerish reply.
"Eloquent as ever," Severus said, equally as amused as his father, but he sneered the answer instead.
Harry couldn't help it. He smiled.
"Well," began Tobias a moment latter slightly more elevated then before. "Now, that we've lightened the mood a bit, I feel I must break some bad news to you." Immediately the lightened mood disappeared and the room felt a bit colder. Severus looked expressionless, always a bad sign in Tobias's book, and Harry was frowning again with arms crossed looking at though he were about to pout. "Earlier, Dumbledore and I had a talk. During our conversation he pointed out that Hogwarts was the safest place for any of us to be at the moment and consequently offered me a position as the new History of Magic teacher." Tobias raised a hand effectively silencing the questions that arose on both his sons' lips. "However, in order to take the position I would have to drop the charges against the Dursley's. I agreed."
The room was deathly silent for a moment. No one knew how to respond.
Harry was the first to find his voice and after clearing it questioned in a slightly confused tone. "So, I won't have to testify in court?"
Tobias looked sad as he answered softly. "No Harry, the Dursley's will get off free of any charges, but you will never have to see them again."
"Oh…well," Harry began. He tried not to look to happy, but he really didn't want to take the Dursley's to court he would be happy never having to see them again. "I don't mind really, as long as I don't have to go back…I don't mind."
It was Severus who sighed this time. "Harry, the Dursley's deserved to be punished for what they did to you. Do you understand that? Do you understand that what they did was wrong?"
Harry shrugged, "I guess. It's just that…if it did to go to court, then everyone would know about it…and I don't want the attention…or the pity."
Chancing a glance at his father and brother, Harry saw the sad looks they held and quickly averted his eyes back to studying the knees of his pants. He was grateful when Severus changed the subject.
"Well, now what's this about you replacing Binns?" Severus changed the subject for his brother's benefit. He wasn't about to let it drop, but he still had other things to discuss with his younger brother, too.
Tobias smirked; he knew what he was doing and was willing to let him for the moment. "Binns decided to cross over. Apparently, you, Moody, or Sirius informed him of my knowledge of history and he offered me the job."
"So you'll be here all year?" Harry's mood suddenly brightened again. He had been worried about what would happen when school started, but now…his dad and brother would be with him.
"You know what this means, of course?" Severus asked with a smirk at his brother in an almost teasing tone. "Now you'll have two people here watching you like a hawk, and you'll no longer be able to hide any misdeed. Aww… yes," continued Severus as his brother happy look faded into one of sudden realization. "And just think, unlike most students who misbehave and have to wait until the holidays to face their parents, you'll have one right here."
Harry was staring at his brother, wide-eyed. He hadn't thought of that before. He briefly wondered if this was how his friends felt.
Tobias tried to hold in his laughter as his son's horror stricken expression, but when Harry turned his gaze to him he couldn't help it any longer and burst out laughing.
Harry turned his gaze away from his laughing and, in his opinion, insane father and back to his smirking brother. "You're joking right?"
Severus's smirk got bigger, "Hardly."
Tobias laughed a bit harder.
Severus continued to smirk.
Harry didn't think he would be able to survive them both. He just hoped he would be able to avoid trouble until the end of the summer.
Well we have reached the end. But have no fear there will be a sequel. If I get enough reviews.
Many thanks to breanatalla for beta'ing.
I should post the first chapter of the sequel within the next two weeks. If you want to be altered just add me to your author alerts list when you review.
Please review and tell me what you think of the end of this story.