Chapter Three: Questions and Answers
Harry followed Dumbledore into the living room in silence, wondering what was the matter with the man. Dumbledore seemed erratic; his hands were shaking and he looked in shock.
"Professor, what's wrong?" Harry said once he'd shut the door behind him. Dumbledore had sat down and was now staring at him as if he could not believe his eyes.
"You … you look different," Dumbledore finally answered, his voice hoarse. "I didn't – didn't notice before …"
"I know," Harry answered. "I was going to talk to you about it this summer. What's the matter? Do you know why -"
"Harry, where did you get this?" Dumbledore interrupted, holding out the baby blanket with a trembling hand.
"I – don't know. I've always had it; I guess my mum must have made it."
Dumbledore shook his head, and opened and shut his mouth a few more times before getting out, "I made it."
"You – what?"
"Harry – this was my son's."
There was a long silence.
"Are – are you sure?" Harry asked, trying to be gentle. Dumbledore had said himself that sometimes he thought of both of them as the same.
Dumbledore nodded vigorously. "Yes. This corner here -" he showed Harry "- is stained – chocolate milk. I remember; it was the first and last time he had it."
Harry took in the very subtle brown stain, which come to think of it had always smelt a bit sweeter than the rest of the blanket, but couldn't take in the implications. "Professor – what are you saying?"
"Either -" Dumbledore swallowed visibly, "Your parents got it from my boy, or … or you – are – him."
Harry stared at Dumbledore. It couldn't be possible. All right, it was a strange and scary coincidence, but no more than that – right? After all, Dumbledore's son was dead.
"Professor." Harry sat down and looked Dumbledore straight in the eye. He had never seen his Headmaster look so vulnerable. "Your little boy is dead. You told me, remember?"
Dumbledore closed his eyes, and a tear slipped down his face into his beard. "I never saw his body," he whispered. "I wasn't there. They never – n-never told me where they b-buried him."
"Professor, please, don't get your hopes up," Harry said. "It can't be me. We need to prove it either way. Can you think of a way?"
Dumbledore closed his eyes and stared at the ground, thinking hard. "Harrison had a birthmark," he said suddenly. "On his lower back. A crescent shape."
Harry's stomach leapt.
He had the birthmark. He had never noticed it as a child, but there had been a time back in first year, when Harry had fallen asleep without a pyjama top on. Ron and the other boys had doodled on his back, and then photographed it. Dean had turned the crescent birthmark into a picture of a Cheshire cat. The cat image had become as iconic in Gryffindor House as the scar on his forehead.
Very slowly, Harry stood, rolled up his shirt and turned around.
"Hi, Minerva." Tonks smiled, but it was a weak attempt. "What are you doing here?"
Minerva frowned. "Never mind that, what's the matter with you?" Tonks didn't answer, just looked down at the floor. Minerva sighed, comprehension dawning. "Severus."
She was rewarded with a small nod.
"Sit down, Nymphadora, let me get you some tea."
"I just don't know what's going through his head these days," Tonks said as Minerva busied herself with the kettle. "Before You-Know-Who came back we were so happy, and I knew him so well – I could read him like a book."
"He's probably just thinking of you," Minerva said soothingly. "With his position, your relationship would be so dangerous -"
"I know, that's what I thought when he just got more and more distant and then broke it off. But some of the things he says – it's as if he's deliberately trying to hurt me. It can't all be just for show."
"Well, like you said, you know Severus. In his role he also has to favour certain students, but the number of times Albus has talked to him about over-doing it … I've lost count." Minerva poured out the tea. "He over-plays the part. I'm sure it's killing him too inside, Dora."
Tonks smiled at the nickname that usually only her family used. "Thanks. It's not that I want him to be hurting, I just want to believe that when this is all over we can go back to being the way we were."
"I know." Minerva smiled in empathy. "Believe me, I understand how you feel."
"Has he been as cold to you and Albus?" Tonks asked. "I mean, you two are like family to him. Well, there's no 'like' about it really."
Minerva slowly nodded, sighing. "I'm afraid he has. It's understandable; Severus is good at shutting himself away when he's confronted with his past. And in this case, it's an everyday confrontation."
Tonks stirred her tea gloomily for a moment, and then decided to change the subject. "So, what are you doing here?"
"I was looking for Albus; I haven't seen him since he found out Harry woke."
Tonks jabbed a thumb at the door. "They're in the living room. Been there a pretty long time, but when I knocked Harry told me not to disturb them."
"I've got so many questions," Harry murmured. The room had been very quiet for a while. He and Dumbledore were both sitting on the sofa, Dumbledore with his arm around Harry, who was leaning into him. Both were still trying to get over the shock. "I don't know what to ask first."
"Why don't you start with the small things?" Dumbledore suggested. Harry considered. That was probably a good idea. He didn't think either of them were ready to explore the full picture yet.
"Um …" Harry considered. "What was my first word?"
Dumbledore smiled nostalgically. "It was 'Daddy'. That's what you called me. Well, just 'Da' at first."
Harry felt a lump in his throat. While he was still alive, Sirius had mentioned once that Harry had called James 'Papa'. To Harry, it had never sounded right.
"I think I'll call you 'Daddy'," Harry said in a teasing voice, but really he was serious – it was probably hard enough for Dumbledore to accept the missed years as it was, without a jump such as the one from 'Daddy' to 'Dad' (via 'Professor Dumbledore').
"I'd like that," Dumbledore replied in a soft voice, as if he knew what Harry was thinking.
"What was I like as a baby?" Harry asked.
"Lively," was Dumbledore's immediate response. "Very. Eager and bright – I had barely got you home from the hospital before you started crawling. Curious little tyke you were too, and impatient. Born two months early and all."
Harry chuckled, but a thought occurred to him. "July 31st isn't my birthday, is it?"
"No. The end of July was when you were due; you were actually born in May."
Harry frowned. "Was it – the twentieth?"
Dumbledore blinked in surprise. "How did you know that?"
"I don't know. The day just always felt significant for some reason. The last one was when I started -" He stopped.
"Changing?" Dumbledore suggested.
"Glamour charms," Dumbledore said. "They usually start to expire on a birthday, regardless of when they were cast."
That was one mystery cleared up. Silence fell again. It was only broken by a soft knock on the living room door.
"Come in," Dumbledore said.
Professor McGonagall poked her head around the door. "Ah, there you are, Albus. Hello, Harry."
Harry smiled, noticing the use of first name and grateful for it. "Hi, Professor."
She nodded at him. "Albus, can I have a word? It's about Severus."
"Is it urgent?" Dumbledore asked.
"Well, not life or death, but it's important."
He sighed and nodded. "All right. I'll be back in a moment, Harry." Dumbledore squeezed Harry's hand and placed a kiss on his forehead before leaving the room. Professor McGonagall smiled at Harry again and left.
Harry stifled a yawn. Part of him just wanted to go back to bed and sleep on it, but another part longed to fill in the blanks. He still couldn't believe it was true. He had always been Harry Potter, famous or not – but he wasn't Harry Potter. He was Harrison Dumbledore.
Exactly what that meant, he wasn't sure yet.
The living room door opened and Professor McGonagall re-entered. "Albus just told me," she said in a faint voice, sitting down opposite him. "I can't believe it."
"Neither can I," Harry said. "Where is he?"
"He's having a word with Professor Snape." Professor McGonagall didn't seem able to tear her eyes away from Harry's face. "Sweet Merlin, you look like your father."
Harry turned his head back towards the mirror over the fireplace. The changes in him were definitely more noticeable, but the resemblance between himself and Dumbledore was still fairly subtle – except the eyes. There was no mistaking the blue Dumbledore glint, even among the lingering greenness.
"What am I going to do about the glamour thing?" Harry asked. "At some point people are going to notice. I'll be barely recognisable after the holiday."
"I think a notice-me-not spell should sort that out," Professor McGonagall said. "It doesn't change your appearance back, but it prevents the eye from consciously registering the differences. The only ones who would see through it are the ones that know the spell is there."
"Oh, good." Harry breathed a sigh of relief. "Can that be permanent?"
"As far as I know," Professor McGonagall replied. "You will have to ask Albus later."
Harry nodded. "Right."
Professor McGonagall smiled. "Would you like to see what you looked like before the glamours?"
His head shot up, and she chuckled. "Albus kept a baby book for you, I can fetch it from Hogwarts if you would like."
Albus sighed as Severus stormed out of the room. That had not gone well. He had been wondering for a while if he and Minerva over-parented Severus. He was a grown man, after all, and Albus found it hard to remember that sometimes.
But he knew, deep down, Severus appreciated their attention, having never had parents of his own. His mother had died in childbirth, and his father … well … that would always be a sore subject. Right from his childhood, Minerva and Albus had adopted the roles of his parents, but the relationship was not without its ups and downs.
Since Voldemort had returned, all relationships with Severus seemed to be in a long-term pit. It was as if he was the seventeen-year-old new Death Eater again, angry at them, angry at the world, and angry at himself. Perhaps this time around, the best thing to do was to leave him be.
Albus took a few deep breaths and his mind turned back to Harry. Harry, his baby, who had been under his nose all along. How could he never have seen it, never even have wondered? Why did he have to fail so miserably at being a father?
Still, the self-criticism could wait. Now, he was going to focus on positive. His son was alive. No thoughts of how he had messed up. No thoughts of how the Ministry had ruined his life the day they had taken Harry, and the long painful years that had followed. No thoughts of the life Harry had endured in the meantime. And no thoughts of the long conversation they would inevitably have to have on the who, what, how and why of it. No, now he was just going to be happy.
After an apology to Tonks, he returned to the living-room, and was pleasantly surprised to find Minerva and Harry curled up on the sofa together, the baby book between them. Minerva saw him first, and gestured at him to sit down.
"We've just started looking at it," she said. "I fetched it from the old nursery. Do you remember this one?"
Albus couldn't help but grin as he took in the photograph. This one, taken at three and a half months, featured a Harry covered from head to foot in raspberry jam.
"I still have no idea how that happened," he told the laughing teen. "My back was turned for only five seconds."
"And this one," Minerva said, turning to one a little later. This Harry was coated in cheese sauce. Albus shook his head in amusement.
"I blame Fawkes for that one."
Harry turned back now, pausing at a written page. "Hey, I've found all my first words." He grinned. "What's 'Slivn bet'?"
"Ah, that was Severus. He was trying to teach you to say 'Slytherins are best'."
"Good thing I couldn't remember him saying that at my Sorting," Harry murmured. "I could have ended up Malfoy's best buddy."
"I doubt that," Minerva said. "There's too much Gryffindor in you. I should probably get back to the school." She ruffled Harry's hair and kissed Albus on the cheek. "I'll see you later."
Before she could leave, Albus snaked an arm around her waist and kissed her properly. "You're not allowed to leave without saying goodbye," he teased. "Will you be at the meeting?"
Minerva smiled and nodded. "Yes I will. Bye, Albus."
When she had left, Albus turned back to Harry, and saw he was watching him with a wry smile and a raised eyebrow. "Yes, Harry?"
Harry smirked. "Anything you'd like to tell me about you and my Head of House, Daddy?"
The warm glow he felt at being addressed that way distracted Albus from the question for a moment. "We live together," he said finally. "Which is information you are only privy to as you are family."
"Okay." Harry turned back to the book.
"You don't seem very surprised," Albus commented, sitting back down in Minerva's place.
"The whole school knows there's something between you two, they just don't know what. Don't worry, I'm not going to tell Rita Skeeter or anything."
Albus chuckled. "Good."
Harry turned back again, this time to the first page. On it was written his full name, date and place of birth, and other basic details – such as parents' names. Albus only realised what Harry was staring at as his son spoke.
"Why have I only got you listed in the book as my parent?" Harry asked. Albus swallowed. He should have known this would be one of the first questions Harry would ask. "What about my mum?" A thought seemed to strike Harry suddenly. "Professor McGonagall – she's not -?"
Albus shook his head quickly. "No, Harry, Minerva's not your mother. Not biologically, anyway," he added gently. "But we were together long before you were born, and she loves you as much as I do."
Harry stared at Albus for a moment, frowning. "Well then, if you two were together then, where does my mum fit in? 'Cause I can't imagine you being the kind of person to cheat."
"You're right, I'm not. And I never have." Albus paused. This was very difficult. "You weren't exactly born in the normal way."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Harry." Albus took hold of one of Harry's hands. "One thing you need to learn about life is that there are many things that are possible in the wizarding world, which are not in the Muggle world."
"Well, I know I can't just be your son," Harry said. "I've got to get my black hair from somewhere, haven't I?"
Albus smiled weakly. "Yes, I know. I'm not denying that you had – have – another biological parent. But," he added as Harry tried to speak, "as far as I am concerned, he is -"
"He?" Harry looked stunned, and Albus swallowed. He wished he had had time to plan out what he was going to say.
"Yes, he." There was an awkward pause. "As I was saying, as far as I am concerned, he is not your parent. Not in the same way I am."
"You mean, you were the one who – you know – had me? Or you mean he doesn't give a damn about me?" Harry asked. Albus sighed. Trust Harry to interpret it like that.
"Both. To be honest, Harry, he doesn't know you exist." This was only partially true – after all, Harrison Dumbledore was still technically dead to the world. "But if he did know, yes, he would not care." At least, not in a good way.
"I'm confused," Harry admitted.
"I know. I'm sorry. I haven't really had time to think through everything I need to tell you." Albus rubbed the bridge of his nose. "The one thing you do need to know, Harry, is that you do have a family. Minerva and I, we can't have children of our own; you were a gift to us."
"So, this – walking source of half my DNA," Harry said. "What was he, like a donor?"
"Well – sort of," Albus said. "It's very complicated, and I think it's best left for another day."
Harry nodded. "'Kay." He sighed. "I'm tired anyway."
Albus looked at the clock, and was surprised to find that it was barely lunchtime. "You're probably still exhausted from your magic outburst last week. Go back to bed, I'll bring you something up to eat."
"Thanks," Harry mumbled, getting to his feet. "Daddy?"
"Yes?" Albus replied, the warm glow filling him again.
"When you spoke to Professor Snape earlier, was that about what he said to Tonks this morning? Only she was almost in tears."
Albus nodded. "Yes, I heard. Don't worry about it, Harry."