Whelp II -- The Wrath of Snape

Whelp II - The Wrath of Snape

Chapter Twenty-four

By jharad17

Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters or settings or anything. They all belong to JKRowling. Don't believe me? Compare her bank account to mine.

Previously on "Whelp II -- the Wrath of Snape":

"You will allow him to see Harry?"

Still holding his son's gaze, he said, "No. I will allow Harry to decide.

"But there is no way, short of Merlin, that I will require he make the decision now," he said softly. "Do not fear, Harry, I will not force you to do anything."

As the boy relaxed slightly into Severus' arms, he knew it had been the right thing to say. Both he and Harry had spent their childhood -- and he, much of his adulthood -- being forced to do one thing or another, on threat of beatings, torture or abandonment. In Severus' case, it was hard to know which of those was worst. Though many young children required the threat of punishment to obey, Harry did not. The boy already knew to his bones that disobedience for the least thing meant pain, but Severus wanted his son to learn to spread his wings and take chances, to learn that not everything meant as a suggestion was an order, and that he could do what he wanted . . . within acceptable bounds, of course.

He and Dumbledore spoke for a while longer, discussing when exactly Severus would return to work and how much he had to do to return his classroom to rights. Harry was exhausted, no doubt about it, mostly due to his nightmares and the tension of the last week of wondering when or where Black might show his ugly mug. The boy continued to cling to his "Daddy" even as he eased into sleep.

Severus was Daddy now.

That felt good.

A year ago, he would have sneered at the very idea. He would have railed against the possibility that a child would call him Father, never mind Daddy. He had given up all hope of such an occurrence, in fact, when the only love of his life gave birth, ten months after marrying James Potter.

And now he had Harry. A still-stick-thin boy who looked far younger than his seven years. A clingy little thing, with luminous green eyes, wary eyes. Hopeful eyes. A boy who trusted him, for no reason he could see, except that he had shown the boy kindness instead of cruelty. Warmth instead of cold disdain. Love, instead of antipathy.

He loved his son.

The thought hit him so profoundly it was almost frightening. And yet, a pervasive sense of peace swelled up to spread through Severus Snape, filling him and overflowing his heart, his lungs, everywhere inside, until he realized he was hugging Harry so close to his chest he could barely breathe.

He felt he could never let Harry go again.

Finally, Dumbledore took his leave, no closer to getting his way in the matter of Black than before. A victory, perhaps. A pyrrhic one, in that case, given what had happened to give Severus enough ammunition to thwart Albus' plans. But he would take what he could get. When offered only crumbs, he would not refuse them and starve whilst bemoaning the lack of a full loaf.

Severus had been sitting for many hours. Not long after Dumbledore left, he stood to work out a kink in his leg, with Harry still in his arms. He had thought, from Harry's slack mouth and the relaxation of his body, that they boy was asleep, but as soon as Severus stood, his eyes flicked open. Severus started to put him down, but Harry clutched at him still, so he just held Harry close. Harry settled on his hip, his little arms wrapped around his father's shoulder and neck. Eventually Severus would be more firm and insist Harry stand on his own, but if being held helped relax him for now, he would do whatever he could to mute Harry's anxiety.

"Daddy?" Harry whispered. He'd barely spoken above that level since he had been rescued.

"Yes, Harry?" Severus replied gently. He did everything gently the last two days.

Half of the boy's mouth turned up, but the smile did not seem real. The skin around his eyes tightened instead. "Are we going back to Spinner's End?"

Severus wanted to quell Harry's obvious fear about returning to the place from where he had been kidnapped. At the same time, he didn't want the fear to fester into a phobia. He watched his son's expression carefully as he said, "Not today, no. Perhaps we'll go tomorrow and collect our things before returning to school."

The immediate tension in Harry's limbs was unmistakable. Voice still soft, Severus continued, "You realize that the hospital Mr. Black is in, it's like a prison? He is unable to go anywhere on his own, except around the confines of his room." It should be a stinking cell, his inner voice cried. He quite agreed. "Not here, certainly, and not Spinner's End. He will not be able to get to you again, unless you wish to see him at some later time."

"I . . . I know."

What the head knew was not always believed by the heart, Severus mused. "We'll wait until tomorrow before going back, all right?"

Harry nodded quickly, apparently unnerved by the idea of returning to the place where he had been taken, when once he had been so comfortable there. He did not meet his father's eyes. "Will we sleep there, Daddy?"

"No. We don't need to stay away from the castle any more. I will return to teaching after tomorrow, and you will continue your lessons with Mrs. Weasley."

As if he had forgotten his lessons entirely, Harry's mouth opened with surprise. "Can't you teach me?"

Severus shook his head. "I have Potions classes to teach."

"I can learn Potions, too, Daddy. You said I could!"

"Of course you can," Severus agreed. "When you are old enough to attend Hogwarts, you will be in one of my classes--"

"But potions--"

Severus gave his head a sharp shake and Harry mashed his lips together. "But, if you had not interrupted me," he said quietly as Harry colored, "I would also have said that I will teach you some potions before you attend Hogwarts, too, like we did just last week. Ones which are safe and will be helpful for our household. Some that are even fun. However, loath as I am to admit it, Potions is not the only subject you need to know." He peered into Harry's eyes. "Mrs. Weasley has explained as much to you, hasn't she? That you need to learn to read and write and do your numbers, too?"

"Yes, Daddy, but . . ." Harry's mouth closed so quickly Severus could hear the click of his baby teeth. He had an inkling of what Harry wanted, but he thought it would be better for the boy if he were to speak his needs aloud, something he had never been allowed to do before.

"What is it, Harry?" he asked. "What do you want?"

Lips pressed together, Harry shook his head side to side, as if afraid he would let the words out otherwise. Fear rode in his eyes; fear he would be punished, fear he would be shunned or abandoned. Fear of hearing, "No," as he had always heard whenever he asked for something, before he had been taken from those loathsome Dursleys.

"Tell me, Harry. Please?"

With a hard gulp, Harry bleated out the words. "I want to stay with you. I don't want to go to Wheezys. Please, Daddy, let me stay with you. I'll be good, I promise. Please."

"Harry . . ." With that single word, as if he knew what was to follow, Severus saw his son's hope die and his face go blank, accepting the inevitable.

But Severus lived to foil expectations. Dumbledore would just have to deal with it or find a new Potions Professor. Harry needed him more. "Harry, yes. You can stay with me during my classes for a while at least. I . . . I don't care for the idea of being away from you either."

For the first time since this ordeal had begun, Harry offered him a honest -- though still tentative -- smile.


Harry wasn't exactly sure what "hectic" meant, but was pretty sure "really busy" was close. The next few days were "hectic in the extreme," according to Daddy. He had visits from Professor Dumbledore, Mrs. Weasley, Professors McGonagall and Flitwick, and some people from the Ministry and the Department of Magical Children's Services. The latter made Harry really uncomfortable with their questions, about the Dursleys and Mr. Black and what Daddy was like and how he treated Harry, asking about what he ate and what he wore and when and where he went to sleep. But Daddy told him he had to answer truthfully. He was pretty sure, from the looks they gave each other, that those people didn't actually want to hear the truth.

When he told Daddy his thoughts later, Daddy said he was probably right. And then he bought Harry an ice cream sundae at a place called Fortescue's, for being good and telling them the truth anyway.

All the Slytherins seemed to want Daddy's time, too. In the morning, in the evening, and even when they were eating breakfast or occasional lunches together alone in their rooms (they had to eat dinner and most lunches in the Great Hall every day.)

For instance, one time during lunch, while Harry was busy pushing carrot sticks to the side of his plate in favor of his chips, Daddy talked with some of his "Firsties," which was what he called the youngest Slytherins. It sounded like one of the boys at the door was homesick.

Daddy was firm about him needing to stay in school, but his voice was softer than when he spoke to the older kids. "Listen to me, Mister Flint. I know this is a difficult time for you. You've never been away from home before and you miss your family. But you can make many good friends here, and you need to get used to going to your classes; skiving will not be tolerated any longer. If you have a stomachache in the future, you will need to come and take one of my special anti-stomachache potions. Is that clear?"

Eyes wide, Marcus nodded whilst braced between two of his friends. He had wiped away his tears and was pressing his lips together tightly as if Daddy would try to dose him with that potion right now, and Harry could understand. He had taken one of Daddy's special potions when his tummy was hurting. They were yucky. He never wanted to take one again.

His father continued, "You will learn Magic here such that you could not learn anywhere else. You like magic, don't you? I hear you're a fair flyer, too. Maybe in a year or two you can try out for Quidditch."

The boy nodded again.

"Good. I want you to think about that, think about all the magic you'll learn at Hogwarts, and about flying on your broomstick, every time you think about being homesick or lying about in bed all day. Can you do that?"

The boy gave another quick nod, and before Harry could gape at him too long -- for not being properly polite -- he added a "Yes, sir."

"Excellent. You will write a letter to your parents tonight, letting them know what new things you've learnt this week, and give it to me so I can post it for you." Daddy patted Marcus on the shoulder. "You'll be fine in a week or two. Everyone is a bit rattled the first time they're away from home."

Marcus and the other two boys thanked Harry's father before they left, and Daddy came back to the table to finish lunch. He shook his head, and his long, dark hair hid half of his face. "Firsties."

Harry finished swallowing a mouthful of pumpkin juice. "Why d'you call them that, Daddy?"

"It's their first year, son. First year, Firsties."

"Oh." Harry poked his fork at a carrot stick again, not sure if he wanted to eat it or not.

"Eat up, Harry," Daddy said, making the decision for him. As he obeyed, his father wiped his mouth and stood from the table. "I've several potions I need to work on. Will you be all right--"

"Can I come in and watch? Please, Daddy?"

It was the same every day. Father said he had potions to work on, and Harry asked to stay with him and watch. Every day, Daddy said yes, and most days, he even let Harry help.

"Of course, my little Potions Master." Daddy gave him the wrinkle-eyed look that was one of his widest smiles. "What shall we work on today?"

Harry didn't know the names of all the potions, but he had memorized a fair few. "Amortentia?"

Eyes widening with surprise, Daddy said, "I think not. Not today, at any rate. How about Pepper Up?"

Sounded good to Harry.


The next day, after one of Daddy's classes, he was followed into his office by Rose Parkinson. ". . . my first NEWT year," she was saying, "I was hoping to have a terrific base in Potions, Professor Snape. I had heard you got your Mastery, and at such a young age, too! My parents were, of course, thrilled to hear it, too, though my father doubted anyone could really master such a topic in so short a time . . ."

Father's tone was icy when he replied, "I'm sure they were thrilled, Miss Parkinson. I certainly hope you can live up to their excitement. It has been my experience that students with the greatest potential will succeed when the tools to do the work are available, and Potions is hard work, no getting around it. The rest often will not, no matter the circumstances."

Rose's face reddened and she mumbled something about being chock full of potential before leaving Daddy's office.

Harry looked up from the small desk and chair he had been provided with, in the area behind his father's bigger desk. "She's the one I found the snake with, Daddy, remember?"

Daddy looked almost taken aback, as if he had forgotten all about the asp he and Tree had found. Harry had not seen that snake again, even though Daddy took him outside after classes each afternoon, so he could play before dinner. But he had found other snakes. One even came out of a hole near the back of Daddy's office. He liked talking to them and finding out even more about the castle. The snakes had been so many places!

But then Daddy nodded slowly, his face blank, and said, "I do, Harry. Hush now, for a bit, while I correct some essays, and then we'll go outside," he said. But he stared at the doorway through which Rose had gone for a minute, before coming back to his desk and sitting down.

Harry bent his head over his penmanship again. He smiled to himself as he traced his name over and over on the thin piece of parchment. The parchment was smoother under his fingers than plain paper, but harder to write on. Daddy had helped him learn how to get most of the drippy ink off the quill before trying to write, and taught him how best to hold the quill to have good control over his letters. Harry's writing was much less blotchy now, and his letters and numbers were far straighter, too. Aunt Molly, if he ever had to go back to her again, would be pleased.

But Harry didn't want to go to the Weasleys again. He liked them all right, and he kind of missed playing with Ron, but he liked learning from his father more, with his big words and kindly near-smiles and the blinking green and silver stars he magicked onto the top of Harry's papers when he did a good job with his writing or sums. Harry liked sitting in Daddy's office while Daddy taught his classes next door and listening to him lecture. He was as close to his father as he could be. And when Daddy returned to his office with his own papers to grade or lessons to prepare, Harry was quiet as a mouse so Daddy could concentrate. He knew how to be quiet and out of the way. It was of the things he did best.

Not that Daddy was anything like the Dursleys; he wouldn't hurt Harry if Harry wasn't quiet. Not at all. But his father seemed to really appreciate it when he had uninterrupted time to study and work. He didn't have that stressed look in his eyes when Harry gave him time each day before asking for anything. Besides, Harry was used to never asking for anything anyway. He also knew when quiet and out of the way were the best things to do, and he did those very well. During Daddy's classes, for instance, Harry could hear his low, smooth voice in the next room quite well, and sometimes, when it got too muted in there, Harry could tiptoe to the door and peek out to make sure his father was still there.

Harry wouldn't do anything that might keep him from being able to stay near Daddy all the time, like he wanted. He certainly didn't want Mr. Black to take him away again, and he never ever wanted to be taken back to the Dursleys. As long as he was with Daddy, he was all right. Everything was all right.

At night, though . . . the nights were very bad.

Harry had a hard time falling asleep because he knew Daddy would leave him alone then, and he did not want to be alone. Alone was when the bad man came and stole him away. Alone at night was when the dreams came, about Uncle Vernon catching him eating biscuits that were meant for Dudders, or being out of the cupboard after hours. Alone was frightening.

Having Treacle Tart in his bed helped some, but not much, since she was so small. She couldn't stop the bad man, just slow him down. She couldn't keep the dreams away like Daddy could.

So rather than fall asleep, Harry tried his best to stay awake, since as long as he was awake, Daddy would stay by his side. It was hard to stay awake, though, when he was so very tired. When he did eventually fall asleep, he always woke again soon after, startled by a noise or movement or something, and when he found his Daddy gone, he always crawled into his clothes cupboard to hide. No kidnappers would never find him there.

Treacle always climbed in afterwards, and the two of them huddled close together, wary as could be, hiding from dreams and bad men, until Daddy found them in the morning.

The third night after this happened, Daddy did not take Harry to his room, but to his own room instead. After Harry's teeth were brushed and he was in his nightclothes, Daddy said, "How about you try sleeping in here with me? That way you needn't worry I'm gone, or that you'll be taken away."

Harry nodded solemnly, and then smiled a little more when Daddy took out his wand and waved it around. In a trice, his big bed divided into two smaller ones, both with sheets and blankets. The bed farthest from the door had a green coverlet with little golden snitches on it, being chased by brooms. Harry looked up at his father, who nodded. "That one will be yours, all right?"

"Yes, Dad," Harry said. "Thank you."

"You're welcome."

He tucked Harry in, and sat with him until Harry fell asleep that night, knowing his father would always be with him.


Six Months Later:

On the steps leading up to the main entrance of Hogwarts, Severus Snape stood braced against the chilly March wind and watched his son at play on the lawn. Hagrid's great hound was chasing Harry, and the boy's kneazle -- now full grown -- was chasing both of them. Harry's shrieks of laughter carried to the steps, and Severus was warmed by the sound of it. A few times over the last several months, he had not been sure he would ever see Harry playing and laughing like other children.

Every so often, Harry glanced up the hill, ostensibly to wave at his father or to make a silly face, on the off chance he could get Severus to laugh or wave in return. In truth, Severus knew that his son was simply making sure his father was still there. It was the single biggest issue they had dealt with over the winter. Due to the angling of both Harry and himself, Severus had barely been out of sight or hearing range of his son since the boy's kidnapping six months ago. Neither of them wanted to lose that sense of contact.

Severus waved back, careful to use the hand not holding a much abused letter.

A minute later, a rush of red-haired children raced past Severus to join Harry in outdoor play. Far more sedately, Molly Weasley joined Severus on the bottom step. In comparison to his plain black cloak and robes, her outer robe was bright yellow, making her looking rather like a plucked canary. She pulled it more tightly around herself, to ward off the cold, then clasped her gloved hands together at her waist.

"Good morning, Severus."

"It's half past one," he replied curtly.

She smiled, well used to his chilly greetings. "Of course. Time does fly, after all."

"Only on winged clocks," he murmured, but she had a point. The winter had truly flown by, what with schooling Harry on top of his other classes, and taking care of his son, especially his beautiful, yet still fragile, trust. It was a wobbly thing, easily bumped and bruised, but thus far still intact. Severus aimed to keep it that way.

"March is blowing in like a lion, indeed," Molly continued, hitching up her robe again.

Severus had heard enough. "Spare me your old wise woman mantras. If you have something constructive to say, by all means, spit it out. Please."

A spark of something lit Molly's eyes, but Severus did not think it was anger. Not really. "How has Harry been this week?" she asked finally.

It was the question he had expected, yet he still didn't know how to answer. This week was the first one since last fall where Severus was actively encouraging Harry to do things independently. Though still "incarcerated" at St. Mungo's, Sirius Black had all but ruined Harry's sense of security at Hogwarts or Spinner's End, and the boy had worried for all this time that he would be taken again, and worst of all, taken back to the Dursleys. Today was the first time Harry had voluntarily gone down the hill to play instead of staying within grabbing distance of his father.

"He keeps one eye on me at all times."

Molly nodded. "Soon enough he'll look away. I know it's been taxing. . . ."

Severus made a sound that, from anyone else, might have been called a snort. "You have no idea."

Molly corrected him immediately. "I have seven children, Severus. Seven. I rarely get to use the loo alone, never mind have time to read or create potions. If one of my lot doesn't need me, it's a fair bet one or more of the other six does. I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I wasn't surrounded at all times--"

"Maybe that works for you," Severus snapped, "but I am a solitary man. I lead a solitary life--"

"Not anymore." Her gaze was on the children and, as if on cue, four heads of red hair and one of black turned towards them, and all the children waved.

All the fight washed out of Severus. Molly was right. "No. Not anymore."

"Do you wish it were different?"

Instead of snapping at her again, Severus thought back over the last half year or so, from when he had rescued Harry from the Dursleys to when he'd discovered (for the second time) that his son was a Parselmouth, to seeing him fly on his broom, to the incident with the Squid. To more recent events, like Harry's first Christmas, to the thousand times he might have wanted a bit of privacy or more sleep or less noise, but knew that Harry needed him more. To Harry's questions about Sirius Black, (some of which he had referred to Dumbledore, unable to answer with anything less than the bile-laced vitriol Black deserved) and what it would mean to them, now that Black had been exonerated, cleared of any wrongdoing in the deaths of Lily and James Potter.

Harry was a very curious child, Severus was learning, though only recently had he begun asking questions, something he had never been allowed at the Dursleys. He was also very bright. He learned quickly from listening to Severus talk, and now that he was reading at above his grade level, he seemed to get immense enjoyment from books. When given half a chance, Harry could be affectionate as well, occasionally touching his father's hand or leaning into a hug, and his smile could light up the room.

No. Severus would not trade his experiences with his son for one minute of a solitary life. Never.

Molly must have read that determination in his expression because she merely smiled and continued to watch their children in some intricately concocted game of tag. Then something -- or someone -- caught her eye.

"Why is that hateful man spying on our children?" She pointed, and Severus followed the direction of her finger to find Argus Filch standing less than fifty yards away.

"Ah." Severus let the fire of just retribution warm his belly. "We have taken measures --" a Fidelity Potion "-- to insure he will protect my son and never harm him in any way."

And when, in another six months, the potion wore off, they would reassess its needfulness. Harry was still uncomfortable around the dirty, despicable man, but now that he knew magic protected him, at least he was no longer petrified by the squib.

"And are these measures working?"

"Yesterday, Filch practically flung himself at Fang rather than let the dog knock Harry down." Severus smiled at the memory. "Yes. I believe they are."

A few minutes later, Molly broke the silence again. Harry never talked so constantly; another thing he liked about the boy -- he knew when to be quiet. "I heard --" no doubt from her nosy children "--that you are having Lucius Malfoy's son here for Easter."

She had not made it a question, so Severus decided not to answer. Alas, she realized her error and added a minute later, "Won't having two boys be a bit of a handful? If having just one makes it hard to be alone . . ."

She was, not particularly skillfully, angling for him to bring Harry to the Burrow again, and to perhaps leave him there for a day, or even an afternoon, for his education or her peace of mind or something. She could not understand why neither Harry nor he wished to do that, and had pestered him about it all winter. He had turned her offer down each time.

Still, recalling the last time Draco had spent a week with them -- over the Christmas holidays -- and the subsequent mopping up, both figurative and literal, he and the rest of the staff had needed to do, he nodded grimly. "But Harry seems to enjoy it." And he hoped to encourage Harry to sleep in his own bedroom, with Draco, this time.

Molly laughed softly. "You'll find you do more and more of that as they grow older."

"What, have friends over?"

"That, too. But just in general, doing things your children fancy, which you mightn't want to undertake yourself."

It was true already, Severus mused. From letting Harry have a kneazle to buying him a new broom after the squid ate his first one, to having Draco Malfoy sleep under his roof, to eating fudge sundaes, there were many things he did only because he knew Harry would like them.

"What's that?" she asked a few minutes later, pointing to the letter crushed in his hand.

"A letter."

"Oh? Who from?"

"Someone with a modicum of proper manners."

Molly smiled knowingly. "I heard you'd received something from Sirius Black recently."

"Not that it is any of your business," he snarled, crushing the letter even more in a clenched fist, "but this is not from Black."

"Ah. I thought maybe it was, because of the way you're squishing it so."

Caught out, Severus relaxed his hold. The sender was nearly as vexing as Black, but it would do no good to tell her any--

"Is it from Remus Lupin then? I understand he is back in the area."

There was little Severus detested more than a gossip, and Molly Weasley was one of the worst. But she had helped him with Harry as much as she could, and he was grateful enough for that to not strangle her in the open in front of her children. But she "understood" or "heard" too bloody much! And she would keep pecking at him until he gave in, he knew it. "Yes," he told her at last. Through gritted teeth, he continued, "He wishes to see Harry."

"And you don't want him to."

"Obviously not!"

She gave him a piercing gaze, and if Severus had not been positive she wasn't, he would have sworn she was attempting wordless Legilimency on him. But even her "understands" and "heards" would not have sussed out Severus' objection . . . unless Albus had been more free with others' secrets recently than he had been ten years ago, when Lupin had almost killed Severus, with Black's help, on a full moon. Only he, Albus, James Potter and his Marauders and a select few of Lupin's family knew that he was a werewolf, and though Severus would have loved to shout the information from the highest tower at Hogwarts, he was constrained by the promise he had made to Albus.

"Because he and Black were friends?" Molly guessed.

"Indeed." It was certainly a factor of the whole.

"It's your right, of course. Even if Black is a free man--"

"He's still at St. Mungo's!" And would be for the foreseeable future, unless he started behaving much more sanely. Azkaban had been bad for him, no matter how good he was at avoiding the Dementors.

"I meant free from Azkaban, and from his guilt in the matter of Lily and James. Even so, Harry is your son, and you can decide who he sees."

"Yes. I know."

Like everyone else in England, it seemed, Molly and the rest of the Weasleys had learned that Severus was Harry's biological father when Black had insisted on a paternity test before he would give up his rights to visit Harry and have a say in his education. The news had spread like Fiendfyre, and all sorts of tawdry stories had been written in The Prophet about Severus and his relationship with Lily, none of which he let Harry see.

But that Harry was now officially his son was perhaps the sole benefit of the whole mess, from Black's escape to his commitment to St. Mungo's. Even the Ministry knew now. Cornelius Fudge could not put his hands on Harry, and neither could Black, even if he was still legally Harry's godfather. He could not force Severus to bring Harry to see him.

Severus had promised that, if Harry wanted, he would let the boy see Black. So far, Harry had not shown the slightest inclination to do so, which suited Severus just fine.

But now, this letter from Lupin. He wondered what the werewolf wanted, in truth. What was he playing at, to suddenly emerge from the woodwork after six years of conspicuous absence? What was his angle?

It vexed Severus that he could not tell, from the letter, what Lupin really wanted. He doubted very much it was merely about renewing his relationship with Lily's son -- at least he had done the courtesy of not claiming Harry to be Potter's son. Yes, it was vexing, and Severus had several cutting remarks to send back by way of reply, starting with, "You mangy cur . . ."

He sighed.

"You told Harry he could decide whether to see Black or not." Molly's words, so close upon the heels of his thoughts, made him twitch.

"So I did."

"Has he asked to?"

"Would you ask to go see your kidnapper? A man who terrorized you and stole you from your home?"

Twin blotches of pink appeared on Molly's cheeks. "Has he?"

"If he had, I would have taken him to see that mangy mutt."

A tiny smile played on her lips. "You wouldn't have tried to talk him out of it? Suggested, perhaps, he put off such a trip for a week or a year?"

She knew him too well. It was exactly what he planned to do if Harry asked. "The subject has not come up."

"Lucky for you."

He raised an eyebrow in her direction. Harry was traumatized by that man so badly he has spent the last six months clinging to me like a limpet. I daresay 'luck' has naught to do with it."

Chastised, Molly's coloring darkened. "No, of course not."

"I will do whatever it takes to make Harry happy, to make sure he is cared for and to keep him from being hurt again. I will protect him and make sure nothing comes between us again. Ever."

Red-faced and panting from exertion, Harry chose that moment to come running up to him. He threw his arms around his father and buried his wind-chilled face in Severus' warm robes. With hands under Harry's armpits, Severus swiftly lifted him into the air, then pulled him in for a hug as Harry grinned. "Did you see me, Dad? Did you see me jump over Fang when he was starting to get up?"

"Of course, my little Seeker. You've got some good muscles there; maybe you should go for Beater?"

Harry laughed and shook his head. Beaming as Severus kissed his brow quickly, he squirmed until Severus set him down so he could go running off to his friends again.

Harry was his world. He was everything to him. The world be damned if anyone dared mess with them again.


Author's Note: I have not yet written a Harry's First Real Christmas interlude for the Whelp series, but I might be persuaded to do so . . .

With this extra long Chapter + Epilogue, Whelp II is done! For all who read and review, a heartfelt thanks & super snuggly hugs from Li'l Harry for coming along for the ride! I'll start Part Three in the next month or so. I'll be doing some work on my other two main stories first.