Harry and the Unexpected Christmas by teddylonglong
Someone is in for a surprise on Christmas day, which isn't really a Christmas surprise. A family story.
Someone is in for a surprise on Christmas day, which isn't really a Christmas surprise. A family story.
I do not own any of the characters in this story; they all belong to J. K. Rowling, and I am not earning anything by writing this story.
It was on Friday before Christmas during Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts. The Gryffindor and Slytherin students were just sitting in the Potions classroom for their last class before the Christmas holidays. Normally, Professor Snape insisted that they had to work together with their partner, whom he had assigned them at the beginning of the school year. Today he hadn't insisted on this regulation – be it because of anticipation of the holidays without any troublesome students or any other incomprehensible reasons – and had allowed the students to choose their seats as they wanted. As Hermione and Ron were already seated together when Harry entered the classroom, he had to sit with Neville. This itself wasn't a problem as he liked the boy very much. Moreover, they didn't have to work together today but had to brew their own potion. However, partnering with Neville in the Potions classroom was the worst that could happen to any student. And so it was today.
While Harry was concentrating on his potion and was quite certain that he would manage to brew it correctly because he had – maybe because of working together with Malfoy – improved a lot at brewing potions, he still kept an eye on Neville. He was just putting the last ingredient into his perfect, light green potion, which still had to simmer for eight minutes, when the teacher appeared behind Harry. Disappointed because Harry's potion looked perfect, the professor sneered. "Perhaps, Potter, you should also care about your neighbours' potions to prevent cauldrons from exploding. But of course you don't have enough common sense, arrogant and self-centred as you are."
Harry and Neville had been so absorbed in their work that both of them jumped at the provoking words of the Professor and turned towards him. Unfortunately, Neville's movement caused his cauldron, which contained an indefinable orange potion, to tilt and to pour its content over Harry.
Seconds later, Neville and Professor Snape could only see a tiny something under a lot of black cloth.
"Harry!" Hermione shrieked. She had been watching everything from the table behind and was now rushing over, feverishly digging into the bundle of cloth.
A naked baby was lying under the black robe. Its bright green eyes didn't leave any doubt about its identity. Hermione carefully tried to pick up the baby, causing it to begin to cry immediately. In the next instant, for inconceivable reasons, it stretched its arms to the threatening looking teacher. The professor, however, didn't make a move to take the baby from Hermione, and the rest of the class stood there stunned and stared at their classmate and the naked, crying baby in her arms.
Harry just kept crying. He couldn't understand what had happened. Just a moment ago, he had been cuddling with his mummy on the sofa, and now he was suddenly lying on the hard floor, he was freezing, his mummy was gone, and there were many unknown faces around. But everything got even worse. Suddenly he noticed a familiar face. It was his daddy. But he looked a bit different, and he seemed angry. Did he, Harry, do something bad? He reached out for the man, but his daddy didn't take him up. He had to stay with the unknown lady, so Harry just continued crying.
Suddenly, he noticed that it was getting cold around his bottom and proceeded to relieve himself, unfortunately exactly into the direction of the professor.
"Potter!" the professor shouted inflamed with rage. "Who do you think you are?"
"But Professor," Hermione countered. "He is only a baby. We have to put a nappy around him, and we also need clothes for him."
Suddenly, the professor seemed to wake up from his rigour. "What are you doing standing there gawping?" he spat at the remaining students. "Bottle your potions, put them onto my desk, and then you're dismissed. Miss Granger, you will accompany me to the Headmaster."
Finally, Hermione averted her attention back to Harry, noticing that he was shivering and snuffling from the cold. She quickly picked up his robe and tried to put it around the sobbing child, before she hurried after the professor.
When they finally arrived at the Headmaster's office, Hermione was out of breath because she had hardly been able to keep up with the teacher's long strides. Apart from that, she had to carry her heavy school bag and the baby. Harry's cries had turned to hoarse sobs, interrupted by frequent sneezes, and Snape threw the little squaller deadly glances.
Professor Dumbledore offered them a seat before he tried to override the baby's roar by the question, "What happened?"
Harry discovered a new chance to approach the aim of desire, the strong arms of his daddy. He let hear a happy "Dada" and started to move by throwing himself towards his daddy and reached out for the man. Unfortunately, the dark looking professor didn't grip his small hands, and the little boy landed headfirst on the floor. He waited a moment to assess if there was something inside him that called for crying for his mummy. However, he couldn't discover anything, so he stumbled onto his feet and toddled over to the man that he was sure was his daddy.
'Okay, now I'm going to cry, 'cause I just want him to finally pick me up,' he thought, reached out with his arms again und cried. The more the man ignored him, the louder he cried.
"Now, Severus, if the boy wants to be with you at all costs, then why don't you take him, so that we can talk about what happened? With this racket, we can't communicate at all, and I don't want to put a baby under a Silencing charm," Albus urged his younger colleague.
Finally, Snape lifted the small boy up and placed him onto his lap, where the child happily relaxed and once more relieved himself. Fully enraged now, the professor picked the baby up and put it back onto Hermione's lap. After cleaning himself with his wand, he threw the boy a menacing look and hissed, "Now shut up – we're trying to have a conversation here. The world is not moving around you!"
Harry couldn't understand anything. Why was the man so unfriendly? Moreover, he was shivering from the cold as he still hadn't any proper clothes on himself. "Dada," he tried once more to talk to the man who looked like his daddy.
"Miss Granger, I suggest you take Mr. Potter to Madam Pomfrey; in the meantime, I shall tell the Headmaster what happened," Severus suggested, while he pondered whether he had put a headache potion in his pockets this morning. He really needed that now.
Hermione got up from her chair immediately and left the Headmaster's office together with Harry, who was crying even more now. She hurried to the hospital wing, where Madam Pomfrey came out of her office quickly, alerted by the child's crying. She quickly waved her wand over the boy and told Hermione that he was about a year old, before she took the child from her and gasped, "My god, that's Harry!"
Amazingly, Harry calmed down in Pomfrey's arms immediately like he had become quiet on Severus' lap before. "Appi?" he asked, his voice hoarse from crying.
"Yes, Harry. I am Aunt Poppy, exactly. You remember me, don't you?" she asked, and Harry nodded his head. Obviously, he could remember the Healer.
Seizing the opportunity, Hermione informed Poppy about what had happened during the Potions lesson. She had just finished her explanation, when Dumbledore and Severus entered the hospital wing, curious about why it was so quiet.
"Harry knows me," Poppy said simply. "He is one year old, and I can remember that he got sick very often during this time, and Lily frequently brought him to me. That's why he remembers me."
"But then why does he always want to go to Professor Snape?" Hermione asked confused. "Does he recognize him from his childhood, too?"
Nobody could answer this question. "All right, Severus, I can't see any other possibility. I'm sorry, but you'll have to take the child in for the moment. Nearly all students are going home tomorrow, and you're the only one involved, who is staying at Hogwarts during the holidays. Apart from that, Harry obviously seems to like you," Dumbledore stated.
Severus just started to voice vehement protest when the Headmaster continued to speak again. "Do you know which Potion has triggered this? Or do you at least know which Potion you can give to the boy in order to have him return to his normal self?"
"Unfortunately, I didn't have any opportunity to check what the dunderhead Longbottom has brewed," Severus raged with clenched teeth. "I only know that his Potion was ORANGE! Orange! Not a light green as it should have been."
He considered the potions he could brew for the boy. "If he doesn't have any other problems resulting from the potion, I could just brew the 'Inveterasco potion'; he could take it every third day, and with every dose he'd grow a year."
Albus threw Poppy a questioning look. She shook her head. "No. Apart from the fact that he seems to have caught a cold because you didn't dress him at all, he is completely fine."
Everyone stared at the small boy in Poppy's arm, who looked so cute in the green-blue striped romper suit with little white teddy bears on it, which Poppy had conjured for the child. The baby had calmed down and was placidly sucking his thumb.
As much as Severus tried to protest, he could not dissuade Dumbledore from putting Harry into his care over the Christmas holidays. During the times he would be busy brewing, Poppy would look after the boy.
Dumbledore called Dobby and asked him to see that a nursery be put up in Severus' quarters. He also told him to go to Hogsmeade and buy everything Harry would need during the next weeks.
Severus retreated to his private lab in order to start the Aging potion immediately, so that Harry could take the first portion as soon as possible. He also had been ordered by Poppy to brew some kind of Pepper Up potion for babies, so that they could give it to Harry for his cold.
Hermione returned to her dormitory to pack her luggage. With a heavy heart she said good-bye to Harry.
"You needn't worry about him; I'll take good care of him and so will Professor Snape," Poppy reassured her gently.
At first, Poppy tried to put Harry into a bed, which she had transfigured into a crib. However, the boy didn't agree with this solution. He was still suffering from the shock, suddenly being in an unknown environment with many unfamiliar people. Apart from this, his throat and head hurt and he didn't feel well at all. Therefore, he just wanted to stay on the arm of the nice lady, which he knew and who had such a kind voice. He also remembered that she had helped him at least once before when he wasn't feeling well and his mummy had brought him to her.
After carrying the boy around for a while, noticing that he was tired and had to sneeze every now and then, she decided to give him a very light sleeping potion, of which she was certain that she could give to the little tyke. She mixed it with cold water, which the child drank greedily. Seconds later, he was fast asleep, so that she could put him into the crib, where he slept though the rest of the day.
Just before dinner, Severus came to tell Poppy that the Aging potion was finished but had to simmer another twelve hours.
"That's good, Severus. Thanks. Then we can give him the first phial of it tomorrow morning. After that, he can have it every third day. However, you have to come here to the hospital wing for this, so that I can monitor him for a while in case he develops any problems," Poppy decided in a tone that wouldn't allow backtalk. "Now, Severus, will you please take the little one to the Great Hall for dinner?"
"It will require a great deal of sacrifice on my part but if you insist, I will attempt to endure the little brat's company for an hour," the Potions Master said in a bored voice.
"Very well, Severus, as I would like to attend dinner as well. We can sit next to each other, so that I can help you tend to the boy," Poppy answered and took the child from his bed.
Harry lazily opened his eyes and let out a small groan. It hadn't been a dream, he was still in this unknown environment, and he still didn't feel well. Where was his mummy? "Appi, were Mummy?" he croaked hoarsely.
"Unfortunately, your mummy can't be here now; you have to put up with Uncle Severus and Aunt Poppy for a while," Poppy softly explained to the child.
"When he is able to talk in order to get on our nerves even more, he can very well say 'Professor Snape'; I am not his uncle," Severus hissed harshly.
"Dada," Harry shouted happily and reached out for his daddy. As he was standing in the dark he hadn't noticed him before. Unfortunately, he was as unlucky as he had been in the morning since the professor turned away, flabbergasted, and left it to Poppy to change the boy's nappy.
At dinner, Harry was supposed to sit in a high chair between Severus' and Poppy's seats at the Head table. This however didn't go well with the small boy. He put his head onto his arms and squeezed his mouth shut when Poppy tried to feed him. He didn't want to take his spoon into his own hand either.
"Harry, what is wrong? What do you want?" Poppy finally asked desperately when Harry refused a bottle of milk, which Dobby had brought for him, too.
Harry immediately reached for her with both hands in order to be pulled up into her lap. Poppy sighed and pulled the child up – under harsh protest from Severus. "Don't spoil the stupid brat even more. You can see that he believes that he is too good for eating our dinner. Probably, he thinks that he deserves something better."
Poppy ignored her colleague's comments and tried to feed the child on her lap. Harry didn't want to eat anything because he was still very confused, terribly missed his mummy, and his throat was sore. But he still couldn't articulate himself well enough to tell Poppy what was wrong. So he tried to eat a tiny little bit of what Poppy gave him. When she noticed that he wouldn't eat any more she rose from her chair and conjured a thick mattress for the floor, where she sat Harry down, so that he could play with the Duplo blocks that Minerva conjured at the same time.
"Minerva, why does Harry have to stay with Severus during the holidays? You can see that he hates the child!" she complained.
"Albus' ideas are often inscrutable," her friend answered and proceeded to talk to the Headmaster, who was sitting on her other side.
"Minerva, it is very important that these two manage to bond. So far, I haven't been able to provide them with an appropriate opportunity since they have abandoned their Occlumency lessons. However, this time we have to leap at the chance," was the vague explanation the Headmaster provided which the two ladies had to grudgingly accept.
After dinner, Severus resentfully took the child by the hand and walked the boy down to the dungeons. It took them more than forty minutes until they arrived, and Harry could hardy hold himself on his wobbly legs anymore when they finally stopped in front of a portrait. As soon as they entered the living room, Harry let himself slide down to the floor, absolutely exhausted. He was at the end of his rope and he couldn't remember to have been feeling so bad before. Already, he hadn't been feeling well, and this walk had been like a marathon to his small body.
Severus fetched pyjamas for Harry from the wardrobe, in which the house elves had put everything they had bought for the child, and ordered the boy to join him in the bathroom. Harry however didn't move at all.
"If you believe I'm going to carry you like all your admirers do, you're very much mistaken. Come into the bathroom. You have to take a bath before you can go to bed," he said impatiently, and Harry's hands started to shake at the man's tone, who now took his hand and pulled him up from the floor and into the bathroom, where Dobby had already prepared a warm bath for the baby.
Harry anxiously glanced around. His daddy had taken of Harry's clothes, not as playfully as he or mummy normally did, but at least carefully. Then he had put him into the bath tub. The water had just the right temperature, even if Harry was still freezing as he had been doing the whole day. But there weren't any toys in the tub. Normally, mummy and daddy always gave him something to play with. Not even his beloved dragon was there. "Dido?" Harry enquired carefully and threw the professor a questioning look. However, the man ignored him and continued washing the child.
Completely ignoring the tears that were pouring down the boy's cheeks, Severus took the baby out of the tub, dried him with a flick of his wand and magically put a nappy on him without even talking a word to the anxious child. As soon as he had put the light blue pyjamas with little green dinosaurs on the boy, he put him into bed and tucked him in. Harry lifted two small arms in order for his daddy to pick him up. He couldn't understand what had happened. Normally, when mummy or daddy put him to bed, they cuddled with him. Then they used to read him a story and gave him a good night's kiss before they spelled the light off. He still didn't feel well and normally his mummy would take care of him when he wasn't feeling well.
Severus put a charm on the child, which would alert him if the boy woke up during the night. Then he turned off the light and left the room. Harry remained alone and cried himself into a sleep that was very hard to come by.
Severus had just finished grading a few papers when someone knocked at the door. It was Minerva. "I just wanted to see how our youngest one is doing. Are the two of you managing all right?"
Severus groaned. "The brat is in bed and asleep I suppose. I've bathed him and put him to bed. And now I'm just glad to have a few quiet hours without the attention seeking, spoilt little monster."
"Severus!" Minerva admonished him sternly. "I can't understand either why Albus insists on leaving him with you, because I'd like to take the boy in or I know that Poppy loves him too. But as things are he is in your care, and it would be better if you tried to get along with each other."
"Don't you think that Albus is getting old? Are you sure that he knows what he is doing?"
"So far, I had the impression that he very well knows what he does, but why don't you ask him, if you think it will be impossible for you and Harry to get along. May I see him?"
Severus nodded and led her into the nursery. Minerva spoke a weak Lumos charm that lightened the room just enough to see a little bit. She stepped over to Harry's crib and saw that he wasn't sleeping at all. He was just lying there, his eyes closed, and crying silently.
"Harry?" she called softly, and the huge green eyes opened slowly.
When Harry saw Minerva sitting next to his bed, his under lip began to tremble and more tears poured down his cheeks. This aunt he knew as well; he had often visited her together with his mummy. "Ammi," he whispered hoarsely and tried to smile at her. His smile however didn't reach his eyes.
"Yes, my sweetie. I'm Aunt Minerva, you know that. Is everything all right? Are you feeling well?"
The small boy slightly shook his head before he put his hand on his forehead because this movement had hurt. Minerva reached for the child and pulled him out of his bed ignoring Severus' harsh protest. She immediately noticed that the child was burning up and seemed to be utterly knackered. "Severus," she said in a small voice. "You have to call Poppy immediately; Harry has a very high fever."
Two minutes later, Poppy hurried into the room and waved his wand over Harry, who had coiled up on Minerva's lap. "Severus, what have the two of you been doing after dinner?" she asked sharply.
"Nothing," Severus returned. "It took us nearly an hour to walk down here. Then I have bathed him and put him to bed. And now he should be asleep, but perhaps I haven't fawned over him as much as he expected me to," he added sarcastically.
"Severus!" Poppy scolded him immediately. "The child, who is in your care because we thought he would be safe with you, is suffering from a fever of 40.3 (104.5) degrees, and you don't even notice it?! The poor boy is utterly exhausted; for a one-year-old child, who is sick with a cold in the first place, an hour's walk is far too much. You should have carried him at least half of the way. Did you at least read a story to him or give him a good night's kiss?"
"Poppy, what's wrong with him?" Minerva interrupted, before Severus had to answer this question.
"He only seems to have a bad cold. Why he has such a high fever I don't know. Severus, please fetch a fever reducing potion and a glass of water, so that I can dilute the potion."
A minute later, Severus returned with the required potion. In the meantime, Minerva had given Harry to Poppy and had turned to the Floo and called the Headmaster. Poppy informed him about the child's state, and Minerva said sharply, "I believe you went too far with your secrecy, Albus. Either you will explain to us why Harry has to stay with Severus or I shall take the boy with me over the holidays."
Poppy knew her friend Minerva already since they had attended Hogwarts together, and she realized that Minerva was so upset that Albus had to give in to her demands, if he didn't want to be in trouble with his deputy. However, this time she was wrong.
Albus cleared his throat and said firmly, "My dear Minerva, so far, I am the Headmaster and as such, I have decided that little Harry will stay in Severus' care until he is back to his normal age. My secret I shall spill on the day, on which Severus willingly and with full consciousness smiles to Harry."
"For that you can wait a long time," Severus mumbled.
"Severus, I can only tell you to take the chance you are given now to get to know the boy. Believe me, it's worth the effort!" Albus said and stared at him with his blue eyes that were devoid of his normal twinkle.
"I shall try," Severus promised, although it cost him quite an effort to do so. He stood up, went over to Poppy and took over the baby from her. "Just wait, we'll manage, Potter," he whispered into the baby's ear, before he carefully felt his forehead. "What can I do, Poppy?" he then asked. "He is still quite warm."
"You can't give him any more potions right now; you can only use Muggle methods. Only in a few hours you can give him a little more of the diluted fever reducing potion. I'll come back in the morning to check on him."
The three visitors left and Severus put Harry back to bed. As his fever still seemed to be very high, he dared not leave him alone but sat in a chair next to the bed. From time to time, he bathed the child's hot and sweaty face with a cool cloth. At four o'clock in the morning, Severus had just nodded off a little, when Harry suddenly started to whine. Severus was awake immediately and spoke softly to the little boy, who obviously felt worse again. Severus made him drink a little more of the potion, and fortunately this worked immediately, so that Harry finally fell asleep again. Severus nodded off too and didn't wake up until he heard Poppy's voice.
"Good morning, Severus. He is a little better, but not much. When will the Aging Potion be ready, so that we can give him the first portion?"
Severus frowned. "The potion is already ready, but shouldn't we wait until he is back to full health?"
"It would be better, but on the other hand, a two-year-old is able to cope with such a bad cold more easily than a one-year-old. He'll also be able to speak much better and can tell us when something hurts or he needs anything. Therefore, I suggest that we let him take the Potion now."
The rest of the day, Harry spent sleeping. He had grown a few centimetres, a fact that in combination with his cold and the constantly high fever was very unpleasant. Severus tried twice to coax the boy into eating something but had given up in the end because the child just wanted to sleep. In the morning, however, Harry was much better. The aftermath of the Aging potion was over, and for the cold Severus had brewed a child's version of the Pepper Up potion, which made Harry feel much better.
Severus had finally gotten used to having the child in his quarters. However, so far it hadn't been a problem as the boy had to stay in bed and therefore hadn't been able to snoop around anyway.
Poppy returned in the morning and allowed the child to get up for a while. The house-elves set up a huge playpen for Harry in Severus' living room, and after a quiet breakfast in Severus' small dining corner, the professor put Harry into his playpen. Then he proceeded to grade essays at the table where he could still see the small boy.
Harry was a very quiet child. He only spoke when he was asked something, and his speaking abilities were far behind his age. From the few steps Harry had so far walked in his quarters, Severus had gotten the impression that his walking abilities hadn't improved from when he was one year old either. Severus made the decision to try to talk and read to the child as much as possible while he was two years old in order to brush up his language abilities as much as possible.
Severus headed to the playpen. He reached for the boy, and Harry came immediately, both hand up into the air, to let himself being picked up. Severus did him the favour for once and took the boy over to the sofa, which was the warmest place in his quarters due to the near fireplace.
"Now, Potter, are you feeling better today?"
Harry gave him a short nod. "Yes, Hawwy bit bettew."
"What do you think? Shall I read you a story?"
"I loww towy, but Hawwy too much bawdn," the boy replied anxiously.
"No, Harry, you aren't a burden at all," Severus assured the boy, highly surprised by his wording. How could he get the idea to be a burden? Severus read many books to him, which the elves had bought, pleased at how happily and quietly the boy was listening. When they had finished all the books, which were appropriate for a two-year-old, Severus suggested going to the Great Hall for lunch. "Shall we go and meet Aunt Minerva and Aunt Poppy?" he asked the child.
Harry threw him an anxious look and said, "Yes, I wike Aun Min an Aun Poppy. But Howw vewy faw fow Hawwy."
"No, Harry, the Great Hall is not so far. If you can't walk anymore, I can give you a piggy-ride."
This time, they reached the Great Hall in thirty minutes. Harry hadn't taken Severus up to his offer to give him a piggy-ride. He didn't want to be even more of a burden to his daddy than he was anyway because of him being sick. This time it wasn't so strenuous anyway, although he was knackered when they finally arrived at the Great Hall. When they entered the Hall, everyone fawned over Harry, who, however, insisted on sitting on Severus' lap.
"Harry, why don't you eat your meat?" Minerva, who was sitting next to Harry, asked. "Give it a try; it's very tasty."
"Hawwy not 'loud eat meat," the boy answered in a small voice and anxiously watched his hands.
"You are not allowed to eat meat? Who said that?" Minerva asked, very upset.
Again, Harry's voice could hardly be heard when he replied, "Aun Tunia and Uncy Bano".
"Harry, listen very well," Severus said strictly. "You may eat everything that is here on the table. You even must eat meat because it is very important for your body. You are much too thin anyway, and during the last three days you hardly ate anything. Therefore, you have to eat as much as you can."
"Okay, Dada," Harry promised silently.
When Severus and Harry moved to leave the Hall, Minerva and Poppy joined them with the intention to bathe Harry and put him to bed. Severus was of course glad about this, even if Poppy now ordered him to give Harry a piggy-ride down to his quarters. As soon as they arrived, Severus retreated to his lab and enjoyed the toddler's absence.
"Don't you have any toys here?" Minerva asked the child, glancing around the bathroom.
"No, my Dino is gone an oda toy too," Harry answered sadly, and his lower lip started to tremble whiningly.
Minerva waved her wand, and suddenly several animals were swimming in front of Harry in the tub.
"Oh," Harry said delightedly and hesitantly reached for the green dinosaur, throwing Minerva a questioning glance.
"Yes, Harry, you may play with it; they are yours," Minerva assured him, frowning about his reluctance.
The next morning, Draco came to Hogwarts very early. As Severus was his godfather, he knew his password and could enter his quarters directly from the Floo network.
"Hello, Uncle Sev," he greeted his Head of House. "I received your owl. What exactly is happening? You only said that you need my help, but you didn't tell me what for."
Severus made a grimace. "Now, Draco, do you remember what happened last Friday in the Potions class? Longbottom made his failed potion pour over Potter, and he became a baby. And now I have to watch the tiny dunderhead all over the holidays. I had hoped you could keep me company for a few days and help to look after the brat before I become completely lunatic."
"Why?" Draco asked innocently, trying to hide a giggle. "Is he so bad?"
Severus raised an eyebrow and glared at his godson. "You know the spoilt, arrogant Gryffindor, don't you?"
"All right, let's see. How old is he by the way, and do you already have an idea how to turn him back?" Draco asked, relatively calmly.
Severus explained everything to him, before he went over to Harry's room to wake up the boy. To his astonishment, Harry was already awake but was lying quietly in his crib and made a happy sound when he saw his assumed daddy. He immediately scrambled to his feet and pulled himself up, throwing his thin arms into the air. When he noticed Draco entering the room, however, he made two steps backwards, his features changing to a frightened expression.
"Hello Harry, I'm Draco. I came to play with you," Draco said cautiously, being very unsure of what he was supposed to do, and Harry threw him a surprised glance.
Harry didn't know what was happening. Nobody ever played with him. Normally, he spent the whole day in his dark, small room and had to keep quiet in order not to be punished. But the tall boy wanted to play with him. "Pay wif Hawwy?" he asked astonished.
"Yes," Draco said slowly, thinking of what he could do with the little boy. "I can also read something to you if you want me to".
Harry gave him an enthusiastic nod. "Oh yes, pwease. I loww wead. Fanku."
Draco threw Severus a questioning glance, who told him that Harry seemed to be very much behind in talking. The three went to have breakfast in the Great Hall as Severus didn't want his excited colleagues to rush to his quarters because they didn't have the opportunity to fawn about the child and spoil it as much as they could. Afterwards, Draco played with Harry until lunchtime. Together, they built a Duplo zoo, which meant that Draco built it and Harry excitedly destroyed it several times. And Draco, despite himself couldn't help but enjoy playing with Harry; the small boy was just too cute.
Harry had already gotten used to Draco and was very happy that the boy took so much time to play with him. He couldn't remember that anyone had ever played with him. Surely his mummy had done so before, but that was too long ago. During lunch, Draco asked Poppy, if he could take Harry for a walk out to the lake during the afternoon.
Poppy hesitated a short while, before she replied, "All right, Mr. Malfoy, as soon as he wakes up from his nap, you can take him outside. However, you have to put warm clothes on him because he has been very ill during the last days and still has a cold, and it's very cold outside. Please don't stay out for a too long time, and carry him when you notice that he is getting tired."
"All right, Madam Pomfrey. I didn't know that he still takes naps after lunch".
"No, Hawwy no nap, Hawwy fine an wan pay wif Dwaco," Harry tried to protest.
"No, Harry, I want you to take a nap today as you are not back to full health yet, and you'll have a strenuous day tomorrow. But as soon as you wake up, you may go for a walk with Draco," Poppy told him firmly.
Although Harry took a long nap, Draco and Harry had enough time to go for a walk in the snow. Severus had transfigured a piece of wood into a sledge, so that Draco could pull Harry through the snow. Harry was thrilled. He couldn't remember having so much fun ever before. In the evening, Draco gave him a bath and put him to bed.
"Dwaco weed stowwy fow Hawwy?" Harry asked shyly, when Draco tucked him in carefully.
Draco sighed but asked, "Okay, Harry, what shall I read?"
"De stowwy of Bob an de Dwagon," Harry replied firmly and pointed to a book that was lying next to his pillow. Then he lied back into his cushions with a smile on his face. Today had been a very nice day. Even before Draco had finished reading the story, Harry had fallen asleep.
After breakfast the next morning, Poppy accompanied the three to the dungeons to give Harry his potion. This time, his reactions to the potion were even worse than before. Harry spent the whole day in bed with a very high fever, and he was extremely sore. When Draco took him into the bathroom to wash the now three-year-old, he noticed that the child's whole body was covered in bruises and welts. He shouted for his godfather, who joined them immediately.
"Harry, what happened?" he enquired with a small hint of worry in his voice. "Did anyone hurt you?"
"Hawwy not 'loud to say," the child answered, frightened.
"Harry, I have already told you that I have different rules from those of your relatives," Severus told him straight away. "Here, you are allowed to say anything. I even want you to answer my question. Did your uncle do this to you?"
After a little more of encouragement from Severus and Draco, Harry finally admitted that his injuries resulted from his treatment by his relatives. Severus called Poppy for help, who checked on the boy and quickly healed his injuries.
When Draco put him to bed and again read a story for him, Harry suddenly started to cry.
"What's wrong, Harry, does something still hurt?" Draco asked in concern.
Harry slightly shook his head and said, sobbing, so quietly that Draco could hardly hear him, "Hawwy fought Uncy Sewwy is Hawwy's Daddy. But not twue. Hawwy's Daddy is dead."
While Draco still tried to understand what he had meant and pondered what to answer, Harry had already fallen asleep exhaustedly.
During the next two days, Draco occupied little Harry the whole day long. In the morning, the two boys played in Harry's room, while Draco took Harry on an excursion over the castle in the afternoon. Harry's eyes were popping out of his head when he saw the library. So many books! He just loved this place!
"Dwaco, can you wead somefing fow me?" Harry asked enthusiastically and was very disappointed when Draco told him that there were only school books in the library and no children's books."
For compensation, Draco guided Harry into the kitchen, where a bunch of bored house elves gathered around them and placed a whole table full of sweets in front of them. Harry threw a sceptical glance at the sweets and quietly asked Draco, "Can Hawwy haww? Hawwy not 'loud eat swees."
"Yes, Harry, you may eat. Do you remember what Uncle Sev told you a few days ago? That the rules here are different from those at your relatives? Therefore, you may eat sweets, too."
Harry threw him a joyful glance and began to take some of the delicacies. How lucky he was that the stern man, who apparently wasn't his daddy after all, made such nice rules. It would have been so nice if he had a daddy like him. Even if the man seemed not to like Harry, he was much nicer to him than his relatives. Harry absentmindedly took another biscuit, enjoying the strange taste. Unfortunately, dinner was soon afterwards and when Harry didn't want to eat anything at all, Poppy and Severus asked at the same time in a similar annoyed voice, "What have you been eating during the afternoon?"
While Draco confessed, Harry quickly climbed off his chair and onto Minerva's lap, who took him into her arms, smiling fondly at the small boy. Fortunately, Draco promised Poppy and Severus that he would think about what they were doing the next time and asked to leave the matter for now because Harry was much too frightened and anxious anyway.
The next day was Christmas Eve, and Draco had to go home straight after breakfast. He once more tousled the small boy's hair as he couldn't deny that he had grown quite fond of the little tyke and promised to return once more for a few days after Christmas. Finally, he travelled home via the Floo network, while Harry gulped down the potion that made him a four-year-old.
This time, Poppy immediately checked his whole body and noticed that he again had several injuries. Fortunately, she was able to heal everything on the spot. Nevertheless, Harry had to spend the day in bed to Minerva's disappoint. She had hoped that Harry would be able to watch them decorate the huge Christmas tree in the Great Hall. Instead, she spent a while at his bedside and asked him what he wanted to receive from Santa.
"Aunt Min, what is a Santa?" he enquired tiredly, and Minerva threw Severus, who had just entered the room, an appalled glance.
"Do you know what Christmas is, Harry?" Severus wanted to know, raising an eyebrow at the boy.
To the horror of the adults, Harry shook his head, and Minerva and Severus tried together to explain everything about Christmas and Santa to the child. In order not to take away the surprise of Harry's first Christmas morning and because he was still a bit feverish, Severus decided to have dinner in Harry's room. Afterwards, he took the boy to the bathroom, so that he could help him brush his teeth and let him use the toilet, glad that he didn't have to change his nappy anymore. Finally, he put him back to bed and said, "Good night, Harry."
Harry threw Severus an anxious look and asked reluctantly, "A stowwy?"
Severus sighed. Hadn't he sworn not to do anything unnecessary for Potter? But there was something with this boy that made him obey his every wish. "All right," he grudgingly agreed. "What do you want me to read?"
Happily, Harry handed him his favourite book of Bob and the dragon, which he always had next to his pillow.
The rest of the evening, Severus spent thinking about how to change the ageing potion so that Harry wouldn't have to suffer so much from the aftermath. However, he couldn't come up with a solution and at midnight, he decided to go to bed. Before heading to his room, he decided to check on the boy once more. Not that he was worried about the brat, but as he had been ill the whole day, it probably was his duty to check on him, he told himself.
Harry however was not in his bed! Severus spent an hour to search every inch of his quarters without success. The only thing he knew was that Harry definitely couldn´t have left his quarters. But where was he? Slowly Severus' worry turned into anger, which fortunately vanished quickly when he noticed the child curled up in the wardrobe, the door slightly ajar. He carefully took the little tyke by the arm and pulled him out of his small hiding place.
"Harry, what's wrong? What are you doing in the wardrobe?" he softly asked the child when he saw that Harry seemed to have been woken up with Severus' careful movements although the boy's eyes were still closed.
Suddenly, tears were running down his small cheeks, and the boy began to sob. "Hawwy has seed a bad dweam, bad man and gween light to mummy and Hawwy. Den Hawwy afwaid and Hawwy sweep in cubowd."
Unconsciously, Severus stroked the boy's head and carefully wiped away his tears until he suddenly became aware of the fact that this child was Potter, whom he was trying to console. "This only was a stupid dream," he said in spite of knowing better and put the boy back into his bed. "It's all right, nobody is going to hurt you here," he said as calmly as he could and pulled his wand in order to spell off the light.
"Pwease," Harry suddenly spoke up. "Can Hawwy have a bit light, pwease?"
Severus gave him a short nod and left one light as it was when he left the room.
When Severus woke up on Christmas morning, he already assumed that Potter was excitedly running around his quarters looking for presents. But then, he suddenly remembered the happenings of the previous day. Potter hadn't even known what Christmas was. And his relatives had obviously abused him. Strange. All this didn't fit into the image of the spoilt, arrogant Potter, whom he knew, or at least so far had assumed to know. Shaking his head, he entered the child's room. Of course, Harry was awake und busy reading his favourite book.
"Now, shall we go to the Great Hall for breakfast? Afterwards, we can have a look to see if Santa has already brought presents," Severus suggested, while he buttoned Harry's shirt and helped him putting on his green robe.
"Yes," Harry replied eagerly. He had hardly eaten anything the day before and was very hungry.
The instant they entered the Great Hall, Harry stopped walking and looked at the beautiful decoration in awe. Never before had he seen something so gorgeous. "Uncle Sevewus, why awe dewe twees?" he asked astonished, while he was still staring at the impressive decoration.
"These are Christmas trees, Harry," Severus explained, until Rolanda Hooch joined them and pulled Harry over to the breakfast table.
Surprisingly, Harry didn't even flinch. He seemed to like the flying teacher, who was always very funny and playful when Harry came into the Great Hall. This morning, breakfast took quite some time. Harry didn't know if everyone just was slow today or if it was because he took so much time eating because he couldn't take his eyes off the Christmas tree. However, at some stage Albus suggested for everyone to sit in the seats that were arranged in groups around the tree, so that they could have a look to see who had presents under the tree.
"What is 'pwesens'?" Harry whispered to Severus, who calmly explained to him what presents were, while they turned to the tree.
Suddenly, someone gave Harry a present. He looked appalled at the colourful wrapping paper, until Severus told him to open the paper to look what was inside. He even helped Harry to unwrap his present, and Harry cheered with pleasure. He held two books in his hands, which were from the same series as his favourite book. However, they weren't about a dragon as the other book but about a basilisk – whatever that was – and about a phoenix. Everyone laughed about Harry's delighted face when he received his first present. Even Severus smiled at the happy boy on his lap.
Suddenly, in front of Severus a large package appeared out of thin air. With this, Harry got such a fright that he jumped back and fell headfirst from Severus' lap. He stumbled back onto his feet and stared curiously at the package, which wasn't wrapped in colourful wrapping paper but in simple dark green paper. "What is this, Uncle Sevewus?" he asked confused.
"Obviously a present, Harry," Minerva answered for the still shocked Severus. "Why don't you open it, Severus?"
Severus gave her a nod and carefully began to unwrap the parcel. Now he was even more astonished. The parcel held a Pensieve as well as several phials with fluids in various colours. He glanced around, but nobody could or wanted to enlighten him about the meaning of this present. So he just had to head into the Pensieve – with an ambivalent feeling about what to expect.
"Wait, Severus," Minerva, who had noticed a flicker of fright in his eyes until he managed to clear his emotions again, spoke up. "You have no idea what or from whom this is, right?"
"That's correct," her younger colleague answered.
"Then let me accompany you, Severus," Minerva suggested, and while Poppy took Harry onto her lap and asked Rolanda to look for Harry's other presents, Minerva and Severus entered the Pensieve together.
The scene played in the house of the Potters. Lily and Severus were sitting together at a table. Lily said, her voice taut, "Severus, I'm so sorry. When I found out that I was pregnant, I panicked and asked James to marry me, so that everyone would believe it was his child and not an illegitimate child."
Severus stared at Lily, obviously not understanding what Lily was trying to say.
Lily, her eyes troubled, continued, "Poppy helped me to magically prolong my pregnancy, so that our son will be born at the end of July, which is a month late. I have taken the Inhabicua Potion, so that the baby will look like James. James knows that it's not his child. I'm sure you know that you only have to give him the Inhabitas Potion with your blood in it in order to restore his natural appearance."
Severus, his eyes wide with amazement, could only stare at Lily.
Utterly shocked, the two colleagues left the Pensieve. Minerva was the first to recover under the questioning looks of the others. Still unsure if she should throw a silencing spell around Harry, so that he wouldn't hear what they were talking about, she saw that he had fallen asleep on Poppy's lap. Therefore, after a confirming nod from Severus, she told her colleagues what they had seen in the Pensieve.
"Poppy, do you remember having prolonged Lily's pregnancy?"
"Yes, Minerva," her friend replied pensively. "And at that time, I had thought maybe Harry was Severus' son. Unfortunately, I didn't know it for sure, and I couldn't have said anything because of my Healer's oath."
"Then why don't I remember anything of this conversation with Lily?" Severus blurted out, uncharacteristically.
"I have no idea, but I suggest that we see if there are more scenes in the Pensieve," Minerva suggested, and Severus prepared for what they might get to see.
Lily, James, and Harry were sitting on the same sofa in the living room of the Potters. Obviously it was Harry's birthday as there was a cake on the table that was decorated with a huge '1'. Suddenly, the bell rang.
"Oh, that should be your Daddy," Lily said happily and went to open the door.
Harry couldn't be stopped. He hurriedly toddled after his mummy and happily shouted, "Dada, Dada!" As soon as Severus had entered the house, Harry jumped up to him and was taken up.
"Hello, my son. Happy Birthday!" Severus said and handed Harry a box, which was wrapped in wrapping paper with many colourful owls on it. It was a Toddler's Potions Kit, and Harry was thrilled. Severus seemed to be glad to see his son so enthusiastic. However, he told him, "Harry, Daddy will show you what to do with it, okay? You must not play with it on your own, only when Mummy or Daddy are with you. Is that clear?"
Harry nodded happily and climbed up onto Severus' lap.
Here, the scene were just going to leave the Pensieve when another scene started to play.
This scene seemed to take place in the same room again. "Lily," Severus said with a hint of sadness in his voice. "You know that I'm quite good in Occlumency. However, the Dark Lord is much better. It is too dangerous. For your and Harry's safety, I'm going to put all my thoughts in a Pensieve and give them to Albus Dumbledore. The Dark Lord mustn't know about you and Harry. If the war comes to an end, Albus can return the Pensieve to me, so that I'll be able to find back to you. Therefore, I've come to say good-bye. I won't come here again until further notice. However, I hope that the situation will change soon so that I will get to see you again."
With a touching scene, in which Lily burst into tears and Severus consoled her, the memory ended.
When the two colleagues left the Pensieve, Severus took a phial with a silvery liquid in it, which he put into the Pensieve. Then, using his wand he added the memory to his own thoughts. Suddenly, he leaned back into his seat and closed his eyes. He had turned as white as chalk. The arrogant, spoilt Potter boy should really be his son? Impossible! 'Although little Harry is very different,' a small voice in his head pointed out.
He turned to the rest of the phials and discovered a light green potion – no doubt a blood relation test. Only the blood of the two people to be tested had to be added to this.
Severus magically added two drops of blood from his elbow into the phial, and then he went over to Poppy to take two drops of blood from Harry in the same way and added it as well. The mixture that had been a light green before changed its colour to dark blue. Now there wasn't any doubt left – Harry was his son.
Poppy, who knew him better than anyone else, noticed that because of the recovered memory, which involved Lily greatly, he was on the verge of crying. She suddenly put little Harry onto his lap.
For the first time, Severus carefully checked out Harry's features. Right – in his just recovered memory, little Harry looked exactly like this. He carefully stroked the toddler's small face. "I'm so very sorry, Harry," he whispered into the boy's ear. "You knew that I'm your daddy, but I didn't know."
"Severus!" Suddenly, Minerva's voice penetrated his ear. "Look, there is another phial. It says 'Inhabitas Potion'. Is this the Potion that Lily was talking about? Which you have to give Harry, so that he can regain his natural appearance?"
"Yes," Severus replied, sighing. "I only have to add three drops of my blood." He sighed once more. "However, I'm not sure if we should do this today. Poppy, what do you think? Will he have similar problems like with the Aging potion?"
Poppy considered his question for a little while, before she replied, "That might very well be, and if you don't want him to spend Christmas day in bed, you should leave it. We can give it to him tonight after dinner if you want to. However, I want to be with you in order to monitor him."
Severus nodded his agreement and put the phial back onto the table. Suddenly, he glared at Albus and hissed angrily, "You old meddling coot! Why now? Why? Why did my son have to grow up with people, who didn't only hate but abused him? This time, you have taken it too far, Albus. I demand an explanation! Now, old man, or I will hex you with the strongest hex that I know!"
Albus remained pensive, sucking on a lemon drop, before he explained, "I'm sorry, my boy, but there were many reasons why I did not tell, not least of which was the blood protection that Petunia Dursley could offer Harry. I was unsure as well about where your loyalties lie. Of course, as time went on, I began to know you remained loyal to our cause, but when Harry came to Hogwarts, you hated him so much that I just couldn't tell you. I have tried to bring the two of you together several times like for example when I ordered you to teach the boy Occlumency. However, that didn't work out as you made it rather difficult for the boy. So I had to grip the next chance, and this time you managed to finally get closer to the boy, so that I thought it would be safe enough to trust you with my secret."
Severus didn't give a sign that he had acknowledged the Headmaster's reasoning, but in fact, he felt his anger deflating. Albus' words struck him harshly and he had to admit that his own attitude toward the boy had made it very difficult for the Headmaster to entrust him with this secret. Severus cursed himself for his harsh treatment of Harry.
With Severus shouting, Harry had woken up and looked around frightened. Severus pulled him close to his chest and assured him that everything was all right. Finally, he put a silencing spell around his son and himself and said, "Harry, I'm so very sorry. I have just discovered that you're my son. I know that you have known when you were small, but I didn't believe it because I didn't know it. I am very sorry, and I'm also glad to have such a fine son as you are."
"Daddy," Harry said happily and nestled deeper into the robes of his finally found father. They remained like this and cuddled for a long time, until Minerva directly talked to them.
"Congratulations, Harry and Severus! I'm very happy for you! However, we're going to have lunch. Are you coming?"
Harry and Severus remained at the Great Hall until after dinner because Harry received so many presents that it took him the whole afternoon to unwrap them, look at them, and finally play with them. After dinner, Poppy accompanied them to their quarters, where Severus explained to Harry that he had to take a potion again. Unfortunately, the aftermath of this potion was as bad as with the Aging potion, and Severus stayed the whole night at Harry's bedside to cool his fevered forehead and to look after him, while he watched, how his son's stature and facial features changed.
Very slowly, he was able to recognise a resemblance to himself. Gradually, he started to realize that this boy was in fact his son, and a feeling of happiness spread all over his body. He was ashamed thinking that he had had his son straight under his nose for more than five years but hadn't been able to recognise it because of his stupid aversion to James Potter. But now, nobody would be able to deprive him of his child.
Moreover, he would do his best to make up to his son for the lost years and would try to make him forget the pain that had so far been his childhood. When Harry was back to at least eleven and his memories of the first week at Hogwarts returned, he would have to apologise to his son and explain why he had treated him so harshly. Today, he had experienced the best Christmas after Lily's death because getting his own family had always been his greatest wish. And today, this wish had finally been fulfilled.
During the night, Severus had a lot of time to think, and when they sat at the breakfast table in the Great Hall the next day, he introduced his son to everyone. Except for the green eyes, Harry looked exactly like a younger version of Severus. Finally, he told his colleagues what he had decided during the night.
"I have thought a lot during the night and I've made a decision. I will not give Harry the Aging potion anymore. He will grow up here at Hogwarts as my son, and I shall do anything in order for him to have a happy childhood."
I have received so many requests for a sequel that I decided to comply and continue this story (in a sequel).
I have received so many requests for a sequel that I decided to comply and continue this story (in a sequel).
The sequel is now uploaded (and completed) under the title "Harry and the Mystery of Age".
Thanks for all your support! teddylonglong