Even with Harry's situation, he was still immensely trusting of Severus. The Potions Master couldn't help but have an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of his stomach that he was the first person who had ever truly been kind to the child; and that sickened him. But regardless, he was extremely glad that Harry was in fact willing to allow Severus to care for him.
Harry was still eating; an onlooker would have thought that the boy had an unlimited stomach for food, but Severus knew the boy was just hungry after four days of nothing. All in all, it made sense; Severus doubted that the child had had much to eat before those four days in the first place. Those facts still unnerved him to no end; how could someone be so cruel to a child?
Severus watched Harry for a while, and then decided to ask questions. He carefully kept his voice low, without any hint of confrontation laced through it. "How are you feeling, Harry?" His words were kind, but even with all the precautions Severus had taken Harry jumped at the sound of his voice.
The boy glanced up at him through hooded lashes, his green eyes forever startling in the dimmed light. "Fine, sir," he said quietly, picking at the piece of egg still sitting in front of him. Severus had eagerly made him more food, knowing that was what the boy wanted, even though he hadn't asked. The man wouldn't be surprised if Harry was sick later, but for the time being he wanted Harry to have all the food he wanted.
"Harry, don't lie to me," Severus said gently, looking at the child kindly. He knew Harry was lying by the darting eyes and the slumped shoulders; he himself had always been a bad liar, but had quickly broken that habit once he had joined the Death Eaters. "I always want you to tell me the truth, no matter what it's about. You need to tell me if you feel hurt or sad or anything. Do you understand, child?" At Harry's nod, Severus prompted him once again. "Now, Harry, how are you feeling?"
"I…" Severus nodded encouragingly as Harry began to speak softly. He wanted the boy to feel comfortable around him, but he of course knew that he couldn't expect too much. "I hurt, sir."
Harry's voice was soft and almost fearful and Severus sighed inaudibly, all the while nodding. That was what he had expected from the child.
"Come here, Harry," he requested gently. The boy scrambled off the bench he had been seated on and stood hesitantly in front of Severus. Severus lightly grasped the boy's shoulders, without using force. He turned him around to lift up the back of his shirt, and when he did he gasped despite himself.
Dark bruises covered the boy's thin frame, and scars crisscrossed across his back. It truly was a gruesome sight, and one that Severus never wanted to see again on his son. Harry kept his face down, tears streaming down his cheeks as Severus ran one pale, long finger along a particularly nasty scar.
He had known that his child was abused at the Dursleys; that much had been obvious when he had first set foot in the house. However, he hadn't suspected that the damage would have been this extensive. No wonder Harry was so scarred, both figuratively and literally; what he had lived through was surely a hell that Severus would condemn no one to, especially a child.
Severus turned Harry around again to face the front and lifted the rest of his shirt. It was just as bad as his back had been; what was more, Severus could see how thin Harry was. His ribs were showing through the skin on his belly, and all his bones seemed to stick out in the wrong places. Idly, Severus wondered if the child had broken bones that had healed irregularly; it wouldn't have surprised him, and he subconsciously vowed to check when he had the time.
Taking the little boy's hand, Severus silently led him into his Potions lab, offering him a small smile of reassurance. Harry followed obediently; he was used to following directions, and he was almost happy that he was back to something he knew. Even though things were obviously different now, the fear that Harry was so used to living in couldn't go away in just a heartbeat.
Severus took a healing salve from his cupboard and sat Harry down on a stool. He also grabbed various potions and salves and lined them up on a small side table that he set up for the occasion.
"I'm going to heal you, Harry," Severus began explaining. "Do you know what that means?" He was purposely trying to get the child to talk as much as possible; although he wouldn't admit it, Severus had always hated silence. He didn't want his child to grow up the same way.
Harry took a few minutes before responding, and he seemed to be concentrating. Severus couldn't help but wonder in the silence how much schooling Harry had had; surely he should know what a doctor was. He couldn't deny that the boy had a relatively good grasp on language, but even with that fact the Potions Master doubted that Harry knew much.
Finally, Harry answered, and Severus smiled when he did. "It means that y-you're going to make me... better, right sir?" Harry said softly, carefully avoiding Severus' eyes.
Still smiling, Severus replied. "That's right, Harry. I'm going to make you feel better. It might hurt a little bit, though, but it will be over soon, okay?" Severus found it important to ask the boy's permission for everything; he had read somewhere that having a say in everything that went on in your life helped with self-confidence. Harry needed all the help he could get.
At Harry's nod of approval, he began to gently run the balm and salves across Harry's back and chest. Harry looked to be in pain, and Severus tried very hard to be as gentle as possible, whispering nothings of comfort to the boy.
Every once in a while Harry gasped, and Severus could clearly see the small tears that were running down his face, no matter how hard the boy was trying to conceal them. "Harry, it's all right to cry out," Severus said quietly. He couldn't help but wonder how the child could possibly stay so quiet. Any other child he knew would have been bawling and most likely screaming by this point; but Harry just stayed still and took the pain. Probably some sort of rule at the Muggles', he thought to himself, cursing them for what seemed to be the millionth time.
Harry did cry out every once in a while after that, and Severus was glad that the boy had listened to him. Severus watched in satisfaction as the bruises quickly faded, and Harry looked up in amazement. "Thank you, sir! That feels so much better!"
Severus smiled. "You're welcome, Harry." He gently cupped the boy's chin in his hand. "Now, tell me: does anything else hurt?"
Harry smiled shyly in return and shook his head. "No, sir," he said.
Severus responded, "Harry, you don't have to call me sir."
Harry frowned and looked confused. "I don't? I thought I had to call everyone sir."
Severus said, "You do when it is a matter of respect," he said, thinking of the best way to explain it. "But I am your father, and you don't have to call me sir."
Harry squinted up at him through black, ugly glasses. "What does 'father' mean?"
Severus gasped aloud despite himself. The boy didn't know what 'father' meant? Well, he admonished himself, he is only seven. Perhaps he knows what it is, just doesn't recognize the word. I'll try a different one, one that a child so young might recognize. Severus knew he had already told the child the fact that he was his daddy, so hopefully Harry would recognize that word.
"I'm your daddy," Severus repeated softly, looking at the green eyes with his own black ones.
Harry's eyes widened once again, and he looked at Severus uncertainly. "If you're my daddy, do you love me?"
Severus nodded. "Yes, Harry. I'm your daddy, and I love you."
Harry was silent for a long moment, looking up at Severus with eyes that revealed that everything wasn't as easy as most people would have hoped. However, Severus couldn't help but pull a gleam of hope from the boy's trusting attitude. Maybe, maybe, they could make this work.
I'm so sorry it's been so long. Over half a year, that's completely ridiculous. Regardless, here is an updated chapter.. Hopefully more will come soon. I know a lot of you can't review, but if you can and are still loyal to this story even after all this time, please review. Thanks :)