"You do it."
"It's your turn."
"No it's not!"
"Potter, stop being so annoying."
"Oh, that's rich, considering this is YOUR fault!"
Severus Snape and Harry Potter were face to face, bickering away. Granted, their current predicament would have gotten on the nerves of the most saintly men and women alive – or dead, for that matter.
Three days earlier.
Albus Dumbledore strode into his summer home, followed by a sulky Potions Master and an equally sulky Harry Potter.
"There we are, children," he beamed happily at the two dark-haired men, "our retreat for the rest of summer."
"You don't have to be so happy about it," Severus grumbled. He had been found out as a spy and spent a week in the infirmary recovering from the wounds he had sustained escaping his former colleagues. Then he had been informed that for his safety he would have to accompany his mentor to his summer home, away from his dungeons and his potions lab.
Harry, though pleased to have been rescued from his relatives, was not altogether happy having to spend the summer in close proximity to his least favourite professor. Granted, the man had been somewhat civil, considering he owed Harry his life – the boys vision had allowed the Headmaster to find his unconscious body deep in the Forbidden Forest, where a hasty Apparition had led him. He had been lucky not to end up splinched into a thousand pieces, but he would not have survived the night on his own in any case. Thanks to Harry's message, the Headmaster had found him, brought him to Hogwarts and the infirmary. Of course a small measure of gratitude from the Potions Master was to be expected. Harry just did not think that the shaky truce would hold.
Still, the first day went by without incident. Then Severus, who felt completely out of sorts without his potions, decided that since he lacked a good lab, the kitchen stove would have to do to brew. This had, by all accounts, been a bad idea. First of all because the room was both large and light, with huge windows. Second, because those windows and the door were usually open. Lastly, because there was quite a strong breeze on that particular day.
The combined result of Severus's brewing, Albus Dumbledore opening the door to the hall from where he was about to enter, and the sudden draft that created, caused Severus to lose control of his brew. Fortunately, the headmaster was not hit with much of it.
Harry, who raced in having heard the scream, did not particularly feel inclined to be grateful for that as he retrieved a screaming six month old Dumbledore from the robes. Snape, pale and shaky, cast a diagnostic charm.
"It…It's not that bad," he finally managed, "he didn't ingest much. The potion should wear off in less than a week."
Harry cradled the naked baby to his chest. "I guess we will be babysitting, then," he closed his eyes. "Babysitting the Headmaster…"
Severus hid his face in his arms. "He is going to kill me," he muttered dejectedly.
That first day had been quite the adventure. While Severus cleaned up the potion and the kitchen, Harry managed to Transfigure a usable diaper to put on the baby. Wrapping him in a blanket, he then he walked around with the child against his shoulder until the de-aged Headmaster fell asleep.
Once Severus was done, he and Harry put their thoughts to sleeping arrangements and food. Severus consulted some of the library books and found that a child that was breastfed would still only drink from his mother at that age. He and Harry shared a horrified glance – neither of them felt any interest in trying to duplicate THAT. Another search yielded more results, and Severus managed to recreate the formula. The child could also start on eating very fine applesauce, according to this book.
A joint effort by the two of them had resulted in a crib. They then proceeded to argue where the crib would have to be placed. They both agreed it would be sensible for the child to sleep in one of their rooms instead on his own in the Headmasters master suite. The argument focussed on which of their rooms would be invaded by the baby.
"I don't know how to take care of a baby," Harry protested, as he rocked a little to keep the tiny Dumbledore asleep.
"You seem to be doing fine, Potter," Severus drawled, "and do you suspect I am any better in looking after infants?"
"You know how to make the formula," Harry pointed out.
"I will teach you," Snape countered.
"How about we alternate?" Harry suggested a compromise, "he sleeps with me tonight, and tomorrow night we move the crib to your room."
Snape thought on that. "I agree," he nodded, "would you agree to splitting the day between us as well? You take care of him in the mornings so I have my hands free, and I will take him in the afternoon."
Harry nodded, amazed how easily they had settled it. He strongly suspected Snape felt more than a little guilty about their current predicament, and was glad for Harry's help. He also seemed to honestly believe that the Headmaster would never forgive him. Truth be told, it never occurred to Harry to saddle him with the care of the infant full-time just because Severus was the one who had caused it.
Until the first dirty nappy, that was.
Which was the cause of their current argument. It was evening, the time of the day where both of them shared the responsibility of looking after the baby.
"Oh, I'll do it," Harry shrugged.
"No, I…I apologise," Snape rubbed his forehead, "you are right, this is my fault."
"It was an accident," Harry pointed out, moving to the table, "you did not mean for it to happen. How about I change him while you transfigure a few more nappies? We're running out again."
The baby happily kicked his feet as he was put on the table and beamed at them with the same intensity as the old man did. Harry laughed and ticked his stomach a little. Severus couldn't help a smile.
"He is quite adorable," he stroked his long fingers through the tuft of auburn hair on the small head. The baby tried to grab his hand and he allowed it, not even complaining when little Albus examined his fingers by putting them in his mouth.
Once the baby was cleaned and a new supply of nappies transfigured, Snape carefully lifted the child in his arms.
"I'm so sorry, Albus," he whispered, stroking the small back.
The baby, at least, held no hard feelings and snuggled into the black robes. Severus retrieved the bottle of formula and settled on the couch. It didn't take long for the contents of the bottle to disappear and little Albus closed his eyes, content to fall asleep in Snape's arms.
After settling the baby in his crib, Snape went to look for Harry. He found him in the kitchen.
"Late night snack?" he inquired.
"No," Harry looked up, "that book of yours said he can eat applesauce and the like. I was making some." He stirred in the pan, "I don't think I ought to add sugar. I used sweet apples and a little cinnamon. Would you like to taste?"
Severus declined. "I wish to thank you, for your assistance, Po-Harry," he began stiffly, "I am grateful."
Harry instinctively felt that dismissing the Professor's thanks would not be in Snape's best interest.
"You are welcome, Professor," he said carefully, "I am glad I could help. It is certainly a, erm, unique experience."
"Definitely," Snape's lips quirked upward in the tiniest of smiles. Then he made to move to the livingroom, but hesitated at the threshold. "If you wish, you may call me Severus, this summer. It would not do for you to use my name in class…"
"Thank you…S-Severus," Harry tried, "I will be out when this is ready."
Albus, as it turned out, was crazy about applesauce. Severus and Harry also found out that it took some experience to feed it to a small child without all three of them ending up covered head to toe in the stuff.
Two showers and a babybath later, the experiment was labelled a success and Severus transfigured another set of robes into bibs.
Two more days passed quietly. In the mornings, Harry would look after Albus. He played with the child and brought him into the garden. In the afternoons he would work on his summer essays and cook dinner. Severus would work in the mornings – researching and reading in the library. In the afternoon he would sit with Albus and read to the boy, old children's books he had found in the library and that apparently had belonged to Albus and Aberforth when they were young.
In the sixth night after the accidental de-aging, a very loud crash in the early morning woke the sleeping men. Harry sat up and looked around. Severus stormed into the room.
They both stared at the remains of the crib. There, covered by nothing but the blankets that had been in the crib, sat a fully grown Dumbledore – looking, perhaps, a few years younger than he had been but back to his old self nevertheless.
"Would you mind helping me out of here?" he asked mildly, drawing their attention to the fact that he was pretty much stuck, "and perhaps fetch me a robe?"
They quickly rushed over, helping the Headmaster up from the debris and Harry quickly handed him a bathrobe.
"Well," the Headmaster said, "I think I shall retreat to have a shower, apply some bruise cream and dress in my own clothes. Please excuse me a moment."
They stared after him for several long seconds before Harry shrugged. "Well, it's past five am. No point going back to sleep."
He drew his wand to clean up the wood splinters from the floor, and was not surprised to hear the door to Severus's room close moments later.
Albus Dumbledore returned from his suite, showered and in his own clothes. He smiled at Harry, who was making breakfast.
"Ah, my boy, what wonderful smells. But then, I already experienced your cooking skills," the blue eyes twinkled, "with that delightful applesauce you make."
Harry squeaked. "You remember, Sir?"
"A bit hazy, but yes, I do remember most of it. Ah, ah, don't worry. Of course some of it was embarrassing to recollect, but humility is a good quality. Where is Severus?"
"In his room," Harry said, "He thinks you are furious with him."
"Does he, now?" the Headmaster frowned as he moved to the door. "Carry on, Harry. I am much in the mood for bacon and eggs today."
Severus stood staring out the window. Dumbledore sighed when he saw the tension in the black form.
The Potions Master turned around, refusing to look at the old man. "I am sorry, Headmaster. I shall not bother you any longer…"
Dumbledore pointed to the suitcase on the bed. "Leaving, Severus?"
Snape gave him a confused look. "I…surely you wish me to go?"
"Of course not," the old wizard shook his head, "Severus, it was an accident. You did not mean for me to get de-aged and the two of you did a fine job looking after my infant self. You are in danger still and I would not dream of sending you away."
"Aren't you angry with me, then?" the look of pure disbelief almost made the Headmaster laugh. Almost.
"Not angry, no. Although I am surprised. It is unlike you to just brew in the kitchen, foregoing all safety measures. You are much more cautious than that, my boy. What is wrong?"
Severus lowered his eyes. "It calms me, brewing," he admitted, "with what happened…and the week in the infirmary and then coming here…I felt…unhappy."
"You knew no other way to cope with your frustration," the Headmaster understood. He gently patted Severus on the back, "We will work on that. And while I have no lab here, next time you feel the desire to brew, please discuss it with me. We will think of something. You might want to join Harry – cooking is likely but a poor substitute for brewing…"
Severus smiled a little and finally looked up. "I could try that. I really am sorry, Sir."
"I know, and all is forgiven," Dumbledore assured him, giving him a little push towards the door. "Now come, Harry has breakfast ready and I, for one, am eager to eat solid food again."
With a flick of his wrist, he set the suitcase to unpack itself as they walked towards the heavenly scent of bacon emanating from the kitchen.