Tying Up Loose Ends

The headlines in the paper the next morning made both Harry and Severus chuckle. The main headline of the Prophet read: ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN IN THE SKYBOLT—AND IT DID! Dark Horse Entry Boreal and his Bonded Swept Away the Competition in One of the Tensest Races in History. A picture below that showed the finish of the race, with Boreal outflying Wind Dancer. Both Harry and Severus, or rather their aliases, were quoted in the article. "Looks like there's a new celebrity in town," was another article and Harry grinned and wondered what the wizarding world would make of it if they learned that their "new celebrity" was really their old one—Harry Potter.

A headline in Silver Wings made him dissolve into helpless laughter. It read: KNIGHT GIVES O'SHEA THE BOOT! Below it was a picture of Severus (disguised) kicking O'Shea's man Mulligan in the backside for threatening his son. Apparently the reporters who had seen and heard the altercation before the race had been highly amused to see someone finally stand up to O'Shea's operation, and thus the picture and the article that followed, praising the courage of newcomer Tobias Knight to give the racing mogul's bully boys what for.

Severus peered over his son's shoulder, curious as to why the boy was laughing so hard, saw the picture, and couldn't suppress and chuckle or two himself. "Now that was one of my better moments," he muttered, half to himself. He had taken great pleasure in kicking that little toad's posterior.

After the race, while they were still speaking to several reporters, Michael O'Shea himself had approached Snape and offered to buy Boreal for him for the sum of 5000 Galleons. Harry had been hard pressed not to tell the man to go f**** himself, and Boreal wanted to kick the slimy man all the way to the moon, and with extreme difficulty restrained himself. Severus refused, and told O'Shea point blank that neither Boreal or any of his get were for sale, now or ever. Especially not to you, was the unspoken message. O'Shea's face darkened, but there was little he could do legally, since the contract was binding that relinquished all prior claims on Boreal and Harry was now Boreal's sole owner and bonded for life.

He stomped away like a petulant spoiled brat, and it was rumored that was the first time anyone had ever gotten the best of a deal or an argument with Michael O'Shea.

Severus then sent a confidential letter by Express Owl Post to Dumbledore, telling the Headmaster of Harry's bonding and Boreal. He explained that while the pegasus had to come to Hogwarts with Harry, there was no real need to advertise the fact that Harry now had a famous racer, and had asked Dumbledore to provide stabling that was somewhat hidden and give Harry a Portkey that would take him to and from there so that no one would know he was taking care of a pegasus on a daily basis. This was due to trying to maintain their alias as the Knight family, and while Severus knew the alias would not last forever, he hoped it would serve them until Voldemort was defeated.

The old wizard agreed, he really had no choice, not if he wanted to keep Harry as a student and also retain Severus's services as a spy for the Order. He had told Severus he would set something up with Hagrid, whom both trusted to keep Boreal's presence a secret, and have a stable and everything ready when Harry returned to school in a week. Severus had also requested that Dumbledore cease paying the stipend to the Dursleys, since they were no longer entitled to it, as Harry was no longer their ward. Dumbledore agreed to that as well, sounding a trifle pleased.

That was yet another of Severus's best moments, sticking it to those pinchpenny, cold-hearted, nasty people where it would hurt the most—their purse. He had a sneaking suspicion that all the extra luxuries the Dursleys had purchased had come from the money Dumbledore had faithfully paid them each month, and with that gone, they would have to get by on Vernon's salary alone, poor things! Severus didn't feel the least bit sorry for them. The Galleon tree has stopped giving –too bad, so sad, he thought with a sneer. He could just see the overgrown walrus Vernon screaming in an apoplectic frenzy when he discovered the stipend had been withdrawn. That image was one that caused him to smile every time he thought of it. Revenge was sweet, indeed!

He told Harry of that little bit of revenge as they were setting out to go shopping in Diagon Alley, and the boy smiled all the way to Gringotts. The money Harry had won from the Skybolt was placed in his vault, to be used for Boreal's expenses during the school year and the summers in the glen. It was more than enough to take care of the pegasus in style for the rest of his days.

When Harry would have withdrawn money for his school supplies, Severus refused to allow him to do so, saying that as Harry's guardian and father, it was his responsibility to provide school supplies and new clothes for his ward. "You may take some money out for pocket money, but anything else you need, I shall provide for you. That is, after all, what a good guardian does," he told the boy firmly. "Now, let us head over to the apothecary and get the ingredients you'll need for your potions class first."

"Top priority, huh, Dad?" Harry said, amused.

"Always," answered the Potions Master and led the way to the shop.

Once they had purchased all the necessary ingredients for the upcoming year and a new cauldron and set of stirrers and scales as well, they walked over to Madam Malkins for new robes and then tackled Flourish and Blotts.

Severus frowned at the line, it was practically out the door and down the sidewalk. "Must be having a sale. Either that or some kind of book signing," for he recalled the last time a famous wizard had been signing copies of his bestseller, Life with my Brother, A Memoir, written by Aberforth Dumbledore, Albus's younger brother. It was a memoir of young Abe and Albus during their childhood and adolescence and Severus had bought a signed copy, curious as to what it contained. He had found it a most interesting and lively read, Aberforth had a wicked pointed sense of humor and was not averse to puncturing the bubble of "the good-hearted jolly old man" his brother portrayed, nor sparing himself either. Albus Dumbledore had been a hellraiser in his youth, probably why he had allowed the Marauders to get away with so much, Severus had thought sourly.

But Snape was almost positive Aberforth had not come out with a sequel, he would have been notified by post. The master wizard heaved a sigh and walked to the end of the queue, vowing that next time he would put Harry's name on the list for mail-order school books, and have them delivered directly to their doorstep. Then there would be no need to wait in this infernal line.

Harry shifted from foot to foot, he had never been good with waiting. "Dad, do I have to wait here with you? Or can I meet you back here after I get some ice cream?" He threw his father his most potent green-eyed begging stare.

The Glamoured Severus heaved a sigh. "Very well. Go and buy yourself a sundae or whatever you like, then meet me back here afterwards. By that time I hope this bloody line will have moved into the store."

"Thanks, sir." Harry scampered off to the ice cream shop, leaving Severus to the tedious task of waiting to get into the bookstore.

In the ice cream shop, Harry took his time selecting his sundae, since this was the first time he had leisure in which to do so. And the money to order whatever he wanted. He was torn between ordering a triple chocolate turtle sundae or a strawberry banana split with whipped cream and nuts. While he was trying to make up his mind, he heard a familiar voice say, "Hey, Harry, guess you got sick of waiting at Flourish and Blotts too, huh?"

It was Ron, accompanied by Fred, George, and Percy.

Harry turned around to greet his friend and the other Weasleys. "Hello. Yeah, I told my Uncle Toby," he winked surreptitiously at Ron, who nodded. "He could wait on line while I went and got a sundae. You hungry?"

"Yeah, but all I can afford is a single scoop. Mum and Dad said the cost of books have gone through the roof." Ron told him quietly.

"Oh," Harry said, having never really needed to worry about the cost of books before. "Well, consider the sundaes my treat."

"Harry, no. That's not necessary." Percy put in.

"It's non-negotiable, Percy," Harry interjected firmly. "Now pick out what you want."

The four Weasleys went and studied the menu on the wall for a few minutes, and while they were deciding, Harry got a wicked mischievous idea for a prank to play upon his unsuspecting father. It had been a long time since he felt comfortable enough to play a prank upon anyone, much less an adult, but he was feeling flush after his winning of the Skybolt and he also recalled Severus agreeing to allow him to spend the last few days of the break with Ron and his family, which was why they were going shopping now.

"All set?" he asked after a few minutes. "Good." Harry quickly told them about the prank he wished to play upon his "uncle" and the twins grinned in delight and said it would be quite funny.

"Hope your uncle has a sense of humor though," warned Percy.

Harry hoped so also, otherwise he had a feeling he was going to be scrubbing a few more cauldrons. Then he announced that he would buy anyone who wanted one a free sundae. The twenty kids in the shop all took him up on the offer. The proprietor of the ice cream shop was delighted, for he hadn't had this much business all week.

Soon everyone was eating a sundae and when the proprietor asked who was paying, Harry responded airily, "Oh just put it on my uncle's tab, okay? His name's Tobias Knight."

The proprietor wrote up the slip and said he would have his owl deliver it.

The Weasleys and Harry exchanged glances and slipped out to follow the owl back to Flourish and Blotts.

Meanwhile, Severus' patience was beginning to shred, the line had moved inside, but now he could see why the queue had barely been moving. There, seated at an expensive cherry wood table was a man Snape regarded as a practiced liar and a waste of breath—Gilderoy Lockhart. The man was signing books with a gold quill, wearing dressy purple robes trimmed with cloth of gold and so forth. Snape's lip curled.

Lockhart! Ugh! That book—Magical Me— Severus peered at the title. —isn't worth the paper it's printed upon. If he's done half the things he claims, the braggart, I'll eat my robes. The man was a first rate con artist and panhandler, his smile as phony as a promise made by Voldemort. He quickly scanned the rest of the books on Harry's required list for next term and longed to chuck the list for DADA into the nearest bin and just tutor Harry privately. For all the books on the Defense list were biographies about Lockhart and all of his supposed encounters with Dark creatures. Just looking at the list made Severus nauseous. He hated having to waste good money on the imbecile's books, but he had no choice. He wondered what blandishments the man had spouted in Albus's ear to get hired.

Just then, there was a commotion about two spots up in line, and Severus stepped back to avoid being trampled. He saw, to his amazement, Lucius Malfoy throwing a punch at Arthur Weasley, the two couldn't stand each other and apparently their mutual animosity had proven too much for them to handle.

Now Arthur was an Order member, and while Severus thought he tended to get too obsessed with Muggle culture, he was actually a decent fellow, honest and upright. Severus respected that and he had been looking for an excuse to get back at Malfoy senior for a number of unpleasant situations at Death Eater meetings for years. Here was the perfect opportunity.

He moved so that he was directly behind Lucius and then bumped into the other man hard on purpose. "You need to watch where you're going, buddy," he cried angrily, in his best American accent.

Lucius spun on him, growling, "Mind your own bloody business, you Mudblood-loving Yank."

"That's what I'm doing, you high-and-mighty horse's ass!" snarled Severus. "You owe me an apology, mister!"

"Excuse me? I beg to differ." Lucius sneered. "I owe you nothing, you ignorant bumpkin—"

He never finished his sentence, because Snape's fist was slammed into his teeth, effectively cutting off his next slur and silencing him at the same time.

The startled Lucius landed hard on his backside, his mouth bleeding, his gray eyes wide with shock, spitting two teeth into his palm.

"Now I've got my apology," said the other wizard, dusting off his hands and giving Lucius a withering look of disdain. Then he moved forward and took the copies of Lockhart's books from the table and went to pay for them plus the others he had gathered while waiting on line using a Summoning Charm. Lockhart's books had not been able to be Summoned, otherwise he would have done so.

As he turned away, he heard several people in the crowd begin to applaud, including Arthur Weasley, at least before his wife came and dragged him outside and lectured him into next week for causing a ruckus in public. Severus hid a smile, he had been longing to clock the arrogant bastard one for ages, but had never been able to follow through with that impulse without blowing his cover.

He finished paying for his purchases, ignoring the cashier who was gazing at him with unadulterated hero-worship. Then he turned to exit the bookstore, wondering as he did so where the blazes his son was. How long did it take to eat a damn sundae anyhow?

As Severus exited the bookstore, Harry and the Weasleys were hidden behind some large potted fir trees, watching as the large brown owl landed upon Severus's shoulder and handed him a small parchment scroll.

After he had fed the owl a small treat, he carried a few in one of the pockets of his robes, Severus opened the scroll and read it.

His face turned several different shades at once, from beet red to ghost pale with two spots of color in his cheekbones. He seemed on the verge of exploding. "Why that . . .that impudent, wretched, arrogant, little brat! The nerve! Twenty-five sundaes! How the bloody blazes could he eat twenty-five sundaes?!" He spun about, glaring down the street, and several children ducked behind their mothers and whimpered, and several men backed away and hurried in the opposite direction. "Harry, where are you? Harry James Knight, come here this instant!"

"Uh, I think that—"

"You're dead, mate," said George.

"Looks like he's ready to conjure up a spoon, Harry," Percy observed. "I could have told you this was a bad idea."

Harry winced, for he could see that his father was quite annoyed. "Umm . . .he'll forgive me soon as I uh, explain everything." Then he took a deep breath and marched out to face the angry guardian.

"Harry!" Severus snapped, striding over to the boy and shaking him hard. "What is the meaning of this, young man?" He thrust the bill under his son's nose, glaring fit to kill.

"It was an impulse, sir. I bought the Weasleys and everyone in the shop sundaes, but you don't really owe them anything, Uncle Toby."

"How do you figure that one, young man?"

"Because this was just a little joke. I wanted to see how you'd react if I'd bought twenty-five sundaes. I'll pay for them, sir."

Severus was breathing hard and he gazed down at his son with a mixture of grudging respect at his daring and anger at his cheek and a small part of him was amused at the prank. "A prank? This was your idea of a joke?"

"Yes, sir."

"I ought to turn you over my knee for nearly giving me a stroke, you incorrigible brat," Severus scolded, but there was no bite to his tone. "Twenty-five bloody sundaes!" He held out a hand and Harry placed the pouch with his money in it. Severus counted out the price and sealed it in an envelope along with the bill and turned towards the ice cream shop. Harry covered his mouth with a hand and followed, trying to contain himself.

But it was too much. A giggle escaped and then another until he was practically rolling on the ground with laughter.

Severus halted and frowned severely at his son. "Sly little brat, that was a trick worthy of a Slytherin." He fetched his still snickering son a mild smack, grumbling, "Twenty-five sundaes! Did the Weasley twins put you up to this, Harry?"

"No, sir. It was all my idea." Harry admitted shamelessly. "Uh . . .how much trouble am I in?"

"You're grounded for life, brat."

"For real, sir? Does that mean I can't go to Ron's?"

"Have you ever known me to joke about punishments, young man?"

"No . . .but . . .sir, I only wanted . . ." Harry stammered. How had a simple prank gone so terribly wrong?

Severus let him squirm for about a minute before he purred, "Only kidding, brat." And gave his son a wickedly amused smirk. "Settle that account, Mr. Knight. And heaven help you if you ever pull anything like that again."

Harry ducked the older man's playful cuff and sprinted inside the ice cream shop to pay his bill.

Ron exchanged grins with his three brothers. "Looks like we were wrong and he does have a sense of humor after all." Then he practically collapsed, laughing hysterically. He pranked SNAPE! And lived to tell of it! If I didn't see it with my own two eyes . . .unbelievable! Only you, Harry James Snape, could pull that off and still have a whole skin after.

Then the four turned, for their mother was calling them, leaving their disguised professor and his sneaky prankster of a son to finish their school shopping and return home to the Peaceful Glen to pack.

* * * * * * *

The following morning, Harry's trunk and Hedwig's cage stood waiting in front of the fireplace, ready to Floo to the Burrow. Harry had eaten one last breakfast with Severus and Rellah, who hugged and kissed him and made him promise to eat all his vegetables at school or else. Boreal would fly to the Burrow, once Harry had Flooed there, he could follow the bond, since distance was no barrier to a bonded pair. The pegasus had promised to stay out of sight, at least until Harry could have the Weasleys swear Wizard's Oath to keep Boreal a secret.

Severus stood before the hearth, his arms crossed over his chest, wearing his familiar strict-arse demeanor, as Harry called it. "You are to be polite and respectful to Molly and Arthur at all times, young man, their rules are non-negotiable and if you dare to give them a moment of trouble, or a bit of your cheeky mouth, you'll be scrubbing and pickling and harvesting the most revolting potion ingredients until you're seventeen, am I clear? After I've walloped your arse in front of the whole family, that is."

"Dad! I'm not going to get in trouble, I swear! I know how to behave."

"Knowing and doing are two different things, fledgling."

"Dad, c'mon! It's Ron, for Godsake. How much trouble could I get into over there?"

Severus just looked at him. "Do you really want me to answer that?"

"No," Harry said quickly. "Don't you trust me, Dad?"

"Yes, Harry. I do. I trust that you will comport yourself like a Snape and that any trouble you get into will be unintentional and mostly forgivable." He held out his arms. "Come here, son."

Harry walked into the familiar embrace, burying his face in the black velvet robes, inhaling the ever-present scent of spices that always clung to the dark angel's black robes, reveling in the touch of the one who had been healer, mentor, guardian, and father to him since he was a lonely sickly little boy neglected by his relatives. And he knew that no matter how old he was or how far he traveled or how hard the task ahead of him, the arms of a dark angel would always be there, offering him the only peace he had ever known.

They remained that way for a long moment, and then Harry drew away, snatched a handful of Floo Powder from the silver bucket, and tossed it into the fire. "I'll see you at school, Dad," he said softly. Then he cried, "The Burrow!" and levitated his trunk and Hedwig through the green flames before stepping through himself.

Severus Snape gazed at the green flames as they flickered and danced in the hearth, a faint throbbing ache already beginning in the vicinity of his heart, try though he did to pretend it was not there. What in Merlin's name is wrong with me? The little brat's not been gone two minutes and I ALREADY miss him? I think I need my head examined by a panel of therapists. Any other parent would be celebrating—a whole week without their troublemaking childsheer paradise! And what am I doing? Wishing he were back here, Lord have mercy! Oh, there is something very wrong with me. I've been infected with a dreadful disease for which there is no cure, he thought dolefully, rolling his eyes. The disease called fatheritis, whose main symptoms are anxiety, irritability, and love. Lily, how could you do this to me?

He cast his gaze heavenward, scolding himself sternly for being a sentimental idiot. And for a brief instant he thought he heard a woman's laughter upon the breeze and a sweet melodic voice say, Because you deserve it, Sev.

The Potions Master blinked, unsure if he had heard anything at all, then he turned and headed into his lab to finish brewing a final batch of antidotes before the beginning of the next term, a half-smile tilting up the corner of his stern mouth.

This is the end of the story, it was a long ride but wasn't it fun? I hope you all enjoyed this story, I had a blast writing it. I have one question and a request.

Who wants a sequel? Please let me know. Then I'll consider doing year two.

And while I'm planning that one, please read some of my other stories, like The Very Best Thing, which is the beginning of a new series featuring Sev and his daughter Arista. It's different from this one, in that the story centers mainly on Severus and his daughter, who is his only family, and no, she does not fall in love with Harry, she is very much her own person, with her own life, and not an appendage to Harry or anything like that. There is also a bit of romance with Severus and Amelia, Arista's mother, an OC of mine. The other one shots I've posted here are offshoots of this main story, but please read this one first, I think you'll like it.

I also have a Star Wars fic on here, featuring Qui-Gon Jinn and his Windwalker daughter, Kyra, who can wield both sides of the Force. Thanks for reading and reviewing!