That evening, after a much needed nap, a talk about yelling, supper and a game of Gobstones, Harry lay in his bed, waiting for his daddy to tell him to nightly bed-time story. Only today, he wanted something else.
Harry paused and bit his lip apprehensively. He had wanted this for a long time, but was always too scared to ask. Back at the Dursleys, Aunt Petunia did it every night for Dudley. His cupboard was too far from Dudley's bedroom for him to hear. But ever so often, if he got lucky and was cleaning the hall, or the upstairs bathroom, he'd hear it. It was so soothing. Harry knew he was too old for this kind of stuff...but just once, he'd like to be sung to sleep.
"What is it Harry? You know you can tell me anything," Severus urged.
"Will...will you sing me a song?" Harry stammered, flushing immediately. "You know...like, like a...lullaby maybe?"
Severus frowned. Harry wanted him to sing him a lullaby? Where did that come from? How was he suppose to sing a lullaby, he did not sing.
"I do not sing."
"Oh...never-mind then," Harry murmured feebly.
"I am not efficient at the task," Severus tried to explained. "You don't want to hear me sing, Harry. How about a story instead?"
"Oh...okay, sure," Harry was clearly disappointed and Severus let out a huge sigh...well, here goes nothing...
'Goodnight my angel, time to close your eyes,
And save these questions for another day.
I think I know what you've been asking me,
I think you know what I've been trying to say.
I promised I would never leave you
And you should always know
Wherever you may go
No matter where you are
I never will be far away...ahem." Severus finished his song and glared at a staring Harry.
"No. You are horrible!" Harry smirked wickedly.
"Why you ungrateful little monster."
Harry screamed and ducked under the covers as Severus tackled him with tickles.
"Okay, okay!" Harry yelped, twisting and wiggling under the duvet. "You aren't bad, you're not, you're not!"
But Severus continued with fingers, grabbing at Harry's sides. "AHHH! I take it back. You're good, you're great!" Harry laughed so hard tears reappeared in his eyes, only this time they were happy ones.
"Humph," Severus huffed and pulled away, crossing his arms. "That ought to teach you!"
A small forehead and two sparkling eyes peeked from the edge of the duvet. Harry looked at his daddy mischievously, poked his tongue out and made a funny noise.
Severus raised an eyebrow and moved to swat Harry's head, but missed when the boy dove under the covers. "Brat!"
"Your one and only," Harry muttered face full of fabric.
"Indeed," Severus snorted and thought affectionately; well, thank Merlin for that, I don't know what I'd do with another miscreant like you.
"Accio toy dragon," Severus called and seconds later a green plush toy came zooming into the bedroom. "Here," he announced and shoved the Romanian Longhorn at Harry.
Harry gaped at him, flabbergasted. "But...but you said I couldn't have it till tomorrow."
"Well, I changed my mind," Severus declared. He really should stick to his word and keep the toy till tomorrow, but he wanted to see the shock and smile on Harry's face. He couldn't help but smile when Harry took the dragon from his hands and cuddled it under the covers.
"Now, how about a story?" Severus asked as he sunk down on the bed.
"I get a story too?"
"What kind of story?"
"My kind of story," said Severus. "Like always. Now, close your eyes and listen." Harry obeyed.
"Ahem," Severus cleared his throat and started unenthusiastically in his professor voice. "It was the year 1762 and a dispute had broken out between two of the most..."
"Your suppose to say onsuponatime.." Harry mumbled, opening his eyes.
"You're suppose to say 'once upon a time'," Harry said again, looking up expectantly at frowning man.
"What?" Severus said loudly with indignation. "This is not a fairly tale!"
"But you're suppose to say 'once upon a time', you never say 'once upon a time'!" Harry grumbled. "Or 'a long long time ago', you can do that."
"Fine!" Severus huffed. A fairy tale! The child wanted a bloody fairy tale! His stories were not fairy tales, Severus Snape does not waste his time with fairy tales! The stories he tell are always based on real people and real events, not that made up mumble jumble like in Beedle the Bard.
"A long, long time ago" Severus grinded as he glared at Harry, who offered him a toothy grin. He really did indulge the boy too much. "In the year 1762, a dispute had broken out between two of the most prominent Potion Master of the age. Their names were Glabi Humphrey and Alexander Beamish..."
"Aunt Minnie! Hi!" Harry announced happily, he leaped out of the fireplace and ran towards McGonagall. But Severus grabbed a skinny arm and brushed all the ash off the boy's robes before letting him go. Harry jumped into McGonagall's arms and gave her a big bear hug.
The floo was convenient, but Harry always came out looking like some sort chimney sweep boy. Severus faired only slightly better; he dusted himself off and cleaned the floor of ash with a swift flick of the wand, Dumbledore hated dust on his one thousand year old antique rugs.
"Hello, Harry," the deputy headmistress smiled and drew her arms around the small boy. "How are you, child. Well, I hope?"
"Have you been a good boy?" McGonagall asked. Harry paused and bit his lip.
"Well...sort of," Harry mumbled, shrugging with downcast eyes.
"Well...I got in trouble yesterday for touching daddy's shrinking potion"
"Harry! You know better than that! Potions can be very dangerous," McGonagall chided holding Harry by the arms.
"Awww...I know," Harry whined. "Daddy got really mad...he yelled at me."
"Hmmm...well, he shouldn't have yelled," and at this, McGonagall threw Severus a pointed look. "But remember that those rules are there for a reason, Harry. You could have been seriously hurt."
"I know, I know. Daddy already said."
"Good," McGonagall finished.
"Ah! Severus, Harry, safe journey?" A deep, jolly voice came from across the room. It was Albus Dumbledore. Severus nearly rolled his eyes...safe journey? The journey only took 10 seconds, you old coot. And there hasn't been an accident in floo travel in 180 years!
"Uncle Albus!" Harry squirmed out of McGonagall's arms and charged Dumbledore with a running tackle.
"Hi, Uncle Albus." Harry mumbled against the fabric of the long robes.
"Hello, my dear Harry. How have you been?" asked the man with the long white beard.
"Great, sir. How are you?"
"I am very well, Harry. Thank you," Albus answered as he patted the boy's head. Harry grumbled and twisted away.
"Lemon drop, Harry?" the headmaster offered a handful of the yellow sweet to Harry. The six year old turned to Severus.
Severus wished the old man would stop pushing his bad habits onto Harry.
Always with the sherbet lemons, that man! Damn him and his sweet tooth! Why must he indulge Harry's so? It's not as if I forbid Harry candy.
"Just one, Harry," Severus relented, after all, it was only one.
"Only one, Severus?" Albus spoke as if outraged. "You can never have just one sherbet lemon. Why don't you take two, Harry. Oh, and I have this chocolate frog I've been saving."
Severus glared at the headmaster.
"No, it's okay," Harry muttered politely, though clearly reluctant. "You keep it. I'll just have the lemon drops."
"Nonsense, my boy," Dumbledore dismissed with a smile. "You see, since I am a collectible, I get a life-time supply of chocolate frogs for free."
"A life-time supply? For real?" Harry gasped.
"Oh, yes, have I not mention it before? Ah, I must be going senile...oh well," Dumbledore wondered off. Harry tilted his head, Severus felt like hitting his head against the wall, and McGonagall chuckled. "Yes...ah...where was I?"
"Right! A life-time supply! I think I shall send in another order more tomorrow. You take this for now." The old wizard held out the sweet, but instead of taking it, Harry turned back to Severus with a hopeful look. The Potion Master's eyebrow twitched.
"Headmaster, I don't think..."
"Oh, come Severus. It's only a chocolate frog, no harm done," McGonagall admonished.
"Fine, fine, take them all! What do I care," Severus threw up his arms in defeat. "But you, young man, will not take a bite out of that chocolate before supper."
"Yes, sir," Harry beamed, thanked Dumbledore, popped one of the miniature lemons into his mouth and sucked happily.
Severus grumbled under his breath, something about a sugar rush, and rubbed a temple with one hand.
"Harry, go play while I have tea with the headmaster and Professor McGonagall."
"Yes, daddy." Obediently, Harry strolled to the far side of the room and started to play with Fawkes and the conjured toys.
"So, Severus, how are things?" Dumbledore asked knowingly.
"Egh..." the Potion Master grunted
"That bad, eh?" said McGonagall in an annoyingly cheerful tone.
"And then he took my dragon away..." Harry babbled, sitting on his daddy's lap, mouth full of chocolate fog.
McGonagall threw Severus a disapproving glare. Severus glared right back, not giving an inch. Who was she to question his parenting methods...besides he gave it back, hadn't he?
"Did he now?"
"Yeah. And then he put me in a time out...and he didn't come back for like foreeeeever!" Harry said dramatically, making a face and drawing a slight chuckle from Dumbledore. Dumbledore who sat there with that all knowing expression and familiar twinkle.
Harry wiggled on his father's bony lap and took another bit out of his chocolate. Chocolate was good, much better than the spinach and peas his daddy made him eat at supper.
"...and then I said that I was sorry, and that I didn't hate him," Harry recalled. Severus sighed and unconsciously tightening his grip on Harry's waist, all the while a small curve formed on his lips.
"...and then he started talking, and talking and talking about how I'm not suppose to yell at him," Harry drawled, pushing his lips together. Severus smirked as he listened sluggishly to Harry's tale. Humph, just like the boy to exaggerate everything. Well, at least he heard me.
"...and then he started to sing...but he was soooooo bad!" Harry announced indiscreetly.
Why I never! Severus thought as he threw daggers at the boy sitting in his lap. McGonagall raised her eyebrows and grinned while Dumbledore let out a hearty laugh.
"Yes, as I recall, Severus' talents lie elsewhere," the old wizard piped in, grinning with that irritating twinkle.
"Oh, definitely. He can't carry a tune to save his entire potion stores," McGonagall snickered.
"HA!" Severus snorted. "Very finny, Minerva. I'd like to see you caroling."
"But this isn't about me, dear Severus," the woman purred devilishly. "Perhaps you should take lessons, I'm sure Harry would be glad to give you a few pointers. Isn't that right, Harry?"
Harry blushed and shook his head frantically from side to side.
"Enough!" Severus bellowed, startling the boy in his lap. McGonagall looked too smug for his liking.
Infuriating woman! How dare you laugh at my expense! I'll get you for this, just wait!
"Okay, okay, no need to get your knickers in a knot," McGonagall dismissed. "Now, why don't you continue, Harry."
"Yeah...well. He trapped me under the covers and tickled me so hard my tummy hurt!" said Harry as he continued his tale. "...and then he told me a story of two feuding Potion Masters whose names were Gabi and Alex."
Glabi! It's Glabi, you idiot child! Severus voiced silently, but didn't say anything.
"...and how they um, revo...revo...uh..." Harry twisted his head and looked to his daddy questioningly.
"Revolutionized," Severus answered helpfully, albeit dully.
"Yeah! Revo...lution..nizum, um potions!" Harry chirped excitedly...like he actually understood the moral of the story, which Severus doubted.
"A history lesson?" McGonagall exclaimed. "Seriously, Severus. Couldn't you find a children's tale to tell Harry, he is only six."
"For your information, my story was fine!" Severus retorted. He lifted Harry up and shifted the boy to get some much needed blood to his calves. "Children's tales are a bunch of ridiculous nonsense, full of gibberish and fabrication. My stories are based on facts, and noteworthy historical figures. They are both entertaining and educational."
"What Harry needs isn't a history lesson! He needs fun, engaging stories that inspire the imagination! Why don't you try a fable, those are very educational" McGonagall countered.
"Oh, believe me, Miverva, Harry has all the imagination he needs. I inspire a fascination to learn about things that matter. You'll see, he'll be the next Potion prodigy," Severus declared proudly and continued before McGonagall could interrupt. "Besides, Harry didn't mind my story at all, did you Harry?"
"No, it was good," Harry nodded. McGonagall huffed disbelievingly. "Really, Aunt Minnie. It was fun! Alex threw a nasty hex at Gabi that turned his skin orange!"
Great! Thought Severus. That's probably all he remembered, so much for being 'educational'.
McGonagall couldn't help it, she laughed out loud. "Good on you, Severus. So much for 'educational' and 'inspiration'. I think you just 'inspired' him to prank. Good luck with that one."
Severus simmered in his chair, now he was more determined than ever to teach his son the legendary true tale of 'Glabi and Alex'.
Harry, completely oblivious to the debate around him continued yakking nonstop.
"Daddy, you're silly!" Harry giggled bubbly. It had been a week since Harry's tantrum, they were back in Prince Manor, and everything was back to normal. For Severus, normality just took a turn for the worst.
"I am not silly!"Severus growled with displeasure as he wiped the paint off his face. He is never ever never finger painting again! No matter how much Harry begged, whined or tugged at his sleeve.
"Are too!" Harry laughed, brushing a hand across face and smearing the red paint everywhere.
"I am not!" Severus grunted. "And be careful! Get paint on my nice polished floors and you are in big trouble."
But Harry ignored him, knowing full well a simple spellwould clean the mess in no time.
"You are too silly."
"I am definitely not silly!"
"Yes you are!" Harry insisted. "Everybody says that I am just like my father, even Uncle Albus. And a lot of people say that I am silly. So if I am silly, and I am just like you, then you must be silly too!"
Severus frowned. Harry knew who his biological father was, he never kept that truth from Harry. Surely the boy knew that when people say they were referring to James, not him.
"Harry...when people say that, they mean..."
"I know, but James was my daddy then. You are my daddy now." Harry looked up at him. He looked ridiculous with a face plastered with red, blue and orange paint. But the only thing Severus noticed were those bright green eyes so fully of joy, trust and love.
And Severus wondered how he never realized before...just how lucky he truly is.
*Billy Joel's Lullaby