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"I don't want to come out" Harry heard Dudley say through the closed door. Harry sighed and straightened the emerald green dress robes Snape had instructed him to, and he kept an eye out for any sight of his soon to be guardian.
"Come on Dud," Harry said frustration seeping into his voice, "What's wrong?"
"Uncle Severus bought me a bunch of girl clothes" Dudley moaned, "I can't let anyone see me in a dress."
"They're robes" Harry explained, "You've seen Uncle… er, Uncle Severus wearing them. Besides to you really think he would buy you a dress. I'm wearing robes too, and they're part of the school uniforms too."
"You mean the whole school is going to see me in a dress" Dudley gasped, but Harry saw Snape enter the room at that moment and did a double take. Instead pf his usual black teaching robes Snape had somewhere found a set of somewhat fancy teal dress robes with white piping. Harry had to work hard to keep his jaw from falling at the sight of his professor in something other than black. He noticed that Snape even had his hair tied back and it looked less greasy than usual as well.
"I can't get him to come out" Harry whispered once recovered from the shock, "He thinks people are going to laugh at him." Snape raised a single brow and rapped on Dudley's door.
"Dudley Dursley you will come out here and allow me to inspect you or I will force you to. I will not have my ward looking sloppy" Snape said silkily. Within moments the door creaked open and Dudley emerged looking embarrassed and with his eyes trained on the ground.
"There you go" Dudley said stormily, "Now you can laugh all you want." Dudley was attired in robes of royal blue that, despite his extra weight, looked good on him. Actually, Harry had never seen his cousin look so good.
"Why would we laugh Dudley" Snape said in a less deadly voice.
"O, I don't know, maybe 'cuz I'm a boy in a dress" Dudley said and Harry had to stifle a laugh as he realized that Dudley sounded exactly like Ron had the previous year when talking about his horrendous dress robes.
"Dudley, look up and tell me what you cousin and I am wearing" Snape commanded.
"Dresses" Dudley said, but upon seeing his cousins face said, "Robes."
"Correct," Snape said, "And do you imagine people laugh at me? Would you laugh at me?" Harry bit his lip remembering the time in 3rd year when Neville's boggart had turned into Snape wearing his gran's clothing.
"No Uncle Severus" Dudley answered dutifully. Snape nodded curtly and turned on his heel. An act, Harry noted, that was not quite as intimidating when the man was dressed in teal.
"Well, we'd best be going," Snape said his voice as curt as his nod, "Tardiness will not be tolerated."
"Ah, Severus, Harry, Dudley. Right on time" Dumbledore said rubbing his hands together excitedly, "This is Coralynn Lockwood. I assume you'll remember her Severus." Snape nodded gazing at the Hufflepuff who had graduated a few years before Harry had started at the school.
"You are doing well I trust Miss. Lockwood" Snape said inanely in an attempt to be polite.
"Quite, Professor" the young woman said smiling, "I think I might be the first person ever to witness the feared potions master in a color other than black." Snape's lips thinned just slightly.
"Well, Miss. Lockwood here is a member of WCPS" Dumbledore said, "She's here to interview you all and then perform the ceremony." Snape nodded curtly at the headmaster.
"Shall we get started then" Coralynn asked, "I'll interview Mr. Dursley first."
"So, Dudley. Do you mind me calling you Dudley" the woman said as Dudley sat alone with her in the headmasters office feeling quite alone. He shook his head. "Alright Dudley, so you wish to live with Professor Snape" the woman asked.
"Of course. Uncle Severus is the best, he's the one who saved Harry when he got hurt and he even puts up with me even though I slip up and call him a freak sometimes" Dudley admitted, "Harry says he scares a lot of people, but I don't know why. He's been so nice about everything. Even when I get scared of m- magic he reminds me that it's ok and it's not evil."
The woman seemed to be looking at him strangely. "How did Harry get hurt Dudley? Also, why do you call him a freak?" the woman asked.
"Oh, well my Dad, Harry's uncle. Well see, he doesn't like magic much and Dad sometimes tried to get rid of it by, um, well he believe in corporal punishment. So if anything weird happened Harry usually got hurt, and I don't actually think Uncle Severus is a freak, that's just what Dad called wizards" Dudley said, "So sometimes I still call wizards freaks, but Uncle Severus is trying teach me better." Dudley smiled a the young witch. "Did you go to Hogwarts too" Dudley asked curiously, "What house were you in? Did you like it?"
Coralynn was a little flustered, she really wasn't used to being questioned back. "Yes, I did. I was in Hufflepuff and I did enjoy it very much" she answered him, "Though I don't think Professor Snape liked me much. I was terrible at Potions. So, Professor Snape never scares you?"
"Well, I mean he's obviously a strict guy, but I don't think he'd hurt me or anything" Dudley said, "He's got too many principles for that."
"So, you're Harry Potter" Coralynn said making Harry distinctly uncomfortable.
"That's me" Harry said attempting a flippant tone.
"So how do you feel about having Professor Snape as your guardian? I know you have some not so positive mutual history" she said with a slight smile, "Do you feel he'll treat you fairly considering?"
Harry sighed knowing this was really the only option besides returning to the Dursley's and he certainly didn't want that. "Well, I think he will treat me fairly, yeah. I mean we've had some bad history, and he didn't like my Dad much, but since I've been in his care this summer he's actually been pretty good" Harry said, "Dudley likes him too. So it's pretty much ideal isn't it."
"Dudley says you ran into some trouble with your old guardians" Coralynn said, "Would you mind telling me about it?"
"Not much to tell is there. They don't like me" Harry said, "They punished me. Professor Snape fixed me up. End of story."
Coralynn could tell that the boy was really defensive, but at the same time neither of the boys had displayed any aversion to the placement or give her any reason to deny the request. Now all she had to do was talk to Snape… goody.
"Alright, Professor Dumbledore. After talking to all three parties involved I feel that there is nothing to hinder this going forward" Coralynn announced once the group was all in the office once more, "So let's get to the ceremony of the thing shall we." Dumbledore smiled his eyes twinkling madly.
"Alright, Professor. We'll do your part first" Coralynn said apprehensively, "Do you Severus Snape promise to protect Dudley Dursley and Harry Potter to the best of your abilities and to be available to help them with any problem they may have?"
"I do" Snape said.
"Ok, Professor. I heed you to take Dudley's hands and repeat after me" Coralynn instructed. She waited while Snape did as she said. "I Severus Snape" she said and waited for him to repeat, "Do promise to you Dudley Dursley, that I will treat you as if you were my own son. Guiding you in life, and love and working to keep you safe."
"Do promise to you Dudley Dursley, that I will treat you as if you were my own son. Guiding you in life, and love and working to keep you safe" Snape repeated solemnly.
"Now Harry" Coralynn said quietly.
Snape took Harry's hands in his own and stared into the familiar green eyes. "I Severus Snape do promise to you Harry Potter, that I will treat you as if you were my own son. Guiding you in life, and love and working to keep you safe" Snape said noticing that Harry was shaking slightly.
"Alright, Dudley. Do you swear to act as a real son, listen to Professor Snape as if her were your biological father, and trust him to respect and take care of you?"
"I do" Dudley said.
"And you Harry. Do you swear to act as a real son, listen to Professor Snape as if he were your biological father, and trust him to respect and take care of you?"
Harry was silent for a moment and finally said, "I do."
Coralynn nodded. "Alright, Severus, Dudley hug each other" she ordered. Harry was shocked as his professor enveloped his cousin in a hug and a bright golden light flared around them, though he had heard no spell uttered.
Harry wanted to flee, but Snape stood silently waiting for Harry to come to him. Harry knew he really had no other choice and so with feet that felt like lead approached Snape. After a few moments of staring at him apprehensively Harry went to hug the man awkwardly. He felt Snape's arms circle him as his face met Snape's warn, hard, teal clad chest. He felt a satisfying warmth cover him and dimly saw the same golden light surrounding them. Finally Snape let go and Harry stumbled backwards. Dumbledore was smiling as was Ms. Lockwood.
"Well, it appears my job here is done" Coralynn said softly, "I'll be back to make sure everything is going smoothly in a few months time." She let herself out and still Dumbledore smiled.
"Well, I believe this calls for a celebration" Dumbledore said lightly, "I'll have the house elves whip up something special for tonight." Harry still felt a little hazy and the Dumbledore looked at him a little worriedly. "I think Severus you should take Harry back to your chambers. He's looking a little peaky and could probably do with some rest" Dumbledore said.
"What about me" Dudley piped up indignantly.
"How would you like a tour of the castle Mr. Dursley" Dumbledore said standing up, "I happen to know quite a few of its secrets." Dudley looked a little apprehensive, but at the same time he noticed that Harry was swaying a little bit.
"Is Harry going to be ok" he asked nervously.
"Oh yes. Just a little drained I would expect" Dumbledore said, "So, how about that tour?"
"Um, if it's alright with uncle Severus" Dudley said and watched as his new guardian nodded and caught his cousin before he fell. Snape left the room with Harry in his arms.
Harry snapped awake and realized he had been gently placed in his new bed. The last thing he remembered was the ceremony thing that had gone on in the Headmasters office, but he had no clue how he could have gotten down here. Before he could really ponder the matter though Professor Snape appeared by his bedside.
"How are you feeling" the man said in the voice he usually reserved for comforting Dudley.
"I'm alright sir" Harry said sitting up, "What happened? How did I get here?"
"You were drained by the ceremony this afternoon" Snape said slowly, "I had to carry you back here." Harry felt his cheeks burn in embarrassment.
"Sorry sir" Harry said rather meekly, "I didn't mean to fall asleep."
"It's alright Harry" Snape said continuing his soft manner, "If you fell asleep then your body obviously needed it." Harry noticed that Snape was dressed in his usual black robes again.
"Where's Dudley" Harry asked upon realizing his cousin was nowhere to be found, "Is he sleeping too?"
"The Headmaster took him on a tour. It's dinnertime though, we should be able to meet both of them in the Great Hall" Snape admitted. Harry jumped out of bed and followed the man out of his - their- chambers.
"Are you ok" Dudley asked quietly though he had the eerie feeling that the woman of is left, a Professor McGonagall, was listening, "By the way is this all the staff?"
"I'm fine" Harry said, "Just needed to rest I suppose, and no this isn't everyone. Just a few are here."
"Time for the surprise" Dumbledore said as the dessert arrived before them. Dudley's jaw dropped as he eyed the giant cake that appeared on the table. It was a dessert that Harry had seen only a few times before and never on the student tables. The head table did have it every once in awhile though. "For Mr. Potter and Mr. Dursley's information this is a white chocolate raspberry cake. It happens to be Professor Snape's favorite." Harry watched as Dumbledore cut a thick slice for Snape and the man stared at it as if transfixed. He smiled and accepted a piece from the Headmaster as well. "Enjoy everyone" Dumbledore said and everyone at the table dug in, except Snape who ate in the same dignified manner with which he always did. Though Harry though he heard a moan of delight issue from the normally stoic man upon his first bite. Today, Harry realized, was surely a day of firsts.
A/N: Hope you enjoyed that chapter. It was, admittedly, fun to write.
Special thanks to the following for reviews:
Fire From Above