NOTE: this story takes place after the previous novel in the series, Where Shadows Go. Please read or skim that one first so you won't be confused. Thanks.
"Look Dad, look!" Harry Potter shrilled, he was just turned five and had opened his gift from Uncle Sirius. It was a brand-new, top-of-the-line mini Jetstream broomstick, the kind they made for the Quidditch players' children. Harry unwrapped the shiny mahogany broomstick with its silver and gold twigs trimmed perfectly even and the word Jetstream scripted in silver paint on the handle and rushed over to wave it in his father's face.
Severus took one look at the broomstick and his adopted son and groaned. "Very nice, Harry. Now why don't you open the rest of your presents? You've got another from your Uncle Remus there."
"Okay, Daddy, but this one's the bestest!" the little boy cried, then ran over to see what Remus had gotten him. The two Aurors weren't really his uncles, but his dad's two best friends, but Harry had always called them that, they'd known him since he was a little baby, before his real daddy James had died and he'd been adopted by Severus Snape.
"Let's see you top that, Remus," challenged Sirius, grinning challengingly at his partner. "Told you he'd love it."
"Of course he does, Siri," Remus rolled his eyes at his friend. "He's five, they're all broomstick mad at that age."
Severus was giving his Animagus friend a stern frown. "Sirius Orion Black, what part of do not buy Harry a broomstick did you not understand?"
"Aww, Sev, c'mon . . ."
"No, don't give me that, Black. I have my reasons for not wanting him flying until he's six. Do you have any idea how many patients I get every year his age that I need to set broken bones or stitch up or do surgery on for broomstick accidents? And all because some parent or relative thinks its cute to get their darling a broomstick for Christmas, or their birthday, or whatever. Just last week I had a little girl with a compound fracture of her arm and twenty-five stitches in her face from crashing headfirst into an oak tree, she had her older brother take the safety charms off her broom so she could fly faster, and nearly killed herself!" Severus lectured. Sometimes he could just throttle his easy-going friend, who thought it was perfectly all right to disregard Snape's wishes when it came to Harry if he didn't agree with them occasionally.
"Look, Sev, I'm sorry, but I saw it in the shop and it just looked so perfect, and I couldn't resist. He's probably a natural on a broom, you know, since James was. I'll teach him to fly, okay, Sev?" Sirius managed to look like a guilty little puppy and a mischievous grown man at the same time, a feat that only he could accomplish.
"Fine, Black, but that broom better have every safety charm in the book woven into it, or else!"
"It does, I swear! I would never risk Harry's life that way, Sev!" Sirius said, feeling a bit hurt.
"Thank you, Uncle Remus! I love my new art set," Harry said, coming over and giving his blond werewolf uncle a big hug.
"You're welcome, scamp," Remus smiled, picking the little boy up and snuggling him on his lap. "You can draw me a picture with it as soon as you've got time."
"I've got lots of time, since it's summer and there's no school, Moony," Harry informed him, smiling so that his missing front tooth showed. "What kind of picture would you like?"
"Anything you feel like drawing, Harry. I'm sure it'll be a masterpiece, kid. I'll hang it in my office with the other ones you made me last time," the werewolf promised.
"You mean you got an art wall in your office like Daddy does?" the five-year-old asked.
"Yup. And half the women I work with think I've got a kid hidden away somewhere," chuckled Remus. "Someday I'm going to have to take you to work with me, imp, and let 'em meet you."
"Uh, not right now. I've got a big case coming up. But maybe in a week or two."
"Daddy, did you hear that? Moony says I can go to work with him like a grown-up."
"Oh he does, does he? Isn't he forgetting something?"
"What?" asked his son.
"To ask permission of your father first," Severus reminded.
"Oh, I was going to, Sev," Remus said sheepishly. "So, is that okay with you?"
"Fine, just do it on one of my days off, all right?" the Master Healer said. "That way I can get some time to myself for a bit." There were days he didn't mind raising one rambunctious little boy by himself and other days when he wondered how he was going to manage another day alone without Lily.
"Sure, no problem, Sev. Just let me know what day's good for you. I'll give Harry the VIP tour and take him to lunch and whatnot."
"Thank you, Remus," Severus said.
"Dad, can I have another piece of cake?" Harry wheedled.
"Harry, don't you think you've had enough sweets for one day?" the Master Healer began, trying to head off the inevitable sugar high.
"No. Please, Daddy, please? It's my birthday." Harry begged shamelessly, giving Severus a heart-melting stare from his beautiful green eyes.
"Yeah, Sev, it's the kid's birthday," Sirius put in. "So let him OD on cake if he wants."
"Sure, you can say that Padfoot. You aren't the one who'll be up with him all night when he's got an upset stomach from too much chocolate cake." Severus sighed. "All right, scamp. But only one more piece." Harry yelled and ran over to take another slice of cake from the buffet. I just know I'm going to regret this.
"Sev, lighten up, for Merlin's sake. Don't you remember what it's like to be a kid and eat yourself sick on your birthday?" Sirius teased, then gasped at a sharp elbow in the ribs from Remus. The Animagus yelped and would have given Remus what-for, until he recalled that Severus probably had never been able to make himself sick eating any sweets when he was growing up, because he never had any money for them. "Oh, right. Sorry, Sev," he apologized sincerely.
Severus waved off the other wizard's apology. "I can remembering wishing for that, Sirus. Nevertheless, I really don't want to deal with a very hyper five-year-old at eleven o'clock tonight, which is why I'm trying to do some damage control now."
After eating an enormous, at least to a five-year-old it was enormous piece of chocolate cake, Harry took his new broom and went over to where Sirius was sitting on the couch and asked, "Uncle Sirius, can you teach me how to fly?"
"You bet your magic socks I will, kid." Sirius laughed, ruffling Harry's hair. "I was no slouch on a broom myself once. And your father was even better."
Harry stared at the Master Healer. "You can fly better than Uncle Sirius, Dad?"
"No. Uncle Sirius means your other daddy, the one who's in heaven," Severus corrected softly. He could fly well, but he wasn't a fanatic, the way Sirius or James had been. "He used to play Seeker for Gryffindor at school."
"Was he good?" Harry wanted to know.
"Yeah, James was an ace," Sirius answered, grinning. "Could outfly the wind if he put his mind to it."
"Could I, d'you think, Padfoot?"
"Uh . . .maybe someday, kid, but right now you gotta take it easy," Sirius cautioned at Severus's warning glare. "First you learn how to fly the right way, and then, when you're a little older, I can teach you how to fly like a Seeker."
"Aww . . .why not now? I'm a big boy."
"I know, but first you have to learn the basics," Sirius stressed.
"Can you show me today? Please?"
Sirius looked at Severus.
The Master Healer nodded. "Go ahead, take him outside and show him how to hover, at least. He'll keep pestering you till you do. I'll clean up in here while you're giving him the lesson, Padfoot."
"Okay, Harry, get your Jetstream and let's have a little lesson," Sirius told him, smiling almost as eagerly as his "nephew".
Harry bolted over to his broomstick and snatched it up.
* * * * * *
Twenty-five minutes later, Harry returned, beaming from ear to ear. "Guess what, Daddy? Uncle Sirius showed me how to hover about ten feet from the ground and fly a little in a circle. He says I'm a natural flyer."
"Very good, Harry." Severus praised, though inwardly he groaned. Not another one, dear sweet Merlin! "Now, put all your presents away and then come sit quietly on the couch for a while, it's time for a rest."
"Aww, Daddy, I'm not tired," Harry pouted.
Severus just looked at him. "Harry, do as I say. Now, little boy."
The little boy pouted a bit longer, but then he went to do as he was told. The last thing he wanted was to get in trouble on his birthday. It took ten minutes for him to put away all his presents, which included an art set, a child's potion's set, new sneakers and clothes, books, and a few toys. By then Harry was a little tired and willing to crawl up on the couch and sprawl in the Master Healer's lap.
Severus put an arm about the messy-haired little imp, and Harry snuggled into the familiar white hospital robe and closed his eyes. He was more tired than he had thought, after all. The three men smiled indulgently at the sleeping youngster, then summoned some more coffee and donuts over to the couch.
"I really ought to kill you, Padfoot, for getting him that broomstick." Snape remarked sourly. "Now I'm going to have to invent a whole new set of rules for it."
"You and your rules, Sev." Sirius rolled his eyes. "Why can't you just let the kid be a kid?"
"Because, Black, this particular kid is a trouble magnet, just like James and you were. And I want him to survive till adulthood."
"Sev, buddy, you really need to lighten up a little." Sirius chuckled. "Learn to let your hair down and have fun."
Severus cocked an eyebrow at him. "Oh, I'll have fun all right, Sirius. You're due for your yearly physical next week, aren't you?"
"Oh, let's just say that I'll have a few vaccinations you need to get updated on, old boy," replied the Master Healer with a wicked smirk.
Sirius blanched. "No . . .oh no, Sev! Please, you know how I hate needles . . .!"
"Sorry, but it's for your own good. You don't want to contract pyromantic flu and die, do you?"
"Padfoot, it'll only sting for a second. Don't be such a baby."
"Severus, I'd rather contract a deadly disease than have you give me a needle in my arse, damn you!"
Severus looked at Remus. "Looks like I'll have to put him in a Body Bind again, huh, Moony?"
Remus nodded. "Same as last time. I would have thought he'd have grown out of it by now, Sev."
"Some never do, Remus," the Master Healer said sagely. Then he leaned over and whispered, "Don't forget the Calming Draught just before he leaves and make sure you get his wand too."
Remus nodded, for last time Sirius had gone for his yearly at Snape's office with his wand, he had nearly set the place on fire, trying to duel Severus and the office staff when it came time for the vaccinations.
"You two are evil!" Sirius grumbled, sulking. "You know damn good and well why I don't like needles, Severus Snape!"
"Yes, I know all about the time when that Muggle vet picked you up as a kid when you got stuck in your dog form and gave you ten needles at the same time, but Sirius, I'm not a vet, I'm a Healer, and I know how to give vaccinations so they don't hurt all that much."
"Don't care," sulked the Auror. "I still hate 'em."
"Here, have another piece of cake," the Master Healer said. "Your appointment's not until next Tuesday, so you have all week to prepare yourself."
Sirius brightened at that and began to wolf down another piece of cake, vowing to be absent from London next Tuesday.
* * * * * *
Later on that night, Severus was woken from a sound sleep by a little voice crying, "Daddy, I don't feel good. My tummy hurts."
"Ah, I knew it!" groaned the Master Healer, rising from his warm bed to go and see his son in the room just down the hall. "I told Sirius that was one chocolate frog too many." He summoned a pink Stomach Soother with a quick gesture and headed into Harry's room.
The little boy was sitting up in bed, groaning and clutching his stomach, tears filling his eyes. "Dad, my tummy hurts real bad!"
"Probably from eating too many sweets, scamp." Severus said, drawing his wand and performing a quick diagnostic. "Yes, that's what I figured. A bad case of indigestion and gas. Come here," he took the child on his lap and coaxed the potion down the little boy's throat. It began to work almost immediately, and Harry sighed in relief.
"Better now, son?"
"Yeah. You're the best Healer, Dad."
Severus smiled and tucked his son back into bed.
"Can I go flying tomorrow?"
"We'll see. Maybe after I'm done with my brewing. But first we'll need to go over some rules. All right?"
"Mmmhmm. . . .Night, Daddy. Love you."
"Love you too. Go to sleep." Severus urged, and remained with his son until he fell asleep.