Despite it being a rather cold, windy day, Harry couldn't help the familiar flutter of excitement in his stomach at the thought of mounting his broom and taking to the sky. In all honesty, Harry didn't even really care any more if Draco and his father beat them again; all Harry cared about was knowing that his father would be by his side and he would be doing something that he loved doing. The exhilaration of the wind whipping through his hair, the feeling that he could touch the sky; no there was no other place that Harry would rather be. He felt as though he was born on a broom. Knowing that Snape also loved Quidditch gave Harry a warm glow. All in all, Harry was beginning to appreciate Dumbledore's interference.
"Harry," Ron greeted him with a toothy grin. Mr. Weasley came up behind him putting an arm around Ron's shoulders.
Harry grinned back. "Hey Ron...Mr. Weasley."
Ron's freckled cheeks were rosy with the brisk air, and his eyes lit up with happiness and excitement. Harry was happy that Mr. Weasley had devoted the day mostly to Ron, even though he had two other sons in attendance at Hogwarts. Fred and George had expressed no interest in participating in the event and had preferred to remain on the sidelines, to support their father and brother. Of course, the twins were not above pulling a few pranks upon unsuspecting victims.
Draco had arrived at lunch, and couldn't understand just why he was attracting so much attention. To his annoyance, even his Slytherin mates were pointing and snickering at him. Draco glared at them as he went to take his seat and jumped up in panic when he discovered, much to his dismay, as he plonked his bottom on the hard seat, that he acquired an extra body part.
Harry almost choked on his pumpkin juice, when Malfoy started spinning around in circles, trying to catch his tail...literally.
"Father, do something." Draco whined.
"If I catch the hooligans responsible, they will be expelled," Lucius threatened furiously.
Harry could swear though, that he had seen the corners of Lucius' mouth lift.
Fred and George winked at Harry conspiratoraly.
Although Lucius had been able to get rid of Draco's tail, the boy had fled the Great Hall in shame, and had kept a low profile the rest of the day.
Serves the prat right, Harry had thought. He and his father had been insufferable after their win in the duelling competition. They had bragged endlessly about how they had kicked Harry and Severus' butts, and how they would do so in the Father and Son Quidditch game as well.
Well, here they were, about to enter the Quidditch pitch, and Harry peeked a glance at his father.
The man looked rather pale, well, paler than usual, Harry worried. Snape had admitted, that other than refereeing a few Quidditch matches at Hogwarts throughout the years, he had not had much opportunity for flying.
Admittedly, he and Harry had focused mainly on their duelling skills, and had not thought to hone Severus' Quidditch skills. Oh well, Harry thought, he really didn't care any more. He was just happy to have his father by his side and be doing something together.
Harry, of course would be playing seeker, as he was the smallest and was the most experienced at the position. Draco was a seeker for the other team as well. Severus, Remus and Arthur would be chasers for Harry's team, and Lucius, the elder Crabbe and Goyle for the other team. Since Neville was not skillfull on a broom, they put him as Goal Keeper (Merlin Forbid), and Ron Beater alongside Fred, who agreed to play. Crabble and Goyle junior would play Beater for the other side.
The whistle signalling the start of the game sounded and the players kicked off the ground. Harry, immediately began looking for the snitch. Of course, so did Malfoy. Out of the corner of his eye, Harry saw something glitter, but when he zoomed off after it, it disappeared into thin air. Harry shook his head. Where the hell did the Snitch go? Out of the corner of his eye, he thought that he saw the snitch again, but once more it disappeared when he took off after it.
Harry zipped around and saw Malfoy smirking at him.
"A little confused Potter? Are you seeing double, or even triple?" He mocked.
Harry narrowed his eyes suspiciously at the Slytherin, who hovered on his broom, with a cocky look on his face.
"What did you do Malfoy?"
Draco laughed. "Oh, let's just say two Snitches are better than one. The challenge will be for you to figure out which is the real one, Potter or should I say Snape now?"
Harry clenched his teeth. "That's cheating Malfoy. I'm going to report you."
"Ha! Prove it Potter," he taunted.
Harry growled in frustration. He realised that even if he were to report Malfoy, he couldn't prove anything. The minute that Harry saw the Snitch, it disappeared into thin air.
Although Harry had not thought that he cared whether they won or not, now he was determined to win, just to put the cheating prat in his place.
Harry decided that the best way to determine which was the real Snitch was to stick to Malfoy like glue.
Of course that was easier said than done. The Slytherin had already figured what Harry was doing, and attempted to fool him with the Wronski Feint. Harry wasn't stupid though, it didn't take him long to figure out what Malfoy was trying to do.
The challenge though was how to determine which Snitch was the authentic one. Harry decided to take his time and examine each one to see if there was a pattern to their behaviour or a distinguishing pattern to the fake Snitches as opposed to the real one. Harry wondered if maybe Malfoy had spelled the original Snitch to clone itself, or were they simply phantom snitches, like a mirage.
Dammit, Harry thought, he had to catch the real Snitch, and fast, because it looked as though his team-mates were having a rough time of it.
Severus was dodging bludgers thrown simultaneously, by Crabbe and Goyle junior. He made a mental note to himself to invent a reason to give the two of them, detentions till they graduated. Yes, something that would make their insides squirm. Scrubbing cauldrons were too good for the traitors, Severus decided. Hmm...something involving very large cockroaches, spiders and enormous rats with long, thin, slimy tails. He was going to make those two regret tyring to-(Severus ducked quickly to avoid the bludger speeding towards his head) -decapitate their Head of House.
Severus felt his hair stand on end as the Bludger missed making contact with his head, by a fraction of an inch.
In the meantime, Arthur was having problems of his own racing with Lucius, neck in neck for the Quaffle. The blond, of course, wasn't above playing dirty and, accidently, on purpose, bumping into Arthur, almost knocking him off of his broom. It was only a combination of quick-thinking and skill that prevented Arthur from falling off his broom. Lucius' features contorted to fury when he realised that his attempts to unsettle Arthur had failed.
Arthur glared at Lucius and with a burst of speed, sped off after the Quaffle. Lucius had another trick up his sleeve though, and Arthur caught sight of a flash of light before his broom suddenly began to jerk upwards and downwards, attempting to unseat him. Arthur clutched the broom tighter and held on for dear life. Lucius smirked at him and inconspiciously slipped his wand back into his pocket.
Before Lucius could gloat, however, Ron and Fred who had witnessed Lucius' sabotage of their father's broom, decided to exact a little revenge, and hurled a couple of bludgers at the sneering Slytherin. Arthur choked back a laugh when Lucius tried to thwart the attack, by dropping altitude quickly and while gravity made his body plunge downwards, the long strands of his pale hair, which caught the sunlight, stood on end, framing his head like a glittering halo.
Arthur gave a thumbs-up to his sons, and made a vow to generously reward them for their timely intervention.
It was Arthur's turn to smirk at the now, white-faced, tight-lipped man. Unfortunately, it didn't take long for Lucius to recover, and by the look on the man's face, Arthur knew that Lucius was out for blood now.
Harry smirked at Draco's face when the Slytherin realised that Harry was following his every move like a shadow. It was obvious that the boy hadn't considered that Harry might do this, and spoil his own efforts to catch the Snitch.
Harry was frustrated though, because it seemed like Malfoy was sending him on a wild goose chase, and he really needed to catch the Snitch quickly, because despite Severus and Arthur's valiant efforts to gain control of the Quaffle, the elder Crabbe and Goyle were passing it back and forth like a hot potato, and finally with a smooth arm movement, Goyle tossed it effortlessly in the hoop.
The Slytherin section of the stands erupted in cheers. If Harry hadn't been suspended on a broom a few hundred feet in the air, he would have stomped his foot in frustration.
For a moment, Harry imagined he saw a flutter of wings peeking out a cluster of wispy clouds to the right, but he shrugged it off as wishful-thinking, until it bobbed down, and fluttered off to hide amongst the clouds once more.
Harry hovered for a few moments, undecided how to proceed. Malfoy turned his head back to stare at Harry, but didn't seem to notice the Snitch. Harry's stomach churned with anxiety. Could it be the real Snitch? Is it possible that Malfoy himself could have lost track of the original Snitch, or was his mind playing tricks on him again.
Harry saw another movement a few feet ahead, and saw another Snitch. Damn, Harry thought. Which is the real one? Harry agonized over it for a few more minutes, but finally decided that the one he'd seen hiding behind the clouds, was the real Snitch, but he couldn't let on to Malfoy that he had spotted the real Snitch. Harry took a gulp of cold air, and took off in the direction of the fake Snitch. Malfoy smirked at Harry, as he sped past Harry in a burst of power.
Harry waited till the Slytherin was a good few yards ahead and backtracked to where he thought he had seen the authentic Snitch. He felt a little breathless as he gained altitude and the bright sun shone through the clouds, making his eyes tear. Harry heard a flapping noise, turned his broom around abrubtly, and saw the elusive Snitch. Harry made a grab for it, but all he got for his efforts, was a fistful of air. It was as if the Snitch was mocking him--taunting him. Finally, after several fruitless efforts, Harry managed to grab hold of one of the wings and yanked it out of the air. Harry sat for a moment, not quite believing that he had finally succeeded in capturing the golden Snitch.
Harry's stomach fluttered in excitement. He did it! He turned the tables on Malfoy. Wait till the gloating prat realised that his little plan had backfired on him!
Harry descended to playing level, with one hand on his broom, and the other tightly grasping his treasured prize.
The excitement of the crowd grew when they realised that Harry had ended the game.
Lee Jordan's voice echoed through the Quidditch Pitch.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, Harry Potter catches the Snitch, winning the game for Gryffindor!"
Severus groaned. How the hell did he manage to not only end up with the ultimate mascot for Gryffindor as a son, but end up playing Quidditch for his rival House against his own, of which he was the Head, defeat them soundly, and actually be happy about it? What was happening to him?
Severus wasn't quite sure what emotion he was experiencing when he glanced over at his son, but when their eyes met, Severus felt an overwhelming desire to pat the boy on the back and say, Well done. Severus shook his head. Is it possible that this overwhelming swelling in his chest, was pride?
Harry's grin widened when his father nodded, and awarded him a small smile. There were many who congratulated Harry, but he desired the approval of only one.
It was priceless when Draco first realised that not only had Harry found the real Snitch, but had managed to fool Draco into chasing after a mirage.
Draco stamped his foot in frustration.
"I demand that the Snitch be examined to see if it is authentic. I bet it's the fake one-"
Severus looked questioningly at Harry.
Harry sent him a silent message that he would explain it all later.
The two referees narrowed their eyes suspiciously at Draco. "What exactly do you mean Mr. Malfoy? Why would the Snitch be a fake?"
Draco blanched as he realised his mistake and tried to recover.
"Uh, well, I didn't mean, uh, that is, I-" he stammered.
Luckily for Draco, the referees decided to chalk his bad behaviour up to poor Sportmanship and turned their attentions back to Harry, and his teammates.
Harry and Severus battled their way through the throngs of admirers, in search of solitude.
Harry fingered the shiny medal hanging around his neck. This was more than just an award for winning a Quidditch game, Harry suddenly realised. It was a symbol of the progress that he'd made in his relationship with his father, and the understanding that they'd developed in the short time since Dumbledore had cornered them into participating in this whole Father and Son Day. It was also a tribute to the hard work that they'd both invested in their difficult relationship. While Harry knew that being Severus Snape's son wouldn't be easy, he also knew that there would be many rewards for both of them as well.
A whiny voice broke into Harry's thoughts. "But father, it's not my fault. It's Potter, he's got a bloody horseshoe up his arse," he complained while trying to bat his father's hand away from where it was tightly gripping his ear."
Harry's jaw dropped. He had always thought that Lucius spoiled Draco rotten, and he was shocked to see that the man not only dragged Malfoy along by his ear, but reprimanded him quite soundly for causing them to lose the match, as well.
Harry felt a twinge of pity for the boy...up until the comment about the horseshoe, whereby Harry stifled the desire to shove said horseshoe up Draco's arse!
Harry felt his heart lift a little when he saw the corners of Severus' lips quirk as he surveyed the scene between Draco and Lucius.
If truth be told, Harry had been a little worried that Severus might continue to favour Draco and his Slytherins over him, despite their newfound relationship. Harry didn't expect favourtism himself, but he couldn't bear it if his father allowed Draco to get away with murder, while Harry was treated cruelly, as in the past. Harry just wanted all students to be treated equally. Harry had no illusions, however, that his father would suddenly change into the perfect father, or the perfect teacher, but they were definitlely making a little progress.
As they made their way back into the castle, Harry looked up at his father.
"Uh...sir, I think I'd like to go wash up." Harry looked down at his sweaty clothes.
Severus nodded. "I'd like to freshen up as well. We'll meet in the Great Hall for Dinner, in let's say...an hour."
"Yes sir," Harry agreed, as he watched Severus retreat.
Harry chuckled. It was strange to see his father dressed in a Quidditch Uniform, and wearing clothes that weren't black. The man was obviously uncomfortable in unfamiliar clothes, and he didn't seem quite so intimidating. Perhaps the first year Hufflepuff with tears streaking down his face, didn't agree.
The boy had been running down the corridor, which was already against the school rules, but was something that Severus was particularly strict about. After all, students were not meant to run down the corridors of a distinguished learning institution such as Hogwarts. They were meant to walk in a calm, orderly fashion, making as little noise as possible. That is how Severus preferred children. Making as little noise as possible, and having as little interaction with them, as was necessary.
Of course, since he had been manipulated by Albus into teaching a whole school full of the snot-nosed little brats, Severus was forced to endure a certain amount of contact with them. But that didn't mean that he had to accept unruly behaviour from them like their indulgent parents, and the Headmaster. No, even first years learnt pretty quickly that Professor Snape was master of his classroom, and were not foolish enough to test his patience. The tall, dark man had left many a student quivering with fear from nothing more than a glare at them with his cold, black eyes.
The poor child probably had no idea that the tall man dressed in a maroon and gold sweater and pants, was actually his most feared professor, when he had made the decision to speed down the hallways, at breakneck speed, knocking into the scowling man. The boy had been quite quickly and firmly put in his place, however. Harry sighed. He wished that he could help the little tyke, but alas, the child had to learn the hard way as he himself had done, that at Hogwarts, the walls had ears, and Professor Severus Snape was bound to be around every corner, just waiting and watching; ready to pounce at the next unsuspecting student to come his way, so that he could assign them the most tedious and gruesome detentions.
Harry knew that he himself would not escape the wrath of Severus Snape, no matter their relationship, if he were to test the man's resolve. Strangely enough, this realisation elicited a warm glow. Snape may be a right git at times, but he was Harry's git. He had a father now, and that was all that was important to Harry. Besides, Harry was certain that he could use his considerable charm to soften the greasy git up. Of course, that might take a few years...
Harry, Ron and Neville were still talking about their Quidditch win as they were finishing up dressing in their clean robes for Dinner. Ron had developed a new-found closeness with his father and the change in Neville was remarkable. The shy boy had really opened up with the attention he had received from Remus. Harry patted himself on the back for having the foresight to put the two of them together. It had turned out to be a good match. Remus was just patient and soft spoken enough to put the boy at ease. Under Snape's harsh treatment, Neville had retreated into himself and had become quite nervous and lacked self-confidence. Under Remus' gentle guidance, Neville felt more at ease, and Harry was certain that, as it seemed that Remus was willing to continue to mentor the boy, that Neville would definitely prosper and become more self-assured as time went on.
Harry smiled. It would seem that Father and Son Day at Hogwarts had turned out to be a turning point in all their lives. Harry had taken a giant leap in his tumultuous relationship with his father, Ron had the opportunity to be the sole focus of his father's attention and affection for one day, and possibly this paved the way for them to do so more frequently in the future, and Neville had a positive male role model in his life; one that would offer support and guidance for many years to come.
All in all, it had been a great day, Harry decided as he made his way down to the Great Hall, laughing and reminiscing with his friends. His smile faltered, however, when he saw his father, standing by the doorway, looking impatiently at his stopwatch. Oops, Harry thought. I'm fifteen minutes late! He had been enjoying the banter with his friends too much, to think about time constraints.
The man definitely looked more intimidating dressed in his long, flowing black robes, Harry decided.
"You're late," Severus snapped at him, as Harry arrived at the entrance. Neville and Ron gave Harry a sympathetic look, but slipped by the irate Potions Master quickly.
Harry glared at them as they passed. Traitors, he mouthed at them. They shrugged, and smirked at Harry, as if to say: good luck mate.
Harry swallowed the lump in his throat. "Uh, sorry sir. I kind of lost track of time."
Severus' anger deflated a little, but he gave Harry a disapproving look.
"Very well, let's proceed before we miss dinner, as well."
"Yes sir," Harry agreed quickly. Harry had a feeling that there would be many times in the future, that he would be trying to curb his father's volatile temper, and many times that Harry would have to curb his own tendency to fuel the fire.
Theirs would never be an easy relationship Harry thought, but he had a feeling deep inside that it would also be one of mutual respect and eventual understanding of one another. His father was a very complex man; more so than Harry had ever fathomed. He had so many layers to his personality that just when Harry thought that he had the man figured out, and knew what made him tick, he did an about-face, and surprised Harry with his unexpected reactions.
Harry and Severus took a seat once more at the Gryffindor table with Arthur, Ron, Neville and Remus. Harry smirked at his father. He didn't know what gave him the courage, but he just couldn't help himself.
"I think that you've earned a place as an honourary Gryffindor sir," he said.
Severus gave Harry his fiercest glare.
Ron and Neville's jaws dropped at Harry's audacity.
"He's got a point there, Severus," Remus chuckled.
Arthur nodded. "Yes Severus, I heard rumours that they're thinking of putting a plaque in the Gryffindor Common room, in your honour."
Severus smirked at Harry. "Actually Potter, didn't you hear about the rule that when a Professor, particularly the Head of House, has a child attending Hogwarts, they have the right to insist that their child be placed in his House, and forgo the Sorting ceremony altogether. In your case, I have the right to move you to Slytherin." His lips quirked when Harry's face blanched.
"You wouldn't?" Harry exclaimed in horror.
"Hmm, I don't know. I think it might be the perfect opportunity for you and Mr. Malfoy to become good friends; you know... being in close proximity in the dormitory and such," Severus said with a perfectly straight face.
Harry gagged on a carrot, and stared at his father. The man looked serious, but then shocked the hell out of Harry, when he began to chuckle.
"Relax, Potter," Severus reassured him. I've no intention of moving you to Slytherin. You are the epitome of everything Gryffindor. You could never be a Slytherin."
"That's where you're wrong sir. The Sorting Hat wanted to put me in Slytherin. I talked it out of it," Harry said while nonchalently grabbing a dinner roll from the basket before taking a bite of the hot, buttered bread.
It was quite hilarious to see the various emotions on their faces, Harry decided. Severus looked like he'd been hit by a herd of hippogriphs, Ron and Neville looked absolutely appalled, and they stared open-mouthed at their friend, Remus and Arthur's eyes widened at this revelation as well.
Severus felt a mixture of shock and pride, and a little disappointment as well. Harry would have been a Slytherin had they known about their relationship earlier, he thought with a stab of regret. And he would have belonged there, not simply been placed there by default because of their relationship.
Remus put his hand on Severus' shoulder, and snickered at Severus' look of horror at the man's daring to touch his person. "Well Severus, it looks as though you and Harry each have Slytherin and Gryffindor qualities."
"I am no Gryffindor, werewolf," Severus said angrily. "And kindly remove your arm from my shoulder at once," he barked.
Remus withdrew his hand quickly. No sense in angering the quick-tempered man even more. Oh well, perhaps Harry would soften the volatile Slytherin's attitude over time. Harry had a way of doing that, Remus thought affectionately. Harry could bring out the best in anyone.
The Great Hall quietened down considerably, when Dumbledore rose from his seat, to take the Podium.
"Well, Gentlemen, I think that everyone will agree that our first Father and Son Day has been a phenomenal success," he said cheerily.
Not everyone, thought Harry. He took a peek at the Slytherin table and stifled a laugh at the sour look on Lucius' face. Draco scowled at the Headmaster, and looked like he'd rather be anywhere else than sitting at the Slytherin table under the resentful glare of his Housemates.
"Since this event has been so successful," Dumbledore continued, "I believe that we will repeat this delightful experience next year."
The Hall erupted in cheering and clapping. Harry clapped heartily, but Severus tapped his hands together lightly, and rolled his eyes at the Headmaster's flowery speech. Harry felt a stab of disappointment, when he noticed his father's less-than-pleased expression. Harry had hoped that this experience had been as pleasurable for his father, as it had been for Harry. Harry had thought that his father had felt the change in their relationship as well. Maybe he had been wrong, Harry thought sadly. That is until the man looked at him and as though reading his thoughts, hesitatingly lifted his hand, and gave Harry's shoulder a squeeze.