A New Beginning
by Healer Pomfrey
Please refer to the disclaimer and warnings in chapter 1!
Madam Pomfrey only grudgingly released Severus and Harry in time for the Welcoming Feast with the instruction to go back to bed right after the feast. Unbeknownst to the Potions Master, she had re-directed all the owls, who had come in search for Severus during the last two days, to the Headmaster.
Therefore, Severus was equally surprised as the rest of the school that many of the Slytherin students were absent when he entered the Great Hall together with Harry and Tom. Hundreds of students were torn between the sight of the partly empty Slytherin table and the sight of Snape and Harry peacefully walking into the Hall together with a small boy slowly toddling between them.
"Oh, I hate this. They're all looking at me," Harry whispered to Severus. "What happened to the Slytherins, by the way?"
"I have no idea," Snape replied quietly. "If it gets too much for you, you can come back to my quarters at any time, even if it's during the night. You know the password."
Harry smiled. 'How could I forget my Mum's name?' he mused, before he whispered his thanks to the Potions Master and turned to sit at the Gryffindor table.
Hermione and Ron quickly made space for him and Tom to sit, before Ron blurted out, "Who's that?"
"That's my cousin, Tom. My relatives didn't want him, because he is magical; so I adopted him."
"You WHAT?" Ron shouted in disbelief.
Harry noticed uncomfortably that at least the whole Gryffindor table looked at him. "You heard me," he whispered impatiently.
"But Harry, you're not even seventeen. How can you adopt someone?" Hermione asked in surprise.
"Snape is his guardian, mine as well by the way, so that I won't have to return to the Dursleys ever again," Harry replied quietly.
"Are you going to take him to class with you?" Hermione asked, gently tickling Tom, who giggled happily.
"Yes, and he'll stay in the dormitory with us," Harry replied. 'As cute as he is, I'll be glad when he's in bed asleep tonight,' he thought as he placed a piece of chicken, a few carrots and some rice on the small boy's plate, knowing that he didn't like potatoes. "Wait Tom, I'm just going to cut it for you," he said quickly, prying two tiny hands off the plate.
By the time the Welcoming Feast was over, Tom was fast asleep on Harry's lap, and Harry felt equally exhausted. He slowly carried the small boy into his dormitory, where the elves had magically enlarged the area around his bed and equipped the room with a changing table and a cot for Tom right next to Harry's bed.
"Are we going to have the baby here in the room?" Seamus asked in disbelief, glaring at Harry.
"Yes, where would I stay with him?" Harry replied in confusion.
"Does he at least sleep through the night?"
"Err... No, he normally wakes up once, but I'll try to calm him down as quickly as possible," Harry said unsurely.
"What's your problem, Finnegan?" Ron asked impatiently, rolling his eyes. "Yes, we have a baby in the room. Are you afraid to get sleepless nights of it?"
"Harry can cast a Silencing charm around his bed and that of the baby, and then we won't hear anything," Dean threw in, causing Neville to nod eagerly.
"Oh right, I'll do that," Harry replied gratefully, remembering that Hermione had taught him a spell during his fifth year, when he had often suffered from nightmares. He quickly waved his wand around the two beds and went to bed as well.
"Harry, are you already going to sleep?" Ron asked in surprise. "Only the first years have to go to bed straight after dinner."
"Yeah, I know, but I'm tired, and my head hurts a bit. I often have problems with that ever since the fight at the Ministry," Harry said in a small voice, finding that it sounded very believable that he had the headache due to the fight.
The first few weeks of the school year passed uneventfully. Tom quickly became used to attending classes together with Harry, and Harry's dorm mates became acquainted with the small boy staying in their dormitory. However, no one had an idea what had happened to the missing Slytherin students.
"I assume that the spell Harry cast on Severus' mark made all the Death Eaters vanish," Dumbledore said in a meeting with Professors McGonagall, Snape and Harry, causing Harry to throw him a desperate look.
"I'm sorry; I didn't want to kill anyone," he said in shock.
"Don't worry, Mr. Potter. We don't even know if you killed them," Severus replied softly.
"Just concern yourself with your schoolwork and take good care of Tom," Dumbledore agreed gently.
"I will," Harry promised, knowing that he would be responsible for Tom over the next sixteen years.
One day, Tom was very restless and spent half the night quietly whimpering and moaning. Harry grudgingly took him out of his crib and placed him next to him in his own bed. However, Tom wouldn't calm down, and the only result was that Harry's headache, which he was nearly having all the time, worsened immensely.
'Maybe I should take him down to the common room and walk around with him for a bit,' he thought and quietly left the dormitory. Suddenly, a thought struck his mind.
"Tom, are you sick?" he asked the boy, noticing that he felt slightly warm to the touch, if not overly so.
The small boy only moaned slightly. 'Hmm, let's see if you have a fever, will we?' Harry said soothingly and stepped into the bathroom to fetch a thermometer. He placed the child on the sofa in front of the fireplace and tried to coax him to open his mouth to no avail. Tom firmly kept his mouth shut. 'How am I supposed to take his temperature?' Harry thought in desperation, fiercely rubbing his forehead.
All of a sudden, Hermione came down the stairs, throwing them curious looks. "Are you having problems, Harry?"
Harry let out a long sigh. "I think he is sick, but he won't let me take his temperature."
Hermione carefully laid a hand on the little boy's forehead. "I think he might be running a temperature. You can't take babies' temperatures in their mouth anyway. You have to stick the thermometer into his bum. Here, I'll help you. I'm going to hold him." She sat on the sofa, placing Tom on his stomach onto her lap.
'My head is going to explode,' Harry thought as he slowly unbuttoned Tom's bottom. 'I hope he won't pee on Hermione,' he mused as he took off his nappy and stuck the thermometer into Tom's bum, causing the baby to whimper miserably.
"I know, sweetie; it's over soon," he cooed, soothingly stroking the child's cheeks, while he carefully kept the thermometer in place. "Oh no, 39.2," he read from the display. "That's very high."
Hermione sighed and turned Tom around, so that she could talk to him while Harry quickly dressed him again. "You're really feeling unwell, sweetie, aren't you?" she cooed, gently pushing a few errand strands of hair out of his face.
"Ye," Tom moaned miserably.
"Will you tell me what's wrong?" Hermione asked softly.
Tom miserably tagged his earlap and softly began to cry, causing Harry to give him a concerned look.
"Does your ear hurt, little one?" he asked softly, causing Tom to nod.
"All right then; we need to take him to the hospital wing," Hermione said resolutely and stood up from the sofa, handing Tom to Harry. "Let's go."
"It's a respiratory tract infection," Poppy diagnosed, giving Harry a concerned look. "I hope you won't get it from him, Harry. I assume that you prefer to take him with you and come here for a check up once or twice a day than to leave him here?"
"Yes of course," Harry replied quickly.
"I'll help you looking after him," Hermione offered gently, causing Harry to inwardly sigh in relief.
Poppy handed Harry a small phial. "Give him one spoonful of this every four hours after you take his temperature. If his fever gets any higher, you must come here immediately. Otherwise, it suffices if you come once a day, perhaps before breakfast."
During the next two days, Harry had to keep Tom on his lap the whole day, while they were in class, since the child was very whiny, obviously feeling miserable. After their last afternoon class, he retired to the dormitory and put Tom to bed, while he sat next to the crib on his own bed and worked on his homework, glad that Hermione often joined him in the dormitory.
Even after Tom's recovery, Harry and Hermione kept the habit of doing their homework together in the dormitory, while Tom was asleep in his crib, although Ron was not happy about it to say the least. 'He really seems to be jealous of Tom,' Harry recalled what Hermione had told him one day, unable to understand that feeling at all.
Thank you so much for your kind comments.