A/N: This chapter was HARD to write, you'll see why in a minute or two, still it was hard... and we're introduced to two new characters. They're not important as... say... James, Sev, Harry and Dumbledore, but they ARE important for the plot... I hope you like them as much as I liked creating them. =)
Tittle: Promises of forever
Chapter: 24 – Routines
Pairing: James Potter & Severus Snape
Summary: James survived that fated Halloween night, now with an infant by his side he has to face adulthood and a world that demands his son. Thank goodness he has Severus Snape on his side.
Warning: Character Death, OOCness, cuteness, AU, Harry's three months old instead of 15 months. Manipulative!Dumbledore, Evil!Tom Riddle
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction, written to win the NaNoWriMo challenge. No money is being made from this and no copyright infringement is intended.
Previously: "Never thought the boy would try and wash me..." The man giggled, going up the stairs and stopping outside a door with a little sign with 'Percy' written on it. Suddenly, no man was standing at the corridor, but a rat was making its way towards the bed where his owner was sleeping.
Routines... or the lack there of.
At the Potter house, life continued on as normal, the routine returning to the lives of Severus, James, and even Harry started to settle on a normal schedule.
Which James was forever thankful for, since his son hadn't woken up in the middle of the night ever since the end of the thrice curse hearing.
From Sunday night through Thursday night, he spend his evenings alone... well... he spent his nights on his own bed without Severus, though Harry sometimes made an appearance on Severus' side of the bed.
By 7:30am he woke up... sometimes the foul smell assaulted his nostrils bright and early... other times he woke up to Harry throwing a mild temper tantrum because he was tired of laying down on the crib, and sometimes – thought they were now rare, for which James was thankful for – he woke up to Harry screaming his lungs out in the middle of a memory/nightmare of that night all the way back in October. Those were the days he usually needed special care, and needed to be close or being held most of the time.
If he was lucky, by 8:30 both him and Harry would be showered, dressed and on their way to Harry's day care.
They were – as a rule – generally late, what with feeding and burping Harry and trying to grab a cup of coffee before leaving. So that left him leaving the heavily warded house by 8:42, sometimes even later than that.
He apparated to a nearby alley and walked to the day care, leaving Harry in the capable hands of Mrs. Aldridge before kissing his boy, waving good-bye to the woman whom he suspected had a crush on him and apparating as soon as he was out of sight.
Regardless of the time he left home, by 9:00am he was at Gringotts' muggle branch, either dealing with goblins or with a particularly demanding client. And there he stayed until 6:30pm when he left the bank in a hurry, already tugging at his tie as he apparated home, immediately searching for Severus and Harry.
Severus' routine was just a bit different than James'. To start with, he woke up at 6:30am and by 7am he was at the Adrianne Potion Institute already preparing the ingredients his Potions Guide would need.
At 7:15am Potion Mistress Judith – a 100-something year old woman – entered her lab and begun to give Severus instructions mixed with lessons and, sometimes, even lectures on behaviour, she rarely followed England's news and for that Severus was thankful, as it meant the woman wouldn't treat him any differently.
The routine of chop, dice, stir, listen, report went on until 2pm, when Severus was allowed to go home. He spent about half an hour at Spinner's End before changing to muggle clothes and apparating to Harry's day care.
He knew, for a fact, that Mrs. Aldridge hated him. She would try and tame her glare whenever she saw him, but he knew a façade when he saw one. He would sneer right back at her as he picked up Harry, checking to see that his son was fed, changed and bathed and had no injuries or traumas on his tiny person.
Once he was assured that Harry was just fine, he apparated the both of them to Jame's house where he spend time studying for the next day and entertaining Harry.
Admittedly the baby demanded much more attention than previously, what with teething, rashes and crawling, too often Severus would find the boy crawling over to the sofa and trying to wiggle himself under it or patting the perimeter ward he had put in the living room.
At 6:45 at the latest James was home, greeting Severus with a mind-numbing, toe-curling kiss before picking up his son and allowing himself to relax and enjoy what little was left of the baby's day.
By 8pm all of them were fed, one of them was sleeping, and the other two would be either talking or in the middle of going to bed, clothes being hastily removed and dumped on the floor, the chair or being thrown out of the bed as the pleasure built up until talking was replaced with moans and shouts of pleasure.
On the nights that it happened, James and Severus were – usually – in a much, much better mood the next day.
And so time passed for them.
One week turning into two, then into four, then a month. They were happy, content, growing... and filled with the knowledge that, had James been a female, he would have a second baby on the way by now.
On the other side of the spectrum, not everyone was happy... Detective Tom Hester was for the first time at end of his patience.
It was the beginning of March now, and exactly one week after the disappearance of George Terrance, an 8 month old baby.
He had searched for him since the previous Monday, interviewed his day care, the nanny, the parents, the grandparents, the neighbours and even the father's co-workers. There had been nothing, no leads, not even a hint of his existence.
Three days later he had searched the orphanages, the hospitals, the charities, the churches, the near by woods... everything he could think of.
They had found nothing.
Now it was one week after the disappearance and he had been called in the middle of the night, apparently some people had finally found the child, and he – as the head investigator – had been called to shed some light in what they had found.
It had been around 3am when he had received the call, it was just his luck that he place was near his home and, 15 minutes later he was at the house where the disturbance had been reported, he could hear the front door neighbour as she talked about the call to the police, it was pretty clear she did not like her new neighbours.
"...and two of them were talking, laughing, and suddenly the party was taken over by the woman's screams..."
He shook his head at the description, he doubted there had been a party, it was too late for that. Tom Hester frowned as he looked at the approaching figure, his partner William Maester.
William was a tall individual, as white as chalk and with a shiny bald head, deep blue eyes and a blond, trimmed, beard. As usual he was in jeans and a shirt, black tennis and the usual bracelet he swore gave him luck.
"Dead infant, I think it's the one you were looking for Tom, but you've gotta see this..." he trailed off, shaking his head and turning on his heel, stalking towards the house again.
In the back he could hear the woman going on and one about the party, specially her lack of invitation. To the side, talking to another officer was the couple who had found the body. The mas your average John Doe, as normal as they come, the woman was a short tiny thing with long black hair. A normal couple.
"You sure he's dead then?"
"If he wasn't," Bill begun staring at the floor, "I'd feel sorry for the poor bugger."
Tom knew Bill, they had been partners for over five years, he knew Bill had only an infinitesimally particle of pity or even compassion in his body and he didn't waste it often... to have him said that Tom had no doubt that what he was about to see was bad, pretty damn bad.
"Lead the way..."
With measured steps he entered the house, noticing the bright painted walls, the lack of dust in the corners and the playpen to be assembled – the box laying apparently forgotten, bust still dust free, on an nondescript corner by the kitchen.
"Who's the playpen for?"
"The woman is 6 months pregnant."
"She is?! Don't look like it!" Tom said, staring at the window and at the couple outside.
"That's not the wife Tom, the wife's outta town." Bill said, smirking... a shade of his usual personality shining through.
"Please tell me that's her sister."
"That's his bitch, that's what she is."
Tom stopped suddenly, taking another long look at the woman in question.
"I'm not sure if I should laugh or cry, that's going to be a mess."
"Tell me about it... to prevent it from falling down on us, we're all taking as many pictures as we can."
"Can never be too careful." Tom grinned, before his face lost its boyish looks as he stared down at the steps to the basement.
"How long have they lived here?"
"About... oh... 12 hours." Bill grinned again, despite the situation.
"And the fucker brought his mistress here first?!"
Tom snorted, looking at the bald man. "You're loving the drama, aren't you?"
"Of course I am, lovely things, dramas." The elder, balding man grinned for a moment before he turned to the basement door and, taking a fortifying breath, went down, Tom following close behind.
Tom covered his nose to keep from inhaling the stench of the dead body, he refused to stare at the boy, instead looking at the ground, searching for evidence. He took care to only step on the Coroner's steps as he looked around, making notations. Theirs was the only set of footsteps, nothing else seemed disturbed or even out or place. They would process the basement of course, go through everything they could possibly get their hands one to catch the bastard who did this... but the stillness of the place was uncanny.
"How long has the boy been here?" Tom asked the coroner, a man called Jack apparently, he was knew and Tom wasn't in the habit of meeting or talking to new people.
" 5 hours, give or take a few minutes." the man shrugged, unconcerned.
Tom sighed, staring at the man Jack, he hated doctors to whom the profession had turned into just another job.
"Anything weird about the body?" The detective asked, it was almost 4am, he had to work in two hours and he had only gotten 3 hours of sleep... he was too damn tired already.
"Besides the lung damage and the crushed foot? Well.. whoever did this carved something on the boy's forehead." The man held out a hand to stall the men's questions "No, I can't say what it is, he's too damn dirty for that."
"How can you tell he had lung injuries then?" Tom asked, still refusing to acknowledge the body, pen furiously working over paper.
"There's a bit of regurgitation on the floor, there's dirt and blood in it." He doctor answered, still completely unconcerned.
"Any theories about that?"
"Either the killer dumped something on the boy, or he threw him against a wall."
"While he was dead or alive?"
"Alive...." He trailed off, staring at Tom's face, "I can't determine the cause of death."
"I-can't-determine-the-cause-of-death!" the man Jack said slowly, as if talking to a particularly dimwitted child.
"The fuck..." Tom shook his head, finally looking at the body.
He wished he hadn't.
"None of the injuries killed him, and the forehead was carved post-mortem. Also..."
"I'm sure you noticed that there's no sign of anyone else here, the only traces I found were made by some officers and the paramedics, it's like the body appeared by magic." Jack murmured, shaking his head.
"Fuck it... nothing? Don, what do you have?" Tom asked the only other man on the scene, Heder Donova, the crime scene specialist.
"I got some traces of metal around the body, the man had the basement re-made and removed the floor, leaving only dirt... it might be from that but we need to be certain, I need some tests to be completed before I can give you any theories."
"All right, what about off the record?"
"Off the record? Seems like some sort of machine had been here, probably electrical and the metal appears to be iron and sulphur... maybe a coincidence the body was here but..."
"You don't believe in coincidences." Bill muttered, having stopped at the stairs to let Tom look around, he went back up, sat on a chair he had dragged from the kitchen and lit a cigarette.
"None of us do." Tom reminded him, looking up at his partner.