Pairing: Harry/Ginny, Remus/Tonks, Ron/Hermione
Archive: Here, Potions and Snitches
Disclaimer: Familiar characters aren't mine. Unfamiliar characters are. Songs and poems aren't. Google them. Plot is. And…yeah. I think that about covers it.
WARNINGS: PLEASE read the WARNINGS before each chapter!!! I cannot stress this enough. This story contains a few SWATS every now and then as well as FLASHBACKS OF ABUSE. If any of this bothers you in any way, shape, or form—meaning it's going to make you toss and turn in your sleep—then I kindly ask you to pass over this particular story. I'll be sure to note when the swats or flashbacks will occur for those people who care to be informed. Whether to turn back or read on will then be up to you. I take no responsibility on whether or not you get bothered if you choose to read on. All reviews containing rants will be blissfully ignored. :-)
By the way, this is an AU piece.
By the other way, I must acknowledge Dramagirl007 here on FFN—her story about the same theme gave me a bit of inspiration for this piece, and for that I thank her.
Author's Note: This story is a WIP (although it is close to being done). Thus, I cannot promise regular updates after a time. However, if I am able to write fast enough, a pause in updates might not even be necessary. Alright. On with the story!
Harry sighed. He had the framework of the room finally set up after hours of spellwork. Now all he had to do was reinforce the structure and check for any weak spots before moving onto the final phase of construction. Or rather, he should say reconstruction.
The almost-eighteen year old spun around at the sound of his name and came face-to-face with none other than Albus Dumbledore. There's a surprise. He thought sarcastically.
"Headmaster." Harry greeted, giving the old codger a half-smile that didn't quite reach his eyes.
Dumbledore returned it with a weary smile of his own. "How are you doing, my boy?"
Harry shrugged. "As best as can be expected," he looked around at his work, "considering I've never done any construction spellwork before." Pocketing his wand, he picked up his perpetually-cold bottle of Butterbeer, threw a towel over his shoulder and walked out the door.
"I told you you would pick it up rather easily." Dumbledore commented, following him down the hall. "There's not much to it."
"Hm." Harry grunted noncommittally, taking a sip of his Butterbeer and refusing to comment further. Aside from his greeting, Harry had yet to meet the old man's eyes. He didn't have much to say to him at the moment.
Dumbledore sighed. Harry was still mad at him. He couldn't blame him, really. Severus was right when he accused him of raising Harry like a pig for the slaughter. He supposed what he did was shameful. Well…who was he kidding? He knew what he did was shameful. The thing was he really did care about Harry. As the years came and went, his affections for the boy grew and as the time for Harry's sacrifice drew nearer, Dumbledore found it increasingly harder to break the news to him.
So he didn't.
He had Severus do it.
After he purposefully separated himself from Harry, Hermione, and Ron during the Horcrux hunt, he stayed in a safe house no one but himself knew about. It was through a painting that he issued his orders to Severus. He knew the trio would succeed at finding and destroying all the remaining Horcruxes. It was just a matter of time. And the wait had paid off—when Remus' patronus had found him and informed him that a battle was about to take place at Hogwarts, Dumbledore knew the boy's darkest hour had finally come. He only hoped Severus somehow succeeded in the impossible task of breaking the news. He did. Harry had accepted his fate, just as he knew he would. He walked into the arms of death and calmly sacrificed himself for everyone fighting the final battle. He provided them with his protection in the same way his mother did. Then he did something completely unexpected—he survived.
Dumbledore had met Riddle as he paraded Harry's body back onto the lawn of Hogwarts. After Neville beheaded the snake, Dumbledore stepped out of the shadows and made the Dark Lord freeze. The two had started fighting there and then, their respective sides quickly following their example. In the ensuing chaos, nobody noticed Harry's body disappear. Then, as Dumbledore lay disarmed on the floor of the Great Hall and Minerva, who had come to his aid, landed next to him, and as Riddle fired a blasting curse at them intent on blowing them up into oblivion, a strong shield charm had come out of nowhere, throwing Riddle back clear across the hall. It was like someone cast a Petrificus Totalus on the crowd. Everybody froze.
Then out of thin air, appeared the boy who was destined to be their savior—Harry. No one, not even Dumbledore, could believe their eyes. The boy was glaring at the Dark Lord who glared at him in return. Everyone had picked themselves up off the ground and just gaped at the impossible situation. The Death Eaters had stopped fighting. Remus, Sirius, Tonks, Moody, the Weasleys, Shacklebolt, and everyone else in the Order had stopped fighting. Ron, Hermione, Neville, and everyone else in the Army had stopped fighting. A deathly silence had taken over the Great Hall.
Then Harry and Riddle began circling each other like two predators circled their prey. They moved in a big ring and everyone made them room. Harry ordered everyone to keep out of it; that the fight was between the two of them and them alone. Riddle taunted him for that. For a while, the two combatants merely threw insults back at each other. Riddle insisted that Harry was no great wizard and that he hid behind real great wizards and let them do all the work. Harry told him he was wrong about that and so many things. The boy informed him about Snape's true loyalties and reasons and then taunted Riddle on how he, the half-blood Dark Lord, was too dim-witted to learn from his mistakes. The insult had thrown Riddle into a fit of fury. He fired the Killing Curse at Harry only to have it stopped by a shield emanating from Harry's hand. Disbelievingly, the Dark Lord tried again and again and each time met with the same results. Harry taunted him mercilessly as Riddle merely proved his claim.
It was then that the greatest duel in wizarding history truly began. Harry steered clear of Unforgivables. Riddle threw nothing but Unforgivables. Both were fighting wandlessly within three seconds. Harry's left hand held up a shield while his right fired a barrage of defense spells at his opponent. Finally, after battling continuously for half an hour, Riddle completely lost his patience and fired a unique Killing Curse at Harry. It was just like before in the graveyard of Little Hangleton. Riddle sent a stream of green light hurtling towards the boy and Harry threw everything he had into the unique shield he created. Then Harry pulled the final trick out of his hat. Using nothing but his power of will, and drawing love and support from his supporters in the crowd, Harry pushed the shield back towards Riddle and with a final shove, sent the Dark Lord's own curse hurtling back towards its source. Lord Voldemort died with a look of frozen shock upon his face.
The celebrations lasted for ten straight days. Harry was asleep for half that time, Dumbledore recalled with a small smile.
Now it was almost a month later…and Harry was still mad at him. Dumbledore sighed. He had no idea how to make it up to the boy! Could he make it up to begin with? And here he was about to ask Harry for yet another great favor. Dumbledore supposed he might never recover the relationship he had with Harry before the betrayal. He might as well resign himself to that now.
The two walked in companionable silence through the Entrance Hall and out onto the grounds, heading towards the lake.
"Harry…what are your plans for this summer and beyond?" The Headmaster asked his former student.
Harry took another sip of his Butterbeer and glance sideways at him. "For the summer, not much. I mean I'm here," he gestured towards the castle, "helping you and the other professors rebuild for the fall term. Plus, I'm restoring my house in Godric's Hollow on the weekends." Harry shrugged.
"And what of your work plans?"
Harry sighed, "Well…Minister Shacklebolt did offer that free entry into the Auror's program for anyone who fought in the Battle last month. I already told him I'd take the job."
"Ah." Dumbledore nodded and smiled. "An Auror is a highly respectable position. Congratulations."
Harry acknowledged his greetings with a nod.
"But from what I hear, because of that temporary relaxation of requirements, there's been an influx of recruits into the training program and they're planning on resolving that by redesigning their training agenda."
Harry took a sip and nodded. "Instead of five days a week of less-intensive training, they're planning on having recruits choose between three days of medium-intensive training per week, or two days of highly-intensive training per week. The training still lasts the same amount of time—three years. They just can't handle that amount of people in the same room, at the same time, going through the same training scenarios. Not with the number of training instructors they have, anyway."
Dumbledore chuckled lightly. "I hear the latter option is considered suicidal."
Harry smirked. "For most, yes." He nodded, "They call it 'The Crucible'. Recruits are only supposed to go through it once in their regular training regime. For those who choose that option, they go through it every week. No food, no water, no rest, just battle-intense scenario after battle-intense scenario from three in the morning Thursday until just before midnight Friday night." He sighed.
"So…just a typical day for you, correct?" Dumbledore's eyes twinkled, but Harry wasn't looking his way.
Harry shrugged. "I suppose." He stopped at the edge of a dock and just looked out onto the peaceful lake.
Dumbledore joined him in silence for a few minutes before asking, "So what do you plan on doing for the other three days of the week? Assuming, of course, you took the two-day option."
Harry nodded, "I did." He took a sip of his Butterbeer and gazed at Dumbledore from the corner of his eye for a long moment before turning back to the lake, "And I supposed what I'll be doing for the remaining three days is whatever it is you're trying to convince me to do right now."
Dumbledore chuckled at that. "Harry…you know me too well."
"How would you like to join the staff as Defense Against the Dark Arts professor?" Dumbledore offered. "I'm pretty sure the curse Riddle put on it died with him last month by your hand. Who better to take up the Defense post than the man whose defense skills bested the darkest wizard in history?" The Headmaster raised an eyebrow.
But Harry was shaking his head, "I don't think that's going to work, Headmaster."
"Why, in heavens, not?"
"Well, for starters, my girlfriend is coming back next year as a Seventh Year." Harry argued.
"Nonsense!" Dumbledore scoffed, "I have the utmost confidence that you and Miss Weasley can keep your business lives and your personal lives separate. After all," he smirked at Harry, "even if you don't think you're able to, I know for a fact that she will make you."
For once, Harry echoed his chuckle. "That she will." He took another sip of Butterbeer. "But still…what about Professor Snape?" He looked at Dumbledore, "He's been pining for that position since he started teaching here. Madame Pomfrey assured me that the snake venom has indeed left his system and, aside for the inexplicable coma, he's on the road to a full recovery. I'm sure come fall term he'll be up and ready to start teaching again and what better subject to teach than the subject he wishes?"
Dumbledore's shoulders drooped and he released a great sigh. "Professor Snape is the other reason why I came out here to talk to you today, Harry?"
Turning to the Headmaster, Harry met Dumbledore's eyes with a look of concern, though for whom, Dumbledore wasn't sure. "He's dead, isn't he?" He boy asked, his tone revealing not surprise, but mild resignation.
"Au contraire, Harry, Severus Snape is very much alive." The Headmaster assured him.
Harry's eyebrows furrowed, "Then what did you need to talk to me about?"
Dumbledore grimace and turned on his heel, "Follow me, please." He called over his shoulder as he hurried up the dock, "I'll explain on the way."
Harry wordlessly met the Professor stride for stride.
"Severus woke up from his coma two days ago." Dumbledore began, "Naturally, he was confused and we did our best to explain the situation to him. As you can probably guess, his reaction was negative."
"He wanted to die." Harry surmised.
"Not quite wanted, but his thoughts were somewhere along that line." Dumbledore answered, heading up the moving staircase towards the hospital wing, "You know, of course, that his reason for living beyond your mother's death was to protect you from Voldemort. When we explained that Voldemort had indeed been defeated by your hand, and that you had saved him from certain death, and we were able to patch him up well enough for him to make a full recovery, he became rather upset."
"So let me get this straight," Harry broke in, turning the corner with the Headmaster, his robes billowing behind him, "He couldn't imagine living while my mother was dead, but he did it anyway to protect me from Riddle. He didn't quite want to die, but would welcome death without a fuss if it came for him because he most likely wanted to meet my mother beyond the Veil. But now we've all managed to pull him back from Death's door, thus taking that chance away from him. And when he woke up and you told him everything, he threw a hissy fit."
"Exactly." Dumbledore nodded, eyes twinkling at him.
"So what happened?"
"Well…during the last school year, Poppy informed me that she took to storing poisons in her stores at the infirmary for those unfortunate souls who lost their minds from the endless Cruciatus curses the Carrows taught in 'Defense' classes."
Harry's eyes darkened at that. "I'll see them in Azkaban for that if it's the last thing I do." He muttered under his breath, "So Madame Pomfrey did those unfortunate souls a favor. Was it painless?"
Dumbledore inclined his head. "Considering I've never consumed it, I wouldn't know. Poppy, however, assures me it is. The effect is virtually the same as the poison muggles call cyanide, but the magic imbued in the concoction renders it painless to the drinker as well as undetectable to anyone but the best healers. The Carrows thought the poor souls died from continued exposure to the Cruciatus curse rather than by Poppy's mercy killings; which is fortunate for Poppy."
"Indeed." Harry agreed. "She's an amazing healer and a very good person."
"Oh, yes." Dumbledore nodded. "Anyway…when everything started to calm down last month after the victory celebrations, our usual Potions salesman—the same man who had been selling us new potions and potions recipes for the last fifty years—came back to give us his congratulations and, of course, to do a bit of selling while he was at it." They rounded into the spiral staircase that led to the hospital wing, "He offered us something new and interesting this time around and Poppy just couldn't resist buying several samples of the potion, intent on learning more about it." He paused at the top of the staircase and gave Harry a meaningful look, "It was an aging potion—a permanent one; brand new to the market with absolutely no antidote. And it looked exactly like the poison Poppy used to keep in her stores." He then turned right and continued on to the infirmary.
"Used to? She doesn't keep it anymore?" Harry asked.
"She got rid of them all the first thing in the morning after Victory Day." Dumbledore answered. "But, considering Severus was unconscious at the time of both the poison disposal and the aging potion acquision, he couldn't have known this." They turned another corner. "When Severus awoke, he became rather upset, and it escalated to the point where we had to put him back to sleep several times. Finally, the last time, he unfortunately awoke while the other professors and I were in a meeting and Poppy was the only one there. Somehow, he managed to get a hold of a wand and broke through Poppy's defenses easily. Before she could do anything, he ran to her stores and consumed a vial of what he thought was her mercy poison. It was in the exact place he knew it to be and had the exact same color, consistency, and smell."
Dumbledore made to open the door to the hospital wing, but Harry put a hand on top of his to stop him. "Wait a second! What are you telling me? That Snape tried to kill himself and ended up aging himself instead?"
"Au contraire, my boy," Dumbledore smirked, his eyes twinkling at Harry, "Severus tried to kill himself and ended up de-aging himself instead."
The Headmaster pushed open the doors to the hospital wing, revealing a bickering Madame Pomfrey and Professor McGonagall standing next to an oak baby crib.
"Albus!" McGonagall exclaimed, pushing her way around the crib and towards them, "There you are! We've been looking for you. Oh! Hello, Harry."
"Professor McGonagall." Harry greeted with a smile.
"It's a good thing you're here. Albus, Poppy thinks he might have all his adult memories, but we're not entirely sure."
"His adult memories?" Dumbledore echoed.
Madame Pomfrey came over to them then and picked up what sounded like the argument she was having with McGonagall when they first walked in. "The salesman said that he wasn't entirely sure about that detail of the effects, but that he was going to give us the name and contact information of the man who invented…"
Harry inched away from them, disinterested in the three-way argument that was brewing amongst the other adults. Tuning out the slowly rising voices, he shuffled over to the crib and tentatively peered inside.
A small infant stared calmly back at him.
Harry could see the features that so defined the Potions Master here in this young child, but they were muted, not having fully formed yet. The soft black hair, not yet long or greasy, lay flat against the equally soft scalp. The long hook nose was not yet quite so long. The slender, nimble fingers were currently chubby and short. But the eyes…those dark eyes…
Those were the same.
Everything else was different, but the eyes were the same. Those eyes bore into him now just as they did seven years ago in the first potions class he had with the man. Yet Harry knew how to read them now. He knew how to get below the surface to the truth underneath the skin. Harry met the child's eyes and knew what he was thinking.
The baby was scowling at him…slightly. It was Snape's trademark scowl, to be sure, but it looked completely out of place in a child this small.
Harry returned the infant's calm gaze and leaned into one of the sides of the crib. He could feel a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth, but it managed to keep it down…for now. "Hello there, Mr. Snape." Harry greeted evenly. Until he found out otherwise, he would speak to the child as he would've spoken to the man. "How are you doing?"
The scowl instantly disappeared and the infant looked at him curiously.
"Happy? Sad? Disgruntled? All of the above? None of the above?" Harry tried, knowing that Snape would understand what he was trying to say. That was, if Snape was still in there.
The baby peered up at him for a long moment before it blinked three times in rapid succession.
Harry raised an eyebrow at that. "Could you answer that one more time, please?"
The baby blinked three more times in rapid succession.
Harry nodded. "Disgruntled, then."
The baby scrunched his eyes shut and opened them again.
"Right." Harry nodded, "I take that as a yes."
Harry waited, and slowly, the child was able to bob its head up and down in a nod.
Harry echoed the gesture. "Yeah. I would feel disgruntled too if I tried to leave here but instead found that I unwillingly lengthened my stay." He gave the child a gentle smile before glancing over his shoulder at the three older adults who were clearly arguing now. Harry rolled his eyes and turned back to the more companionable chatterbox at the moment.
The child, too, turned back to him after peeking at the older people through the bars of his crib. Taking a deep breath, baby Snape stuck out his tongue and blew raspberries at Harry.
Harry raised a surprised eyebrow at him. "Was that for me, or for them?" He gestured over his shoulder.
The baby stared at him for a second before looking back at the arguing group through his crib bars and blowing raspberries as them.
Harry chuckled gently, his laugh soft but straight from the heart. "I quite agree." He told the child. Looking over his shoulder slightly, he gave the group a sidelong glance, stuck out his tongue, and blew soft raspberries in their direction.
Then he heard the most angelic sound in the world: baby Snape laughed at him.
It was like someone cast a Petrificus Totalus on the adults in the room. They stopped mid-rant and turned, astonished, towards the source of the childish giggles.
Harry as well was gaping at the child, shocked at the fact that he had just heard a laugh emanating from a baby with the surname Snape. But the soft smile continued to tug at the corners of his lips relentlessly and soon he and the baby wore matching smirks as they gazed at each other silently.
Then baby Snape held his arms out to Harry and opened and closed his hands. "Ah!" He cried. "Ah! Ah! Ah!" He opened and closed his hands faster.
Standing, Harry nodded and held out his fingers to the baby. First Snape rose to the sitting position, and then rested for a second before allowing Harry to pull him to his feet. Snape hung onto the bars of the crib and gazed at the frozen professors.
He blew raspberries at them again then turned to Harry and began patting him on the arm. "Ha ha ha ha ha! Ha weh weeh! Ha weh!" Harry raised an eyebrow at him. "A ba!" Snape pointed to the group of professors with one hand, patted Harry's arm again with the other, and babbled, "Meh meh meh meh." He tapped lightly on his head, then tapped Harry's arm again.
"'Harry, tell them about my memories.'?" Harry guessed, taking a stab at translating the baby talk and gestures.
The infant nodded.
"Right." Harry turned back to his silent professors. "Mr. Snape would like me to inform you that he is currently still in possession of all his memories, so your argument is, respectfully, rather pointless."
"Ah!" The child beside him cried in agreement.
The three professors looked at each other, rather dumbfounded. "Uh…"
"…thank you…my boy…" Dumbledore said finally, "…for clearing that up." He exchanged glances with them again and this time they began whispering to each other furiously.
Harry and Snape shared another look. The baby scowled at Dumbledore, then looked up Harry curiously, then scowled at Dumbledore again.
Harry snorted, turning his back to the professors and once again leaning on the crib railing. "Yeah, I think he's scowl-worthy too." Baby Snape let go of the railing and sat down, leaning on his arms and peering up at Harry. The seventeen-year-old shrugged. "I don't know. It's easier for me to forgive you for treating me like crap for the past seven years than it is to forgive him for betraying me like that." The child's eyes widened. "Well at least you were genuine, you know? At least you cared for me somewhat." The baby scowled at him now. "Oh, quit lying to yourself." Harry retorted, pulling up a chair and sitting down. "You know it's in there somewhere. I'm not only my father's son but my mother's. My mother's son. And that's the part you cared about."
Baby Snape narrowed his eyes at him. "Uh-uh!" He shook his head.
"Ah, sure you did." Harry returned.
Harry rolled his eyes. "Fine. Tell me this," Pulling out his wand, he cast a Muffliato on the two of them so the professors wouldn't be able to hear them, "Tell me, if you were in my shoes right now, and could only find it within yourself to forgive one person, who would you forgive—the man with whom you have clashed for years but cared enough for you—"
"You cared for my mother, so by extension me. Can you deny that?" Harry narrowed his eyes challengingly.
Baby Snape blew raspberries at him.
Harry shrugged, "So…the man with whom you've clashed for years but cared enough for your mother, so by extension you, to protect you from harm? Or…would you give your forgiveness to the man who appeared to care for you, but was only raising you so that he could trade your life for his enemy's?"
Slowly, the scowl disappeared from baby Snape's face as he gave it some serious thought.
"Honestly, Mr. Snape. Honestly. Which is the more cold-hearted?" Harry asked, leaning forward in his chair.
There was silence between them for a while, Harry not daring to interrupt the baby's thoughts. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, baby Snape met his eyes and Harry saw in them a flicker of kinship.
It was all Harry needed and he leaned back in his chair. "Exactly." He gave the child a sad smile.
The boy glanced up to find Dumbledore standing behind him. Baby Snape was scowling at the Headmaster once again. Canceling the Muffliato with a wave of his hand, Harry stood up.
"What…are you doing?" The old man asked, his gaze bouncing from him to the baby and back.
"Mr. Snape and I were simply having a serious conversation." Harry answered evenly.
"Ah!" Baby Snape cried in agreement.
"Ah…I see." The Headmaster gave them an understanding smile, but his eyes radiated an altogether different opinion.
Baby Snape blew raspberries at him.
Dumbledore flinched in surprise, eyeing the child incredulously. Harry offered his fingers to the baby and helped Snape to stand up. The child hung onto the railing with one hand, and in his other, he held a small stuffed bear.
"Begging your pardon, Mr. Snape," Harry whispered in his ear, "But I think acting like a child is only going to solidify his opinion of you." But it didn't help—the baby still scowled at the man next to him.
"Anyway, Harry…Severus is actually the main reason I came out there to talk to you today." Dumbledore said, turning to the teenager. "As you can see, he's an infant—"
"Ah!" The baby cried in protest, throwing his toy bear at the Headmaster. "Ah!"
The Headmaster's eyes widened yet again and he looked down at the bear disbelievingly.
"Mr. Snape!" Harry exclaimed reproachfully. The child turned from Dumbledore and looked up at Harry with innocent eyes. "Don't give me that look." Harry leaned in to whisper in his ear. "Come on. He's only stating the obvious—that you're an infant, physically. I'll remind him again about your memories, but you shouldn't allow the old codger to get to you like that! Acting like a baby is only going to prove to him his opinion of you is right." He pulled away and looked in the child's eyes. "Now do you want that?"
After a moment of contemplation, baby Snape looked away and narrowed his eyes at Dumbledore. Turning back to Harry with an innocent look, he shook his head, "Uh-uh!"
Harry nodded, "Okay." Then he leaned in to whisper in the baby's ear again, "Then might I suggest you apologize to him?" The teenager pulled back and raised an eyebrow at the baby.
Snape huffed. "Ohweh!" He snapped at Dumbledore, and then gave him the fiercest scowl his baby face could muster.
"That means 'Sorry', Headmaster." Harry translated, crossing his arms, "And please remember that although he may be an infant physically, he's still thirty-eight inside. It's insulting if you talk about him as if he wasn't in the room."
"Ah!" The baby cried in agreement.
Dumbledore sighed, closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose. "Right." He turned to the baby, "I apologize, Severus. However," he gave Harry a pointed look, "the fact still remains that whatever the state of his mind, his body is still that of a five-month-old child. He's no longer fit to take care of himself, physically."
"Ah Ah Ah!" Baby Snape was bouncing on the balls of his feet and yelling at Dumbledore.
Harry laid a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Calm down, please." The child did so almost immediately, not pausing in the death glare he was sending Dumbledore's way.
"What are you saying, Headmaster?"
"I'm saying, my boy, that I would appreciate if you would be so kind as to take care of him for the time being."
"Mr. Snape, please!" Harry begged, moving his hand from the child's should to his back and rubbing it gently as the child grew more agitated.
Snape gave him no notice. His bouncing increased and he was waving a hand at Dumbledore in expression of his distress. "Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah!"
"Severus, if you are indeed in there—"
"AH! AH! AH! AH! AH! AH! AH!" Dumbledore's doubt over Snape's memories upset the baby even more, and his cries grew louder. Harry now began whispering calming noises in his ear in addition to the gentle backrub, but it wasn't doing much good. The child was too focused on Dumbledore.
Harry suddenly felt a vibration in his pocket and he used his other hand to pull out the two-way mirror he kept there. Ginny's face looked up at him curiously. "Is this a bad time, Harry?" She could hear the noise in the background and looked slightly alarmed.
"Uh…just hold on a second." Harry shouted over the din. He looked up at the confused Dumbledore, "Excuse me, Headmaster, I'll be…just one moment." Whispering one last calming noise into the baby's ear, he stepped out into the hall.
The sudden absence of the back rub and the whispering words snapped baby Snape out of the trance he was in and he turned from Dumbledore with an abruptness that stunned the Headmaster. He stopped his bouncing immediately and looked about the room frantically. "AH!" He screamed, his cry reaching its peak intensity. "AH! Ah! AHHHH!" He looked on the verge of a breakdown.
"AH!!!" The shrill shrieks pierced through the Headmaster's head.
Dumbledore turned to Poppy and Minerva helplessly. They both shrugged at him and walked over to try to help him calm the baby down. Minerva pat his back awkwardly and Poppy made baby sounds and faces at him. Snape released the railing of his crib and sat down in frustration. "AH!" His eyelashes began looking suspiciously wet. "AH!" Then, all of a sudden, he began picking up his toys and throwing them at the stupid professors. He threw something hard and straight at all three of them and they all had to duck out of the way to avoid being hit by the flying playthings. One after another he threw at them, his piercing cries continuing to echo about the room.
"Sweetheart, please!" Poppy tried, but had to duck out of the way of a flying block.
"Severus, this is—" Yet Dumbledore's efforts were in vain and he had to sidestep a small train car that was careening towards his head.
"Mr. Snape, that is quite enough!" Minerva snapped, pulling out her wand. But Snape merely shook his head, crying out impossibly louder and hitting his bed in frustration. Then a magical wind swept into the room. Glasses began shaking as side tables trembled and bed frames rattled ominously. All three of the professors exchanged wary looks. Snape's accidental magic was beginning to assert itself.
"AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" The infant's voice cracked and the first tears began streaking down his face.
"Hey! Hey! Hey!" Harry exclaimed soothingly as he billowed back into the room, stuffing the two-way mirror back into his pocket. He felt a magical spike a moment ago and he just knew he was needed in there somehow. He felt was needed somewhere in the vicinity of the crib. The magic was calling to him and he felt drawn to it like a moth to a flame. "What's going on here?"
As soon as baby Snape saw him, a whine escaped through his lips and he reached for Harry, opening and closing his hands longingly. "What's wrong?" Harry offered him his fingers and Snape stood up, but continued to hold his arms out beseechingly. Understanding dawned in Harry's eyes. "May I?" The baby sniffed sadly and nodded, leaning on the railing and reaching up towards the teenager. Moving his robes out of the way, Harry lifted Snape into his arms and cradled him against his robes.
Almost immediately, the room stopped vibrating and the rogue magic cleared from the air. Snape began crying in earnest against Harry's robes, while the boy just held him and rubbed his back in slow, comforting circles. "Hey, now. There's no need of that. It's going to be alright. We're going to work on this, okay? We're going to try to fix this." Harry recalled how his godson, Teddy, often fell asleep listening to the sound of his voice and figured it might work for this child as well, no matter how old his mental age. Turning away so that Snape had absolutely no view of the offending professors, Harry began dancing around the room, rubbing smooth circles in the boy's back, while humming a tune that was guaranteed to put any child to sleep. This often worked for Remus' son. There was no reason to believe otherwise that it would work on a three-months-older baby Snape.
After about ten minutes, Snape's cries died down and his eyes began to droop. Harry knew he was now halfway to the land of nod. He still clutched at Harry's robes as if they were a lifeline, but his other hand had somehow drifted towards his mouth and he was now (perhaps subconsciously) sucking his thumb. Harry's other arm wrapped around him and he began running his fingers through the child's soft baby hair. He made sure to keep up his humming; he knew that the soft rumble of his chest against Snape's ear was what was putting the child to sleep. And then, ten minutes later, baby Snape's breathing evened out and he drifted quietly to the island of dreams.
After five more minutes of idle dancing and humming to ensure that the infant was really and truly asleep, Harry turned back to the other professors in the room who were whispering quietly amongst themselves. Meeting Dumbledore's eye over the baby's head, he mouthed, "I'll do it."
All three of them smiled gratefully at him. "Thank you, Harry." The Headmaster said, "You're simply the only person I trust with him who has the ability to raise him at the moment. You know the most about him, you understand his history, and you understand him, most importantly. Members of the staff are either not qualified to raise a baby this young, or otherwise too old to do so." He eyed the teenager over his glasses, his eyes twinkling, "Most of the Order doesn't really know him, and those that do…well…you know."
"Plus, I simply refuse to entrust him to any of the families he had Death Eater ties with. Can you imagine entrusting him to Mr. Malfoy?"
Harry's eyes darkened and his arms tightened involuntarily around the bundle in his arms. "Not a chance!" He growled, then closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "He's not going to like it—this whole arrangement, I mean. He's not going to like it…much." Harry warned.
"I'm aware of that. However…you do have a way with him." Dumbledore smirked, "I'm sure you'll be able to help him see reason."
Harry rolled his eyes.
"Mr. Potter, Severus cried when you left the room and stopped when you came back in." Poppy pointed out. "I'm certain that indicates he has already formed some kind of bond with you, however unconsciously. Babies at this age tend to have separation anxiety. If he truly is still in there—"
"With all due respect, Madame, he is!" Harry broke in.
"Then he will come to see reason once you explain it to him." The healer finished.
Harry sighed. "I'm going to need quarters—bigger ones than the ones I'm currently in."
"We moved all your things already." Dumbledore answered, eyes twinkling.
Harry narrowed his eyes at him but didn't say anything. "And parenting books, spell books with charms on child-proofing and such,"
"I took the liberty of renting all of those out from the library. They'll be in your quarters by the time you get there." McGonagall answered.
"What about clothes, formula, bottles, toys, nappies, changing tables, playpens, cribs, prams, those things some parents wear on their back that the baby rides in, baby shampoo…"
"You may bring the formula, bottles, crib, nappies, toys, and such that we have here over to your new quarters when you head over. We have two more pairs of clothes for him to change into that we transfigured from some towels, but that's about it. The rest you will have to buy, unfortunately." Poppy answered.
Harry nodded and sighed, rubbing Snape's back unconsciously. "Alright. May I have permission to tell Ginny about all this…and possibly Tonks as well?"
"Miss Weasley, by all means. Why do you need to tell Nymphadora?" Dumbledore asked.
"Well…I can barely go out on my own without being assaulted by the paparazzi, so going out with a child that magically appeared out of nowhere is completely out of the question." The teenager answered, slowly swaying from side to side. "Besides, Ginny has a blast whenever she goes out shopping, and she and Tonks are practically best friends, and when Tonks was expecting Teddy, she and Ginny had a blast buying some things for the baby. I think if I asked her to go shopping for this little big man, she'd prefer to have a friend who is willing to return the favor."
Dumbledore began nodding before he even finished speaking. "By all means." He looked out the window. "Well, Harry, the day is nearly done. I'll show you to your new quarters right now. Minerva, Poppy, will you please help gather all the things Severus needs." The two witches nodded and set about shrinking everything and putting them into a diaper bag. "Now, Harry, I'm assuming you know how to hold him properly and change his nappies."
"I do have a godson around his age, whom I babysit frequently. I'm quite sure I can handle it, Headmaster."
"Of course." Dumbledore nodded as he led the group out of the hospital wing. The Headmaster lowered his voice before continuing, "The issue Minerva, Poppy, and I were arguing about a while ago concerned the inventor of the potion Severus drank—the man who first created this permanent aging potion."
Harry looked at him with concern.
"Well it turns out the potion is indeed permanent, and all the evidence we've gathered so far only supports that. It also turns out…the man who invented the potion did so with a purpose."
"He wanted to de-age himself." Harry guessed.
"And he got rid of all his notes before he did so." Dumbledore nodded. "He only patented the recipe so that the family he ended up staying with would have a source of income with which to raise him."
"Wait a moment!" Harry interrupted, "If Mr. Snape still has all his memories, even in this form, isn't it possible the inventor still has all of his."
"Possible, but not." Dumbledore shook his head. "His new parents oblivated him completely—by his request. He is, for all intents and purposes, six months old in mind and in body."
Harry narrowed his eyes. "That sounds fishy."
Dumbledore nodded. "I know. That's what we were arguing about." He led the group down to the fourth floor and through a series of twists and turns, "Rest assured, Harry, I'll try to get to the bottom of this. But the thing is…for once, I don't think there's anything more here than what meets the eye. Do you?" The Headmaster raised an eyebrow at him, "I've looked into this man's history. And although he had a few good friends—whom he chose to become his parents—his life was just one misfortune after another. I mean, think of it, my boy—if you lived such a miserable existence and wished to start over, what's to stop you from doing so?"
Harry sighed and nodded. "Well…it doesn't really hurt to double check anyway."
"I quite agree."
As they walked down the hall, Harry's keen sense of observation began to note that they were passing the Defense classroom, and the Defense professor's office, and the Defense supply room, and the Defense professor's…No way!
Harry pressed his lips together tightly. "Headmaster, I don't appreciate the implication."
"What implication, my boy?" The old coot asked, an innocent look plastered on his face.
Harry growled and shifted the child in his arms. "Professor Dumbledore, you offered this job to me not three hours ago. Then you dropped this bombshell on me. I haven't had one moment to think about the offer and you're already moving me into the Defense professor's quarters?!" He hissed.
"Harry, please." Dumbledore whispered calmly, "Just think on it. Please. If you still don't want the position in a week or two, then we'll move you to other quarters. Alright?"
Harry tightened his jaw. Suddenly, the child in his arms shifted in his sleep and Harry moved to accommodate him. The abrupt reminder that there was a baby present was enough to force him to calm down. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath.
Then one more for good measure.
"Alright." He answered, meeting the Headmaster's eyes, "I'll seriously consider it. But…if I decide not to take it—"
"I'll respect your decision." Dumbledore broke in, a grand smile blossoming on his face. Harry rolled his eyes and turned away. Who was he kidding? The decision was already made for him. Meddlesome old coot! Never asks, forever manipulates. Bastard…
Harry spun around and came face to face with a painting of Merlin himself.
"Good evening, young man, you must be the new resident." The man with a passing resemblance to Dumbledore greeted.
"I am indeed, sir." Harry answered with a bit of a smile.
"Well then the password is 'Excalibur' and welcome to your new home…"
The portrait hole swung open and Harry gasped.
Next, the new residents take a tour of their quarters, Severus realizes his physical limitations, and the little potions master learns to push some buttons!