Disclaimer: All recognizable characters belong to J.K. Rowling, and I am not earning anything by writing this story.
Thanks a lot to my beta-reader, saiyanwizardgurl, for correcting my mistakes.
I also would like to thank my motovation betas!
I'm not a native speaker of English!
So this is the final chapter of this story. It was a very special story for me and I think my favorite of all. I hope you enjoyed the story and leave me one last review! Thank you all for readiny my story until the end.
Chapter 45 – New Year's Eve
"Your applicator, Harry. Where is it?"
Harry dug in his cloak pocket and pulled the applicator out. Still angry, he pushed the release button and let the potion flow into his mouth. When the potion kicked in, Harry's anger slowly faded and he felt embarrassed for shouting at Alastor. "I'm sorry, Alastor. I—"
"It's all right, Harry. I'm glad you finally talked about it. Try to talk with Severus. If he doesn't hold you responsible for the accident, then you shouldn't either. You brewed that potion out of love, and you were both in bad condition at the time. It is useless to blame yourself for it. I wish you could see it as a second chance for you and Severus. Especially Severus. What do you think would have become of him had the accident not happened? You have no idea how worried we were about both of you, Harry. I'm certain that this accident was a gift and not a curse. Severus can become a Potions Master again. He just has to accept help. A magic feed isn't so horrible, Harry, and with people at his side who don't make a big deal about it, it can be a normal routine. Nothing more than a few minutes spent sitting close together on the couch while maybe talking about the day or a good glass of wine."
"Wine?" Harry looked interested.
"When he and you are of age, young man. We were talking about the future. Severus can't become a Potions Master before he has finished school, can he?"
Harry groaned. "Maybe I will join them in the lab when we get back, but now I want to have fun, Alastor."
Alastor chuckled. "All right, all right!"
"You checked the recipe for the fifth time now, Harry. What's wrong with you? Our potion will grow hair before you finish adding the Boomslang," Severus said, eying Harry with confusion.
"Nothing is wrong; I just want to make it right," Harry said defensively. When he saw Severus' troubled expression, he added, "I can go. Maybe you'd be better brewing it alone."
Before Harry could round the working table to leave the lab, Severus grabbed him by his arm. "What's wrong, Harry? You've never behaved like this before."
Harry looked nervously over to Dexter, who was brewing at another cauldron. "I don't want to talk about it, okay?"
"You don't want to talk about what?" Severus did not let go of Harry's arm. "You liked brewing since we became friends. What changed?"
"What changed? Are you crazy, Sev? Everything changed, and it's my fault. I de-aged you because I wasn't paying attention!"
"No, I was not paying attention, you stupid moron. I was the Potions Master, not you. It was my responsibility, but I was tired and I should have stopped brewing when I realized that." Why had Charlie not told him that Harry was having problems? "How do you manage Potions when you behave like this during brewing?"
Harry stared at Severus and then looked down. "Can I go now?"
"No. Why didn't you talk with me? Why didn't you tell me you thought about the accident like that? It's stupid, Harry." He let go of Harry's arm because he did not want to force Harry to stay. He wanted him to stay of his own accord.
"Why should I have told you? I have enough problems with Charlie because of it."
"So you are behind in class?"
"You say that as if it's a crime. It's a bit funny coming from the person that didn't want to go to class at all one month ago."
"But we could have solved this. I could have helped you."
"How? Damn, Sev, every time I brew, I think my cauldron will explode again. I don't have enough time to check it all correctly. I hate it."
"Have you any idea how often I've exploded a cauldron? That's normal. The fact that our accident had such huge consequences was just bad luck. I don't regret it, okay?"
"You..." Harry was shocked. That was the first time he heard Severus say he did not regret the de-aging.
"I'm free now. Do you remember what Radgarid said the first time we saw him? About my magic? That he had seen a restraint around it when I was an adult? I thought about it a long time and discussed it with him. Now I know that I had put the restraints on myself because I feared I would lose myself in Dark magic. I was never happy, Harry. Not even living with Poppy and Alastor. I always felt restrained, as if I had a huge burden on my back. I never lived; I just survived. My whole life was a struggle. No fun. Now, that has changed. Yes, I still hate being pushed around and being told what to do, and Binns is a pain in the..." Severus quickly looked over to Dexter, who was pretending to not listen. "Well, you know. I never felt that I really belong to a family, and I never really felt home in Poppy and Alastor's quarters, but now I do. Now I feel as if I have a family. It's much better than my other life. But sometimes you are really stubborn. You should have told me. If I'm an expert in anything, it is Potions, and my hands and my magic system problem won't stop me from becoming a Potions Master again."
After that outburst, both boys stared at each other for some time, giving their brains time to realize what had been said. Severus had not even realized that he had made that decision before he had said it out loud. The few hours with Dexter had given him back his love and passion for Potion brewing. Experimental brewing was something totally different from Potions at Hogwarts. It had taken Severus just half an hour to fall in love with brewing again. Dexter had offered to help him and even asked him to be his assistant during the holidays. If he decided to become a Potions Master again, Dexter would, of course, help.
Harry finally broke the silence. "What a speech."
Severus rolled his eyes. "Now come over to the cauldron again. I fear we'll have to start anew, I should have put the potion in sta—" Severus stopped after throwing a glance at the cauldron. A look over to the grinning Dexter told Severus who was responsible for saving their potion. "Thanks," Severus muttered and smiled shyly at Dexter.
"Always at your service, Master Severus," Dexter joked and then winked at Harry.
"So, now you don't have to check anything five times. Two is the maximum. I'm here, and you can be sure that I'm not tired. An accident like last time won't happen again. You need to get used to brewing again and then you will find it fun again."
Harry doubted this, but he felt so close to Severus after his brother's little speech that he just wanted to spend time with him. If it has to be potion brewing, so be it.
"Shh, Hamid. You will alert them," Severus hissed at the excited boy.
"But look at that! Wow, it's amazing! I have never seen so many fireworks. Your godfather is awesome."
"Kingsley just has the right connections, but if they find us here, we will be in a lot of trouble."
Harry was leaning over the big box of fireworks. "Damn, I wish we could try out one. Maybe a small one? I can't wait until midnight."
Severus and Hamid looked nervous, but none said no and none stopped Harry when he let one of the smaller firecrackers slip into his pocket.
"Now, let's just tell them we're going flying," Harry said.
"Sometimes you are scary, Harry," Severus said, biting his bottom lip and already rubbing his bum in anticipation of what would follow if Alastor caught them.
"What about Draco?" Hamid asked.
"Oh, yes, he should be here soon. Let's wait for him, okay?"
Harry sighed. "Okay, but let's get ready. Don't forget warm clothes or Poppy will inspect us."
Severus and Hamid nodded. "I'll come to your room when I'm finished."
"All right, bring your broom as well. We'll leave as soon as Draco is here," Harry said. It felt good to be the one to lead. He had much more experience than Severus or Hamid when it came to mischief, and the other two boys accepted his lead without complaint.
Their plan was perfect. Draco would come soon and they would tell him to change and then they would quickly cross the living room to where all the adults were sitting, drinking whatever was in the big bowl Poppy had placed on the coffee table. Some of the teachers were there as well, like Minerva and Pomona as well as Charlie and Kingsley. Filius, Remus, and Albus were organizing the Great Hall. As four other students were at Hogwarts as well, they would celebrate in the Great Hall that evening.
A knock at their door made them all jump. Poppy peeked into the room and looked surprised. "Why are you all in outdoor clothes?"
"Ehm…." Severus started.
"We wanted to go flying as soon as Draco comes. It's nice outside, sunny and not too cold. Good for flying." Harry smiled at Poppy with his "I'm a sweet little boy" smile.
Poppy looked doubtfully at them. "Come into the living room. Draco and his parents are here."
Severus could feel Poppy's eyes boring in their backs as they went into the living room. He wished he had Harry's calm when it came to pranks and mischief.
None of them had met Draco's step-parents before, so they were cautious when they stepped into the living room. Draco had said they were nice, but Severus always imagined them as very stern because they had to make sure Draco did not turn Dark. So Severus was surprised that they looked so...normal. Mrs. Lording was a chubby woman but a bit lighter than Pomona. The gentle smile on her face seemed to be true, and Mr. Lording was also kind-looking. He had dark hair, but he was quickly going bald. Draco introduced his parents to them and then looked nervous, obviously wanting to get out of the view of the adults as soon as possible.
"We want to go flying. You can have Poppy's broom, right? You never use it," Harry said to Poppy.
"Oh, and that means you can give it away as you wish?" Poppy asked, amused.
"Please, Poppy," Harry pleaded and threw his puppy look at Poppy.
Poppy shook her head, amused. "All right. Not more than an hour. We want to go down to the Great Hall, and you need to get dressed for it."
Severus and Harry groaned. Their suits were already laid out on their beds, and they dreaded having to wear them that evening. What was it with women loving to dress their kids and husbands in instruments of torture like that?
Draco quickly followed the boys into their room to dress in something warm. There were two more beds in Harry and Severus' room for Hamid and Draco as they would both spend the night here. The Lordings would sleep in Hamid's room. Ron had pouted that he was not allowed to stay at Hogwarts and spend New Year's Eve with them, but his parents insisted on him coming home as the whole family was there. Even Kingsley and Charlie would come over for a few hours.
"We have a firecracker, but we need to light it far away. I think we should go behind the lake. That would be safe, don't you think so?" Harry asked. He had never lit a fire cracker. Only Dudley had been allowed to do so, and then Harry had to run because Dudley always tried to hit him with the cracker. Still, Harry was fascinated by them; almost all boys were. He could not wait to hear how loud a magical firecracker was.
"I don't know. I think they will hear it nevertheless, but we could cast a Sound Absorption Spell. That's no problem," Draco explained and was again reminded that he was older than them. Sometimes it was hard to accept that.
"Great," Harry said, excited. "Let's go."
They were halfway to the living room when Alastor called them over. When they were close, he just held out his hand. Their hearts fell into their boots.
Alastor raised an eyebrow and let his hand bob a bit in the air.
Harry sighed and reached in his pocket. "Why do we have to have a dad with a magical eye?" Harry muttered to Severus and it seemed that he and Severus were the only ones not oblivious to what Harry had just said.
Dad. Never had one of them called him that. The fact that Severus did not react surprised was even more of a surprise for Alastor. His hand shook a bit when he took the cracker from Harry's hand. He quickly pulled himself together. "These will only be used in our presence, boys. I thought I made that clear."
Severus nervously bit his bottom lip. Hamid shifted nervously from one foot to the other and threw scared glances over to his master. Harry was the only who was not too worried. "We just couldn't wait. It's so long until midnight," he whined.
Kingsley chuckled. "Say, 'Please, Dad,' and he will melt and let you fire the whole box right now."
"Kingsley!" Poppy said, shocked, and slapped the tall man's shoulder. "How much punch did you have?"
"Please, Dad," Harry said quickly before Alastor could recover and tilted his head for more cuteness effect. Sometimes being twelve had its advantage, especially when you look even younger. Then he elbowed Severus in the ribs.
At first, Severus looked shocked, but when Harry mouthed the word 'firework,' he breathed in deeply and said quickly, "Please, Dad."
"Yeah, please, Dad," Draco said, amused, grabbing Severus and Harry by their shoulders. "Hamid?"
Hamid looked puzzled but then also said the "magical" words, and then all eyes were on Alastor.
"Okay, okay, you have me there." He threw his arms up and stood. "But not the whole box; just a firecracker for each of you."
It turned out to be three crackers for each of them and Kingsley, Radgarid, Remus, Mr. Lording, and Charlie had joined Alastor and the boys. Harry noticed that magical firecrackers really were much louder than Muggle ones and they sprayed colorful sparks when they erupted. It would look even better at night and all the boys were looking forward to it. They spent almost the whole evening looking at the clock or asking the adults to go out onto the grounds earlier than midnight. It did not work, not even the "Dad" trick, but the adults tried to distract them with some funny games and a karaoke show. It was very funny to see their teachers perform and after a short awkwardness the kids enjoyed singing as well.
When it was finally midnight, Harry, Severus, and Hamid half-hearty accepted all the hugs and wishes of "Happy New Year!" They just wanted to go out and the adults to hurry. Too bad that they seemed to enjoy all the hugging and kissing. So it was already fifteen minutes past midnight when they stepped outside. First, the boys and the rest of the students who had stayed at school were allowed to use the firecrackers and then Kingsley and Charlie set off the big fireworks.
It was amazing. The boys who had been all pins and needles the whole evening stood still in awe at the lights that lit up the sky. If there was one moment Severus and Harry truly felt twelve, it was that moment. When Poppy and Alastor stepped behind them and laid their arms around them, it was perfect. They were a family and their second childhood would be much better than their first. Both were certain about it.
Again I want to thank you for reading my story until the end. I hope you enjoyed it!