"Thanks for saving me the other day," he heard, before the brat disappeared into the other room. Severus sat in shock, not only at the fact that a child had willingly touched him, but that he had willingly helped a child! What was going on!?
Notes: Thanks to all those who left compliments and constructive criticism. And for those who liked the list, thanks. I laughed myself while writing it.
Harry huddled behind one of Mrs. Figg's grownup novels as he waited for Severus' reaction. He would have chosen any other book, but all her others except for those on the really high shelves were the same type. Blushing, Harry turned a page when he accidentally caught sight of a very interesting picture. If he didn't need this book at this point he would gladly put it back, or burn it. He understood now why Mrs. Figg insisted that he only watch the telly while he was visiting.
From his view on the couch, Harry had a perfect view of Severus still sitting at the table. He looked kind of odd. It had been over five minutes since he had hugged the man and he was still staring into space. Maybe I broke him? I hope not. Aunt Petunia won't be happy if I broke the babysitter. Harry briefly glanced outside and noted the vast difference between the happiness and dwindling sunshine out there and what looked to be a frozen scene in the kitchen. It would be nice to go outside for a bit, but…He ducked his head when a group of very familiar boys ran past the window and down the street. Too risky.
He couldn't go anywhere with Severus acting oddly. Harry sighed and flipped a few more pages out of boredom. He nearly choked when he saw a nearly naked man doing something quite disgusting to a lady. Snapping the book shut, he once again decided to Severus-watch to see if anything would finally happen.
When the staring continued unabated, Harry finally came to the conclusion that something must be done, no matter the consequences. Not only did he not want to deal with the wrath of his Aunt, but it was starting to get into the early evening and he was a bit tired. Shoving the horrible book under the seat cushions, Harry tiptoed to the doorway and cautiously poked his head in. "Um, sir? Sir?" No answer came from the shocked Snape.
Mustering his courage, which only appeared every now and again when Dudley was particularly vicious, Harry walked right up to the man and tugged on his sleeve. Harry wasn't very much for touching, but this was rapidly becoming a situation where anything went. Tugging harder, Harry smiled when the man slowly turned his head to him. "Are you alright?" he asked in an almost-whisper.
Severus blinked for a moment, still caught up in his total paradigm shift. "Ah, yes," he stated. "What did you want?" Letting go of the man's sleeve, Harry absently began to tug on the hem of his sleeves, a nervous habit that he'd developed when he was younger. "It's sort of getting later, sir. Shouldn't I be getting ready for bed?"
Severus quickly brought his shattered self back together and glanced at the clock. It was a little early, but quite possibly close enough. "Yes, shower first then. You know where everything is?" he asked.
Harry nodded and gave a confident little smile. "Mrs. Figg always has stuff for me in case I accidentally stay over." He didn't mention how often those visits occurred, or the fact that he had more clothes here than he did in his cupboard. "Very well, then. You have fifteen minutes and I expect you to go nowhere else but the restroom and your room," Severus finished, eyes narrowed at the possible miscreant.
Severus looked from the wide-eyed child to the massive destruction in his makeshift potions lab. In the fifteen minutes since he had left the boy to shower he had somehow managed to break through his wards (how!?) and crack his one-of-a-kind gold cauldron inlaid with dragon scales. Highly temperamental, but useful in experiments. Idly, he noticed that the rickety desk was broken into two pieces and that the hideous mauve carpet underneath had a giant burn in it from the spill.
Opening his mouth, Severus prepared to launch into a lecture that would blister the boy's ears and make him wish he'd never been born. He was halted, however, by the sight of the tears lurking in the corner of Harry's watery green eyes and the earnest look of apology practically stamped on his charge's face. Damn it. He could berate children, his colleagues, and even the headmaster but he could never stand to see the sight of a child crying.
He struggled briefly with his inner Slytherin, before finally managing a strangled "I know you didn't mean it. Accidents happen." Harry nodded urgently, his small head seeming as if it might wobble off if he nodded any harder. "It was an accident, wasn't it?" he managed reluctantly. He couldn't really handle that much more tonight. One paradigm shift was enough in his opinion. He'd completely crack if anything else happened.
"Yes, sir." Harry wrung his hands together anxiously. Mistakes this big didn't happen often. And if they did his oddness usually fixed it, but not this time. He was unsure if it was because of the instances of the man's own oddness or the strange safety he'd felt while being in the house. "I saw the big pots and just wanted to see what was in them and it kind of just…fell over," he finished weakly, wondering if they would ever find his body. "What were those pots anyway?"
"Cauldrons," Severus stated, unsure exactly where to go from here. He wasn't exactly the poster child for parenting. "They are for my profession. I use them constantly and what is contained in them is typically dangerous, especially for children," he intoned severely, giving the child a somewhat decent glare. Not that he could manage that much at the moment, since those tears were still present.
"Oh…I'm really sorry," Harry whispered, before dissolving into a sobs interrupted by sniffles. Within seconds, it seemed as if the boy's face was completely wet with tears, as well as snot. It was all Severus could do to not grimace in disgust when the child grabbed onto him and hugged him again. Awkwardly, he reached down and patted the boy's back. "There, there," he managed. Severus had never been that fond of another intruding upon his personal space and this was no exception. When Harry showed no signs of calming down anytime soon, Severus decided to wait until it ended on its own or he died from lack of sustenance. Whichever came first.
Eventually the crying ended hiccupping, which slowly tapered off into nothing. Severus waited a few moments before moving the child, determined to at least inform him that he did not want to be touched again, ever, only to be disappointed when he found Harry asleep. On his feet no less!
With a sigh, and a promise to kill the headmaster the next chance he could, Severus picked the boy up and carried him to the bedroom that he was supposed to be in. It wasn't too tiny and it was actually sort of comforting in a floral sort of way. Severus gently laid his charge down and took several steps back to ensure that everything in the room was properly secured. He sighed when one of the cats materialized out of nowhere and jumped onto the bed to nuzzle the boy. Might as well leave it alone. It would probably bite me if I touched it, he thought viciously. He wasn't surprised when the cat turned its head to hiss at him.
Severus checked to make sure that the boy was firmly ensconced in the bed. He looked to be safely tucked under the blankets with a nightlight on the nightstand. He frowned at the thing that Mrs. Figg had insisted he should leave for the boy. Harry, his mind supplied once again. It was Muggle in nature and very odd looking, but it gave a soft glow to the room that would not interrupt his charge's sleep. Nodding in satisfaction, he checked to ensure that Harry was still sleeping before casting a wandless spell to keep the boy there until morning. Four steps took him out the door and into the hallway, where the soft snick of the closing door seemed to almost echo for a moment. He'd only taken a few steps towards his room when it happened.
A flash of light and Fawkes appeared in all his fiery glory. Severus scowled at the note held in the phoenix's talons, and glared when Fawkes gave a smug chirp before vanishing. Bloody fire chickens and their insane owners. Giving a heartfelt sigh, so unlike his usual doom and gloom persona, Severus ripped open the letter and despondently read the contents.
I expect you know that children and restraints do not mix. Most especially students, restraints, and a bed. Now for adults maybe…
Here Severus gagged at the thought of his mentor doing anything remotely resembling that, and hastily skipped to the next paragraph.
Please do recall that children must be allowed to sleep in on holidays. In other words, Harry isn't up before the sun is up. And do remember to feed him please?
He scowled at the thought that the old coot was monitoring him to such an extent.He had to marvel at the abilities of the headmaster to spy on him though. It was one of the many reasons why he had led the fight against the Dark Lord. With a sigh, he stepped back into the child's room and removed the spell. There went any possibility of the rest of the house remaining undisturbed. He'd most likely wake up in the morning with half of it destroyed, despite the previous Potter-proofing. He'd most likely just wander right past his wards and give him that puppy dog look that he absolutely hated seeing on children.
Then again…with this note, he could blame Albus when it happened. He smirked triumphantly as another idea occurred. And maybe…when he found the house in chaos he could add a few things of his own? Such as the destruction of anything floral? Severus almost cackled in delight at the thought of removing all things floral, destroying the house, and blaming it all on something else. Very Slytherin.
End Chapter 7!