Title: Snakes and Deformed Hippos
Word Count: 1489
Characters: Harry Potter, Albus Severus Potter

Just a cute father/son moment between Harry and his youngest son.

All characters belong to J.K. Rowling...no, really?

Harry stood outside his youngest son's door, attempting to find the courage to enter. Just moments before, he and Ginny had gotten into a fight over their middle child and Harry still felt guilty for the things she had accused him of.

It wasn't that Harry didn't love his son but he had hesitated in hugging Albus when he had come home wearing a green and silver scarf, too caught up in memories of his own Hogwarts experiences with students wearing scarves like that to actually see that it was his son in front of him, and Ginny had noticed. According to his wife, his son had unfortunately noticed as well.

Since Albus and James had returned from Hogwarts for Christmas break two days ago, Albus had been purposely avoiding his father - and brother, though with James's track record for pranks that hadn't come as much of a surprise to anyone. Harry had been quite confused and hurt by his son's actions, seeing as Albus very obviously adored his father and loved to spend time with him, until Ginny had bluntly told him that due to Harry's own actions Albus was currently unsure that his father still loved him.

He certainly hadn't meant to make his son feel unwelcome or unloved, but it had come as a surprise when he realized his son had indeed been sorted into Slytherin. It shouldn't have bothered him, he had already told Albus that it didn't, but he couldn't help but look at his son and see Malfoy or Notts as they had been in school. He felt guilty for doing so and was desperate to apologize to Al and set things right, but he was unsure of what to say to the boy to reassure him that Albus's sorting didn't matter one bit to Harry.

Finally tired of waiting around and accomplishing nothing, Harry opened the door to the room and watched in amusement as Albus shut his sketchbook with a slam and threw the pencil down in a panic. Attempting to hide the sketchbook behind his back, he grinned sheepishly up at his father, pretending he hadn't just been caught drawing. Harry had to wonder why Albus was embarrassed in the first place. It was no secret to Harry and Ginny that their youngest son had a passion for drawing, though no one could quite figure out where his talent had come from. Albus certainly never hid the drawings, either. He loved to show his drawings to his family and often presented them to the entire Weasley-Potter clan during Christmas dinner.

Harry entered the room and took a seat on the edge of his son's bed; Albus watched him as he did so and for the first time since Albus had returned home, Harry could see what Ginny had been talking about. His son was watching him with an air of wariness that hadn't been there before the boy had left for Hogwarts; the nervous, unsure look on the boy's face made Harry sure that Albus was afraid that Harry had come in to disown him for being in Slytherin.

"What were you drawing, Al?" Harry asked after a moment of silence, and mentally smacked himself. Where was his supposed Gryffindor bravery, if he couldn't even tell his son what he really wanted to say?

Instead of looking excited like Harry had expected, Albus appeared more worried than before and even a bit guilty. Harry stared at him in confusion, wondering why his son would react that way to a simple question.

Slowly, Albus pulled the sketchbook out from hiding and laid it in front of himself and Harry. Without looking at his father, he opened it to a sketch of Hogwarts. For a moment, Harry was overwhelmed with the skill of the drawing, even if it did appear inexperienced. After another look, Harry recognized the familiarity of it and remembered that he had seen it just yesterday when Ginny had asked to see all of the sketches Albus had drawn while at Hogwarts.

"Al," he said slowly, looking at his son in confusion, "I've seen this one."

"Oh, right," Albus murmured, turning the page to reveal an unfinished drawing of a snake. Suddenly, Harry realized why his son had been so unwilling to show it to him.

"Why a snake?" He couldn't help but ask, though he knew it must have something to do with his son's new house.

He watched as Albus stiffened. "I….I don't know. I just….I didn't know what to draw and I saw my robes and -" He broke off suddenly, lowering his head to avoid his father's gaze. Harry wasn't sure whether Albus was more ashamed that he had been caught drawing a snake or that the picture of a snake had been on his Hogwarts robes in the first place.

Harry sighed. He had meant what he had said to Albus when the boy was leaving for Hogwarts. He really didn't care what house Albus was placed in and he certainly didn't love the boy any less. Looking back on how he had, perhaps, acted a little unsure around the young boy the past few days, Harry felt suddenly guilty. Albus was rather sensitive and scared, and Harry knew that being sorted into Slytherin, and away from the rest of his family, had scared him enough. Harry's actions hadn't helped any.

Albus suddenly grabbed the eraser next to him, startling Harry out of his thoughts. "It's not that good really….it's not any good at all so I might as well erase it" Albus mumbled quickly as he began to erase the snake's tail. Harry hurried to grab his wrist, pulling it away from the page.

"It's very good, Albus. Don't erase it."

Albus looked up at him in surprise and dropped the eraser. He nodded slowly, before looking back down at his lap.

Harry sighed again, wondering how best to approach the situation. He was struck with sudden inspiration at the sight of the drawing and he picked up the discarded pencil next to him. "Can I add something to your drawing, Al?"

Al hesitated a moment, glancing first at his father and then back at the drawing, before nodding slowly. "Sure," he mumbled and watched as Harry pulled the sketchbook towards him.

Harry certainly wasn't an artist and he was relieved that defeating Voldermort hadn't required any artist skill. He was careful to draw lightly so that Albus could erase his additions later when the boy whent back to finish the snake. After a few minutes, much longer than it would have taken his son to draw something twice as well, Harry returned the sketchbook to Albus.

As Albus studied the page in front of him, Harry was suddenly embarrassed by the comparison of his drawing and his son's. While his son's drawing was very detailed and drawn with skill, Harry's drawing resembled a deformed hippo with clown shoes and lines protruding from it's neck.

"It's a lion," Harry explained sheepishly.

Albus nodded and looked up at him with a nervous smile. "I know, dad."

"The, uh, lion and the snake are next to each other because they're friends," Harry explained awkwardly. Talking to Albus shouldn't have been this hard but Harry found that he didn't know exactly what to say to him. "They're friends because the snake is actually a good snake."

He faultered in his explaination when he saw Albus wince and hurried to continue. "They are lots of snakes and lots of lions. There may be some bad snakes, but there are good snakes too; there are even bad lions."

His son was staring up at him expectantly and Harry decided to just forego the metaphor. "What I'm saying, Albus, is that it doesn't change who you are if you're in Slytherin. Most people think that all Slytherins must be evil because Voldemort was a Slytherin, but that's not true. Don't ever let someone convince you that all Slytherins are evil. The house doesn't make the wizard, Al. I know your brother and your Uncle Ron haven't exactly said the nicest things about Slytherin -" Harry paused and added, "and I haven't either, but I don't love you any less because you're in Slytherin, Al."

He pulled his son into a hug. "I love you, Albus, Slytherin or not." Releasing the boy, he watched as Al smiled and hugged his sketchbook to his chest. With a mischievous smirk, Harry added, "And if Uncle Ron says anything bad about Slytherin during Christmas, I promise to turn his hair green for you."