No Sacrifice No Victory

I softly chuckle as I watch my son from the doorway race around his room, packing everything in sight. I cannot believe it. It has been two months, and we haven't killed one another because of our stubbornness. We haven't reached the 'Dad, Son' stage yet, though, either, but there's always tomorrow. I then notice Harry stop with his back turned to me.

"You're doing it again," he says, not turning around.

"Is it some sort of crime to watch someone pack?" I respond. I have to force my face to remain neutral when he whirls around.

"Yes, but why are you watching me pack? I mean, don't you have things to pack, too?"

"Unlike you, I packed last night."

"Yeah, well, I had a certain essay that I had to redo last night for a certain person."

"Perhaps if you had given time to your studies during the term instead of gallivanting about the castle like you own the place, you'd have known the material by heart," I point out.

"I got it, sir," Harry responds with a sigh.

"Oh, and just what do you 'got,' Harry?" I ask, folding my arms before leaning against the doorway. This really is going to be interesting.

"I am to focus this year on my studies, not gallivant about the castle. Otherwise, I will find myself in the dungeons in the presences of you, sir. You wish me to study all the time and be like Hermione. If I do that, then there will be no issues," he answers.

"And?" quietly I prod.

"And if something bad occurs, I am not to run off like some foolish idiot and attempt to get myself killed at the earliest sign of trouble. Instead, I am to find an adult and tell him or her about my suspicions, namely you."

I repeat, "And?"

"And I am not to get myself into trouble this year. However, if I am involved in altercation, I am to defend myself with reasonable force."

"I don't believe I told you that last part," I respond, glancing at him.

"That's what you were implying, though."

"Fair enough," I concede. "Are you finished or do you require a few extra moments?"

"We'll be coming back here for Holiday break, right?"

"I believe I told you this last night and the night before that and the night before that," I respond. "Yes, Harry, we will be returning here for the Holidays. And if you wish it, I can see to putting up some sort of tree for Christmas. Your mother enjoyed decorating the tree." I then scoff. "Actually, she enjoyed everything about Christmas. She said it was the most magical time of the year, and that Muggles typically said so, too."

"Do you have any pictures of her?"

"I do not." I then quickly make a mental note to talk to Madam Pince before Christmas. There has to be pictures of Lily and James somewhere in the school's annuals. Perhaps my coworkers have some of photos of them. If I wish to go all out then, I shall even approach Mrs. Weasley. She might have some of Lily's old things. I then smirk slightly.

"What's so funny?"

"I was just thinking about how much has changed," I respond, glancing at my son.

"Does it bother you?"

"No. It's the way it should be, Harry. A father should be with his son." I watch the soft smile make its way to his lips before he glances away. "However, I should admit to you that I might attempt to turn over a new leaf this year."

"What about, you know?" he asks, grimacing.

"Voldemort can shove his wand up his ass for all I care," I respond, wondering why I've just said that. "And it's not like the whole world doesn't already know. The moment I reclaimed my parental rights for you, I became an enemy, Harry."

"It's all going to change now, isn't it?"

"Yes, but perhaps it is for the better."

"So you're going to be nicer then?" he asks, folding his arms staring at me in disbelief.

"I can attempt it. And if anyone asks why I'm acting so strange, I can blame it on the fact that I am now a doting father of a thirteen-year-old Gryffindor."

"You're going to blame me?"

"Of course I am, Harry. I'm the Head of Slytherin. Before I regained my parental rights, I was a bastard." I then raise an eyebrow. "I made Hufflepuffs cry." My lips upturn as I hear Harry's laughter. "Now, well, now I'm going to be lucky if I scare the hell out of Longbottom. The boy likely will think I'm going to applaud him every time he doesn't melt a cauldron." I then scoff. "Well, that is quite the accomplishment, but still. You know what I mean." The boy is rolling on the floor dying from laughing so hard. "See, case in point," I drawl, pointing at him. "Even you aren't scared of me anymore."

"Face it, Dad," he says through fits of laughter.

My face immediately falls as I catch the word I've longed to hear. I stare at the boy with my mouth slightly open. He hasn't realized he has said it. And I'm definitely not going to point it out. After all, he has said it once now. He is going to say it again. I know he is.

"You're losing your touch," he says.

"Maybe," I answer. "Are you ready?" He nods, glancing at his trunk. I shrink it and watch him then stuff it into his jeans. "We should be on our way. I have some things to attend to when we arrive."

"All right," he responds, following me out of the room.

I grab a handful of Floo powder from the mantel and freeze the fire. The fireplace expands a moment later, allowing Harry to join me. I then throw down the powder, yelling our destination. We arrive a second later with my hand on his shoulder again. We drop our trunks off and quickly head to the Great Hall for the welcoming ceremony for the teachers.

"Severus," a wizard says cordially. "Hello, Harry. I'm Remus J. Lupin, your new DADA professor." He then glances back at me. "Interesting year we'll be having, don't you agree, Severus?"

"It'll certainly be something, Lupin," I say, noticing the familiar shaggy mutt by his side. I have my son. That is all that matters now. No sacrifice. No victory. And we shall be victorious in the end.

Author's End Note: I sincerely hope you enjoyed this story. I do not have any plans to write a sequel, and I am likely not going to write a sequel for this story. I think it stands on its own just fine.