I did not own the Harry Potter Universe from the first chapter, and I still do not own it as I bring this story to an end.
Surprises and Realizations
As the summer holiday progressed, Severus felt as though he had four children as opposed to only one. Ron, Hermione, and Draco had taken to calling him Uncle Sev. That was largely the doings of the meddling old coot, Molly Weasley, and once Minerva realized how much it irked him, she too jumped on the wagon and began encouraging the new title. Much to his dismay, the Weasley twins called him Uncle Sev too.
Severus still not having revealed his current status as Harry's father publicly was even able to have Draco over to the manor frequently. Severus was incredibly impressed at how the Malfoy façade dropped once he arrived at the manor. Draco was able to act like the twelve year old boy he was. On more than one occasion he had heard Harry and Draco speaking of their past. Severus never interrupted, as he knew it was good for both of the boys.
Draco did speak with Narcissa as promised, who in turn spoke with Lucius. Narcissa, being a Slytherin through and through, was the reason why Draco's presence at Prince Manor was not suspicious to Lucius. As far as Lucius knew Draco was receiving advanced lessons in potions. Narcissa pitched it to Lucius that Draco would excel in second year, making the others in his class seem subpar, or inferior even, to Draco's advanced knowledge. Lucius liked the idea and believed it would shine a more favorable light on him in the future. He knew how high Severus was regarded in the Dark Lord's ranks as a Potion Master and it would behoove the Malfoys' in the eyes of the Dark Lord, as well as their political status in general, if Draco became a Potions Master.
It was under this guise that Draco spent the majority of the summer at Prince Manor with three Gryffindors and his Slytherin Head of House, Uncle Sev.
Severus had to admit it was quite comical the first time Ron and Hermione visited. Both were in awe at the portrait of him and Harry on Buckbeak hanging above the fireplace. Each had their own room, but unsurprisingly, Ron and Harry chose to room together; however, if Ron ever wanted his own space, or Severus needed to separate them, the room was there. Severus would never tell Dumbledore, but he was glad the old man took it upon himself to do a few things around his manor.
The last week of July had arrived. Severus had sought Molly's assistance in throwing a birthday party at the manor for Harry. Severus wanted something small and quiet; however, he should have known better as nothing can be small, or quiet, when the Weasley brood is involved.
July 31st arrived, and Severus never being one for parties, well at least until Harry came along, was relying heavily on the rest of his family for help, which was another thing the man was certainly not used to. Severus did not have experience in hosting parties for children, and he did not have the luxury of having parties when he was a child. Lily always did something special just for him on his birthday which was the closest thing he knew to a party, and that certainly would not do for his boy. So Severus let Molly take charge, and she loved every minute of it. Severus had sought her assistance a week before Harry's birthday and desperately wished he had sprung it on her the day before. Severus had a feeling it would be impossible to ever have his Manor back to normal after Molly was finished with the decorations, and truth be known, that was ok with Severus.
Remus had been keyed into the wards at the manor at the beginning of the holidays, and flooed through early that morning. Harry was still sleeping when Remus arrived. He had been up late with Severus, and Harry had a very tough time falling asleep the night before.
Severus went into Harry's room as usual to tuck him in. Harry was almost twelve, but he still reveled in the fact that his Dad, his Dad, tucked him in at night. It was a reassurance he did not know if he would ever willingly give up, and it was also a reassurance to Severus that Harry still wanted to be tucked in at twelve.
However, this night was different. Severus went into Harry's bedroom and found the small boy curled up into himself. He wasn't crying, but he was clearly distressed and deep in thought to the point he didn't even notice Severus enter his room, and for Harry that was saying something. It was a survival mechanism—noticing any change in a room— that Severus was certain Harry would carry with him throughout the rest of his childhood well on into adulthood.
Severus gently called his name, "Harry."
There was no response.
Severus walked to the bed and knelt down in front of Harry, and he could see Harry's eyes focus on him, "Sorry Dad I didn't hear you come in," he said as he propped up on his elbow resting his head in his hand.
"That's alright son. Why don't you tell me what is plaguing that mind of yours and do not attempt to tell me it is nothing. It's very unlike you to miss me coming into your room," Severus said and Harry could see the concern in his eyes.
Harry hesitated, and Severus continued to coax him, "If you don't tell me what you are thinking Harry, I cannot help you."
Harry sighed, "It's stupid really," and Severus knew this was how Harry began with anything that he felt strong emotions about. He always down played it as if it were insignificant. Making Harry see that his emotions were very important was one of the many things Severus was working on with Harry this summer.
"I seriously doubt that, but why don't you talk and have no fear if it is stupid as you say, I will let you know," Severus said with a smirk.
Harry smiled a small smile that did not quite reach his eyes at Severus' humor that only he, and Albus of course, would ever understand.
"I was thinking about my last birthday," Harry muttered out quietly.
Severus took a deep breath in remembrance himself. He too had thought of Harry's last birthday often in the past several days. "I see, and exactly what is it that has you so pensive?"
Severus knew the answer, but Harry needed to put it in his own words. He needed to voice these things, Severus knew to expect moments like this from Harry for many years to come—and possibly the rest of his life. But that too was ok with Severus.
Harry averted his gaze to the bed from Severus' eyes and remembered back to that night in the cupboard. "My last birthday, I remember lying on the floor of my cupboard, hurting, barely able to move. I remember drawing a cake in the dirt on the floor with eleven candles and waiting for the clock to strike midnight because it was my birthday." Severus watched Harry as he traced an invisible oval onto bed, with lines for candles while he spoke.
Not making eye contact with Severus, Harry shrugged and continued in a matter of fact voice, "Just because nobody else wanted to celebrate my birthday didn't mean I had forgotten it. I celebrated it the same way every year since I was old enough to know what my birthday was. I always thought that if my parents were there, they would have wanted me to remember it," Harry said as he chanced a glance at Severus.
Severus had not felt that lump in his throat since Harry had ventured off after the stone those few months ago, but it was beginning to form there once again and he listened on feeling it was best to give Harry an encouraging nod or else his voice would betray his true emotion at the moment.
"I remember the smell of my cupboard Dad. It smelled like blood, my blood, but at the time I wasn't even worried about it. I wasn't worried about the pain I felt. I was used to it. I wasn't worried about the hunger. I knew I wouldn't see food for days. I wasn't worried about tomorrow because tomorrow would be the same as the days before. I was only worried about staying awake long enough to listen to the clock strike midnight because it was the only time of the year I felt special. It was the time that was mine, and I could pretend my birthday was my secret, and that secret was something not even the Dursleys' could take away from me, you know?" Harry explained.
Severus could feel the sting building behind his eyes become stronger. He swallowed that blasted lump in his throat loathing himself for not being able to speak at the moment and giving Harry another, what he hoped was, encouraging nod.
"Dad I can remember being tired and wanting to go to sleep, but I wouldn't let myself until I could blow out the candles. I had a wish to make, or I don't know it may have been a silent prayer to whoever would listen. The last thing I remember before finally closing my eyes was hearing the clock strike midnight, and blowing out the candles, wishing for the dark man to rescue me. Then the next thing I remember is waking up in your arms," Harry said.
Then a wistful smile appeared on Harry's face. He looked Severus in the eyes, again with eyes too old to belong to a boy of only twelve, and said, "As crazy as it sounds, that was the best birthday I ever had. It is the only birthday I have ever had or will ever have when my wish will come true. Now that I have you, I have nothing else to wish for Dad. I am happy. I have you. I have my new family. What more could anybody truly want or wish for?"
Severus stood from where he had knelt and leaned over Harry placing a kiss on his forehead and finally found his voice, "Son, if witches and wizards, adult and children alike could think as you do, I dare to say that war would not have a place in our world. I am proud of you, and proud to call you my son. Although those memories will plague you the rest of your days, when you wish to talk about them come to me. It is not stupid Harry. It is a real part of your past, and it is something I do expect you to revisit from time to time."
Severus paused for a moment and hmphed, "Stupid…As if anyone in the Snape family could or would ever say anything stupid, you idiot child."
Harry could not stop the smile that took over his face, and was surprised when Severus walked to the opposite side of the bed, kicked off his boots, and sat on the bed beside him. Harry too sat up in the bed and leaned against his father's side and could feel the rumble from Severus' chest as he spoke, "I say that we start our own tradition for your birthday. Slinky!"
"Yes Master Severus Sir! What can Slinky be doing for you?" Slinky asked.
"I would like for you to bring me a large slice of chocolate cake, with one candle, two forks, a glass of milk, and a hot tea," Severus requested.
Harry was smiling in earnest, and Severus would deny this ever took place if Harry dared tell anyone about it; however, Severus was content to know that he was the one who was able to ease Harry's troubled mind and replace that pensive expression with a smile.
Harry and Severus sat on the bed talking about whatever Harry wanted—Potions, quidditch, Ron, Hermione, and Draco, swimming in the lake, (which was an adventure of its own because Severus had to teach Harry how to swim) flying, and the latest brooms.
As midnight approached Severus summoned the requested items Slinky had brought to them and Harry looked as Severus placed one candle in the center of the cake. Harry looked at the cake then arched his eyebrow at Severus and asked, "Dad, how come there is only one candle?"
"Ahhh, you see this is our tradition, and as it is your first birthday with me, the one candle marks the first year of our new tradition," Severus explained.
Harry smiled but could not help but snicker a bit as well, "What, pray tell do you find so amusing Mr. Potter?" Severus said in his best Professor voice.
Harry giggled harder, "Dad you sounded like Albus," Harry then began to mock Severus. "Ahhh, you see this is…" That was as far as Harry got before the items were levitated off the bed and Severus was tickling Harry into submission.
"I cannot believe you would even dare compare me to that meddlesome, lemon drop loving, wears his robes too bright, senile, old man," Severus said not easing up on his attack.
Harry gasping for air retorted as best he could while laughing, "You…you…used what you call….ha ha ha Daaaad!"
Severus stopped for a moment, "I used what I call what?"
Harry regaining control over his breathing calmed down enough to answer, "You used what you call his doting grandfather voice."
Severus who still had Harry pinned to the bed narrowed his eyes, "Doting. Grandfather. Voice. Son? Do I really look like someone who you should refer to as being doting or grandfatherly?"
Harry swallowed hard realizing that his impending answer would dictate his fate. Harry threw caution to the wind, but put on the most sincere expression he could muster while looking up at the face of his Dad, using his Malfoy voice, "I'm sorry father. Forgive me for my incredibly insensitive comment."
Severus nodded curtly, "I see there is some intelligence in that mush you call a brain," and he began to release Harry.
Harry then said, "But it was not misguided. All you need to do is grow a beard, dye your hair white, and offer people lemon drops when they make you angry. Grandpa Sevvy sounds like…"
Harry again did not finish his statement before Severus was tickling him muttering about why he even bothered with insufferable brats. Finally, Harry caved in yelling between stints of laughter, "Sorry…I'm sorry Dad. I mean it. I take it back."
Severus felt satisfied that he won the battle and he resumed his position on the bed leaning against the head board. As the clock struck twelve, Severus had summoned the slice of cake back and lit the candle.
"Happy birthday son," Severus said kissing the top of Harry's raven, disheveled hair.
Harry smiled at Severus and Severus nodded toward the candle, and Harry closed his eyes and blew the candle out.
The two commenced to wiping out the slice of cake. Once they were finished, Severus was much happier with Harry's apparent state of mind and helped him underneath the covers.
Severus ruffled Harry's hair, "You're welcome, now go to sleep brat."
Severus left the room or so Harry thought. It wasn't until Severus was certain the now twelve year old boy was asleep before he retired to his own room.
End of Flashback
"Wolf," Severus growled in greeting.
"Good morning Severus, where is Harry?" Remus inquired.
"He's still sleeping. He had trouble falling asleep last night. I have no idea why he was excited about spending the day with you. I would have feigned sickness if I knew I was doomed to a day with you," Severus drawled.
Remus could only smile in response, "Shall I wake him?" Remus asked as he started walking in the direction of Harry's bedroom.
Severus grabbed him by the arm; the wolf would not be the one to wake his son on his birthday. Well at least this one, this was their first one together, "I don't think so. I can only subject him to so much punishment for one day."
Remus snickered knowing full well why Severus did not want him wake his pup. He had a feeling that Harry was not the only one up late. He had a sneaking suspicion that Severus just may have stayed up until midnight with Harry last night.
As Severus entered into the bedroom, he could see Harry lying on his side with that unruly mop sticking out from under the covers. Severus just watched him sleep for a moment. He looked so peaceful when he was sleeping, so innocent. Severus sat on the side of the bed and pulled the blanket down just below Harry's chin and stroked the fringe back.
"Happy birthday son, wake up," Severus said gently.
Without opening his eyes, Harry stretched out and yawned. Then moved close to Severus' side and wrapped his arms around Severus' waist looking up at him blinking his eyes in an attempt to wake up. A small, almost shy smile crept across Harry's face, "Good morning Dad."
Severus' emitted a low chuckle and continued to brush Harry's fringe. "Come on son, it's time to get up. Your godwolf is here, and it appears that a flea has bitten him in his ar…"
Harry giggled at Severus' antics, "Daaaad!"
"Well the beast is rather impatient, flooing through demanding to know where his godson is. Just goes to show you that some dogs cannot be trained," Severus continued.
Remus had followed behind Severus to Harry's door, listening to the comments, rolling his eyes with a smile on his face at each one, as his ever loyal pup defended him.
"Moony is not a dog, he is a werewolf, and I must inform you even in his wolf form a very intelligent, and trainable as you say, canine. I bet he could even be trained to pounce on sarcastic Potions Masters in his Moony form. After all I am his pup, I think he would very well do that if I asked him too," Harry responded.
Severus, standing, mulled that thought over in his head. Harry had a point. Severus chose to take the high road and admit that Harry had bested him with his accurate summation of his godwolf's loyalty and muttered "Brat," all while waving his wand. Before Harry knew it, a bucket of water was dumped on his head.
Severus crossed his arms and smirked looking down Harry who was giving him a Snape glare through his wet fringe.
Remus' laughter from the door way caught both of their attention. And with a wave of Remus' wand Harry was dried. "Moony!" Harry shouted opening his arms inviting his godfather in for a hug.
"Happy Birthday Pup," Remus said walking over to Harry, lifting him from the bed and giving him a hug eliciting a giggle from the small child.
Severus rolled his eyes, "Disgusting. Such emotion and sentimentality this early in the morning…I think I may vomit. When you two are quite through, I will be in the kitchen," he said exiting Harry's room causing both of them to laugh.
Once Harry was dressed, he and Remus flooed to Hogsmeade. They had spent the day walking through the small village stores and finally it was time for lunch. Harry was going on about how Ron, Hermione and Draco were coming over for his birthday, "and Severus said he would let Slinky make me a cake. My very own first, real birthday cake!"
"And you know what else?" Harry asked excitedly.
"No, Pup what's that?" Remus asked unable to keep all of the amusement out of his voice, but felt a pang of regret in his chest at Harry's unintentional slip of his past treatment.
"Dad has taught me how to swim now, so when Ron, Hermione, and Draco come over today we are going to swim. They don't know I can do that yet. It's a surprise, and Dad might even swim with us. I'm not really good at it yet, but I'm good enough to swing from the rope he tied to a tree and jump into the water," Harry continued excitedly.
Remus just listened on. Everything Harry was excited about was something every other child took for granted. Harry was excited about seeing his friends again. He was excited about swimming with his Dad. He was excited for his first birthday cake. At twelve years old, he was finally going to have his own cake, but it would not be made by Slinky. Mrs. Weasley had taken charge of that. Remus noticed that Harry had not even made the first mention of presents, most other children would be fanaticizing about what they would get, not who they would spend the day with.
Their food was brought to their table and Harry ignored it and continued, "And I'll be able to teach them how to swing from the rope. The first time I tried I wouldn't let go of the rope, and Dad made the water tickle me until I fell off." Harry scrunched his face up, "You don't think he will do that to Hermione do you? Ron sure, I want to do it to him, Draco to really, but Mione. I don't…"
Remus chuckled, "Slow down Pup, you need to eat your lunch. And no, I don't believe Severus would do that to Hermione."
Relief washed over Harry's face, and he picked up his sandwich to take a bite as Remus said, "I will. After all she is my responsibility."
Harry almost dropped his sandwich. He was not expecting that, and he gave Remus a very Severus like glare and Remus could not help but laugh—hard. His laughter was contagious as Harry could not maintain his scowl and they spent the rest of lunch talking about swimming in the lake. Harry was a happy, happy boy.
As planned, Remus and Harry arrived back at Prince Manor at three o'clock. As soon as they flooed through Harry was greeted by Ron, Hermione, and Draco in Severus' study.
"Happy Birthday Harry," the three of the chorused, and Hermione made her way over to Harry giving him a hug.
Harry beamed, "Thanks guys."
Ron started to speak but Draco cut him off, "Uncle Sev wanted to see us in the sitting room when you arrived. Something about wanting to go over what we can and cannot do."
Ron placed a hand on Harry's shoulder seeing what Draco was doing and they began walking from the study, "Yeah mate, I mean does he seriously have to go over that every time we come over?"
Hermione spoke up, "Ronald, Uncle Sev just wants to make sure that we are clear on the rules. I mean our track record is not the best."
Severus met them coming down the hallway, "Indeed Ms. Granger, well said."
"Uncle Sev," Ron began, "I didn't really say anything bad, I just…"
"Mr. Weasley, I suggest you four proceed to the sitting room before another dunderheaded comment spews from your mouth before you can stop it."
Severus looked at Remus; he wanted to be near Harry, preferably beside him as he did not know if he would handle the surprise well or not. Remus nodded indicating that Harry had had a good day.
Severus and Remus followed the four into the sitting room and as they entered, Harry was greeted with a very loud "HAPPY BIRTHDAY HARRY!"
Harry stood stock still taking in all the guests and decorations in the sitting room. Miniature snitches were flying around being chased by miniature seekers, animated Happy Birthday banners and balloons adorned the sitting area, there was a table piled high with gifts, and red and gold streamers were everywhere. Harry looked around and realized everyone he had grown to love and considered his family was present—Albus, Minerva, Slinky, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Hagrid, Poppy, the twins, and the rest of the Weasley brood with the exception of Charlie.
Severus knelt beside Harry facing the sitting room and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, "Well son, I know I told you Ron, Hermione, and Draco would be over this evening. I hope you don't mind that I invited a few more."
Harry still stunned, turned his head to look at Severus and quietly said, "I don't mind. Did Remus know about this?"
Severus nodded in the affirmative, and turned his lip up at the ends causing a small smile to come over Harry's face.
"Are you ok son?"
"This is brilliant Dad, I…I just don't know what to do?" Harry said.
Severus was a bit lost himself, and was beginning to feel slightly awkward in not knowing what to tell Harry to do exactly, but before Sev could feel awkward Molly Weasley jumped in. "Well I say that we eat!"
As if on cue, Ron's stomach growled causing the silence in the room to become one of content laughter, "Yeah mate, I'm hungry let's eat." Ron said clapping Harry on the shoulder.
After the meal, Mrs. Weasley brought out a cake that made Harry's jaw drop. It was in the shape of a golden snitch. Ron whispered to Harry in the most serious voice that the inside of it was chocolate. Harry, never having his own birthday cake before, was certainly not expecting something this extravagant. He simply could not fathom that this was normal. That every child expected something as exceptional as this for their birthday every year. That family and friends would get together and celebrate in this manner for one person, and on this particular day, for him, for Harry.
Twelve candles decorated the top of the cake. Harry made eye contact with Severus who as usual gave him an encouraging nod. Molly Weasley would not have it any other way than for everyone to sing happy birthday, and it was obvious that Severus had dipped into some of his Ogden's Finest with Minerva, Remus, and Albus as he too joined in the happy birthday chorus.
Harry made the same wish he did at midnight, closed his eyes, and successfully blew out the candles which was met by a round of applause. Harry had never felt so special, so wanted, so loved, so happy all at the same time. It had nothing to do with the occasion, but the fact that he knew all the ones he loved were willing to take their day and just spend it with him on what was up until now, his secret day.
Albus watched Severus watch Harry as he opened gifts. Harry was extremely nervous about being the only one who opened gifts, so Draco, Hermione, and Ron all jumped in and opened them with him bringing him great relief. When he opened his gift from Albus, Harry knew Sev had been talking to him. He opened up a ridiculously bright pair of swimming trunks, which strongly resembled Albus' robes, and it caused a string reaction. Ron and Draco finally agreed on something as they both wrinkled their faces, Hermione clasped a hand over her mouth, Harry laughed and looked at Severus, who was half glaring have staring in disbelief at Albus, who shrugged and smiled under Severus' gaze, causing everyone else to join Harry in laughter.
Severus asked Harry if they wanted to play out at the lake for a while, and he was greeted with enthusiastic responses from all of the soon to be second years.
"Harry, I thought you said you couldn't swim," Hermione stated tilting her head in confusion.
Harry smiled up at Severus, "I couldn't until the summer holidays. Dad taught me. I'm still not really good at it but I can swim well enough as long as Dad's out there with me."
Severus nodded, glad Harry remembered that last caveat, "If you must go swimming, go put on appropriate attire," Severus barked as if it was not his idea to begin with.
The three Gryffindors and Draco arrived back down stairs in record time, along with the twins, Percy, and Ginny. As promised, Remus too was dressed to swim.
Everyone moved from the manor to the lake, Harry clamoring about the rope Severus had tied to a branch extending over the lake for them to use. In his excitement he shed his shirt, and only stopped speaking when he heard Hermione gasp. He turned to Ron who was standing there with his mouth open.
"Eloquent Weasel, very eloquent," Draco muttered rolling his eyes.
Severus and Remus immediately realized that Hermione and Ron were oblivious to the extent of Harry's abuse. Obviously Harry showered before or after those in his class as it was also clear that Ron had no clue of the scarring that marked Harry's body.
Ron found his voice first, "Bloody hell mate, I know you said it was bad….but…."
Draco ran a hand down his face, then grabbed Ron by the shoulder stopping his rambling, and before Draco could react further, Hermione threw herself at Harry, engulfing him in a hug.
Severus desperately wanted to walk over to his son, tell the know-it-all to let him go, berate Weasley for his idiocy and uncontrollable tongue, but Remus put a hand on his shoulder to stop him as he took a step in that direction.
Loathe as Severus was to admit it, the wolf was right. He did not need to 'rescue' Harry from this situation unless he asked for help. Draco was already familiar with Harry's past and appeared to be doing all he could to help Harry as he understood his current discomfort.
Severus looked over at the twins who were currently looking at Harry. Severus saw sadness then a flash of anger before the two began conversing, oh how Severus knew when those two were scheming. Albus and Minerva, along with Poppy, were being questioned by the elder Weasleys'.
Harry finally found his voice, "Well…Errr…yeah so this," Harry said waving a hand in front of his chest indicating the scars, "is what Dad stopped. I…Errr…I don't know what else to say. I'm happy now and I don't hurt anymore. I've talked to Dad and….and someone else who has been through what I did and more days than not I understand that it is not my fault."
"Of course it's not your fault mate," Ron said finally finding a bit of intelligence. "No one deserves that."
Hermione, being ever perceptive nodded with Ron in agreement and asked, "Who else did you talk to Harry? You can always talk to me and Ron." Hermione was not upset that Harry had not spoken to them about everything and it was evident in her voice. She was concerned and wanted Harry to know in the future that she and Ron would be more than willing to listen, and would not judge him. And now Harry knew this.
Harry nodded, and Draco sighed knowing Harry would not betray his confidence. Draco pulled off his t-shirt and turned to the other Gryffindors exposing the one long scar that extended across his back.
"Sweet Merlin's Balls Ferret! What the bloody hell happened to you?" Ron asked.
Hermione cuffed the back of Ron's head.
Draco, turned back to face them, "My father. Look I Weasel, Mione— Harry talked to me about his past because it's just easier to talk to someone who has been through what you have. It doesn't make you three less of friends, believe me I have never seen anyone as close as you three are, in fact it was I who confided in Harry first, and he in turn told me of his relatives."
Harry gave Draco a grateful smile. "Guys, at first I didn't tell you because I didn't want you to see that I was a freak who didn't deserve friends. I no longer feel that way, but at first I did. Now I know different, Dad, Moony, you guys, all of you have shown me different…"
Remus and Severus were watching the four having a serious conversation. Severus still desperately wanted to walk down there, scoop Harry up, and send everyone else home until he made sure his son was ok, then he felt Remus elbow him and point to the twins.
Fred and George were sneaking up behind Ron. The two of them then picked him up causing him to yelp in surprise.
"Can Ronnikins swim Forge?"
"Couldn't tell ya Gred."
"PUT ME DOWN!"
Harry, Hermione, and Draco were all laughing at the display. Fred, holding Ron at his shoulders rubbed a paste similar to sunscreen on him which caused his skin to change colors.
Minerva who had been watching the display recognized the color change of Ron's skin immediately and put two and two together. They had indeed helped that insufferable house elf prank her, and now she had proof!
"You heard him Gred!"
"Loud and clear Forge!"
"I said PUT ME DOWN NOW!"
And at Ron's last outburst, the twins tossed their multicolored little brother into the lake. As they were laughing and exchanging congratulations to one another on a job well done, a stinging hex hit both of them in the backside sending them leaping into the water right behind Ron.
Remus and Severus were watching the four having a serious conversation. Severus still desperately wanted to walk down there, scoop Harry up, and send everyone else home until he made sure his son was ok, then he felt Remus elbow him and point to the twins.
"What are those two up to?" Remus asked.
"I have no idea, but it appears that Harry will soon be off the hook from further interrogation," Severus responded.
The two wizards watched as the twins picked the younger red head up, and began applying a paste to his face, arms, and legs; wherever they could put it on him as he was kicking and screaming.
Remus and Severus couldn't help but laugh at this and Severus noted that Harry was now laughing.
"I'm going to have to give those boys a break next time they deserve a detention," Severus muttered, grateful for their intervention.
Remus chuckled, "Harry has made you soft old man."
Severus looked affronted, "Old? Who are you calling old wolf? You are the same age as I am; in fact, you have grey hair. I have none."
Remus was about to respond when their attention was again captured by Ron yelling for Fred and George to put him down.
"He shouldn't have asked that," Remus muttered.
"No, but Ronald has never been one to think before he speaks," Severus returned.
Just then the twins tossed Ron into the lake.
"Saw that one coming," Remus said laughing and Severus nodded in agreement.
The twins then bowed to one another and exchanged a congratulatory hand shake, it was then they saw a pair stinging hexes flying through the air. Severus expected the sender of said hexes to be Molly Weasley, but to his surprise and amusement, it had been Minerva. She was standing there with her arms crossed and a smug expression on her face.
"Didn't see that one coming," Remus chuckled.
The twins were emerged from the water,
"Mum what did we…"
"…do to deserve that?"
Mrs. Weasley smirked at the thought that both of the boys suspected her, "That wasn't me boys, that was Professor McGonagall."
Simultaneously Fred and George said, "Aunt Minnie?"
Remus and Severus both laughed as Minerva's expression went from smug to one of outrage. "Aunt Minnie? Who told you to call me that? Albus did you do that? Did you tell them that was ok? You know I don't like to be called that old man. You have some explaining to do. I suggest you start talking now!"
Albus held his hands up in surrender, "My dear, no I did not tell them that?"
Remus and Severus saw what was coming next although they could not hear exactly what Albus was saying they could see that he was talking his way out of this one as he pointed in Severus and Remus' direction. Just as they expected, Minerva's irate gaze turned to them.
"This is not good wolf," Severus said inching away from Minerva's direction and towards Harry's.
"No, Sev, I agree. This is not good at all," Remus conceded and he too started in the direction Harry.
She raised her wand and Severus and Remus were in a full out sprint. Both shed their shirts and headed towards Draco, Harry, and Hermione. Severus snatched up Harry, and Remus scooped up Hermione, and Draco seeing what was headed his direction followed in behind Severus and Remus. As the five of them landed in the lake, the stinging hexes sailed overhead.
The once melancholy atmosphere had again returned to one of fun and laughter. Harry taught Ron, Hermione, Draco, and the twins how to swing from the tree into the lake just as he told Remus he would.
There was not another mention of the scars that littered Harry's body or Draco's for that matter the rest of the evening. Harry played with his dad, his godfather, and his friends in the lake while the rest of his family snacked on Mrs. Weasley's delicious desserts. This was a day that Harry James Severus Snape Potter would never forget. This would be the day that Harry Potter knew, and finally believed, he was wanted and he belonged with his, his, family.
As the party came to an end, Severus expressed his gratitude once more to Molly Weasley. His respect for that woman had grown tenfold. Not only did she have seven children of her own to take care of, but she made time to take care of another who Severus was certain she did see as one of her own. He also took into account that Molly did this just as much for him as she did for Harry, and he couldn't help but feel that his family would continue to grow for many years as a result of his son's presence in his life.
He bade goodbye to the Headmaster after giving him many thanks for blatantly 'throwing him under the bus' with Minerva after spewing that he and Remus were behind having the twins call her Aunt Minnie. He was also sure to thank him for the atrocious swim trunks Harry was certain to wear just to annoy him. Albus along with Minerva, Poppy, and Hagrid all took their leave just behind the Weasleys.
Once everyone had departed Severus and Remus made their way up to Harry's room. He expected to find the four twelve year olds animatedly talking as he had on so many other occasions; however, he found them all asleep. Harry had apparently been on the bed talking to Hermione as she was asleep beside him in a seated position with her head on his shoulder, and Ron and Draco were asleep at the foot of the bed.
Severus shook his head at the sight. Never, ever, would he have thought he would be in a position to have four children staying at his manor—well at least on purpose. And never would he have thought that it would be three Gryffindors and a lone Slytherin who was at this point an honorary Lion.
"Those are good kids Severus," Remus said breaking the silence.
" Hmmm," was Severus' noncommittal response though he absolutely agreed with Remus.
Severus gave a curt nod of acceptance, "Thank you wolf."
Remus noticed Severus never turned to face him, but he smiled all the same, "You're welcome."
Remus was staying at Hogwarts for the summer holidays, Severus decided when he returned to Hogwarts on Monday he would tell the wolf he had a room at his manor and he could live there if he wanted to. After all, his manor was quite large and the flea bag could stay without making his presence known.
Severus stepped into Harry's bedroom and transfigured the chairs into small cots and levitated Ron and Draco onto them. He carefully walked over to Hermione, picked her up and carried her into the guest room. He then returned to Harry's room to lower him in the bed into a more comfortable position.
As he was moving Harry he stirred and opened his eyes, "Dad?"
Severus wordlessly cast a muffilato around himself and Harry as not to wake Ron or Draco, "Yes son."
"Thank you," Harry said yawning then stretching and snuggling beneath the blankets. "Today was brilliant. You're the best Dad I could have ever wished for."
Severus brushed Harry's fringe not saying a word, just listening to his son talk. "Wanna know what I wished for this year?"
"What's that?" Severus inquired taking note of just how tired and sleepy Harry was. He tended to speak freely when he was tired, and it was usually these moments he acted more of a child then he truly was. Severus savored these moments.
"I wished that you are as happy with me as I am with you, and that we can stay like this forever," Harry yawned once again and continued mumbling, "and ever, and ever, and ever." Harry blinked his eyes as Severus hand touched his forehead.
Severus smiled at Harry's innocence hoping, praying, that he would get to enjoy and hold onto that innocence longer than he feared would be possible. Severus bent down and kissed Harry on the forehead, "That son, is a great wish but unnecessary. I assure you I have never been happier than I am now, and so long as it is within my control it will be like this, as you say, forever and ever and ever."
Harry gave him a small, but true smile, "Love you Dad."
"Good night son. I love you too."
Severus made his way into the bathroom to get ready for bed. He cupped the warm water in his hands, splashed it in his face, and took a long look in the mirror. As he was looking into his own obsidian eyes he could almost see his soul. He noticed something different, something he couldn't quite put his finger on. He looked harder and deeper, and he realized he had changed. His soul that had been torn so many years ago, had been mended. His heart that had been broken when he lost his one and only love, was no longer in pieces. That feeling of emptiness he carried inside the deepest depth of his very being had been filled.
On his left arm he still bore the dark mark, but he no longer served any master. Severus Tobias Snape was finally his own man. As he looked into his eyes he no longer saw a servant making up for the many sins he had committed in his past. He no longer saw a bitter man, a former Death Eater turned spy, who was destined to live a life of pain and regret. But most of all, he no longer hated who was looking back at him.
He saw someone who had been able heal a child who was once at his breaking point and gave him a chance at life and a childhood he would have otherwise been robbed of. He saw himself for the first time as a respectable professor and Potions Master, a father, a brother, and a son. For the first time in his life, Severus Snape looked in the mirror and liked the man who was staring back at him.
All this change had occurred over the course of one year, and there was only one person he could blame. It was Harry, his Harry. It was indeed the Harry Affect, and it all started with one simple wish.
Well folks this was the last chapter in this story. I appreciate everyone sticking with me and for all of the pleasant and encouraging reviews. I do hope you all enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it, and if you have a moment, please let me know what you thought about it.
If I write a sequel to this story it will be quite some time before I am able to begin posting it. Work and life are hectic right now—hence the delay in the final two chapters.
Thanks again for taking the time to read this story.
Best wishes in your endeavors,