Finding Home Chapter Eleven: Albus Dumbledore and the Yellow Crayon
Severus mentally groaned as Albus came through the fireplace, it was not a good time. After quickly shoving Potter's pictures under the cushion and transfiguring the bear back into a pillow, he sat down in his chair and acted as if nothing was up.
When Albus was fully in the room, Severus stood and was about to say something when something yellow caught his eye. Yellow, for Merlin's sake! He had nothing in his house that was yellow, that could only mean…His head snapped over and only years of spying stopped him from widening his eyes in horror. There, on the floor, six crayons lay scattered.
Albus was almost upon him and he couldn't banish them or go over to pick them up without Albus seeing and getting suspicious. He would just have to pretend they weren't there and hope Albus wouldn't see them. Unlikely…
"Hello Severus, I hope I'm not interrupting anything." Albus said cheerfully, "I thought we might have some tea?"
"I don't suppose I can say no?" Severus scowled and Albus beamed. "You might as well sit down, then." Albus sat down with his blue eyes twinkling madly, making Severus' stomach churn uncomfortably. Albus' eyes only twinkled that madly when he was either planning something horrible, or he knew some deep, dark secret about Severus. Both were pretty dangerous.
Without another word, Severus turned to go make some tea. Silently he prayed to any God that might be listening that Albus would not see the crayons on the floor. He made the tea as quickly as possible and levitated it into the living room where Albus was waiting.
"Have you been keeping busy?" Albus asked as Severus sat down in his chair.
"Yes, Albus. I've had a lot of brewing to do; Poppy's stocks are running low on numerous things." It wasn't a lie, Poppy's stocks were running low, but he had all summer to get them all done.
"That's good." Albus said, sipping his tea and shifted on the couch. There was a slight crinkling under the cushion and it dawned on Severus, Albus was sitting right where he'd shoved all the pictures and was leaning on the pillow that had just been a bear. Albus' feet were right next to the crayons, the yellow one to be exact. Had Albus noticed? It was kind of hard not to. Everything in the room was black or really dark browns and blues. How could you miss a yellow crayon lying in the middle of the floor?
As if Albus had read Severus' mind (who had his strongest Occlumency shields up), his eyes slowly drifted down towards the crayons. Severus felt horror creep up when Albus' eye snapped up towards him, the twinkling was nearly blinding.
"Crayons, Severus?" Albus asked, bending down and picking one up, the pink one. Pink for Merlin's sake!
"Yes, my distant nephew has come for a visit." Severus lied smoothly, his face heating up slightly.
"A nephew, you say?" Albus asked, "I didn't know you had any family left. What's his name?"
"Demitri." Severus blurted, saying the first name that came to mind. Severus mentally winced, had he replied to quickly? Would Albus catch on? Demitri? What was he thinking, picking that name? Why in Merlin's name was he so worried? Who cared if Albus took the brat? "Demitri's parents are dead, so he will be staying with me for a while."
"You willingly took in the boy?" Albus asked, sounding amazed. "How old is he?"
"He just turned six." Severus said, another truth. Potter had just turned six a month prior, after all.
"Well, where is he? Can I meet him?" Albus questioned, shifting in his seat to look around the room.
"Already? It's not even that late." Albus exclaimed.
"Albus, the boy's been through a terrible ordeal." Severus snapped.
"Oh, right. Well, when can I meet him, then?" Albus wondered. Severus narrowed his eyes, it seemed as if Albus didn't care at all that Demitri was going through a hard time and might not want to see anybody. It didn't matter that Demitri didn't actually exist. If he was this insensitive about Demitri's problem, how would he react to Potter's?
"Whenever he feels up to it, I'm not going to force him into something he isn't ready for." Severus snapped. Albus didn't say anything that time, they sat and sipped their tea in silence.
"Will you be able to continue to look for Harry, now that you have Demitri?" Albus asked a couple of seconds later.
"Probably not, it's a lot of work looking after a child." Severus replied. He really didn't want to continue to look for someone who had already been found anyway.
"A pity, that." Albus said, sounding a bit sad. "Nobody has had any luck finding him, I'm beginning to think I may never find him."
"You aren't giving up, are you?" Severus asked, curious despite himself.
"Oh no, or course not. He's too important in this war, we need him." Albus said, then took another sip of his tea as if talking about using a six year old in a war was normal.
"Is that the only reason that you want to find him? For the war?" Severus exclaimed. "For Merlin's sake Albus, he's only, what? Six? The Dark Lord hasn't even returned yet, if ever."
"I will not discuss this with you." Albus growled, suddenly sounding furious. "You will not interfere with my plans." He slammed his tea cup onto the coffee table and stood up. Severus quickly stood as well and watched as Albus stomped his way to the fireplace and left, leaving Severus confused.
What plans was Albus talking about? He hadn't told Severus of any plans, except using Potter in the war? Severus knew that he didn't like that idea, right now Potter was only six, and shouldn't be involved in any war. And who's to say the Dark Lord will come back? None of the Death Eaters have heard anything from him, so maybe he really was gone for good?
Severus hoped that the Dark Lord was gone, he didn't want to have to start spying again. There was always a chance that he might get caught, and then what? He'd be dead in seconds flat. While the thought of dying didn't scare Severus, he had too much to do before he died. Namely making sure Potter stayed alive, he had made a vow to Lily, after all, and so far he hadn't done a very good job of keeping it.
Tiredly, Severus flung himself down on the couch. He rubbed his eyes and sighed, then leaned forward to pull the pictures out from under the cushion. After straightening them on the coffee table, he looked at them. There was the one of Potter's family, one of a cat, a tree, and the last one was of Severus, and it wasn't too bad either. For a child's drawing, anyway.
Gathering the pictures, Severus stood and walked slowly to his room. It was still really early to go to bed, but he was tired and he knew that children generally got up really early in the morning. He wasn't a morning person, so he would have to try to get as much sleep as he could or he could risk snapping at Potter and scaring the daylights out of him.
When he reached his room, Severus strode over to his dresser and carefully stuffed the pictures in his sock drawer for safe keeping, he told himself, then stripped down to his boxers. He sighed as he slipped into bed, and before falling asleep, he wondered what he'd gotten himself into.
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Harry jerked awake, his head cracked against the wall and he bit into his hand. Apparently he'd stuffed his hand into his mouth during the night, probably to stop screams from escaping. He knew to be quiet, Uncle Vernon never liked it when he was noisy.
Confused from his nightmare, Harry pulled his knees up to his chest and whimpered, thinking he was back inside his cupboard at his uncle's house. Harry shivered, being cold and damp with sweat, and scooted back into the wall.
After a couple of minutes Harry finally calmed down enough to realize that the closet he was in was a lot smaller than his cupboard was at the Dursley's. He was safe, at least at the moment. Who knew what the man was going to do, how he was going to react to Harry being in his closet? Had he woken the man? He didn't hear any footsteps, so maybe he got lucky.
Harry shivered at the possibilities and crawled to the door. Opening it a crack, he peered out into the darkness. Obviously it was still night time, or maybe very early morning, so maybe Harry could do some cleaning? That always got onto Uncle Vernon's good side, kind of…
Very slowly and cautiously, Harry left the closet and began looking for cleaning supplies. There weren't any in the bedroom, not that he really expected any to be, but he found some under the sink in the bathroom, and a mop and broom in a closet in the hall.
Harry carried the cleaning supplies back to his room to begin cleaning. First he picked up the rug, shook it out, and then draped it on the bed so he could sweep the floor. There was so much dirt and dust on the floor, that it made Harry's eyes itch and water, he sneezed hard enough to send him falling on his bum. The broom fell to the floor with a loud clang and Harry held his breath as he waited for the man to come in and get him for making so much noise.
Harry waited and waited, but the man never came running through the door, so he picked himself up and continued to sweep. He was more careful not to kick up the dirt that time, though. It didn't take long for him to finish the floor, and he moved onto cleaning the bedside table.
The bedside table was probably the only thing in the room that he didn't have to climb on anything to clean, so he figured he would just get it out of the way. As he was moving the items off though, he caught a glimpse of the picture of the red-haired woman.
Harry's mind quickly filled with a woman's screams of, "Not Harry! Not Harry! Please!" He didn't understand, but it was frightening and he quickly set the picture face down on the bed. With that out of the way, Harry was free to clean the table, put everything back, and then move onto something else.
The next thing he decided to tackle was the dresser. It was much higher than he could reach, so he used the broom to catch all the cob webs hanging off of it, then he pulled the drawers open and climbed them to clean off the top. There wasn't anything up there except dust and cob webs though, which he thought strange. Everyone that he'd seen always put things on their dressers, like hair brushes and pictures and stuff. Maybe because it was a guest room? The man must not have had many guests though, by how dirty the room was.
As quickly as he could he finished up cleaning the dresser, then did the closet. That pretty much covered the room, with everything he could reach, anyway. Satisfied, Harry picked up the cleaning supplies and left to clean the bathroom. He figured he could have the bathroom and the kitchen done by the time the light started showing outside, then he would go back to his closet to wait.
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Severus grumbled as he rolled over, the sun was shining through the window, right onto his face. He hated the sun, why hadn't he closed the curtains before bed? He opened his eyes and squinted at the clock, it was ten in the morning. He was about to close his eyes and go back to sleep, after all, what had he to get up for? But then he remembered Potter and sat up quickly, why hadn't the brat come in and wake him? Was he even awake?
Severus got out of bed and quickly threw on some clothes, then left to go search for the little monster. He quickly glanced at the room, but didn't see him so he continued throughout the house. He did notice something strange though, his house was clean. It looked like the only parts of the house that hadn't been clean was the living room and his own room.
Albus was always telling him how he needed to clean his house, and even sent over some house elves to do the job, thinking Severus wouldn't notice. Severus wasn't sure how Albus thought he wouldn't notice a suddenly clean house, but Albus hadn't tried to send anymore after that. Until now, that is.
Irritated, Severus stomped back to Potter's room, maybe he was hiding under the bed. He would never understand children…
When Severus got into Potter's room, he didn't see the brat so called his name. Potter didn't come out, so he leaned down and looked under the bed, no Potter. A little worried, not that he would admit it to anybody, he stood up and looked around the room.
The only other place that Potter could be hiding would be the closet, so he strode forward and pulled the door open. He was actually a little startled when he opened the door and found Potter cowering inside, he hadn't actually expected the brat to be in there.
"Potter, what are you doing in the closet?" Severus asked. Potter's head snapped up to look at him, fear was written all over his face and Severus felt a stab of guilt.
Crouching down in front of the boy, Severus reached forward to touch him but Potter scooted away with a whimper.
"Come on out, I won't hurt you." Severus said quietly, holding his hand out. At first Potter didn't take it, then slowly reached forward. Right before his hand reached Severus' though, Potter snatched his hand back and looked back up into Severus' face.
"Potter…H-Harry, please come out of there so we can talk." Severus said, it felt strange to use the brat's name, but he knew he needed the child to trust him. Obviously there was something wrong, something that probably should have been noticed and tended to the day before.
Po-Harry's eyes snapped up again and searched Severus' face, fear was still clearly all over his features. Severus backed up a little to give Potter some room, so the boy slowly crawled out of the small closet and stood before him.
Keeping his hands in plain view of Po-Harry's view, he reached forward slowly with one hand and placed it on the child's shoulder.
"Let's get some breakfast." Severus said, steering Harry out of the room. For some reason Harry lowered his head and managed to look even sadder than before.
"What's wrong?" Severus asked when they stepped into the kitchen. Harry looked up and shook his head, then he walked forward and started pulling stuff out of the cupboard. What was the child doing? Surely he wasn't going to make his own breakfast…
"What are you doing?" Severus asked. Harry looked confused and patted the frying pan, as if to say, 'making breakfast…?'
"Making breakfast?" Severus asked, wanting to be sure. Harry nodded. "Harry, sit down at the table; you're too young to make anything." By the devastated look on Harry's face, Severus knew he had said something wrong. But Severus didn't understand, wouldn't Harry be glad he didn't have to make breakfast?
He went over and pulled the chair out from under the table, Severus gave Harry a pointed look until the child came over and climbed on top of it. Not knowing what to say, Severus began making breakfast. He made French toast, sausage, and toast; this time when he set the plate down in front of the boy, Harry's eyes lit up for a split second, but then went right back to being frightened.
After fixing his own plate, Severus sat down across from Harry. The brat glanced up from his plate up to Severus' face, then back down. Severus took a bite of his toast and waited for Harry to begin eating, but the brat just continued to stare at it.
After he finished his first piece of toast, he looked at Harry and asked, "Are you just going to stare at it, or are you going to eat it?" Harry quickly picked up his fork and started shoveling the food into his mouth.
"Slow down, Potter." Severus snapped, then sighed as Harry flinched back and dropped his fork on the table as if it had bitten him.
"You need to eat, you're only skin and bones." Severus said motioning towards the plate. "Or do I have to feed you again?" The child's eyes widened and he picked up the fork and began eating again. Harry had slowed his pace a little, but he was still eating much too quickly.
Harry's big green eyes filled with tears and he all but threw the fork onto the table in anguish. Severus felt another stab of guilt. The poor child only wanted to eat, obviously, but was unable to do so slowly. Sighing, he stood up and walked over to Harry's side of the table.
Severus sat down in the chair next to Harry and picked up the fork, the turned to the boy. "We won't be making this a habit, Mr. Potter." He said, stabbing some food and holding it up to Harry's mouth.
For some reason Harry's mouth broke into a grin before he opened it to accept the food, and Severus wondered why. Did the brat enjoy being fed, or was it because of what he'd said?
"I bet you're enjoying this, aren't you?" Severus demanded, making Harry shake his head. The brat stopped his idiotic grinning and had the decency to blush, but his green eyes continued to glitter.
Severus huffed and continued to feed the boy slowly, he could only imagine what Minerva would think if she walking in at that moment; she would have a field day. He glared back down at the child, who shrank back a bit.
There, now the child knew that he meant business.
When Harry had finished eating, Severus cleared all the dishes and washed the brats face. Then he went into the living room, and came back with more paper and crayons. He would figure out Harry's story and why he couldn't talk, but first he would let him relax and settle his food.
Authors Note: I am so sorry that this took so long to get up. The last couple of months a lot has happened- I became depressed and not even my stories could pull me through. I made the rash decision to drop out of school, which was probably stupid, but now I should have more time for updating. That's a plus, eh? This chapter seemed kind of short to me, but I didn't really know where to go with it, kind of have to get back into it I guess. Does anybody have any ideas of what they'd like to start seeing? I'm always open to opinions.