"I don't need new clothes."
Severus cringed and rubbed a calloused hand over his face, massaging the bridge of his nose, and calling on Merlin to give him the strength to get through this day.
"Yes, Harry, you do. The ones you currently are wearing are not only too large, but so stained and over-stretched you can't tell what the original color is." Harry glared at him now, a new development over the last few days. This was his only sign of outright defiance, and Severus made sure not to stop it. Anger was good for Harry to feel, it was better than overwhelming sadness and anguish.
"They were Dudley's, and I don't have any money sir. I'm fine with these, maybe I can get a job this summer." Severus scoffed, shaking his head vehemently.
"You will not be working when there is someone to provide for you. You are eleven years old, it is not common practice to hire eleven year olds. In fact, laws against child labor come to mind," the older man stated calmly, watching the child sitting across from him. Harry was angrily stabbing at a fried egg, smearing the yoke around his plate. With narrowed eyes, Severus plucked the utensil turned weapon from the pre-teen's hands. "And if you can't eat properly, I'll feed you myself. Now eat, not play with your food." He set the fork back onto Harry's plate and began eating his own again.
After both of them had finished eating, and Snape of course drinking another cup of coffee for moral support, Severus prodded Harry into getting ready for the day. "Dress warmly, a storm is coming in." Harry nodded slowly, a haunted look in those green eyes that Severus recognized from their post-nightmare talks. Severus let the topic hang, mentally storing it for further study.
Harry, meanwhile, rushed down the hall and into his room, breathing rapidly. He hated storms with a passion. The ground would shake when he was in the cupboard, just horribly. It was like an earthquake, but with more noise, and sometimes bright flashes would shine through the latch on his cupboard. As a child, he remembered Dudley crying and being held by Petunia, drinking a warm cup of milk before being sent back to bed with a story. All Harry had for company were the spiders and mop bucket, which were not comforting companions in the least.
Shaking his head, Harry opened the armoire and began shifting the hangers looking for suitable clothing. Not seeing any t-shirts with long enough sleeves for a cold day, Harry slipped on a stained undershirt before pulling on a Hogwarts-issue button down shirt. He ran his fingers over the threadbare jumper, one Dudley had fit in four or five years ago in primary school. It was still loose on him, but it would keep him warmer than if he didn't have it on.
He pulled the navy blue material over his head, sighing as the hem fell over his trousers and just over mid-thigh. The sleeves went past his hands, and he clenched his fists around the material, relishing in the slight warmth. He liked warm, just not blazing summer heat warm. He hated the sunburns and the burning in the back of his throat and the light headedness. But that didn't matter right now, he was going shopping.
Such a foreign word, one he definitely did not associate with fun, but pleasantness. He had never had anything really new until he came to Hogwarts. It made him feel cared for, sort of. He still didn't really trust Snape, but Theo liked him and said he had taken care of him.
The new clothing Snape had brought him was nice, really nice actually. But it was all summer clothing; t-shirts, shorts, things for nicer weather. Snape had said something about it getting colder soon, October would be here soon and with that cool, crisp autumn weather.
He grinned in anticipation, maybe they'd let him play in the snow. He could make a snow family, or an igloo, or maybe he could go sledding! With childish glee, Harry slipped on his shoes and walked into the bathroom to brush his teeth. He was still smiling, he noticed as he looked in the mirror. He didn't think he had smiled this much in the last two weeks, let alone his entire life at the Dursleys.
When finished, he all but skipped into the living room, waiting patiently for his Professor to finish grading whatever assignment he was looking over. He turned around not a moment later, lips thinning at Harry's lack of warm clothing. He removed his wand from his pocket and pointed it at the jumper, murmuring a spell. Harry gasped as the jacket became warmer, his lips quirking. He really liked this warmth.
"Ready?" Snape inquired, buttoning a cloak under his chin and adjusting it so it fell over his robes properly. Harry hesitantly nodded, watching as the Professor turned towards the door and billowed out. He needed to learn to do that.
As they climbed their way up through the castle, Harry couldn't stop looking at the billowing cloak. How did he do it? Was he holding the edges a certain way? No his hands were swaying lazily at his side, hmmm. Maybe he's kicking it up with his feet? Ugh, no, but those are really wicked shoes.
Wicked, he pondered the word. He had heard Ronald Weasley say it a few times in the hallway. He didn't even realize it had been added to his vocabulary, let alone into his everyday speech.
Sighing, he pushed himself faster to keep up with his teachers pace. They finally made it to the entrance hall, with Harry slightly out of breath. Snape waited at the top of the stairs for him, gazing down at his ward with amusement. He would have been an idiot to not notice the boy's blatant staring at his cloak. Many children tried to solve the mystery of how he was able to walk with such grace, none coming to a valid conclusion. Silly children, it was all to do with air movement.
Moving again through the castle, Severus waves his wand to open the solid looking wooden doors, leading Harry out into the cold. Severus now slowed down, keeping at pace with Harry. He would need to monitor the boy if he was feeling too cold, he didn't need him sick.
He watched as Harry gazed up at the clouds, looking fearful above all of those other emotions flitting across those emerald orbs. What was going on in his mind? He noticed the boy's fists clenching and unclenching, and the slight shift towards Severus himself.
"Do you like the rain?" Severus asked, bringing his cloak around himself. They were halfway to the gates and then a brief walk down to Hogsmeade. He hoped to make it in time to avoid the storm.
Harry shook his head, speeding up slightly. Severus kept pace with him, knowing that there was an underlying reason for this fear. "Why not?"
"It's wet," Harry stated, voice flat. Severus resisted the urge to put a hand on the boy's shoulder. An emotionless Harry, was a Harry close to shutting down. And he didn't have Theo this time to send in to retrieve the boy from his own mind. "Good observation," Snape responded sarcastically, smirking.
Harry bit his lip, and shrugged his shoulders. "It's loud too."
"The thunder?" Severus remembered being scared of the loud noise as a child, but his mum had been there to comfort him. Based on Harry's experience at the Dursley's, he doubted such comfort had been enacted upon. Harry nodded hesitantly, looking up at the Potion's master.
"It is not uncommon for children to be frightened of storms," Severus stated as he opened the gates, ushering Harry through the brass and onto the path to Hogsmeade.
"I'm not a child," Harry ground out, now glaring at the ground. He hadn't been a child for a very long time. Children didn't have to take care of themselves, or learn to survive by themselves, or anything. Other children were normal, Harry was a freak.
"I beg to differ. Your voice is still too high-pitched, you're much too short, you still fit in clothes from the children's section, you are sensitive like a child. Therefore you are a child." Harry gaped, surprised by the Professor's insults, yet feeling somewhat comforted. "No doubt that will change in a few years, then you will be an adolescent, a teenager. You will drive me up the wall with girls, and petty drama, and your hormones. Merlin help us when those make an appearance." Was he teasing Harry?
Harry blushed, looking down at the gravel and rock beneath their feet. Okay technically he was a child, he internally winced. But only physically, he was aged way beyond his years mentally.
"That shouldn't matter," Harry muttered beneath his breath, not looking up. "Age is just a number." He had heard that somewhere, he thinks. Maybe it was in a book, or a show on the telly. Either way, it seemed fitting at the moment.
"Not anymore, Mr. Potter. I expect you to act your age." Harry looked at the older man curiously, his age? But that's so...immature.
"You aren't going back, Harry."
Harry was shocked, it was the first time that had been outright stated. It had been implied on many occasions, but, really? He wasn't going back?
"I won't allow it. While preparations have not been made for you for next summer, I will be sure that you are not going back to your relatives." Harry now bit his lip, closing his eyes tightly. He could feel the tears, but he wasn't going to cry. He wasn't. He sniffed and wiped the sleeve of his jumper under his eye. He wasn't crying, it was the wind.
"Come on, Harry. We're almost there and then we'll get you a hot chocolate, okay?" It was the gentlest the had ever heard the Professor's voice, it was strange. The man was so harsh during lessons, but so different outside of the classroom. It was the voice he spoke to him in after a nightmare, it was gentle and calming and it felt warm.
They both continued down the path in silence, the wind picking up speed, whistling in the trees. They passed a condemned looking home, and Snape glared at the house in disdain. Not stopping, the duo went inside the first shop that looked somewhat open, the Three Broomsticks Inn. It was a quaint establishment, tables lining the walls and a small bar nestled in the center. A staircase lead upstairs, and Harry felt curious to explore for the first time since their journey into town.
He never really felt like exploring, except with the first years in the dungeons. They went ghost hunting a couple days before at lunch, and the Bloody Baron had scared them and the chuckled while walking through a wall. Harry smiled slightly, he felt like a kid at that moment. Was that what being a child was like?
Severus lead Harry to a table near the front window, motioning for Madame Rosmerta to come over. Harry was looking outside of the slightly foggy glass, watching the first droplets of rain fall. He saw the child hold his breath in anticipation of the thunder and lightning, but none came. Severus hoped none would come so they could get through this shopping trip with as little hassle as possible.
Rosmerta walked over to both Severus and Harry, and Severus couldn't be happier when their drinks appeared not a minute later. Oh magic.
He sipped at Rosmerta's special herbal tea while Harry blew over his hot chocolate before taking a sip. He hummed in approval taking another sip and wincing. Severus chuckled and offered Harry a napkin as the liquid spilled on the table. "Careful," he cautioned, and hesitated when he found himself acting like an overbearing parent watching their child. It was strange, and almost welcoming.
After both had finished their drinks, Snape put a galleon and a few sickles onto the table before walking out of the Inn. They both ducked their heads and hurriedly walked two stores down to a clothing shop. Harry hesitated at the door, but Snape pushed him in, wanting to escape the now pouring rain. He saw lightning in the distance and internally sighed. It would be difficult to get Harry back to the castle if the weather kept up.
Harry looked lost, gazing around the large store with racks upon racks of clothing. Severus lead him to the back of the store, into the kids section. Harry ran his hands over shirts and trousers as he passed by displays, they all were so new. They even smelt new. Wow.
"Do you like any specific colors?" Snape questioned, finally reaching the children's section. Harry looked confused and then shrugged. "Doesn't matter, sir."
Severus hummed lowly to himself. "If I'm going to be spending money, I would like it to be on something you would prefer." Harry hesitantly stepped forward, reaching towards the display of polo shirts before him, and stopping before he could touch the clothing. He looked up at Snape in fear, and Severus' heart tightened. The child was afraid to even touch the new clothing.
"You look around here and I'll go pick up a few pairs of black and khaki trousers for you from over there," he motioned towards a display three racks away. "I expect you to pick out five shirts from this section before I return." Harry nodded and touched the polo he had been reaching for, sighing audibly when there was no retribution for the action.
He watched the Professor walk away before running his hands over the fabric. They were so soft. He picked up a white polo, noticing that they were all the same size. Maybe they had some charm to make them fit him? He draped the shirt over his arm and moved to a navy blue button down shirt with a pocket on the left side. The coolest thing about it was the silver dragon circling the sleeves, flowing smoothly over the shirt like water. He hoped Snape would like it...
After picking up three more shirts, two being long sleeved t-shirts and another a black turtle neck, Harry moved towards Snape who was gazing at two pairs of trousers. "Do you want a looser fit or a more formal, straight fit?" Snape inquired, showing the pants to the boy. Harry shrugged, but pointed to the cargo pants. They'd go awesome with the red shirt he picked out. Snape nodded and added the pair to a small pile of clothing, including some underwear. Harry blushed, oh Merlin. Snape was buying him underthings.
They both moved towards the register, Snape picking up minor pieces of clothing like undershirts and socks before depositing the items onto the counter. The clerk counted it up and Snape signed a paper with a flourish, the cloths disappearing. "They will be in your quarters, Professor. It was a pleasure doing business with you." Snape inclined his head and motioned for Harry to follow him.
Harry curiously trailed after the man, who was heading the opposite way of the castle. Weren't they just stopping for clothes?
They stepped into a small quidditch supply store, and Harry's eyes lit up. He had been reading a self-updating book on Quidditch, and was able to recognize many of the teams on the posters. Some of the players even waved at him. Harry smiled, and stepped forward before stopping and turning to the Professor. Begging for permission, for just a moment to run around and act like a child.
Severus wanted to smile, and nodded. "Go ahead, you have ten minutes to pick out three things."
Harry almost ran away from the Professor, but slowed his pace when he neared a display of quidditch figurines playing in a miniaturized stadium. The players looked like real people, flying around the pitch. They were zigging and zagging around one another, a small toy snitch flying around the stadium as well. It was probably the most amazing thing Harry had seen in his life. It was the closest he had come to a real quidditch game.
Harry picked up a team of boxed figurines, wincing at the price. He couldn't ask the Professor to pay that much for a toy. He picked up a single figurine pack, happy that it was ten sickles, much less than the two galleons for the whole box of players.
He continued walking around, gawking at the brooms and examining all of the posters before picking up a poster for Puddlemore United. He grinned at the emerald green poster, imagining it on his walls. It was only twenty knuts too!
Holding the two items in his hand, Harry looked around the store once more, looking for something interesting. He slowly meandered through the seeker section of the store when he spotted it, a small golden winged object, fluttering inside of a glass box. It was a Snatcher's Practice Snitch, one of the best practice snitches on the market. Or that's what the box read at least.
Harry picked up the box and read the back label, smiling slightly as he read. It would stay in one room, automatically stop after ten minutes, and didn't go any higher than five feet off the floor unless programmed to go higher. It was brilliant! He didn't know if he'd be a good seeker, but his Dad had been one. He had a trophy in the the trophy room for it! Draco had shown it to him after a detention with Filch, almost dragging Harry into the room that day. He had been so surprised! It had been the first ever real thing he'd learned about his Dad!
Gazing down at the price, his face fell. Three galleons, one sickle- it was too much. He carefully placed the snitch down onto the display once more, moving back to the figurine section. Maybe he could just get another figurine and start a collection? He picked up another Puddlemore United player, wincing as it was the seeker and snitch. It was thirteen sickles, but Harry added it to his pile half-heartedly and walked to the register. "I'm done sir."
Severus nodded, turning away from the window and looking at the items. He hadn't been surprised to see the action figures, even Draco was obsessed with these particular ones at his home. He remembered buying a set of last years Slytherin team, and Draco's beaming face. These were single packs, and while inexpensive, almost impossible to play with without the stadium or five other players for a team. He sighed inwardly, wanting to ruffle the child's hair in front of him. He was choosing the most inexpensive items in the story, probably so Severus didn't have to spend much money on him.
He had seen the boy linger near the seeker section, grinning down at one of the Snitches. He had thought it'd be in this pile, but no such luck. He silently summoned the box Harry had been holding, reading through the instructions for the practice snitch. It would assuredly keep Harry busy, and the three galleons wasn't anywhere near the regular price of seven galleons- who knew a quidditch shop held sales. Either way, he placed the object next to the pile, surprising Harry. The child looked as though he was going to cry, and Severus put a hand on his shoulder to ground him, keep him in the moment.
"That will be 4 galleons and 8 sickles." Severus placed the money onto the table and then shrunk the purchases, putting them gently in his pocket.
"Come, Harry. One last stop and then we will head back towards the castle. I' m sure you have homework this weekend that you need to start on." Harry nodded hesitantly, looking at the sky warily. It was raining harder and the wind was picking up, it was a matter of time before the thunder and lightning started.
Severus led the distracted child to Honeydukes, wincing at the thought of a sugar-high Harry running around his quarters. But thinking to the child at hand, he probably would contain his madness to his own room.
"You have one galleon to spend, and I'd like to leave within the next fifteen minutes. I'll stand over here," Severus prodded the boy inside of the shop, watching him hesitantly looking at the candy, laughing at some of the displays, and finally looking as if he was enjoying himself. By the end of the fifteen minutes, Harry's basket was filled with Chocolate Frogs, Candy Floss, different flavored lollipops, and a pack or two of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans. Oh a sugar high was definitely impending.
He paid for the purchase, which was still five sickles under a galleon. He didn't know whether to be concerned about Harry's frugality, or happy that he was learning about budgeting. Either way, he would have to have another conversation with Harry about Severus taking care of him, not Harry taking care of Severus.
Severus lead Harry out of the establishment, allowing Harry to carry his own bag. At that moment, a crash of thunder reverberated throughout the village. Severus put a hand on Harry's shoulder, surprised when the boy hid behind him and clutched his cloak. "We must hurry back to the castle."
Harry eagerly nodded, still gripping the cloak with one hand and almost jogging next to his Professor to keep up. His hair was soaked, but so was Severus' and they didn't really have a moment to think about appearances. They needed to get out of this rain.
The gravel path they had taken to Hogsmeade was now mud and flowing water, slowly trickling down the hill. Harry whimpered at another crash of thunder, and Severus picked up pace again. They made it to the Hogwarts gates within ten minutes, both covered in mud and in desperate need of showers. Harry ran ahead of him towards the front steps, and sat huddled underneath the stone awning above. Severus stopped next to him and kneeled next to the distraught and frightened boy. "Just a little further, we're almost to our rooms."
Harry, finally succumbing to the roller coaster of a day, began sobbing and sniffling as they made their way down the steps and into the dungeons. Severus was happy that they didn't run into any students on the way, he just needed to get Harry inside and warm and comfortable again.
Upon arrival to their quarters, Harry ran into his room and Severus shouted for him not to lay on the furniture. He put their purchases on the kitchen table and started tea, they would both need it. He walked down the hall and peeked into Harry's room, he was balled up on the window seat, looking into the rain. Severus silently cast a silencing spell on the window to block out the sound of thunder.
"Shower and then come out for tea," his voice was hard and almost commanding, not leaving any room for questions. Harry looked shocked, but nodded and plodded into his bathroom to shower. Severus went into his own room and took a warm shower himself, relishing in the heat from the water. He didn't realize how cold he had been.
He slipped on a pair of muggle jeans and an old black t-shirt, knowing that he wouldn't be leaving the quarters for the rest of the day. He had to teach Harry to play in the rain as a child would, not hide behind his fears as he had been doing lately. With that, he began devising a plan involving all of his first years, a counsel of sorts. One not like any other counsel held before.
Disclaimer: Still don't own Harry Potter.
Well here is the next chapter! It is a bit late, but not the longest wait I've ever forced upon you guys. I wrote this chapter a couple of days ago, but had to restart my computer and it didn't save it. I also have a new project I'm working on for this story, and I'll announce all of the details for it in the next chapter.
Question of the day: Devise a name of a candy, and what it does. A magical candy of course ;)
Oh! And if you are feeling bored please feel free to check out my story "The Pace of Change". It is a Mentor!Snape story, and the summary says it all :)
Thanks for reading and your amazing reviews last chapter!