Author Notes: Hello! Happy Valentine's Day to all fellow parents out there who celebrate this day with a family dinner instead of a romantic meal for two! This is something I wrote with the help of my daughter, a big HP fan thanks to her mother. Since this is a one shot, I'm not including the back story on how Severus came to adopt Harry; I'm actually hoping to save that for when I write my own Guardian fic one day. For now, just know that Severus has formally adopted Harry Potter as his son, Harry adores his new father and vice versa. Enjoy this story, I would love to hear your feedback on it!
Summary: Eleven year old Harry Potter is determined to give his adopted father, Severus Snape, a memorable Valentine's Day. Featuring a horror of a teashop and a feisty little cherub. Father/Son relationship.
Appreciation: My grateful thanks to Schattengestalt for looking this over and bolstering my fragile ego at the same time.
Warnings: Severe OOCness, silliness and loads of fluff!
Disclaimer: Harry Potter is the brainchild of JK Rowlings.
- Story Start -
"It's Valentine's Day today."
"I know what day it is."
How could Severus not? He had taken Harry to the Great Hall for breakfast and after a stunned look inside, had changed his mind. Turning around smartly, he had gone back to his quarters in the dungeons with his son in tow to escape the nauseating decorations he had seen. They were enough to make him shudder - gigantic pink hearts affixed to the walls and winged Cupids darting here and there. Each heart, at least three feet tall, had been enchanted to pulse rhythmically as if simulating the movement - if not the appearance - of a beating heart. Each white cherub, at least a foot tall, were holding strung bows in a threatening manner that was strangely at odds with their angelic smiles. Severus' wand hand had itched with wanting to cast a shield charm over Harry and himself.
Whenever he got his Hogwarts-issued calendar for the new year, Severus always made a note of three days – Valentine's Day, Halloween and Christmas. He would pray that the first date fell on a Sunday so that he could lock up his potions classroom and hide in his quarters, safe from Albus, distracted students and hideous decorations. He would make a note of the second date so that he could light a candle and lose himself in bittersweet memories of a certain red headed witch for as long as that candle took to burn. He would simply ignore the third date.
Not that Albus would truly let him forget Valentine's Day, what with strawberry chocolates appearing on Severus' coffee table and Valentine themed meals - heart shaped carrots, heart shaped chicken nuggets, pink soufflé – sent to his quarters, courtesy of the house elves. Or Christmas, with presents still appearing on his coffee table and sometimes accompanied by a miniature, gaily decorated tree. But at least Severus could grouse over everything in the privacy of his quarters.
This was actually the first Valentine's Day in many, many years that he wouldn't be spending alone.
"Are you going out today?"
Severus sighed and folded up the Daily Prophet, avoiding the screaming pink banner in favour of meeting the bright green gaze opposite him.
"Why do you want to know?"
A cheeky grin.
"I just do."
"The answer is no. I'll be staying here with you the whole day. It's Sunday."
Thank Merlin for small mercies, Severus thought as he sipped at his coffee that was served in a hideously pink heart shaped mug. He would have transfigured it to a different shape and colour, but alas, brilliant Potions Master though he was, Severus was quite hopeless at Transfiguration.
"Don't you have a date?"
Severus choked on his beverage. Why were heart shaped mugs even created to begin with? Drinking from them was practically impossible! Did one drink from the pointed tip or from one of the rounded sides?
He cleared his throat.
"No, I don't," he replied in cool, quelling tones that worked for the student population in general, but not for this messy haired urchin with the bright eyes and even brighter smile.
"Well..." A finger very casually traced an invisible line on the kitchen table top, "I don't have a date either."
"Are you telling me you want to go on a date?" he demanded, not recognising the first flutterings of unease any parent with a prepubescent child inevitably experienced. His quick mind was already sifting through the insipid faces of the many first year females, wondering which of them had caught his son's eye.
"No!" Harry squeaked.
"Besides, you're only eleven," Severus tried the same quelling tones again, accompanied by a raised eyebrow.
"I know, Dad! But you're thirty one!"
Severus pushed that eyebrow a little higher.
"So you should have a date for today!"
That declaration alone allowed Severus to create a new personal high for his eyebrow and its twin.
"And where would I find such a date, Mr. Potter? At the local grocer's in Hogsmeade, perhaps? On special today, wedged between the cabbages and the cucumbers?"
The delighted giggle that erupted made him hard pressed to keep his lips from twitching.
"Aw, you say the funniest things, Dad! But I was just thinking..."
The sinking feeling in his stomach made Severus glare down at the half eaten pink coloured pancakes on his plate. He knew they would give indigestion.
"... that we could go on a date together."
Both eyebrows flew up again, already working faultlessly in tandem.
Harry nodded, all wide guileless eyes and sunny smile.
"Just my Dad and I, two eligible bachelors out on the town."
That certainly wasn't what Severus had in mind for today. Cautiously, he took another bite of pancake.
"And where would we go?" he asked. Just a rhetorical question, really.
"Madam Puddifoot's, of course! Hermione says it's the only place to go on Valentine's Day."
Severus shuddered. The apothecary he frequented in Hogsmeade was unfortunately located just next door to the fussy, frilly, cramped teashop. He would quickly stride past it each time he had potion ingredients to buy, avoiding the ruffled Welcome mat lying outside that looked as if it was just waiting to trip him up. Not even Lily Potter had been able to make him step inside that horror of a teashop.
Now, Severus schooled his face to look mildly sympathetic. He was after all, the Head of Slytherin.
"That place will be booked solid on this day. You need to make reservations at least a month in advance, son."
"Oh," Harry murmured, looking satisfyingly crestfallen.
Severus took another sip of coffee to hide his smirk, but it disappeared when he saw the brilliant green eyes grow dull, the small mouth turning down at the corners. He sighed. Harry was too sensitive for his own good sometimes.
"It's too bad Madam Puddifoot doesn't have a sister," Severus offered in a sympathetic voice. He enjoyed another mouthful of coffee despite the horribly shaped mug.
"Wait - she does!"
Severus spewed coffee all over his pancakes, giving the pink surface a mottled look.
"What did you say?" he demanded once he could speak, napkin slapped to his mouth and eyes still watering.
"Her sister runs another teashop! Right at the other end of Hogsmeade! Madam Furritoe's!"
Severus, courageous ex-Death Eater and feared Potions Master of Hogwarts, quailed in his chair. Where in Merlin's name did these women get such names for their teashops? Run a contest in the Prophet to see who could come up with the worst possible names?
"Dad, you're brilliant! I bet we don't need reservations there, since she isn't as well known!"
Severus lowered the mug, noting dispassionately that his hand had started trembling.
"Good thing she's got a sister, huh?"
He lifted his eyes to his son's. Yes, there was something decidedly Slytherin-ish in those green eyes.
"How long has she opened her... shop, Harry?" he asked, hating the fearful tone he could hear in his voice.
"Only two weeks."
"And you heard it from...?"
"Hermione, of course! She knows everything!"
Severus decided that the little Know-It-All was going to get to know a dozen dirty cauldrons very soon.
"So - can we go, please?" Harry started wheedling.
"Right. May we go then?"
Severus stared at the wide, hopeful eyes and the small, syrup stained mouth. Had it only been five and a half months since he had adopted James and Lily's only son?
The eyes were beseeching, the sticky lower lip starting to quiver. Severus pinched the bridge of his nose.
"Oh, pretty please with a pumpkin pasty and – and a chocolate frog on top..."
"And a liquorice stick an' a - "
Severus gave a long suffering sigh and caved in. Had it only been a month since he started calling Harry 'son' and realised he would die for the little brat?
"One hour, Harry."
Good thing he had resigned from being a Death Eater. He was going soft at only thirty one years old!
Severus reasoned that he wasn't really giving in to the boy's demands, just that he had already gone through the latest Potions Monthly two nights ago and Harry had already finished the minimal homework he had been given this weekend. Besides, Severus had a feeling Albus would drop by this afternoon, hoping to get Harry on his side to put his adopted father in a more Valentine frame of mood. Might be good to escape Hogwarts for a while.
"Then it's straight back home."
After taking a walk around Hogsmeade town for a couple of hours. Yes, Albus wouldn't be able to corner him this year. Severus nodded to himself.
"Of course, Dad! It'll be great, you'll see..."
Famous last words. In retrospect, Severus realised that disaster never required a whole hour to accomplish dastardly deeds. He would have to reserve that advice for next year's Valentine's Day.
- o -
Madam Furritoe's teashop did not have a fussy, ruffled Welcome mat. That earned her a point in Severus' favour. Her teashop decor was also easy on the eye and restrained – cream coloured walls, pale gold curtains, white tiled floors and white tablecloths over small round tables, giving the place a clean, airy and most importantly, fuss-free look. A couple of prints on the walls depicted peaceful scenery.
Severus cautiously exhaled in relief as he looked around, standing just inside the door with Harry's small hand in his. Even better, only two out of the twelve of so tables were occupied with young couples that he thankfully didn't recognise - Hogsmeade locals, presumably. It was Valentine's Day, after all.
"Welcome to my teashop!" A plump, middle aged witch came bustling out from the back with a motherly smile on her face. Severus thought she looked quite sensible, with her hair in a bun and her plain robes in deep maroon. Good. He might be able to get a hearty meal here. He had had enough of pink coloured pancakes and had no wish to see what heart shaped offerings would be served for dinner up at the school. In fact, he might even come back here if the food proved to be good.
"I'll take your coats, dearies, and you can just sit yourselves down."
Ignoring the endearment, Severus shrugged off his outer robe and handed it to the witch with a brief nod of thanks. Harry followed suit, handing over his coat with a shy 'Thank you'. Then he started tugging at Severus' hand, pointing to an empty table next to the fireplace.
"Let's go sit over there, Dad!"
"Oh, aren't you sweet - having a Valentine tea with your dear old dad, are you? Mum getting herself all dolled up for dinner then?"
Severus began to have second thoughts about this nosy proprietress.
"Madam, we -" he began in his famous quelling tones, before Harry interrupted him.
"My parents are dead, ma'am," he said softly. "This is my adopted father."
"Oh!" Mouth falling open, the woman began blinking rapidly. Severus' nerves started jangling in alarm as they sensed an outpouring of sympathy welling up in that substantial bosom in front of them. He glared down at Harry.
"You poor thing! And you - generous, kind man! Never you mind, I have just the thing to cheer you two boys up, yes I have. I'd thought of not making too big a deal over Valentine's Day, you know, since I'm new and well, I don't want to steal my sister's thunder – you know, Madam Puddifoot's? - my word, such grand names we've chosen for ourselves! - but why not, eh? Why not! This day isn't only for lovers, you know. You two are in for a treat!"
Midway through that speech, Severus' heart had already dropped to the soles of his boots when he saw a short, thick wand appear from somewhere beneath the folds of the voluminous, maroon robes. Before he could do anything, 'Madam Furritoe' as he called her in his mind, had spun in a surprisingly agile circle, twirling her wand around her in tight spiral movements, lips moving soundlessly.
Severus knew he was in for a nightmare.
In less than five seconds, the entire interior of the teashop was transformed. The tasteful gold curtains now had frilly edges, sparkling stars and were caught up at the sides with huge glittering gold ribbons, framing windows with cut out Cupids on the glass panes. The walls were pink, as was the ceiling. The white tablecloths had given way to gold coloured ones, matching the curtains and weighed down with heavy ruffles. Even the paintings on the walls were transformed, now showing plump couples in various states of dishabille as they enjoyed passionate kisses and embraces. Complete with sound.
Severus blinked at the amorous paintings, hand now itching to cover Harry's eyes.
"Happy Valentine's Day to everyone!" Madam Furritoe cried. "All decorations come with my compliments!"
Severus watched numbly as the two female customers beamed and clapped from their seats, their male partners cringing. One young man looked like he was about to dive under his ruffled tablecloth. The other looked as though he would follow suit. Severus didn't think there would be room for him as well.
The enthusiastic clapping at his side made him look down. Harry was turning around in a slow circle, beaming at the changes around him.
"Wicked!" he exclaimed, enthusiasm winning over shyness for the moment. "This is amazing, ma'am! Our school decorations are nothing like yours. Well, we do have flying cherubs..."
Severus closed his eyes briefly in resignation. When he opened them again, ten six inch tall cherubs were darting out from the back of the shop, dressed in little tunics and armed with a tiny basket in one hand and a little lyre in the other. They flew around the room, leaving trails of pink confetti and snatches of music in their wake.
Harry cheered loudly and clapped again when he saw them, green eyes sparkling with excitement.
"Hush!" Severus hissed sharply, but it was too late. The cherubs were drawn to applause faster than Peeves to the scene of mayhem. In less than two seconds, all ten of them were flying in an orderly circle around Harry's head, beaming and cooing down at him, and blessing him with a small cloud of confetti.
"This is great!" Harry cried, looking up and shaking his head to dispel the confetti landing on his glasses. These cherubs weren't plain white like those at the Great Hall. No, the five pairs of male and female angels had different hair and eye colours and were dressed in matching coloured tunics. There were tiny redheads with flashing green eyes, small curly haired blondes with bright blue eyes and miniscule brunettes with warm chocolate eyes.
"There you go, dearie!" beamed the proprietress down at Harry as if he were her favourite grandson. "Now, you two just sit down and enjoy the decor. I'll bring out some cakes and tea."
Feeling like he had jumped out of the cauldron and into the fire, Severus allowed Harry to lead him to a vacant table. Great. He had escaped the small cherubs of the Great Hall only to meet up with their tinier, more colourful cousins.
"Aren't they cute, Dad?"
Severus glared at the two red haired cherubs who were hovering a few feet above their heads, apparently in charge of his and Harry's entertainment for the duration of their meal. He wondered if it was truly a coincidence that they had the same hair and eye colour as Lily Potter. it A quick glance showed that one brunette pair and one blonde pair were similarly engaged at the other two tables, the remaining cherubs flitting around the room and sprinkling shredded paper wherever they went.
After a moment, the opening strains of 'Edelweiss' was accompanied by gently falling pink confetti. Severus looked up with a frown. The male cherub was playing his lyre and his companion was darting about, sprinkling tiny handfuls of confetti from the basket on her arm.
"Great," Severus muttered to himself. He would be eating food garnished with paper. Suddenly, heart shaped artichokes and carrots weren't so off putting. He glared at Madam Furritoe as she bustled out again with a tray in her plump hands.
"Madam, must you – "
"Bless you, such a kind soul you are! My girl normally helps out but she's with her own bloke tonight so it's just me, dearie. Well, I daresay I can manage, seeing as how most people would be over at my sister's teashop..."
Still nattering on, she placed two cups of tea and a plate of pink iced cakes on the table. Severus noted the cakes were heart shaped. The witch patted Harry on the head when he thanked her, told him he was such a dear little boy and bustled away.
Severus glared pointedly at Harry who beamed back at him.
"Isn't it awesome, Dad? I'm so glad we came here!"
"'Awesome'? What, pray, is so awesome about such clichéd Valentine commercialism?" Severus snapped. The genteel music stopped abruptly. He looked up to see two tiny rosebud mouths open in shock.
"You've hurt their feelings!" Harry was now looking reproachfully at him.
"Nonsense. These creatures don't have feelings," Severus returned, ignoring the uncomfortable twinge in his heart. Twin squeaks of indignation sounded above Harry's head.
"Now, be off, you two. We have no need of your entertainment," Severus continued inexorably, waving his hand dismissively at the cherubs.
The male pouted and started to drift off, but the female was made of sterner stuff. Swooping down between Severus and Harry, wings buzzing madly, she snarled at Severus, her small angelic face briefly transformed into one that was quite menacing.
Severus blinked at her.
The feisty little cherub whipped her tiny hand into the little basket at her side and swooped up and out of Severus' vision. A moment later, pink confetti drifted all around him. Glancing surreptitiously sideways where there was a small mirror affixed to the wall, Severus realised the little monster had sprinkled confetti around the top of his head, giving him the appearance of wearing a fluffy pink tiara.
"Merlin...!" he burst out, aghast.
Harry burst into unhelpful giggles. There was an echoing high pitched giggle from above him. Severus looked up, the movement causing more confetti to drift past his nose. The two cherubs were high fiving each other, green eyes flashing in triumph.
Severus snarled and shook his head violently, enveloping his entire head and half the table in a pink cloud. It was too much for his nose.
Having released the tickle in his nose, Severus opened his mouth to take in a breath and promptly sucked in a few pieces of the drifting confetti. He started choking.
"Dad! Are you all right?"
Coughing and blinking tears from his eyes, Severus groped blindly for his cup and gulped a mouthful of hot tea, not realising there were several pieces of paper already floating on the surface. He choked again.
All in all, it was a full minute and a half before Severus stopped coughing through sheer force of will, chest heaving with the effort. Rather alarmed, Harry had abandoned his chair to stand beside him, patting his back and holding out a glass of plain water Madam Furritoe had provided, the witch's lips pressed tightly together and her eyes moist with suppressed mirth. She had also placed a plate of four fresh blueberry scones on their table – 'On me, I insist! So sorry, you poor dears' - and scolded the winged menaces for offending her customers before going to the back of the shop. Presumably to laugh herself sick, Severus thought sourly. He noted that the other two thirds of her clientele were now eyeing their own cherubs with renewed respect.
At length, he was able to take a breath without coughing. He wiped his streaming eyes, blew his runny nose and nodded at Harry who pressed a contrite kiss to his cheek before going back to his chair.
"I'm sorry, Dad. I never should have insisted that we come here." Harry's eyes were filled with guilt, his lower lip about to quiver.
Severus took another deep breath, determined not to let the two devils get the better of him. Obviously, they had no idea who he was.
"This is nothing, Harry," he croaked as loftily as he could. "After years of teaching classes of dunderheaded students, a couple of - " he paused to swat at the male as it swooped in close to him, all the better to stare at his reddened eyes, "winged Cupids is nothing."
"Merlin's beard!" he spluttered a second later as said Cupid flung a fistful of confetti right in his face, twanged his lyre derisively and soared upwards where more high fiving occurred.
"Go away!" Severus growled, blinking and brushing confetti off of his nose. He wondered if Madam Furritoe would notice if he drowned the pair of them in his teacup.
A moment of silence ensues in which Severus eyed the pair now blithely playing tag in front of his nose, baring their teeth when turned towards him and cooing at Harry when they faced the boy. Severus bit back a curse as the male cherub almost kicked him in the nose and the female's wings passed a bare half inch before his eye.
Harry had held up the plate of scones just as Severus flapped his hand. They both watched in silent horror, hands frozen in mid air as the plate went sailing through the air like a mothership. Four flaky spaceships oozing blueberry fuel went airborne in four different directions at once. Impossible, if one considered the rules of inertia and propulsion, but then this was the Wizarding World.
One scone landed on top of the nearest curtain rail. Another went straight into the fireplace and disappeared in a puff of fruity smelling smoke. The third ran out of fuel midway and plopped straight down into Severus' half filled teacup. The fourth had sailed straight up and upon reaching the apex of its climb, gave in to gravity and fell right on top of the female red haired cherub's head.
She gave a shrill cry of shock and Severus knew he was in for it. He looked up to see her glaring furiously down at him, blueberry in her glossy red curls and dripping onto her red tunic. On top of Harry's messy head lay the now guilty looking scone.
"How dare you!" the cherub squealed at Severus. "Grr!"
- o -
The next ten minutes was nothing short of a nightmare for the Potions Master. Each time he opened his mouth to say something, the blueberry stained imp hovering next to his ear blew a loud, rude raspberry, followed by a nasty high pitched cackle that made his hair stand on end. The male was determinedly twanging his lyre in Severus' other ear. 'Edelweiss' was apparently off the programme.
Harry looked torn between horrified delight and terrified awe, his wide eyed gaze switching from one cherub to the other, his own tea growing cold.
At one point, Severus thought of owling the Dark Lord to enquire if he would care to change his methods of torture. Watching someone like Lucius writhe under the Cruciatus was bound to be boring by now. Watching him flee from a determined raspberry-blowing, lyre-twanging, teeth-gnashing cherub would definitely prove more entertaining for Voldemort and the other Death Eaters.
"Aren't they cute?" Harry said bravely at one point, again causing both cherubs to smile and coo at him before turning back to make evil faces at Severus.
"Abominably so," he gritted out.
Unable to put up with one more second of this torture, Severus got up and dug in his pocket for his purse. Normally a prudent man, he flung a handful of sickles on the table, jerked his head to Harry and strode towards the coat rack next to the door. Madam Furritoe had disappeared to the back of her shop for the moment and Severus didn't see the need to be courteous to anyone who had the cheek to unleash demonic cherubs on him. It hadn't escaped his notice that while the other two male customers had similarly numb looks on their faces, he was the only one being tortured here.
Yanking open the door with coat in hand, Severus stepped outside and waited for Harry to join him. He distantly noted that the Welcome mat he was standing on now was adorned by gold ruffles. Peering through the glass panels of the door, he saw his delighted son being helped into his coat by the very winged menaces that had terrori – tried to make his life difficult. The re-appearance of Madam Furritoe next to Harry had Severus quickly turning around.
- o -
"Guess what, Dad?"
Harry finally deemed it safe to speak after ten minutes of trotting quietly at Severus' side, trying to match his father's angry long strides.
"I have no idea."
"Madam Furritoe's given us two complimentary vouchers! For next year's Valentine's Day!"
Severus stopped abruptly and turned to face Harry. Going down on one knee, he placed his hands on the boy's shoulders and looked into those green eyes.
"And do you plan on going there next year, son?" he asked in a low and dangerous voice.
Harry Potter may have been sorted into Gryffindor, but he knew this was a good time to exercise that self-preservation thing his father was always talking about. He gave Severus a sunny smile and shook his head.
"Of course not! I'll only be twelve next year."
Severus smirked at him, ruffled his hair and stood up.
"The vouchers are for you, Dad."
Severus paused mid stride. He turned his head and looked down at Harry again.
Harry's eyes were now gleaming with suppressed laughter.
"Madam Furritoe would like you to get to know her cherubs better. Particularly feisty little redheads."
Harry giggled as his father performed an immediate Accio, summoning the vouchers from his coat pocket and then Incendio'ing them.
"My apologies to her, but I believe we already have a date for next year's Valentine's Day," Severus said with a straight face.
"Oh? You're going to find someone between the cauliflowers and the carrots?"
Severus glared down at Harry.
"No. We will be in our quarters at Hogwarts, eating our way through pink coloured pancakes and heart shaped vegetables."
Harry laughed and tucked his hand inside his father's warm one.
"I'm sorry the cherubs were so mean to you, but I had a really good time, Dad," he said shyly.
And that was, in the end, what mattered most of all.
Severus didn't say a word. He gently shook off Harry's hand and wrapped his arm around the thin shoulders instead, feeling an arm creep around his waist in response. Together, they went for a nice and companionable walk around Hogsmeade town before returning to Hogwarts.
- Story End -
A/N: How did you like it? :D My daughter and I both had the same idea of cherubs torturing Severus, but the feisty little redhead was her idea. She'd love to read what you thought so do drop a review before you leave. Thank you!