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Chapter 5

The encounter

Thursday, June sixth 1995

Harry woke up just before midday. Once again he had dreamt about what took place in the graveyard in Little Hangleton, but this time his dream had changed. He was walking down some hall, at the end of which was a closed door. Every time he approached the end, he immediately woke up with a prickling ache in his scar. Additionally, the whole left side of face was strangely stiff. Then he remembered the incident from the night before. He was angry at Tobias, that he hit him, but even more at himself. How could he be so careless? It is no wonder that his father was mad. If he woke up the Dursleys in the middle of the night and breaking dish, he would be locked in his cupboard or room for a week without food. Harry hoped that Tobias would forget what Harry had done. Harry subconsciously knew that the man shouldn't lay a hand on him, and he especially knew that it wasn't his fault that the floor was slippery from oil, but it didn't change the fact that he felt that the events of the previous night were due to his carelessness. He decided he would be more cautious in the future. He didn't want Tobias to be angry with him, until yesterday everything was really good. Harry would rather that they forget about last night or just pretend that they didn't happen at all.

He went to the bathroom to take a shower and with great anxiety, looked in the mirror. His left cheek was purple-green and his upper lip cracked and puffy. He had to figure something out before training because he didn't want the guys to see him like this. He went downstairs, pulled out some ice from the freezer, wrapped it in foil, and put it on his hurt cheek. Then he went back to his room and lay on his bed. Maybe he would be able to brew ointment for bruises, but he didn't want to risk brewing potions in the house. He could picture how furious Tobias would be if he blow up the whole house. He snorted at that thought. Harry exaggerated. Blowing up cauldrons was Neville's specialty, and Harry almost never did that. That didn't mean that it wouldn't happen this time though.

xxx

Harry rubbed his eyes and heard the increasingly familiar creak, which he was starting to associate with the opening of the front door. Harry was feeling tired, when he looked out the window the sun had already traveled to the other side of the house, and the ice Harry had placed on his cheek had long since turned to ice.

A moment later, Tobias knocked the door of his room, which Harry took as a good sign. He rather expected that the man would barge in without knocking.

"Come in," said Harry with a tense voice.

"Hi," the man greeted him unsurely, entering the small and poorly furnished bedroom.

"Hi," Harry returned.

"Harry, listen... Maybe I overreacted a little yesterday," the man muttered apologetically. "Don't hold it against me."

"Oh," replied the young wizard, looking at Tobias, who looked remorseful.

"You know that I work hard and I was tired. You woke me up and you know that I have to get up early in the morning, right?"

"Yeah," muttered Harry.

"How could Harry not forgive him if he was himself partially to blame. Besides, it was the first time an adult apologized him for anything. It had never happened before, neither at the Dursleys nor at school, where the headmaster employed incompetent teachers where Harry repeatedly came close to losing his life or, in case of Lockhart, memory. Snape had not once apologized for humiliating him in class. No adult ever admitted a mistake.

"What do you say at going to the pizzeria? You know a father-son outing?" Asked Tobias.

Harry agreed without a thought. He had never eaten pizza.

xxx

Even though Severus Snape had moved from Hogwarts to Guildford two days ago, he didn't have time to unpack until now. The day before, he was making the house livable after his half year absence. However, that afternoon his presence was required at Grimmauld Place for the Order meeting. The meeting was the same as always - they didn't make any plans for any action. Albus decided, that they should wait and observe. Just as Snape was heading back home, he got call from the Dark Lord, and of course after that, he had to once again go to Hogwarts where he could fill the Headmaster in on Voldemort's latest plans. He hadn't gotten to bed until the wee hours of the morning.

After he put every one of his things on its place he decided to go shopping at Mrs. Maggie's shop. She worked there for almost thirty years. When he was a little boy she had given him the occasional lollipop or candy. After many years, after already living at the old Evans' house for years, when he went to her shop after his long absence from town, she's always filled him in on what was going on in the neighborhood. It wasn't that he liked to gossip, but he felt more secure when he had information about his surroundings.

Leaving the house, he noticed a person who he really had no great desire to look at. Unfortunately, the proximity guaranteed that he had seen his father more often then he would like to. Usually, Tobias was going to or from work, or at the shop with a beer in hand. Right now, some child was walking beside him.

Probably some brat of Tobias by another lover, he thought. He was irritated at the moronic woman that she would leave her child with such a human being as his father. He was too aggressive and when something angered him, when something wasn't going his way, his father stooped to violence.

Despite the fact that the child's clothes looked new they didn't look respectable. The wardrobe speaks a lot of its owner, and how children looked, reflected on their parents. In Severus' book, clothes like the child was wearing gave the impression of disdain for other people. Suddenly, he felt appreciation that his Slytherins respected his wishes regarding their appearance. Without unnecessary complaints he was able to enforce their neat and trim look. It was also probably a consequence of most of them being pure blood, brought up to care about appearance, and the rest tried imitated them.

But when Severus heard the voice of the child from afar, he was struck dumb. It was none other than Harry, the-boy-who-despite-any-odds-still-lived-to-agoniz e-him-even-at-summer-Potter. Why he didn't recognize the boy at once, was probably due to his lack of those hideous glasses, which usually covered his irritating face. On top of that, Potter was hiding his messy hair, and of course the companion who was at this very moment with him. There is no way that these two people who aroused such negative emotions in him could appear together before him. It didn't help that the child really didn't look like a soon-to-be-fifth year. He was well aware that Potter was a little short for his age, but he looked like an eleven year old!

Suddenly, Severus recollected the conversation he had with Dumbledore two days ago.

What a sick joke! What could he want to accomplish by this! he thought, starting to shake with fury at that powerful wizard and his blasted machinations, at Tobias that he agreed to take Potter, and at Potter that he had to find himself, as always, in the center of havoc.

Bloody child!

They were nearing Severus. The annoying voice of Potter was clearer with each passing second, and his father made an impression that he was listening at what the whelp was saying. No, Severus wasn't jealous about attention that Tobias was devoting to the stranger child, attention he had never given to Severus, or at least any positive attention. Now, the Potions Master felt only a grudge and repulsion for the man. The drunk was damaging his own and the lives of everyone around him.

Nevertheless, Severus wondered what the headmaster offered or how much he paid Tobias for babysitting Potter, and first and foremost, why?

When they were in front of him, Tobias diverted his eyes from the child, and their gazes met. Surprised to see him, the older man held his hand out and stopped the small teenager. Tobias said:

"Harry, meet your brother, Severus."

Equally surprised Harry looked up.

When Severus saw the boy's bruised face, he was even more furious. One of his most hated things was the physical abuse of children, even of those he couldn't stand. He himself maybe wasn't excessively nice to them, but he would never hit any of them.

"I know him, he teaches me potions," responded boy trying to sound indifferent, but Severus could hear some tension in his voice. Tobias narrowed his eyes at the young wizard.

"He's not my brother. I don't know why the headmaster told you such a tale, but there is no way that the boy is related to you," snapped Severus. "And you, Potter, will come with me," he added in a voice that brooked no argument.

"You don't have any right to take him anywhere." Tobias said putting his hand on Harry's shoulder. Severus saw that the boy flinched a little from the sudden touch. Tobias again turned to his older son.

"And what right do you have?! Potter come here and don't argue!" snarled Snape even more irritated.

"But I didn't say anything yet," muttered Harry under his breath, but didn't move.

He wasn't going to anywhere with his teacher.

"He's my son, and you can't take him away from me! I did get guardianship over him. Go away or I else I promise you that he won't be back at your school!" Snarled Tobias.

Harry stirred nervously at hearing that.

"Potter, do you want to find out what he is really like? But I see that he gave you a foretaste of what is to come." Severus said in mocking smile, though he was inwardly steamed with anger at his father who dared hit the boy.

"You don't have any right to talk like that," the older man hissed through clenched teeth.

"I don't have a right? Me!?" yelled Severus.

"Severus, I've changed. I won't hurt him."

"You've said that before and it's still lies judging by the bruises on his face. How- "

"It wasn't him," lied Harry, stopping the Potions Master midsentence. "I was fighting with some guy. Listen, my father, "he used that word despite it still feeling strange in his mouth, to emphasize their relation, "cares about me and up to now, he's treated me a million times better than you ever have. So why would I go with someone who hates me? The feeling is mutual, anyway "–Harry hissed looking at his professor, furious that he wanted to take away from him the one thing that he had dreamed of since he was found on the Dursley's doorstep.

Severus involuntarily took step back, surprised by the venom in the child's voice, which reminded him of the Dark Lord's hissing. For just one second he felt a thrill of fear at the sight of fierce and hate filled green eyes, which reminded him of two killing curses. He was well aware that he didn't arouse any positive emotions in the boy. Anger, open dislike - yes of course, but he really didn't expected so much hate, aggression, and hostility.

After a second he came to his senses and snapped furiously at the outright lie and pitiful attempt to defend Tobias

"Don't you dare lie, Potter! I don't believe you."

"And how's that my problem?" Harry shrugged his shoulders, trying to look calm.

"Watch your mouth you little, dumb, arrogant-"

"Severus" Tobias stopped him. "Don't insult him," he hissed angrily. Don't even try to threaten him. Just leave us alone. Don't butt in, it's not your business" Tobias added, and then he turned to Potter: " Let's go Harry. What do you say to some ice cream after pizza? Hmm? " The man asked probably trying to prove that he really is a good father

"Sure dad," Harry's eyes shone with happiness.

Tobias passed his older son not saying anything else and Harry followed him, leaving the furious Potions Master behind.

xxx

Still furious, Severus did not wait for permission and marched into Dumbledore's office.

"Albus, what are you playing at!?" yelled the Potion's Master, hitting the desktop with his palms.

Sitting behind the desk, the Headmaster looked at him from behind his glasses.

"I'm sorry Severus, but I don't know what you are talking about. Tell me what's the matter?" The older man said calmly.

"Like hell you don't know! It's about Potter!" snapped Snape, even more enraged by Dumbledore's composure.

"What about him? Really Severus you should leave him be. It's summer. How could he get under your skin now? You didn't even see him," he smiled, his blue eyes sparkled happily.

"Don't pretend to be innocent! Why did you send him to my father? What did you think?! Do you have any idea how is he?!" With every question Severus' voice became stronger.

"It wasn't my decision. I didn't get any say in this matter." responded Dumbledore.

The calmness in his voice infuriated Snape.

"Oh cut it out! What he is doing at Spinner's End then?" questioned Severus.

"I told you that recently discovered information revealed that Lily and James adopted Harry. Tobias is his biological father." The headmaster explained him as if Severus were a small child.

"You're lying! It's not possible, Dumbledore" contradicted Severus.

"It's true. I preformed the paternity charm myself."

"And would you care to enlighten me of why you didn't inform me about this earlier?" bridled the younger man.

"I don't know why I should. You don't have a good relationship with neither Harry or with your father. And you didn't ask who his father at our last meeting." Dumbledore explained reproving, but Severus was sure that he noticed some glint of amusement in his blue eyes.

"And maybe you were afraid that I will put the lid on my father's guardianship over him?

"As I told you before, neither I nor you would been able to do anything in this matter. Tobias is his father and legal guardian. By signing the muggle papers, the magical ones were automatically signed also under the condition that nobody forced the Dursleys to abdicate their rights over Harry. We can't do anything, and even if we could, we won't.

"Albus, Tobias will kill him," warned Snape, trying to calm himself.

"Don't exaggerate, give him a chance. He changed," responded the older wizard.

"And how could you know that!? That bastard will never change. Do you really want to make the child's life hell? My father doesn't tolerate any mistake!" shouted Severus.

Dumbledore smiled, "I talked to him. Anyway, wasn't it you who said that Harry is a spoiled, arrogant prince? And it would do him some good to have some discipline?"

Again that bloody smile, thought Snape furiously.

"Can't you understand? He will abuse him? You have to do something," Snape pleaded with the Headmaster.

"I'm sorry Severus, but I really have tied hands. Harry has to stay there until he becomes a legal adult. Do you know what would happen if Harry Potter was in the custody and care of the Minister, or worse some Deatheater? Can you imagine what Lucius Malfoy would do with him if Harry entered his house? No, Severus. There isn't any other choice. He must stay there. And it would be best if nobody knew about his whereabouts and his relation to you," the headmaster said with sharp voice." Anyway, I didn't know that you cared so much about him," Dumbledore added, the amusement came back to his eyes.

"The fact that the boy is Potter has nothing to do with it. It is simply that I, in contrast to you, am not going to be calm and do nothing when my students are maltreated in their own homes!" yelled the furious man, not understanding how Dumbledore could sit in his office, eat his lemon drops, and not even try to do anything to help.

The headmaster leaned his hands on the desktop. The air in the room suddenly became chilly.

"I thought that you of all people wouldn't resent the fact that I'm willing to give second chances," hissed headmaster.

Severus only looked at him with a furious expression, turned around and left the office, slamming the door on his way out.

xxx

After his return home from his outing with Tobias, Harry went into his bedroom and threw himself on his bed, his face shining with a rare wide smile. He'd never been so happy before. It came close to the time when Sirius offered to live with Harry. Harry was so grateful that Aunt Petunia found those papers. There was probably nothing better that could every happen to him. He felt some kind of affiliation and it was the best feeling in the world. First, his father stopped Snape's rant of insults. It was the first time somebody had ever defended him. Just that would be enough to make Harry painfully appreciative. Next, Tobias had taken him to the pizzeria. The restaurant wasn't high quality, but the pizza that they had ordered was tremendous. Now he knew why Dudley had to have it at least twice a week. He was so full that he didn't feel like eating ice-cream, so Tobias took him to the pub nearby where, it turned out, he had gone pretty often. He talked for a couple of minutes with the bartender and ordered beer for himself and a coke for Harry. In the farthest corner of the room there were billiard tables, so the man decided to teach Harry how to play. The young wizard had to admit that his father was really good at it. For the next two hours they played seven games, which Harry win only one, but nevertheless, Tobias told him that he had inherited his talent from him.

It was the best evening of his life. He was so happy that he finally had someone who cared about him and not the Boy- Who- Lived, that he turned a blind eye to Tobias' flaming temper and overuse of alcohol. It wasn't Tobias' fault after all that it was his nature.