Yikes! This is a long one haha :D I hope you enjoy this! It was a lot of fun to write :) Thanks so much for all of the reviews and favorites, and the suggestions for where to take this story :) I really appreciate you guys! Happy Thanksgiving, and God bless!
Sniff. Sniffsniff. Sniiiiiff. He didn't feel good. At all. His nose was stuffy and bright red, and he couldn't decide if he was too hot or too cold, or maybe both. How frustrating. One skinny leg kicked the blankets forcefully from over his thin body, and he curled on his side to bury deeper into his pillow. He hoped they didn't have much to do today. Mr. Sir had asked if he had wanted to help him build a snowman, since it was nearly Christmas, and Harry wasn't really sure what a snowman was, but it kind of sounded scary, so he hoped Mr. Sir had forgotten. He shuddered. Snowmen were probably just as scary as real men. But, he reminded himself, never as scary as Uncle Vernon. Nobody was ever as scary as Uncle Vernon, and even though Mr. Sir could look real mean sometimes when he was upset, he was no match for Uncle Vernon's fuming, plump red face.
Harry sighed and shivered a little, reaching over the bed with a reluctant hand to pull the covers halfway over himself again. Judging by the faint streams of light coming in through the curtains on his window, he supposed he had maybe an hour or so before Mr. Sir was up and walking about. That gave him just enough time to practice. The thought of being discovered worried Harry, but he felt better when he remembered how good he had gotten at being sick in secret. He breathed in slowly and silently through his mouth a few times, and was pleased to find that his nose wasn't even that runny yet. And if he remembered to breathe right and tried not to shake when he got too cold, Mr. Sir would never be the wiser. He smiled a rare, satisfied smile and burrowed deeply into his pillow to rest a while longer.
"Harry? Come now, Harry. Up you get." came the warm baritone of his adopted father all of a sudden. Harry jerked awake and leapt immediately to the floor, where he stood teetering drowsily for a moment before rubbing at his eyes with a sleepy yawn. He peeked up at Mr. Sir through his thick lashes. The man looked a little sad, and unsure, but half a second later, a tiny smile lifted the corners of his mouth and Harry felt a little less afraid. "Well, I appreciate your enthusiasm, my boy," he said around a soft chuckle, "but there's no need to rush. There will still be plenty of snow for snowmen after breakfast." The uncertainty returned to his face and he gazed carefully down his beak-like nose at the boy. "That is, of course, if you still feel up to it."
"Yessir," Harry nodded with a shy smile. He still wasn't too keen on the idea, but Mr. Sir seemed real hopeful he would say yes, and he didn't want to make him sad, 'specially when he let him live in his house for free and gave him hugs and good food. It wouldn't be fair to say no. He felt real proud of himself for being brave enough to say yes when Mr. Sir beamed happily down at him, and took his hand to lead him to the kitchen. He was lifted gently into a chair and placed in front of a plate of eggs and toast and a glass of milk. Harry wasted no time tucking in as if the food might vanish-in the past, it always did, he reminded himself-but nearly dropped his fork when he caught Mr. Sir staring at him with a funny look on his face.
"Child, are you well?" The words birthed panic in the boy's heart and he was quick to nod in the affirmative, but he supposed he'd have to lie harder because Mr. Sir didn't seem very convinced. "Are you quite sure? Your cheeks are a little flushed, Harry."
"Yessir," Harry chirped in a voice that effectively disguised the ickiness he felt, "I'm just real excited for snowmen, sir." One of the man's eyebrows shot right up on his forehead, but he nodded slowly after a moment's consideration and then turned to his own breakfast. They ate in silence, though Harry found he didn't have much of an appetite. Mr. Sir looked real upset when he thought Harry was sick, so he'd have to be really super careful today. He carefully controlled his breathing, inhaling through his mouth only when he was sure Mr. Sir wouldn't see. He'd be in so much trouble if he was found out, not just for being all sick and babyish, but for lying a lot too. Uncle Vernon didn't like either of those things, and even though Mr. Sir had been pretty nice so far, he suspected the man felt the same.
Mr. Sir watched him carefully as he cleared the table, and then suggested in a warm voice that Harry go and dress in his snow clothes. Harry, all too eager to be out from under the scrutinizing gaze, nodded obediently and sprinted for his room. He shut the door softly, and leaned heavily against it, panting a little and snuffling after wiping a sleeve under his now runny nose. When one swipe did little to stop the flow, Harry thought he might burst into tears. If Mr. Sir saw his drippy nose, he'd be so angry, and then Harry would really be in big trouble. He sniffled a little in misery, but then dashed for his closet when an idea took hold.
There on the knob was his brand new green and silver scarf that Mr. Sir had bought him with his snow clothes! Harry tugged the scarf sharply from its resting place and wound it around and around and around his neck and face until it safely covered his nose. He snuffled quietly under the soft folds of the scarf and smiled proudly to himself when the sound was effectively muffled by the cloth. Next came the heavy jacket and thick snowpants, closely followed by a hat to match his scarf, black boots, and a pair of small gloves. Harry snickered a little upon discovering his reflection in the mirror; he looked quite silly, so bundled up and hidden beneath all that clothing. He checked once more that the scarf was held firmly in place, and taking a deep breath to soothe his frayed nerves, made his way back to the sitting room with heavy, thudding steps thanks to his new boots.
Mr. Sir was fastening the last two buttons on his black woolen coat with black-gloved hands, and for a moment, Harry was kind of excited. Mr. Sir never dressed in anything other than his pajamas when he was sleeping or his stiff black teaching clothes when he wasn't, and even though he was still clad head to toe in black, he looked sort of normal. Sort of like a dad who wanted to take his son out for a fun day in the snow. But he wouldn't want Harry, not like that. And Harry already wasn't a very good son anyways. He'd gotten himself sick and he'd told a lot of lies today already, and it wasn't even lunchtime.
"Well hello, Harry," the tall man suddenly drawled over a soft chuckle, pulling the boy back from his cruel inner monologue. "Ready to go, are we?" Harry nodded in what he hoped was an eager fashion, although the bobbing made his head whirl a bit, and started for the door, but Mr. Sir placed a hand on his shoulder and pulled him back a little. He bent a little and reached for the folds of the green and silver scarf over Harry's face, muttering something about "suffocating to death, Harry" all the while.
Harry leapt back from his adopted father's outstretched hand and quickly gripped the scarf with both tiny hands. His head shook wildly in the negative, and he watched with mounting horror as Mr. Sir eyed him curiously, eyebrows arched high on his brow.
"There's no need to be frightened, Harry," he said slowly, "I just think you might get a little too warm with that scarf wra-"
"I'll be okay, sir!" Harry chirped suddenly, anxious to avoid the awkward silence that surely would have followed. Mr. Sir raised a skeptical eyebrow at him, but thankfully, after a moment's consideration, nodded with a soft sigh and opened the front door to reveal a glittering expanse of perfect, untouched snow. Harry stood in the doorway in silence and drank it all in with wide eyes. Dudley had always told him how fun the snow was, but he had never been allowed out of doors in the winter. Not to play, anyway. He shivered a little underneath the layers upon layers of clothing, and was suddenly swept back to a time when snow wasn't so fun, or so inviting...
He was four. In trouble again, as always it seemed. Loud. It was so loud. Uncle Vernon was shouting again. Footsteps coming closer. Black shadow blocking the light in the hall. More shouts, and suddenly, he was being pulled from his safe haven. He struggled, but as always, it did no good. Uncle Vernon growled low in his throat. Being carried through the house, which had gone eerily silent. Back door flung open. White. Everything outside was white. Shivering in t-shirt and pajama bottoms. Tossed, tossed into a snow bank, and left to tremble. Cold. Cold. Cold. So cold. Wind. Snow. Night fell. Banging on the windows, tears leaving little icy cold trails on his cheeks. He cried loudly. Pleading. Please, please, please. So cold. Uncle's voice saying "Harry! Harry!"
Wait. That didn't seem to fit. Uncle never called him Harry. And now he sounded worried, which was weird. Real weird. Uncle didn't worry over him. And he didn't have black hair or a hooked nose or-oh.
Mr. Sir. was crouched on the floor in front of him, black eyes wide and wild with concern. He ducked his head a little to peer into Harry's eyes, which were covered slightly by the folds of his snowhat, which had drooped slightly down over his eyes during the episode.
"Harry," he barely whispered as he reached a hand out slowly to readjust the hat. In his dazed state, Harry forgot his job, and to his absolute terror, felt the man's large hand brush against his warm forehead. Immediately, the man's eyes narrowed, and before Harry had the chance to protest or wriggle away in fear, had pressed the back of his hand to the boy's forehead. He said nothing for a few seconds, but Harry could tell he was real upset, and unable to contain himself, he burst into a flood of noisy tears. Mr. Sir jerked his hand away instantly and simply stared for a long moment as Harry continued to cry with loud wails.
With a sudden burst of desperation, Harry turned on his heel and sprinted down the hall and to his room, heavy boots clomping in loud thuds on the floor. Having no time to lose before Mr. Sir came looking for him, the boy disregarded the restricting weight of his snowclothes and launched himself into the safety of his closet, where he tucked himself away behind a long row of hanging shirts. Mr. Sir rushed into the room a moment later, and whispered a soft "Point me Harry" as he withdrew that freaky stick thing of his. Harry shuddered and bit his lower lip, praying silently that Mr. Sir would at least let him serve his punishment inside, but he leapt back to press against the wall when Mr. Sir's face was suddenly staring into his. Harry's tears continued in hoarse sobs, and he turned his face away from the man, trembling as he reached two tiny gloved hands around to protect his head from what was sure to come next.
"Come here, Harry," Mr. Sir said gently, "Let's get you out of those clothes now, hmm?" He clasped Harry firmly beneath the arms and lifted him into the daylight, where he placed the boy before him and set to work removing the excess clothing. The child wailed throughout the process, alternating between incoherent sobs and soft, shaky pleas for mercy and understanding, but Mr. Sir said nothing. Oh, he was real mad. Real mad, all right. When the oversized coat was tossed unceremoniously to the floor, and Harry was left standing in his normal t-shirt and sweatpants, Mr. Sir reached for him again, and Harry ducked away timidly from his hands.
"Shhhh now, boy," Mr. Sir said real soft as he lifted Harry into his arms and held him tightly against his broad chest. One large hand secured itself over the child's messy hair and the man swayed gently to either side. "What's all this fuss about? You're not feeling well today?" Harry nodded miserably, thinking it best to start telling the truth, and tears poured anew down his flushed face. "Hush now, Harry. Let's get you a potion and draw you a bath, all right?" Harry's fists gripped the fabric of his adopted father's jacket as terror tickled his spine. He'd never had a bath as a punishment, and no one had ever made him eat something as a punishment either. He quickly decided that despite the soothing tone and gentle hands, Mr. Sir was way scarier than Uncle Vernon. Uncle Vernon was never this unpredictable or creative.
He shuddered heavily against Mr. Sir's shoulder as the man quickly carried him to an old cabinet in his bedroom. The boy listened in terrified silence as Mr. Sir snatched a little vial of yellowish liquid from the back of the cabinet, and then carried him swiftly to the living room, where he was carefully deposited on the couch. Mr. Sir uncorked the vial in one fluid motion and then reached out with one hand to hold Harry's head real still.
"Please, sir! Please don't!" Harry sobbed, his head shaking wildly back and forth against Mr. Sir's warm hand. The man paused for a moment, confusion etched into every line in his sallow face, and knelt before Harry on the floor.
"Child, I'm trying to help you," he reasoned gently, frowning when Harry pressed himself firmly against the back of the couch and trembled. "Harry…" Mr. Sir slowly sat beside him on the couch and pulled him close to his side with one long arm. The boy still cried loudly, utterly hysterical as he stared at the vial of yellowish liquid with wide, wary eyes. When Mr. Sir reached for it again, Harry launched immediately back into a panic and shook his head wildly back and forth.
"No, please! No, no, no!" he sobbed brokenly, unaware of the pair of shocked black eyes that were now trained upon him, and him only. He was suddenly swept up into a pair of strong arms which embraced him tightly and pulled him close to a broad chest. The wool of his adopted father's black coat paired with the wetness on his cheeks rubbed somewhat painfully at his skin, but he was too miserable and frightened to care. A slow rocking motion distracted him momentarily, and then Mr. Sir's low baritone was in his ear.
"Do you think I'm about to hurt you, my boy?" the man asked breathlessly, as if the air had been knocked suddenly from his lungs. Harry couldn't bring himself to answer; it sounded so awful when Mr. Sir put it like that. He sounded so sad, and Harry sniffled a little through his tears and reached a tentative little hand up to pat his adopted father reassuringly on the chest.
"I'm real s-s-sorry, sir," he hiccuped timidly, "I d-didn't mean to make you s-sad…" The arms constricted abruptly around his small frame and a warm hand came up to smooth his hair in long, slow strokes. A pair of lips pressed firmly into his head and then lingered for a long moment or two as they sat together in pained silence.
"I'm sad for you, Harry," Mr. Sir explained gently after a while. The stroking continued, and the other hand began rubbing loose circles over Harry's trembling shoulders. "I don't know what's been done to you, child, but I'd like to help if you'll let me." Harry nodded, more than a bit confused, but curious as to what Mr. Sir might say. Despite his terror minutes before, the boy found it difficult to be frightened when the man held him like this.
"I want you to know that you have no reason to fear me, Harry," the tall man went on. "Fathers do not harm their children."
"B-But Uncle Vernon s-said-" Harry protested weakly, surprised when his typically well-mannered father interrupted him abruptly.
"I know what those monsters must have taught you, Harry," he said in a snarl that Harry was relieved was not directed at him. "None of it is true. Children should never be hurt." Harry snuggled against Mr. Sir's shoulder and sighed when the warm hand continued to card through his messy hair. Mr. Sir rocked him a while longer and then slowly reached for the little crystal vial once more. Harry shrank away just a little, but the tall man shushed him gently and he felt a little better. A little.
"This is something that will help with your cold, Harry," Mr. Sir explained quietly, "It might not taste very friendly, but it will alleviate most of your symptoms until you are feeling better again. Do you understand?" Harry nodded, though a little tendril of fear still curled in his belly, and allowed his adopted father to press the cold vial to his lips. "It's all right, Harry…"
The yellow stuff tasted icky, like mud and dishwater, but Harry didn't make a sound. He'd been bad enough for one day. However, he was admittedly quite surprised when Mr. Sir smoothed his hair back and offered genuine, "That's a good boy" around a proud smile. Harry blushed a little and buried his face into Mr. Sir's warm coat once more. If he could just stay here all day, he would sleep forever and never wake up ever again. He smiled contentedly. No more bad dreams, no more disappointing Mr. Sir, no more worrying about being such a bad boy all the time. Just sleep, sleep, sleep forever. Yes, that sounded like a fantastic-wait, why were they moving?
Harry jerked a little in the man's arms as he raised his head to cautiously peer around. Mr. Sir was carrying him down the hall, and for a moment, the boy was rather puzzled, but then he remembered. A bath. Sure, he'd taken them here before, plenty of them, in fact, but he'd never taken one after he'd been naughty and told lies, so there was no telling what could happen this time. He shrank away from the ominous bathroom door and hid his face in Mr. Sir's shoulder. A large hand suddenly came up to cradle his head once more, as Mr. Sir seemed to have sensed the boy's apprehension, and Harry shuddered a little.
He was placed on two shaky legs on the floor and left to watch as Mr. Sir removed his thick jacket, rolled up his dark sleeves and filled the bathtub halfway with water. Harry stood on his tiptoes to peer over the side, wondering nervously if the water would be unbearably hot, like Aunt Tuney always made it. No thin wisps of steam whirled up from the surface from what he could tell, and though still worried, it reassured him just a little. Mr. Sir faced him then, a kind smile perched upon his lips, and pulled Harry's shirt over his head, followed by his socks and trousers, but he left Harry to his undergarments and for that, the boy was thankful.
"I can leave you if you'd like, my boy," Mr. Sir said as he placed a neatly folded towel on the bathmat beside the tub. Harry considered this, and nodded, albeit hesitantly. He peered over the side once more with a wary gaze.
"Will it hurt?" he asked, though a small place in his heart already knew the answer. He watched as the tall man's face crumpled a little, and he instantly regretted not minding his wandering tongue. Mr. Sir looked so sad again, and it was all his fault for opening his big mouth.
"Of course not, Harry," he said reassuringly, stooping a little to look deeply into the boy's green eyes. "Whatever gave you such a silly idea?" Harry started to shrug, but then he remembered Mr. Sir hated shrugging, and he figured he'd better start making up for all the bad stuff he'd done today. Adding to it would only make Mr. Sir more angry and disappointed.
"Was bad…" came the soft reply, and he shuffled his bare feet on the black bathmat. One of Mr. Sir's dark eyebrows shot straight up into his forehead and Harry winced. Oh, he was in for it. Two large hands came to rest on his shoulders, and he jumped a little, risking a quick peek at Mr. Sir through his thick eyelashes. The man was crouching in front of him, looking very stern and sad all at once.
"I have to admit, my boy, that I'm not exactly a fan of you keeping your illness from me," he began softly, "But that does not mean that you will be punished or hurt in any way." He carefully folded his large hands over Harry's small, trembling ones and squeezed them. "From now on, I'd like you to come to me when you need something, all right? Anything at all. I won't be angry or disappointed in you, my boy." Harry nodded, though he still didn't quite understand, and silently vowed to try for Mr. Sir's sake. The man just looked so tired.
He was then left to bathe and once his messy hair had been washed and his body had soaked long enough in the copious amounts of bubbles (he'd used a little too much by mistake this time), he dried and dressed himself in a pair of warm flannel pajamas and after slapping about the countertop a moment, located his toothbrush and brushed his teeth.
When he reached the doorway of his room, he was surprised to find Mr. Sir lounging about on his bed, his long legs draped lazily atop the covers. Harry giggled a little to himself. Lazy was never a word he thought he'd use to describe his adopted father, who was usually so stiff and proper, but seeing him strewn about was quite a funny sight. His cheeks reddened considerably when it seemed the man had heard him snickering and turned his face to him abruptly.
"And just what is so funny, Master Harry?" he said in a low voice, and Harry would have been scared, but the crinkling around Mr. Sir's dark eyes and the twitch of his lips told him he was teasing, and he relaxed a little. Mr. Sir then extended his arm to the boy, who stepped forward cautiously and approached the bed. Harry was about to ask what Mr. Sir needed when he was lifted up and laid upon a solid chest. He wriggled a little as he was rather startled, but those hands returned to pet his hair and rub his shoulders, and Harry heaved a sigh.
"Are you feeling better, son?" the low baritone rumbled against his ear. He nodded sleepily and clutched a small fist around the fabric of Mr. Sir's nightshirt. Lips pressed firmly against the crown of his head and one hand moved in slow circles across his thin back.
"Thank you, sir," Harry mumbled into the man's chest, surprised and a little worried when the man suddenly sat up and repositioned him on his lap. He was staring at him sadly again, and Harry wished he would stop doing that. It made him sad too, though he was sure Mr. Sir couldn't really help it.
"You know, Harry," he began tentatively, reaching a hand under the boy's chin to lift his gaze a little. "You may call me 'Father' or even," he cringed a little, "'Dad' if you feel so inclined. I really wouldn't mind it if you did. In fact, if you're comfortable, I'd very much like you to call me your father." Harry took this in in silence. Hadn't he always wanted a dad? Though, if he were honest with himself, he didn't know what a dad was 'upposed to do. Uncle Vernon sure wasn't like a dad, and Aunt Tuney was a girl, so she certainly wasn't a dad. And besides that, weren't dads supposed to be nice and love on their kids? He then risked a shy glance up at Mr. Sir who was watching him hopefully, though he did not rush the boy. Harry smiled a little. Well, he was pretty sure that if dads weren't 'upposed to be mean to their kids, and they were 'upposed to be nice and love on them instead, then maybe Mr. Sir was a great dad. He wasn't mean, and he didn't hit, and when he did get loud, it usually wasn't at him. He made sure he was fed and tucked in and when he got scared, he didn't make him feel dumb or babyish. And he gave warm hugs and smiles.
Harry smiled wider and though he wasn't sure if he was doing it right, reached out with both arms and cautiously wrapped them around Mr. Sir's-Daddy's-waist and squeezed a little. He was then suddenly enveloped in a crushing embrace and he felt a few more kisses rain over his messy-haired head. They rocked a while together, taking warmth and strength from each others' arms until Harry was just barely on the edge of sleep, ready to drop off, and Daddy slowly moved to his feet and tucked him under the covers with gentle hands. One final kiss was planted on Harry's forehead, and his glasses removed, and then he heard his father start to turn and head for the door.
"'Night, Daddy," Harry mumbled around a wide yawn before snuggling back into the folds of his pillow. The footsteps heading for the door stopped abruptly, and turned a little on the floorboards, and then a smiling, thick voice said in reply, "Goodnight, son."