Oh heyyy another chapter! :) I just wrote this really quickly. Anyway, I should probably go and do homework now... Enjoy!
Oh, just one more thing... Over 50,000 of you have read this! Whatttttttt? That's crazy! Thanks for all the support!
Glimpses – Chapter 15
The sun shone through the open windows at breakfast the next morning, its glare hitting Harry square in the face. He squinted down at his waffles, the light reflecting off the china and blinding him. Snape noticed and moved toward the window, where he looked out on the grounds of Hogwarts for a moment before turning back toward the table.
"Harry, come here," he remarked quietly, blinking in the unusually bright light. Harry rose in curiosity and walked to the window, looking outside. His breath began fogging up the window, and he drew a small face in the condensation delightedly.
"It's snowing." Harry pressed one thin hand to the pane, peering outside in interest. Although it was fun to watch, he had never enjoyed the snow. Being thrown outside in the freezing weather had instilled itself in his brain, and he shuddered delicately. He turned back to the man beside him, who was now watching him strangely.
"Yes," Snape agreed thoughtfully. "Do you know what day it is?"
Harry thought about that question for a moment. He hadn't been paying attention to the days. Was he supposed to? Would he be in trouble with his new father? "No-o… What day is it?" He shied away from the man as subtly as possible. Snape noticed.
"Stop that," the Potions Master commanded. Harry felt a strong arm wrap around his shoulders and pull him closer to Snape's side. He relaxed slightly, turning his head back to look out at the white-capped trees of the Forbidden Forest. He had been instructed to never, under any circumstances, enter the forest, and he had no intention to. "It's December 23. Surely you know what is in two days?"
"Christmas, sir. I notice the tree isn't up yet. I should be able to get one up in the next few hours. Where would you like it?"
"Foolish child," he chided. "I don't do 'Christmas trees'" – he grimaced at the word – "and even if I did, you would not be required to deal with it. I was going to ask if you have decided what you want for Christmas."
The boy looked up in shock. What? Was this like one of Uncle Vernon's cruel jokes? "I – um – Christmas? What, sir?"
"I asked what you wanted for Christmas," the man snapped, an impatient edge creeping into his voice. Harry diverted his eyes to the grounds again, his gaze resting on the icy-looking lake. It hadn't quite frozen over in the bitter cold, he observed silently.
"I am fine, sir. I don't need anything." He kept his voice low and his green eyes fixed on the lake.
"I know you don't need anything. I was asking what you want."
Harry looked down at his feet, fidgeting slightly. "I get presents?" He felt Snape stiffen beside him, and his peripheral vision picked up the man pinching his nose and taking deep breaths through clenched teeth. He shied away instinctively, but felt Snape pull him back.
When Snape spoke, his voice was under control. "Of course you get presents. It's Christmas!" He pulled the boy into a small hug rather than an awkward side embrace. "I want to get things for you, but you have to tell me first."
Harry fidgeted more, relaxing into Snape's hug. "I don't know. I already have so much." He didn't dare say more.
Snape sighed beside him. "Very well. Undecided, then. We'll have to figure something out when we're in Diagon Alley." They sat in relaxed silence for a few moments before the man added, "This isn't the best day, seeing as Christmas is so near, but I suppose we could go down to London today. Would you like that, Harry? I know you were excited."
Harry nodded enthusiastically.
"Finish your breakfast and take a shower, and we'll leave when you're done." When the boy scurried over to the table, he spoke again. "Slower, child. You'll choke. Diagon Alley will still be there when you finish."
Harry slowed down his eating, but continued to scarf down the food quicker than his usual pace. He muttered, "Thanks, Dad!" and ran out of the room to take a shower, completely missing the half-surprised, half-overwhelmingly happy look on the man's face.
Snape sat in the armchair in the living room, letting the fire and his coffee warm him up slightly. The sound of the shower faintly echoed around the quarters, and he trained his ears on it, letting it soothe him slightly and listening to make sure nothing went wrong. He could just imagine Dumbledore's face if he told the man Harry Potter had drowned in the shower. Snape suppressed a snort at the thought.
The sound of running water cut off suddenly, and within a few minutes, a still-dripping but very-much-dressed Harry Potter came running around the corner, excitement written all over his face.
"Okay, Dad, I'm ready! Can we go now? Can we go?"
Snape beckoned for the boy to sit on the couch and stood to retrieve a small pot from the mantle. He returned and sat on the couch as well, wordlessly removing the lid from the pot. It revealed smooth white powder, glimmering slightly even while completely still. Harry leaned forward and looked into the pot in curiosity. Snape remained silent.
"I take it you've never seen Floo powder before?"
"Floo powder?" Harry repeated blankly, staring up at the older wizard. "Can I – can I touch it?" When Snape nodded, he reached out a hesitant hand and collected a small amount of the silky substance in his palm, running his fingers through it. He sent another questioning glance toward Snape, who took the hint.
"The Floo system connects most magical places all across the world through fireplaces." He watched as the boy arched one thin eyebrow in response. "Floo powder activates the system, I guess you could say."
"Fireplaces?" His tone and expression betrayed his bewilderment.
"Yes. This is the way we will be traveling to Diagon Alley, Harry. We can go through together if you like."
Harry cast a nervous glance toward the lively fire and nodded sheepishly.
"Very well. We'll treat this as a learning opportunity for you either way." He gathered a bit of the powder in his hand, holding it out for Harry's inspection. "Once this is thrown into the fire, a few things will happen. Firstly, the flames will turn green. Do not be startled. Secondly, you must remember to speak your destination clearly and then step into the flames. The feeling will be disorienting but whatever you do, do not open your mouth." The boy took it all in slowly. Snape continued, "And another thing, Harry. In the Wizarding World, you are quite famous, and very recognizable because of that scar on your forehead. Would you mind if I cast a small charm to hide it during our excursion today?"
Harry agreed, glancing at the fire once before turning back toward Snape, who waved his wand and then quietly inquired if he was ready. Harry nodded nervously and they rose from the couch and moved to stand in front of the fireplace.
"Like this, Harry," the man instructed as he threw the powder into the fire. Sure enough, the flames rose and turned green, casting an eerie light around the living room, and Harry pressed against his arm in fear. "Diagon Alley!" He stepped into the fire, holding onto Harry to reassure the boy and keep him from tumbling out of the wrong grate, and they were whisked away.
Snape's feet hit the ground hard in front of the fireplace of the Leaky Cauldron, nearly stumbling. He figured it was a good thing he was holding onto Harry or the boy would have fallen flat on his face, probably breaking both his glasses and his nose on Merlin-knows-what.
"Alright?" he asked carefully, casting a small glance around the pub. From the curious looks he was receiving, Snape figured it was a good thing he had concealed the boy's scar. It would not be beneficial for a former Death Eater to be seen escorting the Boy-Who-Lived through Diagon Alley. At least he could pass it off as Hogwarts business.
When Harry nodded silently, looking slightly sick but nonetheless very excited, Snape placed a protective hand on the boy's shoulder and gently pushed him toward the door. He leaned down close to the boy's ear as they approached the wall.
"Harry, it would be best if people do not discover who you are. When we are around others, I will be calling you Henry Porter, as it is close enough to your real name that I presume you will still respond to it, even if you forget." The boy nodded and he continued, slightly nervous about the upcoming trip. "Now watch carefully."
Snape pulled out his wand and tapped four of the bricks on the wall. Harry gasped in fascinated surprise when the bricks retreated to form a doorway. They passed through and found themselves in Diagon Alley.
"This is Diagon Alley?" Harry inquired excitedly, sounding slightly awestruck at the sight of the long cobbled pavement, the stores lining each side, the squawking owls, the people walking hurriedly between stores, shivering against the cold, pulling their cloaks tighter around themselves. Their bright red noses stood out in stark contrast to their pale faces. Harry laughed in delight and grabbed onto Snape's hand tightly as they began moving forward through the thick crowd.
"Yes. Now, where would you like to go first?" But when Harry opened his mouth to reply, Snape continued, cutting him off. "Actually, no. We will be going to buy you some decent clothes first." He cast a disparaging glance at the boy's threadbare Muggle t-shirt and overly baggy jeans. "You look like a delinquent."
They made their slow way to Madam Malkin's, fighting off the cold. Snape cast a quick warming charm and Harry looked up gratefully, understanding that magic had been involved. When they walked through the door, they both relaxed, shaking off the snow and letting the heated room thaw their frozen extremities.
"Ah, welcome, welcome! Mr. Snape! And who might we have here?" An elderly woman greeted, ushering them back farther into the store.
Snape cut in smoothly, keeping the boy from having to answer. "This is my soon-to-be student, Henry Porter." He slipped a small sneer in, just to keep himself in check. "He seems to have just discovered that he is of magical birth." At the woman's questioning look, he added, "It's really been quite confusing for him the last few days, so don't pay too much attention or ask too many questions. He's liable to fall apart any moment."
She cast a disapproving glare toward the Potions Master, who sneered back with just as much venom. "Very well, then. Mr. Porter, as I assume we are here to get you fitted, please follow me. I'm Madam Malkin, my dear." She reached toward Harry, but he flinched back toward Snape. She sent the man a questioning look, before asking, "Would you like your professor to accompany you?" Harry nodded quietly and pulled Snape by the hand to the long racks of robes in the store.
Harry stuck close to Snape, who went through different colors that he deemed were acceptable in his sight, which were basically black, grey, and darker shades of blue. While handing a set of school robes to the child, he leaned down and whispered, "Do not believe anything I say about you today. I merely have a reputation to uphold."
What Snape found out rather quickly was that Harry didn't want anything. Or rather, he refused to make it known that he wanted anything. In fact, he was rubbish at making decisions, and stayed completely silent for the first half of the trip, in which the two of them bought Harry much-needed clothes, furniture, books, and small toys.
"Henry, what would you like to eat?" Snape inquired as it neared lunchtime. He steered the boy into a small café on the side of the alley and put him in a seat. Harry was completely silent as he stared at the designs on the wooden table. "Nothing? I insist that you eat, seeing as you are still much too skinny." The boy shook his head quickly. "What is it? Did your relatives never take you out to eat?" Another shake of the head. "Did they ever take you anywhere?" Snape's voice was getting angry now. At this question, however, Harry nodded. "Where?"
"Mrs. Figg's house, sir," Harry answered quietly, still staring intently at the table, and Snape was relieved that the boy played his part well. He had forgotten to mention that he was to be called 'sir' in public.
"And did you enjoy it?" Harry shook his head. "What happened there?"
"Nothing bad, sir. There was just nothing to do. She had a lot of cats, and her entire house smelled like cabbage. My aunt and uncle would drop me off there whenever they were taking Dudley somewhere fun."
"And they never took you anywhere fun?" Another shake of the head. Snape grunted disapprovingly. "I suppose I'll just have to make up for that, then. Anyway, what would you like for lunch? What do ten-year-olds eat? Besides sweets, that is. Chicken?"
Harry quietly answered, "That would be wonderful, sir." He went back to silence as Snape gave their orders to the pretty young witch who was tending the tables.
Halfway through their meal, Snape stood and excused himself to the restroom, leaving the boy to continue eating as he previously had been – in silence. When he returned, however, he found an empty table. Surprised and slightly worried, he turned back and checked the restroom again, before looking all around the café. When the boy was nowhere to be seen, Snape ran through the door and into the street. People were everywhere, blocking his view. And besides, the boy was short. Smaller than most ten-year-olds.
"Henry!" he shouted through Diagon Alley, pushing frantically through the crowds. Oh Merlin, what was he going to do? If the boy had gotten lost or been kidnapped, Dumbledore would never forgive him. Even more than that, he would never forgive himself. What if someone had recognized the Boy-Who-Lived even without the scar? He did look remarkably similar to James Potter. He should have Disillusioned the glasses. Merlin, he was an idiot.
After a good twenty minutes of running – or rather, trying to run through Diagon Alley, Snape let himself collapse onto a bench on the side of the street. He let his head fall dejectedly into his hands, convinced he had lost the boy, the only child who he had grown to care for in his life. Lily's child. He had lost Lily's son.
"Ah, Severus, I did not know you were to be in Diagon Alley today. What is wrong?" came a sudden, drawling voice from above him. Snape lifted his head slowly to find none other than Lucius Malfoy standing before him, pale grey eyes appraising the Potions Master carefully.
"I appear to have lost a child, Lucius." When his friend raised one platinum eyebrow, Snape continued. "I accompanied a soon-to-be student here today to assist him in purchasing his robes and supplies. Unfortunately, he seems to have disappeared, which is not beneficial for either of us at the present time."
"I see. Would it happen to be this child?" Lucius asked. "Had I known you were to have a student tagging along, I would have brought Draco with me. They look to be about the same age." He pulled a small, dark-haired boy from behind him. It was Harry.
"H-Mr. Porter!" Snape exclaimed, catching himself quickly, his relief nearly making him forget where he was and who he was in the company of. His voice picked up its usual careless drawl as he continued. "How very nice of you to return, or at least to find someone who was able to return you to me. I presumed even dunderhead students such as yourself knew not to run off the moment I looked away. I may not be the best company for you to keep, but I am your elder and your professor, and trust me when I say there will be consequences to your little. . . journey." His lip curled instinctively at the last word, but he immediately felt bad after seeing the boy's face. Harry looked close to tears. Snape grabbed his shoulder firmly to keep the boy in place before directing his attention back to Lucius. "Thank you for returning him to me, Lucius. Where did you find him?"
"Running around in the street without a parent, as lost children are often apt to do. I had no idea he would be with you, however." The man turned around, glancing back toward a blond woman who was looking politely indifferent to their conversation. "Ah, Narcissa is waiting. I will see you soon, Severus. And Mr. Porter? Keep yourself out of harm's way in the future." With those words, he turned and strode back towards his wife. They walked off together in arrogant silence.
Snape leaned in closer to Harry, pulling the boy down on the bench beside him. "You foolish child," he hissed. "I thought I had lost you. What gave you the brilliant idea to run off?"
Harry suddenly held up a colorfully-wrapped parcel. "It's your Christmas present!"
Snape found himself caught off-guard. "My Christmas present?" How long had it been since he had received a real Christmas gift from someone besides Dumbledore, who insisted on providing him with a pair of thick, wool socks each year? On second thought, Snape realized they had gone to Gringotts, which apparently seemed to be a mistake. "Where did you get the money?"
"I used the money I got from my vault!" Harry prattled on happily. "You keep paying for all of my stuff, so I figured I should buy something myself. Besides, you needed a gift."
"Very well," Snape conceded with a sigh, standing up. "Let us go. Would you like to take another look at the toy store?"
Harry, much more talkative this time around, nodded and jumped up as well. Snape led the way, keeping a firm hold on the boy at all times to prevent further separations. Once inside, Snape instructed the child to run off and find a few things he wanted, and to find him when he had decided. In the meantime, unbeknownst to Harry, Snape needed to do a little Christmas shopping of his own.
He looked carefully through the store, selecting toys he thought the boy would enjoy. He bought them carefully and shrunk them, placing them in the pocket of his robes, before Harry even returned to his side, his arms laden with a few small toys. Snape picked them up and paid for them.
"I just need to stop at the apothecary, Henry. Please do not touch anything," Snape informed him upon entering the store. The familiar scent of Potions ingredients hit him and he inhaled deeply. He moved around quickly, selecting what he needed and slipping another gift for Harry onto the counter when the boy wasn't looking. When they walked out, it was snowing again.
"Are you ready to return to the castle?" Snape asked quietly, already leading the way back to the Leaky Cauldron. When they were standing in front of the fire, he pulled more Floo Powder from his cloak. He held Harry tightly to his side, throwing the powder into the fire and instructing it to take them back to Hogwarts.
Once back in the quarters, Snape showed Harry his room, which had been added onto the living space sometime during the previous week. He pulled out his wand slowly.
"If at any time you wish to change any detail about your room, from the color of the wall to the placement of the furniture, come find me and I will assist you. For now, what would you like?" When the boy did not answer, he waved his wand, painting the walls a soft cream color. The walls remained stone. "And the furniture?" With another wave, the furniture returned to its normal size from where it had been shrunk in his pocket. The boy was hesitant to instruct Snape about anything, so the Potions Master rearranged the bed and other furniture himself, sending the toys that he had bought earlier to where they seemed to belong, and spelling the books onto the bookshelf.
Harry was still silent, and Snape began worrying about what he had said in Diagon Alley earlier. Surely the boy knew he didn't mean any of it?
"Harry? What's wrong?" His voice was gentle.
"Nothing, sir," Harry returned in a monotone voice.
"I do not expect you to call me 'sir' outside of situations such as the one we were in today. Now, do not lie to me. What is going on? Surely you know that I did not mean any of the words I directed toward you earlier today? I do not have a good reputation here among the students, and I couldn't go around changing that. Someone might have had a heart attack." He smirked in amusement.
"I know you didn't." Still monotone.
"It's so big."
"The room," the boy clarified, waving a thin hand around the room. "It's so big. I don't need this. I don't deserve this."
"Of course you deserve this, you foolish child," Snape responded, dropping down to his knees before the child and pulling Harry into his arms. He whispered in his ear, "You deserve all this and so much more. So much more than what I can give you. So much more than this world has given you so far. So much more than this world could ever give you."
Harry buried his face in Snape's robes. "Thank you," he whispered, his voice barely audible.
Snape tightened his grip on the thin child in his arms. "Of course, you idiot. Do you know how much you mean to me? Now stop running away all the time."
Harry giggled quietly into the man's robes, knowing deep down that Snape cared. For the first time, someone really cared.
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