Severus blinked and turned around. Hadn't he just been in bed?
A little boy, hardly old enough to be in Hogwarts was running up to him screaming. Inwardly, he cringed. He detested screaming children.
"Daddy!" The little boy yelled before tackling him. The surprise of it sent him stumbling backward into the conveniently placed sofa.
"OOF!" He grunted. He opened his mouth to reprimand the brat only to be confronted with a pair of brilliant green eyes.
"Hi daddy," the Potter spawn said cheerfully before having the gall to reach up and kiss him on the cheek!
"Potter! What is the meaning of this indecency!?" He roared, fully prepared for the brat to burst into tears.
However, the boy didn't cry; instead he actually smiled. Clearly this was no ordinary dream. That meant that it had to be another Dumbledore-inspired nightmare. What other explanation could there possibly be?
"I'm not a Potter, daddy," the little boy (D) retorted. "I'm a Snape, just like you!"
Definitely a nightmare, his subconscious gibbered at him.
Out of the nowhere, a new voice joined their insanity. "I told you he wasn't your Snape!"
"Who said that?" He demanded of the room.
"It's me, dad. Harry," a boy (BF) said, stepping from the shadows.
This boy was older. His hair was just as unkempt as the Harry Potter from his own world, but there was a noticeable lack of glasses on his face. Severus was surprised to see an angry red scar down the left side of his face, and for a moment he gritted his teeth at the sight. Who would dare to hurt Lily's boy in such a manner!?
That's when Severus' eyes moved to the boy's robes and suddenly he had to refrain from gawking. The boy was a Slytherin?
"In my world," this Harry (BF) began explaining, "My name is Harry Evans-Snape. My Severus adopted me."
"Well yeah. It's clear that we're from different universes, considering just how many Harry's we have here," the boy answered with a sly grin.
That's certainly not a look I'm used to seeing from Potter.
"Precisely how many of you are there?" Severus asked, his mind catching onto the potentially worrisome information.
"More than you'd probably expect!" Though the boy laughed easily, there was something darker hidden behind his eyes and Severus once more wondered what exactly he had been through.
"And why precisely are you here?"
"Because it's yours birthday, Papa Pa!" A new Harry (ST) announced, literally jumping into the fray. He, like the much younger Harry, ran toward them before jumping onto the sofa beside him.
Looking the boy up and down, Severus' noticed a few things right off the bat. This boy had strangely straight black hair—almost like my own, he thought—and he was wearing Slytherin colours just like the older boy had been. But there was something different about this child, something that felt just the slightest bit off to Severus.
"And did I adopt you as well?" He asked with a sneer.
"Kinda!" The Harry answered back with a nod.
"Why did I feel the compulsion to do so?"
Because it would have never happened without a damn good reason, he thought haughtily.
"'Cause Uncle Vernon got kissed after you called the aurors on him!" The small boy answered cheerily, nodding his head up and down some more. "And now I'm your Harry and yours my Papa Pa, and I'm your little bat and I loves you!"
Severus could only blink several times at the influx of information. On his other side, the littlest Harry suddenly hopped off the sofa and ran off to the table that had just appeared in the middle of the room.
"It's time for cake!" He (D) and a new Harry (ATH) shouted cheerfully.
"And who precisely are you?" He asked as the new Harry came sauntering toward him.
This Harry bore some resemblance to the older Harry (BF), but he was still dressed in Gryffindor colours. There was also something different about the way he looked back at Severus.
"Happy birthday, lovely," this Harry (ATH) whispered seductively in his ear.
Severus jerked backward from the boy with a shocked expression and reached for his wand, which of course didn't seem to be there.
"You miss me? I missed you," the boy said before making a lewd gesture with his hands.
Instinctively, Severus reached out and covered the eyes of the two younger Harry's sitting beside him.
"I don't know who you think you are," He spat out, his voice barely audible in his effort to control his reaction, "But there are children present." He put his hands down as the younger Harry's (D and ST) looked up at the new Harry (ATH) in confusion.
"Hey Harry," the older Harry (BF) called out. "This isn't our Severus. Hell, it's not even my Severus!"
The Harry in front of him seemed to deflate a bit at the news.
"Too bad then," he (ATH) said after a moment. "Mine is quite a bit more fun," He said with a lascivious waggle of his eyebrows.
"You are not welcome here," Severus answered, drawing himself up. He might not have a wand, but that wasn't the only way of getting rid of unwanted guests.
"Hey hey hey!" Harry (ATH) placated, putting his hands out in front of him as though to ward off the angry Severus. "I was just going." He turned around and was gone.
"Sit down Papa Pa!" His young Snake (ST) said insistently, pulling his robe. "Harry brought you some cake!"
"Harry?" Severus asked with a raised eyebrow, not yet sitting down.
"Yeah, that's me, Papa," A shyer Gryffindor Harry (U) said.
Severus blinked in surprise. The boy had not been there two seconds ago.
"How old are you?"
"Thirteen, sir. Third year," Harry (U) answered respectfully.
Also not a look I'm used to seeing from my Harry—er, Potter.
"And I've adopted you?" He asked as he finally took his seat again.
"Yes sir," Harry (U) replied, handing him his slice of cake.
It was double chocolate, one of his favourites. He didn't bother asking how they had known.
"Why did I feel it was necessary?"
Harry (U) dropped his head as his cheeks pinked. "Well um, 'cause you said the Dursleys weren't fit to raise a dog, and well, I guess, because I needed you?"
"Are you asking me or telling me?" He sneered. This Harry reminded him the most of his own, thus far.
"Telling you," Harry (U) answered with a shy smile.
One thing these Harry's all seemed to have in common was that none of them seemed properly frightened of him. It bothered him more than he was willing to think about.
"How old are you, then?" He asked, turning to the smallest of the Harry's.
"I'm four and a half!" Harry (D) answered cheerfully. "And you've been my Daddy since I was littler!"
"I'm four too, Daddy," a new little voice said.
Severus looked up to find a very tiny Harry (FAA) standing in front of him. In one hand he had a piece of cake, and in the other he saw a floppy pink teddy bear. The boy was skinnier and shorter than the four year old he had beside him, and for a moment he wondered if this Harry really knew how old he was.
"My angel brought me to you Daddy, 'member?"
"He's not your Severus, Harry," the third year Harry (U) said gently, kneeling down beside the small boy.
"He's not my Tall Man?" Big green eyes looked up at him and Severus was hard pressed to remain stern faced.
"Nope. Yours is still asleep, I bet."
"In his big bed?" The littlest Harry (FAA) asked softly.
"Kay," Harry (FAA) answered with a shrug before going to sit down on the sofa opposite them.
Severus noticed that the third year Harry sat down next to him and he couldn't help but be pleased a tiny bit.
A disturbance across the room drew his attention and he stood to see what was going on.
Standing with his back to him, a new Harry (B) was in a heated conversation with the older Harry.
"He won't understand," the boy said.
Older Harry (BF) shrugged and then smiled encouragingly. "He doesn't have to fully understand. Just wish him a happy birthday and let him make his own decisions. Your Severus knows you, and that's what matters."
The newest Harry (B) turned and Severus narrowly avoided gasping in shock.
"What happened to you?" He whispered, staring at the scars running up and down the child's face.
Harry (B) frowned and tightened his hold on his forearm crutch, but didn't answer.
This Harry was also a Slytherin, but he was far from outgoing like the small Harry (ST) still bouncing on the sofa to his side. There was something hard about him; something that reminded Severus of the maturity he had seen shining out of the older Harry's (BF) eyes.
Harry took a few steps forward and then stopped again.
"I wanted to wish you a happy birthday," He (B) said in a slow careful voice.
"I—thank you." Severus could hardly speak for the shock. "Please, sit down," He said, gesturing at a nearby armchair.
Strange how they just keep appearing, he mused.
"If you're certain," Harry answered uncertainly; his stiff visage breaking into something younger for a brief moment.
"Sit, Potter," Severus said gruffly. He waited for the boy to take a seat before seating himself.
"How old are you?"
"First year, same as Harry (ST)," The boy (B) answered unblinkingly.
This Harry (B) was far different from his own Harry. Despite his harried entrance, he gave off an air of coolness. Severus felt for his counterpart in that particular universe.
"And am I your father as well?"
Half of Harry's (B) face creaked upward into the semblance of a smile. "You are, father. You did a blood adoption and I have some of your gifts now, as well as a few from my grandfather."
Harry's (B) answer was interrupted by the feeling of a hand tugging at edge of his robes. He looked down to find yet another small Harry (IS). Although bigger than both of the four year olds present, he was somehow more tired looking. He seemed to be rather anxious and there were dark circles under his eyes indicating that his sleep was disturbed in some way.
Nightmares, likely enough.
Severus' eyes were drawn down to the bandage peeking out of the end of the boy's sleeve.
"How old are you?" Severus asked, tempering his voice into a softer timbre.
The boy (IS) only shook his head and wrapped his uninjured hand around Severus' ankle.
"Are you mine?" Severus tried again to get some kind of answer from the anxious boy at his feet. He kept himself as still as possible. He felt as though a stray movement or a loud noise would frighten him back into whatever grey fog kept producing the boys.
"I'm your boy, Daddy," the small boy (IS) answered in an almost inaudible voice. "You say it over 'n over again, so I can 'members it now."
Tentatively, Severus reached out a hand to rest on the boy's messy mop of hair. The child tensed almost immediately at his touch and then relaxed into the folds of the robes around Severus' legs.
There was something almost peaceful about the roomful of Harry's surrounding him, despite the fact that his own tended to cause him nothing but stress and grief. These Harry's were a different group altogether, and he marvelled at the simple gestures of trust and love they showed for him.
Perhaps it was something worth thinking on for his own world.
. . .
ATH – A Twisted Harry
B – Burnt
BF – Breaking Forwards
D – Daddy?
FAA – Freaks Aren't Allowed
IS – I'm Sorry!
ST – Session Transcripts
U - Unbuttoned