Author Notes: Hello to everyone and Happy Halloween if you celebrate this day!
This is the next installment of Stories for My Daughter, featuring Severus Snape and his adopted son, Harry Potter. I'm sorry I still haven't gotten to the AU back story yet. Just bear in mind that James and Lily Potter did not die on Halloween in this AU so neither Severus nor Harry have any emotional ties to this day.
Summary: Thirteen year old Harry Potter is determined to give his father something for Halloween. Featuring an unsuspecting Severus Snape and a little black bat. Father/Son relationship.
Warnings: Severe OOCness, silliness and loads of fluff!
Disclaimer: Harry Potter is the brainchild of JK Rowlings.
- Story Start -
It was Halloween.
That was the first thought in Severus' mind the moment he opened his eyes. That, the colours black and orange, and children bouncing around the school on a sugar high. Oh, and the fact that although it was a perfectly good Thursday, classes had been cancelled, thanks to Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts and festivities loving old coot.
That did it.
Severus was going to spend as much of today as was possible in his rooms or his potions lab. Pulling out his wand from under his pillow, he cast a Tempus charm. It was just past seven in the morning. He could get a quick breakfast at the Great Hall and make his escape before the hideous Halloween decorations were put up.
With that optimistic thought in mind, he sprang from the bed, took a speedy hot shower, got dressed and left his quarters. The autumn wind blowing in from the narrow openings in the corridors made him glad he was wearing one of his better quality robes. He reached the Great Hall without incident and braced himself before pulling open the doors.
The sight that greeted his eyes still made him wince.
Albus always allowed the house elves free rein when it came to decorating for the various festivities. It looked like they had decided on a very early start today. Dead looking trees lined the walls, hung with clusters of bats and - for some strange reason - red apples. Amongst the gnarled roots were Jack-o-Lanterns magically lit from the inside, their expressions continuously changing from looks of astonishment to pained grimaces to maniacal grins.
Severus looked up at the Head Table, relieved to see only Hagrid and Vector sitting there. He started up the centre aisle with alacrity, black robes billowing behind him. He hadn't managed to avoid the decorations, but he could still eat in peace before Albus arrived with his trademark twinkle and drove him insane with suggestions on how today should be celebrated. They inevitably involved childish outdoor activities, begging for sweets - the humiliation! - and being far, far away from his beloved brewing.
As was the custom every year, the few occupants at the four House tables consisted mostly of excited first and second year students, the more blase upper years taking advantage of today's cancelled lessons to sleep in. Severus' footsteps slowed down at the sight of three heads - black, brown and red - huddled close together at the Gryffindor table. He stopped behind them, almost smiling at the excited whispering going on.
"Not planning any mischief today, are we, Mr. Potter, Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger?" he asked in his trademark silky voice.
The three heads popped up at once and turned to him, sporting wide grins. Severus knew he shouldn't have allowed these young miscreants to enjoy a picnic lunch in his bedroom - no thanks to Minerva - and to nap on his bed - his bed! - during Easter. The majority of the student body might still greet him with varying degrees or fear, trepidation and respect, but all he had gotten from these three since that day were...
"Good morning, Professor Snape!"
"Happy Halloween, Professor Snape!"
... familiarity, bright smiles, impudent rodents and bubbly greetings normally reserved for a favourite uncle instead of the fiercest professor at school.
Severus pressed his lips together and raised an eyebrow.
"Good morning. How will you three occupy yourselves today since there are no classes? I seem to recall assigning two feet of parchment on the preparation and usage of the Swelling Solution, to be handed in tomorrow."
Harry grinned up at him, not in the least bit cowed.
"We finished that last night, dad!"
Severus' eyebrow went higher.
"I shall expect nothing less than twenty four inches of well researched facts," he intoned.
"I have twenty four!" Ron quickly answered, his muttered "more or less" added sotto voce.
"I have twenty six!" Harry added.
"Thirty six!" Hermione piped up, causing the two boys to glare at her.
Suppressing a smirk, Severus nodded at them. "Go out and get some fresh air then."
"Yes, Professor Snape!"
"Yes, Professor Snape!"
"We will, dad. Hagrid invited us to see his pumpkin patch."
Severus nodded again. He was about to continue onto the staff table when Harry hopped up off the bench and flung his arms around his waist.
"Happy Halloween, dad," he whispered. "I'll go to your lab to remind you when it's time for lunch."
Father and son hugs were all well and good when they were alone, but this public display of affection was seriously undermining Severus' reputation as the evil dungeon bat of Hogwarts. He tried to extricate himself from the hug, but Harry clung on like a limpet.
In the end, Severus had to return the hug before his adopted son would let him go, and that was only after a noisy kiss had been planted on his cheek for all to hear and witness.
"Be off with you then," Severus said gruffly, "and don't forget to wear your cloaks out."
Harry beamed at him and nodded. He jerked his head at his friends who quickly got up, Ron grabbing the last piece of toast on his plate.
"See you later, Professor Snape!"
"Yeah, later, Professor!"
Feeling a strange and utterly ridiculous sense of melancholy, Severus watched the trio walk off, Alfred riding on Harry's shoulder. Hermione turned around and offered him a shy wave of her hand.
Taken by surprise, Severus returned it before realizing everyone's interested faces were still turned his way. Scowling at them, he strode up to the Head Table and spotted three more Jack-o-Lanterns in front of it, one yawning, another blowing him a raspberry and a third snoozing. He glared at them for good measure before going round the table to sit at his usual seat.
One look at the serving plates and he blanched.
"Nuthin' ter worry abou', Perfess'r. They're jus' bacon done a mi' crisper than usual, not real bats," Hagrid assured him.
Severus just grunted in reply. He braced himself before pouring himself a cup of coffee, hoping the house elves hadn't dyed it red.
- o -
Two cups of strong and thankfully black coffee, one slice of buttered toast and a boiled egg later, Severus wiped his lips, nodded to Hagrid, Vector and a yawning Pomona who had just arrived, and stood up. The sound of Albus' voice calling out cheerful greetings from outside the Great Hall made Severus' heart drop; he had just enough time to dive out the door behind the staff table.
Turning the corner, he came across Minerva and Filius.
"Happy Halloween, Severus," Filius greeted.
"Good morning, Severus. Early as usual," Minerva observed. "Have you already breakfasted?"
"I have, Minerva. Good morning to you both."
Severus swept past them and walked half a dozen steps more before stopping. There seemed to be something different about how his robes moved. He looked over his shoulder and saw Minerva blinking in surprise, her eyes trained to his back.
"What is it?" he asked tersely.
"Oh, nothing, Severus. I hadn't realised you had clipped your robes back this morning. Most... er, tidy."
It was Severus' turn to blink. Clip his robes? Why would he do that? They were supposed to billow; that was his signature, his trademark! He twisted his head, trying to see what was keeping his robes in check. All he saw was that they were pulled in from the sides and held in place by something. He twisted his head the other way, trying to see what was that something.
"Well, we're off to breakfast, Severus," Minerva said briskly.
"See you!" Flitwick piped up.
Severus looked up in time to see the two of them sweeping round the corner, looking straight ahead with lips quivering. Scowl deepening, he decided to stop by his quarters to check it out.
As he neared the final flight of steps leading down to the dungeons, he passed four Slytherin first years and a Slytherin seventh year, all who greeted him politely. He nodded at them, took a few more steps and stopped, sensing curious eyes glued to the back of his robes.
He spun around, noting that his robes didn't sweep out like they usually did.
"Is something the matter?" he asked his audience.
The first years shook their heads quickly, wide eyed. Marcus Flint grinned at him, showing off his very large teeth and gave him a thumbs up.
"New fashion in honor of Halloween, eh, sir? Cool!"
Severus stared at him and took two steps forward. The first years took several steps back and Flint lost his grin.
"What in Merlin's name are you blathering about?" Severus snapped.
"Well, er," Flint scratched his head. "The uh, clip on the back of your robes, sir."
Again, Severus craned his neck, trying to see down his back. Again, the only thing he saw was that the sides of his robes appeared to be pulled towards the middle, held in place by... a clip?
He turned his head sharply the other way and spun around, almost losing his balance in the process. There was a tiny, high pitched squeak from behind him.
"There we go," Flint said, sounding relieved that he had been proven right.
Growling, Severus reached behind him, fingers brushing over something at the small of his back, something small and warm and leathery. There was another squeak and the 'clip' shifted against his fingers.
Lips pressed in a thin line, Severus pivoted, showing his back to Flint.
"What is it?" he asked tersely. A shuffle of footsteps told him the first years were also coming closer. He could feel their curiosity emanating from their little bodies in almost palpable waves.
"It's a bat, sir."
Severus spun around.
"A what?" he demanded.
"A bat," Flint repeated.
"A tiny one," said a girl. "It's cute!"
Her friends looked at her and before Severus knew it, they were all crowded at his back, 'oohing' and 'aahing' over his new accessory. He spun around again and glared at them, hand reaching behind him to pull off the bat. It squeaked again and squirmed, as if burrowing deeper into his robes.
Severus clenched his teeth, remembering that bats had sharp claws and that he was wearing one of his good robes, not his usual teaching ones. He had half a mind to ask Flint to remove the bat for him, but the boy, while a sterling and ruthless Quidditch Captain, did not have a delicate touch. Torn robes smeared with bat blood was a very likely outcome.
"Go on to breakfast," he told them. "I will remove it myself."
He turned again and swept down the stairs, mourning the loss of his billow and grinding his teeth at the carrying whispers of 'Ooh, isn't that little bat cute!' and 'It's adorable!'. If those first years had been in any other House but his own...
His footsteps slowed down. Those remarks had reminded him of last Christmas when Alfred, that little white mouse from the Christmas cracker, splashed him with gravy and got rewarded with a happy life as Harry's pet. Merlin, if Harry caught sight of this bat now...
Severus had a sudden and horrifying vision of opening the door of his quarters to find a menagerie of various little creatures squeaking, flying and leaping about the place, creating havoc with his possessions and peace of mind, likely his sanity as well. His reputation would be shot to pieces, he might as well shuffle to class in pink bunny slippers.
Spurred on by that last nightmare of a thought, Severus strode towards his rooms, thankful that Harry was outside with his friends. With any luck, the bat would be removed and disposed of long before they returned.
As soon as he closed the door to his quarters, he took off his outer robes and spread it over the back of his sofa. There was indeed a small bat clinging onto the dark material. It was a tiny thing, measuring no more than three inches in length. He tried to pull it off with thumb and forefinger. It clung on tighter to his robes and squeaked in protest, lifting its head to glare at him with shiny black eyes as though annoyed at being disturbed.
Severus glared back, lips pressed in a thin line as he saw how tightly the tiny claws had dug into the black velvet. Oblivious to his glare, the bat closed its eyes, lowered its head and squirmed again as if snuggling into his robes. Severus was reminded of how Harry had snuggled into his blanket the couple of times the boy slept in his quarters when it got too late.
No. That was bad, Severus told himself. Don't even think of Harry, the bat and snuggles in the same breath, thought, sentence or context. He shuddered - purely from the chill of his rooms now that he was in his shirtsleeves, he told himself - and pointed his wand at the fireplace before turning back to his current predicament.
Bending over once more, he slid his right hand, palm up, towards the bat. Very gently, he eased his index finger between it and his robes, hoping to disengage it.
Yes! The bat squeaked again, but when he lifted his finger, it released his robes.
With a smirk of triumph, Severus straightened up... only to find the creature now wrapped around his finger, eyes still closed and looking more comfortable than before.
He shook his finger. The bat tightened its grip.
He shook his whole hand. Another indignant squeak sounded and his finger was gripped tighter still. Tiny pinpricks of claws and the sudden glimpse of sharp teeth bared at him made him stop.
If force did not work, perhaps temptation would. What did bats eat and what kind of bat was this, anyway?
Fifteen minutes later, Severus had searched through his old copy of Animal Encyclopedia, his movements a bit awkward from holding his right index finger upright the whole time. If the bat had clung to his pinky, he would have been quite at home having tea with genteel ladies.
At least he now knew it was a baby pipistrelle although he still had no idea where it had come from. He summoned a jar of dried gnats from his lab, poured out a small amount into a dish and lowered his occupied finger towards it. The tiny snout quivered and then the bat stretched its wings wide, mouth opening in a yawn. It dropped onto the table, pushed its snout into the insects and began to eat, crunching them up.
Trying not to wince at the sound, Severus' other hand inched towards his wand, fingers curling around polished ebony. He would just Vanish the dish along with the bat - it could go on eating its last meal wherever Vanished things went and no one, especially his generous, softhearted Harry, would be any the wiser.
Oblivious to its impending exile, the little bat continued devouring its food, snout moving up and down as it chewed, soft, slurping sounds alternating with sharp crunching.
Severus' left hand stilled. Well, perhaps he could wait for it to finish first. At the rate it was eating, it would likely choke itself to death. Yes, that would be even better since he just remembered that his supply of bat wings was getting low.
Five minutes later, the dish was empty, not even a wing left. The bat straightened up and licked its lips, looking up at him as if to thank him.
"No need," Severus said tightly. He tightened his grip on the wand. Then he sighed and released it. It hadn't choked to death on its meal, but it would be a waste to Vanish it when he could use its body parts.
Steeling himself, Severus pointed the tip of his wand at the bat which was now moving towards his right hand. He moved his hand away, but it crawled towards it again. When Severus jerked his hand away, the bat did a little leap and clung onto his right index finger. It settled down again, wrapping its wings around his finger and closing its eyes as if preparing for a nice little snooze.
"No! Don't you dare!" Severus hissed at it. Too late - its eyes had closed.
Great. Now what?
He couldn't Vanish it now! What if his finger disappeared together with the bat? Not that he had ever heard of any such thing happening, but what if it did?
But how was he supposed to do any research or brewing this morning with something sticking to his finger like that?
Grumbling, Severus dropped his wand on the table and attempted to coax the bat off of his finger, using the index finger of his left hand. He only succeeded in transferring the dozing little creature to his left hand.
This was all Harry's fault, he fumed. Taking care of that boy and looking far too often into those enormous green eyes had softened him to the point where he was unable to do away with this commonplace creature. Huffing in exasperation, he rested his head on his hand, fingers absently massaging his temple. To his surprise, the bat moved onto his head, slid down the length of his hair with a surprised squeak and fell onto his shoulder. Out of the corner of one wary eye, he saw it was sleeping again.
Ah well, at least he had the use of both hands now.
With a nod, Severus stood up and made his way to his potions lab to begin brewing at last. And if any stray thoughts crossed his mind that now was the perfect time to flick the little thing off of his shoulder and Vanish it without anyone being the wiser, he paid them no mind.
- o -
A few hours later, there was a knock on the door.
"Enter," Severus called out.
The door opened and three heads popped around it.
Severus saw three - no, four - pairs of eyes looking at him. He straightened up, wincing at the pain shooting up his neck and shoulders.
"Harry. Is it lunch time already?"
"Yes, Dad. Don't tell me you've been here all morning?"
With an expressive 'I knew it' look directed at his friends, Harry trotted inside the room, closely followed by Ron and Hermione.
Severus cast a stasis charm on his cauldron, put down his stirrer, folded his arms across his chest and waited. He saw their gazes flick to his right shoulder and stay there, three identical grins forming on their faces.
"Dad? Is that a bat?" Harry's voice said he knew exactly what it was.
"It's so cute!" Hermione's excited squeal told Severus she had practised that line at least twenty times.
"Cool pet, sir!" Ron said. At least his envy sounded genuine.
The three of them stopped in front of him, pink cheeked with suppressed glee, Alfred perched on Harry's shoulder as usual, tiny nose and whiskers quivering in curiosity.
Without a word, Severus stroked the little bat with a long finger before plucking it off of his shoulder. He brought it down to their eye level, nestled in his palm.
"What's her name?" Harry asked, stroking the bat with a very gentle fingertip. It squirmed, opened a sleepy eye to peek at him and then closed it again.
Severus raised an eyebrow.
"And how would you know it is a 'she', Mr. Potter?"
Harry grinned up at him, not in the least bit abashed.
"Because it looks like a 'she'. So... what's her name, dad?"
Severus pressed his lips together, knowing what Harry was really asking - naming the bat would mean he intended to keep her. He thought of telling his son that he wasn't going to do any such thing, that he was actually planning to use her in potions and assign him a dozen dirty cauldrons for pranking him, but one look into those shining green eyes changed his mind.
"Sasha," he managed past an inconveniently tight throat. Scowling, he placed the bat back on his shoulder.
The children watched as Sasha yawned and climbed to the top of Severus' head where she settled down, clinging onto the slightly greasy strands to keep her balance.
"She's sweet!" Harry gushed.
"She's cool!" Ron added.
"She's adorable!" Hermione just had to use a four syllable word.
Severus glared at all four of them.
"She is a bat. She is neither sweet, cool nor adorable," he lied in suitably quelling tones and ignored the light tug on his hair. Sasha had tightened her grip, the action pulling her front paws in and pushing her wingtips up, giving Severus the appearance of wearing a tiny black bow on the top of his head.
"In fact, I daresay she will be the death of me," he continued, frowning when Ron snorted and Hermione choked.
Harry giggled in delight. His father, Severus Snape, Potions Master of Hogwarts, dungeon bat and world's best dad, was always right.
- Story End -
A/N: Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed it, please leave a review when you favourite!