Minerva McGonagall sat in Albus Dumbledore’s office, drumming her fingers impatiently on his desk.
“Are you sure, Albus? About Severus raising Harry…after all, he has no experience with children, and as brilliant a person as he is…he’s not very warm. Are you sure this is going to work out for the best?” Dumbledore sat back and sighed, looking at his old friend with tenderness.
“I understand your concerns, Minerva, but you must understand the predicament he was in. Aside from the abuse he was taking from his relatives, the underground dark force had located his family, and I knew the blood curse would not be enough to keep him safe, especially if they took the boy out in day light. I did what was natural- I put Harry in the last place they would ever come looking for him. He’s with what they believe to be one of their own. You must trust me, I know it’s rather preposterous.” Minerva persisted, unconvinced.
“But anyone else, Albus. Anyone but Severus!”
‘But here, I can watch him. Harry will be safe. We’ll make sure of it. I’ve just received word, actually, that his entire family was slaughtered at their house. His Uncle Vernon, Lily’s sister Petunia, and even their small son was not spared. It was imperative that we move him, you see? And because of this, we’ll have to put a powerful concealment charm on the child…we’ll have to make him look like Severus.”
“Dumbledore, you’re not suggesting we trick Harry to believe he is truly Severus’s son?”
“When the time is right, we will tell him. For now, it is best to keep him hidden.” Minerva knew, with this final word, that their meeting was finished, and so she retired to her own quarters, apprehensive about the odd turn of events that had transpired in the last few days.
Severus Snape watched as Poppy Pomfrey babied the child fussing over the state of his clothes, his hair which refused to lay flat, and his relatively calm demeanor.
“He’s nearly perfect, save for that ugly mark or his forehead. I trust you and Albus will devise a regimen to keep his true identity concealed?” Severus shrugged noncommittally.
“I don’t know what Dumbledore had planned.” Poppy turned her head away from the baby, toward Severus, and raised her eyebrows, which Severus mimicked.
“Well come here! I’m not charged with taking care of him, you are! Now come and learn how to speak to him.”
Rubbing his temples intensely, Severus walked over to small Harry Potter. The child was quiet, minding his own business and causing no trouble.
“Now,” Poppy began, sitting Harry in a small play pen, “Just talk to him.”
Severus stood before the boy, quite a daunting figure in his black robes.
“I have been given the task of raising you, boy, and you will do what I say, when I say it, do I make myself quite clear?” Harry laughed and clapped his hands.
“Do not laugh at your master-”
“Severus! You are not his master, he is not your slave! You are his guardian, his protector. For lack of better terminology, you are his father!”
“Guardian, yes. Father, no.”
“Regardless, he is still a child. A baby, even. You must use a softer voice.”
“I,” Severus began pompously, “do not possess a softer voice. This is it.”
“Well, then use that voice, and speak to him endearingly. And stop looking at him like he’s about to engage you in a duel!” Poppy snapped. “You’re an adult! Act like it!” Severus sighed.
“Hello,” he said hesitantly. “Hello, Harry. My name is Professor Severus Snape. I will be caring for you.” The sentence was ridiculously awkward, and he hated it.
“That’s a bit better. Well, don’t worry, dear, you’ll get better. Now, he’ll be on a diet of soft foods with a few harder foods being introduced every week. When you are in class, I will care for Harry in the infirmary. After work, you are to collect him from my care. Dinner, a brief nice activity, and bedtime around 7:30 at the latest. He may cry at night, if he does, make sure you- Severus Snape, look me in the eye and swear you won’t just use a silencio charm!”
Snape grudgingly mumbled “I swear.”
“Great, well, if he does, just warm him a bit of milk. He’s nearly a year and a half old, so I’d imagine he’s through that stage, but in case he’s not, there you go. He’ll probably wake up around 6:30 or 7 in the morning. Feed him some breakfast and bring him tome. On days there is no class, he’ll need to be fed and have an afternoon nap. If you need any help, I will always be here, but sometimes even I may not know the answer. There is no true manual to parenthood. It’s a learning experience for everyone involved.”
“Now, he can say a few words, nothing really that exciting. He’s probably confused because he hasn’t seen his family in so long, he doesn’t know what’s going on.”
Severus looked down at Harry, and as if on cue, the boy pointed at him and yelled, “Dada!”
Taken aback, Severus backed up slowly. “No, no, I’m not your father.”
“Dada!” Harry exclaimed again.
“NO!’ Severus repeated. Poppy was about to reprimand him, when Harry imitated his stand-in father.
“NO!” Harry said loudly, clapping his hands.
“No, no, no, this is all wrong! I’m not your..your..Dada,” Severus said quietly, staring at the boy.
“Dada….ball!” Harry said, picking up a ball and losing interest in the infantile conversation.
“Severus, like it or not, you’re his father now. You have to start acting like it,” Poppy said, patting the man on his back. Severus pulled away, not believing his situation.
“So you want me…you want me…to raise that. To look after it, to feed it, to entertain it, to discipline it, to take it on ridiculous camping trips with father/son bonding time, to…”
“To love him,” Poppy finished. “Yes, that’s exactly what you’re to do. Just think of it as long term work for the Order of Phoenix. Now, I’m tired, and so I am retiring for the evening. I’ll leave you two alone. Try not to kill him. Good night, Severus.”
He waved her away and looked down once again.
“So uhh…do you like books?” Severus asked awkwardly.
“Ball!” Harry said, holding it up to his new father.
“Do you…do you want me to throw it? Do you play fetch?’ he asked, half seriously.
‘Yes, yes, I can see it’s a ball. What will you have me do with it?”
“No, we’ve been through this.” Suddenly, the boy yawned and sat down on his behind. Severus saw this as an opportunity.
“How about a bedtime story?” He went over to the bookshelf and picked up a dusty book.
“Here’s a nice one,” he said, grabbing Harry and putting him in his bed, not even changing his clothing to pajamas.
‘If you’re going to be raised by me, then you’re going to be smart!” he opened to the first page.
“Diseases, Ailments, and Potions to Cure Them All. Chapter One, Rough Anatomy. Throughout the ages, wizards have always been very interested in the way their own bodies worked and responded to potions used daily. Horace Mannington, who died in 1245, found out the hard way that a polyjuice potion is not to be taken upside down. This book will examine-”
“NO!” Harry exclaimed loudly, hitting the book and attempting to knock it from Severus’s hands.
“NO! That’s a very bad boy. That’s….that’s not good at all. You’ll have to be…punished…” but Severus Snape had no idea how to punish an 18 month old child.
“Fine, I’ll make one up. Once upon a time, in a far off land, there was a uhh, little wizard. His name was um…Bob. And Bob liked to eat snow peas. So one day, Bob went out and ate some snow peas. But the evil snow pea wizard was lurking behind him, and told him about the great things that would happen to him if he joined an evil snow pea society. Because Bob enjoyed snow peas so darn much, he agreed to join the secret evil snow pea society.
But, when he learned that he would have to kill innocent carrots in order to further the cause of the snow peas, he was disheartened. And one day he overheard an evil plot to kill a young carrot just because he was born in July. Well, naturally, Bob was upset by this and decided that he didn’t like snow peas that much anymore. So, he went to the good wizard of the carrots, and appealed to him. And the carrot wizard admired his courage and told him to pretend to still like snow peas and spy on the evil snow pea wizard anyway.
So the evil snow pea wizard went to kill the young carrot, and he killed his stupid prat of a father first, and then his lovely, fair, red headed wife, but the evil snow pea wizard could not kill the little carrot, and so, the carrot lived and the snow pea wizard died, and Bob got stuck with the little carrot and he was not happy about the idea at all. The end.”
Harry was fast asleep. Severus rolled his eyes at his semi-autobiographical story and readied himself for bed. As he climbed into his cherry four poster bed, he looked over once again and the sleeping child of one of his greatest enemies, and momentarily reminisced of simpler times when he’d been the butt of every joke and prank. As he drifted off to sleep, his last thought was a plea to have the child sleep through the night.