Haiden James Snape sighed, frustration etched across his young face as he floated gracefully five feet off the ground.
"Draco! Come on, it's my turn to catch the snitch!" Draco Malfoy laughed at his best friend.
"You'll have to catch me first!" Draco sped off, and Haiden followed closely behind, laughing and calling Draco's name.
From afar, Severus and Narcissa watched the boys play, munching on croissants and sipping tea.
"They're so much more interesting at 7, aren't they, Severus?" Narcissa asked, laughing as the boys fought.
"Indeed," Severus commented.
"They've grown to be good friends, haven't they. That first year when we started play dates, I worried that they may never be friends, but after we took that holiday to Morrocco, things seemed to have improved." Severus nodded absently. The trip had been when the boys were three, and it had been good, though Severus felt throughout the holiday that he and Haiden had been interrupting an intimate family affair. Suddenly, the harsh yelling of the boys brought him from his reverie.
"Haiden! Let go of Draco's hair! Draco! Stop biting Haiden!"
The boys yelled brief apologies and then cntinued playing on their height controlled broomsticks.
"You know," Narcissa commented, "you've really become quite the doting father. You used to be very nervous and snappy, but you seem to have really gotten the hang of things. "
"Yes, well, during his terrible two's he really was terrible. He'd have horrible nightmares, and he took it out on everyone else."
"What were the nightmare about?" Narcissa asked.
Severus cleared his throat lightly. He knew exactly why Haiden had been having nightmares- odd flashbacks to the night his parents were killed had been plaguing his sleep for years. When he was old enough to talk, he spoke of an odd green light, about a lady he didn't know, about a figure cloaked in black with no face. Severus had casually dismissed them, surprised that the magic of Voldemort's wand could create memories in a one year old child.
"I'm not sure, he's never really told me about them, and i don't ask. I figure if he wants to talk about them, he will," Severus lied.
"Regardless, I'm very impressed. You're a good father." Severus smiled at Narcissa. "I just wish Lucius was around more. Sometimes you're more of a father to Draco than he is."
Severus coughed uncomfortably.
"Yes, well, Lucius is a very busy man. We should be going, I need to get him back to the castle. Students will be arriving next week and we both need to prepare."
"Of course, Severus. And Haiden will still be here during the days for independent study, correct?"
"Yes. Lucius will teach them well, I'm sure," Severus said uncertainly. It had been Lucius's idea for the independent study, but Haiden has always travelled to the Malfoy's while Severus was at work. Lucius's duties mostly involved being a dignitary, a governor on Hogwarts' school board, and heading various committees, and he decided to make the time to teach the two boys. Severus had agreed for lack of other options.
"Haiden! Come along now!"
"Awww, Dad! Come on!" The two boys were now int he grass, Haiden trying desperately to wrestly controlof the snitch.
"Yeah, Mr.Severus, come on! Haiden is wishing he could beat- me-" Haiden tackled Draco again, failing to grab the snitch. Severus laughed before composing himself.
"Aww, man! Seeya tomorrow, Coco!" Haiden said, brushing off the dirt on his robes.
"Don't call me COCO!" I'll kill you!" Draco exclaimed, getting a running start and plowing into Haiden. Severus rolled his eyes and pulled Haiden from the skirmish.
"Draco's right, you should never call a man Coco." Haiden sighed.
"Alright, Draco, seeya." Severus picked his 7 year old son up, which was becoming quite a daunting task.
"Ready?" he asked. Haiden frowned.
"I guess," he replied. Within seconds, the unpleasant sensation Hiden loathed washed over him. There was a sharp pull behind his belly button, and suddenly he was back ouside Hogwarts' grounds.
Severus set the boy down and began the short journey home
After cleaning up from the afternoon, the two joined the staff for dinner. Haiden had become quite popular among the staff, but only Dumbledore, Minerva McGonagall, and Madame Pomfrey knew who Haiden truly was.
"So, Haiden, what did you do today?" Dumbledore asked. Shoving a forkful of potatoes in his mouth, Haiden began to respond.
"Mmm n Nram nm-"
"Haiden! You are not a hog at the trough! Chew your food, and then respond," Severus scolded. The boy took a swig of pumpkin juice and then proceeded to respond.
"Me an' Draco played quidditch! But he wouldn't give me the snitch, an' I had to try an' get it, but he wouldn't give it, an' I ran into him, an' I tried to take it, but Dad yelled at me, an' then I called Draco 'coco' but Dad yelled at me again, an' I'm gonna go see Draco tomorrow too, an' I'm going to get that snitch!" Haiden recalled, his voice animated. The staff laughed at Haiden's zeal.
Severus had told Dumbledore long ago about the boys becoming friends. He hadn't been thrilled, but Severus had convinced him that just because Lucius hadn't been a great example didn't mean his son would follow in his footsteps.
"That sounds like a very busy day, Haiden," Dumbledore commented, smiling.
"It was, Mr. Dumbledore, Sir," Haiden replied politely. Severus smiled at his son. Dumbledore had insisted many times for the young boy to refer to him as "Uncle Albus" or just Albus, anything less formal. But "Dumbledore" had been a particularly difficult word for Haiden to pronounce, and once he'd had a success, he said it as often as possible.
"What other things do you and Draco do?"Minerva asked.
"Oh, we built a fort in play room number 3. Miss Narcissa helped us ge the blankets suspended in mid air! And we played on our brooms, 'cause we're gonna play quidditch for England someday! And, we play games, and sometimes we pretend we're aurors looking for bad wizards, but only when Mr.Lucius isn't around, because we got in trouble last time." Severus saw Dumbledore's eyebrows raise.
"And Haiden, how do you know what 'aurors' are?"
"Dad told me once. He said that aurors find bad wizards and keep them from hurting people anymore. Also, I heard Mr. Lucius tell Miss Narcissa that aurors were coming to Draco's house, so I asked if any bad wizards came to visit Mr. Lucius, and he got kinda mad and told me to go play quidditch with Draco, so I did. I think maybe bad wizards are after Draco, Mr. Lucius, and Miss. Narcissa," Haiden finished, whispering the last part as though someone might hear him.
The Hogwarts staff looked at each other and back to the child, who had just consumed a fork full of chicken, seemingly unfazed. Severus put his head in his hands, embarassed by Haiden's candid monolouge.
"You think bad wizards are after the Malfoys? Why would you think that?" asked Minerva.
"Because Draco told me aurors come to his house twice a month, and not for tea like Pansy's mom," he said, referring to the Parkinson's, a prominent pureblood wizarding family, who were not known to be death eaters.
"I don't like Pansy," Haiden continued absently. "She likes to play Healer/sick wizard, and I don't like it, 'cause she makes me 'n' Draco take off our shirts, because she said that when boys are sick at St. Mondo's, they don't have shirts on, but she also said that me 'n' Draco are hot. She said her big sister calls boys hot, but I didn't feel hot,I was actually kinda cold." Minerva's eyes widened, and she looked over to Severus, who now had his head on the dinner table and began praying fora personal natural disaster to delay the tongue lashing he'd receive from McGonagall, and later Dumbledore.
"Well, Haiden, I think it's time for a bath," Severus said quickly before any of the other staff could jump in with questions.
"But Dad! I didn't eat my dessert yet," Haiden protested, eying his chocolate mousse.
"I'll send for a house elf after your bath....in the prefect's bathroom," Severur said enticingly.
"Oh, yay!" Haiden exclaimed, vacating the table immediately and running from the room. It wasn't often he was allowed a bath in the prefect's bathroom, because he could not yet swim. Draco always made fun of the anti drowning charm his father put on him before swimming in the Malfoy lake, but there was something about water that made Haiden uneasy.
"Later," Dumbledore instructed, indicating that a meeting would take place between the two.
"Of couse," Severus said, rising from the table and leaving the room.
"Dad! Come on, I wanna go in!" Haiden whined. They were standing in the bathroom, and Haiden was jumping around anxiously.
"If you don't stand still, I can't put the charm on you!" Severus growled, thoroughly annoyed.
Bubbles popped merrily over the rainbow colored bath. Haiden sighed and stood still, impatiently waiting for the charm.
When it was finally in place, Haiden stripped down and jumped in.
"Whee!" he laughed, splashing the bubbles and turning around in the warm water. Severus sighed and sat down onthe edge of the pool sized bath tub.
"Haiden, sometimes it's okay to hold your tongue. You don't have to divulge every detail of your day to the Hogwarts staff."
"But they asked!" Haiden replied.
"Well, just say you had fun. Say you played. Don't speak about Lucius Malfoy's personal business, that is no worry to you. And Pansy Parkinson! I shall be sending her mother an owl!" Severus said, frowning. Haiden laughed and floated on his back.
" I was just telling the truth. I'm sorry if you're mad at me, father," he said. He often called Severus "father" when he thought he was in trouble. Severus's expression softened slightly.
"It is fine. But know that I will not tolerate you to talk about such things. Lucius Malfoy is a very good friend of mine, and he would be quite upset to hear the things that you are telling Dumbledore."
"Mr. Lucius does not like Dumbledore," Haiden said matter-of-factly. Severus sighed, wondering how a seven year old boy could know so much.
"You are correct, but that does not need to get back to Dumbledore. The two have had differences in the past, but Dumbledore, for what it is worth, is a very good man, and an even better wizard." Haiden nodded and dove underneath the water, leaving his father to past demons.
"Severus, I am surprised at you! How could you let Harry Potter rub noses so closely with Lucius Malfoy! I cannot believe this," Minerva ranted in the headmaster's office.
"Minerva, I did not know that Haiden was eavesdropping on Lucius' private affairs. I assure you I will be keeping closer watch," Severus replied coldly.
"Severus, this is quite disturbing," Dumbledore said quietly. "I know that Haiden is very dear to you, and I stand by my decision that his life here is much better than if he had been raised by his Aunt and Uncle. But, the truth is, the boy is not Haiden Snape, he is Harry Potter, and being so closely associated to Lucius Malfoy is potentially very dangerous, Severus."
"I know, sir, I do. But Haiden is very good friends with Draco now, and Narcissa takes very good care of them. Lucius is rarely around, and when he is, he is not concerned with the children. I assure you that no danger will come to Haiden while he is there."
Dumbledore sighed and laced his finger in his lap.
"Severus, you are filling in as father, and I trust your judgement. I know you will not let any harm come to Haiden. But I must insist that his time with Lucius Malfoy be kept at a minimum."
"Of course," Severus said, bowing his head. He was moderately worried about the tutoring that Haiden was about to start from the very man he was banned from, but Severus figured what Dumbledore didn't know wouldn't hurt him.
"That's it?" Minerva asked. "Did you hear about the Parkinson girl-"
"That will be taken care of," Severus snapped. "If you don't mind, I promised Haiden some chocolate mousse, and I intend to deliver on that process." Dumbledore nodded and waved him away, with Minerva fuming behind him.
Regardless, he had gotten off light, and retreated to the kitchen to retrieve the mousse for his son.