Chapter 3 : Exploring
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The jury watched the memory in the Pensieve, before the judge finally announced, “We need Professor Snape and young Harry to join us here now. It shall be our decision, if Healer Pomfrey can be deemed a fit guardian or if the boy has to go back to his family or become a Ministry ward.
Albus explained about being his grandfather, but the judge couldn’t be convinced and insisted that he wanted to see Severus and Harry immediately, even when Poppy told him that the boy was ill. While Poppy explained about Harry’s injuries and showed the photos and notes she had taken, Albus floo-called Severus in his Potions classroom and instructed him to cancel his classes, get Harry, and floo to the Ministry immediately. Twenty minutes later, the professor arrived, Harry contentedly sleeping in his arms.
When he was questioned about the Legilimens spell, he had to try hard to remember that he had to stay calm for the sake of the child and explained patiently that he used the charm in a very soft way in order not to hurt the boy. Then the judge sent one of his female colleagues to pick Harry up and bring the boy to him. However, as soon as the lady laid her hands on the baby, Harry flinched back forcefully and snuggled deeper into Severus’ robes.
“Have you heard about not touching an abused child?” Severus scolded snidely.
“All right, Professor. The boy may stay in your lap until he is fully awake. However, I need you to wake him up so that I can question him.”
Severus carefully stroked Harry’s cheeks and told him he had to wake up, knowing that everyone in the room was watching his interaction with the little tyke. Finally, Harry woke up, gave Severus a little smile and said, “Uncy Sewwy.”
“Yes, my boy. Now, look over there. That man would like to talk to you about your Uncle Vernon.”
Only hearing the name of his uncle caused Harry to flinch again. The judge told Severus to give Harry to Dumbledore, and Severus calmly explained to Harry, “I need you to go over to Granddad for a few minutes, all right?”
Harry made a face as if he wanted to pout but let Albus pick him up. The judge asked the boy if Uncle Vernon and Uncle Severus had hurt him. Harry threw the unknown man a frightened glance and replied in a small voice. “Uncy Wann vewy bad. Hates Hawwy a wot. Uncy Sewwy vewy good. Hawwy wike Uncy Sewwy.”
“Sorry, could please someone translate this into proper English?” the Dursley’s solicitor asked, and the judge repeated what Harry had said, sounding a little annoyed by the question.
“Uncle Vernon is very bad. He has hurt Harry a lot. Uncle Severus is very good and Harry likes him.”
With this, the trial ended, and everyone was ushered out for a small break. Only ten minutes later, they were called back in for the verdict. This time, Harry was sitting on Poppy’s lap, comfortably leaning into her robe. Vernon and Petunia Dursley were sentenced to a ten-year stay in Azkaban, while Dudley was to live with his Aunt Marge. The judge had also decided that everything was all right with Poppy’s guardianship of Harry.
“You see, little one,” Poppy happily told her little ward, “The Dursleys are going to prison. You won’t see them again, at least not during the next ten years, and they won’t be able to harm you anymore.”
Harry let out a contented yawn and mumbled, “fanku, An Poppy an Uncy Sewwy,” before he snuggled back into her robes and closed his eyes.
A week later, the summer holidays began, and the castle became deserted except for a few teachers and a small boy. When the students had left, Poppy sat down next to Harry and thought that his condition was well enough so that she could allow the child to get up for a moment.
“Harry, do you feel well enough to try to get up and play?”
The little boy threw her an astonished glance and raised an eyebrow. ‘Oh no, he seems to have spent too much time with Severus,’ Poppy thought amused but was pulled out of her thoughts when Harry repeated, “pway?”
‘Oh my,’ Poppy thought desperately. ‘He doesn’t understand the word play.’ She pointed at the playpen and asked, “Would you like to sit there and have a look at the toys? Or would you prefer to go for a small walk exploring the castle?”
Harry, who had finally managed to bring himself into a sitting position, gave his kind guardian a huge smile. “Yes, ikspowe cassul.” His eyes started to twinkle when he remembered something he had seen in the castle before. “Gwanda baddie,” he said excitedly.
Poppy frowned. She had no idea what the child was talking about. “You want to go to see Granddad, Harry?” Seeing that the child was eagerly nodding his head, she continued guessing. Although it was amazing to see how much Harry had learned during the last three weeks, he still had a lot of catching up. The Dursleys had never spoken to him – apart from shouting at him sometimes – and his speaking was still below from what it should be, considering that the boy would be two years old in less than two months. “Do you want Granddad to come here and play with you?”
Harry shook his head. “No, go Gwanda, baddie,” he insisted.
“So, you want to visit Granddad in his office?”
Harry nodded eagerly. “See baddie.”
Finally Poppy understood what he meant. “You want to visit the bird Granddad has? Fawkes, the phoenix?”
“Yeah, see bawdie, fowks,” he cheered.
“If that’s what you want, then let’s do that. Now, I’m going to pick you up, and we’ll walk a bit, all right?”
Harry gave her a small nod. He was still uncomfortable being picked up, although he knew that nobody here would hurt him. So far, Poppy and Severus had been the only people to pick him up, and Harry had – to some extent – gotten used to it.
Poppy picked him up and put him on his feet onto the floor, extending a hand to grip one of Harry’s. However, Harry couldn’t manage to stand alone on his feet and tumbled against her. ‘Oops,’ she thought and asked, “Do you remember how to walk, Harry?” She gripped his left hand and motioned him to try and walk at her side. Harry struggled a lot, however somehow he managed to walk at Poppy’s side. A few times he stumbled, but Poppy always succeeded in catching him before he fell on the stone floor. After twenty minutes, they finally arrived at the gargoyle guarding the Headmaster’s office. Harry was very tired, and Poppy carried him up the stairs into the office, where she sat him down onto a comfortable chair.
“Hello, my dear boy,” Dumbledore greeted him friendly, his eyes twinkling happily. “How good that you could come and visit me! May he have a lemon drop?” he asked then, turning to Poppy, who shook her head vehemently.
“No, Albus. He is still getting used to normal food. Moreover, he is too small to eat drops; he could choke on them.”
Finally, Harry had spotted Fawkes and said excitedly, “dere! De bawdie, Fowks.” The phoenix started to trill a song. It sounded so nice that Harry’s eyes started to twinkle with joy. Suddenly, he noticed that he could understand every word Fawkes was trilling. Harry listened intensely and began to cry.
“Harry, what’s wrong?” Poppy asked astonished.
“Bad bawdie,” Harry wailed. “Hawwy no tupid,” sob, “no wannin woun,” sob, “no bwake fing, bad bawdie.”
Albus started to giggle. Seeing the angry look he received from Poppy and Harry, he explained, “Fawkes has just insulted Harry. He said something about stupid babies running around my office, shouting and breaking things on my desk. You know, this happened before, when the Weasleys visited me with their four smallest children. However, the interesting point is that Harry seems to understand Fawkes’ talking. So far, nobody except for me was able to communicate with him.”
He turned to Harry and told him, “You see, Harry, Fawkes didn’t mean to insult you. He deliberately has a common tongue, and he just had a bad experience with small children a few weeks ago, but I’m sure he knows that you are a very good boy.”
“Fawkes, behave yourself!” he finally addressed the phoenix in a very stern voice.
The phoenix flew down from his perch and settled himself on Harry’s arm, beginning to trill.
#Do you understand me, little one? I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to insult you. You have to learn to transform yourself into a phoenix, and then the two of us will have much fun together, doing mischief all over the castle.#
Harry listened intently and then started to giggle. “Yeah, Hawwy twy,” he replied shyly, not having understood a lot of what Fawkes had told him.
When Fawkes returned to his perch, Harry tiredly leaned back into the comfortable seat and closed his eyes. The long walk had been too much for his little feet that weren’t used to walking at all, and the comforting song of the phoenix had left him in a very relaxed mood.
During the next weeks, Harry often visited Fawkes, and the phoenix seemed to have taken a liking to Harry as much as the boy loved the bird. Due to Minerva’s and Albus’ pleas, Poppy and Harry were staying at Hogwarts over the whole summer. As nearby as Poppy’s and Aberforth’s home was, it was outside the strong wards of Hogwarts, and it was so much safer for Harry to remain within the wards. However, Poppy took Harry for a walk to her home every morning, where they stayed together with Aberforth until he had to leave for work in the afternoon.
Aberforth had a goat, Ginevra, and Harry just loved her. As his walking abilities had recovered very well, he spent much time running after the goat, chasing her around the garden. The goat didn’t seem to mind; she appeared to be very careful not to hurt the little boy. Aberforth taught him to feed Ginevra, and Harry was very proud that he could manage such an important task.
Most days, Poppy and Harry returned to Hogwarts just in time for dinner, which they started to take in the Great Hall together with the few people that stayed at the castle during the holidays. Apart from Poppy and Harry, only Albus, Minerva, Severus, Pomona and Hagrid appeared at mealtimes.
When they entered the Great Hall for the first time, Harry was stunned. He glanced in awe at the beautiful ceiling and the blue sky he could see. Poppy sat him in the child’s chair the house elves had prepared for Harry, and he shyly looked down at the floor. There were too many people for his liking, and he felt a bit uncomfortable in the extremely huge Hall.
“Hello Harry. Is everything all right?” suddenly a voice he knew quite well spoke to him from his right side.
Harry was aware of the fact that Poppy was sitting on his left side, so he hesitantly threw a timid glance to his right side and saw his grandmother sitting there. “Hi Gwanny,” he said, relaxing visibly as he noticed that he was sitting between his aunt and his granny. He slowly moved his eyes around and got a look at the other people surrounding the round table. He recognized his grandfather, Severus and Hagrid, but there was a woman he hadn’t met before. Carefully, as to not attract any unnecessary attention, he pulled at Poppy’s robes and asked in a small voice, “An Poppy, who dat dere?”
Pomfrey laughed. “This, Harry, is Pomona Sprout, our teacher of Herbology. She knows everything about herbs and plants in the wizarding world. And I’m sure that she will be pleased to answer any question you might have.”
“Yes, Harry,” Sprout addressed the small boy and gave him a huge smile. “Would you like to visit me in the Greenhouses one day?”
Harry nodded excitedly before he replied, “Yeah, I wike go gween house. Fankyou.” Then he turned to his grandmother. “An An Wowa?” Harry asked timidly, missing the funny teacher, who always joked so much with him.
“Aunt Rolanda has gone to see her family, Harry. However, she will be back in time for your birthday I think,” Minerva informed him and was rewarded with a huge smile.
During the next weeks, Harry got very used to the remaining occupants of the castle and very slowly lost his shyness towards the teachers, whom he met every evening. His physical condition had also improved a lot, and Harry seemed to enjoy himself every day.
The teachers, who had remained at the castle, except for Hagrid, had started to make a habit of meeting in Poppy’s office, sitting together, and drinking tea every evening. They normally met an hour after dinner, when Poppy had put Harry to bed.
“I’m wondering if we should let him meet other children,” Poppy said one evening, absentmindedly playing with the stopper of a potions phial.
“I believe that would be a good idea. Now, whom do we have of Harry’s age?” Pomona threw in.
“Oh, there are a few, I believe,” Minerva replied. “Ron Weasley, Neville Longbottom, Susan Bones…”
“Draco Malfoy is the same age, too,” Severus added, smirking.
“You don’t want to let Harry play with a Malfoy, do you?” Minerva reprimanded him sharply.
“He is my godson, Minerva. And frankly speaking, I intend to care about him as much as possible in order to influence him, so that he will make better choices than his father. I would never let Harry go to the Malfoys, but I believe it would be a good idea for Draco to visit me for a few days. Then he could play with Harry, and I can imagine that both of them would be good for the other.”
“I think that’s a good idea,” Poppy agreed. “Could you try and invite Draco over then, please?”
Draco arrived a few days later and had been allowed to stay with his godfather for a whole week. At first, Harry was very shy towards the other boy. Draco was only two months older than him, but he was much bigger and healthier, and he could speak better than Harry. Moreover, the last time Harry had met children of his age had been nearly a year ago, and he couldn’t remember much of that time.
They met for the first time, when everyone was filing into the Great Hall for dinner. Draco immediately extended a hand to Harry and introduced himself. “Hello. My name is Draco Malfoy, and I am two years old.”
Harry immediately hid behind Poppy’s robes, but Severus softly told him that Draco was his godson and that he would like the two boys to become friends. He took Harry’s hand and finally managed to coax him to speak to Draco.
“Hello Dwaco. I’m Hawwy. I’m neawwy two, too.” He threw the bigger boy a timid smile, which Draco returned immediately.
Draco hadn’t met many other children either, as from the death of Voldemort onwards, his parents had withdrawn from their former allies in order to prove their innocence towards the Ministry. So, he was glad to be able to play with Harry, and the two boys got along very well. As Severus’ quarters couldn’t be considered too child-safe, everyone had agreed that Draco should spend the nights together with Harry in the nursery within Poppy’s quarters – to the great joy of the two boys. Poppy and Severus were taking turns bathing the children, putting them to bed, and reading a bedtime story, and both of them noticed how much easier it was to keep Harry content than Draco, who was very spoilt for his age.
On the morning of the day Draco had to go home, Harry was woken up by his friend very early. “Harry, wake up. Nobody is wake yet. We can go flying. Look, I’ve bringed my broom.”
“Fwy? Hawwy cawn’t fwy,” Harry weakly protested, but noticing that he couldn’t stop Draco, he climbed out of his crib and followed his friend out to the grounds.
Draco mounted his toddler’s broom he had brought to Hogwarts without anybody noticing, because he had asked his house elf to put a diminishing charm on it, and showed Harry how to fly. “You want try?” he then asked Harry.
Harry, who had been excitedly jumping up and down all the time, nodded enthusiastically. He took the broom from Draco, sat on it like he had been shown a few minutes ago, and started to fly. And he loved it immediately. He flew around the school grounds and over the lake, and enjoyed himself immensely. Until now, he hadn’t experienced anything more pleasant. However, suddenly, Severus’ stern voice brought him back to reality.
“Harry Potter, come down here immediately!”
Hearing the shouting voice, Harry suddenly remembered his Uncle Vernon. He was so frightened that his hands started to shake; he went into a panic attack and finally lost the grip on his broom. Harry could hear Draco’s shout of horror when he started to tumble down. By the time strong hands pulled him on another, much bigger broom, he had already blacked out.
When he regained consciousness, he was lying in his bed, and his grandmother was sitting on the edge of his bed, reading a book. “Gwanny,” Harry said, remembering his flight. “What happen? Is Dwaco awwight?”
Minerva sighed. “Yes, Harry, Draco is all right. However, he had to return home today. You know that, don’t you?” When Harry gave her a sad nod, she continued, “However, what you have done was very naughty. Flying is very dangerous, and you shouldn’t have gone flying without asking for permission. You were more than lucky that Uncle Severus came just in time to save you. Otherwise you would have been dangerously hurt if not worse. Please promise that you won’t do such a stupid thing again.”
“I pwomis,” Harry replied in a hardly understandable voice, while he averted his eyes to his bedcover, unconsciously playing with the cover. Suddenly he shivered and noticed that he didn’t feel well at all. “Hawwy cowwd,” he told his granny uncomfortably.
“You are cold?” Minerva asked astonished. She carefully placed a cold hand on Harry’s forehead and sighed. “You seem to have a fever, Harry. Maybe you have caught a cold, because you went out into the fresh morning air only in your pyjamas. You’ll probably have to stay in bed for the rest of the day. I will get Poppy for you, so that she can make you feel better. I’ll be back later, my boy.” She gave him a kiss on the forehead and left the room, looking for her friend.
Poppy was very angry but tried to keep her emotions at bay just as Minerva had done, because she didn’t want the boy to feel too bad about the whole thing, especially as he seemed to be sick. However, he had to understand how dangerous it had been. She checked on him and made him drink a children’s version of the Pepper-Up potion that Severus had just invented for Harry. Then she spoke to him for quite a while and finally told him that he had to get punished for what he had done. When Harry threw her a frightened glance, she said, “You will be grounded for the rest of the week. No excursions to our home to play with Ginevra, no conversations with Fawkes, and no visits with any of the teachers. You will stay here in your room to play until Sunday.”
However, this punishment didn’t affect Harry at all as everyone took pity on the little tyke. Nearly all the time one of the teachers sat with Harry, telling him stories or reading books to him. During this week, he received more sweets than he had ever had before.
Uncle Severus however, was a different matter. The first time he came to see Harry after the event, he sat down next to the boy, watching him with a very stern face. Harry squirmed, only hesitantly glimpsing at the menacing face of the teacher. However, Severus, too, managed to keep his emotions at bay. “Harry,” he began in a softer voice than the little boy had expected, “Do you know how dangerous that was? You could have died! It was only by chance that I was looking for you outside at the right time. I am aware of the fact that it must have been Draco’s idea and not yours to go flying. However, what you did was wrong. If Draco or someone else suggests to you doing something, which you have never done before, and you are not sure if you are supposed to do what they say, then you will come to either Poppy or Aberforth or any of the teachers here and ask for permission. Have you understood that?”
“Yes, Uncy Sewwy,” Harry answered in a small, hoarse voice. “I’m sowwy, Uncy Sewwy. An fanku fow hewpin me.” Harry wanted to say more but couldn’t help crying until his cries ended up in a coughing fit. He just managed to get out, “Dwaco?”
Severus gave the little boy that somehow had managed to wiggle his way into the stern man’s heart a smile. “Don’t cry, Harry. Draco is fine; he had to go home anyway, which is punishment enough for him.” Seeing that Harry was listening interestingly he continued, “His mother has taught him that his father is evil, which is correct, and Draco hates his father. However, this is a long and difficult story, which I shall tell you when you are bigger.”
Noticing that Harry looked tired, he told him, “Now, go to sleep, Harry. When Poppy let’s you out again, I will take you flying. I promise.”
Harry gave Severus a short nod and mumbled, “Lowwe fwyn,” while he drifted off.
“I’ve seen that you love flying, and you are a brilliant flyer,” Severus whispered into the little boy’s ear.
On Sunday afternoon, the weather was so bright and warm that the teachers decided to hold a picnic beside the lake instead of eating lunch in the Great Hall. Harry was over the moon with joy. He had so much fun as he had never experienced a picnic; and this one even took place beside the lake, which he loved so much. The house elves, who were always glad when they had something to do during the holidays, had outdone themselves, and the meal was delicious. Harry ate little and then tiredly leaned back into Severus, huddled into a warm blanket.
However, suddenly, the boy jumped up and ran like a bat out of hell in the direction of Hogsmeade. The teachers glanced at each other enquiringly, and Severus started to run after the child.
I do not own any of the characters in this story; they all belong to J.K.Rowling or are a free creation, and I am not earning anything by writing this story.
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