Harry carefully tried to remember what Severus had taught him and stepped a bit further into the sea in order to try to swim. When he managed to swim a few strokes he felt very happy. ‘I must ask Uncle Severus if I can swim in the lake at Hogwarts. I must show him that I still can swim,’ he thought enthusiastically.
Deep in his own thoughts, he didn’t notice a huge wave coming up from behind and then suddenly, the wave pulled him into its wake and he was tumbled around viciously. To Harry, it seemed endless until he finally managed to pull his head out of the water again. Panicking, he tried to catch his breath and search for the beach, noticing that it was quite far away.
‘What can I do?’ he thought frantically. ‘I could transform into my phoenix form, but will I be able to swim? Or can I flash within the water?’ He just didn’t know what to do. Suddenly, a new wave pushed him a little more in the direction of the beach, which already seemed much nearer. Harry made up his mind and started to swim as fast as he could. A few meters before reaching the beach, however, the water overpowered him again, and once again, Harry began to panic. He concentrated on his wish magic and wished the beach was just here, so that he could lie down and rest for a while. Clinging to this thought, Harry sent all his magic into his wish, and suddenly the beach started to expand a few meters until Harry fell down at the edge of the water, unconscious.
Unfortunately, at the hotel, dinner was just being served and the beach was completely deserted. Luckily for Harry, Amelia, Remus, and Severus arrived with their new Portkey a few minutes later. On the empty beach, it only took them minutes to spot Harry’s unconscious form. Severus quickly cast a drying charm and a warming charm on the child before he waved his wand over him to assess what was wrong.
“The foolish boy obviously went swimming in spite of the red flag that prohibits swimming. I don’t know what he did, but probably he had to rescue himself because he has depleted his magic completely,” Severus said, his face twisted in an angry frown.
In the meantime, Amelia had gathered Harry’s clothes, and Severus quickly spelled the clothes onto the child. He then searched Harry’s robe pockets and presented the Portkey bag to Amelia and Remus. “Here, this is yours. Inside you’ll find a voucher for the hotel and everything you’ll need for your holiday. The bag will serve as a Portkey back and will activate at ten o’clock in the morning on the first of September,” Severus instructed the newly-weds.
Then Severus picked up Harry and fingered his own necklace, forcing one of Harry’s fingers around it and mumbled the incantation, ‘back home’. An instant later, Severus and Harry arrived at the Potions Master’s quarters at Hogwarts. Severus laid the still unconscious Harry onto his own bed and called Skippy, the house elf.
“Good evening, Professor Snape, sir. What cans Skippy dos for you, sir?”
“Go to the Great Hall, tell Professors Dumbledore, McGonagall and Madam Pomfrey that Harry is back and ask Poppy to Floo-call me or come here.”
A few minutes later, Poppy, Minerva, and Albus entered the Potions Master’s quarters. Severus left his bedroom, waving his three visitors over. “What happened, Severus?” Poppy asked quickly.
“He obviously had to go swimming, ignoring the red flags all over the beach because of the high waves. I don’t know what else happened. When we arrived at the beach, he was already lying at the edge of the water and was unconscious. Apart from that and being completely physically and magically exhausted, he seems to be fine.”
“Yes, you’re right,” Poppy agreed after a quick wave of her wand. She remained pensive for a moment. “I’ll take him with me and we can stay at Hogwarts during the last few days of the holidays. However, I have to return home for maybe an hour first. Can I leave him here for another hour; or would any of you be so kind as to watch him while I’m gone?”
“Why don’t you just leave Harry here until he is conscious again?” Severus suggested.
“That’s a good idea,” Albus threw in.
“All right, if you don’t mind, Severus, I’ll just leave him here with you. When you sleep here together with him, you’ll know when his condition changes. Remember, the last times he went swimming on his own and wasn’t dried up immediately after leaving the water he got a cold and I suppose it won’t be too different this time.”
“I’m here with him, it’s all right, Poppy, and when I need you, I’ll send Skippy.”
When Poppy Floo-called the parents of Harry’s friends to tell them that the children couldn’t meet at her home during the last few days of the holidays because Harry was sick, she instructed Mr. Granger to which fireplace he could Floo at Hogwarts during the afternoon for his lessons.
Hermione, however, didn’t take the news well as she would not be able to see her friends. She jumped up and down on the floor, shouting, “And I will go to Hogwarts with you! I want to see Harry, even if he’s ill he will be happy to see me, and I can help him get better. I go with you!” Before her parents could even think about restraining her, she grabbed some Floo powder, jumped into the fireplace, and shouted, “Hogwarts Hospital wing.”
Mr. Granger couldn’t do anything but quickly Floo after his daughter. Poppy was quite astonished to say the least when suddenly her fireplace flared and Hermione stumbled out. Before she could question the girl, Hermione explained, “Sorry, Madam Pomfrey, but I want to visit Harry. Is there any book about this castle in the library, which I could borrow and read to Harry?”
At that moment, Mr. Granger arrived and apologized for his daughter. “Ah, don’t worry about that, Mr. Granger. I will take care of your daughter until you return home. She wants to visit Harry and read a book to him. However, I have to ask Professor Snape as Harry is staying in his bedroom for the time being. Harry is still unconscious and has a bad cold, but I think reading to him is a nice idea.”
“All right,” Mr. Granger agreed. “I’ll see you later then.” He quickly left Poppy’s office.
Poppy let the child into Harry’s room, where she fetched a book from the bookshelf. “This is ‘Hogwarts – A History’. It’s a very interesting book, and I’m sure you’ll like it. Harry just received it for his birthday a few weeks ago, so he hasn’t read it yet. But I’m sure he won’t mind if you borrowed it for a few days.”
“Thank you, Madam Pomfrey,” Hermione said happily and followed Poppy back to her office, listening to the woman talking to the stern teacher over the Floo. A minute later, she found herself walking through the empty halls of the castle down to the dungeons together with Poppy.
Hermione spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on Harry’s bed next to her friend. She had been a bit unsure at first, entering the menacing looking professor’s bedroom.
However, Severus seemed not to mind her being there. On the contrary, when she had settled down next to Harry, he cleared his throat and spoke up. “Ms. Granger, thank you for coming. In fact, I wanted to brew a potion for Harry but didn’t want to leave him alone. However, knowing that you are watching him for the time being, I shall leave you to it and spend some time in my lab. If you need anything or believe Harry is feeling worse, either come and knock at my lab’s door – he pointed over to a door opposite of his bedroom – or call Skippy, one of our House elves that cares a lot about Harry.”
“All right, Professor, thank you.” Hermione opened the book she had brought and started to read aloud, wondering if Harry could hear her. After nearly an hour of reading, she became tired and carefully put the book on the night table before she lay down next to Harry and proceeded to talk to her friend.
“What did you do Harry to become unconscious and sick? I’d like you to speak to me. Did you like the book I read to you? It’s called ‘Hogwarts – A History’, and your Aunt Poppy lent it to me. I love it! It’s so interesting, don’t you think so?”
Hermione carefully stroked her friend’s cheeks. “You’re hot, Harry, what’s wrong with you? Please wake up. I like you very much, and you’re the bestest friend I ever had.”
When Severus came an hour later to look after the children, he found them both fast asleep next to each other, slightly hugging each other. He frowned immediately at the sight but couldn’t help as the edges of his mouth pulled upwards a few seconds later. Waving his wand over Harry, he noticed that the boy’s condition had changed from unconsciousness to a deep sleep. Deciding to just let the children sleep, he returned to his lab.
An hour later, Poppy led Mr. Granger into Severus’ quarters and found the children in the same condition. “Oh my, they are too cute. Come, have a look,” she motioned Hermione’s father who was waiting in the living room. “Hermione, you have to get up, your father wants to go home,” she called the girl carefully, and Hermione woke up with a jolt.
Hermione crawled out of the bed, careful not to wake Harry. Just before she left the room, she could hear a mumbled, “Love you too, Mione. Come back t’morrow.”
Hermione’s reading and talking to the child had obviously helped him. On the next day, Severus sat on the edge of his bed, reading a book while Harry was peacefully sleeping. Suddenly, Severus heard a mumbled, “Daddy.”
Utterly shocked, he turned around only to face two bright green eyes watching him. “What did you say, Harry?” he asked, trying to keep his face completely blank.
‘Oh my, what did I say, I cannot say that aloud,’ Harry thought, feverishly searching for something to say. “I wondered if you could tell me something about my Mummy and Daddy,” Harry finally said, noticing that Severus seemed to relax a little.
Not exactly sure if he should be disappointed or relieved, Severus began to tell Harry about his mother. “She was the brightest witch I’ve ever known and the kindest. She was my best friend during all our childhood until she married your father. Some of the children were always very mean to me, but Lily always stood on my side in spite of being a Gryffindor like the other students.”
Seeing that Harry was listening intently, Severus continued, “Lily’s favourite subject at school was Charms and Professor Flitwick told me she received more points in her Charms NEWTs than anybody had achieved in more than a hundred years.”
“Why did they die?” Harry asked suddenly.
“There was a very bad wizard, the Dark Lord. A seer had made a prophecy about this bad man and you, which said that you were the only one who could kill him. Even when Lily was still pregnant with you, others could notice what a powerful wizard you were because you were doing a lot of accidental magic. Concerned for your safety your grandfather managed to convince Lily and James to go into hiding. They lived under a safety Charm called the Fidelius Charm, but unfortunately the Secret Keeper Pettigrew, a friend of your father, was a traitor and told the Dark Lord about your whereabouts and he attacked you and your family. This attack is what you sometimes see in your dreams.”
“What exactly is the Fidelius Charm?” Harry asked, quickly blinking a few times to hold back his tears.
“The Fidelius Charm means that a secret – be it a person or a location – is protected by a single person, the Secret Keeper. Only this person can tell others where the place or the person is. For example, if I had wanted to visit you or your Mummy in your house, I’d have had to ask Pettigrew for the information on where your house was.”
“Oh,” Harry said, his mind turning around very quickly. “Uncle Severus, when does school start again?”
Severus gave Harry a strange glance, shocked by the fast change of the topic. His head was still full of thoughts about Lily. “The students will come back on Sunday, and school is going to start on Monday.”
“How often do I have to sleep until Sunday?”
“Today is Wednesday, so it’s still four days until Sunday. Hopefully you’ll be back to full health by then.”
Hermione returned every afternoon and read her soon to be favourite book to Harry. When her parents didn’t allow her to Floo to Hogwarts on Saturday, she threw a huge temper tantrum. As this didn’t help she ran into her room, locked the door with a bout of accidental magic, and proceeded to read the book she had borrowed from Poppy until hunger overtook her anger on Sunday evening.
On Saturday, Harry was finally allowed to get up. While he had been sick, everyone had behaved around him as if nothing had happened. Now however Severus couldn’t keep his anger back. When Harry had woken up for the first time a few days ago, he had watched the child’s memory and saw how glad they could be that Harry was still alive. But as long as Harry was unwell he hadn’t spoken to him about what had happened in order not to worsen his condition again by making him upset. Now that he was better, Severus sat on the edge of his bed and gave Harry a very stern look.
“All right, Harry. You may get up and also return to your own room today. However, you must still rest and you mustn’t do any magic at all until Aunt Poppy tells you that you can do magic again. That will however take at least a week. Now, Harry, I don’t believe that I need to tell you how foolish your actions were at the beach.”
“I’m sorry, Uncle Severus,” Harry started to sob. “I was very stoopid, I know. I won’t do it again.”
“I hope you won’t do such a stunt again. You were very lucky to have survived at all, but you probably wouldn’t be so lucky the next time. I am very disappointed; I had thought you were a big boy I could rely on, but you have shown that you are still a very small child, not able to even take responsibility of yourself when left alone for a few minutes.” Severus tried hard not to shout at the child but he couldn’t prevent his anger from spilling over.
Harry couldn’t help crying his eyes out. Sensing the disappointment coming from his favourite uncle, whom he loved as if he was his father, made him very sad. He knew that he had been more than stupid and that he had been in great danger. Hermione and Uncle Severus had helped him overcome his shock of what had happened by caring for him during the last days. But now his uncle seemed to be so angry, and Harry just couldn’t stand it. He lay back and sobbed uncontrollably.
Seeing that the child was in no condition to listen to him, Severus silently stood up and went into his lab to fetch a calming draught. However, when he held the phial to Harry’s lips, the boy, who had cried himself into a panic attack, pushed it away and quickly scrambled out of the bed, running out of Severus’ quarters.
Too stunned to react in time, Severus remained seated on the bed for a few minutes, wallowing in self-reproach. ‘What have I done to the child? He was panicking. Obviously, I was too hard on him, but on the other hand he finally has to learn to be more careful and not to do such stupid stunts. I should have told him how much I love him and that I’m just worried about him.’ Severus sighed and tried to calm down a little before he proceeded to Floo-call Poppy.
Poppy was in her office getting ready for the students to arrive on Sunday evening when the door to the Hospital wing opened and revealed a completely drained and very hysterical little boy. “Harry!” She shouted. “What happened?”
Harry was too exhausted to reply. He just leaned into Poppy, who immediately pulled him up onto her lap, and continued to cry. Noticing that the child felt very warm to the touch, Poppy carried him into his room, grabbing a calming draught on the way. Harry let himself be put onto his bed and didn’t refuse the potion this time, finally calming down a bit. “What’s wrong, Harry?” she asked softly, still very confused about what might have happened.
“Uncle Severus is very angry with me. He doesn’t like me anymore,” Harry managed to get out between his sobs that in the meantime had turned into coughs.
“No, Harry, that’s nonsense,” Poppy replied firmly, ignoring the fireplace alerting her to the fact that someone was calling her on the Floo. “Uncle Severus loves you very much, and therefore he was worried about what happened to you as was I. You know Uncle Severus; he’s not a very friendly person but he means well. He was angry because you put yourself in so much danger and he doesn’t want anything bad to happen to you because you’re our precious little boy,” Poppy said calmingly, kissing Harry on the forehead.
While Harry gave her a hopeful look from his tearstained eyes, Poppy quickly waved her wand over the child. “Now, Harry, stop crying, you’re making your condition worse,” she admonished the child and quickly went over to her office to lace a Fever Reducer with a Sleeping Potion before she returned to the child. Harry obediently downed the potion and fell asleep immediately.
Harry slept through until Sunday morning. In the meantime, Poppy had talked to Severus and had filled him in on what Harry had told her. “He told me ‘Uncle Severus is angry at me and doesn’t like me any more’. I’ve tried to explain that you were angry because you love him and don’t want anything to happen to him. Harry is very sensitive. Although he was only a year old when he came to stay with his relatives, the fact that they taught him he wasn’t worth anyone’s love or care is still influencing him.”
Poppy had also advised Minerva, suspecting that the professor also intended to talk to Harry, to assure him that she loved him very much even if he had done something really bad.
Very early on Sunday morning, a charm alerted Poppy to the fact that Harry was waking up. She quickly got up and went over to the child’s room, sitting down next to him. “Good morning, Harry. Do you feel better?” she asked softly.
Harry lazily opened his eyes, which had returned to their normal amazing green colour, and slung his thin arms around Poppy, nodding his head. “Thank you, Aunt Poppy, I’m sorry for running away from Uncle Severus yesterday,” Harry said quietly.
“Do you want to eat breakfast in the Great Hall?”
Harry shook his head. “No, I’m not hungry.”
Poppy frowned. “Shall we eat breakfast here at home then?”
Harry nodded his head eagerly. “Yes, please.”
“All right.” Poppy sighed. “I want you to stay at home today and rest anyway. We can play together in the living room, or I can read you a book if you want. However, I’m sure you don’t want to miss the Welcoming Feast tonight, right?”
“I want to go to the Welcoming Feast. May I go and sit with Bill and Charlie then?”
“Yes, you may,” Poppy replied, smiling.
In the afternoon, Harry and Poppy were sitting on the sofa reading books, when, after a brisk knock Severus entered the room. “I’m sorry to disturb you but I’d like to have a few words with Harry,” the man said softly.
“Oh, that’s good,” Poppy replied immediately. “In fact, I have a few things to do. I just didn’t want Harry to be alone. Sit down, Severus, you can talk here if you wish.”
Severus gave Poppy a grateful nod and sat down on the spot she had just vacated while Poppy bustled away. “Harry,” he quietly addressed the child. “Can you put away your book for a minute and listen to me?”
Harry carefully put his owl bookmark back into the book, making sure that the owl’s head and feet were lolling out on either side of the book. Then he nervously shoved his hands underneath his legs so that he was sitting on them and gave Severus an anxious glance.
“Very well, Harry. Now, listen to me please. There are many students in the castle. Now imagine that one of those you know but aren’t especially friends with does something really foolish and he or she was hurt. You’d think, ‘stupid boy’, right?”
Harry gave him a slight nod, unsure about where the professor’s speech was heading.
“Now, Harry, imagine that Bill, Charlie or Ms. Tonks did something very stupid landing himself or herself in the Hospital Wing, dangerously injured. Would you just think ‘They’re stupid’, or would you be very upset because you care and worry about them?”
Harry proceeded to play with his bookmark’s feet before he mumbled in such a small voice that Severus could barely understand him, “I’d probably be upset.”
“Exactly, Harry. You’d be upset because you care about the person and don’t want something to happen to her or him. Now, why do you think I was so angry that you hurt yourself so badly by doing something so foolish?”
“Because you care about me?” Harry mumbled, though it was a bit more coherent this time as he gazed at his uncle timidly.
“Exactly, Harry. I love you very much, and I would be devastated if something happened to you. What you did was so dangerous and I was so worried about you that I became very upset with you. I’m sorry for scolding you and not pointing this out in the first place,” Severus explained, keeping his voice soft.
Tears started to run down Harry’s cheeks and he threw himself at the man next to him. “I’m sorry, too,” Harry sobbed. “And I’m sorry for running away. I love you too, Uncle Severus.”
When Poppy returned to her living room an hour later she found Severus reading Harry’s book, even though Harry was fast asleep in Severus’ lap, a happy smile on the little boy’s lips.
During the Sorting, Harry sat between Bill and Charlie, whispering to them eagerly. “Can you do me a favour?” he asked hesitantly.
“Of course, Harry. What do you want us to do?” Bill questioned astonished.
Harry threw an anxious glance around but deciding that there was no threat of a teacher being nearby he whispered, “I want you to search in the library for detailed information about the Fidelius Charm. Can you do that for me?”
The two boys stared in astonishment at the small boy but gave him a comforting nod. “Yes, Harry, but promise to tell us what you’re going to do before you do something dangerous, all right?”
“Yes,” Harry promised solemnly, a mischievous look on his face. “I will do that. Can you go to the library tomorrow?”
My new one-shot story "Harry and his first Valentine Day" is a small side episode to this story - involving Harry and Hermione :-)
Look at the photo section of my Yahoo News Group for chapter graphics (not for every chapter though). Soon to come: A poll about whom you want me Harry to pair with in the future! The link is on my profile page :-).
Thanks to ObsidianEmbrace and JWOHPfan for beta-ing :-)
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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