Lily was watching her two-year-old son as he picked up one of his favorite books, Goodnight Moon, and attempted to "read" it. Of course Harry couldn't really read, but he had memorized the oft loved tale so well that it seemed he really was reading, to the casual observer. But Lily knew better. Harry was starting to recognize some letters and his name and words like Mum, Dad, dog, cat, and so forth, but precocious as he was, he could not truly read. Yet. But her husband predicted that given Harry's love of the written word, the scamp would be reading before he ever attended preschool.
Yet it was not her son's preoccupation with the big orange colored book that had her staring, but the way he was holding it to his eyes. Instead of holding it a fair distance from his face, Harry had it practically plastered to his nose, and was squinting at the letters and the pictures, almost as if he couldn't see them right.
"That's odd." Lily murmured, half to herself. "He's never done that before. I wonder . . .?" James had had bad eyesight, too bad to be corrected with anything other than a pair of glasses. She had thought Harry might have escaped that fate, but seeing him with the book smushed against his face . . . "Harry, sweetie, why don't you put the book in your lap?"she suggested, moving over to where her son was sitting on the sofa and gently placing Goodnight Moon in his lap. "There, isn't that better? Now you can see the whole page."
But her son was squinting his eyes again. "No. This way, Mummy!" he said, and pulled the book to about a foot from his nose again. "See it like this."
Lily frowned. "Harry, honey, look at me."
Her son did, gazing at her with his bright emerald eyes.
Lily held up three fingers, Harry had learned so far to count to five. "Harry, how many fingers do I have up?"
Harry squinted. "Uh . . .you gots one . . .two . . .three! Three fingers, Mummy!" He clapped his hands.
"Yes. Very good." Then she moved to the opposite end of the sofa and held up her hand again. "Now how many fingers, Harry?"
"Uh . . .two?" he guessed, for his mummy's hand was very fuzzy and he couldn't quite make it out. Lily was about four feet away from him. "Two fingers, Mummy!"
Lily shook her head, concerned. "No, sweetie. I have three fingers up. Can't you see that?"
Harry shook his head a little. "Two fingers!"
Lily moved back to within two feet of her son and held out her hand, palm forward, again. "Now how many, Harry?"
"Three!" he sang out. This was a fun game, counting.
But when she held out four fingers at the end of the couch, or across the room, Harry couldn't see them correctly. It appeared he was having problems with his eyesight. I'll call Severus, she thought quickly. Today's Tuesday, his half day, he should be able to fit Harry in and give him an eye exam. She quickly used the Mirror of Communication to contact her husband at his office.
Severus told her to Apparate over with Harry immediately, he was currently free, and he would set up some tests for Harry's vision.
* * * * * *
Five minutes later, Harry was sitting in a comfy leather chair and his daddy was showing him different pictures on cards and asking him, "What is this picture of, Harry?"
"Good. And what color is it?"
"Yes. And how about this one?"
"Excellent! And the frog is colored what?"
Then Severus moved a few feet further back. "And this one?"
"Ummm . . .a horse?"
"Take another look." Severus said, for the picture was of a dog.
Harry did, but the picture was blurry and he couldn't make it out. "A puppy?" he guessed.
Severus shook his head. "Don't guess, Harry. Can you see this picture?"
Harry squinted hard. "It a . . .dragon!"
"No, son." Severus moved closer, to within three feet of his son. "Now tell me what it is."
"Very good! And the dog is colored?"
"Blue!" Harry giggled. "Silly doggie! Dogs not blue, Dad!"
"No, they aren't." Severus agreed. Then he held out his fingers. "Harry, how many fingers am I holding?"
Harry counted slowly. "Five! It's you whole hand, Daddy!"
"Right, scamp. That's my whole hand." He moved away, about six feet across the exam room. "And now how many?"
Once again the little boy got it wrong and Severus lowered his hand and drew his wand. He was not an Occular Specialist, but he did know basic spells to detect nearsightedness and pressure in eyes. He returned to his son and said softly, "Harry, I need you to keep your eyes wide open and not blink. Can you do that for me?"
Severus chanted a spell and the tip of his wand lit up. He gently examined his son's beautiful eyes, noting in dismay that Harry's vision was impaired badly. "Don't move, son," he muttered, holding Harry's head still and repeating a different spell.
That too came back with the same result. Severus lowered his wand and looked at Lily, who had been standing behind Harry's chair. "Well, he's definitely not seeing correctly. I believe he's nearsighted, in the left eye more than the right, but based on the tests, he needs glasses, Lily."
"Just like James. I had hoped it would skip him."
"No, most times, poor eyesight is inherited." Severus said matter-of-factly. "But the good thing is that it can be corrected with glasses."
"Do they make glasses for such a young child, Sev?"
"Yes, I can order him a pair from the St. Mungos Occular Specialist." He ruffled Harry's hair. "How would you like to wear glasses, scamp?"
Harry looked up at him, interested. "Glasses?"
"Yes. Like Pop sometimes does," Severus said, recalling then that Hal wore reading glasses.
Harry nodded eagerly. "Yes! I wear them, Dad."
"I'll place the order today along with my exam results," said the Master Healer. "The glasses should be ready in two days."
Lily looked relieved and hugged both her son and her husband. If poor eyesight was the least of Harry's health problems, they were lucky.
* * * * * *
Harry's new glasses arrived via the owl post, delivered to Severus's office within two days of his exam. The toddler did not mind the spectacles at all, they were light and easy to put off and on and they came with a special soft quilted case with Snitches and dragons on it, plus some lens cleaner and a soft cloth. Severus showed Harry how to put the glasses off and on and tested his eyes with them and found his son's vision much improved.
But while that problem was easily corrected, Harry's penchant for mischief was not. A week after his disastrous visit to Hogwarts, the imp of mischief reared its head again and the two-year-old once more discovered the joys of "drawing" on everything but parchment and coloring books.
Now that Harry had glasses, colors and shapes were much brighter and sharper than ever before, and now he discovered how to "paint" with Mummy and Daddy's funny feathers that they kept in a jar on their desk with some weird black and red and purple stuff Mum called ink.
The ink wasn't quite as good as the paint Auntie Min had given him that day, but it would do better than a crayon to draw pictures on the wall of the room Daddy called "the study" or "the office" which had only two boring frames of writing called "diplomas". The walls were just begging for some new pictures and since Harry couldn't find any paper, he could just draw on them directly.
He was glad that Mummy had fallen asleep on the couch in front of the TV and Daddy was busy talking to Uncle Matt in the kitchen, because it gave him time to surprise them with all his pretty pictures.
Harry drew his versions of a dog barking, a car, a kitty walking, balloons, himself and his Mum and Dad in the park, a broom, a bird like the ones he'd seen in Diagon Alley, and anything else he could think of.
Before long he had used all of the ink and went looking for more, leaving handprints on Severus's new leather desk chair and Lily's proposal book as well as the desk itself. But to Harry's disappointment, the drawers were locked. "Damn it!" he cried and kicked one, using a word he had heard Lily say yesterday when she had burned her finger on the tea kettle.
But the wall looked much better any how, the toddler thought, pleased with his artwork. Wouldn't Mum and Dad be surprised?
* * * * * *
"Merciful heavens!" Lily cried when she entered the office an hour and a half later, only to discover her son covered in ink and having painted all the walls with various colors of ink. "Harry, what the blazes have you done, you naughty boy?"
"Pictures, Mummy! Supwise!" the little boy shrilled, looking delighted.
Lily groaned and put her head in her hands. "Severus! Come and see what your son has done to your study, please."
Severus exchanged alarmed glances with Matthew, who had dropped by for a bit of tea and to discuss a surgery he had coming up. "Merlin, I don't think I want to know."
"Oh, come on, Sev," Matthew grinned. "How bad can it be?"
"Matt, you have no idea. Harry is like the wind of destruction." The Healer rose to his feet and headed down the hall to the study, dread curling in his gut.
A curious Matthew followed, wondering just how much trouble one little boy could be.
A moment later, he had his answer.
"Well, I'll be damned!" he exclaimed, staring at Harry's "artwork". "Looks like you've got the makings of another Michelangelo here, Sev. Either that or a little Leonardo DaVinci. I can almost figure out that's a cat and this one here's a dog. I think."
Severus was biting his lip to shreds to keep from swearing like a dockhand. He was horrified at the colossal mess and he fixed his little son with a very disapproving frown. "Harry James Severus, how many times must we go through this? Did you not get put in time out just last week for painting on Aunt Min's walls?"
Harry stared up at his irate father, who was so tall he nearly touched the ceiling, and whined, "But Daddy, I made it for you!"
"Harry, you know better. I know you do." Severus began.
"Sev, maybe he doesn't." Lily interjected. "He's only two, he can't possibly remember everything you tell him."
"Maybe not, but he will remember a time out and a smack," Sev snapped. "I spent hours yesterday rearranging my study and now look at it! It looks like a potion exploded in here." He stalked over to his desk, cringing at the inky handprints all over his new chair and the tawny maple grain. "How on earth did he get the blasted ink and the quills?"
Lily looked ashamed. "I, uh, think I forgot to put them in the drawer. But I never expected him to go in here." She too glared sternly at Harry, who began to sob. "Come here, scamp. We need to have a talk about this drawing on the wall."
She took her son by the hand and led him from the study.
Harry went reluctantly, sensing once more he was in trouble and probably going to get yelled at and put in time out too. He couldn't understand why they were so cross with him, he had thought the pictures were pretty.
Lily tried to explain why drawing on the wall was wrong, but she wasn't at all sure if Harry grasped the concept. So in the end, she gave him a swat and put him in time out for six minutes.
That Harry did understand and he hated it. He bawled and kicked at the wall until his father came into the kitchen and stood over him, wearing his "awful mad" face and said angrily, "Be still, young man, before I add another minute!"
Harry sobbed, time out was the worst and he detested it. But he knew better than to keep kicking the wall after his Daddy said not to.
Finally, it was over and he could get up. But he was mad at his mummy and daddy and instead of running to them to be hugged like always, he ran away into his room instead and sulked and knocked all his stuffed animals off his bed.
Lily and Sev looked at one another and shook their heads. Then Lily said, "Looks like he's mad at us, Sev."
"Too damn bad. He has to learn not to draw on the wall."
* * * * * *
But teaching their budding artist not to draw upon the wall was like pulling teeth without anesthetic, a supremely painful operation for all concerned. Harry seemed possessed by a demon called Stubborn, and no matter how many times Lily scolded him and put him in time out, or smacked his little hand, or Severus did the same, the little boy simply refused to quit making "pictures" on the walls.
The final straw came when Lily found him writing on the kitchen wall with her new peacock feather quill and gold ink she had bought as an early Christmas present to write out Christmas cards. She totally lost it, dragging her son out of the room, yelling furiously, and giving the naughty child a terrific wallop on his bottom before shoving his nose in the corner of the den and shouting, "I've had it with your drawing on the wall, Harry James Severus! It's got to stop, right blasted now!"
Shaking, she walked back and began to clean up the wall with some Magical Mess Remover, and only then did she realize she had struck her son harder than usual and went back to apologize and discuss his behavior. But Harry was still upset at how angry she had become over his drawings and refused to come to her, instead backing away and crying, "Go' way! I don' like you no more, you is mean and hurted me!" Then he ran away into his room, still sobbing.
Horrified, Lily burst into tears. Oh my God, what have I done? I've become Petunia, I hit him too hard and now he hates me. I'm a terrible mother. She sat down on the couch and buried her face in her hands, guilt and remorse overwhelming her. I should have walked away and counted to ten. Why didn't I? She castigated herself, tears dripping down her cheeks.
Five minutes later, Severus arrived home to find his house in an uproar, with his wife crying on the couch and his son wailing in the bedroom. "Lil, what's the matter? Why are you crying?" he asked, alarmed, for Lily rarely cried. "Did someone die? Is it Harry?" He drew her into his arms and she huddled there for a moment.
"Sev! Thank Merlin you're home . . .Sev, it's all my fault, I'm a dreadful mother . . ." she sobbed into his white robe.
"Hush, flower." He stroked her hair. "I can barely understand you."
At last, inbetween tears, Lily managed to tell him what had happened. " . . .and then he ran away from me, like I was . . .was evil and . . .he said I hurt him, Sev! I didn't mean to smack him that hard, I just was . . .so frustrated . . .I don't understand why he keeps doing this . . .every day he scribbles all over the wall . . ."
"All right, Lil. Calm down, sweetheart," he murmured, thinking, I would've figured I would lose it before she did, considering my background. But I forgot she has a temper too. "I'm sure he's more startled than hurt. You didn't . . .hit him with anything, did you?"
Another shake of her head.
"Okay, then take a deep breath. Stay here, I'll go and check on him." He gently withdrew from her arms, handed her a large handkerchief, and went to see his son.
He found the little imp face down on his bed, crying softly into his pillow.
"Hey, scamp, what's all the fuss?"
Harry leaped up from the bed. "Daddy! Mummy ‘macked me and it hurted!" He threw himself at Severus, who picked him up and hugged him.
"She did, huh? And what did you do to deserve that?"
Harry looked away from Sev's eyes, knowing he was in trouble. "Nuffin, Dad!"
"Nothing? Oh, you must have done something, Harry. Because your mother would never smack you for no reason. Well?" He eyed his son knowingly.
Harry squirmed. "Nuffin' an' it hurted!"
Sev moved to sit down on the bed, and took the little imp's chin in his hand. "Look at me, young man. Are you lying to me? What have I told you about that?"
"It's bad," Harry said in a very small voice.
"Yes, and what happens if you lie to me?"
He sniffled. Then he said, reluctantly, "Time out an' two ‘macks."
Sev nodded. "Now, let's try this again. What did you do to get in trouble with Mum?"
Harry dropped his gaze to his shoes. "I drawed on the wall ‘gain."
"Ah. Then it wasn't for nothing, now was it?"
"No." He started to cry. "But it hurted and I'm sorry!"
"Yes, and so you should be." He patted his son's back. "Harry, why is it that you keep drawing on the walls when you know it's wrong?"
His son shrugged. "Don' know."
"Oh, I think you do. Why, Harry?" Severus was sure his son had a reason for continuing his misbehavior and wanted to find out what motivated the child.
"‘Cause . . .cause I likes to make pictures. The wall needs ‘em."
"The wall needs pictures, so you make them," Severus repeated.
Harry nodded. "Wall is ugly an' boring, Dad! I makes it pretty with pictures."
"Harry, you can decorate the wall, but draw the pictures on paper, son. So why, for the love of Merlin, don't you?"
Sev sighed. "Keep forgetting and you'll keep getting in trouble. Do you want that?"
Harry shook his head. He was tired of getting in trouble. He wriggled from his father's arms. "Go potty, Daddy."
Severus took him into the bathroom, and while Harry was using the potty, examined his backside. There were no marks and the skin was barely pink. Lily had not hit him as hard as she had assumed, Severus thought in relief. He gave Harry a light pat on the bum and the little boy didn't flinch.
Then he helped the toddler fix his clothes and brought him out into the den to see Lily.
"Tell your mum you're sorry for drawing on the wall with her new quill and ink," Severus reminded.
"I sorry, Mummy, that I was bad," Harry recited and then held out his arms.
Lily practically smothered him. "I forgive you and I'm sorry too, baby, for smacking you so hard." She held Harry tightly, crying softly.
Harry instantly forgave her and said, "Don' cry, Mum. I is sorry. I help Daddy fix the wall."
"Oh, Harry." Lily kissed him and rocked him back and forth, relieved beyond measure that her son forgave her and was not traumatized by her outburst.
"Lil, I think I figured out why he keeps drawing on the wall, even when he knows it's wrong." Severus said, and told her what Harry said about making the walls pretty.
"He thinks he's decorating the house?" Lily repeated.
Severus nodded. "He told me the walls are ugly and boring."
Lily thought a moment, then she said, "Maybe Matt was right, and he really is a mini Leonardo. Perhaps I could try giving him his own wall."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that maybe what he needs is a place to display his, um, artwork. An art wall." She turned to her son. "Harry, how would you like to have a wall to put your drawings on?"
"My own wall?" he stared at her hopefully.
"Yes. We'll have an art wall in the kitchen, where you can put up all the pictures that you make . . .on parchment and paper, mind, not the wall. And then we could look at them and show them to your uncles and your grandparents when they come over. Would you like that?"
Harry thought it over. He certainly didn't want to keep getting punished for making pictures on the wall, and even one wall was better than nothing. An art wall. It sounded wonderful. "Yes, Mummy! I likes that!"
"Good. Then as soon as you help Daddy clean off the wall in the kitchen, you can use that for your art wall. And no drawing on any other wall, or the desk, or the floor, Harry James Severus," she reprimanded sternly. "Understand?"
"Yes, Mum. I drawed on paper next time. Promise."
"Good job, Harry!" Lily hugged him again. She peered earnestly into his face and hoped that this time the lesson was learned.
"Come, scamp. Time for you to clean up that mess you made," said his father, and Harry followed him into the kitchen, where gold ink was scribbled all over the wall, and a broken peacock feather quill lay next to a half-full bucket of Magical Mess Remover and a wet cloth.
Severus conjured another small cloth, handed it to his son, and showed Harry how to dip it in the bucket and then scrub the ink off the pale yellow wall. He then took the other cloth and began removing all traces of his son's impromptu decorating spree. Once that was done, he banished the contents of the bucket and then put it away before saying, "You owe your mother a new quill and ink, son. Let's go to the stationary store and buy her a new one. And some parchment for you as well," Severus added.
"We going shopping?" Harry queried, looking delighted. "Can I get a toy?"
"Did you behave today?" Severus asked, frowning. "Is there a blue star on your chart for today?"
Harry hung his head. "No."
"Then you don't get a toy today, right? Only little boys who behave get rewards."
"Tomorrow?" he pleaded.
"If you behave for your mother. We'll see." Then Severus picked up Harry and Apparated to the small scrivener's shop two blocks down from his office to replace Lily's special ink and quill, hoping that they had finally conquered his little imp's urge to treat his house like a monastery's refectory and paint pictures on the walls, like DaVinci had The Last Supper.
They returned with a brand new quill and two bottles of gold ink, plus a whole ream of parchment for Harry to draw and paint on, with paint that washed easily from little hands and clothing if he happened to forget and get some on himself. Harry delivered the new quill and ink directly to Lily. "Here, Mum! I buyed you a new one. Sorry."
"Thank you, Harry. Now I can address my Christmas cards." She smiled at him.
"Can I help?"
"You can help by making me a picture, here on the table, while I write the cards," Lily told him, and together they spent part of the evening writing and drawing, while Sev made supper. By the end of the evening, Lily had finished her cards and Harry had made three new pictures, which were proudly displayed upon the art wall. One was of Christmas tree, the other of a kitten, and the last was supposed to be Sev, Lily, and Harry, though it looked sort of like three snakes. But his parents agreed it was wonderful and said they had a very talented artist in the family.
Harry clapped his hands when the artwork was stuck on the wall with Sticking Charms. "Pretty!" he turned back to the table. "I make more of them."
"It's bedtime, imp," Sev reminded him. "You can draw more tomorrow."
"Tomorrow, little Leonardo," the Healer answered. "Now it's time for you to rest and have a bath."
Harry considered. He was kind of sleepy and he did love baths. "Okay." Then he gave his father a puzzled look and said, "Daddy, I'm Harry, ‘member? Not Leonardo."
Lily burst out laughing, and Severus smirked. Sometimes his son was too smart for his own good. Then he handed his brilliant child to his wife, since it was her turn to give Harry his bath tonight, and went to check on the cauldron of Memory Restorative he had brewing in his lab.
As Lily carried him off to his bubble bath, Severus could hear Harry asking, "Mum, who is Leonardo? That not me. Daddy knows another little boy?"
"Sort of, scamp. Leonardo was a little boy who lived a long time ago, in Italy, and he loved to paint and draw too, just like you . . ." Lily told him.
"Oh. Did he paint on the wall too?"
Severus covered his mouth with his hand, and didn't catch what Lily replied, he was laughing too hard. If DaVinci were anything like my Harry, he probably did draw on the wall, and drove his parents crazy too, the Healer thought in amusement, then he made his way to his lab, still chuckling.
Chapter End Notes:
One of my favorite artists/inventors is Leonardo DaVinci, as I'm sure you've guessed. What did you think of Sev and Lily's solution? Will it work?
Next: Someone gets unexpectedly sick for Christmas! 50 House points if you can guess who it is!