Harry managed to find a quiet table in the corner for them and was surprised when the server, a house elf, asked if they would like to see The Couples Menu. “Everything upon it is specially made for two people—it includes an appetizer, main dish, and dessert, specially priced.”
“Can we look at that one then?” asked Harry.
“Of course, Master Snape,” the house elf bowed to him and produced the menu with a snap of his fingers.
Harry stared at the diminutive little creature. “You know who I am?”
“Indeed. All of us in Hogsmeade know you, Master Harry Snape, who was once Harry Potter, before discovering your true heritage. I am Link, Master, and it is my pleasure to serve you this evening.” Then he leaned in and whispered in Harry’s ear, “The Queen sends her regards, my lord, and congratulations on becoming the new heir.” Then he winked at Harry, straightened, and asked what they wished to drink.
Harry had a fizzy lemon tea and Katie ordered a peach flavored water, it had fresh peach juice in it and was very refreshing. “I’ll have to try that some time,” Harry said after she explained what it was.
“You’ll love it. It tastes great,” Katie said, then perused the list of appetizers. “This dip sounds delicious—hot cheddar cheese, bacon, and onion dip with toast points.”
“It does sound really good. Uh . . .why don’t you pick the menu, Katie? I’m not picky, I eat everything.” Harry offered generously.
“Are you sure? You don’t have a favorite dish?”
He shook his head. “No, not really. There are a few things that my dad makes that I really like, but I doubt if we’ll see them on here so . . .go ahead, choose what seems good.”
“The professor cooks?”
“Oh yeah, and he’s a good one too. He taught Draco and me some really wicked recipes.” Harry told her. “Draco didn’t know how to cook at all until we taught him this summer. House elves at home, you know.”
Katie nodded. “That’s typical of most wealthy pureblood families. Not mine though. I’m a half-blood, my mother is a Muggle and my dad is a wizard. But the Bells don’t go in much for domestic service.” She perused the menu choices, then nodded after a few minutes. “How about the red wine braised beef for two with a side of mashed potatoes and carrots and green beans? And for dessert , the double banana split and you can choose two of the ice cream flavors?”
“Sounds heavenly. I love ice cream,” Harry admitted.
When Link returned with their drinks, he gave the elf their order. He also wanted to ask about how Link was related to Queen Titania, but the server vanished with a pop before he could do so. Harry shrugged. Oh well. He’s Low Court fae, and probably they’ve got some kind of fae grapevine going with the shimmerlings and my ascension to heir to Prince Manor would have been big news back in the Seelie Court, so I shouldn’t be too surprised that Link knows about it. Maybe I’ll ask Dad later on tonight.
Right now all he wanted to do was concentrate on Katie and having a nice dinner. He still couldn’t believe he was actually sitting at a table with the attractive Chaser, making small talk with her. It was the stuff of dreams, not reality, yet reality it was. He sipped his fizzy tea and said, “So, what do you think about the Tournament? And the students coming from those other schools?”
“Durmstrang and Beauxbatons?” Katie clarified. “Well, the Tournament sounds very exciting, not to mention dangerous as all get out. Glad I’m not going to be in it. Once or twice participants have died, you know, trying to complete the tasks. I’ve heard there are three of them total, and each one is harder than the last. But the winner of the Tournament gets a whopping one thousand Galleons, plus the Triwizard Cup.”
Harry whistled. “Wow! Still, if you’re going to risk your life to compete, I guess they’d better pay well.”
“I’d say so. And that’s why you have to be seventeen to compete also.” Katie paused and began to sip her water. “I’ve heard that some of the students from Durmstrang are tutored in the Dark Arts as well as Defense. Their Headmaster, Igor Karkaroff, was once a follower of You-Know-Who. And they’re an all-boys school as well.”
“Really? Sounds like we might want to watch our backs then. How about the other one?”
“Beauxbatons is in France, and I was almost going to go there, I got an invitation from there. But I really didn’t want to live in a foreign country and my French is awful, plus they are almost exclusively female, and I would go crazy without guys to talk to. Sometimes I get along better with guys than girls.” She chuckled nervously. “Does that sound weird? It’s just . . .well, I was never into all of that girly girl kind of thing . . .you know hair potions and make-up. I liked flying and reading and studying potions or exploring in the woods. Mum used to call me a tomboy.”
Harry smiled shyly. “I don’t think it’s weird. I . . .like all of those things too. Back home, at my dad’s house, I used to go flying or walking in the woods on our property every morning. It was so peaceful.” His eyes were far away and he unconsciously caressed the medallion under his shirt, recalling those lazy early morning walks around the manor, with the sun shining off the tops of the merlinna trees and sparkling off the water in the fishpond.
“Where do you live?”
“In Yorkshire, way up on the moor,” Harry said, it was partially true, half the estate did reside there. “Dad inherited the estate from his grandfather Micah Prince, it’s been in the Prince family for generations.”
“Wow! Sounds like you’re rich. And one day it’ll be yours, right?”
“Yes, someday. I’m just lucky we own it outright that it’s not entailed or anything. It’s not huge, but it’s . . .comfortable.” Harry said, smiling.
“You really love it don’t you?” she said shrewdly.
“How . . .how do you know that?”
“I can hear it in your voice and see it in your eyes when you talk about it,” she answered simply.
“I do. It’s my first real home. Before that I lived with my aunt and uncle in Surrey but that . . .was not all that great. I always felt like the unwanted relative. But not with my dad at Prince Manor. I belong there.”
“I feel that way too about my home. I live in Devon, near the sea, and our house was once the home of a gang of smugglers way back when. It’s old and creaky but it has character and dozens of secret passages. Me and my sisters used to love exploring it when we were little.”
“How many sisters do you have?”
“Two, both older. Maxine is eldest, she works for a shipping company as a Sea Mage. Travels all over the place. My sister Amber is employed with the Ministry, works in the Weather Department.”
They continued chatting all throughout the meal, which was excellent. Harry was amazed at how comfortable he felt with her, as if he had known her his whole life. He found himself telling her of all the trouble he and Draco had gotten into over the summer at the manor, and she had laughed goodnaturedly and shared some of her own mishaps and misdeeds with him in turn.
“Once me and Amber took the little fishing boat out early in the morning and we got stuck in a freak squall and nearly drowned . . .by the time we managed to get back we were soaked and scared to death . . .of our father finding out, that is.”
“And did he?”
“Oh yes, couldn’t fool Dad with anything. And he was so mad . . .The both of us ended up getting our rears tanned and were made to scrub the entire boat without magic and gut fish for a week,” Katie admitted ruefully. “But we learned our lesson and never took the boat out without telling him or my mother. We were a bunch of hoydens, as my grandma Bell used to say. Sometimes . . .sometimes I miss the sea something awful. Have you ever sailed, Harry?”
“No. I’ve never even been to the ocean.”
She gaped at him. “Not even on holiday?”
“No. My aunt and uncle used to go and take Dudley, but I wasn’t allowed, they didn’t feel it was necessary to take me, so they left me home.”
“Well, that’s the Dursleys for you.” Harry shrugged.
“You’re well shut of them then,” Katie declared, snorting. “Maybe you can come and visit over the summer with Professor Snape and Draco? My parents won’t mind, they love it when I bring friends from school over. Angelina came over last year and stayed for a week.”
“That’s . . .uh real nice of you.” Harry said, blushing. “I’ll have to ask my dad though, make sure he doesn’t have plans. Usually he prefers to stay home.”
By then the dessert had arrived, and Harry and Katie took turns eating the enormous banana split with strawberry, chocolate and butter pecan ice cream loaded with hot fudge, whipped cream, cherries, and walnuts.
“Mmm . . .this is so good!” Katie sighed in delight as she ate a spoonful of chocolate ice cream.
Harry nodded, also enjoying the icy cold sweetness. He had missed eating ice cream over the summer, since Prince Manor was too far away for Severus to get ice cream all the time from Diagon Alley.
They continued sharing until Katie declared she couldn’t eat anymore and gave the rest to Harry. “Here, Snape, finish it. If I eat one more bite, I won’t be able to get into a dress for the Yule Ball, I’ll be like a whale.”
Harry paused with the ice cream halfway to his mouth. “You’re not fat, Katie.”
“Ha! I will be if I keep eating like this. It just goes straight to my hips, trust me. That’s why I play Quidditch so much. Helps keep my weight down.”
He swallowed the spoonful and wondered if he should bring up the Yule Ball and his lack of a date then. Was it too soon? Would she get offended? He gulped, feeling butterflies start up in his stomach. “Uh . . .Katie?”
“What’s up? You look kind of . . .sick. Too much ice cream? I’ve got a Stomach Soother in my purse.”
He blinked. “You carry potions around?”
“Yes, just in case. See, I really am a potions freak. Do you need it?”
“No, I’m fine. I was just . . .wondering if you . . ah . . .had a datefortheBall?” he muttered, feeling himself flush an embarrassing shade of rose.
“Huh? Could you say that again, Harry? And maybe take the spoon out of your mouth?”
“Oh. Right.” He put the spoon down. Merlin, but I am such an idiot! Now she’ll never go out with me. “I said . . .I was wondering if you had a date . . .for the Ball?”
“No. Why?” she asked, a bit breathlessly. “I was sort of thinking about asking Fred Weasley, but . . .”
“Oh . . .err . . .well . . .would you like to go . . with me?” Harry sputtered, wishing he could just curl up and hide under the table. Could he sound anymore pathetic? He waited for her to politely tell him no.
To his astonishment, she grinned like a kid in a sweet shop and said, “I was wondering when you were going to ask me that, Harry. I would love to go with you.”
“Y-You would? Then you don’t mind that I’m . . .younger than you?”
“Mind? Not at all. What’s a year? It’s just a number.” She laughed, and tossed her hair back from her face. “Besides, you’re one of the sweetest guys I’ve ever known as well as one of the cutest.”
He nearly fell over in shock. She thinks I’m cute? “Really?”
“Oh yes. I love the way your hair is now, all sleek and dark, like a black seal’s. Haven’t you seen the way all the Gryffindor girls look at you now, Snape?”
“No. I thought they were staring at me because I was Snape’s son or something.”
Katie’s peal of laughter echoed through the room, causing several other people to chuckle knowingly. “Oh, Harry! Yes, they were looking at you because of that, but not ‘cause you looked funny. It’s because you look damn hot, if you’ll excuse me for saying so.” She eyed him appreciatively. “You look the way Professor Snape must have when he was your age . . .except without the crooked nose. No wonder your mum fell in love with him.” Then she blushed too. “Sorry . . .I think I’m getting too personal here.”
“No . . .I don’t mind. I just wasn’t . . .I mean I never thought much about why people were looking at me before . . .” he babbled, and suddenly he felt the first stirrings of desire within him. Flushing, he glanced away, only to feel a gentle hand cup his chin and pull him back around to look directly into her cobalt blue eyes.
“Don’t look away. Look right here,” she said softly, shocking herself with how bold she was being.
Green eyes met blue and merged and suddenly she was leaning forward and kissing him.
Harry gasped, but did not draw away. Her kiss was all sweetness and light, gentle and fiery by turns. He drowned but he did not care in the slightest, for she was all he had ever wanted, though he had never known it until that moment.
And he saw in her eyes that she felt the same way.
He deepened the kiss, working on some untapped instinct, until they were both breathless.
When she drew away at last, she was smiling from ear to ear, a dazed astonishment upon her face. “Merlin, Snape! Where did you learn to kiss like that?”
“Was it terrible?”
“Terrible?” she exclaimed. “Come here, and let me show you just how terrible it was.”
Once again their mouths met and the second time was even better than the first.
“Flaming hells, but you get any better and I just might need somebody to resuscitate me,” Katie teased once she could talk again.
“It’d be my pleasure,” Harry joked, laughing. “Be right back. I’m going to go pay for this.”
But when he approached the proprietor, Madam Rosmerta refused to take his money. “This one’s on the house, luv!” she waved away his Galleons and Sickles. “Your father did me a favor awhile back and this is my way of returning it. Put it away, Mr. Snape, and go take a walk with your gal in the moonlight.”
“But . . .I . . .”
“Go on with ye, lad! You’re only young once, best enjoy it while ye can! Now get!” And she closed his hand firmly over the coins, and turned him about and sent him on his way with a pat to his behind, cackling as he blushed. “Your gal’s a lucky one, she is!”
Face flaming, Harry retreated back to the table, trying to ignore the soft snickers of the other patrons behind him.
“All set?” Katie asked, rising to her feet.
“Yeah. Come on, let’s take a walk.”
She tucked her hand in his arm and they walked out of The Three Broomsticks that way, Katie shooting warning glances at some of the bolder girls and women who were eyeing her escort.
They walked leisurely back up to the castle, enjoying the night and the cascade of stars spun out in the sky. When they reached the entrance to Gryffindor Tower, Katie turned and said, “Thank you for dinner, Harry. I had a wonderful time.”
“So did I,” he said huskily. “Uh . . .I have to go and see my father for a few minutes. He wanted to talk to me.”
“Good night, Harry. See you tomorrow on the pitch. Don’t be late!” she waved a mocking finger under his nose. Then she kissed the tip of it, her cobalt eyes sparkling playfully. “Sweet dreams, Snape.”
“Same to you, Katie,” he waved as she went through the portrait hole.
Merlin, what a night! It was brilliant! He thought elatedly. Wait’ll I tell Draco. He’ll probably fall over when I tell him I actually kissed her twice. Still smirking, Harry made his way down to the dungeons and to Snape’s private quarters, wondering what was so important that his father couldn’t wait till tomorrow to discuss it with him.
* * * * * *
Back at the castle, Phil had observed something odd going on with Professor Moody, the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. The vampire had noted that on several occasions just after dinner, Moody hurried back to his classroom and went inside. He spent several minutes inside, rummaging in an old battered trunk with about fifteen locks. Afterwards he cast an Obscuring spell about the room, and Phil was not able to see what the professor did then.
It was odd behavior, to say the least, and Philip was suspicious. He had sat in on the first class Harry had with the Auror, hidden in the back of the room, and watched how Moody had shown them the three Unforgivable Curses. He was not opposed to showing the students such magic, since the vampire was of the opinion that you needed to know your enemy in order to defeat him, which sometimes meant studying dark magic in order to learn how to counter and block it.
But there had been something about the professor that made his instincts go on red alert. Phil had been around for a thousand years and he knew a fellow predator when he smelled one. Moody reeked of danger, and made the vampire’s hair stand on end and his fangs long to find their mark in his neck. He had never felt that way about any of the other staff members and was puzzled as to why this single wizard would make him feel such enmity.
But he had little time to dwell on Moody’s behavior at the moment. His body was quivering, signaling that he needed to hunt, and feed well so that he would not need to hunt again for at least a month. As an ancient vampire lord, Phil only needed to hunt once or twice a month, instead of every three days or weekly like a younger vampire.
Since he refused to prey upon innocents or those without evil in their hearts, he had to venture abroad to find suitable prey. He used his vampiric speed to leave the castle and race through the highlands of Scotland to the teeming large city of Edinburgh. There, he reasoned, he would find the kind of people he sought—the dregs of society—murderers, rapists, child molesters.
By listening to their thoughts, he could pick out a target and then feed, quickly, noiselessly, and deeply. After, he would dispose of the body, making sure it was never found. He knew it was unlikely anyone would care about such people, but he had learned centuries ago to clean up after himself, for even today Vampire Hunters were on the lookout for his kind, and they did not differentiate between evil and good vampires---to them all vampires were bloodsucking monsters that needed to be exterminated.
Phil emerged upon a side street, perusing the people walking by casually. No one could see him, as his veils were up, and all he had to do was concentrate and he could listen in upon the thoughts of the passerby. After some ten to fifteen minutes he “heard” an acceptable candidate—a tall thin man who was planning to rob and murder a young wealthy couple walking along the boulevard further down.
The man had a sharp knife and a silenced handgun, neither of which would prove a handicap to Phil. Guns are so overrated, he thought scornfully, before moving in on his target.
One minute the man was cruising down the sidewalk and the next he was grabbed and smothered by a large hand over his mouth. He struggled but whatever held him had arms of steel. Then a voice hissed in his ear, “Say goodbye, Terrance, to this world and prepare to meet your Maker.”
That was the last thing the thug ever heard, for in the split second following, Phil had sunk his fangs into the man’s throat and began to feed.
In seven minutes the murderer was dead. The master vampire carefully licked the two puncture marks, for a vampire’s saliva healed a vampire’s bite and concealed a Nightwalker’s victim. Young vampires often forgot to do this after feeding, however, which was why some of the prey could be identified. But Philip was too old and canny to make such a mistake. Phil took the body along with several stones and carried it to a loch and sunk it deep within the water, where it would decompose and feed whatever fish dwelled there.
Then he made his way back to Hogwarts, his thirst satisfied, to resume his guard duty.
At the entrance hall he met Smidgen, who seemed ridiculously giddy, until she informed him of his two young “nephews” activities that night. :It’s so sweet, to see young love!: the dreamweaver purred, flying neat loops about the master vampire’s head.
Phil chuckled, amused by the tiny feline’s antics. “Really, catkin, you act as if this is the first time you’ve ever seen a boy attracted to a girl!”
:Do you know how rare true love is among the fae, Philip?: Smidgen meowed. :As rare as the first star of summer being seen by the unaided eye. I would assume the same is true among humans, for they seem to spend most of their lives searching for “the Right One” and few ever seem to find it. But what I sensed tonight . . .was truly magical. There was a connection between Draco and Hermione, despite their previous clashes, that I think will last if they nurture it carefully, like a seedling merlinna. And the same is true between Harry and young Katie. It’s not something that I can explain adequately, you would have to feel it. Do you understand?:
“Yes, Smidgen. I too have been in love, and still am. Julie is more than just my partner, she is my soulmate, we are two halves of the same whole. The moment our eyes met, I knew. My heart rejoiced and it has never stopped. If that were not so, our children would have never been born, for only when a vampire loves with all of his or her being and is loved in return, will he be able to procreate.”
:I never knew that. That is fascinating, Philip. Then your children truly are created in an act of love. How marvelous.:
“It is that, Smidgen. My boys are miracles and I thank my Maker daily for them.” Philip said. Then he said, “But while I hope that my nephews find happiness, I am more concerned with their safety than with their love life at the moment. Have you noticed anything . . .odd about the new Defense professor?”
:Odd? In what way?:
Phil told her what he had observed and to his relief, the shimmerling did not dismiss his concerns as mere paranoia. She even agreed to follow the man about and see what she could learn of his background. :Harry told me once that the position of Defense professor was rumored to be cursed, that because Dumbledore denied Tom Riddle’s request to teach it, that Voldemort then cursed the position, with the result that no professor since has held the position for more than a year and almost all have met with untimely deaths or other unfortunate accidents.:
Phil frowned. “A cursed post? It sounds ridiculous, but I have learned that among wizards, it is best to assume nothing and everything. Therefore, I shall remain vigilant.”
:As will I.:
“Where is Harry?”
:With his father. I believe Severus called him down to his quarters to caution him about . . .moving too swiftly with his new girlfriend.:
“Oh, that discussion. Thank heaven my imps are too young for that sort of thing. I can put it off for another ten years at least.” The master vampire chuckled wickedly. “Poor Severus! I don’t envy him raising two healthy teenage boys right now.”
:Perhaps you ought to listen at the keyhole, Master Dark? Maybe gain some pointers?: the shimmerling suggested insolently.
Philip gave her a mock-glare. “Ha, Mistress Saucebox! I don’t need any help in that department, thank you very much!”
Then he turned and strode away down the corridor, and the shimmerling noted in amusement that the vampire was heading in the direction of the Potion Master’s quarters.
* * * * * *
Harry arrived at Severus’s quarters at half-past nine, giving him an good hour and fifteen minutes before curfew. Severus was sitting upon his indigo sofa, drinking a cup of mulled cider and reading a book called Discussing Awkward Topics With Your Teenager, which he quickly stuffed under a copy of the Prophet when Harry knocked on the door. His door was warded against dark wizards and any who meant him or his family harm.
“Dad? It’s me, Harry.”
“Come in, son.” Severus sat up and composed himself upon the sofa. He prayed he did not seem nervous, though in truth he was quite uncomfortable and wished to simply get this discussion over with as soon as possible. “How was your dinner with Miss Bell?”
Harry’s eyes were glowing, with a light that Severus had seen in but one other pair of eyes—his mother’s—when she had accepted his proposal that long ago night. Severus knew quite well what that particularly look meant, and suddenly he wished desperately for Lily to be there. Surely she would have handled this better than he could. Belt up, Severus, this is all part of being a parent, he reminded himself. Besides, you could hardly be any worse than Tobias. The Potions Master suppressed a shudder at that memory. Tobias had been half drunk at the time and had told his son that it would be a miracle if any girl would even look at him, much less sleep with him, but if he ever managed to get a girl knocked up, best he not come crying to Tobias.
“It was great, Dad,” Harry said quietly. “We went to The Three Broomsticks and had the best dinner ever . . .except for yours I mean,” he added, not wanting to hurt Severus’s feelings.
“Good. And did Miss Bell enjoy her evening also?”
“Yeah, least I think she did. I . . .uh . . .asked her to go to the Ball with me and she said yes.” The boy was so happy he was practically walking on air. “I couldn’t believe it when she agreed.”
“Why not? You are more than worthy to be her partner, Harry Albus Snape,” Severus said. “Come, sit here and have some tea.” He waited until his son had sat down and poured himself a cup of Earl Grey before clearing his throat. “I am pleased that you are getting along with Miss Bell, she is a confident and intelligent young woman, whom I am pleased to take on as an apprentice when she has finished school here, if she still desires to go for her Potions Mastery. I think you two . . .suit each other very well.” He paused, trying to recall what the book had told him about introducing the touchy topic. Was he going too fast?
Harry felt himself blush and then he abruptly set down his tea and stared at his parent in dawning horror. “Dad? You didn’t call me down here to . . .ah . . .” he trailed off, his tongue grown suddenly three sizes too large. “Because I already know all about . . .that . . .”
“Do you?” Severus leaned forward.
“Uh . . .yeah, I do . . .they taught us all about how babies are made back in the last year of primary school,” Harry managed to say. “So, if that’s all . . .” he made as if to get to his feet, only to be halted by Severus’s hand on his arm.
“Hold it, son. I’m not finished.”
“But Dad . . .!”
“Sit down,” his father ordered firmly, and Harry obeyed reluctantly when Snape tugged his arm.
“Now then, I know this is. . .uncomfortable for you to talk about with me. Nevertheless, we need to discuss it, especially since it appears that you and Miss Bell are . . .shall we say . . .an item?”
Harry was now a bright pink and praying he could just pass out. “Dad, this is only the first date! It’s not like I’m engaged, for Merlin’s sake!”
“But you are obviously considering going out with her again, correct?” Harry nodded. “And you are obviously attracted to her, a blind man could tell that,” Severus coughed, then plowed ahead gamely.
“I like her, sure. A lot.”
“Good. And have you been . . .intimate with her?”
“I . . .I kissed her twice.” His son admitted. “That’s it. Dad, please. I’m not even close to . . .doing that.”
“I would hope not, but nevertheless you need to know what to do in case you ever do decide to . . .make love with a girl. Now, I would hope you would exercise caution and wait until you are committed before . . .doing so, but should you ever decide otherwise. . .you need to know your options.”
“Options? Good God, Dad! Like what?”
“Like making certain having sex is something you both agree on and knowing the consequences beforehand. It shouldn’t be something you undertake lightly, son. It should be . . .meaningful. The way it was between your mother and I,” Severus added, praying that was enough of a personal example to get his point across.
Harry squirmed as if his backside were being burnt by red-hot irons.
“And if you decide it is, then you need to be aware of how to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. Your first and best option is abstinence. Barring that, there are several contraceptive magics you can employ. The first and most common is a potion called Contraceptix, it can be drunk up to an hour before intercourse with maximum effectiveness. It should be taken on an empty stomach if possible, as food might inhibit the swiftness of its absorption. Contraceptix is fairly easy and inexpensive to brew, and it does not inhibit your . . .err . . .enjoyment any.”
Harry was astonished to see a slight blush creep up Severus’s face as well.
“It is almost ninety-nine percent effective. However, to be safe, you might also consider using the potion along with a spell. The Impotence Charm creates a thin shield of air . . .” Severus continued, determined to do this properly. He explained what the charm did, it was similar to a Muggle condom, and then suggested herbal teas that a girl could take just before her cycle to inhibit ovulation and a similar potion geared for a woman’s reproductive system as well.
Severus then produced two sheets of parchment, one contained the recipes for the potions and tea and the other the instructions for the charm. “Here. I would suggest you look these over, son, and look before you leap, so to speak. It’s natural for you to want to have a . . .relationship with your girlfriend, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, but for the love of Merlin, do use your head, Harry. Being a father is a huge responsibility and I hardly think you’re ready for it when you are sixteen or seventeen. I was twenty when you were born, and I wasn’t ready for it at all, even if I had known of your existence.”
“Because you were a spy and there was a war going on?”
“No, though that would have complicated things a great deal. Harry, having a child changes everything. Because it means that your life is no longer about you or even you and your girlfriend. When a child comes into your life, your life becomes centered around your baby. And you live to protect and take care of that child until that child is grown. Or at least you do if you have any shred of decency and responsibility and love within you. That job is the most important one you will ever have, and so you had better be prepared to give it your best effort, son, because you don’t get to start over or quit.”
“I know, Dad. I’m not ready . . .to have a baby yet.”
“Thank Merlin!” Severus heaved a sigh of relief. “Because I am definitely not ready to be a grandfather yet.”
“Neither am I,” his son teased.
“Impudent whelp!” Severus gently cuffed him on the back of the head. “One more thing, Harry. You also need to remember to respect your girlfriend. If she says no, you stop whatever you’re doing. Don’t assume that she doesn’t mean it, or she’s leading you on. When a girl says no—it’s no. Got me?”
“Yes, sir. I would never . . .force a woman . . .Never!”
“I know, son, but I just wanted to remind you because sometimes a boy can get . . .urges and . . .you need to exercise control, because no son of mine will ever be the sort of man who abuses women, am I understood?”
“Good, because if I ever found out that was the case, I would take you apart, Harry Albus Snape. Don’t doubt it for an instant. I lived through the hell of one misogynist in my family, I’ll be damned if I’ll raise one.” Severus said sternly.
“You aren’t. I’m not like that, Dad. And neither is Draco.”
“Thank God for that.” he reached out and tousled his son’s hair. “I’m probably jumping at shadows and I know you’ll treat Miss Bell decently because that’s the kind of person you are, but I just wanted to lay everything out on the table.” He drew in a deep breath. “Now that’s over with, would you care for some hot cocoa and biscuits? I know you like to eat sweets before bed and this once I’ll indulge you, for being a good sport and allowing me to perform my . . .uh fatherly duty with a minimum of embarrassment.”
Harry smiled up at him. “Thanks, Dad. You did good.” He reassured his father, sensing somehow that Severus needed it. But I’m sure glad that’s over! Then he added, “But you’d better give this talk to Draco too and not just me.”
“Of course I will. That’s only fair,” Severus said. Then he waved his wand and a plate of double chocolate chips appeared on the coffee table.
“How did you know . . .?”
Severus rolled his eyes. “Harry, I wasn’t born yesterday. You and Draco always forget to clean up the crumbs under your beds. And the dirty dishes.” Then he picked up a biscuit and ate it, smirking like a mischievous imp. That went better than I expected. I just hope the same holds true for his brother.
The two ate and drank their bedtime snack companionably before Harry said good night to Severus and returned to Gryffindor Tower, where he dreamed of walking with Katie beside the Black Lake, beneath a canopy of stars.
So . . .how was that? Was it realistic enough?
Review and let me know how you felt please!
Next: Pansy finds out about Hermione and Draco and attempts to do something drastic about it.
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