Chapter 44 : Of Fathers and Sons
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Harry scowled blackly. “They’re humiliating.”
Severus gritted his teeth. “Would you prefer if I assisted instead?”
Harry blanched. “No!” That would be worse than the charms, to have Severus see him so sodding helpless.
Severus tilted his head, not surprised at the boy’s reaction. “Then don’t fight the charms, Potter. Because if you do, you know what will happen.”
Harry huffed and stomped into the bathroom, or tried to, but the effect was spoiled by the fact that he could just about walk, and his footsteps were about as loud as a mouse stomping a tile floor.
Severus rolled his eyes. Are you sure you really want to do this? he asked himself. Perhaps it’s best to leave things as they are and not agigtate the cauldron too much.
Harry soon emerged from the bathroom, dressed and looking more awake. He accepted the arm the Potions Master offered and Severus walked him back to bed.
“How are you feeling?”
“Better,” Harry answered honestly.
“Would you like breakfast?”
Severus ordered breakfast and they ate companionably. In the next bed, Dumbledore still snored. Snape coughed and reached into a pocket, withdrawing a sheaf of parchment. Before he could speak, however, Healer Sandrilas bustled in.
“Good morning, Harry.” The Mind Healer greeted. “Did you sleep well?”
“Good. Let’s see how you’ve improved, Mr. Potter.” He ran his wand over the boy. “Doing much better. Your energy levels are up and your muscles starting to mend. I will give you your next round of potions now and you should rest some more. I’ll see you again in a few hours.”
After Harry had taken his potions and Sandrilas had departed, Severus knew he couldn’t put it off any longer. Suppressing the nervous butterflies in his stomach, Snape cleared his throat. “Harry, there’s something I would like to discuss with you. I have noticed . . .when I walked the Path of the Moon to bring you out of your coma, you seemed to still believe that you were . . .unworthy of being loved or belonging somewhere.”
Harry felt a flush creep up to stain his cheeks. There were times that he wished Severus didn’t have such a photographic memory. “Umm . . .yeah.” He didn’t want to admit how afraid he had been that were so, but he also knew better than to lie to Severus.
“I think that . . .insecurity comes from living with the Dursleys for so long.” Severus licked his lips. “I have been thinking . . .perhaps it would put your mind at ease if I were to . . .offer you a more permanent arrangement?”
“Huh? Sev, what are you going on about? You’re already my guardian.”
“I know. But we could take it one step further.” Severus felt his palms begin to sweat, even though he knew that he was being absurd. He placed them on top of his robes and twisted a fold of black fabric around and around. “I’m speaking of adoption.”
Harry just stared at him. Had he heard right? Severus wanted to adopt him?
“Unless you wish things to remain as they are?”
“No, I . . .I need some time to think about this, okay?”
Severus nodded. “That’s understandable. It’s not something you should make a sudden decision about. But I wish you to know that I am not offering to adopt you because I feel sorry for you, it is because I want you as my son. I know that I can never really replace your parents, but I am willing to try and be a decent father to you and to give you what those miserable people denied you all those years. I meant what I said that night inside your mind. Even though you drive me insane sometimes, I wouldn’t have it any other way, fledgling. Take your time and think it over.” Abruptly, he rose to his feet.
“Where are you going, Sev?”
“To brew some potions for Madame Pomfrey. She needs some new batches for the next year. I will be back later on for supper. Is there anything you need?”
“Uh . . .I need to send a letter to Sasha, telling her that I’m okay now. And one to Ron and Hermione too.”
Severus summoned a quill, ink, and parchment. “There. If you wish to post them when you are done, call for a school owl, because Hedwig is still recovering from her recent flight across the continent. It was she who brought the letters from Meadowsweet to me and vice versa.” He also placed a glass of water upon the small folding tray and set it across his ward’s lap. “In case you get thirsty. If you need anything, call for one of the aides, there’s a mirror on the nightstand, or you could ask Albus, he will probably awaken soon.”
And with that, Severus Apparated away, leaving Harry to ponder the future in peace.
Harry took the quill and nibbled the end of it, an atrocious habit and one that would have given Severus fits if he had seen it. He began to pen a letter to Sasha, reassuring her that he was awake and recovering from his ordeal and thanking her for helping him. The mere thought of her made his heart race and he wished he could hold her in his arms and show her how much he loved and wanted her. I have to talk to Severus about seeing the Minister. It’s not right that the wolfen can’t leave the Forest, especially not after what they did to help us on our quest, not to mention that Sasha just saved my arse again.
If he could get Fudge to lift his spell, then he and Sasha could be together. But first he had to get out of this damned hospital. And then there was the adoption request. Harry supposed he shouldn’t have been surprised, things had been leaning in that direction for a long time. And the truth was, he did respect and love Severus very much, but enough to give up his name and become a Snape? He feared that he would be betraying his father by doing so. Was it right for him to accept Severus as a surrogate father legally, or would that somehow be seen as a betrayal of James and Lily’s sacrifice? And how would Sirius feel about it?
He quickly wrote about the adoption to Meadowsweet, stressing that he wasn’t sure what to do, he was all muddled. He asked her what she would do in his place. Then he signed the letter and sealed it. He trusted Meadowsweet to give him good practical advice, for she was above the tangle of rivalries and loyalties between Gryffindor and Slytherin, she could be objective. And right then Harry badly needed that.
He also wrote short notes to Ron and Hermione, telling them he was all right, on bedrest, and asking them how they were faring. He did bring up the possibility of the adoption, knowing full well what kind of response he was likely to get. From Ron, probably utter disbelief and a warning to think about what he was doing, putting Snape in charge of his life. Hermione, on the other hand, would be delighted, and tell him to sign the papers quick as a wink.
Just as he was about to summon a post owl,Hedwig stirred and woke. She blinked once or twice and then flew down to land lightly on his shoulder. Finally, you are awake, Harry! I was worried you wouldn’t open your eyes. How are you?
“I’m fine, Hedwig,” he reached up to scratch her under the chin. “How about you? Severus said you flew for three days. Are you still tired?”
I am fine, all I needed was a little rest. She began to preen herself. Then she spied the letters upon the tray. Do you need some mail delivered?
“Ah . . .yes, but . . .if you’re too tired I can always ask one of the other owls, like Seraphina or Ghostly.”
Hedwig shot him a very annoyed look. You most certainly will not! I am perfectly capable of flying to deliver the mail.
“But Hedwig, Severus said you shouldn’t fly back so soon—”
Is Severus Snape an owl? She hooted loudly. Is he?
No, and though he is a very intelligent person—for a human—he does not know everything, especially about owls. I know my own limitations, fledgling. Trust me on that. And I would never offer to fly if I were unable to complete my duties. No post owl would.
“Are you sure, Hedwig? Because I wouldn’t want something to happen to you. Are those maldecorvae things still around?”
Yes, I am sure. I will be fine. I haven’t seen any maldecorvae at all, not since that day. Hedwig cooed. She gently nipped his ear and preened his hair. Give me the letters, Harry. If one is to Meadowsweet, I shall give it to her first. I out of all the post owls know the best way to enter the Forest of the Night. And Meadowsweet knows me.
Harry threw up his hands. “Fine! But don’t blame me if you collapse.”
I will not collapse, silly wizard!If you are so worried, you may ask Seraphina to deliver the other two, the snowy owl compromised.
“Okay. Just . . .please be careful,” Harry said, stroking her over and over.
I am always careful. Hedwig soothed. Then she took up the letter in her beak and she flew out the window.
Harry whistled for Seraphina, and the large owl came and took the other letters from Harry.
In the bed next to the wall, Albus awoke and stretched. “Sending some letters to your friends, my boy?”
“Good morning, Professor,” Harry said. “Yes, I was just writing a few letters to Ron and Hermione and another girl I met over in Romania. Her name is Meadowsweet.”
“Ah, do I sense a romance budding?” teased the old man, his eyes twinkling.
Harry blushed. “Well, yes, if we could ever get together for longer than a few weeks.”
“Long distance relationships are hard.”
“It’s not just the distance,” Harry said, then he began to tell Dumbledore about the wolfen and the Forest of the Night.
Dumbledore listened intently as Harry spoke, his interest perked by learning about a new culture.
“ . . .so you see, I need to have a long talk with the Minister of Magic, and make him let the wolfen go. They helped us destroy one of the Horcruxes and Meadowsweet saved our lives more than once. And not only that, they were thrown in there and left to die! Over nothing.”
“Not one of Cornelius’ better decisions,” Albus said. “But he is a stubborn and easily frightened man, Harry. New things, like the wolfen, tend to alarm him and he reacts all out of proportion to the situation.”
“That doesn’t make it right.”
“No, but be careful. You don’t want Cornelius as an enemy.”
“Humph! He wouldn’t want me as one either,” Harry declared proudly.
Albus raised an eyebrow. “You have changed, Harry.”
Harry shrugged. “Well, fighting a war does that to you.”
Dumbledore’s eyes grew sorrowful. “I am sorry you had to live through that, Harry. But at least now the war is over and you can take time to mend.”
Harry said nothing, because he wasn’t sure if he could ever really heal from all the experiences he had had. There was a wound on his spirit that was raw and bleeding still.
“I think I’ll have a spot of breakfast, Harry,” said Albus. “Would you like to join me?”
Harry nodded, and Albus ordered breakfast for them both. Though he had already eaten earlier, he found he was now hungry again and he didn't want Dumbledore to feel awkward eating alone.
Afterwards, they both took a nap. By the afternoon, Seraphina had returned, bearing letters from both Ron and Hermione.
He opened Hermione’s first, anxious to know how the girl was faring after what she had gone through at the hands of Lucius and Bellatrix.
I’m so happy you’re better! I was scared you might remain in a coma when you didn’t wake up after three days. I came to see you a few times but of course you were sleeping. I hope you’re not having any nightmares or anything. I am mostly all right, except for the dreams. Sometimes I wake up screaming from the dreams. I keep dreaming I’m back in the cell, watching Lucius torture Vince, Marietta, and Susan. My parents have arranged some sessions with a counselor for me.
I went to the first one yesterday and it went okay. Hopefully the sessions will help me with the nightmares.
I have to say I’m thrilled that Professor Snape wants to adopt you, Harry. I think it will do you both good, you are two of a kind and you really need each other. Family is important, Harry. I never realized just how important until Malfoy kidnapped me. Then, when I was trapped and afraid, I really appreciated everything my parents ever did for me. Don’t let this chance get away. Being a guardian is good, but an adoption is more permanent. I think your parents would want you to be happy, and you’re happy with Professor Snape, right?
Still, think about it and then make up your own mind. I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer. I think for the first time I can sleep at night knowing that the war is finally over and no Death Eaters will ever come to threaten me or my family again.
Things sure will be different next year, with McGonagall retiring and no Dumbledore as Headmaster. I feel really bad about that, Harry. It’s going to be hard for him, trying to live as a regular person without magic. I wonder who he has in mind to replace him? And who will replace McGonagall as our Transfiguration teacher and Head of House?
Write back soon!
Harry smiled inwardly. He hoped that Hermione was cured from her nightmares, though he would never want to have counseling sessions himself. Admitting his innermost fears to a stranger just didn’t set well with him. He was wary of strangers and ever warier of those who sought to see inside of him. There was too much in his past that he was afraid of reliving and more that he didn’t wish to talk about with anyone except possibly Severus.
He read Ron’s letter next.
It’s great you’re finally awake. I heard about what you did from Hermione and Charlie and my parents. You’re the best, Harry! I still can’t believe that Moly Voldy is gone. It’s like a miracle or a dream or something. Charlie’s gonna be okay, except for his eye. He’s going to get a magical eye that looks like a dragon’s eye. Pretty wicked, huh? The eye can make him see things like a dragon now. The Aurors collected the money for us to buy the eye, they got a sort of fund raiser going, and now Charlie has a new eye.
About Snape . . .a few months ago I would have said don’t do it, you can’t trust a Slytherin. I still don’t know if he’s safe, but he’s not the evil git I once thought. Mum and Dad told me about how he fought Voldy at the end too and saved everyone. Guess that makes him . . .a hero. And I can’t believe I just wrote that! Snape—a HERO! Merlin help us!
Still . . .adoption is a big step. And what about asking Sirius his opinion? I mean, he is your godfather right? And now that curse is broken, what if he wanted you to live with him? Would you do it?
I mean, living with Sirius would kind of be like me living with my brother Bill, he’s easy going and all, and likes to have a good time. But living with Snape . . .it’s like living with my parents. You’ll have RULES, too many rules, to follow. And Snape’s a strict arse, but you already know that.
I’d think long and hard about it, mate. Talk with Sirius, before you put yourself permanently under Snape’s thumb. He’s bad enough in class, I couldn’t imagine living with him.
Take care and let me know how it all works out, okay? Maybe I’ll see you for your birthday.
I’ll say one thing though, the school won’t be the same without Dumbledore and McGonagall. It’ll be a new world, all right.
P.S. The Cannons won the championship!!
Harry tucked both letters back inside their envelopes and lay back on his bed, his hands tucked behind his head. He still did not know what he should do. On the one hand he wanted Severus to adopt him, for Severus was the closest thing he had to a father now. But even thinking that made him feel disloyal. Then there was Sirius.
Though he had mended fences with Severus, Sirius still wasn’t quite comfortable with Snape being Harry’s guardian. He would probably bust a gut if he knew that Snape had offered to adopt him. Would Sirius offer to have Harry live with him instead? And more important, who did he want to live with?
He knew Ron’s assessment of the two men were right. Sirius could be responsible at times, but he would be more inclined to let Harry get away with things than Severus. But during the quest, Harry had learned that Severus’ rules really did keep him safe, and he had come to rely on Severus to know what was best for him. Severus would keep that impulsive streak in check, Sirius might well encourage it, as he had done with James. And if you choose Sirius over Severus, then Severus will be alone. And that shouldn’t be. I love Sirius, he’s my godfather, but . . .I don’t respect him like I do Sev. Hermione’s right. We do need each other. But if I agree to the adoption, I’ll no longer be a Potter, and that’s all I have left of my parents.
He was still wrestling with his dilemma when Severus returned. He did not mention the adoption again, instead eating dinner with them and playing chess with Albus and later Harry, whom he trounced soundly. Harry didn’t want to bring up the subject either, and so they said nothing.
Alec Sandrilas returned and gave Harry some more potions and said he was healing nicely and told him to go to bed early.
Harry fell asleep still awaiting Hedwig.
When he woke the next morning, he found a snowy owl perched at the foot of his bed, a letter in her beak.
Restraining a shout, Harry sat up and crawled eagerly over to Hedwig, thanking her and then tearing open the letter from Sasha. Albus was snoring loud enough to cut wood and Severus was still asleep on the cot on Harry’s other side. He did not snore, but he was tossing restlessly.
Harry snuggled beneath his covers and opened the letter he had been anxiously awaiting. Unconsciously, his hand rubbed his moonstone bracelet.
I knew you were well through the bond that we share through the bracelet. Still, I was happy that you were considerate enough to write me and let me know you were fine. It’s the little things that matter, sometimes. You never need to thank me for doing what I did, either. You are my life, and I would risk much more to save you. I am just grateful that my mother was right and I could astral travel using her methods and so could Severus. Severus saved me when I traveled through your mind, he kept me focused enough so that I could find you and so I owe him more than I can ever repay.
Please tell him thank you for me.
Now for the question you asked me. Should you let Severus adopt you? As I said back in Sylvanor, beloved, you can have two fathers. There’s nothing wrong with that. I, who never knew my sire, and am glad of that fact, would have loved to have a man like Severus around when I was a kid. I can remember looking at the other kids in school sometimes, before Mum homeschooled me, when their dads came to their sports games and they had Father-Daughter Day at school, and I used to wish so badly for a dad to hug me and smile at me and just be there. I used to run away and cry sometimes, because I was the only girl without a father and that made me either a child to be pitied or an outcast.
In a way, you and I are alike, though at least I had a mum to love me instead of a cold aunt and nasty uncle. Think about what Severus has done for you. And what he will do for you. You know he loves you, Harry. He might grumble and snarl to hide his true feelings, but he loves you like his own. And you also should know how rare that is, for a man to love one not of his blood that way. Look at your uncle and how he treated you and your cousin.
Like I said before, loving Severus isn’t a betrayal, it’s an acknowledgement of what he means to you. Letting Severus adopt you is another way of expressing that feeling. You might not have to give up your name, not everyone does. You could still keep it and use his as well.
I understand that you worry about what your father might have thought, having a man who was once his rival as your father figure, but Harry, your father is dead. And if he was worth anything as a person, then he would want what is best for you, not for him. To be honest, Severus is best for you. And you are best for Severus. Listen to your heart, Harry. It is wise and it knows instinctively who to trust and who to love.
Think about what your life would be like without Severus in it. Where would you be now? Would you be happy? Would you be safe? Would you have a home that you wanted to come back to?
Now think about Severus’s question again. You should be able to come up with an answer that you can live with.
Remember that I love you.
P.S. Darkmoon wants me to ask you if you’ve spoken to your minister yet and seen if he’ll remove the spell over us. I told him what had happened to you, but he wants me to remind you of his request. As if you’d forget! You are pack, after all, and honorable.
He read and re-read the words over and over. Some of the confusion he was feeling lessened. Sasha’s examples about wishing for a decent father and thinking about what his life would be like if Severus were not there for him caused him to put his priorities in order.
He remembered all too well the cutting ache of loneliness at primary school, when everyone else’s parent came to the Mother and Father’s Day breakfast and he ended up eating with the teachers and kids snickered behind their hands at “freaky orphan Potter”. He had never envied Dudley for his toys so much as he had envied him for having the regard and love of Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon, which he knew he would never have. And there had been plenty of times he had cried alone in his cupboard because he lacked the one thing every other child his age seemed to have—a mother and father.
He had learned through necessity to ignore the ache, to lock the pain away, but it had always been there in the back of his mind.
Until recently, when Severus had become his guardian.
Then that unnamed bottomless hole had been filled.
By a sarcastic snarky man who had somehow found room within his guarded heart for one lonely impudent boy.
How then could he, as Hermione had said, pass up this chance to have what he had always wished?
He shut his eyes and recalled the dream that was not a dream, when Severus and Sasha had entered his mind to rescue him from himself. He remembered crying that he wasn’t worthy of being loved, of being happy. And then he remembered Severus’ reply.
“Foolish fledgling, you are more than worthy. You always were. I love you, Harry. Damn your stubborn Gryffindor pride. Do you hear? I, Severus Snape, love you, son.”
He alone knew what it had cost Severus to speak those words, to risk his heart once again, who had said them but once before in his life and had been rejected for it.
Will you break that heart to pieces once again? His conscience hissed. Will you reject him out of fear?
Slowly, he shook his head. No, he could not do that. After all Severus had done for him, he would be a poor friend indeed if he hurt the hand that had held him and saved him from himself. He would not repeat the mistakes of the past and reject the gift of Severus’ heart.
Hermione’s right—she usually is—Sasha’s right—she knows me better than I know myself—hell, even Ron’s right, much as I hate to admit it, I need somebody to keep me on the straight and narrow. I need Sev and he needs me. He turned and looked out at the sun just rising above the spire on Big Ben and thought, I love you Mum and Dad, and I respect the fact that you gave your lives for mine, but I don’t want to live my life without a parent. And Sev is the best parent I know, at least for me. And I have no reason to feel guilty for wanting what everyone else has. So, if you’re watching me from up there, I hope I made you proud by finishing what you started, and now I’m taking back my life and for once I’m going to have what every other kid I know has—a good home and a father who loves me.
And with that last decisive thought, Harry turned over and fell asleep. He slept all through breakfast and nearly till lunch, his mind now at peace.
At first his deep sleep alarmed Severus, who feared he had lapsed back into the coma, but Healer Sandrilas assured him that it was a normal sleep, just what the doctor ordered.
Severus then returned to brewing at his lab in Hogwarts, leaving Harry slumbering with Albus to watch over him.
* * * * * *
When Harry awoke he felt refreshed and the first thing he saw upon opening his eyes and shoving his glasses on were three familiar figures. One was Albus, looking chipper in his new pant suit of white with a lavender tie, obviously he was trying out some Muggle fashions. The next one was Remus Lupin, who finally was wearing some clothes that didn’t make him look shabby, he had on beige slacks, soft leather shoes, and a blue shirt. Sitting next to him was Sirius, but a very different Sirius than the last time he had seen the man, covered in blood and fighting for his life. This Sirius had his hair trimmed and his beard shaved off, he looked about ten years younger, and he was wearing a set of red and black Auror robes.
“Hiya, kid!” Sirius smiled at him. “Wasn’t sure when you were gonna wake up. Moony and I were betting on whether moss was going to grow on your head first. Either that or your toenails were going to curl under.”
Harry gave a small chuckle, then said hello to Remus and to Albus. Then he looked about for the missing fourth person. “Where’s Sev?”
“He’s doing some more brewing for the Hospital Wing, Harry,” replied Dumbledore. “But he wished me to tell you when you woke to take the two potions on your tray there and to eat something.”
“Okay, sir.” Harry reached for the potions.
Sirius rolled his eyes. “Bloody hell, but he sounds like my mother, telling you to take your potions and eat your vegetables like a good little boy.”
Harry waited until he had drank all of his potions and eaten some of the soup and sandwich Dumbledore had given him before responding to Sirius. “Maybe he’s practicing, Padfoot, for the day when he really is my dad.”
Sirius, who had been sipping a glass of Wickett’s Pale Ale, choked and spit the brew all over himself. Once Remus had quit pounding him on the back and he could breathe again, the Animagus said sharply, “Okay, Harry, good joke. You really had me going there.”
“Sirius, I wasn’t joking.”
“Sure you were, admit it. Saying Snape is your father. That’s just plain crazy.”
Harry stared right at him, unamused. “Then I guess I’m crazy, Padfoot. Because Severus offered to adopt me and I’m seriously considering taking him up on it.”
“You’re what?” Sirius sputtered. “Okay, just what the bloody hell was in those potions you drank? Was one of them, perhaps, an I Love Snape potion? Or maybe a Lying Draft? That’s where you can only speak lies for a twenty-four hour period. I wouldn’t put it past Snape to have slipped you one of them . . .”
“Sirius, quit going off your rocker and just listen to Harry,” Remus said.
“What for? Snape’s brainwashed him!”
“Oh, I doubt that, Sirius. Severus would never need to do that.” Dumbledore pointed out. “Seeing as he saved Harry’s life multiple times.”
Remus laid a hand on Sirius’ arm. “Padfoot. Let Harry talk.” There was an edge to the werewolf’s voice that made Sirius shut up. “Go ahead, Harry.”
Harry calmly repeated what he had just said. Then he added, “I know it’s a shock, Sirius, because you can’t imagine why any kid with an ounce of self-preservation would want to allow Snape to have control over him till he’s of age, but please hear me out. Severus isn’t as bad as you think. Yes, he’s strict and does make me follow rules, but those rules are to keep me safe and aren’t all that unreasonable. He’s promised me that I’ll never be starved, beaten, or locked in a cupboard for days on end. He’s saved me so many times I’ve nearly lost count, and the last time was just two days ago. If it weren’t for him, Padfoot, I’d still be wandering the Realm of Dreams, lost to the world. But he brought me out of it. Want to know how?”
“Albus said he used astral travel, which is supposed to be impossible.”
“He did. But he had help. From a wolfen girl named Sasha Atwater.”
“What’s a wolfen?” Remus asked.
“A half-werewolf. The product of a human mother and a werewolf sire, most of them weren’t willing and their children grew up with that on their conscience. Fudge discovered them and took them all and put them into a dangerous forest called the Forest of the Night. He then warded the place so the wolfen could never leave. The wolfen are shifters, they can become full wolves without prompting from the full moon. But when they were tossed into the Forest to die, they were too young to know that, and only learned how to shift that way by accident.”
Remus was horrified. “The Minister sent innocent children into that forest to die?”
Harry nodded tightly. “Pretty much. Considered them abominations and said they didn’t deserve to live. But more about that later. Sasha was the one who found the way to Travel astrally and that’s how they rescued me. I was hiding inside of my head, sure I had a piece of Voldy’s soul inside me, and they convinced me I didn’t. I thought I wasn’t worth their time and effort, but I was wrong. What made me come back was their love for me.”
“You’re telling me Snape said he loved you? James Potter’s son?” Sirius demanded.
“Yes. I am.” Harry met his gaze unflinchingly with a steely resolve. “I’m just Harry to him and I like it like that. He knows whose son I am and he doesn’t care. Not anymore. Not since I transformed to save him from Umbridge. I know you might think I’m nuts, but Sev will make me a good father, Sirius.”
“He’ll make you toe the line with all his rules and regulations, like a prison guard.”
“I know. And while I might not like it, I appreciate what he’s trying to do. I need someone like that, Sirius. I really do!”
“You’re telling me you want to spend the next year and a half with your nose buried in parchment and homework or in a cauldron?” Sirius argued. “You do have another option, Harry.”
Harry bristled, frustrated. “Like what? Going back to my aunt and uncle? No thanks! I’d go beg on a street corner than go back to them, even after what Dumbledore did to them!”
“What did you do to them?” asked Sirius, abruptly switching topics.
Albus smiled slyly. “Oh, let’s just say that I . . .encouraged an attitude adjustment in them. With a charm that makes them relive all of Harry’s worst moments in dreams and remember them until they realize what they did was wrong. I also used a Honey-Tongue charm so they can’t speak any nasty words about their nephew to their neighbors the way they used to.”
“That’s brilliant, sir!” Harry exclaimed. “So now they can’t go round saying I’m in reform school or something! Or jail or whatever.”
“They actually told people that?” Remus growled.
“Uh . . .yeah, they used to say I was some kind of criminal, you know a juvenile delinquent, that stole and lied and all so nobody would believe me if I happen to blurt out what really went on over my house. People would just assume I made it up for attention.”
“That’s just . . .I don’t even have a word for it!” Sirius snarled. “Of course, you don’t have to go back to them, Harry. I meant . . .you could come and live with me at Grimmauld Place. We finally managed to silence my mum’s portrait.” He coaxed, giving his godson a pleading look.
Harry dropped his eyes. “I . . .uh, that’s really nice of you, Sirius . . err . . .”
Damn it! Now what do I do? I don’t want to hurt his feelings, but I can’t live with him. And if I refuse, will it make him mad, or worse jealous of Sev? I don’t want to start the whole bloody feud all over again between them! The Animagus thought frantically.
Abruptly, Remus broke the awkward silence by grabbing Sirius by the arm. “Siri, I need to talk to you in private,” he dragged the other into the hallway.
“Moony, what . . .?”
The werewolf’s eyes flashed. “Just shut your trap and listen to me, dammit! What do you think you’re doing, Sirius Black, making Harry choose between you and Severus? How cruel can you be?”
“I . . .I was just . . .”
“Not thinking, I know! Well start doing so. That kid’s been through enough without you wrangling over him like some jealous mutt over a bone. If he wants to go live with Snape and be adopted by him, for Merlin’s sake, let it be! You’ve seen them together, you know Snape loves that kid more than his life.”
“Could be an act. You know Sni—Snape’s always been a great actor. He was a spy!”
Remus snorted. “Quit grasping at straws, Sirius. You and I both know he had no need to pretend anything now that Voldemort’s dead. And what did he do when Harry was in that coma? Come on—you remember!”
“He stayed by him. All the time.”
“Good one! He stayed by him day and night, just like any parent would have. Like James would have or Lily.”
“I would have too. Except for my job . . .”
“I know. I’m not saying you don’t love him, but Sirius, think about what’s best for Harry. Harry knows he needs structure and discipline, two things which you’re absolute pants at.”
“And Snape’s brilliant at.” Sirius said sulkily.
“Yes, and he has a career that will let him be there for Harry most of the time. You don’t. You’re an Auror, and you know half the time you’re out on assignment somewhere, chasing down suspects. Which means Harry’s going to be left alone a lot. And that’s not a good thing. Leaves him too much time to get into mischief.”
“I could get a desk job.”
“Siri, then you’d be miserable.”
“You could stay with him.”
“Padfoot, while I love him dearly, I’m not a babysitter. Harry and Severus belong with each other. You know it as well as I do. I’ve seen the way he looks at Harry and the way Harry looks at him. They’re like father and son, not by blood but by choice. You can understand that, you chose Charles Potter over your own father when you were sixteen and ran away to James’ house. You know it’s not blood that makes a family.”
Sirius sighed. “I know. It’s just . . .would James want his son raised by . . .by Snivellus?”
“I think James would want Harry to be happy and secure and he would respect his son’s decision to be adopted by Severus. And if Lily were here, she’d wallop you a good one for being so doggone stubborn.”
“Doggone? You said doggone!”
“Ah, shut it, Padfoot! I was making a point.”
Sirius chuckled. “So you’re all right with Harry being adopted by . . .Severus.”
“Yes.” Remus met his eyes steadily.
“Okay.” Sirius gave in. “If it’s what Harry wants . . .”
Remus clapped him on the shoulder. “Knew you’d come round, old boy.”
They entered the room again and Sirius went and put his arm about his godson. “Harry, I . . .I’ve been thinking. If you want to live with Severus, then that’s okay with me.”
Harry looked up at him. “You sure? You’re not mad or . . .jealous or anything?”
“No. Snape would be better for you, Harry. And it’s not like we’ll never see each other. I’m your godfather, I can come visit you, wherever you end up living. You don’t have to choose between us.”
His godson heaved a sigh. “Thanks, Sirius. Because I’d never want to.”
“Wonderful!” Dumbledore looked as pleased as cat high on catnip. “Now that’s all settled, all you have to do is tell Severus, Harry.”
“Right. But first, can we eat? Because I’m starving. Again.”
* * * * * *
Severus returned late in the afternoon, looking rather drawn, and the two ate dinner together. Albus had been officially released from the hospital an hour before, and had tactfully left with Remus and Sirius just as Snape had arrived, saying he was going out to dinner to celebrate his “freedom”.
Harry waited till after he had finished his sweet before bringing up the adoption. “Sev, can I talk to you for a minute?”
“Certainly.” Severus looked at his ward expectantly.
“I . . .I’ve been thinking a lot about . . .the adoption you mentioned,” Harry began.
Severus waited calmly, but inwardly he was a mess. His stomach churned and his head pounded and it took every scrap of willpower he possessed to not turn away. He was sure Harry was going to tell him no, because Black was now capable . . .if one could apply such a word to him . . .of being his guardian now that he was free of the Manaed Curse and had a decent job again. He mentally steeled himself to hear those words. And I want to live with Sirius.
“And I want . . .to be your son.”
Severus was struck dumb for one of the few times in his life.
Had he heard right? Had Harry really said he wanted to be his son? Could the boy really return the affection . . .no, love . . .that Severus felt?
“You do?” he managed to say at last. “Even though I’m a strict bastard most of the time?”
“Sometimes I need the strict bastard, Sev.” Harry said earnestly. “You’ve been there for me more times than I can count, like when I was trapped inside my head, thinking I was a Horcrux. And after the dagger possessed me. The way my own father would have been, if he were here.”
“If James or Lily had been here, you would have never faced Voldemort.”
“Yeah, well, what’s done is done. He’s dead and I can finally start living a normal life, or at least as normal as I can make it. You can give me that, Sev.”
“I will do my best, fledgling.” He reached out and pulled a sheaf of parchment from his pocket. “I went down to the Ministry and picked up these forms. You may read them over if you’d like.” He handed them to Harry.
Harry read them carefully. He halted about three quarters of the way through and said, “Sev, if you adopt me, does it mean I have to . . .change my name? Because I . . .kind of want to keep my last name, to honor my parents.”
“Then you may do so. You may hyphenate your name and become Harry Potter-Snape.”
“That’s great!” Harry exhaled sharply.
“Is that what you were worried about?”
“Uh . . .yes . . .mostly.”
“All you ever had to do was ask. I could have told you that yesterday.”
“Do I have to sign in front of a witness?” Harry asked, coming to the end of the document.
“Yes. We shall go to the Wizarding Children and Family Services and sign the papers together, once you are released from St. Mungos.”
“I hope that’s tomorrow. Can we speak with the Minister then too? About the wolfen and Jasper’s amulet?”
“I shall see if we can make an appointment.”
“Thanks, Sev. For everything. I’ll try and be a good son,” Harry said sincerely. Then he added, his green eyes sparkling, “So you don’t beat me.”
Snape rolled his eyes. “Don’t take all my fun away, Potter.”
Harry made a face at him. “Once you adopt me, what should I call you?”
“Whatever you are comfortable with. You do not have to call me “Dad”.”
“How about . . .Sevvy? Can I call you that?”
“You do and I really will beat you,” threatened the Potions Master. “You’re supposed to respect me, not humiliate me.”
“Aww, but it’s so cute!”
“You’re pushing it, fledgling.”
“Can’t help it. It’s just . . .automatic.” He gave his guardian a very Snape-like smirk. “Having second thoughts, Sev?”
“No. Even if you make me want to beat you every day, I will always want you, impudent child. You will always have a home with me. I . . .love you, son.”
There was only one way Harry felt he could respond to those words, the words that Severus had never spoken aloud before.
He slipped off the bed and came around on his wobbly legs and hugged his newfound father for a very long time. Somewhere deep within him, his little boy self rejoiced, for at last his wish had come true, even if it was in a way that was completely unexpected.
Hope you like the adoption and didn't think it was too boring.
Should Harry call Sev Dad?
Please remember to review, and excuse any grammatical typos.
75 House points and chocolate frogs to everyone who guessed adoption!
Next: Albus makes Sev an offer he can't refuse . . .or can he?
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