Harry sneezed violently before he emerged from the Floo, nearly stumbling over the collection of trunks and bags in front of the hearth. They were covered with a fine layer of dust, since they had been sitting in the same position for almost a month. He caught himself and muttered a quick “Lumos!” before stepping aside so Severus could come through.
“I’ll need to give this place a through cleaning,” said his new father as he stepped gracefully from the fire.
Harry shot him an envious glare. If he lived to be a hundred, he feared he would never develop Severus’ cat-like grace. “I’ll help, Sev.”
“How very considerate of you,” drawled the Potions Master with just a hint of sarcasm. “After all, it’s your home now too.”
He walked over to the wall next to the fireplace and flicked a switch, and lights turned on in the ceiling overhead.
“Electricty?” Harry exclaimed, having gotten so used to wizarding mageglobes that it seemed strange to go back to the “Muggle way”.
“Why, yes, because we’re not all barbarians over here in the wilds of the north, the way you people from Surrey seeme to think,” Severus mocked softly.
“I know that, it’s just . . .I thought you lived like a wizard all the time.”
Severus gave him a sly smirk. “That’s what I wished you to think. I was raised in this house, Harry, and still tend to do things the Muggle way when I am here. It causes less stress upon the neighbors and me less work having to use Memory Charms. I was a spy for over fifteen years, I know how to blend in. I only use magic inside the house, where no one can see. This is a Muggle neighborhood, after all.”
Harry glanced around. The living area was small, just large enough for a couch done in a tasteful shade of hunter green. The couch extended nearly to the door of the house, which was covered on the inside with a tall white curtain to prevent any curious visitors from seeing inside Snape’s private dwelling. To the right of him was a large bay window, it too was covered with a gauzy curtain, but the curtain did allow light into the room. The window looked out upon the street, which was long and windy and had a few cars parked across the way.
Dusk was falling but Harry could see that the opposite side of the street was populated by more red brick rowhouses, each one having a brass number and knocker upon their identical wooden doors, separated by a narrow alley. All of them sported a bay window and a porch with a wrought iron railing.
Harry turned away to examine the rest of the room. In addition to the green sofa, which looked plump and inviting, much as did Severus’ couch in his quarters at Hogwarts, there was a soft carpet in a slate gray, worn in a few places, but otherwise of decent quality.
In front of the bay window was a finely carved wooden apothecary chest, like some Harry had seen in furniture stores, made of black walnut and containing many drawers and one long cabinet. “Is that where you keep some of your potions ingredients?”
Severus glanced up from dusting off his trunk and nodded. “Some of them. Those that are medicinal in nature and non-poisonous, are in that chest. Some emergency potions are inside there too, in the cabinet.”
Next to the cabinet was a wrought iron lamp that curved about itself and the shade resembled a green bulb, sort of like a Jack-in-the-pulpit. This was where the majority of the light was coming from.
There was a small walnut table in front of the couch, it had stacks of magazines upon it and an empty, but clean, coffee mug as well. Harry peered at the magazines, all were wizarding publications save one, The Yorkshire Times.
Severus saw him flip through it and said, “It’s important to keep up with the local news, in case a neighbor comes over to you as you're walking and asks what you think of such-and-such. That keeps me informed.”
“Right.” Harry set the magazine down. On the couch were several black throw pillows, large enough for you to rest your head on comfortably and a soft green and black blanket folded neatly over the back.
Over the couch hung a large painting of a seascape, and as Harry watched, the waves foamed gently to the shore and back and clouds scudded across the sky and a gull flew screeching down to catch a fish. As he watched, enraptured, a skinny boy with black hair wearing ragged shorts and a long shirt walked through the sand, accompanied by a little red-haired girl wearing a sun dress and carrying a pail and a shovel.
She knelt in the sand and smiled up at the boy, who began to build a sandcastle. “Here’s a good spot, Lil.”
“A most excellent spot, Sev,” she giggled, then began to help him.
Harry gasped. It was . . .his mother and Severus . . .they looked to be about eight . . .at the beach . . .He stared and stared as the two rapidly built a sandcastle.
Severus touched his shoulder and Harry started. “Easy,” the older man murmured. “You’re safe. That’s me and your mother, we were on holiday at her seaside home in Skegness, Lincolnshire. It was the first time I had ever been anywhere outside of this house on Spinner’s End.”
“My mum had a seaside house?” Harry was amazed. Why had he never heard of it before? Then he recalled the many times his aunt and uncle and Dudley went on holiday to the seashore. Had they been going to the same house? “When my mum passed away, that meant that Aunt Petunia got the house, right? The one you had stayed at on holiday?”
“Yes, I would assume so, since your mother’s parents were dead then.”
“Do you know . . .how they died, my grandparents?” Harry asked cautiously.
“Yes,” Severus said heavily. “Voldemort sent Death Eaters after them. I learned about it too late to prevent it. The Aurors got there too late. The Evanses were already killed. But they surprised the Death Eaters there and that was where Mad-Eye Moody got his wooden leg and his magical eye, in that battle. It was a few months after you were born. That was part of the reason why your parents went into hiding.”
Severus gave Harry’s shoulder a squeeze. “Don’t blame yourself, son. Those were terrible times, Voldemort was a menace, he looked for Muggleborns and their families to target, and when he found them, he was ruthless. Much like Adolf Hitler with his persecution of the Jewish people and the Romany.”
“Think they were related?”
Severus coughed. “Perhaps they shared the same damned soul. In any case, once your grandparents died, I would assume that the house passed to Petunia, as the eldest child.”
“I figured as much,” Harry said, a bitter note creeping into his tone. “I never saw it, whenever they went on holiday during the summer to the seaside, they always left me with Mrs. Figg, or Marge, or by myself.”
He looked up at the painting, and saw that small Severus and Lily had finished building the sandcastle and were now splashing in the surf. “Did you take that yourself with a magic camera?”
Severus shook his head. “No. That’s a memory painting.”
“It’s a painting done with a memory I extracted from my mind. I placed it upon a magical canvas and used special paint to make the memory upon it “awaken”. It was the only one I have ever done.”
“It’s really something, Sev.”
Severus looked embarrassed. “I am no artist, Harry. We can take a trip to SkegNess if you wish, maybe once you are settled in and have spoken to the Minister. It’s very nice around August.”
“I’d like that,” Harry said sincerely. Then he added mischievously, “Will you teach me how to build a sandcastle? I never learned.”
“Impudent fledgling!” he growled, swatting his son playfully on the back of the head. “I think you can figure it out. Come, let me show you the rest of the house and then you may unpack.”
The tiny kitchen was just off the living room, it was barely large enough for one person to stand in it, but it contained a stove/oven and a small fridge/freezer and a table just big enough for three people. There were white cabinets built in next to the stove containing pots, pans, and dishes and utensils. Everything was neat but had a layer of dust coating it.
Harry ran a finger across the black top counter. “Aunt Petunia would have heart failure.”
“Humph! She’d have done better to have a heart attack over how she allowed you to be treated, never mind her house. But as I said, we’ll need to clean this up. Contrary to popular rumor, I do not enjoy living in a dark hole with cobwebs and spiders.”
“Do we use magic to clean?” Harry asked, having visions of attacking the kitchen with a featherduster and polish.
“You may do so, unless you are in trouble with me. Then you do chores the Muggle way.”
“Why do you always assume I’m going to be in trouble?” Harry asked petulantly. “I just got here!”
“I cannot believe you asked that question. Harry, your middle name is Trouble and we both know it.”
“Hey, I promised I’d behave and I meant it.”
“The best laid plans of mice and men, apprentice . . .” Severus teased. Then he pointed his wand and spoke a word and a wind swirled through the kitchen.
When it vanished, the countertop and all the surfaces were sparkling clean.
“Holy Merlin!” Harry cried. “You have got to teach me that spell, Sev!”
“Later. The bathroom is through here, just before the stairs.”
After showing Harry the necessary, Snape led the way up the narrow stairs and to what looked like a library. It was filled with row upon row of books and a desk huddled among the bookshelves like a sleeping cat among pillows. In this room were framed certificates of all the awards Severus had received for his potion making, including one large one when he obtained his Mastery. There was also one for dueling and another for discovering an nearly extinct species of magical plant- the thornfield heatherbloom.
Unlike the bottom of the house, the library was absent of dust, indeed the leather spines of the books shone as if polished and there was a pleasant scent of lemon cleaner mixed with leather and parchment. Even the wooden floor seemed freshly waxed.
“Preservation spell,” Severus said. “I cast it over the books, but this room is so small it expanded to protect the desk and the floor as well. You may browse these books as you will, there are no dangerous magical texts in here. Those I keep in a magical safe.”
Then he walked up to a bookshelf upon the right of the desk and pulled out a book called Bedknobs and Broomsticks halfway. Suddenly there was a sort of grinding sound and then the bookshelf swung aside to reveal a secret passage.
“Down this hall are the bedrooms,” Severus stepped inside the dark passage, which immediately lit up. “This was not here when I was growing up, I added the library later and the bookshelf passage as well. It will not open for anyone save myself and now you, as my blood-adopted heir.”
Harry stepped cautiously into the passage, half-afraid his fear of small spaces would be triggered, but as soon as he followed Severus, he did not feel enclosed at all. The hallway was a normal height and well-lit. There were three doors at the end of the hall.
One was another bathroom, this one with a shower and a tub also, unlike the smaller one downstairs, which contained only a sink and toilet. The right was Severus’ room, which he said Harry was not to enter without his permission.
Harry couldn’t resist another impudent remark then. “How come, Sev? Got a girl chained up in the closet?”
“Whelp!” Severus sputtered. “Of all the cheek!” Then he snapped back, “No, I have the remains of the last cheeky apprentice who annoyed me past endurance hanging on the wall. And that’s all you need to know.” Then he softened a bit at Harry’s crestfallen expression. “I like my privacy, and it’s . . .difficult for me to get used to sharing my house after so many years alone. Forgive me, but I need my own space to think and to unwind at times, which is why I ask you to stay out of my room. I shall do the same with you. Unless you give me a reason to invade it.”
“I understand.” Harry said quickly. Then he asked, “Like what?”
“I expect you to keep your room neat, meaning I will want to be able to walk in it without wading through dirty clothes and so forth. And I do not expect you to ever make this necessary, but if I ever suspect you of using forbidden substances, such as cigarettes, or marijuana, or any other kind of drug, I will feel no qualms about searching your room for such things. And then you will regret it.”
Harry shivered, for Severus’ tone had darkened to midnight and he did not even want to imagine the hell that would ensue should Severus ever catch him doing anything like pot or heroin. “Sev, I’m not a junkie. And I don’t smoke anything. Uncle Vernon smoked a pipe and I always hated it . . .the smell and the mess . . .so you don’t have to worry about that.”
“I did not think so, but I wished to let you know in advance,” Severus said, relieved. He had lived the first half of his life with an addict, he did not intend to allow that to reoccur. He opened the door to the left of the bath. “And this is your room, Harry. It used to be mine, the furniture has since been remodeled and you may decorate it how you choose. Do you know a color change charm?”
Harry walked into the room. It was not as small as he had expected, there was plenty of room for the bed, the dresser, the closet, and a desk and a chair. It had a window that overlooked the small backyard, which was fenced. There were shelves built into the wall for books and other things.
The carpet was a plain serviceable tawny color, not something that would show dirt easily, but would also match with anything. The walls were a plain beige. All of the furniture was solid if plain oak, a mahogany color. The comforter upon the bed was royal blue.
“I had no idea of your preference, so if you wish to get different furniture, we can visit some shops,” Severus began, taking Harry’s silence to mean he did not like the room.
Harry shook his head, overwhelmed. “No . . .this . . .it’s fine. Just fine.”
“You are certain?”
“Yes.” He said softly, thinking in a daze, This is my room. Mine. I don’t have to share with anyone, or get some secondhand piece of junk. All mine. A place I can call my own, finally. It was what he had always wanted, yet now that he had it, he did not know how to react. To his horror, he felt tears sting his eyes. Ruthlessly he shoved the tears back. He was not a girl, to go all teary eyed over a room! What the hell was the matter with him? He remained stubbornly looking out the window until he had mastered himself, then he turned to his father and said, “Well, I guess I’d better start to unpack.”
Severus nodded, though he was not fooled by Harry’s nonchalant façade. He could see how close to the surface the boy’s emotions were, and he decided to give him some space. “I shall do the same. The incantation for the color change spell is thus,” he waved his wand and muttered two words in Latin, followed by the color you wished to change the walls to.
“Got it.” Harry said. The spell was an elementary one.
“Take your time, there is no rush. After two hours I shall come by and we can have supper.”
“Can you cook?”
“Better than you, I’d wager,” said the Potions Master gruffly. He summoned Harry’s trunk and bag and Hedwig’s perch up to the room with a quick wave. “If you need me, call. I shall hear you, even if I am down in my lab.”
“In the basement, of course.” Severus replied, then he departed.
Harry locked the door, not because he was afraid Severus would come back in without asking, but because for the first time ever he actually had a door that he could lock. It gave him an immense feeling of privacy.
He went to the window and threw it open,letting in the night breeze. Then he whistled softly for Hedwig.
The snowy owl had told them in no uncertain terms that she would fly to Spinner’s End instead of going through that deathtrap of a Floo Network.
A few moments later she had flown into his room and landed upon her perch. Good evening, fledgling. How goes your first evening in your new domicile?
“I like it fine so far, Hedwig. Do you like your perch beside the window, like that? Or should I move it a bit?”
The owl considered. Perhaps a bit to the left, so drafts don’t blow directly upon me. I enjoy the wind and cold, but I’m not immune to catching a chill.
Harry moved the perch as she had directed, then set up a small canvas tarp over it, so she was sheltered from any stray drafts. He set up her food and water dishes, filling the water dish from the sink in the lav.
She nuzzled him affectionately and settled upon the perch to groom herself.
Harry sat upon his bed and considered what color he should make this room, his room. While he didn’t mind the Gryffindor colors, he felt they would not mesh here, and he wished to leave his House at school. This was different. He was proud of his House, but this room was somewhere he could show a different side of himself. The Harry Potter-Snape he was away from Hogwarts.
He closed his eyes, imagining he was Freedom, soaring upwards into the endless blue vault of the sky, the everchanging blue of a perfect day, with the sun highlighting the clouds in silver edging, and shading to darker blue and purple towards the horizon.
“That’s it!” he opened his eyes and cast the color change spell, reciting sky blue first.
The walls became a soft muted shade of sky blue. Then he pointed his wand again and intoned the spell, but this time he focused his mind and the lower half of the wall darkened to cobalt blue, and then he added a strip of deep purple, shading it as best he could. He made white clouds, edging them in silver.
Then he stepped back and looked about, pleased with his handiwork.
His bedroom now looked like the open sky on a sunny day, just the way he had remembered it while flying. Now he didn’t feel so closed in. All he had to do was look about him and he could see the sky.
“Hedwig, what do you think?”
The owl looked up from her preening and hooted in approval. Lord of Winds, Harry! It’s brilliant!
He grinned. Then he did an absurd little skipping dance. “And it’s all mine,” he whispered, feeling that thrill go through him again.
Then he began to unpack his school things and clothes, arranging them carefully in his dresser, on his desk, and inside the closet.
That did not take very long, and Harry felt sort of sleepy, so he kicked off his trainers and strectched out upon the bed.
Within moments, he was fast asleep.
Severus came and tapped on the door some two hours later, but when he turned the knob, he found it locked. “Harry? Are you hungry? I have soup and sandwiches on the table.”
Harry woke with a start. For one moment he panicked, not recognizing where he was. Then he slipped on his glasses and looked around at his sky-decked room and smiled. He was safe here, in his very own room, his room with the sky walls.
“Harry? May I come in?”
Only then did he recall that he had locked the door. “Huh? Oh, yeah.” He rose and padded over to the door and unlocked it. “Sorry, Sev. I . . .forgot I locked the door.”
He stepped back so Severus could come in and see what he had done to the room.
Severus entered, and blinked.
“Like it?” Harry asked, suddenly fearful of the older man’s disapproval. “I missed the sky so I . . .well . . .I tried to make it look like it . . .”
“It is a very nice piece of work. I can almost feel the wind beneath my feathers,” Severus said sincerely. “Well done, Harry. You are more of an artist than I. Would you like something to eat?”
“Umm . . .yes. I fell asleep,” he admitted sheepishly.
“After the day you had, I’m not surprised,” Severus said. “I have beef noodle soup and ham with lettuce and mayonnaise sandwiches downstairs and some tea.” He led the way down the hall and showed Harry the small panel with the carved lily he needed to touch to get the bookshelf to slide open.
Together they went down to the kitchen and ate their simple yet satisfying supper, their first as a family at Spinner’s End.
After a moment, Severus said, “Tomorrow we can discuss your scheduled summer assignments and the few chores you will be expected to do, but tonight is your own, to do whatever you wish. Welcome home, son.” He lifted his mug in a salute.
Harry did the same with his glass of ice water. “Thank you, Sev.”
Now that he was home at last, in a place where he belonged, he felt he might begin to heal from the war he had just fought. And so too could Severus. Merlin only knew they needed this time, time to forget the horrors of war and the battles won and the blood on the ground, time to remember what it was like to be normal, if either of them had ever been such a thing.
Harry drank, reminding himself to take it one day at a time. He had the rest of the summer to recuperate, and he had the uneasy feeling he would need every bit of it.
Sorry about the delay in updating this, but the holidays came upon me with a vengeance and so did my Christmas story, Away In A Manger, and I ended up trying to finish that first. I haven't yet, but I have given myself a bit of a breather, and returned to this one as well as Return to Prince Manor and will be updating Irresistible Chemistry soon!
This story is by no means finished, I intend to go through most of the summer with Harry and Sev, resolving various threads and crisis I have been hinting at throughout this story.
Thanks to everyone who has been reading and also new readers too! Please let me know how you liked this one!
Next: Harry and Severus settle in and Harry writes a letter to Sasha and tries to control his urge to go and batter the procrastinating Fudge into a pulp for delaying his appointment.
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