Chapter 1 : The Letter
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Harry tossed down his controller and conceded defeat to his Muggle friend Paul Mosier before sprawling across his bed on his stomach and sighing moodily.
Paul brushed his brown hair out of his face and looked up at his friend. “Something wrong, Harry? Want a rematch?” Normally Harry would have agreed in two seconds, for he was very competitive when playing Mortal Kombat.
But Harry shook his head no. “Not right now.”
“Are you thinking about Sasha?” Paul teased, knowing how much Harry missed the brilliant Healer of Sylvanor.
“No.” Harry scowled at the ceiling. Then he said abruptly, “Paul, what do you usually get your dad for Father’s Day?”
“Huh?” Paul looked totally flummoxed. “Why are you asking me that now, Harry? Father’s Day was two months ago.”
“I know, but . . .with the move and all . . .I . . .forgot about it and so did Da.” They had been too busy fighting Voldemort to remember any kind of holiday at all. “I feel bad . . .so I was wondering . . .what’s a good gift to get him?”
Paul thought for a moment. “Well, when I was little I used to make him something . . .like a pottery pencil holder or a magnet or draw a picture, you know. Stupid little kid stuff that I hope he threw in the rubbish bin by now. Then I used to get him the usual tie and dress shirt, Mum would take me shopping, or gym shoes. One year I got him tickets to his favorite sports team. Last year I cooked him dinner and cleaned out the garage without being told. This year I got him some books, he loves to read, and some of his favorite dark chocolate raspberry truffles.”
“Oh. Thanks,” Harry said, but he was still stumped.
Severus wasn’t the kind of person you got mugs and tea for, and Harry wouldn’t know how to make a pen holder if his life depended on it. Dress shirts and ties seemed too mundane and besides, he didn’t even know what size Severus was. He could cook, but he didn’t want Severus asking him what he was doing. He wanted the present to be a surprise, something out of the ordinary, something that showed him how much Harry cared about him. But he had no idea what that something was.
All through dinner that night, Harry turned over ideas in his head, rejecting them all. I could go to Diagon Alley and get him some potions supplies from Slug and Jiggers or Cauldrons Brimming . . .no, anybody could think of that . . .and besides, how would I get there? It’s too far to fly. New parchment and quills . . .nah, that’s boring. A lint roller so he can get Major’s fur off his robes? I’m going round the bend.
He went to bed still struggling with the perfect gift. He spent the night recalling all the times Severus had saved his life, even before he was a hawk. He recalled all the times he had nearly given the Potions Master a coronary with his crazy stunts and schemes. He remembered how he had caught a bad fever in Calais and Severus had stayed by him all night until it went down, and he was well again. Then he recalled how Severus had allowed him to keep Major and had given him a home and a family.
How can I ever find a gift that expresses all that?
He heaved a sigh and groaned.
Hedwig lifted her head from beneath her wing and hooted irritably. Harry, what is bothering you? You’re a restless as a hungry fledgling.
Harry told her about Father’s Day and his wish to find the perfect gift for the man who had done so much for him.
“I know owls don’t usually bother about stuff like this, but . . .do you have an idea for me, Hedwig?”
The owl blinked her amber eyes lazily then said after a moment or two, Why don’t you just say . . .thank you? Put all those memories in a letter and say thank you.
Harry’s mouth hung open. “Hedwig, that’s brilliant! You’re a genius!”
I know. I’m an owl.
Harry chuckled at the smug tone, then he rushed to his desk to pull out a fresh piece of parchment, and a quill and ink. It took him almost till dawn to write the letter in his best penmanship.
Then he crept like a shade down the hall and slipped into Severus’ room. He left the letter upon the nightstand, with the words Happy Belated Father’s Day on the envelope. Then he returned to his room, feeling very worn and tired, because writing down all of the memories was exhausting.
* * * * * *
Severus woke up to a rather drab and gray morning, he looked out the window and thought it might storm, and so summoned a lightweight shirt and trousers to him. As he was pulling on his shoes, he noticed the envelope upon his nightstand. That had certainly not been there last night.
He picked it up.
“Happy Belated Father’s Day,” he read aloud, his brow creasing. “But Father’s Day was two months ago!”
He opened the letter and carefully unfolded the parchment. He almost didn’t recognize the neat handwriting as Harry’s usual messy scrawl. Slowly, he began to read.
I know you’re sitting there wondering if I’ve finally lost it. Taken one too many blows to the head and all my brains leaked away. Trust me, I haven’t. It’s just . . .I feel guilty for not remembering Father’s Day and wanted to make up for it by getting you a gift.
Only all the gifts I could think of you already have or they’re not your type of thing or they’re stupid. So I decided to write you a letter instead.
I’m sitting here remembering all the times you were there for me when I needed you, but would never admit it. Like when I was all hyped up on that Stimulant Draft and refused to let you help me. But you didn’t let my attitude stop you. I remember when I was so sick, that time in Calais, and you stayed up all night and fed me potions and made sure I got better. That was the first time anyone has ever done that for me, and it felt good. I know I’ve been a cheeky pain in the arse a lot, and I’ll admit, sometimes I behave like that just to get you riled up.
Then you make me regret my stupidity a thousand times over.
Like the time I flew out of the chimney at Gaunt House and nearly broke my wings again because I was being an impulsive idiot. All I thought of was how bored I was, and not how you would feel if something happened to me. I’m sorry I scared you to death. But I learned my lesson after you made me choose my own punishment and I ended up scrubbing the whole bloody floor.
I’m sorry for all the times I’ve been a smartarse to you during school and at home, but I think if I stopped now, you’d probably pass out.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m really grateful for you making me your son and giving me the thing I always wanted most—a home and a father. I know you and James didn’t get along at all and so I’m even more grateful you took care of me like you did, I never would have survived the whole Horcrux hunt if not for you. Not to mention that I almost killed you when the Dagger of Discord possessed me. I still don’t know how you could forgive me for that. But somehow you did. And together we did the impossible and killed Voldemort for good and all.
And then you went into my mind and rescued me from myself again, without you risking your sanity, I could have been in a coma forever. From you I learned one of life’s important lessons—never give up, even when everything and everyone is trying to kick your arse. You also taught me about courage, not the crazy Gryffindor kind, but the quiet enduring Slytherin kind, unassuming and gritty, that gets you through the worst life can throw at you. It got you through seventeen years and more of hell and I’ve never known a braver man than you. Never.
But maybe the best thing you taught me was how to make the most of a second chance. You’ll probably say that I was the one who gave you a second chance, but you gave me one too. You gave me back the childhood the Dursleys stole, and let me be, for once, a regular kid. Just Harry, your aggravating, cheeky, impulsive son. And that means more than I can say.
I didn’t know what to get you for Father’s Day, so I hope this is enough.
Thank you, Da.
Happy Father’s Day
* * * * *
It was half past nine when Harry stumbled into the kitchen, rubbing his eyes beneath his glasses and yawning. “Morning, Da.”
“Good morning, son,” Severus greeted. He placed a plate of fried potatoes, bacon, and eggs before his son, as well as a glass of juice.
Harry mumbled a thank you and began to eat. He had just taken a mouthful of bacon when he saw a familiar folded parchment resting by Severus’ plate. He nearly choked on his bacon and had to be swatted on the back.
“Easy, fledgling,” his father remonstrated. “Chew before you swallow.”
Harry took a gulp of juice before replying, “I was. I just saw . . .did you read it? My letter?” His emerald eyes were filled with consternation.
Severus nodded. “I did.”
Harry looked down at his plate, feeling embarrassed and awkward. “You thought it was stupid, right?” Why did I write it? I probably sounded like a namby-pamby arse. What had seemed like a brilliant idea at one o’clock in the morning now was looking to be the biggest mistake ever.
“Stupid? Writing what you feel is never stupid. But I would like to tell you something, Harry James Potter-Snape. Thank you for giving me the one thing I never had or ever expected to have—a son to call my own. That, fledgling, is the greatest gift I have ever received.”
“Better even than a cauldronful of potion ingredients? Or Voldemort’s head on a platter?” Harry teased, his heart overflowing with joy.
“Better than anything, my Freedom.” He put an arm about his son and hugged him. Then he pointed down at Harry’s nearly full plate. “You had better eat that all, you need to put more meat on your bones.”
“No sneaking bacon under the table to Major, either. He’s starting to get fat.”
“Mind you brush your hair after breakfast, it’s looking like a horse’s mane.”
“Whatever you say, Da.”
Severus scowled down at his son. “And will you quit agreeing with me? You sound like a perfect little puppet.”
“Sure, Da.” Harry said, straight-faced.
Severus pretended to box his ears. “Cheeky wretch!”
Harry grinned. “Happy Father’s Day, Da. Sorry it’s late.”
“Better late than never,” was all his father said, then he sat down and ate his breakfast, smirking into his fried potatoes.
Happy Father's Day to Severus, Harry, and all the dads who inspired their kids to become better than they ever thought they could be.