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Chapter 39 : Petunia's Surprise
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Loud screams of protest followed this, but it did the trick. Both boys were wide awake and not inclined to bury their heads back under their pillow and snatch a few more winks.
"Dad, how could you?" sputtered Harry, using his wand to dry himself off. But his bedding was still soaking wet and he was shivering. "That's cruel and unusual punishment!"
"So is having to strain my voice shouting at you to wake up," replied his father testily. "Once ought to be enough. Meet me in the bathroom. I have a lesson to teach you and Draco."
"What lesson?" Harry called wonderingly, but his father had already glided from his room down the hall to his brother's.
Harry hesitated, wondering if he ought to get dressed first, then decided against it. What kind of lesson could Dad want to teach us now? I already know how to brush my teeth. Unless it involves a good mouthwashing? But no, if Harry had been in that sort of trouble, Severus would have told him straight out. And Harry hadn't used any foul language in front of Severus recently. Not even when the water had cascaded all over him.
"Harry! Quit dawdling and get in here!" Draco yelled.
Harry rolled his eyes and went down the hall.
He found the bathroom he shared with Draco to have been enlarged slightly, so that the counter was longer and had more space inbetween the two sinks. Upon the counter was an array of shaving soaps, a styptic pencil, warmed towels, two large mugs, badger-bristle brushes, aftershave cologne and three gleaming silver razors.
"Huh? You're giving us a shaving lesson?" Harry blinked and automatically felt along his jaw, where some dark peach fuzz was beginning to grow. He eyed his brother, who had a lighter growth, but it was thicker. Harry felt a little jealous, then he recalled Draco was older than he was, and so would have more hair growth.
"I am. You're almost fifteen, Harry, and I can see that you need to begin learning the art of a close shave now . . .and I'm not talking about your penchant for getting out of trouble by the skin of your teeth!" He frowned severely at his sons. "That goes for you as well, Draco. Your meeting with the solicitors this morning is important, and so you have to cultivate a cultured appearance as befits your rank."
"Yes, sir," Draco yawned, wondering how long this lesson would take. "Is that why you made us get up so bloody early?"
Snape nodded. "Yes, now quit your bloody grousing, Draco Michael. Watch me."
"Why can't we just learn a spell?" asked Harry curiously.
"Do you want to cut open your throat?" asked his father sharply. "It was discovered a long time ago that shaving spells were too dangerous for novice wizards to cast. Too many of the little brats died trying to "shave like Daddy", and so they were banned and revoked. No one uses them today. Probably why most of the old school wizards grow beards. You may choose to or not when you come of age, though I personally find beards very cumbersome and they tend to get stuck in everything, including your cauldron while brewing and your soup bowl while eating." Severus grimaced. "When you are older, you will need to shave every day, but for now, once a week is sufficient."
"What do we do first?" asked Harry, picking up a brush and examining it.
Severus swatted his knuckles. "Put that down and wait until I tell you to pick it up. Haven't you learned to follow directions by now?"
Harry rubbed his hand and gave Severus an indignant look. "I was just looking."
"Look with your eyes, not with your hands, Mr. Snape."
Draco snickered, for Severus sounded just like Narcissa when he said that. He stopped when Severus turned and glared at him.
"Don't act so smug, Mr, Malfoy. Your hand got many a smacking from me before you learned to keep it from touching everything you saw as a child."
Now it was Harry's turn to look smug.
Draco flushed a little. He had forgotten that Snape knew all his naughty little boy phases. He wished his father didn't have such a good memory. How long did it take before a wizard went senile?
"Ahem!" Severus cleared his throat. "First, you take the warmed moist towel here and wrap it around your face, like so." He picked up the towel and demonstrated. "Leave it there for about five minutes to open your pores and soften the beard. A soft beard is easier to shave. You, however, probably need only three minutes, since all you have is fuzz."
"At least we have something," Draco muttered. "And I'm fifteen, not almost."
"You're so mature for your age, I nearly forgot," Severus teased, wrapping the towel about his face more evenly.
His boys copied him. Harry found the warmed wet towel delightful. It smelled faintly of wintergreen.
Then Severus had them remove the towel and showed them how to lather up the shaving soap in the mug, wetting the brush with hot water and stirring till it was nicely foaming. "Now, take the brush and run it lightly over your face, just enough to get a good covering over your beard. Like so."
Harry couldn't help chuckling at the sight of his father with lather all over him.
"Harry, what is so amusing?"
"It's just . . .well . . .you look like Father Christmas like that."
"Or Dumbledore's little brother!" Draco chimed in.
Severus just rolled his eyes. "Enough of your mouth. Go on, do as I said."
He waited till both boys had lathered their faces enough. Then he picked up the razor.
"Observe. This is a safety razor, I figured it would be easier for you to learn with one of these rather than the old-fashioned straight razor. Less chance of you cutting yourself that way. Although you will cut yourself at least once your first time." He pointed to the white styptic pencil. "When you do, stop and apply that styptic pencil there to stop the bleeding." He indicated they should each take a razor. "Your first stroke should be with the grain of your beard, in other words, the way the hair grows. Wash off the lather and take a look in the mirror to see which way the hair is growing."
"But Dad, I just got it nice and fluffy," Harry protested.
"Harry, for the love of Merlin . . .! Just do as I tell you without arguing for once!" his exasperated father growled.
Harry rinsed his face and then peered hard at himself in the mirror.
So did Draco.
"All right. Have you figured it out?"
"Now, pull the skin slightly where you mean to shave and put the razor against your skin and shave gently along the jawline." Severus showed them, moving slowly and carefully. "When the razor is full, clean it with water from the tap."
He rinsed his razor.
A second later Draco yelped. "Ow! Damn it, I cut myself." He went to dab the small slice with a towel.
Snape caught his hand. "No, put the pencil on it first." He took his son's chin in his hand and pressed the white pencil to the bleeding area.
"Hey, that stings!"
"Don't be a baby, Draco. It doesn't sting half as bad as the cut would if you got shaving lather in it." Severus pointed out. "Continue. Like I said, cuts are normal the first time."
Not for me, Harry thought, determined to not cut his face at all his first time and thus be better than Draco. He carefully shaved down to his chin and then started to go around it without waiting for Severus' instructions.
"OW!" he yelled, for he had just given himself a very painful nick. The bloody razor was too sharp!
Blood dripped down his chin onto the counter.
Draco gaped at him. "Hells bells, Harry, what did you do, open a vein?"
"Ah . . .shut your gob, Draco!" his brother growled.
"Hold still," Severus ordered, grabbing his son's chin and applying the styptic.
Harry winced but didn't cry out, even though it did sting like blazes.
"You should have waited for me before you shaved your chin," scolded Severus. "It's tricky and where one usually cuts oneself."
"How many times did you cut yourself the first time, Dad?" asked Harry slyly.
"None of your business, son," answered Snape.
He continued to shave, showing them how to repeat the shave and go against the grain for an even closer shave. Then he had them rinse their faces in cold water and pat them dry with a towel.
"My face tingles." Draco remarked.
"It always does the first time." He picked up the bottle of Old Spice aftershave he had bought at the chemist in town the other day. "Rub a small bit on your hands and then massage it into your face. It will soothe your skin and make you smell attractive to the ladies." He smirked.
"Dad, please!" both his sons cried.
They did as he had said, and the next instant were yelling, "Ow! It stings!" and "Damn, why is it burning?"
"Ahh . . .I forgot to mention, be careful around your cuts," Severus added. "Relax, it will stop in a few seconds, quit acting like you fell in a hornet's nest." The boys were wincing and had their hands clamped to their faces, wriggling.
"Ow! You . . .you did that on purpose!" Harry accused.
"Experience is the best teacher," his father smirked.
"You're evil," Draco grumbled.
"Enough! Clean up in here and get dressed. Breakfast will be on the table in ten minutes, and you had better be dressed presentably and sitting down, or else no brooms for the afternoon."
"Am I going to the solicitor too?" asked Harry.
"Yes. You may as well accompany us." Severus said, then he left the room, moving with an easy grace his sons envied. "Hurry up!"
"I'm never doing that again," Draco declared as he rinsed off his razor, mug, and brush.
"You want to grow a beard like Dumbledore?" Harry gaped at him.
"Hell, no! But rather that than cutting myself up like a bloody piece of meat! Look at me!" He indicated three small nicks along his jawline.
"Looks all right to me," said Harry, indicating his own face, which had two nicks, though the first one was deep and outshone Draco's tiny ones.
"You would say that!" snapped Draco. "Considering you have a large scar on your forehead so you're used to girls not noticing you." An instant later he was apologetic. "Sorry. I was out of line."
Harry waved off his apology. He was hungry and didn't care who had gotten less nicks. He just wanted breakfast.
The visit to the solicitor went well, Draco and Severus signed several forms and then set up a schedule of monthly reports so they could keep track of the money each property and trust earned and lost. When Draco came of age, he would be a wealthy young man, and likely considered a great catch for the daughters of pureblood families. But Draco refused to even contemplate marrying anyone save Hermione. "Let those other witches find some other bloke to sniff around. I'm off limits." He stated candidly when one of his solicitors made a joke to that effect.
Severus swatted him on the back of the head. "Mind your mouth, boy! You've been hanging around Mr. Weasley too much, you're starting to develop foot in mouth disease!"
"It's true!" Draco protested, rubbing the back of his head. "I'm only marrying Hermione."
"There are more polite ways to state that," Severus scolded. Boys! I just don't know whether to laugh at them or smack them sometimes! He apologized to the solicitors, who were smirking up their sleeves. Clearly young Lord Malfoy kept his guardian on his toes!
They arrived back at the manor in time for lunch, and ate along with Smidgen and Cafall. The little fae cat was much less mobile due to her crippled wing, but she still managed to blink to and from places with grace and happily enjoyed her new home and the wizards who shared it with her.
*Severus, a letter arrived while you were out,* she informed the elder wizard, ever the messenger. *It is there upon the silver salver in the den.*
Severus Summoned the letter to him with a flick of his wand, and opened it. It was from Petunia, asking whether he would mind her and Dudley and Sirius stopping by for a visit for the weekend. She explained that they had received a note from Harry and wanted to make sure Severus agreed before coming to Prince Manor. "Thank you for telling me, Smidgen," he said calmly, as he wrote out a reply to it.
"Who's it from?" asked Draco.
"Harry's aunt, Petunia Dursley."
"The one with the spoiled rich brat?" clarified his godson.
"Yes, although Petunia says Dudley had changed for the better since last we saw him," Severus said. "I hope by Merlin's bones that is so. They shall be coming to the manor this Saturday and staying over. I expect you to be on your best behavior, Draco. Is that clear?"
"I know I needn't tell you to behave as well, Harry, do I?"
"No, sir." He found he was actually rather excited to see his aunt and cousin again. As well as Sirius. He wondered if they looked different now, he knew Dudley had lost weight. He wondered if Petunia had stopped wearing her hair in that severe-looking bun or if Sirius had gained enough weight to quit looking gaunt and had shaved off his beard.
Well, he would see come Saturday. Right now all he wanted was to go and fly his broom in and out of the trees in the orchard. "Draco, care for a race?"
"Why not? Just don't go crying to Dad if you lose, little brother."
Harry made a face at him. "You wish! I'm going to dust your arse, Dragon."
"You and what army?"
"No fighting, boys! Or else!" Severus reminded them, withdrawing the wooden spoon from his pocket.
"Okay, sir!" his sons gulped, knowing full well what would happen were they to be caught pounding each other the way they had done last summer.
They finished lunch, cleared away the remains, and then shot out the back door, still insulting each other genially.
Severus tucked the spoon back in his pocket. He hadn't ever intended to use it on them, but the threat was enough to keep them in line. Sometimes intimidation worked better than corporal punishment on his children . . .actually it worked much better. And he much preferred it to using the spoon.
He rubbed the heel of his hand into his eyes and sighed. He just hoped that this visit didn't end in disaster. He wasn't as concerned about the boys getting along with Dudley as he was of Sirius Black getting along with him.
*Why such a long sigh, Severus?* Smidgen queried, perching upon his shoulder and beginning to groom her fur. * Does the prospect of having your relatives over dismay you?*
"Not really. But one of them is an old school rival of mine and I am uncertain how he will tolerate me or I him," Severus said, and recounted a few instances of his ongoing rivalry with the Marauders.
The shimmerling absorbed all of Severus' memories he chose to share, and began to purr soothingly. *Do not fret, my friend. All will be well, they are guests in your home, after all. And though hospitality is sacred, so is the right of the home owner to show guests the door if they annoy you too much.*
Severus smirked, one corner of his mouth twitching up. "I shall remember, Smidgen. Will you be showing yourself to them?"
The fae cat's tail twitched lazily. *Maybe and maybe not. It all depends on their manners and temperament. We shall have to see.*
Severus nodded, thinking that he could wait for Saturday to come. Until he reminded himself that he was master of his own house and could send Sirius Black packing if he reverted back to his old ways.
Saturday dawned clear and sunny. Draco and Harry woke without any prompting from their father and ate breakfast and made sure the manor was spit polished and shined, since Harry had told them Petunia loved a tidy house. By the time mid-morning rolled around the manor sparkled inside and out, and Harry was itching to pace around and around. Severus had departed scant minutes before to escort Sirius and the Dursleys through the Evermist to the gates, but Harry was impatient. He began to walk up and down.
"Sit down, for Godsake!" Draco ordered, lounging in a chair. "You're acting worse than Cafall." The misthound puppy was sitting obediently beside the hearth, right where Severus had ordered him to.
Harry stopped and made himself sit down.
An instant later he was on his feet as the door opened.
Cafall pricked his ears and barked a greeting, but stayed where he was.
Severus entered first, followed by Petunia, Sirius, and Dudley.
Harry stared at his relatives and thought maybe they had gotten make-overs. Petunia was no longer wearing her hair in a severe style that made her look older than her thirty-eight years. Instead she had her hair styled in a short wave that complimented her features and made her look almost . . .pretty. She also wasn't wearing any of those unflattering dresses that made her look thin as a twig. She was wearing a lovely deep blue skirt and blouse swirled through with purple which accented her figure, and her shoes were stylish sandals.
Harry's eyes nearly popped out of his head. "Wow! Aunt Petunia, you look—" he stopped, not knowing how to say she looked great without being rude.
"A sight better than last time, no?" she returned. She leaned forward and kissed him lightly on the cheek and ruffled his hair. "Thank you for inviting us, Harry. My, you've grown an inch and a half since I last saw you! Your father must be feeding you Growth Serum." She joked.
"Hardly. He's fifteen, Tuney. He grows an inch overnight," Severus said. "Petunia, meet Draco Malfoy, my other son."
Draco rose and extended a hand. "Pleased to meet you, Mrs. Dursley."
"Oh, thank you. The pleasure is mine. And it's not Dursley anymore, but well, we'll explain that later. Dudley, come and say hello to your cousin and his brother, who's also your cousin now."
If Harry had though Petunia looked different, he nearly collapsed when he saw Dudley.
His cousin was no longer the beached baby whale he had been once upon a time. He had lost about seventy pounds and was now a stocky broad-shouldered boy, resembling his father in his build, but his mother in his facial features, now you could see it since it was not covered by fat. He was dressed in a blue and yellow rugby shirt and shorts, he too had grown taller and topped Harry by a head. He carried a duffel in one hand and was looking around, wide-eyed.
"This is your house, Harry?" he exclaimed. "Crikey! It's . . .really big! How come you never told me your family was rich?"
Harry shrugged. "I didn't know about it then. How have you been, Dud?"
"All right. Been stuck inside Grimmauld Place most of the time." He looked over at Draco. "Hello, I'm Dudley."
Draco greeted him politely as well, then stiffened as Sirius came into view.
Sirius was dressed in casual black denims and a crimson shirt with a golden lion on the front. His hair had been trimmed and combed and he no longer had a beard, just a small mustache. He looked extremely handsome, like a rogue highwayman.
"Harry!" he marched over and hugged his startled godson. "You look real good, kid. Like . . .your . . .err . . .father." It was only then that he noticed Harry didn't look like James, but Severus, and for one moment he felt as if he had traveled back in time and was looking at a mirror image of Severus as a boy.
Finding out that Snape was Harry's real father in a letter was one thing, but seeing it in the flesh was quite another. But there was no doubting that this was Severus' son.
To cover his shock, he turned to Draco and said, "Hello, Malfoy."
Draco responded, shaking the other's hand.
Introductions over, Severus suggested they sit down and have some lunch. They all went into the kitchen. Severus had made several kinds of sandwiches and there were several salads and crisps as well as merlinna juice and lemonade. "Help yourselves."
Dudley stared at the pitcher of merlinna juice and finally asked, "What's that?"
"Merlinna juice," Harry answered.
"It'll make your hair curl," Draco teased.
Dudley looked a bit pale.
Draco snickered, then he said, "But it's very good to drink."
Dudley cautiously sipped it. "It is good!" He then asked, "Is it magical?"
"No." Harry laughed. "It's the juice of a fruit that grows on a tree in our orchard."
So far, so good.
"Harry and Draco will give you a tour of the grounds and the manor after lunch, if you want," Severus told the boy. Cafall nudged his hand, giving him pleading amber eyes. Snape glanced down at the misthound and said sternly, "No begging. Later you get scraps. Lay down."
Cafall sighed impatiently, but obeyed. He knew if he didn't, Severus wouldn't give him anything.
"What a beautiful dog!" Sirius commented. "Where did you get him?"
"He was a gift from my fiance to the boys." Severus explained. "A Christmas gift. He's a misthound, a fae breed."
"His name's Cafall, after King Arthur's hound," Harry told them.
Hearing his name, Cafall's tail began to wag, thumping loudly on the floor. But he did not rise from his position beside Severus' chair. When it came to the three wizards, Cafall obeyed Harry and Draco because they were older, though he would disregard a command by them if he felt like it, but Severus was Alpha and had his absolute obedience.
"Is that like a magic dog, Uncle Severus?" asked Dudley curiously. His mother had told him that he had to address the tall wizard that way, since Snape was his uncle.
"Yes. A misthound is incredibly intelligent and can track any prey through any kind of terrain, the fae use them exclusively as hunting dogs, and they get their name from being able to slip out of phase with the real world for a few moments, it makes them very hard to see or to hurt. But Cafall here is just a puppy still, and hasn't mastered that trick."
Dudley, Petunia, and Sirius looked impressed.
Then Sirius rose and went to kneel beside the puppy, who sniffed him curiously. Sirius stroked the long ears gently and thumped the dog's ribs affectionately. "I'll bet you want to be off running in the woods instead of stuck inside this pile of stone, yes?"
Cafall barked an affirmative. His eyes sparkled eagerly. Hunt. Soon. After lunch. Alpha says lie down. The misthound could not send like Smidgen, but Sirius was Animagus enough to understand the unspoken dog language even in human form.
He gave the pup's belly a scratch and said, "Maybe I'll join you, hmm? Good pup."
"Are you finished playing Dr. Dolittle with my dog, Black?" Severus asked dryly.
Sirius rose, shrugging. "Am I what? Who's Dr. Dolittle?"
"He was a vet who could talk to animals," answered Snape, without missing a beat.
"A Magical Creatures vet? Must have been a good one, then. Do you take Cafall to him?"
"Cafall is extremely healthy and has no need to see one," Severus replied, still deadpan.
"Stop it, Severus!" ordered Petunia, chuckling. "Dr. Dolittle isn't a real person, Siri, he's a fictional character in a Muggle storybook."
Sirius looked startled. "You mean, he's not real?"
"Only in your head, Black," said the Potions Master, then he smirked.
Sirius looked as if he couldn't decide whether to be angry or laugh at himself for falling for Snape's little joke. Finally he gave a soft chuckle and said, "Nice one, Snape. You had me going there for a bit."
"Sev's always been a wit," Petunia remarked. She waited until Sirius had resumed his seat before saying, a bit anxiously, "Severus, Harry, and Draco, I have an announcement to make." She set her hand upon Sirius' arm. "Sirius and I just got married a few days ago. We would have told you sooner, but . . .it was a small ceremony, in the courthouse. Nothing fancy." She gave them a tentative smile.
"Except you, Tuney," Sirius said, smiling at his new bride.
The three Snapes remained with their mouths open. They certainly had not been expecting that news. But looking at the newlyweds, they could clearly see that the two were in love, it was in their eyes and the way they touched each other.
"Then, you're Petunia Black now?" clarified Harry. It sounded odd, but he discovered he was happy for his aunt and his godfather. Both of them deserved to find someone who made them happy, even if it was an unlikely pairing. Then again, it was no more strange than that of his own father and Sarai, sworn bodyguard to the Queen of the Seelie.
"I am," Petunia said proudly. Then she laughed softly. "All these years I spent fearing magic, and now I've gone and married a wizard. An Animagus, no less."
"But you get to pet and play with me in both forms, luv," Sirius said, smirking.
"Ugh! Siri, you're making me gag!" Dudley said, and the other two boys nodded, looking just as disgusted.
Severus recovered from the shock first. "Congratulations. I have no doubt Petunia will keep you in line, Black."
"I try," said his sister-in-law.
"If he riles her up, she grabs the frying pan," Dudley remarked, snickering.
Harry and Draco stared at each other for about two seconds before cracking up.
Sirius shot his stepson a resigned look. "Thanks ever so much, Diddy. Now your uncle thinks I'm some kind of pansy-arse."
"I always knew that," Severus drawled and his obsidian eyes sparkled.
Sirius glared at him.
Until Harry stopped laughing and said, "Don't worry, Uncle Siri, Dad's used to getting smacked with a sword from Sarai."
Sirius grinned. "Really?"
Severus unleashed a black look upon his son. "Harry Albus Snape, just wait till I get you in for practice again . . .I'm going to make you smart for that comment . . ."
"No fair, Dad. I'm only telling the truth," Harry protested, knowing full well he was dead next practice session.
"The truth from several years ago," Severus clarified. At Petunia's horrified look, he explained, "Sarai used to be my weapons instructor, and sometimes she would slap me with a wooden sword to correct a mistake. Don't look so horrified, Tuney, she only left bruises. But better that than bleeding your life away on the ground. However, I am good enough now to not need correction that way."
Sirius gaped at his former rival. "You know how to use a sword, Sn—Severus?"
Severus nodded. "Sword and a fae form of unarmed combat called kin-sa-dor. I've heard the Aurors practice certain forms of unarmed combat too."
"They do. Pity I've forgotten most of it," sighed the other. He glanced around, ready to call a house elf for a refill on his drink. "You have house elves here?"
"No. The Princes are part fae and we do not enslave our Lower Court cousins." Severus told him. " Harry and Draco do the chores around the manor. Anything else you want you may get for yourself, like a Muggle household."
Sirius raised an eyebrow. "That's a contradiction, you know."
"That's Prince Manor," Harry informed his godfather. Then he rose and helped Draco clear away the lunch dishes.
At Petunia's gesture, Dudley rose also and carried his plate over to the sink. "I can wash, if you want."
Harry did a doubletake. Had he heard right? Big D offering to wash dishes? "You know how?"
"Yeah. Your dad taught me, remember?"
"Right," Harry said. "It's just . . ."
"What? You thought I'd forget?" Dudley bristled. "I'm not stupid, Harry. Just because I don't always get good marks in school like you used to . . ."
"Boys, stop quarreling and just wash the dishes," Petunia ordered and Harry and Dudley did as they were told.
Afterwards, they showed Dudley the bedrooms available, and Dudley just looked at them and said, "It's like a bloody hotel. How many rooms d'you have here anyway?"
"I don't know," Harry said, since neither he nor Draco had ever bothered to count them. "But you can take your pick of the rooms on this side."
Dudley took his time examining the rooms before finally choosing the one with green and white stripes. Draco Summoned his bag and floated it into the room. "There. Now, how about we go outside and you can see the pond and the orchard?"
"Do you have any other magical animals besides your dog here?" Dudley asked.
Draco and Harry exchanged glances. Should they tell Dudley about Smidgen?
Harry cleared his throat. "Uh . . .yeah there is, but she's sort of shy and doesn't show herself to strangers much. If she wants you to see her, you will."
"What is she?"
"A shimmerling." Draco told him. "A winged fae cat about three inches high, black with violet eyes and wings. You'll know her if you see her."
"She's afraid of humans?"
"No . . .but the fae don't trust many humans, because a long time ago, humans hunted and killed them. " Harry explained, then he led the way out of the manor.
Things are going along all right for now . . .but they won't be for long.
I asked my father about the shaving tips, and based on what he told me, I wrote the above scene. Hope you all liked this one.
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