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Chapter 16 : Chasing Harry
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October 25th, 1993:
"Go, Harry, go! Knock that cheating little arse off his broom!" Lily shouted, practically in my ear.
I winced, trying to keep in mind why I was here, at the Junior League Quidditch Final Game of the season, and not at home, relaxing peacefully in my lab. Quidditch has never been my cup of tea. Matter of fact, I detest the bloody sport and whoever invented it. It's dangerous and the only good things about it are that it teaches one how to be coordinated on a broom and work as a team. Since it's the only sport the wizarding world plays, its fans are too numerous to count and most of them are rabid obsessed things, willing to spend their last Knut cheering on their favorite arrogant Chaser or Seeker. It's utterly absurd. Yet here I was, on a perfectly good October afternoon, sitting in the stadium watching Harry play in the final match. Because he had begged me to come.
"Please, Dad? It's the last game of the season and we're playing the best team in the league, but we can beat them, I know it. Please come, just so you can see me fly? I have this really wicked move and I want you to see it."
"Your mother understands Quidditch better than I do, Harry."
"I know, but . . .it would mean a lot if you could come and see me play the last game."
Once he said that, I knew I couldn't refuse. My son rarely asked me to come to Quidditch games, he knew I disliked the sport intensely. But for him, I would endure the frenzied screaming and shouting and the crowds all jostling and pushing each other, like sharks in a feeding frenzy. I knew the basic rules of the sport, Lily had insisted I learn that much, so I could follow a game, but all I really cared about was watching my son fly after the Snitch.
Lily had told me that Harry was an excellent flyer, he had inherited James' talent on a broom. I supposed it could have been worse. He could have inherited Potter's arrogance. I would have preferred he inherited Potter's talent for Transfiguration, but he hadn't. Instead he was wicked fast and daring upon a broom.
Good thing too, because the other Seeker was playing for keeps, and even though it wasn't sportsmanlike to try and knock the opposing Seeker off his broom, that's exactly what he was trying to do with Harry. And had been for the entire game. Which was why Lily was yelling at Harry to do the same to the spiteful little snot.
Lily was now almost five months along, but that didn't stop her from attending this crazy match, despite the fact that we were packed like sardines in a tin, and she had once told me she could take Quidditch or leave it. I focused on the game, praying my son would catch the damn Snitch soon so we could all go home. "Come on, Harry! Catch the bloody thing!" I yelled encouragement to my son, who was scanning the sky for the elusive golden sphere.
"That's the spirit, Severus!" my wife said approvingly.
I just rolled my eyes. Merlin help me, I just wanted it to be over. I was chilled from the wind, and my hair was in snarls, and I was stiff as a board from sitting on this damn wooden bench. I could have cast a few charms to make myself more comfortable, but Lily hadn't done so, and neither had anyone else, that I could tell. Not wanting to seem like a namby pamby, I refrained from doing so.
Suddenly, Harry shot across the pitch, his eyes spotting the Snitch. He looped up and around the other players and everyone on our side of the stadium was on their feet screaming.
The other Seeker was also making a beeline for the tiny winged ball, and just as Harry reached out to grasp it, his opposite deliberately fouled him, tossing some kind of dust into his path.
Harry veered away, unable to see, and the smug little git caught the Snitch.
The referee blew the whistle and announced the match was over.
"Foul! Foul!" everyone on the side of the Flaming Phoenixes screamed, including Lily. "Doesn't count!"
"He cheated!" Lily cried, furious. "Open your eyes, you stupid bat!"
On the other side, the Dark Dragons were celebrating their victory, slapping each other on the back and making rude gestures at us.
The rest of the Phoenixes were having a fit too, but I was more worried about Harry, who was trying to land without his glasses. He had taken them off because they were covered in dust. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when he was on the ground again. I adjusted my omnoculars and saw that he was getting off his broom, he looked furious.
By now the stadium was in an uproar, and Lily got to her feet angrily. "I'm going to go lodge a complaint! That was a blatant foul, any idiot with eyes could see that! Unless he was being paid to look the other way!"
"What do you mean?"
"What I said! That's Lucius Malfoy's kid out there playing Seeker opposite Harry! Didn't you look at the roster?" she snapped.
"No. I'm only here to watch Harry."
"Oh, for Merlin's sake, Severus!" She shoved my crumpled programme at me. "Look! Dark Dragons—Seeker—Draco Malfoy! I've no doubt his daddy paid the ref to look the other way if something . . .unexpected occurred! Bloody rich cheating bastards!" Lily's eyes were blazing. "Well, they're not going to get away with it! That game was ours!"
She began to push past the knots of people, heading towards the stairs.
"Lily! Where are you going?" I shouted.
"I told you, Snape! I'm lodging a complaint."
"Wait! I'll come with you!" I called, but she had already vanished into the crowd. Mentally cursing impulsive Gryffindors, I struggled to follow, but it was difficult to move in the crowd, since many people also wanted to get downstairs and give the ref a piece of their mind as well. I was furious as well, not because of the game result, but at how that wretched boy might have harmed my son with his wicked trick. I wanted to give him or his father a piece of mymind.
It was fifteen minutes before I managed to make my way out of the packed crowd and down to the pitch.
I found Lily, along with some others, in a heated argument with the referee, whose name was Boyle. " . . .clearly a deliberate foul, Mr. Boyle! He threw dust in my son's face, obstructing his vision!" Lily was saying. "Not only did he cost Harry the game, but he could have seriously injured him as well!"
Boyle was looking at her condescendingly, his eyes upon her prominent belly. "Now, Mrs. Potter, does the lad look injured to you?" he indicated Harry, who was standing on the fringe of the crowd, looking like he wanted to tell off the referee.
"Evans," Lily corrected. "He wasn't hurt this time, but he could have crashed! That alone should be grounds for a disqualification, sir! Young Malfoy set out to sabotage my son because he couldn't beat Harry fairly."
"Malfoy caught the Snitch, therefore the game is over. Just 'cause your team lost, Evans, is no need t'cry foul play. I think you're overwrought. A lady in your condition—" began Boyle patronizingly.
Big mistake. Never ever tell a pregnant woman that her condition warps her ability to think.
Lily blew up. "My condition?" she said sweetly. I shuddered, knowing that tone meant she was going to tear you to shreds. "Oh, you mean because I'm pregnant?" She placed a hand over her stomach. Then she went from sweet as pie to a nasty virago in two seconds flat. "What are you saying, you pompous ass? That I can't think for myself because I'm pregnant? You dipstick, I'm not blind! Or stupid! Why don't you quit counting your Galleons and take a look at the facts?"
"Ma'am, you need to go take a Calming Draught and lie down, you're not fit to pass judgment on me—"
"How dare you? Malfoy cheated and we all know it, you arrogant sod! Disqualify that catch and let the game continue!"
"Cheat! Cheat! Cheat!" the crowd screamed behind her.
I pushed my way to her side. "Sir, at least call a penalty for poor sportsmanship." I said, putting my arm about Lily's shoulders. "Even I know throwing dust into someone's face is illegal."
Boyle glowered at me. "This your wife?"
I narrowed my eyes at him. "What of it?"
He shook his head. "Woman like that gets a lot o' strange fancies, you ought to take her home and put her to bed—"
"Oh, so now I'm crazy and in need of a keeper?" Lily snarled, her temper sizzling.
"Ma'am, if you don't quit screaming like a . . .a hag, I'll have you thrown out," blustered Boyle.
"I'd like to see you try!" Lily spat. "Lay a finger on me and I'll hex you into next week. Who do you think you are, treating me like some kind of . . .of simpering weak little flower?"
"Anyone can see the strain is too much for you, my dear," drawled Lucius Malfoy, coming up to join us. "Snape, you really ought to take better care of your wife."
"And you ought to mind your own business, Malfoy!" I shot back. "Cheaters never prosper. Unless they pay off the referee."
Lucius looked down his nose at me, his eyes two chips of ice. "Are you accusing me, Snape?"
"I don't need to accuse you when the proof is all over my son's glasses. Harry, come here and let them see your lenses."
I turned to locate my son, only to find him involved in a brawl with Draco.
"You take that back, you bloody git!" Harry was shouting, red-faced. He was on top of the other boy, intent on pounding Draco's face into the mud.
"No! It's the truth and everyone knows it!" Draco spat out a tooth and swung a right hook that knocked Harry sideways.
Before the fight could escalate, I grabbed Harry by the back of his uniform and hauled him off the other boy. He struggled ferociously in my grip. "Let me go, Dad! I'm going to kick his arse! He cost me the game and he called Mum a . . . a whore!" he hissed the last part in my ear, blushing.
"He what?" I had been about to tell Harry to calm down, but once I heard that, I wanted to beat the little brat senseless. It was a good thing Lily was still arguing with the referee and hadn't heard what Malfoy's son had called her.
"He said that Mum didn't even wait a week out of respect for the dead before she shacked up with you and that she was probably cheating on James with you," Harry cried. "Nobody says that about my mother!"
I was livid. "You need to teach your son some manners, Malfoy!"
"If the shoe fits, Snape . . ." drawled Lucius.
I knew he was trying to bait me into losing my temper. I wasn't going to fall for it. I wasn't going to fall for it, I chanted over and over.
"I hear redheads always like variety."
The hell I wasn't. I drew back my fist and slammed him right in his aristocratic jaw.
"Shut your filthy mouth, Lucius!"
Several people cheered, whether because they disliked Lucius or just liked a good fight.
The elder Malfoy landed right on his ass, stunned that I had dared to raise a hand to his pureblooded rich self.
"You tell him, Dad!" Harry cried.
I blushed, regretting losing my temper and behaving like some ruffian. I was a professor, I was supposed to set an example. I turned back to the referee, after plucking Harry's glasses from his head. "Look at the dust on these. Clear evidence of a foul. I demand a rematch."
The crowd began chanting again, sounding like a flock of murderous magpies.
Boyle sputtered, looking from the crowd, to me, to Lucius and back again. He was torn between the naked truth and the lies he was being paid to speak. "I . . .err . . .I . . ."
"If you don't give us a rematch, Boyle, I'll go right to the Head of the Magical Games and Sports Division and put in a complaint against you for being dishonest and taking bribes," Lily threatened. "So if you ever want to work as a moderator again, I'd give a rematch."
Draco had regained his feet and now was lunging at Harry.
Lucius grabbed his son by the shoulder. "Stop it, Draco!" He glared at me, his speech a bit slurred. "I ought to have you arrested for assault, Snape!"
"Gentlemen, please! There's no need to get violent!" Boyle cried, terrified the whole crowd might riot. "We'll play the last quarter over again. Everyone, return to your seats!" He bellowed.
Lucius looked outraged.
The crowd cheered, or at least our side did.
"No fair! Father, it's no fair!" Draco wailed. "I caught the Snitch."
"Oh, shut up and get on your broom!" Lucius ordered.
I released Harry, after spelling his glasses clean and he hopped on his broom and was airborne.
We returned to our seats, or simply gathered about the edge of the pitch, watching as the players circled and dove and scored.
Within ten minutes, Harry had seen the Snitch. Only this time he played Slytherin and made believe he saw it in an opposite direction, sending Draco on a wild goose chase across the other end of the pitch. Then my son pulled up, dove and went towards the hovering globe, catching it easily.
"We won! We won!" Lily screamed. "Take that, Malfoy!"
The crowd went wild.
And so ended the final game of the Junior Quidditch League. Thank Merlin for small favors!
Later that evening, while Harry polished the shining cup engraved with his name on it for the twenty-fifth time and put it on the mantle, I relaxed on the couch, with Lily's head in my lap. I was rubbing her temples, trying to soothe away the headache she had gotten, probably from screaming so much today.
"Mmm. Don't stop, luv," she muttered. "That feels wonderful."
I continued my massage, glancing ruefully at my skinned knuckles. Then I looked over at Harry, who was sitting on the floor, happily admiring the shiny gold finish on his trophy. He had grown so much over the past year. It was hard to imagine that once he'd been a small boy, with a naughty grin and a penchant for trouble. "Remember when he tried to jump off the roof onto his broom?" I asked Lily.
"Yes. He ended up with a broken arm and you almost had a heart attack," she said. "Or how about the time he climbed out the window of his room and tried to cross the street all by himself when he was three? He nearly got run over by a car."
"I remember. Thank heaven we had Gabriel . . ."
October 12th, 1983:
At two, Harry was a sweet-natured curious child, content to play quietly indoors while I read or Lily brewed potions for the Auror Department. But by three he was like a lightning bolt, into everything. We couldn't turn our backs on him for a minute. He climbed, he touched everything, and it seemed like we were forever scolding him, putting him in time out or smacking his hand for touching something he wasn't supposed to. Yet in spite of this, he became Mr. Independent, and wanted to do everything himself. Comb his own hair, dress himself, feed himself, and go outside alone. We encouraged his independence in certain things, but drew the line at him venturing outdoors alone.
Harry loved going outside to play. He loved running in the grass, finding odd rocks and insects to show me or Lily, and especially playing with Gabriel. He and the collie would romp for hours and at times that was the only way we could tire out the little imp and make him take a nap. Harry usually fought going to sleep, I think he didn't want to miss something, but after an hour or two of playing explorer in the backyard, he was tired enough to sleep without much protest.
That day I had put him down for a nap and went to finish marking some essays, Gabriel was on the porch, dozing, and Lily had gone to the store to pick up something for lunch. I had made sure that Harry was sleeping soundly before beginning to read, since I taught adults, these essays were lengthy and dense with information and would take me several hours to finish. I knew I wouldn't finish them all by the time Harry woke, but I was determined to make a decent start.
An hour passed swiftly. I stretched, put down my quill, and went to check on my son. The door to his room was shut and he should have still been sleeping in his bed. But when I peeked inside, I saw the covers mussed and no Harry.
At first I didn't panic, thinking he was hiding, he'd done that to me before. So I called, "Harry, where are you?"
Usually he'd answer, "I here, Daddy."
But there was nothing. I checked under his bed and in the closet. No Harry. Now I started to grow worried. Then I saw the window, which had been slightly open to let the breeze inside. It was the kind of window that swung open, but I had latched it after opening it slightly. Now it was wide open. I thrust my head out, frantic. The window was on the ground floor, so it wasn't far to jump to get down, but still . . .I hadn't thought he could undo the latch and get out.
I looked up and down the yard. No Harry.
Then I panicked.
"Harry! Harry!" I screamed, my heart in my throat. What if he hadn't climbed out on his own? What if he had been kidnapped? Everyone knew about the Boy Who Lived. What if some maniac had decided to make a name for himself by snatching my son?
I conjured my Patronus and sent the white doe flying away to find Lily and tell her she needed to get home immediately. Then I ran outside, calling and calling. I had just reached the street and was starting to look across it when I heard Gabriel barking loudly.
"Gabriel!" I shouted, only then realizing the dog wasn't sleeping on the porch.
I looked towards the sound and saw about a hundred feet in the distance, my toddler stepping off the curb and into the street.
I froze. "Harry! NO!"
Luckily my dog didn't.
Gabriel grabbed the seat of Harry's trousers and started to pull him back towards the pavement. Harry was hollering "Bad Gaby! Let me go!"
Then a car rounded the corner and came to a screeching halt, just missing my small son and the big red-gold collie.
I never ran so fast in my life. I think I Apparated without knowing it.
I was down the block and grabbing up my now bawling son and hugging him to me, unmindful of the fact that I had picked him up so fast that I hadn't given Gabe time to release Harry's trousers and so had pulled him right out of them. "Are you all right?" I kept babbling. "Harry, are you hurt?"
The motorist had gotten out by then and rushed over. "Oh my God! Mr. Snape, I'm so sorry! I didn't see him, I only saw the collie!" It was Jenny Linquist, who had just gotten her license last week. She was crying. "Is he okay? Oh my God!"
Gabriel whined and licked her hand, dropping Harry's trousers. She immediately knelt down to look at my dog, murmuring, "Poor baby, I didn't hurt you, did I?" She felt him over gently.
Meanwhile, I was slowly checking over my son, who had gotten over his fright and was now demanding to get down. Once I was certain he was unharmed and my heart had restarted, I grew angry. "Harry James, don't you ever ever scare me like that again! Understand? You almost got run over by a car! You know you're not allowed outside alone!"
"I wanted to play outside!" he whined, squirming and avoiding my eyes.
"Then you ask me or Mummy. You don't ever leave the house without asking!" I cried. "Never ever do that again!" I punctuated my last sentence with three smacks to his bottom. I was still shaking with the aftermath of what had almost happened.
"Sorry! Sorry, Daddy!" Harry wailed, burying his face in my shoulder. This was the first time I had ever spanked him before. "I be good!"
I hugged him to me hard.
"Sev! Did you find him?" Lily shouted, running down the walk towards us. "Oh, thank God! Is he all right? Where was he?" Her bright red hair flying, she raced up and hugged the both of us.
"He . . .he almost ran in the street, Lily!" I told her.
Lily gasped, her eyes wide with horror.
"But your dog saved him, Mrs. Snape!" Jenny sobbed. "I almost didn't stop . . .but then I saw the dog and he . . .he pulled your baby out of the way! It was the bravest thing I ever saw!" She held up Harry's trousers, which had two holes from where Gabriel's teeth had punctured the fabric.
Lily looked as though she might faint, but all she did was whisper, "Thank God!" and hug us tighter.
Harry was still crying and saying he was sorry.
Lily took a step back and asked sternly, "What are you sorry for, young man?"
"I sorry for runnin' away without tellin' Daddy!" Harry sniffled, then he rubbed his bottom. "Oww! Daddy spanked me," he told Lily, giving her huge puppydog eyes.
"You were very naughty, running away like that!" she scolded. "You're lucky you're not getting two spankings. How many times must I tell you, no going outside by yourself? Only with Mummy or Daddy?" She took Harry and hugged him to her. "You almost died! If it wasn't for Gabriel—" She looked down at my dog, who was sitting calmly at my feet, wondering what all the fuss was. "Is he all right? Jenny, tell me you didn't . . .hit him?"
"No, Mrs. Snape. I just missed him." Jenny reassured her. Then she threw her arms around Gabriel and hugged him. "You're such a good dog, Gabriel! Such a brave dog!"
Gabriel licked her, then he looked up at me with long-suffering eyes that said Must she hug me so tight I can't breathe, Sev? Help me.
"Jenny, I think you're choking him," I said dryly.
Jenny immediately released his ruff and stood up. "Oh, I'm so glad everyone's all right. I never could have lived with myself if I'd . . ." she trailed off and brushed tears from her eyes.
Lily put a hand on her shoulder. "You've had a bad shock, hon. Why don't you go home and lie down? Maybe drink some tea?"
"I was supposed to go to the store for my mum."
"I'm sure she'd understand why you came back," Lily said, patting the sixteen-year-old on the back.
Jenny nodded and then got back in her car, it was a red Ford Anglia, and slowly and carefully pulled away and drove back around the corner.
Once she was gone, Lily knelt down and buried her face in Gabriel's fur. "You crazy wonderful dog! Thank you so very much for saving Harry!" Then she started to cry, which fired up Harry again.
I just stood there, watching them, and a part of me felt like crying, I was so relieved that Harry wasn't injured or . . .heaven forbid . . ..dead. It had all happened so quickly . . .
Finally, Lily got hold of herself and stood up, Harry on her hip, still in just his shirt and underwear. I put my arm about her and we walked back to the house. Gabriel followed, carrying Harry's forgotten trousers, his plumed tail wagging.
"Sev, how did he get outside?"
"I think he climbed out the window . . ." I said. I told her my theory.
Once we were back home, Lily mended Harry's trousers, dressed him, and went to lay on the couch with him. He was quiet now, worn out, and he soon fell asleep in Lily's arms. Meanwhile, I went around and cast Locking Charms on all the windows and doors and mentally kicking myself for not thinking of that before.
When I returned, Harry was fast asleep and Lily nearly so. "Oh, damn! I left a trolley full of groceries right in the middle of the aisle. Luckily I was alone in the frozen section when your Patronus came. And the car's in the parking lot of the supermarket."
"Don't worry. I'll go get them." I said, then I Apparated over to the supermarket. Miraculously, I found Lily's trolley was still there, no one had come to take it away, so I just paid for what was in it, then stopped at the butcher shop on the way home and bought the biggest meatiest ribeye steak and gave it to Gabriel as a reward that night for supper.
He deserved it and so much more.
October 25th , 1993:
"Did I really do that?" Harry asked after I had finished telling the story. "I don't remember doing that at all. Merlin, was I stupid!"
"Not stupid, Harry," Lily corrected. "Just too little to know better."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Which translates to stupid. Lucky Gabe was there to save my arse." He stared down at the trophy in his hands and was quiet for a long moment. "There will never be another dog like him."
"No." I said softly. "He was one of a kind."
Harry set the cup on the mantle, right next to the dog memorial. Then he stepped back and we all admired it. "That was some game, huh? Malfoy cheating, Mum almost getting thrown out by the ref, and you punched out Lucius Malfoy. I never thought I'd see the day you lost your cool in public, Dad."
I flushed. I never should have allowed him to bait me. But he'd had it coming.
"Really, Severus. I didn't know you were so . . .passionate about Quidditch," teased Lily.
"I'm not. I'm passionate about my family," I said simply. "Quidditch is a waste of time."
"It is not!" my son protested hotly. "Quidditch rules!"
I rolled my eyes. "Don't you have homework to do, Harry?"
He made a face at me. "Killjoy. You said it wasn't due till Tuesday. Today's Saturday. Besides I'm tired. It's hard work catching the Snitch."
"Not as hard as brewing twenty cauldrons of Anti-Venom," I returned.
"Whatever, Dad. Hey, Justin Finch-Fletchley and some of the other guys invited me over to a party tonight to celebrate our big win. Can I go?"
"You have homework to finish."
"Oh, lighten up, Sev!" Lily smacked my knee. "Let him have tonight off . . .to celebrate his win."
Then she added, smirking, "You can always work his backside off tomorrow studying and having Defense lessons with me."
"What a brilliant idea, Lily." I chuckled.
"Real nice, Mum. And here I thought you loved me." Harry pouted.
"I do. I love you enough to want you to be the best you can be, athletically and academically," Lily returned. "What time is this party and where is it?"
Harry told her the details. I listened with half an ear, and continued massaging Lily's temples. My mind was far down memory lane, recalling a brilliant red-gold collie trotting across the yard carrying a four-year-old Harry on his back as if he were a pony. Back then Harry had wanted a pony, but when we told him a pony was out of the question, he decided to make Gabriel his pony. The things that poor dog put up with from my stubborn son! I should have known Harry would be an excellent broom rider. Even then, he had superb balance and never fell off, not unless Gabe stopped abruptly.
"So, can I go, Dad?"
"Huh? To the party? Well . . ." I deliberately drew out my answer, making him squirm.
Lily smacked me again. "Severus!"
"You may go. But you better be back by curfew." I said.
"Okay. Thanks, Dad." Harry gave me a smile. Then he ran upstairs to shower and change before supper, and send a letter to Justin to let him know he'd be attending the victory bash, or whatever teenagers called it nowadays.
I settled back against a cushion and played with Lily's hair.
"I hope this one doesn't give me as many gray hairs as Harry did," my wife said, snuggling closer to me.
"With our luck, Lil, you'll have twins and they'll make us bald," I smirked.
"Severus, you're terrible! Always such a pessimist."
"Comes with being a Slytherin, dear. If you wanted an optimist all the time, you should have married that Hufflepuff, Marlon Davies."
"No, thank you! I want a husband, not a doormat." She sat up and wrapped her arms about me. "I love you, Severus, and only you. Now . . .why don't you tell me the real reason you punched Lucius out? Because I know there was more to it than the fact that he's an arrogant arse."
Damn! It looked like she had learned a thing or two from a certain Slytherin in the years we'd been married. "Lily . . .I don't think—"
"Spill it, Snape!" she ordered in her best interrogation tone.
"Fine. But don't say I didn't warn you."
I told her.
She was quiet for about five seconds.
Then she grinned. "I wish you had told me sooner."
"Why? That comment was untrue and nasty."
"So I could have hexed the bastard," she replied. Then she kissed me.
Hope you all liked this one!
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