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Chapter 22 : A Magical Miracle
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February 21st, 1994:
It was a day before I found the time, or the nerve, to contact my mother and tell her of her husband's return. The card Tobias had given me lay between us on the table in her kitchen like a bared sword blade. "If you want my opinion, I'll tell you to just rip up the card and toss it, or call him and tell him you never want to see him again. But I doubt you'll consider either option, am I right?" I cocked an eyebrow at her, she was sitting across from me, her hands folded atop the table.
It was just after supper, we were sharing a pot of tea and discussing the crisis. Lily had stayed home with the twins and Harry for some mother and child quality time. When I had told Mum about the unexpected visit, she had looked utterly shocked, then angry, followed by alarmed, a little frightened and then I caught a brief flicker of hope in her eyes. It was that which frightened me the most.
"Severus, I understand where you're coming from. But—"
"He abandoned us, Mum." I interrupted swiftly. "Left you flat broke with a little one to take care of, forcing you to work long hours to support us—what kind of man does that?" I demanded scornfully.
"A desperate fool."
"A lazy no good drunken bum." I corrected. "You don't owe him a damn thing."
She sighed. "I know that, Sev. He hurt us both by leaving. But a part of me wonders how much worse it could have been if he had stayed?"
A lot worse. I knew that instinctively. In a way, his leaving had been a good thing, it had reversed our fortune, revived our struggling finances, and enabled us to recover from the abuse he had heaped on us.
At the same time though, he had robbed me of a father, something which every boy needed.
"Fine. He did a smart thing by getting the hell out of our lives. He should have kept doing it. I'll never forget what he did to me, Mum. Or you. And I don't know if I have it in me to forgive." I said honestly.
She looked at me sadly. "Sev, one of the things I regret most is not protecting you more from him. I did the best I could, but it wasn't enough."
"You never should have been put in that position, Mum. Don't blame yourself. Blame him. It's his fault, not yours. He chose to drink and chose to take his frustration out on us. You were the one who held the family together. Or tried to. All he ever did once he lost his job was tear us apart." I said bitterly. All the old ghosts of my childhood came swirling up from the depths of my mind, phantoms that had slept for years and now returned to haunt me.
"You have a right to be angry, Sev. I'm not saying you don't. Hell, I'm still angry over what he did to you. But there's more to his story than that. All you remember is a drunk who smacked you around. But I remember what he was like before the drink destroyed him. He was a good man once, Sev. Handsome and funny and he loved me to pieces. We met when I was seventeen, fresh out of school and supposedly just beginning to live my life. Only in my case, that wasn't so. My life was bound by tradition and obligation and a betrothal to a wizard twice my age. I had been promised as a child to settle an old family debt between his family and mine. But I loathed the man I was to marry. He was unpleasant and made no effort to get to know me, I was to be his third wife, and the youngest. So I sought refuge in the forbidden Muggle side of Yorkshire, the one place I knew he would not follow, for he believed, like most old bloods, that Muggles were an inferior species. He would never mingle with them willingly."
"What was his name, this awful wretch?"
"His name was Jervaise Hyde." Even now, she grimaced upon saying it. "Any way, I sneaked out into the park nearby and met Toby down by the pond, feeding crusts to the ducks on his lunch break. Back then he was an up and coming manager in the mill. And I was a mysterious stranger. We got to talking a little, started meeting by the pond every day, and before I knew it, I fell for him.
"I didn't dare reveal to Toby that I was a witch, not then. But he said he always knew I was a lady of quality. And he treated me accordingly. He was respectful and gentle, he never tried to force his attentions upon me, unlike the old fart I was promised to, who made no secret how hot he was for me. But Tobias made me feel cherished. Like I mattered as more than a means to fulfill a debt. And that made all the difference."
I struggled to reconcile the man she spoke of with the one I knew, but it was impossible. It was like night and day. In spite of myself, I was intrigued. Mum had never discussed this much of her past with me before. I had always assumed it was too painful, and mindful of opening old wounds, I had never asked. Until now. "What happened then?"
"Several things. I had been meeting in secret with your father for nearly six months, when my betrothed passed away unexpectedly in a potions accident. It was as though my prayers had been answered. Jervaise was gone and now I was free to choose whom I wished to marry. Or so I thought. My parents had other ideas. They were still determined to banish the debt and contracted another betrothal without my permission, this time to Jervaise's adult son, Guy. Guy was still several years older than me, but it wasn't that great a difference. I might have considered him, except there were rumors that he had . . . arranged the death of his father so he could inherit sooner and he was arrogant and full of himself. I didn't trust him."
"Did you tell your parents how you felt? Why would they make another contract without asking you?"
Eileen shrugged. "That's how it was done in an old blood family." Like some older generation witches and wizards, my mother preferred the term "old blood" to the newer, more vogue "pure blood." She continued after taking a sip of her tea. "Marriage wasn't made for love, it was made to seal contracts and settle debts. It was like a business contract. Much the way it had been for centuries in the Middle Ages with the nobility. So my parents were more concerned with fulfilling that contract than my happiness."
"They thought they knew what was best for me. I would be getting an old blood husband with loads of Galleons and a huge mansion with extensive grounds as well as the prestige that went along with the Hyde name. I should have been satisfied with my lot, according to them. But I couldn't bear the thought of spending my life with that man, no matter how rich he was. He might have been a wizard, but I felt no bond with him whatsoever. My heart had already chosen, and it didn't care that Tobias Snape was a totally unsuitable Muggle with no knowledge of the magical world."
She went on to tell how she defied her rigid parents and refused to honor the betrothal agreement because she was in love with someone else. For that, her parents cast her out of their house and disowned her. She eventually told Tobias the truth, and he accepted her, for he became her family. I learned that my father lost his management position through no fault of his own, but because of the jealousy his boss's daughter felt towards my mother.
"She was always sweet on him, but he wanted nothing to do with her, told her to quit pestering him and find someone else. Made her mad, and when she got mad, she got nasty. She went to her father and told her daddy that Toby was making passes at her, she lied to salve her pride, and of course the boss believed his daughter and he broke Toby back down to a common mill worker. Which was what he was when you were born, Sev. But he wasn't always. Once he had prospects and dreams, but he forgot them as the years went by, and his boss' grudge continued, making sure he had no hope of advancement. I wanted him to quit, but he wouldn't. If I quit, then he's won, and I won't give him the satisfaction, he told me. But when the workers went on strike for better pay and more benefits and shorter hours, he was one of them. And he got laid off, same as the rest. Then he turned to the bottle, like many of his mates did, and that was the end of everything."
Hearing her side of the story made me feel a bit more understanding towards him, but not much. So many of my memories were dark bitter things, full of fear and pain. "So what will you do now? Will you talk to him? Because I'm not letting him within two feet of my children. I can't trust him."
"I understand, Severus. I would never force you to do something you felt was wrong or made you unhappy. But it's different for me."
"Surely you don't . . .you aren't going to let him move in with you?" I cried, aghast.
She laughed. "No, Sev. I don't trust him enough for that. Things will never be as they were before, even if he has managed to become sober for good. However, I will listen to what he has to say. In memory of the good man he used to be and the good times we shared. But I'll make him no promises and I'll tell him to stay away from you. After I knock his head off, that is."
I smirked. "Hit him a good one, Mum. He bloody well deserves it." I rose to my feet. "Let me know how it all works out. I have to be going now, Lily's probably running herself ragged."
"Goodbye, Sev. Give Harry and the twins a kiss from me." Eileen called as I Flooed away.
Back at home, I found my wife and Harry giving the twins a bath. Oddly enough, Harry was soaked and had almost as much soap on him as the babies. "What happened, Harry? Did you fall in?"
He turned and saw me. "No. But Gabe's a champion splasher."
Lily was singing as she washed Hallie's hair. "Old MacDonald had a farm . . .ee . . .i . . .ee . .i-oh . . .and on that farm there was a—"
"Snake!" Harry cried. Then he used his wand to conjure a snake made from water and made it hiss. The twins loved it. They splashed and giggled.
Lily and Harry's farm also had a dragon, a unicorn, and flying pigs. "Must have been a crazy farm," I remarked.
"It also had a cranky Slytherin," Harry drawled insolently, then before I knew what he was about, he had made the watery serpent "coil" around me, soaking me. "Now that's funny!" He began laughing. "See that, little brother? That's a great way to annoy your daddy."
I stood there, dripping water all over, and half-growled, "Harry James, you incorrigible brat!"
Lily turned to see what had gone on and as soon as she laid eyes on me, she too burst out laughing. "Sev, you look like a drowned mole! Oh, Merlin help me!" The front of her blouse was also wet, and looking at her thus was making me think about doing things with her that were quite deliciously wicked.
I quickly doused that line of thought and instead grabbed Harry by the back of his shirt and pulled him to me. "And this, Gabe, is what happens to wretched naughty boys that soak their father and ruin his clothes. They get a sound spanking." I bent Harry over my arm and pretended to spank him.
He pretended to cry, inbetween snickers. "Ow! I'll be good!"
After a few more pretend swats I released him. "Next time behave, young man!"
"Yes, sir." Then he looked me straight in the eye and grinned. "Didn't hurt! You must be losing your touch, Dad."
"Why, you little—"
Harry jumped and yelped as Lily calmly reached over and smacked his arse. "Mum!"
"Don't get cheeky with your father, Harry."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Never get Mum mad at you," he told Gabriel. "You'll regret it, one way or another." Then he tickled his baby brother, making Gabe squeal.
The twins had Floating Charms upon them so you didn't need to worry about bath rings and such, though they each had a giant sponge they were lying on, and were surrounded by soap bubbles and numerous bath toys.
"Care to help, Sev? Or were you just going to stand and watch?" asked my wife.
"I'm admiring the view," I drawled.
"Severus!" She promptly threw a sponge and hit me in the head.
I threw it back at her. "What? It was a compliment."
"You're as incorrigible as your son, Mr. Snape!" She waved a finger at me scoldingly. "Go get me some towels."
I dried myself with a pass of my wand before doing as I was told. Then I helped get the babies ready for bed. As I rocked Gabe in my arms, I thought about the playful domestic scene earlier and smiled. That was how a family should be. I had never been able to tease and joke around with my father like that. I shook my head. The past was done and over with, I reminded myself, inhaling the sweet scent of powder and squeaky clean baby. It would never repeat itself.
I rocked and hummed, recalling how my collie used to lie at my feet when I rocked a toddler Harry back to sleep after a nightmare. I remembered the water snake Harry had conjured and chuckled. "Do you know that once we thought your big brother was a Squib? That he'd never be able to use a wand or cast spells at all?" I whispered to a sleepy Gabriel. "But then a magical miracle occurred, and it all happened because of your namesake, my big beast of a collie . . ."
September 15, 1991:
Hermione had received her Hogwarts letter a month ago, and had immediately run over to my house to show it to us. She was very proud and kept asking Lily and me all sorts of questions about Hogwarts and the list of school supplies and so forth until Lily offered to take her, Drew, and Stacy to Diagon Alley and show her around the different shops. "Ooh, I can't wait!" Hermione squealed excitedly. "How about you, Harry? Have you gotten your letter yet?"
My son shook his head. "Not yet."
"Oh." Hermione's face fell. "Well, maybe you could come along anyway and get your supplies early," she suggested, trying to be kind. But my son was in no mood for her kindness, and he just glared at her.
"No thanks! Shopping's for girls. I'd rather go to sleep." And with that he rose from the table and stalked upstairs to his room, slamming his bedroom door pointedly.
Hermione looked from me to Lily. "Was it something I said?"
"No, hon," Lily sighed. "He's just touchy because his letter hasn't arrived yet, that's all. But don't you worry about Harry. He'll get over his snit soon enough. Come on, let's go and tell your parents so we can leave. It's quicker if we Floo, we can use my fireplace until we connect yours to the Floo network. Probably should have done that years ago." Then she looked at me. "Sev, maybe you ought to have a talk with Harry while we're gone."
I sighed. I knew that was code for "go and scold your son for his rudeness and then see what's bothering him." "All right. Have a good day out."
Lily bent and kissed me on the cheek. "I'll see you later. Come on, Hermione."
They departed and I stayed and finished my coffee before going to talk with Harry. I already knew what was bothering him—the same thing that was giving me and Lily sleepless nights. Harry's magic had not manifested itself. Now he was eleven, school age, and yet he had not received a letter from Hogwarts. I suspected Dumbledore had removed his name from the list after he found out Harry might be a Squib. I knew it was a great blow to him, even though he was able to fly a broom and stir a cauldron with me. So he did have some magic, but it wasn't enough to use a wand. Or to get a Hogwarts letter.
I rose to my feet and whistled Gabe to my side. The collie, who was wont to sleep now more than fetch, followed me up the stairs, his nails clicking.
I tapped on his door.
"Go away! Just leave me alone!" came his response.
I ignored him and walked in. He was curled up on his bed, facing the wall.
Gabe padded over and started licking the back of his neck.
"Ahh! Gabe, quit it, you dumb beast!"
"My dog is not dumb," I stated. "And you were behaving like a rude beast to Hermione."
"Because she wouldn't shut up about her letter! Like I wanted to hear about it when mine hasn't even got here." He said thickly, still refusing to look at me.
"Ah. So because you're unhappy, you want her to feel bad too, is that it? Misery loves company."
"It's not fair! How come everyone has magic and I don't?"
"Harry, our family and Hermione are the only ones who have magic on this entire street," I pointed out.
"But I'm supposed to have magic."
"You do, son."
"But not enough! You said I should have had my magic before eleven and I don't. You lied to me!"
"I did not. I made an educated guess. Harry, I've told you before, no one has ever survived the Killing Curse, and so we have no way of knowing if it damaged your magical core permanently."
He turned around. "Well, now you know! No letter means I'm a . . .a bloody Squib!" All at once he started to cry. "I wish I'd died that night!"
I crossed the room in two strides and shook him hard. "Never wish that! Never! Your life is a miracle, don't you ever forget that! People gave their lives for you that night, how dare you dishonor their sacrifice? I would rather have a magicless son than no son at all."
"I . . .I just want to be a wizard, Dad! Like you." He sniveled and cried harder.
I pulled him to my chest and let him cry on my shoulder. He was almost too big for my lap but I sat down and held him anyway. I felt awful for him, but there was nothing I could do to make his magic emerge. No potion I could brew that would restore his magical core, and none of the Healers we had spoken to could do anything either. All of them said the same thing. Either his magic would awaken or not, and trying to force it could kill him. Neither Lily or I were willing to take that risk.
So I gave him what poor comfort I could, and so did Gabriel, who kept licking Harry's hand, and looking at me with his big brown eyes, wondering why I couldn't fix things this time.
Now it was two and a half weeks into September, Hermione had gone off on the Hogwarts Express, and Harry stayed at home, moping and sullen, miserable as only an eleven-year-old can be who desires the impossible. I tried to interest him in new potions and continued to school him, but he turned in lackluster assignments and sometimes refused to do them at all, forcing me to scold him and give him detention.
"School sucks! I hate school. What's the point?"
I heard that refrain so often I threatened to wash out his mouth if he kept repeating it. His self-pitying attitude was really starting to get on my nerves, try though I did to be patient.
Lily and Mum did their best to try and cheer him up, making his favorite foods and offering to take him to Quidditch matches and so on, but nothing worked. Harry was determined to be miserable. Lily and I were at our wits end. We weren't sure whether to hug or smack him sometimes. My mother even offered him a part time job in the apothecary, figuring it was one way he could still be part of the magical community and feel useful, but he refused.
"No thanks, Gran. People will wonder why I'm not at school like everybody else."
"Harry, not all kids go to Hogwarts," Eileen told him gently. "There are other schools which wizard children attend locally and some are apprenticed to their parents and never go to a public school at all."
"Yeah, the reject kids!" he snapped. "Like me. Real nice, Gran!"
"Harry, I never said that!" Mum began, but her grandson wasn't listening any more.
He had shoved back his chair and stalked out of the house. "All of you suck!"
"Harry!" I called after him. "Come back here and apologize to your grandmother! I taught you better than that!"
When he didn't, I started to go after him. Mum touched my shoulder. "Severus, let him go. He's upset, let him cool down."
"Upset or not, he has no right to act like that. This attitude of his is going to stop. Gabriel," I called my collie, who had been snoozing in the hall. "Go and find Harry, Gabe. Bring him home!"
Gabriel stood and stretched. Once he would have bounded to his feet but no longer. My dog was starting to feel old age creeping up on him, and he was developing arthritis in his joints. He was twenty-three now, an unheard of age for an average collie. But he could still herd with the best of them.
He shook himself and trotted to the door, opening the latch with a quick paw smack. The screen door opened and he trotted outside, stood for a moment upon the porch, then he headed down the street at respectable trot , ears pricked, following my sulky son.
Lily came and put an arm about me. "That boy!" She shook her head in disgust. "Sometimes, Sev, I don't know whether to cuddle him or turn him over my knee!"
"Tell me about it," I said, watching Gabe's plumed tail vanish into the distance. "I feel for him, Lil, but he can't keep moping and brooding over it, it's not healthy. Plus, it's driving me insane!"
"I know. Come on, let's have a cup of tea and some lemon tarts while we wait for Gabriel to bring him home." Lily suggested. "Your mum made them specially for us."
We went back inside.
This next part of the story I heard secondhand from Harry, and will write it as it was told to me, since I didn't witness it firsthand.
When I stormed out of the house, all I could think of was how dumb and mean my parents and grandma were, telling me I should work at Gran's shop, and trying to feed me some bullshit story about some wizard kids not going to Hogwarts. Any wizard kid who was anyone went to Hogwarts. Everyone knew that! (Later on I learned I was wrong, plenty of witches and wizards, famous ones, had never set foot in Hogwarts) but right then I was blazing mad and I wanted to break something and at the same time bawl like a little baby. I wanted to have magic so bad I would have made a deal with the devil himself . . .only the devil wasn't offering.
I knew Gran and Mum and Dad meant well, but they just didn't get it. They didn't know what it was like to wake up every morning hoping for something magical to happen and to have your hopes smashed again and again. Or to wonder why you weren't like every other magical kid. Well, I knew why, it was because of that bastard dark wizard Voldemort that I didn't have normal magic, but that didn't make it any easier to accept. It just made me more angry and miserable and I knew I had behaved like a snot to my grandma, but right then I didn't care.
All I wanted was to get out, get away, to be alone. I knew I'd be in trouble with Mum and Dad once I did go home, but I shoved that thought to the back of my mind. That didn't matter right now. I headed away from my house and down Spinner's End, but not in the usual direction towards Hermione's house. Hermione was at Hogwarts, and I should have been with her, but instead I was stuck here, in dreary normal old Yorkshire. I had told her goodbye the night before she'd gone off to King's Cross, and I missed her, because now I had no one to share lessons with and she had been my best friend, the only friend who knew the truth about what I was. The other kids I sometimes hung around with were Muggles and forbidden to know about magic or wizards.
I headed down towards the old mill, which had shut down years before. It was towards the end of the block and it was what Mum would call an eyesore, all broken up and falling apart. Dad had always told me never to play around there, it was too dangerous, and if I ever disobeyed him he'd tan my hide. I'd gone to look at the place once or twice, but had never done more than look at it. It looked creepy and some of the kids in the neighborhood swore it was haunted.
I had just passed the old chain link fence with the rusty padlock that closed the mill gates when I heard a dog snarl, low and angry. I turned and saw a large black and white mutt come around the corner of the fence. He looked to be part mastiff, he was huge and he had scars all over him from fights with other dogs. He had no collar, and he was growling and drooling as he saw me.
I froze. "Hey, dog. Nice dog." I murmured, careful to keep my eyes down, and not look the mutt in the face. Dogs regard that as a challenge.
The mutt had a broken off tooth and strings of drool dripped down his chest and on the ground. He continued to growl threateningly, his ears pinned back.
Now I was beginning to get scared. Most dogs liked me and I liked them, but this dog clearly thought I was trespassing on his turf and he wanted me to get off it. I started to inch back slowly, but the mutt growled warningly and I stopped moving. I didn't want to get him mad and have him attack me. One bite of those jaws and I would be in the hospital.
"You must be new around here, otherwise I would know about you," I continued to talk to the dog, keeping my voice low. I started to sweat. I didn't like the look in the dog's eyes. There was no fear there, only aggression.
Keep still, Harry. Keep still.
Suddenly, I heard a familiar bark and I tore my eyes away from the mutt to see my collie coming down the street. "No. Oh, no. Dad must have sent you for me," I groaned. "Go home, Gabe! Go home!"
I should have known better. Gabriel only ever obeyed my dad unconditionally. Me, he'd only obey if Dad hadn't given him a command first. Plus, my shouting had made the big mutt really ticked off at me.
He began to bark, he had a deep nasty bark, and started to come at me.
Before I could scream or move, a red-gold shape jumped in front of me.
Now Gabe was no coward, but he was a collie, not a fighting dog, like the black and white mix. He was also getting old and slow, though his sight and hearing were still good. If he'd been a few years younger, he could have taken the big mutt. But he wasn't.
The mutt body slammed him, right in the chest, and knocked Gabe off his feet. Gabe did manage to get in one good bite to the mutt's leg before the other dog was on him, pinning him with his big paws and trying to rip out my dog's throat.
That's how dogs fight, they go for the legs and the throat, and sometimes the belly as well. The big mutt knew how to fight dirty, he was trying to get at Gabe's throat, shaking and worrying him with his big damn mouth, but all he was getting was mouthfuls of thick fur and loose skin. Gabe's thick ruff was protecting him better than a Shield Charm. The mutt's jaws couldn't get a good hold.
But neither could Gabriel defend himself. His head was pinned sideways and all he could do was try and heave the other dog off him. Except he wasn't strong enough. The mutt was about a hundred and fifty pounds, near as I could figure. Gabe, hero dog that he was, didn't have the muscle any more to free himself.
I stared at the two dogs, petrified and unable to move. All I could think of was that mutt was killing my dog. He was killing Gabriel. I began screaming as loud as I could. "Get off! Get off, you bloody damn beast!"
I ran up to the mutt and began kicking and pounding on him as hard as I could, but the dog just ignored me. He probably barely even felt the blows, he was too focused on killing the helpless collie beneath him.
I was yelling and trying to haul the huge dog off, pulling his tail and beating him about the head. "Let go! Let GO! Leave Gabriel ALONE!"
Over the dog's growls I could hear Gabriel gasping and choking. The mutt was slowly strangling him.
Then something happened.
I was desperate and scared to death that Gabriel would die right before my eyes, and it would be my fault, because I had come down here and gotten myself in trouble. I couldn't let that happen. Dad's words echoed in my head. People sacrificed their lives for you. My real father, James Potter, and his best friend, Auror Sirius Black. Both had died to protect me from Voldemort. I couldn't let it happen again . . .not like this. Not to my faithful dog. I had to save Gabriel. I had to.
I felt something stir within me then, something hot and wild and full of power. I felt it flash through me like liquid fire, setting my nerves tingling and my bones aching. I screamed in pure fury and agony, my head felt as if it were going to explode. I slammed both my hands down on the mutt and howled, "STOP! Stop hurting my dog!"
The pulsing searing fire exploded from my hands . . .
. . .and the mutt was frozen, his jaws half open.
My head spun and I leaned on the statue dog. The hot pulsing feeling was making my head throb and all of a sudden I puked all over.
After that I felt my headache start to go away and I felt a little better.
"Gabe? Gabe, are you okay, boy?" I managed to say. My mouth tasted gross and I spit on the ground.
Gabriel whined and his paws scrabbled on the ground. He wriggled himself out from under the mutt's paws, since the mutt was frozen, he couldn't stop Gabriel from doing so. Gabe managed to tear his ruff free as well, though he left a huge chunk of white and reddish gold fur in the mutt's teeth. There was blood and drool all over Gabe's neck, but he was alive!
I ran to him and threw myself in the dirt and hugged him. I got full of dog drool and blood but I could have cared less. "Gabe, you're okay!" I sobbed, and his warm wet tongue washed my face over and over. Up close I could see he was going silver about his muzzle and eyes, but he was only old in body, not in his heart. "Good dog! Brave dog!" I murmured and cried into his fur.
But only a little. After a bit, I stood up and looked the collie over. He had some cuts on his neck, but not too bad, the mastiff mix hadn't gotten too much skin when he bit down. It was only then that I realized what I had done.
I had done magic.
I whipped my head around to stare at the mutt, who was still frozen, teeth bared, like a statue.
I had done that.
Me, Harry Potter, who didn't get his Hogwarts letter because I was a Squib.
Only I wasn't. Not anymore. I closed my eyes and concentrated.
I felt a swirling of prickly heat somewhere deep inside, down near my belly. I pictured my magical core like a lake of liquid golden power, ready and waiting for me to draw on it.
It was like a miracle. My magic had finally come awake.
I let out a loud whoop and cried, "Come on, Gabe! Let's go home and tell Mum and Dad I'm a wizard." But I said that last part very softly, just in case. Gabe wagged his tail and I knew he heard me.
We made it home in eight minutes, I ran so fast I felt like my feet had wings.
Then I had to let Mum and Gran fuss and scold me when they caught sight of my bloodied shirt and jeans and Dad healed up Gabriel and questioned me afterwards. In addition to the cuts and torn fur, Gabriel was also badly bruised from getting slammed into the ground and his shoulder had a pulled muscle. But Dad told me he'd be okay in a few weeks. I was so happy.
I told him the whole story. Everyone was congratulating me on my new magical ability. I was on top of the world. Then I walked Dad back to where the ugly mutt was so he could reverse the spell I cast. It was a good thing the mill was deserted and nobody was around.
As soon as the freeze was off him, the mangy dog took off, yelping, and we never saw him around again.
Dad put his arm around me. "I'm proud of you, son. You saved Gabriel all on your own. And now you're a wizard, Harry."
"I . . .I still can't believe it. It's like a miracle!"
"Yes. You seem to attract them." He gave my shoulder a gentle squeeze. Then he cleared his throat. "However, your behavior earlier left a lot to be desired, Mr. Potter."
I hung my head. "I know, sir. I'm sorry."
"You need to tell your grandmother that. You're grounded for the weekend, and if you ever speak to an adult in this family like that again, your bottom will regret it. Clear?"
"Yes, sir." He let me off this time 'cause I'd saved Gabriel. Lucky me.
Then he tousled my hair. "You're going to be a powerful wizard someday, Harry."
I beamed happily. Finally, I was a real wizard!
February 21st, 1994:
Once the miracle of Harry's magic had occurred, a thing which awed all of us, Lily and I then had to discuss what we were going to do about Harry's future. We had to decide whether or not he should go to Hogwarts, as we had done, or somewhere else, like Durmstrang, or just stay at home and apprentice himself to me and Lily. Apprenticeship was an old custom, practiced for centuries, and given my own school experiences, I much preferred Harry go that route. Then too, Dumbledore was still Headmaster of Hogwarts, and I was suspicious of his motives. He believed in that crazy prophecy Bellatrix had foretold, and might try and use Harry as a weapon if Voldemort returned. I couldn't allow that.
"Then you don't think he should go to Hogwarts?" Lily asked again.
"No. He can get just as good an education here or at another school. He doesn't need to be subjected to all that bloody House rivalry and Dumbledore's machinations."
"You don't trust him, do you?"
"No. More importantly, I don't trust him around Harry. I won't have him being used."
"Maybe we should ask Harry. He might want to go to school with Hermione," Lily suggested.
I considered it. "I don't know, Lily. My instinct is telling me to keep Harry far away from that meddlesome old coot. Let him think Harry is a Squib. That way he'll forget about that fool prophecy and leave Harry alone."
"You don't believe Bellatrix's vision?"
"Bah! She's mad as a March hare. Her prophecy said nothing specifically about Harry, only that a child born as the seventh month dies would defeat You-Know-Who. That could be anyone born at the end of July. I don't want the old coot getting his hooks into Harry. And you know he will, he's wily as a fox. I just want to keep him safe."
"Me too." She agreed. "But I still think we should ask Harry. After all, we had a choice when we got our letters, to accept them or not."
I sighed. I supposed she was right, but I would make it perfectly clear that I didn't think Harry ought to attend Hogwarts.
As it turned out, Harry wrote to Hermione and asked her how she was getting on at school. She replied that she was terribly homesick and wished she could leave. Based upon his friend's sterling recommendation and our own advice, he decided to wait and allow me to teach him. Although I think leaving home and Gabriel had a lot to do with his decision.
In any case, I was proud of my boy.
I looked at my now sleeping second son and knew I'd be just as proud of him someday. And my daughter too. I just had to be patient and wait for them to grow up. I halted the rocker and started to get up and put Gabe down in his cradle.
Lily walked in carrying a sound asleep Hallie and Harry followed her, holding a camera.
Too late I saw what my sneaky son was carrying. I have never liked being photographed, but Harry snapped my picture before I could prevent it.
"You're lucky I've got a baby in my hands, you sly little snake."
Harry smirked and waved the camera. "Takes one to know one, Dad." Then he fled before I could grab him and make him pay for that little comment, even if it was true.
Oh, the joy of sons!
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Coming up next, can you teach an old dog new tricks? Find out next chapter!
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