The Art of Persuasion
Harry continued to hold Sirius until the boy had stopped crying. Then he asked the child, "Just what did you see in the Pensieve, Sirius? I need to know, because you're never going to mention it to anyone, especially not Severus. Clear?"
Sirius sniveled and wiped his nose on his sleeve. "I won't tell anyone, Harry. It was . . . it was terrible." He described the massacre of the children by Voldemort and Snape being forced to watch it. "I . . . I never could have done that, Harry. Not ever! I would have broken and attacked those miserable buggers and then I would have died and so would they. Snape . . . Severus . . . is a braver man than I."
Harry nodded. "Yes, I know. Do you still believe he's evil? Or do you understand that he had a reason for acting as he did? He never wanted to be a double agent, but he did it in memory of my mother, so old Snake Face could die once and for all. He protected me all the while I was in school and I never knew it. I owe him more than you know. My fat cousin Dudley was a bully and he loved to beat on me, and that's why I get so mad when you tease him and do other mean things to him. It reminds me of Dudley and how I used to get my ass kicked. So just stop it, or else you'll be over my knee again until the message gets through your thick skull, got me?"
"Yes, Harry. I'll try to behave from now on. I always thought he was a slimy git out to get everybody, but I guess I was wrong, huh? Way wrong."
Harry hugged him. "Yes, but now that you know the truth, you can start trying to get along better. It would really make me and Remus happy. How's your bottom?"
"It hurts a little," Sirius shrugged. "But not too bad." He squirmed slightly and slipped off of Harry's lap to rub it. "Are you gonna tell Moony?"
"Tell me what?" asked the werewolf. He had wondered just what was keeping Harry and Sirius and had come to investigate. He noted immediately that Sirius looked guilty about something and Harry looked a little apprehensive. "Is this something about the memories in the Pensieve? Or something else?" He looked from one to the other.
"Well, Sirius? Should you tell him or should I?" asked Harry.
Sirius hung his head. He didn't know if he could say what he had done.
When he remained silent, Harry said, "I caught him with his head in the Pensieve and offered to help him bottle the memory he was viewing . . . only it wasn't his, it was Severus'."
Remus looked shocked. "You were viewing Severus' memories, Sirius Black? You know that's wrong! Pensieve memories are extremely private!" His face stern, he advanced upon the child.
Sirius gulped and cried, "I said I was sorry, Moony!" The werewolf picked him up and flipped him over. "No-o-o!" he wailed, as Remus brought his hand down on his bottom. "Harry already spanked me-e-e!" he yowled.
Remus froze. "You did?" he asked Harry, astonished. "But you hardly ever . . ."
"I know. But this time I felt the punishment needed to be carried out immediately, so he understood how serious it was, no pun intended." Harry said. "I gave him ten good ones, Remus. Sorry if I overstepped."
"You didn't. He's like Teddy and Jamie, and you're like his uncle now. If he needs discipline, I trust you to handle it, Harry," Lupin said simply. He turned Sirius back over and set him on his feet. "Consider that your punishment from me, scamp." Remus drew the now crying boy into a hug. "Sirius, Sirius. What am I going to do with you?"
"Hold me," the little boy sobbed, and Remus did.
Harry watched the two and sighed. "We can't ever let Severus know, Remus. It would kill him. Bad enough that I saw one of his worst memories, never mind Sirius."
"You're right," the werewolf agreed, rubbing circles on Sirius' back. "It can only hurt him, and he's been hurt enough. I won't mention it and neither will Sirius here. Right, youngling?"
"Uh huh. Promise." Sirius sniffled.
Remus pulled out a handkerchief and wiped Sirius' face and let him blow his nose. "Okay, scamp. We can go home now. Harry, I'll see you later on this week."
"Goodbye, Remus. Bye, Sirius." Harry said, and he hugged Sirius. "Be good."
Sirius, who had now regained his composure, despite his sore bum, stuck his tongue out at Harry. "Not!"
Then he followed Remus out the door and into the fireplace.
Harry exited the office and found Minerva drinking a third cup of tea and Severus asleep on the sofa next to her. "Looks like he's worn out."
"Yes, he is, poor bairn!" She smiled down at her former professor. "He's so innocent, Harry! I've never seen him look so peaceful."
"Maybe now that he's laid some of his nightmares to rest, he can finally act like a child, and I can give him a second chance to grow up loved and happy."
"If anyone can, Harry, it's you. You understand him best. Good luck to you!" she bid them goodbye.
Harry picked up the sleeping Severus and Flooed back to Godric's Hollow.
Severus woke to a pair of green eyes staring into his own. For one moment he thought it was Lily, but then he blinked and saw that it was Alby. Severus sat up and rubbed his eyes. "What time is it?"
The four-year-old shrugged. "Lunchtime, I guess. Least Mummy's making sandwiches. You slept a long time, Sevvy. Can we play a game now?"
"In a minute." Severus said, yawning. He still felt slightly tired, but his stomach was telling him it was hungry, so he sat up. He was on the couch in the den and the only other person here was Alby. "Where's everyone?"
"Mummy's in the kitchen and Daddy's outside, weeding the garden. He says he'll take us flying after lunch." Alby grinned. "I love to fly! It's so fun. Do you like to fly too, Sevvy?"
"Occasionally," answered the pint-sized prodigy.
"Mummy says we can all go flying," said Alby excitedly, bouncing up and down.
Severus just nodded, still trying to wake up. He went into the loo and splashed water on his face and used the toilet. By then Harry was inside, washing up at the sink, and Ginny was ready to serve lunch, which was bologna and crisps.
After they had eaten and helped clear the table, Ginny and Harry took the boys out into the backyard and Harry took Alby up on his Firebolt and Ginny took Severus on her Millenium Skyrocket.
Severus felt a little awkward being on a broom when he was so little, but Ginny was calm and collected, as if she rode with a small child in front of her all the time. "Don't worry, Sev. I've cast a Sticking Charm to the seat of your jeans so you won't fall off," the youngest Weasley reassured him. "I won't fly too fast, not unless you tell me." She held him securely against her chest.
They flew in slow loops and spirals across the sky, under a Notice Me Not Charm, since part of Godric's Hollow was Muggle.
"Faster, Daddy! Faster!" yelled Alby as Harry flew with him on the Firebolt.
"All right, you little speed demon!" Harry laughed. He took the Firebolt around in a faster maneuver, then shot up a few feet and dove down until the wind screamed in his ears. Alby shrieked loudly in joy. "Wheee! I love flying!"
"Me too!" Harry smiled, he loved the feel of the wind in his hair and on his face.
Severus thought about what he had just seen, then asked Ginny, "Can we do that?"
"Of course!" She copied Harry's mauever and now it was Severus' turn to laugh.
"How was that?" Ginny asked, causing the broom to hover.
"Great! More, please!"
Ginny happily obliged.
They even had an impromptu race between Severus and Alby. They tied, despite Harry having a better broom.
For the first time, Severus found he actually enjoyed flying, and he didn't care if he lost the race either. There was something so comfortable about flying this way, not for a competition or a game, but just for sheer joy of it that really touched him. He had not known much joy, especially spontaneous joy, in his former life, even as a child.
"Are you having fun, Sev?" Ginny asked, her blue eyes sparkling. She too loved flying for the fun of it, even though she played professional Quidditch.
He lifted his dark eyes to hers and there was a glow in them she had never seen before. It warmed her to her soul to see the somber child truly enjoying himself, as a child should. "Yes," he said, his tone bright with wonder. "This is the most fun I can remember, except when I'm making potions."
Alby and Harry were twirling about in the air like a top and Alby was giggling hysterically, his laughter sounding like the sweet chiming of bells.
"Want to see a trick, Sevvy?" Ginny queried, smirking. She flew high into the air, and wrapped her arms tight about the little boy, pinning him against her. "Do you trust me, Severus?"
Slowly he nodded, sensing she was going to do something special.
"All right. I'm going to do a maneuver I invented and shock the heck out of my husband and son. Ready?"
Severus nodded eagerly. He wouldn't mind giving Harry a heart attack, God knows the boy had done it enough to his former self while in school.
Then Ginny went into a dive.
The wind screamed in their ears and for an instant Severus feared he would be pulled from the broom despite the charm and Ginny's arms about him. He felt like a falcon diving down upon a mouse and he shrieked with sheer delight. In the next instant Ginny slingshot up and around Harry and Albus, twirling about over their heads.
"Ginny! Holy Merlin!" Harry gasped, his face white.
"Hiya, handsome!" His wife giggled like a girl, and Severus was smirking like a mischievous monkey.
"Did we scare you, Harry?" inquired the mini professor gleefully.
"You almost made my heart come out of my throat, Sev," Harry admitted. "I thought you were going to crash."
"Crash?" Ginny cried indignantly. "I have never crashed in my life, Harry Potter! The nerve!"
"Mummy flies better than you, Daddy!" Alby put in.
"Oh, yeah?" Harry snorted.
"Yeah. I wanna fly with Mummy now." Alby whined.
Harry looked astonished. "One trick and suddenly you think I'm chopped liver, huh? Okay, if that's how you want it, Albus Severus." He spun about and landed on the ground, where he Unstuck Alby and set him down.
Alby ran to Ginny and Severus and said, "It's my turn, Sevvy, to fly with Mummy!" He held up his arms to Ginny.
"Hold it, let me get Sev off," Ginny ordered, cancelling the charm and helping Severus down. "You can go fly with Harry now, Severus." She told him, picking up Alby.
Severus went over to Harry and said, "You'd better apologize to her later, Potter. A redhead's temper simmers until it boils over."
Harry cracked up at the fact that the five-year-old bachelor was giving him advice on how to handle women.
The small boy put his hands on his hips and scowled. "I'm serious!"
Harry finally quit laughing and wiped his eyes. "I know. It's just . . .you of all people telling me that . . ."
"So? I know from experience," Severus said, recalling all too well how Lily used to get riled with him . . . or James Potter.
Harry reached out and tousled his hair. "You're right. I should know better. I'll make it up to her later, when you two are asleep." He winked at his former professor.
"Ugh! Harry, please!" Severus made a disgusted face. "What is it you teenagers say? Too much information?"
Harry just chuckled again and scooped up the dark-haired imp and put him on his broom. After casting the safety charms, Harry took Severus up and they streaked like lightning gone rogue through the sky. Harry, as a former Seeker, knew moves that were just this side of insane, but he kept his flight toned down because of his small passenger.
Severus, however, loved flying with him as much as he had with Ginny, and begged him to go faster and do corkscrews and upside down loops and things Harry would have thought he'd be scared to try given the fact that he'd never seen Snape fly much.
"I never knew you liked flying, Severus!"
"I didn't either!" Sev screeched. "Until now! I never had much time to fly before, and flying was always your father's area, so I didn't want to do anything he did."
"Yeah, I can understand that." Harry said, making the Firebolt stand on end for a minute and then looping about the house. "I'm glad you like flying now, though. Because it's one of Ginny's and my favorite things to do. And Alby's too."
Severus smiled, a quiet smile. It looked like he was becoming one of the family, slowly but surely.
A few days later, the Potters returned to Victory Park, and had another picnic lunch with the Longbottoms and the Lupins . . . all except Jamie, who was being punished by staying home and helping his Granny Andromeda around the house. Jamie had switched the salt and sugar in the sugar bowl, a rather amusing prank, except for the fact that Dora had a tea yesterday afternoon for her mum and a few friends . . . and all of them ended up spitting their tea all over the floor after putting several teaspoons of salt in it. Thus Jamie was now grounded for three days.
When Ginny heard that tale from Remus, she grimaced. "He reminds me of Fred and George. They once put manure in our aunt's meatloaf and while it seemed funny at the time, now I feel sorry for the old biddy. And Mum wanted to just die, because Aunt Muriel is older than dirt and so proper and she only visits once a year and she had heard so much about Mum's cooking! I think my brothers couldn't sit for a week after that little prank."
For a few minutes, all the adults shared Fred and George prank stories, as they had all been on the receiving end of them.
Meanwhile, the children ran about and played various games. Severus tended to avoid Sirius, but oddly the other boy didn't scream one of his usual insults at him or act like he was dirt. Severus thought that was strange, considering a few days before Black had been the same old git to him. But then he remembered Harry going into the office with Sirius and supposed Harry must have given Black the lecture of his life and maybe that was why he was keeping his mouth off Severus.
They played tag, Find the Magic Wand (the wand was just a stick with a silver ribbon tied to it), and Simon Says, which Severus remembered playing with Lily and taught the other children. After awhile, Teddy and Sirius went back to the Lupins to get a snack and so did Alby, leaving Frankie and Severus still playing.
"Simon says touch your ear!" Severus cried, touching his ear with his hand.
Frankie copied him, then yelled, "Oww! My ear hurts!"
Severus walked over to the small girl. "Did you get stung by a bee? Or bit by a mosquito?" He peered at Frankie's right ear.
"No. It just hurts when I touch it," sniffled Neville's daughter.
Severus noticed the girl's ear was red inside. "You should show your dad or mum. Your ear might have an ear infection."
Frankie nodded. "It really hurts and it hurts when I swallow too."
"Sounds like you're coming down with something," Severus told her. "You need to go home and let your parents give you potions and rest."
Frankie groaned. "Aww, toad turds! I hate taking potions! They always taste so nasty! And I hate being sick 'cause then I can't play with anybody." She pouted. But then she went back towards Neville and Luna, whining, "Daddy, I don't feel good. My ear and throat hurt."
Neville came and put a hand on his child's forehead. "Looks like you have a fever too, pumpkin. I'd better take you home before you get anyone else sick." He picked up Frankie. "I wish I could stay, but . . ."
"Go ahead, Nev," Ginny urged. "We all know what it's like to deal with a sick kid. Feel better, sweetie!" she called out to Frankie, just before Neville Apparated them both back home, leaving Luna to gather up the rest of their things and follow.
Severus felt bad for Frankie, he also hated being sick and at the same time he hoped he didn't catch whatever she had.
Two days later Severus woke up eager to start the day. Today he was going to help Harry gather some herbs in the garden to make some potions. Ginny had said they were running low on some healing elixirs—like Fever Reducers, Cough Elixir, and Sore Throat Solution. Severus loved working with anything to do with potions and practically jumped out of bed and into his clothes. Then he turned to leave when he heard a moan from Alby's side of the room.
Severus immediately turned back and saw that his little brother looked flushed and was pulling on his ear and crying. "Mummy! My ear hurts! An' I'm hot an' my t'roat hurts too!"
"Al, are you sick?" asked Severus gently.
Alby started to cry. "I want Mummy! Sevvy, go find her!"
Severus knew Ginny was in the kitchen cooking breakfast, and he ran down the stairs as fast as he could. "Ginny! Come quick, Alby's sick! I think he caught what Frankie had."
Ginny quickly turned off the stove, she had been frying some bangers and scrambling eggs. "Oh no! Sev, wash your hands. I don't want you coming down with this too." She washed her hands and then headed upstairs.
Severus then went to find Harry, he was in the herb garden. "Harry!" he called, running down the path.
"Hey, Sev!" Harry waved at the small boy as he carefully clipped some herbs with his shears. "Are you ready to pick some lavender for me?"
"Harry, Alby's sick!" Severus informed Harry.
"Sick? What's wrong?"
Severus told him how Alby had woken up complaining of his ear and throat hurting and that he probably had a fever too.
"Aww, Merlin! Well, we really do need to get these ingredients together now. Come on, Severus, let's get picking," Harry said, and he set to gathering.
Severus helped, picking all the herbs for the Fever Reducer without being told.
Upstairs, Ginny had changed Alby's pajamas and sheets, setting a Cooling Charm on them, for her little one had a fever and was very cranky. She rocked him back and forth, trying to ease his discomfort. "Baby, don't cry. Daddy and Sevvy are outside picking herbs to make a potion to make you better. Can you drink a little bit of water for me?"
"Nooo!" Alby whined. "Not thirsty!" He squirmed in her grip, for though he loved when mummy held him, he was also very hot and achy.
Ginny wet a cloth and wiped Alby's face and neck. "Allright, love. Does that feel better?"
Alby nodded, his green eyes clouded with fever. Ginny just hoped Harry could brew quickly and help her try and bring Alby's fever down. She could feel how hot he was, even with the cooling charms. "It's going to be okay, baby. Mummy's here."
"Where's Sevvy? Want Sevvy!" Alby cried.
"Sevvy's helping Daddy, honey. He'll be here soon," Ginny said, rocking her son.
An hour passed and Alby was growing more and more fretful as his sickness progressed. Ginny had managed to get him to drink some cool water and had stripped and bathed him with cold cloths before dressing him in new pajamas.
Finally, she heard Harry and Severus coming up the stairs. "Thank you, Merlin!" Ginny sighed. Alby had been bawling for Sevvy and Harry for half-an-hour.
"Daddy!" sobbed the youngest Potter, when he saw Harry come into the room.
"Here I am, little man." Harry said, going to sit on the bed where Alby was lying. "Sev told me you weren't feeling well."
"I'm sick! I feel yucky!" his son whimpered.
Harry looked at Ginny and asked, "Temperature?"
"Almost 38.8 degrees (101.8 F)," Ginny answered worriedly. "Think you can get him to take the potions?"
Alby was notorious for spitting out and refusing to take any potion. Harry eyed his son and said, "I'm going to try. Hopefully he'll cooperate." He shook the green Fever Reducer and said, "Alby, will you be a brave boy and swallow something for me? It'll make your yucky fever go away."
Alby looked up at his father and nodded. But when Harry started to bring the potion to his lips, he turned his head away and howled, "NO! NO YUCKY POTIONS!"
"But Alby, baby, it'll make you feel so much better," Ginny coaxed, her head beginning to pound. In everything else, her son was easygoing and tractable . . . except when it came to taking medicine. Then he turned into a mule.
"Don' wan' to!"
Harry tried to pick up his son and sit him on his lap, but Alby screamed and kicked the bed, refusing to let go . "No, Daddy! Go 'way! I no want potions!"
"Albus Severus, stop this!" Harry ordered sternly. "You need to take this potion." He finally pried Alby loose, only to have the stubborn child clamp his mouth shut and refuse to open it. "Open, right now!"
Alby shook his head mutely. Tears were in his eyes. He knew he was making his mummy and daddy mad by not taking his medicine, but he couldn't stand how gross the potions tasted!
"Harry, don't yell. You're scaring him," Ginny reprimanded.
"He knows better, Gin. Albus Severus, you open your mouth and take this potion right now, or else I'll call Healer Winters and she'll come give you a shot in your bottom." Harry threatened softly. He hated doing that, but his son could go on all night like this, and it was so frustrating.
Alby's eyes widened. He didn't want to get a shot in his bottom. They hurt! "No! No shots!" he bawled.
Harry quickly tipped the vial of medicine down his son's throat.
He was feeling quite pleased with himself until his son spit all the potion right back out again . . . all over him.
"Ahh . . . dammit, Albus!"
"Harry!" Ginny snapped. "Watch your language!"
"Look what . . . I can't believe . . ." Harry sputtered, gesturing to himself. He was spattered all over with green Fever Reducer. It was even dripping off his lenses.
Alby, knowing he had done something very bad, started to wail loudly. Now he was sick and probably in trouble. And from the look on his daddy's face, Alby figured he was doomed to get a shot in his bum.
Ginny waved her wand and cleaned up her husband. Then she went and took her son off Harry and tried to calm him down. "Honey, you're so sick, and daddy just wants to help you. The green medicine might taste yucky, but it'll help. Trust Mummy. If you take your medicine like a good boy, you'll get a treat. Like a chocolate frog."
"No shots! Nooo!" the little boy was sobbing into her shoulder.
"Good one, Harry!" she growled at him before whispering, "Daddy didn't mean that, sweet one. Nobody's going to give you a shot. Now just relax and stop crying."
"Not in twouble?" her son asked pitifully.
"No, lamb. You're not in trouble." Ginny said, holding him close. "Got any more brilliant ideas?" she asked her husband tartly.
"Sorry, but I thought it would work," Harry apologized. He looked at his son sadly. "Now what? I could make him swallow it, but then he'd hate me."
Severus had been watching the whole little drama silently. He couldn't believe that mild mannered Alby was such a terror when it came to taking medicine. But then he recalled some of his Slytherins had been just like that too. Maybe what had worked on them would work on Alby?
He walked over to Ginny and Alby and said, "Alby, you want to know how to take a potion so it doesn't taste nasty?"
Alby lifted his head and peered at his brother. "How, Sevvy?"
Severus took the empty vial and said, "Like this. You hold your nose and just swallow." He demonstrated. "See? Nothing to it. You're a big boy, right?"
"Well, that's how big boys take potions. Only babies scream and cry and need to get shots in their behinds."
"I'm big, Sevvy! I'm big like you!" Alby said.
Both Potters watched in shock as their recalcitrant four-year-old took a vial off the nightstand and held his nose and swallowed. He made a face, said, "Ick!" and then did it again. A vial of Fever Reducer, a vial of Sore Throat Solution and a vial of Pain Reliever later and Alby was finished. "Can I have some watta, Dad?" he asked sweetly.
Harry clapped his hands. "You sure can, Alby! See? Was that so hard?" He handed his son a cup of water.
"No. 'Cause I'm a big boy like Sevvy." Alby replied, then drank thirstily. Then he said plaintively, "But my ear still hurts."
Harry looked at Severus. "Do you have any more clever tricks up your sleeve, Healer Snape?"
Severus knew that the Ear Remedy was one that couldn't be swallowed, but had to be dripped into the ear canal. It didn't hurt, but sometimes tilting your head did, especially if your ear and neck were sore. He thought for a moment, then said, "Alby, why don't you lie down on your bed? You need another potion for your ear, but you don't have to swallow it."
"I don't? How come?"
"You just don't," Severus said, he didn't want to be bothered with explanations. "Your mum can put it in your ear with a medicine dropper."
"Will it hurt?"
"No, it'll feel a little weird though." He waited until Alby had climbed into bed and had the child lie on his side. Severus then climbed into bed with his brother. Then he put an arm about Alby's chest, partly to comfort the boy and also to hold him in place.
Alby looked at him, his green eyes frightened. "Sevvy . . ." he whimpered.
"Relax, Al. You'll be all right."
Ginny took the vial of Ear Remedy and gently dripped it into her son's ear.
Alby remained still and soon it was all over.
"There now, lamb. Now you can sleep."
"Mmmhmm." Alby yawned. He turned and looked up at Harry and Ginny. "I'm sleepy. Night, Mummy. Night, Daddy."
Harry and Ginny bent and hugged and kissed their son. "Sweet dreams, baby," Ginny whispered.
"Goodnight, Alby. I'm sorry I yelled at you," Harry said.
"It's okay, Daddy. I'm bad with potions," his son said and hugged him before sliding down to cuddle next to Severus. "Sevvy, can you stay with me?"
"For a little while," Severus agreed. He knew Alby would soon fall asleep.
Harry and Ginny mouthed thank you as they left the room.
Five minutes later, Alby was snoring and Severus rose and went downstairs to eat some lunch with the elder Potters.
Over their tuna salad sandwiches and chips, Harry said, "Severus, that was amazing! What you did with Alby, I mean. Neither of us can get him to take potions without a huge fuss, and a few times we really did have to call a Healer to give him shots instead. How did you ever come up with that?"
Severus smirked. "I served eighteen years as a professor and Head of Slytherin House, Harry. Over the years I've learned a few things about dealing with reluctant children, especially ones who hate taking potions. Teenagers are as bad as four-year-olds when it comes to that. I discovered that if you call their pride to account, they'll give in and do what you want them to. Either that or tell them they'll miss the next Hogsmeade visit or Quidditch match."
"I think maybe you missed your calling, Sev," Ginny said. "Maybe you should have become a pediatric Healer."
"I used to think about that," Severus recalled. "But my mum never could have afforded the fees to send me to medical school after Hogwarts. And by then the war was on and I had lost interest in saving lives after Lily died."
"But this time things will be different," Harry reminded him. "And I have plenty of money to send you anywhere you want for extra schooling. So if you still want to be a Healer, Severus, you can be."
"Thank you. But I'll think about a career later. I have lots of time."
Ginny chuckled. "All the time in the world, Sev."
By evening, Alby had woken and was coaxed to take yet another round of potions. He was cranky but took them while Severus watched. Then he fell back to sleep again. By the next morning, he was improved somewhat. By the third day he was feeling much better, his fever was gone, and he whined because Ginny made him stay in bed.
It was then that Severus felt a tickle in his throat. At first he ignored it, thinking his throat was dry, but by nightfall he too had an earache, a sore throat, and was achy and feverish.
Harry looked up from the magazine he'd been reading in the den and saw Severus standing in front of him, looking like death warmed over. "Sev, you look sick. Don't tell me you've got it too."
"Obviously," he said, and then he winced as his throat protested.
"Okay, you know the drill. Let's get you in bed and some potions down you," Harry said, and before Severus could protest, Harry picked him up and sped up the stairs.
Severus, who was normally fiercely independent, soon found he didn't mind Harry helping him undress, wiping him down with a cool wet rag and putting him into pajamas. While Harry got the potions, Severus sat on the edge of his bed and sipped some ice water. Ginny had fallen asleep early, which was why she wasn't here fussing over him. Alby was also sleeping and well on the road to recovery.
Harry returned with the potions and placed them on the nightstand. "All right, Sev. Bottoms up!"
Severus rolled his eyes and just took the potions, one by one, the way he had shown Alby.
"Good job, Severus!" Harry praised. "Now the Ear Remedy." He sat down on the bed next to Severus and patted his knee. "Put your head in my lap, and then I can start it."
Severus obeyed, "Both my ears hurt." He turned to his right first.
"Okay. Let's do them one at a time," Harry said, then he gently began to drip the potion into Severus' right ear with the medicine dropper.
Severus remained perfectly still until Harry asked him to turn to his left side. He rolled over and let Harry apply the potion to his other ear. The potion coated his sore ear canal and made him feel much better. It would need to be applied again tomorrow, two times a day.
"How's that? Better?"
"Yes. Thank you, Harry."
"You don't have to thank me for taking care of you," Harry told him softly. "That's part of my job." He helped tuck Severus into bed and then gave him a hug and told him, "Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite."
"I would hope you don't have bedbugs, Harry," Severus remarked impishly. "Otherwise, I'm moving out."
"With the way Ginny cleans?" Harry sniggered. "No bug or dust bunny will dare show itself around here. They live in fear of her mop and feather duster."
Sick as he was, that made Severus smile slightly. Then he clutched Harry's hand and asked, "Would you . . . umm . . . would you mind staying here till I fall asleep? I'm tired, but all my bones ache. I feel like I'm Dumbledore's age."
Harry's heart thrilled to hear Severus actually request his presence and thought that the boy was starting to trust him at last. "I'll be here, Sev," Harry promised, sitting down on the bed.
Severus slept on his tummy, so Harry could rub his back and card his hair. Normally, he didn't like being touched too much, especially by an adult man, but Harry was different. He was gentle and his hands did not bring pain, the y brought relief from it. So he snuggled into his pillow and allowed Harry to comfort him, and though he felt terrible, he fell asleep with a smile on his face, because he knew there was someone nearby who cared.
Harry continued carding Severus' silky black hair long after the small boy had fallen asleep. He felt so happy that the child was beginning to lose some of his adult reserve and act like a normal child, playing and laughing and letting Harry and Ginny take care of him. He began to hope that one day Severus might come to think of Harry as a father figure, and even call him Dad. But that was for later. Right now Harry was just glad Severus wanted him nearby.
When his own eyes began to close, Harry forced himself up and decided to go to bed as well. Though not before he placed a kiss on Severus' brow and whispered, "Pleasant dreams, my boy."
Hope you all liked! Would anyone like Severus to have a familiar in this story? Or even just a pet dog or cat or whatever?