Chapter 23 : Welcome Home Harry
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Welcome Home, Harry
Severus woke early the next morning, his bladder was full to bursting, and he rushed out of Cory's room to use the loo. Once he was finished, he walked softly back inside the bedroom, but he wasn't sleepy. Usually once he was awake he couldn't go back to sleep, unless he was totally exhausted. He climbed up and sat on the edge of the bed, hugging Mimic. The raven always made him feel happy, and somehow closer to Harry and Ginny, who had bought him the toy.
He stared around Cory's bedroom, which was decorated with a pattern of dragons flying, sleeping, playing, and fighting. The dragons were all different species and colors and looked extremely lifelike. When he'd asked Draco who did the wallpaper, Draco had told him Astoria had painted the dragons herself. She was a very talented artist, and some of her work hung in the Ministry art gallery.
The floor was carpeted in a thick blue plush, and there was a bookshelf filled with volumes of children's literature next to the bed. There was a child's desk beside the window and on it were several sketch pads, crayons, pastels, and paints.
Severus stole a glance at the desk, then abruptly decided that since he couldn't sleep, he might as well draw. He padded across the floor and sat down at the desk. He opened up a sketch pad, picked up a pencil and began to draw. He was a fair artist, though better at drawing plant and animal specimens for potions than people.
He started to draw.
First he sketched the talking dragon skull, Draconis Imperius. He was still curious to find out if there really was a spellbook buried in the backyard, but didn't feel like trying to dig for it by himself. Maybe some other time, when he had Lily to help him and was bigger, they could figure out the mystery of the hidden treasure.
Then he drew the Potter family. He sketched Alby first, he was easier, making him smiling and standing next to Ginny. He took more time with the two adults, mixing several shades of orange and red to get the exact color of her hair and having her wear a lavender shirt with black pants. She was also smiling. Then he drew Harry, but not Harry as he was now, injured and stuck in bed, but Harry flying on his Firebolt, his hair blowing in the wind, waving, his cloak fluttering behind him. He worked a long time on Harry, trying to capture the bright expression in his green eyes and the laugh lines about his mouth. He sketched Harry's glasses in last.
Then his pencil hovered over a spot in front of Harry, where he was trying to decide if he should put himself in the picture.
"Where are you, Sevvy?" asked a small voice beside his elbow.
Severus turned to see Alby, who was yawning and rubbing his eyes. "How come you're up?"
Alby shrugged. "You weren't by me and I got cold." He clutched Bucky in one arm.
"Oh. I had to go use the loo and then I couldn't sleep so I was drawing."
Alby nodded. "You need to draw you, Sevvy," he pointed to the spot in front of Harry. "You could go next to Daddy. Or here," his finger moved to point to a space on the ground, "by Mummy."
"Do I really need to be in it? I think it looks fine the way it is." Severus said critically.
"No, it doesn't," his brother argued stubbornly. "It's no good if you're not in it. You're my big brudder and you belong with me, Mummy, and Daddy."
For some reason hearing Alby say that made Severus feel all warm and cozy inside. It was the first time a little child had expressed a need for him that way and it made him stop feeling homesick. His fingers flew over the paper and he drew himself sitting in front of Harry on the broom. As he drew his face, he automatically started to put a frown on his small face, but then he erased it and put a small smile instead. Because now he was happy.
"How's that?" he asked his brother.
"Better. Where'd you learn to draw like that?"
"I don't know. I just can." Severus replied, coloring in his hair.
"Are you gonna give that to Daddy?"
Severus hadn't thought about that. "Uh . . . I guess so." He finished coloring his self-portrait and then signed his name in an artist's scrawl.
"Whatcha gonna draw next?"
Severus thought for a moment. Then he began to draw again, a girl's face this time, with heartbreaking emerald eyes and brilliant hair the color of the embers of a dying fire. He drew her wearing a light green top and a gold chain with a heart on it inscribed with the word "Always".
"Who's that? Is it Mummy?" Alby queried.
"No. This is someone else," Severus answered. "She was . . . very special."
"What's her name?"
"Lily," Severus said very softly.
"Yes, she was." Severus tore out the two pictures he'd just drawn and placed them on the nightstand next to Mimic.
"Sevvy, do you miss Mummy and Daddy?"
Severus nodded. It still felt odd that he missed Harry and Ginny so much, but he couldn't deny that it was so. The only other person he'd ever missed that way was his mother. He hopped back onto the bed.
"Me too," Alby sighed, and came to lean against Severus.
Severus instinctively put an arm about him, letting Alby put his head on his shoulder. "We'll see them soon. Draco promised he'd take us back to the hospital after breakfast."
"Will Daddy be in the hosp'tal forever?"
"No, of course not. He'll be home as soon as the Healers say he's better," Severus reassured Alby.
"But Sevvy, it's taking forever! I'm sick of waiting!" Alby whined, kicking a foot against the side of the bed.
"I know how you feel," Severus said gently. "But sometimes healing takes a long time. We just have to be patient."
Alby scowled. "Patience sucks!"
"Hey! Watch your mouth, Albus Severus!" the command came out of Severus' mouth without conscious thought, for just so had he reprimanded his students when he was a teacher.
Alby sniffled at the sudden sharp tone. "Sorry, Sevvy. I forgot. Don't be mad. Or tell Daddy. He'll make me eat soap."
"I won't. Just don't do it again, okay?" Severus relented at a tearful look from Alby's bright green eyes. Snape, since when are you such a pushover? The cynical part of himself asked. It's not my place to discipline him, he retorted. I'm his brother, not his father. And for once, the cynical side of himself had nothing to say.
"'Kay." Alby heaved a sigh that seemed to come from all the way down by his toes and yawned. "M'kinda tired now."
"Go back to sleep then."
"I need you to lay by me."
"Aww, Albus!" groaned Severus. "What for?"
"You make me feel safe."
Severus turned and stared at the smaller boy. "I do?"
"Uh huh. I'm not a'scared when you're sleeping next to me. 'Cause you're brave like Daddy. You scare away all the bad dreams."
"I do?" Severus was shocked. He never in a million years would have considered himself any kind of . . . of hero, but Albus clearly regarded him as such. He felt very humbled. "All right. Lie down," he told the little boy. There was no way he could refuse Alby after that statement.
Alby crawled back until he was almost touching Cory.
Severus then scooted over until he was next to his brother, he lay on his side, and let Alby snuggle up to his back. He felt his brother's arm go around him and heard Alby sigh happily.
"Now I can sleep," said the four-year-old. He shut his eyes and pressed his face into his big brother's shoulder. Within moments he was asleep.
Severus could feel Alby's soft breath on the back of his neck, and at first he was almost annoyed by it. But after a few moments he grew used to it and before he knew it he had dozed off. The next time he woke up the sun was out and Jinxy was calling that it was time the young masters were awake.
Severus was out of bed like a shot, before Alby could sit up. "I call the bathroom first!"
As he was heading out of the room, he heard Alby whimper, "No, Sevvy! I gotta go real bad!"
Severus froze and looked back at the dark-haired child. "You always have to go real bad, Al."
Alby squirmed. "Please, Sevvy. I don't wanna wet the bed."
"Come on then," Severus huffed.
Alby scrambled out of the bed and charged down the hall to the bathroom.
Severus sighed and leaned against the wall, waiting. Little brothers were such pains!
He waited five minutes than tapped on the door. "Alby, hurry! I have to go too!"
He heard a muffled sniffle then Alby's voice calling, "Sevvy . . .?"
"What is it now?" Severus asked exasperatedly. "Don't tell me you need help with your pajamas."
"No . . . but . . ." Alby whined. "I . . .I . . . need another pair of underwear."
"You what?" Severus pushed open the door.
Alby was standing in front of the toilet and tears were running down his cheeks. "I had an accident!" he whispered, ashamed. "I didn't mean to!" He started crying harder.
For a moment, Severus didn't know what to do or say. They hadn't exactly covered that topic in the Hogwarts Handbook for Professors. He bit his lip.
Alby was so ashamed. He hadn't had any accidents in a long time . . . months and months! Now here he was at Cory's house and he was supposed to be a big boy away from home and this happened. At home he wouldn't have minded so much, he would have gone and gotten a new pair of pants or called Harry to get them. But here he didn't know where an extra pair was and he didn't want Uncle Draco to think he was a baby that still wet his pants. He stared at the floor and bawled. "I'm sorry . . . it just came out."
Severus finally regained his voice and said, "Al, stop crying, for Merlin's sake. It's no big deal. I'll bet Cory has accidents too sometimes."
"I don't wanna be like Cory!" Alby said indignantly. "I wanna be a big boy, like you."
"Fine, then quit acting like the world just ended," Severus rolled his eyes. "Stay here, I'll try and find some underpants. Merlin's foot!" He went out of the bathroom and shut the door. Then he glanced around. He didn't know if Draco were awake yet, and didn't really want to wake him up and tell him what had happened. Alby was already mortified and Severus didn't want to be the one to spill the beans. "Now what?" he asked himself.
"Does the young master need help?" Jinxy asked, popping up beside him.
Severus jumped. "Oh! Jinxy, can you . . . err . . . find me a pair of . . . underpants? Not for me, for my little brother," he asserted quickly, lest the elf get the wrong idea. "He had a bit of an accident."
"Not a problem, young master. Jinxy will be right back." She popped off, and returned in the blink of an eye, holding a folded pair of boy's underpants.
"Thanks, Jinxy." Severus said in relief. Then he went back in the bathroom. "Here," he tossed the underpants to Alby. "Put them on and go get dressed."
Alby beamed at him. "Thanks, Sevvy! You're the bestest."
"Sure, whatever. Hurry up and get out." Severus ordered, trying not to squirm, for he still had to go.
Once Alby had pulled on his new underwear, Severus shoved him out the door. As he raced over to the toilet, he muttered, "Sometimes being a big brother sucks!"
Jinxy made pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Draco noticed that Alby seemed quiet this morning, but figured it was because he was still tired. He looked at Severus, but the child seemed calm and collected after last night's bout of homesickness. Cory was his usual bouncy self, chattering away a mile a minute inbetween bites of pancake. "Cory, don't talk with your mouth full," Draco repeated for what seemed like the hundredth time.
"Uncle Draco, can I have chocolate milk?" asked Alby. "Mummy always gives me chocolate milk to drink at home."
"Jinxy, get Master Alby some chocolate milk," Draco called.
"At once, Master Draco." Jinxy said.
"Please," Alby said.
"What?" Draco looked over at Harry's son.
"I said please. You shoulda said "please" to Jinxy," Alby reminded.
Draco looked flabbergasted. "Uh . . . well . . ."
"Daddy always tells me if I want something I have to ask nicely," Alby informed him. "An' I have to say "please and thank you". They're the magic words."
"Since when?" asked Draco.
"Since my daddy said," answered Alby.
Jinxy popped back in with the chocolate milk, handing it to Alby.
"Thank you, Jinxy." Alby said.
The elf looked startled. "You has no need to thank Jinxy, young master. 'Tis a pleasure to serve."
"Yes, I do. Daddy says so."
The elf bowed. "You are welcome, Master Alby." Then she blinked away.
"Well, I'll be a jabberwock's uncle," Draco exclaimed. "Out of the mouths of babes."
Severus hid a grin behind his hand. See, you learn something new every day, Draco.
When Draco and the boys arrived at St. Mungos, they had to wait outside Room 407 because the assistants were changing Harry's bandage. When Alby asked why they couldn't see his daddy, Draco explained that they were fixing his dad's back and needed privacy. Ginny came out too and Alby ran and hugged her tightly.
"Mummy! I had fun at Cory's but I missed you lots!" her baby said.
"I missed you too, baby!" Ginny cooed, hugging her youngest.
"Mummy! I'm not a baby!" Alby immediately protested. "I'm four!"
Ginny laughed. "You're my big little boy, Albus Severus." She kissed him on the cheek. "And you'll always be my baby."
"Now you sound like my mother! Poor kid!" Draco sniggered.
"Be quiet, you!" Ginny ordered, poking him in the arm. She set Alby down and turned to look at Severus. "Sev, how are you?"
"I'm good," he said, and then he came over and hugged her too. "I missed you too."
Ginny's arms came around him and she hugged him back, her eyes glistening with tears. "Oh, Sev! I'm so glad." It was true. For some moments last night, Ginny had lain awake fearing that Severus would like it better with Draco at Malfoy Manor and refuse to come home. Harry would have been heartbroken. "I missed you so much."
"Really and truly." Ginny assured him. Then she let him go, knowing that little boys his age didn't like to be fussed over too much.
Draco pulled Ginny aside and said, very softly, "You'll never believe this, but Severus got homesick last night. He started crying when I put him to bed with Mimic and wouldn't stop. When I asked what was wrong, he said he wanted you and Harry. He cried himself to sleep in my arms, he missed you that much."
Ginny looked like she was about to cry. "I never would have thought . . . he always seems so . . . independent . . . so much like a mini adult . . .Oh, wait till Harry hears that! It'll make his day. He so wants Severus to feel like part of the family and now . . . I think he does."
The intern stuck her head out the door at that moment. "Mrs. Potter, you can come back in now. Your husband's back is healing so rapidly, Healer Jordan thinks he might be able to come home sooner than he predicted."
Ginny smiled delightedly. "That's fantastic! When does he think Harry will be released?"
"A day sooner than the end of the week, if he keeps mending like this," answered the intern. "I must say, I've never seen burns like this heal so rapidly even with magic. It's remarkable! It's too bad Severus Snape weren't around to see how well his salve worked. It's one of the best medical inventions of the century!"
"I'm sure he'd be very proud," Ginny said, then she winked at Severus, who was blushing. She pushed open the door and went into Harry's room. "Harry, look who's here."
Harry was sitting up in a recliner, wearing a crimson robe over his hospital gown and slippers. Before he could say anything, Severus suddenly pushed past Ginny and practically jumped into Harry's lap. At the last second he recalled that Harry was still injured and skidded to a halt, then threw his arms about Harry's middle.
An astonished Harry could think of nothing to say except, "Miss me, Sev?"
"Yes. I missed you a lot," was all Severus answered. He buried his nose into Harry's middle, reveling in the familiar scents of Aqua Velva shave cream and chocolate chips and cinnamon. Harry always smelled good, sometimes good enough to eat, given his penchant for sweets.
Harry reached down and lifted Severus onto his lap, cuddling his ward against him. "I missed you too, Sevvy. All the way to the moon and back." He noticed that Severus smelled like pancakes, syrup, and mint.
Severus then recalled the picture he'd drawn and he rummaged in his pocket. "I drew this for you, Harry," he said, holding it out for Harry to see.
Harry examined the drawing closely and said, "That's a wicked picture, Sev. You're quite an artist."
"Not as good as Astoria," Severus said.
"You're good enough for me. I can't even draw stick figures," Harry chuckled. He put the picture on the wall with the others from concerned children. "Did you have a good time?"
"Yes, but I'm glad to be home."
Harry felt a warm glow spread through him at Severus' words. For the first time since coming through the Veil, Severus had admitted that he considered the Godric's Hollow house his home. Harry wanted to broadcast his happiness to the world. Severus had finally accepted he belonged with the Potters.
Alby came running into the room, yelling, "Daddy! Daddy! Are you all better yet?" He swarmed over Harry.
"Hey, take it easy!" Harry said gently. "I'm not going anywhere, Alby." He picked up Alby and put him on his opposite knee.
Severus suddenly slipped down, letting Alby have some time with Harry.
"What did you do over there?" asked Harry curiously.
Alby began to tell his father all about playing in the playroom and digging for buried treasure and hunting for frogs and newts, then getting chased by Lucifer.
"Sounds like you had quite the adventure, buddy," Harry laughed. "Maybe we'll have to have Cory over next time."
"Yeah!" Alby shouted. "Cory! Daddy says you can come over my house some time."
"Cool! Hi, Uncle Harry!" Cory cried, then he too ran across the room to see Harry.
"Hello, Cory. Looks like you had fun with your cousins." Harry said, rumpling his hair.
"Loads of fun. Can they come back again?" Cory asked, then he got down and went over to look at the drawings.
"We'll see," Harry smirked. He turned to look at Draco. "I take it they behaved?"
"What do you think, Potter?" snorted Draco.
Harry laughed. "Well, at least you survived."
"You're a riot, Potter." Draco coughed. Then he leaned in close and told Harry what had happened last night.
There were no words Harry could use to describe how great Draco's news was. He had been so afraid that Severus would reject him in favor of Draco, his former student and godson. Now it appeared that not only did he not want Draco, but that he had missed Harry too! Harry felt so happy that he just wanted to hug Severus and never let go.
Draco, sensing that Harry wished to be alone with his family, gathered up Cory and said, "We've got to be going. I have a few errands to do before Tori and Mother comes home. Cory, say goodbye."
After the two Malfoys had gone, Alby said, "Mum, I'm bored in here. There's nothing to do."
Ginny could understand that and so she suggested, "Let's take a walk around, Al. We can look at the fish and go to the gift shop."
Alby brightened. "Can we get some candy for Daddy? And some for us too?"
"I think your dad has enough candy," Ginny said, looking at all the gift baskets on the table. "But maybe we could get him something else."
"I don't know. Why don't we go and see?"
Alby took her hand and followed her out the door, skipping a little.
Once the door had shut behind them, Severus went back and leaned against Harry's knee. He stifled a yawn.
"Tired, Sevvy?" Harry asked, running his hand through the silky dark locks.
"Mmmhmm," Severus yawned again. "I woke up too early."
"Ah. Couldn't sleep?" Harry asked knowingly. He drew Severus onto his lap so the boy could snuggle against him.
Severus nestled into Harry's chest and murmured, "Not . . . at first." It was the closest he would come to admitting he had cried like a little baby.
"I was like that too my first night away at Hogwarts," Harry said.
Severus stared up at him. "You missed Privet Drive?" he exclaimed. Why on earth Harry would have missed that hellhole he couldn't fathom.
"Hell, no. I was just so excited that I couldn't fall asleep," Harry clarified. "I kept thinking about how different everything was and finally I fell asleep in the wee hours of the morning."
"Oh." Now that made more sense. "I fell asleep with Alby, but then Jinxy woke us up at eight and I had to help Alby, he . . ." Severus hesitated, not sure whether to reveal what had happened with Alby to Harry. Then he decided it was all right if Harry knew, Harry had probably been through it before. " . . . had an accident and I had to ask Jinxy to get me some new underpants."
"You did?" Harry's eyebrow went up. "Draco didn't mention that."
"He didn't know. Alby was crying, he was embarrassed, so I figured I wouldn't tell Draco about it. But it's all right if you know, since you're his dad."
Harry felt his lips twitch. "Yeah, I've been there and done that. One time he was sleeping in my bed, inbetween me and Ginny and he wet while he was asleep. That wasn't a pleasant surprise to wake up to." He grimaced. "But he's getting better. You're a good big brother, Severus."
"I try," the five-year-old said, sounding rather put out. He nestled further into Harry's arms. "I can't wait till you can go home."
"Me too. I'm sick of staring at these four walls half the time," Harry said feelingly. "Thank goodness your burn salve worked so well."
"Did you think it wouldn't?"
"No. You're the one who's a genius with potions. I'm going to petition the Medical Board to patent that salve under your name. As well as any other potions you have that need to be recognized."
Severus smiled. It was nice to be appreciated for all of his hours of hard work. "That's good." Then he yawned again and closed his eyes. "You make a good pillow, Harry."
He could feel Harry's soft laugh and then the older wizard said, "Thanks. I think."
Severus smirked and allowed himself to slip away into dreamland, He was exhausted emotionally, but now he could rest, for he was where he belonged at last.
Harry smiled down at the sleeping little boy and thought about how far Severus had come from the day he'd returned from the Veil. "I'm glad you're here with me," he whispered, then he decided to take a nap as well. Sleep was the best healer.
When Ginny and Alby returned some fifteen minutes later, bringing a jigsaw puzzle and a jar of nuts with them, they found Harry and Severus fast asleep.
"Aww, why are they sleeping, Mummy?" Alby groaned, looking disappointed. "It's morning time!"
"I know, sweetie, but your daddy needs rest to heal and I think Sevvy didn't sleep too well either," Ginny consoled him. "We can start the puzzle ourselves."
Alby smiled. "Yay! I can sort out the straight ends." He said, waiting for her to open the box. The puzzle was one with a potions lab with students brewing and lots of ingredients in colorful bottles. Alby had picked it out.
As Ginny helped her youngest sort through the pieces, she kept stealing glances at Harry and Severus and couldn't resist pulling her camera out of her purse and snapping a picture. There! The first picture for their new family album. She hoped there would be many more.
Harry was discharged from the hospital on Friday. Healer Jordan had instructed him to apply the burn salve for another week, just to make certain there was no scarring. Harry had a long discussion with Healer Jordan and got the ball rolling to authorize Severus' burn salve and patent it in his name. After signing a few forms, he also had the Healer, who was Head of Wound Research, agree to patent a few more of Severus' formulas, once Harry made sure the recipes were complete and removed them from his vault. The Healer was quite eager to get his hands on any new formula Snape had created, but Harry would let Severus examine them first before sending any over to the hospital.
When they finally arrived at Godric's Hollow, Harry discovered there was an impromptu party given by his in-laws to welcome him home. It was just the Weasleys, and Molly had made some of his favorite foods, enough so Ginny wouldn't have to cook over the weekend and the couple could have some peace and quiet after the ordeal they had been through. Harry generously handed out candy to everyone from his gift baskets, and gave some flowers to Molly, Hermione, and Fleur.
After both boys had been given baths and put to bed for the night, Ginny and Harry relaxed in the den, curled up together on the comfy leather sofa. "Welcome home, love," she said, hugging him. "I'm glad to have you back where you belong. " She planted a kiss on his mouth.
"And I can't tell you how glad I am to be back," Harry murmured, returning the kiss with interest. "You know, you didn't have to throw me a party."
"It wasn't my idea. It was Mum's," Ginny replied, curling up in Harry's lap. She sighed and rested her head against Harry's shoulder. "I can't believe it's the beginning of June already."
"Time flies, Gin." Harry said, picking up a cup of tea and drinking it. "I've been thinking . . . we haven't gone on a family vacation since Alby was two. Remember last year, we were going to go to Bordeaux and then you got sick with a virus."
"Yes, and then I gave it to you and Alby," Ginny said. "Maybe we should plan a vacation this year."
"I'd like to go somewhere local this year." Harry mused.
"How about we go to the seashore in Devon?" Ginny suggested. "It's nice and homey and I think Alby and Sevvy would like it. We could rent a house on the beach and there's that wildlife sanctuary nearby to visit and Smuggler's Cove. Alby would love learning about the smuggling trade and visiting the sanctuary."
"Alby and his animals," Harry chuckled. "When he's old enough, maybe we should get a cat or dog for him."
"Yes, but not just yet. I have enough to handle with my new five-year-old, I don't need a pet added in," Ginny said.
"Next year, maybe," Harry said agreeably. He began to play with her hair, running his hands through it and curling it around his fingers. He buried his face in it and sniffed appreciatively. "Mmm . . . smells like apples."
"Harry!" she giggled and then swatted the back of his head playfully. "Stop that! You haven't answered my question. What do you think about going to Devon?"
"I think . . . it's a great idea and we should find a house as soon as possible. We could go down next week, or the week after, before all the tourists from London and Surrey invade the place and it gets all hot and crowded." Harry answered, nibbling seductively on her ear. "But right now all I want to think about is you, sweetheart."
Ginny gasped with pleasure. "Harry James, you are such a . . . a . . ."
"A wonderful husband?" he supplied, smirking. "One that can't wait to drag you off to bed and show you just how much I missed you."
She turned her head and grinned back at him. "You poor deprived thing!" she purred, her hair crackling about her head like a halo.
"Uh huh. I'm starved for attention, honey," he said, giving her a pleading look from beneath his lashes.
"I think I can fix that," she chuckled wickedly, and slipped from his lap. She grabbed his hand and tugged him to his feet. "Come on, Mr. Deprived, Hot, and Sexy. Now that the kids are asleep and there's no nosy interns or mediwitchs around we can have our own kind of welcome home party."
Harry swiftly followed her up the stairs and into their bedroom, locking the door behind them. He couldn't wait to get this party started.
A/N: So who liked the cuddle moment between Harry and Sev? And the scenes with Severus and Alby?
Thanks to everyone for supporting me during this difficult time. My mom suggested the parts in this chapter with the drawing and brotherly bonding.
Next: More fun with the Potters at the seashore! Should they also meet up with the Lupins while they are there?
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