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Severus Snape knew many things, not that he was one to brag about his knowledge. He knew how each and every ingredient would react to another or to any outside stimulus whether that be heat or a stirring rod. He knew how to brew the most complicated of potions without so much as a glance at the recipe no matter how long ago he’d first seen it. He knew how to fight and how to create spells to end the fights quickly. He knew how to deceive even the most paranoid of people. He knew that he should never have agreed to become a teacher and, above all else, he knew that Petunia Dursley nee Evans should never be allowed within a hundred feet of a magical child.

For the first year and a half after the Potters met their unfortunate end, Severus couldn’t bring himself to care where their brat had ended up, though the rest of the magical community demanded answers as he allowed himself to remain mired in his grief. He’d been content to remain that way as well until Minerva had started on Dumbledore at breakfast.

That morning had been the first time in a week that Severus had made it out of his quarters to eat with the rest of the staff that had remained over the summer or that were there for some reason that he didn’t know and didn’t care to know. Severus ate in silence as Minerva spoke with Poppy and Filius, the latter regaling them with tales of his latest dueling tournament and the grievous errors his opponents had made until one Albus Dumbledore strode in and blinded them all with his...unfortunate..robes.

“Good morning everyone!” he greeted, entirely too happy for Severus’ tastes no matter what time of day it was. He returned to at least appearing to read his potions magazine to avoid having to speak.

“Good morning,” the others replied and the meal continued peacefully...until Minerva suddenly turned to Dumbledore and asked, “Do you have any updates on how Harry is faring?” Dumbledore stiffened, caught off guard by the sudden question.

“Of course, my dear,” he replied once he had swallowed his food, “I received an update from his family just this morning, he’s settling in well.”

“He’s lying.” Severus thought, spotting the way the elder wizard reached for his napkin as he spoke, using the cloth to wipe at, and consequently cover, his mouth as he said the last few words.

“I can’t imagine him settling in well with those people,” Minerva muttered, not even looking at the headmaster.

“Now Minerva, you saw how they treated their own son,” Albus chided, taking on the calming tone he used with anyone who ever thought to question him, “why wouldn’t they treat their nephew the same? He is family, after all, they treat him like a prince!”

By now, alarm bells were going off. Severus knew for a fact that Potter didn’t have any siblings which meant that, unless the idiot had been lying, Dumbledore had left a young child in the care of the woman who had been abusive to her own sister since their childhood.

“Freak! You’re a freak, Lily!” that screeching voice echoed through Severus’ memories, high pitched and childish but no less caustic. Petunia Evans would never treat Lily’s child like a prince, not unless she was under some sort of compulsion and he highly doubted that was the case.

“Do you really want that boy to end up like their son?” Minerva asked caustically, “Their child has already been spoiled beyond belief!”

“He’s fine, Minerva,” Albus said soothingly, though Severus didn’t miss the quick glance in his direction to make sure he wasn’t really paying any attention to the conversation, “Arabella Figg lives just down the street, she sends me regular updates on young Harry’s life.”

“If you’re certain, Albus…” Minerva sighed, obviously not believing the man but willing to trust him to do what was best for the boy.

“Of course I am, he’s in the best hands,” Dumbledore said happily and that was that.

Later, heading back down to the dungeons, Severus fought to keep his mask in place as suspicion gnawed away at him. Arabella Figg was an elderly squib with more cats than she could handle and the inability to see more than two feet in front of her face. There was absolutely no way she could give any sort of accurate report on the child’s life. But this was Albus Dumbledore...he wouldn’t deliberately place a child as important to their society as Harry Potter in a situation where he’d be mistreated...would he?

Unbidden, memories of his own pleas to remain at the school during holidays rose to the surface.

“Now I’m sure you’re just exaggerating, my boy. Your father loves you, surely he deserves more than accusations on your end?”

Severus hated the creepy twinkle that appeared in the old headmaster’s eyes any time he thought he had convinced someone to do things his way, especially when it was directed at him.

Of course, Harry Potter was much more important than Severus Snape had ever been, especially to the headmaster, so surely the old coot would never allow something as awful as the potions master’s childhood to happen to the Boy-Who-Lived. With this in mind, the man when down to his personal lab, intending to brew all his worries away, as he usually did.

Halfway through bottling a simple fever reducer, Severus felt a tug on something deep inside him. He knew the feeling, it was an odd thing that occurred at least four times a day, a weird sensation he usually ignored since he connected it with the guilt and self-hatred he fought against all the time. This time though, it, almost painful and undoubtedly urgent.

...similar to the Dark Lord’s call…” he realized, setting his potion aside. Alarm shot through him at that thought.

A less cautious man would have merely followed the tugging out of curiosity. A more fanatic follower of the Dark Lord would have gone immediately in case it was their master calling for them. Severus was neither of these.

He left his lab and took a seat in his sitting room. Closing his eyes, Severus turned his gaze inward and searched out his magical core. It took very little time at all to find the ball of magic, a swirling mass of deep blue that pulsed and glowed. Two strands of foreign magic connected to his own. One was the familiar blood-red strand belonging to the Dark Lord himself that had faded almost completely out of existence. The other strand was one he often forced himself not to think about, the sickly yellow thing that was his oath to protect the Potter child...or it had been. He was almost jolted out of his meditation in shock as he found the odd yellow belonging to the headmaster had vanished, replaced by deep, emerald green that pulsed rapidly.

Severus stood abruptly and grabbed his cloak, making sure he had his wand and potions pouch before flooing to Spinner’s End, no longer able to ignore the tugging sensation. Something was obviously very wrong with the child for him to have overridden the headmaster’s magic with his own. Praying that he wasn’t about to stumble upon a murder scene, Severus focused on the bond and apparated away.

Boy didn’t feel good. Of course, he never felt good, but now he really reeaaaallyyy didn’t feel good. He didn’t tell anyone though, just kept cleaning the bathroom as he’d been ordered. Aunt Petunia told him to always stay very very quiet or he’d never be a good boy so he kept his mouth shut.

“Mummy!” Dudley screeched from downstairs in the living room, “Mummy! Want pudding!”

“Of course, Sweetums!” Aunt Petunia replied, “You can have all the pudding you want for being such a good boy!”

Boy wasn’t surprised. Dudley always wanted pudding and he always got what he wanted. Boy didn’t understand why Dudley was a good boy to Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon, he always yelled and demanded more food, crying when he was hurt or dirty, and he couldn’t even use the toilet yet even though he was now three years old. Boy knew that if he tried to act like his cousin, he’d be shut away in his cupboard for a really really long time. He knew because he’d tried it once, telling his uncle no and proceeding to throw an impressive tantrum. That was the first time the man had hit him. The blow had thrown him into the nearest wall, pain making his screeching cries even louder than before which had irritated Vernon to the point that he just shoved him into the cupboard and locked the door.

“Mummyyyyyy!” Dudley whined, Boy had no idea what he was on about this time but he hoped that his cousin wasn’t blaming him for whatever it was. He wouldn’t defend himself though if Dudley was blaming him for something. He was just Boy after all.

As Boy cleaned the bathtub, he thought about the nice dream he’d been having before he was forced awake by Aunt Petunia banging on his door. It was all fuzzy but he thought he could remember a beautiful lady speaking to him. He could still hear her voice in his mind,

“Hold on, love. Be strong.”

Boy had felt safe and warm for a moment, as though the lady was hugging him. That was how he'd known it was a dream. Aunt Petunia said that no one wanted to touch freaks like him because it might rub off on them. She'd also told him that awful, freaky little boys didn't get a mummy or a daddy so he should be grateful he had an aunt and an uncle willing to take care of him. He supposed that made sense. 

Boy coughed, leaning away and trying to get the strong scent of the cleaner he was using out of his nose and lungs. Aunt Petunia said the store bought stuff was too watered down so she made her own, somehow managing to make something that reeked of bleach and lemons. The use of the concoction always left Boy coughing and feeling lightheaded and that day was no different, possibly worse than it had ever been before since his eyes were so blurry and it kept getting dark around the edges. Maybe it was that there was more bleach in this batch...or maybe it was because Boy’s tummy was angry at him for not being good enough to eat anything that entire week...he wasn’t sure.


“Boy!” Aunt Petunia yelled, “Get down here and clean up this mess before Vernon gets home!”


“But I didn’t do it.” Boy thought sadly even as he quickly left the bathroom to do as he’d been told.


He made it to the top of the stairs before his vision went black around the edges again. Boy, already woozy and unstable, managed to trip over the ends of the too-long and much too large pair of jeans he wore, sending him careening into the open air for a moment before his entire body lit up in pain as he tumbled down the stairs.


For a moment, Boy heard Aunt Petunia screeching angrily at him, though it sounded like he was underwater so he couldn’t really make out what she was saying before everything went black.


Chapter Text

Severus apparated into a nice, ordinary neighborhood and looked around. It was...boring. The kind of place where the hedges were never high enough to block out the nosiness of the neighbors and everyone knew everyone else’s business whether they were meant to know or not. Even if Severus had apparated into this place without knowing who he was looking for, he would have known without a shadow of a doubt that this place housed one Petunia Dursley.

He took a moment to study the house he was being led to, noting the heaviness of the wards before he got anywhere near them. Severus frowned, he wasn’t a wardmaster or a curse-breaker but he knew for a fact that protective wards were not supposed to feel like that at all.

“I’ll have to see abou-” all thoughts of having the wards checked by someone proficient in that area stopped as an unholy shriek split the air. A moment later, the tugging sensation escalated into an almost violent yanking that had Severus running forward and blasting the door open. He stopped dead in his tracks to take in the scene before him.

There was a small pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs and from there a trail led a little way down the hall to where Petunia stood.The woman was still shrieking nonsensical things as loud as she possibly could while she held the wrist of a limp, unconscious toddler in one claw-like hand, poised to throw the child into the boot cupboard.

“What in Merlin’s name do you think you’re doing?!” Severus barked, stalking forward furiously.

“You?!” Petunia gasped, releasing the child in her shock.

“Move,” he growled, rushing forward to gently turn Harry over so that he could assess the damage.

“We don’t want your kind here!” Petunia snapped, finally coming back to herself, “Your Professor Dumbledore promised that if we took the boy in we’d never see another one of you freaks!”

“Oh he did, did he?” Severus replied, not really paying any attention to the woman.

When Severus had first realized that Dumbledore had placed Harry with Petunia, he had expected some manner of verbal abuse, similar to what the woman had done to Lily all those years ago, nothing had prepared him for such neglect. Before he even touched the toddler, he could feel the heat coming off him in waves from a fever that was much too high. The boy was too small and far too thin for his age but his injuries didn’t seem as bad as he had feared upon entering the scene. It didn’t look like any of his bones were broken, though he wouldn’t know for sure until he either got the child to a healer or did the scans himself. The blood, though the amount Harry had lost had seemed daunting at first, appeared to have come from the child’s nose and a cut near his hairline that was, hopefully, not severe.

“Well?” Petunia ground out, “Is the brat going to live?”

“With the proper care, young Mr.Potter should be fine.” Severus answered distractedly, carefully making sure that the woman hadn’t ripped the boy’s arm out of the socket with how she’d handled him earlier.

“Proper care?!” Petunia shrieked indignantly, “He’s enough work as it is without adding an illness to make him lazy! Dumbledore said we could raise him as we wished!”

That got Severus’ attention. He lifted the too-light child into his arms carefully and stood to his full, intimidating height before pinning the sad excuse for a woman under his onyx gaze.

“I’m not so cruel as to leave this child in your...excellent care,” he informed her, voice deceptively calm. She completely missed the tone he’d used and relaxed as she realized that the utterly abnormal child would soon be gone. Because of this, it took very little effort for the man to slip into her mind and even less effort to stay there once she realized what was happening and attempted to fight.

Severus watched Petunia’s memories of the cold November morning she’d found Harry on her doorstep with a note from Dumbledore and went forward from there. He saw every chore, every harsh word, every meal withheld, every unnecessary punishment, every single moment of the little boy’s life...until he came across a memory with one Albus Dumbledore in the flesh.


“Now, Petunia, I told you and your husband to teach the child humility, to make sure he knows that he isn’t anything special and I will admit that in that regard, you have done a marvelous job.” The headmaster said, eyes twinkling.

Then why are you here?” Petunia asked sharply, looking anywhere but the old man’s face.

“I am here because the wards and the monitoring charms I placed on the boy needed to be strengthened. You, Vernon, cannot beat the boy as often as you do or one day his magic will react and the backlash could cause significant damage to your home or your persons.” Dumbledore informed them, “Other than that, I do not care how you treat him.”

“We’ll keep that in mind,” Petunia promised, while Vernon merely went purple with his annoyance at being told what to do. “If that’s all…?”

“Yes, yes. I’ll be off.” Dumbledore said happily, standing and moving to the doorway before pausing to look back, “Oh, I do like how the child doesn’t even know his own name, that is quite ingenious of you.”


“He doesn’t even know his own name?”

Severus felt sick as he let that memory go and began looking through other, more recent ones, searching for any sign of when Harry had last been allowed to eat. Finally, he ripped himself out of the woman’s mind, taking pleasure from the cry of pain she let out.

“No wonder you passed out,” he murmured to the unconscious boy in his arms. The last time he’d seen Harry eat anything in the memories was almost a month ago and that had only been some dry toast and a small orange.

“WHAT DID YOU JUST DO, YOU FREAK?!” Petunia screeched, still clutching her head in pain.

“Nothing permanent or damaging, unfortunately,” Severus said icily, “I’ll be taking Harry now, not that you’ll remember that. Obliviate!

More carefully than he’d have liked, Severus erased his visit from Petunia’s mind and painstakingly replaced the memories with new ones of Harry falling down the stairs, at which point, she had panicked, not even checking if her nephew was dead or alive before putting him in a trash sack and putting him in the bin, to be picked up in the morning, never to be seen or heard from again.

Severus finished with the woman’s mind and disillusioned himself before erasing any sign of his magical signature and walking out of the house. The monitoring charms he moved from Harry to a beetle he saw in the park as he walked past, knowing that the creature probably wouldn’t live for more than a week after and giving him at least a small amount of time to get both himself and Harry hidden away before Dumbledore realized the child was missing.

With that, Severus apparated away, already going through a list of diagnostic spells in his head and wondering who he could trust if his charge needed more extensive healing than he was able to provide alone. 

Boy knew he was dreaming the second he was sure he felt someone’s warm, comforting arms wrap tightly around him, like the dream he’d been shaken from that morning. He was a tiny bit worried of course, if he was dreaming then that meant he was sleeping in the middle of the day and not doing his chores...Uncle Vernon was going to kill him for that...maybe if he got up and rushed through the rest of them no one would notice?

“Hush, Little One.” a voice whispered, echoing through his mind, “Hush, you’re safe now.”

Safe? Boy hardly dared to believe he could ever be safe but the was warm and soothing, so unlike the gruffness of his uncle’s voice or the sickly sweet feel of the odd old man’s voice.

“It’s okay, you’ll be okay. I’ve got you.”

Against all of the instincts that were screaming at him, Boy found himself relaxing again, worries about chores fading as the darkness melted away to reveal the night sky, cars and houses rushing by below while Boy watched in wonder from the back of a flying motorbike. 

Severus laid Harry down on his bed and immediately began casting what diagnostic charms he knew, having to use his occlumency barriers to keep his rage in check at the list of injuries that came up on the tests. Only the fact that the tiny boy on his bed needed help urgently kept Severus from stalking back there and showing the Dursleys exactly why he’d been feared as even among the other Death Eaters. One thing was certain though, he couldn’t heal all of this alone...but he also couldn’t risk taking Harry to St. Mungos or to Hogwarts because the healers would be required by law to report to his legal guardians.

“I only know one healer…”

For the first time, Severus bemoaned his solitary ways. Perhaps if he was more social he would know more than one healer he could even consider trusting with his new ward. Of course, he didn’t think anyone would actually harm Harry, children were precious after all, but he didn’t want to risk putting the child into another situation where someone wanted to use him for their own reasons like Dumbledore did.

The sound of the floo going off froze the potions master in place for a moment, visions of an enraged Dumbledore yelling at him through the fire flitting through his head before he heard footsteps and pushed that aside. There was only one person who had full floo access to his house. It seemed the decision had been made for him.

“Severus? Are you home?” Lucius Malfoy called,

“I’m in my bedroom, Lucius.” Severus replied, “Feel free to come through.” Mentally, he prayed to anyone listening, hoping his friend would be understanding and helpful in this situation.

“My apologies for not calling ahead,” the blond aristocrat said as he made his way to him, “but you missed lunch and Narcissa-” his voice caught in his throat as he entered his friend’s room.

“As you can see, I had a reason to miss,” Severus said carefully,

“Yes…who’s this?” Lucius agreed, staring at the small, beaten boy that seemed even smaller on the large bed.

“Harry...I was actually…Lucius, would Narcissa be able to…” It was a testament to how worried the man was, that the normally well-spoken Severus Snape could not seem to force a full sentence out of his mouth.

“Of course, I believe she would be shouting at us for taking so long. I can apparate us straight into my manor if you’ll allow?”

“Thank you,” Severus said sincerely, moving to gently lift the tiny boy once again. Lucius didn’t answer, merely offered his arm and waited for the other man to adjust his wards to allow them to leave.

Upon arriving, Lucius sent for his wife, telling the house elf that he didn’t care what she was doing at that moment, Narcissa was needed in the bedroom next to Severus’. The other man didn’t hear a word he said, staring down in awe at the big, almost unnaturally green eyes staring up at him in pain and confusion.

Boy couldn’t really see the person whose warm embrace threatened to pull him back down into the peaceful darkness he’d finally forced himself to leave. He could make out long black hair and pale skin but everything else was far too blurry. As Boy became more aware of his surroundings, he also realized that he was in pain. Had Uncle Vernon beaten him again and dumped him somewhere like he always threatened?

Above him, the dark haired figure was saying something soothingly but Boy couldn’t make out any individual words. He found, however, that the calm, deep voice was just as comforting as the strong arms holding him.

“You’re safe.”

Boy didn’t know whose voice that was, it was clearer than the voice that had been coming from the dark figure but just as smooth.

“Rest, now. You’re safe.”

Boy decided to obey the order, seeing no use in staying awake when he hurt so badly. He shut his eyes and snuggled into the warmth surrounding him.

Chapter Text

Severus couldn’t believe his eyes when Harry, who hadn’t even properly met him yet, snuggled into his arms as much as he could and either went back to sleep or fell unconscious once more. The child was far too pure, too trusting, too innocent. How could anyone raise a hand against him?

“Severus? You need to put him down so Cissa can examine him.” Lucius prodded gently, amusement flaring briefly as he recognized the look on the other man’s face. He’d felt something similar when he’d held Draco for the first time.

“Right. Of course.” The potions master placed Harry on the bed and stepped aside.

Narcissa gasped at the state of the boy but went to work without a word.

Severus watched anxiously as the woman read through Harry’s medical history, anger building in her gaze even as she noticeably paled.

“Severus, while I work on healing the immediate problems, ready the infant-safe doses of fever reducer, blood replenisher, and skele-gro.” Narcissa snapped out, “Lucius, be ready to support me if I need to draw on your magic.”

“Alright.” Lucius agreed as Severus began readying the necessary potions.

The next three hours were a blur for all three adults as they worked tirelessly to heal the child lying so still on the bed. They were lucky that none of his bones were broken, though Narcissa recommended giving him small doses of Skele-gro to attempt to strengthen all of his bones, something she would monitor for a while. If they didn’t strengthen as much as she wanted, it would be better to just remove the bones and regrow them so that Harry wouldn’t have to be as careful as he got older. The main issue from his fall down the stairs was the exacerbation of pre-existing damage to the toddler’s internal organs, causing what would have been fatal internal bleeding had Severus not shown up and removed him from the Dursley household when he did.

“Alright, Severus, I would recommend you give him a small dose of sleeping draught...actually, maybe a miniscule amount of dreamless sleep would be best for the poor dear,” Narcissa said, sitting tiredly in a chair near the bed.

“Will he be alright?” Lucius asked quietly while his friend carefully administered the potion in an oral syringe and made sure the toddler swallowed it.

“Yes,” his wife replied immediately, “Young Mr.Potter has a long road ahead of him but I expect he will make a full recovery in time. He will need a great deal of love and support but he has proved to be strong enough to pull through worse ailments if the stories are to be believed.”

“That is a great relief. Wherever did you find the boy, Severus?”

“You should refrain from calling him that when he wakes,” the potions master replied, taking a seat on the bed near the child’s head, “from what I was able to procure from his vile relative’s head, he believes that to be his name.” The Malfoys blanched,

“He what?” Narcissa gasped and Severus nodded,

“Yes, it seems that Dumbledore, in his all his infinite wisdom, decided that young Harry would be best suited to the life of a house elf with Lily’s muggle sister and her family.”

“Muggles?” Lucius repeated in disbelief, “The old fool sent the heir to an Ancient and Noble house to live with muggles?”

“He ordered them to treat him this way.” Severus admitted, “I need to take him to the goblins when he is able to travel and check to see if their scans can find any blocks or binds placed on him since ours did not and a memory I found in Petunia’s head suggests otherwise.”

“That man...I’ve never understood how you can tolerate working for him, Severus,” Narcissa said, glaring angrily at the floor.

“I have wondered why you would continue to put up with him...surely he knows you despise teaching?”

Severus didn’t respond for a long while, staring down at the toddler beside him as he thought. He could make enough money from his potions to support himself, he knew that from all of the calculations he made each time Dumbledore pushed him to his limit. Would he be able to support a child as well? He very well couldn’t take in this toddler and be away at Hogwarts most of the year...was he even prepared to adopt a child should he leave Hogwarts? That kind of decision was one he couldn’t make lightly...but...if he was to quit working at the school, his income would be enough to support both himself and another person…

“Lucius, when is the next Wizengamot meeting?” he asked suddenly, not lifting his gaze from Harry’s peaceful face,

“Tomorrow, starting at nine o’clock, why?”

“Dumbledore will be in attendance, as is required of the chief warlock. I believe that will be the best time to deliver my resignation and clear out my quarters since I do not wish to run afoul of any...emotional farewells.”

“I’m glad you’re escaping his clutches, my friend.” Lucius said, standing and clasping Severus’ shoulder, “It’s about time you lived your own life and not one he planned.”

“You’re one to talk, Lucius. Didn’t your father plan your life out for you?”

“Now boys, I believe we should take the banter out of the room so that Harry can sleep peacefully.” Narcissa chided, though amusement shone in her eyes. Severus frowned,

“No, I believe I will stay here for the night. I don’t want to know how poorly he would react to waking alone in a strange dark room.”

“But Severus, Harry shouldn’t wake until tomorrow morning at the earliest…” Narcissa protested.

“It’s fine, Cissa,” Lucius said, gently pulling his wife to her feet, “A house elf will bring you supper. Eat and at least try and get some rest, Severus. Harry will be fine now that he’s here.”

“Thank you,” Severus said quietly.

After a hearty meal, brought by a house elf that thankfully knew not to do too much blubbering, Severus decided an early night would be the most beneficial. He honestly tried to rest, sitting there in silence beside the sleeping toddler, but Severus couldn’t seem to close his eyes for more than a minute before he had to open them again and make sure Harry was still calm, still breathing easily. He eventually moved the chair and summoned the draft of his resignation from the room next door, set to finalize the document and get some sleep once he was finished. Unfortunately, between worrying over the toddler’s health and forcing himself to focus on his writing, the man didn’t get to sleep until around three in the morning. 

Boy was playing in the park all by himself and having the time of his life. He’d never actually been to the park before but he’d heard Dudley yell about it, pointing to an ad on the tv for a set of swings. So far, those were what he liked the best, but the slide was great too.

“Hello there,” a voice said suddenly, breaking the peace and quiet, “Aren’t you lonely all by yourself?”

Boy looked up and offered a small smile to the tall man who’d appeared in front of him before shyly shaking his head. He had lots of fun by himself, no one was there to hurt him.

“Well, would you like me to push you on the swings so you can fly like a bird?” Boy considered the man for a long moment. He looked nothing like his relatives. The man wasn’t blonde or monstrously fat, he didn’t have a horse-face or beady eyes or claw-like fingers. His neck was normal length, his dark brown eyes were kind and understanding and he showed no signs of hating him for sitting there...surely that meant he was alright to give him a little push on the swings?

He nodded cautiously and was rewarded with a kind smile that felt almost familiar somehow.

“Alright then, I promise I won’t push too hard. Tell me if it’s too high?”

Boy nodded again though he wasn’t sure how he was supposed to tell the man if he was up too high...was he allowed to speak? Aunt Petunia said his voice was painful to hear and he didn’t want to hurt the nice man but...maybe it wouldn’t hurt him?

“You can speak if you want to, Little One,” the man informed him quietly as he moved to stand behind him, “I promise your voice will do me no harm. Now, hold on tight.”

The first touch had Boy flinching away, tensing in anticipation of pain that didn’t come as he merely swung forward and came right back. The man pushed him again and again there was no pain. No pain came on the next push either...or the one after that. Finally, Boy relaxed and smiled as the sky seemed to come closer and closer with every push. 

Severus woke at eight in the morning, much later than usual but he’d set his alarm to tell him when to give Harry another dose of the potions he was on instead of setting it to wake him as usual. He had just finished a quick breakfast, brought by a house elf of course, when Narcissa appeared in the doorway.

“Good morning, Severus,” she greeted, eyeing him suspiciously, “I do hope you got some sleep?”

“Good morning,” Severus replied, “I did, thank you. Harry’s had his morning potions already, including a nutrient potion since he isn’t quite up to waking and eating anything yet.”

“He won’t be for a while, his magic had spent quite a lot of time keeping him alive so it’s readjusting and replenishing itself while he sleeps. Go get ready for the day, I won’t leave his side.” Severus nodded and made his way to the door but stopped, frowning,

“What about Draco?” he asked.

“Don’t worry, he’s away with the Zabini’s for a play date. I thought he would be a bit much for Harry to handle at the moment.” Narcissa reassured him, “Go on and get this morning’s chores finished.”

Severus sighed but obeyed and found himself in Hogwarts’ eerily silent halls by nine fifteen. He stalked down to the dungeon, mildly surprised to find nostalgia welling up in his chest. He’d only been a teacher for a few years and Merlin knows he’d hated every second of it but...he did worry who would take over as head of Slytherin house once he was gone. Whoever it was, he hoped they would treat his snakes well and support them since no one else would.

It took all of thirty minutes to pack up his quarters, magic speeding the process along. Another forty-five minutes went to clearing his personal lab since he took considerable care with each of the glass bottles and delicate instruments he used. Once that was over, Severus found that he didn’t really want to travel all the way up to the headmaster’s office so he walked to the entrance hall and called for a house elf.

“Yes sirs?” the elf asked politely,

“Take this letter to the headmaster’s office and leave it somewhere on his desk.” he instructed, “that will be all.”

“Right away, Sirs!”

As the elf popped off to do his job, Severus felt an enormous weight lift from him, allowing him to breathe easier than he had in years. He walked away from the school, only glancing back once he reached the edge of the wards to bid a silent farewell to the place he had once called home before apparating away.

Severus first went to his own house to put everything he had taken from his quarters away and to adjust his wards so that Dumbledore and any and all members of the Order were blocked from entering. He also blocked floo contact of any sort from the same group but kept on guard until he completely closed the wards down and flooed back to Malfoy Manor.

Armed with a few books and his own potions journal, Severus headed upstairs to relieve Narcissa of her post as Harry’s guardian. It was an amazing feeling, being able to read and think through the theoretical creation of a new potion knowing that he would be able to research on his own time now that he wasn’t Dumbledore’s dog. He lost track of time, sitting there, though he did look up every few minutes to check on his charge...eventually moving to sit on the bed next to the boy so that he could feel the rise and fall of his chest without looking.

This was where Lucius found him when he arrived home from the ministry that evening and it amused him to no end.

“Severus, you do need to eat something,” he said, relishing in the fact that he’d been able to startle as he watched him jump.

“I hadn’t realized how much time had passed,” he admitted. Lucius chuckled,

“Would you prefer we take our meal in here?”

“...yes, if that’s not a problem. I just don’t want him to wake up alone,” Severus said honestly, “or with a house elf for that matter, he won’t have seen one before.”

“It’s not a problem,” Lucius said, snapping his fingers to call a house elf. He ordered their meal as Severus put his books to the side and tidied up his notes.

“Are you certain this is alright, Lucius? I know Draco is probably wondering where you are?”

“If I know Draco, he is currently more concerned about how he can get rid of whatever vegetable Narcissa has put on his plate than where his father is at the moment.”

“Ah, he still won’t eat them?”

“No, won’t even try a single bite.”

The two of them were silent for as they ate, neither wanting to break the companionable silence that had fallen as the food arrived...until they were finished eating, relaxing with glasses of wine.

“Severus…” Lucius began, not quite certain how to breach the subject.


“If...if the Dark Lord were to return one day...what would you do?”

Severus stared into his glass, frowning. He’d thought about it, certainly, knowing that the Dark Lord wasn’t really gone since the mark was still on his arm in a faint white shadow of what is had been.

“The Dark Lord despises abuse above all else,” Severus replied carefully, “While I doubt it would matter if it was the prophecy child that was abused, should he return, I would hope to have Harry hidden well enough that no harm would befall him, whether he is with me or I have to find a family halfway across the world to adopt him.”

“You would defy our lord for the child?” Lucius asked, tone carefully neutral.

“Dumbledore had me swear an unbreakable oath to protect Harry,” Severus admitted, “But even if he hadn’t I would never allow another to harm him, not when he’s already been through so much.”

Lucius didn’t reply for a long moment, studying his friend. Finally, he allowed a smirk to grow on his face as he said,

“I always knew you would make a great father.”


“No, really!” He insisted, “You’ve always been great with Draco, though I know you despise teaching children, and you’ve only known Harry for a day but you’re willing to fight both the Dark Lord and Dumbledore for him.”

“I do not really think I am prepared to care for a child on my own, Lucius...Harry would likely do best with another family, one where he would have both mother and father to care for him, not to mention other children his age to play with…” Severus protested, “I will likely be no more than another godparent.”

“No, I don’t think there are many people in our world that are equipped to take care of Harry as well as you will.” Lucius replied honestly, “He will need your understanding, especially as he heals. As for a family, well you know very well that you are our family, Severus.”

“My understanding? I doubt I have the patience required to raise a child…I wouldn’t want to subject any child to the type of upbringing I had.”

“It is that upbringing that makes you the best suited to help him.” Lucius insisted,

“...I will consider it.” Severus said finally, silently telling the other man not to push him. Lucius sighed and stood,

“That’s all I ask,” he said, “I believe it is time for Harry’s potions so I will be on my way.”

“Thank you, Lucius.”

Severus sat up for a long while that night, his friend’s words circling through his head. All of his own arguments seemed weak in the face of Lucius’ answers...he was the reason the Dark Lord had gone after Harry’s parents though...could he….no, that was his responsibility then. He was the reason the child had no parents, by extension that made him one of the reasons he’d suffered so much in his short life.

It was his responsibility to right that wrong and give Harry the childhood he deserved.

Chapter Text

“Will you tell me your name?”

Boy and the man sat under a big tree enjoying the shade and the breeze. They’d played at the park until they were both tired so the man had suggested resting under a nearby tree where they could talk comfortably.

“...Boy,” he whispered, watching the man’s face for any signs of ouchies. He hoped his companion hadn’t been lying when he’d said Boy’s voice wouldn’t hurt him. Thankfully, the man didn’t really react, merely raised an eyebrow.

“Boy?” the man asked, “Are you certain that’s your name?”

“Aunt Petunia said.” Boy replied,



“Oh, you may call me Tom, if you’d like.”


“No, Tom, like Thomas.”


“No, no, just Tom is fine.”


“You can say Petunia but not Tom?”

Boy shrugged and Tom sighed,

“...we’ll work on it.”



“Are you my friend?”

“When do you think he’ll wake?” Lucius asked his wife. He was sitting with Harry while Severus took a shower and Narcissa had stopped by for the child’s daily check-up.

“He could wake at any time,” she replied, “If I had to or tomorrow.”

“Hopefully Severus will be able to relax some when he sees for himself that Harry’s going to be fine.”

Harry had been with the family for four days, healing as he slept. They knew Severus himself had gotten very little sleep in that time, constantly checking to make sure he hadn’t taken a turn for the worse...which he hadn’t, Narcissa had assured the man that Harry wasn’t even totally unconscious anymore, merely sleeping while his magic helped repair the damage. Neither of the other adults could fault him for his near-obsessive care though, had it been Draco lying on the bed they wouldn’t have left his side for anything.

“Oh, Narcissa, how is Harry today?” Severus asked as he entered the room, hair still wet from the shower.

“He’s doing well, as I tell you every time I check on him,” Narcissa replied, amused, “Harry is healing nicely. I believe his bones are already strengthening at a rate where we won’t have to worry about banishing and regrowing any of them.”

“You can’t diagnose him yourself yet, Severus?” Lucius asked, “I thought that was the point of reading all of those books.”

“I could,” the other man admitted, “but she’s a certified healer. Her word means more than mine in this area.”

“Reading a library’s worth of books on healing, child development, childcare, and parenting doesn’t make you an expert?”

“Oh hush, Lucius, you read just as much when I told you I was expecting, though you also read through every children’s book we came across to ensure that nothing inappropriate was in them.” Narcissa reminded her husband. Severus snorted,

“Just wait, my friend,” Lucius warned, “you’ll have nursery rhymes and bedtime stories memorized in no time at all.”

“If you could, would you choose a name for yourself?” Tom asked, watching to see if the child understood him,

“A name?” Wide eyes stared up at him curiously as he nodded seriously

“Yes, a new name. Not boy.”

“I choose?”

“You may, even if you only use that name in your head,”

“I don’t know names.” the child admitted,

“Do you want me to go through some with you?”

“Yes, please, Pom.”

“Well...there’s Ace?”

“…” Tom smiled at the boy,

“Well then, Augustus?”

“Nuh uh.”


“...too long.”



“Draco asked me earlier, why I keep hiding from him.” Severus said, not even looking up from his book as Lucius entered the room,

“Did he?”

“Yes, he also wanted to know if I was a champion of hide-and-seek and if I would teach him so that he could beat his friends when they play.” Lucius snorted and took a seat,

“That sounds like my Draco. How many potions have you completed the theoretical work for?” Severus glanced at him,

“Five. Three new spells too, though only theoretically, I don’t want to attempt any experimental magic in the same room as Harry.”

“Of course.” Lucius agreed, “Cissa would have our heads if anything other than the most basic of charms were to happen in this room, outside of healing magic that is.”

“Yes, his core is a bit unstable at the moment...though it might get worse after we visit the bank,”

“Oh, about that, your grandfather was a lord, wasn’t he?” Severus raised an eyebrow,

“Indeed. He disowned my mother when she married a muggle and never spoke to either of us.”

“So you’ve told me,” Lucius said, “I wonder, however, who it is that is using the Prince seats then. Did a relative of yours inherit?” The other man frowned,

“No, my only living relative on my mother’s side is a squib and even if she wasn’t, females can’t inherit if a male in the line is still living.”

“I thought as much,” Lucius nodded, “The Potter seats are in use as well, which I thought was odd as James never took the title and thus couldn’t use the seats or name someone as proxy.”

Severus sighed, not even bothering to answer. They both knew who was using the Potter seats...the same person who was most likely using the Prince seats alongside whatever other seats rightfully belonged to Harry.

“We need to find whoever convinced that man he is the second coming of Merlin and strangle them,” he muttered, “or perhaps test out a few new curses?”

“We’d likely need a necromancer’s services first,” Lucius replied, “the old idiot’s been doing this for so long that whoever it was is likely long dead.”

“Well, think of it this way, if we have a necromancer on hand, we can try different methods until we’re bored. I know I have more than one potion that would work.” Lucius laughed but his response was cut off by a quiet whimper from the bed. In no time at all, Severus was across the room, settling on the edge of the bed next to the child.

Harry’s little face was screwed up in discomfort, though Severus didn’t think the child was in pain. His head moved back and forth, mouth open in a silent cry of fear.

“’s alright,” the man said quietly, carefully pulling Harry into his arms and hoping his voice would penetrate whatever nightmare was plaguing his charge. “You’re safe, you’re safe, I’ve got you.”

They’d only just made it to names that started with the letter C when the skies darkened. Boy stared in horror as the park disappeared, the wide open space disappeared in an instant, replaced with impenetrable darkness.

Boy couldn’t see a thing, though he thought for sure that he was back in his cupboard with the hairy spiders that liked to crawl all over him when he tried to sleep. Where had his new friend gone?

“It’s too quiet…” Boy thought, shutting his eyes tightly and hoping for the sunny park to come back. “Did I do something wrong?”

The next second, Boy knew he wasn’t actually in his cupboard when the screaming began. He couldn’t really make out what the voices were saying. One was a man, though it wasn’t a very long scream, just a few shouts before he was cut off suddenly. Another was high pitched, a woman, and Boy vaguely recognized that it belonged to someone he didn’t like, not Petunia though, this voice was higher and felt like it was stabbing his ears.

Boy shook his head, trying to block out the piercing sound with his hands, but was still able to hear another voice make its presence known. This was another man but he sounded angry, angrier than Uncle Vernon ever had. Boy couldn’t decide what to do. Should he continue to cover his ears or try to shield himself from the angry man?

The decision was made for him when the screeching cut off as suddenly as the first man’s had. Boy curled into a ball and braced himself for whatever blow was sure to come now that he was alone with the man that sounded so incredibly angry.

Nothing happened. No fist or foot struck him. Just a gentle caress to the top of his head before-

“Shh, it’s alright. You’re safe.”

Boy didn’t know that voice but he found that he liked it, opening his eyes and trying to find the source in the darkness.

“You’re safe, I’ve got you.”

“It’s okay, Little One,” that was his new friend’s voice, “You need to wake up now,”

“Pom?” Boy was still so scared, he wasn’t really sure he wanted to wake up. What if this was all a dream and his new friend disappeared forever?

“It will be alright. I’ll be here next time you sleep but right now you need to wake up.”


“I’ll give you a push, just like on the swings, alright?” His new friend’s voice sounded a bit sad to Boy. Would he be lonely when Boy was awake?


“On three then,” Tom said, “One...two...three!”

Boy felt a gentle push accompanied by the now familiar feeling of flying that he got from the swings and suddenly the calm voice was louder.

“It’s okay, you’re safe, I promise.”

Boy opened his eyes.

Severus breathed a sigh of relief when he saw Harry’s bright green eyes looking up at him in confusion and subconsciously pulled the child in closer to him. Harry didn’t struggle, though he was obviously still half asleep and out of sorts, merely cuddling in closer to the adult’s warmth.

“Severus? Is he alright?” Narcissa asked as she entered the room, her monitoring charms having alerted her that her patient was awake.

Hearing her, Harry clutched Severus’ robe tightly in his hand and, if possible, huddled further into him.

“He was having a nightmare but he’s just woken up,” Lucius informed her while Severus kept his attention on the child.

“It’s alright, Harry, you’re alright. That’s just Narcissa, she’s made sure you don’t hurt anymore.”

He didn’t get a response from that and Severus belatedly remembered that the child didn’t know his own name. Carefully, he maneuvered the three-year-old to where he could see his face yet was still shielded from the others.

“From what I’ve heard, your name is Harry,” he said carefully, “Does that sound right?”

The child’s eyes widened and he mouthed the name to himself...before shrugging as though he didn’t really care. Severus wasn’t sure what to make of that so he kept talking.

“My name is Severus and I have two friends with me that want to meet you. Would you like to see them? You may stay in my lap if you’d like.”

Lucius, meanwhile, was amused by this new side of his friend. He’d only seen the potions master like this once before when he and Narcissa had left Draco with his godfather for the night and left a charm that recorded what went on in the nursery. Lucius had been shocked to hear his old friend’s voice change so drastically but he supposed it was normal when one was faced with a small, cute creature.

Harry studied Severus’ face for a moment before nodding cautiously and allowing the man to turn first himself and then Harry to face the other two adults.

“Hello there,” Lucius said, “I’m glad you’re feeling better.”

Harry offered him a bit of a smile but that died away when he looked at Narcissa, who had her wand out and was murmuring a diagnostic charm to appease her own worries. He huddled back into Severus’ warmth, half turning in an attempt to hide his face again. He didn’t know what the woman was doing but he didn’t like it.

“This is Narcissa, my wife,” Lucius said gently, “She’s just checking to make sure you’re healthy.”

“Hello Harry,” the woman said, putting away her wand carefully, “I’m sorry if I startled you,”

The child peeked out at her and waved before ducking back into his guardian. The Malfoys smiled,

“We’ll leave you to it then, Severus,” Lucius said, “Call if you need anything.”

“Thank you.”

Boy was confused. The voice he liked so much belonged to the warm man with dark hair...Sev...something...Sev’us?...and he said that his name wasn’t “Boy” but “Harry”. He honestly didn’t know if he liked that name, it certainly didn’t feel like one he would want to call his own and he really didn’t like it as much as he’d liked some of the ones his Tom had suggested.

The man that wasn’t Sev’us seemed okay and he had pretty hair but he wasn’t about to leave the safety Sev’us provided, not when the lady was there with her stick waving around and shooting glowy lines at him. He offered her a wave when she introduced herself and quietly sighed in relief when she left with the other guy.

“Are you feeling alright?” Sev’us asked quietly, turning him so that they were facing one another again. Boy...Harry thought for a second and nodded, noticing that he wasn’t even hungry for once.

“Are you able to speak?”

Severus did not anticipate the flinch that came when he asked that question but he saw only honesty in those emerald eyes when the child nodded carefully.

“Can I hear your voice then?” he asked cautiously. Harry frowned and took a minute to think about that, conflicted emotions shooting across his face until he whispered,

“A-aunt Petunia says it hurts. Don’t want Sev’us hurt.”

It took a great deal of strength to keep the anger out of his eyes when he heard that. Severus offered the boy a small smile,

“I promise it won’t hurt me.” he said instead of the many curses he wanted to send Petunia’s way, “You can speak to me as much as you’d like.” Harry’s eyes widened,

“Really?” he whispered and Severus nodded,

“Yes, really. Would you like some water before trying to talk a bit louder than a whisper?”

“Yes please.”

Severus reached for the plastic sippy cup on the bedside table, something Narcissa had recommended for whenever the child woke up, and handed it to Harry. He stared at the bright green cup for a second before smiling widely and taking a big drink.

“I guess he’s never had a cup like that before?”

“Thank you!” Harry said happily, voice only marginally louder than before, “This cup’s cool.”

“You’re welcome. The cup is yours to keep.” Severus replied and the joy on the child’s face was painful to see.
“Wow!” he gasped and took another drink as one of Severus’ arms came up automatically to steady him.

“Now, may I call you Harry?” the man asked after a few minutes. The boy shrugged, but didn’t really reply so Severus continued, “It’ll only be until we can go and get you a new name, of course.”

“I get a new name? Go where? Not...back?”

“Go to the bank,” Severus informed him, seeing the fear building in the child’s eyes, “You will never go back to your aunt and uncle. Never.”

“Never?” Harry asked carefully,

“Never.” Severus reassured him.

“Where I go then?” The child stared up at him, simultaneously hopeful and very confused.

“Well, I thought you might like to live with me?”.

Boy/Harry couldn’t believe what he’d just heard.

“” he asked in disbelief, “Aunt Petunia said no one wants me.”

“Yes, of course I want you, Harry.” Sev’us replied instantly, looking straight into his eyes, “Your aunt lied to you.”

Harry sat and thought for a moment. He was still so very confused.

“To work?” he watched for any sign that Sev’us was mad at him as he spoke, wondering if the man was tricking him like Uncle Vernon used to.

“No, not to work.” Severus said carefully, “To live, if you’d like.”

To live? Harry just found himself even more confused but...Sev’us had been nice so far, much nicer than his aunt and uncle had ever been. Could someone like him live with someone as amazing as Sev’us?

“Y-you sure?” he asked, just to be certain.

“Yes, very sure.” came the calm reply. Harry smiled,

“Okay then, I’ll live with Sev’us,” he said decisively.

Severus didn’t think he had ever smiled as much as he was in that moment. He knew Harry didn’t quite understand that he wanted to adopt him as well but he didn’t want to overwhelm the child with so much new information the minute he woke up.

“Thank you,” he said, pulling Harry closer, smushing the cup in between them. Harry giggled but soaked up the attention...until his stomach growled and he shrank back a little.

“Oh, he thinks…”

“Are you hungry, Little One?” Severus asked kindly. Harry merely nodded and the potions master realized that this was a bit of a test, even if the child didn’t mean it to be. “Alright then, let’s get you some food.”

“He’ll need something gentle...a soup of sorts? And…” his thoughts were interrupted by a quiet *pop* over by where he’d left his own supper. The house elves must have been given orders. He silently thanked Narcissa and carried the toddler over to the sitting area.

“Here we are,” he said, pulling a bowl of warm soup towards them, “Do you want to feed yourself or shall I?”

Harry studied the food with wide eyes then Severus’ face in shock. He then looked at his own hands. One hand was keeping the sippy cup close and the other was wound in Severus’ robes. Harry frowned and Severus waited patiently for him to make a decision.

Finally, Harry opened his mouth and waited.

“Alright then,” Severus picked up the spoon and scooped up some of the soup, which he then fed to the child after making sure it wasn’t too hot.

“Thank you,” Harry said after he’d swallowed. Severus merely smiled and readied another spoonful.

Harry was only able to eat a quarter of the bowl before he settled back against his new guardian and refused to open his mouth for another bite.

“Ah...his stomach is so small...I’d forgotten. A nutrient potion might help…”

As the thought crossed his mind, there was another *pop* and a purple sippy cup appeared on the table with a note as the bowl of soup vanished.

Thought you might need this. We have plenty of this pediatric nutrient potion left over from when Draco was sick a few months ago. Don’t worry about its longevity, as I’m sure you know, it comes in a powdered form to be added to warm milk or water. I have taken the liberty of adding a few drops of a stomach soother as well. Tell Harry it tastes like chocolate milk. - N

“And I really must remember to thank her.” Severus mused as Harry tugged on his robes trying to get his attention,


“ did that…” the child gasped, unable to formulate the question he wanted to ask in his surprise.

“Magic,” Severus answered calmly, “A creature called a house elf sent it up from the kitchen. Narcissa told it one of them that you might like this,” He picked up the sippy cup and offered it to the child, “She said to tell you it tastes like chocolate milk.” Harry frowned,

“Aunt Petunia said magic isn’t real.”

“And I said your aunt is a liar. Magic is very real.” Severus informed him.

“Is that cup mine too?” Harry asked, seemingly accepting Severus’ word. The potions master raised an eyebrow at the question.

“I’m not sure, I know the green one is though.”

“Is magic...will it take my cup? Like the bowl?” Suddenly understanding the line of questioning and seeing that the child was once again facing a dilemma with one hand too few, Severus smiled down at him.

“No. Why don’t we go back to the bed so you can keep your cup in one special spot next to you while you drink out of this one?”

Harry considered that for a second then nodded.

Severus carried Harry over to the bed and sat him down. He then quickly gathered a few books and the purple cup before moving to sit on the bed himself, mildly worried green eyes following every move he made. Once he was comfortably situated with his back propped up against pillows and the headboard, he opened his arms and found himself with an armful of cuddly toddler.

Harry accepted the purple cup from him, settling in himself as Severus opened a book. Every few moments, the toddler’s eyes went to the green cup making sure it was still there, though the time between checks grew longer and longer as he drank more of the potion.

An hour later, when Lucius peeked in to check on them, he found the pair sleeping soundly, Harry cuddled up in Severus’ lap, one of the man’s arms around him protectively while the other loosely held a book. He smiled, noxed all but one of the lights, and quietly shut the door.

Chapter Text

Harry opened his eyes to find himself back in the park where he’d played with Tom and looked around expectantly.

“Pom! Pom !” he called out as loudly as he dared, frowning when he didn’t immediately see the man.

“Hello there, Little One,” Tom said from behind him. Harry whipped around and grinned up at his friend.

“Pom, you’re still here!”

“Of course I am, I told you I would see you when you sleep.”

“Pom! I met new people!” Tom smiled

“Well, let’s go sit under the tree and you can tell me all about them.” Harry nodded and ran over to the tree, where he sat impatiently for the next few seconds as Tom walked over to join him.

“Pom, I got a cup!” Harry announced before the man had even lowered himself to the ground, “It’s soooo cool! It’s um…” he frowned and looked around, finally pointing at the grass, “it’s this one!”

“That is the color green,” Tom informed him and Harry nodded,

“Right, Sev’us said green too!”

“Sev’us?” Tom asked, “Who might that be?"

“Sev’us gave me a big hug when I woke up!” Harry informed him, “He’s warm and nice and -oh! Pom, he told me my name is Harry but I don’t like it but Sev’us said we change it when we go”

“Harry?” Tom mused, looking down at the child thoughtfully for a moment before shaking his head, “No, Harry doesn’t fit you at all. Your Sev’us is right to change it.” Harry nodded happily,

“Sev’us said I can live with him now, not work and, and, and then, and then my tummy got angry and made noises so he gave me food! It was yummy. Then he gave me another cup with yummy stuff inside!”

“Wow, Sev’us sounds very nice,” Tom said, “were there other people there?”

“Yes,” Harry informed him, “One...his name was...L-Lucy? He had pretty hair. One named...Nar..Narza, she had a stick and made glowy lights.”

“Were they nice as well?” Tom asked, trying not to show how amused, but confused, he was by the obviously botched names.

“Yes. Lucy smiles and Sev’us said Narza sent the cup with yummy stuff.”

“You’ll need to thank them when you see them again,” Tom said, smiling once again as Harry grinned and nodded.



“You push me?” he asked, pointing at the swings, “Please?”

“Of course.”

Severus awoke the next morning with Harry still clutching his robes tightly. He silently cast a tempus and nearly gasped in surprise. He hadn’t even realized he’d fallen asleep, though he’d obviously needed it if he’d slept past nine after falling asleep around eight o’clock.  Severus glanced down at the sleeping child and smiled, if everything worked out alright then this little one would officially be his son in a few hours.

First though, they needed to get up and get ready for the day.

“Time to wake up, Harry,” Severus said quietly, “We’ve got a long day ahead of us.”

At the sound of his voice, Harry’s eyes flew open and he frantically pushed himself up, looking around in confusion.

“It’s alright,” Severus soothed, watching and waiting for the events of last night to catch up to him. Harry whipped around and stared at him, relief written all over his face.

“Sev’us!” he said happily, throwing himself at the man, who merely wrapped his arms around him and maneuvered them both into a sitting position.

“Good morning, Little One,” he said.

“M’ning.” Harry replied sleepily, “Not a dream?”

“No, not a dream,” Severus assured him, “Real life.”

Harry didn’t reply, merely snuggled closer and closed his eyes again. Severus didn’t quite know what to do. They needed to get up, bathe, get dressed for the day, and eat breakfast but he wasn’t sure how he was going to be able to do any of that with the clingy child refusing to release his robes. He certainly wasn’t going to tell Harry that he couldn’t hang on him all the time, not so soon after he was rescued, but he couldn’t wear this set of robes for the rest of his life.

“Bathe Harry first and deal with the other issues after.” he decided, carefully lifting Harry, placing him on his hip, and taking him over to the wardrobe that Narcissa had stuffed full of Draco’s old clothes.

“Harry, do you want to help pick out your clothes for the day?” Severus asked. Harry peaked out of his shoulder to stare at the clothes blearily. He didn’t seem to know what to say so Severus said, “I will give you some options then, and you can pick which one you want to wear.”

He looked through the clothing items, pulling out things that were a given for any outfit Harry would be wearing that day (underwear, trousers, socks) along with a few options for shirts. At his age, there wasn’t really much of a difference between muggle and magical clothing thankfully.

“Alright, Harry, time to choose,” Severus said and showed the boy the two choices of shirts, both short-sleeve t-shirts with moving pictures on the front. The first was dark green with a grey and black snake slithering around and the second was black with a silver cauldron sending deep purple steam up into the air.

Harry looked at both for a long time before asking,

“Sev’us, what color?”

“At what age do they learn colors again? Surely before now…it’s okay, we’ll work on it.” 

“This is green, like your cup. This is grey. This is black. That is purple.” he replied slowly, pointing to each one as he said it and checking to make sure the child understood.

“This is shiny grey?” Harry asked, pointing to the cauldron.

“That is silver,” Severus said.

“This is black too!” the child pointed out, tugging on Severus’ robe.

“Yes it is, well done.” he praised. Harry grinned and pointed at the black shirt,

“I wear black like Sev’us.” he declared.

“Very well,” Severus replied, smiling. He found himself incapable of quelling the bit of pride and satisfaction that welled up at the thought of his charge wanting to be a bit like him.

Severus put the snake shirt away and pulled out a light summer cloak and a pair of shoes, both of which he left on the end of the bed before carrying the child into the bathroom. He set the rest of the clothes on the countertop next to the sink and gently lowered the child to his feet.

“Harry, are you able to use the toilet and take off your clothes by yourself while I get your bath started?” Harry frowned but nodded uncertainly.

Severus got the bath ready for the child, making sure the water wouldn’t burn him and placing a few toys along the side of the tub in case Harry wished to play. He made certain that the soaps and washrag that he would need were nearby before turning back to see if Harry was done yet.

Harry watched Sev’us prepare the bath from across the room. Quite frankly, he was terrified, remembering the few “baths” Aunt Petunia had given him, the water ice cold, her scrubbing leaving his skin raw...the times she had held his head underwater for much longer than necessary only to pull him up coughing and crying at the last possible second. The bath Sev’us was preparing didn’t look anything like his aunt’s baths but he couldn’t help how the thought of it being anything like hers made him shake.

“Harry?” Sev’us asked, “Are you done on the toilet?”

“Y-yes…” he replied honestly, unable to tear his eyes away from the bathtub.

“Sev’us won’t do it.” he reminded himself, “he’s nice. No be scared.” 

His thoughts didn’t help in the slightest.

“There’s nothing to be scared of, Harry,” Sev’us said quietly, “Would you like to come and test the water? See if it’s at the right temperature for you?”

Harry considered his words. Aunt Petunia had always just thrown him into the tub and held him there. Surely nothing bad could come of him putting a hand in the water to check how it felt?

He cautiously edged towards the bathtub and looked inside. The water was much shallower than Aunt Petunia made it. That fact alone gave him the courage to stick his hand in. To his surprise, the water was perfect

“Well, did I get it right?” Sev’us asked. Harry offered him a small smile and a nod, “Good, are you comfortable enough to get in now?”

Harry frowned as he thought about the question. The water had felt nice on his hand so it would probably feel nice on his feet and everything else too. Sev’us wasn’t forcing him to do anything quickly, merely asking if it was okay. No one had ever asked him that before. He was safe with Sev’us, wasn’t he?

“...yes,” he said quietly. Sev’us offered him an encouraging smile and gently lifted him up and into the bathtub, carefully settling him down so that he didn’t slip.

Harry stood there for a moment, enjoying the warmth surrounding his feet and lower legs before he carefully sat.

“Good job, Harry.” Sev’us said, “I’m proud of you.”

Harry beamed up at him. He’d made his Sev’us proud by getting in the bath? That was amazing!

“You may play with the toys if you’d like,” Sev’us informed him, gesturing to a rubber shark, plastic boat, and a rubber duck that were perched on the rim of the tub.

Harry thought he might learn to love bath-time if he could always play with toys.

Severus allowed Harry to play for as long as he wished, using the opportunity to calm the rage that threatened to overwhelm him. One day the Dursleys would pay for every single thing they had done to their nephew ten times over. They would be begging for death by the time he was through!

“Sev’us, you wash my hair?” Harry asked, jerking Severus out of his dark thoughts.

“Are you done playing for today?” he asked, knowing it had only been around five minutes.


“Alright, put your toys back on the side of the tub and we’ll get you clean so you can get out.”

Severus gently washed Harry’s hair, careful not to get shampoo or conditioner in his eyes when he rinsed, before soaping up a washrag and instructing the child to scrub anything he could reach and he would get the rest. He didn’t miss the awe in Harry’s gaze when he realized that Severus wasn’t going to hold his head under the water or scrub his skin until he bled, just as he didn’t miss the flash of relief when Harry was finally wrapped in a fluffy towel outside the tub.

Five minutes of towel drying and dressing later, Severus carried a clean, drowsy Harry back into the bedroom. Apparently, being terrified of baths is exhausting.

A knock on the door jerked Harry out of the doze he’d fallen into and had him trying his hardest to hide in Severus’ chest.

“It’s alright, Harry, it’s probably just Lucius or Narcissa.” Severus said calmly before raising his voice a bit and calling out, “Enter.”

The door opened to reveal Lucius, who gave them both a smile.

“Good morning Severus, Harry,” he greeted.

“Good morning Lucius,” Severus replied and Harry peeked out of the potions master’s chest enough to see that the man was alone this time. He offered a shy smile.

“How are you feeling today, Little One?” Lucius asked. Harry considered him for a moment and looked up at Severus.

Remembering the night before, Severus tightened his hold and said,“Your voice won’t hurt anyone, I promise. Your aunt was a liar, remember?”

“Yes…” Harry replied quietly and turned to give Lucius an equally quiet answer, “Feel okay now.”

“Good. I’m very glad.” the blonde man said, then, glancing carefully at Severus, asked, “Harry, would you be alright to sit with me while Severus gets cleaned up?”

Harry’s eyes widened and he looked between the two men uncertainly.

“I’ll be quick, Harry,” Severus promised, “If you’re good, maybe you can get Lucius to tell you a story?”

“Oh yes, I’ve brought a book you might like,” Lucius said, holding it up for the child to see.

“You’ll like the story in that, I believe.” Severus said, “Why don’t you sit and listen? By the time Lucius is done reading, I’ll be back and we can have breakfast.”

Harry thought the man whose name wasn’t Lucy but Lucius was okay. He hadn’t lied to Tom when he said the other guy was nice. This didn’t mean he wanted to be left alone with him or anyone else that wasn’t Sev’us. He also didn’t want his Sev’us or Lucius to be mad at him though, so he nodded and allowed his guardian to carefully hand him over to the other man.

“I’ll be right back, I promise,” Sev’us said and then he was gone.

Lucius wasn’t as warm as Sev’us. That was the first thing Harry noticed as they moved to sit in one of the chairs. He was strong though, and he smelled nice. He looked and sounded nothing like his relatives, even though his hair was a similar color...speaking of which…

“L-Lucius?” Harry asked timidly.

“Yes, Harry?” the man smiled and that gave Harry the courage to continue,

“What color this?” he patted the man’s hair gently to show what he meant and gasped, “soft!”

“Thank you,” Lucius said, “The color is white blonde.”

“Like it.” Harry informed him, “‘s pretty.”

“My son has the same hair color too,”


“Yes, he’s a little boy around your age.”

“Oh, what’s his name?” Harry asked, wondering if this other little boy would be angry he was getting attention from Lucius. He should avoid whoever it was until he knew for sure.

“His name is Draco,” Lucius replied, “He’s with Narcissa at the moment. But I believe I promised you a story, didn’t I?”

Lucius was relieved when Harry relaxed in his hold. He’d thought for a moment that the child would either start screaming for Severus or, more likely, shut down completely until the man returned. He didn’t miss the apprehension on the child’s face when he told him about Draco and was glad for both the decision to keep the two separate until Harry had settled in more and the distraction that was the storybook he’d brought with him.

Harry stared in awe at the beautiful pictures on the pages as Lucius told the story of Babbity Rabbity and Her Cackling Stump, gasping as they moved and changed. He allowed the child to hold the book, telling him when to turn the page.

“He has a million questions and doesn’t know where to start.” Lucius mused as he finished the story.

“Th-that, they move!” Harry exclaimed excitedly, “Magic?”

“Yes, this is a magic book.” Lucius confirmed, amused, “Would you like to keep it?”

Harry froze, staring up at him with wide eyes, and Lucius briefly wondered if he’d said something wrong.

“Keep it?”

“Yes, it’s yours if you want it.”

“Mine? Like the green cup?” Harry pointed to the green sippy cup on the bedside table and Lucius nodded,

“Yours to keep just like the cup.” Harry grinned and hugged the book to his chest.

“Thank you!” he exclaimed, nearly vibrating with excitement. Lucius’ heart warmed and he knew then and there that he would never be able to say no to this sweet child, who deserved far more than just a simple book as a present.

Severus rushed through his morning routine, unable to keep his mind from worrying about the people in the room next door. He trusted Lucius with both his own life and Harry’s, but he also knew that Harry didn’t know that and could be melting down at any time.

He finished drying his hair and pulled on a robe, grateful that he no longer had to wear the stiff teaching robes that helped protect him against any potions the idiotic children might manage to blow up. Once the robe was fastened and he looked presentable, Severus hurried back to Harry’s room.

The potions master only had enough time to close the door behind him before a tiny body flew at him, happily squealing,

“Sev’us! Sev’us!”

He’d never tell anyone, but he loved the way his charge couldn’t fully pronounce his name. It was adorable.

“Hello Harry, did you enjoy the story?” he asked. Harry put one of his arms up in a request to be held, the book Lucius had brought clutched tightly to his chest with the other one. Severus complied, allowing the child to snuggle in close as he answered,

“Yes! It, it was about...about a bunny and, and a king...and magic! OH! The pictures moved! Luci-Lucius said it’s a magic book and then, and then he said it’s my magic book!” Harry exclaimed, “He said I keep it like my green cup!”  

“That was very kind of him, wasn’t it? Did you thank him?” Severus asked as he carried the boy over to the table so they could sit down and eat the food that had appeared as Harry talked. Harry didn’t answer the question, staring in annoyance at his lack of free hands again, so Lucius answered for him.

“He did. Harry was a very good boy while you were gone.”

The two adults froze, realizing that that might not be taken very well by the child but Harry merely looked amazed at the words, as though he could not even begin to imagine that they were directed at him.

“Good,” Severus said, smiling down at the child.

Thirty minutes later, Severus realized that it might have been a bit of a mistake to floo into the Leaky Cauldron and not just request floo access to Gringotts. Both he and Harry were under heavy glamours so he wasn’t really worried about being seen, but Diagon Alley was packed and noisy as always and it was completely overwhelming to the small boy.

“Just put your head down if you must, Harry,” he whispered, one hand rubbing soothing circles on the child’s back, “It’s alright, you’re safe.”

Tiny hands fisted in his robes and Harry buried his face in Severus’ neck, trembling slightly. He did not look up, not even once until they entered the much quieter atmosphere of the bank...which took much longer than it should have. People that would have automatically moved out of the way of the stern potions master had he looked like himself instead moved in closer to coo over the shy toddler and try to get a smile from him...or even a look at his face. Severus breathed a sigh of relief when Gringotts came into view and the crowds thinned.

Harry looked up when they entered the bank and stared at the goblin guards lining the walls.

“Sev’us…” he whispered, “Sev’us, those have pointy sticks.”

“Those are goblins,” Severus answered just as quietly, “and they’re holding spears. We must be very respectful of them.” Harry nodded his understanding and went back to looking around as Lucius led the way up to one of the tellers.

“Yes?” the teller asked, bored.

“We need to speak with the managers for the Potter and Prince estates,” Severus said quietly, “Privately.”

“Very well.” the goblin said, gesturing to a guard, “Rockfang will take you to Ironclaw’s office. Follow him.”

“Thank you,” Severus said and the group did as they were told. Rockfang led them down a side hall and knocked on the door to what was most likely Ironclaw’s office.

“Enter.” called a voice from inside and Rockfang opened the door, standing aside to let Lucius, Severus, and Harry through and shutting it behind them.

“Ah, Mr.Snape, we’ve been trying to get in touch with you for years.” Ironclaw said, “and the elusive Mr.Potter as well. Good day, Lord Malfoy.”

“Greetings, Ironclaw,” Lucius replied, “We have quite a few things we are here for today. First, the state of the Prince accounts. Who inherited the estate and the seats?”

Severus was instantly grateful that his friend was able to accompany them to the bank. He didn’t often interact with the goblins and would have had no idea where to start.

“The Prince estate? Mr.Snape was listed as the sole beneficiary in his grandfather’s will. We’ve been attempting to get in touch with him for years.” Ironclaw replied, “As for the seats...Mr.Dumbledore is listed as proxy.”

“I have never received a summons or any other notification of the contents of my grandfather’s will,” Severus said, confused, “How did Dumbledore become the proxy for the seats?” Ironclaw frowned,

“I will check and see if there is a redirect on your mail. As for the seats, Mr.Dumbledore provided a letter signed by you allowing him access.”

“I did not sign such a thing,” Severus ground out,

“Noted. It will be rectified and the letter in question investigated. Did you wish to claim the Prince estate while you are here?” Ironclaw asked.

“Yes, but there are more pressing matters that need to be seen to first,” Severus replied and Lucius took over once more.

“We require a full health scan and inheritance testing for young Mr.Potter, as well as an official change of legal and magical guardian. We are willing to pay, of course.”

Ironclaw turned his attention to the child, sharp eyes taking in every detail.

“I will call for a healer. Are there any specific concerns you wish us to address?” Severus frowned, hand absently running through Harry’s hair soothingly, he didn’t like how still and quiet the child was.

“He has not had proper care since his current magical guardian left him in the muggle world.” he replied, “He is healing but we have reason to believe that there are binds on his magic.”

Ironclaw’s eyes widened in alarm. Every magical being knew that placing a bind on a child’s magic often proved fatal if left too long and often if it didn’t end up killing the child, would leave their magic either completely crippled or unstable for the rest of their life. This was due to the size of a child’s core, most children didn’t have the reserves to allow them to heal from such damage. He quickly summoned a healer and turned back to his current clients as they waited.

“We will have a healer do the scans immediately,” he informed them, “Should any binds, blocks, or leeches be found, one of you may accompany Mr.Potter into the healing chamber to help steady him.”

Severus hugged Harry closer, relieved that the goblins were working so quickly. He knew the child didn’t quite understand what was going on so he felt better knowing that he would be able to stay with him.

“Thank you,” he said quietly.

“You claim there’s an emergency, Ironclaw?” the healer asked as the door swung open before Ironclaw could reply to the potions master, “What has happened?”

“This his Healer Farlock.” he informed the wizards, “Healer Farlock, your patient is young Mr.Potter, they suspect binds have been placed on his magic.”

The healer suppressed a growl at that and pulled a crystal out of his bag.

“Seven drops of blood on the crystal and I’ll be able to see anything that might be interfering with the well-being of the child,” he said. Severus nodded and pulled Harry away from his neck a bit so that he could see his face as he spoke.

“Harry, did you hear Healer Farlock?” he waited until the child nodded before continuing, “I will need to poke your finger to get a bit of blood out,” he explained, “then I’ll heal it up right after.”

“Will it hurt?” Harry asked quietly.

“Only a very tiny bit,” Severus promised. Harry studied him for a moment but ultimately decided to trust his guardian and stuck out a finger.

A moment later, Harry, finger completely healed, was tucked back into Severus’ chest as Healer Farlock chanted in gobbledegook and a stack of parchment appeared on the desk.

Healer Farlock was greatly angered by the results of the scan if the stream of unintelligible muttering was anything to go by. Ironclaw scowled down at the results and passed it to Severus. He’d seen all of the health reports before so he passed the top pages to Lucius and skipped to the last page where Harry’s magical health would be recorded. The blood drained out of his face as he read the findings.

“How bad is it, Severus?”

“The old fool bound 75% of his core,” he replied, “attached a leech to what was left and attempted to bind his ability to learn magic at all. He’s also placed a blood glamour on him, though I can’t imagine why.” Severus said tersely. Lucius paled and turned to the healer,

“Is it possible to remove all of this?” he asked

“Yes,” Healer Farlock replied, “We will do that immediately to prevent any further harm to the child.”

“Mr.Snape wishes to accompany Mr.Potter as he’s healed, with that much bound is it safe for him to do so?” Ironclaw asked. The healer frowned but nodded, noting that Harry likely wouldn’t have let go of the potions master even if he’d said no.

“Come, Mr.Snape, Mr.Potter, this will not take more than half an hour if Lord Malfoy wishes to wait for your return.”

“I will wait,” Lucius said immediately as Severus stood and followed the goblin further into the bank.

Chapter Text

Lucius took the time Severus and Harry were away to read through the boy’s medical history. He went back through the past year and eight months, stomach clenching as he read through the individual incidents that had almost killed the child. There could be no excuse for the kinds of injuries listed there.

For a moment, Lucius stared at the words “31 October 1981 - Killing Curse -Failed”. He didn’t want to dwell on the treason he was committing by helping the Potter boy instead of avenging the Dark Lord. There was no way he could lift his wand against the child even if his lord killed him on the spot when he returned. Hopefully, the Dark Lord would see how useful the Malfoy lord was and only torture him a bit instead.

He kept reading, expecting nothing more than the usual fare for infants, and frowned.

“That’s an...unusual amount of bruising.” he noted, “Going back to a few months before they died...perhaps they bought a crup and couldn’t control how it acted around the child? Or they allowed him to fly much too young and didn’t watch him? They were only twenty when he was born a few mistakes are to be expected...”

“I’ve received word from Healer Farlock,” Ironclaw said, breaking Lucius out of his thoughts, “The main procedure is complete. They are allowing Mr.Potter time to adjust to his now, unbound core before bringing him back so that we may continue.”

“Thank you for the update,” Lucius replied, still frowning at the parchment in his hand. After a moment, he shifted to the page containing Harry’s magical health and scanned it until he found what he was looking for.

Blood glamour - 15 July 1981 - Albus Dumbledore

Severus breathed a sigh of relief when the healers allowed him to hold Harry close once more. Having to sit back and watch the entire procedure without being able to comfort the obviously terrified child had been torture, even if the magic that had been released was beautiful to see.

“Are you alright, Little One?” he asked quietly and received a hesitant nod from the shaking child.

“He will be tired for the next few days,” Healer Farlock informed him, “and you can expect to see an increase in accidental magic for a week or so, especially if strong emotions are present. As his core adjusts and heals he’ll regain his energy.”

“Thank you. Harry, are you in any pain?” Feeling the child shake his head, Severus was thankful for that, “Can you thank Healer Farlock?” he asked.

Harry pulled his head out of Severus’ neck for a moment and stared at the goblin, lips pressed together in a straight line, eyes wide. Finally, he managed to at least mouth the words, to which the goblin nodded, allowing the relieved toddler to hide his face once again.

“I’ll leave you for a moment then,” Healer Farlock said and soon it was just the two of them in the room.

Severus was a bit unnerved by Harry’s silence but hoped it was just because the child was so tired. He also hoped that Harry wasn’t too tired to understand what Severus was about to ask him.

“Harry, can I see your face for a moment?” he asked gently, prompting the child to lean back and look up at him.

Remembering that the binds were not the only things removed, Severus scanned for any major differences in Harry’s appearance. His eyes had darkened a few shades to a deep forest green and his cheekbones were a little higher. His black hair was no longer a bird’s nest, though still curly, it had become more...organized chaos than anything else and his skin paled even further. Had Harry been older there might have been a shocking difference, but since he was only almost three-years-old it was anyone’s guess as to how he would have looked otherwise. Severus did note, however, that the child looked like neither James nor Lily, though he still reminded him of someone. Lily’s father, perhaps? It was said that a male child would take after the maternal grandfather more strongly than other family members so maybe this was an example of that?

“What’s wrong?” Harry whispered, obviously unsettled by the man’s staring.

“Nothing,” Severus replied honestly, “I have something to talk to you about.”

“Sum’sing?” the child asked, body tensing. Severus was quick to reassure him.

“Don’t worry, you aren’t in any trouble.” That had Harry relaxing a bit so he continued, “Remember when I said you could stay with me?”

“To live.” Harry replied, nodding.

“Would you still like to live with me?” Severus asked carefully. Harry nodded again,

“Live with Sev’us.” he confirmed.

“Indeed,” Severus said, “Harry, I would like to adopt you.” The child frowned, so he elaborated, “Meaning, that I would like for you to be my son.”

Harry gaped. Sev’us wanted to adopt him?

“Say yes, Little One,” a familiar voice advised,

“Pom?” Harry thought, curious.

“Yes, it’s me. Answer your Sev’us,”

“Okay, Pom.”

“Sev’us be my dad?” Harry asked, putting off questioning Tom being in his mind while he was awake. This was far more important.

“Yes, if I adopt you, I will be your father.” Sev’us replied, smiling. Harry decided that he liked Sev’us’ smile.

“I call you...Da?” he asked shyly. He had wanted to call someone “Da” ever since he had seen a little girl on the tv speaking with her own father, a pirate captain who commanded everyone’s respect and kept his family safe from harm.

“Of course,” Sev’us said, pulling him back in close for a hug. Harry liked his hugs too.

“You, you be Da,” Harry said, squeezing his Sev’us tightly, “and, and, and I get a new name too!”

Severus wasn’t one for dramatics, but he honestly thought his heart might explode from the adorable child that was his soon-to-be new son.

“Yes, we both need a new name, don’t we?” Severus replied, tightening his grip a bit to secure Harry in his arms as he stood to walk back to Ironclaw’s office.

“Yes!” Harry replied, “Don’t like Harry,”

“Well then, what names do you like?”

“Like Sev’us’ name.” he informed him, “and, and Rose cuz it pretty, and Pebbles like the bestest cat, and, and…”

“Literally anything that isn’t his actual name then.” Severus mused as Harry continued to list names. He knew it was likely that Magic would choose a name and Harry would have no say, but it was interesting to see the ideas the child would consider.

“Here we are,” Severus said, drawing Harry’s attention to the fact that they were standing in front of Ironclaw’s door. The little boy immediately went silent and hid again, presumably in preparation for the moment they were no longer alone. He did wonder why Harry trusted him so much faster than the others. He should have asked Healer Farlock when he had a chance.

“Hello again Harry, Severus.” Lucius said calmly. Severus frowned,

“That’s not like you. What happened while we were away?”

“I believe we should get on with the inheritance test.” Lucius replied instead of answering. Seeing the look on his friend’s face, he continued. “It’s...speculation on my part and I would like to have definitive proof before I share my thoughts.”

“Very well.” Severus conceded, looking to Ironclaw for direction on how to proceed.

“Three drops of Mr.Potter’s blood in this potion is all we require for an inheritance test.” the goblin informed him.

This time, Harry held out his hand without being prompted, watching in fascination as his blood turned the deep blue potion first purple, then completely clear after a few minutes. Once the potion looked like nothing more than water, Ironclaw tipped it over and poured it onto a scroll that glowed briefly to signify that it worked. The goblin held it out to the potions master.

Severus took the scroll but hesitated before opening it. He had a feeling that everything was about to become much more complicated, not that anything it contained could change his mind about adopting the child. He hugged the small boy closer, took a deep breath and unrolled the scroll...only to nearly drop it as he read.

Verus Marvolo Rabastan Lestrange
Alias: Harry James Potter
DOB: 6 June 1980

Father: Rabastan Silvanus Lestrange - deceased
Mother: Athena Rose Lestrange nee Slytherin - deceased

Adopted Father: James Charlus Potter (illegal) 
Adopted Mother: Lily Marie Potter nee Evans (illegal) 
Blood Adopted Father: Sirius Orion Black

Legal Guardian: Vernon Earl Dursley (illegal)
Magical Guardian: Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore (illegal)

Living Blood Relations:
Rodolphus Lestrange - Paternal Uncle
Marvolo Slytherin - Maternal Grandfather

Guardians Possible:
Severus Snape (Guardian Bond Active)
Lucius Malfoy
Augustus Rookwood
Evan Rosier

Heir Lestrange
Heir Slytherin
Heir Gaunt
Heir Peverell
Heir Black


“Verus?” Severus muttered and the child in his lap perked up.

“Like that one, Sev’us,” he informed him,

“That explains why he didn’t like the name ‘Harry’ then,” Lucius remarked, face even paler than usual as he sat back after reading the parchment, “It wasn’t his true name, thus his magic didn’t accept it and he could tell.”


“Ironclaw, would you mind answering a few questions?”

“Not at all.” the goblin replied, wondering just what was written that had the adults reacting so.

“It says here that Rabastan Lestrange is deceased, how is that possible when he is also in Azkaban? Surely his death would have made the news?” Lucius asked.

Ironclaw frowned and summoned the file of the apparently late Lestrange.

“Yes, his records show that he passed in November of 1981, when he did not receive treatment for a severe cutting curse mere hours after the fall of your Dark Lord.”

“If he is truly dead, then who is in Azkaban posing as him?” Severus murmured, “This is decidedly odd.”

“Rabastan is dead then,” Lucius said, “but the Dark Lord is listed as a living relative and not as a potential guardian?”

“The relatives would be first on the list if they were able to take custody of the child.” Ironclaw said, “His uncle is in Azkaban and thus unable to be his guardian. Lord Slytherin, wherever he may be, is not mentally capable of caring for his grandson so the guardianship rights go to those his parents and magic itself found trustworthy and capable.”

“So why is Severus’ guardian bond with Ha-Verus already complete?” Lucius asked, knowing that such bonds didn’t just happen accidentally.

“I swore to always protect him,” Severus replied quietly, almost to himself, “Dumbledore made me do so in exchange for his testimony keeping me out of Azkaban...and I did so to protect Lily’s legacy. It was that bond that led me to Verus before Petunia could kill him.”

“But that isn’t how a protection vow works...or a guardian bond for that matter!” Lucius protested.

“In certain circumstances, a child’s magic will do extraordinary things. It is likely that his magic sensed the connection you shared and sought you out, completely changing the nature of the link.” Ironclaw explained. Lucius looked doubtful but kept silent, thinking everything over.

“Is the bond the reason for his trust in me? From what I have read about children in situations such as the one I found him in, this is...abnormal.”

“Yes, the magic of the guardian bond compels the child to trust their guardian. As I’m sure you understand, this is dangerous if the bond is made with ill intentions. It’s one of the reasons this kind of bond is rare and carefully regulated. Also, if made with unstable magic, the trust spills over a bit onto the other adults though that tentative trust will most likely fade as the main bond settles.”

“That makes much more sense.” Severus thought, before a big yawn from the child on his lap caught his attention.

“Well, as I am the primary candidate for guardianship anyway, I would like to blood adopt young Mr.erm….Verus.” he said confidently, “As soon as possible, as I believe it’s time for someone’s nap.”

“Are you mad, Severus?” Lucius hissed, “How do you think the Dark Lord will react to this when he returns?!”

“I expect he will be glad that his heir has grown up happily instead of as a house elf for muggles.” Severus replied calmly, it would help noone if he were to allow himself to grow angry.

“You can do that without blood adopting him!” Lucius protested, “You could do that without even adopting him! Merely claim guardianship and be done with it!”

“No, the safest thing for Verus is for me to blood adopt him.” Severus argued, “As my son, no one will be able to take him from me, especially since the blood adoption potion cannot be purged.”

“But your own safety, Severus!”

“Would you not forget your own safety to protect Draco?”

That silenced the blond aristocrat and Severus ran a calming hand up and down Harry’s back. He didn’t know if he was calming himself or the child more.

“Sev’us, you still be my Da?” Harry whispered in his ear.

“Yes, I will, I promise.” Severus replied instantly, shooting Lucius a glare to keep him silent. He understood that his friend was just looking out for him but he wished he hadn’t voiced his concerns in such a way.

“Might I suggest claiming the Prince estate before proceeding with the adoption?” Ironclaw put in, not at all bothered by the brief spat between the two wizards. He’d seen much worse.

“Yes, I believe I will.” Severus said,

“Wonderful,” Ironclaw said, “I took the liberty of having the Prince lordship ring brought to my office while you were with Healer Farlock.” Ironclaw produced a box and opened it before offering it to Severus.

Severus stared at the large silver ring for a moment. He had wondered, once, what his grandfather had done with it, who he had decided to pass his legacy to and then had dismissed the thought. His grandparents had disowned his mother when she married Tobias Snape, leaving her, and eventually Severus, to deal with the drunken excuse for a man all alone. He understood that she had made her own choices, but he also thought that a parent’s love was supposed to be stronger than that. Their abandonment of his mother had made him bitter and resentful towards them, one of the reasons he had dismissed the part of himself that wondered who had control of the estate. Now though, if only to strengthen his own position so that he could better protect Harry, Severus was grateful for his inheritance. He slid the ring from the box and placed it on the index finger of his left hand. The ring glowed brightly for a moment before returning to its previous state, signifying that the family’s magic had accepted him as the new head of the family.

“Congratulations, Lord Prince.” Ironclaw said, “Do you wish to assign your seats to someone to use as a proxy or will you sit in them yourself?”

“Thank you. I assign Lord Malfoy as my proxy,” Severus replied after exchanging a brief glance with his friend.

“And will you be doing the same with the seats you will be proxy to once you gain custody of your new heir?”

“Yes,” Severus agreed, “There is no one else I would trust to use those seats in my stead.”

“Very well.” Ironclaw said, “On to the adoption then, I have the potion here. I’m sure you already know that it will need seven drops of your blood, Lord Prince, and then the child will have to drink the whole thing.”

“Did you hear that, Little One?” Severus asked, “You’ll have to drink the whole thing even if it tastes vile, do you understand?” He waited until Har-Verus nodded and quickly cut open his finger to add the required amount of blood to the potion.

Once the blood was mixed in with the potion, Severus handed the vial to the child and watched proudly as he downed the concoction, screwing up his nose at the end and gladly accepting his green sippy cup, which Severus produced from one of his many pockets having had the forethought to bring water to wash away the awful taste.

“Congratulations once again, Lord Prince,” Ironclaw said, “We will wait a few minutes and check the inheritance test we did earlier for any name changes.”

“We don’t have to do a new one?” Lucius asked,

“No, had we cleared the room and returned in a few hours, we would have needed to redo the test. However, as the magic has not yet had the chance to completely settle, it will change the markings on the scroll on its own.” Ironclaw explained.

Severus tuned this out, watching his new son for any changes that might occur. His son. Wasn’t that a thought, certainly one he’d never thought he would get the chance to have.

Five minutes later, Harry’s hair had gone from chaotic curls to jet black waves that reached his shoulders. Severus was relieved to see that the child hadn’t received his nose and noticed that the ring around Harry’s iris, the limbal ring if he remembered correctly, had turned as black a his own, not that this surprised him since the black eyes were a Prince family trait.

“Alright, now the scroll.” Ironclaw said, gesturing for Severus to open it once again. He idly thought that he was much less nervous this time.

Verus Severus Marvolo Rabastan Prince-Lestrange
Alias: Verus Severus Prince
DOB: 6 June 1980

Father: Rabastan Silvanus Lestrange - deceased
Mother: Athena Rose Lestrange nee Slytherin - deceased

Blood Adopted Father: Severus Tobias Snape-Prince
Blood Adopted Father: Sirius Orion Black

Legal Guardian: Severus Tobias Snape-Prince
Magical Guardian: Severus Tobias Snape-Prince

Living Blood Relations:
Rodolphus Lestrange - Paternal Uncle
Marvolo Slytherin - Maternal Grandfather

Heir Lestrange
Heir Slytherin
Heir Gaunt
Heir Peverell
Heir Black
Heir Prince

“Verus Severus Marvolo Rabastan Prince-Lestrange. That’s your new name, Little One.” Severus said to the beaming bundle in his lap.

“A good, strong name,” Lucius said, offering a smile to both of them. Severus saw it for the bit of an apology it was and nodded.

“Verus Severus Prince for short, something easy to explain if we ever need to.” Severus continued. The child gasped,

“I get Sev’us name too? Da, that okay?”

“Indeed,” Severus replied, heart lurching at the use of his own new “name”, “I’m sure we will be able to share it.”

Verus, who had far less trouble thinking of himself as this name than he’d had trying out ‘Harry’ couldn’t keep the smile off of his face. He decided to see if he could still talk to Tom while Sev’us...Da...and the others talked. He shut his eyes to try, not even noticing when he was picked up and carried out of the goblin’s office.

“You see that, Pom?” he asked excitedly, “You see? I got a Da!”

“Yes you did, and a new name,” Tom replied. Verus thought it odd that he could hear the man but not see him, not that he cared at the moment, his news was much more important.

“Yep! Vewus Sev’us!”

“I believe we will need to work on your pronunciation,”

“Pom, you okay?” Verus asked, noting that his friend’s voice sounded...strange somehow, almost...sad?

“...I am, thank you, Little One.” came the reply, “I am happy that you have a family now.”

“Sev’us is best Da.” Verus replied easily.

“He will be wonderful.” Tom agreed, “Now, I will see you when you sleep, Verus, I believe your new Da is trying to get your attention.”

“Okay, Pom, see you then!”

As Verus opened his eyes to see what his Da wanted to say, he thought he heard the softest of whispers say,

“I’m so sorry, Little One.”

Chapter Text

Lucius and Severus separated once they arrived back in Malfoy Manor. Lucius went to tell Narcissa of what had happened and Severus to get Verus settled for a much needed nap.

“Papa!” Draco exclaimed, seeing Lucius in the door of the playroom. He shot to his feet and ran to cling on his father’s legs.

“Hello Dragon,” Lucius said, lifting his son to hold him close, “have you been behaving for your mother?”

“Yes, Papa!” Draco assured him, “Mummy says Dragon is a good boy!”

“He has been unusually good today,” Narcissa said, making her way across the room to greet her husband with a kiss.

“Good, I’m proud of you, Draco.”

The child’s response was merely a happy laugh before he struggled to get out of his father’s arms so that he could continue playing with his toys.

“How was the trip to Gringotts?” Narcissa asked as they watched Draco play.

“Shocking,” Lucius replied honestly, not really knowing where to begin.

“Is Harry going to be alright?”

“Yes, though his name isn’t Harry anymore,”

“Well, that’s to be expected if Severus wants to hide him from Dumbledore,” Narcissa said but Lucius shook his head,

“His name...the child wasn’t really Harry Potter,” he said, “the Potters adopted him illegally,” he handed his wife a copy of the inheritance test and watched as she frowned.

“The poor child,” she murmured, “I can’t imagine what that was like for him.” A dangerous gleam entered her eyes as she continued, “I look forward to watching the Dark Lord punish those filthy muggles upon his return.”

Lucius stared at his wife in shock at those words, though he definitely agreed with them. There was no surprise on her face at the true heritage of the boy and certainly none of the fear he had initially felt. Fear that he now realized was completely irrational no matter how unstable the man had been before he vanished.

“What an amazing woman.”

“Papa?” Draco asked, noticing the silence between his parents.

“Yes, Draco?”

“Can Dragon boy soon?” They had told Draco that there was another child staying in the manor but he was very sick and could not play, which was why his godfather was not often around. Since then, he had asked multiple times a day if he could meet him.

“It’s may I, Dragon,” Lucius automatically corrected, “I will have to speak to your Uncle Severus about a visit.” an odd look crossed his son’s face before he asked,

“What’s his name?”

“His name is Verus.”

“May Dragon play wif V...Verus? That right?” Lucius had no idea where this was going but he answered anyway,

“Yes, that was correct…”

“Good,” Draco nodded, “Dragon will ask Uncle Sev now.” and with that, he headed out the door, leaving his stunned parents behind.

“Ah...wait a moment!” Lucius said, going after the child as Narcissa stifled a laugh.

“Are you hungry, Verus?” His Da asked as he removed the child’s cloak and shoes.

“No?” he replied, not entirely certain if he’d rather have food or sleep, “Sleepy.”

“Would you like some of that chocolate milk before your nap then?” Da tried. Verus considered that for a moment. If he had the drink from the purple cup, he could rest and have something so his tummy wasn’t angry at him. That sounded like a good deal to him.

“In the purple cup?” Verus asked, hopeful. He liked that purple cup that may or may not be his.

“We will see,” the man turned and removed his own cloak before lifting his child and sitting down, “Alright, Verus. I’m going to summon a house elf to get your drink, okay?”

Verus nodded and looked on with wide eyes as his Sev’us snapped his fingers. Just like that, there was a little pop and an odd little thing was standing in front of them. It didn’t look like it could harm him but Verus snuggled back into his Da just in case.

“What can Glibby be doing for Master Snape?” the thing...Glibby asked.

“We require a cup of the children’s nutrition potion Lady Malfoy recommended. Preferably in a purple no-spill cup.”

“Right away, Master Snape,” Glibby replied and popped away.

“Da?” Verus asked quietly,


“Name...Snape?” that made no sense to Verus. Wasn’t their last name Prince now?

“Ah, it was,” Sev’us said, “I changed it today.”

“We match, Da?”

“That’s right,” he assured him, “We match.”

“Here you are, Master Prince,” Glibby said, popping into the room with the familiar purple cup.

“Thank you,” Sev’us said and the creature bowed and popped away.

“Da, it pops with magic?” Verus asked curiously, “I pop too?” His Sev’us chuckled,

“Yes, when you’re much older, you will be able to pop around too.” Verus turned a bit to look up at him,

“You pop, Da?” he nodded,

“It’s called apparating, actually. Most adult witches and wizards can do so.”

Verus filed that away with the other things that made his Sev’us super cool and reached for his cup, deciding that he was done talking and would much rather snuggle with his new Da and take a nap.

Severus smiled when he felt the bundle in his arms go limp within minutes of settling in to drink the nutrition potion. He really needed to look up who had invented the child-friendly version of the potion and send them a thank you letter. He couldn’t imagine trying to get a child to drink the disgusting adult version...though he also doubted that Verus would say anything even if he didn’t like it at all.

He sat there for a moment and let the events of the morning sink in. He had a son, someone else to care for in the world. Of course, he’d also learned that the woman he’d thought of as his best friend was a kidnapper...and the Dark Lord had a family that no one had known about...but that information really wasn’t as important as the fact that Verus was now his to protect.

After sitting there for a while, Severus settled Verus in the bed and cast a monitoring charm to alert him of any disturbance, whether that be his son having a bad dream or waking up.

Severus quietly left the room in search of Lucius, knowing they needed to talk more about what they were going to do now. He’d only taken a few steps down the hall before he began to worry about what might happen if Verus woke up without him there. Logically, he knew he couldn’t always be there when the child woke up, but…

“Ah, Severus, I was just on my way to see you,” Lucius said as he rounded the corner.

“Indeed.” Severus replied, “I was about to go looking for you myself.” He fought the need to glance back at the room he’d just left and Lucius gave him a knowing look.

“Shall we meet in Verus’ room using a silencing charm?”

“That is...preferable…” Severus replied. He breathed an almost imperceptible sigh of relief and turned back to open the door for both of them to enter.

Severus set up a silencing charm while Lucius ordered tea. A few minutes later, tea in hand, they sat in silence, unsure of where to begin.

“Have you thought of what you and Verus will do now?” Lucius asked, opting for the less heavy of the matters they needed to discuss, “You know you are more than welcome to make your home with us.”

“Thank you, Lucius,” Severus replied, “but I believe I will look through the properties we own collectively and choose one of those. I certainly won’t be keeping him at Spinner’s End. That is no place for a child to grow up, especially if there are other options available. We won’t need anything too big and I for one will be happy as long as there is space for a lab.”

“Might I suggest choosing a Prince, Peverell, or Black property? Prince properties especially will likely have a lab or two that are up to your standards.”

“I believe either a Prince or Peverell property will be fine. While the Mutt is in Azkaban and out of the way, I would not have put it past him to have given Potter or Dumbledore the locations of many Black family properties.” Severus reasoned.

“You just don’t want to end up owing Black for anything.”

Severus didn’t bother answering that. His friend was right, of course, but he didn’t have to say it. There was silence for a few moments as they both attempted to avoid heavier topics, neither wanting to address the elephant in the room.

Verus knew he was sleeping when he arrived at the park. He was so, so, soooo excited to tell Tom all about his day, even though he’d been there too. The best part was that the day wasn’t even over yet since he was sleeping during the day like Dudley did sometimes.

“Pom?” he called, looking around for his friend. He frowned when no answer came. Surely he wouldn’t have started a game of hide and seek without him? Tom always let him hide first if they were playing. He shrugged and began to look anyway.

“Ready or not, here I come…” he said, though the words felt far too heavy and loud in the silence.

The swingset was empty, swings swaying in the breeze. The slide and monkey bars empty as well. There was no one under the big tree where they talked, no one in the sandbox, and no one on the bench near the entrance to the playground.

Verus was alone.

He sat on a swing and stared at his empty park sadly. Had he done something wrong? Did his friend not want to be his friend now that he had a Da? Tom had said it was alright but he’d sounded weird...was something wrong? Was Tom sick like Verus had been?

The last thought worried him as Tom didn’t have his Sev’us to come and rescue him.

Verus considered looking outside the park for Tom. He had never thought to wander past the gates and into the dark forest beyond. The shadows between the trees scared him more than he cared to admit. But...if Tom was hurt or sick and out there all alone…

“Pom my friend.” Verus thought, hopping off of his swing, “Gotta help.”

Mind made up, Verus headed for the gate.

“Well, the Dark Lord is alive somewhere.” Lucius began, deciding to just dive right into the conversation they’d both known they would need to have.

“Which we already knew due to the mark still being slightly visible.” Severus reminded him.

“Yes, but now that we know for sure it is our duty to begin searching for him…” Lucius trailed off, looking into his teacup pensively,

“You seem hesitant, Lucius.” Severus pointed out, though he both understood and agreed with that hesitance.

“Yes,” the blond admitted, “I hesitate to bring even a man as great as the Dark Lord back unless we have some way to return him to sanity.”

“Indeed.” Severus agreed. It didn’t matter that he hoped the Dark Lord’s visit to the Potters had been misconstrued as something else entirely. Until he found out for sure, there was no way he wanted the man anywhere near Verus or Draco...or himself for that matter.

“It might be better to just wait it out,” Lucius said, “but then we would have to answer for that decision when he finally returns and who knows how much more of his sanity he will have lost by then.”

“We could, perhaps, research what forbidden rituals he might have attempted that caused his loss of sanity and a way to reverse the effects.” Severus suggested, “While we wouldn’t be attempting to locate the Dark Lord, we would be prepared to help him upon his return.” Lucius nodded,

“And if we were to finish our preparations before he returns, we would be able to then more or less safely search for him.”

“Indeed.” Severus agreed once again, then thought for a moment before saying, “I have access, with Verus’ permission, to Slytherin Manor, which might give us a place to start, perhaps even the answer we need.” Lucius frowned,

“You had better hope whatever we find will make him sane before you have to tell him that you raided his manor.”

“The man is a master of the most obscure areas of magic,” Severus said calmly, “If we want to have a chance, that is where we must begin.”

Verus walked as quietly as he could through the dark forest. He didn’t dare call out for Tom as the silence within the trees seemed much worse than that of the empty playground, but he searched the shadows as closely as he dared.

Verus glanced back the way he’d come, nerves building as he realized that the light from outside was close to vanishing, swallowed by the shadows that seemed to writhe as though they were alive.

He knew, though he couldn’t say how he knew, that he absolutely must not touch anything within the forest and keep as close to the center of the path as he possibly could. Verus tried his hardest not to jump every time he heard a twig snap or leaves rustle off in the darkness, but he could not help the whimper that escaped him when he heard growling from the underbrush.

“Pom?” he whispered, hearing a twig snap closer to the path than before.

No answer came. He glanced back again, missing the bright skies he could see from his park, even if he was alone. Verus went to walk forward along the path once more but found himself hesitating as his uneasiness grew.


Verus whipped around. Whose voice was that? It had come from the direction of his park.

“Pom’s voice? Or Da’s? Or...someone?? Maybe Da help Pom!”


Mind made up, Verus headed back towards the path, fear making him go much faster than before. It may have been his imagination...but he thought he heard something following just behind him in the darkness.

The thought of being chased had Verus running even faster. He didn’t know what it was that was behind him, but he knew it wasn’t good and he really really didn’t want to be caught by whatever it was.

The light at the end of the path came into view and Verus bolted for freedom...only to find himself flying through the air as he tripped over his own feet.

He landed with a thud only a few feet away from the treeline and lay there on his stomach for a moment, the breath knocked out of him. Just as he began to get up, Verus heard a long, low growl from right behind him and froze, holding his breath and squeezing his eyes shut, not daring to even move an inch.

“Sometimes your willingness to risk yourself is purely Gryffindor, you know.” Lucius said with a sigh.

“Bite your tongue!” Severus shot back, “The only other house I would consider is Ravenclaw since most of them aren’t useless dunderheads.”

Lucius smirked, thankful for the lightening mood.

“Of course, though placing you among the lions might be a good way to get rid of a few.”

Severus raised an eyebrow at that but didn’t answer as his monitoring charm went off. He turned to look at the bed, rising as he saw Verus’ face contort in what could have been either fear or pain. A few flicks of his wand had the silencing charm lowered so that they could hear the faint whimpers coming from the bed. He sat next to the child and gently ran his fingers through the soft black hair in a calming gesture,

“Verus? It’s okay, you’re okay,” he said quietly, hoping to wake his son without distressing him further, “Verus, time to wake up.”

Severus breathed a sigh of relief as Verus’ eyes popped open, deep green instantly becoming glassy with tears.

“D-d-da?” Verus whimpered softly, struggling to sit up. Severus pulled him into his arms and the tears began to fall.

“I’ve got you,” the man said, “It’s alright now,”

Severus held Verus for a while, whispering comforting words to the child as Lucius looked on with concern, not that the boy had noticed the blond man’s presence.

“What has scared you so?” Severus asked finally, once he was fairly certain the tears had stopped. Verus sniffled a bit before saying,

“W-was lookin’ for, for my, my friend, Pom, ‘cause, he, he didn’t waited for me in my park and, and so I went to look ‘cause what if he is, um, hurted or sick!”

Severus had so many questions but he waited, allowing Verus to continue uninterrupted.

“So, so I walked in the trees and, and was dark!”

“I need to remember to always leave some sort of light on in his room for him.”

“And noises and stuff scared me so, so I went back but, but got really, really scared and ran fast ‘cause something bad was there too! And, and then I fell really hard. Was scary, Da!” Verus informed him.

“That does sound scary, Verus,” Severus agreed, “Did you see what was chasing you?”

“No, Da, didn’t look...too scary.”

Severus didn’t know what to make of his son’s dream. It almost sounded like a memory, though he knew that Verus hadn’t been allowed to have any friends growing up so it wasn’t likely. If he looked at it another way, it sounded as though the child had created a sort of mindscape, likely to keep himself safe from the horrors that lay in his memories. That didn’t explain what it was that had chased him though since a guardian placed in one’s mind was not supposed to attack the person who had created it whether the creation was intentional or not.

“Well, let’s not go back into the trees again, alright?” that felt like a lame thing to say to the child, but he really wasn’t sure how else he could have possibly responded. Thankfully, Verus didn’t seem to think anything of it, merely nodding in agreement.

“Da?” he asked quietly,


“Think Pom’s okay?”

Severus had absolutely no idea who this “Pom” was but he knew there was only one answer to that question,

“I’m sure he’s well,” he said, “perhaps he was taking a nap just like you.”

“Oh, I didn’ think of that.” Verus said, relaxing a bit as his concern lessened, “He coulda been sleepy too!”


“Is he alright?” Lucius asked, more to let the child know he was there than anything else. Verus jumped at the sound of his voice and cuddled further into Severus in an attempt to hide as the potions master said,

“He’ll be fine, I believe. Nightmares happen to us all.”

“It’s completely understandable that he would have nightmares,” Lucius agreed, “Oh, Severus, Draco wants to know when he may meet Verus, he was set on finding you to ask you himself earlier.”

Severus chuckled at the thought of the little blond child toddling through the halls with that determined look on his face but looked down at his own child pensively. Verus still looked exhausted from the morning’s events and it had only been a day since he’d woken up, not to mention that he was still healing.

“Perhaps a few more days, Lucius,” he replied, “I’d like to get Verus settled before anything else.”

“Yes, I thought as much,” his friend replied, “I suppose we’ll use this to attempt to teach Draco patience.” he joked. Severus snorted,

“Good luck with that.”

Chapter Text

Verus awoke confused. He did not remember falling asleep and he did not remember dreaming, but it was morning if the light streaming through the curtains was any sign. He was alone in the room he’d become familiar with but he tried not to let that bother him too much...even though it definitely did.

He sat up and peered over the edge of the tall bed, wondering if he was big enough to reach the ground by himself. He had to potty and didn’t want to wet himself because he was a big boy but he also didn’t want to bother his Da if he was still asleep, not to mention he wasn’t sure where the man was.

Mind made up, Verus rolled onto his tummy and began carefully sliding his legs off of the bed, gripping the blankets for dear life as he moved so that he had at least a little control. Everything was going well...until the door to his room flew opened suddenly to admit the lady whose name he’d forgotten.

“Oh, what are you doing, you silly boy!” the woman exclaimed as she saw what he was doing.

Startled, Verus let go of the blankets and fell the rest of the way to the floor where he landed on his bottom with a *thump*. To his horror, he also let go of his bladder at that moment.

Verus didn’t quite hear what she said next, more focused on the way she had rushed over to loom above him, reaching to grab onto his arm or shoulder. He whimpered and shut his eyes, curling into himself in an attempt to escape her, knowing that both shouting out in fear and trying to apologize had always made Aunt Petunia angrier. Her voice increased in volume above him and he held his breath. It didn’t matter that she had been fine the other times they had met, his Sev’us wasn’t there with him this time, who knew what the lady would do.

He didn’t notice that certain objects in the room had begun floating as energy crackled through the air.

Severus wasn’t quite sure what he’d walked in on, all he knew was that he had to calm Verus down before he hurt himself or someone else.

“Narcissa, get back,” he ordered, not caring that he was technically a guest in her house at the moment.

“Severus, I-” she began, distraught.

“Not now.” he interrupted, “Be quiet and step back.”

Severus paid her no more attention as he moved to crouch beside his son.
“Verus,” he called quietly, “Verus, it’s alright. It’s okay.”

The child didn’t seem to be listening, curled into almost a fetal position, arms up over his head to protect himself, shaking like a leaf as his magic swirled around the room. Severus didn’t dare touch him in case his magic reacted violently before he realized who it was so he did the only thing he could think of and spelled a bit of a calming draught directly into Verus’ stomach.

It only took a moment for the potion to do its job, thankfully.


The little arms moved out of the way a bit, revealing watery green eyes.

“Da?” the child whimpered. Severus moved slowly, making sure none of his movements could be mistaken as a threat, opening his arms to the child.

“It’s alright, Little One, no one here will hurt you,” he assured him.

Verus didn’t respond, merely threw himself at Severus and burrowed into his warmth. It was immediately obvious that the child needed to be cleaned up before anything else.

Ignoring Narcissa completely, Severus stood and carried Verus into the bathroom, stopping only briefly to pull an outfit from the wardrobe on the way. He hoped to use this quick bathtime as a way to calm them both.

“Let’s get you cleaned up,” he murmured, “You can’t be comfortable like that.”

“Not mad, Da?” Verus whispered, staring up at the man cautiously,

“No, not mad at all.” Severus replied, “It was only an accident, nothing for me to be angry about.” Those words had the child relaxing enough for the man to put him down for a moment.

He didn’t make Verus sit in the tub for this, not sure how well he would take that after the rough start he’d had that morning. Severus merely vanished Verus’ soiled clothes and had the child stand in the tub as he efficiently cleaned and rinsed him, then took him out of the tub to dry him off and get him dressed in nice clean clothes.

“There we are,” Severus said, “All clean and ready for the day.” Verus gave him a small smile and burrowed into his chest, the child giggling quietly when both of their stomachs growled.

 “I-is he alright, Severus?” Narcissa asked nervously when they re-entered the room. Verus trembled a bit at the sound of her voice and Severus ran a soothing hand up and down the child’s back as he held him close and carried him over to where breakfast awaited them.

Severus sat, handed Verus the familiar purple cup, and made his own coffee before bothering to answer the woman,

“He will be fine, though I would like to know how this incident began, starting with how I ended up in the other room in the first place.” Severus really was not a fan of waking up in places other than where he’d fallen asleep, something Lucius would have known, which meant it was Narcissa that had a hand in this.

“Well, I stopped by to check on you two last night,” Narcissa said, “but you were both fast asleep. I had a house elf take you to your own room so that you would be comfortable in your own bed.”

Severus merely raised an eyebrow at that, not deigning to respond. Narcissa continued,

“I also set a monitoring charm on Verus so that I would know when he woke, just in case you weren’t up and he was scared to be in here alone. I startled him when I arrived and when I went to help, it just made the situation worse. He’s been here for a while...I don’t understand what the problem was,” Narcissa admitted,

“...You don’t understand why a child you’ve never interacted with one on one would be scared of you?” Severus asked in disbelief. Narcissa blushed as she realized why the man was looking at her as though she’d lost her mind,

“Oh...I believe I was...I completely forgot that Verus…”

“I don’t understand how you managed to forget, Narcissa,” Severus interrupted, “but I realize that you meant well, however, do not expect Verus to feel any sort of safety near you for a while yet, not in company and certainly not alone.”

“Of course.” she said quietly, “My sincerest apologies, to both of you.”

Severus watched her go, still confused about what she had actually thought she was doing. A weight hit his arm, and he looked down to find the Verus was on the verge of falling asleep.

“Not yet, Little One,” he said, regretfully shifting the child back into an upright position, “we have things to do today.”

“Th-things?” Verus yawned, blinking sleepily up at him.

“Yes. It seems we are in need of a place to call our own. I thought you might like to come with me to visit a few different properties and give your opinion.”

“O..opinion?” Verus asked,

“Ah, it means that I want you to tell me what you think about the places we visit.” Severus replied, “I’ll need you to be very honest with me so that we can choose the best home for us. Will you be able to do that?”

Verus’ eyes widened and he nodded enthusiastically,

“I can do that, Da!” he insisted. Severus smiled,

“Good, let me get dressed and we’ll go,”

“Stay here, Da?” Verus asked at that, understandably nervous after the rough start he’d had that morning.

“No, you may come with me to my room and sit while I get ready for the day. You need to know where it is anyway.” He stood and placed the child on his own two feet, taking his hand instead to lead him out the door and down the hallway.

Verus could not describe how much he hated the way they had traveled to wherever they were now, something his Da had called appa...appari...something… It made his tummy angry and his head all fuzzy. Da had apologized for that though and said he’d give him a potion to help when they had to go again. Verus was just amazed that his Da had realized something was wrong. He really wasn’t used to anyone noticing anything about him. It was nice.

“Well, what do you think of the place?” Da asked, making Verus look up.

“Wow!” he gasped, amazed at the size of the building in front of him, “ big!”

“Rather large, isn’t it.” Da agreed, walking up the path towards the place.

Verus wasn’t sure what to think about the very big house. It reminded him a little bit of the castles in storybooks...and of the place they were already staying. It looked very pretty but it felt weird for some reason, not to mention that the place gave off a strange glow.

“Da? Why’s it so...dark?” he asked quietly,

“Dark?” Sev’us echoed, “What do you mean by that?”

They’d almost reached the front doors by then, both of them very big with cool metal handles. Verus liked them, but he didn’t understand why they were so tall if they were just for regular people.

“It’s all dark and glowy,” Verus explained, “kinda like this spot.” he pointed at his Da’s arm.

Severus frowned at what the child was describing. Could he actually see magic?

“Do other things...glow, Verus?” he asked. Verus nodded,

“Lotsa things,” he informed the man, “the, um, by! Was sooo bright. It hurted my eyes, Da.”

“Oh? We shall have to be careful then, when we visit Diagon Alley,” Severus said seriously, “Now, Verus, how does the light here feel?”

“The glowy dark stuff?”

“Yes.” If the child could see magic, there was also a good chance that he could feel it and, hopefully, tell if it was dangerous to them or not. The wards should have accepted them thanks to the key the goblins had provided but there was still a chance that the things could be faulty.

“It’s...not mad…” Verus answered after a moment, “...doesn’t want us to be hurted? Can hurt though.” Severus nodded,

“Thank you, Verus. That is very helpful,” he said honestly, watching the way his son’s face lit up at the praise before turning to push the door open.

Severus’ first impression of the entry was that it was exactly what one expected from a wealthy pureblood family such as the Peverells. Tall ceilings, grand staircase, coatroom, apparition point, and floor room to the side, short walk to double doors that were no doubt a dining area of some sort, right across from the greatroom, and everything bore the Peverell coat of arms, interspersed with the sign of the legendary Deathly Hallows.

Not much could be discovered about any family by their entryway unless one is wondering whether or not the residents care about appearances.

Severus walked further inside and pulled out the floorplan that Ironclaw had given him the day before.

“What would you like to see first, Verus? The bedrooms, studies, or the lab?”

“Umm...bedrooms?” Verus answered though he looked up at Severus for confirmation that his choice was okay. Severus smiled,

“Bedrooms it is,” he said, “I believe the master bedroom and the heir room are both on this floor, those are the only ones we really need to worry about,” He let the child stand and took his hand to lead the way (with the map) through the halls.

“Da?” Verus asked, “This house...yours?”

“No,” Severus replied, “It’s actually yours. The family that originally owned this house doesn’t really exist anymore, not by name anyway. They were relatives of yours from your mother’s side of the family.”


After a short walk, they discovered that the bedrooms, while still nice, were bare for the most part other than the furniture. Most of the family heirlooms were in vaults in Gringotts. Verus didn’t seem to care about any of that, more impressed with the old tapestries lining the walls and the big, soft beds in the rooms.

As expected, the studies were the same. Any and all books or scrolls had been removed and were carefully preserved within Gringotts so the studies were basically just empty rooms with some bookshelves and a desk.

Finally, Severus led the way down to what was likely a dungeon or basement in the original plans but was now listed as “laboratory” on the map he’d been given. This was the part that most excited him, though he knew that any of the personal notes that might have been left behind wouldn’t be there.

Down the stairs they went, Severus pausing only briefly to pull out his wand to light the way when he noticed Verus growing more and more nervous beside him.

Verus didn’t like this at all. He did not like the cold air, he did not like the dark, and he especially did not like the odd glowy lines that floated through the air around them. He thought that his Da might have noticed when he paused for a moment but was disappointed when Sev’us merely pulled out his stick thing...wand...and made a light before continuing on.

With the new light, Verus was able to see the bottom of the stairs which helped a tiny bit, but there were more weird glowy things down there and those didn’t look right. He kept quiet though and followed along with his Da.

“...should be a door along here somewhere…” Sev’us murmured quietly as they walked down a long, damp hallway, “ah, there it is.”

“Da…” Verus whispered, trying to get his attention without making him angry. Unfortunately, it looked like he had spoken too softly because the man kept walking for the door.

“Tell him to be very careful.” a voice said and Verus couldn’t tell if it was in his head or if someone was whispering in his ear, “The labs down here are dangerous.”

“Okay,” Verus replied to the unknown person, “Da!”

“Hmm?” his Da stopped and looked down at him, blinking as though he was just waking up, “What’s wrong, Verus?”

“Da be careful. Labs...dangerous.” Verus informed him.

“They’re dangerous?”

“Ask him if he remembers what the Peverells were renowned for.” the voice instructed, stronger this time and loud enough for Verus to recognize the speaker.

“Pom what the...Pev...Pev’rulls were um…”

“Known for.” Tom simplified for him,

“Oh, were known for.” Verus finished. He was just happy that his Da wasn’t taking them closer to the creepy old door.

“What the Peverells…” Sev’us muttered, then his eyes went wide, “Oh! Verus, what color is the magic you can see down here, particularly by the door?”


“The glowing stuff you can see,” he clarified,

“Is black, Da, like the shirt!” Verus replied, proud that he’d actually known the color of the magic, “Is black and cold. I...don’t like it, Da.”

“No, you definitely wouldn’t.” the man said, frowning, “Is the magic on the door or inside the room?”

“In the room, but coming out too,” Verus said,

“If he would like to see, opening the door and looking inside won’t harm him.” Tom advised, “But you should not go near that sort of magic at your age. He may go look inside, you should stay right here.”

“Pom says it won’t hurt you to go see,” Verus told his Da, “But I’ve gotta stay back.”

Severus looked down at his child, frowning. Who was this “Pom” Verus spoke of? How was he speaking to him? There was no way that the child himself would have known to remind him of the stories about the Peverells! Of course, he could worry about that later.

“Thank your friend for me…” he said, feeling rather awkward for thanking someone invisible, though it was worth it for the smile that lit up his son’s face.

“Pom says welcome!” Verus said, “And you can look at the...that room if you want.”

Severus shook his head and picked the child up,

“No, not today. I believe it’s time for us to go look at the garden, how does that sound?”


As he walked back the way they’d come, Severus berated himself for forgetting the one thing he had known about this place’s previous owners. The Peverell family had an innate aptitude for necromancy, particularly the males of the line. This was thought to be the reason that the name had eventually died out, since the true necromancer lived in complete solitude for most of their lives, forsaking the company of the living for that of the dead. He had been foolish to forget that, especially when he was dragging Verus along for the ride.

“Da, we have food?” Verus asked suddenly, dragging Severus’ mind back to the present,

“Yes, I had the house elves prepare us a picnic lunch before we left Malfoy Manor,” he replied, “And they even remembered to pack your green cup.”

“Wow!” Verus exclaimed, face lighting up in surprise and excitement, “I hold my green cup outside, Da?”

“Yes you may,” Severus said and just like that, most of the all-consuming curiosity he’d had for the lab disappeared. Giving Verus a safe place to grow up and making him happy, those were the reasons they were there in the first place.

With his goals in mind, listening to Verus’ happy chatter, Severus made his way outside, leaving the dark depths of the house behind.

Dumbledore thought he was having a bad day when he returned to Hogwarts after Wizengamot.

Lucius Malfoy had sat there with this awful, smug look on his face during the entire session, one that was somehow a bit different than his usual smug look. Then, it had only gotten worse as the session progressed and every single thing that the "light side" had put forth was completely cut off even though Dumbledore knew for a fact that he had the most seats and should have been pulling the vote.

This had been happening for the past week or so and Dumbledore still had no idea how. He held all the seats within the alliance he'd set up so there was absolutely no way that he should have been shot down so many times.

He sat in his office and shut his eyes, glad to be away from everyone for the moment. Sometimes the stress of running a regime without appearing to really got to him, but he just had to remember that everything really was for the greater good. Dumbledore sighed, grabbed a lemon drop, and allowed himself to relax to the familiar sounds of the silver gadgets around the room whirring, telling him that everything was fine even if there were a few bumps in the road.

His eyes flew open as one of those gadgets began to shriek, loudly. He scanned the room looking to see which one it was. Hopefully, it was one of the ones that would tell him whether or not his supply of lemon drops was running low and not…

Dumbledore groaned at the sight of one of the dark detectors that linked directly to the lifeforce of one Harry Potter.

"If I didn't need those muggles so much, I would have killed them ages ago," he muttered, standing and making his way over to the floo. He would likely need potions if the child was injured again, and perhaps it was time to take someone else with him. Surely his potions master was bitter enough to believe whatever lie thrown at him about the child's wellbeing? Well, if he wasn't then there were always memory charms and compulsions to help with that.

"Severus Snape's quarters!" he exclaimed, throwing the floo powder.

"Severus!" he called, sticking his head through the flames, "Severus, you're needed!"

Dumbledore looked around, frowning. The rooms didn't look like they usually did. While there was no dust, there were no signs that anyone was living there. All of the studious man's books and what few personal items he'd had laying around were nowhere in sight.

A weight settled in Dumbledore's stomach as he pulled his head back into his own office.
There was no one else in the castle that summer, even Argus Filch had found somewhere else to be. He'd assumed that his potions master was still there but...perhaps he had gone home that summer as Minerva had?

"Spinner's End," he said, once again throwing the floo powder, only to step back in shock as the flames turned blood red and flared up before going out completely.

Dumbledore glared at the thing and made a mental note to write the man a letter about how important it was for him to keep the floo open in case of emergencies. He should always be available in case his boss needed something, no matter what time of year it was.
He sighed again, knowing he would just have to settle for whatever potions he himself had stored away instead of the ones Severus would have been able to provide. If he had no other choice, he would just have to call on Poppy and memory charm her once the boy was in a stable condition.

"Fawkes, take me to Privet Drive," he ordered, not even looking to see if his familiar was there to obey him. The stupid bird -would- obey him or he'd be seeing his next burning day sooner than expected!

A few moments later, Dumbledore stood on the Dursley's doorstep, not caring who might see him in his colorful robes. (Today's outfit was one of his favorites, a particularly Gryffindor choice in bright red and gold with dancing lions embroidered on the hems)

"What do you want?" Petunia Dursley snapped the second she opened the door.

"I need to see the child," Dumbledore responded, fixing the woman with his false grandfatherly gaze, "it has come to my attention that his health has declined to the point that one of my monitoring charms saw fit to warn me."

"H-he's not here any longer." Petunia stammered though she tried to make herself look angry, glaring at him, "He's gone. Went a week or so ago, no idea where. Good day." and with that, she attempted to slam the door in his face.

"Gone?" Dumbledore repeated, his mask falling to reveal the anger he felt at that statement, though he hoped none of the fear he felt was peeking through. The child couldn't be gone. He needed the boy alive for all of his plans to work!

Suddenly, the odd gloating looks on Malfoy's face came to mind along with the awful thought that perhaps the child had been taken by someone else instead of the Dursleys doing as they'd threatened a few times and dumping him in an orphanage.

He forced his way inside the house and drew himself up to his full, imposing height.

"Tell me what you did with the boy!" he demanded, watching as the woman cringed and shied away from him. When no answer was provided, Dumbledore stunned the woman and levitated her into the living room, ignoring the screeching of her son from somewhere upstairs.

From the depths of his robe, Dumbledore pulled out a vial of veritaserum, now thankful he'd thought to carry some on him, and poured a bit down the woman's throat before lifting the spell he'd used. He was glad the potion worked on muggles, even if the side effects were sometimes rather nasty, using legilimency would have likely left the woman insane and that wouldn’t do since he needed her here for when he found the child. Dumbledore watched her eyes glaze over as the potion began to work.

"What have you done with Harry Potter?" he demanded,

"Threw him out with the garbage." Petunia replied calmly, unable to show any emotions at all with the potion in her.

"Why?!" Dumbledore shrieked in outrage.

"He fell down the stairs. Looked dead so I threw out the body."

“When was this?”

“Earlier this week.” Petunia said, before promptly passing out.

Dumbledore stood and stalked out of the house, barely able to see through his rage. His day had just gotten so much worse.

Chapter Text

Severus watched Verus bounce along the garden path in front of him, clutching the green cup in one little hand. He was excited by every single thing out there, though Severus had had to warn him away from a few of the plants that were magical and might have done him harm. Obviously, the gardens were the best part of this property, though it was looking more and more unlikely that this place would be the one for them.

"Can you find us a place to eat, Verus?" he called ahead.

"Yes, Da!" Verus exclaimed and darted off a little way, though never too far ahead, looking for a clear spot for them to sit.

Severus, for his part, simply followed the child through the maze of overgrown plants, enjoying the fresh air and the sunlight.

Five minutes after starting his quest, Verus latched onto Severus' hand and began to tug him along faster,

"Here, Da!" he said happily, leading the man over to a clear place right beside a little pond.

"Good find, Verus!" Severus praised him, "This is a wonderful spot."

With a flick of his wand, the man had a blanket spread out on the grass in the spot Verus had found. In no time at all, the two of them were seated and enjoying a lunch of sandwiches and fresh fruit from the Malfoys' garden.

Sometimes, the potions master couldn't help but sit and be amazed at how much his life had changed in such a short amount of time. He'd always assumed he would be an awful father and hated the thought of parenthood, what with how little patience he'd had as a teacher and his own upbringing, but sitting across from his small son he knew that he wouldn't give this up for anything.

"Da?" The child's voice had him looking up to find big green eyes fixed on his face,


"This is lotsa fun," Verus informed him seriously, "Just me and Da." Severus smiled,

"I think this is fun too," he agreed, "when we get our own house, it will be like this most of the time."


"Yes though I expect Lucius will visit occasionally, if you don't mind of course." Severus watched as Verus thought about that before nodding,

"He's okay." the child said simply, and that was that.

"What do you think about the house?" Severus asked a few minutes later, remembering that he had told the boy that he would get a say in this too.

"House is pretty," Verus replied, "Under house... I don't...I don’t like that part." Severus nodded,

"I agree," he said honestly, "we will have to look at other places until we find one that's just right."

Verus' only response was a smile before he yawned and took a big drink from his green cup.

"Are you tired?" Severus asked, "You may take a nap if you'd like."

"Nuh uh, 'm fine." Verus said, shaking his head, "We see another house?"

Severus knew that was a lie of course, but he allowed it. The child would most likely fall asleep while they explored the second house, unless that one was far more interesting than this one had been.

“Yes, we have another house to look at today,” he answered, “let’s pack up our things and we’ll head out.”

“Okay, Da.” Verus said, handing his cup over to the man. Packing didn’t take long and within the next ten minutes the two of them were standing in front of the next property. Magic truly was a wonderful thing.

Prince Manor gave off a completely different type of energy, that much was clear the moment they set foot on the property. Severus wondered if perhaps it had something to do with his connection to the bloodline, much closer than Verus' claim to the Peverell name.

"What do you see, Verus? How does the magic look?" he asked cautiously. The Prince family was known for their love of privacy, and the usage of plenty of nasty original spells to protect it, something he himself had inherited.

"...won't hurt, Da," Verus answered, "likes you lots."

"It likes me?"

"Yes, it's like...hugs," Verus informed him.

"That is likely because my family's magic is still prominent here," Severus said, more to himself than to the child who just looked up at him in confusion. "And how does the magic like you?"

"Um...don't know," Verus admitted, "Magic isn't angry, just...looking."

“Ah, the family magic is likely still settling.”

Prince Manor had been built long before the birth of Severus' grandparents and still had its original wards intact, though they had been strengthened and added to throughout the years. Many of the original wards, due to the instability of the nobility in that time period, would have been able to sense the new addition to the family through blood adoption, a safety measure put in place to prevent line theft. Thankfully, magic worked on intentions and would accept Verus with little to no effort on their part.

"Da?" Verus asked, "Will magic here hug me too?" Severus gave the child a smile,

"I believe it will," he replied,


The pair cautiously entered the house, noting that it once again appeared to be a classic pureblood manor. Entirely too opulent for Severus' tastes but at the same time...he could see himself learning to love living there.

"Bedrooms, studies, then the lab again?" Severus asked, pointedly ignoring Verus' yawn as the child frowned,

"No...other way..." he decided. Severus nodded, he certainly wasn't going to argue with seeing the lab first!

The trek down to the area marked as a lab on the map was uneventful, though Severus made a mental note to have the portraits of his distant relatives removed and placed in the family vaults...they were all far too nosy...and noisy for that matter.

"Alright, Verus," Severus said, coming to a stop right outside the door to the lab, "how does it look?"

Verus frowned and stared hard at the big wooden door for a few moments before he muttered,

"...'s okay, Da, this one's good." He trailed off into another big yawn and Severus cuddled him closer, though he didn't draw any more attention to the child's obvious need for a nap, opting to open the door instead.

Verus watched curiously as his Da looked around the big, weird smelling room but it wasn't long until he felt himself dropping off to sleep in the man's arms. He figured that would be okay since he'd stayed awake long enough to tell his Da that the place wasn't going to hurt them. He closed his eyes and a few moments later, found himself opening them in his park.

"Hello there, Little One," a familiar voice said and Verus spun to grin up at his friend,

"Pom! You're back!" he exclaimed, allowing the tall man to draw him into a gentle embrace. Sure his friend had talked with him earlier, but it wasn’t quite the same as seeing him face to face.

"Yes, I'm sorry for worrying you, Verus." Tom said seriously, "I did not intend to do so."

"Was so, so scared," Verus informed him, "But Da said...he said maybe Pom was tired too!"

"Yes," Tom agreed, nodding, "I used up too much energy and had to take a nap, just like you."

"Better now?"

"I am, thank you," Tom smiled down at him and Verus returned the grin,

"Good. Swing?"

"Of course. How is your new father doing?" Tom asked as they headed for the swings.

"Da is the bestest da!" Verus exclaimed, "looking at, at houses so it's just Da and Verus...and Pom of course, but Da makes a funny face when I talk about Pom."

"Your Da doesn't know who I am, silly," Tom replied, picking the child up to plop him down on a swing, "perhaps you could describe me to him if he keeps making funny faces?"


"Describe. I was suggesting that you tell your da what I look like,"

"Ooh..." Verus said but didn't reply any further as Tom began to push him higher and higher. He would maybe tell his Da about Tom eventually... He thought that, maybe, he would like his friend Pom to be just his friend for a little while longer, until they got their very own new house...then he would tell Da that he had a friend that lived in his head and played with him when he slept.

Severus was thankful for the weight of the child in his arms, it was the only thing that kept him from dropping everything to spend the next several hours inspecting every nook and cranny of the impressive lab.

He knew, without having to look, that the room next door, which was a lab of sorts but for spell creation instead of potions, was just as impressive as this one. Had he known of his inheritance and decided to put his animosity with his mother's family behind him earlier in life, there was a good chance that he would have been able to stay out of the war completely. Severus wasn't entirely certain that that would have been a good thing since he himself would not have a son if any of his personal history were to change so dramatically.

Even though he was mindful of the sleeping toddler, Severus allowed himself to spend almost a full hour familiarizing himself with both labs. He could see exactly where each of his own pieces of equipment would go and was already making a list of what he would brew first...though experimental potions and other, more practical ones seemed to be warring for the top spot as the very first one to be made. He could also see where his notes and books would go, as well as the target he would set up in the spellcrafting room. This place, dare he say it, seemed absolutely perfect so far. As it was, Severus finally had to force himself to leave his new favorite rooms to go inspect the rest of the property.

The studies were tidy, nothing out of the ordinary there. Like with the Peverell property, most of the heirlooms had been sent to the Prince vaults for safekeeping after the previous owners passed away so, other than the portraits, there really wasn't too much to give the place any character.

Severus followed the map until he found the bedrooms that were most important to him. He opened the door to the master bedroom and stepped inside to find a room that was surprisingly light and open. He knew that with his own touches here and there, it would quickly feel like home and, thankfully, would look and feel absolutely nothing like his old quarters at Hogwarts. The fact that the room also had a massive ensuite was just another plus.

He hadn't quite realized just how important it was to him that the rooms be completely different from anything else until just then. All Severus had ever known were dark rooms, cramped spaces, and secrecy. Now he needed something that was the polar opposite for his own new life with his new little family...well, perhaps not the opposite of secrecy, he did still enjoy his privacy.

"Da?" Verus' sleepy voice said though the child's head did not lift from his shoulder.

"Have a nice nap, Verus?" Severus asked and received a small nod in response, "I'm glad."

"Where...we, Da?"

"We're still in Prince Manor," Severus replied, "this is what would be my bedroom. You've awoken just in time to see if you like the room that would be yours."

That seemed to wake the child up quickly enough, Verus suddenly gaining the energy to lift his head off of Severus' shoulder.

"My room?"

"Yes, it's across the hall, shall we go look?"

"Yes, please, Da!"

Severus chuckled and exited the master bedroom, a few short steps taking him to the door that led to the heir room.

Verus gasped as he took in the room before them and Severus, after glaring skeptically at every part of the place, nodded approvingly. This would do nicely.

Like the master bedroom, it was completely different from any "room" that had been Verus' before. It was spacious and open, giving it an inviting air. A charm had been placed on a large (fake) window that let light pour into the space (this was, admittedly, a safety feature to protect the heir from outside threats) and dance around the room, something that had the little boy grinning in Severus' arms. With a few little touches and likely far too many toys, this room had the potential to be a place where Verus could feel safe.

Severus knew then that they had found their new home, even if they hadn't seen the rest of the place.

"What do you think, Verus?" he asked, though the look on the child's face said exactly what he thought.

"Love, love, love it, Da!" Verus exclaimed, "You like this too?"

"Yes, Little One, I believe I like this one as well." Severus agreed, "Do you think you could call it home?"

"Yes, Da! New home."

"Very well then, we will need to go back to Malfoy Manor for a little while, but we'll move into our new home within the week, how does that sound?" Severus asked, knowing very well what the answer would be.

"Sounds good, Da! Verus and Da's home! Oh, and Pom!" Severus smiled indulgently down at the boy,

"Yes of course, mustn't forget Pom."

That night, Dragon waited for a really really long time after his Papa left the room before he grabbed his favorite plushie (a soft dog that looked exactly like his favorite of his Papa’s dogs), carefully climbed out of his toddler bed, and tiptoed over to the door. For perhaps the first time in his short life, the boy was absolutely silent. He knew he couldn't let his parents or the old nurse elf hear him moving around or they'd be in to check on him before he could do anything fun.

He held his breath as he opened his door and peeked his head out into the hall. When no parent or elf appeared, Dragon quickly began to make his way through the dark manor to where he knew his Uncle Sev's room was (and if he walked much faster than usual because of the dark, well, no one else was around to see it!). He'd heard Papa and Mummy say that the sick boy was staying in a room by his godfather's so he knew he could find him and finally meet him! He knew they would be best friends and play and go on really cool adventures and it would be so so so fun!

Dragon was certain that the scariest part of this journey was when he had to pass what his Papa said was called the main staircase, though his Mummy always argued that it was the grand stair for some reason. He hadn't really seen this area at night though, and he'd certainly never been there alone. Without all the daylight or even the magical lights that were sometimes lit along the entryway, the stairs appeared to drop off into nothingness.

For a few moments, Dragon toyed with the idea of going back to his room and trying again during the day when he was supposed to be taking a nap, but he really really didn't want to wait and he knew he'd be in big trouble if Mummy caught him up during naptime. She always caught him if he was up at naptime.

“Red is here too, Dragon.” his plushie said suddenly, “Red and Dragon are big! Not scared of the dark.” Dragon nodded, took a big breath, and whispered,

"Dragon is a big boy. Got Red too. Not scared of nothing."

He repeated his new mantra to himself as he stepped out into the open area at the top of the stairs, trying to ignore the feeling that someone or something was watching him from the darkness.

"Dragon is brave like a real dragon," he muttered proudly as soon as he reached the other side and was safely hidden once again. Of course, this thought didn't really help him when he realized that this hallway was somehow even darker than where he had been before.

Dragon whimpered a bit, but he was a Malfoy and they were nothing if not stubborn...or at least, that's what his Papa said...or something like he kept moving. His Uncle Sev's room had never felt so far away before, the hallway stretching on forever before he finally found the side hall that led to his goal. He had asked once why Uncle Sev did not have a room near the rest of the family and Papa had said that Uncle Sev really liked something he'd explained that that basically meant he sometimes wanted to be alone) and had requested the place specifically.

Dragon thought that was a very silly thing. No one liked being alone. He was glad he had brought Red, he really didn’t want to be alone in the dark, scary hallway.

He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw the door to Uncle Sev's room at last. Now there were only two different doors he needed to try before he would have a new bestest friend ever.

Dragon really hoped that his godfather was completely asleep and wouldn't hear him opening either of the doors, though if he was caught he was certain he would get away with it if he were to tell his Uncle Sev that he was just looking for him...

The small boy looked between the two doors that could be hiding his new friend and gasped happily when he finally noticed that a soft light was on in the one right next to Uncle Sev's. That had to be the right one!

Dragon carefully opened the door to the sick boy's room and peeked inside, squinting against the light. He wasn't really impressed with the place, it looked just like any of the other guest rooms in his home, but he was very excited when he noticed the small shape on the bed.

Completely forgetting to be super quiet and sneaky, Dragon bounced over to the big bed and scrambled up on top so that he could better see the other boy.

He immediately decided that his new friend's hair was the prettiest hair he'd seen, a little like Uncle Sev's but...well, prettier. Red agreed. He was much smaller than Dragon was and had just begun making funny little noises in his sleep. At least, Dragon thought they were funny until his new friend made a sad face.

Dragon wasn't sure what to do so he decided to try and comfort his friend like he did the puppies he got to play with sometimes, carefully reaching out to pet the other boy's soft hair. Dragon looked around and frowned, why didn’t his new friend have a special blanket or plushie to help him be brave at night?

“Red can help!” the plushie told his boy. Dragon frowned and whispered,

“But...Red is Dragon’s toy…”

“Yes, Red is Dragon’s but Red can help the sick boy too.”

“Cuddle both Dragon and Sick Boy?” Dragon asked,

“Yes,” Red agreed and Dragon finally moved to put his puppy in the other boy’s arms...only to discover that big green eyes were staring up at him.

“Oh, hi!” Dragon said quietly, still hoping he wouldn’t wake his Uncle Sev, “My name is Dragon! This is Red! He wants to cuddle so Sick Boy isn’t sad no more.” To prove his point, Dragon plopped Red down on the other boy’s chest and smiled as careful hands moved to pet the soft fur.

“Red is the bestest.” Dragon informed him, “We gotta be quiet or Uncle Sev will be wakeded up.” Of course, it was only the blond boy that was speaking so that information was pointless but Dragon was just so so happy to finally see the sick boy!

“nn...dreamin’...” the sick boy murmured, and closed his eyes once again to go back to sleep, though he didn’t let go of Red which made Dragon happy.

Dragon yawned and lay down so that he could be like his new friend...and so that he could comfortably grab on to one of Red’s ears. He didn’t even notice his eyes closing, his dreams filled with the grand adventures he would have with his new bestest friend ever and Red.

Chapter Text

Severus wasn't quite sure what to make of the scene he walked in on. He'd only been gone for a few minutes, just so that he could get ready for bed, and suddenly there was not one, but two children on the bed.

He was fairly certain that a five minute bathroom break was not long enough for children to multiply.

"Your parents are going to panic when they wake..." Severus muttered, even as he pulled the blankets up over both of his charges.

The thing that surprised him the most was that Red was in Verus' arms and not Draco's. That dog went everywhere with the blond and he didn't even let his parents touch it without putting up a fight. It seemed that Lucius hadn't been exaggerating when he told Severus how excited Draco was to meet Verus.

Severus hoped Verus would respond positively to Draco, though he would understand if the little boy didn't respond well since the only other child he'd been able to interact with was the Dursley brat. He wouldn't know for sure how that interaction would go until the morning, luckily, he tended to wake before both of the boys so he could mediate if need be.

He summoned a quill and parchment and penned a quick note to Lucius and Narcissa so that they would not worry when they found their son missing from his bed, then duplicated it so that there was a greater chance that it would be seen before they went looking for the child.

"Glibby," he said quietly and nodded when the house elf appeared almost instantly, "Place one of these where your master will be sure to see it before he goes to check in on his son and the other in Draco's room."

Glibby accepted the notes and bowed before popping away.

Severus sighed and sat on the bed, considering his options. He could cast a monitoring charm and go sleep in his room...or he could just settle in with the children. His original plan had been to just sleep in the bed next to Verus because he didn't know how the child would do waking up alone again, especially since that morning hadn't been the best.

"I believe I will feel better if I'm here in case Verus has a nightmare again," he thought, "and he doesn't know Draco...might be a repeat of this morning."

Mind made up, Severus got into the bed on Verus' other side and summoned his own favorite blanket from the chair he'd left it in.

It didn't take long for sleep to claim him that night.

Lucius was the first one up the next morning, as usual. He stretched and went through his morning routine without much thought, already looking forward to the coffee he knew awaited him in the sitting room just off of the bedroom.

Though he was definitely looking forward to his coffee, and didn't have any plans to do anything important that day, Lucius forced himself not to rush or cut any corners. He was a Malfoy after all, he had a standard to uphold.

At seven thirty on the dot, Lucius finally sat for the coffee that had been calling his name, taking a long drink and sighing gratefully. When he opened his eyes once more he saw the note sitting next to the coffee pot and frowned. It was unlike Severus to send him notes by house elf, especially when they were staying in the same manor.

In case you were wondering, and to perhaps prevent any early morning panic attacks, I should inform you that Draco decided to join me and my son last night in Verus' room. - S

Lucius' eyebrows rose and he stood, coffee forgotten in the face of this new development. He mentally grumbled about it being far to early for this as he stalked through the manor to Verus' room. He wasn't actually angry, more worried at the thought of his young son suddenly deciding to wander the manor at night with no one the wiser. He seriously hoped this would not become a frequent occurrence. They would need to set more monitoring charms in the future...and the nurse elf would need to be...reprimanded for her negligence...

The blond man came to a stop outside of Verus' door and took a calming breath, forcing all worries and thoughts of punishment out of his mind. On the off chance that Verus was awake this early, he needed to at least appear calm and pleasant...not that that was difficult with children as adorable as the two in the manor at the moment.

Lucius opened the door quietly and couldn't stop the smile that formed at the sight he was met with. Severus was surprisingly still asleep, his face peaceful and much less severe, curled protectively around both children in his care. Verus lay on his back close to his father, his head turned to the side so that his face pressed into the soft fur of Draco's dog, Red while one hand clutched Severus' blanket. Draco had somehow turned almost completely sideways, his feet near the side of the bed while his head rested near Verus' stomach and Red's head.

He decided then and there that he would use a pensieve to make a physical copy of this moment, since he hadn't thought to bring a camera with him and he knew calling for a house elf...or shutting the door to do so...would wake Severus. Speaking of...Lucius wasn't surprised when one onyx eye opened to glare at him as he shut the door carefully. His friend had always been a very light sleeper.

Lucius shot the other man a grin as he sat down, though he was quickly distracted by the appearance of his coffee. The house elves were good for one thing at least.

"Good morning, Severus," he greeted once the potions master had taken a seat and was nursing his own cup of the heavenly brew, "sleep well?" Severus studied him for a moment, as though waiting for the caffeine to kick in before he spoke,

"Indeed, it seems that my brat isn't quite as violent in his sleep as yours is, for which I am thankful."

"I am surprised that Draco didn't manage to wake Verus with his antics." Lucius mused,

"He would have," Severus replied, "if I had not given Verus a tiny amount of a sleeping draught and he wasn't already exhausted from the day."

"Why did you give him a potion if he was already tired?"

"I only gave him a few drops, Verus is as light of a sleeper as I am and I wanted to be sure he got the rest he needed," the potions master said, "we do have things to do today, after all."

Verus lay in bed for a bit after waking, though he made sure to keep his eyes closed and not move a muscle. He took stock of what he could feel and hear, noticing instantly that he was not alone if the warmth beside him was anything to go on. He could hear Da and Lucius talking quietly from farther away so he knew it had to be someone else, his mind conjuring up images of the skinny boy with blond hair that had invaded his dreams that night...or interrupted a nightmare? He wasn't entirely sure.

This realization had Verus almost holding his breath to keep from being noticed, eyes tightly shut even as his hands tightened their grip on...whatever it was he had in his arms. The child ignored the urge to carefully open one eye to see what it was he was holding. He couldn't know if the person beside him was awake or not and he didn't really want to find out until his Da was beside him.

Movement from the mystery person drew the attention of both of the adults and had both of them moving closer. The bed dipped and Verus found himself being lifted carefully into a warm embrace.

"I know you're not asleep, Verus," Da whispered in his ear, "you did a very good job acting though."

Verus carefully opened his eyes to stare up at his da. He offered him a smile and cuddled in closer. Now that he knew for sure that he was safe, he didn't really want to be awake.

"Papa, you found me!" the unknown voice reminded Verus why he'd been faking sleep in the first place and he stiffened in his da's hold.

"Yes, your godfather wrote me a note to let me know where you'd run off to, Dragon, and good thing too, I would have been beside myself had I checked in on you and found that you were missing!" Lucius said. Verus remembered that the man had told him he had a son, the thought did not help his nerves one bit.

"But Papa, Red wanted to meet Dragon's new bestest friend!" the boy insisted,

"Oh! Where is Red?"

"I believe Verus is still holding onto him for you," Lucius said calmly.
Verus looked down at the soft thing in his arms, finally able to see the features of what he now knew was a stuffed dog.

"Oh yeah! Red and Dragon…"


"Yeah, Verus. Red and Dragon helped Verus with a bad dream."

"That was kind of you, Draco," Da said, "Verus, will you turn around and say hello to Draco? He's been very excited to meet you,"

"He...let me hug his toy puppy?" That and the thought that the other child had actually been excited to meet him sounded very much like a lie to Verus but he did as his da asked and cautiously turned until he could see the other child and his father. He then realized that his "dream" hadn't been a dream at all.

"Hi! Name's Dragon and that's Red!" the blond boy informed him, giving him a big smile. Verus blinked and smiled back tentatively, waving a bit in greeting.

"...Hi..." he whispered and shut his mouth quickly, not liking the way his heart pounded in his chest from just that small interaction. He huddled closer to his da's protective warmth, hoping that his hello was okay for the moment.

Dragon stared at his new friend, wondering just why the other boy was being so quiet. His papa had said that Verus was sick...did that make him not talk? But...he'd talked last night for the brief moment he had been awake...

"Uncle Sev, your Verus is quiet." Dragon informed his godfather, noting that the man did not seem to be as concerned as he should be, "Verus is okay?"

"Yes, Draco, he is quiet," Severus said, "but he has only just woken up and not everyone is a morning person such as yourself."

"Shall we all go down to breakfast then?" Papa asked and Dragon saw his new friend's eyes get really really big.

"Verus and I will need to get ready first, Lucius," Severus said, "and of course, Draco should get dressed as well." Dragon knew exactly what that meant and decided that he didn't like the thought of leaving his new friend so soon.

"Red and Dragon always look nice," Dragon reminded the man, then gasped as the thought of Red brought something far more important to mind, "Uncle Sev! Papa! Verus doesn't got any toys or soft blankies!" he exclaimed, "That's not right! Dragon needs those so Verus needs those too!"

"You're correct, Dragon," his Papa said, "Verus does indeed need those things, just like you."

"Which is why Verus and I are going shopping today," Severus added, "to get all of the things he needs before we move into our new home."

Dragon frowned, what was this talk of a new home? His godfather and his bestest friend lived with him! They couldn't leave!

"New home? No, no new home. Uncle Sev and Verus live with Dragon and Red and Mummy and Papa."

Severus bit back a groan at the tone his godson was using, knowing from experience that they were mere seconds away from a meltdown of epic proportions.

"Draco, you know that Severus doesn't actually live with us," Lucius reminded his son calmly, "and Verus lives with him."

"NO! Verus and Uncle Sev lives with Dragon!" Draco protested loudly and Severus felt Verus go completely still in his lap. He knew without looking that the boy was on the alert, wary of any threats that might come his way. Severus shot a meaningful look at Lucius, it went without saying that a tantrum from Draco would not endear him to the other child.

"No, Dragon, they visit us but they have a home elsewhere," Lucius continued. Both Severus and Lucius knew that Draco wouldn't allow the subject to change, even if an emotional screaming fit was the only outcome they could foresee.

"NO! Dragon's bestest -" Draco began to shout but was cut off by movement from said "bestest friend".

To the surprise of the adults, just as a blow up seemed eminent Verus leaned towards Draco and held Red out to him, a shy smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.

"Red!" Draco exclaimed, reaching forward to accept the dog.

"Not be mad..." Verus murmured as he leaned back into Severus once again.

"Dragon not mad." Draco replied quickly, "All better."

Severus watched as Verus nodded and relaxed a bit, fighting back a knowing smirk. His child already knew at least the basics of getting what he wanted from people, the little Slytherin...of course, how could he not, with the blood running through his veins and his first few years of life.

"Come along Dragon, we'd best go get you ready for the day and allow Severus and Verus to do the same," Lucius said, standing and reaching for his son.

"But..." Draco protested and Severus was quick to interrupt,

"We will see you again today, Draco, don't worry."

"Uncle Sev promises?"

"Promise," Severus assured him and only then did Draco allow his father to carry him away, calling out,

"Dragon sees Verus later!" to the other child just before the door closed.

Severus felt more than heard Verus' sigh of relief once they were alone.

"What do you think of Draco, Verus?" he asked as he picked the child up and carried him to the wardrobe.

"Draco is...nice," Verus replied after a moment, "shared his puppy."

"Yes, that was very nice of him." Severus agreed, "He is a bit loud though, isn't he?"he commented as he picked that day's clothes, adding the shirt Verus pointed at to the pile.

"Mmhmm!" Verus agreed, nodding, "Loud."

"I'm very proud of you for giving Draco a chance," the man said seriously, "especially first thing in the morning." Verus beamed and his good mood remained through bathtime which, Severus was happy to say lasted longer that morning than it had before.

After bath time though, Verus frowned and looked nervously up at Severus,

"Da?" he asked. Severus paused in brushing the child's hair,


"Um...we go to b-breakfast with...others?"

"We do not have to if you would rather eat in here." Severus replied, knowing that their morning routine was something the child had already come to look forward to. The morning had already been a bit unnerving for the boy so if he would rather be comfortable for the morning meal then the man would allow it.

"Please?" Verus asked hesitantly.

"We will have breakfast here then, after I have had my own shower and am ready for the day." Severus said and Verus smiled.

Fifteen minutes later, Severus settled into his usual chair with Verus and the purple sippy cup. He stayed silent for a moment, just watching the child. Sometimes the boy seemed so much younger than he actually was and other times so much older. At the moment, he looked very, very young cuddling in with his cup like a baby with a bottle. Severus couldn't find it in himself to worry about whether or not Verus should be acting older. He loved this part of their morning routine too.

"I have decided that we'll go shopping today, Verus," Severus said once the cup was empty, "We'll get you toys and things to fill put in your new room."

"I get toys?" Verus asked, eyes wide.

"Of course you do," Severus replied, "We won't go too crazy but I expect you'll have plenty of things to play with by the end of the day."

"...books too? With magic pictures?" Verus whispered hesitantly and Severus nodded seriously,

"Definitely," he assured the child, "and perhaps, if you're very good, we will stop for ice cream when we're done." The amazement on the little boy's face was more than worth all of the dread Severus felt for the sugar rush he knew he would face later on.

It wasn't until the two of the actually reached Diagon Alley that Severus remembered that Verus had told him how much the "light" had hurt his eyes the last time they'd been. Internally cursing himself for forgetting, he allowed the child to bury his face in his neck and headed for the entrance to Knockturn Alley.

Strictly speaking, it wasn't entirely safe to bring a child into this side street, but Verus' gift was rare enough that any magical artefact meant to help regulate the ability would be hard to find and buy in Diagon without everyone in the magical world finding out. Luckily, there were stores such as Borgin and Burkes that had a little bit of everything, though Severus would rather not buy something from there since the object would be low quality and insanely overpriced.

The shop he hoped would have something useful was Magical Myriads. Half of the store was similar to Borgin and Burkes with its odd collection of miscellaneous objects but the other half catered to magical creatures from all over the world, boasting items that helped them hide and adapt to decrease the chances of capture. Severus stepped inside and Verus' head popped up, looking around with interest now that he could finally see.

"Welcome, Sir," the clerk greeted, scanning the two new customers with interest, "Lookin' for anything in particular?"

"Yes," Severus replied as he set the little boy down on his own two feet and took his hand instead, "Do you carry anything to help manage magical sight? There is far too much magic in Diagon for a child that is not quite used to being able to see it."

"Hmm..." the clerk frowned and moved over to the less hectic side of the store, "we have a few variations on muggle sunglasses that might work? Strictly speaking, they're to help vampires so they're darker than the muggle ones."

"It certainly can't hurt him to try them," Severus said, accepting a pair from the clerk and bending down to slip them onto Verus' face, "I'm going to demonstrate a light spell, Verus, and you tell me if it's still painfully bright,"

Verus did not like the idea of telling his Da anything while the stranger was there. He did not even want to open his mouth in front of the person that worked in the store...actually, he didn't think he would be able to...but he nodded his agreement and waited. His Da was doing this for him after all, so he had to go along with whatever was asked of him.

"Expecto Patronum." Da said and a glowing animal appeared. Verus stared in awe at the thing even as the stranger gasped.

"Well, Verus? How is it?" Da asked, "Too bright?" Verus shook his head. He didn't think anything could be too bright with these glasses on.

"Wonderful!" the store man said, "we carry those glasses in all sorts of shapes and colors, and, actually, we do have a few pairs with clear glass in them but the same charms if you'd like to try those."

"Thank you, may we have a few moments to browse?" Da asked and the store man nodded and left them. "What do you think, Verus?"

"So dark, Da..." Verus admitted, pulling the glasses off of his face carefully, "Like night."

"Would you like to try these clear ones?" Da asked, holding out a pair of glasses with silver frames and plain glass in the center.

Verus allowed his da to put the glasses on his face and looked at the glowy animal again.

" 's okay..." he admitted. Verus really didn't like the way the glasses felt on his face, though he didn't mind the way they looked in the small mirror when his da lifted him up to see.

"They aren't for everyday use, just for places with too much magic for you to handle at the moment." his da said comfortingly, "With training, you will eventually be able to control your gift more and either be able to withstand large amounts of magic, or simply tone it down."

"Tell your Da that there's books on training this gift in your grandfather's home along with a potion that was created to do something like what the glasses do until you're old enough to control it." Tom said quietly. Verus wondered why his friend felt so odd...nervous maybe? Concerned?

"Da, Pom says there's books in my grand...father's home and...a, um, a potion that's like the glasses?"

Severus froze at those words and had to fight to keep a straight face so as not to worry the child. It would seem that the boy's imaginary friend was not quite as imaginary as he had hoped. He would have to ask about it later.

"Thank your, er...Pom…" he replied, offering Verus a small smile, "That will definitely make this easier in the long run. For now though, Verus, do you like the dark glasses or the clear?"

"Clear, Da." Verus replied easily,

"Alright, and do you like the ones you have on now or would you rather try the round ones?" Verus frowned for a moment, looking at the round glasses before shaking his head,

"This is okay." he said and Severus nodded before taking his hand again and leading him up to the counter in the center of the store.

"Found some that worked out then?" the clerk asked, "I'm glad. And, if I might add, they look wonderful on the little guy." Severus raised an eyebrow,

"Indeed." he replied, briefly wondering if Verus was glad that the other man had chosen to speak about him rather than to him.

He paid for the glasses and picked Verus up again before leaving the store, heading back towards the ever bustling Diagon Alley. Worrying over his son's invisible friend could wait, he decided, they had toys and blankets and books to shop for. And ice cream, of course.

Chapter Text

Verus found that he liked the shopping place much more now that he could see everything. That didn't mean he liked it all that much though, there were sooo many other people around, many of them with little kids that screeched and pointed at the different stores. Verus was glad his da was so tall and the people didn't get too close to them. His da was so cool.

"Clothes first, I think." he heard the man say,



"Have clothes, don't I?" he asked, confused.

"Yes, but I thought you might enjoy having a few shirts and things that you picked out for yourself," Da answered easily,

"Oh, I need to choose?" Verus asked, "Alone?" He was excited to choose but hewasn't so sure about doing it by himself. What if his da had to leave him there while he chose?

"I will help if you'd like," his da assured him as he opened the door to a shop. Verus nodded happily and looked around the place. He...didn't like it.

"Welcome in," a woman said, bustling towards them from among the rows of clothing and fabrics, "Nice to see you again, Master Snape. Are we looking for anything specific today?"

"Good morning, Madam," Da answered, "We need to look at your selection of toddler clothing,"

"Oh what a handsome little man!" the woman gushed, staring at the uncomfortable Verus, "Our selection of toddler clothes is right over here," she said, leading them over to rows of much smaller clothing.

"Thank you," Da said and the lady smiled,

"My pleasure. Please don't hesitate to ask if you need any help."

Verus watched the lady until she was far enough away for him to feel comfortable turning his attention to the clothes.

"Alright, Verus, let's look at the shirts and see what you might like," Da said.

"Okay, Da," Verus answered.

One by one the pair of them pulled out shirts to study them, Verus' Da occasionally providing the name of the color, creature, or object in question.
Verus decided, by the time they were finished picking out shirts, that the color purple was his most favorite one, followed closely by black, like his and his da's hair. They eventually left the store with five new shirts; a black one with a few purple fish that swam around the front, a purple one with dark blue stars, another black one with a pale green snake slithering around, a dark blue one with a big grey shark on it, and a light blue one with a flying horse that Da said was called an abraxan.

"Do you need trousers, pants, shoes, socks...anything to go with the shirts?" the lady asked as Da paid for the shirts.

"No, I believe we are fine for now," Da replied politely, though in a tone that Verus knew he wouldn't question if it was directed at him.

"Very well then, you two have a pleasant day." the lady said and off they went.

Severus did not miss how relieved Verus was by the space people gave them as they walked down the crowded street, heading for a store that supplied home goods. He mentally made a note to one day teach Verus how to hold himself and walk just right so that people would move out of the way for him as well.

"Alright, this is our next stop," he said to the child, gesturing to the tiny shop front in front of them,

"What will we get here, Da?" Verus asked,

"You'll see," Severus replied and opened the door.

Thanks to multiple expansion charms, the store was much larger on the inside than it was on the outside and Severus enjoyed the little gasp of wonder that came from the child
in his arms.

"House things?" he asked,

"We're getting things for your room," Severus corrected, "Draco insisted that you need your own comfortable blankets and such, did he not?"

"Yes, Da," Verus replied happily, "Dragon said it's 'mportant."

"Would you like to walk and hold my hand in this store, Verus? You may lead the way so that you can see everything."

"Okay, Da!"

Severus set Verus on the ground and held his hand, allowing the small child to tug him towards the rows of blankets and bedding they had seen upon entering the shop. The boy seemed to naturally gravitate towards the things marketed for his age group, leaving Severus wondering if he would need to buy a new, smaller bed for the child or if he could either shrink the preexisting bed or expand the new bedding.

Verus had them pause for a moment in front of some bright red, quidditch themed bedding, likely because the balls printed on the comforter zoomed around randomly. Severus hoped that the child wouldn't choose those, he didn't know how anyone could sleep under something so...distracting.
The next set that caught the child's eye was much tamer. A forest was depicted at the bottom with the occasional owl swooping into the trees from the darkening sky above, one that went from a lighter purple to almost black at the top. Severus allowed himself a bit of a smile when Verus giggled quietly as he spotted a bright orange fox peeking out from behind a tree.

The third set that caught the child's eye seemed more childish than the previous one, with pale blue as the main color, depicting an ocean for cartoon pirate ships to sail upon.

"Boats?" Verus asked, looking to Severus for confirmation.

"Yes, specifically pirate ships," he replied easily. Verus nodded and continued on.

The final bed set that caught the child's attention was cream for the most part with two cartoon trees in the middle growing from a hill of pale green towards the bottom half of the comforter. On the hill, under the trees, a group of characters sat piled up on one another on top of what had been a pile of leaves.

"Da, why is the bear wearing a shirt?" Verus asked, pointing at the yellow bear on the bedding.

"I'm not entirely certain, Verus." Severus admitted, "I do know that all of these animals are characters from Winnie the Pooh, which is a book."

"A magic book?"

"Well the author, A.A. Milne was a squib but I'm not sure if there are any magical versions of his books. We will have to see if we can find them later, now won't we?"

"Yes!" Verus exclaimed but frowned a moment later, "What's a squib?"

"Ah, that would be a person born into a magical family without any magic," Severus replied easily and Verus dropped the subject, more interested in watching the leaves from the trees on the blanket drift slowly down to the ground.

The two of them looked through all of the other bed sets and, eventually, Verus had to make a decision. He liked the nighttime one with trees and the pirates were cool but so was the one with the bear...he scowled at the three. Why couldn't it be as easy as picking shirts?

Da put all three in a row and crouched down next to him.

"Having trouble?"

"Da I don't know which is the bestest one for my new room," he admitted, "Help?" His da nodded seriously and looked at all three of the sets.

"Well, if I were to take the pirate one and say you cannot have it, would you be sad?" Da asked. Verus studied the thing for a moment and shook his head,

"No, Da, not sad." he said, the pirate ships were really really cool but blue wasn't his favorite color...he should have known that this one wasn't as nice as the others.

"Alright, what about the dark forest one?" Da asked again and this time Verus frowned. He thought that he might be sad to not be allowed to have that one...maybe.

"Don't know, Da," he admitted. Da nodded and placed a hand on the Winnie the Pooh set,

"And this one?" Verus' frown deepened, he liked the bear and all of his friends on that one, they were all so happy...would he make them sad if he didn't choose them?

"You'll have to choose one, Verus. You can get another one when you are older and have perhaps grown tired of your first choice."

Verus' eyes widened. He would one day get a new one?

"Go with the one that makes you feel happy inside whenever you see it," Tom whispered in his mind, "That'll make everything easier for you."

"Did that make anything easier?"

"Yes, Da, want Winnie the Pooh." he answered, smiling up at the man.

"Alright, Winnie the Pooh it is." Da said, "Now what I will do is put this back, tap it with my wand, and it will tell the worker up front what exactly we want so that it's there when we leave."

"Magic, Da?" Verus asked,


Verus and his Da continued on their way through the store, nothing too interesting catching Verus' eye, though they paused a few times so that the man could tap random things with his wand. Verus wasn't sure what all they needed but he didn't question it, he mainly focused on following along and trying not to bump in to anyone they happened upon.

"Pom?" he asked in his head,


"I've got new things!"

"I see that, Little One," came the response and he knew without a doubt that the man was smiling.

"Winnie the Pooh!"

"I quite like those stories myself, not that I ever told anyone. Owl, I believe was my favorite character,"

"Ooh, he looks cool on my new bed things!" Verus exclaimed happily.

If Tom answered, Verus didn't hear it because, at that exact moment he caught sight of a row of fluffy blankets and gasped,

"Da! Blankets!" he exclaimed and tugged on the man's hand.

"Would you like to go see them then?" his Da asked, a small smile on his face,

"Yes please!"

Severus allowed the little boy to bounce towards the blankets, the little hand that was free immediately going out to touch the soft fabrics.

"Da this one!" Verus exclaimed. Apparently blankets were much easier to choose than bed sets.

"Oh that one's very nice," he told the child seriously,

"It's purple! My favorite! And, and it has um...stars!"

"It will go very well with your new bed set," Severus said, "How about we pay for this and go have lunch?"

"Okay, Da!" Verus agreed happily, allowing the man to tap the blanket with his wand and lead them back to the front of the store.

Severus paid and shrunk their packages, putting them in his pocket before they left the shop. After a moment of them walking along the bustling street, he felt a tug on his hand and looked down into Verus' big green eyes.

"Yes, Verus?" he asked, wondering if the child would actually speak to him with this many people around.

Verus, for his part, kept his mouth shut but lifted his arms in the universal request to be held. Severus quickly complied and felt the child nuzzle into his neck, the cold frames of the new glasses pressing into his skin.

"Are you alright?" he asked, concerned, and sighed in relief when he felt the child nod.

Severus quickly made his way to the Leaky Cauldron as quickly as he could and claimed a table in the back corner of the busy pub where it was not as loud and they were afforded a small amount of privacy.

The whole ordeal was over with little fuss, Verus not protesting anything on his plate and the both of them eating in silence. Severus knew that Verus was not comfortable enough in the restaurant to speak and he didn't mind the silence himself, though he did hope that the child would one day relax enough to be himself anywhere they went.

Back in Malfoy manor, Lucius was wondering just where the adorable child he'd seen that morning had disappeared to. The little boy that had braved the manor and given up his prized plushie to help a friend certainly did not exist in the red-faced, screaming toddler before him. He was thankful that this was a very mild tantrum for Draco but he just could not understand where it had come from.

Everything had been completely calm and normal when they sat down for lunch, Lucius and Narcissa talking as their son happily ate his own food between them. The next thing either of them knew, Draco's cup had gone flying and he pitched a fit for seemingly no reason whatsoever. Narcissa had immediately cast a diagnosis charm to see if something was wrong with him physically but the results showed that he was still a very healthy little boy and they were stumped.

"Honestly, Draco, I can't help you if you won't calm down long enough to tell me what's wrong," he said calmly when the child paused for air, "Why don't you talk to Papa?"

Draco's only answer was a louder scream.

"Any ideas, Cissa?" Lucius asked.

"We could consider ignoring him and continuing with our meal?" she replied uncertainly,

"We could," Lucius agreed, "I would like to know what set him off, however."

"What were we talking about before he started screaming?" Lucius thought for a moment before slowly answering,

"Sev...oh...we were talking about what Severus and Verus are doing right now, how they were probably going for lunch at the Leaky Cauldron instead of coming all the way back here."

Neither of them had thought that Draco was listening to a word they said...obviously they were wrong.

"Dragon, Love, talk to Mummy please, is this about Verus and Uncle Sev?"

Draco, for his part, nodded as his screams became loud sobs,

"Dr-Dra-a-agon wants them home n-now! Uncle Se-e-ev promised Dragon!"

Lucius sighed and mentally cursed Severus for not specifying exactly when he and Verus would next see Draco.

"Dragon, you need to breathe," he said firmly, "Screaming and crying will not bring your godfather or your friend here for lunch."

Apparently, that was not the thing to say as Draco just kept crying. Lucius was very glad that they were in the privacy of their own home and not out in public.

"Draco, you will see them both at supper," he tried again, "eat your lunch and the day will go by faster. You don't want to have to tell Verus that all you did today was cry and get in trouble for misbehaving at lunch, do you?"

The child seemed to consider this as his sobs quieted a bit, though they still shook his body with every breath,

"N-n-no-o..." he admitted,

"Well then, let's breathe, finish the meal, and move on with our day," Lucius said decisively, then went back to his own food.

"Well I am impressed, Lucius, have you been reading the books Severus bought about childcare?" Narcissa asked teasingly. Lucius flushed slightly,

"After the last tantrum our son threw...and with Verus here...I had to do something..." he explained haltingly.

Dragon, for his part, was merely confused by all of this and he sat there sniffling pitifully as his parents went back to eating their food. His Papa had never spoken to him that way before. Usually, once Dragon started screaming and crying, Papa would do anything and everything Dragon demanded...either that or he'd shout back and then Mummy would do it instead.

Dragon didn't think he liked the way this fit had turned out. He did not have Uncle Sev or Verus with him...but his Papa had said he would see them at supper which, even though that was forever away, was a time and gave him something to look forward to.

Dragon now had a new problem though. He was thirsty and his throat was scratchy from all of his screaming but he had started off showing his Papa and Mummy that he was angry by throwing his cup.

"Mummy?" he asked quietly, once his sniffles had completely died down.

"Yes, Love?"

"Dragon has drink again?"

"Of course,"

Dragon watched happily as his Mummy refilled his sippy cup but frowned when she paused while it was just far enough away that he couldn't grab it. Didn't Mummy understand how much he needed that right now?

"Are you going to throw your cup again, Draco?" she asked seriously,

"No, Mummy, Dragon is thirsty." Dragon informed her, still frowning. He wanted that cup back!

"Very well," she said and finally handed the thing over.

Dragon snatched it up and began drinking very quickly, watching warily in case she decided to take it back before he was done.

He would have the bestest adventure with Red so that he could tell Verus all about his cool day...and not about crying at lunch.

After lunch, Severus carried Verus back out into Diagon Alley and down to the two shops he'd purposefully left for last.

"Alright Verus, the store over here sells books and the one across from it sells toys, which one would you like to visit first?" he asked, "Don't worry, you may just point to whichever one you choose,"

Severus watched the child look back and forth between the two shops, serious eyes taking in every aspect of each one before he pointed to the less busy bookshop.

"Very well, books first." he said and in they went.

"Children's books are in the back," the worker informed him the moment they stepped inside, "just past the history section."

Severus nodded his thanks and headed to the area the man had specified after picking up one of the baskets kept at the front. He didn't question how the man knew what he was looking for, he was eerily similar to Ollivander sometimes which was why Severus preferred to order his books rather than visit the shop.

"Da, look!" Verus exclaimed quietly the moment they reached the children's books, "Pooh bear!"

"Well that answers that question," Severus murmured, setting the child down so that he could run over to the row of books featuring the bright yellow bear and his friends.

He watched Verus carefully pick up on of the books and open it, gasping in wonder at the moving illustrations, as he always did when he saw something magical happen. Severus privately thought that that sense of wonder was the most adorable thing about his child.

"Pick out as many books as you'd like, Verus, but don't wander off," he told the boy, "I will be right here looking at these books on the top shelf."

"Okay, Da!" Verus replied happily, not even looking up from the book he held.

Severus nodded and began scanning the educational children's books with a critical eye. He needed to get Verus up to par with the rest of his age group and he had no idea where to start. Verus actually did a lot of the things the books he'd read on child development said he should be doing at this age but the basic things he should know, such as his colors and at least the first few numbers still needed to be learned along with what basic magical knowledge he could start on.

"I suppose I should start there then," Severus muttered, "Numbers, alphabet, colors, beginning potions kit..."

Verus stared at all of the amazing books in front of him, trying to decide which one he should choose. Da had said to get whatever he wanted but...surely he didn't mean that?
He wanted the Winnie the Pooh book he had first picked up and maybe one more but there were just too many! He wanted to know what every single one of the books had inside. Were all the stories as amazing as the one Lucius had told him?

"If you don't know what to choose, ask your Da for help," Tom said, "he won't mind"

"But Da's looking too." Verus pointed out, "You help?"

"If you allow yourself to pick out more than two books, I will assist you," Tom replied.

Verus thought about that for a moment but it didn't take him long to agree. His Winnie the Pooh book was quickly joined by one that Tom told him was about animals from all around the world and one about a dog named Kipper.

"How about that one there, it's got quite a few stories inside," Tom suggested,

"I picked more than two," Verus told his friend even though he was very curious about the book in question.

"But your Da told you to pick any book you want," Tom protested. Verus didn't answer, merely looked through the animal book he'd picked out until his Da's voice startled him,

"Only three books, Verus? Are you certain?"

Was he certain that these were all he wanted? No, of course not, there were lots of other books about Winnie the Pooh and Kipper and things he couldn't understand but thought looked cool anyway. He glanced over at them then looked up at his Da,

"...yes..." he replied,

Severus saw the glance towards the other books and cursed the Dursleys, this was really not something a child this young should be doing when told he could have anything he wanted.

"Well, I believe I will pick some more books then, if you don't mind." he told the child.

"Books for Dragon?" Verus asked,

"No, Draco has more than enough books already. These will be books for me to read to you," Severus corrected him, "You might be fine with the same three books over and over again but I would like to know more of the stories. Would you like to help me choose?"

Severus held in a sigh of relief when the little boy accepted his story and moved to "help" him pick out more books. Everything that looked so much as a tiny bit interesting made its way into their basket after that and Severus was thankful for the feather-light charm on it by the time they made it back up to the front of the shop.

Their shrunken purchases made their way into Severus' pocket along with all the other purchases they'd made that day before the two of them faced their second to last stop, the toy store.

Verus did not want to be let down from his perch in Severus' arms this time, staring with wide eyes at the many colorful toys the crowd of loud children of all ages. Severus didn't mind, merely tightening his hold on the boy reassuringly and making his way over to what seemed to be an entire wall of plushies.

He already knew that decisions would be very difficult in this store and immediately decided not to do as he had done in the bookstore. Limits seemed to help Verus when there were far too many choices.

"Alright Verus, you may choose three stuffed animals," Severus said and the child nodded before pointing at a white snake the size of his arm.

Severus retrieved the toy and handed it over, watching with interest as Verus cuddled it close and went back to studying the wall. The man wondered briefly if the boy would one day be able to speak with snakes as his grandfather had. He might be very jealous if the child was a parselmouth.

Verus pointed again, this time at a large, smiling yellow cat that was round and lacked any distinguishable limbs except for a very short tail and large ears, almost like a pillow with a face. Severus refrained from commenting on the size of the thing, wondering if Verus planned to sleep on top of it more than anything else. He certainly couldn't carry the cat around with him all the time.

Verus was very happy with his first two choices, immediately taking Tom's suggestion to call the snake 'Zar' and naming the cat 'Sunny' while he looked at all of the other toys. He had to be very very careful choosing the last one. He didn't want to choose the wrong one and end up making a plushie sad when he put it back.

A small, purple creature caught his eye and he frowned. He had absolutely no idea what the thing was with it's small ears and large head.

"Pom, what's that?" he asked.

"A hippopotamus, hippo for short," Tom answered.

"He looks lonely," Verus thought and that was all it took for him to make up his mind. He pointed and a moment later the small hippo joined his other new friends.

"Your name" he decided, hugging all three of the plushies close, though he had to squeeze Sunny nearly in half to do so.

"Alright, on to the other things," Da said, "Do you want to get down and lead the way?" Verus immediately shook his head. There were so many people in the shop, he just knew he would lose his Da if he got down.

"Very well, you continue pointing at what you would like to see then, alright?"

Verus nodded and smiled at the man. His Da was the very bestest.

He pointed and off they went to look at building blocks and coloring books and what his Da said were called figurines of animals and all sorts of other cool things to play with. He just knew that he would never be tired of playing with all of his new things.

Severus made his way to the front of the toy store to pay and immediately knew he would have to set Verus down. He sighed, he really didn't want to upset the child but there was no other way.

"Verus, I need to set you down for a moment," he said quietly, "Hold on to my robe so that we don't get separated."

Verus looked up at him with wide eyes but nodded and allowed Severus to put him on the ground, taking the purple hippo with him. The man made sure that one of the little hands was firmly attached to his robe before turning his attention back to the cashier.

Severus was just pocketing the last of their purchases when he heard an unfortunately familiar voice say,

"Hello there Sweetie! What's your name?" and Verus pressed even closer to his leg.

He turned and picked up his son before glaring at the woman in front of him,

"Molly," he said as a greeting, moving past her and out of the shop. He'd seen her following them since lunch but he had also hoped that she would leave them be...

"Severus, how lovely to see you!" Molly Weasley said, following them closely, "Who's this little one?"

"My son," Severus answered shortly, coming to a halt once he was certain he was out of everyone's way.

"I wasn't aware you had a son!" Molly exclaimed, "Why didn't you say anything?"

"Multiple reasons, the foremost being that it was nobody else's business." Severus replied acerbically.

"Now Severus, don't be like that," Molly chided, "such attitudes are not suitable to have around small children. Now, this youngster looks like he's around the same age as my Ronnie! We must get them together sometime, perhaps you could come to supper tonight?"

"We are having supper with the Malfoys, Molly, so I will have to decline," Severus said, inwardly smirking at the look on the woman's face at that. Why couldn't she just take a hint and leave them alone?

"Are you certain that such company is healthy?" Molly asked, wringing her hands anxiously, "We wouldn't want them infecting the child with their dark ideals! Why don't you send him with me if you're obligated to go, I will watch him and he can get to know my Ronnie,"

"Who my son and I associate with is my choice and mine alone," Severus stated, annoyance finally making its way to his face as he felt Verus' grip tighten in fear, "your opinions are of little importance to me."

"Yes, but the boy needs proper friends and I'm sure you would enjoy a night to yourself? Take a break from childcare for a night?" Molly tried,

"My son and my godson get along very well actually," Severus informed her shortly, glaring down at the woman for daring to suggest that he might need a break from his son, "We must be off,"

"But Severus…"

"Good day, ," Severus interrupted and stalked away as quickly as the crowds allowed. He quickly threw up a muffliato around himself and Verus and said,

"We'll have to ask the house elves if we might have ice cream for dessert tonight, Verus, I believe it's time we returned to Malfoy Manor." Verus nodded and Severus paused briefly, bringing one hand up to gently guide the little boy's face up from his shoulder. Green eyes met black and Severus offered the boy a reassuring smile,

"For the record, she was wrong. I could never need a break from you, promise."

Verus' response was a bright smile and a tight hug. He was cute enough that Severus didn't bother mentioning that the child was cutting off his airway. It was worth it.

Molly watched Severus go with a frown on her face. She was certain that the Headmaster would want to hear about this. He would be able to get the young man back on the right path.