Authors Notes: In-The-Shadows (or as I like to say, Abby ^^), write Severus' charming POV. I write Harry's cute POV ^_^ The POV's may change fast, but I believe, along with our beta reader, Blessedsilence(thanks Chantry! ^^) that it's still easy to follow.
Part 6 - The Healing Process
By Shadows and Redrum
Severus waited miserably in the lobby for Lucius to arrive the next morning. It was 5:00, an even more ungodly hour than he was usually up, but he had slept horribly to begin with and Lucius had suggested they get there early. Of course he doubted Lucius would be hear for another half hour yet, but he wasn’t going to get any sleep. He’d spent the whole night rifling through memories of his father and how he had dealt with him, or his lack of dealing with him thereof. It was sheer dumb luck his father had been struck by a heart attack on Severus’ 21st birthday and, though Severus hated to admit it, it was probably the only way he ever would’ve gotten rid of him.
Sure, Severus had become a cold, snaky, almost-paranoid-of-people bastard under his father's treatment, but somehow he could never stand up to him And after years and years of burying the issues, this thing with Harry was bringing them all back again. Despite all that though, Severus was still bound and determined to become Harry’s guardian. He had no intentions of positioning himself as a father figure, Harry was too old for that and they worked better as friends anyway.
Finally sitting down on the steps, Severus put his head in his hands and sighed wearily. He was a very removed, controlled man most of his waking hours, but anything this early could not be considered wakening hours and everyone needed a break. “God, this is going to be harder than I thought,” he muttered to himself.
A hand on his shoulder made him jump and brought him out of his inner monologue simultaneously. “Lucius!” He said, jumping into a standing position, but no longer startled. “I didn’t hear you come in.”
“I’m not surprised,” Lucius drawled, “you don’t look like you’ve slept at all.” He ran an appraising gaze over his friend and shook his head in amazement. Despite the state Lucius had seen him in when he’d entered, Severus was still very well put together, save for a few rings under his eyes. Not even Lucius could pull that off when was in proverbial hell. “Are you sure you’re up for this now?”
Severus leveled him with a what-do-you-think glare that brooked no argument.
“Alright then,” Lucius said, placing a comforting hand on Severus’ shoulder as he led him out the door and into the limo. As the driver started off, he cast a worried glance in Severus’ direction. Sure he was a heartless bastard lawyer, but he knew how hard this was and, like he always had been, he would be there for his friend.
Vernon paced restlessly, looking up and down the street for the sleek limo. He'd been here for only five minutes, but it felt like hours. He didn't want to get caught by anyone who knew him. Imagine the hell his reputation would be put through!
Finally spotting the headlights of the long car coming up the street, Vernon stopped his restless pacing and stood still, meaty hands curled at his sides as he waited impatiently for the driver to pull up.
"Get in," Lucius said coldly and Mr. Dursley obeyed with only the slightest hint of hesitation. He didn't blame him. Severus and he were seated side by side in the back seat, leaving Mr. Dursley all alone in the seat facing them. Once the door was closed, the driver took off to generally circle town and look as inconspicuous as possible.
"Right," said Lucius, pulling a thick packet of papers from his briefcase and sliding them over to Mr. Dursley. "These are the adoption papers. It's very simply. Mr. Snape gets Harry and you are under no obligations to ever see him again. In fact, you are denied all visitation rights what so ever. Mr. Snape signed it on the way down, now we just need your signature."
Severus remained a still, cold, glaring figure in the corner. Men like Mr. Dursley represented everything he absolutely loathed and it showed in his glare. He would very much like to take care of this situation in some not so legal ways, but that wouldn't leave much for Harry to come back to if he got arrested.
Vernon looked through the papers, skimming over them. He didn't understand how the boy would want to go with a man like that, considering he looked even more like a bastard then his boss. Then again, the boy was pretty stupid. He was probably just going to the first person that pretended to care about him.
Pen poised, ready to sign, Vernon paused and looked up, finding he was only able to meet the professor's gaze for a few seconds before he was forced to look away. "Why do you want the boy anyway? He's only good for cleaning. And it'll probably cost you thousands to look after it."
Severus raised his eyebrow sharply, trying to level Mr. Dursley with his experienced teacher's glare. "He is good company. And I will make do, thank you very much." Severus was very actively imagining how much he'd like to hurt the man in front of him, but he reminded himself the best way to do that was legally and when Harry was ready. For now, he had to let him heal.
Vernon just shook his head. This professor must be pretty stupid. Oh well, he was getting the better end of the deal. A large wad of cash that would pave the road for his family and a life without that bothersome boy. While Professor Snape just got it. Not a very good deal at all. But he wasn't going to look a gif horse in the mouth.
Scratching his name down where ever he needed to sign, Vernon finally finished and handed the papers back to the blonde man.
"Thank you," Lucius said and promptly kicked Vernon out of his Limo, with not much courtesy at all really, before speeding away, back to the manor.
Severus couldn't belive his luck. It had been almost too easy to get Harry. Something about that didn't sit right with him, but for now, he just wanted to focus on this small victory.
He arrived back at the manor, after profusely thanking his friend for his help, a little before lunch time. He had just enough time to close the front door, lean against it, and sigh contently before a large crash came from the kitchen, followed by large amounts of white powder. "Damn you Padfoot!" He mumbled, trudging up the stares to deal with his devious dog.
Harry didn't wake up until the following morning. He yawned and stretched the best he could with his injuries, then sat up and fumbled around for his glasses. Putting them on, he blinked the sleep out of his eyes, and finally noticed the plate of food sitting beside him. He smiled at the smaller portions, wondering if Snape had something to do with that. He gently pulled the tray over his lap and slowly started to fill himself, savoring each and every bite. He'd never woken up to a hot meal before, he'd also never tasted apple cinnamon porridge either, it was actually quite good.
He washed down his breakfast with the glass of milk and set the tray down on the bedside table, then shifted so he was sitting at the edge of the large bed. He was either really small, or the bed was really big, since he was completely dwarfed by the size of it. However, he kind of figured it was the former.
He stood up and swayed when a small dizzy spell hit him due to spending so much time lying down, but then quickly righted himself and looked around for his shirt. He frowned when he didn't find it. Maybe it was in the trash? It belonged there, obviously, but.. Harry looked down at his half naked form. Oh well, it wasn't like no one had ever seen a chest before, though he was kind of sickened by being able to count his ribs.
Sighing, he made his way toward the door. His eyes widened when he realized how tall it was. Damn, he must be shorter then he thought. Sighing again ('I guess we're back to that', Harry thought to himself), the small teenager opened the door and turned right. Counting the number of doors, he opened the third one and stepped inside, gently locking it behind him.
Wow.. who knew a bathroom could be this big?
Harry quickly relieved himself, flushed the toilet, and washed his hands at the black and white marble sink before taking the time to look around. The tiled floor matched the sink. A see through, glass, octagon-shaped shower was placed on the middle wall. A large black marbled tub was set into the ground to his right. Harry walked over to it and kneeled down beside it. There were so many buttons! One of these days he was definitely going to try them out. Harry grinned and got back up. Heading toward the door, he looked around again. The walls were painted dark blue with a marbled design sprayed, or painted, however they did it, over top of the dark blue. Silver elaborate candle holders were also attached to the wall, scattered around the room. For a bathroom, it sure was beautiful.
Harry smiled and unlocked the door. Making his way back towards his bedroom, Harry let himself sink into the warm bed, and picked up the book that Severus had given him. Opening the cover, he started reading, all the while smiling contently, not even realizing he was doing so.
A few hours later, when it was nearing lunchtime, Padfoot, having been chased out of the kitchens for causing mischief, crept silently into Harry’s room, his dark blue eyes scanning the interior. He was a very large dog (his head came to Severus’ 5’8” frame hip), and looked like the type that loved to roughhouse and play hard. As he came into Harry’s room, however, he noticed a person in the bed and approached it very quietly as if he knew he had to be gentle. Slowly, he put his two large front paws on the bed and leaned up over the edge with an uncharacteristically quiet “woof.”
Harry jumped at the quiet sound, letting the book fall onto the bed, and he looked over at the large dog. His eyes widened in fear, but realizing the dog meant no harm, he calmed down slightly. This must be Padfoot. He had a certain twinkle around his eyes that just screamed 'mischievous'. Harry quickly looked down and found his place in the book, putting the bookmark in there, he placed the book on the bedside table.
Looking back up, he smiled gently. He still wasn't too sure if he'd be welcomed by the large dog. The small boy slowly put a hand out. Padfoot walked closer to his side of the bed and easily reared up to put his front paws back on top of the bed. He sniffed Harry's out stretched hand and the wet nose made Harry smile. A long tongue swiped across his hand, making him giggle. Smiling brightly, he patted the space beside him.
Padfoot jumped without hesitation even though he probably wasn't allowed on the beds. But since this was supposed to be Harry's bed, he didn't really mind the dog fur. The large dog was even bigger close up, especially with Harry sitting down, resting his back against the headboard. Padfoot gently walked up to stand beside Harry, almost like he was trying not to jostle the bed too much, he laid down, curling around the teen's small frame.
Harry rubbed behind the dog's ears, smiling at the low grumble that almost sounded like a purr. He was so heavy that he actually made the bed dip, making Harry slide into the large form. He was a very lovely dog. His fur was shaved short, and was a lovely black and blue color, similar to Harry's carpet. And his eyes were a beautiful shade of dark blue, they almost looked too intelligent to really be a dog's eyes. He moved his hand to slowly stroke the dog's long body, smiling when his leg would jump when Harry touched a sensitive spot.
A few minutes after Harry and Padfoot had settled down, Harry reading and petting Padfoot and Padfoot snoring softly, Harry’s door opened again and Severus came in with a lunch tray followed shortly after by a dirty blonde, amber-eyed, and pointy eared creature that could only be Remus.
“He’s gotten to you already, eh?” Severus said, eyeing Padfoot disdainfully. "Soon he’ll have you chasing rabbits and spilling the flour all over the kitchen; which, by the way Padfoot, took everyone more than two hours to clean!” Padfoot simply glanced over his shoulder at Severus and huffed as if to say, “and I’m supposed to care why?” Severus walked over to the side of the bed glaring at Padfoot and ordered, “off, Harry can’t eat with you on the bed.”
While this argument was going on, Remus walked to the other side of the lead, placing his two paws lightly on the mattress to peak over the high bed at Harry and lick his outstretched hand. He didn’t jump up though. He seemed better behaved than that, more docile then Padfoot, regardless of being half wolf.
Padfoot looked insulted, but obliged. He walked over to stand beside Remus and they licked each others faces in greeting. Shortly after that they settled down on the carpet, lying against each other in a yin-yang style. Settling the tray over Harry’s lap, Severus met his gaze again, at which point it was obvious to everyone but Severus, that there was a smudge of flour across his left cheek, and asked, “how’re you feeling today Harry?”
"Better." He smiled up at the man as he sat beside him and faced him on the large bed. "Padfoot is really nice." Harry looked down at the two dogs lying curled around each other. It was really sweet. Harry had never seen two mates before, so it was nice to see them interacting with each other like that.
Looking back up at Severus, Harry giggled. He looked quite comical with the large stain of flour on his pale cheek. The raven haired boy leaned over, careful of upsetting the tray in his lap, and gently rubbed his thumb across the flour a few times, before the light powder was erased completely. Settling back against the headboard, Harry picked up the turkey sandwich and taking small bites while washing it down with the glass of coke.
Severus smiled at Harry's comment and replied, "that's good to hear." Glancing over at the two mates, Severus snorted, "To you maybe. It's more of a love/hate thing with me." With a small sigh he turned back to Harry, only to have the young teen lean forward and caress his cheek. He was about to ask what he was doing, when he realized it must have been some flour he'd missed. "Thank you," he managed, looking very faintly embarrassed.
He sat on the edge of the bed, leaning on the headboard again, watching Harry eat with a small smile. "Your appetite’s improving a little I see," he mused, before his gaze drifted over to the book he'd given him. "Ah, you've gotten pretty far in 'The God in Flight.' What do you think so far?" He asked, tipping his head to one side slightly.
Harry swallowed the food in his mouth and washed it down with a sip of coke. Turning to Snape he grinned, "it's really good. I really like the characters. I can actually relate to the main character Simion and his home life. Although my dad is dead, but it's still the same thing. Worse I guess, since it's his actual dad beating him up, his own flesh and blood." Harry sighed, frowning. He had basically just come right out and said that his uncle beat him.. well, it wasn't like Snape hadn't known the gist of it. He also now knew he used to sleep in a cupboard. "And the budding relationship between Doriskos and him is really sweet. I've never read a gay novel before, though I've wanted to. The library doesn't carry those kinds of books... unfortunately." Harry frowned. Why would Snape have gay novels in his library? Was he just curious.. or?
Severus saw some distress cross Harry's features as he compared himself to Simion and lightly placed his hand on the teen's shoulder in a silent show of support. He didn't like anyone knowing what had happened to him either, and short of Lucius guessing and Harry actually seeing his scar, no one did know. He had the sinking feeling it would come out soon though, but figured it was for the best and might make Harry feel more at ease.
"Well, my library is full of all sorts of them, you're more then welcome to explore any time you want. I had to special order most of them because of the sheer close minded people in town, but it was worth it." Tapping the cover of the book lightly, Severus continued, "that went out of print the year I was born and if it hadn't of been for Lucius' help, I never would've smuggled it into the house. It's the first one I got you see; I believe I was about your age when I tracked that copy down."
Harry picked up the tray and put it on the table beside his bed. He was still thinking of the things that Vernon had used to do to him, but he tried to push the images down. Wrapping his good arm around himself in a half-assed attempt at a much needed hug (one which he was still unused to giving or receiving, or even asking for, for that matter), he leaned his head back against the headboard.
He gave a small grin (one that was completely watered down compared to his previous ones) when Severus mentioned having a library filled with those sorts of books. And the comment about close minded people.. he must be either gay or bi. Anyone in this town that was heterosexual seemed to be close minded, Harry had yet to meet anyone otherwise. Though maybe Mr. Malfoy was one of those people that was open minded, since his friend was gay or bi (if he even was, Harry still wasn't completely sure).
He couldn't wait to read those books though. He read pretty fast compared to his peers, so he'd probably be able to read a good sized novel a day if he read non stop. Definitely something to look forward too. It would be nice to compare opinions on the books with Severus too; he'd never been able to do that before. None of his old friends had ever really been into reading, unless they were forced to by the teacher. And the books they did read, were more like children's books or magazines. So it would definitely be nice to share a passion with someone else for once.
Severus noticed Harry’s mood dampen and slipped both his arms around him in a gentle hug. It was not normal for Severus to hug someone, but with Harry, things he hadn’t done in a while, like smile or laugh this often, were just easier.
Leaning back against the headboard, he kept his arms loosely wrapped around Harry’s small frame, offering whatever support he could. As if he hadn’t had it bad enough one way, being abused by his family, and then the other, being gay. Severus was lucky to have an understanding friend like Lucius when dealing with his problems, but Severus doubted Harry had ever had such a friend, and he wanted to make that up to him any way he could.
“It gets easier,” Severus murmured, lightly stroking his back; reflecting on his own internal wars in dealing with his father.
Harry sighed and curled up in Severus' arms, sitting on his crossed legs. His whole body fit comfortably curled up in the larger man's embrace. And for one moment, the constant chill was erased and his small frame replaced by warmth.
'It gets easier', how can it get easier? Sure, 'time heals' and all that, but he would still feel like he does now, the pain would just be numbed a little bit more. Maybe that was what Snape meant? But what would he do until that day came when his pain would be lessened, his loneliness and feelings of being weak dimmed? Would it take months, or years? Harry sighed. At least he wasn't *totally* alone now. He had Severus. And although the older man would eventually tire of his company; due to his superior intelligence and need to find someone he could actually communicate with on the same level, and finding someone to live with that was around his own age instead of a little kid, Harry could at least enjoy the present, right?
Sighing, the teen buried further into the large heat source. Maybe he wouldn't feel so cold once he ate a bit more? "Could I get the tour tomorrow?" He asked, just wanting to forget for now.
Severus wrapped his arms more securely around the small frame in his lap and looked him over with concern. Healing wouldn't be easy for him; he seemed pretty sensitive emotionally. 'Not so much different from you until you got so good at not caring,' muttered a cynical voice inside his head, which he begrudgingly acknowledged. It wouldn't be easy, but Severus was patient and he was willing to stick around until it sank in that he didn't plan on leaving.
He frowned lightly when Harry asked to be let out of bed so early. If he hadn't had sounded so sad and miserable Severus would have told him to wait, but maybe one short trip around the manor would be all right? Deciding to check on Harry's concussion, Severus lifted the boys head with one finger and stared into his eyes for a few moments before taking that same hand and shielding Harry's eyes from the light. He repeated the process once or twice before slipping his arm back around Harry and replying, "well, your pupils are still a little slow to react, but . . . if you promise to tell me if you get tired and not push yourself . . . I suppose a casual walk about won't do much harm."
Shifting his head to look at Padfoot and Remus, Severus added, "and you two had better be out from underfoot tomorrow, chasing rabbits in the yard or something to get rid of all that energy." Padfoot lifted his head and tipped it to one side as if to say, "who? Me? When have I *ever* gotten into any trouble?" A few moments later, however, Remus swatted at him lightly with his paw as if to say, "I'll make him behave."
Harry lifted his head to look over Severus' shoulder. He giggled when he saw the pair act like an old married couple, or at least that's what he had seen them behave like.
He ducked his head back down again, letting it rest in the crook of Snape's shoulder. Looking up at the down turned face, he smiled. "They're really cute. Do they always act like that?"
Smiling ruefully at Harry’s questions, Severus answered, “Oh yes, always. They’re a regular bunch of marauders, those two. Remus is so responsible usually and Padfoot’s so mischievous, I don’t know what they see in each other.” He paused to sigh briefly, “but I guess when you fall in love, you don’t really have a choice over who it is.”
Severus glanced at the clock on the opposite wall and mused, “I should probably go; the more rest you get, the better. I’ll be back later tonight with supper.” Gently disentangling himself from Harry, Severus pulled the blankets back up around his waist. “See you later Harry,” he said, skirting around Sirius and Remus to the door, leaving the two dogs behind like guardians, one of whom almost blended with the rug.
Harry smiled when Snape quietly closed the door behind him, leaving a small space for the dogs to go through if they wanted out. He still wasn't a hundred percent sure if Severus was gay, but if he wasn't, he was definitely very open minded for a straight person. Harry had never met another person who had even one of those qualities. Everyone he knew was heterosexual (or if they were gay, he sure didn't see any evidence of it) and against gays (from the way the students had reacted in the courtyard when his journal had been read out loud -and very loudly-, it was pretty obvious that they weren't pro-gay).
Harry sighed, shaking his head to rid himself of thoughts. He didn't need to be getting into another depressed mood (especially without Severus there to comfort him, he thought, grinning). But he quickly frowned, he really shouldn't get used to this. Sighing, he grabbed the book on the night stand and opened it to where he had left off. Leaning back comfortably, he got settled in for long hours of reading.
He grinned when the bed gently shook from Padfoot's weight. Looking up he patted his lap, where the large dog rested his head as Harry stroked him. From the corner of his eye, he saw Remus get up and make his way to the bed. The half-wolf seemed to scowl at the other dog, before licking Harry's out stretched hand and dropping to the ground beside the bed to sleep. Harry smiled and started reading.
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