Snape was having some personal time, alone. With his potions and work and Harry away.
He had really needed this. He was growing really stressful looking after Harry.
After giving the boy his bottle of milk and then putting him to sleep on the living room sofa, he had begun.
He made potions and drank coffee and read books to his heart's content. It was so enjoyable that he lost track of time and suddenly, while going to drink water, he noticed the time: 6:00 pm.
Charity was due any moment at his house!
Scowling, he went to wake up Harry. Was it him or was Charity acting kind of...close lately? She kept insisting that they meet up. They hadn't been very good friends. They had known each other at Hogwarts, but Snape had never really paid much attention to her.
She went bubbly and chirpy whenever she saw him. Snape didn't really know what to make of it.
Harry woke up fairly quickly and rubbed at his eyes. Snape gave him some better clothes to wear and then, propping the boy up on his knee, combed his hair.
Harry squealed and complained. "Owie, no Nape!"
"I'm not letting you go anywhere with that mop of wretched hair. Stay still,"
The combing did not have any remote effect though. It just made Harry's hair stand up in spikes.
Snape gave up and put Harry down on the floor. Then, with a wave of his wand, he conjured some food for tea. His tea just comprised of coffee, and maybe some biscuits, but he supposed that if Charity was coming, he'd at least put up something more.
In a while, the doorbell rang and Harry, as was his custom, squealed and tried to open the door. He bounced off the sofa and crawled towards the front door.
"Stop it," Snape said desperately, putting him back on the sofa. "Stay here like a good boy,"
Harry gazed at the door excitedly. He held out one of his arms, opening and closing his fist.
"No. Stay here," Snape was tired of his new profile. Wherever he went, whoever met him, he was sure to have a baby in his arms. What had happened to his usual self?
Sighing, he left Harry squirming on the sofa and went to open the door.
Charity was looking a little overdressed today, judging by the fact that it was only tea.
Her eyes were bright and she was blushing slightly.
"Severus," she said, smiling. "I've brought..." she wrinkled her nose a little. "Um. Company,"
"What?" Snape demanded, shocked. Who could have come?
"Severus, it's good to see you,"
Snape sighed. Well, of course. Dumbledore always seemed to turn up at parties he wasn't really invited to.
"The feeling is...mutual, Headmaster," Snape said, wearily.
Charity rolled her eyes. "I told the Headmaster I was coming to meet you, and he insisted that he came too. I hope-"
"It's no problem," Snape said, quickly. "Come inside."
Charity blushed once again for some reason and came inside. "Oh, where is Harry?"
Harry, who was staring at the commotion from the sofa, sulking a little, smiled at her toothily.
"Hwi!" he waved his hands.
Charity sat down and smiled. "Aw, you've grown a little, Harry."
"Yep," Harry answered, as if he understood. Charity hugged him and he began his usual baby talk, trying to impress her.
But before he could say more than a few words, Dumbledore asked Snape, "Well, Severus, how are things going with Harry?"
"Fair enough," Snape responded.
"You're playing with him?"
Snape flushed a little and scowled. "Yes."
"Feeding him the necessary-"
"Dumbledore, I am taking good care of Potter-" Snape began, a little irritably.
"Can he walk yet? I think that may be overdue."
There was a little pause.
Snape was a little stunned. Walking? He had...not really thought about it. How was he supposed to teach Harry anyway? The baby hardly ever stayed still or listened-it would be impossible.
How was he going to do this? Okay, firstly he needed Harry's undivided attention. That was getting much harder to get now that Harry was sitting in the midst of many toys.
Really! What a spoilt child he was growing to be. Dumbledore and almost everyone else in the staff were littering the boy with presents and toys and Snape did not approve.
Harry was giggling and clutching a doll in his small fist and a Lego brick in the other.
"Potter." Snape said, firmly. "Listen to me."
"Mm?" Harry giggled, not really listening.
Snape firmly picked him up and Harry kicked his little legs about, struggling. "Play!" He whined. "No Nape!"
"We have much more pressing matters to attend to." Snape said, laying Harry down on the tiled floor. "You should have learnt to walk by now."
"Pla-a-ay!" Harry protested.
"No, I said no," Snape snapped. He really needed to discipline the boy. "Do you understand?"
Harry pouted. But when he saw Snape's stern expression his lip wobbled. "'Kay Nape, no be 'set."
Set? Putting the thought away for now, Snape stopped glowering, felt a little bad for it, and then stood Harry up. Harry wobbled dangerously on his legs and had to hold onto Snape's arms for support.
"Good boy, now let's stand." Snape said. He had an idea. Maybe if Harry cooperated, he could begin walking soon.
He suddenly let go of Harry's hands. Harry threatened to fall but he kept standing, now steadier. He grinned and waved his arms excitedly. "LOOKIE NAPE!"
Harry looked at his toys and pointed one finger towards then. "Ooooo,"
"No. Not now, be patient. Take a step now Potter, one at a time." Snape helped Harry with the first few steps. Harry was slightly restless but he obeyed all the same.
Then he had to try himself. He took just one step before plopping to the ground and looking very distraught.
"Waaa!" Harry sniffled when Snape picked him up with a sigh.
"Well, at least we have started. Do you want to try again?"
Though Harry said no such thing, Snape resolutely made Harry stand and then walked a few meters away from him. He knelt on the floor and said, "Come to me."
Harry fell on his hands and knees and crawled to Snape happily enough.
"No, no, Potter, walk. Wait..." Snape quickly got out the parental magazine. Throwing away all his pride, he tried to find a page on walking.
Finally he found an article. There were some rules on how to teach a child to walk, by supporting him, holding him under the arms, etc. It all looked rather complicated.
"This is harder than I thought," Snape put a strand of hair away from his face and gazed down at Harry, who was sitting on his lap, facing towards him and trying to reach for the magazine.
"Want," he insisted, trying to grab the paper.
Snape put it away and sighed. "I am not a parent. I am a guardian. It is certainly not my responsibility to make you walk and run and things."
"Yep," Harry agreed. He paused and bounced his head hard on Snape's chest. He began giggling profoundly.
"BOP!" Harry laughed as he did it again.
"No, that hurts-stop it. This is not the proper etiquette for a little boy."
"Bop!" Harry tried to do it again but Snape held him away and rolled his eyes.
"Nape 'set?" Harry asked, concerned.
"What is 'set'?"
"'Set." Harry said again. He made a very sad face. "No be 'set."
After pondering on this for a long moment, Snape came up with the theory that 'set probably meant 'upset'.
He wanted to get Harry to practice walking again, this time on a carpet so it did not hurt as much if he fell, but Harry was too fidgety. So Snape had to put him back in his circle of toys, muttering about silly children, and then go prepare dinner.