Snape didn't care who was watching-he immediately began begging Harry to wake up.
Several tense minutes passed by. Snape felt like he would simply die. Just as he was beginning to lose hope, Harry finally stirred. His breath came back and he began sobbing.
"Potter, Potter please, tell me what happened," Snape was pleading. He felt Lucius come and stand at the doorway but he didn't turn around to look at him. He wanted to fly out at the man and kill him-but he didn't really know if Lucius really had been the one who had hurt Harry. He didn't even know what had happened.
Narcissa picked Draco up, who was crying sympathetically. She gave Lucius a look.
Lucius raised his eyebrows.
They took Harry out of the room and tended to him. Snape was trying his best not to collapse but he was so worried. He watched, his heart missing several beats, as Narcissa helped Harry come back to his normal state. She wiped at his face and tried to soothe him.
"He needs me," Snape snapped when Harry didn't stop whimpering. "I know how to calm him down,"
He snatched Harry away from Narcissa and held him close. He began talking softly to him, trying to rouse him.
"Nape," Harry finally rasped, reaching out a tiny hand to grab a lock of Snape's hair.
Snape drew a breath of relief and hugged the baby so tightly that even Harry protested with a shrill shriek.
"What happened to him? I still don't understand," Narcissa asked, wringing her hands. Lucius was standing by her, looking grim.
"I will need to investigate Draco's room," Snape looked at Lucius for permission.
At first it seemed like Lucius would refuse-but then he nodded reluctantly: "Alright, then,"
Snape was very well aware that he had only consented because Narcissa had squeezed his hand forcefully.
Snape used all the spells he knew to find out what had happened. Finally, after severe investigation, he found out.
"It was a trap charm, it had Potter's presence entitled to it. If Ha-Potter stepped on the specific spot where the trap spell was performed he would be hexed. The hex was meant to hurt him badly and make his breathing difficult until he died. However we got to him in time. Whoever cast it is unknown," Snape sighed.
Lucius paled. "It sounds like the spell people would place out of their houses for burglars and thieves. Only I don't think such a hex would be used once the person was caught,"
"Yes, that's true. But we still don't know who cast it," Snape's voice was like steel.
"It could be anyone," Lucius insisted. "It could also be cast by accident. We should all just be glad that Potter's fine,"
Narcissa spoke up, her voice heavy with tears. "I'm so sorry, Severus."
"It doesn't matter," Snape hated it that she was crying. "Lucius is right, the important point is that Potter is fine. We can just try to be more careful and investigate more on it. Find out who cast it,"
Lucius looked half-relieved at the dismissal in Snape's voice. But Snape didn't mean what he had said. Harry could have been killed! He could not afford to lose him, at no cost whatsoever. He would not rest until whoever had tried to kill him was caught and he had made him pay.
The incident subdued pretty much everybody. Harry didn't feel like playing and kept begging Snape that they go home. Snape wanted to leave too. He couldn't risk Harry's life. But he knew that would be rude. He wouldn't mind spending Christmas with Narcissa and Draco.
The night before Christmas, Narcissa ordered the house elves to decorate the house for the occasion. Stockings were hung, the turkey was baked, everything was worked on.
Snape didn't want to talk to anybody but Harry. He kept telling Narcissa that he didn't feel like joining in anything. She was very understanding and pecked him on the cheek, telling him that she understood how he felt.
Soon, when she had finished decorating the house and putting up the tree with Lucius, she went to Snape, who was sitting in the living room.
"Tomorrow's Christmas day, Severus. You should get some sleep," she said.
"I suppose so," Snape sighed. He got up, Harry clinging to him. Harry stared at Narcissa and then mumbled: "Baby?"
"I'm afraid Draco's sleeping, Harry," Narcissa said, apologetically.
Harry's green eyes filled with tears but Snape hurriedly shushed him. He took him to their room and consoled him. He rocked him until he was asleep.
"Right, go to sleep," Snape murmured, smoothening the hair from his face and laying him down. Harry shuddered and snored softly.
Snape would give anything for Harry to stop whimpering and be active again. He really cared for him. Harry was almost like his own child.
Snape froze. They really had come a long way.
"Merry Christmas, Severus," Lucius hugged him and shook his hand. Snape shook his hand too, smiling tightly. "You too, Lucius,"
They all went to the Christmas tree in the living room.
"No presents until breakfast has finished!" Narcissa said, sternly. "Go right back to the Dining Room everyone,"
After a hasty, talkative breakfast, they went back to the tree. Narcissa gave Lucius several gifts and Lucius gave her even more presents back, all expensive and precious. Lucius even got Severus many things, including a jacket, a new pair of designer robes, many interesting books, expensive potion ingredients and a brand-new potions kit.
"Thank you," Snape said, gratefully. Narcissa gave him some more books and a set of leather boots with gold buckles.
It must have seemed rude to leave Harry out as he got several presents too; toys and a new jumper. Draco had so many presents that Snape stopped counting. He gave the little blonde boy a few toys. He gave Lucius and Narcissa their presents too.
Severus was not brimming in money, and he felt fairly self-conscious when the pair opened their presents. They seemed to like it though, and he felt better, especially when Narcissa hugged him swiftly, telling him that he really shouldn't have.
After the presents ceremony was finished, the day went fairly well. Harry seemed to be back to his usual, cheerful self. It was all perfect. Snape did not want to leave anymore. But he had to leave tomorrow. He couldn't force his presence on the Malfoys for too long. So he therefore spent some part of the day packing all of his things into the suitcase. Harry wanted to help too. Snape didn't mind in the least.
"Ooo! Cat, Nape!" Harry handed Snape the small stuffed cat so that it could be packed in too.
Snape was confused. "I thought you could never part with it,"
Harry shrugged, hugging his stuffed elephant toy. Maybe he had replaced the cat with the elephant? Snape didn't know why but he felt slightly sad about that. The cat, Harry and him had had a lot of good times together...
Snape put in the stuffed cat obediently and then held out his arms slightly, unsure if this was how one did it.
"Ooo Nape 'set?" Harry enquired. "Huggie?"
"Don't be ridiculous, I'm trying to make you feel better,"
Harry cheerfully hugged Snape, snuggling up to his chest. There was a small pause and then Harry spoke, his voice oddly hopeless and mournful: "Love Nape." He said in a detached sort of way. He looked up at Snape blankly.
The man felt his throat constricting. He couldn't utter the words back, he couldn't...
Harry didn't look too surprised at the silent reply. He smiled and snuggled back near the chest. "Nape we go home?"
"Soon." Snape promised. "We'll be home and you'll be safe, where no one will ever hurt you. You won't get hurt again, I promise,"
"Yep!" Harry giggled. He raised his eyebrows and wiggled them, obviously oblivious to the emotion in Snape's voice and heart.
The day was fairly enjoyable in all respects. At dinner, after Snape was done with the packing, they all sat together in the Dining Room. The room was highly decorated with streamers and garlands and lights and what not. The room was filled with the appetising smells of turkey, potatoes and steamed vegetables. Everyone tucked into their food, sometimes asking for some more apple sauce, spearing roast potatoes and asparagus with their forks. There was enthusiastic and interesting conversation around the table, Lucius talking of his last Christmas parties, Narcissa telling cute tales of Draco.
Harry was very happy too. He and Draco kept giggling for no reason, smiling at each other.
When the dinner finished, Snape and Narcissa went off somewhere, talking about the earlier incident and about general things. Snape left Harry in their guest room, warded the door heavily, and let Draco in too.
It was a long while before Snape and Narcissa were done talking.
"...will be so sorry to see you go tomorrow," Narcissa was saying, when an elf suddenly popped up, out of nowhere:
"Madam, Kimmi has a problem and won't work! She is calling for you, ma'am!"
"Right, I'll be there in a moment," Narcissa looked annoyed. The elf disappeared with a pop.
Narcissa turned back to Snape. "I'm sorry, Severus, but I have to go. We'll talk later,"
Snape nodded at her and went back to his room. As he reached the doorway, he saw something peculiar. For some strange reason Harry was looking extremely worried. The baby was looking up at someone. Lucius Malfoy! And the blonde-haired man had his wand trained on the child! Draco was nowhere to be seen.
Time seemed to stop. Snape rushed into the room, slamming open the door.
"What are-" he began, but Lucius simply turned, smiled sickeningly and said, "Nothing to worry about Severus. A bit of juice slopped onto his jumper. I just used a drying spell as he didn't like it,"
As soon as Lucius left the room, looking oddly triumphant, Snape inspected Harry. Lucius had definitely cast a spell on him...but which?
Harry sneezed and blinked his adorable green eyes at Snape. He didn't look remotely hurt. But something had happened, Snape just knew it. Lucius had done something.
Harry giggled softly. "Ello Nape!" he raised his arms. "Huggie!"
Snape picked him up absent-mindedly and Harry beamed on his shoulder. "Hehe!" He cooed. He suddenly squinted. "Baby? Baby come bak!" Harry began to get very upset. "Baby! Nape! Hawwy want baby!"
"He might be here somewhere," Snape said. "I think you'd better stay with me. Malfoy was definitely up to something if he broke through my wards,"
They found Draco playing on the staircase. When the blonde boy saw Harry he smiled. Harry struggled in Snape's arms. "Play wiv baby! Baby!"
Snape put him down and kept an eye on him. Draco and Harry started a game of poking each other in the stomachs, both laughing.
But Snape couldn't relax. He just couldn't shake off the feeling that Lucius had done something. Uncertain, he sighed. It was all his fault for bringing Harry here. He was going to get the child in a whole lot of trouble.
That night, with everything packed, Snape watched Harry cry softly because Draco had gone to sleep. They were on their bed as Snape tried, repeatedly, to make the boy quiet down.
"No! No ni'!" Harry snapped when Snape begged him to sleep, "Bad Nape!"
"That's not the way to speak, Potter," Snape scowled.
"No be mean, Nape," Harry said, stubbornly. "No play wiv you,"
Snape wasn't quite sure why Harry thought that that was a punishment.
After a few more protests, Snape suddenly took out his wand. Harry squealed excitedly and snatched it.
After prising it from the chubby fingers and giving Harry a piercing glare (making the baby sniffle), Snape sat Harry on his lap. He sat up against the headboard and steadied Harry on his lap.
At first Harry turned around and sniffled into his chest.
"Stop that! No, sit like this," Snape adjusted him. Then the man waved his wand and several coloured bubbles filled the air. Harry looked astounded and kept trying to reach out for them. Snape made the bubbles float nearer to the baby so that Harry could pop them. The child giggled and Snape drank in all the sounds. He was pleasing someone. It was such a wonderful thought...
As Harry popped another bubble, he suddenly remembered that his dada used to do this with him too. He felt a little sad, but then he realised that he still had Nape, no matter what.
The two of them didn't sleep for a long time. Soon Harry grew tired and fell asleep on Snape's lap and soon Snape felt drowsy too. The man lay Harry down on the bed and pulled the comforter over their bodies. The sweet smell of bubbles wafted around the room for a long time.
"I'll miss you so much...do keep in touch..." Narcissa was saying.
"Thank you for keeping us. It was very nice to meet you." Snape replied. They all shook hands. Narcissa hugged Snape and looked rather tearful.
"Write lots of letters," she said, sniffing.
"Don't worry, I will." Snape said smoothly. He tried to get her to stop crying but Lucius shook his hands and told him that nothing could stop her when she got into a state.
As Narcissa glared at him, Lucius smirked teasingly and said: "Thank you for joining us, Severus," Lucius looked at Harry. "And you too, boy," he said.
But Harry was not listening. He was sobbing because he was being separated from Draco. Draco looked red-eyed too and he kept reaching out a hand to Harry, who tried to grab it.
The farewell was sad and Snape hauled his suitcases out of the house, only using magic after he remembered. He was oddly sad to leave and he and Harry were rather subdued as they walked down the path.
"Waaaa! Baby!" Harry was wailing. Snape had known that Harry would miss Draco. Both of them had made quite a pair.
Snape apparated to a place near his house (which didn't help with Harry's crying) and then stared at his home.
It had an air of neglect around it but it still seemed to be in good shape. Snape nudged Harry and said, "Look, the place where you were first in,"
Harry sniffled and looked at the house. He didn't really seem as if he recognised anything. Snape went inside and looked around. He took Harry to his old room and took out all of the child's things from the suitcase. He refilled Harry's room and suddenly Harry seemed to start piecing things together.
"Home!" Harry exclaimed, grinning at the window near his cot. He looked happy, even though tears and snot were running down his face.
Snape wiped him up and set him down on the carpet. He pointed to the bag of blocks.
Harry grinned and clapped his hands. Well, that left him occupied.
Snape quickly unpacked his own things and set a coffee brewing so that he could relax. As he watched his coffee bubble, the doorbell rang. Feeling bewildered, he went to open the door. It was Dumbledore.
Oh yes. Snape had quite a few things to say to him.
"Come in, Headmaster," Snape glared at him. They were going to have a long talk. Dumbledore could have gotten Harry killed!
But the old man just smiled and said: "Good day, Severus,"
After they were seated, Dumbledore began: "So...How was the experience?"
Snape took a deep breath and began to tell the story...