"Good," Harry said, "I didn't get in any trouble, I swear."
"I didn't think you would get into any," she told him. "Would you like a biscuit?" She handed a tin over to him and Harry took a hard orange biscuit from inside.
"Thank you," he said.
"Did you make friends with any of the other children?"
"I don't know," Harry said.
"Didn't you get along with any of them?"
"I did," he said, and he told her about getting to know the others, and the names of the kids in his class. "Draco didn't even get mad at me when I couldn't throw his expensive Quaffle right."
They talked for a few more minutes, and then she told Harry that she had to go to her last class of the day. "Severus is done for the day and should be in his office for his last office hour of the day," she told him. "I'm glad you had a good first day of school," and then she was gone down the corridor towards the Transfiguration room.
Harry went down to the Dungeons and knocked on Snape's office door and was bade to enter.
"How was school?" Snape asked, and Harry repeated all he had told Professor McGonagall.
"I don't think I'm gonna play with Draco after lunch tomorrow though."
"Why?" Severus asked, looking up from the summer essays he was grading.
"I don't wanna mess up his Falcon's Quaffle. I can't throw it right and I can't catch it either. He said there's enough spells on it to protect it from a dragon, but I don't want him to get mad ‘cause I don't know how to play right."
"Why don't you take your Quaffle tomorrow instead?"
Harry shrugged and Severus narrowed his eyes as the boy stared at the floor.
"Do you have homework to do?" Severus asked after a moment.
"Only a little reading."
"Do your homework now and I will show you how to catch the Quaffle after dinner."
"I do not go back on my word if it can be helped."
Harry sat down in an empty chair and began pulling his homework out of his bag. He'd only been assigned to read a few pages and it would be done in no time.
They ate in the Great Hall that night, Harry sitting with the first year Slytherins and listening to them talk about their classes and homework, and then Harry went back to the Dungeons to get his brand new Quaffle. Severus followed a few minutes later and then motioned for Harry to follow him to the Entrance Hall and out to the front lawns. They walked a ways away from the castle and from a few students who were out sitting on the front steps and Severus took the Quaffle.
"There are two ways to throw it. You can place your hands on either side and throw it over your head like this," he held it above his head to demonstrate, "or you can use one hand and hold it in your arm, then use your entire arm to swing the Quaffle around and throw it. Both take practice to be accurate." He tossed the red ball to Harry, who didn't catch it, and instructed him to try throwing it with both hands over his head. Harry managed ok and actually got the ball to Severus.
"To catch it, reach out with both hands and then pull the ball in towards your body, cradling it to your stomach or the crook of your arm. Your body acts as a barrier, like a net, so the ball has nowhere to go. It is possible to catch the ball up over your head, but given that the game is usually played on brooms a hundred feet in the air, it's best not to take chances, because if the ball is dropped it has a long way to fall and then to fly to retrieve it."
He tossed the ball underhand to Harry, who caught it but dropped it. After twenty minutes Harry was making mostly decent throws and catching at least half of the balls Severus was throwing to him.
"What about the hoops?" Harry asked. "There's hoops at the school."
Severus explained to Harry about Chasers and Keepers, and about scoring points through the hoops.
"It is getting dark," Severus said, but Harry's face fell and Severus found that he didn't want to hurry back inside to his grading and mastery papers so soon. "We may stay out for another ten minutes.
Harry's face lit up as Severus tossed the ball to him and Harry dove to get it. He caught it as he hit the grass, and began laughing. As the boy laughed Severus thought back to the things Lily had once said to him about being a bad influence on her son. It was her reasoning for him not having anything to do with Harry, and it had officially ended their longtime friendship, even though it had been years since they'd truly been close. Her words had stung him, and her actions even more so when Black was named the baby's godfather instead of him. But now Harry was under his care... was fed, clothed and educated, and was still lying on the grass giggling with the red Quaffle Severus had bought him. He wished things had turned out differently and that Lily had believed in him to make the right choices, even if he had once made mistakes. He wished he had been the boy's Godfather, not only because he had loved Lily, but because had he been his godfather Harry would have been with him all along after his parent's deaths instead of living with relatives that put him on a train by himself and neglected to clothe or love him properly.
Severus paused at the last thought. Harry wasn't his child, nor even his godchild. He couldn't love him like he was, could he? When had the term even begun to work it's way into his brain? "It is time to go inside," Severus said, and as Harry got up and picked up the Quaffle, Severus tried to quash down the conflicting feelings swirling through himself. Harry's placement with him was only temporary, and he needed to remind himself of that more often. Harry's future permanent guardians would love him, and if they didn't they would have to deal directly with Severus.
* * *
"Let's play Quidditch again," Draco told Harry the next day at lunch, pulling out his blue Quaffle.
Harry grinned at him, now confident he could catch and throw the ball without making too many mistakes and pulled his own red Quaffle out. "Can we play with mine today?" he asked. "It's new."
Draco's face darkened a little, but he put his Quaffle back in his bag and nodded and they headed into the yard behind the schoolhouse together.
"I'm gonna be on my house Quidditch team," Draco told Harry as they played, the other boys once again ignoring Draco as they played apart from him and Harry.
"What position?" Harry asked.
"I don't know what that one does," Harry confessed.
"Haven't you ever seen the game played?" Draco asked, and Harry shook his head. Draco dropped to the ground and grabbed a little stick and started drawing something in the dirt, and Harry went over to look at what it was.
"There's a little golden ball with wings that's super fast," Draco said, "If the Seeker catches it, they end the game and get 150 points for their team. That's what I'm gonna do," he said. "You know what Keepers and Chasers do, right?" Harry nodded and Draco drew a Quaffle in the dirt. Then he drew two other balls smaller than the Quaffle but bigger than the Snitch, and Draco explained about Beaters and Bludgers.
Over the next few days Harry found he quite enjoyed spending time with Draco, and when it became apparent that Harry and Draco were becoming friends, the other boys started to play Quidditch with them during free time as well, though they mostly ignored Draco when he talked about the nice things he had at home or the places he got to visit. Harry wasn't sure why none of the other kids seemed to like his new friend.
One day after school Draco's father came to pick him up before Harry had left to walk back to the castle and stopped Harry to talk to him.
"Draco tells me you are good with a Quaffle. Do you intend on playing Quiddich when you go to school?"
Harry wasn't sure what to say to that. He was ok, but he still dropped the ball a lot and didn't think anyone would call him good at the game.
"I'm not sure I'm that good sir," he said. "Draco's been trying to teach me, but I still drop the ball a lot."
"I see. Draco said the two of you eat lunch together each day. He asked if he could bring extra dessert to school to share with you."
Harry wondered if his friend was in trouble. His father almost sounded like he didn't believe that Draco had shared that extra piece of cake the other day.
"He gave it to me sir, it was really good. Sometimes Severus gives me money for a pastry but not every day. Draco doesn't have to bring things for me if he's not allowed. I don't want him to be in trouble."
"It is no trouble," Lucius said, giving Harry a curious look. "Come Draco, your mother is waiting." He reached out to hold Draco's arm to apparate away, gave Harry a nod, and then they were gone.
The next day Harry was surprised to find Draco waiting at the gate of the Hogwarts grounds for Harry before school.
"What are you doing all the way up here?" Harry asked.
"Father didn't believe me that we were friends. That's why he was asking you questions yesterday."
"But he believes you now?"
Draco nodded. "I've been asking all week for him to drop me off at the gate so we can walk to school together in the mornings. He said so long as he doesn't get any owls about me being in trouble at school I can walk back to the gate with you after school too and he'll pick me up there." Draco grinned at him and Harry smiled back. He'd never had a friend to walk to school with before and was excited at the prospect.
"Maybe you could come to my house sometime after school," Draco said. "Or I could come to the castle with you."
"I'm not sure," Harry said. "I mean, if it's allowed. I'll have to ask." He didn't know if he would ask though because his room was pretty bare. It was a lot better than what he'd had at the Dursleys, but Draco had told him a lot over the last week about all the signed Quidditch posters he had hanging in his room, and about all of his toys and the many special quilts and pillows on his bed. Harry had none of those things. He loved his room, but didn't know what Draco would think of it and didn't want to lose his only friend over it.
"You ask uncle Severus," Draco said, "and I'll ask mother. I'm sure she won't mind."
As they made the edge of town fifteen minutes later Draco pulled a silver Sickle out of his pocket. "Look, father gave me pocket money to buy snacks with. Let's go into Honeydukes and get chocolate for lunch!"
Harry grinned and happily followed Draco into the candy store. He hadn't gone inside yet, but frequently stopped to look in the windows on his way home from school.
They left a few minutes later with the biggest bar of chocolate Harry had ever seen. It weighed almost a pound and had a dozen huge pieces that were scored to break off.
"This will last days," Draco laughed.
At lunch that day they scarfed down their food and Draco pulled the chocolate bar out. "Look what I got today at Honeydukes!" he announced to the others, breaking off a piece to give to Harry.
Cade mumbled something under his breath that sounded unfriendly, and Anwen said in an exasperated way, "Good for you Draco."
Harry looked at the piece of chocolate Draco had just handed him, then to the other children who had gone back to talking amongst themselves, and then to Draco's fallen features. Draco looked so disappointed. "We bought this to share," Harry said brightly, and the children looked back over to them. Harry held out the huge piece Draco had given him to Albin, who took it uncertainly. The others looked interested, and Harry held out his hand to Draco for another piece. Draco broke another piece off and when Cade held out his hand expectantly and Harry handed it over, Draco's face lit up and he began breaking the huge bar into more pieces.
When everyone had one, including the teacher, Anwen said, "Thanks Harry."
"It was Draco who brought it to share," Harry said. "He got the biggest one Honeyduke's had so everyone could have a big piece."
The other children's eyes flickered to Draco, who still had a sizable chunk of chocolate left on his desk, and the boy smiled uncertainly at them.
"Thanks Draco," Cait Combe said quietly, and Draco turned to Harry and grinned.
After school was over, when Harry and Draco were out of town and well on their way back to the Hogwarts gates, Draco said, "Thanks."
Harry didn't ask him what for. Instead he turned and grinned at him and said, "Last one to the gate is a rotten egg." He took off running and Draco ran after him calling, "Why would anyone be a rotten egg? Do you know a spell to do that to someone?"
* * *
"You have been very quiet this evening," Severus said one evening several weeks after Harry had started school. They were eating dinner in their quarters instead of the Great Hall, and Harry had been quiet throughout the meal.
"I'm sorry," he said.
"There is no need to be. You have done nothing wrong. I was merely curious. You usually tell me about your day." Over the last few weeks all Harry could talk about was school and Draco Malfoy. ‘Draco said this,' and ‘Draco said that' took up the majority of their conversations. Tonight Harry was silent though.
"Is there something you wish to speak to me about?" Severus asked. Perhaps the child had gotten in trouble at school and was afraid to tell him. Harry only shrugged in response.
"I trust school is still going well?"
"Yeah. I think I got a good grade on my maths test today, and Mr. Blackwood said a field trip was coming up, but he didn't say where yet."
"You do not seem excited."
"I am," Harry said, pushing a piece of broccoli around his plate.
"Have you been fighting with Draco?"
"No, he keeps asking if he can come over after school to play board games."
"He may. I will let the Headmaster know he will be coming. Provided that both of you continue to follow the rules that have already been laid down for you, and do not go anywhere other than our quarters or the Great Hall, he may come home with you after school tomorrow."
"Oh." Harry set his fork down and stared at his plate.
"Is there a problem?"
Harry finally looked up at him and said, "I'm afraid he won't like my room."
"I like my room. I like my rugs and my poster and my toys. Draco tells me all the time about his room though, about all the Quidditch posters he has from all the games he's been to, and his special quilts and other things. I don't have stuff like that." Harry was just grateful he didn't live in the mop cupboard down the corridor from their quarters. He didn't want Severus to think he was ungrateful for what he'd been given.
"Perhaps you should wait to invite Draco over until after you have been to a Quidditch game then."
"I don't know when any are," Harry said. "It'll be better if you tell me he can't come over so I can tell him that."
"We will simply have to go to a game this weekend. There are several."
Harry looked up, not sure he had heard right. "We can go to a game?"
"Yes. Do you have a preference of team?" The tickets weren't very expensive, especially if they were going to see a team that wasn't doing well that year. An entire day out for the both of them would cost less than four Galleons including lunch and some posters.
"I don't know of any teams but the Falcons and British National team. The kids at school talk about other teams they've seen play but I can't keep them all straight. The Falcons are Draco's favorite."
"The Falmouth Falcons are playing the Chudley Cannons Saturday evening at the pitch in Devonshire."
"How do you know what teams are playing and when?" Harry asked.
Severus snapped his fingers and a newspaper appeared. It was that morning's edition of the Daily Prophet. Harry loved watching the owls deliver the paper and mail to students and staff each morning at breakfast and frequently wished he had an owl of his own.
Severus turned the paper to the very middle page where a chart showing the weekend's lineup of games, times and locations was located and handed it to Harry.
"Can I have this?" Harry asked.
"You may. But the schedule will be different next week."
"I just want to learn the names of all the teams."
"You would be better off with a Quidditch magazine. Not all of the teams have games this weekend."
"Where do I get a magazine?" Harry asked.
"Perhaps from an older student," Severus suggested.
The next morning Harry asked the first years at the Slytherin table if they had any, but none of them had a subscription. They all had an opinion on which was the best magazine to subscribe to however, and Harry tried to remember the names of all the magazines there were.
When Harry told Draco about his quest to find a Quidditch magazine so he could learn about the different teams, Draco turned up the next day with half a dozen previous editions of ‘Quidditch Monthly,' ‘The Quidditch Star,' and ‘Bludger and Quaffle.' "Here, you can have these. I have subscriptions to a bunch of magazines and these are editions from the last couple months."
"Wow," Harry said gratefully, "can I look them over for the whole weekend?"
"No," Draco said, "you can have them. When I get new ones in the mail I'll save them and bring them to school and we can look at them together."
"You're the best," Harry told him, and then he turned away and started flipping through the magazines, because Draco's eyes looked watery and Harry thought it would be rude to watch him if he was going to start to cry.
* * *
Saturday evening just before dinner Severus took Harry to the front gate and apparated him to Chudleigh in Devonshire. Just southeast of town there was a large circle of tall trees in the middle of a field that hid a Quidditch pitch. Severus had informed Harry that there were strong spells to repel Muggles and trick any Muggle who saw the top of the pitch or players flying on brooms to thinking they had only seen birds. As a result the local Muggles believed there were huge birds that lived in this ring of trees and they never came too near. It helped that a few wizards who lived in Chudleigh perpetuated the myth amongst neighboring Muggle children that they were huge prehistoric man-eating birds. Over the years those children grew up and cautioned their own children to stay away.
Harry was in awe at the crowd that had gathered to watch the two teams play. Some seemed to be officials and were dressed up in nice robes with a lot of buttons, and others were regular people. There were food booths set up selling everything from popcorn, to ice cream, to fried newts on a stick. There were also booths selling posters for the two teams and things like shirts, hoodies, and even signed Quidditch memorabilia. Harry saw a blue quaffle like Draco's that had the signatures of the entire team and oggled at the price of seventy five Galleons.
"This is how the teams make a majority of their money," Severus told Harry as he stared at the Quaffle. "They also profit from sales of Quidditch magazine subscriptions, ticket sales, and making appearances at private events."
Severus paid a few sickles for a Cannon's poster and a Falcon's poster and told Harry it was his reward for doing so well in school for the first few weeks, and also bought Harry a dark blue Falcon's t-shirt.
"If you want a subscription to a magazine you will have to continue to do well in school and save up your money. Now that you have magazines from Draco you can get information on how to subscribe in the back of each one."
They did stop at a magazine stand so Harry could see the two dozen different varieties of magazines available. There were magazines geared towards Seekers, magazines that promised to have new specialized maneuvers in every issue, and even a couple from other countries with news and information on foreign teams.
Severus bought them some dinner and they went up into the stands. They didn't have the most expensive tickets so they weren't at the very top, but they were still high enough that Harry felt like he was right in the action. His eyes followed the players up and down the field and he was amazed at how well the Chasers could throw and catch and sneak the ball past the Keepers.
It was almost nine when they finally returned to the front gate. On their way out of the stands the Falcon's Keeper spotted the two rolled up posters Harry was carrying and said, "Yeh got one of the Cannon's posters? How about I sign yer Falcon's poster, then yeh can just throw the Cannon's away in the bin where they belong?" Not to be outdone, the Cannon's star Chaser was waiting for Harry at the bottom of the stairs and said, "Can't have Harry Potter putting up Falcon's posters when the Cannons are the best team out there." He winked at Harry and signed his Cannon's poster.
Severus gripped his arm and apparated him away before they could be stopped again, but Harry didn't complain.
"Will Draco be sufficiently impressed by your new posters?" Severus asked as they walked back to the castle in the dark.
Harry turned and beamed at him, and before Severus realized what was happening, the child had thrown himself at him and was hugging him around the middle. "Best ever," the child mumbled, and then pulled away.
That night after he had checked to be sure the boy had actually gone to sleep and wasn't still staring at his newly hung posters, Severus reflected on Harry's words. He didn't think he'd ever been the ‘best' at anything, aside from perhaps at Potions, and even that was debatable. There were a dozen living Potions Masters more skilled and creative than him. But Harry had called him the ‘best ever' and for just a minute he let himself feel like he was. He had barely done anything to earn the child's praise. Every wizarding child, even the poorest of them, went to see Quidditch games. The Ministry ensured each team offered a certain number of free games a year to ensure every fan had the chance to attend at least once or twice. Harry had acted like he'd never been taken to do anything fun though. As he fell asleep that night, Severus thought, maybe the boy hadn't.
* * *
"Is there a spell to change things to different colors?"
Harry was dressed and ready for school Monday morning, and was scarfing his breakfast down at the kitchen table as fast as he could.
"There is," Severus said, taking a slow sip of his coffee.
"Can we change my blanket color to the color of my green rug?" The blanket was cream color and Harry wanted it to match with his other things. Harry had been asking Severus questions like this all weekend, and cleaning his room in preparation for Draco to come over after school Monday afternoon. Severus had already owled Draco's parents to be certain it was ok and they had responded that Draco could stay and eat dinner in the castle. Severus knew Narcissa was desperate for her son to have a friend and was willing to agree to just about anything the boys could come up with.
"It is important that you do not base your existence on finding what pleases others."
"I know," Harry said. "I like that color of green though. I never had a room before, or posters or a nice bed, or rugs or any of it. Now I finally have one and it's so perfect. I've been wanting a green blanket for a long time, or a blue one."
"You did not have a bedroom before?"
Harry shook his head. "I had a cupboard."
Severus' face darkened. "Explain to me what you just said."
"I lived in the cupboard under the stairs. There was a cot in there, and a light pull, and a broom. That was about it."
"What about your clothes and school things?" He already knew the boy had not had any toys before Hogwarts.
"I kept them in a cardboard box under my cot."
Severus just stared at him. The boy acted as though this was the most normal thing in the world, though he clearly understood that it was not. Severus wanted to curse the Muggles Harry had lived with, but bit back the insults that were trying to claw their way out of him. He didn't want Harry to think he was angry at him. The boy seemed very sensitive to that kind of thing and always believed he had done something wrong when he hadn't. Instead what Severus said was, "I am glad you like your room. Is there anything else you wish to change about it?"
Harry shook his head and Severus rose to go down the hall with him to transfigure the blanket to a green one.
"Maybe I could get some more pillows later," Harry said. "I love the loft in the school and how there's all those big pillows to sit on and read. I love soft things."
"Your room would not fit a loft," Severus said, looking up to the ceiling. It wasn't low, but it wasn't the high ceiling some of the upper rooms in the castle enjoyed either.
"I know," Harry said brightly, and then he grabbed his bookbag and headed for the door. "I wanna beat Draco to the gate today. I can't wait for him to come over after school!" and then he was gone.
Severus looked around the room. Even with the rugs and posters, and the green blanket and bean bag chair, he felt like it was lacking for a boy who had never had even a bed before. He knew rooms could be transfigured to be bigger, but in the confines of a castle held together by magic, magic couldn't add more space to the room unless the space was taken from elsewhere. It was for this reason that rooms were rarely ever transfigrued within the castle and tended to stay the same for hundreds of years.
Severus was still thinking on it when he made his way to the staff meeting later that morning.
"So pensive Severus?" Albus asked.
"Harry needs a bigger room."
"He does?" Albus seemed surprised.
"The one in my quarters is too small for a growing boy."
"Are you trying to tell me you don't wish to care for him anymore?"
"No!" Severus snapped, but then he reigned in the sharp look he was giving the Headmaster and calmed himself for a moment. "The ceiling is low and the room is not wide enough for a loft. He enjoys reading and has expressed his regret that he cannot have a reading loft like the one in the schoolhouse."
Dumbledore smiled and Minerva leaned in. She'd been listening to the conversation as they waited for other teachers to arrive for the meeting.
"What's above your quarters Severus? Isn't it just a classroom?"
"The classroom the old Care of Magical Creatures teacher used to use," Albus said. "It rarely ever gets used now. You do have the smallest quarters in the castle of the staff," Albus said. "Perhaps it's time to raise the ceiling for some of the rooms in your quarters and turn that classroom into storage. Argus was just complaining last month that the East attic is getting full."
"And you could take some space from the guest quarters down the hall," Minerva suggested.
Severus looked back and forth between the two of them. "I do not know the magic to adjust the room sizes."
"Minerva and I will have to do it," Albus said. "The castle will only make changes if the Headmaster wishes it, and Minerva will have to adjust the walls from the classrooms we're taking space from while I am in the quarters."
"When do you have time?" Severus asked.
"Doesn't Harry have a friend coming today?" he asked. "Why don't we surprise him with it when he gets home after school?"
"If you wish."
Dumbledore smiled as Trelawney came into the room, the last to arrive and he stood to start the staff meeting. Minerva leaned in to Severus and whispered, "If Albus wished it the boy would be wearing robes of gold already. Don't pretend you were trying to hide a satisfied smile when he told you we could do it today before he got home."
Severus was going to deny it, but Minerva had already pulled away and started to speak as Albus had asked her a question about the first upcoming Hogsmead weekend of the year. She wore a satisfied smirk and Severus sat back in his chair and ignored her for the rest of the meeting.
* * *
Draco bragged all day about getting to go home with Harry after school. Alby and Cade told Draco they didn't care because they went to each other's houses all the time since they both lived in Hogsmeade, and then told him they were sure Harry would invite them over sometime soon too.
All the way back to the castle Draco chattered on about the Gobstones set he brought to play that afternoon, and about the newest Quidditch Monthly he'd been saving for almost a week to bring over.
"I've been to the castle before," Draco said as they climbed the steps up into the Entrance Hall. There were a few older students sitting on the steps leading to the first floor studying, but everyone else was in class or study hall. "Once uncle Severus watched me for a day a couple years ago and I got to look through the books at the library."
Harry led him down to their dungeon quarters and inside. Down the hall to his room, Harry opened his door, proud that his room had posters and nice rugs so he didn't have to feel embarrassed. He was watching Draco's face instead of looking into his room, so he didn't see that anything was different from how he'd left it that morning until Draco said, "Wow, you didn't tell me you had a loft."
"Huh?" Harry turned and paused. Had he led them into the wrong quarters on accident? Eyes roving around the room he found his bed and desk and bean bag chair, but there against one wall was a wooden frame holding up a loft. It was tall enough they could walk under it, and there was a ladder leading to the top. The head of his bed was against a wall under the loft.
Harry went in first and climbed the ladder. There was a new soft deep green rug covering the loft, and ten soft pillows in different shades of blue and green, and a shelf attached to the wall with Harry's books and borrowed books.
"Can I come up?" Draco asked, and Harry moved off the ladder so Draco could climb up. The loft wasn't tall enough to stand up straight, but almost. Harry wondered how his room had changed so suddenly, and how the ceiling had grown so tall. Had he wished this into existence?
"Can you wish for something so much that your magic just makes it happen?" Harry asked.
"My mom said once her sister wished so much for green hair that her hair changed color all on its own. What'd you wish for?"
"Nothing," Harry grinned.
Draco pulled out the new magazine and his gobstone set and they began to play.
Half an hour later after Severus finished up his last class of the day, he came into his quarters and down the hall, drawn by the boy's laughter. When he looked inside all he could see were the boy's feet hanging over the edge of the loft. It sounded like they were talking about Quidditch and looking at a Quidditch magazine. He smiled, glad Minerva wasn't around to make fun of him for it, and glad that Harry finally had the room he desired the most.