Guardian by JAWorley
Summary: Snape wants to be Slytherin's new head of house. Harry wants a home. Dumbledore has a plan for these two. If Snape can prove he can take care of the 9 year old, the job is his. But taking care of a kid isn't as easy as it looks. As the young dark eyed Potions Professor tries to do his best, Harry learns what it means to have a good guardian, even if he isn't a perfect one.
Categories: Teacher Snape > Professor Snape, Parental Snape > Guardian Snape Main Characters: .Snape and Harry (required), Draco, Dumbledore, Ron
Snape Flavour: Canon Snape, Comforting Snape, Kind Snape, Loving Snape, Stern Snape
Genres: Angst, Drama, Family, General, Hurt/Comfort
Tags: Adoption, Child fic
Takes Place: 0 - Pre Hogwarts (before Harry is 11)
Warnings: Abusive Dursleys, Neglect
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 8 Completed: No Word count: 35966 Read: 12322 Published: 13 May 2021 Updated: 28 Aug 2021

1. Black and Green by JAWorley

2. More Than Rules by JAWorley

3. Working Not To Disappoint by JAWorley

4. It's Severus by JAWorley

5. Testing Boundaries by JAWorley

6. Rewards by JAWorley

7. Mr. Blackwood's Class by JAWorley

8. Harry’s First Friend by JAWorley

Black and Green by JAWorley
Author's Notes:
Just finished up Harry of Bainbridge, and as my rule goes: when I finish up one incomplete story I get to post up another one that's been waiting to be posted forever :)
I was pretty sure he wanted nothing to do with me. He seemed a lot like Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon. They had never wanted anything to do with me either unless it was time to make a meal, or clean the kitchen, or weed the garden or wash the car. Those were things I was good at, (even Uncle Vernon said so). Maybe this dark eyed teacher with long black hair would make me wash his car and weed his garden. I was good for that at least. I didn't know how the aging man who ran the school got him to agree to it, but I gathered it was on a dare or some kind of bet. After all, who would want me? I was here because it was well known on Privet Drive and at my school that I was a bad boy, and my aunt and uncle had had enough of me to last them a lifetime. Somehow they got word to these people, here in this castle that they wanted to give me back. Who knew I'd come from a castle? Who knew this stern looking man with black eyes would agree to be my guardian, even a temporary one? That's how I met Professor Snape.

Severus Snape sat in the Headmaster's office, impatiently tapping his fingers on the wooden arms of the visitor's chair he currently occupied. It was green. The Headmaster had one in each of the four house colors, and Severus always sat in the green one even though there was no rule about where one sat (the man would have probably let him sit in his chair if he asked). It just felt wrong to sit in one of the other colors being a Slytherin. He'd been waiting for ten minutes for the man to appear. They'd had an appointment after all. He supposed Dumbledore had more interesting things to deal with than Severus Snape, the youngest Professor at Hogwarts, and his aspirations to become the Slytherin head of house. Severus was annoyed by the Headmaster's tardiness naturally. He took pride in his punctualness and like sitting in a red, yellow, or blue chair when there was an unoccupied green one, not being punctual to a meeting just seemed wrong. Severus had no illusions that his was the most urgent need in the castle to attend to at the moment though. No, there were other issues to be looking after. Issues like Harry Potter.

Four nights ago there had been an owl (half dead looking) from Potter's relatives. Severus wondered how a Muggle would have convinced one to come near enough to tie a letter to, but they seemed to have managed. It had stated clearly that they no longer wished to look after their nephew and that they had put him on a train to Scotland, and that it was Albus Dumbledore's duty to look after him from that point on. The Headmaster had not been happy and had gone straight to Surrey to find out which train they had put Harry on and why. He had not shared the why with anyone thus far, but Severus hadn't dared to ask either. He knew better than to poke an agitated bear with a stick. Minerva had pestered Dumbledore for details and had been properly chastised. Foolish Gryffindors. The Dursleys apparently couldn't remember which train they'd put the boy on, and it had taken the Headmaster an entire day to locate him with a locator spell. By the time he found him, Harry had spent two days and a night by himself at an abandoned train platform at the end of the line in Thurso. Since then he'd been in the castle for the last two days, no doubt being pampered by the staff, but Severus had yet to see him, and he didn't want to either. The boy was none of his business. Lily had made that clear to him from the moment she and James Potter had gotten engaged, and since that moment Severus had taken her words to heart. James Potter was none of his business, and therefore the son she had with James Potter was none of his business. No matter that they were both dead. He had no desire to stick his nose in where it didn't belong.

The door finally opened behind him and the Headmaster came in. "Severus, my apologies for being late."

"I understand," Severus said, sitting up straight in the green chair. When he was making a request like this one, he didn't feel the need to rock the boat by seeming irritated with the elder man's late entrance.

Albus sat behind his desk, opened a drawer and rummaged for a moment, and then closed it and gave Severus his attention. Then he laughed. It made Severus uncomfortable. He was the youngest Professor there and it didn't matter that he was 30, he still felt like a pupil in front of Albus Dumbledore.

"Relax Severus. I have never seen anyone sit so rigid in one of those chairs as you do whenever you call upon me."

Severus relaxed marginally though he doubted the Headmaster would notice. The aging man's smile didn't fade however as he spoke. "I assume this visit is regarding your request to take over as Slytherin Head of House for Colm Carcroft?"

He gave a single nod. "It is. I wished to enquire about any headway with your decision."

Dumbledore narrowed his eyes slightly as if considering something. "You're very young Severus, and while I know that you've worked hard these last three years to build up a stern reputation amongst the students, I wonder if they'll respond to you in the way you'll need them to if you're the Head of House to over 80 children."

He stiffened in his chair again. "I believe I can keep control and maintain order."

"They're Slytherins Severus. Cunning and careful, loyal and sometimes wise. They're planners. Just last week Colm had to stake out a hidden room down the corridor from the library to catch them at dueling after the end of term feast." Colm Carcroft was a fifty something year old man who had a lot of experience dealing with wayward Slytherins. He was a good head of house, and Severus wished he'd been the Head of house when he had been a student instead of Slughorn. Maybe Carcroft would have made a difference in the way things had turned out for him. But the man wanted to retire. Nine years of shepherding Slytherins had apparently tired him out.

"I am also cunning," Severus pointed out, and Albus nodded with a wise smile and winked at him, which made Severus feel even younger.

"I'm aware of your abilities. It's more than being cunning and stern though. A lot more. You have to understand children and what they're going through. You have to be willing to be there for them at all hours of the day and night. We are their parents when they're away from home. We are the ones they come to for comfort and guidance."

"You believe I am incapable." It wasn't a question, and Severus was starting to feel irritated. He wasn't a child! He could handle this!

"Of being a teacher? No. Of being a disciplinarian? You have proved you are more than capable. But what about being a mentor Severus? You're still young. You've only been teaching for three years."

Severus was starting to feel like he was losing the thread of confidence he'd come in with. The Headmaster was saying no to him, again. He'd already denied him twice for the Defense Against The Dark Arts position, and Severus had elected not to apply again for the coming year because he was asking instead to take over as Head of Slytherin.

"Severus?"

"Yes."

"Have you anything else to say?"

"It appears you have made up your mind and will not be swayed. What I have to say is of little consequence and it would be unwise to continue speaking." He drummed his fingers irritatedly on the wood armrest of the green chair again. He wished there was a gray or brown chair he could sit in to feel more like staff and less like a student. It would help if the chair was higher off the ground too. Not that the one he was in was lower than usual.

Albus sighed. "I don't mean to disparage your age Severus. Young men do great things all the time. For all I know you could be a magnificent leader to the young minds of Slytherin House. You could also be a terrible one if you're not ready for the position."

"And what am I to do to persuade you that I am capable of being magnificent?" Only two people in his life had ever told him or implied that he could be great at anything. One had turned out to be the most evil wizard of all time. The other was sitting in front of him with his fingers steepled.

Dumbledore was silent for long moments in thought, and Severus was glad that he seemed to be at least putting in an effort to give him options. If it meant putting in more hours, or taking some sort of course, he could deal with that, even if it meant taking time away from his efforts at gaining a mastery level certificate in Potions. After nearly three minutes had passed, Albus Dumbledore's eyes lit up and he smiled.

"Severus, I believe I have one solution for two problems." He seemed very pleased with himself about it.

"Which would be?"

"You need experience. You need to prove you're capable of seeing to not only the educational and disciplinary needs of children, but the entire well being of them as well. And as it so happens there is a child currently in this castle who is in need of a temporary guardian until a more permanent one can be found for him."

Severus' fingers stopped drumming on the armrest and he stiffened. The Potter boy? The boy that was absolutely none of his business? He'd promised Lily. He had to stay away from him. "Potter."

"Harry Potter, yes. You are aware that his relatives... sent him back to us. He's in a guest room now."

"You want me to be Harry Potter's guardian."

"It would be a wonderful solution to two problems, don't you think?"

Severus opened his mouth, and then closed it again. The man didn't trust Severus with Slytherins, and he wanted to ask why he trusted him to take care of the Boy Who Lived. The wizarding world's boy hero. He couldn't ask though. He also wanted to complain about how being the sole guardian of a child that age would take up all his time and put his plans for a Potions Mastery on permanent hold, but held his tongue on that too. If he were the Head of Slytherin house, he'd have to have time for a lot more than one child.

"What do you think Severus?"

"There is no one else willing to take him?" If he asked questions as though he was considering it, he could have some time to think about it couldn't he? If he told the Headmaster that Lily had practically shouted at him to stay away from her child, he might change his mind about the request and then where would he be?

"While I wish I had the energy of youth once again, I do not. I would not be able to keep up with such a young lad. Minerva dotes on him, but you're aware that her duties as Headmistress take up all of her free time, even in the summer. The other Professors have families and traveling and research to be getting to in the summer months and are not willing to bring along a nine year old boy."

Severus was too curious now for his own good. Somehow he could feel himself being dragged into this mess, as if by invisible magic. Don't poke the bear, he thought to himself, but his curiosity was too strong. "Why are his relatives no longer interested in taking care of him?" He waited for the harsh words Minerva had received two days ago for asking, but the Headmaster seemed to take his question into serious consideration. Perhaps because they were talking about temporary guardianship, and any guardian would need to know.

Dumbledore pulled open another desk drawer and pulled out a letter on lined Muggle paper from right on top. He slid it across the desk to Severus, who picked it up.

To whomever it concerns regarding Harry James Potter,

He's yours. We don't want him. He's too much of a nuisance. We've put him on a train to Scotland to go to that Hoggy-whats-it school of yours. Don't send him back.

Very Seriously Yours,

Vernon and Petunia Dursley

Severus raised his brows when he finished the letter and set it back on the desk. Dumbledore looked serious. "They said he gets low grades, is lazy, and is always in trouble. They told me he constantly picks fights with his cousin and other neighborhood children, and frequently comes home from school bloodied and bruised. Apparently he is behind one grade level from his cousin who is the same age, and has frequent and 'disturbing' bouts of accidental magic. Those are their words, not mine."

Wonderful, Severus thought. He wants me to take care of a delinquent. He didn't say it though. Many of the other professors there considered nine out of ten Slytherins delinquents, though Severus didn't agree.

"Of course, my opinion of Harry doesn't match up with the letter or their account of him, and neither does Minerva's. Poppy did find bruises and evidence of a frequent history of injuries and fractures. Petunia Dursley said Harry had run up several thousand dollars in medical bills last year alone and they were no longer willing to pay for his boisterous behavior. You seem awfully quiet about this Severus."

He looked up at the Headmaster and his mouth started moving apart from his brain. "How long does he need a guardian?"

"Until we find another suitable long-term guardian. I don't know Severus. With his status, people have to be interviewed to be sure they have his best interests at heart. That means using Veritaserum and you know we need permission from the Ministry for every person we give it to. I would say up to six months until someone can be found."

No, no, I can't take him. Lily wouldn't want me to. But his mouth was moving again and to his horror words were coming out. He wanted to be Head of Slytherin so badly. His other friends had jobs at the Ministry or owned their own businesses, and he wanted to be more than just a teacher (a pity hiring he'd heard Lucius say). He wanted status. A Potions Master, not just a Potions Professor. A Head of House, not just a lowly teacher. "And this will prove my worth to you?"

"Worth Severus? You have an abundance of worth. But it will show whether or not you can handle the entire well-being of a child. If you can't handle one child, how will you handle 80? You're organized Severus. You're cunning, you're responsible, and even brave. If you can be all of those at once for Harry, you could meet and exceed all of my expectations for a Head of House and help Harry along the way."

"Ok."

"Is that a yes Severus?"

No, it most certainly is not. Keep your mouth closed! Shake your head no and walk away! Be happy with what you've got! "Yes."

Dumbledore leaned back in his chair. "There's just one more thing then Severus." Severus raised his brows and the Headmaster smiled. "You've been here for three years. If you're going to be Head of House, you should get used to calling me Albus."

Severus gave a nod and stood from the green chair. He felt like it had betrayed him somehow and gave it a look of disdain.

"Albus," he said with a curt nod as he departed, trying to force the awkwardness from his voice. What had he gotten himself into now?

* * *

"Harry Potter?"

The boy turned around. There could be no question that it was him the stern voice wanted to talk to. He was the only other one in the Great Hall eating lunch. His green eyes traveled up, up, up to the stern gaze of a dark eyed, dark haired man.

"Yes?"

"My name is Severus Snape. I am your temporary guardian from this point forward."

"Oh." Harry let his eyes fall down to the floor. Down to shiny black shoes and crisp black pants. Uncle Vernon had told Dudley several times that you could tell a lot about a person by the way they dressed. Harry guessed that by the way Severus Snape dressed, he liked things to be tidy and clean and organized. He would probably speak as sharp as he dressed. Harry wondered then what the man thought of the way he dressed, and wished he had a choice in the matter. He was wearing Dudley's old jeans which were ripped at the ankles and had a hole in one knee. They were faded like his t-shirt which was starting to unravel at the bottom hem. He knew the man couldn't see his shoes under the long wooden table, and for that he was glad, because they were the worst of all. No longer white, they looked dirty no matter what he did to them, and the laces were broken and dirty. He was thankful at least that the Dumbledore man had fixed his glasses so they were no longer taped at the bridge of the nose.

"Are you finished eating?"

"Yes," Harry said, though the answer was no. He had to eat slow so he could get it all down, and had only managed half his sandwich so far. There was an apple he desperately wanted to eat as well, but he could tell this man was probably the impatient type.

"Follow me." He didn't wait for Harry to stand up, and strode off. Harry looked longingly back at the other half of his sandwich and the apple, and let his shoulders fall as he hurried after Severus Snape.

They walked across the Entrance Hall and through a stone archway that lead to stairs. Down the stairs Harry could feel the atmosphere growing colder, and when they reached the bottom, he wished he had a long sleeve shirt on, or one of those robes people seemed to like to wear here. At least he would fit in if he had one, he thought. He didn't know why he was surprised to be in the dungeons. He had lived in a cupboard under the stairs for the last eight years. Being in a castle now he thought the Dungeons was a very logical place for him to live.

He tried to keep track of the corridors they went down and how many left and right turns they made, but it was hopeless. By the time they got to a heavy wooden door, Harry was lost, and a little frightened. He'd never find his way back to the upper part of the castle now.

"This is where I live," the man said as he opened the door and lead Harry inside. It was small, but cozy. There was a fireplace and an L shaped couch and a comfortable looking dark green chair. There were also bookshelves lined with odd looking books and a desk with several stacks of papers.

"The kitchen is through that door. The bathroom is here, the first door on the left in the hall. My room is at the end. This is your room."

Harry looked at the door the man was pointing to, and wondered if it was a broom cupboard. When the man didn't say anything else, Harry opened the door and was surprised to find a regular room. It had a twin bed and a wardrobe and that was it. There were no sheets or pillows on the bed and no rug on the floor. The walls and floor were made of stone like in the rest of the castle, and it felt like a cell more than anything else. It was a big cell though. Five times the size of Harry's little cupboard at home. And it was a real bed, not a cot with a hole at the foot of it like the one he'd been using since he was three.

The man came in behind him and waved his wand. White sheets and a cream colored blanket appeared on the bed along with a pillow. Harry was amazed. He'd never had sheets before, and the pillow looked so comfortable and fluffy. He turned to look up at the man in awe, but found him staring at him with cold, calculating eyes.

"You may not go into my room for any reason, and you may not use my desk or touch anything on my desk for any reason. If you wish to leave the quarters, you may do so provided you return after dinner. Do not venture more than 100 yards from the front steps of the castle and do not go beyond the second floor of the castle unless escorted by a staff member."

Harry nodded, trying to file away all of the new rules. He would have to go over them later and memorize them. Breaking the rules was always bad, and he wished he had a pencil and paper to write them all down on.

"The Headmaster says you are behind a grade level. What do you have to say for yourself?"

Nothing but excuses, Harry thought. Dudley never let him do his homework, so he always did badly on tests and never had anything to turn in with his name on it.

"I expect an answer."

"I don't have any."

"Any what?"

"Excuses sir," Harry said, and for the moment this answer seemed to satisfy the man.

"Tomorrow I will provide you with a test to see where you are academically and then you will spend the summer studying in order to catch up. If you are still with me at the end of the summer, there is a small school in Hogsmeade which you will attend that teaches pre-Hogwarts subjects like reading, writing, maths, and history."

A school away from Dudley. Harry wasn't sure whether or not to be excited. He had always thought he could do well if Dudley wasn't there.

"You will do your chores daily or you will find yourself grounded. You will not argue, you will not pick fights, and you will not be lazy. Am I understood?"

Harry nodded. He never picked fights and avoided arguing at all costs, so those things wouldn't be a problem. Uncle Vernon always said he was lazy though, so he'd have to work extra hard not to be. He wondered what kinds of chores he would be doing here.

"Fine. For now you are to eat your meals in the Great Hall. Dinner is in three hours." He turned and left, leaving the door open, and Harry standing there in the room alone. That- hadn't been so bad, Harry thought. He definitely seemed strict like aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon, but at least there didn't seem to be a version of Dudley living here.

Harry sat on his bed and wished he had a watch. He hadn't seen a clock in the living room they'd passed through, and wondered how he would know when dinner time was, and if he could find his way back to the Great Hall when the time came. Deciding to stay there and follow his new guardian up to dinner, Harry stared at the walls and tried not to fidget. Fidgeting wasn't allowed at home, and probably wouldn't be allowed here either.

To be continued...
More Than Rules by JAWorley

Harry's stomach was grumbling. He didn't know if it was dinner time yet, but he really wanted something to eat. He'd been sitting on his bed for what felt like hours thinking about things like that apple and the delicious tasting pumpkin juice. He'd also pondered matters such as what he was supposed to call his new guardian. He knew you weren't supposed to call adults by their first names, but Snape didn't sound right. He supposed he could call him Mr. Snape. But what if the man wanted to be called sir like Uncle Vernon? Dudley called Uncle Vernon 'Dad' though. This Mr. Snape wasn't his dad or his uncle. He guessed Sir would have to do since he hadn't been given a rule about it.

Harry stood up and went to the door. He stuck his head out the door and found the living room dark. That was strange. He'd been listening but hadn't heard the man leave the quarters. Maybe he'd gone out when Harry had used the bathroom. He walked carefully to the door leading out and opened it, pleased to find that the Dungeon corridors were well lit. Shutting the door quietly and making sure it latched, he walked to the end of the hall and tried to figure out which way to turn. Right, he decided, and was quickly faced with another choice twenty steps later. Harry turned corner after corner and felt lost rather quickly. It was probably twenty minutes before he finally found his way to the stairs leading up to the Entrance Hall. Relief swept over him and he crossed it to the Great Hall, stomach rumbling again. It was dark, but torches lit as he entered. There was no one there. Last night there had been a few teachers there for dinner and Professor McGonagall had even eaten with him. Tonight there was no one though. He sat down at the same place he'd eaten his lunch and half hoped that the rest of his sandwich and the apple would re-appear, but they didn't. In fact, no food appeared at all.

"Can I have my apple?" Harry queried to the large empty room. The Headmaster had said that magical creatures called elves prepared the meals, so it couldn't hurt to try asking could it? If there were elves, they couldn't hear him. His stomach grumbled again and he stood up and moved down the table a little to another seat. When there was still no food he tried another seat, and then finally stood, giving up. What a disappointment. He'd waited too long, or maybe it had taken him longer to get out of the Dungeons than he'd thought. He went back to the Entrance Hall, hands in his pockets. It's ok, he thought to himself. You've gone without supper before. His stomach grumbled louder in protest at the thought though.

There was the sound of steps against stone and Harry turned to find Sir coming down the steps from the first floor.

"You are supposed to go back to my quarters after dinner," he said.

"Yes sir," Harry said.

"Don't dawdle. Follow me." At least he would be able to find his way back, Harry thought, hurrying along behind the long strides of Sir. Left left, right, left left, right. Third door. Harry tried to commit the path to memory and wondered if he could reverse it properly tomorrow at breakfast to find his way back. Right right, left, right right, left. Stairs. If only he had a pencil and paper.

"There is a toothbrush and toothpaste on the counter in the bathroom. They are yours. When you are finished with them, take them to your room and go to bed."

"Yes sir."

Harry brushed his teeth, glad that he had a new toothbrush. It was green transparent plastic and he rather liked it. His old one had been plain white and the bristles were all bent out of shape. This one felt nice against his gums and the toothpaste was minty instead of the plain stuff Aunt Petunia always gave him to use. Back in his room, Harry opened the wardrobe and set his toothpaste and toothbrush on the floor of it since he had no nightstand. Then he climbed into the bed. It was nicer than the one upstairs in the guest room he'd stayed in the last two nights. Tired and stomach still grumbling, he fell asleep, feeling like he was on a cloud. He had nightmares of riding a train by himself into a cave though, and meeting monsters inside. When he woke the next morning he knew the nightmares had been from hunger. He always dreamed of monsters when he went to bed hungry. Maybe it was from the growling noise his stomach made all night.

Harry felt miserable. His stomach felt hollow and empty. He got up and used the bathroom and brushed his teeth. Sir was gone and Harry left the quarters to go to breakfast, successfully navigating his way up through the castle this time. Bright light shone in from the windows in the Entrance Hall, and Harry frowned. The sun was up awfully high. The Great Hall was empty again when he got there and he sat down like the night before only to find that no food was being served. He hung his head and looked down at the empty table. If he had a watch, or a window which light could stream through to wake him up, he could make it to meals on time. Aunt Petunia always woke him at home to fix breakfast or get ready for school. He wondered if Sir knew he was supposed to do that. Maybe he didn't because he didn't have any kids.

After ten minutes, Sir strode into the Great Hall holding a stack of papers and a black folder thick with papers. He sat down across from Harry and sat ten or twelve sheets of paper and a pencil in front of him.

"That is an ever sharpening pencil. If it breaks you should not have to rise to sharpen it. It is used during tests. If you have questions about the test, you will ask me, but I will not give you answers to the test questions." Sir looked at his watch and then said, "You have one hour to complete the test. It contains things from the year you just completed and the year before that."

He began pulling papers out of his folder and produced a quill and ink bottle from somewhere within his robes and began writing something down. Harry wondered what he was writing as he looked at the first page of his test. It was maths. He tried to concentrate but his stomach really hurt and the more empty it felt, the less clearly he could think. The hour ticked on and Harry was only done with three of the twelve pages when Sir told him the time was up. He held out his hands for the test pages and Harry gathered them up and gave them to him.

"You only completed three pages."

Harry stared at the table.

"Did you have trouble reading the questions?"

Harry shook his head. Reading was the one thing he did well. He never went to recess because Dudley would beat him up if he did, so he spent his free time at school in the library in a back corner reading comic books and stories about superheroes and villains. Sometimes he read about things like machines and outer space and animals too. There was a library here but it didn't have comic books or books about the other things he liked to read about. Maybe the school Sir said he was going to go to would have better books.

"Very well Potter, follow me. I will grade this when we get back to the Dungeons."

Harry stood up and followed him, holding his stomach as they went. Aunt Petunia didn't usually make him skip so many meals in a row. Sometimes two and most of the time one, but three was pushing it. He'd passed out a couple of times while weeding the front garden and ever since then she'd always made sure he had one or two meals a day, and sometimes even a snack in his cupboard if he had to miss lunch or dinner.

Feet dragging, Harry followed him all the way back to the quarters and into the living room. Sir sat down at his desk and began marking the test up with a red pen and Harry stood there trying to wait patiently for him to finish. Before he was done though there was a thud and Harry wondered what had made the noise. His elbow smarted too and he wondered why. It wasn't until Sir turned from his spot at the desk and called his name that Harry realized that the thud was the sound of him hitting the floor and his elbow smarted because it had smacked the stone.

"Potter. Potter look at me."

Harry blinked hard several times and finally focused on Sir's face.

"What happened?"

"I don't know."

"You were standing there and then you fell."

"I'm sorry sir. I think I was hungry."

"You just had breakfast two hours ago."

"I didn't get any."

Sir stared at him and Harry struggled to sit up, stomach hurting along with his elbow.

"You passed out," Sir finally said. He didn't sound happy. "Why did you not eat breakfast?"

"I-" Harry was confused. Why hadn't he eaten breakfast? "I think I missed it."

"You are aware of what time breakfast is. Why did you not get there earlier?"

"I don't have a watch," Harry said meekly, looking away. He felt stupid, like he should have been able to get himself to breakfast on time. "Aunt Petunia always wakes me in the morning." He normally didn't cry, but he was so hungry and he was upset that it was all his fault. Missing dinner was his fault as well. He wiped his arm across his eyes just to make sure there weren't any hot tears there to make him look childish.

"Missing one meal does not normally cause one to pass out."

Harry clamped his mouth closed, determined not to tell Sir that he'd been stupid and hadn't made it to dinner either.

"Potter, look at me." Harry looked up but he didn't want to. "I expect the truth. Was breakfast the only meal you missed?"

Harry shook his head and looked away again.

"You missed dinner as well." It wasn't a question.

"I got lost on the way to the Entrance Hall."

Before Harry knew what was happening, Sir had lifted him up from under the arms and given him a nudge towards the kitchen. He pointed to a chair at the plain wood table and Harry sat in it. He buried his face in his arms to hide his red cheeks. This was all he needed. To be embarrassed in front of his new guardian like this. He was nine not three! And now Sir was having to fix him a meal, though Harry was glad he was going to get to eat. In a matter of minutes Sir had set a ham and cheese sandwich down in front of Harry along with a glass of water and Harry was pleased to see an apple there with it. He went for the apple first and bit into it's delicious juicy flesh. His stomach felt good at first to get food into it, but started to hurt worse than it had before Harry had finished the apple and moved on to the sandwich. He slowed down and tried to get it all down, but couldn't. He was too full and felt bad that he couldn't eat it all. He really wanted to.

"You will have to re-take the test," Sir said when he was finished. "It is near impossible to concentrate on an empty stomach and the first test would not be an accurate tool to tell me what you need to study. Go lay down in your bed for half an hour first and then you will take the test again."

Harry rose, and then turned back and said, "Thank you sir," and went to his room. Severus leaned against the kitchen counter with his arms crossed. The boy had passed out because he'd missed meals. He'd missed meals on his watch. Dumbledore would have a fit if he knew. Why hadn't Potter said anything to him? Why hadn't he told him he didn't know how to get back to the Great Hall? Slytherins would have said something about being hungry, wouldn't they? The youngest Slytherins were 11 though, and Harry was only nine. Still, as a child Severus was certain he would have complained about missing a meal at nine years old. What was he doing wrong? He'd laid down rules for the child last night and was preparing to get him caught up academically. More than rules and academics, Severus reminded himself. He was sure Dumbledore had said something like that. Well what more was there? Food, Severus thought, that and the other necessities of life. What did a boy need to live then?

He went down the hall to the open bedroom door and looked in. Harry was lying on top of the covers with his eyes closed. He was wearing the same clothes he'd been in the day before. Surely his relatives had sent him with more than that? He left the boy to his nap and made his way up to the third floor to the previous guest room Harry had been staying in. There was a ratty bookbag on the floor at the foot of the bed. He picked it up and was surprised that it seemed empty. After unzipping it he found a pair of socks, two pairs of underwear, a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. This was it? What about a coat or another pair of shoes? Where were the child's other belongings? Where were his toys? Bag in hand he went back to the Dungeons.

Harry was sitting up on his bed when Severus went back down the hall to his door. "Is this all your relatives sent you with?"

"Yes sir." Harry hoped he hadn't looked inside. It wasn't just all they'd sent him with, it was all he had. He'd outgrown his other clothes and the Dursleys hadn't given him anything else of Dudley's to wear yet.

"Then the test can wait. We will need to get you some clothes."

Harry looked at the dark haired man and wondered if he had a son bigger than Harry then, or if he intended for Harry to wear some of his used adult clothes. He was beckoned to follow however and so he followed.

* * *

Harry had found the magical world strange. After all, who lived in a castle these days or wore long robes and funny hats? It was wondrous and exciting and new, but also strange. If Harry had thought the magical world strange however, the Muggle world of Dundee seemed even stranger to him. He'd lived in the Muggle world his entire life, but his exposure to people was always few and far in between. The most people he ever saw was in school or at the grocery store when Aunt Petunia needed him to carry groceries. They had never taken Harry to London or to a shopping mall or to the theatre like they had Dudley. Harry had never been to a restaurant or an ice cream parlour or the public library. So everything Harry saw now in this busy city was new to him, and he stuck close to Sir as though his life depended on it as they navigated the busy sidewalks.

"This is Dundee," Sir told him. "In Scotland."

Harry wanted to ask how exactly it was that they'd gotten there. One moment they'd stepped through the Hogwarts gate and Snape had put his hand on Harry's shoulder, and the next they were here in an alleyway. It was the same thing that had happened when the Dumbledore man had come to get him at the train station. But he didn't ask. He wasn't supposed to ask questions.

It wasn't long before Sir had steered them into a clothing store and Harry's eyes grew wide. He'd never seen so many clothes. These were the types of clothes Dudley would get new or the kids in school wore. One half of the store seemed to be girls clothing and the other half boys.

"Pick out clothes." Harry looked up at him.

"Sir?"

"Clothes Potter. Shirts and pants and socks and underwear. You will need a coat and shoes as well. Don't forget pajamas."

Harry turned back to the store, not sure where to start. He'd never been to a clothing store before. Dudley had always complained about going clothing shopping, and from what Harry could gather, Aunt Petunia picked all of his clothes out for him.

Afraid to irritate Sir, Harry stepped away from him towards a rack of shirts. They were in different colors and sizes. At least he knew his shirt size. He'd seen it on the shirt tag enough times. But what should he pick out? And how many? He reached forward towards a dark blue shirt and looked at the tag and then pulled it off the rack. It looked ok. He also pulled off a green one and then turned to look for pants. Those were folded on a shelf against a wall. Harry located a pair of jeans and brought them back to Sir who was standing by the counter looking bored.

Sir looked down at him and said, "That is not enough to get you through one week. There was nothing else you liked? Don't be picky. Get enough for one outfit for each day of the week and don't come back without undergarments as well."

Harry left what he'd picked out on the counter and went back to the clothing racks, feeling excited. He was really going to get enough clothes for an entire week! Aunt Petunia never gave him more than three shirts and two pairs of pants. Looking at the clothes with more interest now Harry headed for a rack of polo shirts and ran his thumb over the soft fabric of a brown shirt. He pulled it out and imagined what he might look like wearing it. Dudley didn't like polo shirts because they were too 'grown-up' looking but Harry thought they looked sharp, and for school events like plays and other performances he had seen other boys wearing them. Sir looked sharp and Harry thought he would like to be able to dress nicely too. He picked out a light blue polo shirt and a sage green one as well and then went back to the t-shirt rack and picked out some colors he liked. He took his armful of shirts to the counter and then went back to the wall of pants. He would need nice pants to go with his polo shirts. Jeans would be ok, but they wouldn't look sharp. So he picked out a black pair of slacks, a khaki pair of slacks, two more pairs of jeans and two pairs of shorts, one dark blue and one black. When he got back to the counter he was surprised to see that Sir had already picked out a dark green sweat jacket, a pair of gray pajama bottoms and several packages of socks and underwear. Maybe Harry had been taking too long.

Sir paid for the clothes and carried the two bags outside. Harry was so happy he felt like skipping. Down the sidewalk a short ways they went into a shoe store and within ten minutes the store clerk had him fitted for a brand new pair of blue trainers. After that Sir lead them to an alley and touched his arm, and Harry found that they were once again in front of the gates to Hogwarts.

As they walked to the castle, his guardian said, "It is polite to say thank you when someone has just purchased something for you."

"Thank you sir," Harry said. He meant it as he rarely ever had anything to be thankful for. Back in his room Harry hung up and admired each of his new shirts in the wardrobe, and folded his pants with care and put them in the drawer at the bottom of the wardrobe. He put on his new trainers and a new pair of socks, and decided to never take them off again because they made his feet so happy. Maybe Sir wasn't so much like Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon after all.

To be continued...
Working Not To Disappoint by JAWorley
Harry had taken the test again after dinner, and had decided that Sir was like his Aunt and Uncle. He tsked and tutted and said that Harry must have been very lazy in school before this to get so many questions wrong. He'd gotten less than fifty percent and his test was covered in red ink.

"You will be spending your summer studying to catch up," he'd told him when he was done commenting on Harry's abysmal performance. "I will bring you the books tomorrow as well as the assignments. I expect you to work hard. The other children in the school in Hogsmead work hard and they will not admit you if you are not prepared to work for your education as well."

Harry had nodded and then gone to his room to go to bed (with his new trainers on). Sir walked down the hallway just as he was falling asleep half an hour later though and said, "Potter, take those shoes off. You'll get the sheets dirty." Reluctantly, Harry did as he was told, and couldn't help but feeling like he'd been a disappointment to his new guardian for a third time that day.

* * *

Severus was a little irritated by the fact that he was having to put together an entire school year's worth of lessons and homework for the boy in such a short time. The child had to have been lazy to be this far behind. Obtaining the books wasn't a problem. He simply sent an owl to the teacher at the small school in Hogsmead who sent the books back later that evening before Severus went to bed. Unfortunately that teacher didn't tutor during the summer because he and his family traveled, but he had agreed to come in four weeks to test Harry to see his progress, and then to test him again at the end of the summer to see if he was caught up enough to enroll in his proper year. The school was small and Severus thought there were only five or six students that attended each year. It was a one room schoolhouse on the far side of Hogsmead meant to educate the children that lived in the wizarding village, and on rare occasion the children who had parents that worked at Hogwarts. There were several other primary schools for wizards across the country, but for the most part, parents educated their children at home before they sent them to Hogwarts or else hired private tutors.

Sitting at his desk Severus spent four hours going over the books and writing down assignments and deadlines by which he wanted them completed. Harry would have to work at a fast pace to get in an entire year's worth of school work in one summer. At least the boy would be busy and out of his hair. He still had lesson plans to make for Potions classes for the upcoming school year, ingredients to order, and on top of all that, his Potions Mastery to work on. He'd already fulfilled the requirement of a three year Potions apprenticeship before he came to Hogwarts to teach, and had taken the test to prove he could brew the most complex of potions, including Amortentia, Polyjuice, and Draught Of Living Death. He still had two of his three peer review articles to write however, and had to invent his own potion. Just inventing any old potion wasn't good enough. It had to be a potion involving magic and transfiguration, and had to serve an important purpose. By the requirements for the Potion's Mastery, there could be no other potion available that served the same purpose, and he had to document all of his research and failed attempts at making the potion including any interesting side effects and unintended potions created during the failed attempts.

He sighed thinking about all that he had left to do for his Potions Mastery. It seemed like a daunting task considering that he now had a 9 year old boy in his charge. A boy who was apparently lazy and who had his own school work to be doing. Severus had planned on having his peer review articles finished by the end of the summer so he could devote his free time during the upcoming school year towards his Potion (of which he still had no idea what he would be inventing). Writing peer review articles was easier said than done though. The first one had taken him two months of research, writing, and editing before it had been ready to submit, and it had been stressful. He looked away from Harry's books and to the neat stacks of notes and research on the edge of the desk. Maybe the Headmaster was who Lily should have told to keep his nose out of her business. Severus had tried, but when the Headmaster intervened who was he to say no? Just buckle down and get it done Severus. Two peer review articles, six months with the boy, and then you could be the Head of Slytherin house and on your way to finishing your potion for your Mastery. Hah. If only it were that easy.

* * *

Harry looked at the stack of books and the folder full of assignments on the kitchen table the next morning. There weren't that many books, not really. Maths and science, history and English. The assignment pages said he was supposed to read four novels as well, but there were none of those on the table. Maybe the library had novels.

"There are seven weeks left of summer. Each week has its own assignment sheet. Readings are marked down as well as their assignments. It does not matter when you get them done so long as they are all turned in by Friday of that week. I suggest you check off each assignment and reading as it is completed and use that folder to keep all of your completed work in until you turn it in to me. The teacher from the school in Hogsmead will come in a few weeks to test you on your progress and again a few days before the new school year starts. Do you have any questions?"

Harry looked around the kitchen for supplies to complete his assignments with, but there weren't any. "Is there paper and pencils?"

Sir left the kitchen and came back a few minutes later with a box full of pencils, quills, bottles of ink, and a tall stack of parchment. "I don't care where you complete your work, but as I said before you are not to use my desk. There are novels in the library and I would suggest you not wait until the last minute to start that part of your homework. Madam Pince will help you find suitable reading material. If I find that you are incapable of managing your time and turning in the weeks worth of assignments on time, I will force you to complete all of the work at the kitchen table on a daily schedule, which you will not enjoy."

"Yes sir."

Sir left and went promptly to sit at his own desk in front of his own stack of papers. Harry wondered what he was working on, and if it was more assignments for him to complete. He sat down at the table and thought that the kitchen wasn't such a bad place to work. It was better lit than his cupboard under the stairs and he didn't have to squint to read or write. He looked over the assignments for the week and hoped he could finish them all. He had 14 maths assignments, 25 pages to read from the history book as well as answering about 15 questions from the history text, he had to write and edit a one page creative story for English with proper grammar and spelling, and he had to read over 15 pages of a science book and answer questions. It was a lot of work and he had to go find a novel on top of that. He opened up the maths book and tried to make sense of what the textbook was telling him to do, and then pulled out a pencil and parchment to start the homework, which he didn't finish until lunch. It didn't help that his mind kept wandering and he had a hard time staying focused on the task at hand.

Sir was engrossed in his own work, so Harry went up to the Great Hall alone for lunch. The Great Hall was so bright and cheery compared to the Dungeons though, and Harry felt like he was in a better mood up here. Sir had said he could work wherever he wanted hadn't he? There were tables up here and it was quiet. So after lunch Harry went back to the kitchen table in the Dungeons, tucked some papers and the assignment sheet into his maths book, and grabbed a handful of pencils and went back up to the Great Hall. This was so much better, he thought, opening the maths book to start his second assignment. Maybe if he got all his math done today the list wouldn't seem so daunting tomorrow. It was a good goal, to get it all done, but even working as fast as he could he was only on his fourth assignment by dinner and was starting to get frustrated and burned out. This castle was such an interesting place and he felt like he'd like to explore the parts of it he'd been told he could visit. The grounds seemed interesting too and he wished he'd been told he could go farther from the front steps. Maybe if he got all of his work done, Sir would agree to let him go further.

Harry took his book and papers back to the Dungeons and into his room. Sir was still at his desk bent over several papers and had three books open to the middle and stacked haphazardly on top of each other. Maybe he was trying to get a lot of work done too so he could go explore.

Tired of sitting on a wooden bench all day, Harry took his work to his bed and sat cross legged and started his fifth maths assignment out of 14. He got stuck and couldn't figure out what the book was telling him, and every time he double checked his work he got a different answer. It was well past midnight when Harry finally finished the assignment and crawled under the covers to go to sleep.

* * *

Sir had woken him to go to breakfast, and not wanting to waste any time, Harry got dressed in his sage polo shirt and black slacks and new shoes and then stuffed his maths book and supplies into his ratty backpack and made his way up to the Great Hall. Professor McGonagall was there this morning at the table and he thought it would be rude to sit somewhere else, so he sat down across from her.

"Good morning Harry." She smiled warmly at him before taking a sip of her coffee.

"Good morning," he said quietly.

"How are you? I heard Professor Snape has decided to take care of you."

"I'm good." He decided not to mention missing meals and passing out. Adults didn't like to hear about that stuff, and besides, Sir had been telling him when it was time to eat and he hadn't missed any meals since. "I got new clothes."

"I see that. They're very nice. Did he pick them out?"

Harry shook his head. "He only picked out my coat. I got to pick everything else."

"Where did you go? Hogsmead doesn't have a clothing store."

"Dundee."

Harry quickly ate his breakfast and tried not to notice that she was watching him as he ate. When he was finished he pulled out his maths book and a pencil and started trying to decipher the lesson so he could do the 50 problems sir had assigned him.

"What are you working on Harry?"

"I'm behind. If I'm to go to school at the end of the summer I have to catch up. I have a lot of assignments to finish by Friday. This is maths."

"I see. Where are you going to go to school?"

"There's a school in Hogsmead."

"Did you know I went to that school for two years when I was young?"

Harry looked up, interested. He was curious what this school would be like. He didn't like to be bullied, but going to school it was an inevitability. "You did?"

"Two years before I was going to start Hogwarts my family moved from the North of Scotland to Hogsmead to open a shop and I started to attend the school. It's a little building. When I went there were 12 children, but I don't know how many there are now. I heard there's one from far away who comes in by floo each day."

"Do they teach magic?"

"They start to teach basic magic principles the year before you go to Hogwarts, but nothing with a wand, and there's a little of magical history. My favorite part of the day was always the stories. They have a wonderful library upstairs in the school full of children's storybooks and novels written by people in the magical community."

"I like to read," Harry said. "Do they have any of those books in the library here?"

"I'm afraid the ones here are all geared towards older children."

"I have to read four books by the end of the summer. I don't have any though."

She smiled at him again. "I'll tell you what. I have to go to Hogsmead tomorrow morning to pick up a package. I'll stop by the school and pick out some of my favorites and bring them to you."

"You will?" Harry was starting to feel excited. He hadn't had anything good to read in a while now and maths was so boring.

"I'll bring them to you at lunch tomorrow."

"Thank you!" Harry wanted to run around the table and hug her, but adults didn't like to be hugged, at least not by him. She walked away, still smiling, and Harry tried hard to focus on his maths work, but couldn't because he was too busy thinking about the wonderful stories he would soon be reading.

He worked until lunch and then decided he needed a change of scenery and moved out to the front steps of the castle where the sun was warm and bright and the mountain air was so fresh he felt like it gave him energy. This is where sir found him at dinner time and told him it was time to come in and eat.

"How many assignments have you completed?" he asked.

Harry rifled through his papers until he found the assignment sheet. "Nine," he said.

"You will have to work more diligently. You have only three days left until it's time to turn them in, and by my count seventeen more assignments and readings to complete."

"Yes sir."

Harry was surprised that Sir was going to eat with him in the Great Hall, but didn't say anything about it. Tonight there were a handful of other staff members scattered around the tables in small groups talking, and Harry thought it was odd because he usually didn't see many of the staff at all, and had only met a few of them.

"There is a staff meeting," Sir told him when he was done eating. "You cannot stay in the Great Hall but I do not wish you to return to the Dungeons. I will show you to the study room used by Hufflepuffs and will collect you when we are done."

"Ok."

Harry stood up but just as he had done so, a slice of pie appeared next to his plate. He looked up at Sir, who sighed and waved towards the pie. "Take it with you." Harry grinned and picked up the plate and fork and threw his backpack over his shoulder.

Off of the Entrance Hall there was a hallway on the opposite side of the Dungeon entrance. Sir said it lead to the Kitchens under the Great Hall and to Hufflepuff. Not far down the hall was a door on the left. Sir pushed it open and Harry went inside. There were three tables, several bookshelves with textbooks, and a faded black couch that looked comfortable.

"I will return in one hour. Do not leave without me."

Harry nodded and Sir left, leaving the door open. Harry wished he had a novel to read or some of his other books because he was thoroughly tired of maths, but resigned himself to sit and get at least one assignment done in the hour he had. He decided on the couch and was pleased to find that he sank into it's comfortable cushions. He wondered if Slytherin had a study room like this he could use in the Dungeons, though he thought he would probably prefer this one since the Dungeons were always cold and dark.

As Harry did his maths, he didn't know that the staff meeting above his head in the Great Hall had turned to questions from the staff about him. "Why is he here? Where is his family?" "Who is looking after him?" "Where is he allowed to go in the castle?" "If he does something wrong, do we assign him detention like the other students?" And he had no idea that Severus Snape was doing all he could not to grit his teeth as other staff assumed he was not up to the job of taking care of one nine year old.

After a little over an hour had passed, Sir returned to the open door and said, "It is time to go."

Harry packed his book and homework into the bag and followed him out. In the Entrance Hall there were still staff lingering, and they were all looking curiously at Harry as he passed. "Pay them no mind," Sir told him, so Harry looked away.

When they were halfway down the stairs into the Dungeons, he said, "I assume you have spoken to Minerva in the last few days?"

"Sir?"

"To Professor McGonagall. You have been talking to her."

"She said she would bring me some kids books to read from the school in Hogsmeade."

"Hm."

After Harry had gone to his room for the evening, Severus sat at his desk unable to concentrate on his research. Flitwick, Grubbly-Plank, and Sprout had practically come out and said that he wasn't capable of taking care of a child because he'd never had one of his own. Well he was taking care of Harry wasn't he? The child hadn't died in the week he'd been under his care. He hadn't gotten seriously injured. He was clothed and being educated and had a roof over his head. And through it all Dumbledore had just sat there listening. He hadn't admitted to anyone that it had been his idea for Severus to take him. The only one that had stuck up for him at all was Minerva. "I saw him this morning. He seemed happy. He had the nicest new clothes and he was studying maths. You're sending him to school in Hogsmead soon aren't you Severus?"

He felt like growling. What would the rest of the staff say when he proved he was capable and took over Slytherin? Carcroft was only staying on until a replacement could be found for him. Dumbledore had to have told him by now that Severus was angling for the position.

* * *

It was Friday morning and Harry was nervous. He hadn't gotten all of his school work done. He still had four maths assignments, three history assignments, and most of his science reading left to do. He wasn't sure if he was supposed to turn things in that morning, or before bed that night.

He walked into the living room and found Sir sitting on the couch drinking a cup of coffee and reading a newspaper.

"Your assignments are due today," he reminded him unnecessarily.

Harry stood there and fidgeted, playing with his hands. "Right now sir?"

"Turn them in after dinner."

"Yes sir."

Harry's stomach rumbled, but he felt like he didn't have time to eat breakfast. He didn't even think he had time to gather his work and go up to the Great Hall or the study room he'd gone back to several times. Instead of going up for breakfast he went back to his room and sat on his bed. He pulled out one sheet of parchment for each assignment and wrote the assignment on top of each and then set the assignments next to their respective textbooks. It was a lot to do and he knew he couldn't get it all done. Instead he decided to do the ones he thought he could get done the fastest. If he could get all of his science reading done and the questions that went with it, and a couple of the history assignments, then maybe it would be enough to show Sir that he had tried and hadn't been lazy.

He worked all morning and skipped lunch as well, trying very hard to ignore the unhappy pangs of his stomach. Finally it was dinner time and he knew he wouldn't be able to finish another assignment before the end of dinner, so he put his finished work in the folder and went up to the Great Hall. There were still five unfinished assignments. Maybe if he would have written faster he could have gotten them done. Feeling anxious and sullen he sat down in the Great Hall, not noticing that there were a couple of professors at another table. He didn't look up as he scarfed down his food and then hurried back to the Dungeons.

Sir was there waiting for him, doing his own work at his desk. Harry didn't wait to be asked and went to his room to retrieve the folder, now full of parchment. He walked straight to the desk and handed it to his guardian.

"It is all here?" he asked.

Harry looked down at the ground, playing with his hands again. "No sir."

"How much is unfinished?"

"Four maths and one History."

"I will give you a brief extension. You have until tomorrow after breakfast to turn them in. That gives you several hours this evening to finish them."

"Thank you sir."

Harry was surprised that he didn't sound angry as he returned to his room. He was glad he wasn't getting punished, but disappointed at the same time. He had half hoped he'd be sent straight to bed so he could have a break. Professor McGonagall had brought him 6 books the other day and he'd been wishing for even half an hour to look through them to see which one he wanted to read first. With a sigh he pulled over the maths book and set to work again. Why did his stupid cousin and aunt and uncle have to keep him from doing his work before? If only he'd been given the chance the first time around, he wouldn't be stuck here doing it all now.

* * *

There was a knock on the door and Severus rose from the hard wooden chair he'd been occupying since before dinner to answer it. It was Colm Carcroft and Severus invited him in with a wave of his hand. Colm was one of the Professors there at the school that Severus liked and respected. He always seemed to take good care of the Slytherins, even if he took a more laid back approach then Severus would have been comfortable with.

"Severus, how are you this evening?"

"Well."

"Is all that work on the desk Harry's?"

"Peer review articles and research."

"Ah, that's right. You're working on your Potions Mastery. Good for you. There's only two other Professors here who have a mastery in something. I'm sure Albus and Minerva will be happy to have you join the ranks."

Severus nodded. He was looking forward to having the accolades that went along with having a mastery. The Ministry would have to pay him more for teaching once he obtained it, and he would be allowed to brew Potions for the Hospital Wing and take on apprentices amongst other privileges.

"Albus said you're doing some on the job training to take over for me."

"Harry."

"Yes."

"Has he sent you to check up on him?"

"No. He trusts you. So do I. But since you're going to take over my position I thought I'd come to offer a little friendly advice about looking after Slytherins."

Severus invited him to have a seat on the couch with a wave of his hand and Carcroft did. "Minerva says you're going to send him to school. I've seen him doing a lot of schoolwork. I wanted to ask if you'd seen him."

"Less than ten minutes ago." He'd looked into the room on his way down the hall and Harry had been sleeping.

"I mean, have you really looked at him in the last few days? How does he seem to you? Happy? Sad? Stressed?"

Severus opened his mouth and then closed it again. He didn't know. He was a child, and children were usually happy.

"I'll answer the question myself," Carcroft said. "Because I have seen him. He looks tired and stressed out. Every time I see him he's studying and a lot of the time he seems confused or frustrated. When does he have time to go out and be a kid? To play with toys or read just for fun?"

"He is behind in his schoolwork-"

Carcroft held up a hand. "I know he is. But that doesn't change the fact that he's only 9 years old. He's got to have time to explore and romp around and be a 9 year old boy and get into mischief."

"Mischief is the last thing I need."

"You do know you applied to be the Head of a house full of mischief makers don't you?"

Severus grumbled something under his breath and Carcroft laughed.

"Slytherins and Gryffidors. They're a lot alike. Sometimes they don't think of the consequences of their actions, only the fun they'll have before getting into trouble. It's what makes them unique. It's not our job to stop the mischief before it happens, only to reign it in when it gets out of control."

"Let Dumbledore hear you say that."

Carcroft chuckled. "He's the one who said it to me when I started as a teacher fifteen years ago."

Severus raised his brows.

"Ask him if you don't believe me. We're supposed to know what's going on so we can keep them safe, but that doesn't mean we have to stop every little thing before it happens. They need downtime Severus, and a little leeway to make their own mistakes and explore their own interests. If they don't get that then they're just mini-professionals walking around."

"If I did not set boundaries he would be out of control."

"Set limits, but don't be too disappointed when they decide to explore the boundaries of those limits. It's what they do, and when they make mistakes it's how they learn."

Severus thought for long moments, and then said, "What do you suggest I do? If he is not caught up on his schoolwork he will not be able to attend school in the fall."

"Is that what Alastair Blackwood said? Or is that a decision you made?"

He had spoken to Blackwood about enrolling Harry and about him being behind, and the teacher had given Severus a stack of books from the previous year. He hadn't actually said anything about getting through them all, Severus had just assumed.

"You could speak to him. He's a pretty relaxed teacher. Since he's got so few students he's usually willing to meet them where they're at academically. I don't know how much work you've assigned Harry, but consider giving him a little less so he has some time to enjoy himself."

"Enjoying himself is what got him behind in the first place."

"Is it?"

Severus sighed and Carcroft stood to leave, but then he turned back to him again and said, "By the way, I'd consider telling him he doesn't have to call you sir."

"I never told him to."

"Maybe not, but he doesn't use your name. Maybe he doesn't know what to call you. When anyone else asks him it's, 'Sir said to do this,' or 'Sir said I'm not allowed to do that'." At the horrified look on Severus' face, Carcroft chuckled again and opened the door and was gone.

Had Harry really been calling him sir to other people? He hadn't exactly spoken to the child about what to call him. He must have come up with that on his own.

Severus walked down the hall and looked into Harry's room. He was asleep on top of the covers with papers strewn around him on the bed and the English book open on his chest. His other school books were stacked on the floor near the head of the bed. Severus looked around the room. It was pretty sparse. He didn't even have a desk to work at or a night stand to set his things on. Students had those things in their dorms, but Severus hadn't thought about providing them for Harry. What else did students have in their dorms that Harry didn't? A lot of them had things from home like posters, books, and sometimes bedding. Most of the students didn't bring toys because they were too old for them, but they did have games. Was Harry too old for toys? If he was to have free time, he'd have to have something to do with it.

He stepped into the room and began gathering the papers into a stack from the bed and took the book and pencil and put them neatly on top of the stack on the floor. With consternation he looked at the shoes Harry was still wearing. Why did he insist on wearing them to bed? He'd have to ask in the morning along with some of the other questions he had in mind for him.

To be continued...
End Notes:
About the spelling 'maths' instead of 'math'. The British and those who speak British English say maths. I didn't spell it wrong so please don't comment on the crazy British English spelling of it. I think to say maths is wrong but to British English speakers it's correct.
It's Severus by JAWorley
Harry rubbed the sleep from his eyes and wondered what time it was. Oh no! He'd fallen asleep and he still had assignments to do! He looked around wildly, wondering why his papers were gone, and for one long moment was struck with the horrible thought that Sir had collected them while he slept. But when he slid out of bed he found the papers stacked on top of his books on the floor. Sir must have done it because he had definitely fallen asleep last night in the middle of his work.

Pulling the papers out again Harry tried to find his place and finish the last five questions from the English book. Sir had been nice enough to give him extra time to do the work and he'd be disappointed if Harry didn't turn it all in after breakfast.

Someone cleared their throat and Harry looked up from his spot on the floor and found Sir in the door.

"Is breakfast over?" Harry asked, panic in his voice.

"It is not. It has not started yet."

Harry wanted to feel relieved but he still had the rest of his maths to do as well and knew there was little time. He would have to guess about the answers to get it all done.

"Put it away," Sir told him, and Harry frowned.

"I'm not done with it," Harry said quietly. He was really in trouble now.

"I am aware. Please put it away and come into the living room."

Harry tucked the parchment back into the book and stood up. It felt like there were heavy rocks in his stomach. He hoped he wasn't going to get spanked. That's what Aunt Petunia did when she got mad. Uncle Vernon's punishments were always worse than a spanking though.

Sir sat down on the couch with his cup of coffee and Harry stood waiting to hear his punishment, but was told to sit down instead.

"How much free time did you have this week?"

Harry bit his lip. Oh no. He wanted to know how much time he spent being lazy. "None sir," he said, hoping he was convinced. He hadn't spent a single minute being lazy, he just hadn't had enough time to get everything done. He'd even skipped meals yesterday.

When Sir didn't say anything for a few moments, Harry tried to plead his case to him. "I worked really hard. I promise I did. I wasn't lazy at all! I didn't even eat breakfast or lunch yesterday because I was trying to get it all done!" Sir didn't seem pleased by this answer though, and Harry's face and shoulders fell. If that wasn't good enough for him, then no answer he could give would be.

Instead of giving him a punishment though, Sir asked, "Why do you wear your shoes to bed every night?"

Harry looked down at his trainers, confused. He was supposed to be punished and the man wanted to know about his shoes?

"I- like them."

"You did not wear your old shoes to bed."

"I never had new shoes before."

"Never?"

Harry shook his head.

"Then where did your old shoes come from?"

"Dudley."

"Your cousin?"

Harry nodded. Dudley got new shoes all the time, but he always made sure to destroy his shoes before he was done with them so they wouldn't be nice for Harry. Once he had even taken scissors to his shoelaces the night before he knew Harry was going to get them. There was silence for what Harry was sure was several minutes, and he couldn't take it any longer. He wanted to get his punishment over with so he could go back and finish his work and get a head start on the next week's work so this didn't happen again.

"What about my homework sir?"

His dark eyed guardian looked over at him. "I have a meeting with your teacher today to see how much of it is really necessary. It is- unreasonable to make you go through an entire year's worth of schoolwork in one summer. I do not want you skipping meals or staying up until all hours of the night trying to complete it."

"So- I'm not in trouble?"

"You are not."

"Thank you sir."

He fixed Harry with a stern look then and said, "You do not have to call me sir. Is that what you called your guardians before?"

"Sometimes. Mostly Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon."

"Seeing as I am neither your aunt or uncle, or your teacher, you may call me Severus."

Harry suddenly felt sheepish and shy then. He'd never called an adult by their first name before. "Mr. Severus?" he queried.

"Just Severus." Harry gaped at him and he waved him away. "Go get dressed and then come back out. We will go to breakfast and then to Hogsmead to meet with your teacher."

"Yes s-" Harry trailed off. "Ok," he finished shyly, not sure how it would sound coming from his lips to call his guardian Severus.

Ten minutes later Severus led Harry to a table with Professors Sprout and Carcroft and they smiled at Harry as they ate. When they were finished and Severus had magicked his second cup of coffee into a black travel mug with a lid, they walked out onto the grounds and towards the gates.

"Have you been to Hogsmead?" he asked Harry when they made it to the lane outside the gates leading towards the town.

"No."

"It is the only all magical town in Scotland. There's one in Britain and two in Ireland. Usually when you find an all magical village it is located thus because of some sort of strong magic or located near something important to the magical community. Hogsmead is here because of Hogwarts. The workers who built Hogwarts lived here in the ten years during the construction of the school."

"What about the other towns?"

"The Irish Ministry of Magic is located in the center of Culdoc and the stadium for the Irish National Quidditch team is in Drunkerney. The one in Britain is on an unplottable Island West of Blackpool. A witch's coven and an order of mages live there and they recognize no Ministry of Magic as being in authority over them. It is inadvisable to visit unless invited."

It all sounded interesting to Harry, and he couldn't wait to get to Hogsmead to see what a real wizard village looked like. Professor McGonagall had told him about Diagonalley in London, but he hadn't been there yet. It all sounded very exciting.

After walking for fifteen minutes they came to the train platform for the Hogwarts Express and started to pass by houses. After another few minutes they turned onto High Street and Harry tried to take in the name of every shop they passed. There was an apothecary, a pet emporium, something that looked like a candy shop, a place that sold brooms, a pub, a restaurant... Severus steered Harry towards a barber shop and Harry frowned. Weren't they going to see the teacher?

"Our meeting with Mr. Blackwood is not for half an hour. In the meantime, you need a haircut."

"Aunt Petunia always does that," Harry said.

"The barber will have to suffice," Severus told him, and Harry was glad. Aunt Petunia usually attacked him with a pair of garden shears three times a year, and when she was done his hair always looked worse than it had before.

The barber shop was small and there was only one chair and a counter and sink. The tallest man Harry had ever seen (he even towered over Severus) was there leaning on the counter.

"Come for a haircut Severus?" he asked.

"For Harry."

The man motioned to the chair and Harry climbed into it. The barber put a long cloth over his front and tied it in the back. "Now sit still son," he said. "I'm going teh be moving fast. I won the magical haircutting award three years running yeh know."

"What do you mean fast-" but before Harry could finish his sentence, the barber had two pairs of sharp scissors out and was moving around Harry's head at a pace Harry thought just wasn't possible. It was almost like he was just a blur of color moving around him. Harry heard the clip clip of the scissors and saw hair falling in front of his face, and had to resist the urge not to panic. What was he doing to his hair?! No one could cut hair this fast and have it look good. But before Harry could think on it more and try to protest, the barber was done and handing Harry a mirror.

"There yeh go. What d'yeh think?"

Harry took the mirror and examined his reflection. His long messy hair was gone and in its place was perfectly trimmed, combed hair. He almost looked like a different person.

"It- it's short."

"That's the same haircut I used teh give yer dad his last couple years of school. Before that he used teh wear it long an' messy like you."

"My dad came in here?"

"Every time there was a Hogsmead weekend."

Severus was pulling out a pouch of coins and handing a silver one to the barber in payment. He also pulled out three bronze ones and the barber thanked him for the tip.

"Just remember I'm the fastest barber in the UK," he said as Harry stood up. "Any time you need teh look spiffed up, I'm yer man."

"Thank you," Harry said, still not certain if he liked the way his hair looked now. He was so used to it being long enough to run his fingers through. His head almost felt cold now. He didn't know much about his father, but thought that if James wore his hair like this that he could at least give it a try. It would grow out again if he didn't like it. He knew that for a fact. Two months ago Aunt Petunia had cut it too short and left bald patches and overnight it had grown out again as if it had never been cut at all. He supposed that was one of the final straws that made his family send him away.

"If my hair grows back are you going to send me to live somewhere else?" Harry asked as they walked down the dirt lane. Severus had paid money for this haircut. If it grew back out spontaneously overnight he would probably be madder than aunt Petunia.

"Do you intend on making it grow out?"

"No."

"I will not send you away. Why do you ask?"

"Sometimes it grows out when I sleep."

"Accidental magic. It is to be expected until you are in your first or second year at Hogwarts."

Expected? Harry had hardly believed he was a wizard when the Headmaster had told him at the train station. If he'd already done accidental magic though, he had to be one. That would also explain why he could do things like make Dudley's toy's shrink into nothingness or look at a weed in the garden and have it suddenly disappear before he'd even reached forward to pull it.

"This is the school," Severus said, and Harry looked up. It was the very last building on the lane. It was square and built of stone and wood like the surrounding buildings, and was two stories tall. It looked fairly small from the outside despite its height. They went up the steps and opened the door. However uninteresting and plain it looked from the outside, Harry knew he liked it immediately as soon as he stepped inside. Inside the wood walls were unpainted, and the whole room felt cozy. There were ten desks around the edges of two walls of the classroom facing the center, and a set of stairs leading up to a loft where Harry could see what looked like large pillows on the floor and several bookshelves. Downstairs there was a blackboard on the wall behind the teacher's desk, a large round carpet and several beanbag chairs, and four or five half bookshelves lining the walls. There was a skeleton of what looked like a small dragon hanging from the ceiling along with other creatures Harry thought might be bats, and on each wall there were hand drawn posters of things like bubbling potions that said things like, "The ten rules of potion making," or of dragons that said, "Always speak politely to an enraged dragon." The room was filled with natural light from the tall windows on both floors.

"Severus, I'm glad you made it. And this must be our young Mr. Potter."

Harry reluctantly pulled his attention away from all the interesting things there were to look at and to the man who was holding his hand out to Harry. He had a brown beard and mustache and a genuine smile. Harry shook his hand and tried to pay attention, though he really wanted to have a closer look at the skeletons hanging from the ceiling.

"That's a dragon," the teacher said. "You can go up to the loft to get a better look if you want while I talk to Severus."

"Thank you," Harry said, and hurried to climb the stairs to the loft. He could hear what they were saying below but it didn't sound interesting enough to listen to. The loft looked even better from up here and he pulled a blue book off one of the shelves and laid down on the soft blue shag carpet on his back. Above him on the ceiling he found another poster that said, ‘But high she shoots through air and light, above all low delay, where nothing earthly bounds her flight, nor shadow dims her way.' The artwork was of some sort of skinny blue dragon flying over violent blue waves, and Harry liked it so much that he wished he had a poster of his own just like it.

He looked down at the blue book and on the cover was a photo of a blue dragon just like the one on the poster. He opened it up and started to read. It was about a dragon called a wind drake who was in a war with a group of mer-people who had stolen it's egg. It couldn't swim so it had to make a deal with a human boy. If the boy would swim down and fight the mer people and bring back the egg, the drake would fly him to wherever he wanted to go. Harry was so engrossed in the book that he didn't hear Severus calling him to come back down. Finally Severus and Mr. Blackwood came up the stairs to see what was keeping him, and found him lying on the floor, ten pages in and oblivious to the rest of the world.

"Ah, so he's a reader," Mr. Blackwood said, and Harry, finally aware that they were there sat up and looked at them.

"You can take that with you," Mr. Blackwood said. "That's one of my favorites."

"Thank you."

"Severus showed me the work you did this week. I can tell you're struggling in maths, so I'm going to come up to the castle three days a week to help you with it. Everything else looked fine. I don't expect you to get all the way through each textbook. If you can get halfway through each one by the end of the summer, then you can do a little extra work here and there through the school year to get all caught up. It'll be fine."

"Thanks." Harry felt relieved. If he could cut his work in half he'd have time to finish this book and maybe get into those other books Professor McGonagall had given him.

"I can tell you're a hard worker. I'm amazed you got through as much work as you did this week. Keep it up Harry."

They went back downstairs and Harry was sad to leave the loft. He wanted to lay up there all day and read. At least he had a soft bed in his room to lay on while he read.

"Is there a place like that in the Hogwarts library to read?" Harry asked after they said goodbye to Mr. Blackwood.

"There is not. Typically students spend free time in their common rooms where there are couches and comfortable chairs."

"Oh."

"You like to read." It was a statement, but one of curiosity.

"Yes."

They walked down the lane for a few minutes and Harry was tempted to open the novel and read as they walked. The boy had just agreed to help the drake, but only if he would fly him to a city in the clouds. Apparently the boy was a prince but his evil stepfather had thrown him from the cloud city so he could take over the throne. The prince needed help getting home so he could take the throne again.

"We will not be returning to Hogwarts for lunch," Severus said, and Harry turned to him. "We have some stores to visit first." He pointed to a shop front that said, 'Faren's Furnishings,' and they went inside.

You couldn't see the floor because it was covered in layers and layers of different shapes and sizes of rugs. There were persian rugs and shag rugs, soft rugs and rough rugs. There were also rugs hanging from the walls. Against the walls there were lamps and end tables, and in the center of the room there were desks stacked two and sometimes three high. Chairs hung upside down from the ceiling. It felt cramped, and Harry wondered how anyone ever found what they wanted with so much to look at. The shopkeeper was nowhere in sight, and Harry wondered what it was that Severus wanted to buy here.

"You will need a rug or two for your room, as well as a nightstand and desk and chair."

"There's so much to look at," Harry said, trying to express how overwhelmed he felt in this cramped space.

"What color rug would you like?"

"Blue, or green. Like the one upstairs in the school." As soon as he said it there was a noise and several rugs on the floor began to lift up, revealing a dark blue shag rug. Harry's eyes grew wide as it levitated up into the air. It waggled back and forth as if asking if it was what he wanted, and he said nervously, "Uh hu." There was a giggle and the rug rolled itself up and sent itself to the counter. Across the shop rugs began lifting themselves off the wall and a small round green rug appeared. It was the same shade of green as his sage colored shirt. "Ok," Harry said. He'd seen Severus levitate things a few times, but he didn't see anyone else in the shop and Severus didn't have his wand out.

"What's going on?" Harry asked, and there was another giggle.

"It's Faren," Severus said. "She has a disillusionment charm on herself. She believes it amusing to have a shop run by a ghost."

As soon as he said it, a woman a little younger than Severus appeared and said, "You're no fun Severus Snape. He was new. Did you see how big his eyes got? Like saucers. But he still answered me like it was nothing out of the ordinary."

"We are in need of a desk, chair, and lamp also."

"And a nightstand," she said. She walked over to a nightstand and levitated it above the other piles of furniture for Harry to see. "How about this one?"

"Ok," Harry said. They all looked the same to him. This one had a small drawer and a shelf on the bottom. She sent it by magic to the counter and then went to the desks stacked in the center of the room.

"With drawers or without?"

"With," Severus said.

"It's just a matter of wood type then. I've got some nice used ones in dark brown, or brand new cherry desks, but they're pricy."

Harry had already walked to one of the used desks though and was looking it over. The stain was a little worn on the legs and there was a scratch across the top drawer, but he decided that he liked it. She walked over and put a gray tag on it and then pulled down a chair from a hook on the ceiling. "This is a good chair. I promise. It's not as uncomfortable as a lot of wood chairs are. There's a cushioning charm on it. It might need to be re-cast but you'll like it."

That just left a lamp, and Harry walked along the walls looking at the various shapes and colors. There was one that looked like it was made of skin, and several that had fur on them. He shuddered and didn't want to think about what had been killed to make those lamps. Instead he settled on a small plain lamp with a white shade.

"Boy knows what he likes," Faren said, going to the old-fashioned register to ring up their purchases. "Two Galleons, six Sickles and a Knut." Severus dug the money out of his coin pouch and she said, "This going to your quarters in the Dungeons?"

"It is."

"I'll have it delivered by dinner. Max is out on a delivery right now to the Aisle of Arran."

"Fine. Thank you."

She waved to Harry as they exited, and he waved back. He couldn't believe he was getting rugs and a desk. He'd have all kinds of places to read in his room now. Even Dudley didn't have nice soft rugs like the ones he'd picked out.

They had barely taken ten steps down the lane when Severus steered him into another shop. At first Harry thought they were going into Honeydukes the candy store, but they went into a door just next to it, and Harry was surprised to see colorful toys and posters on shelves lining the walls. It was a kids store.

"What are we getting here?" Harry asked, not daring to get his hopes up. There was a poster of the wind drake on the wall just like at the schoolhouse, and Harry wanted it.

"You did not bring any of your belongings from home. You will need something to keep you occupied during your free time."

"I didn't have anything to bring from home," Harry said, but he was so intent on the poster that he missed the look Severus gave him.

"You may pick out one poster, something comfortable to sit on, and four toys," Severus said. Harry looked up at him in awe and didn't move. That was a lot of things and it wasn't even his birthday. Usually aunt Petunia waited until his birthday to give him all of Dudley's old clothes and backpacks. They never wrapped them or made him a cake or even made mention of his birthday, but he was happy that it was being acknowledged in some way.

"Well?" Severus said when he looked down and found Harry staring at him.

"I get all that?"

Severus wasn't sure what to say. With the report Dumbledore had given from Harry's family about why he'd been sent away, he would have thought the boy had been spoiled rotten. But he seemed genuinely surprised and uncertain about four toys, a poster, and a large pillow or bean bag chair.

"Yes."

Harry looked at that moment like he was trying very hard to contain himself. His face lit up and he squirmed, and then walked away stiffly like he was trying to act composed. He went straight to the poster on the wall and asked the aging store clerk if he could have it. The clerk found the rolled up copy of it and handed it to Harry, who couldn't stop grinning. Harry went to the corner of the store where there were a variety of shapes and colors of bean bag chairs and large pillows made of different types of fabrics and picked out a squishy bright blue bean bag chair made of crushed velvet. Blue was clearly his favorite color. Then he turned his attention to the toys around the store and seemed lost. Severus went over to him.

"What do you like to play with?"

"I'm not sure."

"What toys did you and your cousin play with?"

"Dudley played with video games," Harry said. He also had a bike and skateboard, half a dozen balls, army men, interlocking building blocks, and an entire toy chest of toys in his room Harry rarely ever saw. Sometimes Dudley played board games with Harry if none of his friends were around, but he always cheated, and if Harry ever won Dudley complained to aunt Petunia and Harry got in trouble for 'cheating'.

"Perhaps a ball."

Harry looked to the large bin of balls. There was a strange red ball he didn't recognize. "What's that red one?"

"A Quaffle. It's used when playing Quidditch."

Harry went over to it and picked it up. It was slightly spongy and had several large spherical indentations on it. Then he put it back. "I don't know how to play Quidditch," he said.

"The other students at the school will know how to play, and will likely be playing ground versions during free time."

Harry picked up the red Quaffle again and then walked around looking at the other toys. There were potions kits, chess sets, and games with names like Gob Stones. There were cards that exploded and puzzles featuring pictures of goblins and mer-people. Harry didn't know what to choose until he came to a display of toy dragons and drakes. There looked to be at least 20 different kinds. Carefully examining each one, he finally came to a silver and blue drake similar to the one in the poster. Now if he could only find a toy to be the prince from the book. A few feet away there was a bin full of knights, mages, witches, wizards, children, townsfolk and other characters. There were even several labeled 'Muggle' that looked like they'd come out of a telly show about World War II. Harry found one of a teenage boy wearing simple clothes, and decided that this would be his prince.

"The drake and person count as one toy," Severus said. He was holding the book Harry had borrowed, and Harry wondered if he had read it, or had looked through it while Harry was looking at the toys. "You may pick out two more."

Harry went back to the bin and picked out an evil looking mer-man and then laid eyes on a set of interlocking building blocks that claimed they would change colors when constructed into a castle or other things. They were the magical version of Dudley's Legos. It was a big box and claimed it had over 3,000 pieces and Harry thought it was probably expensive. Seventeen sickles was the price. Harry didn't know how much wizard money was worth, but 17 sounded like a lot. He set the box back down, but Severus came up behind him and picked it up again. "Is this what you want?"

Harry bit his lip and nodded. They took the toys to the counter where Harry's poster and bright blue bean bag chair were and Severus paid 2 Galleons for the lot. There was another box that the storekeeper put into the bag and Harry wondered what it was. He hadn't picked out anything else, but Severus must have.

Fascinated, Harry watched as Severus asked to use the store's floo, and the shopkeeper agreed. He went to the fireplace and threw a handful of green powder in, making bright green flames erupt, and then Severus said, "Snape quarters, Hogwarts." There was another bright flash and Severus threw the two bags of toys into it and they were gone. The flames disappeared immediately. Harry was stunned. He stood there mouth hanging open and willed himself not to cry. He knew that getting toys was too good to be true. He must have asked for too much or done something wrong. This was punishment for not getting his school work done.

"Er, Severus," said the store owner. Severus turned and the man pointed to Harry who looked like he'd been hit in the face and stunned.

"The toys are not destroyed," Severus said. "I have sent them back to Hogwarts. The floo is one way wizards travel or transport items."

"Are you sure?"

"They will be waiting on the hearth when we get back. I did not want to return to Hogwarts right away and did not want to carry the bags around."

Harry took a deep breath and decided he'd have to take his word for it. If he got back and there were toys there waiting for him, then he would be very lucky. And if he got back and there were no toys, then life would be normal.

Severus took the still uncertain Harry to Madam Pudifoots cafe and ordered them two sandwiches and two cups of tea. Harry ate quietly and Severus observed him. So far he had not seen a spoiled, lazy child who was constantly in trouble. Then again, maybe the child was feeling properly chastised for having been sent away from his family, and was on his best behavior so he wouldn't be sent away again. That had been one of his questions earlier hadn't it? Would he be sent away for accidental magic? Though why he would be sent away for accidental magic, Severus didn't know.

"You said you didn't have things to bring with you from home. Were the toys you had shared between you and your cousin?"

Harry looked at him like he was crazy as he finished his cup of tea. "What do you mean?"

"Because you had no toys with you I assumed you were not allowed to take any because they belonged to both you and your cousin."

"No," Harry said, sounding a little sad, "they were all his."

Severus raised his brows. That couldn't be true. He had to be exaggerating. "Your aunt and uncle did not provide any toys or games for you?"

"I got Dudley's old clothes for all my birthdays, and new underwear for Christmas. I wasn't allowed to play with any of Dudley's toys, only a few of his board games."

Frowning Severus stirred his tea and said, "I have never heard of such a thing." He hadn't meant it as, 'I don't believe you,' but that's how Harry seemed to take it. He looked away and his face turned red. Severus was going to revise his statement, but decided to drop it because he really wasn't sure if he should believe Harry or not. He did seem surprised about the purchased toys however and thought that four was a large number.

"When is your birthday?"

"July 31st. It was my birthday a few days ago."

Severus choked on his tea then and was surprised he hadn't accidentally spit any out onto his shirt.

"Are you ok sir?" Harry asked, seeming surprised.

"I'm fine," Severus said, checking that he hadn't spilled anything. "And I told you, my name is Severus."

He set his tea down and looked at Harry. "Your family put you on a train days before your birthday?"

"It's ok, we never celebrate it."

"And your cousin's birthday?"

"He always has a party. I'm not usually allowed to go."

Severus took a deep breath. The more Harry said the more uncertain he was. Harry seemed sincere but everything he had said so far seemed like a ploy for sympathy. Yet the child didn't seem like the type to ask for sympathy considering he'd missed meals and passed out, and later missed meals in order to get his work done. He hadn't even complained about lack of bedroom furnishings or toys or free-time.

They finished their meal without any more questions and walked back to Hogwarts. When they got into the quarters, Harry rushed to the hearth in front of the fireplace and seemed genuinely surprised to see his new toys there. "They're here!"

"As I said they would be. Take them to your room."

Harry ran to his room with the bags and a few minutes later Severus could hear the box of interlocking blocks being dumped on the floor. He went to the closet and pulled out a box with a lid that snapped into place and took it to Harry's room. "When you are done store them in here. Harry took it but he was absorbed in building what looked like a castle and trying to figure out how to get the blocks to turn a watery color of blue. Severus left him to it and felt oddly satisfied as he went to sit at his desk to revise the homework and assignments Harry would need to get done before the end of the summer. He cut it down to 7 math assignments a week instead of 14, and cut the science and history reading in half. Blackwood said he thought Harry was doing fine in English and could probably get away with only completing the last few chapters of the English text, so Severus only had to assign a few pages of homework for that. The new schedule looked a lot more doable, and he intended to remind Harry again that he wasn't to skip meals or stay up too late doing work.

The floo flared and a note popped out of it onto the hearth. Severus picked it up. It was from Faren stating that her brother Max was on his way with the furniture they had purchased. He went to Harry's room and found him sitting on the bean bag chair and playing with the blocks.

"Put them away. The furniture will be here in a few minutes and you will need space to move things around."

Harry carefully picked up his partially built blue castle (the bricks really did look like water and had a realistic wave pattern that was moving between them), and put it into the box. He picked up the bean bag chair and box and put it on the bed with the other toys.

"There will be no room for the desk with the bed in the middle of the room."

"We can put it over here," Harry said, excitement in his voice. He pointed to the wall and Severus moved forward to help him push it to the wall in the corner opposite the door.

"Go up to the Entrance Hall and meet Max. You can show him the way to the quarters."

Harry grabbed his blue wind drake and made haste out of the quarters and up through the castle to the Entrance Hall. He pushed open one of the massive oak doors and waited until he saw the delivery man coming up the drive. He ran out to meet him and looked on in awe as he levitated all of the furniture ahead of him. It was tied together with several long ropes.

"Are these yours?" Max asked, and Harry nodded. "You can carry the lamp. It keeps trying to topple off the pile." He paused and pulled down the lamp and handed it to Harry. Excited Harry ran ahead, lamp in one hand and drake in the other, and into the Entrance Hall, making Max pick up the pace behind him.

He didn't see Professor McGonagall but she called out to him as he ran towards the Dungeon entrance. "Harry!"

"Severus bought them for me!" Harry shouted happily as he went down the stairs, not even letting her ask where the items had come from. Max hurried after him and called out for him to slow down when Harry had reached the bottom.

"Sorry," Harry said when Max caught up, but he only smiled and reached forward to tousle Harry's short hair.

Able to navigate the path to Severus' quarters now with ease, Harry lead Max to the quarters and when they got there, Max lowered the pile of furniture to the ground and began untying it so they could carry one piece at a time through the door. Severus appeared from inside to help and together the two men carried the furniture into Harry's room.

"Are you looking forward to your last year?" Severus asked Max as the teen carried both rolled rugs in over his shoulder and set them on the floor.

"I didn't make Head Boy, but I think I've still got a chance to make Captain of the Quidditch team."

"I have it on good authority that you will."

"Excellent."

Severus pulled out a handful of Knuts and gave them to Max for the delivery. "Thank you, and tell Faren thank you as well."

"I will Professor. Have a good day. Bye Harry." He gave a last look at Harry, eyes traveling to his scar which was now uncovered with his new haircut, and left.

"What did you mean his last year?" Harry asked as he unrolled the blue shag rug and Severus moved the desk and bed on top of it.

"He will be a seventh year in Ravenclaw this year."

"Oh. I thought he was all grown up."

"He practically is."

Harry put his smaller round sage colored rug in the corner by the wardrobe and then put his bean bag chair on top of it. Severus brought another box with a snapping lid in that was the same as the one for the interlocking bricks and told Harry he could keep the rest of his toys in that. When Harry put the Quaffle and three action figures into the box, it looked awfully empty, and Severus felt bad that he had bought so little for him. It would have to do for now, he told himself, and left him to his new possessions.

To be continued...
Testing Boundaries by JAWorley
"Yesterday I saw Harry practically bounding across the Entrance Hall with joy with a toy in one hand and a lamp in the other," Minerva said to Albus at lunch. Harry had yet to arrive for the meal. "When I called out to him he shouted, 'Severus bought them for me!'" She smiled into her teacup.

Carcroft chuckled from down the table and Albus looked up at him. "He was on the front steps this morning with a toy wind drake and mer-man. They were having a battle."

"My," Minerva said with a smile, "he's going to spoil him with all the new things he's bought for him lately. Who would have thought?"

"What has he purchased?" Albus asked, curious.

"Clothes, shoes, toys, furniture... I don't know what else. I know he got Harry a haircut. I almost didn't recognize him. He certainly looks a lot different than he did the night he showed up in those threadbare clothes. It's almost like he's an entirely different boy!"

At that moment Harry came into the hall, the blue wind drake in his hand, and the 'prince' sticking out of his back pocket. He smiled at the three staff seated at one of the long student tables and then joined them.

"What have you got there Harry?" Albus asked, and Harry set his wind drake down. He pulled out the prince and the mer-man.

"This is Casadth and Prince Aki."

"Oh," Carcroft said. "The story of the wind drake and the prince."

"Mr. Blackwood let me borrow it from the school." Harry began putting food onto his plate, but before he started eating he put Prince Aki on top of Casadth and set the mer-man before them as if they were about to fight.

"I heard you got a lot of toys," Albus said when Harry had eaten half of his sandwich.

"Severus said I needed a Quaffle because the other children would be playing Quidditch during free-time. And I got a big box of magic bricks. I built an underwater castle in my room for the mer-people. It's blue and everything."

The adults smiled and chuckled and allowed Harry to finish his sandwich.

"You got a haircut as well," Minerva commented when he'd finished and had picked up the wind drake and prince again.

"My dad used to wear his hair like this," Harry said. "The fastest barber in the world cut it for me yesterday." Harry bade them goodbye and then disappeared into the rest of the castle, presumably to continue his epic battle between the novel characters. The three professors looked at each other, and couldn't help but to be impressed by the way Severus seemed to have been taking care of Harry thus far.

* * *

"Why do I have to stay so close to the castle steps?" Harry asked Severus one morning after breakfast.

"So I know where to find you if I need to."

"Oh."

"I assume you have a reason for asking." Severus was learning rather quickly that Harry did not like to ask for what he wanted or needed, and he was having to become intuitive to the different intonations of his voice when he spoke, or to mannerisms like fidgeting or playing with his hands.

"There's no shade 100 yards from the front steps."

"There is shade in the inner courtyard."

"I know. I go there to read sometimes."

"So it is not about the shade."

Harry looked up at him. "It's boring. I'm not allowed to go very many places."

"And you have explored the entirety of the dungeons, the Hufflepuff corridor, and the first and second floors?"

"I found a lot of hidden corridors, just like you said. But some of them go to floors I'm not allowed to be on."

"Hm."

"The Quidditch pitch looks interesting, and I wanted to maybe visit that big man who lives in the hut. Or walk by the lake to see the giant squid. I can't see any of it from so close to the castle." He couldn't even make it to the greenhouses because they were more than 100 yards from the front steps.

Severus went to one of the bookshelves by the fireplace and used his finger to browse through the titles. Finally he pulled down a big tomb and brought it to his desk. Harry went over to investigate what he was looking at as he rifled through the pages. Finally he stopped on a page in the middle. It was a map of the Hogwarts grounds. Severus pulled out a piece of parchment and laid it over the top of the book page and then tapped it with his wand. Ink lines began appearing on the parchment, drawing a copy of the map. Harry loved watching him do magic.

"100 yards," Severus said, pulling out a quill. He drew a semi-circle around the front steps at approximately 100 yards. It fell just short of the greenhouses. "No shade trees, and nothing to explore," he agreed.

"Look how far away everything is," Harry said, pointing at the lake.

"Do you know how to swim?"

Harry shook his head.

"Then for now the lake will remain off limits. I don't see any reason why you can't visit Hagrid however. He circled Hagrid's hut with the quill. "So long as you don't venture into the Forbidden Forest. There are all manner of man-eating creatures that live there that would not hesitate to eat a child."

He gave Harry a stern look to drive the point home, and Harry shook his head. "I won't go in there," he said sincerely.

"You may also visit the greenhouses provided you do not try to get into any of them that have locked doors. If the doors are locked it means Professor Sprout doesn't want anyone in there because there are dangerous plants." He circled the three greenhouses.

"What about that?" Harry asked, pointing to some runes on the map between the castle and Hagrid's hut.

"The boulder henge." Severus circled it and the bridge that led from the castle over the ravine as it would be the path Harry would have to take to get to the boulder henge.

Harry looked over the map some more and wondered if he would be pushing his luck to ask to visit any more places, but before Harry could say anything else Severus circled an area around a small group of trees near the lake but not quite to the water's edge. Then he began drawing dotted lines from the castle to all of these places and between them.

"If you get injured and do not turn up for dinner I need to know where to find you. You must only visit these places and stay on the paths I have drawn for you unless you're with an adult. Now that you will be farther away from the castle, I also require that you tell me before going out onto the grounds."

"Yes sir!" Harry said happily. He reached for the map but Severus had taken out another parchment and was tapping his wand to it to make a copy. He used his wand to stick the copy of Harry's map to the wall above his desk. Finally Harry had the map in hand though, and was ready to race upstairs and outside.

"The other rules still stand," Severus said, stopping him as he reached for the door handle. "I expect you back in the Dungeons after dinner and if your homework is not getting done you will find your other privileges revoked."

Harry turned to him and said seriously, "I won't break the rules." Severus met his eyes and believed he was sincere. He waved Harry away and he disappeared out the door. Sometimes the child gave him the impression that he was older than he really was. It was strange to see him romping around the castle with a toy one moment and so serious the next. It was his eyes, Severus decided. Lily had serious eyes when she wanted to. She had been so serious when she'd told Severus to stay away from her family. When she'd said it at first, he'd believed that it was James' doing, but her eyes had told him just how adamant she was. Harry's eyes were like that. Sometimes full of joy, sometimes curiosity, but they were the most intense when he was serious or sad; when he was telling Severus about not having any toys or about following the rules. A child so young shouldn't know how to be so serious.

* * *

Harry had meant what he said about not breaking any rules. Not breaking rules was important if you wanted to live injury free and out in the open instead of in your cupboard under the stairs. And the rules here weren't nearly as hard to follow as the ones his aunt and uncle had for him. I can follow simple rules, Harry had thought whenever Severus had given him a new rule. Now he even had a map... a treasure map, to help him know exactly where he should and shouldn't be. But knowing that he was supposed to follow the rules, and knowing the rules were simple didn't make it any easier for Harry to follow them. It wasn't that he hadn't tried. He'd spent days following his treasure map around the grounds, careful not to step off the paths Severus had marked for him. It was so easy to forget though when The Prince and the drake were battling mer-people and other beasts. Hagrid had given him a carving of a man-eating monster he couldn't remember the name of, and together the monster and the mer-man made powerful enemies for his heroes. So powerful in fact, that the battle slowly moved off of the path and to a part of the grounds Harry wasn't supposed to be on.

"Ha! Take that!" Harry shouted as the prince held a twig that Harry pretended was a sword and swung it wildly at the beast.

"You'll never see your family again!" cried the beast in a deeper voice not unsimilar to uncle Vernon's when he was angry. "I'll lock you in a room where no one can ever find you!"

Casadth the wind drake suddenly swooped in and knocked the beast over with it's powerful wings, saving Prince Aki from being dragged away and imprisoned.

"Come," Casadth told the prince. "Climb on my back. It's time we take the fight to the sky kingdom."

Harry was so engaged in his game as they fought and flew that he didn't think about where he was going. All he knew was that there was a string of large puddles that made for wonderful lakes for his heroes to fly over on their way to the sky kingdom. Eventually Harry's heroes, on their long journey, even stopped to watch the sun set in a reflection of one of those puddles.

"We'll have to camp here for the night," the prince told Casadth. "I'll freeze if we fly in the dark." And Harry set about to find small sticks to make a pretend fire for his heroes to keep warm by, and when that was done, he built them a stick shelter. He had nearly finished with his camp when someone cleared their throat behind him and Harry froze. He looked around and realized that he was only twenty feet from the lake, exactly where he wasn't supposed to be, and then looked behind him to find Severus with his arms crossed.

"I seem to recall you promising you wouldn't break the rules," Severus said in a stern tone, and Harry swallowed. He didn't know how to explain about getting off the marked paths. There really was no excuse and he knew he deserved whatever punishment he was going to get. Maybe he'd get beaten and thrown into the supply closet for a few days that stood just outside their quarters. He shuddered at the thought of that because the dungeons were so cold at night.

When Harry didn't answer, Severus said, "Not only are you off the path, it is nearly dark. Dinner finished half an hour ago and you are supposed to be in the dungeons. What do you have to say for yourself?"

"I- I- I..." Harry cast his mind around for anything at all he could say to make it better.

Not pleased with his stuttering, Severus motioned for Harry to stand, and he did, picking up his toys. They started back towards the castle in silence. Silence wasn't good. His aunt and uncle were always the most angry when they were silent. Maybe he'd be sent away on the train again, though he didn't know of any other people who would care to take him. There couldn't be another magic school in a castle could there?

When they were back in the Entrance Hall, Severus led him down to the dungeons, and Harry flinched as they neared the supply closet down the hall from their quarters. Severus didn't stop there or order him inside, and Harry's stomach squirmed to find out what his punishment would be.

Finally in the quarters Severus pointed to the couch and Harry sat. "I expect an answer. What were you doing out after dinner, and out of bounds?"

Harry stared at the floor and refused to answer. If he told him the truth it would just be seen as an excuse. "I don't have an excuse."

"I am aware of that. I want to know how you ended up where you were not supposed to be."

Playing with his hands, Harry mumbled something and Severus sat down on the chair across from the couch. "Speak up and look at me."

Harry's eyes flickered up to meet his, and then went back down to his hands before it looked as though he were having to force his eyes back up again. "I wasn't paying attention. Casadth and Aki were battling the monster and we ended up off the path."

"Not just off the path. Twenty or thirty feet is understandable. You were all the way down by the lake."

"They were flying over lakes... I mean puddles on their way to the Sky Kingdom."

Severus sighed. "And why were you out after dinner? Did you even eat dinner?"

Harry shook his head. "They were setting up camp for the night. Building a fire and shelter."

Severus held out his hand and Harry looked up at him, confused. Was he going to slap his hands?

"Give me the toys."

Reluctantly Harry handed over the drake and prince. "The others as well," Severus said, and Harry dug the mer-man and carved monster out of his pocket.

"As these were the cause of your disobedience, you will have to live without them for one week. Hopefully that week will be enough time for you to think about the need to pay attention."

Harry looked back down again. That was practically all of his toys. He still had the building bricks and Quaffle, but what fun was a ball he didn't know how to play with or bricks that he had used to build castles and battlefields for his heroes?

"Go into the kitchen and make yourself a sandwich, and then I expect you to spend the evening in your room doing homework. You are also not to go out on the grounds for the next week."

"Yes sir," Harry said, rising to do as he was told. As he made himself a sandwich in the kitchen and ate it at the counter, he thought about the punishment. He hoped Severus wasn't going to throw his toys away. He'd only had them for a week. Dudley had never had any of his toys taken away before, so Harry wasn't sure how this sort of thing worked. All said though, he was fortunate to escape without being sent to a cupboard or other worse punishments.

In his room after dinner, Harry finished the last of his week's homework, and then looked longingly at the box of interlocking building bricks. He didn't even know what he could build with them if there were no people or creatures to use with them. The set did come with some tiny people, but they looked nothing like the prince or other book characters.

Pulling out his school books, he decided to start on his next week's assignments. It was going to be a long week without his toys.

* * *

"Hello Harry."

Harry looked up to find the Headmaster smiling down at him. Harry was sitting at a table in the Great Hall with his maths book waiting for Mr. Blackwood to come and help him. Today was the first day he was supposed to come and tutor him.

"Where are the drake and The Prince? Is their battle concluded?" Dumbledore asked.

"No," Harry said dully. "I don't have them anymore on account of I got grounded."

"Oh?" The Headmaster sat down across from him. It seemed to Harry like he wanted to hear the story, but Harry didn't know why. No one ever cared before about why he got grounded.

"I went where I wasn't supposed to and Severus had to come find me."

"And where was that?"

"Somewhere not on the treasure map."

At Dumbledore's quizzical look, Harry pulled his map of the grounds out and unfolded it on the table for him to see. "These are all the places I'm allowed to go on the grounds, and I have to stay on the paths so he knows where to look for me."

"I see. And where were you?"

"Here," Harry said, pointing. "By the lake. I got distracted during a big battle and didn't realize where I was going."

"Is there a reason you're not allowed to go to the lake?"

"I can't swim," Harry said. "Severus said it's dangerous. I didn't mean to end up down there."

Dumbledore smiled at him then and Harry wondered why. Being grounded was no reason to smile. "Being young is wonderful, isn't it?" Dumbledore said, as though remembering something. "To be able to get lost in play and imagination, and not realize where one is going or where their imagination will lead them next?"

"Severus didn't think it was so wonderful," Harry grumbled.

"As is so often the case," he said, "we as adults sometimes forget what it is to be a child."

"It's not so great," Harry told him. "You have to follow all the rules and can't do what you want."

Albus smiled at him again though, and Harry felt then that maybe the punishment wasn't so bad. He was only grounded for a few more days anyhow.

Mr. Blackwood walked into the Great Hall behind them then, and Albus bade Harry to have a good day and left him to his tutoring.

Harry's teacher had brought a small blackboard and two pieces of chalk with him, one blue and one white. He spent half an hour teaching Harry the concepts for his next three math assignments, and then they used the next half hour after that practicing problems on the little blackboard. Harry would do a problem with the blue chalk and then Mr. Blackwood would use the white chalk to show him what he'd done wrong, and then they would try again.

"There you go Harry," he told him at the end of the hour. "You're getting it."

Harry grinned, glad that he didn't feel confused anymore. "Do we have to use this stuff when we get to Hogwarts?"

"Transfiguration sometimes has maths involved, and if you ever take Runes you'll have to do a lot of maths. Astronomy also uses maths to figure out star charts and astronomical events, and some amount of maths is involved in measuring out potions and potions ingredients."

"Huh. What about the rest of the stuff? English and science and history?"

"When you get to Hogwarts you'll learn a lot of history about the wizarding world. So it's important to have all your facts straight about Muggle history first because our history intertwines with theirs a lot of the time. When you start school in a few weeks we'll be covering how some of the histories fit together. As for science, a lot of what you're learning now will help you in potions."

"And English?"

"When you do homework for me, you answer questions. When you do homework for professors here, you usually have to write essays to show your understanding of the material. They don't want to see essays with bad punctuation and grammar. When I was at Hogwarts there was a professor who wouldn't even grade your essay if there were too many mistakes. He would just throw it in the rubbish bin and you'd never see it again."

"I want to learn magic though," Harry said. "Do I have to wait until Hogwarts to learn how things work?"

"We have books at the school on magic, and there's an entire library here full of books about how magic works. We also talk about some of the basics of potions and learn about the Ministry of Magic and the laws in our world. I think once school starts your head will be full of new and interesting things."

Harry looked thoughtful and Mr. Blackwood said, "That reminds me. I brought you something." He reached into his bag and pulled out a red book. Harry took it and examined the cover which read, 'The Red Book of Drakes.' "That's in the same series as the book about the wind drake. This one's about a fire drake."

"Oh," Harry said. He loved the book about the wind drake so much that he'd already re-read it once and was halfway through it for a third time. He was reluctant to read any other books.

"Give it a try," Blackwood said. "Casadth and Aki aren't the only ones who have wonderful adventures."

He packed his blackboard and other supplies back into the bag and told Harry he'd be back on Friday to teach him another lesson, and Harry waved goodbye to him. He bit his lip and stared at the red book in front of him indecisively, and then finally opened it up to the first page. If his toys were gone, he might as well read something until he got them back. He stayed in the Great Hall and read through lunch, and was still there reading when dinner was being served and some of the Professors came and sat down around him.

"I see you've found another interesting book to read," McGonagall said.

Harry looked up. He was 100 pages in and still had almost 150 to go.

"It's about one of Casadth's enemies," Harry said. He was glad he had started reading it because Casadth came in and out of the story. "A fire drake named Moto and a girl named Lume. Lume is Prince Aki's step sister, but she's not evil. Her father kicked her out of the Sky Kingdom too because she tried to stick up for Aki. She's helping Moto fight goblins in the fire mines."

"It sounds interesting," she told him with a smile as Harry finally closed the book and began putting food on his plate.

"One of the books I brought for you to read is gold. It's about another drake in the story."

"It is?" He hadn't even looked at the books she had brought for him to read.

"The Gold Book Of Drakes is my favorite."

"How many are there?"

"Let me see... blue, red, gold, black, white, and green. Six books."

"What are the other kinds of drakes?"

"I haven't read them all, but I believe some of the others are about ice drakes, and mountain drakes. You'll have to read them yourself to find out."

"I'm going to," Harry said eagerly, and she smiled at him.

"Your father loved to read too," she said. "Did you know that?"

"He liked to read these books?" Harry asked, surprised.

"I don't know about these books in particular, but it was common to see him reading in the halls between classes, and I can't tell you the number of times I caught him reading under the table in my class instead of paying attention."

"Do you remember anything he liked to read?"

"Oh, it was novels, but also other books. Books about Quidditch or Defense or any variety of other things. One time I had to take away a book on Protein Charms that had come out of the forbidden section of the library."

She told him some other things about James throughout dinner, and Harry was glad to hear about his escapades. "What about Severus?" Harry asked when desert appeared and she looked ready to rise and leave.

"Severus?"

Harry nodded eagerly.

"Severus was in Slytherin, as I suspect you know. He was friends with your mother."

"He didn't tell me that," Harry said. Severus didn't talk much at all unless it was about something important like rules or homework.

"I could be mistaken, but I think they lived near each other and knew each other before coming to Hogwarts."

"Was he a Quidditch Captain like my dad?"

"No. He played as a backup player a few times a year for Slytherin but that was it. Perhaps you should ask Severus about his time at school."

Harry took a bite of his pumpkin custard so he'd have an excuse not to say anything. He doubted Severus would tell him anything. He was really busy with his own work and Harry was afraid to interrupt him when he was sitting at his desk for hours on end writing and sorting through stacks of papers.

Harry stayed up until the wee hours of the morning that night finishing his book before he went to sleep, and the next morning, after he'd forced himself to sit at his desk and do several assignments, he eagerly found the gold book McGonagall had lent to him and began reading it. He took it to the inner courtyard and spent the afternoon lying on his back on a stone bench in the shade of one of the trees. If he ever got to pick out toys again, he had new characters he wanted to get. His mind was full of new places to build with the building bricks as well, and he wished he had another set so he could build them all at once.

To be continued...
Rewards by JAWorley
Mr. Blackwood had given Harry a test that covered everything he'd done so far that summer, and was pleased with the results. So was Severus.

"He's doing well," Blackwood told Harry's dark eyed guardian in their quarters the morning after Harry had taken the test. "90% right, and the questions he got wrong were all maths that he had been struggling with before I was tutoring him three times a week. If he keeps this up he'll be just fine and nearly caught up with the rest of the class in everything but maths."

"I am pleased to hear that," Severus said, and he turned to Harry and gave him an appraising look. Harry's cheeks turned red and he looked away. He was pleased with himself for working so hard, but he wasn't used to others being happy about his performance.

After Blackwood left, Severus turned to Harry and said, "Your current test scores being what they are, might leave one to wonder why they were ever so low."

Harry looked down and didn't answer.

"You have nothing to say?"

"I wasn't being lazy sir, I swear," Harry said.

"I do not believe you were." Severus looked at him critically for a moment and watched as Harry fidgeted under his gaze.

"I believe in reward for hard work," Severus finally said, and Harry looked up, surprised.

"When I work hard," he went on, "I am rewarded by being paid by the school. When I work to achieve higher education, I am rewarded by the Ministry. When students at Hogwarts put in extra effort, they are awarded house points, and later rewarded by becoming Prefects. Because you have worked so diligently on your studies, you should also be rewarded."

"I should?"

Severus nodded. "Go and get your shoes on."

Harry hurried to obey, and was back out in less than a minute, ready to go. His aunt and Uncle always took Dudley out for ice cream when he got a C or better on a test or homework assignment (probably why he was so fat; Dudley was always getting C's). Harry didn't dare get his hopes up for ice cream though, never mind that he'd never had any before.

"We will go to Diagonalley. You are in need of a warm coat for the fall since you will be walking to school each morning, as well as a hat and gloves and a pair of boots. If we go today we will not have to go later." Severus went to his desk and unlocked the top drawer with a key and pulled out his money pouch. Harry watched, eyes wide, as he came back with it and opened it. "I will give you sixteen sickles. You may spend them on what you want, or save them. The choice is yours."

Harry held out his hand and watched as Severus counted out sixteen. It was the first time he'd ever received pocket money. As they walked to the school gates at the edge of the grounds, Harry liked the way the money jingled in his pocket. He almost considered not spending it just so that he could walk around with it in his pocket all the time. But the moment they had apparated to Diagonalley, Harry knew he was going to have a problem not spending the money.

Every manner of witch and wizard were walking down the cobbled street, window shopping, chasing stray animals, or carrying bags of their purchases. There were children too, just like Harry, hurrying along behind their parents or holding their mother's hands if they were younger.

"I want a broom mummy!" one boy cried as she led him into an apothecary. Harry wondered how much brooms cost then, and if he had enough to buy one with his pocket money.

"The clothing store first, and then you can investigate the other shops."

Harry nodded and followed Severus down the street. Harry soon had a warm winter coat, a winter hat with matching gloves, and a pair of black boots to go with it all. Severus had also insisted on a black traveling cloak, though Harry thought he would look silly if he wore it. "You do not know how useful a traveling cloak can be," Severus told Harry at the dismayed look on his face. "Once winter comes however, you will find out."

Severus let Harry lead the way down the street, and while Harry was tempted to go into the bookstore, he knew he had plenty of books to check out from the schoolhouse or from Hogwarts, so he settled instead for pressing his face against the glass. He did go into the Quidditch supply store and oggled at the racing brooms and their high cost of over 100 galleons and resigned himself to never having one. Their last stop was a toy store three times the size of the one in Hogsmeade. Inside, Harry stared wide eyed and looked up at the three stories of toys. There were two separate spiral staircases leading upwards, and Harry ran up one of them, deciding to start at the top and work his way down. Severus didn't follow, and settled for leaning against the clerk's counter with several other adults who were watching their children explore the toys.

While there were many interesting things on the top floor, none of them were exactly what Harry was looking for. He wanted to find a bin of characters to go with the ones he already had. On the second floor in a corner next to several sets of children's fantasy books, including the drake series he'd been reading, there were several bins of play figures and he got on his knees to sort through them. Characters were 2 sickles each and that meant he could get 8. He hadn't read the black or green book of Drakes yet, but he decided to get the black and green drakes for when he did, along with the red, gold, and white drakes. He also got two girls and a boy to go with the red, gold, and white drakes. He wished dearly to pick out some more villains, but his money was already spent on the 8 characters. Harry was just wondering how he would carry them all down the stairs to pay for them when Severus spoke behind him.

"There are no other toys that interest you?" Severus asked.

Harry turned and looked up at him.

"There are all kinds of toys I might like in here," he said. "But I really like the drake books and I've had fun with the three figures I have."

"What else do you want?"

Harry thought on it. "There was a potions kit that looked fun, and I'd like more color changing building bricks in the future so I can build more places for the book characters to visit. And a broom."

Severus raised his brow at the last item.

"And if I get more money I'm going to come back and get the rest of the characters... the other three heroes and some monsters."

Severus helped him carry the toys down to the ground level, and did not fail to notice when Harry stared longingly at the many castle sets that were the right size to fit his figures.

Several hours later, when they were back at the castle, Harry had packed all of his new action figures into his ratty backpack and carried them to the inner courtyard, where he pulled them out one by one and began enacting a huge battle against the merperson and the carved wooden monster. Harry looked around and began gathering twigs. Maybe he could somehow tie them together to make other monsters for his characters to fight. Eventually he gave up however, putting the twigs in his bag, and ended up having the drakes and their characters fighting each other. Harry lay on his stomach on the stone walkway happily battling away the afternoon.

* * *

The castle had suddenly grown a lot more lively. Staff that Harry had yet to meet had returned from long vacations to prepare for the upcoming term which started in two weeks. Some seemed intent on cleaning and rearranging their classrooms and offices, and others focused on making lesson plans. Severus was out of the quarters a lot more and when Harry wanted to find him to tell him he was going to visit Hagrid or wanted to go up to the library on the third floor, he had to find him in his office or one of the dungeon classrooms. Apparently he taught in different classrooms depending on the size of class he was teaching. Luckily the classrooms were all down the hall from each other in the same corridor.

Harry knew better than to be underfoot when adults were busy, as that sort of behavior only led to punishment, so he made himself scarce as well, spending all of his time out on the grounds with Hagrid, who didn't have classes to prepare for. And since he was with an adult, he was allowed to go all over the grounds, not just to the places marked on the map.

Hagrid led Harry around the back side of the castle to a garden and greenhouse where most of the school's vegetables were grown, and let Harry help him tend the crops. He also let Harry help him water and care for the pumpkins he was growing behind his cabin. Being the groundskeeper Hagrid had other things to do as well, such as taking care of invisible creatures called Thestrals (which Harry was curious about but also creeped out by since he couldn't see them as they ate meat from a bucket Harry held up). Harry also helped Hagrid repair the stone wall at the front of the grounds, and re-paint the tall black iron gate that he often passed through to get to Hogsmeade with Severus. Once Severus even gave Harry permission to go to Hogsmeade with Hagrid to get supplies Hagrid needed. Harry enjoyed spending time with the groundskeeper and having something that was not schoolwork to do.

* * *

"I have not seen much of you recently," Severus commented one evening when Harry came back to the quarters after dinner.

"Today Hagrid and I went to that stone bridge that goes over the brook."

"The one on the edge of the forest near the lake?"

Harry nodded. "One of the stone steps was falling apart and we fixed it. He showed me how to catch newts and we skipped stones after that. Hagrid can throw really big ones." Harry held up his hands to indicate the size of the large stones Hagrid was skipping and Severus nodded. Harry sat down on the couch and reached for the White Book of Dragons which he'd left on the coffee table the night before. He generally didn't leave his things anywhere but his room, but he'd been tired the night before and had forgotten it when Severus had sent him to bed.

Before Harry could find his place in the book again, Severus said, "The start of term feast is the night after tomorrow night. That day I have staff meetings to attend for the majority of the day. We need to discuss some new rules for when school is in session."

Harry put the white book down and sat quietly.

"You will be the youngest person in the castle. You will be expected to follow my rules, as well as the same rules the other students must abide by. This means you must obey the other staff here as if you were obeying me."

"Ok."

"Curfew for first years is 8 pm, which means you must also be in the quarters by 8 pm. Until now I have made you return directly after dinner, but there are sometimes events that go on after dinner during the term so I will allow you to stay out until 8."

Harry filed the information away in the place in his mind reserved for all rules.

"You may take meals in the quarters, or in the Great Hall, but since you have not yet been assigned a house you may sit at any table but the staff table. Students are not used to having younger children around that are not enrolled, so they may have questions. You will simply tell them that you now live at the castle and have to follow all school rules."

Harry nodded and Severus continued. "If you want to take your meals in the quarters, the house elves will send food to the kitchen table if you put an empty plate on the table and ask for breakfast, lunch, or dinner."

Severus went over a few school rules with Harry and explained that since Harry wasn't a student he wouldn't be assigned detentions or a loss of house points, but that if he got into any trouble Severus would hear about it and would issue a punishment. He also explained that Harry was not allowed to go into any of the house common rooms, and that unless it was a public space like the Library or Great Hall he shouldn't go anywhere alone with any of the older students.

"Do you have questions?"

Harry shook his head.

"School does not start in Hogsmeade for a full week. I expect you to keep yourself occupied and out of trouble in the week you are here while term is in. I have written down my office hours, as well as the office hours of Professor McGonagall and the Headmaster." He pointed to a parchment taped under his map of the grounds up on the wall. "If you need me during the day, come to my office. If I am not there because I am in class, seek out Professor McGonagall or the Headmaster in their offices."

"I won't get in any trouble," Harry promised. He was nervous about nearly 500 older students coming into the castle. When he'd first arrived the Headmaster had explained to him about his parent's deaths, Voldemort, and his nickname (The-Boy-Who-Lived), and he was worried people would stare at him and his ugly scar. He was also worried he'd be picked on and bullied like he always had been before, especially since he would be the youngest one there.

"Since tomorrow is my last free day until the weekend, I will take you to get school supplies. Mr. Blackwood sent over a list last night. I will also show you the route to the school again. I will take you on the first day to ensure you get there, but after that you will be walking by yourself each morning, and coming back to the castle by yourself each afternoon."

Harry was excited and nervous about that at the same time. He liked being outside and had often wished he could go explore on his own without having to be with an adult, but it was a long walk to the school in Hogsmeade and that left a lot of opportunity for other kids to gang up on him before and after school without being seen by adults. He tried not to dwell on it overmuch as he went to sleep that night, or on the fact that the quiet castle was going to get so busy in so little time.

* * *

Harry avoided breakfast on the first morning of the term. He was too nervous about the other students and not sure which table he should sit at, so he ordered breakfast in the quarters instead, and spent an hour organizing the new supplies Severus had bought him in Dundee and in Hogsmeade into his new dark gray backpack. He had several Muggle notebooks with lined paper (all with blue covers), a metal pencil box with half a dozen pencils with an eversharp charm, three quills, a knife and tweezers for cutting the quill, six bottles of black ink and one bottle of blue ink, a brand new set of colored pencils with an eversharp charm, scissors, spello tape, several bottles of spello glue, and a book of parchment paper. Harry wondered if they would teach him how to use the knife and quills and just what exactly the tweezers were for as he packed them away, wishing he could start school this week instead of sitting around the quarters.

Eventually boredom got the better of him and drew him out of the quarters an hour before lunch. It wasn't long before he ran into students in the Dungeon corridors. Some were going to and from Potions it seemed, and several were Slytherins making their way up out of the Dungeons to go to classes elsewhere in the castle.

"Who are you?" a boy asked. He had a prefect badge on and looked about as old as the boy who had delivered his furniture earlier in the summer.

"Harry," he said, avoiding giving his last name.

"Why aren't you wearing your robes? What are you doing in the Dungeons?"

Harry motioned down the hallway behind him. "I live in the castle now." At least, he thought that's what Severus had told him to say.

"We all live in the castle. What class are you supposed to be in?"

"I'm not a student," Harry said, wondering if this boy would eventually get angry enough with him to beat him up. "I live in the castle with Professor Snape."

The boy raised his brow. "Professor Snape?"

Harry nodded.

"He doesn't have any kids. Does he?"

"Erm-"

Professor Snape appeared behind him then however and spared him from trying to figure out what to say next.

"Where are you headed Harry?" he asked.

"Hagrid's," he said.

"Don't be late for lunch."

Harry nodded and made for the stairs out of the Dungeons. He heard Snape behind him telling the Prefect (Dusty) that Harry did indeed live in the Dungeons.

Harry was unable to find Hagrid out on the grounds however and ended up heading back into the castle just as students were heading for lunch. He got swept into the Great Hall with the crowd and ended up standing there staring at the student body as they began to take seats, wondering where he himself was supposed to sit or if he should just go back to the Dungeons.

"Over here," someone said, giving a light tug on his sleeve, and Harry turned to find Dusty.

"Sir?" Harry asked, and Dusty laughed.

"Don't call me that. I'm never going to be known as sir. If you live in the Dungeons you might as well sit with Slytherins since we live there too. Come on, there's room at our table for you."

Harry followed him to the table at the far end of the Great Hall, wary that this was some sort of trick. Once a group of boys from his class had asked if he wanted to sit with them at lunch, and it turned out they just wanted him to tell them embarrassing things about Dudley. He never did tell them but it didn't stop Dudley from beating him up on the way home from school for it.

"This is Harry. He lives with Professor Snape. Budge up and make room," he told a group of students that looked a little older than Harry but not much. Dusty sat down in the midst of them and then pulled on Harry's sleeve until he sat down too.

"These are first years," Dusty told him. "They're new here too."

Some of the students looked as nervous as Harry did, and others just looked happy to have a break from classes.

"He's not in our house," a boy pointed out.

"Doesn't matter," Dusty said. "He can sit here ‘cause I said so. How old are you? Ten?" Harry nodded. "They're eleven," he said, pointing to the group of first years. "Not that much of a difference."

"Does this mean we can sit at other tables?" a girl asked.

"If you're invited," Dusty said. "Harry's not in a house so he gets to sit wherever."

"Who's that?" a boy wearing a robe with a yellow stripe asked from the next table. He was wearing a Prefect Badge as well.

"Harry Potter," Dusty told him with a grin.

"Potter? I thought he wasn't coming ‘til next year."

"He lives in the castle now," Dusty said, and now several other people from Slytherin and Hufflepuff were listening in on the conversation. By the end of lunch it had spread across the hall and several students, mainly older ones, had come over to see if the rumor was true and to stare at Harry's scar.

At the end of lunch Harry stood and hurried away from the table, not certain if he should be irritated or upset with Dusty, but Dusty caught up to him in the Entrance Hall. "Hey, what's the rush?" he asked.

Harry turned and stared at him. "You only pulled me over there so you could say you sat with The-Boy-Who-Lived."

"I told you why I took you to Slytherin. You live in the Dungeons and so do we."

"But it didn't take you long to boast to everybody about it."

"It didn't take long for people to ask."

Harry frowned at him.

"You can believe what you want, but it didn't happen like you think it did. I'm a Prefect and Prefects are expected to set an example for the rest of the students. Professor Carcroft told me to ask if you wanted to sit with us so I did. If I hadn't you would have still been standing in the Great Hall watching everybody eat."

"Professor Carcroft?" Harry asked, confused. He'd seen Dusty talking to Snape two hours ago, not Carcroft.

"I had class with him before lunch," Dusty said. "If you don't want to sit at Slytherin you don't have to, but it's rude to act like you're so important and popular that people just use you for your popularity." He didn't seem angry as he turned and walked off, but Harry still felt foolish and as though he'd just been shouted at. Dusty was right. He had just assumed.

At dinner Harry stood on the threshold of the Great Hall starring in. Several students stared at him and some waved him over towards their tables, but Harry's eyes were glued firmly on Slytherin, where Dusty sat amongst a group of older students that looked his age. Severus didn't seem to be at the staff table yet, and several other staff were missing so he wondered if they had some sort of teacher's meeting to be at. Making up his mind, he went to Slytherin, causing several disappointed looks across the Great Hall, and sat down across from Dusty. The older students around him stared for a moment.

"I'm sorry," Harry told Dusty, "for being rude to you earlier."

The Prefect gave him an appraising look and then grinned at him, not bothering to explain to those around him what Harry was apologizing for. He went back to his meal and continued talking to his friends, and when Harry served himself meat and potatoes but no vegetables, Dusty reached across the table and put several carrots on his plate. Harry didn't complain. He was just glad that the first day with students back in the castle hadn't gone as horribly as he thought it would and that he had figured out where to sit at meals.

At the head table Minerva leaned over and asked Severus, "Did you tell him he had to sit at Slytherin?"

"I told him no such thing."

From the other side of Dumbledore, Carcroft said, "I told Dusty he might ask him to sit at Slytherin if he hadn't found a place to sit at lunch."

"Thank you Colm," Albus said.

"He's angling for Head Boy next year," Carcroft said. "It's good for him to learn what it is to lead by example."

Severus listened in on the conversation but didn't comment. He hadn't known that Dusty had been wanting the Head Boy position. Carcroft was right though, it was good for him to lead by example and prove he could build bridges between houses. Not that Harry had been placed in a house yet, but when he was, he was certain to go to Gryffindor. There was still a lot of anti-Potter resentment floating around prominent families who had come from Slytherin and who had served the Dark lord as well. If Dusty, a respected and well liked Prefect was willing to invite Harry to sit with Slytherin, it might make things easier on Harry in the long run.

Now that he thought about it, he probably should have told Harry to sit with Slytherin when at meals. It would have given him some direction instead of standing around wondering where he was supposed to sit. It was something he should have thought of, but hadn't. Maybe Dumbledore was right, and he wasn't as ready to take over a house full of children as he thought he was.

To be continued...
Mr. Blackwood's Class by JAWorley
Severus had walked Harry to the school in Hogsmeade Saturday morning and then again Sunday morning, making sure he had the route memorized. It wasn't a difficult trek, but it took ten minutes to get from the castle door down to the gate that led off the grounds, and another fifteen to get from the gate to the schoolhouse on the other side of Hogsmeade. Severus had given Harry a number of rules such as, "Don't walk too close to the edge of the Forbidden Forest," and, "Stay off of other people's property, especially that piece of land over there, because a nasty witch lives there and she likes to place curses on students who trespass." Harry was told to go straight to school in the mornings and come straight back to the castle to check in with Severus or Professor McGonagall after school in the afternoon.

On Sunday afternoon Severus had pulled out a black lunchbox, which he transfigured to blue, and set it on the kitchen counter. "Tomorrow morning place this on the table and say, "Lunch to go," and the elves will fill it with your lunch. The lunch box has a charm to keep hot food hot and cold food cold inside."

Harry went to bed Sunday night both nervous and excited, and he dreamt of the dragon skeleton hanging from the school ceiling coming to life and trying to eat him when he got several maths questions wrong.

In the morning, Severus woke Harry earlier than he usually did and told him to get dressed. Harry put his lunchbox on the table and asked for lunch and when he opened the lid was pleased to find leftover chicken from dinner the night before, a metal bottle full of pumpkin juice, and a small bowl full of salad.

"Anything good?" Severus asked.

Harry showed him and Severus gave a nod. "No desert," Severus commented.

"They never give us desert at lunch," Harry said.

"It's unfortunate isn't it?"

Harry turned to stare at the usually serious man and was surprised to find the hint of a smile on his face.

They ate breakfast in the Great Hall, Harry scarfing down his food because he was excited to head out, and then left together. The air had a slight chill to it and Harry was glad that Severus had made him bring his coat, even though the days still grew warm in the afternoons.

"Here," Severus said as they walked past the edge of the forest and into town.

Harry looked over and found three Knuts being handed to him.

"What's this for?"

Severus pointed to Madam Pudifoots Cafe and said, "Dessert."

"Really?"

He nodded and Harry ran into the cafe and had a raspberry cream pastry picked out before Severus could follow him into the shop. Harry handed the three Knuts to Madam Pudifoot and took the pastry eagerly.

"That's for after you eat the chicken and salad," Severus said.

"Promise," Harry grinned as he put the pastry into his lunchbox.

Down the street Harry spied other parents bringing their children to the school to drop them off. There was a girl about his age with light brown hair in braided pigtails, a younger boy with dark brown hair, and a blond boy who was accompanied by his blond father. Harry's anxiety grew the closer they came to the school, wondering if he'd be able to make any friends at all.

"Severus," the blond man said, and Harry looked up at his guardian to see how he knew the blond boy's father.

"Lucius," Severus said. "I did not realize Draco attended."

"He began halfway through the last school year. Narcissa felt he would be better behaved for a teacher than a private tutor."

The boy, Draco, stared at Harry and his scar and Harry stared back.

"Behave yourself Draco," his father warned, and then he squeezed Draco's shoulder gently and disappeared with a pop that startled Harry.

"Have a good day," Severus said, giving Harry a pointed look that also clearly said, ‘behave.' Harry nodded and then turned to go inside with the others. When he turned back, Severus was already walking back up towards the castle at a brisk pace, probably because he had class in twenty minutes.

Mr. Blackwood was inside writing something on the blackboard when Harry followed Draco and the others in.

"Good morning everybody," he said cheerfully without turning to look at them. "Everyone find a seat."

Two girls raced to find a desk next to each other, and Draco took one against the back wall. Two other boys waited to see where Draco sat and then intentionally sat in desks not next to his. The only desk left open was one right next to Draco, so Harry sat down in it. He noted that the other kids were pulling their new school supplies out and putting them in the drawer that pulled out of their desks so Harry did the same.

"Father bought me the nicest quill starter kit at Ink And Quill," Draco said, and while Harry was interested to see what that starter kit looked like, the other students didn't seem to care.

"It's just quills Draco," the girl with braided pigtails said. "We're going to mangle them."

"Not me," Draco said. "Mother taught me how to cut them last week," he said proudly. Harry again was interested, as he had no idea how to cut and care for his quills, let alone how to write with them, but he noticed the other boys roll their eyes.

"All right class," Blackwood said, finally turning around. "It sounds like you're eager to get started with your quills. I've already written instructions up on the board. We're learning to use quills this year because several of you are going to Hogwarts next year and quills are what you'll be using the majority of the time while you're there. Before we get started for the day I'd like to welcome you all back, and also to introduce your new classmate, Harry Potter." He didn't have to point as all of the other children already knew each other and Harry was the only new face in the room. They all turned to look at him and all of their eyes predictably traveled up to his scar. He wished his hair was long again to cover it up, because people staring at his scar was starting to get old.

"Harry, we have a tradition here. Every year when we come back we tell the class a few things about our vacation. Do you want to go first?"

"Erm..." he looked around nervously. The other kids all seemed so interested in him. "I took a train ride all the way up to Thurso," Harry said, thinking of spending the night at the empty outdoor train station for nearly three days. No one needed to know he'd taken the train because his relatives had kicked him out. He wasn't sure what else to say, because while his summer had been interesting with the discovery that he had magic, that would probably not be as interesting to anyone else. "And I moved. I live at Hogwarts now."

Several of the kids said, "Whoa," as if they were impressed, but Harry wasn't sure why they would be.

"You live at Hogwarts?" a boy asked. "Why?"

"What's that like?" Draco asked next. "Are you already in a house?"

They stopped asking questions and waited for Harry to answer. Trying to think of how to explain it so he didn't sound totally lame for having to have a new guardian, he said, "My guardian lives at Hogwarts. I'm not in a house. I live in the dungeons, and it's a lot more crowded now that the term started."

They seemed like they wanted to ask more questions, but Mr. Blackwood asked another student to share. Harry tried to keep track of their names.

Draco Malfoy had gotten a second broom for his birthday and had gone on a trip to Europe with his parents. Albin Atturbury and his younger sister Anwen, (who refused to sit next to him in class), went to their grandmother's for the summer and spent the entire summer swimming in a lake. Cade Rowe went to several quidditch matches with his father and uncle, Alexandria Prewitt had stayed home all summer and spent time with friends, and Cait Combe had taken music lessons all summer to learn to play piano (which she hated, but her mother was making her take lessons anyway). Mr. Blackwood also shared that he and his wife and two children had gone camping throughout the summer and gone to the beach. Harry assumed his children must have been too young for school since they weren't here in class with them.

The girl that had told Draco off earlier had been right. They mangled their quills on their first attempt at cutting them. Draco had only done slightly better than the rest of them, but because Harry had been watching Draco cut his he hadn't done quite as poorly as some of the other children. Maths was next, and Harry was pleased to find out every child had a different workbook as they were all at different levels. Draco had the same workbook as Harry and was only two chapters ahead, for which Harry was thankful. He was behind, but not as behind as he had thought. After maths the teacher let them have 20 minutes of free time inside the classroom to talk or play or read, and Draco and the other boys immediately came to where Harry stood looking at a bookshelf of books about magic.

"Are you going to Hogwarts next year?" Draco asked.

"Yes," Harry said.

"Me too, I'm going to be in Slytherin," Draco said.

"Now Draco won't be able to brag about being the only boy going to school next year," Cade said.

Harry looked at him and Cade said, "Me and Albin will go the year after next."

"I'm going next year," Alexandria Prewitt said, "and what house you end up in doesn't matter as much as Draco thinks it does."

Draco frowned at her as she skipped away to the other side of the room, but didn't say anything.

"What house are you going to be in?" Draco mumbled when Cade and Albin moved off to examine a new potions kit set up on a table by the stairs to the loft.

"I don't know," Harry said. He didn't know much about the four houses at all and he told Draco as much. "I've been sitting at Slytherin table all week though."

"My family are always in Slytherin," he said proudly. "Slytherins are brave and cunning and very loyal."

"What about the others?" Harry asked.

"I don't know. Father once said Hufflepuffs were pushovers and Ravenclaws think they're smarter than everyone else. You live at Hogwarts though. You could sit at all the tables and find out ahead of time which house you belong in."

"I don't get a choice though do I?" The Headmaster had mentioned the Sorting Hat, but Harry wasn't entirely clear how it all worked as he'd skipped the start of term feast a week ago.

"Father said you get to choose."

"Oh."

"C'mon Harry," Cade called from across the room. "Come look at the frog eyes in the Potions set!"

Harry wondered why they hadn't invited Draco and why they didn't seem to like him very much.

"Do you want to go look?" Harry asked Draco, who looked like he'd rather stay in the corner of the room by himself.

"I'll look later," he said. Harry frowned but Cade and Albin were calling him again so he went to join them in their last few minutes of free time.

English flew by and after that they all sat at their desks and had lunch. Harry did as he promised Severus and ate his chicken and salad before the pastry, but he spent time savoring the pasty. Draco bragged about his house elves and what good food they prepared and showed off the slice of chocolate cherry cake he had for dessert, but the other kids ignored him as they talked amongst themselves and didn't invite him to join their conversation. When they were finished eating, Mr. Blackwood told them they had forty minutes for recess and asked the other kids to explain to Harry where the recess boundaries were.

Outside the kids led Harry to the back of the schoolhouse and pointed at some trees on the other side of a big dirt yard. "We can't go in there," Albin said. "We can play in the area here or on the side of the schoolhouse by the door. We have to stay out of the lane if we do though."

"Look, I brought my Falmouth Falcons signed Quaffle," Draco said, and the other kids turned to see him holding a dark blue Quaffle with silver signatures all over it. "Who wants to play with it?"

"We'll use the school Quaffle," Cade said, and went to a box against the schoolhouse and started rummaging through it until he came out with a faded, scuffed up red Quaffle.

Harry wondered exactly what the Falcons were though and why the Quaffle had signatures on it, and went to Draco.

"What's the Falcons?" Harry asked.

"Have you been living under a rock? They're the best team in the isles."

"British National is better!" Cade called, before going back to playing catch with Albin and ignoring Draco and Harry.

"Don't listen to them," Draco said, "they're just jealous I have a quaffle signed by the entire team."

"Well," said Harry, "do you wanna play?"

Draco moved back ten or twelve feet and threw it at Harry. Harry reached up for it but it sailed through his fingers. "Sorry," he said, but was thankful Draco hadn't said anything about it. Cade and Albin were throwing the school Quaffle through some kind of hoop on a stick on the other side of the dirt yard, but Draco seemed content to just play catch with Harry, if only Harry could catch the Quaffle. He threw it to Draco but he didn't throw it hard enough and it hit the ground and rolled off to the side.

By the end of recess, Harry had only caught it once and thrown it all the way to Draco twice.

"Look," Draco said, holding the Quaffle out to him. "Still shiny, see? Father put five or six protection charms on it before I was allowed to bring it to school. He said a dragon would have to torch it before it got damaged."

Harry was glad he hadn't damaged it or gotten it dirty with all the times he'd dropped it, and was glad Draco wasn't mad at him for not knowing how to play.

The rest of the school day flew by in a blur with history, a brief lesson on what Potions were used for, and a lesson about the Ministry of Magic. At three Mr. Blackwood bade them all goodbye and dismissed class for the day. Outside, Draco's father wasn't there yet, and the other children seemed to be walking home alone without their parents.

"You were with Uncle Severus this morning," Draco said.

"Uncle?" Harry asked.

"He's my godfather. I see him sometimes on holidays or in the summer."

"Oh. I live with him now."

"How come?"

Harry shrugged and looked away. "I'm supposed to go straight back to the castle after school." He took a few steps away, hoping Draco wouldn't ask again, but then turned back and waved at him. "See you," he said, and hurried down the path through Hogsmeade.

That night at dinner, Draco's mother and father asked about his first day of school, and if he had made peace with the other children yet. Only they knew how desperate Draco was to make a friend at school.

"I'm friends with Harry now," Draco said proudly, glad he had good news to report. "We're going to sit together again in class tomorrow. He loved my Falcon's Quaffle and let me tell him about all the signatures."

His mother and father shared a look that Draco ignored. They weren't sure if Draco was telling the truth or not, but Draco was happy regardless knowing he wouldn't spend a second year in a row with no friends.

To be continued...
Harry’s First Friend by JAWorley
"How was your first day of school?" Minerva asked when Harry came to her office to check in with her at half past three. Severus had a class at this hour, so Harry had to check in with Professor McGonagall instead.

"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."

"Really?"

"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.

"Seeker."

"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."

"Explain."

"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.

To be continued...


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