Harry was teething. And it was driving Snape mad.
He couldn't have a moment's peace. The wretched boy would keep howling and pointing at the "ows!" in his gums and worst of all-hide in random corners, his face covered with tears. Snape had gone to his bed for a nap, after working, and had lain down. As he had rested, something had suddenly shuffled beside him. And even more suddenly, that something had clutched his wrist and he had yelped.
After realizing that it was just Harry, who had been hiding in the covers, he got angry and dumped the boy into his crib. Just before leaving the room, Harry let out the most pitiful voice. "Nape?"
Snape had turned around and raised his eyebrows. And then he had been horrified by the picture of Harry staring brokenheartedly at him, tears dripping down his chubby cheeks.
"Don't look at me like that. I've told you that you aren't allowed in my room without permission. And then climbing on my bed? That is not on." Snape said, irritably.
"Please what?" Snape had to try very hard not to succumb to Harry's wishes.
"Pwease welp!" Harry pointed again to his gums, woefully. "Owie!"
Snape thought for a moment. Then he took out his wand and tried a calming spell. It did not have any remote effect. So he sighed and picked Harry up. Harry at once buried his face into his robes and began snivelling all over them.
"Ugh-" Snape remarked, before he went out of the front door and to the nearby ice-cream stall.
He had no idea why he was doing this, but he had a vague feeling that if Harry had some cool ice-cream, his gums wouldn't hurt too bad. So he bought a chocolate cone, trying to disguise himself in the process, and took Harry home. Then he ordered him to take a lick.
Harry was very confused. He tried the ice-cream tentatively. And then his face widened into a smile. "Mmmm!" he declared, having some more. By the end of the cone, he was not complaining anymore and was as bright and cheerful as ever.
Happy that Harry was not grizzling anymore, Snape put the boy in his crib for a nap, and then went for one himself.
Snape had dressed Harry in his best purple robes and had smothered his hair in gel.
"Why Nape?" Harry pointed to his new accessories and asked.
"We're going to meet Professor Dumbledore." Snape explained as he smoothened down Harry's robes.
Harry held out his little arms and Snape picked him up. "Love Nape," Harry beamed.
Snape took him out of the front door. If he was honest with himself, he was pretty nervous about the appointment. What if Dumbledore tried more of his crazy tricks?
Snape had decided to walk to Dumbledore's house but that would take more than ten minutes.
"If only you could walk," Snape huffed to Harry, who was in his arms.
Harry giggled in response.
By the time they had reached Dumbledore's house, Snape was tired. He knocked at the door. Almost at once, the door was opened by a beaming Dumbledore.
"Why, Severus!" he smiled. "Glad you could make it! And little Harry Potter has arrived too? Come in, come in, the guests are specially waiting for you both."
Severus raised an eyebrow. "Guests? I thought it was just me, Minerva and you, Dumbledore."
"Well, yes, but there have been some, hmm, adjustments. Come in, now," Dumbledore hustled Severus inside the house.
Severus gaped at the number of people seated in the living room. It seemed that Dumbledore had invited most of the Hogwarts staff. There was Professor McGonagall, and Professor Sprout. And even Professor Trelawney.
Snape stiffened. He hadn't met that woman since overhearing the Prophecy...
There was Professor Burbage too, who was a friend of his, and Professor Quirrel.
"Severus!" Someone called.
Snape looked in horror as the guests approached him. He couldn't do much with Harry in his arms, especially since the baby was frightenedly hiding himself in his robes.
"Is that a baby?" Pomona Sprout gasped. "Severus, is there something you're not telling us?" She smiled at Harry, who whimpered and hid himself out of sight.
"This boy will have a very fruitful life-" Sybill began.
"Isn't he adorable! Though he really looks nothing like you..." Charity Burbage said. She looked slightly sour as if Snape having a baby son was bad news.
"He isn't-" Snape began.
"You make a very nice father," Minerva said, smugly. Snape knew that she had said that on purpose. She knew that Harry wasn't his son.
He felt his face growing hot. He had a right mind to leave, but Dumbledore made him sit down.
"My dear people," Dumbledore said. "This is not Severus's son. This is, and you may be surprised,...young Harry Potter, who I have assigned into Severus's care."
There was a pause, an audible gasp, and several questions rocketed out.
"Is it really him?" Pomona gasped.
"H-h-harry P-pot-ter?" Quirrel stammered.
"I knew it!" Sybill declared.
"Why, I thought he was living with his aunt and uncle," Charity said, confusedly.
"That was before," Minerva piped in. "We heard of his outrageous mistreatment!"
As they argued, Harry fidgeted in Snape's lap.
"Yes, Potter?" Snape asked, softly.
"Nape, go home," Harry mumbled. He wasn't used to all these people and was feeling very anti-social.
"I wish I could leave, too," Snape sighed, as he became aware that Sybill was staring at him with interest.
By and by, they sat at the dining table to have dinner.
Snape kept Harry in his lap. When he found out that there was roast chicken with boiled potatoes and bread for dinner, he was outraged. What would Harry eat? He had only a few teeth.
"Don't worry, Severus," Dumbledore said, with a twinkle in his eye. "We could mash the potatoes and give me him some bread."
Snape scowled. "I'm not worrying. I'm fine."
But he spoon-fed Harry throughout the meal, hardly eating anything himself. Harry ate timidly, only doing so because he loved Snape and didn't want to disobey him. If he had had his own way, he would refuse to have a single bite and stay still until he was taken back home to his toys and normal food.
His acts did not go unnoticed. Minerva started to grin smugly at him and people stared. Snape was starting to grow more and more irritated by the second. When it was getting a little too much, and Snape was tempted to throw something at the witch, Dumbledore suddenly announced, "I hope you have all gotten to know Severus. He will be teaching at Hogwarts this term."
"Will you really, Severus? What post will you take up?" asked Charity.
"I wanted to take up Defense against the Dark Arts, but..." Severus glared at Dumbledore. "The Headmaster decided that I would do better as a Potions Professor."
"What about Horace?" Sprout asked.
"He has taken an early retirement," Dumbledore said, gravely.
"Nape!" Harry mumbled suddenly, tugging at the black robes.
Snape ruffled his hair. "Yes, Potter? What is it?" He said, softly.
"Go home?" Harry asked, hopefully.
Snape sighed. "No. Not yet."
Harry drooped considerably and hid himself in the robes again.
It was going to be a long, long night.