Molly lowered Harry into the crib. Inside the crib sat a small boy with bright red hair and a few freckles.
The red-haired boy looked urgently at his mother, worried at this new arrival.
Harry whimpered and tried to get out.
"Calm down, honey. This is Ron. Say hello, Ron."
Ron hesitated and then raised a hand. "Wello."
Harry sniffed and said "Wello," back
"Won." Ron said.
Harry hesitated and pointed to himself. "Hawwy,"
They both smiled at each other for a second. But then Harry drooped and began crying again, "Nape! Me want Nape! Pwease!"
Molly sighed, "Oh dear. This will be much harder than I thought. Maybe Arthur will know what to do."
Snape was sitting alone in a compartment on the train. He had chosen an empty one deliberately. He sighed. He hoped Harry would be alright with Mrs Weasley. He would never admit it, but he kind of missed the boy's giggles.
It seemed very quiet now.
In a while, the train stopped and he stepped out. He had to walk all the way to Malfoy Manor because he hated taxis.
The drivers were very irritating and chatty and it took all of his self-control not to hex the driver into oblivion. Ah, those urges were very irritating.
Finally, he knocked on the polished front door and waited.
The door was opened by a house-elf.
"Come in sir, Dobby will lead you to the living room,"
Snape nodded at the elf curtly and then followed the creature into the Malfoy living room.
Lucius and Narcissa were sitting down on the sofas, looking tense.
"Ah, Severus. Good to see you. Have a seat,"
Snape nodded at Lucius. He sat down.
"It's very nice to see you Severus," Narcissa said. "How are you?"
"I am very well, Narcissa. But I am rather worried where this meeting is going. I have gathered that there is a bit of a misunderstanding?"
"As far as I have-" Lucius began.
"Yes, I will tell you very honestly that I do have a certain Harry Potter in my care." Snape said, smirking at their shocked faces.
"But Severus-" Narcissa began.
"But it wasn't in my wanting. I was forced to care for the little brat because Dumbledore requested me to. I am going to stay on his good side for now, not that I respect him, but because I will need to ensure his trust in me...If I am to spy on him. I don't want to spend the rest of my days in Azkaban, anyway. I'd like you to carry this message to everyone who talks behind my back."
The husband and wife looked stunned. Lucius recovered first. "Why, Severus, we knew you would never betray the Dark Lord-we were simply worried by the rumours."
Narcissa smiled warmly. "I never believed them. But there are still a few areas of concern that we'd like to discuss."
Snape was surprised. What else was there?
Harry was staring out of the window desperately. Tears kept sliding down his cheeks. He wanted Nape to come back. But the man was nowhere to be seen.
Harry sniffed. He missed the soft fabric of the dark robes ever so much.
Crawling away from the window, Harry crawled to Ron. "Nape is?" He asked, hopefully.
Ron looked at him confusedly.
Harry's bottom lip protruded and he crawled away. Two small boys who looked exactly the same suddenly picked him up.
"Look at this thing! Who is he?" one of them said.
"Aww, look-it's crying," the other one said. "What's wrong, baby?"
"Waaa!" Harry wailed, trying to wrench away.
Molly came into the room. "Fred, George! Leave him alone!"
They grinned at each other. "Oh, come on mum. Let us play with him,"
"We'll teach him how to play explosions." Fred said.
"You put Harry down on the floor right now, young man!" Molly said, angrily. "You're frightening the poor child. Come here, Harry dear, I'll show you some dolls..."
Harry whimpered as George tried to back away with him in his arms. Molly rescued him though. "Run off, you two, don't disturb him. He's feeling very poorly as it is." She looked at Harry pityingly. "Poor little boy. You miss your dad, do you?"
Harry looked at her in bemusement. Dad? His dad had disappeared. He missed Nape. Suddenly he began to miss both his mama and his dad AND Nape altogether. Why was everyone leaving him?
"Waaaaa!" Harry cried, feeling very sorry for himself.
Molly suddenly had an idea. "Come, dear," she said. "Play with Ron. I'll go and get the rag dolls." She seated the tear-stained cheeked boy on the mat and went away. Won crawled closer to him, taking a toy car out of his mouth. "Play?"
"Play," Harry responded, wiping his eyes.
Harry sniffed and then nodded.
"Vroom!" Won drove the little car on the mat. He giggled.
Harry laughed too. He took the car from Won's hand. Won frowned. He didn't want to share, but he didn't snatch it back.
"Vooom." Harry copied him, dragging the toy on the floor. "Oooo! Voom! VOOOOM!"
He began to get happier. By this time Molly had come back with some dolls in her hands and three cars; two red, one green.
The babies began to play together. Harry forgot about Snape for a while and had some fun. After he and Ron had their tenth Vroom-car race, he suddenly clutched his stomach. Nape usually gave him food by now. He also took Harry outside in the garden at this time.
He was in a right state to start bellowing "NAPE! NAPE!" All around the house again, when Molly came back into the room, this time accompanied by Mr Weasley.
"Ah! So this is the little boy?" Arthur smiled. "Hello there, Harry!"
Harry gasped at this new character and quickly crawled away.
"Don't be worried, little scamp." Arthur said. He turned to Molly. "Is this Severus's son?"
Molly looked at Harry. "I think so. But I don't really know the mother..."
"Doesn't look like him, either," Arthur said. "But why do I feel like I've seen that face before?"
He bent down and tried to pick Harry up, but the boy was too restless.
"He's missing Severus very much." Molly sighed. "Poor little child, he keeps wailing."
"Why don't we take him and the kids on a little treat? It'll clear their minds a bit." Arthur suggested.
Molly paused. "Okay," she said. "But where do we go?"
Arthur smiled. "Lets go to the creek!"
"No," Snape said. "I have not been helping Dumbledore in any other way."
He had beaten them. Given a non-arguable answer to every single fired-out question. Lucius looked tired and Narcissa was looking at him with a slightly impressed expression.
"Thank you ever so much," she said. "We were worried for days, Severus. This cleared up a lot. Thank you for visiting us."
They all stood up. It was quite dark now. Many hours had passed without Snape's knowledge and he was more than ready to depart the manor.
"Severus?" Lucius said. "I'd like to see that little Potter boy sometime."
"Of course," Snape nodded, curtly. "I've left him with some of my...old friends, for the time being."
Lucius nodded. After a dignified farewell, Snape made his exhausted way down the road. He had another errand to do. He had to meet Alecto and Crabbe for some reason. Lucius had mentioned something about a 'book'.
Sighing and looking at the evening sky, he made sure no one was looking at him and apparated.
"To Nape?" Harry asked for the tenth time, as Molly carried him in her arms and walked across the evening-lit, patchy garden.
"No dear," Molly said, patiently. "We're going to the creek. But don't worry, he'll be here tomorrow."
Harry slumped down again. He didn't want to go anywhere. He just wanted Nape to come and hold him and take him home. Tears were threatening to fall again when Molly suddenly stopped and exclaimed, "Ooo! Look, Harry!"
Harry gave an audible gasp and wiggled in her hold to get away and go to the place. What he saw was a big, blue creek surrounded by cool, damp, green grass. It was so pretty!
Molly gently lowered Harry to the ground. Harry tried to stand, but his legs were too wobbly. "Wow! Oooo!" He pointed at the creek and then looked at Molly. "Wow! Ducky?"
"No dear," she laughed. "They live in ponds. But there might be some fish there. Let's see."
Harry had seen a pond at the park. He had wanted to go into it, but Snape had held him back. Soft light shone on the place by a streetlight. Everything was very bright and pleasant. Harry crawled as fast as he could to the creek, giggling, when Arthur held him back.
"Woah, wait little fella," he smiled. "You'll get wet. I'll get you a swimsuit first and then you can have a paddle inside."
He transfigured Harry's clothes into a little swimsuit and then Molly came and said, urgently. "Won't the water be rather cold?"
"No fear," Arthur said. "I've charmed it to be warm always. And besides it's very shallow. It will barely go to Harry's waist."
Harry, without warning, plopped into the water and began swimming about. "Wow!" He cried, splashing around the creek. He dunked his head in and then gasped.
Arthur grinned. "I knew he'd like it!"
Ron, Fred and George came over too and began to play in the creek with Harry.
By the time Harry was completely drenched and breathing happily, Molly had spread out a picnic mat over the grass and had put lots of food on it. "Dinner!" She called out. "Dry yourself, boys, and come eat."