Potions and Snitches
Snape and Harry Gen Fanfiction Archive

Christmas

Saturnine awoke to the sound of her brother snoring lightly—not that Severus Snape would ever admit to such a thing. She contemplated how lucky she was—how lucky they all were. The dark-haired witch had been back for a few days. But she hadn’t yet returned to the loneliness of her personal quarters on the third floor. Nor had she barely left Severus’ side since. Nor had he left hers. She had returned to teaching her classes immediately, thanking her colleagues, who had stepped in to buffer her absence. But those were the only moments she spent out of the dungeons until the beginning of the winter holidays.

Since classes had ended, the four of them found many excuses to spend the maximum amount of time together. The weather was too bad to go outside, and the castle was too draughty to be comfortable. So, it was better to stay by the warm hearth in Severus’ living room. There was barely anyone staying over for the holidays. So, why bother showing up in the Great Hall for meals when it was so simple to order straight from the kitchens and eat in their kitchenette? It was as if the four of them shared an irrepressible need to be in each other’s vicinity. As if it was the only way they knew how to alleviate the fear—to reassure themselves that the others were here and safe.

There were many conversations, too—sometimes long into the night. Saturnine shared with her brother the highlights of her stay at Hotel Ministry and the appalling manners of its maître d’, and Severus filled her in on the D.A.’s impromptu return and the events that followed his trip to Cokeworth. Then they shared with Harry and Draco the next steps in their plan to defeat Voldemort.

Saturnine stretched her limbs beneath the blanket before sitting up, and her eyes darted to the enchanted frame above Severus’ bed. Their childhood playpark was covered in snow, as it had been since the beginning of December. She had put the frame up on a whim, not considering what she’d hidden in that swing set. She needed something to decorate her brother’s room and thought he might appreciate the nod to the place that had been their safe haven when they were younger. Now, it was never coming off.

Pushing the blanket off herself, she got up and silently made her way to her brother’s bed. She climbed in, sat by his torso, and poked him in the shoulder until a bleary obsidian eye blinked open.

“Wake up, sleepyhead,” she said, poking him again for good measure.

Whatever Severus’ reply was, it was completely muffled when he buried his face in the pillow. Saturnine chuckled and resumed her attempt at rousing him using Morse code. A clumsy hand rose to bat her finger away, but it was a half-hearted attempt at best.

Relinquishing the hope to sleep longer, Severus resigned himself to waking up and turned on his side to glare at the intrusive little sister who had so rudely awoken him.

“You’re adorable, you know, when you try to look all mean like that,” she said fondly. “Some things never change and a sleepy Severus will always be a cute Severus.”

“I don’t do cute,” he mumbled through a yawn. He might have intended his words to sound scathing or derisive. But his voice was as half-asleep as he was, and the protest came out meekly.

The potioneer’s reticent attitude was rewarded with a peck on the cheek.

“Was there something you wanted, ’Nine?” he asked with feigned exasperation. “Or did you just wake up on the annoying side of the bed this morning?”

“What day is it?” she demanded.

“I don’t know. Thursday?”

“Sev,” she said, tempted to poke him again. He had to know—right?

“Thursday,” he repeated with more assurance. “Why?”

“The date, you great big pillock.”

“I don’t know.” He seemed to think it through for an entire two seconds before deciding that it wasn’t worth the effort this early in the morning. “Twenty-something or other. Who cares?”

“It’s the 25th, you dolt.”

“So?” he asked, genuinely seeming not to get it.

“December,” she pointed out. “The 25th of December, Severus. Does that ring a jingle bell to you, or is your brain too asleep to catch up?”

His narrowing black eyes, wrinkled, long nose, and frowning lips all disappeared in a sea of unkempt black hair when Severus obtusely pushed his face into the pillow again.

“I was going to sing you a cheery Christmas song, but I fear you might be conscious enough to hex me all the way to the North Pole,” Saturnine said with audible glee. “So, I’ll just settle with wishing you a Merry Christmas, brother-mine.”

A muffled something that might have been, “Merry Christmas to you, too,” came from somewhere beneath the tangled lanky locks.

“I hope you got me something nice,” Saturnine said, hopping off the bed.

Propping himself up on one elbow, Severus pinned her with a twin set of drawn eyebrows. “And where did you expect me to find the time to go shopping for anything?” he asked. “I got you out of jail in time for Christmas. Can’t that count as your gift this year?”

“Well, I was detained at the Ministry for close to two weeks, and then I spent another one catching up with everything I missed. But you’re still getting something,” she said, pulling open the small dresser she had installed next to the bed where she slept and kept some of her stuff. She pulled out a red hoodie, then turned to Severus to ask, “Can I borrow one of your Slytherin scarves? I’m feeling Christmassy for some reason.”

Without awaiting an answer, Saturnine crossed the room to get to his wardrobe. Pulling it open, she rummaged inside until she found what she sought. Turning back on her heel, she looped the green scarf around her neck and stopped dead in her tracks when she noticed that Severus hadn’t moved. He was still half-sitting, half-lying down on his side with a puzzled expression worthy of someone who had just been presented with an Arithmancy problem.

“What is it?” she asked, stepping closer.

The puzzled expression turned cautious. “You got me something?”

Severus seemed so surprised to learn that he was getting a present for Christmas that Saturnine was tempted to hug the daylights out of him. She barely resisted the urge.

***

Draco awoke with mixed feelings. He wasn’t sure what to think of Christmas anymore. As a child, he had loved the holiday—of course he had. If there was one thing the Malfoys did better than anyone else, it was Christmases and birthdays. Nothing was too big or too expensive for the most affluent family of Wizarding Britain, and Draco had been spoilt rotten.

But the naïve little boy had grown up. The bitter harshness of reality caught up with him, and he learned that no amount of glitter or wrapping paper could replace happiness. Once he got to that point, the mandatory yearly display of decadent extravaganza felt as hollow as it was meaningless.

And so it was that Draco wasn’t sure what to expect from this year’s Christmas. It would be his first out of Malfoy Manor and his first without a Galleon to his name. It had been a drag to come up with gifts for the Snape siblings and Harry. And he felt the painful bite of shame when he thought of the meagre presents hidden at the bottom of his trunk. But it had been the best he could do.

Sitting up in his bed, he tried to shift his thoughts to a better angle. This Christmas would be his first with his new family. While he wasn’t sure where Severus stood on the whole ‘let’s celebrate Christmas together’ thing, he was certain Saturnine would arrange something—just as he knew that Harry would be the life of the party.

He was still mulling over his thoughts when Harry shot to his feet with a shout of “Merry Christmas!”

Yep, Draco thought, getting up and stretching his back, there’s the spirit.

Harry got dressed in record time and was out of the door an instant later.

Draco took his time getting ready and brought his presents with him to the living room—though he wasn’t sure what he’d do with them once he got there. Unlike the rest of the castle, Severus’ quarters were auspiciously devoid of Christmas cheer, and in the absence of a tree or ornament of any kind, he didn’t know where to leave his gifts. Bundling them in his arms, he figured he would just hand them in before breakfast. Then he could die of shame while he pretended to suffocate on gingerbread cookies.

He stopped dead in his tracks once he got to the living room, his eyes blinking stupidly at the red and green glow in his face. Severus’ bookshelf was crisscrossed with a magical garland that blinked on and off in alternating seasonal colours. Looking around, Draco saw that the sofa and both armchairs were covered in matching Afghans that held a variety of cartoonish Christmas trees and Santa figures, and a decorated pine tree had been placed next to the fireplace. The poor thing was struggling to stay upright under the sheer weight of all the baubles, garlands, and candles affixed to its branches in a random explosion of colours that held no rhyme or reason.

It was the oddest and most amateurish set of Christmas decorations that Draco had ever seen, but it was equally touching in its sheer honesty and simplicity. The ornaments weren’t grand or ostentatious, and they weren’t there to impress or impart a social status. They were just a rainbow of colours and sparkles meant to celebrate the day.

Moving towards the Christmas tree, Draco found that several gifts had already been placed at its feet. Pushing aside another blinking garland, he set his down next to what he guessed were Harry’s.

“Sweet Mother of Merlin,” Saturnine exclaimed as she arrived with her armload of wrapped boxes. “You guys went a little overboard, didn’t you?”

Her smile turned even brighter when she neared the overstuffed tree. Crouching down, she piled her three boxes beneath one of the lower branches. It seemed close to its breaking point due to the weight of the many garlands intersected on its length.

“It wasn’t me,” Draco said as he sat at the kitchen table to take in the entire living room.

Returning to her feet, Saturnine pinned Harry with a questioning gaze, but he shook his head before joining Draco at the table.

“Me neither,” she said with a puzzled look. She glanced back at the overdone Christmas tree, then up at the closed bedroom door opposite the kitchenette, then back at the tree. Shrugging her shoulders, she chuckled before joining the boys at the kitchen table. A snap of her fingers later, and a bowl of freshly baked Christmas cookies appeared on a large plate.

“The house-elves will bring the rest of your gifts sometime this morning,” she explained before taking a bite.

Harry nodded, wondering how many knitted sweaters would make their way to them this year.

Mr Grinch joined them soon after. To mark the day, Severus had chosen to forgo wearing his frock coat and loosely draped a green scarf around the collar of his white undershirt instead. It was the only concession he seemed willing to make on this special day.

No one commented on the colourful ornaments that had surprisingly popped up in the living room during the night, and Severus nibbled at his cookies without seeming to notice. But there was no missing the slight smirk at the corner of his lips that steadfastly refused to vanish or the relaxed, almost carefree way with which he sat, leaning his shoulder against his sister’s.

***

Harry had thought long and hard about what to give to his newfound family for Christmas. He’d seen Draco struggle to come up with ideas to suit his meagre means. But the fact that he now had full access to the Potter vaults didn’t make his quest any more straightforward; it made it worse.

Harry had never had money before, not really. He hadn’t had a dime during the first eleven years of his life, which was all right; he didn’t have anyone to shop for back then. Then he’d started at Hogwarts, and there had been a vault waiting for him with enough Galleons set aside to last him through his entire scholarship. Sure, the contents of that vault probably weren’t much by Malfoy standards. But to someone like Harry, who came from absolutely nothing, it was a fortune—much more money than he knew what to do with. Christmas gifts for Ron, Hermione, and the rest of his friends came quickly from then on.

But then he turned seventeen, reaching adulthood. And a letter from Gringotts Wizarding Bank arrived by owl the very next day. It was a complete statement of his financial situation and a confirmation that, as the only heir to the House of Potter, he was now the sole beneficiary of vaults that had been steadfastly compounding interest for well over fifteen years.

It took Harry three tries to count the number of zeros that formed the sum of what he’d inherited, and still, the number didn’t really make sense to him. It was more than he’d ever had, more than he’d ever dreamed of having, and more than he knew what to do with.

So, he’d done the only thing he could think of. He folded the letter in two, placed it at the bottom of his trunk, and promptly forgot all about it. There was still more than enough in the vault devoted to his scholarship, and Harry decided there was no need for him to worry himself about the rest. But he hadn’t been able not to think about it since. The thought had kept nagging at him, like an itch that needed to be scratched, until he’d come to a decision.

Once breakfast was over, Draco asked that his presents be opened first, and Harry surmised that was because he wanted the unpleasantness to end quickly. He offered to retrieve the parcels and brushed his hand against the blond’s shoulder as he walked by in a silent show of support. Whatever Draco had gotten him, Harry was sure he would love it. It was the thought that counted, he knew. And Harry was sure Severus and Saturnine would see it that way, too. But he surmised that was a lesson Draco still needed to learn.

Harry quickly found the three small square boxes wrapped in simple forest-green paper. Quickly glancing at the labels, he brought them to the coffee table, where everyone was gathered. Severus sat in his armchair with Saturnine perched on the armrest, and Draco was on the sofa. Harry joined him there, keeping the gift that was his and handing Severus and Saturnine theirs.

Under Draco’s instructions, they unwrapped their presents simultaneously and found similar gifts within the cardboard boxes. It was a matching set of stone figurines carved by hand: a lion for Harry, a raven for Saturnine, and a snake for Severus.

“Did you make these yourself?” Saturnine asked with the type of pride that Harry had seen in mothers throughout the world when they received handmade gifts from one of their children.

Draco nodded, and it was clear that he tried hard to maintain a strong front. “Professor Flitwick helped me with the charms to sculpt them,” he explained. “It’s not much, but you know…”

“It’s lovely, Draco,” Saturnine said. “Thank you.”

Harry was holding his lion between two fingers and examining it from every angle, wondering how it had been done. “Merlin, Draco, I had no idea you knew how to do that!” he said, unable to keep the awe he felt from his voice. “The details are breathtaking. Thanks.”

Severus hadn’t taken his snake out of his box yet, and he seemed unable even to touch it. He couldn’t keep his eyes off it, though. Harry wasn’t sure what had him so out of sorts. Was it the fact that he’d been gifted something, that the gift had come from Draco, or that it was a carved figurine? Harry supposed it had to be a mixture of all three for him to be rendered tongue-tied and misty-eyed. Saturnine had to kick him in the shin twice to shake him from his stupor.

Harry wanted to go last with his gifts, and he looked at Saturnine, silently pleading her to go next. She caught his gaze and arched an eyebrow that seemed to say, ‘Are you sure?’

Harry nodded emphatically, and Saturnine poked her brother discreetly in the arm. Severus sunk a little lower into his armchair at her prodding; he wasn’t willing to take the next spot.

With an amused smile, the dark-haired witch got up to retrieve her parcels. An instant later, Harry heard the tell-tale sound of a bauble breaking apart—a sign that the tree’s branch had finally succumbed to the amount of decoration it yielded now that it was no longer supported.

Saturnine had one gift for each of them, and Harry and Draco tore into theirs eagerly. Severus took his time, securing the box with Draco’s present between his left leg and the armrest first.

Inside the elegant ivory-white wrapping were identical folding picture frames. They were of a simple Muggle design and made of dark mahogany wood. But the real gifts were the photographs secured behind the clear protective glass.

Inside Harry’s frame was a photograph of Draco spinning circles on his broom in full Slytherin seeker regalia. He had a fluttering snitch held between the fingers of his right hand. Harry remembered the day. The photograph was from a Slytherin versus Ravenclaw game where Draco had caught the winged golden ball after a most impressive dive. Seeker Draco was all smiles in the photo, displaying a rare bout of genuine pride and happiness. Harry was sure that expression alone was why Saturnine had picked this photograph over the many others within the Hogwarts archives.

The other half of the frame carried a photograph of the Snape siblings that made Harry’s eyes water. He wasn’t sure how old they were in it, but they wore their Hogwarts uniforms. Harry would have guessed Severus was fifteen and Saturnine, twelve. Young Severus already had a curtain of black hair around his face, though not as long as Harry was used to seeing. His facial features were familiar and easy to recognise, even if they weren’t as starkly etched into his skin as they were today. He had his left arm slung over his sister’s shoulders and appeared to be animatedly explaining something to her. He was talking fast, excitement lighting up his unguarded features.

Young Saturnine was a full head shorter than her brother, and her pre-teen face had round cheeks. Her eyes were the same azure-blue they had always been, and they sparkled with life. She had pulled her hair up in a messy bun and seemed mesmerised by what her brother had to say. Then young Severus must have said something funny because the young girl exploded in pearls of laughter.

Harry watched the photograph loop again two more times before he managed to tear his gaze away from the carefree siblings that looked so young and innocent. Glancing over Draco’s shoulder, he saw that the blond’s frame held the same photograph of the Snape siblings and one of him on his broomstick, celebrating a Gryffindor win over the Hufflepuffs from last year. Harry remembered the day clearly. Saturnine had managed to sneak in a few words of encouragement before the match began. And in his heart, Harry had dedicated his win to her.

Curiosity getting the better of him, Harry got up and moved to stand behind Saturnine’s shoulder. He wondered what was hidden within Severus’ picture frame. On the left frame, Harry discovered the same photograph of the young siblings in their Hogwarts uniform that was in his. But on the right, he saw a photo that must have been taken during one of Severus’ seventh years’ Potions classes. How she had gotten it, Harry had no idea. He certainly had never seen a camera in the Potions classroom, and he doubted Severus would ever allow for one to be there while he taught. But Saturnine had always had her ways.

In the moving photograph, Harry and Draco were seated around the same table, working in tandem over a brewing potion. Harry stirred while Draco added ingredients. Out of frame, Severus must have been giving complementary instructions, for both boys would look up towards the front of the class at intervals. They wore matching expressions that alternated between attentive and admiring, and Harry was sure that it was that latter quality that had decided Saturnine’s choice of photographs. He supposed she wanted Severus to realise that he had earned Draco and Harry’s respect and esteem.

Saturnine’s gifts had come with several levels of interpretation, each more touching than the next, and Harry felt his eyes mist all over again. Looking sideways at Severus and the slight pink tinge of his cheeks, it was clear his sister’s gesture had hit him straight in the heart, too—and once again, he couldn’t take his eyes away from the gift carefully held in his hands.

“You’ve got a thing for picture frames, don’t you?” Harry asked Saturnine, glancing intently at the enchanted frames that decorated the living room walls.

The dark-haired witch chuckled warmly. “What can I say?” she mused. “I like keeping a close watch on the things I hold dear.” She looped an arm around Harry’s shoulders as she said it, and he leaned in close to place a small kiss on her cheek.

“Thanks,” he said. “I love it.”

“Love mine, too,” Draco chimed in, getting to his feet. “Thank you, Saturnine.”

The blond seemed unsure of what to do with himself, and he hovered awkwardly by Severus’ left side until the man put his arm around his godson’s waist to drag him forward in a clear invitation to sit on the vacant armrest. Draco gladly obeyed, and their quartet was complete once again. To further the effect, Harry moved to Saturnine’s left to squeeze himself between the two siblings and wrap an arm around each of their backs. Severus looked like he wanted to say something, his Adam’s apple bobbing up and down furiously. But no words came out, and Harry wondered if he’d be able to survive one more gift.

“Think you’re okay to get one more, Severus?” he demanded to break the silence.

“Don’t you want my gift first?” the Potions Master asked, his voice sounding a little unsure. “It was my understanding that you wanted to go last. Or was I wrong?”

“Uh—yeah,” Harry said, surprised. “Sure.”

“Or did you not think I would have got you something?” Severus demanded, clearly having picked up on the source of the Gryffindor’s discomfort. But there was a slight upward curl at the corner of his lips that revealed he wasn’t chagrined but amused. Then he nodded at Saturnine, who got the message and promptly left to retrieve something from their shared bedroom.

She came back an instant later with a Manila envelope in her hand. Harry saw that it bore the Ministry of Magic’s crest. Feeling the throwback to last year’s Christmas’ gift acutely, he couldn’t help but smile broadly at the witch. It could only mean one thing: she had finally officialised the paperwork, and the adoption had gone through. Harry felt like jumping up and down, or dancing, or jumping up and down while dancing. He was elated.

“This is a gift from us to you both,” Saturnine said, returning to sit on the edge of the armrest. Harry leaned in right away, his shaking legs not quite able to carry his entire weight.

“If there’s one thing the last couple of weeks have taught us,” she continued, “it’s that there are no certainties in life and that some things better not be postponed.”

“We went to the Ministry the week Saturnine came back,” Severus added. “Filled out adoption applications for you both.”

Harry saw Draco perk up at that. Catching his gaze, he got the impression that the blond was surprised to be included. Harry smiled warmly at him to impart how glad he was that Severus had chosen to officialise Draco’s relationship with him. Draco wasn’t an orphan anymore, and neither was he.

Saturnine flipped open the envelope and pulled out two identical certificates embossed with the Ministry’s seal. Harry glanced down with eager trepidation, but the angle made it impossible for him to read what was on it.

“They’ve agreed to it, right?” he asked, wanting to make sure. “They said it was okay for us to be adopted?”

Saturnine nodded. “We didn’t tell you right away in case something went wrong. But for some reason, the Ministry seems very keen to keep us in their good graces now.”

“Can’t think why,” Harry said with a wry smile. “You’re my adoptive mother then, for real?”

She answered by placing a kiss on the crown of his head, and Harry felt like his heart would burst from happiness.

“And you’re adopting me?” Draco asked of Severus in a voice that still held some doubts.

The tone must have registered with the Potions Master, for he leaned towards Draco to wrap one of his long arms around him. He held him close and whispered something in his ear. It was spoken so low that Harry couldn’t hear the words. But the tears that pooled in Draco’s eyes left little to the imagination. Severus Snape had a heart, and he’d just declared his feelings for his son very eloquently.

Harry beamed at them both. “Best Christmas ever!” he exclaimed, turning to look at Saturnine.

She smiled back and shook her head fondly at him. Harry frowned; something in her smirk told him she had gotten one past him. He arched an eyebrow.

“The last couple of weeks also taught us that things don’t always go according to plan,” Severus said, pulling away from Draco a little to glance at his sister. His eyes shone bright with repressed emotions. “It wouldn’t have taken much for the two of you to have had to contend with only one of us this Christmas.”

Way to kill the mood, Harry thought, leaning a little more closely against Saturnine. They were all acutely aware that it had been a close call; there was no need to bring that up again—on Christmas day, of all times.

Severus must have realised his slip-up, for he was quick to add, “What I meant by that is that we’re done taking chances.” Heaving a breath, he continued, “We both acted with a lack of consideration for your feelings, as you so rightfully pointed out.” He looked at Harry as he said it.

The young Gryffindor held his professor’s intense gaze without flinching; he’d meant what he said, and he wasn’t taking it back. Severus’ gaze softened, and he gave him a shy smile in return. “You were right, Harry. I should have known better,” he admitted. “My apologies.”

“It’s okay,” Harry said, looking him straight in the eye to assure him that indeed it was. “What matters is that you’re all right—both of you.”

“Regardless,” Severus continued, “I promise you this won’t happen again. You and Draco will always come first from now on, for Saturnine—and me,” he said with a vulnerability that Harry had never heard from him. “If you’ll have me?”

Harry wasn’t sure what to reply. Was Severus asking if he could adopt him, too? Was it even possible for two different people to adopt him?

Saturnine’s next gesture was answer enough. She reached a hand forward, breaching the gap between her and Draco, and caressed the blond’s cheek with the tip of her fingers. “I would be honoured to have you in my care as well, Draco,” she told him. “If you’ll have me?”

“You mean—” Draco seemed equally surprised. “You want to adopt me, too?”

Saturnine nodded, “Very much so.”

“And you want to adopt me?” Harry asked Severus to make sure he had gotten it right. He got a nod in reply. “For real?” he demanded, not quite able to believe it.

“Yes, child,” he said. “I do.”

Severus found himself with an armload of seventeen-year-old, brown-haired Gryffindor an instant later and was almost knocked over from the impact. Draco wasn’t far behind, as was Saturnine, and it soon morphed into a massive group hug that made the poor Potions Master almost choke in the middle of it all from the lack of oxygen—not that he complained about it.

“Thanks for agreeing to this. The paperwork has gone through already, and it would have been weird to return to the Ministry to ask them to change it,” Saturnine said a while later. She had been the first to pull out. Then taking pity on her brother, she had pulled Harry backwards by the back of his sweater. Draco was still perched on the opposite armrest, with his arm around Severus’ middle; it looked like nothing could ever make him let go.

Saturnine held out the certificates she had removed from the envelope and handed one to Harry and one to Draco. Harry studied his intently and saw that it had both Saturnine and Severus’ names and signatures below—his new adoptive parents. He didn’t even know that it was possible for two people who weren’t in a relationship to adopt a child. But apparently, it was. It somewhat made sense, after all. He needed a mother and father—and that was what he had gotten. It didn’t matter that they weren’t married or a couple. They both wanted to take care of him. And to Harry, that was more than enough.

Something caught his attention as he kept reading the document. “Your birthday’s in January?” he asked Severus when he caught sight of his date of birth.

Severus nodded. “It is,” he said with a dismissive wave of his hand. “But please don’t feel the need to get me anything.”

“But I want to get you something!” Harry protested. He still hadn’t gotten over how nice Severus’ birthday gift had been, and he meant to get him something fabulous in return. In truth, Harry had meant to ask Saturnine for the correct date for a while now. But he hadn’t gotten around to it yet. It was a good thing he’d caught the date on the certificate then, or he might have been too late.

“My cranky older brother doesn’t like to have his birthday celebrated,” Saturnine explained with a smile. “But it looks like he will have to learn to enjoy it from now on.”

“Damn right he will,” Draco said. “I’m getting him something, too—and balloons.”

“And a cake,” Harry added. “We’ll need a big cake and—” he glanced down at the parchment to reread the date, “—thirty-eight candles.”

“Stop talking as if I weren’t sitting here,” Severus interrupted. “And stop planning my birthday party. I don’t want a party.” He tried to sound stern but failed.

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Saturnine said to restore order. “This isn’t January yet. It’s still Christmas day, and I believe someone has yet to hand out his presents.”

Harry felt his apprehension return, but he nodded anyway and pushed away from the group to retrieve the little boxes he’d piled underneath the tree. They were identical and contained the same present inside—only those weren’t his presents at all. He carried the real one around his neck, close to his heart. But it was so monumental it required some setting up.

He watched with an amused smile as the three of them unwrapped the simple chocolate boxes. Draco had clearly expected something better, and Severus looked as if his might be poisoned. Saturnine easily guessed that this gift held a deeper meaning. If the frown marring her forehead was any indication, she was already trying to puzzle it out.

“That’s not really it, of course,” Harry said with a nonchalant shrug that did little to calm the buzzing butterflies in his stomach. “But when I saw these chocolate keys, I thought they were a good symbol.”

“Are you trying to tell us something, Harry?” Draco said, digging into the box and eating one. “Giving us the keys to your heart or something?”

“Shut up, Malfoy!” Harry said, unable to stop his cheeks from flaming up; this was so not what he was trying to say.

“That’s Snape to you, now—Draco Snape,” he retorted with all the contempt he could muster, “I’ve moved up in the world. Didn’t you know?”

“Don’t care what your name is, you prat—you’re still a berk,” Harry replied slyly. “Now, will you let me continue? You’re ruining my moment here.”

Draco gave him an elegant hand roll. “But of course—do proceed.”

Harry shuffled awkwardly to a spot in front of Severus’ armchair and thus ahead of the three of them. Hanging onto his Gryffindor courage and the utter conviction that he was doing the right thing, he pulled out the small chain with an old antique iron key dangling at the end of it that he had hidden under his collar. Working the necklace off his neck, he placed the key in his palm before extending his arm and offering it to his family.

Unsurprisingly, Draco recognised it instantly for what it was. “That’s a Gringotts’ vault key.”

Harry nodded. “My key to the Potter vaults,” he said. “I got it this summer, along with a list of everything that’s inside.”

“You shouldn’t carry that about your person, Harry,” Severus said with a reproachful gaze. “You might lose it without realising it.”

“I’m not doing that,” he told him, catching his gaze. “I’m giving it to you.” At Severus’ puzzled look, he added, “To you and Saturnine.”

“You can’t do that, Harry,” Saturnine protested, straightening up. “It’s your money. Your inheritance.”

“I don’t need it,” he protested, hand still outstretched. “But you do.”

“We most certainly don’t,” Severus said harshly. He looked cross, as if the insinuation that he needed help to provide for his family had irked him. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it: we are more than capable of seeing to your needs.”

Harry shook his head in annoyance. “You don’t get it, Severus. I don’t want it!” He’d known this would be hard to explain, but he hadn’t anticipated the tears he felt welling up in his eyes. But then again, when Harry had prepared his speech, he hadn’t known he would be giving it to his adoptive parents—on the day he learned the adoption process got through.

“I don’t want to have any money,” Harry tried again, “because I want you to give it to me. I want you to buy me my school stuff, my clothes, and everything else. I want the same things other kids have: parents who complain that raising children is expensive but still give their kids pocket money. Parents who threaten to take said money away when they misbehave. Parents who’ll go looking for a flat with me the day I’ll need one, who’ll help me pay for it at first, and who’ll help me choose the furniture. Parents who will always be there when I need them, and who will be there for my children when I have some.” Harry’s voice quivered, but he couldn’t stop. “And I want Draco to have that, too. I don’t want him to feel sad because he’s broke. I want him to know he can count on you for everything because you’re his parents, too. And that you’ll be there for him, same as you will be for me.”

Stepping forward, he all but threw the key in Severus’ face. “Please, just take the damn key. It’s not my money anymore, and I don’t want it to be. I want it to be ours—our family’s. Please.”

Severus’ fingers shook a bit as they closed around the small iron key. It disappeared in the depth of his trousers’ pocket a moment later.

“Thank you, Harry,” Saturnine said with tears of her own in her eyes. “I’m incredibly proud of you. And I promise you will have all of that—and more.”

“You and Draco.” Severus nodded. “Thank you.”

“It’s nothing,” Harry said with a shrug; he tried wiping away the annoying tears in his eyes, but new ones kept coming. “I’m tired of being special—the kid with the scar, the Boy Who Lived, the Chosen One. I want to be Harry—just Harry. And I want to have a normal life with a normal family. And normal kids don’t have heaps of money. They have parents who love them instead.”

“I want that, too,” Draco chimed in with his own set of repressed emotions in his voice. “Everything you said, Harry. I want to know what that feels like.”

“You will,” Harry told him, smiling through his tears. “I promise you will.”


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