Disclaimer: All characters in this story belong to JK Rowling.
Severus Snape peered down at the small town below covered by a thick sheet of snow. Though he was always a fan of bitter weather, he was not quite able to do well in blizzards. Who hosts a family reunion in this kind of weather, Severus thought to himself bitterly. Though it was early morning, he squinted through the snow, searching for the Malfoy mansion. According to Lucius, the gigantic house stuck out like a sore thumb, but the fact that Severus hovered nearly one hundred feet in the air made it nearly impossible to notice the mansion.
Suddenly it came into view. On top of a tall hill the monstrous house sat. It gave off the impression that it was abandoned for several years. Deep green shutters were shut tightly and boarded up, while tall dead trees lingered over the front steps.
Severus slowly flew to the house, due to his ancient broomstick. He arrived at the towering black door and reached for the brass knocker, which was decorated with the Malfoy family crest. Before he could even touch it, the door flew open.
"Severus!" Narcissa threw herself into the arms of the cold, greasy-haired young man. Severus awkwardly patted Narcissa's back. "I haven't seen you in nearly two years!" Never had he guessed that marriage could turn such a calm, serene woman into someone so…different. She let go of him and closed the door behind them. The house was exactly how Severus imagined it: filled with dark objects, with lush furniture and a roaring fire in the backround.
"Thanks for inviting me," Severus said as he pulled off his cloak and handed it to Narcissa. After looking around the unusually empty house, he questioned, "Where's Lucius?" All the joy and happiness drained out of Narcissa's face. This was the woman Severus remembered from Hogwarts. Her cheeks went from rosy red to milk-white. Her smiling face changed into one of serenity mixed with worry. However, she was still beautiful in every way imaginable. She looked downward at her feet, her expression riddled with concern. "Where is Lucius?" Severus asked again.
"He's flown to Durmstrang Institute to speak with Karkaroff about Draco being educated there. I for one want Draco to live closer to home, but no, Lucius just wants to 'see how it works out'," Narcissa said bitterly. After a moment, she spoke in a noticeably warmer voice after seeing the surprise in Severus' face at her cold explanation. "He hasn't been back for days, and I'm afraid he may have been caught in the blizzard. I fear something horrid has happened to him."
"Draco?" Severus asked. As if on cue, a baby wailed in the next room. Narcissa beckoned him into the nursery, which was clearly the coziest room in the whole house. The walls were painted an emerald green with a mural of a long silver serpent painted along the middle of the walls. In the left corner sat a pale blue cot with a red-faced screeching blond inside it. Narcissa lifted him up and rested him on her hip. The toddler smiled with satisfaction that he was now the center of attention.
"It's alright, sweetie. Mummy's here," Narcissa crooned. Severus resisted the urge to cringe at Narcissa's sickening sweetness. "Would you like to hold him?" she asked.
"Oh, no. I've never been good with children and—" despite Severus' excuses, Narcissa stuffed the child into his arms. He held Draco awkwardly. Clearly the child noticed this as well and clung to Severus in fear of falling.
"See? He likes you," Narcissa said warmly, though Severus begged to differ.
"Can you say 'Uncle Severus'?" Narcissa asked Draco as she took him back from Severus.
"Sevvy?" Draco said as he cocked his head to the side.
"Yes, that's Uncle Sevvy." Narcissa bounced him in her arms. Severus couldn't help but cringe at the vulgar nickname. Narcissa turned to Severus. "He's only two years old. You can't expect him to be able to say 'Severus', can you?"
"I was able to at his age," Severus said. Narcissa laughed. A loud knock came to the door. Narcissa dumped the baby back into Severus' arms and went to open the door. He stood alone in the nursery with a baby Draco in his arms; an act Severus never imagined himself doing in his life. Draco played with a few strands of Severus' hair until he heard the voice of his aunt.
"Oh, Cissy, it's been so long!"
"TRIXIE!" Draco squealed. Severus smirked at Bellatrix's nickname. Draco's aunt arrived inside the nursery and stopped in her tracks.
"Snape," she said coldly.
"Lestrange," he responded in an equally cold manner. Bellatrix turned to her sister and whispered in a voice loud enough for Severus to hear,
"Why is he here? I thought you said this was for family only."
"He's like family to me, so let's all be family and get along." Bellatrix pretended not to hear Narcissa and pecked Draco on the cheek.
"I never guessed you were capable of being a loving person even towards a child," Severus sneered with an arrogant smirk.
"I was always capable of loving a pure blood," Bellatrix hissed, knowing that this was one of the few sensitive topics Snape had.
"Bella!" Narcissa said in shock.
"It's true," Bellatrix said plainly. "He's a spitting image of his father, hooked nose, greasy hair and all."
"I am not my father," Severus said, more to himself than Bellatrix.
"You'll always be your father, half-breed. I pity the woman who marries you. Chances are that you'll come close to killing her too, just like—"
"STOP!" The three of them looked down at Draco, who was beginning to cry. "I…want…Daddy…"
"Shouldn't he be back from Durmstrang by now?" Bellatrix asked, ignoring the crying toddler. Narcissa shook her head.
"He hasn't been back for days."
"We should look for him!" Bellatrix exclaimed.
"We should," Severus said, surprising himself that he agreed with Bellatrix for once, "but who is to take care of Draco?" he asked once he saw the concern on Narcissa's face. Suddenly the two women were staring at the potions teacher to-be. His eyes grew wide. "You don't expect me to…"
"Yes," Bellatrix replied, a wide malicious smile spread across her face. "After all, you're family." Severus turned to Narcissa.
"I can't. You know how I am with children…"
"Oh, you'll do just fine," she said dismissively, her mind already made up. Before Severus knew it, the two sisters were about to leave with Narcissa shouting, "We'll be back in a few hours!" The door slammed shut. Severus gulped.
"...Hours?" he said weakly, the boy still in his arms. He looked down at Draco, who was currently chewing on Severus' flowing sleeve. He winced at the sight of a child's saliva dribbling all over the newly washed robes. "This is going to be one long day," he said to himself, sighing at the baby.
A half hour passed and Severus was literally on his knees, begging Draco to stop his screaming.
"Please just be quiet!" he pleaded, leaning into Draco's cot. The baby cocked his head to the side and paused, staring at the grown man's face. After a few seconds of observation, he grabbed a lock of Severus' hair and yanked it as hard as possible. For the first time in years, Severus screamed out like a little schoolgirl getting her pigtails pulled by a bully. Draco unexpectedly squealed with laughter and yanked again for another reaction. "Ow, ow, ooowwwww!" Draco let go and clapped his tiny hands together while laughing. He looked back at his now greasy hands.
"Ew," he said in disgust and tried to wipe it off on his pillow, leaving two gigantic grease stains before reaching for more locks of Severus' hair. He wagged a finger at the baby.
"Oh, no. We're not playing that game again." Within seconds, the child was bawling even louder than before. "Wait…no! Don't cry! Please!" Severus was back to begging. Draco blew a loud, wet raspberry at him and continued carrying on.
"MUMMY!" Draco shrieked.
"Well, you know what? Mummy left you with me to go and look for Daddy with mean old auntie Trixie." Apparently, this didn't go too well with Draco, for he screeched even louder. Severus put his hands in his ears. "Draco…just…"
"Please, be quiet for just a little while…"
"Mummy's not going to be back for a while, so…"
"SHUT UP!" Severus bellowed at him. Draco went mute at this outburst. Severus sighed. "Look, I didn't mean to be like that." Draco scooted to the far corner of the cot and pulled his knees to his chin, rivers of silent tears streaming down his face. He sniffed and wiped his nose. Though Severus was not at all fond of children, he suddenly felt one of the most immense waves of guilt come over him that he hadn't felt since he hit his father back on his eighteenth birthday. He sneered at the memory. The man had it coming. After all, it was he who threw the first punch, he thought to himself.Severus shook his head as if trying to block the memories out. Meanwhile, Draco's silent tears grew to a terrified whimper. Reluctantly, he took the child in his arms and took him to the sofa in the vast family room. With some awkward maneuverings, Severus managed to lay himself across the sofa with baby Draco sitting on his stomach.
"Story!" Draco demanded. Severus raised an eyebrow.
"Draco, I haven't told a story to anyone your age in my life, and I don't intend to anytime soon."
"Story!" the child insisted, beating on Severus' chest. "Sevvy read story!"
"Your really are treated like royalty around here, aren't you?" Draco cocked his head to the side, not understanding what Severus said. The potions teacher to-be sighed and took out his wand. "Avis," he said, pointing it toward the ceiling. A flock of tiny birds burst out of the end of his wand. Draco clapped his hands in excitement as the tiny twittering animals flew past him.
"More! More!" the he shrieked with joy, bouncing up and down. Within minutes the room was filled by little birds chirping and flying merrily around Draco and Severus. "More. MORE!"
"No more," he said. "You're already entertained, now leave me alone." Draco crossed his little arms and pouted. Of course, this didn't have the same reaction on Severus as it did on his parents. The man simply ignored him and leaned his head against the arm of the sofa, ready to fall asleep. Severus took out his wand again, pointed to a rather large throw pillow and lazily said, "Accio." Obviously Draco had seen this spell before, for he looked away in boredom. Severus dropped the throw pillow on the floor and placed the toddler on top of it. "Sleep," he insisted to the baby. Draco crossed his arms with an infuriated expression set across his face, which was nearly identical to his father's.
"Me no sleep floor! You sleep floor!" the baby snapped. The potions master rolled his eyes, turned away, and quickly went off to sleep.
Severus dreamt of his childhood. He was eight years old, living in what he didn't know would be the same house he'd inhabit forever.
When's Daddy coming home? He had asked. The tall, slim woman who sat in a rickety wooden rocking chair looked up from the Daily Prophet to look at her son with sad, weary eyes.
I'm afraid I don't know.But he'll be home soon, dear. Even at the young age of eight, he could easily sense the hidden fear and terror in his mother's voice.
He's not going to leave us, is he? His mother didn't respond. Severus stood up and walked to his mother's side. Mum? She gave a hard stare at the newspaper, pretending to read it. Where's Dad? He pulled the curtain of raven hair behind his mother's ear, revealing her pale skin which had been bruised in some areas. She had no choice but to look at him. Tell me when he's coming back.
Let's try to forget about Daddy for now. He may not come back for a very long time. Eileen spoke the truth; she hadn't an idea when her husband was to come back home. However, she secretly wished Tobias wouldn't come home and leave her and her son be. Severus saw this in her eyes.
We need him. He said gently. It was true. The Snape family had grown desperately poor and on the brink of poverty. Tobias had been their only chance at a few sickles, and now that he had left, Eileen and her son were coming close to being beggars on the street. She worked two jobs which were very low paying, but it was the best they could do. The dusty clock on the far wall chimed a terribly off-key tune and Eileen stood up abruptly. Severus knew what this meant. It was time for her to take off for her second job as a housekeeper for one of the rather wealthy families and for him to be babysat by the Black family. She dropped a pouch full of floo powder into the young boy's hands.
Now remember to come up in the right place this time. I can't afford to have you landing in another okiya again. Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is to be greeted by a geisha saying 'take better care of your son'. (Severus shuddered at the memory. Never again would he look at a geisha's makeup the same way again.) What if she wasn't a witch? I would have never seen you again! Eileen said in a warning tone before leaving the house. Being the obedient boy he was, Severus immediately went to the ashy fireplace and lazily said the name of the Black house. Instead of being transported to the place he needed to go, he found himself staring into two wide, gray eyes.
"HIII!" screeched Draco, who allowed roughly half an inch between his face and Severus'. The potions master nearly jumped out of his skin in surprise. After a few moments of Severus' startled surprise, Draco began to play with the man's nose. The baby turned it this way and that, and after a few seconds Severus sat upright, causing little Draco to fall into his lap.
"You really do love irritating me, don't you?" he said to the baby in an annoyed tone. Suddenly Draco had a very unpleasant expression on his face. Severus rolled is eyes. "What? What did I say?" The boy shook his head no. Severus furrowed his brow in confusion. "Are you hungry?" The uncomfortable expression grew into a soft whimper. "Okay…you're not hungry. Are you thirsty?" Now he was wailing, an ocean of tears pouring down his face. "Then what's wrong?" Severus shouted, trying to yell over the screams. Then Draco uttered a single word that was guaranteed to haunt Severus' dreams forever.
"Potty." Severus felt a disgusting liquid drip onto his leg. "Potty!" Draco repeated. Severus stared down at his leg in horror.
"No…" he whispered to himself.
"Potty!" Draco pursed his lips and appeared to be straining. With a terrified shout Severus lifted the baby up and ran into the nearest bathroom with his arms outstretched as if carrying an explosive. He rested him on top of a closed toilet lid and searched for the miniature toilet most wizarding parents placed in their bathroom. Oh no, Severus thought to himself, he's not toilet trained.
"No, I am not doing this. I'll feed you, clothe you, and put you to bed, but I will not do this. The wail grew into an unbearably loud shriek. "Who am I kidding?" he murmured as he reached for the basket of diapers.
"Uncle Seevvyyyy!" Draco whined, "Poottyyy!"
"You think this is easy for me?" he snapped back at the baby. Extremely reluctantly, he peeled the diaper from Draco, and a stream of urine missed his face narrowly by an inch. "You aimed at me," Severus said bitterly as he attempted to wash the far wall with a nearby paper towel. Suddenly that familiar straining expression came upon Draco's tiny face.
"Oh, no! Please, anything but that!" An unimaginable stench filled the room as Severus stared wide-eyed at the disgusting substance that lay in the open diaper. Severus' face grew a few shades greener. He carefully lifted the baby and pointed his wand at the diaper. "Wingardium leviosa" he said weakly as he made the soiled diaper drop into the garbage bin, along with a considerable amount of his own vomit. He glanced in the garbage bin. "Evanesco," he added, making the whole mess disappear. Severus hastily dressed Draco in a clean cloth diaper and a new pair of pants.
A loud knock came from the front door. With a relieved sigh, Severus scooped up the child, rushed into the front room and opened the door. Instead of Bellatrix and Narcissa, two very unexpected females stood in their places. On the front steps of the Malfoy mansion stood Andromeda and Nymphadora Tonks.
The potions master and Andromeda ducked as the several twittering birds Severus had conjured out of his wand flew out the door. Once they stood upright, Andromeda gave him a cold stare.
"I'm sorry, but I believe this is a family event," she said icily as she loped inside the house, her daughter at her side.
"I was going to say the same thing about you," he said in an equally cold voice. Ever since Andromeda married Ted and was disowned from the Black family, the two had gone from close friends to bitter enemies.
"Is it so wrong to pay my sisters a visit? Besides, Nymphadora hasn't even gotten the chance to meet them." She gestured to the ten-year-old girl in the corner of the room entertaining herself by growing her hair and changing its color.
"Metamorphmagus?" Severus guessed after noticing the girl's rare ability. Nymphadora nodded. At the moment she had long, wavy, turquoise hair, and seemed to enjoy it. Draco clapped his hands in approval of her hair color. Up until now, none of them noticed the baby in Severus' arms.
"You have a son?" Andromeda questioned, raising an eyebrow.
"This is Cissy's child," Snape said quickly.
"He does look a lot like Lucius," she said in a tone that proved she was being negative as she took a seat on the lush evergreen loveseat.
"I suppose you don't like him either," Severus said, taking a seat next to her on the couch. Just like old times, he thought. Even back when her family would baby-sit him, the two would always sit together on the couch and talk about anything. He pushed those memories to the back of his mind. At that moment Draco began to wail. Without a word Andromeda lifted up the baby and rested him on her hip. "All he wants is attention," he said plainly after seeing the episode from the first time he met Draco.
"Just like his father," Andromeda said with a chuckle. Suddenly the door flew open and Narcissa and Bellatrix stepped through, carrying a very weak-looking Lucius. Severus took Draco back as Andromeda came to meet her sisters.
"You," Bellatrix hissed, pointing at Andromeda with a long finger before dumping Lucius on a couch near the roaring fireplace.
"Oh, calm down, Bella. I've just dropped by to see my nephew," she lied, pinching Draco's cheeks.
"Mom, are these your sisters?" Nymphadora asked, her voice riddled with utter surprise. Bellatrix gave her niece the same look one would give to something unpleasant on the bottom of her shoe.
"What is this?" she asked, pointing to Nymphadora, who's hair and eyes had suddenly turned a blazing red due to the fact that her own aunt referred to something as lowly as a simple object.
"I'm your niece, Bellatrix," Nymphadora said with all the coldness a ten-year-old could express. Bellatrix raised an eyebrow and turned to Narcissa.
"Why is she here? You didn't invite her did you?" Bellatrix asked. Narcissa shook her head no. Bellatrix now turned to her other sister "You are no longer part of this family."
"Yet you still are my sister."
"The family tapestry begs to differ."
"Bellatrix," Narcissa said in shock.
"I don't need this," Andromeda hissed as she dumped baby Draco into Bellatrix's arms. If possible, the cruel Black sister held him even more awkwardly than Severus had. Andromeda grabbed Nymphadora's wrist and, after the girl kicked Bellatrix in the shin, the two left. Draco looked up at his aunt, and hissed a single word that meant so much more than what Bellatrix made of it.
Draco squirmed in Bellatrix's arms and began to cry before Narcissa retrieved him.
"I suppose he's just cranky," Bellatrix said, looking at Severus as if it was his fault. Again, Draco looked at his aunt with angry eyes.
"Monster!" he said, this time pairing his words with a long, loud raspberry. Bellatrix appeared taken aback. The four of them heard a sudden loud groan from one of the sofas by the fireplace.
"Oh!" Narcissa said in a tone that proved she wasn't paying the slightest bit of attention to her wounded husband ever since the three came in. She quickly gave her child to Severus and rushed to his side along with Bellatrix.
"Food," Draco begged, pointing to his open mouth. Severus found himself resting the toddler on his own hip in an almost mother-like way and walking into the Malfoy's vast kitchen. In the far corner sat a dark green, almost sinister-looking highchair. After Severus placed Draco into it, he rummaged inside the polished cabinets until he found several jars of baby food. He opened one of the jars and placed it in front of the baby along with a small spoon suitable for Draco's tiny mouth. The boy stared at the gray sludge in disbelief and gave Severus a look which clearly stated, do you really expect me to eat this?
"You're not going to make this easy for me, are you?" Severus said as he lifted up the spoon and dipped in the food. Draco pursed his lips shut and shook his head.
"No!" he said defiantly. Severus dropped the spoon back into the jar and sighed. To his surprise, little Draco lifted the spoon back up out of the jar.
"Yes! That's it. Now eat it umph!" Draco clapped his hands and laughed as Severus stood before him with a baby's spoon in his mouth. Now the potions master understood why the baby hated this food so. It had a taste that was more dirt-flavored than anything should be. Severus had no choice but to swallow the lumpy sludge. "You truly are one sadistic little brat, aren't you?" he hissed. Draco shook his tiny head.
"Auntie Trixie is!" The potions teacher-to-be couldn't help but laugh.
"Maybe you're a little smart after all!" he said with a chuckle. At that moment Narcissa rushed into the room, a sour expression on her face. "What's wrong?" Severus asked.
"A sprained knee, and three broken bones! What's the very first thing he says to his loving wife?" Narcissa exclaimed. Severus and Draco waited. "'Well, I suppose I'll be needing to go back to Durmstrang next week'! Can you believe it? I've been worried sick that he's died, and all that miserable man can talk about is going back? I was just about ready to de-bone his whole body!" she exclaimed, her voice going up a few octaves.
"At least he's okay…"
"Okay? Okay? I'll show him okay! I'll break every bone in his worthless body! Even after I told him…no…warned him not to go to Durmstrang, especially with our family reunion coming up, he wants to go straight back! It's like he wants me to worry myself to death! I'm telling you, Severus, no one has had a worse day than I!" Severus had to bite the inside of his mouth to stop from smiling.
Oh, I beg to differ, Cissy my dear. You have absolutely no idea what the true meaning of a bad day is, he thought to himself.
"Well," Narcissa said as she pulled as strand of blonde hair behind her ear, "how was your day?" Severus and Draco exchanged glances.
"Oh, fine," Severus said. "Draco was an absolute angel." He stole a look at the boy and smiled. Someday, Severus promised himself, this little boy is going to find out what happened on this day…and I'll never let him live it down.