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A Better Childhood by grugster [Reviews - 1]

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Thanks a lot to my beta-readers, Duchess_Of_Arcadia and pookah, for correcting my mistakes.

Disclaimer: All recognizable characters belong to J.K. Rowling, and I am not earning anything by writing this story.

I’m not a native speaker of English!

Chapter 7 — Stork

“Severus, please come out!” Poppy said, kneeling down in front of Severus' bed. Sobs could be heard from under the bed, so they hadn't needed to look for Severus very long.

Minerva was kneeling beside Poppy, and both women were cricking their necks to see under the bed.

Severus was still hugging his stork plushy tightly. He could see the faces of the two witches at the edge of the bed. He was still very scared and didn't think about coming out. He knew that running away from an adult was the stupidest thing a child could do because it made the adult even more mad. And that would mean a harsher punishment than he would have got if he had just remained where they wanted him. But sometimes my feet just do what they want, and they wanted to run away, Severus thought. But they won't believe me when I tell them.

“Severus, come out, please!” Minerva tried to convince Severus. The only reaction she got from the frightened child was that he vehemently shook his head and clutched his stork tighter to his chest.

“What's wrong, Severus? Why don't you want to come out?” Poppy tried again.

“No bath! Sev clean!” Severus sobbed.

“What's wrong with taking a bath? It's really nice. You even can take some toys with you in the bathtub,” Poppy explained.

“Bath not nice,” Severus stated soulfully.

Poppy tried hard to see Severus, but it was dark under the bed, and she could only make out his silhouette. She could see that Severus was hugging something but couldn't see his face. Only the sobs she could hear showed her that Severus still was very frightened and in despair. That looks very much like the stuffed animal Alastor insisted on buying for Severus.

“Oh, I see you have already made friends with your stuffed animal, Severus.”

“Stork is my friend,” Severus said and hugged the plushy affectionately. It felt good to have a friend.

Poppy tried another tactic. “Alastor said you will need a good friend, Sev, so he bought him for you. He will be very glad to hear that you like Stork and that he already is your friend. Maybe you could send Stork out here so that he can tell me why you don't want to bathe, Severus.”

“Stork also don't want to bathe,” Severus said.

“Why doesn't Stork want to bathe?” Poppy was glad that Severus at least was still speaking with them.

“He hates cold water and it burns his eyes. And later it burns more. Stork don't want to burn.”

Poppy sighed. “Severus, I promise you that it won't burn, and the water will be nice and warm. You can take some toys with you, and Stork can watch over you while you’re bathing.”

Severus had calmed down and was listening very carefully to what Aunt Poppy said. Maybe they really make nice baths here, and there will be toys as well. They haven't lied to me before now. He fidgeted a little and realized that he felt dizzy and that his head hurt. With one arm he still hugged Stork, and with the other he felt for the spot where he had hit his head while crouching under the bed. When he touched it, he winced and moaned, “Ouchy.” He started to sob again, and when he felt his hand get wet, he started to cry even louder.

Minerva started to panic. “Severus, what's wrong?” When Severus didn't react, she addressed Poppy. “Merlin, Poppy, get him out of there.”

“Calm down, Minerva,” Poppy said gently and laid a calming hand on Minerva's arm. She was concerned, too.

“Severus, what's wrong?” Poppy asked. “Did you hurt yourself? Please let me have a look at it. I made all the other pain go away earlier, do you remember? Let me do it again.”

Severus stopped crying but still cowered under the bed. Yes, she made it all better, he thought. I want to feel better now, too. When Poppy offered him her hand to help him out from under the bed, he took it.

Slowly and very carefully, Poppy pulled Severus out from under the bed. In one fluid motion she had him sitting on the bed and her wand in hand.

“Oh, Merlin!” Minerva took in a harsh breath and looked shocked at the blood on Severus’ head.

“Don't worry, Minerva. Head wounds always bleed a lot. It looks worse than it is,” Poppy said to soothe not only Minerva's nerves but also the child, who had started to look more frightened at Minerva's shocked expression. “Look at me, Severus. I will heal that in an instant. You don't have to be scared.” One wave of her wand, and the wound was cleaned, sealed and already starting to fade. Another wave and all the blood vanished.

“Minerva, could you please call Alastor?” Poppy asked.

“Of course.” But before she could stand up and leave the room, Severus started to sob again and threw his tiny arms around the neck of a flabbergasted Poppy.

“No, please, I be good now. Please don't tell him to beat me,” Severus pleaded, maintaining a death grip around Poppy's neck.

“Severus, you are choking me.” She loosened Severus’ arms so that she could breathe more freely. “Of course I won't tell Alastor to beat you. Nobody will beat you. I need something out of the hospital wing, and he knows exactly where these things are.”

Seeing that Severus had calmed down and was seated back on the bed by Poppy, Minerva made her way out to find Alastor.

Poppy now was cleaning and healing the wound on Severus' elbow as well.

“Uncle Al mad with me? Taking Stork away?” Severus asked with fearful, wide-open eyes.

“Who is Stork?” Alastor said, entering the room with Minerva and Albus just behind him. “Oh, I see... You like him?”

Severus nodded vehemently to show Uncle Al how much he liked Stork, but that made him feel dizzy again, and he moaned.

“Easy, Severus! Try not to move much until I can give you the potion against concussion,” Poppy said, steadying the lad by holding his shoulder. “Please bring me a concussion potion and the blue suitcase from the bathroom, Alastor. You know where it all is,” Poppy ordered her husband.

“May I use your fireplace, Albus?”

“Of course, Alastor,” Albus said and nodded. While Alastor left the room, he walked over to Severus.

“Severus, you don't need to run away from us. You already know that things here are different from the way they were at your old home. When you are scared of something, you just have to tell us. We would never hurt you on purpose.”

“Will Father come now?” Severus asked, worried that they wouldn’t want him any longer.

Albus sighed and placed Severus on his lap. “Severus, your father will never come to you again. He is dead.” Severus’ eyes went wide and his mouth dropped open.

“Albus, I don't think it’s the right time –” Minerva said, but was interrupted by her husband.

“It will never be the right time, Min. Now is as good as any other time.” He turned his attention back to Severus. “We didn't tell you everything in the hospital wing, Severus, and I can't tell you the whole story now because you wouldn't understand it. What I want you to know is that you don't have to be scared that your father will come back and get you. He is dead, so is your mother, Severus. I'm sorry; I know you loved her.”

Severus' bottom lip started to tremble and tears were running over his face. I'm alone. Mommy is dead.

“We are here for you, Severus. Nobody will hurt you again,” Albus said when he saw the sad and frightened expression on Severus' face. “Yesterday you were an adult, Severus. You were a teacher here, but you had to take a potion to make you a child again, and that's why you are here now and not in the place you called home.”

Severus didn't understand a word. An adult? They really must be confusing me with someone else. He decided that he wouldn’t tell them that he was never an adult because he wanted to live here and feared they would send him away when they found out he was the wrong one. Maybe they are right about Mom. She always said that she won't be there very long and that I have to live on my own then. She told me to try to stay out of father’s way and, later, go to school and be very studious. I'm in a school now. So she will be glad, Severus thought, a little happier than he was before. “Mommy in heaven?” he asked Albus.

“Yes, Severus, and I'm sure she is looking down on you and hopes that you will be happy,” Albus said gently while stroking Severus' hair.

Meanwhile, Alastor had come back with the things Poppy had asked him to get.

“Thank you, Alastor,” Poppy said and took the vial. “Please give the suitcase to Minerva.”

After letting Severus drink the potion, she cast another diagnostic spell on him. “Better?”

Severus nodded and realized that this time, he didn't feel dizzy.

“Very well,” Poppy stated and lifted Severus in her arms.

“Minerva, please accompany me and Severus into the bathroom, and you two...” – She looked at Alastor and Albus – “... should check where Severus hit his head under the bed. There must be a sharp edge or something.”

With that she strode out of the room with Severus in her arms.

A Better Childhood by grugster [Reviews - 1]

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