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.
Chapter 10 – The Man in the Photo
Severus and his new family were sitting at the breakfast table when the fire turned green to announce that someone was about to pop through the fireplace. One second later Charlie's head appeared between the flames. “Good morning, Headmaster, can I come in?”
“Of course,” Albus said while waving his wand to lower the magical barrier that stops unwanted visitors from barging in, whenever they please.
Shortly after the wards were lowered, Charlie emerged from the fireplace, dusted off the ash, which was covering him, and said, “Damn, I hate to travel like this. Brooms are so much more comfortable.” When he looked up, he stopped abruptly. “Oh, I didn't want to interrupt your breakfast. I'm sorry, I will come back later.” He turned and headed for the fireplace, but Albus stopped him.
“No, no, Charlie; that isn't necessary. We are almost finished. You couldn't know that we were still at breakfast. We had a very exciting night and so slept a little in. Come over and have a cup of tea or coffee,” Albus said while leading Charlie to the table.
“So, coffee or tea, Charlie?” Minerva asked while conjuring a cup.
“Coffee, please,” Charlie said while he eyed Severus out of the corner of his eye. He had already heard that Professor Snape had been de-aged. I would have never thought that he was such a cute child. When Mom sees him, she will cuddle him to death.
Severus had been quiet while Charlie had come through the fireplace, and Albus had led him over to the table. Father didn't like it when I looked at the people who came to visit him. Therefore Severus fixed his eyes on his bowl of cereal, but couldn't resist looking up quickly from time to time out of curiosity. The man was young, and he had red long hair and a lot of funny spots on his face and arms. Severus had never seen a man like this. His cereal was forgotten, and also his resolution of not staring at the adults’ guest. Quite the contrary, he was ogling at the funny man open mouthed, now.
Minerva closed Severus' lower jaw with a tap of her hand. “Severus, it's not nice to stare at our guest. This is Mr. Weasley. He will teach Potions from next year onwards.” She looked over to Charlie and said, “And this young man here is Severus.”
“Nice to meet you, Severus, but you can call me Charlie. Mr. Weasley is my father,” Charlie said kindly and winked at him. “So how do you like it here?”
“Fine! I have lots of toys. Do you want to see?” Severus asked, excited to have perhaps found a new playmate. The others were fun to play with, as well, but they had problems sitting on the floor with him and if they did, they often groaned and said that they were too old for things like this. Charlie seemed to be much younger and would surely have no problems playing with him.
“No, Severus, Charlie isn't here to play, and you still have to eat your breakfast,” Minerva said sternly and moved the bowl towards Severus again.
“I'm not hungry anymore,” Severus said sulking and pushed his bottom lip out.
“Severus,” Albus warned, “what did Aunt Poppy tell you about eating?”
Severus sighed and took his spoon again.
“You know what, Severus? You eat your breakfast now, and I will organize everything I have to do up until dinner, and then I will take you for a walk and a little fly on the broom, if Minerva and Albus give their okay,” Charlie said to cheer Severus up.
“Oh please, Minwa!” Severus begged and jumped excitedly on his chair.
“I don't know, Charlie. Flying? He is very young and still not fully recovered,” Minerva said worriedly.
“Remember, Professor, I was one of the best Quidditch players in my school years here. While working with the dragons I got even better. You don't have to worry. I will only fly low, and I’ll have a good grip on him. He looks very pale and should get some fresh air.” Charlie tried to calm Minerva's nerves.
“I think it will be okay, Minerva, and Severus will enjoy spending some time away from us,” Albus said calmingly.
“Okay, okay, you’ve convinced me,” Minerva gave in.
Severus smiled at Charlie and started to eat the rest of his breakfast.
After finishing his cup of coffee, Charlie stood up and addressed Albus, “Where can I find Professor Moody? He said he would help me to arrange my new quarters and check the Potions lab and storeroom.”
“His quarters are right next to the infirmary. Do you want to use the Floo network again?”
“No, no, I would prefer to walk through the castle. It's quite some time since I last had the opportunity for this. I still remember the way to the infirmary from my school years.” He smirked at Minerva.
“Oh, yes, I remember very well, and that doesn't make it easy for me to allow your adventure with Sev.”
Severus was shocked. “But you promised!” He spat milk and cereal, which seconds before were still in his mouth, all over the table.
Minerva rolled her eyes. “Severus, don't speak with your mouth full of food.” She waved her wand over the spilled liquid and vanished it. “And don't look at me like that. I just said it isn't easy for me to allow it, not that I won't allow it. Now, eat the rest of your cereal before it is completely soggy. You’ll need strength to hold yourself on the broom.”
That made Severus smile again.
Charlie stood up and said, “I'm older and more responsible now, Professor. I will take good care of your little charge.”
“We know, we know, Charlie, but the situation is still quite new for us, and so we are a little over-protective,” Albus explained while standing up to accompany Charlie to the door.
“I totally understand,” he said and leaned over to whisper the rest, “He looks a little ill and vulnerable.”
“Yes, there have been some unpleasant surprises concerning Severus’ first childhood,” Albus replied in a low voice as they headed for the door.
“If you want you can join us for dinner up here or join the other teachers in the Great Hall for dinner. There are already a few here in the castle, and I'm sure they would love to meet you.”
“Yes, I think I will eat in the Great Hall. That gives me the opportunity to speak with some of them. I really have to see Professor Sprout about supplying me with plants for my potions storeroom. I will come by and take Severus when I have finished dinner and my conversation with her.”
“Come over here, Severus,” Albus called for him.
Severus had played peacefully on his play carpet while Minerva and Albus did their adult stuff. It must be very boring to look at so many papers. Severus hated papers because it reminded him of the times when his father forced him to draw the stupid letters again and again. When Albus called, he feared he had to draw letters, again. Grumpily he left his play figures and the small flying carpet on the floor and went over to Albus.
“Climb up on my lap, Severus, I want to show you something,” Albus said.
Minerva sat down beside them on the couch.
When Severus was comfortable in his lap, Albus showed him a photo. “That was you while you were an adult, Severus. Do you remember what we told you? You have been de-aged with a potion. Therefore Charlie is here to take over your job as the Potions master, and you don't have to worry about having to go back home.”
Severus leaned into Albus' chest to find some comfort. He looked fearfully at the photo. “Father?”
“No, Severus, that's not your father. It's you, as you looked two days ago. You have been a good man and friend to us. In three weeks, the students will come back to the castle, and maybe some will tell you things about your former life. I cannot explain it in detail to you because you wouldn't understand, but I want you to know that you can always come to us when you hear something that makes you sad or confused. We love you, Severus, but some people didn't like your adult self. You had to be strict and a little cold to many people because you had another job besides being a teacher here in the castle. Maybe some of them will be a little cautious around you first or tell you things that will worry you. If that happens you must promise me to come to us or Alastor or Poppy. We will help you and try to explain everything to you."
“Sev bad man?”
“No, Sev,” Minerva said with tears in her eyes. Remembering the adult Severus made her very sad. She took Sev, placed him on her lap and hugged him close. “Sev is the little boy here, and he is the cutest and nicest child I have ever seen. The man on the photo was one of my best friends, Severus Snape, a great man, who suffered a lot to help others. He should have had a free life after all that happened, but some people were too ignorant to see this. So he had to be de-aged. He is part of you, Sev, but you won't become the same man as the one you can see on the photo. Severus was often sad and bitter because he had gone through so much in his life. You will have a better life, Sev. I promise this. We will make sure that nobody will hurt you again, and we always will be there for you.”
“Good man? Friend?” Severus asked bewildered and a little scared about Minerva's behavior. “No cry, Minwa. Sev be good.” He hugged her.
“Of course you are a good boy, Sev. I feel much better by having you in my arms.”
Severus looked up into her face and smiled.
Minerva couldn't resist his winsome face and smiled. She leaned over and kissed his forehead. “My cute little baby.”
“No baby. Sev big boy!” Severus protested.
That made Minerva laugh and her tears stop. “Yes, and you will get even bigger when you eat your dinner nicely. Come on, it’s time for the bathroom. I'm sure the house-elves will serve dinner soon.”