The Lies We Tell: Chapter 6

By Jessica Beaubien (alias Niaf)

Word Count: 27542

Rating: PG

Summary: The alternate account of the Chamber of Secrets seen through Snape’s eyes.

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  1. Theme Parks and Potions

Severus wondered again what he would do now that it seemed this child had found a way to wiggle into his heart. How wrong he’d been all these years in assuming Potter had led a life of ease. How wrong he’d been in assuming the son was like the father. Oh, he’d blamed Potter for his father’s actions. He’d been childish and wrong to act this way. He should have seen past his own pride to the child, but he hadn’t, and now the child paid the price. Of course it wasn’t all his fault. Albus shared a greater hold of the blame, but Severus could have gone to check on the child. Could have asked where he’d been put. Could have thought that he wasn’t with Lily’s parents, but he’d never given it a thought. No, instead the boy had ended up with Petunia, that awful shrew of a woman.

 

He ground his teeth in anger and frustration as the memories washed over him. How had the little boy had wiggled his way into a heart Severus believed cold and dead? He was beginning to realize that it wasn’t just one little thing, but a combination of things. So many small things adding up to the larger picture that for him meant he now had a child to think about. How would he ever fix this situation?

 

…The trip to the theme park location hadn’t take long. What startled Severus was how reserved Potter was. Almost as if he doubted that they really were going to go to a theme park. The almost silent and far too still child beside him wasn’t expressing the usual enthusiasm he’d come to expect of his godson on such outings. Then again, he’d never taken his godson to a muggle theme park before, so perhaps the boy would be just as reserved as Potter.

 

Once they were past the entrance and held a map of the layout in their hands, Severus waited for Potter to indicate where he wanted to go first–figuring that he, like Draco, would be screaming for this or that location first. It startled him that after five minutes of waiting in silence the boy didn’t utter a word or make a single move. Severus looked from the map to the child and noted the boy staring down at his feet.

 

“Child, what is wrong?” Severus asked, concerned by the odd behaviour.

 

“Nothing sir,” Harry replied, glancing up to meet the dark obsidian gaze.

 

“Then why do you not speak?” Severus inquired, getting frustrated with the sullen child.

 

“I don’t understand. I thought you like silence,” Harry said.

 

“Normally yes, I do enjoy silence, but not when I’m waiting on you to decide where we are going first. Or do you wish to stand here all day?” Severus asked, bemused.

 

“No, sir. I thought you would choose,” Harry stated as if Severus was being deliberately obtuse. It was clear by the boy’s tone that he was at a loss as to why Severus thought he should be choosing their destination.

 

“We are not here for me, Potter; now choose where you want to go first,” Severus demanded, ignoring the tone the boy had taken.

 

“Really? I get to choose our destination?” Harry asked with awe in his eyes.

 

“I do believe that is what I said, is it not, Potter?” Severus sighed, his words taking on an edge of irritation.

 

“Yes sir,” Harry replied, quickly looking down again, nervously moving his foot around as if uncertain about what he should do.

 

“Then pray tell, why can you not choose, then?” Severus demanded coldly.

 

“I’m not supposed to ask for things,” Harry whispered out.

 

“Is that what your Uncle and Aunt taught you?” Severus asked, at a loss for what to make of this.

 

“Yes sir,” Harry replied far too quietly. Like he was ashamed to admit it or scared to.

 

“Is that so? Well then, I suggest you hurry along and choose where you want to go, as I do not feel like standing here for the rest of the day,” Severus stated simply.

 

“I can really choose?” Harry asked again, looking up with wide eyes.

 

“For the last time, yes!” Severus barked, getting infuriated with repeating himself.

 

“Thank you!” Harry exclaimed excitedly and took the offered map from Severus to read what the different parts had to offer. Smiling happily, he pointed to one and said, “Can we go here?”

 

“Certainly,” Severus stated, taking the map back from Harry and tucking it into his trouser pockets.

 

Walking the short distance to the indoor climbing area of the SFear, Severus had a moment of panic at the entrance when he realized that he might have to climb up into the very heights of the ceiling of the large domed sphere which held fifteen climbing challenges. Something that utterly terrified him. Sighing, he followed the still much-too-reserved child into the entranceway. They were greeted by a friendly man who explained all about the rules and how it all worked. Thankfully, Potter was just tall enough to go on his own and did not need Severus up there with him. Flying was one thing. Climbing around like some monkey was quite another.

Satisfied to sit back and watch, he enjoyed the way the boy went from being quiet and reserved to laughing and moving with energy as he jumped around and climbed from platform to platform across the air. It was definitely worth coming, just to witness the child begin to show just how young he really was. At one point in time a vendor came, offering him food and drink. He purchased himself a cup of tea to enjoy, took out a book from the backpack, and started reading while casting the occasional glance at the child.

 

Time flew by as Harry enjoyed the adventure before him. When he finished up the last exercise and climbed down to take off his harness, he was handed a photo they had printed as he’d climbed through the final stage. He laughed as he looked at it before running to Severus to show him the photo. For a rare moment he saw the dour man actually smile slightly. Encouraged by the fun he’d had, he asked Severus very tentatively if he could go on some of the rides in the main amusement park section.

 

Severus took the photo and tucked it along with his book into the backpack he wore across his shoulder. As the boy took his hand without hesitation, it caused Severus to start. He’d always had to fight with Draco to hold his hand as they navigated the thick crowd at the parks they had gone to. For Harry to do it on his own without being asked or complaining was something Severus was not used to experiencing.

 

For the rest of the hour before dinner, they spent their time riding the roller coasters which Severus found quite pleasant. For an afternoon out at the theme park, they had quite a good time. Even when Severus simply been sitting with his thoughts, it had been evident to him that the Headmaster had been correct. The boy needed to get out of the house and enjoy the summer holidays.

 

Getting off the final ride, a large smile dominated the boy’s face and his eyes were alight and dancing with pleasure and mirth. A small smile graced Severus’s features as he led the boy back to the entrance. They took the bus to a small restaurant in the town and had a quiet dinner out. He was very pleased with how well-behaved Harry was at the table, though he was slightly concerned that the boy had to be prodded to order for himself. He shrugged it off as another of the strange things that kept creeping up about the boy’s evident lack of a decent or appropriate home life. Severus began to realize that Harry didn’t have any kind of childhood, which made him think of his own childhood and cringe. Not where he wanted his thoughts to go.

 

As he finished his meal, he realized that Harry was already falling asleep. The child leaned over the table, colouring a strange mat they had given him when they sat down at the table. Only his crayon wasn’t moving and his head rested on his hand, eyes closed. Severus rose and hesitated a moment before picking up the lightweight boy. It would just be simpler, anyways, for them to apparate this way. That is what he told himself. Nothing to do with wanting to let the boy sleep. Not at all.

 

Two days after the outing found Severus sitting at the breakfast table earlier than usual when Harry walked down to meet him. Breakfast was a quiet affair between them, as usual, with Severus eating his meal while reading the Daily Prophet, and Potter simply eating his food in silence. As Severus was getting up to put away his dishes, a small timid voice asked him the last thing he’d have expected.

 

“Can I come and do some potions with you?” Harry asked with extreme hesitation.

 

“Brew potions. You don’t do potions, Potter. You brew them,” Severus corrected in his usual teaching voice.

 

“So can I brew potions with you?” Harry pressed, correcting himself after the reprimand.

 

“If you wish, but I expect much better behaviour than you exhibit in my classroom,” Severus stated. Even though he knew part of that was his own fault for being so hard on the boy, he still didn’t want any kind of fooling around in his potions lab. A part of him wasn’t ready to believe Potter had any good intentions there.

 

“I will sir, I promise I’ll be good,” Harry said quickly, looking at him with big hopeful eyes. Eyes that were so like Lily’s, filled with life and excitement.

 

Severus couldn’t bring himself to deny the boy. “Very well, then be ready to meet me at the door to the lab in five minutes,” he stated, and left the kitchen to retrieve a book from his den.

 

While he was pulling the book on preparations techniques from his shelf, he took down two more books–one on elementary potions concepts, and also his first year textbook. Tucking all three books under his arm, he headed up to the door to his lab. He found Harry standing there waiting eagerly.

 

Severus pushed the door open and waited for the boy to go inside before stepping through and closing the door behind him. Down the stairs they went, into a large round room with work tables set around the whole circumference of the room. Cupboards within easy reach sat on the far end of the tables, holding ingredients of all kinds. Next to the stairs were two large floor-to-ceiling cupboards that held some of Severus’s more creative potions, along with the more dangerous and rare ingredients. Set on the table next to the cupboard on the right were rows of cauldrons, and under the table were drawers that held everything else to brew potions. In the centre of the room were four large tables set against each other, making a large workspace. There was an open door breaking the wall to their left, which led to a washroom.

 

Severus set the books down on one side of the desks in the centre. Pausing, he pushed the book of elementary potion concepts onto the bottom of the stack. Setting the one on preparation techniques next to it, he then opened the first year text and skimmed through it until he found the page on fever reducers. A thin scrawl marked the margins and crossed out instructions.

 

He turned to face Harry who was staring awestruck at the room. “I’m going to be making potions for the Hospital wing,” Severus began, indicating the paper pinned to the cork-board next to the bathroom on the open space of wall that didn’t contain a cabinet.

 

“As you can see, it’s a significant list. I presume your offer to make potions is more than just a desire to annoy me, therefore you’ll find the instructions on how to make a fever reducer in the book here. You’ll find a detailed explanation on how to prepare the ingredients in this text here,” he went on, pointing out each book as he spoke.

 

“The last one is for you to read later if you are serious about working with me.  If you are just doing this because you are bored, you will do well not to bother me again,” Severus stated dryly, pausing to watch the boy a moment as he approached the books and started looking at the instructions, squinting to read the tiny scrawl.

 

“All the ingredients you will need can be found in the cabinets around the room. The two large cupboards near the doorway are off-limits. Even with me in the room. Anything you need from them, I will retrieve for you. Now you can get everything you need over there. If you have trouble, ask questions. Otherwise silence is expected.”

 

Without another word, Severus left Harry gaping at him in both shock and excitement. When he’d asked to come and help Severus, he not expected this reaction. The man himself didn’t seem to be paying the boy any mind. With fluid grace and the ease of a long time spent in this lab, he set up three cauldrons side by side on the other side of the table. As Harry watched him work, taking out ingredients in an organized manner from various cabinets, it seemed as if he didn’t need any instructions. Everything was laid out in neat piles on the table and checked with a critical eye. For a full five minutes Harry just watched the fluid grace and precision of each cut and movement of his instructor.

 

Severus found himself relaxing into the routine of working in his lab. Even with the boy staring openmouthed at him, he didn’t seem to mind at all. Truth be told, he didn’t. He was used to working with distractions. However, it didn’t seem the boy was going to try and melt his lab any time soon. If anything, the boy seemed more interested in watching him than actually working on a potion himself.

 

As Severus set about creating the bases of the potions he would be working on today, Harry finally read over the instructions. He grabbed the book with him as he went to gather ingredients. Severus cast a glance at him from time to time as he worked in silence. The boy checked everything a couple of times. If Severus didn’t know better, he’d think the boy was trying to impress him. That was such a ludicrous thought that Severus pushed it away.

 

For the next three hours they worked in companionable silence, something that pleased Severus greatly. The first of his potions was now finished, and he was working on decanting it into a labeled vial to cool before he would pack it in the box for transport to the Hospital Wing.

 

“Sir,” Harry’s soft voice broke the silence. Severus looked up, raising one eyebrow. “According to the book, I’m done.”

 

The tentative hesitancy in those words had Severus’ brows drawing together in curiosity. Setting down the vial he’d been filling, he walked around the table and looked down at the finished potion, pleased at what he saw.

 

“If only you could do this in class,” Severus grumbled as he indicated the vials sitting out on the desk, not far away. “Label those and decant this into them. Set them next to that box over there. I’ll pack them later, once it’s cooled. Don’t forget to cork them properly. I don’t want to lose even one vial.”

 

With those words, Severus went back to finishing up his task. As Harry set the last of his vials down gingerly in neat rows by the box, Severus started to decant the last of his three potions. He cast one look at the boy watching him.

 

“Go clean up,” Severus told him. Not waiting to see if the boy had listened, he finished his task. A few moments later he had his lab clean again. “Leave the two books down here; you can use them if you come back another time. Take this book to read. I’ll expect an essay detailing the first three chapters before you may return here,” Severus said, grabbing the book that he’d set aside earlier and thrusting it at the boy as he led the way out of the room and back into the main house.

 

Harry gaped at him for being assigned school work on the holidays. Did Severus EVER stop acting like a teacher, Harry was left wondering…

 

Back in the present, Severus smiled at the memory. He had been left wondering why the boy didn’t do well in his class, when he was clearly gifted. Severus remembered how gifted Lily had been. Even though he’d been better than her in the class, she had shown exceptional skill. It warmed his heart to see that Harry held even a small amount of her skill. How he wished the boy displayed this level of skill in class, but maybe he had only himself to blame. It got him thinking about a few things. Maybe he would need to adapt a few different techniques into his teaching method.

 

He snorted derisively at the thought. Ah yes, that would go over well. He could just see it now. The moment he relaxed, his classroom would explode with dunderheads wreaking havoc on his classroom with their ignorance and stupidity. He could just see a slew of melted cauldrons and spilled potions.

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