My Little Runaway @bluerowley
Stay Calm

For those who weren't aware, there has been a name change. From krosi to BlueRowley, but don't let it throw you off. I apologize for the long wait and hope you alle njoy this next chapter!

Severus wasn't sure how long Harry and he sat on the floor facing each other. Harry was still curled up in a ball and Severus still squatting in front of him, his legs starting to cramp. His thoughts were everywhere, and he just felt strange about how this day had progressed. He was a fool to think Harry was safe here from Albus's eyes. Could he really pull this off? He looked down at his hand, remembering how he had caressed the boy just a moment ago. What the hell was happening to him? He was losing his mind with this mission. That calming draught was really screwing with his head.

Eve popped back into view, looking back and forth between Harry and Severus.

"Eve has brought dinner," she said, "Will Master Snape and little master be eating?"

Severus sighed, standing up straight, Harry's eyes following his movements. Severus offered his hand, asking, "Are you hungry, Harry?"

Harry shook his head, remaining on the floor. Severus looked at the food on the table.

"Are you sure? It looks like Eve brought mini trifles. Doesn't that sound good?"

"What's a trifle?"

"You don't . . . of course you wouldn't know. It's a dessert. Why don't you come try it? I'm sure there's pumpkin juice as well."

Harry offered a smile, reaching up and taking Severus's hand. At least Harry was looking like his old self again. Severus pulled the boy to his feet and led him to the table where their food was sitting, a dish of warm moussaka with a side of Greek salad. Harry sat down and immediately reached for the trifle.

"No," Severus quickly said. Harry froze and looked over at him. "You need to eat your dinner first, then dessert."

Harry's lower lip puckered out as he pushed the small bowl away. Severus wondered if he was doing the right thing when he shook the thoughts away. Of course, he was. His mother had always made him eat dinner first. Harry was just trying to play the sympathy card. Severus frowned at Harry.

"None of that," he said, "eat as much as you can of your food and then you can have the trifle."

"I don't know what this is," Harry said, using his fork to stab the strange, lasagna shaped food.

"It's called moussaka. Try it, it's good."

"Is it made out of moose?"

"What? No. Stop with the questions and just eat it." Severus reached over and forked up some bites of the food on Harry's plate, cutting it up. "Look, it's eggplant, which is really good, and tomatoes and ground la-"

Severus cut himself off, the word stuck in the back of his throat. Harry snapped his head up, waiting for Severus to finish what he was saying. Severus sighed, setting the fork down, pushing the plate away from Harry. He rested his head against his folded hands, propped up by his elbows, a headache starting to throb. This day has been stressing and it was starting to make him feel nauseous.

"Eve," he called out. Eve popped into view. "Bring me a plate of fish and chips."

"Yes, sir." She popped away and a plate of fish and chips appeared before Harry.

Severus watched as Harry took a more eager bite of the familiar food. At least he was eating now. Severus sighed and just watched Harry eat, noting how the child eyed the cold dessert repeatedly. Severus knew it wouldn't melt for a while in the chilled bowl. As Harry munched on the warm, salty chips, the boy looked at him.

"Aren't you going to eat?" the boy asked.

"I've suddenly lost my appetite," Severus answered honestly.

"Oh," Harry paused in eating, looking at his food and then back at Severus. "If you're not eating, can I stop?"

Severus raised an eyebrow. A part of him wondered if he should say no and make the boy keep eating. The other part thought it was a little unfair for him to make the child do something he wasn't even doing. Well, it was just for one night, what harm would it do? Besides, Harry had managed half a fish and some chips. Partly blaming his decision on the calming draught, which was obviously having adverse side effects on him, Severus shrugged a shoulder and said, "Fair enough. If you're not hungry, you can stop."

"But," Harry's eyes fell on the trifle. "Can I still eat the trifle?"

Severus smirked. Clever boy, he thought. Just for tonight. He nodded his head.

Harry's smiled widened beyond what Severus thought was normal. He watched in amusement as Harry dug into the treat, getting it all over his face. Severus snorted as Harry tried to reach every bit of whipped cream on his face with his tongue. Summoning a napkin, he tossed it to the boy, who caught it and wiped his face, still smiling.

"This is my new favorite food!" Harry happily announced.

Unsure if he was supposed to be happy about that or not, Severus simply nodded his head.

After dinner, or when Harry was finished with his dessert, Severus sent Harry off to dress for bed while he sat in his armchair grading papers. Harry had returned to the living room with the Manxmouse book in hand, and after a brief period of claiming he was in no mood to read to the boy and Harry pleading, Severus found himself with the child in his lap reading the second chapter of Manxmouse, Harry resting his head against Severus's shoulder.

"Aren't you two a cute picture," a voice interrupted them halfway through the chapter.

Harry nearly fell to the ground from how fast Severus stood up and turned, facing Minerva who was standing in his doorway, smiling at them. Severus glared at the woman, the book still in his hand, his thumb marking the page he had been on.

"Haven't you ever heard of knocking?" he growled. So much for that calming draught.

"I sent you a note that I would be stopping by," Minerva said, closing the door and entering. "I see you haven't even touched it, though."

Severus noted the rolled-up parchment resting in front of the fireplace where it fell after traveling through the floo system. Severus groaned and pinched the bridge of his nose. How had he missed that?

"Well, don't let me interrupt your reading time," Minerva continued, walking over to the couch and sitting down. "I'll wait."

Severus glared at her, then noticed Harry looking up at him hopefully. He frowned at the boy and shook his head. He handed the book back to Harry, who took it and stared down at the pages before giving Severus a sad look.

"No, we were just finishing. He needed help with the chapter," Severus spoke to Harry, "I'm sure you can take over from where we left off."

Minerva rolled her eyes and stood back up, saying, "Fine, don't read." She took the book from Harry, cornering a page to mark the place and set it on the low coffee table.

"Maybe tomorrow night," she said to Harry, "I actually came down here to deliver something to you, sweetie. I was shopping for more transfiguration supplies when I saw this adorable, lonely friend. I think he needs a boy to love him."

Minerva reached into her robe and pulled out a tiny dog figurine. Harry's eyes sparkled when it transfigured into a large stuffed dog with big floppy ears and long faux fur. Harry grinned and hugged the toy to his chest, the toy covering up his entire torso. He smiled at Minerva.

"What do you say, Harry?" Severus said.

Harry didn't say anything, just glanced at Severus and back at Minerva, offering a bigger smile.

"Harry," Severus scolded. "Say thank you."

"He's fine, Severus," Minerva said. "His smile says it all. Look how happy he is. Are you excited to start lessons with me tomorrow? I'm going to teach you all about Hogwarts!"

Harry snuggled into the large stuffed animal, nodding his head at Minerva, his eyes glittering with excitement.

"It'll be hard to teach him if he doesn't say a word to you."

"I have students who never say a word or question anything in classes. They do fine. How's he been doing?"

"Splendid," Severus answered dryly. Then, he sighed and rubbed his temples. "Albus stopped by today. And Harry was in the middle of some flashback and wouldn't move. It was a very close call today."

"You're risking a lot hiding him here, Severus. You should bring the authorities into this. Or at least a few more people you can trust. And what do you mean "he was in the middle of a flashback?""

Severus explained his conversation with Harry about being forced to sleep in a cupboard and how sometimes the Dursleys would lock Harry inside the cupboard for an extended period of time. Minerva commented on how horrid the family was, looking down at Harry with a sad face. Severus recounted the incident earlier that day of how the pantry door had shut on Harry and the boy suffered a flashback.

"The poor dear," Minerva sympathized, "and what did you do?"

"When?"

"During his flashback."

"Nothing. He wouldn't let me touch him. I was just waiting until he snapped out of it."

"You didn't do anything?"

"What was I supposed to do?"

"Not let him sit there and tremble!"

"Well, what the f-" Severus bit back what he was about to say as his eyes landed on Harry. He looked away from the boy and growled loudly in exasperation, his hands clenching in fists at his side. Honestly, what had he been supposed to do? It wasn't like he was some expert in handling emotional and traumatic situations. Hell, he had his own problems he was sure he dealt with in unhealthy, incorrect manners. What use was he to a scared child? Way to make me feel like an idiot and so useless, Minerva, Severus thought bitterly.

"Calm down," Minerva encouraged, "don't get yourself worked up, now. You could have at least gotten Poppy."

"And let one more person in on Harry's situation, hmm?"

"She wouldn't tell anyone, especially when you explain why you have the boy. I take it Albus came when Harry was suffering a flashback. Did you use a disillusion or concealment charm to hide him?"

"No, those completely left my mind," Severus muttered, covering his face with a hand. How could he have forgotten something so simple?

"Well, what happened when Albus came by?"

"My house elf hid him."

"Your house elf? Eve, correct? You're lucky to have her. For Harry's sake, and just look at your quarters. You know, I don't think I've ever seen your rooms so spotless and dust-free."

"Harry cleaned the rooms."

"Harry?" Minerva looked over at the boy still standing with the dog tight in his arms.

Severus sighed, still trying to calm his rising temper. He needed some kind of release after the stresses of today. It had been too close of a call, Albus had nearly walked right in on him housing the boy and the consequences of such an event weighed down heavily on his mind. All he wanted at this point was just to keep the boy safe, but he was starting to doubt his capability of doing so. He rubbed wearily at his face, his eyes meeting Harry's. The boy yawned and rubbed an eye and Severus was about to tell him to head to bed when Minerva spoke first.

"Why don't you go take a walk?" she suggested to him.

Severus glared at her, "I don't need a walk. I'm fine. Harry needs . . ."

"I'll take care of Harry," Minerva gave Severus's shoulder a push toward the door. "You need to do something to let go of that stress I'm sure you're feeling. Go yell at some Gryffindors or punch a tree or something."

Before Severus knew it, he was in the hall and the door to his quarters shut behind him.

"Kicked out of my own quarters," he muttered, deciding a walk was just what he needed before finishing his grading. "I'll yell at some Gryffindors, for sure. I'll take a hundred points from your house."

Severus paused to spare his door one last glare before heading up the stairs.

"You look tired, sweetie," Minerva smiled at Harry. "Would you like to get right in bed? Or would you like me to read to you?"

Harry's smile grew, and he ran back to the bedroom. Minerva noted he didn't pick up the Manxmouse book, which was fine with her. She'd rather save that for Severus to do with the boy. She didn't care what excuse Severus made, she knew exactly what had been going on when she entered the room. And she felt a bit guilty for ruining the moment for the two. Harry returned with another book and sat on the couch next to Minerva.

"Ah, The Tales of Beedle the Bard," Minerva smiled. "One of my childhood favorites!"

Harry snuggled with the stuffed dog and leaned slightly against Minerva to stare at the colorful pages. Minerva began reading a story to the boy, who was slowly falling asleep against her. After twenty minutes, Harry was nearly asleep, and Minerva prepared to help him to bed when a loud tapping sound echoed through the room.

Harry abruptly sat up, looking at the door and at Minerva, who's breath caught in her throat. She wasn't sure what Severus usually had Harry do, but she waved her wand and cast a charm that would turn the boy invisible until she canceled it. She stood, leaving Harry on the couch, and cautiously approached the door.

The tapping was inconsistent with that of a person knocking at the door. She frowned, wondering what could be making the noise, and if it was someone, why they were at Severus's door. She flicked her wand at the door, casting a spell that turned the wood transparent on her side, like a two-sided mirror.

On the other side of the door, tapping persistently with its beak, was a Hen Harrier hawk, pale gray with black tipped wings. Curious, Minerva canceled the spell and opened the door. The bird flew into the room, landing on the coffee table.

"Kek," the bird said, looking around the room, hopping to one side of the table and then he other. "Kek."

Minerva saw a rolled-up parchment grasped in the bird's talons. She remembered Harry and flicked her wand the boy's way, and he appeared once more, his eyes staring at the bird curiously.

"Kek," the bird continued, flying to the back of the chair and landing on the top, searching the room with a slow movement of the head. The bird paused, tilting its head at Minerva as it turned to face her. "Kek-kek."

"You must be looking for Severus," Minerva said. "He's not here, but I can give him the letter."

Minerva held out her hand toward the bird, remaining cautious. She was more familiar with the way owls worked, knowing that sometimes an owl would refuse to hand over any delivery to any one but the intended recipient. She wasn't sure how this bird of prey might react to her reaching for the letter. The hawk tilted its head at her outstretched hand before lifting its leg and dropping the rolled parchment. Minerva smiled as she pulled away.

Harry jumped off the couch and walked over to the bird, reaching a hand up to it.

"Harry, no," Minerva warned, "be careful . . ."

But it seemed her worries were for naught. Harry stroked the bird, and like a cat, it leaned into the touch, rubbing its head against the boy's small fingernails. Harry laughed. Minerva breathed a sigh of relief and looked down at the letter. She knew it was none of her business, but the odd bird species and the fact it flew all the way into the dungeon instead of dropping it off at the owlery for the house elves to sort sparked her curiosity. She carefully unrolled the letter.

Severus, I feel as though this is the millionth letter I've written to you. It reminds me of how quickly time flies and how much of your life I am missing. I know I made a mistake, but it was years ago, and I am deeply sorry. Can we not forgive and move on? I want you to be in my life, I want to know what you are up to, I want to hear your voice. I want to be there for you when I couldn't before. You are my only son, Severus, and I do not want to lose you. As I've said before, I am connected to the floo network, all you have to say is MacAuley Estate, Ireland. And Kieran will always await your response. With Love, your mother, Eileen Prince-MacAuley.

Minerva sighed as she finished reading the letter. It saddened her that Severus continued to choose this relationship with his mother.

"Minny," a quiet whisper interrupted her thoughts.

She looked down in surprise at Harry, but quickly smiled and asked, "What is it, sweetheart?"

"Is it a letter?"

"It is."

"For Mr. Snape?"

"Yes, for Mr. Snape."

"Whose it from?"

Minerva hesitated, not sure how much Severus would want her to tell the boy. She looked down at the parchment, rolled it up, and set it on the coffee table. "Just someone Severus knows, is all, dear."

"Is it from his mummy?" Harry suddenly asked. "Or his daddy?"

Minerva felt something break within her at the innocent question. She felt tears well in her eyes as she stared down at the inquisitive boy. She closed her eyes, hoping to keep them at bay. This was too much for her. Once she could breathe normally again, she patted Harry's hair.

"His mummy, dear," she answered.

"No daddy?"

"It's complicated. You'll have to ask him about it."

"And the bird?"

"Its name is Kieran," Minerva said, watching the bird look around the room. Harry gave it another head scratch and smiled, the bird happily cooing.

Severus enjoyed the fresh night air. No, he hadn't seen any Gryffindors to take points from for wandering around past curfew, nor did he punch a tree, but sitting on the entrance stairway to Hogwarts in the cold night air was relaxing enough. Minerva may have kicked him out of his quarters, but at least she had been right that getting out would help a bit. He had to have been walking for an hour before he decided to come out here and sit.

His thoughts strayed to Harry, someone he had managed to avoid thinking about so far. The boy needed help – more than he could ever offer. He had to find Harry a better place to live, a better home with a family that could provide him with the right medical treatment. It was the least he could do for the boy. He had to get his plan into motion and start searching for wizard families. He would include muggles, but at this point, Harry needed more exposure with the wizarding community, if only to help him realize he was not a freak.

The incident with Albus also had Severus's mind in paranoia. What if an incident like today happened again? What if Eve couldn't pop in and save the day? What f he couldn't help the boy himself? Protect him? Hide him? He took in a deep breath. He couldn't let another day like this happen. It put Harry in too much risk. But it wasn't like he could hide the boy away in his bedroom with the door locked forever. No matter how much he wanted to. He needed a better solution. But he didn't know what that solution was. And he hated not having the answers. What had he signed himself up for?

Severus watched a few owls soar high in the sky, a silent shadow against the dark blue, starless sky. Severus's heating charm was starting to wear off and he wordlessly cast a refresher. He thought back to Harry, inwardly wishing he could see the boy right now, just to know he was safe in the castle where he had left him.

As the thought left his mind, a silvery apparition began forming in the grass in front of him, taking the shape of a small child lying in the grass, his hands folded under his chin. It was an apparition, much like a patronus, of Harry.

Harry opened his eyes, blinked, then pushed off the ground into a sitting stance.

"Mr. Snape?"

"Shouldn't you be in bed?" Severus asked. He recalled the information he had read in the library about the Bond of the Guardian Angel, how simply wishing to see Harry would allow this . . . event to occur.

Harry looked around and said, "I am in bed. Why are you sitting on the floor?"

"I'm not on the floor. I'm outside the castle."

"Really? Like when you were looking for me by the lions?"

Severus figured Harry was referring to what was happening between them. He gave a single nod. Harry stood up, though Severus was sure the boy was climbing off the bed and walked over to him. Severus didn't move as Harry paused in front of him.

"You're like a ghost again," Harry stated, reaching out a hand that went right through Severus's head. Even so, Severus pulled his head away from the boy's investigative actions. "My hand goes right through you."

"As would mine," Severus said.

Harry sat next to Severus on the stairs (or in the boy's bedroom) and looked up at the man.

"Minny said you had to take a walk to calm down," Harry said. "Are you all better, now?"

Severus resisted rolling his eyes. "Yes, I'm fine."

"Oh. When are you coming back?"

"When I feel like it. When are you going back to sleep?"

"When I feel like it," Harry replied with a cheeky smile.

"Hmm, I don't think so," Severus decided. Missing a single meal was one thing, but missing any sleep was a no. Severus would rather deal with a hungry child than a tired, cranky one. "You'll be asleep before I return, deal?"

"Why?"

"You need your sleep."

"Will you come say goodnight to me?"

"I could say goodnight now."

"But . . . it's not the same," Harry pouted, hugging his knees and staring down at his bare feet.

"How is it not the same? Goodnight is goodnight, no matter where it's said."

Harry shrugged his shoulders, still looking at his feet. Severus sighed. Children has such strange ideas. Well, if it made Harry get back in bed and out of his hair faster, he might as well as play along. It wasn't like the boy would ever know if he said or didn't say goodnight to him later when he was asleep.

"If you promise to go right to sleep, I'll see about saying goodnight to you when I return."

"Really?" Harry looked up at him hopefully, his eyes wide and bright without the glasses. Severus wondered how it was even possible for the apparition to do that.

"I just said I would, didn't I?"

"I'll go right to sleep!"

"Good. Go get back in bed now."

"When will I get to meet your Mum?"

The question surprised Severus and he lost any coherent thoughts for a few seconds as he simply stared down at the boy. His eyes darkened, and he narrowed his eyes.

"Excuse me?"

"A bird came and had a letter," Harry explained. "Minny read it and said it was from your mummy. Will I get to meet her? Is she nice?"

Damn Minerva, Severus thought. Why couldn't she leave his personal matters well enough alone? He groaned and pinched the bridge of his nose, his eyes closing. He would have to return sooner than he thought to his quarters. But how to answer the boy's question . . .

"Mr. Snape?" Harry asked, a frown on his face.

"We'll," Severus hesitated, peering down at Harry, "discuss this later."

Harry's face fell, and he looked at his bare feet again, wriggling his toes, saying "Okay," in a soft voice.

"Now, get in bed."

Harry stood up and walked back to the spot in the grass where he had appeared. In awkward, blurry movements, he climbed up in the air for a second before he was on the ground, moving what had to be a blanket around him and curling up in the grass. Harry stared at Mr. Snape with wide eyes.

"Go to sleep," Severus encouraged.

Harry closed his eyes, then peeked one open.

"Keep your eyes closed," Severus demanded, frowning at the boy.

Harry closed his eyes completely, and after a few quiet seconds, the apparition faded from view. Severus sighed and stood to his feet. Now he had to deal with Minerva's snooping. Honestly, couldn't he get any privacy anymore? He made his way swiftly back to his quarters, throwing the door open, his eyes immediately zoning in on the parchment resting on the coffee table. He snatched it and threw it in the flaming fireplace.

Only the letter froze before a flame could even lick it, then flew past Severus and into Minerva's grasp. Minerva frowned at Severus, stepping away from the dining table where she had been seated.

"You weren't even going to open it?"

"I don't need to," Severus snapped, rounding his living room. "It's the same letter each time. I don't need to be a seer to know what it might possibly say."

"She's your mother, Severus," Minerva said, keeping distance between herself and Severus, who kept walking towards her. "She's your family."

"Some family," Severus snapped.

"Oh, for Merlin's sake," she huffed, "you are so immature. You know, for being – what, twenty-seven?"

"I'm twenty-eight!"

"Not by very long! But you'd think that at your age, you'd see how childish you are behaving. I would expect this from Harry, but not from you. You should have seen Harry playing with your mother's bird when it arrived, she would love Harry . . ."

"First of all," Severus paused, pointing a finger at Minerva, "it's my stepfather's bird. Second, Harry is never meeting her, he's nothing to her, and she is not playing any kind of role in my life. And third, you need to stay out of my business, especially personal family matters that have nothing to do with you!"

Minerva crossed her arms.

"Is that how it is?" Minerva flicked the parchment to Severus and it floated over to the man, who snatched it, crumbled it, and threw it in the fireplace. He watched satisfied as it burned away. Minerva continued talking, "Do you know what I see, Severus? I see a boy who doesn't have a mother, who'll never have the chance to get to know her or tell her how much he loves her. Then I see a man who's too stubborn to see how good he's got it. Who's too foolish to let go of the past and reach out to a mother trying to reconnect with her only son. You two are sad cases."

With that, Minerva turned and left Severus's quarters.

Severus had just stared in the flames with a hard expression, watching the parchment burn to nothing. He glared at his door before walking to the kitchen and pouring himself a nightcap. He walked to his bedroom with his glass, pausing as he spotted Harry fast asleep in his bed. Severus took a sip of his drink as he watched the boy's even breathing. The boy had that overly large toy hugged to his chest. He moved on in the room, setting his glass down on the nightstand by his bed.

Walking back to Harry's bed, he leaned over the boy slightly, and whispered, "Goodnight, Harry," lingering for just a second before pulling away and heading into the bathroom. He completely missed the small smile that appeared on the boy's face.

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