My Little Runaway @bluerowley
Old Friend, New Friend

Sorry for such a long wait. Ended up in the ER for a while but I am alive and okay. And back to writing. Thank you all for the reviews, follows, and favorites. And for your patience. Enjoy this next chapter!

"I am afraid I have no news on Harry Potter's whereabouts," Albus informed Severus sadly, pacing the length of his office. "It has been ten days since he ran away from his relatives and there's been no sign of him in all this time, not on the streets, not in the wizarding world. It's as if the boy vanished into thin air."

"We will find him," Severus said, though his mind was thinking back to the boy coloring in his quarters presently. Yesterday had been hard on them both, with Harry suddenly becoming quiet. During dinner, Severus had asked Harry why he didn't seem as talkative, and Harry's answer was that he didn't want to hinder any of Severus's plans for the day. Harry didn't even come to him for his bedtime story. Not that the boy needed a bedtime story or that Severus wanted to read to him . . . but it was still unlike the boy.

"Have you spoken to any of your acquaintances?" Albus asked.

"I have not had the opportunity to speak with anyone, but I have arranged for a meeting with an old friend to discuss important matters this afternoon."

"I will keep patrolling Harry's hometown when I can, and family services is still on the lookout as well. Any information we can obtain is vital." Albus sighed, pausing in his pacing. "The poor child must be hungry and cold. This is my fault. I should have done more for Harry. I should have checked up on him myself."

Severus refrained from agreeing with the elder man, biting his tongue to lash out at Albus and tell him just how much of Harry's runaway problem was the man's fault. Harry should have never been placed with his relatives to begin with. Albus sighed again and faced Severus.

"You will report to me should you learn of any suspicious scheme or character?"

"Of course."

"Very well. Good luck to you, Severus."

When Severus returned to his quarters, he found Harry in the same place he had left him, lying on the floor in the bedroom surrounded by crayons and the coloring book Minny had brought for him. Harry looked up at him as he entered, smiled, then returned to his coloring. Severus sat on his sofa, studying Harry. He couldn't risk leaving the boy here alone. Nor could he risk anyone recognizing Harry should he accompany him.

"I finished, Mr. Snape," Harry said, holding up his coloring. It was of an owl flying in a snowstorm with a letter in its beak. Harry had colored the owl brown with hints of grey and black, shading in the trees a light coal with hints of green.

"Well done," Severus nodded, unsure of what else to say.

"Do you think I should color this next?" Harry turned the page to a wizard mansion, one that resembled several pureblooded family homes. Severus frowned, as the gate alone reminded him of where he had to go that day. Harry kept talking. "Is this someone's house? It's really big. I feel like I would get lost. Do you live in something like this or do you live here all the time? What do you think it would be like living in a big house like that? It's even bigger than Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon's house."

Severus ignored the questions as his mind worked a plan to keep Harry safe and within his sight. Hid brain didn't even register the boy's words until Harry looked at him warily and asked, "Am I bothering you? I'll stop." Harry lowered the book and his head, avoiding eye contact with Severus.

"You were not bothering me," Severus said. "I did live in a mansion like that temporarily years ago, but I am much more comfortable in the home you and I visited before arriving here."

Harry slowly glanced up at Severus, then said, "I think I'd be more comfortable there, too."

"You think so? I thought you would enjoy a large mansion with thousands of rooms for playing and sleeping. With a large kitchen and all the food you can eat and a big garden to run around outside."

"Maybe," Harry smiled, "but maybe just for a little while. I like smaller houses."

"How do you know for sure? You've never lived in a larger house."

"It's all I've ever known, smaller places. Like my cupboard."

Severus sucked in a sharp breath. For a split second, he wanted to buy the boy a mansion and never let the child see a smaller house – forget a cupboard. But he knew that would be impossible.

"You're simply used to smaller homes," Severus argued. "I think any small boy would enjoy more room to play." Severus stared down at the picture, then slid off the sofa and sat crisscrossed next to Harry on the floor. "Would you like to see a mansion like that?"

Harry frowned, looked at the picture, then back at Severus. He shrugged and asked, "Today?"

"Today. I have to see a friend, and he owns a huge mansion like this one, maybe even a bit bigger. He also has a son about your age. Perhaps you could play with him while I catch up with my friend, hmm?"

Harry's frown grew, and he gave Severus an unsure face. Severus wondered if Harry knew how to socialize with other kids. If he had been isolated so much by the Dursleys, the boy most likely had very little contact with other children.

"It'll be good for you to meet another child your age, especially someone other than me and Minny. You must get lonely in these rooms."

"Not really," Harry said.

"Regardless, it'll be good for your health. What do you say? Accompany me to my friend's place?"

Harry shrugged once more, looking down at the colorless picture of the mansion. Then, he looked back up and smiled at Severus, nodding.

"Word of advice," Severus said, "try to be more verbal around my friend. He is very . . . traditional when it comes to respecting your elders. None of this shrugging and nodding, understand?"

Harry started to nod but quickly corrected himself by saying, "Yes, Mr. Snape."

"Good. Let's get you dressed in something more appropriate for the occasion."

Harry had no idea what Mr. Snape had just strangled him in, but he did not like it. He didn't mind the idea of wearing "robes" since Mr. Snape wore them all the time, but these were terrible. There were so many straps and ties and buttons, and the cuffs and collar were done up a certain way and the hems were braided in some weird way. When Mr. Snape had told him he would wear a robe, he had been hoping for one of the nice cottony black ones Mr. Snape always wore, not this silky, shiny stuff that made him feel like a walking ornament. How special was this occasion?

Mr. Snape seemed very nervous about the whole thing, too. He rubbed the nape of his neck a lot as he paced the length of his bedroom, a frown on his face. Mr. Snape stopped by his wardrobe and leaned into it, resting his forehead on his arm, running his free hand through his hair briefly.

Harry sat on his bed, waiting for further instructions, trying to resist the urge to scratch at several different itchy places. Mr. Snape finally stood straight and crooked a finger at Harry, who jumped up and went to his side.

"Remember, stay with either myself or the young boy at all times. And if anyone says anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, let me know. And if I call for you, you better come running, understand?"

"Yes, Mr. Snape."

Mr. Snape stared down at him for a moment, then rubbed his neck again as he muttered, "what am I thinking?"

Harry had to wait a couple extra minutes as Mr. Snape began his pacing again. Once the man seemed satisfied, he guided Harry over to the fireplace with a hand on his shoulder.

"I know you haven't done this before," Mr. Snape began, picking up a handful of some strange powder, "but it's fairly simple. You will step in the fireplace, I will state our destination and drop the powder. Keep your eyes and mouth shut for this, alright? It might feel odd and seem a little strange, but do not struggle against it. Keep close to me and do not let my hand go. You do not want to get separated from me and end up in the wrong place, understand?"

"Yes, Mr. Snape," Harry said, "but what are we doing?"

"Traveling by Floo."

"Oh. That means through the fireplace?" Harry asked, thinking back to what Mr. Snape had explained. "Like Father Christmas?"

Mr. Snape snapped his head down and stared at Harry with a blank expression. Harry wondered if he said the wrong thing and hunched his shoulders slightly as he stared up at Mr. Snape.

"Yes," the man finally spoke, "like Father Christmas."

Mr. Snape gave Harry a gentle push and he hesitantly stepped into the fireplace. Mr. Snape joined him, pushing Harry's elbows down against his side and taking Harry's hand in his. Then, Mr. Snape said, "Malfoy Manor," and threw down the powder.

Harry gasped and clung to Mr. Snape as he felt himself flying through different fireplaces, blurred images causing a nausea feeling in his stomach to grow. He clenched his eyes shut and swallowed, clinging tighter to Mr. Snape. Thankfully, it all came to an end when his feet collided into solid ground. He would have toppled over from the impact if it wasn't for the arm holding him up by the waist.

Harry took a minute to swallow a few times and find his footing before allowing Mr. Snape to lead him out of the fireplace and release him. Mr. Snape brushed himself off, then, seeing Harry's slightly green face, brushed the boy off as well.

"Are you all right?" Mr. Snape asked in a quiet voice.

Harry waited another minutes, swallowing once more and taking a deep breath to expel some of the heat in his stomach before nodding.

"Remember, verbal responses."

"I'm okay, Mr. Snape."

Mr. Snape nodded and straightened himself. Just in time, as well. A tall, long blond-haired man stepped through a door into the large parlor, carrying a cane.

"Severus, my old friend," the tall man smiled, striding across the room and stretching out a hand to shake Severus's. "It's been so long since I've last seen you. Still working as a professor? I could help you out there, you know. A better, higher paying job is surely more appealing than working with half grown brats all day."

"I am quite satisfied at the moment, Lucius. I actually have something else I'd like to speak to you about."

Lucius looked down at Harry.

"And who is this?"

Harry gulped and looked up at Mr. Snape, who indicated with a jerk of his head he should speak. Looking back at the man, Harry felt intimidated by the shiny, expensive looking robes that man wore, and the ornate cane he carried. He understood now why he was all dressed up. Trying to use all his manners, Harry reached out a hand, which Lucius accepted to shake firmly. "I'm Harry, sir."

"It's a long story and he is actually why I've come to talk to you . . ." Mr. Snape trailed off as Lucius suddenly pulled Harry closer, the boy gasping in surprise.

Lucius used his cane to brush aside some of Harry's hair to reveal the unmistakable scar. "How remarkable. Harry Potter, is it?"

Harry was sure he was visibly shaking as he gave the man an uneasy grin and nodded in response to the question. The tight grip on his hand and the way the man stared down at him coldly reminded him of his uncle, and the cane brought several uneasy images to his mind. Lucius frowned at him.

"Cat got your tongue, boy?" the man asked.

Harry remembered Mr. Snape's warning about being respectful and his eyes widened in realization. "No, sir," Harry said, "Sorry, sir. Yes, I'm Harry Potter, sir."

Lucius narrowed his eyes at the rambling boy then at the scar.

"Lucius," Mr. Snape said, catching the man's attention.

Lucius released Harry's hand, lowering his cane. Harry backed away and stepped closer to Mr. Snape, trying to stop his body from shaking so much.

"The Harry Potter, Severus?" Lucius sneered. "I believe you have a lot of explaining to do."

"I know, and I will," Mr. Snape said. "Perhaps without Harry present."

"Hmm," Lucius's eyes flicked to Harry once more. "Tansy!"

A loud crack sounded, and a house elf appeared, her large ears falling back as she looked up at her master. Harry frowned at her tattered clothes. "What can Tansy do for Master Malfoy?"

"Take Harry Potter here to meet Draco, then keep them occupied."

"Yes, Master Malfoy."

The elf walked over to Harry.

"Right this way, Little Master," she said, bowing and pointing to the far door.

Harry looked up at Mr. Snape, who nodded. Slowly, he allowed Tansy to lead him through the gigantic halls of the manor, taking some time to admire the décor and strange objects he encountered on the way, including moving paintings, urns and vases, and artifacts he did not recognize. At the end of one hallway was a large painting of the Malfoy family, Lucius seated in a chair, a blond woman standing just to the side of the chair, a hand resting on the back and the other resting on the shoulder of a small boy standing in front of her. The boy looked just like Lucius, and Harry deduced that it was Draco. It was the only still painting in the hall.

After traveling up a flight of stairs and down more halls, Tansy opened the door to a large room full of toys, a lounge area, and even a small kitchen in the back. A young boy was sitting on a chair in the middle of the room, ordering another elf to entertain him.

"Young Master Malfoy, sir," Tansy greeted, bowing again. The small blonde looked at her, then at Harry with slight surprise. "Little Master Harry is here to accompany you while your father speaks with Master Snape."

"Don't call him master," Draco said, standing up, pushing the other elf aside. "He isn't your master."

"Tansy apologizes Master Malfoy, sir," Tansy bowed even more, her nose nearly touching the ground. "Tansy will burn her hands under the iron for her mistake if it pleases Master Malfoy."

Draco made a pained face and rubbed at his hands. Harry's eyes widened at the elf's statement.

"No, don't do that!" he said.

Draco glared at him. "Don't tell her what to do. Only I can do that. She has to punish herself when she displeases her master, and I am displeased."

"Tansy will go burn her hands under the iron right away." Tansy raised her fingers to snap, but Draco quickly said, "Wait!"

Tansy paused, her eyes large and her ears back, and Draco looked cautiously at Harry then lowered his head as he said, "You will not burn your hands. Just don't let this happen again."

"Tansy is very thankful to Master Malfoy," the elf nodded, "Tansy will make sure Master Malfoy gets extra biscuit with snack time later. Master Malfoy is so very good to Tansy."

"Yeah, yeah, just go," Draco said. Tansy popped away. Draco glared at Harry and leaned closer to him, saying, "if you breathe a word about this to my father . . ."

Harry quickly shook his head and Draco stepped back and held out a hand.

"Draco Malfoy," he introduced as if nothing had occurred between them.

"Harry Potter," Harry said, shaking the hand, watching as Draco's eyes widened.

"Harry Potter! As in the Boy-Who-Lived?"

Harry blinked. The boy who lived? Was that some kind of code for something? Harry shrugged his shoulders, unsure of how to respond.

"You don't know?" Draco made a face. "Do you have the scar? Lift your hair, I want to see!"

Harry lifted the fringe of his hair, revealing the scar. Draco gasped and smiled.

"You are Harry Potter! You defeated the Dark Lord! And you're in my playroom. This is brilliant. What are you doing here?"

"I'm here with Mr. Snape."

"You mean Severus? I haven't seen him in almost forever. He's my tutor, you know. At least in potions. It's just during the summer, when he actually has time. Father wouldn't let anyone else tutor me in such a subject. Why are you with him? Aren't you supposed to be hiding or something?"

"Why would I be hiding?"

"Well, cause there's all these dark wizards who would like to kill you. Don't you know anything?"

"Kill me? But . . ." Mr. Snape had said nothing about people wanting to kill him except that one crazy man: the Dark Lord. All he knew was that there were people who wanted to send him back to his relatives. Why would people want to kill him?

"You really don't know anything? Where have you been living, under a rock?"

"With my relatives, actually," Harry said.

"Who are your relatives?"

"Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon," Harry answered and when Draco just stared at him, he added, "The Dursleys'."

"The Dursleys'?" Draco frowned and tapped his chin. "Sounds Muggle. Are they muggles?"

Harry had to remember what Mr. Snape had told him about muggles. He nodded.

"Well, that's why you don't know anything. You have a lot to learn about the real world. Or at least, the better part of it. I can help you there." Draco held out his hand again.

Harry frowned. "But we already shook hands."

"No-no," Draco shook his head. "You have so much to learn. This type of handshake is a sign of friendship. It's a tradition really, at least for purebloods. So, friends?"

Harry's eyes widened and sparkled as he quickly shook Draco's hand. His first real friend.

"Friends," Harry smiled.

Draco smirked and beaconed Harry further into the playroom with a wave of his hand. "So," he said, "what do you know about the Wizarding World?"

"Only what Mr. Snape has told me."

"Why do you call him Mr. Snape?" Draco asked, pulling down a small checkered rug and dumped a small box of red and black draughts. He sat on the floor, Harry copying him, and arranged the pieces on the rug appropriately.

"Well, he's an adult and usually you call adults Mister or Mrs and . . ."

"Only if they don't already have a title," Draco said. "Like Auror, or Healer, or Master. Severus is actually a Master, he's a Potions Master and the youngest in the whole world. And the best. But he doesn't do anything with it now except teach so technically he's a Professor. You should be calling him Professor Snape, not Mister. It would be more respectful."

"Oh," Harry looked down at the gameboard. He didn't know he was being disrespectful by calling Mr. Snape Mr. Snape. He would have to switch to calling him Professor immediately.

"You shouldn't say "oh,"" Draco said, "it makes you sound lowbrow."

Harry almost said "oh" again but quickly changed it to, "Okay." He had no idea what lowbrow meant but he was sure it was nothing good.

"So you kidnap him, Severus?" Lucius shook his head at the man. "Frankly, I do not wish to get involved in whatever you are up to. Does the old coot Headmaster know of this?"

"No, and I'd like to keep it that way."

"My, my, who's side are you on?" Lucius ushered Severus to the massive sofa in the parlor and took a seat, Severus deciding on a chair across from the sofa, so he could face Lucius head on. Tansy appeared with tea, setting it on the table. "Why help the boy now when you know what the Dark Lord wants of him when he returns."

"If he returns."

"When he returns," Lucius said, fixing up tea for the both of them. "You and I both know that if he were truly dead, the Dark Mark will have faded to nothing."

"We don't know that for sure. It might simply just remain faded as it is now."

"I feel as though it should be less visible if the Dark Lord was truly dead. Regardless, you can't double-cross both sides, Severus. Hiding the Potter boy from the light side and the dark side will not end favorably for you if you are caught. People will question your intentions. I can only help you so far and even then, you know where I stand on this whole situation. I support the winning side."

"And the side that benefits you the most," Severus added, having heard this conversation before.

"Exactly," Lucius said.

"And that is why I need your help," Severus said. "You are the only person I can trust to keep this between us and help me search for a suitable home."

"That's your plan? Rehome the boy?"

"With your influence in the Ministry, I'm sure they'll listen to you."

"As your acquaintance, I will say that your plan is plausible. As your friend, I will say it's the bloody stupidest thing you can do. We can't just entrust some family with the Boy-Who-Lived. Even with as much research and background checking family services does, we can never know what intentions people might have. We could give Potter to someone who'll exploit his fame for publicity. Or someone who has every intention of killing the brat for the Dark Lord."

"Then we give him to a family we know means no harm either way, like the Weasleys or . . ."

"Because the Weasley family is so capable of caring for yet another child. Why those people keep having children is beyond me. They should have stopped after the first."

"Lucius, please," Severus paused to chug down his tea in frustration, nearly smacking the teacup down on the coffee table. "I can't keep the boy hidden in Hogwarts forever. It's too risky. I've had several near misses with Harry as it is, the boy is a ticking time bomb when it comes to his secrecy."

"Hmm," Lucius looked off to the side, "well, I do know one family that could be a . . . temporary placement for Potter. Just to remove him from Hogwarts until you can come up with a better situation."

"You do? What family?"

"I think you already know."

Severus blinked, then glared at Lucius.

"No."

"It'd be perfect. It's far away from Hogwarts, far away from Potter's hometown, no one would ever suspect them. Relations aside, if I were you, I'd be taking advantage of this. You couldn't ask for a better hideout. It's practically kismet if you ask me."

"I do not want my mother involved in this."

"Severus, we could sit here and talk all day and night, but on this matter, I've given you my advice. Your options are pretty limited, and aside from leaving him here – which you will not do – you are on your own in figuring this out. If you do not like what I have to say, then I suggest you go elsewhere for suggestions."

Severus sighed. "Thank you, Lucius. I will consider your words."

"You do not have to make-up with your mother or stepfather," Lucius added. "They could merely be a resource."

Severus studied the design on the teacup intently, soaking in the man's words. A door opening caught both man's attention, and they watched Draco step up to Lucius's side of the sofa, glancing at Severus and then staring back at his father, minding his posture. Severus instantly realized Harry was not with him.

"Yes, Draco?" Lucius asked, raising his brows.

"Afternoon, Father," Draco greeted, though he rocked on his heels anxiously, "Have you seen Harry? He told me he was just going to the bathroom and I thought he knew the way, but he didn't come back."

Severus shot out of his seat and quickly left the parlor, just catching the last of what Lucius said to Draco.

"And you did not think to escort our guest like a well-mannered gentleman regardless of whether he knew where it was or not?"

Severus felt his heart pick up speed in his chest, and he tried taking slower, deeper breaths than the short, shallow ones he was suddenly taking. Why on earth was he panicking like this? He was normally good at the poker face and body control. That boy would be the death of him. It wasn't so much the idea of Harry lost in the manor that frightened Severus, it was the knowledge of whose manor this was that did. All the dark artifacts Lucius collected and the suspicious characters who would sometimes roam the halls performing odd jobs Lucius hired them for. Harry should have asked Draco for directions before leaving, or even asked Draco to show him the way, not just take off.

Just as Severus was about to run up the first flight of stairs to where he knew Draco's playroom was when the boy in question appeared at the top of the stairs, rushing down the first steps before freezing at the sight of Severus. The boy gulped and looked down guiltily.

Severus breathed a sigh of relief before he crossed his arms and glared at Harry.

"Where have you been?" he growled.

"I had to use the bathroom," Harry said. "I forgot where it was and then I forgot the way to Draco's room. Dobby helped me though."

"Dobby?" Severus asked, his eyes flashing. A suspicious wizard perhaps? Severus had hoped Harry wouldn't encounter any more faces than just Lucius's and Draco's.

"He's a house elf," Harry said. "He said . . . he . . . well, he was a little weird."

Severus reached up and grabbed Harry's arm, dragging him back to the parlor.

"You were supposed to stay with Draco," Severus reminded him.

"I just had to use the bathroom. I thought I remembered where it was."

"You should have asked to be sure!" Severus yelled. "You were supposed to be with someone at all time, not gallivanting around a manor alone. Something could have happened to you and none of us would have known."

"I'm sorry," Harry said softly. "Were you worried?"

"Yes, I was worried," Severus snapped, spinning to face Harry. The words he spoke rang through his head and he froze, realizing how much impact those words had, not just on Harry but himself.

"I didn't mean to make you worried, Mr. Sn – err, Professor Snape."

Severus didn't say anything. He was overwhelmed by the feelings that overtook him a moment ago. Lucius stepped out into the hall, Draco at his side. Severus closed his eyes and willed his growing anger to calm down. He hadn't meant to lose his temper with Harry, but he was not used to the emotions the boy was starting to bring out in him.

"Everything all right, out here?" Lucius asked.

"Everything's fine," Severus said. "We should be leaving, thank you for your hospitality, Lucius, and your help."

"Any time," Lucius said, shaking Severus's hand. "Heed my advice, Severus. And do not grow too attached to . . . something you do not intend to keep. It'll do no good for your health. Or his."

Severus sighed as he withdrew his hand, looking down at Harry.

"I'm sorry I didn't show you the way to the bathroom," Draco apologized. "It was rude of me as your host."

"That's okay," Harry said, "I should have asked for directions."

"I guess you have to leave, now," Draco said, "maybe we can finish our checkers game another time."

"Maybe," Harry said, a bit upset about leaving his new friend.

Draco smiled and held out his hand. Harry blinked and tilted his head. "Another handshake?" he asked.

Draco's smile morphed into a smirk, "You have so much to learn."

Severus allowed a small smile himself, waiting for Harry to shake Draco's hand in farewell before leading the boy to the fireplace to floo back to Hogwarts.

Harry waited inside the bedroom as Mr. Snape finished his conversation with the older, long bearded man, Albus. Harry had a vague image of the man from when he had been invisible in the kitchen after his flashback episode. Harry was curious as to what they were talking about out in the living room.

Sliding off his bed, Harry tiptoed to the door, pressing his ear against it.

"I've spoken with a couple acquaintances today, including Lucius Malfoy," Mr. Snape said. "No one seems the slightest bit aware of Harry Potter's disappearance. And if they are, they gave me no indication of their knowledge."

"It is good news for the most part," the elder man's voice said. "I shall look into Harry's case at family services. Hopefully, they have a lead."

The noise was suddenly cut off and Harry frowned. Did the older man leave? Harry slowly touched the doorknob and tried to twist, but it remained locked and did not budge. Harry pressed his ear against the door once more, but when he was met with silence, he sighed and walked back to his bed, picking up his stuffed dog and lying down with it. At least he was out of those terrible robes. Harry used his stuffed dog as a pillow, closing his eyes. He thought back to his time spent with Draco. They had started a game of checkers, Draco having to teach Harry how to play the game. Once he understood, they talked about the differences between their living situations, Draco's rich life compared to Harry's street life and then his time with Professor Snape. Draco seemed intrigued by Harry's story.

And then he just had to go looking for the bathroom. It took him a while to find where he had seen the bathroom on his way up to Draco's playroom. And then he couldn't find his way back. That's when he had met Dobby, who seemed to have a conniption over him being at Malfoy Manor. The elf kept insisting that he leave at once.

He finally found the stairway that would lead down to the parlor, but he had run right into Mr. Snape. His stomach twisted as he remembered the look Mr. Snape had given him. Worry, then disappointment, and then fury. Mr. Snape had been worried about him. He had never had an adult worry about him before. He didn't want to make Mr. Snape worry all the time.

Ten minutes later, the door opened, and Mr. Snape made a beeline right for Harry's bed, crossing his arms and staring down at the boy.

"What?" Harry asked, sitting up.

"Eavesdropping?" Mr. Snape asked, raising an eyebrow.

Harry's eyes widened, and he hunched his shoulders guiltily. "How did you know?"

Mr. Snape flicked his wrist at the wall, and Harry could see through the wall and into the living room.

"Only I could see through them," Mr. Snape explained.

"Oh – I mean, I didn't know."

"Obviously. Do not let me catch you doing that again."

"Yes, Mr – I mean, Professor Snape."

"Professor Snape, hmm?" Mr. Snape frowned, a curious expression on his face. "What happened with calling me Mr. Snape?"

"Draco said it was rude to call someone something that wasn't their title. Since you're a professor, I should call you Professor Snape, not Mr. Snape."

"Draco has a point," Mr. Snape sat on the edge of Harry's bed. "But I'm afraid I hear enough of Professor Snape from my students on a daily basis. Besides, you are not a student of mine yet."

"So, you don't want me to call you Professor?"

"You may call you what you wish, but I'd like to tell you your options. I believe we've moved past the Mister and Professor. Draco calls me Severus. Would you like to do the same?"

Harry thought about it. Draco did call Mr. Snape by his first name, but Harry wasn't sure he was comfortable with calling Mr. Snape by his first name. It just didn't seem right. Harry shook his head.

"No? Then what do you wish to call me?"

One name crossed Harry's mind, but he quickly disregarded it. He was sure Mr. Snape would oppose. He wasn't sure what he wanted to call Mr. Snape.

"It's all right," Mr. Snape smiled and stood, "you can think about it. It's almost dinner time, and then after, you'll bring me your Manxmouse book."

Harry smiled at the idea of a bedtime story. He cheekily asked, "but I thought reading wasn't a nightly ritual."

"It's not," Mr. Snape answered, "I didn't read to you last night."

Harry laughed as he jumped off his bed and followed Mr. Snape out to the dining table.

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