My Little Runaway @bluerowley
He Will be Mine

Next Chapter: He Will Be Mine

Severus slapped the paper down in front of Peadar and Eileen, startling the dogs begging at their owner's feet. He kept a hand on top of the paper as he growled, "It's all over the bloody news."

With that, he pushed the paper forward and released it, collapsing in a chair across from Eileen, who gave him a curious look while Peadar picked up the Daily Prophet and scanned it. After a moment, his eyebrows shot up and he handed the paper to Eileen, who summoned her reading glasses and accepted the paper, reading it herself.

"Ex-Death Eater with Criminal History Applies to Adopt the Boy-Who-Lived" read the heading, and Severus's Azkaban photo from all those years ago graced the page, followed by a long article on Severus's history that a sneaky reporter must have snooped for. There was not much written about Harry Potter himself, but Harry's running away problem was kept in the dark by Family Services and Albus Dumbledore. It was still assumed that Harry lived at relatives, but the article did speculate that Harry's homelife may not be all rainbows and sunshine if he was up for adoption.

"Read the reviews," Severus encouraged, accepting a cup of coffee from a house elf and slurping it.

Eileen really didn't want to, but she glanced to the side where comments had been made regarding the situation. One was outraged that Family Services would even consider allowing a Death Eater of all people to apply for adoption of any child, while another offered to adopt the boy instead to spare him from a life of torture under a Death Eater's hands, and yet another questioned the ulterior motive of the whole adoption. There were several more rude and vulgar statements, while only two offered support on the idea that not everyone is who they seem at first glance. Eileen sighed and set the paper down.

"There's nothing that can be done about it," Peadar said. "Reporters are like wolves, they're always stalking around waiting for something juicy to rip to shreds with dishonesty—just to make a good story."

"This coffee is awful," Severus muttered, glaring into the mug.

"Severus," Eileen said, trying to get her son's attention.

"You should consider Origin," he continued.

"Off the matter of coffee brands," Eileen said. "This is serious. You can't let this get to you. People are always going to say what they want, but you can show them who you really are by going through with this. It doesn't matter what these people think, it matters what Family Services decides of you, and Harry of course."

"I know that," Severus said. "But this doesn't help my case any."

"No," Peadar said, "and I'm sure reporters will be all over Family Services when ya head there tomorrow, so be prepared for an ambush, but don't say shit to them, and they will try to get ya to. Push right through."

"We'll be there, too," Eileen said. "We were summoned to speak on your behalf and answer some questions. Albus Dumbledore was also called in, I believe."

Severus sighed. He knew word would reach Albus, he just didn't think it would be the day after he put his application in. The look on the worker who had helped drop Harry off with him had been priceless. She didn't seem very happy to see him, but the other lady there at the time had smiled and talked him through the process. He now had a case number, and he was to speak to those two alone as they would be handling tis adoption process.

Glaring at the plate of cold scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast, Severus picked up the plate and set it on the floor at his feet. Shandy and Finn dived for the food in a red blur, inhaling what was on the plate in seconds.

"Spoiled dogs," Peadar muttered. "Albus will be here some time this morning. He wrote to me asking for permission to the estate. He has temporary access to the floo."

"He probably wants to talk me out of it," Severus said, sipping the coffee, ignoring the pleading looks of the two dogs for more.

"Even if he does, he did sound concerned for ya, so I agreed. Please try not to take off before he gets here."

"Never," Severus said, earning a small glare from Peadar and a small smile from Eileen.

Standing from the table, Severus made his way upstairs to his room, switching out his morning robe for a day robe before combing his hair quickly, watching himself in the mirror hanging above his dresser, thinking about how best to win over the caseworkers. A flash behind him caught his eye, and there in that strange ghost-like form in the middle of his bedroom was Harry Potter.

Severus spun around, but Harry was quicker and he had turned himself, crossing his arms and keeping his back to Severus.

With a sigh, Severus leaned against his dresser.

"I'm sure you've heard the news or at least seen the paper."

Harry didn't say anything.

"Look, I'm sorry for leaving you at the Anderson's. I had no choice in that matter. You were not supposed to be with me—legally, anyway. But I am trying to get you back now. Aren't you happy for that?"

Still, Harry didn't move or say anything. Severus wished he could see Harry in person, but his two-week period was not up. As much as he really wanted to hug Harry and hold him close, he knew physical touch was impossible through the bond, and Harry didn't seem to open to that idea at the moment anyway. Severus thought back on what he knew of the bond.

"You had to have wanted to see me, even if just a little bit, for this to work. I know I've wanted to see you since that day, but I have not been allowed." Severus pushed off the dresser and walked toward Harry. "I can't change what happened, but I will fight to have you stay with me legally. I would like to adopt you, Harry. Is that what you want?"

He was a step away from Harry when the boy turned around and looked up at him, his eyes watery and filled with hurt.

"Why didn't you fight for me before?" Harry said softly, his voice croaking slightly.

Severus felt his heart clench and he froze with no answer at the ready. Slowly, Harry lowered his head and then faded from view. Severus dragged a hand down his face before throwing the comb as hard as he could back at the mirror, unsatisfied when neither broke.

Severus collapsed on his bed, lying down at an angle and staring up at the ceiling. Incessant tapping at the window caught his attention, and he flicked his wrist, allowing one of the hen harriers' to fly in. It dropped a letter next to his hand, then briefly looked for any morsel Severus might have.

"The dogs ate everything," Severus told it, shooing it away before looking at the letter. He recognized the crest. "Malfoy."

The letter was brief: "Come see me now."

Severus debated against it, just to annoy the wonderful Lucius Malfoy. There was only one thing he was sure Lucius wanted to discuss anyway, and after seeing Harry's sad look of betrayal, Severus wasn't up for it. However, he didn't want to put it off either. He slipped his boots on, then his cloak. He quietly walked out of the house, avoiding Peadar and Eileen, knowing that any apparition crack was sure to catch their attention. He normally wouldn't care if they knew he left, but with Albus arriving who knew when, he didn't want to waste any time arguing either. Once outside and making sure neither were around to hear him, he apparated off the estate.

Malfoy Manor was quiet, as usual. Severus walked up the pathway to the house, briefly wondering if peacocks could fly and if a simple stinging hex might help answer the question. He almost acted on that though as he reached the front door and rang the bell, but the door opened quickly, revealing a house elf.

"Right this way, Master Snape, sir." The elf led the way to the living room where Lucius was sitting patiently, staring into the fireplace with a smug look. He noticed Severus and stood, opening his arms invitingly.

"Ah, Severus, welcome," Lucius smiled. "Tea? Please help yourself."

"I'll pass, thank you."

"I must say, what you're thinking is ingenious—adopting the Boy-Who-Lived? It didn't even cross my mind when you stopped by here with him. It makes sense now."

Severus frowned. He knew exactly what Lucius was thinking and he did not like it one bit. He knew he would have to face this aspect of his life at some point, but to have it thrown in his face now . . . well, he would have to improvise.

"By taking in Harry Potter, you can raise him with the right ideals, prepare him for the Dark Lord's return, and he'll be ready to serve the dark side and we will rise to power."

"No," Severus said, shaking his head.

"No?" Lucius frowned. "I see, you simply wish to have him in your hands and turn him over to the Dark Lord when he returns? That would be my approach, more hands-off. I could pare a house elf to assist in raising him if you wish."

"No, Lucius. I do not plan on changing who he is or turning him over any time soon."

"Nor do I expect the Dark Lord to return any time soon, but you see . . ."

"Lucius! I am adopting him because I want to." Severus thought over his next words carefully. They would only backfire and he knew it, but he said it anyway. "Because I care for him."

Lucius stared silently at Severus before glaring at him. He took several intimidating steps forward.

"What are you blathering about? You do not mean that you genuinely wish for the Harry Potter to be your son?"

"I do."

"You've lost your mind." Lucius snatched Severus's wrist and held up his arm. "Are you forgetting something? You cannot escape your past; it will catch up to you and when it does, you will realize the big mistake that you're making here."

"The only mistake I've ever made," Severus snapped, pulling away from Lucius and glaring back, "was listening to you and taking the damn mark in the first place."

"That was far from a mistake. You'll have every Death Eater hunting you and that child till the end of your lives, and let me tell you, they won't be very long lives either. Do not make new enemies where you were once an ally."

"Over my dead body will I allow any of you to harm a hair on that child if I have to hunt you all down first." He held up his arm, pointing at the faded dark mark. "I'm done with this, I'm done with loyalties to masters who have absolutely no trust in me, I'm done with the cause, with groveling, with you!"

Lucius flicked out his wand and Severus slammed into the wall behind them. Lucius pinned Severus there with a spell and jabbed his wand into Severus's neck.

"You should reconsider your choices," Lucius growled. "I'd hate to do this to you, but I will for the greater good."

Lucius's wand began vibrating a hot red that burned Severus's skin, and he hissed.

"You think you've fallen in love again." Malfoy spat the word like it was some bitter tea. "You remember what happened last time you did that? Where is your love now?"

Severus felt something snap inside him and he snarled at Lucius. He urged his magic to break the spell Lucius had him trapped under. His fingers twitched just a bit.

"Let me remind you what happens to those who turn against the Dark Lord."

The wand on Severus's neck burned more and Lucius opened his mouth, ready to utter a curse.

"Daddy, stop!" Draco's voice cried from the entryway.

Lucius looked back at his son's wide-eyed look, his wand lowering the slightest, and Severus smirked.

"Go ahead," Severus said, managing to free one arm from the spell and forcing Lucius's wand deeper into his own neck. "Do it. Show him what he has to look forward to."

In a very muggle way, Lucius grabbed the front of Severus's robes and slammed him against the wall again before releasing him, and Severus found that he could move on his own and he rubbed his neck with a glare back at Lucius.

"Get out of my house," Lucius said, pointing at the fireplace. "And never come back here."

"You invited me," Severus reminded. He pushed away from the wall and made his way to the floo.

"Severus!" Draco cried, running for him, but Lucius grabbed Draco's arm and stopped him. Draco gave him a sad look.

Severus shook his head at Draco. He glanced up at Lucius and sneered.

"Love is a strong thing, Lucius. You might want to be careful yourself." With that, Severus grabbed floo powder from the vase on the mantle and floo'ed away from Malfoy manor.

He reappeared in the living room at MacAuley estate. Peadar, Eileen, and Albus were all sitting in the living room chatting.

"There you are!" Eileen said, crossing her arms as he stumbled out. "Where did you go? We told you Albus would be stopping by."

"Good morning, Severus," Albus greeted in his usual cheery voice, standing up from the sofa and setting his cup of tea down.

"I'm not in the mood for this talk, Albus, if you don't mind," Severus began.

"I'll make it a quick one," Albus said. "To be honest, I'm quite happy for you."

"Really?" Severus quirked a brow.

"Of course! You seemed pretty attached to Harry, I was surprised you did not ask to just keep the lad."

Severus blinked, glanced at his smiling mother, then back at Albus's twinkling eyes.

"You would have let me?"

"Now, I'm not sure about that," Albus admitted, "but there's not much I can do about it now as you have already applied to adopt. I send my best wishes to you and hope it all turns out well."

"Thank you." Severus did not know what else to say.

"However . . ."

There it was, Severus thought.

"I can't help but be concerned about how this will affect what we had agreed upon years earlier?" Albus looked at Severus pointedly.

The spying. Severus shook his head.

"I'm done with that," he said.

"Are you sure? You still have the mark. How will you be able to avoid Voldemort should he return?"

Severus closed his eyes and shuddered at the name, a zing traveling up his left arm.

"I'll figure it out when it comes to that—if it ever comes to that."

"I care for your safety as well, Severus, and adopting Harry, especially publicly, paints a target on your back. Harry's too."

"I will not back out of this."

"He can stay here," Eileen jumped in. She glanced at her son. "At least, until Severus can find a new unplotted home with strong wards."

"The MacAuley Estate offers some of the best protection there is," Peadar said as a hen harrier landed on his arm, ruffling its feathers before scratching itself with a beak. "No harm will come to Harry here. The wards do not let any intruders in unless they have an invite from a family member. He will be safe."

Albus looked at Severus.

"Guess I'm looking for a new house now," he shrugged. "I'll keep you updated. And I'll figure out a way to deal with the Dark Lord in the event he should return. But I am adopting Harry."

"I knew I would not be able to change your mind," Albus said. "I only wanted you to be aware of the risks."

"I'm aware."

Albus finished his tea and smiled cheerily at everyone as he adjusted his hat.

"Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. MacAuley for your hospitality. And I will see you back at work in two weeks, Severus?"

"I don't think so," Severus said, crossing his arms.


"I quit."

Severus, Eileen, and Peadar touched the portkey and were pulled roughly to their destination. They arrived in front of the Wizarding Family Services building and were immediately mobbed by a group of reporters. A few aurors had been waiting for them, and they assisted the family through the mob as cameras flashed and reporters shouted their questions.

Severus kept his head down, leaving the hood of his cloak up. He really didn't want his face on the front page of the papers again. Yesterday had been rough enough. Lucius's words and Albus's shock over his resignation still lingered in his mind. He still wasn't completely sure he was making the right decision as far as leaving Hogwarts, but he had Eileen's and Peadar's support, and that was enough.

They made it inside with little problem, the reporters forced to remain outside by Family Services staff and the aurors. They were led to a large conference like room. After everyone was seated, the two caseworkers entered.

"Hi, I'm Ashley Woode," the lady with brunette hair pulled int a messy bun announced, reaching across the table to shake hands with Peadar and Eileen. "This is Grace Leer, she assisted in Harry's new home placement and was there for the drop off with Severus."

Grace forced a smile as she reached across the table to shake hands with Eileen and Peadar.

"I want to make sure that we make the best decisions for Harry," Grace said.

"Of course," Eileen said, "us, too."

"Now," Ashley said, grabbing everyone's attention. "I look forward to getting to know you. Here we like to move adoptions along as quickly as possible to get children in a stable and secure environment. But first, we perform intensive background research on all our potential candidates, and you will be no different. Yes, there's a little issue with your Death Eater history, but we do look the why's and what exactly you did, which your arrest record shows, and really, your trial concluded not guilty and that you were a spy for the light—"

"Which proves nothing," Grace interrupted. "For all we know, Albus vouched for you because you made some kind of underhanded deal with him."

"Guess we'll never know," Severus said, earning an elbow jab from Eileen.

Grace was not amused but Ashley cleared her throat and continued.

"We do not admit hearsay into our reports. We look at facts, and we shall begin with names."

Everyone stated their name and Peadar and Eileen stated their relationship to Severus as well. Questions were basic: where they lived, what their profession was, hobbies, what animals lived in or around the house, what equipment was on the house, how many weapons (wands fell under that category), and if there was any alcohol or drugs in the house.

After that was complete, questions took a turn as the dived deeper into Severus's history. Eileen's questions were harsh as they opened up her past abuse under Tobias Snape.

"Were you able to protect Severus from Tobias Snape?" Grace asked yet another question about that subject.

"I told you, I did what I could."

"But it was never enough, was it?"

"Grace," Ashley chided softly.

"And then you abandoned Severus and left him under Tobias Snape's care, is that correct?"

Eileen lowered her head. "Yes."

"I don't see why these are necessary," Severus snapped. "You've asked enough questions about this."

"Procedure," Grace said, before looking back at Eileen and asking, "So, an abusive father and a neglectful mother. It doesn't sound like Severus has had very good parental figures in his life. Would you agree?"

Eileen glanced at Severus and Peadar, struggling with her words.

"Without any role model to follow, it can be safe to say that Severus does not know what responsible parenting looks like because you were never there, and Tobias Snape was an unfit parent with an unpredictable temper and a drinking problem. And his influence has affected and shaped Severus in a similar manner, would you agree."

"He's not his father."

"But he did willingly leave the boy at a new foster family without much fuss, correct? Quick to abandon, I'd say."

"He had no choice . . ."

"And now he suddenly wants the boy back. Sounds to me like attachment problems, influenced by a history of neglect and unreliable figures."

Eileen blinked back tears as she tried not to let those words affect her, but she couldn't help but wonder how much of it might be true.

"Severus . . ."

"Severus cannot be expected to be a reliable and safe parent due to his upbringing, isn't that the truth?"

"Enough of this!" Severus said, slamming his hands down on the table as he stood up, startling everyone in the room. "You're badgering my mother and I will not stand for it. You keep this up and we'll all leave, and I'll just kidnap the boy back myself and call it a day."

Everyone was silent as Eileen stared wide eyed between Severus and the two ladies. Peadar stroked his mustache in thought, Grace glared at Severus, and Ashley leaned her face into her hand, pen and paper abandoned.

Eileen reached up and pushed down on Severus's shoulder. Taking the hint, Severus sat back down, but he glared across the table at Grace.

"Please," Ashley finally spoke in an exhausted voice, "don't kidnap Harry again. We're actually doing pretty well, Grace."

Ashley gave Grace a pointed look, but she huffed and looked off.

"Peadar," Ashely asked. "How would you describe Severus's overall temperament."

"Hmm," Peadar glanced at Severus. "Conscientious but guarded"

Severus rolled his eyes.

"Has he ever lost his temper?' Grace asked while Ashley tried to remember how to spell "conscientious."

"Have you?" Peadar shot back evenly.

"Describe Severus's behavior when he is pushed over the edge," Ashley supplied before Grace could make a comeback.

"Ah, good question," Peadar said, sitting back and tapping his chin. "He contains himself pretty well. Yeah, he'll yell and pace, might throw a couple things when he's alone, but he's never hurt anyone or lashed out at them, especially at that boy. I've never seen him more patient with someone, let alone a kid."

"So, do you believe that Severus's upbringing will have any impact on how he raises Harry?" Ashley asked.

"Of course," Peadar said. "He may have had a troubled childhood, and while some may reflect their parents, Severus more often does not. He overcame those negative attributes and became his own individual, with an understanding of what not to be and do. When I first met Severus, he was a moody seventeen-year-old. But at the same time, he was a gentleman. He was respectful to me, hard-working, did anything I asked, even if it was shoveling the stable. He's a good man, and he has made up with his mother despite what happened. I think that says a lot about his character."

Ashley smiled while Grace leaned back in her seat and crossed her arms.

"Okay," Ashley said, "I think we have what we need from you, Mr. and Mrs. MacAuley. You're good to wait out in reception while we finish with Severus. Thank you."

When Severus was alone with the two women, they introduced some new questions, like why he wanted to adopt, how well he understood the adoption process, if he could provide for a child financially, what his plan was for schooling Harry, what he would do if Harry fell sick with a muggle illness (apparently purebloods struggled with that one). And the questions went on, with several role-playing scenarios and various other questions that he did not have an immediate answer for.

What the hell was he supposed to do if Harry refused to eat dinner? The couple times Harry had decided not to eat, there had been legit reasons—save for the time Severus decided not to eat his own meal. It had seemed fair at the time, but was it the wrong thing to do?

And his expectations of Harry? What did that even mean? And then what kind of parent did he think he would be? How was he supposed to know—was this just a guess based on what he knew of himself? Was he supposed to compare himself to his own parents? What would he look for in a new job? What would he like his schedule to be? How much time would he put aside for Harry alone? What responsibility will Harry have in the family? What would he do if Harry ran away—wasn't that the question of the year? How would he help Harry with mourning his deceased parents . . .?

"I don't know!" Severus finally snapped, leaning forward, and rubbing his temples. "I don't know."

Grace and Ashley shared a look. Ashley smiled softly while Grace frowned and whispered something in Ashley's ear. Ashley rolled her eyes and gently flicked her wand, casting a muffling charm around the two. Severus watched slightly amused as the two ladies argued under the charm before Grace stood and stormed out of the room. Ashley gave an exasperated look before cancelling the spell and smiling at Severus.

"We have everything we need from you, Severus," Ashley said. "Thank you so much for your time and patience in all of this."

"I didn't answer half of your questions."

"It's okay. I haven't interviewed anyone who could answer everything the first time. We never really know what we're doing half the time anyway, do we?"

Severus couldn't answer that either, but he accepted that he was dismissed, and he thanked Ashley and left the room. Eileen and Peadar greeted him in the waiting area.

"It's about time," Peadar said. "What did ya say to that Leer girl?"

"I'm not the one who chased her away," Severus said. "Look, I'm actually pretty tired, I think I'll head home."

"Sounds like a plan to me. Hopefully, the elves have dinner on the stove."

"We'll have an answer for you tomorrow once management has had a chance to review this case as well," Ashley said when she walked out of the room. "Have a good night, everyone."

Peadar, Eileen, and Severus walked out the door into the chilly night air, but just as quickly as they stepped on the pavement, reporters were on their feet and running for them. The aurors had long ago left, so they had to push their own way through the flashing cameras and jumbles of questions. Severus managed to twist and turn his way out of the crowd quickly, leaving Eileen and Peadar to fend for themselves as he walked down a dark alley, wishing for a moment of peace alone anyway.

He was glad Ashley Woode was on his case. He had a feeling if not for her, he wouldn't be getting any closer to adopting Harry. And he would have an answer by tomorrow morning. That would be a relief and then he could pick Harry up and apologize profusely. As much as he focused on wishing to see Harry, he couldn't get the bond to reach out. Harry seemed to have more control over it than he did, as odd as it was to admit it. He had ultimately decided not to tell anyone else about the bond he shared with Harry. It would be a family secret.

Sharp pain shot up his leg and Severus hissed. He reached for his wand as he turned, only to be hit by a stunning spell that sent him crashing to the ground.

Two hooded cloaked figures pounced on him, sending curses that cut and burned as they approached, slicing the skin on his arms and legs. One spell burned a hold in his shirt, then a lacerating spell caught him on the ribs.

Severus was able to countercurse the stunning spell, but before he could lift his wand, he was assaulted with hard kicks to the chest and back that forced the breath out of him, and he shielded his head with his arms as a boot flew awfully close to his nose.

"Severus!" Eileen's voice shouted.

The two figures bolted.

"Stop!" Eileen shouted as she chased after the figures, but they disapparated. Eileen turned back to Severus, kneeling at his side, and hovering her hands over his bloody arms.

"Dear Merlin," Eileen muttered. "Peadar! Help!"

"I'm fine," Severus hissed. He attempted to push himself up, but he sucked in a breath at the stabbing, throbbing pain that erupted from the cuts on his arms and his ribs. He fell back to the ground and panted, cold blood dripping to the ground that spun in his vision. He closed his eyes tightly.

Hands turned him on his back, and he faded from consciousness.

A ticking clock invaded his subconscious, followed by the rays of the morning sun. Severus slowly blinked his eyes open and looked around. The white walls and curtains told him he was in St. Mungo's. He vaguely remembered last night and looked down at his arms. They were bandaged in white. Under the hospital gown, he could feel the restriction of a bandage wrapped around his entire torso. He recognized those curses. They did not heal quickly even with potions. He would be wrapped up for a week at least.

He spotted a pain reliever potion on the stand next to his bed, and he grabbed it and downed it in two gulps. He didn't care if it followed the healer's orders or not, he needed it now.

"Are you okay?"

Severus jumped at the sound of Harry's voice.

There, sitting at the end of his bed, was Harry in that strange ghost form once more.

"I'm all right, Harry."

Harry's lower lip puckered out.

"You got hurt because of me."

"No," Severus shook his head. "That's not what happened. I think I know who did it. It was nothing to do with you."

"The Andersons said that too." Harry looked down.

"They're right."

"I read the paper. It had everything to do with me."

"I think you're misinterpreting."

"No one wants you to have me." Harry looked back up at Severus. "I don't want you to get hurt because of me."

"Harry," Severus tried to push himself up, but it took a lot of strength.

Harry's form looked away however, and it began to fade.

"Harry, no, wait! Don't leave."

The patronus-like image of Harry disappeared. Severus pushed himself up, finding his clothes folded up on the stand. He threw his legs over and grabbed his robe, stripping out of the hospital gown. Putting his socks and sneakers on, he shakily stood up.

"Sir," the healer said, rushing into the room at the sight of Severus. "Sir, please, your injuries are freshly dressed and magically sewn, you do not want to stress them and reopen them, sit back down."

"I need to see Harry." Severus pushed past the doctor, his strength slowly returning despite the pain in his body. A nurse walked into the room with a tray of several pain relievers and Severus nearly stumbled into her. Severus grabbed another vial and downed it before setting it back down.

The pain diminished greatly, and he managed to pick up the speed out of the hospital.

"Severus!" Eileen cried as she watched him half sprint past the front desk where she was discussing Severus's discharge for later that evening. She ran toward her son. "What are you doing? You can't leave yet."

"Something's wrong," Severus said. "I need to see Harry."

"You're in no shape to do that," Eileen said, putting a hand on his shoulder and pushing to stop him from walking out the door. "Look, you're making yourself bleed again. Back to bed with you."

Severus looked down and noticed the white bandaged on his arms and chest slowly turning red. Though his legs did not suffer as much, a single cut had reopened, and a thin trail of blood trickled down his right calf. He was high on pain relievers now, so he felt none of it. He tried to push his mother aside without being too rough.

"Harry needs to know that he can't—"

"Oh good, you're up!" Ashley Woode said as she entered the hospital. "I have good news and bad news. Good news: we've approved the adoption. Bad news: Harry's run away from the Andersons. No one knows where he is."

He might be high on pain relievers, but Severus felt his heart ache in worry at that wonderful bit of news.

Meanwhile, Harry ran as fast as he could through the trees. He knew the Andersons would probably call for help to come find him—the police maybe. They seemed more caring and attentive than the Dursleys ever were. But he had to get away. He had to make himself disappear so no one he cared about would get hurt because of him anymore. It hurt seeing Mr. Snape's crumpled body on the front page where he had been jumped. And then seeing him all wrapped up in the hospital was just too much. He needed to leave. He was a burden to everyone.

Harry paused to wipe at the tears escaping his eyes. He looked back. He had to leave Miss Trifle behind so she would be cared for. He didn't want her to suffer hunger and no bed like he knew he would for a while now. He hoped the Andersons took good care of her for him. Or maybe he should go back and get her.

No. It was too late for that now. Harry knew that if he ran fast enough and thought of somewhere else hard enough, he could disappear and reappear in a new place. He had done it a couple times before.

Taking a couple big breaths, Harry ran as fast as he could, thinking hard about someplace where he would be wanted, where someone would want him, and he wouldn't put anyone in danger. Running as fast as he could, he felt the strange tingle all over his body and then a squeezing sensation before he stumbled and fell on soft grass.

Sniffing, he relaxed and took several deep breaths. That magic always left him so exhausted. He looked around. There was a fence to his left and pastures and pastures of land to his right. How strange. This is where his magic thought he would be wanted? He slowly stood up and frowned at the barn in the distance. It looked vaguely familiar.

Looking back at the fence to his left, his eyes searched past it, and he saw the tower of MacAuley Estate and horses a few pastures away. He felt tears in his eyes as he realized he truly was wanted here, even if Mr. Snape had ended up hurt because of him. He was still wanted, and maybe even loved. He had yet to hear Mr. Snape say it, but he knew he could feel it. His eyes fell on the fence, and they widened as he realized something else.

A loud snort sounded behind him.

Time froze as Harry stopped breathing and his heart picked up speed. He slowly turned around.

A large bull snorted again and pawed the ground as it jerked its head about, showing off its large horns.

Harry gulped as a shiver slithered down his back. He was on the wrong side of the fence.

Thank you everyone for all the great reviews, favorites, and follows. Here's that long awaited chapter! I hope it was enjoyable and that everyone had a wonderful holidays and a happy New Year! PS: I've graduated my certification course! At least one good thing out of this awful year 2020.

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