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Harry liked sleeping late during vacation. He yawned and looked at the clock; 11:00AM. He was finally home and his parents were back to their normal selves. It was Christmas morning. The boy woke up and used the restroom. He washed his face and brushed his teeth before going downstairs for his gifts.
His parents were already downstairs. His father read a newspaper while his mother drank some tea. "Good, you're up. We waited to open gifts."
Harry began to unwrap his presents, scarves, hats, book, sweets and music. His parents gifted him a book "Quidditch Through the Ages" and he could not believe it, "It's that what I think it is." He said in awe when he opened the new broomstick. It was not just any broomstick. It was a Firebolt. "Thank you." He said with the biggest grin he could sport.
Harry nodded, he knew that You Know Who was back. He appreciated that his parents wanted him to have some normalcy. His parents and the rest of the adults tried to hide it from them but they were scared. Harry did not want to worry them more than they already were. Which was why he refused to tell them that Fred and George gifted Ron with the Marauder's map. The twins saw how sad and angry Ron was and wanted to cheer him up. The map worked to an extent, not even Hermione had the heart to report it to McGonagall. Ron had been happy for a couple of days until he realized Draco should have the map since his father was one of the original marauders. Draco refused to accept it. He also hid the fact that he used James' cloak almost every night. Well, Ron, Draco and Hermione used it too. They no longer fit under it so they used it in turns. Hermione tried not to but she took it only "when absolutely necessary."
"Fred and George found it and gave it to you. It's yours Ron." He said good-naturedly.
The map helped them go into the kitchens at night and meet with Draco more easily. Hermione used it as well. She was not so against it when it helped her go into the library after hours.
Harry helped himself to some cocoa and biscuits. His parents decided to stay home. Aunt Petunia and grandpa would come visit with Gus and Dudley.
The boy spent the afternoon in his room until it was time for dinner. Dudley showed him his gifts. Dudley loved the cloak. He did not care much for broomsticks but the cloak was just cool.
"I have to tell you something." Dudley said quickly.
"Gus likes blokes. He likes Percy." Dudley looked at him expecting something.
"It's his life." Harry shrugged. Dudley breathed easier. "Tobias said he's always known."
"How would you know if you like blokes or birds?" Dudley asked after a second.
Harry thought of the blokes and girls he was around. He liked his male friends but did not find any of them attractive. He thought of the girls and realized he did not find them particularly attractive either. He related his feelings to Dudley who looked confused.
"I like girls." He said quickly and smiled. "I kissed a girl the other day; her name is Maisie."
Harry then worried about not kissing any girls yet. Augustus interrupted their talk. He smiled and looked happy. "I'm going for fish and chips. Who wants to come?"
They all left the room and walked to the shop. "Did you tell grandpa?" Harry wanted to know right away.
Augustus nodded, "I did. He said that he knew since last summer when I "pined" over not seeing Perce for a whole summer. Dad took it surprisingly well."
"What did mum say?" Dudley asked.
"Mum just hugged me." His uncle said. Gus sometimes called aunt Petunia mum.
"Were you afraid of telling them?" Harry was somewhat confused about the whole thing.
"A little. I thought dad would hate me and then mum would hate me too but they said that it was fine. Perce said it would be fine too." Augustus looked less tense.
Augustus order their food and looked at them. "I was scared to be different and that dad would not love me anymore."
Harry looked at his uncle seriously. "That could never happen. I think he loves you more than he loves dad."
Gus preened, "I am his favorite."
They went back home and found their parents serving their food. Aunt Petunia outdid herself with dinner.
Harry was stuffed and feared the Floo connection to the Weasleys. They would spend some of the night there. Draco was there with Ron. Gus went to Percy immediately.
Grandpa hugged Mrs. Weasley and Mr. Weasley. "I am happy for our kids." He said with a cautious smile.
Mrs. Weasley smiled at them and offered them cookies. "No thank you." Harry and Dudley went to Ron's room.
"Hey Dudley." Draco said with a grin. "Thanks for the records. I played them earlier."
Ron showed them some boots Bill sent him. "They're dragonhide." They spent time comparing gifts and then went to the living room.
Ginny sat with his mother playing cards.
"Hi Gin." Draco said and sat by her. Harry frowned when she acted normal around Draco and Dudley. He scurried away to where the twins where. They were playing exploding snaps. Percy and Gus where discussing some boring assignment but looked happy.
They went home pretty late. His father apparated them instead of Floo. Mum drank a little too much wine with aunt Narcissa. Harry asked to stay at Grimmauld Place but his parents denied the request. Gus was upset because he could not stay at the Weasleys. Dudley however got to stay with Draco at Grimmauld. He successfully argued that he had not seen Draco since last Christmas. Dudley corresponded with them regularly but it was not the same.
Harry asked to go to London the next morning. He flooed there and found Dudley and Draco playing video games. Dudley got all of them into them. They were playing Mario Kart. Draco lost and passed him the game.
"I hope Hermione gets here soon." Draco said. Harry moved the controller as his kart moved to the left. "I didn't know you invited her. Is Ron coming? You know how he gets." Harry remarked.
"He's coming by later with Ginny." Dudley replied carelessly.
Harry found that it was the perfect time to bring the subject of Ginny. "She's acting strange around me. It's like she's another person. She giggles and avoids me or laughs like a demented person."
"Ginny fancies you." Dudley said offhandedly.
Draco frowned. "She does not fancy you."
Harry shrugged. "I don't fancy her either."
"Don't tease her about it." Harry added as an afterthought. Draco and Dudley nodded and continued playing on the game console.
Ron came alone. "Gin is feeling under the weather." He joined them in their game.
Lyra and Callista came by and played with Dobby. Lyra wanted to play with the controllers and cried when she could not. Draco calmed her and promised her ice cream after dinner.
Callista happily played with her dolls and made them dance around. Lyra then joined her and made her dolls dance too.
Hermione came by later in the afternoon. It turned out that Hermione did not care for video games that much. Harry realized that their friend although not girly was bored with their antics.
"Where did you go for break Hermione?" Harry asked. "Nowhere honestly, we're home for now."
Draco joined their conversation. "Want to see my library?"
Their friend's eyes shone. "Yes."
"We should all go." Harry said and pulled Ron and Draco away from the game. Dudley also followed reluctantly.
He made some small conversation with Hermione. Harry was happy that his cousin found some topics that were interesting to Hermione.
Hermione actually liked some of the muggle bands Dudley liked. They went off talking about Radiohead and their new album. "You should ask Harry to lend you his Walkman. I try to get him and the boys to listen to good music."
Hermione smiled at him. Harry liked that his cousin got along with Hermione. He never wanted for Dudley to feel excluded from any of his friendships. Dudley never said it but he felt like their bond was not as strong as when they were children. Harry loved Dudley and it was hard for him to accept that his cousin could not do magic and go with him to Hogwarts.
They spent a good afternoon and even better when Ron asked Draco to watch a film. Ron did not have a TV home but Draco had managed to harass uncle Remus into buying one last summer. Dudley picked the Godfather. Hermione thought it was too violent but watched the three hours nonetheless. They were about to watch the second film when Hermione looked at the time. "It's almost time for dad to pick me up."
Soon enough Frank and Helen Granger knocked on the door. Aunt Narcissa opened the door for them.
"Good evening. Please, do come in." She said and shook their hands.
"I'm sorry, I have all the kids here." Aunt Narcissa explained as Lyra ran with Callista. Oriana was half asleep on her mother's arms.
Hermione's dad smiled, "No need. We are just here to pick Hermione. We have tickets to the theater."
"Oh we have one here. You could sit with the kids." Aunt Narcissa said pleasantly.
Draco laughed, "mum, we have a telly. A theater is bigger."
Narcissa frowned. "Sweetheart, we could buy you one. We just have to tell your father."
Dudley shook his head, "Cissy, it does not work that way."
Harry found the exchange hilarious. Uncle Remus came through the door. "You have to forgive my wife; she does not understand muggle technology much. Nice to meet you. Remus Lupin."
"Remus, you have to ward your house better." Harry's father came in through the door.
"Good afternoon." He said and offered his hand to Hermione's parents.
"Mr. and Mrs. Granger I suppose." His father said. "Ms. Granger." He addressed their friend.
"Mum, dad, these are professors Snape and Lupin. They teach at Hogwarts." Hermione said with a smile.
"Cleverest witch of her age if I say so myself." Uncle Remus said with a smile. Hermione blushed.
"Thank you." The Grangers looked overwhelmed. His father could tell.
"We were just about to leave for home." His father said.
"Bye." Harry waved happily.
"Ron, your mother said you could stay here or come with us for the night." His father said to Ron.
"Bye mate." Ron said to Draco. They said their goodbyes and left the house. They were taking a Portkey to Cokeworth and then walk home.
Ron walked alongside Hermione until they had to part ways. "Bye." She waved and crossed a street to get to the family car.
Harry followed his father and saw as he tapped on an old stool. "Grab one leg each." His father said and then they were off.
Dudley dusted himself off and walked alongside Ron. "Are you staying with Harry or me?"
Ron shrugged, "I like your mum's cooking better." Harry shook his head and smiled. Aunt Tuney cooked better after all. He thought of asking his father to let him sleep over at Dudley's but chose not to. He wanted to sleep on his own bed that night. Harry waved his goodbyes and walked with his dad home.
"Where were you today?" Harry asked as they crossed a street.
"Researching with Lupin." His father replied nonchalantly. He lied of course. The adults thought they did not understand but they all knew about the secret organization, "The Order of the Phoenix." They called it. Percy and Augustus joined already as had Charlie and Bill. Ginny overheard Percy and Gus discussing the Order. Gin then told Ron who told them and the twins. The twins then told them that they heard Mrs. Weasley discussing protective measures for the house.
Harry decided to keep quiet. It would not do to keep on asking when his father would not offer any answers. Mum would not cave either. They were united once more and it seemed that they communicated telepathically since they were both on the same page.
His mum was reading a book when they got home. "I was expecting you two later." She said and yawned.
"I did not cook." She said and smiled when he kissed her. His father shook his head and waved his wand around.
"I'm not hungry." Dad said while resuming his wand work.
"What about you Harry?" His mum said as she smiled at him. "I'll have some leftovers later." He said and sat by her.
Lily nodded, "Sev, come put on the telly. Let's watch a film."
His father turned on the telly, "What do you say to a little Star Wars marathon?"
It was about six o'clock in the afternoon. Harry had seen Star Wars at least three times because of his mother. Dudley loved the films too and was the one who introduced them to the Galaxy far far away. His father sat on the other side of the couch. He liked the films too, a little too much. He liked Vader as a villain and swore that he saw the redemption arc from the first movie.
The little family sat down to watch the movies. Harry did not eat the leftovers but popcorn with fizzy drinks. His parents laid down on the couch while he took the rug with some pillows. Harry watched all three movies as did his mum but dad fell asleep when Leia told Han that she loved him.
They were by the battle of Endor when Harry noticed that his mum tensed and called to him. "Move." She said in a low voice.
"Go up to your room." She said and pulled him up. Harry was about to laugh but then noticed that his father was trashing on the couch and clutching his left forearm.
Harry rushed upstairs to get his cloak. He gingerly made his way back downstairs. He saw as his mother tried to wake his father.
"Severus, you are home. It isn't real love. Sev, wake up." She said in a soothing voice. His father swatted her hands away and trashed as if in pain.
Harry was rooted on his spot. His mum persisted and tried to wake his dad to no avail. It was not until she tried to press her body to keep him from scratching his left arm that Severus Snape woke up.
Harry moved swiftly but was too far away. His father looked in pain. "Severus, it's just a nightmare." She tried to touch his cheek. His father grabbed her wrist. "Not a nightmare, a memory from a long time ago." He said and then looked around the room and posed his eyes on him and moved as if to grab the cloak. Harry retreated a little and remained still.
"What was it about?" Harry could tell mum was worried.
"I took the Dark Mark and he called and then I saw you." His father's voice broke a little and then he hugged his mother and whispered something in her ear. His mother grabbed his father's face and kissed him. "Never, you hear me, never." She said and kissed him again. His father kissed her again and pushed her to the couch.
Harry had seen enough and hear enough. He ran back to his room as fast as he could. He hoped they placed silencing charms. What did his father mean by memory? The boy thought about the choice of words and did not sleep for another two hours after the incident.