Sterling Dragonfly (snapesgrrl) wrote,
Sterling Dragonfly

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Shattered Trust--Chapter Five

Title: Shattered Trust
Author: Sterling Dragonfly (aka Snapesgrrl)
Pairing: SS/HP
Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: The lovely blond lady owns the characters. I promise to put them back after I'm done playing.
Warnings: Established relationship; implied mpreg; implied Harry/original male character
Feedback: Commentary, feedback, and constructive criticism are more than welcome at
Beta: Unbetad, so if you find any mistakes, please let me know. Thanks.
Summary: Two years after fleeing England when his world collapsed around him, Harry decides to take his life back.

One separation breeds ten thousand regrets.
Ch'in Chia–'To My Wife 2' (A Book of Chinese Verse)

October 21, 2001 – Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Harry staggered slightly when he apparated at the front gate of Hogwarts, but quickly caught himself and straightened. He smiled down into his daughter's eyes and softly reassured her, "Dria, daddy told you about that, remember? There's nothing to be scared of." He kissed her cheek tenderly then adjusted the lace collar on her robes. "Okay, baby girl, time to meet your papa."

They passed through the gates and slowly walked toward the castle. Harry looked out curiously – he'd been too anxious the day before when he had visited Dumbledore to notice his surroundings. Hogwarts hadn't changed in the slightest in the two years he'd been away.

"'Arry? 'Arry Potter, is that you?" Hagrid's voice rumbled behind them as they approached the front steps.

Harry turned with a grin. "Hagrid – how are…" Before he could finish his sentence, he was enveloped in a pair of sturdy arms. "Umm, Hagrid, ease up a bit, mate. We need some air," he muttered into a solid chest.

"Oh, sorry there 'Arry." Hagrid quickly released him and stepped back. "And who's this wee one, 'Arry?" he asked as he gazed down at Dria with surprise.

"Hagrid, I would like you to meet my daughter, Dria. Dria sweetie, this is Hagrid – he's one of daddy's friends."

Dria gazed wide-eyed at the half-giant, pressing herself back into her father's chest. "'Agrid." She giggled softly as Hagrid made a show of searching through his pockets, then reached out tentatively when he presented her with a lint-covered piece of peppermint humbug. "'Agrid."

"Dria, what do you say," Harry gently prodded his daughter.

"Tanks," she responded around the candy in her mouth.

"She's as cute as a baby dragon, 'Arry."

Harry laughed at that, taking it as a compliment when he recalled how besotted his friend had been with Norbert, the Norwegian Ridgeback Hagrid possessed for a while. "Umm, thanks Hagrid." Harry looked up at the front doors of Hogwarts then said apologetically, "We need to go, Hagrid – Severus is expecting us – but if we have time later, we'll stop by your cottage."

Hagrid gravely said, "'e missed ye sometin fierce, 'Arry. Still does, if ye be askin' me."

"Really Hagrid?" When Hagrid nodded, Harry quietly confessed, "I'm so confused, Hagrid. Everyone has told me about his searching for me – I didn't think he would even notice my leaving."

"Oh, 'e did, believe me, 'Arry. Do ye think there's any chance that ye and 'e…"

"I don't know yet, Hagrid. I promised him yesterday that I would stay until after the Christmas holidays – he wants to give our marriage a second chance." Harry bit his lip then shrugged helplessly, "I'm scared to trust him again."

Hagrid put a large hand on Harry's shoulder and squeezed it comfortingly. "Give it time, 'Arry – everything'll work out in the end." He gently pushed Harry toward the door. "Now, I'm sure 'e's waitin' anxiously fer ye, so ye better be off."

Several minutes later, Harry and Dria were standing in front of the door to Snape's quarters. Harry hesitated, unsure, then gathered his courage and firmly knocked. The door swung open instantly. Harry smiled to himself – Severus was obviously looking forward to meeting his daughter. "Good afternoon, Severus."

"Harry," Severus absently responded to the greeting, his gaze locked on the tiny girl in his husband's arms. There was an open, almost vulnerable expression on his normally impassive face. "Come in." He stepped back and gestured toward the sitting room.

Harry brushed past Severus and entered the room. He glanced about curiously and was stunned to see some of his possessions still resting in their places. The Quidditch trophy from his last year at Hogwarts was sitting on a bookshelf, his old broomstick was propped up in the corner and several of his old books lay in a neat pile on the table near the sofa. He turned to face his husband, an eyebrow arched in inquiry, "I figured you would have pitched my stuff by now."

Severus avoided both his eyes and the question as he walked into the tiny kitchen adjacent to the sitting room. "Would you and Dria like some tea? I believe the house elves left some biscuits around here somewhere as well."

Placing Dria on the floor near the fireplace, Harry took out a few toys and scattered them around her, warning, "Stay there, baby girl and don't go getting into anything." He then crossed to stand in the doorway of the kitchen and grinned as his husband rooted around in the cabinets. "Severus, quit it."

Severus started and swirled, banging his head on the open cupboard door. "Fuck." The biscuit package he'd had in his hand hit the floor with a thud, scattering the sweet treats all over. Severus glared as he rubbed his head, muttering, "What do you want?"

"For you to stop trying to act like the perfect host, come out into the sitting room and get to know your daughter." Harry smirked as he took out his wand and uttered a cleaning incantation. "Now, if I didn't know better, I would say you're afraid of a seventeen month old toddler."

Straightening his body in outrage, Severus hissed, "How dare you, Harry. I'm not frightened of my daughter." Unfortunately, the effect was ruined by his hand massaging the tender spot on his forehead.

Harry gently brushed aside his husband's hand and cast a small healing spell, one at which he'd become adept because of Dria's many little bangs and bruises. "There, all better. Dria's waiting, Severus and she's going to love you – provided you give her some time. This is all new to her, and she is a little scared right now." He grasped Severus' hand and tugged him into the other room.

"Oh, no!" Severus shook off Harry's hand and rushed over to the fireplace, where Dria was happily playing in the hearth. Soot was everywhere and the little girl was smeared head to toe in it. "Bad girl."

Dria looked up at her father as he towered over her and promptly began to cry. The tears mingled with the ashes, creating a filthy mess on her cheeks. She quickly reached for Harry as the sobs shook her tiny body.

Harry scooped her up in his arms, quietly soothing her as he watched Severus clean up the disaster area. "It's okay, love. Everything's going to be okay."

"It's hopeless – I'm hopeless!" Severus flung himself onto the couch and glared over at Harry and Dria. "You're right, Harry. I am terrified. When I saw her in the fireplace, my heart just… it just stopped, thinking she could hurt herself somehow."

"She's fine, Severus. Just a tad bit dirty and I need to change her clothes – that's all. You can't worry about everything she might get into. If you do, you'll be a nervous wreck." Harry looked down ruefully at his daughter and smiled. "Kids will do that to you, you know."

Severus brooded as Harry retrieved the diaper bag he'd dropped near the front door and began cleaning up their daughter. He had been anticipating their visit all morning, but when they were actually standing in his sitting room, he'd panicked. What did he know about raising small children? His experience with them started at age eleven, when they entered Hogwarts for the first time.

Harry slipped Dria's filthy pink robe over her head after he'd washed her face and hands, then dressed her in a Muggle tee shirt and jeans. Her sobs had quieted to soft hiccups as he carried her over to the couch and sat down next to Severus, holding the squirming girl on his lap. "Do you want to hold her?" he asked quietly.

Severus hesitated for an instant then extended his hands out to take her. Dria immediately started wailing again, clutching Harry tightly about his neck. Severus dropped his arms down to his side, sighing in defeat. This was going exactly as he'd imagined it would.

"Dria sweetie, this is your Papa. Remember I told you we were going to see him today?" Harry tried to pry her hands off of him, but she refused to let go. She finally stopped crying and Harry settled her more comfortably in his lap.

Dria turned and looked at her father, her eyes still liquid with tears. She studied him for a moment then glanced up at Harry. "Where's Dosh, Daddy?"

Harry bit his lip, eyeing his husband anxiously as he responded, "Josh isn't here, Dria. Papa's here." He certainly hadn't wanted this subject to come up right now. Josh had quickly become a favorite of his daughter over the past few months. He had an easy way with children and the two of them had spent many hours playing and teasing each other.

"Want Dosh. Dosh take me to see the an'mals." Dria dismissed Severus as she buried her face in Harry's chest.

Severus tensed at the name of his husband's friend. Jealousy ripped through him; obviously whoever this Josh person was, he was quite close to both Harry and Dria. He jumped to his feet and started pacing about the room. "Congratulations Harry. You've already turned her against me, before we even met," he snarled, keeping his back to his two visitors.

"Severus…" Harry began.

"Get out! Get out of here NOW!" Severus stormed from the room and down the small hallway that led to his bedroom and study.

Harry stared at the doorway where the other man had disappeared. Severus was acting almost… jealous and Harry knew he needed to deal with the situation without their daughter around. He walked over to the cold fireplace and waved his wand, causing the flames to shoot upward. A pinch of Floo powder followed, and Harry called out, "Minerva McGonagall's office, Hogwarts." Once the flames turned green, he stuck his head and shoulders in and said, "Professor, I need your help."

Minerva looked up from the papers she was grading with a smile and replied, "If I can, Harry. What do you need?" She settled her square glasses firmly on the tip of her nose as she waited for his reply.

"Would you watch Dria for a little while? It's time that Severus and I talked, and it would be much easier without us having to keep an eye on her at the same time." Harry grinned at his former Head of House, knowing she was one of the people who were rooting for his and Severus' reconciliation.

"Certainly, I'll be there in a second." Minerva glanced around her cluttered office then asked, "Is it okay if I take her back to my rooms? There are too many things that she could get hurt on if we stay in here."

"Not a problem, Professor. Come through when you're ready." Harry pulled his head out of the Floo and stood up. The frame sitting on the mantle caught his eye – it was their Wizarding wedding picture. They – he'd been so content that day, thinking that Severus belonged to him. What a naïve little boy he had been back then.

The flare leapt up and he moved back to allow Minerva enough room to enter. She stepped in, brushing the faint traces of the ashes from her robes and looking over at the toddler playing on the floor. "She's beautiful, Harry."

Dria looked up at the sound of a strange voice and quickly moved to her father's side, clutching his leg. She peeked around him and stared at the newcomer.

Minerva smiled at Dria as she moved to the sofa and sat down. She leaned over slightly until her face was on the same level as the little girl's and tenderly said, "Dria, you are a pretty little girl, aren't you? Come talk to me, please?"

After receiving an encouraging nod from Harry, Dria released her grip on his trousers and cautiously made her way over to the older woman. She contemplated Minerva for a minute then reached out her hand and grabbed for the square glasses.

Minerva laughed and moved her head back out of reach. "No, little one, I don't think so. Let's see what I have in my pockets for you to play with, shall we?" She pulled out a small glass ball and lightly ran her hand over it, triggering a spell on the toy. It began to pulse and alter colors, changing from red to blue to green then back to red. She then held it out to show Dria. "This is one of my grandchildren's favorite toys."

Dria stood transfixed by the Wizarding toy as it flashed. She then giggled as she climbed up onto the sofa beside Minerva and took the ball from the woman's outstretched hand. Rolling back and forth from one hand to the other, she giggled again and looked up at Minerva, a huge grin on her face.

"Would you like to see some other toys, Dria? I have some in my rooms that my grandchildren play with. I believe there's a dollhouse there that you would enjoy." When Dria nodded, Minerva scooped her up and stood. She looked over at Harry and said, "We'll be in my rooms, Harry. There's plenty there for her to stay occupied for hours, so take as much time as you need, alright?"

"Thanks Professor." Harry escorted them to the door and lightly ruffled his daughter's curls. "You be a good girl for the Professor, Dria and Daddy will come get you in a little while." He grabbed the diaper bag and handed it to Minerva. "There are some snacks in here for her and she'll probably take a nap soon. She normally sleeps for an hour or two in the afternoon."

Minerva smiled at the little girl in her arms then turned to Harry. "I raised six children of my own, and I have fourteen grandchildren. I'm sure I can handle her for a couple of hours, Harry." She gave him a level gaze as she continued, "Don't worry about her – you concentrate on getting things worked out between you and Severus."

Harry rolled his eyes as he answered, "I'll try, Professor." He glanced over his shoulder in the direction Severus had disappeared. "I wasn't expecting him to… care… so much, you know? I thought I would show up, we'd sign whatever paperwork was needed for the divorce and I'd leave again. I never figured he'd want us to try again."

"Don't underestimate the level of his feelings for you, Harry." With those quiet words Minerva left with her young charge.

The door closed with a soft click behind her. Harry leaned back against it as he thought about her words. Maybe he had underestimated Severus, but he still wasn't sure he was ready to completely forgive him yet. There was still the matter of Lucius that needed to be eliminated. He sighed and pushed off the door, going in search of his sulking spouse.

He knocked on the closed bedroom door and waited a minute before slowly opening it. The room was dark with no sign of Severus. Harry waved his wand and the lights flickered on, giving him a chance to look around.

He remembered his astonishment when he first saw this room. Given Severus' penchant for wearing unrelieved black, Harry'd expected his bedroom to be decorated in the same manner. Instead, although most of the furniture in the suite was a rich mahogany, the atmosphere was lightened by the cream and gold duvet and bed curtains. Harry smiled when he spotted the light-colored chaise sitting near the fireplace – he and Severus had spent many an hour lying on it, sharing their dreams with each other as well as making love.

Harry walked over and lightly ran his fingers along the upholstery of the chair. Severus' green silk robe was thrown casually over the back and he picked it up and sat down. Letting the soft fabric glide through his fingers, he felt the tears burning at the back of his eyes. He was so confused – part of him wanted to rush into Severus' arms and forget everything that had happened while the other part wanted to flee back to America. Burying his face in the robe on his lap, he allowed the tears to flow as his emotions took over.

Severus entered his bedroom and paused in the doorway, surprised to find Harry there crying. He watched him for a second then moved over and sat down beside his spouse, wending his fingers through Harry's unruly hair.

Harry sniffed as he raised his tear-stained face, green eyes meeting haunted black as the two men stared at each other. Harry closed his eyes when Severus drew his fingertips down his moist cheeks.

"Oh Harry, I'm so damnably sorry for everything that's happened," Severus whispered. "You're the last person in the world that I ever wanted to hurt." He hated the distress he saw in his husband's eyes and wanted desperately to erase it.

"Why, Severus? Why did you do it?" Harry asked brokenly. "Was I not enough for you?" He stared down at the damp robe as his fingers twisted nervously in the silk. "I thought we were happy together."

Severus grasped Harry's chin and turned his face toward him, forcing him to meet his gaze. "Harry, I want you to believe me when I say that we were happy – I love you. I probably always will."

"Then why? And why Lucius of all fucking people?"

Raking his fingers through his hair, Severus paused then confessed, "I never told you this, but Lucius was my first… lover. During my seventh year, my father insisted that I attend a few Death Eater functions in anticipation of my taking the mark. Lucius was six years older than I, and had been active in the Dark Lord's inner circle for several years, so naturally he was in attendance at these gatherings. I was… dazzled by him and when he turned his attention toward me, I quickly fell in love."

Harry swallowed then forced himself to ask, "Did he fall in love with you as well?"

Severus shook his head jerkily. "No, I don't think so. It was a… game to him – he enjoyed having me following him around like a lovesick puppy." He stretched out his hand and tangled his fingers with Harry's. "I made a fool of myself, chasing after him the way I did."

"Did Albus know?" Harry tightened his grip on Severus' hand as he waited for the answer.

"Harry, everyone knew." Severus gave a short, bitter laugh. "I didn't bother hiding my crush on him and he and my father used it to ensure my… cooperation. They insisted that I take the mark as soon as I left Hogwarts." He leaned forward, allowing his hair to shield his face.

Harry gently brushed the strands behind Severus' ear, trying to comfort him. He knew this conversation was necessary, as painful as it was. "Severus, you never told me why you left Voldemort's service and came back to Dumbledore. Will you please?"

Pinching the bridge of his nose between his forefinger and thumb, Severus wavered before answered Harry's question. The thought of that night still nauseated him even after twenty-four years. Drawing a breath deep in his lungs then exhaling, he calmed himself and said, "I was nineteen at the time and the Dark Lord assigned me my first mission. I was supposed to torture and kill a family of Muggleborns that evening. Lucius and Walden Macnair accompanied me, most likely to guarantee my success. When we got there, we rounded up the children and led them into their parents' bedroom." He closed his eyes as he remembered the terrified expressions on the family's faces. "I… I tried to follow through with my orders, but… I couldn't… I looked at those children and I couldn't do it. I froze."

Harry continued to run his fingers through the sable hair as Severus collected himself. Severus arched into the touch, welcoming the soothing gesture. "Lucius and Macnair completed the job then took me back to the Dark Lord. I was… punished by him and then he offered me to the other Death Eaters, who took their turns at me. Lucius stood there and… laughed before he… he raped me. They didn't release me until morning." He looked up and met Harry's steady gaze. "I returned to Hogwarts that day, and after Pomfrey healed me, I denounced the Dark Lord to Albus. He offered me the teaching position at Hogwarts as well as a chance to redeem myself by spying for him."

Harry frowned as he considered what Severus had just told him. The various snippets of information he'd heard since his return, along with Severus' confession, added up to a picture he didn't like. "Severus, whose idea was it for you to resume your affair with Lucius?"

Severus quietly stated, "Albus."

"That bastard!" Harry jumped up from the chaise and began pacing the floor. That fact that Albus sent Severus back to the Death Eaters even though he knew what had happened to Severus was unbelievable. Harry's magic crackled about him, filling the air with jolts of unseen energy as his fury increased with every step.

Severus watched the younger man as he moved about the room, bemused by his reaction. The anger toward Albus was unexpected – it was almost as though Harry still cared about him. Hope, an emotion he hadn't felt since Harry's departure, began to settle in his heart.

Suddenly, Harry swirled around and dropped to his knees in front of Severus. He gripped his husband's thighs with his hands as he demanded, "Do you feel anything toward Lucius?"

"No, Harry." Severus shook his head as he cupped Harry's cheek with his palm. "There's only one person I love and he's right here in front of me."

"Then it stops – now!"

"But Harry…"

Harry hissed fiercely, "No, Severus. You are not going back to Lucius, do you hear me? I won't allow it." His hands tightened on Severus' legs as he continued, "Albus had no right to send you to him, not after what he did to you."

Severus tried to argue, "Maybe not, but the Order needs the information I gather for them, Harry. Albus feels…"

"Fuck Albus and fuck the Order! If they want me to cooperate with my so-called destiny, then they'll find some other way to spy on Voldemort." Harry touched his forehead to Severus' knee as he whispered, "I've lost too much to that madman. I won't lose you as well. I can't."

Severus caressed the bowed head and softly promised, "All right, Harry. It's finished."

"Thank you, Severus." Harry raised his head and met his husband's eyes. "Our daughter deserves to have her fathers, both of them. You two need a chance to get to know each other."

Severus frowned at the reminder of Dria's reaction to him. "It didn't go very well earlier today. I frightened her."

Chuckling as he slid up to sit on the chaise beside Severus, Harry teased, "Severus, you frightened me the first time I saw you and I was eleven! Give her time to get used to you, please?"

"What about Josh?"

"What about him?"

Severus gave Harry an exasperated look as he stated, "It seems she's very fond of him – you too. What role does he play in all of this?"

Harry chewed on his lip as he thought about the American. He knew that Joshua wanted him, but he didn't feel the same way. His return to England had shown him that he still loved Severus. However, he wasn't quite ready to confess his feelings to his husband – he needed a bit more time yet. "Joshua is a friend, nothing more. We've spent a lot of time together since we met at my birthday party, and he's interested in deepening the relationship, but… I don't return his feelings."

"Harry, do… do we have a chance?"

Harry smiled faintly at Severus. "I think so, but not right now. Let's take it slowly, please?"

Severus leaned over and placed a tender kiss on Harry's cheek. "We'll take as much time as you need, Harry, as long as I know there's a possibility of you coming back to me." He smirked, "I assume I'll need to court both you and Dria in order to win you two."

"That sounds like an excellent plan, Severus. However, I'm warning you, we both have high expectations of you. Romantic dinners for two, play dates at the park – we demand only the best, you know." Harry grinned at his spouse.

Severus laughed as he stood, drawing Harry to his feet and close to his body. "It will be my pleasure, Harry."

Harry stood on his tiptoes and quickly kissed Severus' lips. "Now I need to go rescue Professor McGonagall from the little terror. Owl me at the Leaky Cauldron, okay?" Once Severus agreed, Harry gave him another soft kiss and quietly left the dungeon to find his daughter.

October 24, 2001 – The Burrow, Ottery St. Catchpole, England

"Mrs. Weasley, I can't tell you how much I appreciate your help right now. I really need to find a place for Dria and me to stay – the room at the Leaky Cauldron starts feeling small when you're cooped up with a toddler." Harry smiled gratefully at Molly as she moved about the kitchen, preparing some tea for her visitors.

"Phfft, think nothing of it, dear. Dria is absolutely precious and as you can see," Molly gestured toward the backyard, where Ginny was entertaining Dria, "Ginny is completely smitten with her." She poured two cups of tea then brought them over to the table where Harry was sitting.

Harry watched Ginny and Dria for a while, wishing he had brought his camera. Ginny was levitating autumn leaves into piles, then she and the baby would jump into them, giggling as the leaves scattered. He laughed as the game changed to hide and seek. Dria buried herself in a pile, then Ginny pretended she couldn't find her. Dria popped out and pounced on Ginny, throwing her petite arms around her neck and hugging her.

"She means the world to me, Mrs. Weasley. I can't imagine not having her." Harry sipped his tea then reached for a biscuit from the plate Molly had just set down.

"Yes, I know what you mean. I feel the same way about all my children, even the twins, though they led me on a merry chase when they were younger." Molly sat down beside Harry and reached for her cup as she casually asked, "So, has Severus gotten to see her yet?"

Harry nodded his head. "Yes, last Sunday. It didn't go well, to say the least. I think we'll try again tomorrow, provided I can find a place to stay." He fidgeted with his cup as he admitted, "We're going to try again. He's promised to give me time and court me, as well as woo Dria."

"I'm glad, Harry. You two need some time to work things out. It's obvious that you both still love each other." Molly leaned over and patted Harry on the hand.

"I know, even though I haven't told him that. I understand his reasons behind his actions, but the hurt is still there."

"It'll fade, Harry. The important thing is that you're both trying."

"You're right." Harry drained his teacup and stood up. "If I'm going to find us a home, I need to get going. Don't let Dria terrorize you too much, Mrs. Weasley." He kissed her on the cheek and walked outside to Apparate to the first flat on his list.

Several hours later, Harry frowned down at the parchment in his hands, frustrated with his lack of success. Every flat on the list had something major wrong with it and he didn't know what he was going to do now. He really wanted to move he and Dria out of the Leaky Cauldron as soon as possible, but he'd looked at every available place in Hogsmeade and nothing suited their needs.

He wearily entered The Three Broomsticks and found an empty booth near the front windows. He slid into the seat with a grateful sigh and waved at Madam Rosmerta, smiling when she waved back. She soon made her way over to his table.

"Harry! It's so good to see you again." Madam Rosmerta patted him on his shoulder as she greeted him, then asked, "What can I get you today?"

Harry quickly perused the menu. "Hmm, how about some steak and kidney pie and a butterbeer, Madam Rosmerta."

"Coming right up, Harry." Madam Rosmerta hurried off toward the kitchen to put in his order.

Harry slumped down in his seat as he rubbed his face with his hands. Today's expedition had been a failure and he was stymied over his next move. He propped his elbow on the table and leaned his chin in his palm as he stared out of the window. The streets were bustling as the various wizards and witches went about their business. Harry idly watched as several young children scampered down one of the side roads, chasing each other in a rousing game of tag. Suddenly, Harry straightened up and smacked himself on the forehead.

"What an imbecile I am. I completely forgot about the cottage." He and Severus had purchased a small cottage on the outskirts of Hogsmeade before their wedding – maybe he and Dria could stay there for the time being.

After he finished his lunch and paid, Harry exited the pub and briskly walked toward the cottage. His steps slowed as he approached the front gate – the cottage had an air of neglect about it that saddened him. The pathway from the gate to the front door was overgrown with weeds; one of the shutters was crooked, hanging on one hinge and several shingles were missing from the roof.

Harry pushed open the gate and carefully made his way down the path. The front steps creaked under his weight as he mounted them and placed his hand on the door. He uttered the password 'Peace', and the lock clicked open.

The inside of the building was as depressing as the outside, Harry decided as he entered the sitting room. A thick layer of dust covered the furniture and huge cobwebs hung in the corners. He crossed to the window and pushed aside the curtain. The glass was so covered in dirt that he could barely see out. He allowed the curtain to drop, coughing as a cloud of dust puffed out from the fabric, then walked into the small kitchen.

Harry frowned at the sight of dirty dishes sitting in the sink; he then gave a small gasp as he realized why they were there. On the day he'd discovered Severus and Lucius here, he'd arrived shortly after breakfast. Severus must have left the cottage once he'd figured out that Harry had been there, leaving everything as it was.

Leaving the filthy kitchen, Harry crossed to the bedroom doors. The guest room stood open, showing the same unkempt appearance as the sitting room and kitchen. The door to the master bedroom was closed and Harry tentatively placed his hand on the doorknob. He wasn't sure he was ready to face the memories in there. Taking a step backward, he decided that the room would remain closed for now. He and Dria could sleep in the guest room at first.

Harry gave one last look at the sitting room before nodding. Yes, it would work – he would firecall Hogwarts and request the assistance of Dobby and some of the other house elves in the cleaning and repair of the place. Once that was completed, then he and Dria could move in. He smiled as a wave of emotion swept over him – he was finally home. The door closed quietly behind him as he set off to fetch his daughter and begin the preparations for their move.
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