AU. When Sirius and Remus go looking for Peter Pettigrew, they make a wrong turn and someone else finds him first. Eight years later, Sirius owns a book store and Remus manages it for him. When Harry stumbles into the store and they find out the truth, they decide it's time to be Stealing Harry. (SB/RL slash relationship in later chapters.)
As they walked through Hogwarts, Harry stared around him, eyes wide, trying to take in everything -- the paintings, the hangings, the big kids walking through the hallways. Few of them looked at him, though many of them stared at Professor Snape.
They made their way out of the castle, Harry turning as soon as they were outside, to take in the building he'd looked at so often in pictures.
Professor Snape led the way down to a large grassy enclosure -- a real Quidditch pitch, Harry thought with wonder, gazing at the golden hoops --
And the seven robed figures already soaring around them.
Harry stopped, stunned and in awe, so that Professor Snape halted and turned to him.
He'd watched Fred and George fly, and seen photos of professional teams, but that was nothing to seeing it live, done by experienced players. His eyes tracked the Quaffle as the students passed it quickly from one to the other -- he gasped when a Bludger nearly hit one of them.
"Come to the stands," Professor Snape ordered, but Harry didn't hear him; one of the students had gone into a dive, chasing after a small glint of gold. It vanished again, and the girl pulled abruptly out of the dive.
Professor Snape gave him a small shove, and Harry snapped out of his reverie, running ahead to the ladder that led up to the stands, already climbing it by the time Professor Snape, following at a more leisurely pace, arrived. The rungs were designed for bigger children, but Harry managed, tumbling breathless onto the landing at the top.
They were unutterably, completely graceful -- completely free. Their green robes flashed in the sunlight, whipping out behind them as they flew, their leather gloves and greaves creaking a little when they moved.
"That is the Slytherin House team," said Professor Snape's voice behind him. "My House team. They're favoured for champions this year."
Harry watched as one of the Beaters ducked the Quaffle and, in the same movement, batted a Bludger away from another player. He felt Professor Snape guide him down the aisle to a front-row seat in the stands, where he hung his arms over the edge and looked up, craning his neck to keep watching.
It was brilliant; it was Quidditch. Harry felt he could never get tired of watching them weave in and out of each other, play small skirmishes against one another, compete to get to a Bludger. He wasn't aware of how long he stood in the bright, chilly afternoon, his new, long hair whipping in the wind, Professor Snape occasionally calling out orders from a seat nearby. Soon, however, he was being pulled gently away from the front railing, and led back down to the Pitch, where the students were landing, gathering with their brooms to talk, and stow the game balls, and begin to unstrap their gear.
"Oi, Professor!" called a tall, blond-haired boy. "Who's the sprog?"
Harry realised the boy was referring to him; he dropped back to half-hide behind the edge of Snape's robe.
"This is my nephew, Parvus," Professor Snape said, smoothly. The others glanced at the blond boy as if he might be in for trouble ahead. "He will be...visiting me, occasionally."
"Titchy little thing, aren't you?" one of the girls asked, crouching to be on eye-level with Harry. She was much older than most of the others, Harry could see that, but she was still the shortest on the team. "What'd you think of our playing?"
"Itwasbrilliant," Harry said breathlessly, not moving from his place of safety behind Professor Snape's right leg. The girl drew a small golden ball out of her pocket, and Harry watched silvery wings unfurl. A real, live Golden Snitch. He followed it as she held it between thumb and forefinger.
"Think you can catch it?" she asked. Harry nodded. She let it go, and Harry's hand snapped out almost instinctively; he saw she was reaching for it too, and knew that she didn't believe he could -- but that didn't matter, because his hand was already around the small golden ball, fingers crushing one wing slightly.
The students were looking at each other in surprise. The girl almost tumbled backwards out of shock.
Professor Snape was staring down at him.
"Give her back the Snitch, Parvus," he ordered. Harry held out his hand and let the girl, righting herself, take it from his fingers.
"Chasers, your passing skills require improvement," Snape announced, while the students exchanged looks. "You will practice again tomorrow evening, after dinner. Beaters, know your vectors; Keeper, attempt to prevent a few goals next time. Seeker..." he turned to the girl, who was repeatedly releasing the Snitch and re-capturing it, as if to test her reflexes. "Try and make sure you can beat an eight-year-old child to the Snitch, if you please."
She flushed crimson, and Harry saw a sudden look of hate wash over her face, directed at him.
Then the players were turning to leave: talking, shoving, whacking each other across the backs of legs with their brooms. Harry, following at Professor Snape's side, had a moment where he wanted nothing more than to be a member of the Slytherin House Quidditch team, and wear a glittering green robe and leather gloves, and get told he was a bastard by his captain, or get his hair pulled by the Seeker.
But then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a mass of red, and he turned.
There was another team gathering on the Pitch, in scarlet and gold, talking and laughing together, one of the players obviously demonstrating a new trick -- his broomstick spiralling almost straight up, the player himself only clinging by his hands and tightly clenched knees. One of them had his arm slung around one of the girls, and the remaining players were showing a very young-looking boy how to capture a Bludger.
"Who're they?" Harry asked, pointing. Professor Snape took his wrist, lowering his hand.
"Gryffindor," he said, with loathing. "Come along."
"My parents were in Gryffindor, weren't they?" Harry asked, turning to look as Snape led him forward.
"As well as the pair of incompetents now looking after you," Professor Snape said. Harry scowled, but he remembered Moony's admonition to be polite.
They left the Slytherin team at a shed near the Pitch, and made their way back to the castle. Now that he could spend several minutes looking at it, Harry took in every detail -- the turrets, the gates, the narrow windows crowned with gargoyles and high carved arches.
Professor Snape had to speak to some of the other teachers, and he couldn't, as he pointed out, leave a child to his own devices, especially in a Potions workshop, so he took Harry along. It wasn't exactly a guided tour, but Harry generally got succinct if curt answers to his questions, and he got to see a good deal of the school. Professor Snape had to carry him up one staircase, as his legs wouldn't stretch to go up three steps at a time, and the steps inbetween, the Professor explained, were only half-real.
Another staircase started to move while they were on it, and Harry very nearly fell over from excitement.
By the time they'd picked up a book from Professor McGonagall, left a packet of strange green powder off for Professor Flitwick to use in class the following day, and quickly hidden from Professor Trelawney -- Harry didn't blame Snape for a moment, she looked decidedly frightening -- it was nearly dinnertime.
"You will eat in the Great Hall, with the students," Professor Snape said, as Harry followed him towards the front of the castle. "Find Alexander Lestrange, you met him this afternoon, he's the brown-haired boy from the Quidditch practice. He is to watch over you and make sure you don't break anything."
Harry thought the last was rather unfair, as he hadn't broken anything all afternoon, but he opened his mouth to agree as they entered the Great Hall -- and then the grandeur of the seemingly-roofless, enormous, table-lined hall drove all thought of speaking from his mind.
Snape gave him another light shove, and he stumbled towards a table over which hung a black and green banner with a snake slithering its way up it. One table over, he could see some of the Quidditch players from Gryffindor House, and the much smaller boy in their midst. Alexander, the Slytherin captain, wasn't too far away from them, and Harry approached warily.
"Hallo, Sprog," the big boy said. "Lose your uncle, did you?"
"He said I should eat with you," Harry answered, successfully preventing himself from stammering nervously.
"Right then, up you go," Alexander said unconcernedly, and Harry climbed up on the long bench.
He listened to the others talk about the practice, and about classes, and in surprisingly derogatory tones about fellow classmates. Sirius would have his hide if he heard Harry talk about the Weasleys that way. He didn't take part, and except for a few inquiries about why 'Parvus' was there, they ignored him.
Harry turned in his seat, slightly, trying to find out where the whisper had come from.
"Psst! Behind you!"
Harry craned his neck. The small Gryffindor boy from the Quidditch Pitch grinned at him.
"Our table's out of rolls," he said. "You got any?"
Harry reached for the basket and passed it over, unnoticed and unremarked by the Slytherins.
"Ta!" the boy said, taking two and handing the basket to the boy on his right. Harry turned in his seat, a little, so that he could grin back at the boy.
"What's your name?" he asked.
"Oliver," the boy answered. "But I'm not supposed to talk to Slytherins."
"I'm not a Slytherin," Harry said. "I'm just visiting."
The boy took him in, cocking his head. "Yeah, you're a bit small, even for a first year. Why're you here?"
Harry lied, uncomfortably. "My name's Parvus. I'm Professor Snape's nephew."
"Yeah, I heard 'em talking about you!" Oliver said, grinning. "Gryffindor Captain said that Slytherin Captain said that you're a better Seeker'n their House Team Seeker."
"Naw," Harry said, grinning. "You on the team?"
"Me? I'm a first year, we're not allowed," Oliver scowled. "See that big boy?"
Harry noted the tall, red-headed boy sitting nearby. He looked a bit like Ron. "That's Bill Weasley. He's Quidditch Captain. He's lettin' me carry brooms and chase stray balls and that, since I can't play till next year. I play Keeper. I'm gonna be the best Quidditch player ever," he added.
"Here, sprog, what d'you think you're doing? Wood, mind your own table," Alexander Lestrange said nastily. Oliver, blushing bright red, turned around quickly, and hunched over his plate. Alexander turned Harry around and shook him gently by his collar.
"We don't go talking with them," he said.
"Cos we're Slytherin. What do we need to be talking to a load of poufy Gryffindors for?"
Harry didn't understand it, but he understood that if he tried to turn around again, he'd probably get in trouble. So he sat, and ate, and continued to listen.
"And then I talked to this boy named Oliver and then we had dessert and it was pudding and then I got to go see the Owlry and there was owl poop everywhere and then we went back to Dumbledore's office and he gave me a sherbet and showed me all the other Headmasters and he's got a PHOENIX and he gave me short hair again and my scar again and then I came home."
Sirius had been unaware that a child with such small lungs could talk so continuously for so long.
He had been treated to a running thirty-minute monologue as he ate a late dinner, listening intently to Harry's description of his day while the boy bounced excitedly in his chair across the kitchen table. Harry didn't seem traumatised at all.
"And the BEST PART IS," Harry said, finally drawing a breath, "I got to see a real live Snitch."
Sirius stopped chewing. "Did you now?" he asked, pleased. Harry nodded.
"There was a girl on the Slytherin House team and she showed it to me and said could I catch it and I said yes and she didn't believe me but she tried to catch it and instead I did. I don't think she liked that much," he finished, thoughtfully.
"You caught a Snitch?"
"Mmmhm. Not on a broomstick, like. On the ground."
Sirius mulled this over. "Sounds like you had a good time."
"Uh huh. Where's Moony?"
"He's gone out tonight."
"Will you show me your chessboard?"
"Sure, if you like." Sirius had refrained, until now, from letting Harry see his wizarding chess set; he'd taught a few key pieces to swear, over the years, and it tended to scandalise people. Still, the lad had to learn sometime.
Harry stood on his chair as Sirius rose and walked to a closet in the hallway, taking down a thick wooden case. He opened it, revealing two compartments for pieces -- each piece nestled in an indentation in the velvet lining -- and an elegant chessboard, in shades of cream and black.
"This belonged to my grandfather," he said. "He gave it to me when I was fourteen."
Harry picked up one of the pieces, laughing when it squirmed and demanded to be set down. Sirius tapped twice on the edge of the board with his wand, and all the pieces, except the rook that Harry was holding, leapt into place.
"Come here, and I'll show you how it works," Sirius said, picking Harry up and settling him into his lap. Harry leaned forward eagerly. "Now this is the knight, and he moves in an l-shaped pattern..."
When Remus arrived home, he found Sirius slumped back in the chair, eyes closed, and Harry curled up against him, hand clutching at his shirt in his sleep. He shed his coat, took off his shoes, and picked up Harry, carrying the sleeping boy to his bed. Harry stirred.
"M'not tired," the boy yawned.
"You were asleep."
"Where were you?"
"Out. I was meeting someone."
"I met a lot of people today."
"I'll bet you did. I want to hear about it after school tomorrow."
"I want a racing broomstick for my birthday."
Remus laughed. "Sure thing, lad. I'll tell Sirius."
Harry's eyes closed, and Remus switched out the light. The nightlight -- Harry's toy robot -- glowed a pleasant yellow in the dark room.
In the kitchen, Sirius was sitting up, closing the latches on his chessboard.
"Didn't realise how late it was," he said, sleepily. Remus went to the sink, pouring himself a glass of water. He handed Sirius a second one. "Ta, Remus."
"Did Harry have a good time?"
"Sounds like it. Dumbledore showed him Fawkes, and he met a couple of the professors. And he saw a Quidditch practice."
"Full day for the lad. How about you?"
"Worked on the motorbike. You know Arthur Weasley says there might be a market for 'em. Thinking of buying another one and charming it, see if I can't sell it."
"How was your date?"
Remus shook his head. "Immensely boring. And a smoker. I give up."
"Molly could still set you up with Allison Sparrow. I'm taking Moira to the Muggle cinema next Wednesday. Did you know she's never been?"
"This is the woman Molly thinks ought to be Harry's mum?" Remus asked, somewhat sarcastically.
"Well, it can't hurt. I haven't had a decent date in ages, you know how it is with Harry about," Sirius answered. "I love the boy but he does put a bit of a crimp in one's social calendar."
"The way mine's been going, it's a welcome relief."
"Moony, not that it's any of my business, but after seventeen years you have yet to explain to me just whether or not you're even interested in girls," Sirius said. "You were at school."
"Does it matter so much to you?"
"Well, it'd matter to Allison Sparrow, you know."
Remus leaned back on the counter, looking up at the ceiling. "No. Not interested in girls so much."
"Because you know, it's not that I don't know any chaps who aren't -- "
"Sirius, don't finish that sentence. I'm not having my best friend set me up."
"Who else ought to do it?"
"I can find my own dates, I'm not quite that pathetic," Remus said, with a small smile to take the sting from his words. "I hope Moira is everything we expect her to be."
Sirius grinned. "You know, when it comes time to explain the birds and the bees to Harry, you'd better let me do it."
"We'll see. He might take after me, you never know."
Harry, tucked in his bed with Frog in his arms and a star-patterned eiderdown keeping him warm, smiled in his sleep as he heard Moony and Sirius laughing in the kitchen.