Accidentally loaded the wrong chapter earlier today, here's the right one! Thank you to everyone who pointed that out, it was completely my fault!
Harry sat licking a large strawberry and peanut butter ice cream at the zoo with Severus.
"You sure you don't want some?" Harry offered. He tilted his cone enticingly though the effect was ruined by a large glob falling onto the grease stained picnic table. "Oops."
"I am quite sure that I do not want any," Severus said with mild disdain. "Who mixes peanut butter and strawberry?"
"I don't know, but it's good!"
"Why is it that the first thing you do when we come to the zoo is get ice cream? We could've gone to Diagon Alley for that," Severus pointed out.
"Yes but like you said, this is the first thing. Then we can go see the animals without me having to think about whether or not strawberry and peanut butter taste good together," Harry explained.
"I'm not sure I follow your logic, but carry on before it melts even more," he advised.
The hot summer sun was wreaking havoc upon the ice cream stand's customers. Nearly all children, drooping ice cream cones and spilled globs were everywhere. More than one kid had burst out in tears after their treat had gone by the wayside. Harry finished his cone and wiped off the table and his face with a napkin. Separate napkins, Snape had made sure. From the corner of his eye, Harry saw Severus slip out his wand and aim a quick Scourgify at the table. Its filth was mildly diminished.
They wandered through the zoo, stopping before lions, tigers, seals and giraffes. Harry thought that he could watch a llama chew all day.
"Wouldn't you prefer a wizarding zoo?" Severus asked.
Harry's eyes widened. "They have those?"
Severus frowned. "I'm not sure, to be honest. I imagine they do." His lips curved slightly. "I never exactly looked into it."
As they were talking, they had reached the reptile house: Harry's favorite. They entered the crowd who strolled into the tunnel that housed snakes, lizards and their relatives. Immediately, Harry headed over to the Boa Constrictor.
"Hello," he hissed quietly. The snake's eyes snapped open. "Are you new here?"
Yesss, it replied, I would rather be in Brazil. It wass much more... fun.
"Ssorry," Harry replied, "I already set one loossse. They would get suspiciousss if I did it again."
The snake gave a jerk of its head and closed his eyes. Harry turned around and found Severus watching the exchange intently.
"You best not tell people you can talk to snakes," he advised. "It is not a common skill."
"Okay," Harry agreed easily, moving to the kimono dragon.
By the time that Harry had gazed at every animal in the zoo, it was nearing evening. Severus returned Harry to Spinner's End and both collapsed on the couch thoroughly exhausted.
"Thanks, Severus. I had a great time," Harry said, sipping a cool glass of pumpkin juice.
"I never realized that a tarantula could survive two years without food," Severus said dryly.
Harry gave him a questioning look.
"I overheard one of the workers say that after it jumped on someone a few years back, no one had the courage to feed it," Severus explained with a shrug.
Harry burst into laughter. Severus shot him a look. "Go to bed," he snapped but seemed amused.
Harry bid his guardian goodnight and climbed the stairs to his room, reflecting that this trip to the zoo just might top his first.
"Are you ready, Harry?" Severus asked.
"Almost," he said, dashing up the stairs to grab his money bag. He returned with it balled in his fist. "I'll need to stop at Gringott's."
"Whatever for?" Severus inquired.
Harry's expression was hesitant, as if he was unsure whether or not he was being tested. "To get gold to buy stuff?"
"Harry, I am your guardian now. I will provide for you," Severus admonished.
"But I have money. Let me help," Harry insisted. He had difficulty asking for things and would prefer to use his own money.
Severus shook his head. "You may have need of it later. Do not waste it now."
Harry opened his mouth to protest once more but a stern look from Severus cut him off.
"It's alright, Harry," he assured him. "That's what parents do."
Harry gazed at him suspiciously. His words had gotten right to the core of Harry's misgivings and scattered them. Harry felt an ache in his chest as he nodded and allowed himself to be led over to the fireplace. They made quick work of the Floo and before long were standing in Diagon Alley. Harry and Severus waited outside Ollivander's, the designated meeting spot for Ron, Hermione and Draco. Hermione and Draco were, of course, on time. The Weasleys, however, were a little late. Once greetings were exchanged, the Weasleys headed off to Gringott's, leaving Ron behind with his friends.
"What should we do while we wait?" Hermione asked.
"Ice cream?" Harry suggested eagerly.
All in agreement, they headed over to Fortescue's where the children took a table and Hermione's parents sat with Snape. Harry gave a small smile; that would be an awkward treats purchased, the four friends fell to chatting.
"Good to see you alive, Draco," Ron said.
"Thanks," he replied.
Ron scowled, "I thought Slytherins were known for their cunning? How come you didn't make up something to tell your father?"
Draco hesitated. "I did, sort of. I told him that I was just doing this to get close to Harry but he didn't believe me. He said that if that were the case, the other Slytherins would be behind me. He also said that changing houses was taking it way too far. His family is Slytherin."
"Oh," Ron replied. "Sorry about that, mate."
"Yeah, well it's better now," he said in a falsely optimistic tone.
"Hey, Draco, you trying out for the Gryffindor Quidditch team this year?" Harry asked to change he subject.
"Of course!" he said happily. "Though I'll have to try to get my mom to send me my broom..."
"Just don't try out for Seeker," Harry advised.
Draco grinned, "Afraid of a little competition, Potter?"
"Course not," Harry said with a matching grin.
"So I hear that you are dentists," Severus said into the awkward silence. The Grangers nodded. "What exactly does a dentist do?"
"Clean teeth," Mrs. Granger said.
"And that is a well-paying job?" Severus asked, brow knitted.
"Very," Mr. Granger affirmed.
Severus raised an eyebrow. "Perhaps you should employ your daughter during the summer. A simple spell would speed things up."
They looked mildly alarmed at the idea of their twelve year old daughter shooting spells at their patients. Severus decided to drop the subject. Doing so, however, left the ball in their court.
"So, um, Professor Snape," Mr. Granger began uncomfortably. "You are Harry's guardian?"
"For how long?" he inquired.
"About four months," Severus replied.
"Oh," he paused. "From what Hermione tells us, Harry is rather famous. Why did he pick you?"
Severus appreciated his bluntness. "I am still uncertain on that point myself. You may ask him, if you wish."
"No, no," he said quickly.
They sat in silence until the children had finished their treats and the Weasleys had returned.
"Alright, where shall we start?" Mrs. Weasley asked. "Books, I suppose? You all need them."
Harry didn't mention that he had gotten his as soon as the lists came in order to read them early. With the exception of Percy, the Weasleys didn't do unnecessary work, especially ahead of time. Harry suspected that Hermione had gotten hers as well, but Draco still had to go. They shuffled off as one large group and weasled their way into Flourish and Blotts.
"Why is it so crowded in here?" Harry all but yelled through the sea of people.
"Why, Gilderoy Lockhart is signing copies of his new book!" Mrs. Weasley cried with delight. The twins rolled their eyes.
Mrs. Weasley grabbed Harry's hand, "Come on, we'll get you to the front so that you can see him."
Ron elbowed Harry, "That's just an excuse to get her to the front."
Harry glanced helplessly at Severus who moved to follow them through the path Mrs. Weasley parted in the crowd. Harry was half pulled, half dragged to the very front of the small stage. A smiling man with golden hair and flamboyant robes stood on the stage cradling a book with a similar picture of himself.
"Magical Me," he announced, "the autobiography of myself, Gilderoy Lockhart. For those of you that have read my other books, you know that there is quite a lot to tell." Cameras snapped as he smiled. "For instance, I am a five time winner of Witch Weekly's most charming smile award."
Women sighed in the crowd.
"Now, who's first for the book signing?" Lockhart searched the front row. "Is that- it can't be Harry Potter?"
Harry tried to shrink backwards into the crowd.
"Why, come on up!" he encouraged Harry. Harry glanced up at Severus who gave him a commiserating look. Mrs. Weasley pushed Harry forward eagerly. Reluctantly, Harry climbed up onto the stage. "Come here, let's get a picture. Together, we can make the front page!"
A bright light flashed. Harry looked to Severus for rescue. He stepped forward, for once uncertain of what to do.
"Harry, we must be going," Severus said loudly in a dark voice. Much of the conversation around him stopped as heads turned his way.
"Of course," Harry said brightly. "Sorry, Mr. Lockhart."
"Oh, it is no matter," he said, looking slightly mystified. "But I insist on sending you with a full collection of my books."
Harry smiled tightly. "Er, thanks."
Harry didn't mention that he had read them all and found them to be almost complete rubbish. Lockhart snapped his fingers and someone rushed over with a stack of books. He shoved them into Harry's hands as another camera snapped. Harry hurried off the stage before more attention was directed his way.
"Here you go, I already have my books," he told Mrs. Weasley, giving her his stack. That was one less set she would have to buy.
Harry hurried off with Severus trying to ignore the looks that shot his way. When at last they broke free from the crowd, Harry looked around for his friends. Leaving Draco with Mrs. Weasley, they slipped outside and waited in the open air.
"Oh my," Harry groaned.
"You best get used to it," Severus advised. "He is the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor," he said with disgust.
"What?" Harry asked in disbelief. "Not you?"
"Unfortunately not," he said in a monotone. The other Weasleys looked slightly relieved at the fact that Snape would not be the new Defense professor.
Harry opened his mouth to say something when a voice called from behind him. "Hey Potter! Come to rustle up some more attention?"
Harry whipped around to find Nott sneering behind him. For dramatic effect, Severus turned slowly, and watched Nott's eyes widen and grow guarded.
"And you aren't trying to get attention right now?" Harry shot back. Nott scowled and glanced at Snape. He turned quickly and disappeared into the shop next door. "You have a good effect on Slytherins," Harry commented to Snape.
"Good for me," he clarified.
Before long, Mrs. Weasley returned carrying a bag that had been charmed weightless and filled to the brim with books.
"Arthur, dear, why don't you take Ginny to get her robes, wand, cauldron and.. whatever else. We're off to the Apothecary for some potion supplies," Mrs. Weasley announced.
The walk was not long and soon enough, they were crammed into the tiny store looking at potion ingredients. Severus peered into a few bottles but did not pick anything up.
"Do I need any potion supplies?" Harry asked.
Severus gave him a look. "Of course not. I have more than enough of what you'll need. I, however, do need to pick up a few things. Stay with Mrs. Weasley please."
"Where are you going?"
"Knockturn Alley," he said with a small smirk. "And no, you may not come."
"Bring us back something interesting," the twins piped up.
"Certainly," he said sarcastically and swept out.
There was not much left to do after the Apothecary except pick up a few writing supplies for Hermione. When at last they all met up and exchanged goodbyes, Harry was happy to be heading home. It was quite enough excitement for one day, he thought. Severus picked up his bags and rummaged through one of them. Tossing a small package to one of the twins, he said, "As per your request, here is something interesting."
"What is it?" Fred asked warily.
"Termite Treacle," Severus replied with a smirk. They grinned and pocketed it in front of Mrs. Weasley's disapproving glare.
"Let's go," she said, hurrying them away before Severus got any other ideas.
Harry smiled and waved goodbye to his friends, promising that it wouldn't be long before they would once again be together at Hogwarts.