Title: To Live Again
Author: MK Malfoy
Summary: De-aged Severus fic. Eleven years after the Battle of Hogwarts, Severus Snape returns to Hogwarts as a first year. Harry, a professor, helps him adapt, and he and Severus discover that there are other surprises in store for them. Is canon-compliant, but ignores the epilogue of DH. Will be SS/HP, but not anytime soon. Much of this fic is gen-ish in nature.
Characters: Arthur Weasley, Draco Malfoy, Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter, Severus Snape, Hermione Granger, Minerva McGonagall, Other, Ron Weasley, Severus Snape
Genres: Angst/Tragedy, Romance, Drama, Mystery/Suspense, General
Word Count: 120,500
Warnings: Violence, Adult Language, Sexual Situations, Spoilers, Contains Slash Sex, Character Deaths, but not any of the main characters
Written: Oct. 08, 2008 – January 18, 2009
Disclaimer: I own nothing but my ideas for this fic. J.K. Rowling and those she chose are the proud owners of everything HP-related. Sadly, I am not one of the chosen ones.
Laughter filled the air as a small boy with short black hair and rosy cheeks chased after a yellow balloon he had released. He called after it, telling it to stop. He skipped, ran, and clapped, watching it rise higher and higher into the deep blue sky.
Unbeknownst to the three-year-old, his mother had followed and now sat on the ground and watched with unfettered pride as her energetic son experienced one of the many wonders of being a child. She blew up another balloon, one that would not float away, and tied it to a string, then stood and neared her son, who turned around and gave her one of his huge grins.
"Mummy, look how high it is!" said the excited boy as he jumped up and down. "Where is it going?" Without waiting for an answer, he took the offered red balloon and began running again.
His beaming mother couldn't help the tear that fell.
After a two month reprieve Hogwarts castle once again bustled with sounds of exuberance and youth. Its walls and mullioned windows, which had seen over a thousand welcoming feasts, were once again ready to host the wizarding world's future.
Professor Harry Potter, in his fifth year as the Potions master, and third year as the Gryffindor Head of House, stood inside the door to the Great Hall and watched as the students made their way to the house tables. As it always did as he awaited the beginning of the Welcoming Feast his mind took him back eighteen years to his first year when he and Ron had entered the Great Hall and looked at the ceiling in awe. To an eleven-year-old who had grown up in an unloving home, Hogwarts had represented much more than a place to learn magic — it had called to him. From that first sight of the magnificent castle as the small boat had carried him across the lake Harry had known Hogwarts would be his home, and it had been. He had lived elsewhere, yet Hogwarts would forever be his true home.
As he made his way to the High Table, Harry's eyes traveled to the middle of the table where Albus Dumbledore had sat for all those years when Harry and Voldemort had been involved in their dangerous dance. For all of Dumbledore's questionable tactics during that time, Harry had never blamed him for anything that happened. War was not nice and people had to make tough decisions.
It had been twelve years since Albus Dumbledore died but his presence would linger forever. On more than a few occasions over the years Harry had found himself in the Headmistress's office, talking to his former Headmaster. Against her better judgment, Professor McGonagall had relented and given Harry a master password so that he could converse with Dumbledore anytime he needed to because she knew Harry benefited from talking to him. Hermione had repeatedly told Harry that it was unhealthy to spend so much time with someone whose days and nights were spent within the confines of a portrait, but Harry had known himself better than anyone else and he knew what he needed. He needed the counsel of his mentor, portrait or not.
Before his thoughts had any more time to turn toward the maudlin McGonagall sat down next to him and smiled, but as she always did on the first day of term, the Headmistress looked tense. Being in charge of a castle full of children couldn't be easy. Harry didn't envy his former professor in the least. They exchanged pleasantries and Harry updated her on what was going on with Ron and Hermione, who had moved to London two months earlier. When Hagrid and the first years entered, Harry grinned as his very first friend smiled and handed a handkerchief to one of the frightened girls who had a tear falling down her face. There was no one with a bigger heart than Hagrid.
Harry studied the latest wizards-and-witches-in-training. What new adventures awaited them? Would there be anyone as smart as Hermione, as devious as Fred and George, as unique as Luna, or as skittish as Neville? There were a few who looked like they would be prime Quidditch recruits in a year's time, and the little girl standing next to Hagrid, still sniffling as she clutched the handkerchief with white knuckles, looked as if she would be terrified of her own shadow. That one would have to be looked after. As Harry's eyes reached the last child and took in the palor of his skin and the distinctive angle of his nose... and the eyes that looked as black as… his entire body froze. Snape had a child? He laughed, but quickly stifled it at the reproving look from Minerva.
"Snape had a child?" Harry took a deep breath. He knew the truth deep inside — this child was not an amalgamation of Severus Snape and someone else — but he didn't want to believe it. He sank a little lower in his chair as Minerva shook her head and closed her eyes.
"No, Severus never had a child."
Harry felt himself beginning to shake and he watched with dread as Minerva reopened her eyes and nodded again. Her eyes traveled to the student Harry was again staring at.
"It is him."
Harry's mouth opened as he stared at the boy. "No," he whispered.
The remainder of the feast passed in a blur as Harry tried to figure out how this was possible. He had heard of accidents where someone had been reverted to a child, but in each case they had been returned to their former self within hours. Doing the math it was obvious to Harry that Snape had most likely been reverted to a baby when Voldemort had tried to kill him with Nagini's venom and had had to relive his life. This revelation shook Harry even more than his realization that he was gay, ten years earlier.
As he stood to leave after everyone had been dismissed he couldn't take his eyes off the child who had been sorted into Slytherin, the child he had watched die (he thought he had) as an adult eleven years earlier.
He heard Minerva speak to him but he continued to stare at the young Snape — that is until the boy looked at him and shrank back into the small group of students who stood around him. He looked frightened. Harry frowned and turned as a hand made its way to his shoulder.
"Severus knows everything, Harry, and he is terrified. Come to my office. Albus and I will explain everything."
Severus Snape sat on his bed as the other Slytherins sat in the common room laughing and having fun. He wasn't tired, but neither was he in the mood for stares and questions, even if they would be innocent in nature. He knew the curiosity was only natural but that didn't make the looks and whispers any easier to endure. He was just like them; he deserved to be left alone. He hadn't chosen to be a Death Eater. Well, actually, he had, but that had been the old Severus, not him. Why couldn't everyone understand that?
Death Eaters had tortured and killed people. Had he killed anyone? Had he been as bad as he had been told? No matter that his mother had given him select pieces of information regarding his former life when he had asked Severus knew there would be aspects of his former existence which he would never know about. Perhaps that was for the best.
Severus fell back on his bed and closed his eyes. He wanted to go back to how things had been; he and his mum had been blissfully happy two weeks earlier. Now things had changed and Severus felt as if his world were crumbling around him.
He had spent the last eleven and a half years becoming a person who anyone would be proud of. His mother had loved him and nurtured him and when he had been plagued with nightmares it had been his mum who had rocked him until he fell asleep, and it had been she who had told him he was okay, that no one would ever hurt him.
Severus wanted his mother to tell him that now. She always made him feel better, even if all she could do was hug him and tell him that they would get through this. That was all Severus wanted and needed. He knew life had changed for him, so he knew better than to wish that it hadn't, but he could always count on his mother to remind him that who he was was the little boy who had chased balloons as he ran and laughed along the countryside in Wales.
For at least ten minutes after the last person left the Great Hall Harry remained seated and stared ahead. He sipped on his pumpkin juice as he looked at the spot where Snape had sat minutes earlier. He shivered; it was cool in the castle, but the temperature wasn't what caused him discomfort. That look on Snape's face as he had looked at Harry — such terror and helplessness — no one had ever looked at Harry that way before and if he lived the remainder of his life without seeing that lost expression again that would be more than fine with him.
His goblet empty, Harry stood and made his way toward the gargoyle. So Snape was alive. An eleven-year-old student who apparently knew about his past. Harry wondered just how much of the past the boy knew. He hoped not much. Someone so young shouldn't have to carry around such immense burdens, not even Snape.
As he neared McGonagall's study, all he could think about was his last image of Snape as he had lain in his blood on the floor in the Shrieking Shack — he had looked dead.
The sounds and sights of that night often kept Harry from sleep, and now, knowing that he had left a man to die, he felt ill. How long had Snape been left alone? How long had it been before he assumed the body of his infant-self? And how had that happened?
Harry entered the circular room to see the former Librarian, Madam Pince, transform into another person: someone who, while not young, looked much younger than Pince. This new person had black hair, pale skin, a rather large nose, and a scowl on her severe face that sent the Gryffindor Head of House back a few steps. There was no doubt who she was. Harry took a deep breath and gulped, not sure he was ready for what he was surely about to hear. Hadn't Pince left after the war? Ron's dad had said she moved to Wales to be near her children…
Perhaps Pince had used Polyjuice and had changed into this person. But, no, Harry somehow knew that was not what had happened. She was…
Before he could say anything or even finish that thought, Minerva entered, her face going from pale to white as she witnessed the recently transformed lady standing across the room.
"Eileen? You were to wait for me before you… you were to wait," finished the weary-sounding Headmistress, her voice shaking as she looked between Snape's mother and Harry. She waved her hand toward the chairs across from her desk before going to sit down. When her eyes met Harry's, he could tell that she was upset. So was he. He glanced at the nervous-looking lady who was still standing.
"You are Severus Snape's mother?" he asked. A nod was all the response he received. When he turned toward Minerva she gave him a sorrowful shake of the head and sighed.
"Until two weeks ago, Harry, Severus was a little boy who had been allowed to live a normal childhood. Albus, Eileen, and I made a decision eleven years ago not to tell anyone what had happened. It was too dangerous at the time and as the years went by we didn't think it wise to upset little Severus's life, which would have happened had certain people found out."
Another glance at Snape's mother, Eileen Snape. Harry had many questions for her, but none of them were important at the moment. Instead he asked how Snape had found out about his past and how much did he know?
He heard a slight cough from above and looked up to see Albus Dumbledore beginning to speak. For the next hour he listened, without interrupting, which wasn't easy, to the two-dimensional form of Dumbledore give a lengthy explanation. When the yawning Dumbledore dismissed him, Minerva asked Harry to return the following evening at nine. He assured her he would, then left and headed for the Slytherin common room.
He and Severus Snape were going to have a talk, then Harry would be going to Malfoy Manor to pay his former year mate a visit.
Walking out of the headmistress's office, his thoughts filled with what he had been told regarding Severus, Harry couldn’t help but touch the gargoyle. It, like much of the castle, was new, or looked new. There had been talk about abandoning the damaged castle in the aftermath of the war. Some officials at the Ministry had wanted (and still did) to move the school to a smaller castle that had been located in a remote part of Ireland. Thankfully, more people than not had thought the idea merited little consideration.
Hogwarts had been given a second chance.
Harry had helped set the wards before the school reopened. Afterwards, he'd returned to his flat in Bristol and tried not to think about Hogwarts. It had worked for a few months, but he had become restless. He could have gone and sought work, but who would hire him, and what would he be good at? Ron had asked him to work with him in Diagon Alley at the Joke Shop — that would have been fun, but being around Ron and his family still made Harry uncomfortable; no matter what others said, he felt responsible for Fred’s death. There had been various offers to work at the Ministry, but that had never been a possibility — there were too many bad memories of that place. Harry had testified at two of the Death Eater trials, including Lucius Malfoy’s, and each morning as Harry had entered the Atrium he had felt sick to his stomach. After the elder Malfoy was sent to Azkaban, Harry had walked out of the Ministry and hadn’t returned.
With nothing else to do to occupy his time, Harry had begun to make potions. That he was doing something he had disliked so much as a student hadn't escaped his notice, but when he was in the middle of brewing a complex potion his worries seemed to not matter so much. Before long he had begun inventing his own potions.
When Madam Warner, who had replaced Slughorn as Potions master, decided to leave Hogwarts Minerva McGonagall asked Harry to return.
Teaching hadn't been easy and it still presented him challenges on a daily basis, but he enjoyed helping the students and he did get satisfaction knowing that he was doing the same job Snape had done, just without the bitter chip on his shoulder.
Reaching the Slytherin common room a tired Harry was relieved to see Jay Reese, a fifth year prefect, seated in the corner, reading a book.
Ten minutes later Harry and Severus were in Harry’s office eating biscuits and drinking tea. Severus, who refused to look at Harry, had not spoken at all thus far and Harry knew it would be virtually impossible to get him to open up, especially since Harry had no idea what to say. He had never been good at talking to anyone. Possibly that was why he struggled daily as a teacher. Harry sighed. He had to get this right the first time; there might not be a second chance. Standing, he walked over to the window and looked out over the grounds.
“Mr. Snape, I am a teacher at this school and it is my duty to impart what I know about potions to my students. I do not play favorites, nor do I single out students who I might have a problem with. You are a first year. I have never taught you. I do not know you. Whether you will be a good student or not is up to you, but you will begin in my class with a blank slate. What has happened in the past is of no concern to me at the moment.”
Harry knew his voice sounded weak, but he was somewhat happy with what he had said. He only hoped his words had made sense. He turned around and looked at Snape, whose gaze focused intently on his cup of tea. Another minute or two passed. Harry sighed and scratched the back of his head. He had no idea what to do or say next.
“I do not hate you, Mr. Snape.”
“But you hated him, didn’t you?”
Two black eyes bore into Harry’s green ones. How was it that this little boy had been someone whom Harry had hated? Harry shook his head but then nodded.
“I won’t lie to you. There was a time when I did hate him, but I got over that long ago. I do not hate you.” Harry hoped his words helped, but Severus merely looked away.
“Do you think it would be okay if I went to see my mother? You must know who she is by now.”
There was much more Harry had intended to say but it was unlikely he would get anywhere, at least not tonight. He would speak to Eileen, however, because he wanted to know why she hadn't taken Snape into hiding, or more hiding than he had already been in. Yes, his predicament had been revealed but with a little ingenuity he could have remained somewhat sheltered from all of the madness that had resulted.
He dismissed Severus with an encouraging smile.
Malfoy hadn’t changed much. He had filled out somewhat and his hair was darker (Harry had heard from Neville that Draco was trying to separate himself from his father), but his attitude mimicked the one he had projected at Hogwarts. He was haughty as ever as he summoned a house-elf to serve tea to him and his former nemesis.
“So what brings you to my home, Potter? I must confess my surprise that you would step foot inside these walls willingly.”
“Believe me, Malfoy, being here gives me no pleasure. However, you have information that I need regarding Snape.”
Malfoy stood, walked to his desk and retrieved a parchment before returning to the sofa across from Harry, his expression unreadable. “So he is attending Hogwarts?”
Harry didn't feel like going through all of this but he would because he needed to know why Draco Malfoy had thought it necessary to tell Severus about his past. He coolly answered that of course the boy was at Hogwarts, then Malfoy asked if they had placed Severus under any protections, which Harry found quite interesting. He didn’t answer; instead he asked who it was that had plans for Severus because it was obvious that Malfoy wasn't working alone. Malfoy remained silent. Harry fumed.
“No matter that you were an advanced student in school, Malfoy, there is no way you could have made Snape revert to a baby, and if his unfortunate reversal was because of an accident he, himself, had caused, you would not know what had happened, would you?” Harry smirked. He really had no idea of any of this. For all he knew Malfoy had known how to revert someone to a child back in seventh year, but he doubted it. “Someone else had to have done it and told you about it. I will find out who it is, Malfoy. I just find it difficult to believe that you of all people would put Snape in such peril. He helped you!”
“You have no idea what you are talking about, Potter. I had no choice but to confront him,” Draco said, his voice rising with each word, his face turning red.
“You always have a choice, Malfoy… always.” Draco shook his head. “Then tell me. TELL ME, Malfoy. What is going on? I have a student who is in danger because you exposed who he really is to the world. I can’t believe you would do that. You looked up to him, Draco.” Harry opened his mouth to say more but stopped. He was too angry.
“You should leave, Potter.” Malfoy was now visibly shaking.
Now, besides being angrier than he'd been in a long while, Harry was intrigued. Had that been the sound of concern in Malfoy’s voice? And why was he trembling?
Harry retrieved his cloak and left without another word.
“He said he doesn’t hate me.”
“Of course he doesn’t hate you, Severus. Mr. Potter has had many bad things happen to him in his life. So have you. He is not going to hold you responsible for that which you have no control over.” Stepping back she looked at him and shook her head as her son’s impassive face stared back at her. “Oh, Severus, you have so much to offer the world. Please do not hide yourself away. Your burdens are many but we can get through them if you allow me to help you.”
Severus looked away. “I’m a Death Eater, Mum.”
”I can’t do this, Harry. It’s just too hard. Please understand."
"Why? I could help you. I could help him. Let me take Ronnie to St. Mungo’s."
“No, Harry. No magic.”
"So what now? You’re going to take him away and watch him die? You can’t take him away from me. I love him, Brian. And what about us? Do the last three years mean nothing to you?"
"You’ve never loved me, Harry. I loved you the moment I saw you, but you never could bring yourself to love me. I am sorry that I’m taking Ronnie away from you. I know you love him like he was your own, and he loves you like you were his father, but that isn’t how it is. I am his father and he is my son. I am losing my son, Harry, and it is killing me. I have lost you, now I am losing my son. I have to face what is happening to Ronnie, but I don’t have to face you. I am sorry, but I’ve made up my mind.”
“Ronnie!” Harry sat up, his heart racing. He retrieved his wand from beneath his pillow. It was five-fifteen; he knew he’d never get back to sleep so he got out of bed and walked out into his sitting room. He sat on the sofa and put his head in his hands. He’d been having this same dream every night for the past week, ever since he had seen Severus Snape. It was more than a dream, however. It had happened.
Harry had left, and eight months later Harry received a letter telling him that Ronnie had died. He had gone to the funeral and had exchanged condolences with Brian, but nothing more. After the funeral Harry had returned to his flat in Bristol, broken-hearted.
Severus curled his feet beneath him and opened the piece of parchment, which had been opened so many times that it was about to fall apart.
Tobias and Eileen Snape announce the birth of their son…
He quickly closed it and placed it in the book he had on his lap when he heard someone enter the common room.
Snape stared at the second year girl. Very few people spoke to him unless they had to, and certainly no females had approached him.
“What’re you reading?”
“Nothing,” Severus said defensively. He disliked people who pried.
“Oh okay. Er well, I just wanted to see what you were doing. G’night.”
Severus stared at the girl until she finally left.
“You do not know that Draco or the Death Eaters had anything to do with what happened to Severus, Harry. Perhaps he discovered the information some other way.”
Not for the first time, Harry felt as if he might scream. Minerva was convinced that Draco could not have been a part of something so sinister. Harry wanted to agree with her assessment, but he didn’t think that Severus’s de-aging had been an accident, and he was going to find out what happened.
“I know you mean well, Harry, but when Eileen found Severus in the shrieking shack, she found a vial of potion beside him. There was not anything left inside. It is likely that Severus took it on purpose, knowing what it would do. It was his idea, Harry. He did this to protect himself.”
There was nothing Harry wanted to believe more than that, but he couldn’t. How could Minerva be so sure? He didn’t recall seeing a vial beside Snape, and Malfoy was the one who had exposed Severus’s secret. These two things were not a coincidence. Harry set his teacup down and stood. He was going to get nowhere with Minerva. She wanted to believe that their new little charge was safe, and the only way to do that was to believe that this situation with Severus had nothing to do with Death Eaters.
“Minerva, I want to believe that, but I don’t.”
“Harry, you’ve been through a lot this past year. Albus and I haven’t said anything before now; we didn’t want to bring it up, but this thing with Severus… you’re determined to protect him because of what happened to Brian’s son, aren’t you?”
Seven days. Harry had wondered how long it would be before someone mentioned either Brian or Ronnie. Harry shook his head but could feel his eyes beginning to burn. “Severus will not be harmed, Minerva; I will see to that. I have second year Hufflepuffs/Ravenclaws in ten minutes, so you’ll excuse me if I need to take my leave before we are finished.” Harry knew his words were clipped and harsh, but he was tired of everyone acting as if everything was fine and then, without warning, bringing up what had happened. It wasn’t fair. And then there was Severus.
Severus raised his hand and answered the question Professor Binns asked. After a week of lessons, Severus had decided he liked History of Magic the best. Charms was easy, and he was fairly good at Transfiguration, but those lessons were boring. Of course, he was proficient in Potions, but how could he not? He had been the Potions master, after all. If it were not for Professor Potter, Severus would love Potions. As it was, he tried so hard not to do anything to attract attention to himself that he did not participate much in discussions.
“Very good, Mr. Snape. Five points to Slytherin.”
A small smile made its way to the boy’s face, but then it was time to go to his next lesson. Reluctantly, Severus picked up his bag and stood to leave, but he was blocked by one of the Ravenclaws. Severus tried to walk around him, but the boy stuck out his foot. Severus’s breathing sped up.
“Who will you go to now?” asked the other student.
Not understanding, Severus remained silent.
“There are no more Death Eaters since Voldemort is gone. Who will you go to now, Death Eater?”
All Severus could do was shake his head. He wasn’t a Death Eater.
“Kneazle got your tongue, Snape? Who do you answer to? My father said your lot killed a lot of innocent people. Who did you kill?”
Severus was now shaking. He looked for Professor Binns, but the diminutive man was talking to another student, his back facing Severus. “I—”
“You don’t deserve to be here. You should have died that night.”
Then the student left, leaving Severus at a loss. He dropped his bag and ran.
Eileen and Harry tried to calm down the hyperventilating Severus. Poppy helped him to breathe normally after only a few minutes, but he clung to his mother and refused to let go.
“I need you to tell me what happened, Severus, love. I’ve got you. No one is going to hurt you.”
Harry stood back, unsure what he was doing there, but Eileen had asked him to come, so he had. Minerva was at the Ministry and wouldn’t be returning for a few hours. Harry had informed Albus that something had happened, but, of course, there wasn’t anything that the portrait-confined Headmaster could do other than offer his usual counsel.
No one seemed to know what had happened, and Severus refused to talk.
As he continued to watch Eileen (Surprisingly, he never thought of her as Madam Pince at all anymore), Harry thought he could understand why the eleven-year old was far more needier than most children his age, and why his mother catered to that need. Most mothers who lost a son did not get a second chance to show their children love. From what Harry had observed thus far, Eileen Snape was everything a child could ask for in a mother: she was attentive, loving, and was always there for her son. Harry envied that bond between mother and son, but he was happy that Severus had finally received the love he had missed the first time.
“He’s asleep. Let me put him in bed and I’ll be back.”
Harry nodded and watched as Severus’s mother lifted her son. Two little arms wrapped around Eileen Snape’s neck and she looked back at Harry and smiled as her son turned his head. Perhaps the boy was a bit too old to be carried, but Harry thought it was the sweetest thing he had ever seen. A few minutes later, she returned and poured herself a cup of tea.
“I am not a vindictive person, nor am I violent, Harry, but I could kill Draco Malfoy for what he has done to my son. He has destroyed the little boy I knew. I don’t think there is any way to get him back.”
“Why did you bring him back here?” Harry blurted out. He hadn’t meant to sound accusatory, but he wanted to know. As soon as he said it, Eileen visibly deflated — her shoulders slumped and she put her head in her hands. Harry wished he could take his thoughtless words back. Why couldn’t he learn that sometimes it was best to not say anything? “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked that.”
“It’s okay, dear. Believe me, it is a question I ask myself every day. I was scared, Harry, and I knew Hogwarts was the safest place for us. And Severus was not dealing with what Draco told him at all well. I didn’t know what to do. I knew Draco would alert the wizarding world as to what had happened. I was desperate. I think I made the wrong decision. I don’t know what to do,” finished Eileen Snape as she dabbed her eyes with a handkerchief. She glanced toward the room where Severus slept. “I can’t lose him again.”
All Harry could do was look at the mother of Severus and sigh. He was tired. He had somehow become attached to this situation and felt he should be able to come up with a solution, but he knew there wasn’t one. This — Severus, who had been a Death Eater, who was now a child — was a reality that was probably not going to have a positive outcome.
A month later, there was another confrontation between a group of students and Severus, but, unlike the previous incident, this time, there were witnesses. Within the day Severus had been removed from his Slytherin dorm room and placed with his mother. That had brought more ridicule his way though, so the following day it was decided that Severus would move into Harry’s rooms. A Slytherin student moving into the Gryffindor Head of House’s rooms would not be much better and was sure to cause the other students to make snide remarks, but everyone was running out of ideas and, short of removing the boy from Hogwarts, there was little other choice than to have Severus move in with Harry.
“Can I add the beetle eyes now?”
“May I add the beetle eyes,” Harry corrected.
“May I add the beetle eyes now?" Asked a meek Severus.
“Yes, you may. Don’t forget to stir it clockwise, twenty times.”
Harry sat back and watched Severus prepare the potion. The boy really was talented, but then again, Harry had known that. The boy had been the one to teach Harry, after all.
“Was I a bad teacher, Professor Potter?”
The Potions master-turned-guardian frowned and shook his head. This was going to have to stop. Severus seemed obsessed about his past. Harry scratched the back of his head and stood. There were two more steps to go before the potion was complete and if they stopped now it would be ruined. Harry removed the ladle from Severus’s right hand, set it down on the work table, put out the fire beneath the cauldron, and led the boy over to his desk and pointed to a chair.
When he had the boy’s attention, he sat down behind his desk. “You are a student at Hogwarts, Severus. You are not a professor. You are not a Death Eater. You are not an adult. You are not a bad person. You will not ask any further questions about the other Severus Snape.” Severus frowned and opened his mouth, but Harry lifted his hand and shook his head. “Yes, there are things you do deserve to know and you will know everything you want to in time, just not now.” Severus’s frown increased. Harry sighed.
“How can I defend myself from my past if I do not know what my past was?”
Not for the first time, Harry cursed Draco Malfoy under his breath.
“You come to me or your mother if anyone says anything about… that.” Harry was unsure of himself. He was a teacher but he hadn’t the first clue how to really talk to children. He watched Severus nod, but then the boy stood and walked with drooped shoulders to his room. Harry leant his head back and closed his eyes. Maybe Minerva had been right. He had done a really good job of blocking out Ronnie’s death, but now he couldn’t stop thinking about him. Severus and he would have gotten along wonderfully.
A few hours later, as Harry was redoing the potion, he heard Severus’s door open, and watched as the boy sat in front of the fire. His black eyes stared into the flames as if he were looking for answers. Harry wished he had answers. He needed help. Maybe it was time he contacted Hermione.
Harry walked into the room and looked around at all of his students. It never ceased to amaze him that he was a teacher. He certainly had not been the most studious student during his six years at Hogwarts. Had anyone told him back then that he would, in the not so distant future, be responsible for teaching students about potions, he would have laughed out loud.
He waved his wand toward the board behind him and cleared his throat to get his students’ attention. It being so near the beginning of term, Harry still had a captive audience; his first years seemed eager to learn. No doubt, that would begin to change as November neared. For some strange reason, the first of November seemed to be the day students began to not pay attention. Perhaps it was in anticipation of the holidays, even though they were not until December.
Retrieving a parchment from his desk, Harry informed his students that they would be making the Shrinking Potion they had read about and discussed during the Double Potions lesson a few days earlier.
After half an hour, Harry walked the aisles and critiqued the color, clarity, and smell of each potion. It was early in the year yet, but Harry was already impressed with the progress he was seeing in each of his lessons.
As he approached Severus’s cauldron, Harry heard stifled laughter from across the room and turned to see one of the Hufflepuff girls pointing at Severus and whispering loudly. He sighed when he realized who it was.
“What is so funny, Miss Skeeter?” Almost as soon as he asked, he wished he hadn’t. Anything Rita Skeeter’s niece had to say couldn’t be good.
“Are you going to make us test the potion, Professor Potter? Snape would be a good test subject if you are since he has already shrunk himself before.” Giggles followed.
Severus’s face went blank.
“One-Hundred Points from Hufflepuff and detention for a week with Mr. Filch, Miss Skeeter. I do not want to hear another word from you. You will receive an incomplete for your work today.” With a wave of his wand, the girl’s perfectly brewed potion was gone.
When he dismissed the students, Harry approached Severus and watched him turn his head and look down as he retrieved his book bag.
“Severus, may I have a word with you?”
Severus shook his head.
“I am afraid I must insist. Please meet me in my office.”
Severus did not move.
“Severus? Look at me.” When those black eyes looked up, Harry flinched. He was looking into familiar eyes. Instead of the young, innocent ones of a boy, they were the angry eyes of someone who had seen too much horror in his life. Harry had seen them before, when the boy before him had been a man. More than anything else had thus far, this confirmed Harry’s thoughts that, no matter what anyone did, the likelihood that Severus Snape would grow up to be the same as he had been before, was high.
London was so big; Harry had no idea how Hermione and Ron could stand the constant barrage to the senses. All the people made him feel claustrophobic as he walked down the crowded pavement toward their flat, and the noise was never-ending. Harry much preferred the quiet of Hogwarts.
Neville and Luna, newly married, lived nearby and had been asking him to visit for the past three months. He hadn’t kept in touch with anyone recently, and he knew he needed to remedy that. If he had enough time after he visited with Hermione, he would go see them, then he wouldn't have to come back here anytime soon. He loved his friends, truly, he did, but the city just wasn’t for him.
When he finally reached number fourteen, he let out a whispered, “It’s about time.” He knocked on the door and waited. Was he doing the right thing by talking to Hermione about Severus? The door opened and he was enveloped in a hug.
“Harry! You didn’t let me know you were coming. I could have made us dinner. Ron will be home in an hour. How are you? We’ve been so worried. You never answered Luna’s invitation.”
He pulled out of the hug and stepped back. This was why he rarely visited. Hermione was a wonderful friend, but she was so high-maintenance and seemed to think everyone else should be the same. “I’m fine, really. Things are a bit hectic is all.” She was giving him that look. Harry hated that look. “Don’t look at me that way, Hermione, like I am about to fall apart. I’m not. Really, I’m not.”
“Have you spoken to Brian?”
As he had expected, he wasn’t going to be able to escape talking about what had happened. He swallowed. He didn’t want to, but he would, if only to get it over with. “No. We haven’t spoken since the funeral. He left me, remember?” Harry didn’t want to talk about this.
“Oh, Harry, how could he have done that to you? Ronnie was almost like a son to you. You have had to grieve alone. Oh, Harry.”
“Hermione, I’d rather not…” but Harry shook his head. Maybe it would help if he just told her how he felt. “If you must know, no, I’m not okay. I am so angry. I can’t accept that Ronnie is gone. I know he is, but he was so real. He was such a huge part of my life for three years, then he was gone. I could care less about Brian. I mean, yeah, I miss the hell out of him; I thought he and I were going to be together forever. But, I was wrong. He’s doing what he needs to do to cope. So am I. So that is how things are. Please don’t ask me anything else. I promise that I’ll talk to you more when I’m ready. There’s so much I want to tell you, just not now, okay?” Harry finished, out of breath.
“Okay,” Hermione replied, on the verge of tears.
It was clear that she wanted to say more, but she didn’t. “Thank you. The reason I am here is Severus Snape…”
For the next hour, Harry explained what had happened and asked Hermione what she would do if she were him. When Ron came in, he was filled in on what was going on; Harry didn’t feel right leaving him out. The three of them sat at the kitchen table and sipped on butterbeers and talked about Severus, as well as what had been going on with Harry’s two best friends.
“I told Harry we need to find out what happened to Severus,” Hermione said to her husband as she handed him another butterbeer, “but, unfortunately, I don’t think that is going to help him. I’ll begin the research straight away though. I can’t believe I am saying this, but I wish we could somehow hide him away or change how he looks, and change his name to get him away from what is going on.”
Harry nodded. “Yeah well, that should have been what happened when this all first came out, but it isn’t how it is and there is no way it’d work anyway. Malfoy knows. He isn’t going to let this go. If Severus disappears, Malfoy’ll go after him; he has unlimited resources at his disposal.”
“Well, we all know I hated Snape,” Ron said, “but I think what he needs more than anything we have talked about so far is some fun. If he is as scared as you say he is, Harry, he needs to have a day where he doesn’t have to worry about anything. It won’t change anything, but it’ll do Snape some good.”
Hermione kissed Ron on the cheek. Harry grinned. Who knew Ron had a heart when it came to Snape?
“You told me when I was younger that I could go to any wizarding school I wanted to. Can… may I go to Durmstang?” Severus’s eyes, usually dull and expressionless, were bright now.
“Why would you want to go there, Severus? All you ever talked about was Hogwarts. I don’t know if Durmstrang would accept a student this late into term.”
“I want to like it here, but everyone hates me, Mum. At least at Durmstrang I’ll be with other people who most people do not like. I know you brought me here so I would be safe, but Mum, they all hate me; sometimes I get scared and think maybe I’d rather not... I just think I need to go somewhere else.”
“Is that what you truly want?”
“I think so. Professor Potter will be upset with me if I leave, though,” Severus said, sadly.
“Why do you say that?”
“He keeps telling me I am good and that he can’t wait until I can help him make potions for Madam Pomfrey. If I leave, I won’t be able to do that.”
An owl Harry had never seen before came through the window and deposited a parchment on his lap. Harry gave the owl a treat, sent her on her way, then opened the parchment and scanned the contents:
“Meet me at The Three Broomsticks at three this afternoon. Moody. Do not ignore this.”
Harry smiled. So it seemed that Malfoy wanted to talk, but didn’t want to be seen. Harry banished the missive, went to the fire, and grabbed a handful of Floo Powder from the mantel.
“Eileen Snape.” He saw her seated on her sofa reading. “Might I have a word?”
“Hello, Harry. Come on through. I have a few minutes before I need to return to the library.”
A few minutes later he was seated, a cup of tea in his hands. Severus, who usually spent his free periods in his mother’s rooms, was no where to be seen, but that was no surprise. He had hardly spoken to anyone since the latest incident in Potions.
“To what do I owe this visit, Harry?”
“Would you consider allowing me and two of my friends to take Severus on a picnic?” Harry waited nervously for an answer. Ron’s idea just might help.
“Harry, I would trust you with Severus anytime, you know that, and I trust your judgment, but I don’t think this is a good idea. Severus already knows we are trying to make him feel better. This might do more harm than good. It won’t change anything. Severus came to me earlier and asked if he could go to Durmstrang. As much as I do not like the prospect of him going there, I am actually considering it. I think I made a huge mistake bringing him back here.”
Harry didn’t understand. How could getting Severus away for a day be anything but a good thing? He opened his mouth to respond when Severus walked into the room and looked at his mother.
“Please, Mum? May I go? I think it would be loads of fun.”
Anyone who passed by the small table at the back of the crowded Three Broomsticks at two-fifty seven saw an elderly man with white hair and a beard sitting down at a table where a younger man who had longish red hair was reading a book.
Harry waited a few minutes then lowered the book. “I’m listening.”
“Had I not made his predicament public, he and his mother would have been killed. So, no, I did not have a choice, pretty boy.”
Harry watched Malfoy smirk as a witch passed by and looked at Harry. This wasn’t the first witch that had given him a closer look. How was it that he, as Harry Potter, could not attract anyone, male or female, and now, as someone whom he thought looked less than homely, he seemed to be attracting more attention than he wanted? Malfoy seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself as he rolled his eyes at the witches. “Who is behind this?”
“I can’t say.”
Draco glared at Harry. “I rather like my life and am not ready to see it ended.”
“Please. He needs to be kept safe and we can’t do that if someone is out there trying to get him.”
“He’ll be okay. No one is going to get him at Hogwarts.”
But what about at Durmstrang? Harry wanted so badly to tell Malfoy that Severus was probably about to leave Hogwarts, but he was not quite that foolish. “How do you know that?”
“I have to go.”
“No. You can’t just tell me this and not tell me who it is.”
Malfoy left without another word. Harry continued to sit at the table, his mind reeling. Who was Malfoy afraid of? Who had tried to kill Severus and his mother? Could Harry trust what Malfoy said?
Harry stood and made his way to the door. When he got there, a young witch winked at him and told him he had pretty eyes. Harry grinned as he nodded his thanks.
“Professor, she can’t take him out of Hogwarts,” Harry said as he sat on the edge of Minerva’s desk and looked at Dumbledore.
“I am afraid she can, Harry. Severus is her son.”
“Harry. Listen to me. You are too involved. Take my advice and let this go. Eileen Snape can keep her son safe.”
“I don’t understand why you seem to not care. That first night you were genuinely concerned. What changed?”
“Nothing has changed, Harry. I merely worry that you are too involved. You are projecting your feelings for Ronnie onto Severus.”
“I am not doing any such thing. I am merely concerned for his well-being. He is my student.” Harry watched Dumbledore smile and nod, and it only served to frustrate Harry more. Why was Dumbledore always so evasive with his words? And why did Harry still come visit with him, knowing that he was never going to get an answer he wanted?
“If you insist on pursuing this, Harry, you might want to consider that you no longer seek my council as you once did. You have grown up over the past five years and I am fully confident that you will be up to the task to handle whatever comes your way. Minerva would never have asked you to be Head of Gryffindor if she didn’t think so. You underestimate your worth, my boy. I will only ask one thing — that you be careful.”
Was he being dismissed… for good? Dumbledore’s voice sounded resigned, but he hadn’t told Harry to stop what he was doing. Then again, when had he ever listened to anyone who told him not to do something? Perhaps Dumbledore realized this and had decided to let it be. “I have to go.”
“Going to see Severus?”
“I have a meeting with Derrington; I am helping him tomorrow with a dueling presentation. Afterwards, if it is not too late, then I might go see Severus.”
“He is a child who craves attention and love, Harry. Be careful.”
Harry slid off the desk and stared into the eyes of Dumbledore before turning to leave. He respected the man, but sometimes… “Don’t worry, Albus. I do not like little boys.”
Harry closed the door behind him and began his descent, so he didn’t hear what else Dumbledore said.
By the time he got to the Defense against the Dark Arts room, he was ready to duel. He wanted to take his frustration out on someone else. He opened the door and slammed it behind him as he entered. He noticed Derrington sitting on his desk. The man looked good enough to eat.
“You look unwell, Potter. We could postpone this.”
“Actually, I'm looking forward to this. I am so mad right now that I could just about kill someone.”
Sean Derrington gave Harry a questioning look as he retrieved his wand. “Wonderful. My seventh years have been giving me trouble all week and I need an outlet to get my frustrations out.”
Harry smirked. Too bad Derrington was straight; they could work out their frustrations quite well on the desk. Unfortunately, for Harry, Sean was married to someone who was in Parliament, and he didn’t look like he would be the type to have someone on the side.
An hour later, both men, completely out of breath, sat on the work table in the staff room drinking coffee.
“You’re good, Derrington. We should do this more often.”
“I’d like that. I hope our demonstration impresses upon my sixth years how important it is to know how to cast spells silently.”
Harry laughed. “I hate to say this, but I didn’t get it and I was the Boy Who lived. Some things just can’t be impressed upon students no matter how much you try. I didn’t get it even after Snape practically begged me to keep my mouth shut.”
“It’s good to know Harry Potter is human,” Derrington said, as he smiled good-naturedly. “It’ll be a good show then. They can see how it can be done. I pray to Merlin that none of these students ever have to put any of this to real use.”
“Same here. I never want any of them to go through what I did. War is a nasty business. It changes you… forever. I’ll never be the same again. Sometimes I wonder if I should even be here.”
“You might not realize it, Potter, but these kids think the world of you. I know you have doubts about your ability to teach, but you are doing a fine job, especially with Severus Snape. Most of the staff look down upon him; it makes me so angry. I am glad you have put the past behind you to help him. I know it can’t be easy after what happened to your little boy.”
The staff had known about Ronnie, had seen him with Harry roaming the corridors, but since Ronnie’s death, there had been little mention of him, which Harry appreciated. It was still difficult to think about him, but Harry was finding that talking about it helped.
“No, it’s not easy. I miss Ronnie more than anything. He was my world for almost three years. Minerva thinks it unhealthy for me to be so concerned about Severus; says I’m trying to replace Ronnie, but I’m not. I know he’s dead. Severus deserves to be happy is all.” Harry smiled as he stood and walked to the door. The duel had rejuvenated him, but the words Derrington spoke did more for him than anything else could have. “Same night and time next week sound good to you?” Harry asked.
Severus entered the library and walked to the desk where his mum was writing. She looked busy but he needed to talk to her. She looked up and smiled.
“Hi, Severus. How was Charms?”
“Okay, I guess.” It had not been at all okay. Well, the lesson had been fine, but the same girl who had been trying to talk to him for weeks had come and sat by him, and that had not been at all okay. “I wanted to ask you about going on that picnic with Professor Potter and his friends. May I go?" Severus looked expectantly at his mother, wanting this so badly. It was not looking like he was going to be able to go to Durmstrang, but at least if he could get out for one day, he could forget about everything.
“It isn’t safe for you to be out. I can’t allow you to go. I’m sorry, Severus.”
“I am unsafe here, Mum. Don’t you understand? Please let me go.”
“You are safe as long as you are near me.”
Harry entered, curious as to why Eileen needed to see him. Her letter had asked him to come for tea in the staff room at his earliest convenience. This had become an almost daily routine, one that Harry looked forward to. Unfortunately, today hadn’t been a good one thus far. Perhaps whatever Eileen had to say would improve his mood, but Harry was doubtful that would be the case. He sat across from her and accepted the cup of tea she handed him. He took a sip and welcomed the warmth it provided him.
“Filch told me one of the fifth years decided to see if he could recreate what Fred and George did as sixth years,” Harry said, humor in his voice.
“Yes, and I am not the least bit amused. I’ve never seen the library in such disarray. I have Mr. Ray scrubbing the floors and walls as we speak — without magic. I closed the library and put Peeves in charge of making certain our wayward student does as he was told.”
“You must be mad,” Harry said before he took another sip of his tea. “I’m sure with Peeves in charge, there is sure to be mass chaos, but, I guess it should ensure that there are no repeat incidents.”
“Precisely what I was thinking. I’ll give it a few hours then I’ll wave my wand and have the library back to how it looked before.”
“How very Slytherin of you, Eileen.” Harry removed the parchment his owl had brought him. “You needed to see me?” He watched as she nodded.
“Yes. I think there is something you should know. The reason I am unwilling to allow Severus to go with you and your friends is because he is safe when he is near me; I am the one protecting him. It is blood magic, Harry. I told Severus that when he is near me he will be safe, but he doesn’t know why that is. He came to the library earlier and said I was too afraid to let him go have some fun. If he only knew. I don’t know what to do. If he and I are too far apart, he is unsafe. I have protected him all these years… forty-nine years my blood has protected him.”
Well that certainly was interesting; Harry had certainly not expected to hear that as an explanation as to why Eileen didn’t want her son to go on a picnic. Severus was being protected by the same magic that had protected Harry all those years ago? Harry had never heard of another situation like his, but he had always known that he couldn’t possibly be the only person to have benefited from blood magic.
“You need to tell him why it is that he needs to be near you, Eileen. It’ll make him understand that you’re not being overprotective. He’ll have to understand then that you are only being practical. And I don’t know why we didn’t think about this earlier, but you should go with us, then everyone can go and be happy.” Harry watched the frown turn into a smile. It was such an obvious solution.
“I’ll think about it; Severus really does need to get out. I talked to Albus earlier and he said the same as you: that I need to be honest with Severus about the blood magic. It’s just that Severus has so much to deal with; I don’t want to tell him anything else that is going to worry him.”
Harry understood, but he also knew that withholding information wasn’t always the best course of action. Lack of information had got him in loads of trouble, and had cost his godfather his life.
As he returned to his office to retrieve the papers he needed to mark, Harry thought about what Severus had told him as they had eaten breakfast.
“It would have been better had I died that night.”
Harry’s response had been harsh: he had said perhaps Severus was right, and that Madam Pince would not have had to worry about her son any longer. She could’ve gone wherever she wanted, but that wherever she would’ve gone, she would have been heartbroken, but at least she would’ve no longer had to worry. Then Harry had looked Severus in the eyes and told him that he was selfish and that he needed to stop being so dramatic. Severus had gone to his room without another word.
Perhaps Harry’s reaction had been too severe, but when Severus had said he’d rather have died that night, all Harry could think about was Ronnie, and how much he had wanted to live. He had fought for his life, and here Severus was saying he wished he would have died.
A few hours later, as the marked papers’ stack increased, Harry’s mood began to improve. Marking had always been relaxing for him, which most of the other staff found difficult to believe. Many of them said they dreaded marking papers more than anything else.
“Professor Potter? Are you busy?”
Looking across the room, Harry saw Severus standing in the doorway of his room. There were two stacks still to be marked, but they could wait. Harry wrote an A at the top of Miss Skeeter’s paper on the History of Potion Making in England, then set his quill down and looked up as he pointed to the chair across from his desk. As Severus sat down, Harry noticed the boy held something in his hands. Harry couldn’t see what it was, but he guessed it was Severus’s birth announcement. Why Severus carried it everywhere he went, Harry couldn’t guess, but it wasn’t hurting anyone and it seemed to be something Severus felt better for doing.
“I apologize for what I said earlier, Professor. I didn’t mean it.”
“Your mother has gone through a lot for you, Severus. You should be a little more appreciative, and you should be glad you had another chance to live. I do not want to ever again hear you saying you would have rather died. That is not the least bit funny and I refuse to listen to you spout off such ridiculous histrionics.” Harry knew his voice and gaze were sharp and he did his best to look menacing. He was probably failing miserably; nevertheless, he was doing his best to show how upset and disappointed he was.
“I am appreciative of what my mother has done for me. I don’t know what I would do without her. And I know how fortunate I am. My words were thoughtless. I am glad I had another chance at life.” The black eyes were bright, and his chin showed signs of quivering, but there were no signs of tears. Harry wondered how often Severus cried.
“I am glad to hear you say that. You are eleven, which is rather young to be dealing with everything you are, but you are having to deal with it, so I think it is time you and I had a talk. I owe you some information.” Harry smiled, trying to prepare himself. It helped when Severus smiled back. This was one of the reasons why he had become a teacher. He had always wanted to help, and now he felt as if he really did help; it was a feeling unlike any other.
A few deep breaths later, Harry began telling Severus about Lily Evans-Potter, with two exceptions: he had no intention of telling him that it had been Severus who had been the one to give Voldemort part of the prophecy, and he refused to say anything about Severus calling Lily a Mudblood in fifth year. Those two things, while important, were not what Severus needed to hear at the moment. What he did need to hear was that the former Severus had had a good heart; he had loved someone, and he had loved her enough to protect her son even though he had not liked him.
It wasn’t easy for Harry; he had tried to forget what he had seen in the memories that the older Severus had given him, but nothing that involved Snape and his mother had ever left his mind.
Severus listened intently, grinned a few times, looked sad toward the end, but he never said a word. Harry wished he would. He wanted so badly for Severus to talk to him, to let him in.
“No matter what you think, Severus, the former Severus Snape was a good person. He loved my mother. He protected me. He saved my life on numerous occasions, and he risked his life every time he went to the Death Eater meetings. I only wish I had realized all of this sooner so I could have thanked him. Without his help I would have never been able to defeat Voldemort,” Harry said as he watched Severus frown.
“Is that why you are helping me? Because you think you owe it to me?”
Typical Snape attitude: No one would ever help him because they wanted to. “Not all all. I am helping you because you need help and I think I can offer it. But if you would rather me not help you, I won’t.” Harry acted as if he were about to stand.
“I didn’t say I didn’t want to talk to you. Do you think your mother loved m—him?”
Harry sat back and got comfortable. “I have no idea how my mother felt about Severus Snape, but from what I know about my mother, there is no doubt that she cared very much about him. What I do know is that he loved her with a love that was so deep that it never left him.”
“So you are saying I am capable of having a good heart then?”
Harry grinned. “I am.”
“So he loved. He also did bad things. What makes you think I am any better than he was? He was once young too and I am sure he didn’t always have bad thoughts about wanting to be evil.”
Just when Harry thought he was making progress… “He was not evil, Severus, he followed an evil man. But, since you have brought this up, let me confirm something you asked me earlier because you need to understand that there is a big difference in who you are and who the other Severus Snape was. “Yes, Mr. Malfoy was correct when he said your father abused you.” Harry hated saying those words, but he noticed that Severus didn’t flinch; there was no way he hadn’t already come to that conclusion. “You, on the other hand, have been raised in a loving and nurturing environment. I am not saying you are always going to make good choices, but the likelihood that you will want to follow someone as bad as Voldemort is not as high.” But the chances were higher than he wanted to think. Harry had known Snape and had seen how passionate he had been. If Severus fell in with the wrong crowd… Harry didn’t want to think of the uphill battle Severus was going to face.
“I hope you are right, Professor. Thank you for telling me this. Now may I ask you a question about Ronnie?”
“Y—yes,” Harry said after a few seconds’ hesitation. He held his breath. He didn’t wish to change the subject, but perhaps it was best they did. But did it have to concern Ronnie?
“Did he have a mum?”
“He did. She loved him very much.”
“But he didn’t live with her?”
“No, he lived with his father.” This discussion was entering into territory Harry was uncomfortable with.
“I overheard Professor Binns telling one of the other teachers that Ronnie called you daddy, but that you were not his real daddy… some bloke named Brian was.”
Harry could imagine the wheels turning in Severus’s mind. “I think perhaps this is a conversation for another time, Severus.” The boy nodded, and Harry sighed in relief.
“You miss him very much, don’t you, Professor?”
“I do, Severus.”
"Hi, Severus, is this yours?"
Severus turned around and saw Magnolia Steele, the red-headed girl with the curls who had taken to following him around like a puppy, holding his birth announcement. He reached out and grabbed it, confused as to how he could have dropped it.
"Where are you going?"
"Nowhere that concerns you," Severus said harshly. Then he tried to backtrack. After his talk with Professor Potter, Severus had decided it might be a good idea to try to be a bit friendlier, but he was finding that it was not easy. "Er, sorry, I'm just not accustomed to other people asking where I am going." But it wasn't any of her business. He wasn't supposed to tell anyone that he was going out for the day.
"Do you think that maybe we could study together tomorrow, in the library?" she asked, smiling at him, her eyelashes fluttering. His rudeness hadn't deterred her in the least.
No was what Severus wanted to say; he didn't want anything to do with her, but he didn't have many friends… actually, he didn't have any. Maybe he should let her in just a little. It couldn't hurt. "Yes, that would be acceptable," said a very uncertain Severus.
"Okay, meet me there at nine."
Severus nodded and watched the girl go ahead of him and walk down the steps onto the grounds of Hogwarts. Maybe they would end up friends.
"Hello, Severus. Ready to go?" Severus gave a small smile as he continued to watch the girl as she neared the lake. “Hi, Professor Potter."
An hour later, Severus called to Professor Potter's friend, who was about to be overtaken by Professor Potter. "Kick it to me, Mr. Weasley, I can score!" A few seconds later, Severus kicked the football into the goal. "Score!" and he jumped up and down, grinning like he had just kicked the winning goal in the World Cup. Three goals later (all of them scored by Severus), Professor Potter, who, along with Mrs. Weasley, had played against Severus and Mr. Weasley, called the game, saying there was no possible way they could catch up. After the adults sat down, Severus kicked around the football on his own and imagined he was that Muggle, David Beckham.
For lunch they had fish and chips, which was Severus's favorite. After eating, Mr. Weasley told Severus stories about when he and Professor Potter had been students. Severus laughed uncontrollably. His mother contributed a few of her own memories of the two boys; it seems that they hadn't used the library to study much at all. Severus was tempted to ask Mr. Weasley what he had thought of the old Severus Snape, but he knew that was not an option, so he kept his mouth shut.
While the others continued to talk, Severus walked over to a small lake and sat on the bank and watched the wind make ripples on the water. It was so peaceful. He wished he could stay out here all day. For the first time in months, he felt at ease. Professor Potter’s friends were loads of fun, and Mr. Weasley had taken him flying on his broom.
"Mind if I sit down?"
Severus shook his head. Professor Potter sat beside him, then picked up a blade of grass and began to play with it as Severus returned his gaze to the water.
"Your mum wanted me to tell you that it's too late to go to Durmstrang this term. If you want to go next term, you can do that."
Severus shook his head. "I don't want to go anymore. I want to stay here."
"I'm happy to hear that. If you do change your mind, don't worry that it would hurt your mother's feelings. She only wants you to be happy, Severus."
Severus nodded and returned to watching the water. He wasn’t happy, but he wasn’t unhappy, either. If today was any indication, things might begin to improve.
As they were getting ready to leave, about an hour later, Severus felt a chill in the air, and he had a bad feeling. He looked around, but saw nothing out of the ordinary. His mother and Professor Potter were standing by one the trees they had used as part of a goal, talking, and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were standing over by a copse of trees, kissing. Severus grinned, wondering if he and the red-headed girl would ever kiss.
As he began to walk toward his mother, someone grabbed him. Severus screamed. Everything went black.
Harry sat beside Ron in Minerva's office. How had this happened? They had been having such a good time, and Severus had been so happy; it had been just as Harry had hoped.
"I wish I'd never suggested this. I'm sorry, Harry," Ron said, hanging his head.
"It isn't your fault, Ron. I just want to know how this happened. Eileen was supposed to be able to protect Severus," Harry said as Ron raised an eyebrow, "the same as my mother protected me. She told me a few weeks ago. It never occurred to me before, but they could have got some of Snape's blood in the Shrieking Shack, I guess. I just can't figure it out."
The door opened and Hermione walked in, her arm around Severus's mother. Eileen was still crying. Hermione helped her sit down, then took the chair beside Ron.
"Professor McGongall is still at the Ministry trying to see what information she might be able to find out. She said she'd Floo us if she found out anything." She looked at Harry and sighed. It wasn't difficult to see that she was holding back information. He looked at Ron and then motioned with his head toward Eileen and the door. Ron took Eileen out of the room.
"It doesn't look good, Harry. We have no idea who could have taken Severus. It's not like it was eleven years ago. Back then when someone went missing, it was a foregone conclusion that Death Eaters had been involved. We also had spies within the ranks. There has been no Death Eater Activity in over nine years, so we have not had need for spies. All of the Death Eaters who were in what was considered Voldemort's inner-circle are either dead or in Azkaban. I talked to Ron's dad and he agrees that this has to be Death Eater-related, but he is at a loss as to where to begin.
"Percy came in as we were talking; he is already working to find out what happened. He said he'll have set up surveillance on certain wizards and witches within the next three hours. When I asked him to elaborate, he said he would once he had set everything up. I hope that what he is doing will help. Harry, Severus could be anywhere."
"We've got to find him, Hermione. Dumbledore thinks we shouldn't keep this quiet; he said we should plaster Severus's picture everywhere we can. He said that everyone knows who Severus is, and the idea of being the one to find the boy and return him might appeal to people."
Hermione smiled as she took out a piece of parchment, and showed it to Harry.
(There is art that goes here but I couldn't get it to load here. If you want to see it, you can go here: http://hpfandom.net/eff/viewstory.php?sid=30471&i=1 and scroll down to the end of the chapter.
"While I was talking to Percy, Arthur made these for us. Eileen had the picture with her. I am about to go put them up around Hogsmeade and the surrounding areas."
"We've got to find him, Hermione. If anyone asks where I am, tell them I’ve gone to see Malfoy."
After Harry contacted Arthur and set up a time to meet with him later in the day, he retrieved his cloak and was about to leave when he heard tapping on the window. Why was it that when he wasn’t busy, no one seemed to bother him, but the first sign of chaos and everyone seemed to seek him out?
The owl didn’t look familiar. Harry’s heart sped up. Could it be from the people who had Severus? Probably not, but he had to keep thinking that this was all going to end well, and for that to happen, he needed to be positive. That led him to hope that the owl brought news… good news.
He opened the window, retrieved the rather thick parchment, and immediately opened it, ignoring the screeching owl.
Brian has asked me to send this to you. I refused, but he said it was of the utmost importance. I don’t believe him, but he looked desperate, so I said I’d send it to you. I am so sorry that I’m sending this to you, but if it is important and something you should know… well, I just thought it better I not take any chances. I hope everything is going okay for you. Take care of yourself, Harry.
Why now? Harry opened the other parchment, but almost immediately, set it down and backed away. He couldn’t do this now; he had other things to do. What Brian had to say would have to wait until later. Taking a couple of deep breaths, Harry composed himself and left his room.
When Malfoy answered the door, it was obvious that he already knew what had happened. He was ashen-faced. Harry didn’t feel the least bit happy that Malfoy was in distress.
“Has Percy been here?”
“He has. He said he wasn’t going to mess with the esoteric ways with me, that he wanted me to know he thought I was behind this.” Malfoy backed up and ushered Harry into the sitting room. Harry sat on one of the sofas, but Malfoy remained standing.
“Are you… behind what happened to Severus?” Harry looked at Malfoy and wondered how it had come to this… again? How was it that Malfoy was again the one Harry was chasing after?
“Not that I expect you to believe me, Potter, but I didn’t have anything to do with this.”
There was a look of despair on Malfoy’s face. Harry wanted to believe him. “Then tell me, Draco. Tell me what you know. Please,” Harry pleaded. Malfoy began to shake. “Draco, Severus is missing. If you don’t tell us what you know, he might die.” Malfoy again maintained his silence. “Is your father behind this? He is, isn’t he? Why are you protecting him?”
“Potter, he is in Azkaban. How could he be behind this?”
“Very easily I’d say, and you know that, Malfoy. I am going to take your refusal to answer that question as a yes — that your father is behind this. Listen, Malfoy, and listen closely: I haven’t pressed you before, but the game is over now. You’re messing with the wrong person. You need to think carefully before you speak again and begin spouting off lies. I will find out what the truth is. Since you have decided to protect him, I’m going to go have a little chat with dear old Lucius and see what I can get out of him.”
“No! You can’t do that, Potter,” Malfoy said, fear seeming to envelop him.
Harry was going to get Malfoy to talk, no matter what he had to do to accomplish that. “Why not?”
“Severus will be killed for sure if you do.”
Just as Harry had expected, he had been right. No matter his rashness and stubbornness, he had good intuition. “I think you better start talking, Malfoy, unless you want me to take you in to the Ministry; I’m sure they can find an empty holding-cell for you.”
“So you’re telling me that Lucius Malfoy is answering to someone else? I find that hard to believe,” Arthur said as he sat down behind his desk.
“That’s exactly what I said, but yeah, Malfoy says his father is answering to someone else,” Harry said as he looked at one of the posters with Severus’s picture on it. “According to Draco, this other person has something over Lucius, something Lucius refuses to tell Draco. Draco told me that his father had known about Severus’s condition all along, and he had known that the plan from day one had been to kidnap him when he was old enough to attend Hogwarts. I guess he got scared and told Draco what was about to happen. Draco thinks Lucius told him because he knew Draco would make certain that I found out. Draco says he was too scared to say anything until now because he thought whomever was behind this might have him killed. I don't know that I really believe any of what he said, but I guess it’s possible, and it is Malfoy — he seems to always be involved. This entire situation is rather difficult to believe.”
In actuality, Harry believed every word of what Malfoy had said, but, as almost everyone else thought the younger Malfoy was someone Harry had always had an unhealthy obsession with, he had learned to downplay anything that had to do with him. He knew he didn’t fool Arthur, however.
“I agree. I’ll ask you to be careful since we both know what you are capable of.”
“I always am,” Harry replied.
“We need to begin interviewing anyone and everyone. Eileen told me about the blood magic. Blood magic is impenetrable, but someone managed to get through it. How is that? Even without the blood magic, someone followed Severus and his mother. You know how careful we were about setting up wards; no one could have just happened upon the five of you. We need to speak to anyone who had contact with Severus and Eileen before the three of you left. Could you give me a list of Severus’s friends? I’ll talk to Eileen this evening.”
Harry nodded. “I’ll compile a list and owl it to you.” Saying it was easier than it was going to be to do, though, because there were no friends. Harry could think of a few year mates that Severus could have spoken to before he had left, but as for as he knew, there had been no real friends.
“If I’m not here, leave it with Percy.”
Harry nodded as he pinched his nose. This was a nightmare.
“Harry, we’re going to do everything we can to find Severus.”
A loud noise woke Severus. His head hurt and he was cold. “Mum?” No one answered. “Professor Potter?” Severus looked around the room, but it was dark; he could barely make out a few shapes. He was on a bed, and he thought he was probably wearing the same clothes he had worn at the picnic. Where was he? And what had happened? He tried to remember, but couldn’t. All he could remember was that he had been by the lake, talking to Professor Potter. Sleepy. He was so sleepy.
When Severus next woke, someone was staring at him. “Who are you?”
“None of your concern, Snape.”
“Why am I here?” Severus cringed when the man laughed. He didn’t have a happy laugh like his mum or Professor Potter; his laugh was evil.
“Again, none of your concern.”
“You're a bad man,” Severus said, sticking out his bottom lip.
“Not at all. I just do what I am told is all. Just trying to make a living so me and my family can live.”
“Are you going to hurt me?” Severus began to cry. He hated to cry. It showed weakness, and he wasn’t weak.
“No, you’re safe with me.”
“But he’s not safe with me. Hello, Snape. It’s so nice to finally see you... again.”
Severus scooted back as far as he could. This man looked scarier than the first. He was big and had curly red hair.
“Ah, scared of me? No need to be. I have no intention of hurting you. Well, not really. Your mind may be a little hurt, and you might be somewhat different, but well, your mum and Professor Potter will take care of you, so you need not worry. You are happy with your mum, yes?”
Severus refused to speak.
“From what I hear, she has kept you safe. Others have reported to me that you are a happy child. Is this correct?”
Again, Severus refused to speak.
“It’s amazing what a happy childhood will do for a person. You’re no where near the same person you were when you were eleven the first time. That boy was always depressed and frowning. It would be a shame for all of your mother’s hard work to be lost, wouldn’t you say?”
A wand was pointed at him. Severus blocked his face with his hands. “Leave me alone! Don’t hurt me!”
“Cabbot, hand me the potion.”
Severus looked through his fingers and saw the man who had entered first hand a vial of something to the meaner man. This wasn’t good. The mean man approached him.
“Drink this, Snape.”
When he refused to take it, the mean man motioned for the other man to join him and called out several other names. A few seconds later, an even bigger man than the mean man entered. Severus began to cry harder. These mean men were going to hurt him. He heard someone else speaking as he entered the room. He was saying something about a poster and how they had to hurry.
“So they are looking for him. No surprise there. By the time they find him, he’ll no longer be the little boy they remember.”
“You pry his hands from his face, I’ll open his mouth, and Cabbot will give Snape the potion. The others can hold him down.”
Two other men entered the room and joined the others around Severus. “No!!!!! No!!!!! Help!!!!!!!!!!!” Severus screamed as loud as he could.
“You better shut your mouth if you know what is good for you, Snape. Okay, let’s do this.”
Severus began kicking and screaming. Tears poured from his eyes as his fingers were pried from his face, as his nose was pinched, and as his mouth was opened. Then he couldn’t move; his legs were being held by two men, and he couldn’t move his arms because they were pinned down as well. He fought as much as he could as the potion vial got closer, but he couldn’t stop it from being poured into his mouth. He tried not to swallow, but they made him. It was awful.
Then it was over. Everyone released him and left the room. He began to scream. He cried so much he began to make himself choke. What had they done to him?
Severus cried himself to sleep.
He woke up to shouting.
“It didn’t work! Nothing! You said it was ready! You said there was no possible way this could fail! Look at him! He is still the same! He is supposed to be like he was that night! I can’t believe you did this. We haven’t had him that long and already they’re out there looking for him. You know they’ll find him. They can’t find this place! You have endangered us all now.”
Severus watched as the man who was yelling pointed his wand at the man across from him and shouted the Killing Curse. He wanted to scream, but didn’t want to draw any more attention to himself. The man turned toward him.
“Sorry, kid, but they can’t ever know what happened. Obliviate.”
Harry took a seat at the back of the room and acknowledged the two Aurors who were seated next to him, and had to stifle a snort as Dumbledore, who had a portrait located by Arthur’s desk, sighed and shook his head. Yes, Harry knew he was late, but at least Arthur hadn’t begun speaking yet. As Ron’s dad caught his eye, Harry grinned; this was going to be Arthur’s first major test as the newly elected Minister For Magic.
Arthur cleared his throat. Everyone (ten Aurors, three Unspeakables, two senior members of the Wizengamot, along with McGongall and Dumbledore) ceased talking with one another and turned their attention to the front of the room.
“I’ve received information that there has been some unusual activity in Dublin over the past month that could be related to young Mr. Snape’s disappearance. A lab was broken into and some rare ingredients were taken. I have consulted with Horace Slughorn and he has a suspicion that, because of the nature of the particular ingredients that were stolen, they were taken in order to create an age-regeneration potion. There is a possibility this is not the case, but, if it is, I don’t need to tell any of you that this is very serious. This would mean that Severus Snape’s reversion to an infant eleven years ago was no accident.” Arthur looked at Harry. Harry gave a nod. “Percy Weasley and Kingsley Shacklebolt have gone to Dublin to see what they can find, and they have taken a team of some of our finest Aurors and researchers with them. If there is anything to find, we will. We will get Severus Snape back.”
As he stepped out of the shower, Harry stretched. The hot water had felt wonderful as it had soothed his aching body. He had barely got three hours sleep, and even that sleep had been filled with bad dreams. Retrieving a towel, he dried off and looked at himself in the mirror. He looked tired. He sighed and walked to his bedroom to get his clothes. It was cold out so he found a jumper, then he retrieved a pair of jeans from the floor that needed to be washed, and pulled them on. After all of this was over he would get a house-elf to come down to his rooms and clean them properly.
He was about to leave when he decided he might need some extra protection from the wind. As he donned the faded blue cloak that Hermione had got for him a few years earlier, his eyes fell upon something on the table by the window: Brian’s letter. Harry looked at it for a few seconds, then went and picked it up. It was too early in the morning to read this, but he guessed he needed to get it over with.
Are you in any trouble? Some rough-looking people came round asking questions the other day. They asked me how you had been with my son: If he liked you, if you treated him well, if the two of you got along, and other similar questions. What is going on? I told them I’d rather not talk to anyone about my son. They left, but I’m guessing they’ll be back. Why are they asking questions about you and Ronnie? Let me know.
While I am writing you, there are a few things I need to say. I am sorry how things ended with us, Harry. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t wonder how you are, or miss you. Sometimes I think I made a huge mistake by letting you go, but at the time it was what I needed to do. I know what I did to you and Ronnie was wrong. He never asked for you, but I know he wanted you there with him. I was selfish; I made his last months harder for him than they should have been. You have no idea how that haunts me. I apologize, Harry. Nothing I can say will make up for how horrible I was to you about all of this, and I don’t expect that you’ll ever want to speak to me or see me again, but please know that, other than Ronnie, you are the best thing that ever happened to me. Please be happy, Harry. I wish you everything good. You deserve only the best.
Minutes passed as Harry stood by the window staring at the letter. Leaving Brian had been the hardest thing Harry had ever done, and it had taken months for him to be able to function halfway normally. He had mourned for Ronnie even before the boy had died. At the funeral, Harry had kept it together for Ronnie; he hadn’t wanted to detract from his day, but when he had arrived home, he had cried for the little boy who had not quite been his, yet had been his.
Now, when he was finally emerging from that dark time in his life, Harry was facing another rough patch with Severus. That being the case, this letter was the last thing Harry needed. He shook his head.
“Damn you, Brian.”
He sat down on his bed and put his head in his hands. He couldn’t cry, but he wanted to. This was all too much for him to deal with, but he knew it really wasn’t. As Dumbledore had said, Harry was an adult now; he was no longer a little boy who needed someone else to solve his problems for him.
First things first. Harry had to concentrate on what was important, and that was Severus. Once he was found, then Harry could think about what Brian had said.
Why had someone kidnapped him? Ever since Harry had heard mention of age-regeneration, he had felt sick to his stomach. How could anyone even think about doing something so horrible to a child? They couldn’t. They just couldn’t.
But Harry knew they could, and would. Severus could be anywhere, and no telling what could have been done to him. If Death Eaters had taken Severus, there was very little anyone could do. Harry understood that. He just didn’t want to believe it.
Lucius had refused to speak. Harry wanted to give him Veritaserum, but since Malfoy was a prisoner, and since there was absolutely nothing to connect him with Severus Snape’s disappearance, the use of Veritaserum in this situation had to be approved by the Ministry, which took time — time that they didn’t have. Nevertheless, Arthur was working on getting approval.
“Harry? Are you there?”
Harry reluctantly stood and walked into his sitting room. The Headmistress’s head hovered amid the flames. “Hi, Minerva. Any news?”
“They found him.”
They found him. It was almost too good to be true. He hadn’t been gone that long. But they found him. They had found him! Harry grinned, but that turned into a frown.
“Come to my office,” Minerva said before disappearing.
His shoes. Where were his shoes? “Accio Shoes.” Harry put on his shoes and grabbed a handful of Floo Powder before stepping into the fire. A few seconds later he stumbled out into Hermione’s arms.
“Thanks. Where is he?” His heart was racing. Hermione didn’t say anything. “Tell me, where is he?”
“He’s with Percy.”
Harry was about to ask where when Percy entered the room holding Severus. “Is he okay?” Harry asked, trying to keep his voice calm.
“He seems okay, just asleep, but Poppy wants to examine him. We are about to take him now.”
“I’ll take him.” Harry approached Percy and looked at Severus. He had been so scared. “Where is Eileen?”
"Ron is with her and will bring her to the hospital wing.”
Harry carefully took Severus in his arms and moved a strand of hair away from the pale face. “Where did you find him?” he whispered.
“In an alleyway near Manchester; he had a blanket over his body, and there didn’t seem to be any visible wounds on him.”
“Are you going to be here for a while? I need to talk to you about Malfoy.”
“I have a meeting in half an hour, so I have to get back. Dad wants to see you if you can get away. He has no other meetings scheduled for today, so he should be in his office until five.”
Harry nodded. “Do you think they did anything to him?” It was a stupid question. Of course they had done something to him. “I mean, they wouldn’t have let him go so soon otherwise… right?”
“Yeah, I hate to say it, but I’m fairly certain they did something to him. We’ll just have to watch him and see what happens. Harry, you need to get some rest. Dad and Mum are really worried about you.”
“I’ll be fine. Tell your dad I’ll be at the Ministry as soon as I know that Severus’ll be okay.”
A few minutes later, Harry was seated in the hospital wing, watching Poppy examine Severus, who was still asleep. Eileen was talking to Hermione in the doorway, and Ron was visiting with Minerva. Poppy had said very little, and Harry was beginning to get nervous. When she pulled up the covers over Severus’s bare chest, she called Eileen over. Harry took a few deep breaths.
“The good news is Severus was not harmed physically. There is slight bruising on his left wrist; it looks like fingers, so perhaps he was being held down, which brings us to the not so good news. There is evidence that he was given a few different potions, including the potion we were all so concerned about. It is very odd though because it appears as though it was given to him sometime yesterday. It should have worked within an hour. Tomorrow, after he has got a good night’s sleep, I want to run some other tests on him to see why it has not worked.”