"Are you sure about that?"
"It may be a difficult challenge."
"I mean, you know how he is... I'm not sure he'll thank you for that."
"Mione, I have to do it, after all he did to all of us — me — that's the least I can do."
There was a brief silence followed by a sigh.
"I know, it's just... are you really sure about that?"
Harry Potter and Hermione Granger have been conducting this conversation for the last twenty minutes.
Hermione finally raised her hands. Harry was determined and she knew better than to argue with him about it.
For four long days, the boy who lived sat, his head in a desperate posture, on a stool in the infirmary. His back was arched and hunched, his face contorted between his hands. From time to time he raised his head and stared at the man lying in the bed next to him, only to bury his face under his arms when he realized that no change had occurred.
For four days Severus Snape lay entrusted on a bed in the hospital wing like a lifeless body.
Despite the constant treatment of Madame Pomfrey, the venom still flowed in his veins, and only by an illogical miracle did he still live.
There was nothing to do. That is to say, there was a solution, but they all avoided using it, and not only because it was only a last and desperate way out. The wounded man would have killed them if they had used it.
But fate always had an ironic sense of humor.
There was no other choice.
Thus he found himself, the savior of the wizards world, sitting by the bedside of his potion teacher — a situation that only a short time ago he had been laughing at the very idea — and waiting.
The last few days were loaded. Most of the team was busy saving all they could and funerals for the war dead. But among all this, each of them would find his way to check how is the war hero fighting for his life in the infirmary.
The trials passed one by one. The students helped to rehabilitate Hogwarts. The Malfoyes generously contributed their money and assistance to the mission.
Overall, there seemed to be a cold peace between everyone. No one ignored requests, everyone went to the funerals and gave last respects to the dead.
They say there is no victory in the war. Harry had never guessed how true it was. A celebration becomes mourning for those present. How easy it is to be far from everything and read all the events from the press that continues to work tirelessly against all odds. But when people in the story get a face, people you know and are no longer, you know that no victory is absolute.
Does winning a person make you a hero? How many heroes are there and no one has ever heard of? People who have confidential under the shadows, out of the limelight and advertising. Severus Snape was the classic example. Harry studied the pale face of the boy in front of him. Years of espionage, years of self-sacrifice to people who did not know him at all, who did not see him worthy of any light... years to defend a person who reminded you of your worst memory, to protect him and receive in return a burning loathing.
Harry had buried his face once more in his hands. The pieces of the puzzle of the picture had always been so misleading. The man had done so much. He had saved the wizarding world from falling into Voldemort's hands. He was an irreplaceable soldier.
In the few days that have passed since the threat was lifted, it is difficult to count the amount of news and stories published. Glowing titles, cheers and praise, countless dedications to the hero of the war that remained for years in the shadows...
After a year of pure hatred.
Years. Years of slander. For years and years no one thought of him positively.
Harry groaned as the realization hit him.
He was even worse.
Every year this man saved him, every year he rewarded him with renewed hatred, mistrusted him, suspected, disliked... and discovered again that he had saved his life.
He could not bear it. He felt so guilty, ungrateful... more than anyone could have imagined.
So yes, he sat here for hours. Desperately hoping for a second chance. It seemed too late... but unbelievably, it wasn't.
Harry turned bright emerald eyes and studied the young face in front of him, lying silently on the white sheets of the infirmary bed. No, that was beyond measure. Better than anything he dared imagine.
He got a chance, and he was not going to miss it.
He didn't know yet how the boy would respond to that he had returned to his childhood again (even if it was inevitable), or if he still held his adult memories. But it did not matter. He knew what he was going to do, and there was nothing in the world that would have motivated him.
Besides, who would have believed that this harmless little boy could grow up into the hard and bitter man he'd become?
A shadow of a smile crept into the young man's lips. Oh, yes. Fate rarely gives you a second chance for a lifetime, and if he gave you another chance, you must jump on it.
He's going to adopt his old potion manager.
He did not know if they would simply leave it to him. He assumed there would not be a lot of volunteers, given the reputation the man had built for himself, but with all the latest news, it could be...
Well. Shell it be. He was ready to fight for it.
No. What bother him more was the response of those close to him... Well, Hermione already understood. The rest would have to come to terms with it, too.
Severus looked so vulnerable. Harry brushed a strand of hair wondering over his eyes and wrapped his arms around the little boy, feeling a desperate need to protect him. So small... so helpless...
He was not going to give up on him.
Harry leaned over to the tiny boy in his arms. "I'll do it better this time," he stopped and looked at the sleeping face, a sad smile slowly appearing on his face, "I promise."