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Escapism

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SS

The last thing that Severus Snape could remember was reclining on the roof of the Astronomy Tower, basking in the sun with his skin liberally warded against the UV rays. He had been savouring perhaps the most relaxed summer of his career since the Potter boy had begun his schooling three years ago. Most wouldn’t believe it to be possible, him, relaxing. But with the students out of the castle, Pettigrew on the run instead of sleeping in the pockets of children, Black in hiding, the bastard, and the comforting notion that he would no longer have to live in the same building as the werewolf who had plagued his nightmares in school, he felt like he could take a full breath for the first time in months. 

Of course the feeling wouldn’t last, for even now he was becoming less sure that his eyes were playing tricks on him, showing him an ever-so-slightly-darker stain coming over what was left of his Dark Mark. And the less sure he was, the more concerned he became, and thoughts of his two terrible masters returned, crowding in with their manipulations and their war. Better to be forcefully ignorant for a moment longer than to go down that mental sinktrap. 

He had brought a novel for some light reading on his rooftop perch, the only place he’d found on the school grounds where he didn’t feel the near-constant paranoia, and had been reading it intently when it happened. He’d been so lost in the world of the book that the only thing that tipped him off to the changes around him was the difference in the book’s weight in his hand.

He blinked and found himself looking at his fifth-year potions textbook instead of his novel. After the initial disappointment-confusion-double-take, his years as a spy kicked in. Taking in the details of his surroundings, he was relieved to find them familiar and non-threatening, as much as Hogwarts ever really had been, for him.

A sunny day on the Hogwarts grounds. Could it be that cursed day? Checking the dates on his notes quickly confirmed it. It was. A flood of icy dread went down his spine. Not again. He had experienced this dream one too many times. He had gone so far as to carefully occlude it from his subconscious mind so it would stop appearing in his dreamscape.

So then, what was this? A waking nightmare? Pinching himself viciously, he hissed under his breath at the pain. Definitely awake then. Silently casting some of the best illusion revealing and dark magic detecting wards he knew, he scanned the area and found there to be nothing at all out of the ordinary. Adrenaline pounded through his veins.

He looked back at his potions book, left open on his lap. They had been studying the potion to imbue sands with time. Outlined in the text were the more basic magical hourglass sands, to the sands and clay that potters used to create scrying bowls to peer through time, all the way up to the golden sands of the time-turner.

He’d avoided all he could of the wizarding world’s dalliances with time from then on, as it reminded him of his worst memory. The day he lost his friend. But, as he now began to recall, he had been reading a muggle book about time when this sudden shift came about. A Wrinkle In Time, it was. And oh, how he sometimes hated magic for its obscene love for turning less than mere coincidence into an event, a new Path.

To confirm his suspicions, he wracked his brain for any memory of date spell. He knew the one for simply telling time, but rarely used it, as his internal clock worked like, well, clockwork. It had been trained into him in early childhood to rise before the sun and spend his most vulnerable moments of the day alone, before the rest of the world was awake. Then, not just knowing the routines of others around him by heart, but sensing them, anticipating them. That was how one survived, he knew. When did his father go to work, and return? Knowing when father’s payday was, and exactly when to not just be out of the house, but out of the neighbourhood. Survival.

In school, it was the same. He poured over discarded schedules late into the night during the first week of school, every year after his terrible first year, for although he could not understand what he’d done to make them hate him so much at the time, he had become a target for four horrible Gryffindor boys, who terrorized him even more consistently than his father.

He knew the Gryffindor class schedule better than he knew his own, and mapped out his daily route around it, sometimes even sprinting between classes due to the detours caused by avoiding them. 

And yet. They found him. After their third year, there had been next to nowhere to hide from the Marauders. He hated admitting that they were clever, but whatever they had done to find him worked, time after time. 

Casting around once more in his memories, he remembered the Granger girl muttering a date and time spell that he suspected she had created herself, though he still half-doubted she was creative enough to do so, due to her well-demonstrated love for doing things ‘by the book’. 

Now that he thought on it, she had used it so frequently in the past year he knew it by heart, wand movements and all. Perhaps she was dealing with some form of OCD? He couldn’t think of another reason anyone would need to know the exact date and time so frequently.

Nevertheless, he cast it, and clenched his jaw tightly as it confirmed his fears. Nineteen-seventy-gods-damned-five. His worst year, his worst memory, the first day of the rest of his life that he would find himself completely alone in the world. Halting his train of thoughts in its tracks, he employed the breathing techniques that he had learned to appreciate after years with a muggle therapist, and broke down the reality of his situation.

So. It was not a dream, or an illusion. He was reading time-related things both before and after the event, though he could not be sure of the true source of the phenomenon. ‘That’s just magic for ya’ he thought sarcastically, clenching his teeth. All in all, he could be reasonably sure that he was truly here, in this time period, and the fact that it happened at all meant there was no way back. The timeline was already damaged irreversibly, even if he did know how to return.

Feeling muscles, now only half as rusty as they had been in his former timeline of moments ago, stretch his 15-year-old face into a grin that could have scared a shark, his heartbeat in his throat, he said the only thing he could in the face of this bizarre situation.

“Oh, fuck yeah.”

--

HG

Hermione Granger was doing her damnedest not to cry or throw up. She absolutely despised heights. How in the world had she ended up on the roof of the Astronomy tower when she had just moments ago been throwing what was admittedly a very embarrassing temper tantrum, under her favourite tree on the grounds? Despite now being 17, the fact that she was had been the catalyst for her outburst. She couldn’t be expected to act her age when she had only very recently found out what it was, right?

To her dismay, her meeting with Professor Dumbledore that morning had informed her that her over-use of her time-turner had aged her prematurely. She had noticed some changes, but like her mother, she’d been an early bloomer physically, and was already the eldest in her class before any time-turner shenanigans, so by the end of the summer preceding her third year, last summer, she had nearly grown into her adult features completely. Her dreams of being taller were crushed, while she grappled with the uncomfortable additions to her curves by masking them with loose-fitting clothing.

In the headmaster’s office, she had bravely rationalized aloud how no one would notice, since she hadn’t changed physically. Nothing had to change. Dumbledore had been his optimistic self and assured her that he knew her reasons for abusing the time-turner must have been good, and refused to hear it when she began to explain, smiling benignly all the while. And they had been good reasons! But oh what she wouldn’t do to go back and convince herself that there was no good reason to go down the path she had.

It had started so easily. All she had wanted was an extra night of sleep, and with her hectic schedule, who could blame her? Then the insidious temptation began. The draw of further knowledge pulled at her, and when she had finally caved, it was partly because she could rationalize anything, if it was to help Harry.

She should know Occlumency and Healing, because of course she would need them, eventually. And the fact that she could, well, meant that she did. She first challenged her OWLs, then her NEWTs. It was surprisingly easy when she didn't have to help her classmates with their studies.

She spent countless hours teaching herself, disillusionment and notice-me-not charms layered around her like a blanket in increasingly varied places that she made a point of never visiting while attending her regular classes, to avoid confusion.

Near the end of the spring semester, she was studying with such a one-track mind, she must have lived a year in what was just a month for everyone else.

It was just like slipping into the pages of a book, and becoming so absorbed in the story she lived lifetimes with the characters, only to shut it and discover that she hadn’t moved from her seat, and only two hours had passed, afterall. It was exactly that, but with a terrible price. She had felt so safe and free slipping behind the folds of the curtain of time, so untouchable as the rest of the world moved around her. Had she used the turner appropriately, even with extra time for sleep factored in, it would have been impossible for her to age too much more than a year, which she had been aware of before accepting.

Damn her brain. It was both her greatest strength and weakness. She knew she tended to overthink things, go off on tangents as her brain whirred far too quickly for others, who looked on in confusion as she rambled. But the worst had to be the pride she took in it. It made her both fiercely competitive and terribly anxious all the time.

Not knowing the answer to a question felt like a death sentence. And having friends like Harry Potter didn’t help it at all, it just reinforced her mind’s conviction, because not knowing the answer at the wrong moment could actually result in death.

In the end, the blame fell to her. Every reason or rationalization in the world would never justify the time it took to study for, take, and pass her muggle A-levels with flying colours. It had become a true addiction, and she knew she would be paying for it, and not just with her age.

Her perception of reality and the passage of time were so entirely fried this summer, she slept in on random days, and would wake up in a panic, thinking she had missed classes, and reach for her sternum to grasp the time turner, only to find that it wasn’t there. She had never slept in a day in her life, before the past year. Years?

During the school year, she had developed a spell to display the exact time and date above her wrist, because her watch traveled in time with her, and having to reset it each time was inefficient. She used the spell religiously throughout the year, and was glad she had perfected it, because she would often forget the date or time, or what class she had upcoming, and her body craved meals at inappropriate times. Losing time had become a frequent occurrence, and that she hated most of all.

And now it was happening again. Maybe she had truly snapped, for even though this wasn’t the first time she had become aware of her surroundings only to realize the weather had changed, or she had read much too late into the night and the sun was rising. However, unless she had been led somewhere with her nose in a book by a friend, she usually remained in the same place.

And this!! This was not somewhere she could have mindlessly wandered. At this height, she had no voice to scream with, her vocal cords coated and confined in the all-consuming panic she was experiencing.

Forcing her the rational parts of her mind to find a way to get her out of the situation she found herself in took immense effort, her irrational self screaming that she was too-high- too-high-holy-shit! She hadn’t even gone this high on Buckbeak to rescue Sirius last month! Casting a cushioning charm on the balcony below, she inched towards the edge of the roof before applying the strongest sticking charm she knew to her hands.

She then lowered herself off the roof until only her hands remained and released the charm. It took a few tries to do wandlessly in her state, but she landed uneventfully and stood again on shaky legs.

Emergency averted, she tried to control her heart rate while she properly looked about. It was obviously some time in the afternoon, the sun had moved, but the gap in her memory containing how she must have gotten there still baffled her.

Even stranger were the students she could see smiling about the grounds below. The school year was over, was it not? But it looked like the aftermath of exams down there!

Hogwarts had been empty of students when she left her meeting with Dumbledore. This was getting stranger by the minute!

Tapping twice on her wrist, before fanning her wand from above her forearm towards her fingers she cast her Vera Horologia spell. The time and date she saw hovering before her couldn’t be correct.

And yet. She did trust her spell. She knew she did it right. The implications of the time being true caused her concentration to fail, and the numbers flickered before disappearing, as she fell into a dead faint.

Chapter Text

SS

Being 15 again was a heady drug, Severus discovered. He couldn’t stop his grin, now that he started. Moving his books off his lap, he reached out to touch his toes, just because he could. The twinge in his back he felt was merely from a still-healing scar, and he almost enjoyed the feeling, compared the constant ache and occasional spasms from one too many rounds of Cruciatus during the war.

The lightness in his chest was unlike anything he had felt in a long time. He thought he could breathe before-Hah! That was a mockery of breath. He flexed his pianist’s fingers and marveled at his range of movement now that his shoddy workmanship from one of his stupider moments was undone. Self-healing broken fingers with a bundle of broken fingers was never a good idea.

Okay, shit, okay. He wrangled his emotions in line. No getting carried away. He was too cautious a man to become a carefree teenager just because he was the right age again. He hadn’t even been one the first time around!

He knew the details of this particular day intimately. The should-haves, would-haves, could-haves, and why-didn’t-I-just-shut-UP-for-half-a-seconds had run rivers of regret through his head often enough. Going by the time he saw, he had an hour of what had been studying before the Marauders would arrive.

But why wait for them to come at all? He was free.

Nearly ripping his threadbare sleeve in his haste, he exposed the underside of his left forearm. Gone! Not a single pledge, debt or even a whisper of a vow to tether him. Both Voldemort and Dumbledore could still be found in this timeline, but what mattered most to him was the exhilarating feeling of never answering to either of them again.

He leapt to his feet and chuckled at the ease of it. He hadn’t been particularly old when he left his original timeline, but within his 33 years, he had been broken and patched back together many times. It had aged him, more than he realized. Note to self: preventative yoga in the future. His future.

His future? Merlin! His absurdly positive mood dimmed a notch as he played with those two little words in his mind. He hadn’t known it was such an intimidating thing to have, a future of one’s own. Severus couldn’t for the life of him think of what to do with it, but he understood that it was not something to waste. His whole life had been spent either fighting for survival in the moment, running from the past, or yearning to change, erase, or rectify it.

The only planning for the future he had truly done for himself was the faint and mostly forgotten daydreams of his childhood, a handful of painful, stabbing wishes during the minor infatuations he fell into scattered throughout his teenage years, and thoughts on lesson planning, when to best harvest potion ingredients, or when long-process potions would need to be adjusted as they mature. Nothing of any true substance.

And suddenly, -perhaps it was the hyperactive hormones of the teenage body he now found himself in- he felt his awe and gratitude at the second chance shift into fear. He wanted to lash out at the source to protect himself from this gift, this curse, he’d been given.

It had given him a second chance, yes, but now he had everything to lose. He had a friend again, even his mother alive, since she wouldn’t break under his father’s terrorizing until two weeks before his sixth year. How could he ensure their safety? He couldn’t fathom losing them again.

He needed to shake himself out of that mindset fast, if only to avoid being caught off his guard. Gathering his books, he wondered to himself what in the world he had been doing, carrying them all, everywhere he went. Right, repeated shrinking and re-sizing didn’t mix very well with second and third-hand books. Ugh, he was poor again. Well, he had long since learned how to dig himself out of that particular hindrance, through an impressive amount of trial and error, and he believed that the best course of action for the moment was to ‘fake it til you make it’, to steal a phrase from the Muggle world.

A small part of his brain, perhaps one that had been occupied with something like pretending to enjoy Lucius Malfoy’s company or something equally ridiculous for too long, now had the space to wonder what the wizarding equivalent of the phrase would be. ‘Cast an illusion to achieve your resolutions’? Ah well, Muggles really did do some things better. First things first though, he needed a goddamn shower.

Those that had known him as an adult assumed many things about him, including his ‘bad hygiene,’ which was merely a combination of, firstly, supporting the intimidating and alienating image he had to present to keep the blithering idiots he had to teach in line, all while they blundered about near open flames and volatile ingredients.

He hated being head of Slytherin House, for it meant there was no escaping the purebloods-are-superior bias he had to portray if he wanted to keep up appearances. The whole 'Slytherin's monster' debacle of the year before last solidified his continued belief that it was all bullshit. It's not as if he hated his House, it was more a hatred that stemmed from the societal expectations that cropped up around it, in the end.

Secondly, the fact that he spent the majority of his time both under great stress and surrounded by the noxious-clinging fumes that spewed from the cauldrons of his stupider students didn’t help matters.

He wondered if he should start a list of things that Muggles do better, including teaching lab safety to chemistry students and not allowing them to even attempt the experiments until they were past the worst of puberty.

Unfortunately, his poor hygiene was quite real at this point in time, though it wouldn’t be for much longer, if he had anything to say about it. Excuses like not being able to afford the correct products for his sensitive scalp were poppycock when one had magic, or even just general knowledge of herbology.

He had simply hated himself and the rest of the world so much as a teen, the solution never crossed his mind.

Attempting to cast an intricate ward that would preserve his books down to the molecular level, he noticed how wild his magic felt. He wrestled with it a moment before he was satisfied with the result. He was immediately drained, so much so that shrinking and lightening the now-protected books, before he placed them in his pocket, was entirely too difficult for how simple it was.

His body’s immature magic was strong, he had forgotten just how strong. Or maybe he simply hadn’t noticed the first time. Exposure to dark magic was likely the culprit responsible for the dampening and blockages he experienced as an adult.

By nature, dark magic was a greedy, growing thing and those who didn’t take the proper precautions often lost both their magic and their minds. Severus supposed he must have lost a little of both, no matter how careful he had been. He’d have to test his limits later now that he was at full strength again, magically, at least.

He shuddered a bit, for it would be an uphill battle to gain the stamina he’d need to perform the complex magic he knew, because despite the raw strength of his magical core, the rest of him was young, weak, and malnourished.

On his way to the dungeons, he had to remind himself that his posture had been abysmal for the grand majority of his youth, and he wasn’t ready to reveal his ‘changed’ self so suddenly, nevermind get over his shock.

He stopped by the greenhouses to ply some aloe vera and lemon from the always-kindly Professor Sprout, stuttering over his impulse to use her first name. With those, he had a quick conditioner for his sensitive scalp, to keep it from putting out too much oil in overcompensation, and he took one of the longest showers he’d had in an age to clear his head.

He laughed outright at how often the changes to his body made him double-take. He had always been thin, but he’d forgotten what a skeleton he was before filling out his height. And though his skin was still littered with scars, at various stages of healing, it looked like a blank canvas to him. There were countless patches of unmarred skin that he hadn’t seen in years.

The first time around, at 15, he could count on his fingers the people who had seen him shirtless, as his insecurity over the scars was overwhelming. Now, he took a bit of pride in them, even missed some of the more impressive ones he’d gained as an adult. He survived them, why not be proud?

As he was drying his hair, he wondered why his younger self let it get so long. He didn’t know the first thing about trimming hair, so for the moment he conjured a familiar hair-tie and pulled half up in a bun in practiced motions, as he put up his hair nearly every time he was brewing privately, and let the rest fall against his shoulders. Properly washed, the waviness of it surprised him slightly.

Fingers itching to transfigure his second-hand robes into something more appropriate for a warm weekend in late spring, he denied himself and resorted to repairing the worst of it. When he left the bathroom, he imagined a change in posture and hairstyle would shock those who knew him far enough for one day.

It was for the best, of course, that people changed their perceptions of him early on. He had no plans to become the person he had been, zip, zilch, zero.

He frowned at the mirror. This body had yet to grow out of his resting-angst-face, which likely had quite a lot to do with his, currently, undiagnosed astigmatism. He’d have to see Poppy about correcting that soon.

He felt a twinge of guilt for never having advised the Potter boy to have his vision fixed, but he would grow up with magical parents this time around, so it would no longer truly matter, if he was even to be born, now. For the moment, he forced his facial muscles to relax and adopted a neutral expression, double-checking the mirror before exiting the bathroom.

He knew the universe wouldn’t miss a chance to screw with him, no matter how many silent pleas he sent out asking to not run into any of his housemates on the way out of the dungeons. Lo and behold, just as he reached the common room door, he heard a voice call him. Hesitating minutely, he contemplated just walking out as if he hadn’t heard, before turning around as though that was the farthest idea from his mind.

“Avery.” Severus greeted simply. He refused to spare this fool any unnecessary pleasantries, but knew he would have to keep up appearances. It wouldn’t do to turn anyone -who wasn’t already- against him. He wasn’t about to flit around collecting allies like a few individuals he could mention, either.

“That hair of yours’ll be long enough soon we might find you hanging out in the girl’s bathroom, Snape.” Avery snickered.

The blockhead was so oblivious he didn't even notice that standing straight, Severus was now a head taller than him.

Severus rather thought that Avery and Pettigrew would get along marvelously, the scraping-bowing little bastards. Not that an Avery would ever defer to Severus, oh no, never to a half-blood. He would pay good money to see the look on the future Death Eater’s face were he to learn that his beloved Dark Lord was half-blooded too.

“How do you know I haven’t already?”

He couldn’t resist smirking a bit. Waiting a few beats to see if Avery could process his response enough to continue the conversation himself, Severus saw his features twisting towards confused anger, and added, lightly,

“As long as it doesn’t get longer than Lucius’, I think I’ll be okay.” That earned him a laugh. Mood swing averted, Severus slipped out the door before he was caught by anyone else.

Striding down the corridors, he was glad to see they were deserted, likely due to the good weather. Glad especially to have only portraits and ghosts witness him trip spectacularly not once, but twice, over his own feet.

What a difference losing an inch and close to 4 stone in a moment made to his awareness of his body. His center of balance was all off. Collecting what was left of his dignity, he decided to quite literally ‘run’ some tests to give himself an anchor in this body again.

In a deserted corridor on the second to lowest floor, portraits would whisper amongst themselves that the young people get stranger every year. He started at a jog, and ran back and forth along the flagstones until he was sprinting, unable to resist letting out a whoop.

He flopped to the ground and caught his breath. Damn he could move at 15. His stamina and strength were less than even subpar, but any survivor knows that you just have to be faster than the guy beside you.

Chapter Text

HG

Hermione woke in the infirmary. She knew it well, and relaxed. It must have been some kind of stress-induced nightmare. However, when Madame Pomfrey appeared, looking close to her age in apprentice healer robes, she nearly went and fainted again.

So it was real. But no, she was no wilting flower, she wouldn’t faint. She would just have to accept the situation and find a way home.

“You’re awake then, love?” the young matron murmured.

“Yes, thank you Madame Pomfrey.” She winced inwardly after seeing the shocked look on her face. She forgot no one knew her here for a moment. 

“Ah! So our visitor has awakened!” Dumbledore’s warm warble interrupted the frozen moment. Hermione felt the slightest pressure against her Occlumency shields when he met her eyes, and watched as his ever-present twinkle dimmed a smidge when he could go no farther. “Perhaps if she is feeling better Miss..?”

“Hermione Granger, sir.”

“Thank you, yes. Perhaps Miss Granger would like to join me in my office for some tea.” It was phrased politely enough, but Hermione knew it was not a request. Thinking fast, she realized her knowledge of the future was a powerful resource, one she knew the Headmaster wouldn’t hesitate to exploit it if he found out.

Though he had the greater good at heart, he could easily keep her trapped here to do so. Not even adding the fact that he didn’t know her here to the mix, she knew what he was willing to do, morally, and hadn’t trusted him since learning of how he had covered up Sirius’ attempted murder of Professor Snape.

Better to research what happened herself and exhaust her options before turning to him or any of the other professors.

--

SS

Severus spent the rest of the walk to the great hall reacquainting himself with a few portraits that had been placed in storage sometime within the next 18 years. He wondered what they had done -would do?- to offend Dumbledore enough to remove them.

Schooling his features once more, he passed through the grand doors of the great hall to make his way to the Slytherin table, wincing inwardly at the loss of advantage the high table provided. Being able to view all that occurred in the hall meant further safety, after all.

He saw that Dumbledore, as per the norm, had flounced off to some unknown location once again, leaving his seat empty. Strange, he thought, remembering the time of year. The headmaster was usually present for the week of exams, at least while he was at school. Shaking off his reactive suspicion, he kept walking.

He was free to choose the next best bet for the moment, as dinner wasn’t due to start for another 15 minutes. Selecting a place along the bench closest to the wall, so he wouldn’t have to watch his six as diligently, he settled in to watch the doors, grateful to no longer be pretending his former self’s slouch. Why not take advantage of his ridiculous height? It was one of the only things he would ever be grateful to his father for.

The third years were always the first to enter, ‘starved’ as their growth spurts demanded they become veritable black holes for food. They took little notice of anything outside their mission to eat.

A few seventh-year Ravenclaws were the next to arrive, and he could almost see them take in the new information his appearance provided, file it, and determine that either they couldn’t care less, or that there were much more pressing matters to look into, like the debate on whether Ancient Runes could be called Ancient if they were still in use in modern wizarding society.

With him no longer the only conspicuous occupant of the hall, he was for the most part, largely unnoticed as the rest of the school arrived. Until, that is, his classmates began to file in.

The fifth years had been basking in the relief of completing one of the most difficult OWLs they’d face in the next week or so, and had dragged their feet coming in off of the grounds. He pretended to be completely unaware of their presence and busied himself with filing his plate with the food now on lining the center of the table.

Each gasp, whisper and, ‘what in Merlin’s name?’ (or ‘what the fuck?’ depending on blood status) he heard made the petty cockles of his heart fairly overheat. Shock factor was a guilty pleasure of his, and he reveled in it.

None of his Slytherin year-mates would be so obvious as to ask him outright what brought on the sudden change. Subtlety was a prized virtue in this house. If they ever finished dancing around the question, he planned to give them the most unsatisfying answer possible.

But not everyone could use finesse like a Slytherin, and he could almost predict, down to the second, when he would be confronted outright by the Gryffindor menaces. They wouldn’t interrupt their all-important meal to do so, but he could feel their combined gazes burning into him like so many stinging hexes. They were likely itching for a fight, and he had deprived them of their favourite plaything by leaving the grounds earlier that afternoon.

And boy, did they have ammunition now. The first time around it had been simply his unfortunate display during the DADA exam, where he had spent the written portion of the test so close to the paper it must have appeared he wanted to live inside it, due to a combination of his terrible eyesight, nerves, and forcing his handwriting to be legible for the examiners. But pulling a complete 180 so soon after would confuse them, therefore making them solidly angry, and he knew they’d find a way to twist it into an insult as well.

His 15-year-old body took these thoughts as a cue to tense in anticipation (he would never admit to fearing them) and he forced himself to relax.

Though his physical self may still be stuck in the pattern of abuse, he was no longer, and he hoped when the confrontation came, they would choose a suitable location, far from potential discovery by the teachers, so he could trounce them thoroughly once and for all. Maybe he’d even lure them to some of the lesser-known corridors to ensure it.

He took his sweet time eating, taking some time out of his plotting to truly enjoy the food, and tried every dish without fear of an upset stomach. He would see about organizing a rehabilitating diet with the aid of Madame Pomfrey and the house elves today.

Perhaps a daily supplement potion as well. Malnourishment had long term effects that could surely be helped along to heal with magic.

Being the Slytherin he was, Severus knew that a confrontation in his current state would spell disaster for his plans. Nevermind that he could now take them on successfully, it would only continue to happen unless he thrashed them within an inch of their sanity and changed their preconceived notions of his weakness and cowardice.

For now, he would use the added advantage of being a former teacher to avoid and confuse them to no end. He would choose when to confront them, no one else. No matter how many secret passageways or tracking spells they knew of, there was no way they’d find him fast enough.

Something that very few students ever realized was that Hogwarts was sentient, and would hide them, take them through passages that opened on one floor and exited on another, and more, as long as they knew how to ask it nicely.

And so, it was with a broad smirk that he left the Great Hall, turning around as he passed through the doors to salute the Marauders who had already leapt out of their seats to follow him. Their ‘innocent bloke’ expressions slipped into confusion for some, and red, glowing hate in others. Severus practically skipped out of the doorway and around the corner, whispered to the flagstones and promptly ‘disappeared.’ 

--

HG

Occlumency had come easily to Hermione. It was merely an extension of her own coping techniques. She had always been an empathetic child, and that was oftentimes overwhelming and painful.

She regularly came home in tears, after children in her elementary classes had ‘been mean’ to the teacher, when it was only childish bad behaviour.

In her case, she automatically placed herself in others’ shoes, and couldn’t separate herself from the emotions she would have felt when treated that way, growing up. Even if that person was an adult, and could handle it perfectly well without taking it personally.

Because others’ emotions and issues affected her so deeply, she did her absolute best to hide her own, so at least she wouldn’t be hurting them the way they hurt her. Paired with the fact that her parents were usually busy, she became an expert on self-soothing, books being the best way to fuel her escapism.

So, following Dumbledore to his office, Hermione was calm, her Occlumency shields in place and her mind safely re-reading a passage out of her favourite book, The Secret Garden.

Breaking down in quickly fabricated crocodile tears in the Headmaster’s office, and claiming terribly confusing ‘partial amnesia,’ with flashes of recognition and memories of older versions of the faculty, the school, etc, was too simple. ‘Wasn’t it just the summer of 1994, Headmaster?’ At this point, she barely blinked when lying to teachers. 

Dumbledore was then delighted to inform her that she ‘must have had a bit of a time-related incident,’ and was ‘likely experiencing the symptoms of amnesia as her brain and magic protected her from the negative effects of time-displacement.’ And as nothing like her situation had ever been recorded, he was suitably proud enough of his ‘discovery’ to think he had learned all he needed to know.

Her Occlumency showed him that ‘thankfully, my dear, you seem to have retained your magical knowledge,’ and that she had finished her OWLs, all Os, of course. So she was sorted, and she let the hat put her in Ravenclaw, this time. Inconspicuous was the goal; blue and bronze were better colours on her, anyways. She would join the sixth years after the summer, as she couldn’t very well reveal that she was far beyond even NEWT level.

After a couple of hours with him, and getting set up temporarily in one of the guest suites, Hermione had a killer headache. Only after locking and warding the door did she breathe a sigh of relief, and allow herself to panic.

Chapter Text

SS

Coming around the corner after him, the Marauders’ angry exclamations could be heard all the way to the Hospital Wing, where he had arrived moments before. He hadn’t actually disappeared, he had simply fallen into the floor, and stepped forward to arrive in the Hospital Wing.

Thanking the castle with the proper gratitude, he walked up to Madam Pomfrey’s desk to wait for her. He could hear her fussing over a student behind a curtain. Scanning the room as per his habit, he noticed one of the beds had been recently vacated. A dark curly hair, and, strangely, what looked like the unprepared ingredients for Sleakeasy stood out against the white of the pillowcase.

It was unlike Poppy to leave a bed unmade, she must have been busy. With a flick of his wand, the sheets were stripped and flew to the basket of sheets to be laundered by the house-elves.

“...you’re to continue resting up until I return with your last round of Skele-Gro, young man.” Madam Pomfrey scoffed indelicately as she left a student to his cot. “Quidditch indeed. More like Bane-of-all-Mediwizards… ah, Mister Snape! Back so soon?” Her annoyed expression cleared when she noticed him, and the familiar sadness-concern-frustration look she always wore when speaking to him replaced it.

He had forgotten that he had ‘already' been there that morning to reset his broken nose. He couldn’t count how many times that had happened. 

“Yes, Madam. No new injuries this time." He hesitated to continue, his mission to improve his health warring with his fear of her anger when she learned the full extent of his condition.

"...I've come to the conclusion that I need to stop hiding things from you. It was very immature of me, especially since I know you suspected, and have always had all your students’ best interests at heart, even mine. I’m sorry.” Every word sincere.

He had wronged her terribly over the years by refusing her help. It was freely given, and he knew it hurt her to see any human struggle. He was probably the one person who had hurt her the most in that regard, before.

“Oh, my boy. You’ve done nothing wrong. I’m simply glad you have finally come to me.” A rare display of her soft side, tears gathered in her eyes. Shaking herself, she fell once again into her no-nonsense manner and directed him to his regular cot.

“I don’t know where to start, Madam. Is there a spell that will give you a detailed report of my physical condition? That would save a lot of time.” He sent a small, rueful smile her way, which she returned.

“Yes there is, and you know it. I’ve asked if I could perform it on you so many times I was almost tempted enough to throw ethics out the window and cast it on you in your sleep! Infuriating boy.” Her mock anger caused him to chuckle.

“I suppose I was afraid.”

“Nevermind that, child, you’re here now.” Her eyes held such warmth he nearly teared up himself. How blind he had been, thinking no one had cared for him. “This may tingle a bit,” she let him know, before raising her wand to his chest and murmuring Vitalitas Prōfertṓte.

Severus watched in amazement as a glowing projection separated itself from his skin to form a translucent copy of him. He had never been able to ask for her to perform it before, to maintain his cover, no one could know too much detailed information about him at all, even medical professionals. 

“We’ll start from the outside in, Mister Snape. Firstly, sensory perception.” His double, with a few flicks of her wand, opened its eyes and appeared to be reacting to various stimuli. The best thing about this spell was its non-invasive design. The next best being, of course, the data it spits out to hover in the air, detailed enough it would have most muggle doctors swooning. 

“Astigmatism! Surely you could have come to me earlier if you were having trouble seeing, of all things! I know how much you love your books. Nevermind child, it’s an easy enough fix, at your age.” She smiled as she watched his satisfied reaction to having his vision clear. “We’ll save you from frown lines yet.”

“Thank you, Madam.” His guilt at what she was soon to witness coloured his tone. 

“Otherwise, you seem to be in tip-top shape, if a little sensitive. Let’s proceed.” She went on to examine each of his ‘layers,’ noting his sensitive skin and scalp, and the fire in her eyes burned hotter each time she discovered a scar. When asked if he wanted a salve to help them fade, Severus refused politely. 

Past his skin, she muttered darkly to herself. “‘I’m fine’ he says. If this was fine I need to rewrite the books.” Turning to look him in the eye, she continued more professionally.

“We have a lot of work to do, young man. Next to no body fat, underdeveloped muscles, undetected fractures that healed incorrectly, your nervous system is overworked, sleep deprivation, immune system is shot, and you’re malnourished enough that your body has begun consuming its own fat reserves, not that you have any to spare. I won’t pry as to how it’s gotten this bad over the years, but I’ll tell you right now, we will fix this. It’ll be a strict regimen for you from now on. Do you understand me?” She drew herself up to her full height, still a head shorter than him, and stared him down.

“Of course, Madam Pomfrey. I wouldn’t have come to you if I didn’t trust your counsel.” His easy acceptance served to soften her features.

“Alright then, let’s get to work.”

--

HG

Hermione was told that she would spend the summer as a ward of Hogwarts, and she spent the next two weeks hiding from the student body in her temporary quarters until the year was out. She just couldn't bear to face those she knew in the future, nevermind those who were dead in the future, like Harry's parents.

After well and truly panicking for over a half-hour her first night, she had started to find it difficult to breathe, and recognized the symptoms of a panic attack.

She was eventually grateful for the house-elf who arrived to give her some pajamas, and stayed to 'comfort young missy' despite her protests. After that night's rest, she felt much better, determined to find a way home and save the panicking for when it really mattered.

Moving into Ravenclaw tower was a wonderful distraction, after the first weeks of nothing but hiding alone with her thoughts. It had its own library! To her it was the most magical place she had ever witnessed in the castle, with shelves reaching from the ground floor to the very top of the tower, covering every wall.

Spindly bronze ladders and platforms created a death-defying web to reach all the books and impossibly high comfy reading nooks created for maximum use of space and privacy.

Having the tower to herself, she explored every nook and cranny, even discovering a secret Ravenclaw passage leading to the main Hogwarts library that looked like it had been carved out over hundreds of years by determined students who, understandably, wanted easy access to 'more books, dammit!'

Her best find, however, was what looked to be a former Ravenclaw’s research lab. The dust on all exposed surfaces was thick, and the majority of the dried specimens and cloudy jars full of who-knows-what were long past their usable dates, but once she’d cleaned it up, it was perfect. A space just for her and her research, her ticket home.

The Headmaster hadn’t been able to contain himself to their first session together, and requested that she meet with him regularly just in case more details of the future could be gleaned. Headaches galore, and her annoyance slowly rose to heights she had never expected it to go. It's a wonder the faculty haven't murdered him yet, she thought.

Of course, his words were more along the lines of ‘discovering more details on what brought you here’, ‘for your safety’, etc. Oh well. He wasn’t going to get anything from her, especially if she ever wanted to get home again.  

Once Dumbledore finished perusing ‘what was left,’ of her memories of the future, or what she allowed him to see, he was quick to dismiss her as a non-resource.

Thank Merlin for Hogwarts a History, for she was able to show him glimpses of only teachers that were faculty in both 1976 and her former timeline. Nothing that could reveal new or interesting information. She cast herself as a loner, too intellectual to have any friends, slightly alienating, as it was mostly true.

Her friend group, in reality, hadn’t expanded too far past Harry and Ron, and Neville sometimes. She missed them terribly. Would she ever see them again? Would they still want to be her friend, now that she was so much older? They were so young, she hoped they'd be able to understand, if she ever got the chance to explain.

Now, in an empty castle with hours to herself, Hermione began to realize something new about herself. She understood the role of hormones in the body, however, the strength of her reaction to them was baffling. It's like a switch was flipped, somewhere between when she was aged to 16 and 17, and sex was never far out of mind. Was this how boys felt?

She caught herself, once, beginning to fantasize about the current groundskeeper and Care of Magical Creatures instructor, Silvanus Kettleburn, while staring out a window, just because he was in her line of sight! Eugh. She'd always had a thing for teachers, but not when they were over 60 years old!

With no friends to distract her, she began to more and more creatively 'fufill her own needs,' writhing under her own fingers more and more often to take her mind off of the potential futility of getting home.

--

SS

The next month passed in a blur of physical therapy and exercise, a lengthy potions regimen that he volunteered to help brew to ensure Slughorn, the bumbling fool, didn’t poison him, and flitting through the halls as if he were a ghost, infuriating the Marauders at every turn, while still being conspicuously present for all their meals and classes.

He also wasted a, frankly, ridiculous amount of time catering to his renewed hormones, wanking until his wrist was sore. Stuffing a 33-year-old man in the body of a teenager was never going to end well in that regard.

He had real memories of warm women underneath him through his adult years, twisted into every position imaginable, to fuel his fantasies now, and the continuous flood of hormones provided by his teenage physiology nearly knocked him out every time his mind drifted to them.

He found himself avoiding Lily, irrationally it seemed, and she was both proud that he and the terrible quartet had ‘finally laid their feud to rest,’ and suspicious that his avoiding her was connected to ‘his terrible housemates.’ 

He supposed they might have grown apart more naturally the first time around if he hadn’t said that terrible friendship-ending phrase. Now, though, it felt strange to even speak with Lily, like he was speaking to a student of his, or a younger sister.

He tried not to think about it too hard, for he knew their friendship would always hold a place in his heart, and he was simply grateful that he hadn’t pushed her away, and wouldn’t cause her death this time around, if he could help it.

He didn't know if he could live with himself if his hormones ever drove him to fantasize about her now. For the moment though, all his arousing thoughts stayed easily within the safe-memories zone, along with whatever zone holds the 'wow-I-forgot-that-one-apprentice-teacher-was-a-hot-piece-of-ass' thoughts.

Halfway into the month, school ended, and he was kept at Hogwarts by Madam Pomfrey until she was satisfied he no longer needed his potions.

He then spent a very satisfying summer alternating between dosing his father with befuddlement potion and ‘fighting back’ against any physical abuse he attempted. By fighting back, he meant beating his father to just a hair away from being a bloody pulp. The mixed martial arts he had practiced as a spy, and continued to keep up, were priceless. If his parents were surprised by his sudden change, neither mentioned it.

He felt not an ounce of remorse when his father was found both drunk and befuddled at work by a co-worker who he then promptly assaulted. After a mental assessment during which he may or may not have been under the influence of Veritaserum, Tobias Snape was deemed a danger to himself and others and tossed in a mental institution.

A very clean job, all in all, Severus thought, inwardly patting himself on the back.

The one good thing his father had ever done was something he hadn’t done, and that was to write a will. Not that the authorities would ever know, for they discovered his will just fine, leaving Mrs. Eileen Snape, now Ms. Eileen Prince, every ounce of life insurance, the house, and his ‘slush fund’ he had hidden from them for drinking and gambling as well. Severus was a dab hand at forgery, if he did say so himself.

All in all, it was a very productive summer, despite the frustration of the trace. Apparently, no matter how old you were mentally, the damnable trace was too simple a spell to measure any more than one’s physical age. Agh.

He made sure to whinge about the loss of magic, loudly and often, over the whole summer in his hopes that his mother would pick it up again. 

Despite his efforts towards it, he was surprised when, the second week of August, she accompanied him to Diagon Alley to collect his school supplies. She hadn’t come with him since he was a first-year. She borrowed his wand to get them through the brick entrance, and the shine of steely determination in her eyes brightened even further.

Handing it back to him, she nodded, and they continued onwards. They had never needed too many words to understand each other, and though she didn’t voice it, he knew their first stop would be Ollivanders.

Chapter Text

SS

The ancient hinges of Ollivander's creaked a greeting as Severus and his mother entered.

“Ms Prince, what a pleasure to see you again,” Ollivander stated, his back still turned as they passed through the doorway. “I'm sorry for your loss, of your original wand. Black walnut, nine inches, rigi- My word!” his usual recital of each individual's wand characteristics was abruptly cut off when sparks flew from a wand box not two feet from his face. “I’m sorry my dear, but your son’s wand is practically screaming to get to him.”

“My wand, sir? It’s just here, in my hand.” Severus queried, slightly alarmed. 

“I think you’ll find, young man, that the wand you are holding is no longer yours. Rowan, 10 inches, rigid, dragon heartstring core, yes?” Ollivander asked without waiting for an answer, “A very protective wand, that, and it has decided that your mother is better suited to its nature now.”

Now that he thought about it, he realized that his wand had never worked for anyone else. It was terribly useful if he was disarmed in a fight, even if his opponent obtained it, there was no advantage to gain. But his mother had used it clear as day at the entrance to Diagon. He had dismissed it as a genetic similarity, but now it was clear.

His wand had moved on. And perhaps it was fitting, for he had changed drastically in less than a moment, as far as this timeline was concerned. He felt a pang of loss that was quickly drowned out by how right it felt. His old wand would never be far, but it wanted to protect his mother now. He agreed wholeheartedly.

“Here, ma.” His smile came easily as he handed over the wand to its rightful master. During the revelation of his mother’s wand he had completely forgotten about his own until he smelled fire. His new wand seemed terribly impatient to get to him, and was rattling in its box, and apparently heating up enough to cause it to smoke.

“Blasted, demanding… I’m coming, I’m coming!” Ollivander seemed to be conversing with the wand, and after observing the wandmaker over the years, Severus wasn’t surprised. Playing hot-potato with himself, the elder man brought the box containing his wand over. The shaking and lessened to a low vibration as the wand neared it’s rightful partner. 

Severus raised an eyebrow as he looked closer at the box. It was decorated with a beautiful scene, set in Japanese inlay. It was one of the few times he had seen a wand box that was worth purchasing for more than just the wand inside. It couldn’t be Ollivander’s work; for all the man’s talent, he couldn’t be moved to apply it to anything other than his precious wands. 

“I can see you wondering, young man, let me tell you the story, as it is just as much a part of your wand as the wood itself. This wand was crafted by my sister, Geneveive Ollivander, and her husband. Now, you’ve likely never heard of her in these parts, as she was rather estranged from our parents, and the extended Ollivander family. She was 15 years my senior, and I therefore hardly knew her, as she had emigrated to Japan the day after her graduation from Hogwarts at 18. From the few letters I received, and reports I have gathered after she and her husband’s untimely deaths at 42 and 60, respectively, they were living legends there.

Her husband was not a wandmaker, however, his family cultivated the most prized wand wood in Asia. Cherry tree wood. Neither, at the time, were satisfied with their families' trades. She, because of my father’s ludicrous bias against women learning his trade; her husband understood too well. He had been shunned for bonding with a wand whose wood was not of the cherry tree, as his family had been chosen by cherry wands for countless generations.

They ran off in a whirlwind romance and delved deep into the field of elemental magics. He had an affinity for air and water magic, and she was his balance, with fire and earth magic burning in her blood.” Severus nodded, his own research confirming the Old Magics Ollivander explained.

He knew that all humans were born an elemental affinity, and those who challenged themselves, especially during their youth, often developed a second. Most were never aware of them. He was pretty sure his innate one was air, with how sensitive he was, and fire secondarily, as he grew.

Knowledge of such things had fallen into obscurity due to the sheer convenience of the non-elemental magics over the centuries, but he'd been curious.

As much as he hated Voldemort, and was sickened to think he may share an affinity with him, a spell he had learned from him, to become one with the air and soar on the wind without a broom, was wonderful. And not dark, surprisingly, though when Tom Riddle used it, he was so dark near the end he'd had to force the wind to his will and the shrieking gales it whipped up sounded like the screams of the dying.

His deep revulsion at the memory nearly made him miss the next words of Ollivander’s story.

“They travelled far and wide, and there are conflicting rumours in Morocco and the Bahamas, that they even discovered the lost city of Atlantis in their search for ancient knowledge. They were dubbed the twin Ho-o’s of Japan, after the phoenix-cousin creatures that are so sacred to the country, for their research contributions and preservation of the ancient ways.” His elderly voice grew reverent.

“When did they make this wand? And why?” Severus queried.

“No one knows for sure, however she left it to me in her will. I wonder if they had created it with plans for children. I was unsure if it would ever choose a wizard of its own, given the type of love that was so obviously poured into its creation. I’m honoured to witness the matching.” Ollivander’s eyes glittered strangely, but when didn’t they?

Severus gave a quick bow-nod, acknowledging the significance. The wand, however, was growing impatient. It’s vibrating hum grew higher pitched and more insistent. Suddenly gripped by his old friend, paranoia, he hesitated to open the box.

“How did they die?” He didn’t want any unhappy ghosts tethered to him through his wand, or lingering curses.

“A heroes’ death. When the western world began to make demands of trade with Japan, though the wizarding communities were already connected, the muggles were causing quite a stir. The economy was destabilized and the country was vulnerable. A dark wizard had begun making his move in the shadows, hoping to overthrow the emperor and slaughter the muggle population, before closing the borders once again to all but wizardkind. You have heard of the term ‘kamikaze,’ from the Muggles' blasted war, yes?”

His eyes were sad, and Severus’ heart ached for him, and the world’s loss of brilliant mages. “They took out 80% of the gathered dark forces single-handed, along with their leader. The rest scattered. It was officially classified as a volcanic eruption, but the magical community remembers.” 

Severus’ paranoia abated, and he let the pull he felt towards his wand take over. Running callused fingers over the inlay, the hum warmed his hand. A feeling of homecoming filled him even as he opened the box, when, apparently impatient, the wand leapt into his grasp as if he had summoned it. 

Severus was stunned. He never imagined a wand could be so emotional, but there it was, joy radiating directly from the wand, feeding his own. It must have been lonely. He found himself taking large, steadying breaths as the force and depth of emotion rocked through him. 

Oh, he wanted to tell Poppy about it. How she would smile as she explained what he wouldn’t have normally known at 15, how the brain often closed off emotional channels after repeated abuse. It was to protect the body’s necessary functions, for survival.

In magical folk, the blockages were often more solid, as the magical core reacts strongly to emotion, and can even be damaged if it goes too far. In the best cases, much like the brain can grow new cells if in an optimal environment, those blockages can heal. Madame Pomfrey had done a marvelous job. 

Tears gathering in his eyes, he smiled widely, never having imagined that some emotions could be even more powerful than how he already perceived them.

“Oh Severus, it’s beautiful! He looked up from the wand to see that a firework had burst from it, in the coiling form of an oriental dragon, reminding him of the Weasley Twins’ creations. He’d have to be sure to invest in their exploits this time around.

“Cherry, eleven inches, swishy, dragon heartstring core. A powerful wand, and intricately carved as well, seamlessly inlaid with bonsai wood at the handle. Her husband’s work, he was a master woodworker. I…” Ollivander trailed off after explaining.

Spy instincts took over, and before he even consciously recognized it, he had catalogued the man’s body language, facial expression and the pulse point jumping at his throat. Severus' elation derailed violently in favour of calculation. The man’s face had shown his worry for a moment, and his pulse remained high. Something on his mind then, hmm? 

“It’s a shame bonsai trees don’t provide enough wood for a full wand. So much ancient tradition, growing in unlikely places, it wouldn’t surprise me if a full bonsai wand would seek a wizard similar to the vine wood wands’ preference,” the wandmaker continued. “Speaking of, you’ll let me know if you spot a vinewood wand out of it’s box, won’t you? I had just finished making it a few months back, lovely combination, vine and dragon’s heartstring, and I went to allow a young man to try it, but it was already gone, vanished! Ah well, I suppose my age would have to catch up at some point, yes?” 

Severus’ eyes narrowed imperceptibly. As lighthearted as Ollivander had made his request, Severus knew it disturbed him deeply to lose a wand.

Age wasn’t a convincing excuse either, knowing how sharp Garrick remained even in the future. He didn’t recall any Death Eaters who ever wielded a vine wand, or used one as an unregistered back-up. Ruling that out as the most pressing potential threat, he was able to put it out of his mind for the moment.

As they paid for the wand, he shook himself, trying not to let the resurfacing of his war-sharpened habits drag him back into the quagmire of constant paranoia. Using the warmth of the wand still in his hand to ground himself, the muscles of his shoulders relaxed, and he breathed easier again. And immediately regretted it, as they exited the shop.

Of all days, why today! The terrible tetrad. Before he had even taken in their expressions as they spotted each other, he had sent a plea to every deity he knew of in hopes that they wouldn’t cause a scene in front of his mother. He had managed to convince her, after his first year, that his personal squad of bullies had mellowed into mere annoyances.

She wouldn’t have been able to bear the idea that there was nowhere he felt safe. School had been her refuge, and she had been endlessly grateful for the assumption that it was also his when she felt she couldn’t keep him safe at home.

Surely they wouldn’t be so foolish as to start anything in public. Now, he felt actual gratitude to the fuckery that was the Ministry. The trace would force any altercation into safer territory, he hoped.

“You break your wand, Snivellus?” Target acquired, Black wasted no time. Severus moved in front of his mother. The tension in the air could be cut with a knife, and he wondered if his antics leading them on endless wild-goose chases at the end of the year would be the tipping point for the dog. Would he cross the line? 

“No, though Ollivanders isn’t the place to be to getting your broken ‘wand’ examined. St. Mungo’s might be more appropriate.” Severus replied, lowly. It was a nasty jab, and Severus hated that it was expected from him, that it was their pattern.

But he couldn’t break it now, he daren't. It would only cause them to be suspicious. He hoped it wouldn’t escalate things. The muscles in his back, thankfully out of sight, spasmed, wanting to flich. He didn’t let them, as always.

“Hah! He’s got your number there, Padfoot!” Remus, in an unusual display of boldness, broke in. The wolf had clearly spotted his mother, and while the others were oblivious, he at least had enough awareness and respect for his elders to try and throw his friends off the ‘hunt,’ going by the way his eyes shifted past Severus’ shoulder.

His comment sent James Potter into gales of laughter, so there was likely an inside joke or some truth to it. In the few moments that they were distracted, he corralled his mother as fast as he could without making a spectacle, into the nearest shop, Gambol and Jukes. Before the Weasley twins, it was this shop that supplied many a young prankster, and it was suitably busy enough for them to escape notice. His mother shot him a confused look, and he explained,

“I wouldn’t have you subjected to their vulgarity, ma. Not if I can help it. They’re just a pack of blowhards, but it can be disturbing to witness.” After a few minutes of amusing her by showing the new products, and after years away from the wizarding world, she was quietly impressed, even if it was just jokes and trinkets. 

The rest of their day, after their successful escape, went smoothly, and he nearly shuddered in pleasure to finally receive his custom-ordered robes and uniform from Madam Malkins'. He hadn’t originally discovered the acromantula-silk blend fabric until after the war, but he saw no reason not to indulge himself.

His robes were a safety blanket of sorts, the fabric’s texture soothing to his sensitive skin, and the billow unmatched, to satisfy his dramatic, love-of-shock-factor sensibilities. Not to mention charmed to remain completely inert and protective around potions. He’d taken to utilising the same for his undershirt, to line his frock coat, and even for his boxers.

It was one of his few pleasures, but he forced himself to draw the line when he began to ache for it as bedsheets, in the years that the Potter boy had arrived to terrorize him. No double agent worth his salt could afford to be comfortable in bed, so vulnerable. He suffered his scratchy, irritating sheets so he could never sleep too deeply, not that his insomnia let him, anyways. 

The cobbler’s hadn’t yet finished his dragonhide boots, but they would arrive by owl-order before he left for school. For the first time, Severus felt prepared.

Slogging through classes that he had already attended was not how he preferred to spend his time, but he wasn’t about to draw attention to himself by challenging his NEWTs or something similar. He’d just have to entertain himself reading, or perhaps developing the animation charm he’d wished to make as a first year, before doodling became a liability. Otherwise, in terms of plans, he was at a bit of a loss.

Once he’d bested the Marauders once and for all and convinced the student body that he was no longer the greasy git they assumed him to be, what then? Not that the latter would be an easy feat, it might even take up most of the year. Hmm. He'd have to come back to it later, once he’d sussed out how the climate would be at Hogwarts.

Chapter Text

HG

Hermione Granger was also feeling prepared, if a bit shaky. 

She had thrown herself into research on her situation, exhausting the library and Ravenclaw Tower quickly, and when no solution came up, she turned to even the Restricted Section, exhausting its resources after learning the password from a particularly righteous portrait in the common room, a former Ravenclaw, who made it his 'life's' mission to remove all obstacles to knowledge and spied on Madam Pince constantly.

Finally, about halfway through the summer, she allowed herself to grieve for the life she’d lost, the friends and family.

Or she tried to anyways. She eventually went back to avoiding the pain of it, telling herself in an almost obsessive mantra that her knowledge of a possible future could save many lives.

Whatever brought her to this time had erased that future immediately, without remorse, for time knew no such thing. It’s not like she could avoid changing things at this point, so why not embrace it? She hadn’t lost her youth training for against Voldemort for nothing, afterall.

Hermione no longer felt the urgency and righteousness that pushed her to run along mostly willingly with the boys’ harebrained schemes. She would work behind the scenes instead, using her neutrality as a Ravenclaw with ‘ambiguous’ blood status to hopefully discover who the Death Eater hopefuls were and keep an eye out, and more.

Even if, Circe forbid, her changes were for naught in terms of the current battle against his reign of terror, she could make sure there would be no resurrection attempts for the future Voldemort, this time. She had years to research what he had tried in her first years of Hogwarts, what he might try.

She could do years. And maybe, if she didn’t allow herself to slow down, she wouldn’t have to dwell on the loss.

There was no reason to change her name, for as far as she could understand from her research and observations, another Hermione Granger would never be born. It could be as simple as her parents having a different name for their child, or that the child wouldn’t be born magical.

She hoped they would still conceive, but there was nothing she could do but watch. Her wand had likely disappeared from Ollivanders as it was intact, thank the gods, and the resources for making the clothes on her back had likely killed a few young cotton plants. She had a hard time summoning the energy to feel bad about the wand

To her embarrassment, Sleakeasy’s hair product hadn’t even been thought of yet, and her hair had frizzed out of it’s more manageable curls into the mess of un-hydrated kinks she remembered from her first year without her notice, and she pulled the ingredients out of her hair for hours after leaving the Hospital Wing. A leaf here, a seed there.

Thank goodness it was plant based. She didn’t want the ancestors of animals used in many potions crawling on her, or worse. If she had been allergic to holly, the recipe would be adapted with Occamy feathers, and that could’ve been messy.

She began brewing her own hair product in the abandoned lab, tweaking the ingredients here and there. A few risks sent her scurrying for cover, but in the end, she was happier with her version.

The faculty had warmed up to her quickly, and Professor McGonagall had taken her shopping to replace the essentials of what she had lost in time. She missed her book collection the most out of everything though, and that was irreplaceable.

Hermione adopted a more non-muggle, traditional wizarding style, and appreciated the craftsmanship, even if she did feel more formal than she was accustomed to. She wondered if she could find an outdoor cloak that billowed as well as Professor Snape’s robes had, that would add some fun. Perhaps in a nice navy, instead of black.

And there was another adjustment. Thinking of Severus Snape as technically younger than her, even if they were to be in the same year, turned her head. Thinking of any of her classmates-to-be, actually. Of course she had to be placed in the same year as Harry’s parents. Not to mention the other Marauders.

She didn’t know how she would handle seeing them, especially that fucking rat Peter. She already planned to avoid them as well as she could anyways, it was just too painful. Thank goodness Ravenclaws had most classes with the Hufflepuffs.

The rest of the summer had passed in a plur of plotting, organizing and research. Everything was as ready as she could make it. The variables would be the people around her, but hopefully they wouldn’t throw her too badly. 

Every stitch of her uniform in place, hair in an unassuming braid, she sat beside Professor Sprout as the students arrived, unable to resist applying a light Notice-Me-Not. She focused on breathing as youthful-familiar faces appeared.

A spear pierced her heart as she saw just how similar James Potter was to Harry. Harry, who may never exist, because she was here. She bit her lip to keep it from trembling. There was nothing she could do, the butterfly effect had already flapped its wings, direct interference or not. 

Sirius was terribly handsome in comparison to the skeleton he had become in Azkaban, and Professor Lupin seemed to have grown into his self-confidence more as an adult, his guarded stance reminding her that she’d be attending classes with a werewolf again, and the full moon on the 8th was fast approaching. Too bad you're avoiding them, whispered her libido, which she quickly silenced, or tried to. 

She barely deigned to glance at Pettigrew, in an attempt to keep her instinctual rage contained. 

Oh! There were no other words to describe Lily, only ‘beautiful’ would do. Her rare eyes and hair left Hermione feeling plain in her shades of brown, which she told herself was a good thing, in the end. Standing out was the last thing she wanted.

The last students trickled into the hall, and Hermione witnessed something that brought her thoughts to a screeching halt.

Snape was hot.

--

SS

Severus had studiously ignored the seemingly endless stream of gossip-mongers that passed his carriage on the train, appearing absorbed in his reading. He assumed his hair had something to do with it.

A wizard, somehow even more intensely homosexual than even Dumbledore, had taken one look at him in the streets of Diagon Alley, and whisked him into his hair salon. A panicked glance at his mother told him she was already won over by a charming shop assistant and would be no help, so he submitted himself to what would apparently be the wizard’s ‘masterpiece, darling.’

His hair had grown over the summer, and it was now nearing Malfoy-territory, despite the trim. He had been instructed that the cut was designed to be worn half-up for the most part, both for his expressed need of practicality, and the ridiculous man told him he would appear ‘too sexy for a schoolboy’ if he had it down in public.

The latter statement was utterly preposterous, but as the half-up option suited his preference, he went along with it. 

Admittedly, he was feeling more confident than ever before, but it was simply the fact that he was now free to show his awkward features to their best advantage, with the knowledge of decades supporting it. He was tall, and now nearly as strong and fluid as he was while a spy, due to consistent training over the summer, so he simply used his impeccable posture to emphasize it.

His nose was still huge, but bringing it back into alignment with Poppy made it fit his intense features a bit better. Of course there was the hair, the health, the new robes. But in the end, he was the same ugly git he’d always been. The most anyone could say about him now was that he was unique. 

What he didn’t understand was why there needed to be so many giggling gaggles of gossips. Surely, one was enough to report back and spread the gossip throughout the entire student body, but he was sure he even spotted some of them multiple times!

He liked their initial shock, but were the changes he’d made really so unbelievable they had to come back to verify it? He supposed shock was a funny thing, it presented itself in many different ways, including laughter, or giggles, in this case. Satisfied with his conclusion, he settled into his reading for the rest of the ride. 

Arriving in the Great Hall off the last couple of carriages, he strode purposefully to the Slytherin table to await the Sorting Hat’s welcome, scanning the room. It was important for him to be completely neutral while in such a public place. Keeping his eyes trained on the Sorting Hat, he sat to wait in silence.

Thank Merlin he was late, an excuse to sit with the second-years who wouldn’t dare start a conversation with him. The Sorting was over quickly, and he remembered it had been a lean year for incoming first years, due to the political climate, many parents on both sides had opted to home-school.

--

HG

Hermione’s argument that introducing her to the whole school at once would be too disruptive seemed to hold up, but she knew to expect it in class. Nevertheless, she quite enjoyed her meal, spent in lively discussion with Professors McGonagall and Sprout.

Professor Sprout, in particular, had developed a grandmotherly attitude towards her, and had held her many a time while she cried out her losses. ‘The ones she could remember’ anyways, keeping with her story.

She had also been the one to encourage her to seek Madame Pomfrey’s aid with resizing her buck teeth. As much as is had felt like a betrayal of her dentist parents, it was also one of her greatest insecurities. In the end, she felt much better for it.

It was a struggle not to stare about the hall, or at Snape in particular. What had happened between now and the possible future?

Not that his elder self was that bad, honestly, but this Snape looked, well, healthy. His hair was beautiful, and not pin-straight, as she had assumed. It looked, as silly as the thought was, like he was some other-worldly, severe, dark elf, straight out of a Tolkien novel, crossed with a Roman emperor. Seeing him in the school uniform nearly cause her to choke with her surprised bark of laughter. Oh how the tables have turned.

He still moved with the unnatural grace she recognized, and she wanted to hear him speak, to verify if his voice had always been the silky rumble he possessed in the future.

No-one could call him classically handsome, but his strange combination of severity and grace gave him presence, gravity. Surely there had to be some reason why he’d seemed so sickly and exhausted as her Professor. He’d had presence then too, but more from the fear he struck.

Oh well, she mused, a puzzle for another day. She had enough on her plate without him.

She let her professors know that she would be turning in for the night, and made her way to Ravenclaw tower, crawling into bed after her nerve-wracking day, murmuring greetings and excuses to the one roommate who was already there. She drew and warded the curtains around her bed, as had become her habit, and was asleep before her head hit the pillow.

Chapter Text

SS

Though Severus had braced for a confrontation between himself and the Mauraders, none came, the prior evening.

Lupin must have convinced them not to, as the first day of classes would be exhausting enough without adding ‘fun’ into the mix. He, of course, already knew what his schedule would be, and was excited to have a few classes without them. 

After his morning swim, aided by a multitude of protection and warming charms; one could never be too careful in the Black Lake; he finished his breakfast before most of the castle had even woken.

Oh, how wonderful to have an appetite again! Instead of the weak stomach he'd dealt with in his adulthood, brought on by too many stress ulcers.

Drifting through his classes, he practiced mental exercises instead.

He mapped out a potion’s matrix in his head, visualizing how each ingredient, how it was chopped, when it was added, the temperature at the time, the stirs needed between each step, and materials like the cauldron and stirring rod, even the knives, would interact with all the others.

In the end, he wished he could pull it out of his head, as it would make an impressive sculpture. Perhaps a new charm…

He felt the glares from the back of the classroom burning the back of his head, and knew the Gryffindor boys would come for him before the week was out. 

Potions was a slog, Transfiguration a bore, and Astrology, completely useless, as he had already lived through the movements of the planets for the next many years. Tuesday, however, brought a more exciting elective class, Ancient Runes, in which he needed not see neither hide nor hair of the irritating dunderheads that plagued the rest of the school.

He now had a study period, so he lazed his way to the library, hoping he could persuade Madam Pince to allow him a tome or two from the restricted section. He vaguely remembered that some of them had been removed over time, and he hadn’t had a chance to read them, even as a teacher. Forbidden knowledge is the very best kind.

--

HG

Hermione was panicking. She had found her favourite hidden nook in the library to study, wrapping herself in Disillusionment, Silencing, and Notice-Me-Not charms out of habit, when in strolled Snape!

She was completely cornered, so, thinking fast, she wedged herself underneath the table, as close to the wall as she could squeeze, hardly daring to breathe. She couldn't face his young self, not now, not in her safe spot!

She needn’t have bothered, however, for he chose to prop his back against the shelves and sit on the floor, long legs extended out in front of him. From the cover of the table and her charms, she stared unabashedly, and nearly choked on her sharp intake of breath as he started to hum while perusing the tome he had selected. 

He had a beautiful, rich singing voice, which didn’t surprise her, mind-blowing as the fact that he would hum absently at all was. It sounded similar to Billy Joel’s Allentown, but that hadn’t come out until 1982, so it couldn’t be.

He looked so relaxed, she wondered if the Professor Snape she knew was even the same person as the Snape in front of her. He turned the book’s pages as gently as she always did, and the combination of his humming, the rustle of the pages, and the fact that she hadn’t been sleeping very well, made her truly drowsy as her heartbeat calmed. 

Therefore, it was a bit of a shock when he suddenly leapt to his feet an hour later, in a fluid motion that sent her reeling, almost cracking her head on the underside of the table in surprise. It was like he was only getting up so violently because he could, for she sensed no urgency from him as he calmly walked away, still humming.

Calming her heart rate, her confusion and frustration with Snape grew.

--

SS

Realizing he was actually looking forward to brushing up on his Ancient Runes put a pep in Severus’ step, and he arrived early to class. During his apprenticeship to become a Potions Master, he had begun to look into the application of Runes in the field, before the demands of his two masters took over.

What would change, if he prepared poisonous ingredients that were fermented in a vessel bearing runes for health, instead of a plain jar? The possibilities were endless.

So deep was he in his thoughts, he failed to notice the rest of the students’ arrival. Bathsheda Babbling, looking much less ancient, despite the subject she mastered in, called for attention, and he looked to the front of the class.

As he registered what was in front of him, he felt as if he’d short-circuited. Not a double take, but a realization that screamed through the shock turning his perception of time to molasses.

“Granger!?” It was out of his mouth before his mind could catch up with the impossibility of the situation.

In disbelief, he watched as she tried to hide her terrified surprise, and settled for freezing with a half-formed ‘innocent’ expression on her face. Holy gods, it was her! He scrambled for a way to smooth over his outburst as the rest of the class looked between them, like sharks circling for the next piece of gossip.

“Snape! You never told me you went to Hogwarts! I had assumed you were a student at Durmstrang when we met in Greece over the summer, what a surprise.” To his ever-growing consternation, she beat him to it, neatly tucking away the reason for his recognizing her in a vague statement that provided him with an opening to solidify their story.

A pleading look flashed across her face, and he decided he’d figure out what the bloody hell was going on after both the class and the disaster of his outburst were over.

“It must have slipped my mind. I was merely there visiting family. We’re both at fault, I hadn’t an inkling from you about your transfer here. Shall we continue this after class? I believe we’ve disrupted enough.” Pleased with the steadiness of his response, and the fact that no one knew him well enough to disbelieve that he had family in Greece, his turmoil lessened a fraction.

Inwardly, however, he was screaming. How in every universe could she even exist here? She wasn’t even born yet! Ravenclaw?

--

HG

He recognized her?! What in the fresh hell was this?

He couldn’t be the same man that knew her, it was more than impossible, it was entirely unfathomable! Not a single person she had recognized from her past had recognized her in return, how could they? She would never even be born in this timeline.

It couldn’t be Polyjuice, unless he’d discovered a modification that allowed him to appear as exactly himself, yet younger, but why a sixth-year?! Why was he pretending to be a student again? Why were they the only ones, as far as she knew, that were flung into the past?

--

Severus recognized her telltale signs of internal struggle as Miss Granger was presented to the class, and was only slightly relieved to know their confusion was mutual.

Nothing about their situation made sense, and as of just a few minutes ago, he’d started to entertain the idea that he was dead, or in some kind of lucid-dream-coma. However, even dead or injured, there was no way his brain could come up with something as ludicrous as Granger’s arrival.

Ravenclaw? And she hardly looked like herself, not as he had known her as his student. She was older? He knew there were many aging potions, but why was she in 6th year? She’d just barely finished her 3rd year, for Merlin’s sake!

Yes, the sheer ridiculous impossibility of this entire moment disproved his being-actually-dead theory quite quickly, unless he was in hell, and his personal torture demons we're fucking bat-shit crazy, and too goddamn creative!

Were more random students from his past going to keep popping up?! He fiercely hoped not!

Chapter Text

HG

She wasn’t sure about Professor Snape, but if his reaction was anything like hers, neither of them had heard a word the teacher said for the entire class, still reeling and in shock, lost in their thoughts and what-ifs.

She was counting the minutes until the class was over, and she found herself once again craving her time turner. She felt trapped, slow, and stuck on the train of linear time, ordinary and useless.

Hermione knew, the cravings, if she let them, could be dangerous, however much she wanted the freedom and power to flit through time like a hummingbird dipping it’s beak into endless flowers, never slowing. There were moments when she resented ever being given the device, though she’d never erase the experiences she gained. 

Her once only-slightly-abnormal mind had definitely bent further out of shape, in terms of classical sanity. She wasn’t sure if it was obvious to others, but her once organized library of memories and experiences had shifted into something more resembling Hogwarts, with its ever-changing layout and rooms that weren’t always rooms, secret passageways and a library where the books sometimes screamed at you, or changed places on their own.

Many books were screaming, at the moment.

Finally, she belatedly noticed the other students packing up their things, and rushed to organize herself, when she realized she hadn’t even taken out her textbook for class, so deep was her shock. She caught Professor Snape’s eye and gave a meaningful nod, hoping he would get the hint and follow her.

Her heart rate ratcheted up steadily as she sidestepped into an unused classroom and began warding it, keying in the Professor to allow him through. Breathing slow and steadily to calm herself, she turned around to witness him dart quickly through the doorway.

He was absolutely silent, and she watched as he drew himself up to his full height, his face portraying a youthful version of his trademark scowl, and began examining the wards. He added a layer she had never seen, before turning to her. 

She froze under the weight of his gaze, and they stayed locked in a silent stand-off, until, surprisingly, the Professor sagged, and ran a hand over his face. 

“Miss Granger, have a seat.” His utterly overwhelmed tone shocked her, but she sat nonetheless. He flopped into a seat across from her, actually flopped! He seemed to be searching for something to say. “Before we even begin to discuss our coinciding predicaments, I feel there is a need to amend how we interact with each other.” She nodded, waiting. “I…Well, all you need to know is that I was a spy for the Order.”

His tone said it was nothing special, but the revelation was almost a physical impact for Hermione, who swayed subtly backwards in her seat.

“And because there is no way I will ever allow myself to be entangled with Voldemort or Dumbledore again, I will never be your professor again. Thank Merlin for that. I wasn’t cut out for teaching, you know. I will not apologize for who I was and what I had to do to maintain my cover, however, I will say I am very glad I no longer have to. Therefore, I believe the pattern of our previous interactions should be broken, moving forward. Mutual respect, shall we say?”

Hermione, no matter how shocked she was feeling, jumped to agree.

“Of course sir, I’ve always respected you.”

“Yes, yes, I’ve noticed.” He noticed! Why did that make her so happy? “But I’ll ask you to drop the sir, I doubt I will ever choose to be in a position of authority again, after my experiences. You don’t have to like me, I don’t have to like you, just mutual respect as we try to determine why the fuck both of us are here.” He sounded defeated. “What was your experience?”

Hermione blinked, still reeling, before she launched into an explanation of her version of the day they had both left 1994, her arrival in 1975, research, her lies to Dumbledore, and plans to change the war behind the scenes.

Snape's eyes widened almost comically when she pointed out that the Time Turner that had aged her had also been the reason for Black’s escape. 

“... My best theory before today had been that my overuse of the turner destabilized my position in linear time, and some unknown catalyst tied me to this new timeline instead. But as far as I know, you hadn’t been abusing a Time Turner, correct? So my theory is moot.” She shrugged, not as distressed as she usually might have been, when disproving one of her own theories, as it felt good to talk to someone about it, at least.

“Miss Granger, I realize that this accident has been a great loss to you, and I would willingly go back and make sure it never happened, if I was able to, but I feel that, as a wizard, I must be truthful in this. I am, personally, ecstatic to be here.” A boyish grin tugged at the sides of his mouth. “Whatever caused this has given me more than my youth. This time, I didn’t hurt and lose the one friend I had in the world, and I was able to save my mother from an untimely death. I have many, many regrets from our past timeline which I was ready to die for or spend the rest of my life atoning for, that no longer need to happen.”

“I’m happy for you, Snape. And it’s Granger or Hermione, the “miss” will just confuse people. Technically, I’m older than you, you know!” She tried to cover the grief in her voice with her genuine delight at their strange reversal. 

“How did it get so bad, if I may ask?” He leaned forward in his seat, hands clasped loosely in front of him. Hermione was surprised, and not for the first time, by his politesse, and now, genuine curiosity, a near 180 to his previous demeanor of 1994.

“It started as a way to get more sleep. And then I realized I literally had all the time in the world, for sleeping, or more important things, like studying more to help Harry against, well, let’s call him Tom, shall we? The You-Know-Who business is frankly ridiculous. Where was I? Oh yes, the turner. Can I be honest?” Snape nodded, and she could see in his eyes that he already had a guess as to what she was about to say. “I became an addict. There are very few moments in the day that I don’t crave it.”

“Very similar to the Dark Arts. Chronomancy is grey magic, not dark necessarily, but incredibly powerful. I understand the constant pull of it.” He nodded pensively. “Do you experience any withdrawal symptoms?”

“Yes, though they are much improved. I fear the main strain has been mental.”

“It will be a constant battle all your life, though I will say that you are fortunate to be in this timeline for at least one reason. The Time Turners of these next couple decades have a nasty habit of exploding after their first use, to dangerous to be tempting, and also inaccessible to even manipulative bastards like Dumbledore. Giving one of the most powerful magical tools in the world to a child? He was delusional to imagine that you’d make it out unaffected.” The venom in his voice as he spoke of the Headmaster surprised her, though there were times she felt the same way. 

They lapsed into silence, and Hermione’s mind was racing, turning over and examining all the new information this meeting had brought.

She rather thought he was devastated that someone who remembered who he was in their past had shown up. It had clearly lifted an immense weight off of his shoulders, being here. She’d do what she could to make sure her presence wouldn’t disrupt that

“I think we’re done here for the moment. Shall we reconvene, say, Friday during dinner?” He straightened up. Hermione hurried to nod, when his face turned sheepish and she froze once again at witnessing his expressivity in contrast to the blank mask he had worn in her memory.

“I’m not proud of it, but you may soon witness what I hope is to be the end of some foolishness that plagued me for years. Growing up, I was the consistent target of a relentless group of boys, ‘the Mauraders’ they call themselves. I was too immature and insecure to properly report it as a child, and my attitude did nothing to discourage them. However, I feel as if I owe myself, or perhaps my younger self, some retribution.

"Four on one is a cowardly ratio, but they persisted until my fighting back became too much for them, six and seventh year. So, I can safely assume, by demonstrating that I am indeed ‘too much for them’ during our next confrontation, they will back off, and in the best case, we may move on to being acquaintances, eventually. I can admit that some of them have the potential to be half-decent men. Ah, I can see from your face that you recognize them.”

“Can you go less easy on the rat? I’ve been wanting to watch him writhe.” Was Hermione’s only answer, and the speed of it paired with her deadpan tone seemed to hit Snape as hilarious, and he threw his head back in surprised laughter.

She couldn’t help her answering smile, despite the fact that witnessing her former Professor's deep laugh made something within her feel very fragile, all of a sudden. 

“My sentiments exactly, Hermione.”

--

SS

Severus made his way down to his dorm room with the intention of closing his bed curtains and not coming out until he had fully processed his new reality. He didn’t register those he passed on the way, nor any of the twists and turns he made, but he found himself in bed, and in shock. What just happened?

He’d attempted to pull his former persona out to deal with Miss Granger, but it was like trying to fit into a badly-tattered, too-small shirt, not enough fabric to cover him. The speed with which he had broken and become a Slytherin antithesis astounded him.

Not only had he been straightforward, he’d been honest as well! He shuddered at his weakness, before deciding to pin it on the sheer incredibility of the situation, and Miss Granger’s disarming openness and established respect.

The fact that he’d laughed in front of her was simply a bout of hysteria, nothing more, nothing less. She had obviously grown up, more than just her physical age; practically encouraging him to break the rules and duel, against her former house no less, rather than running to a teacher as she would have in the past.

His eyebrow twitched at the memory of her sincere wish to harm Pettigrew and he had to purse his lips to keep from chuckling again. He’d have to make sure she was able to witness their confrontation, or let her see his memory of it. 

His mood sobered immediately as he thought to her ‘disproved’ theory that her use of the time turner was the catalyst for their travel back in time. From what he remembered from the roof, they had been the only ones outside the castle the day they appeared in the past, and her loose grasp on linear time, and strong emotions towards Chronomancy at the time could easily triggered the event.

Why he was carried along with her, that was more difficult to theorize.

Perhaps, his affinity towards air had something to do with it. It was one of the more rare predispositions, and not because less magical beings were born with it, but because of the traits that went along with it.

The high levels of sensitivity to magic and emotions often drove air-disposed individuals insane. Now that he thought on it, it was a likely candidate for the source of the Dark Lord’s madness. Surrounding himself in darkness likely broke his soul long before Tom Riddle first killed.

Many magical children didn’t survive to go to Hogwarts when ‘cursed’ with an air affinity, for their accidental magic outbursts were often uncontrollable in the worst cases, fueled by the magic and emotions of those around them.

The wards of the school had likely kept any residual energies from Hermione’s use of the turner contained, but they’d built up. He’d had his guard down, so his receptivity to those residual magics and her outburst was high.

Now that he thought on it, he wondered if it had been his presence that landed them where they did, anchoring them at a key turning point in his personal timeline.

Who knows how far back and lost Miss Granger may have gotten otherwise! ‘Terrible things happen to those who meddle with time’ and all that rot.

He wondered if he should share his thoughts on the matter. Would she hate him?

Chapter Text

HG

Waking up the morning after the revelation that she was not alone in this timeline, Hermione experienced a jarring echo of shock that nearly convinced her to stay in bed, and not leave until the world started spinning the correct direction again.

Thank goodness her fellow Ravenclaws could recognize a loner when they saw one; she’d not had to get chatty with anyone past an initial greeting so far.  

It wasn’t until she was standing under her shower that she decided she was angry with Snape. She couldn’t put her finger on why, but she was. Maybe it was because he had changed so drastically, and she didn’t know why, or if it was real. She hated not knowing.

Scrunching her face up as she pushed forward under the shower, it was only because her eyes were closed that she could admit some of her animosity was due to the confusing effect he seemed to have on her, now.

The only thing worse than not knowing was realizing something had changed in her perception of him, yet not understanding what it was.

At this point, her tolerance for shock seemed to be growing by leaps and bounds, for she was able to put it behind her with a sigh as she finally left Ravenclaw tower. 

On to the more pressing issue; why it was them specifically who had travelled back in time. She couldn’t get her original idea out of her head, she kept circling back to it no matter what hypothesis she tried to consider.

She had been unmoored in time, she was sure of it. Perhaps Professor Snape had been feeling particularly ill or weak, susceptible to wild magic, when the Time Event -as she was now calling their time travel in her head- occurred?

Was it her fault he was dragged along, and should she even apologize? He seemed happy enough with the turnout. What conclusions was Snape drawing? Friday couldn’t come soon enough. 

She was mentally working out the chart she’d use to compare their experiences when they met on Friday, when she was suddenly surrounded. 

“Here she is! The new Ravenclaw.” Hermione looked up to see the voice had come from a girl she hadn’t met, and blinked rapidly to keep from averting her eyes when she saw that beside the girl, was Lily Evans.

Before she could open her mouth to greet them, the girl to her right launched into a stream of rapid-fire questions. Hermione felt like she had suddenly forgotten how to be human, being so violently pulled to the present, to the front of her mind, by their presence. 

“So, you’re from Beauxbatons, right? Why’d ya transfer? I’m Mary MacDonald, what’s your name again? Minnie? When did you meet Snape? Was it a summer fling? No, it wouldn’t have been. Are you liking Hogwarts?” Mary leaned forward expectantly. She was the kind of girl that looked so excitable she might knock herself over. All Hermione could do was stutter out a weak response.

“A-amnesia? There was an accident?” She cringed at the sound of her own voice, her anxiety causing her to turn statements into questions.

“Ooh, you poor thing! I’m Marlene Mckinnon, by the way.” Said the first girl. Hermione’s insides withered with the realization that all the girls in front of her were either dead or missing in her time. She hoped she could help enough that their fates would be changed.

“Hermione Granger. It’s nice to meet you all.” Hermione was pleased with the steadiness of her second try. “I’m sorry, I can’t say my meeting Snape was very eventful, we just got to talking in a bookstore in Greece, in their wizarding city. I was waiting to find out if I had a potential guardian in Turkey, and he was visiting family.”

“It’s just Sev, girls! Why is everyone so obsessed with him nowadays? I’m Lily Evans, one of the Gryffindor prefects. You can ask me if you don’t know your way around or something, kay? Let’s go, girls, before the good seats are taken!”  Why did she have a nickname for Snape, and why would Lily feel the need to use it in front of her, the new girl, who wouldn’t understand the significance? Did they know each other? 

Her voice had been kind, but something about their whole interaction had struck Hermione as forced.

But what did she know? She’d never been able to hold her own or even know what was going on in most all-female conversations, like with Lavender or Parvati.

Funny, since the girls she had met at the few science camps, or youth science conferences she had attended, in her summers before the Time Event, were wonderful! She had kept up an easy correspondence with them over the years, mutually geeking out about the advancements or history of whichever field had caught their fancy at the time. Hmm.

By the end of the day, she was entirely fed up with the endless badgering about Snape. What kind of question was ‘was he wearing summer robes when you met’?!

Half the gossips didn’t even bother introducing themselves! Just ‘hey, you had a minor interaction with Snape that the whole school now knows every single detail of, do you have more details?’ and off they went.

Lily must have been taking the brunt of this, if they knew each other like Hermione suspected, that’s why she sounded so underwhelmed when Mary spoke of Snape.

It all only served to make her angrier at Snape. Why couldn’t he have just stayed the same offputting teen he’d always been? Of course acting like a grown man, mature, in a healthy teenage body would have half the school falling at his feet!

She hoped it came back to bite him when the student body worked up the courage to approach him directly instead of going after the safer people who 'knew' him.

She got into bed in a huff, punching her pillow into submission, and resolved to put out her most snobbish, I-don’t-care-about-anything-but-schoolwork-you-fools look for the rest of the week to discourage any more inane small talk.

--

It didn’t help. The next day at lunch, she was dragged off to sit under a tree by what looked to be an all-ages group of Hufflepuff girls, and she couldn’t help cringing. Hufflepuff was the one house the Sorting Hat hadn’t considered for her, and it made it even harder for her to relate.

“Oh please help! None of the other ‘Claws will give us the time of day, but since you’re new, you can make friends with whoever you want, right? Let’s be friends? We heard there’s books in Ravenclaw that even the library doesn’t have.” 

The apparent ringleader, a gum-chewing sixth-year named Alice, started. “We were researching ways to measure our compatibility with others… I wanted to check mine with Frank, Frank Longbottom, from Gryffindor. I’m too shy to talk to him around all the other Gryffindors, so we found this one way, but the book didn’t go into detail.

"It was an Alchemy book, it mentioned that your elemental affinity may influence which partner you end up with, how some are more compatible than others! But it didn’t explain how to figure out which you are though, and it seems like it’s really old magic. The library doesn’t have anything else, could you please check in the tower?” Hermione blinked quickly to keep her face from showing her surprise.

This must be Neville’s mother, she’d read about her and Frank in Hogwarts: a History! They were war heroes, but Neville said he’d grown up with his Grandmother. What had happened to them again? She hated that she no longer had the 1994 version of her books, she couldn’t check!

“I’ll look into it, no problem.”

“Ooh, thank you!” Alice shot a wide smile that reminded Hermione of the first time she had successfully found Neville’s toad for him her way, before being dragged back into the other girls’ conversation.

“I wonder what Severus’ affinity is…” Hermione shuddered as she left, hearing one of the girls speculate. In her head, he was still the uptight Professor she knew, not someone to just casually refer to by his first name, in a romantic way, no less!

Up to the Tower she went, nevertheless, cursing her soft heart all the way. It felt nice to make the connection with her lost friend Neville, though it wasn’t as good as seeing him again, despite the extra research she hadn’t planned on. 

‘Her’ abandoned lab, hidden in Ravenclaw Tower, looked as if it had been created by a student who had wanted to follow in the Ollivanders’ footsteps and become a wandmaker.

Wandmaking required an intimate knowledge of Alchemy, along with a host of other things, and measuring a person’s attributes was how the wands choose their wizards. Pleased with the connection she’d thought of, she decided to start in there, with its decent collection of obscure tomes.

The Hufflepuffs were lucky they had asked her, and that the favour they needed involved research. The boys used to say ‘Hermione’s on the case’ when she got into it, since she wouldn’t, couldn’t, stop researching until the question was answered, working at it like it was her job. She tackled this problem exactly the same way.

6 entire books and exactly 37 cross-references later, three of which she came back to twice, Hermione felt she had a solid understanding of the basics. It was hard to imagine what her innate affinity was without a second opinion, easier to tell with others.

She couldn’t decide if she was more Earth or Water, in terms of personality. Those with an earth affinity were naturally cautious, practical, and logical, like her, and protective. She was stubborn enough, and her fear of heights seemed to point to it, but there were too many things that worked for her when she looked at the water-attributes to decide.

Maybe that was why she was feeling so off her rocker, the two weren’t the most compatible elements. Where earth was practical and stubborn, water was impulsive, ever-changing, emotional and passionate.

Water was also very adaptable, which she’d had so much practice at by now, it felt like part of who she was. Both earth and water were generally calm elements, but pushed too far, they were the most destructive, like when she punched Malfoy. Maybe she was both? Only one of the books had mentioned that people could have more than one affinity, though. 

Confusion over her own affinity or not, she was excited to share a new theory she had with Snape, not just the Hufflepuffs. If the inkling she had was right, and she suspected it was, an air affinity would be enough to make him susceptible to the Time Event, the books described it as the most magic-sensitive element. 

Hurrying down the hall to the Hufflepuff dormitory to share what she found with Alice, as she had already missed dinner, she didn’t notice the ward blocking the hallway until she had bumped into it, bouncing off and landing on her butt.

Standing above her, within the ward, was Snape, prowling counter-clockwise around the edges of the shield, his, in a dueling stance. It looked almost as if he were dancing the Paso Doble, circling his partner, never breaking eye contact before they met in a passionate clash in the center of the dance floor.

But that wasn’t what was happening here. Across from him, wands out, were the Marauders.

Chapter Text

SS

Severus had felt the telltale prickle of being followed after leaving dinner. Easy as you please, he led them down an empty hallway on the way to the kitchens, and the Hufflepuff dorms.

Now this would be satisfying. Slowing his pace, he paused as if to check his pockets for something, and silently threw up a dueling ward.

They hadn’t yet noticed, but their fate was sealed. And, joy of joys, maybe he’d trapped them in time to find out how the hell they’d hid so well all those years. Shucking his robes, he folded them neatly and placed them on the ground.

Back to the shield of his ward, he stood, and waited, hands loose at his side. His posture may have been relaxed, however, his wand was in his forearm holster, and every muscle in his body was primed to act. 

He wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of thinking they had surprised him, and as they couldn’t leave, he was happy to wait in silence until they caught on. Now that he thought of it, he’d remain silent for their entire exchange. He had nothing to say to them, now.

There wasn’t long to wait. He heard some scuffling across from him, a muffled curse and bang as his shield rippled in their attempt to retreat and keep their secrets, before a pause. Unblinking, he waited and watched as they pulled off what looked to be an invisibility cloak. He filed that away for later examination. Black was the first to speak.

“What is this, Snivellus, some kind of poncy ambush? I’m about done with your slimy Slytherin tactics!” He bared his teeth, and fell into a dueling stance. The Blacks were known for their brutality, and dueling form was drilled into them from a young age.

Sirius likely hadn’t noticed, but Severus could see his family’s influence in how he held himself. Out of all of them, coming from a dark family, Black was the biggest threat.

Lupin appeared to not know where to put his hands, and Pettigrew had his to his mouth, anxiously or perhaps gleefully, he couldn’t tell, chewing on his nails. Eugh, where had his hands been, or worse, where had his paws been? That can’t be sanitary.

Black’s posturing and verbal attack faltered when Severus said nothing, holding their gazes levelly, and Potter, always so self-assured, stepped in. Coming from a loving home, as an only child who could get away with anything, from a family well-liked by the public and above scrutiny must have done a helluva lot for the bastard’s confidence.

“You’ve finally learned to slither away like the snake you are, Snivellus! Where’ve you been hiding?” James said cruelly. Like a well-rehearsed play, Pettigrew laughed, on cue, and Black used the ‘distraction’ to throw an Impedimenta his way. 

Severus waved it away wandlessly, like an annoying bug. How cowardly, Black. In one fluid movement, his wand was in his hand, and he began circling the shield in a dueling stance of his own design.

It was a mixture of martial arts, wizarding tradition, and funnily enough, bull-fighting. When dealing with Gryffindors, it was best to let them see red and dodge their resulting charge, as a matador would with a bull. ‘Olé!’ as they say.

His opponents seemed struck dumb, which wasn’t surprising, the dunderheads were already halfway there. Black and Potter had retained enough malice and hatred to fuel their adrenaline, enough to ignore their instincts.

Lupin and the rat, however, perhaps it was their close connection to their animal forms, could see that there was a predator in their midst, and shrank back behind their companions.

A thud from outside the shield nearly broke Severus’ concentration, until he realized it was Miss Granger, clumsy thing, falling all over the place. Wonderful timing, she wouldn’t miss the fun! Thank the gods it was only her, and not someone unaware of the situation, who’d end up blaming him.

“Been training with your Death Eater friends, then, Snape? Let’s see what you got!” It would be so much better for Black if he learned to keep his mouth shut and stop announcing his attacks. All the better for Severus. Before he could get his next curse out, Severus had sent a silent Incarcerous, Langlock, and Levicorpus through the group to hit Lupin, easily stringing him up, and out of the way.

Out of all of them, Lupin neither deserved, nor could he withstand a visit to the Hospital Wing, this close to the full moon’s approach.

“What are you on about, going after Moony? You’ll pay for that! You think you’re so smart, hiding away recently. Your existence has been grating on my nerves more than usual. Hey Padfoot, you reckon the girls have been tittering about him ‘cause he finally came out of the closet? They’ve got a new girl to braid hair with! Poufter!” Potter snickered at his own ‘wit’, Black and the rat joining in.

Turning back to Severus, he could tell they had expected to bask in their self-satisfaction as he sputtered and denied it, as he would have as a boy. Instead, he joined them in their laughter, a low chuckle, paired with his widest grin. 

When it didn’t reach his eyes, it made him look rather demonic. (He knew, he’d checked in the mirror, curious, when his mother had one day asked him not to smile unless he meant it.)

The boys flinched, though, for the two ringleaders, his laughter only served to incense them further. And so the dance began.

--

HG

Hermione had disillusioned herself after meeting Snape’s eye, and was bouncing on her tiptoes with anticipation. Since punching Malfoy the past year, she had a new appreciation for standing up to bullies.

It was terribly satisfying, and these weren’t regular bullies, either. In their midst, Sirius, in his ignorance and hatred, was already an attempted murderer. And four against one? Cruel and unusual, even in the best of cases.

It felt strange to root for Snape, alongside her general frustration with him. And yet, not only was the underdog winning, he was also putting on quite a show! She couldn’t take her eyes off of it. Hermione knew, of course, that he was not, in fact, the underdog, but of course, that made it even better! A shared secret, and against bullies, no less.

And, his movements reminded her of her Professor’s duel with Lockhart. Even before the duel, Hermione’s young heart had been disillusioned with Gilderoy Lockhart.

Seeing him prance about the stage, introducing a very serious and potentially dangerous club like it was nothing more than another sparkle to his smile put her off right quickly, and she had even entertained a few schoolgirl fantasies about Professor Snape, after he had so neatly taken him out on the dueling floor. Huh. She’d forgotten.

Well, there was certainly enough in front of her to remind her of it now. Off tumbled Pettigrew across the hallway, and he appeared to be pretending unconsciousness in order to stay down.

She wasn’t surprised. She had glimpsed the grin Snape had pulled at them, and she couldn’t imagine how terrified she would have been to be on the wrong side of it, and him. She wanted to kick him while he was down, despite that.

Snape was a whirlwind. Ducking, weaving, rolling, deflecting, and countering, his was a wild and unhesitant style. A controlled flight that spoke of years of fighting for his life, making things up on the go, until he no longer had to make it up. It was simply habit, and study, and fluid perfection. 

It was over in less than four minutes. The adrenaline, however, had made it last for ages. She imagined it was even longer for the boys, who were now on the ground, hanging in the air, and strung up on the walls, restrained and defeated. Perhaps the most biting dig was that not a single one had been harmed in the process.

Yes, they may have been terrified for their lives in the process, but Snape had demonstrated that not only was he stronger than them, he was also, currently, better than them, and didn’t need to resort to physical violence anymore.

That’s not to say they were unmarked, however. Through some very inventive charmwork, it appeared that Snape had swapped their facial features until they looked to all be part of the same badly incestuous family!

She wondered how long it would last. For Peter, it might even be an improvement! Removing her disillusionment, she laughed softly, and Snape’s head whipped around to pin her with an intense gaze, as if he’d forgotten she was there.

The endorphins left over from the fight had blown his pupils wide, and his already dark eyes were like twin black holes, now. A full body shiver made her knees go weak.

He blinked, and his expression cleared. He gave her a small smile of triumph, before sweeping his robes back around his shoulders and striding away.

Chapter Text

SS

As Severus left the fight, he continued smiling to himself. His small smile soon rebelled, stretching across his face as his body filled with the easy, triumphant joy of a young man. The looks on their faces! He felt rather like Peter Pan in this moment, his grin now showing teeth. ‘Oh, the cleverness of me! ’ as the never-aged one said.

In a burst of spontaneity, he flung out his hand to the closest window, forcing it open, and leapt.

The warm winds of late summer were playful, and quick to obey his will, as his mood matched theirs. He used the energy from a particularly eager thermal updraft to fling himself up through the few low-hanging clouds into the clear night sky, with a laugh that felt more like a thunderclap of release, after his lightning bolt of a victory.

Turning on his back, he took in the stars above him, and drifted in lazy figure-eights slowly lower as he came down from his excitement, sighing in contentment.

--

HG

Hermione had scooped up the invisibility cloak and pocketed the Mauraders’ Map for her own use, hurrying after Snape to give him the cloak. She didn’t know why she wanted to. Perhaps to fulfill the old saying, ‘to the victor go the spoils’?

Or maybe it was just her mind grasping at semi-rational straws to follow him, as her body insistently dragged her towards him. The shiver his gaze had induced in her seemed to be the spark that lit the flame of want, though she didn’t know what 'the flame' expected her to do about it. Forcing her body’s demands out of her mind for the much more favourable first option, she pressed on.

She had nearly caught up with him, when he suddenly burst into motion, up onto a windowsill and out!

Lunging for him, she nearly fell out of the window herself, trying to catch his ankle. Breathless, she scrambled back and gripped the window in awe as he flew, instead of falling. Her need to know took over, witnessing a level of magic she had never dreamed of.

The winds seemed to sing, and laugh along with him as he threw his joy to the skies.

This was it. This was exactly what she wanted from magic, what she needed. This was real magic, what she had dreamed of without being able to describe, as a child, before she knew that it was real. She felt the pulse of it, living and ancient.  She wouldn’t stop until she could feel the old magics for herself.

--

SS

Re-entering the castle, it felt as if his feet still weren’t firmly on the ground, wisps of wind-filled air still buoying him up. The further he walked, however, the more his adrenaline wore off, and the heavier his steps felt. Severus felt like a raw nerve, stripped bare and vulnerable.

Suddenly, he found himself choking back sobs and stumbling, blinded by tears, to the nearest alcove. He pressed his back to the wall, and slid down into a shaking ball, head between his knees. 

It took him a moment to understand where it was coming from. Pairing mental maturity with teenage hormones while trying to heal and establish emotional intelligence and maturity as well was, well, very confusing.

The wounded animal that was his childhood could finally release the grief it had held onto for so long. And since it was the child inside him crying, he irrationally wanted nothing more in this world than his mother. 

So, when he felt a small, tentative hand on his shoulder, he leaned into it instinctively, his body shuddering with sobs. Though no words were exchanged, for which he was grateful, he soon found himself being held.

As he calmed, still turned in on himself and shaking, face burrowed in the witch’s shoulder, he felt her rhythmically stroking his back, and gently rocking. Now too embarrassed to show his face, he kept his head ducked and stiffened his back, in the hopes that whoever she was would leave quietly, or maybe he hoped she was a hallucination.

“Don’t worry, Professor, we’re under that invisibility cloak now, no one can see.” 

So it was Miss Granger. He should have known. Her soft heart was well-known amongst the staff of Hogwarts.

He was, thankfully, too emotionally wiped to care that she’d seen him vulnerable again at this point, and she did at least understand a bit of the significance of this evening. She continued her soothing until he relaxed again, inch by inch, back into their previous position. His breathing steadied and his limbs grew heavy, his thoughts slowing.

She was very warm.

--

HG

Hermione held the boy in her arms more determinedly than she had done anything in a long while. There were a few voices screaming in her head that her Professor didn’t need comforting, damnit!

But in front of her, Snape looked exactly like Harry did, on the days around Christmas or Easter, when Ron excitedly went on about all the things his mother was preparing for their family. He waited until Ron was out of earshot, but the grief for his lost childhood and family always caught up with him.

There was no way in any hell, or afterlife, that she could walk away. She was surprised by how easily he had let himself be held, but when he came back to himself and tried to withdraw again, her reassurance, and soothing technique, which she had perfected over the years with Harry, seemed to work.

He finally relaxed again, and she wasn’t budging.

That was one of the things she would never regret about her abuse of the Time-Turner, before. Then, there was nowhere Harry could hide from her comfort, that way. She learned every hiding place, and found him every time, even if she needed a few turns through the hours to do it. No one should have to suffer alone, she should know.

Lost in her thoughts, she didn’t notice the exact moment he fell asleep, but his deep breathing was telling enough.

Wiping the tears that were left off of his face, he looked more his body’s age than she had yet seen him. Young and innocent. His eyelashes, still wet and reflecting the moonlight, fanned across his cheeks at a length that made her want desperately to feel them against her skin in a butterfly’s kiss.

Shaking her head to snap herself out of it, she called for a house-elf she had gotten to know over the summer to take him to bed. Happy to serve, as she was slowly coming around to as a concept, the elf came back for her and tucked her in as well.

Hermione was grateful, for the emotional rollercoaster of Severus' triumph, celebration, and release of grief had dragged her along for the ride too, her empathy at once useful and exhausting.

As she drifted off to sleep, she felt a whisper of warm wind brush her hair away from her face, almost a caress, weaving around her until she knew no more.

Chapter Text

SS

Severus woke the most rested he’d felt in a long time. The events of the last night seemed too surreal in the early morning to accept as reality.

He had no idea how he’d gotten in bed, and as discombobulating as it was, he felt a twinge of warmth and affection, much like the mornings after his mother had moved him from where he fell asleep on the couch to his bed, on the rare nights Tobias wasn’t home and he could read as long as he liked, so long as he used the light from the fire to conserve electricity.

It was a quiet sort of gesture, not any kind of grand overture. But, to be moved so carefully, so he could keep sleeping, would make anyone feel loved. The few times he had woken in his ma’s arms, he’d feigned sleep to preserve how precious the moment felt. He’d have to owl his mother soon.

Agh! He was going soft. Sharing a similar moment with Granger felt much too vulnerable, and he squashed the warmth in his chest quickly.

All through the morning, he pondered. What to do about Miss Granger. She had so much more on him than anyone else in this timeline, and he hated the feeling. Their being pulled to this timeline together was one thing, and he could not sever that tie, as much as his instincts screamed that he should.

So, he would ensure that their connection would go no further, instead. Last night was easy enough to write off as a moment of weakness, and he would be nothing but proper, moving forward. 

Satisfied with his plan, he was looking forward to putting it to practice as soon as possible, during this evening’s meeting, which was approaching in less than an hour. Stamp out any sympathy she had growing behind her curls with a cold front. If his luck held, which he highly doubted, she would be the only person he had to interact with today. 

“Mister Snape, you will follow me, please.” Fuck. McGonagall.

She raised an eyebrow when he didn’t immediately snap to attention, and he hurried to obey. Predictably, he was led to the Hospital Wing, where Madam Pomfrey was puzzling over his four victims from last night.

As annoying as the interruption was, he had hoped they would walk into this trap. Had they had any self-preservation at all, they would have kept their heads down and kept the adults out of the equation.

But they had gotten cocky over the years, being passed over, pardoned, believed, by the adults around them. They assumed the same pattern would be followed this time. However, being an adult himself, he knew all the professors needed was the truth.

There was no sane adult, especially not the Hogwarts faculty, who held any agenda against him, personally, as he had believed for much of his formative years. Despite the Headmaster covering up his near-death at the hands of Sirius Black, the first time they went through sixth year, he would have done so to any student, not just Severus, that had been the victim to Black’s ‘prank.’ 

His defensive mentality had likely sabotaged the help he could have gotten, perhaps not from Dumbledore, but in general, before.

So. The truth would out, this time. In the magical world, it was as simple as pulling a few memories for a Pensive, a quick casting of Priori Incantatem for more recent things, or just one of the many truth-inducing potions out there, not that they would be legal, in this case.

They were so, so fucked. He hoped they would protest, try to come up with a way to say he started it, or that he’d been after them for years. Yes, there may be some incriminating evidence against him, but his arsenal was bigger. For every time he had fought back, they had matched it many times over with their cruelty.

The more they fought the inevitable, the more he would expose them. Would they catch on? Or keep digging their proverbial graves?

--

HG

Meanwhile, Hermione was having an epiphany. Snape had to have an Air affinity. There was no other explanation for his flying without a broom.

She had scoured the meagre pickings on flight that the library offered that didn’t relate to Quidditch, and although she collected at least five new leads to research more on, out of simple interest, the only mention of pure human flight was small, stating that though rare, it had been accomplished, and not to try it at home.

Oh, there could have been a perfectly reasonable explanation for his flight last night, disillusioned broom, Dark Arts, a potion, etcetera, but she was sure.

It was the first time she had ever instinctively known something in the magical realm. Yes, she was very quick to understand the things that she read, or was taught; the concepts and successful execution came easily to her, but it had felt no different to a science experiment.

Not to say she didn’t love it utterly and completely, it simply had never moved her or inspired her past the initial joy of learning it and succeeding. She’d had no idea what she wanted to do after graduation for that reason, it’s not as if she could just continue going to school forever.

What she witnessed last night had struck a chord, right down to her very centre, humming and resonating with a constant buzz of exhilaration and purpose. There weren’t words for it.

The winds had accepted him as one of their own, played with him, freed him from his earthly tether! If that wasn’t an Air affinity, she’d eat her hat. And the other elements had to have some kind of equivalent, maybe ones that wouldn’t involve heights.

They were alive, in a way that could never be recorded through boorish, clumsy human language.

If they were alive, then so were the other elements, so was everything around her! Why on earth wasn’t everyone in constant awe?! If they had life, could it be taken away? Could an element get sick?

Her eyes widened at the thought. In the muggle world, pollution and global warming had been growing issues, in 1994. The devastating and long-term effects were just beginning to be researched, and if she knew anything about Wizarding society, it’s that it was centuries behind.

What if the energies, the elements that were everywhere, tied to the core of all beings, but especially to the cores of magical folk, could be ‘polluted’? Was there anything being done to protect them, to monitor them? Where was the research, where was the education?

Other than the defeat of Voldemort, she had never felt so strongly about anything in her life. If there wasn’t already a career where she could devote her life to this, too bad. She’d make one. Wrench it from the never-changing Wizarding community’s backwards little hands.

What other fundamental parts of magic had been overlooked? Why? It was so important to learn from history, from the ancient magics, but instead History of Magic taught them nothing but Goblin War after Goblin War.

As a muggleborn, she knew more about magical history than her classmates, who had spent their whole lives in magical society, and that was just from reading the basic materials! What of the rest of the Magical World, what of its history? It was as if Wizarding Britain was deliberately being kept in the dark! 

Older magic was often mis-classified as Dark, and she could assume that ancient magics could have been, as well. She’d have to ask Snape what he knew on the matter. If nothing else, he might be able to point her in the right direction.

--

SS

The crowd in the Hospital Wing had grown considerably since Severus had initially arrived. The families of Potter, Pettigrew, and Lupin, those who could attend on short notice, had arrived, and the chaos was marvelous. He had immediately requested a Pensieve, which had made the boys go white, or a mottled more-pale-than-before, due to their mixed up facial features, courtesy of a spell he was calling Mutatio incestum.

He blamed it on accidental magic during the fight, and as it had been wandless and silent, they couldn’t track it. If they wanted their faces back, they’d have to reverse-engineer the spell to invent a counter-curse for it, and that could take weeks!

Lupin’s werewolf characteristics might fight off the spell on their own, but it was no great loss. Severus had already won, this was just the victory lap. The professors had all been convinced very quickly, and it appeared Minerva still had the habit of turning into a cat to hide her tears when distressed.

She was now perched on his lap, curled into a tight ball as he attempted to somewhat soothe her with pets. The revelation had broken her heart, and those of the other professors, who couldn’t understand how everything had happened under their noses the whole time. Some were furious, some embarrassed. That was the only thing he regretted about this whole situation, that it hurt his former colleagues.

Bureaucracy being what it is, the parents simply had to be informed, and the chaos that ensued was his current source of entertainment. His mother couldn’t make it, something about ‘not leaving the repairmen alone at the house.’

Presumably, a masterful excuse not to come, which he appreciated, for she had faith in him, that he could handle himself. It made him smile inwardly, recognizing his own Slytherin and antisocial tendencies in her. Anything to avoid dealing with emotional Gryffindor parents. Normally, he would agree.

The Potters stood grim and silent on either side of their spawn, with Black on the opposite side of Fleamont. Mr. Potter, a respectable man, had a firm hand on each boy’s shoulder, keeping them in place with an iron grip as they tried to protest.

Poppy Pomfrey herself was informing them all of their sons’ deviancy, thoroughly. Lupin’s father hadn’t come, but his Muggle mother sat beside him with a concerned look on her face, holding his hand. He looked to have his tail between his legs, head hanging in guilt.

Severus knew he would likely forgive him one day, for he knew Lupin had needed his friends desperately, and was so young. Of course he was pulled along with their antics. 

“Oh what has that nasty boy done to my son’s beautiful face!” Mrs Pettigrew, a doughy mouse of a woman married to a shrewish man wailed, her hands fluttering about her rat of a son like she was trying to put out a flame. Even as a parent, how could anyone be so blind to the boys' hateful ways?

Suddenly, his plans to remain calm and composed as the truth came out went out the window. The laugh that began in his chest and rolled outwards was harsh and hearty, if not a little bitter, loud enough for the others to freeze in place, startled.

“Nasty boy indeed! Nasty with my second-hand clothes, nasty with my flinching reflex -have you ever been beaten by your father, ma’am?- my cowering posture, nasty in contrast to my sweet best friend, my only friend, who your ‘beautiful’ son’s ringleader coveted with jealousy. Not counting the wonderful stigma of being a ‘slimy Slytherin,’ I can see very clearly how ‘nasty’ I was in their eyes, what an easy target.” Minerva had hopped off his lap at some point during his tirade to stand fully human behind him, glaring all the while at her four lion cubs.

“Furthermore, I am aware that I gave as good as I got, but, the only reason I am standing before you today instead of laying six feet under is, even four-on-one, they have been too incompetent to fucking... take... me... down.”

“He’s a dark wizard, mum, I told you!” Potter fell to childish whinging quickly, a likely default for him with his parents. However, it appeared it would not hold, if the whitened knuckles of Fleamont Potter were anything to go by. 

“Was it not dark when you used a tripping jinx to send me from the third to the first floor the hard way? I ran from the Hospital Wing instead of telling them my arm was broken, I was too afraid they would see the new scars my father had left. Why tell an adult when you have already been betrayed by the one who was supposed to protect you most fiercely?” Black flinched minutely.

“Was it not dark when you glued my shoes to the floor, the only pair I had, or could afford? When you laughed? Was it not dark when that made me trip and spill a potentially volatile potion all over an ACTIVE LAB?!?" 

He paused for breath when he realized his volume had built to a roar. Lab safety was a touchy subject, after all. “Two incidents. Just two of the hundreds your sons instigated over the years, that could have resulted in death.

"I’m glad I was the target, glad I was ‘nasty’ enough to focus on. Thank goodness I was strong enough, lucky enough. Other students in my shoes may have already perished! Maybe that would have been enough for these boys to see the error of their ways.

“Yes, I have studied the dark arts. Yes, I have even used dark spells in self defence. But maybe if your sons had ever cracked a book, they’d be able to understand that the dark magic they toyed with, ‘harmless’ curses, hexes and jinxes, and the cruelty of children who knew no better, can quickly escalate.

"Dark magic is greedy, and they are young vessels full of fuel.” He threw a sneer in their direction as he straightened his robes. “I hope, for everyone’s sake that they… re-evaluate… their priorities.”

He glanced at Minerva, who gave him a sharp nod that told him the faculty would take it from there, which he was grateful for. All this personal exposure was quickly exhausting his emotional reserves, and made his exit.

The image of the Marauders, brought to justice for the first time, was something he’d never forget. Unfortunately, the hate in some of their faces told him they wouldn’t soon forget, either.