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If You're Gone

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DISCLAIMER: I don't own 'em, don't want to. As Taran would say "Some nasty, ugly, brilliant woman by the name of J.K. Rowling owns the whole Harry Potter universe. I'm just borrowing for a while, and then I'll send it all back the way I found it." Yeah, what he said. Lyrics to "If You're Gone" by Matchbox Twenty

I wanted to add that Taran and I know that this story creates a paradox, but we were at a loss as to how to get rid of it and yet keep it the same as it is. So please, bear with the paradox bit and just read it for what it was meant to be: a seriously fluffy time travel story. Thank you!


If You’re Gone
by Taran and SeparatriX aka Lady Moonlight

~@~

If you're gone...maybe it's time to go home
There's an awful lot of breathing room
But I can hardly move
If you're gone...baby its time to come home
'Cuz there's a little bit of something in me
In everything in you

~@~

Something was terribly wrong at 4 Privet Drive, in Little Whinging, Surrey. There was not much that went on in that house that Albus Dumbledore did not know about, and right now his instinct told him that something was just not right. He decided to do a little digging, and was saddened to learn that Harry's cousin Dudley Dursley had befallen a terrible fate. It seemed that the lad had gone on an eating binge, and literally eaten himself to death. Albus clucked sympathetically. "Well, we certainly saw that coming, didn't we, Fawkes?"

It was Dumbledore's unenviable task to inform Harry of this unfortunate incident. He knew that even though there was no love lost between Harry Potter and the Dursley's, Harry would want to be informed. He summoned the young wizard to his office.

Harry was in the middle of working on a complex potion when the headmaster's owl found him. Puzzled, he removed the message that was attached to the owl's leg. The owl flew out as Harry unrolled the message.

Harry,
Please come to my office as soon as you possibly can. Thank you.

A. Dumbledore
Headmaster

From his corner of the room, Professor Severus Snape watched with interest as Harry put the fire out under his cauldron, and began to approach him.

"Professor Snape, may I be excused from the remainder of class? Professor Dumbledore wishes to see me."

Snape surveyed young Potter from behind his curtain of black hair. So many thoughts were racing through his mind, but he must not betray these thoughts. Not yet.

Severus read the note that Harry offered, then nodded his consent. "You will have to make up this assignment later, Potter. So be sure to contact me when you are finished with Dumbledore."

Harry sighed. He never seemed to be able to catch a fair break with the potions master. "Thank you, Professor. I'll be sure to see you about the make-up work." He turned on his heel and began walking toward the door.

"See that you do." Harry heard the words, but missed the subtle smile that played across Snape's lips.

~@~

"Harry, please sit down." Albus motioned for Harry to have a seat in one of the comfortable chairs in his office. "I'm afraid I have a bit of bad news for you." Dumbledore held out a dish with sherbert lemons, which Harry politely declined. "There's no easy way of telling you this, son, so I'll just get to the point. Your cousin Dudley has, unfortunately...died."

Harry looked at the headmaster incredulously. "Dudley, dead? But how?"

How could he say this with decorum? There really wasn't a way to gloss it over, so Albus decided the direct method would probably be the best. "Ah well. It seems young Dursley ate himself into an early grave. They will be burying him Friday." The headmaster must have found his fingers terribly fascinating, because he suddenly could not take his eyes off of them.

Harry stifled the laughter that threatened to erupt at any moment. He knew he should feel bad for Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon, but they had never offered him a comfortable home and family, he only lived with them like an unwanted guest, and he didn't see how this event would change anything. But despite this fact, they were his only family, and he felt a sense of obligation to be there for them now. "Professor Dumbledore, do you think it would be possible for me to go to my cousins funeral? I think I should at least make an appearance."

Albus took a moment to consider Harry's request. "Are you certain you wish to do this, my boy? I know that you were never really happy when you lived with your aunt and uncle, and you were always upset that you had to go back to the Dursley house for the summer."

Harry rose from the chair and took a few steps toward the headmaster. "I know, Professor. But like it or not, they are the only family I've got, and I feel as though I should be there for them now. I won't stay any longer than necessary, believe me."

The older man rose from his chair to meet Harry at the door, laying a comforting hand on the young mans shoulder. "Harry, you must do what you feel you have to do. And if you think you need to be there for your family, by all means you should go." The wise old wizard patted Harry's shoulder as he began to leave the office. "I'm sure you will make the right choice, little one."

Harry nodded and sighed. "Thank you, Professor. I'll see you later."

"Good-bye, Harry."

Harry slowly climbed the stairs to Gryffindor Tower. Since tomorrow was Friday, he thought it best to pack a small bag for the short trip he would be taking into the Muggle world. Going through his trunk at the end of his bed, he took out a relatively formal suit that would function well in their world. Underclothes, sleepwear and casual clothing came next, followed by toiletries. He noticed his invisibility cloak and the Marauders Map nestled into a corner in the bottom of the trunk. Throwing caution to the wind, he decided to pack them as well, just in case. He stood there for a moment, lost in his thoughts. Thoughts of his parents, his aunt and uncle, Dudley, and his own life here at Hogwarts.

A loud noise behind him shattered his daydreams. He turned around to see what the noise was, to find Dobby scuttling toward him, with a huge smile on his face.

"Harry Potter is being on a long trip?"

"Oh, hello Dobby. Yes, my cousin died and I am going to his funeral tomorrow."

"Harry Potter is sad? Dobby does not like Harry Potter to be sad."

"Thank you, Dobby. I'm not really sad, but I'm going to go there because they are the only family I have and I don't want them to have to be alone."

"Dobby is knowing Harry Potter is a good person. Harry Potter freed Dobby. Dobby never forgot this."

Harry smiled fondly at the little house elf. "Dobby, I need to finish packing now, and then I need to see Professor Dumbledore so he can make me two portkeys for my trip. I'll talk to you later, okay?"

"Dobby has powerful magic. Dobby can make portkeys for Harry Potter. "Harry Potter not be sad anymore." The elf nodded his head vigorously. "Yes, Dobby makes Harry Potter portkeys."

Harry didn't want to upset the little elf, so against his better judgment, he agreed to allow Dobby to make his portkeys. He had no idea the life altering consequences this decision would have on things.

He finished packing his bag, then lay down on his four poster bed to get a little nap before visiting all of his professors. Heaven knows he would not be getting proper rest while he was visiting the Dursleys.

After waking, Harry spent the rest of the afternoon tying up all the loose ends at school. He spoke to most of his professors, explaining the situation and arranging for Hermione and Ron to pick up any assignments he may miss. The only one left to talk to was Snape, and he was dreading the idea of telling the harsh man that he would be missing some classes.

"So you're telling me that this Muggle funeral is more important to you than your class work?" Snape spit the words out with a sneer. "You're only a few months shy of finishing, Potter. Surely you can go see that sorry excuse of a family after you have finished with your education?" Snape held his breath for the answer, silently dreading it.

"I'm sorry, Professor. This just can't wait. Hermione and Ron will keep track of any assignments I might miss, and I'll be back on Saturday at the latest. My school work won't suffer, I promise."

Snape exhaled quietly. He had pushed him, given him an out. The young man had not taken it. All that was left now was to let time do it's work.

"Very well, Potter. I fully expect you to turn in the assignments you will miss for the next several days."

Harry was puzzled. "The next several days, Professor? I'm sure I'll be back by Saturday evening. I can work on the weekend to catch up with today and tomorrow's work."

Severus silently castigated himself for the slip up. He must be more careful with what he said before Harry left later this evening.

"My mistake, Potter. Of course you will be able to catch up over the weekend. I would wish you a pleasant trip, but I know where you're going. Good bye, Potter."

Summarily dismissed and feeling just a bit chastened, Harry beat a hasty retreat to his dorm room to pick up his bag and get the portkeys that Dobby had prepared for the trip.

"Hello, Harry Potter! Dobby made Harry Potter magic keys." Dobby thrust two small wooden boxes into Harry's hands. "The red box takes Harry Potter to the Muggles. The blue box brings Harry Potter back home. Dobby hope Harry Potter very happy." Make Professor Snape sir happy, too." The house elf was practically gushing. It was more than a little unsettling and very confusing.

"Thank you, Dobby. I'm very happy." 'And what could possibly make Snarky Snape happy,' he thought to himself.

Harry removed his robes and put on the Muggle jeans and t-shirt. He placed the red box in his pocket and put the blue box in his bag. Hitching the bag up over his shoulder, he prepared to leave. "Well, thanks again, Dobby. I'll see you Saturday night."

Harry eased open the red box that was in his pocket and touched the contents. Almost immediately he felt wave of nausea rising from the pit of his stomach. He closed his eyes, willing the bile that was rising up from his gut to retreat. Just as soon as it began, it ended.

~@~

When Harry opened his eyes, he found himself standing in the upstairs bedroom that he had occupied during his summer breaks. He could hear the voices of his aunt and uncle downstairs as they mourned their only son. He stashed his bag in the cupboard, and began mentally preparing for the scene that certainly awaited him. Slowly he descended the stairs.

"Hello Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon." His voice crackled with emotion. "I'm sorry about Dudley, truly I am." A genuine tear slid down his cheek. He and Dudley had never really gotten along, but he never imagined that his cousin would die so young. It really brought home other feelings of loss in his young life.

The Dursley's stood there, faces awash with tears, mouths hanging open. "H-h-how did you h-h-hear about Dudley?" his aunt stuttered. Fresh sobs wracked the woman's slender frame, which prompted her husband to wrap a beefy arm around her shoulders.

Harry had never seen his mother's sister so...lost. "Professor Dumbledore told me this afternoon. I thought I should be here for the...you know...the funeral." More tears began to prick at his eyes and he wiped them away with his sleeve. He was unsure if he should try to hug his aunt, or make some other offer of comfort.

Aunt Petunia didn't give him the opportunity to find out on his own. She rushed toward the young man, throwing her thin arms around his neck, sobbing into his shoulder. This unabashed show of affection really threw Harry for a loop. Slowly he eased his arms around the bereaved mother, and began to pat her hair. If this wasn't odd enough, things got even weirder when uncle Vernon joined them, his large arms encompassing them both.

This strange behaviour prompted Harry to burst into tears. He cried tears for Dudley, the cousin he never really knew. He cried for his aunt and uncle, who would never be able to hold their child like this ever again. But most of all, Harry cried for himself, for the 16 lonely years he had spent craving the arms of the mother he never had a chance to know, and the father he knew only through old photographs and stories told to him by his godfather.

The three of them just stood there for the longest time, each of them mourning something that had been forever lost. For the Dursley's, it was their only child, but for Harry, it was his innocence.

Friday morning dawned grey and rainy at number 4, Privet Drive. Harry dressed in the only nice suit he owned. Looking in a mirror, he combed his hair, finally making it behave for a change. He finished grooming, then met his family downstairs. Solemnly, the trio got into the motorcar that was to take them to the church where the funeral was to take place.

It appeared that his uncle had spared no expense in giving his only son the proper send off. The church was festooned with flowers, and Dudley's coffin was blanketed in white roses. A woman was seated at the organ playing some dreadful dirge of a song, and despite the events of last night, Harry couldn't wait to get back home.

He managed to sit through the service with equanimity, but was glad when it was finally over. He had promised his aunt and uncle he would stay through until Saturday afternoon, and he was good for his word.

Saturday afternoon Harry said his good-byes to his family, who asked him visit more often. He told them that he would certainly try to come visit again soon. He placed a kiss on the cheek of his aunt, and extended his hand to his uncle, who shook it soundly.

Harry ascended the stairs so that he could go home. He took the blue box out of the bag and stuck it in his pocket, then hoisted his bag up onto his shoulder. "Goodbye!" he called out. He reached into his pocket and eased open the blue box. The last thing he heard was the faint good-byes from his aunt and uncle.

Harry felt the familiar pull on his stomach even as his fingers touched the portkey Dobby had given to him. He closed his eyes, waiting for the nausea to pass. When he re-opened them, he was looking at the old rusted gate that led up to his school. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry looked the same as always in the distance.

~@~

The old castle had been his only true home for the last six and a half years. It always felt so good to come home, especially now. The funeral for his cousin Dudley had been very strange. He found it terribly surreal to have actually been welcomed by his aunt and uncle.

Harry sighed and pulled his bag of clothes over his shoulder. He wrapped his invisibility cloak over himself, not wanting to deal with anyone on the trek up to his dorm room. He could clearly hear many students out on the lawn, chatting and having fun in the warm spring sunshine.

Harry quietly made his way through the throng of teenagers in front of the Whomping Willow tree, well out of reach of its painful branches, keeping his head down. He was well within their midst when a name called out caught his attention.

"Siri, pass the ball!" a young voice cried. Harry looked around to see who had called his godfather's nickname. Harry stopped dead in his tracks. Standing just four feet in front of him was a strangely familiar face.

A boy, Harry guessed to be about a year younger than himself, with the same wild black hair and hazel eyes, was laughing at two other boys rolling around on the grass. Harry had seen that face before. He tore his eyes away to look at the others. They too, were familiar. One had shoulder length light brown hair with striking amber eyes. The other looked very much like the first with black hair and grey eyes. With a gasp, Harry knew exactly who they were and where he was.

Remus Lupin was wrestling with Sirius Black on the ground while his father, James Potter, laughed on. Harry was too shocked to move. Somehow, he was in the past. In a past where his father, therefore his mother too, was alive. He was just feet from the man he had only ever really seen in pictures.

"You guys better watch out," James said slowly getting control over his laughter. "Snape's headed this way!"

Harry was startled back to reality. Snape was here? Oh, yes, of course, he thought, Snape the student. He looked in the direction James was looking in. Once again, his breath caught in his throat.

The boy headed in his direction didn't look much like the man he knew. This boy was shorter, ganglier, with longer hair that didn't look at all greasy. His eyes were sharp and clear and shone through a lightly tanned face. His stride was less certain, almost hesitant. Harry estimated him to be about 16 years old.

The boys rolled away from each other and lay panting on the ground. James stood near them with his arms crossed over his chest, head tilted to the side. He eyed the young Snape suspiciously.

Harry stepped to the side to watch the exchange with curiosity. After all the things he had heard about Snape from his godfather, Harry wanted to see what the man was really like. He was also very curious as to how his father treated the man... err, boy.

"What do you want, Snape?" Sirius grumbled from the grass as Snape came to a halt in front of the teenagers.

"Madame Pomfrey wishes to see Lupin," he said with an air of confidence that Harry suspected was false. The way his eyes shifted between the three boys, Harry could tell that Snape was nervous.

Sirius grunted in response then threw his arm over his eyes to block out the sun and probably Snape as well.

Lupin smiled sweetly at Snape and thanked him for the message. James continued to watch calmly. Snape, whose lips seemed to fight with themselves against returning Lupin's smile, gave a curt nod, then swiftly turned his back and walked back the way he had come.

Harry watched as Lupin said his goodbyes to his friends and headed into the castle. As the other two boys resumed their playing, Harry sat down, careful to stay covered by the invisibility cloak, near enough to watch and listen but well out of the way of being trampled on. He couldn't take his eyes off his father.

Harry studied him, committing everything to memory; the way he laughed and smiled, the way his hair shone and waved in the sunlight, the way he bent his neck to his shoulder to work out a kink. Harry wanted to know and remember every little detail about his father that he could. Harry sniffed the air and was sure he could even smell his father's cologne.

Harry sat for what seemed like hours or only minutes before the boys finally started to head back to the castle. He knew that he should be trying to figure out how he got into the past and how to get back to his own time, but he couldn't let go of this opportunity to get to know his father and possibly his mother, too. Since they had both been killed when he was a baby, Harry really didn't know them at all and he wasn't going to give up this chance too quickly.

He started to follow the kids inside then changed his mind. He sat down on the grass again and, under the safety of his cloak, took out the Marauder's Map that he had brought with him to the Dursleys. Harry decided it was time to find his mother.

Harry was relieved to discover that Lily Evans was still outside of the large castle, as it was easier to move around outside than in the crowded hallways of the school. He followed the map to one of the gardens, then carefully tucked the map back into his bag. He found her right away, sitting amongst several large rose bushes. He recognized her immediately by her flowing auburn hair and brilliant green eyes. He could smell lilacs over the heavy scent of roses, and knew that she was indeed his mother. It was the only thing he remembered of her, the scent of lilacs.

Sitting nearby, careful not to disturb anything, Harry watched Lily for several minutes. When another girl came to call her away, Harry made to follow her but found his cloak was caught on something. Turning to see what it was, Harry found himself eye to eye with Severus Snape, who was looking so intently at the exact spot Harry was standing in, that Harry was sure the young man could see right through the invisibility cloak.

As Lily moved out of sight, Snape reached out and grabbed the cloak. "Spying, again, Pot-" he gasped as the cloak fell, revealing a scared looking Harry. Snape's jaw dropped as he stared into familiar green eyes. They were Lily Evans eyes, though the boy had either James Potter's or Sirius Black's hair.

"Who are you?" Snape asked with curiosity and suspicion.

"I... I..." Harry stuttered. He had no idea what to say. "I'm... um... Harry."

Snape's eyes narrowed into a penetrating glare. "Harry who? How did you get Potter's cloak? He doesn't lend it out to just anyone, least of all to a stranger."

Harry was surprised at how well Snape seemed to know his father. Still, he didn't want to tell Snape everything. The man would think he was totally insane or something.

"Well, you see..." Harry was fumbling for the right words.

"I think I should take you to the caretaker, Filch. He can deal with a trespasser very well." Snape grabbed Harry's arm and started towards the school.

Harry panicked. "No, wait! I can explain!"

Snape stopped but didn't let go of Harry's arm. He gazed eye to eye and waited for Harry to explain.

Harry took a deep breath. He should have known it wouldn't be so easy with Snape. He could see that even as a teen, the man was suspicious of everything.

"I'm a student at Hogwarts, just not yet... You see, I went to a funeral and was taking a portkey back to school and then somehow I ended up here instead of at MY Hogwarts which is about 20 years from now." Harry knew how ridiculous it sounded even to him.

Snape's eyebrows rose to maximum height. Harry could see humour in the dark eyes, which made him nervous. The Snape Harry knew from his time didn't have a sense of humour that Harry was aware of.

"If you expect me to believe that you're from the future, you must be a relative of Black's. That is exactly the kind of ridiculous story he would come up with." He still had one long fingered hand around Harry's arm, the other he set on his hip and looked down his long nose at Harry.

"But it's true!" Harry didn't know why but it seemed important that Snape believe him. He knew he could be altering the future just by talking to the young Snape, but he didn't care. There had to be a reason for him to be in the past, where his parents were both alive and well. He knew he probably couldn't save them, it was obviously a few years before they would be killed by Voldemort, but maybe there was another reason for it. Maybe he could even stop Snape from becoming a Death Eater.

Yes, that could be it. That could be why he was here and why it was Snape that had caught him. Dumbledore always told Harry that things happen for a reason. Now, how to go about that...

Harry was about to say something to Snape about the Death Eaters when a new thought struck him suddenly. He couldn't stop Snape from becoming a Death Eater. If Snape never joins them, then he'd never go back to Dumbledore for help, and would never become a spy for the Order. Snape was too important to the Order for Harry to mess with his future. Harry sighed and hung his head, more confused than ever.

"Can you prove the truth of your words?" Snape asked, looking very skeptical and still a little amused.

Harry wasn't so sure anymore that he should but felt compelled to tell Snape the truth. As much of it as he dared.

"I don't know if I can or not. I don't really know too much about this time." Harry had a sudden flash of memory of an event that had to have occurred sometime soon. Either coming up or just passed judging by the age of the Marauders and Snape.

"Has Siri... um, Black, led you to the Shrieking Shack yet?" Harry asked.

"No... Why would he?" Snape asked suspiciously.

"Well, he will. Soon I should think. He does it to try to scare you off because he's jealous of ... well, of something." Harry didn't dare tell Snape the whole truth of that. Sirius had finally told Harry exactly what had happened and why he'd done it. Sirius was deeply in love with Remus but knew Remus and Snape were becoming friends. He was scared that Snape would take Remus away from him.

"Tries to scare me? He is always pulling pranks on me and I've never been afraid before. Why should I possibly be afraid this time?" The young Snape sounded very much like his older version, very haughty and superior.

"Well, I shouldn't be telling you everything. I could be changing the future and that could be very bad. Or, very good, but since I don't know what will happen... I should probably go now. Try to find a way home." Harry tried to back away but Snape still hadn't let go of his arm, which was getting sore from the pressure of tight fingers.

"I don't think it would be wise to let you wander about the school grounds. I think I should take you to Filch after all."

Harry's eyes went wide with dread. "Oh, no! Please, take me to Dumbledore instead! Or, McGonagall! Anywhere but Filch!" Harry pleaded.

To Harry's great surprise, Snape started laughing. "You really do know Filch, don't you?" he asked after he had calmed down. Harry couldn't help but notice how attractive Snape was when he laughed, it was such a huge contrast to the normally stern face.

Harry wasn't sure what to do so he sat down facing Snape. He was struck again by the youth's casual beauty. It was now late evening and the sun was setting behind Snape, casting him in its soft glow. Snape's eyes shone brightly in a way Harry hadn't seen before and never imagined he would see and his smile was very soft and alluring.

Harry had never seen his Potions master look so relaxed. He wasn't even certain that the man 'could' relax. Seeing the younger Snape looking happy and contented sitting with a complete stranger, started Harry wondering about what had happened to change the man so drastically in 20 years.

"So, Harry," he emphasized the only name he was given so far, "tell me more about what happens in the Shrieking Shack."

"Oh, umm..." Harry wasn't sure what to say. He wanted to tell this young man everything, but at the same time, he was scared to alter Snape's future too much.

"Umm... what's your name? You never told me it." Harry tried to distract him.

Snape sighed and leaned back on his arms, stretching his long legs out in front of him, crossing his legs at the ankle.

"I thought you knew. You know Black, obviously, and you know he tries to prank me. And yet, you don't know my name?" Snape was starting to lose patience with the older boy.

"Umm, right, yeah, Severus Snape, right?" Harry felt like an utter fool. For some reason, he just couldn't form a coherent sentence anymore. He was becoming increasingly nervous sitting so close to the handsome youth.

Snape raised an eyebrow questioningly at him. He was definitely beginning to wonder about this boy. He was very good looking but a bit peculiar. Perhaps he should have taken him to Filch after all.

"Yes, that is my name. You may call me Severus, if you like." He rarely gave permission for anyone to use his given name, but somehow with Harry, it seemed right.

"Right, Severus," Harry said with a smile.

Severus smiled back. He liked how his name sounded on the boy's lips. He was beginning to really like the boy, too, even though he was vaguely familiar. He continued to lean back on his long arms and waited for Harry to begin his explanation about the Shrieking Shack.

"Well?" he prompted when Harry only stared at him.

"Huh? What?" Harry asked distractedly.

"The Shrieking Shack?" Snape was exasperated.

"Oh, right. Yeah... Well, Siri... err... Black tells you something to get you to follow him to the Shack where you get... umm... attacked by something..."

Harry was obviously holding something back. Severus wanted all the details though so he could be prepared. Just as he was about to prod for more information there was a rustling from the far side of the gardens. He watched as Harry disappeared back under the invisibility cloak.

Severus sat up straight, crossing his legs Indian style. He waited to see who was coming into the garden so late in the evening. He wasn't entirely surprised to see Sirius Black step out of the shadows. Nor was he surprised when Black walked straight up to him.

Casting a wink in Harry's direction, he turned and looked up at Black with a small smile.

"Anything I can do for you, Black?" Severus asked sweetly.

"Yeah, but since you won't drop dead, I'll settle for something else," Black said with a touch of malice.

Severus snickered and rolled his eyes. "What do you want?"

"Actually, its my turn to play messenger," Black looked suitably annoyed. "Lupin asked if you'd meet him in the Shrieking Shack. Said something about owing you for helping him with something or other last week." Black was clearly unimpressed about Severus helping "his" friend with anything.

"The Shrieking Shack, you say?" He again gave Harry a quick wink. "The Shrieking Shack is closed off. There's no way in it," he tried to sound innocent.

Black sighed. Severus could tell he was pretending to be very put-upon to tell Severus anything, least of all a secret regarding the Marauder's hideout.

"There's a way in from the Whomping Willow tree. I'll show you, come on." Black started to walk briskly in the direction of the dangerous tree.

Severus quickly got up to follow but felt a pull on his arm. He looked to where he knew Harry must be standing and smiled brightly. He had never been afraid of Sirius Black or any of his fellow Marauders before, and he wasn't about to start now.

"You can't be serious about following him after what I said?" Harry whispered with alarm.

"You haven't actually told me anything. At least nothing that made any sense," Severus whispered back, following Black's quiet footsteps, ignoring Harry's pulling hand. "Besides, it could be fun. If he does anything to hurt me, Dumbledore will toss him out on his arse." Severus smiled again. He was quite certain that the old man would always take care of him.

"Severus, please! You don't have to do this," Harry pleaded quietly.

Severus ignored him and kept going. He was curious to see what new prank Black had come up with. He was a little concerned about the Whomping Willow, but it wouldn't be the first time something had hit him. Lucius Malfoy was quite fond of that trick.

It was quite dark when they reached the tree where the Marauders had been playing just a few hours before. Severus watched as Black picked up a long broken branch. Black waved Severus over to stand next to him and pointed at a small knot sticking out of the tree. He prodded the knot with the stick and the tree stopped all movement. Bending under a low branch the two boys made their way to the trunk of the massive tree. Once there, Black shifted what looked to be just a pile of dead leaves and twigs and showed him the trap door underneath.

"There. Just follow the tunnel to the Shack. Lupin's there." Black turned on his heel and left.

Severus looked around curiously. "Harry? Are you still here?"

"Yes, of course I'm still here. I'm not about to let you go in there alone!" The disembodied voice sounded slightly miffed but mostly scared.

Severus giggled then led them down into the tunnel under the great tree. Once into the tunnel, Harry pulled the cloak off. Severus could see that the young man really was scared. He gently took Harry's hand in his, offering comfort and a sense of security. He suddenly felt very protective.

Harry gave him a small smile through his fear. Severus winked at him again and told him to relax. They were together and everything would be alright. They started down the long dark tunnel still holding hands.

After several minutes walking in silence they began to see a faint light ahead. As they approached they saw that there was a heavy metal door and the light was filtering into the tunnel from underneath. They could hear muffled sounds but couldn't make out any real voices. Severus was curious while Harry was beginning to shiver with dread.

As Severus reached for the door handle, Harry pulled him back. He threw his invisibility cloak over them both. Severus stepped closer to Harry when he saw that his feet were still sticking out under him. He snickered a little at the absurd picture that made.

You don't have to do this, Severus," Harry repeated more urgently.

"Of course I do. You said yourself that you could be changing the future by talking to me. This one silly prank could be a major stepping stone in my life. I have to go through with it." Severus smiled and laid a gentle hand on Harry's cheek. He caressed the soft skin for a moment, then leaned in and lightly brushed his lips against Harry's. His heart sped up enough to make him dizzy for a moment. A kiss had never felt so right, so fulfilling, before.

Severus pulled back. He started to giggle again at the flushed look on Harry's face. He was almost feeling giddy now from the excitement of the prank as well as the feel of the warm body next to his.

"Are you ready, Harry," he asked gently.

"As I'll ever be." Harry responded with trepidation.

Severus, still smiling, turned and pulled open the heavy door. They blinked as the light from the room hit them. When their vision cleared they saw a small room with very little furnishings. The sounds they had heard through the door were still muffled. Full of wonder, Severus stepped into the room fully, Harry close behind to keep them covered.

In a dark corner of the room stood what appeared to be a large wooden crate. He stepped closer to get a better look, not caring anymore if Harry was following or not. His curiosity winning out over common sense. As he approached the muffled sounds got louder. They didn't sound as muffled anymore, either.

The floor had a strange vibration that was becoming more evident the closer he got to the crate, the noise rising in volume as well. It was beginning to sound like the growls and moans of a wounded animal. Severus could feel Harry's fear like a cold blanket.

"Please, Severus, please, lets go!" Harry was nearly panicking now. Severus turned to look at him, seeing the terror in the boy's eyes nearly convinced him to leave.

He had to know, though. He had to know what game Sirius Black was playing. He knew Lupin wouldn't participate in a prank like this. Lupin was too kind and gentle to scare someone. Peter Pettigrew was too stupid to get involved in something so devious and James Potter preferred more direct jokes that he could watch and get the full effect from. Black was the only one cruel enough to try to scare him this much.

Severus took another step closer, Harry's hands wrapped tightly around his arm. From behind the wall of the crate, a low growl was heard. Severus leaned down slightly to look through an opening between the wooden slats. He could make out a pair of shining amber eyes that didn't look quite human but not totally animalistic either. Suddenly, realization struck. He knew who, or what, was in the crate.

Remus Lupin was a werewolf in the midst of his change. Severus' heart leapt into his throat as he stumbled backwards, tripping over Harry and falling out from under the invisibility cloak and landing hard on his arse.

Before he could even begin to collect himself, he heard the sound of breaking wood. Severus was hyperventilating, his eyes wide and dilated, by the time Harry reached him, still covered by the cloak. As Severus was struggling to his feet, Lupin, now a fully transformed wolf, leapt at him.

Severus heard Harry scream but couldn't react. Strong hands had suddenly grabbed him from behind and pulled him from the room. He collapsed outside the shut metal door, crying and struggling for breath. He could hear the angry wolf pounding against the door, howling.

Severus was too shaken to think. His mind was a whirlwind of thoughts, feelings and sensations. He had felt claws rip across his chest but couldn't tell if they had broken the skin. He had felt Harry near him but couldn't say if he was still beside him or not. Even as he felt the strong hands wrapping around him again, his overloaded mind began to shut down. He gave into the darkness that was pulling at him.

Severus woke up with a start. It took a moment for him to recall what had just happened. He sat up fast, looking about. He saw James Potter sitting next to him but no one else.

Where was Harry? Was he still under the cloak or was he still in the room with that monster? He started to panic again, completely ignoring James' calming words. He started calling for Harry, rising shakily to his feet. There was no response. Severus began screaming Harry's name in wild panic, as James started running towards the castle for help.

"I'm here," came a weak voice from towards the Whomping Willow. Severus whirled around just as Harry let the cloak fall to the ground. He just managed to get next to the older boy when he started to sink down after the cloak. He wrapped his arms tight around Harry and lowered them down together. Severus was sobbing uncontrollably now.

"Oh, Harry, oh Merlin, I'm so sorry, so sorry," he gasped out in a rush of words, just barely registering that Harry was unhurt. Harry just wrapped his arms around the shaking boy and whispered soothingly, not caring what he was saying as long as Severus calmed down.

Severus' breathing started to level out just as Harry noticed movement from the direction of the school.

"Someone's coming," Harry said softly. "I need to hide, ok?" When Severus nodded, Harry pulled away as gently as he could. He quickly got under the cloak before he was spotted.

Severus lifted his weary head to see the Headmaster approaching with Madame Pomfrey, the head medi-witch, and James Potter, trailing behind him. As Dumbledore bent down, Severus raised his arms to him like a child wanting to be picked up. He started crying again as the old wizard embraced him and led him up to the castle. Severus looked back towards where Harry had been but got no sign of the boy's presence. He gave in once again to the darkness.

When Severus awoke, it was late into the morning. The sun was high and streaming in through open curtains. He let his eyes adjust before looking around the room. He could smell that he was in the infirmary. It smelled like antiseptics and fresh air. He had a large white bandage across his naked chest but couldn't feel any pain from it. He peeled it off and saw that he had three large scars running over his otherwise flawless tanned skin. He shuddered from the memory of the night before.

Looking around, Severus spotted a chair next to his bed that had a rather odd dip in the cushion for being empty. He smiled at it, comforted to know that Harry was still with him. He was about to reach out to Harry when the door to the infirmary swung open.

Professor Dumbledore smiled as he approached Severus' bed, followed by a very scared looking Sirius Black and James Potter. Severus had never seen Black so pale and distraught before. He was still very angry at the boy for risking Harry's life, even if he hadn't known Harry was there. He thought Black should be distraught. Severus was looking forward to the boy's punishment. Surely Dumbledore would expel him for such a dangerous prank.

Severus gasped, his eyes going wide, as he realized Dumbledore was about to sit in the chair Harry was occupying. Dumbledore stopped his movement and looked at Severus with concern.

"Are you alright, child?" the silver haired wizard asked.

"Yes," Severus' voice squeaked badly. He cleared his throat and started again. "Yes, but I think that chair's not in very good shape. Maybe you should sit on the end of the bed?"

Dumbledore gave the chair a glance but shrugged and sat on the edge of the bed. He looked Severus over, making sure there were no permanent physical injuries. When he was satisfied that the wounds were healing nicely, he started to talk.

"Severus, Sirius and James have told me what happened last night. Are you certain you're alright?"

Severus glared menacingly at Black as he nodded. He couldn't let go of the anger he felt. Black had not only endangered Severus, and unknowingly Harry, but one of his own friends as well. Lupin would have suffered incredibly if he had killed someone.

"Good," Dumbledore said, pulling Severus out of his thoughts. "Sirius has been given a months detention with Mr. Filch for orchestrating this absurd prank."

Severus was aghast. Detention? That was it? The boy risks lives over an "absurd prank" and all he gets is detention? Severus was ready to scream.

"There is something else that needs to be discussed," he paused, looking sternly at Severus. "You now know Remus' secret. It must remain that way Severus. I am forbidding all of you from talking about this incident. Remus was not to blame for this and should not be punished for it. Severus, will you promise me not to tell anyone that Remus Lupin is a werewolf?"

Severus wanted to shout out, to tell everyone that would listen about the dirty little secret Dumbledore was hiding. He was about to tell the headmaster to go to hell when he felt a hand rest softly on his. He looked down but saw nothing. Realizing it was Harry, giving him comfort and support, Severus immediately began to calm down. He knew it wasn't Lupin's fault. Lupin was a werewolf and even Severus understood that that wasn't something one could control. Besides, he still kind of liked the quiet boy. Taking a deep breath, Severus nodded and gave his word not to tell.

After Dumbledore and the other boys had left, Severus turned towards the seemingly empty chair and smiled.

"Thanks, Harry."

"You're very welcome, Severus," a disembodied voice responded.

Madame Pomfrey entered and gave Severus a thorough check. She told him that he was excused from classes for the next couple of days and to take it easy. The wounds were healing well and she didn't want him doing anything that would rip them open again. For once, Severus didn't argue about missing classes. He just smiled and thanked her before pulling on clothes and a robe that was laid out for him.

Severus led Harry, tucked securely under his cloak, down to the kitchens where he got enough food from the helpful house-elves to feed a family of six, then out to a small clearing near the lake. He set out the blanket the elves had given him with the food and they sat to a comfortable picnic.

~@~

They spent the next two days in their secluded sanctuary, talking about everything and anything that came to mind. Harry gave scarce details about his parents death, scared to really say too much about Voldemort. Severus didn't seem at all shocked to discover that Harry was James Potter's son. He had suspected it from the beginning, from the way Harry looked and acted. It didn't bother him in the least. He always thought that Lily Evans would end up with James Potter. Severus was amused to know he had been right about them.

Severus told Harry about his own sad childhood. Harry had never known that Severus' father had died when Severus was 9 or that his mother had beat him daily because she blamed the child for her being alone. Harry was even more shocked to hear that a man named Tom Riddle was only weeks away from marrying Severus' mother. Severus hated the man but was powerless to defy him or his mother.

Severus didn't ask too many questions about the future because he knew that could be dangerous, although he did want to know more about the deaths of James and Lily Potter. He wanted to know exactly when and how it happened so he could stop it, but again, knew that might be too drastic a change for Harry's future. He would keep it in mind, however, and do what he could for them. After all, he now owed James his life.

Days were spent by the lake and in the evening, Severus would leave Harry at a small run-down shack hidden a short way into the Forbidden Forest. On the night of Harry's third day in the past, the boys stayed in the little shack talking late into the night. Severus wasn't worried about anyone noticing his absence from the Slytherin dorm. He didn't have many friends in his own house and hardly anyone paid attention to him anyway.

Severus was becoming nervous. He knew Harry needed to get back to his own time, no matter how much they both wanted him to stay. It wouldn't be too long before someone figured out that Harry was missing and find a way to bring him home.

Looking at Harry in the soft light from their small fire, Severus knew he loved this boy. Not knowing what the future held for them, Severus didn't want to let go. He reached out and caressed Harry's cheek, admiring the soft silky skin. Harry gave him a shy smile, leaning into his touch. Severus leaned forward and gently pressed his lips to Harry's.

Severus pulled back with a contented sigh. He shifted closer to the older boy, noticing for the first time that Harry smelled like spring, soft as a gentle breeze with a hint of the grass they had been rolling in earlier that day. He watched as Harry's eyes danced behind the lenses of his glasses and smiled at how they twinkled when the boy was excited.

This time it was Harry who took the initiative, taking Severus' head gently in his hands and pulling him into a kiss. Severus opened his mouth as he felt Harry's tongue tickling his lips. He shivered as he felt the warm muscle brush over his own tongue and slide into his mouth. Harry tasted of sweet mint from the tea they had been drinking.

Severus moaned as he felt warm hands against his chest through the thin fabric of his shirt. He wrapped his own hands around Harry's neck and tangled them into the wild black hair. Severus gasped into Harry's mouth as he felt questing fingers brush over his sensitive nipples. Harry laughed at Severus' reaction and pulled him closer. Severus was now straddling Harry's lap and could feel their erections pressing together, making them both moan in pleasure.

"I want you, Harry," Severus whispered, his voice heavy with lust and passion. "I want to feel you inside me, filling me."

Severus slowly began undressing Harry while kissing along his neck and nibbling his earlobe. He felt Harry shiver under him as he exposed the tender skin, running a hand over the older boy's chest down to the top of his pants. He slid off Harry's lap onto the floor and reached for the buttons of Harry's pants. Harry stopped his hands with his own, bringing them to his lips to kiss each finger. Now it was Severus' turn to shiver with excitement.

Severus allowed Harry to pull his shirt over his head and lean him down to the floor. Harry ran his finger tips down Severus' chest lightly, pausing momentarily over the new scars, then down to the top of his pants. Harry opened them quickly and with Severus' help, slid them down his thighs and off. He wasn't wearing anything under, which made Harry smile. Severus watched Harry's face as he looked down at his exposed body. Severus was slim but muscular, not very different in build than Harry. He loved how Harry's emerald eyes shone with unclouded passion. He knew in that instant that Harry loved him as much as he loved Harry.

Severus lay back, relaxed, as Harry began to explore his body with his hands and lips. Never had he been touched in such a way. It made him feel weak and vulnerable, yet completely safe and secure all at the same time. Severus could feel his heart rate and breathing quicken with every new touch and sensation. He had never felt so alive in his entire 16 years of existence. Until this moment, that was all he had done, existed. Now he was truly living.

Harry was kissing and nipping his way over Severus body as though he had a map to all the most sensitive areas. He laved his tongue into all the little valley's and dips, slowly making his way down. His hands left heated trails down Severus' sides and over the curves of his hips. As he pushed his tongue into Severus' navel, he had to hold the younger man down as his hips threatened to buck Harry off of him completely. He smiled into the soft skin as Severus moaned loudly.

Severus arched his back and nearly screamed as he felt Harry's tongue lick across his painful erection. He felt Harry's hands dig into his hips trying to keep him still. Harry licked over him again before moving down to lap at Severus' scrotum. Severus didn't think he could take much more of this exquisite torture.

He sat up suddenly, wrapping his arms tightly around Harry's waist and pulled his lover down on top of him fully. He laughed lightly at Harry's started expression, then flipped them both over so that Severus was now stretched out fully over Harry.

He followed the same path that Harry had done with him, admiring and committing to memory every detail about the boy's body, every sound he made. He paid careful attention to all the spots that made Harry moan louder or wiggle a little more. He never wanted to forget anything that made Harry happy. As he reached Harry's navel, he sat up straight and looked down at the boy's contented face. He undid the snaps and buttons, slid his hands under the boys buttocks and gently began pulling the pants and underwear off smoothly.

Severus admired Harry's rather lengthy member before leaning down and placing a soft kiss on the wet tip. Harry's shudder ran right through both boys. Severus licked the salty liquid from his lips seductively, staring Harry straight in the eye. Harry shivered again, his cock twitching. Severus gave a wink as he lowered his lips back down and over the head of Harry's cock.

Slowly, he worked his lips down as his hands went to work as well. He curled the long fingers of one hand around the base of Harry's throbbing erection and used the other to gently roll Harry's balls around in their tight sac. It was only a minute before Harry grabbed Severus' head and pulled him off. This wasn't how either of them wanted it to end. Severus crawled up to straddle Harry's chest and kissed him passionately, the flavour of Harry still hot on his tongue.

"I want you, Harry. I want you now!" Severus was breathless.

"Are you sure? I don't want to hurt you," Harry said with obvious concern. Severus had never done this before, and he was quite certain Harry hadn't either. Severus wasn't even quite sure of what he was asking for, only knowing that what ever it was, it would be beautiful because it was with Harry.

Severus smiled brightly at Harry. "Yes, I'm sure!"

Harry flipped them over again, pinning Severus to the floor, kissing him passionately, his hands roaming over the hot skin under him. Severus felt Harry prodding at the backs of his knees and raised his legs obediently. Harry pushed his knees right to his chest and told Severus to hold them there. He spit into his hand and brought it down to Severus' opening. He teased for a moment with his middle finger, then pushed the small digit passed the tight ring of muscle. When Severus cried out from the sudden invasion, Harry pulled back out.

"Oh, Sev, oh God, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you." Harry was apologizing profusely.

Severus took a deep breath, relaxing again. He smiled up at Harry and pulled him down into a kiss.

"Just go a little slower, my love," he whispered softly. He nearly laughed at Harry's reaction to the endearment. Harry looked completely shocked and delighted by it. Severus smiled again and encouraged Harry to try again, just a little slower this time.

Severus took a deep breath, relaxing again. He smiled up at Harry and pulled him down into a kiss. He liked Harry calling him Sev. It made him feel special, unique. No one else had ever called him that, or ever would. Only Harry. His Harry.

Severus watched as Harry spit into his hand again. He felt the questing finger probing gently at him before slowly sliding in. It didn't hurt at all this time, just felt a little strange. Harry moved it around very slowly, never losing eye contact with him.

For several minutes Harry worked the one finger gently in and out. He wasn't going to make the mistake of hurrying again. Severus was beginning to love the feeling and was getting impatient for more, however.

Looking straight into Harry's eyes he begged, "More, Harry. I want, I need more." He was breathless and not even sure Harry had heard him until Harry nodded and started to add a second finger. He felt Harry push in deeper than before and arched, screaming as Harry found his prostate. For a moment, Harry thought he had hurt his lover again, until Severus started begging and pleading for Harry to do it again. Severus' was beginning to thrash wildly as Harry continued to brush against his prostate over and over. He couldn't hold back much longer so he started begging for Harry to enter him. He didn't want to come without feeling Harry completely within him.

Harry, still scared to hurt Severus, added a third finger and continued with the motions while using his free hand to liberally coat his straining cock with as much spit and pre-come as he could. When he was satisfied, he slowly pulled out his fingers and lined up his cock to the waiting entrance. He leaned forward, the tip of his hard erection just touching the sensitive skin and his hands placed on either side of Severus' head, and kissed him.

"Are you ready, Sev," he asked cautiously.

"Yes! Oh Merlin, yes Harry!" Severus screamed.

Very slowly, Harry began pushing into the heat of Severus' body, careful not to go too fast. Once the outer muscles were breached Harry easily slid the rest of the way in, coming to a stop only when his scrotum slapped against Severus. He paused there, giving both men a chance to catch their breath. Harry didn't move until he felt Severus push up against him.

Severus moaned as Harry began a gentle rhythm. He could feel every vein in Harry's hard cock as it was slowly withdrawn, then equally slowly eased back in. His hands gripped tightly on Harry's biceps as he bucked up to meet each inward thrust, enjoying the friction of Harry's tight abdomen over his own hard cock. It wasn't long before he was begging Harry to move fast, thrust deeper, pump harder.

Harry, quite happy to comply with Severus' every request, was soon in a world of his own, filled with pleasure and love. He could feel Severus tensing up, fast approaching orgasm and knew he wasn't far behind. When he felt Severus' muscles clamp tight around him, he followed his future professor over the edge into bliss, both of them crying out their lover's name.

As they came down from their euphoric high, Severus wrapped his arms tightly around Harry, laying his head on Harry's chest, sobbing with relief, fear, and love.

"I don't want you to go, Harry!" he cried. "Please don't leave me. I love you, Harry."

Harry was starting to cry, too. He knew he would see Severus again, but would he still love Harry twenty years into the future? "I love you, too, Sev."

Severus raised his head from Harry's chest and looked deeply into the emerald eyes. "Do you? Will you still love me when you go back and see the old man I've become?"

Harry smiled into the obsidian orbs he recognized so well. "Yes, Sev, I realize now that I've always loved you. I just didn't know who you were. But will you still love me? Can you, will you wait for me?"

"I'll wait forever to be with you again, Harry," Severus whispered as he leaned in to brush his lips over Harry's but before they could touch, Severus was dropped to the ground where Harry had been just a second before. He cried out as Harry was suddenly whisked away from him, leaving him stranded in the past with an uncertain future ahead.

~@~

Back at the present day Hogwarts, things were stressful for the entire staff after Harry failed to return from his cousin's funeral on Saturday. Everyone was frantic about where the boy could have gotten to. Though Voldemort had been defeated, there were still some of his faithful Death Eaters about, looking for revenge against any of the Potters or Severus Snape.

Severus knew Albus was worried about Harry. He wanted to tell the old wizard the truth but was worried about altering the past. He was desperate for the past to go exactly as he remembered it now. He could almost remember how things had gone before Harry had traveled through time, but knew this was so much better. Besides that, he needed Harry. He needed the love they had shared in just a few days and on that one incredible night.

The only thing he would tell the Headmaster was to ask Dobby the house-elf. He wanted to wait with telling him that, to give Harry more time in the past with his younger self but couldn't. He knew it was dangerous playing with time and they had done enough of that. He very much regretted the old man's timing, though.

Later that evening, Severus Snape was nervously pacing in his private quarters. Right about now he and Harry should be in front of the fire in the small shack they took to occupying during Harry's time there. He walked over to the fire in his own room and gazed deeply into the flames. The memories flowed over him, heady and thick like treacle, bringing him to his knees on the floor.

He closed his eyes and saw his hand reach out to caress the silken skin of Harry's cheek, and Harry's shy smile in return. Severus groaned in agony, remembering his lips gently pressing against Harry's. The things they had done together that night—he smiled at the thought—it had been the first time for them both. He relived the memories, the butterflies that refused to leave his stomach, and the fear that Harry would reject him once he came back to his own time. And of course the pain he experienced when his beloved Harry had left him behind. He remembered the promises they had made to each other that night. The long wait to see if Harry would fulfill his promise was the worst torture he had ever experienced.

The journey of his memory took a sudden sharp turn as he watched himself running to the quaint house in Godric's Hollow under cover of the night. Rousing the small family that lived there, he again heard James' sleepy voice asking him why he was there so late. His own frantic voice telling them that there was no time for questions, they must flee immediately echoed back at him.

Severus saw himself usher the family to Hogwarts, where they would be safe. The conversation that had taken place once they were safely sequestered at Hogwarts replayed in his minds eye.

"Why did you do this, Snape?" he heard James Potter query his younger self.

"You saved my life once, Potter. I owe you. And I have my own reasons. Someone I love more than my own life wants you to be safe. It's the least I could do for him." Then, of course, the very painful memory of himself leaving the room as he saw baby Harry squirming in Lily's arms.

He remembered how Voldemort had risen and come after the young Potter family yet again. He saw himself standing side by side with James and Lily, willing to fight to the death in order to defeat him. Snape witnessed how something as simple and pure as love could have so much power. It was the love the Potter's felt for each other, as well as for their son, combined with, his own unwavering love for Harry that had finally brought an end to the madness.

His memory then lit on the first day that young Harry had shown up in his classroom. It had been inevitable that the young man would be coming to the school as a student soon, and he was shaking with nerves for weeks in advance. His first glimpse of the boy that had stolen his heart just about broke his hardened adult heart, and all of the feelings of love came flooding back. Even though his gruff exterior had been penetrated, he betrayed no emotion whatsoever. Severus found that he was even harder on Harry than he had intended in order to keep himself from giving into his feelings too soon.

Presently, he could feel the creeping fear that Harry would come back and reject him. He had even tried to keep Harry from going to the funeral. If he did not go back, then there would be no "them" to worry about now. But there was no persuading the young man. Snape had been on pins and needles ever since Harry departed Thursday evening.

All of these memories walked the landscape of his mind. He sighed and turned out the lights. He took himself over to his bed to lay down, just like he did every night that the memories came to haunt him. He hoped that sleep would not elude him again tonight. But the thoughts and the dreams from the past, and worry about the future kept him awake again.

~@~

Harry felt himself being sucked through a vortex, hurtling through space and time. Just when things were getting truly interesting, he was yanked from beneath the man he was in love with. All of his clothing was left behind with Severus, so wherever he was headed, he was going to arrive there as naked as the day he was born. "Shit," he swore loudly. His invisibility cloak and the Marauders Map were also left behind with Severus. As was his heart. He landed with a loud thud. Disoriented, he was unsure of exactly where he was, and who might be there. As he recovered his faculties, he found that he was on the floor in Dumbledore's office. He prayed that the great wizard was not there to see him in such a predicament, but when he turned his head to the right, he saw the familiar robe of the headmaster. Harry began to turn a shade of crimson, and could not meet the older mans eyes.

"Welcome back, Harry. Everyone was very concerned about you." Dumbledore reached into his own wardrobe to give Harry something to cover up with.

He stood on unsteady feet and slid his arms into the too large robe. "Thank you, Professor. I don't know what happened. I was coming home from the funeral and the next thing you know.."

"Yes, child I know all about it. I fear Dobby tampered with your portkey. We had to literally threaten him to find out exactly what had happened to you. I had to perform a very intricate time spell to get you back here. Dobby has been beating himself up ever since I got your whereabouts out of him."

Harry heard a very loud banging sound, and turned to look behind Albus' desk where he noticed a very contrite Dobby slamming his head against the wall.

"Professor, as happy as I am to be back, I really have a very pressing issue to take care of. Do you mind if I catch up later?"

Dumbledore's eyes sparkled, and the corners of his mouth turned up in a smile. "By all means, Harry. Go take care of your issue."

James was sitting in the Shrieking Shack with Sirius and Remus. They were both pacing restlessly, while James was perfectly calm. He knew his composed state was driving Sirius nuts. Everyone was terribly concerned about James' son and yet he was more relaxed then he had been since sending Harry off to school, 6 and a half years ago.

James closed his eyes and remembered the past. He could clearly remember Snape's panicked cries after James had carried him from the Shrieking Shack. At the time it didn't make any sense. Snape kept calling for Harry even before he'd fully regained consciousness. He had passed it off as maybe meaning something about Remus being hairy, not a name.

Years after that incident, Snape saved James' life and his family as well. He said it was to repay a debt but also for someone he loved dearly. James could remember how Snape looked at his year old son, his eyes shining brightly with unshed tears. Again, James shook it off as nothing.

It wasn't until Harry had been older that James really paid attention to how his loyal friend looked at his son. The love Severus held for the boy was quite obvious to someone who knew the Potions master well. He wasn't sure what to think about it at first. It seemed odd, scary even, that someone Snape's age could love a child who wasn't even his own so much.

After a while, James accepted it, even encouraged it, though Snape was careful to stay well away from the growing boy. Now that Harry was practically an adult he had started to hope that maybe Snape would let down his guard a little, maybe let Harry see how much Snape loved him.

When he had learned that Harry had gone missing, he was frantic. The first place he went was down to the dungeons to talk to Severus. Severus didn't seem very worried about Harry. He told James that he was sure Harry would be back in just a few days, nothing to be concerned about. James was surprised at how calm Severus was about Harry's disappearance. He was suspicious for a moment, but then he saw worry and fear hidden in the depths of Severus' eyes.

James went back to his own rooms to think. He had been the DADA teacher for nearly 14 years now, working closely with Severus and Albus. He trusted Albus to find his son and bring him home safely but he was confused about Severus' reaction.

With lightning bolt speed, it suddenly became clear to him. Harry must be in the past. He was there in the Shack with Snape, the other voice he had heard as he approached to find Snape. He was the one Snape was calling for when he woke up outside the shack, not knowing if Harry had been left inside. He suddenly remembered the chair Snape wouldn't let Dumbledore sit in while he was in the hospital. Harry must have been under an invisibility cloak in the chair.

A soft hand on his shoulder brought James back to the present. He looked into Sirius' worried face and smiled. "Everything's going to be fine, Siri," he reassured the man for the hundredth time that night.

"How can you be so bloody calm!" Sirius yelled back. "Its your son that's gone missing and I'm the nervous wreck! That's just not right!"

James sighed and decided to tell his two best friends what he had figured out about Harry's disappearance. He explained everything, even about Sev being in love with Harry.

"That greasy, slimy pedophile!" Sirius was outraged.

"Oh, Siri," Remus sighed at him.

"Siri, first of all," James pointed out angrily, "Severus isn't greasy or slimy! And he most certainly is not a pedophile! He was 16 years old when he fell in love with Harry, who by the way, is 17!"

"That's beside the point!" Sirius yelled.

"No, that is exactly the point! He saved Lily and I and Harry too, because he loves Harry. He risked his own life to save us and then stood by us to defeat Voldemort. You know as well as I do that Severus has never taken a lover. He's been waiting his whole life for Harry to grow up. Don't you think he deserves to be happy? Doesn't Harry deserve to be happy?"

Sirius dropped his shoulders in defeat. He knew James was right. He was pretty sure Harry really did care about the git too.

"Yeah, ok," he muttered. "So I suppose they're gonna be getting married or something when Harry comes back."

"Well," James said thoughtfully. "I don't know if that's what Severus wants."

"What do you mean you don't know if Severus wants to marry him?" Sirius said furiously. "If he loves Harry he'd damned well better marry him!"

Remus, ever the peacemaker, interrupted and suggested they head back to the school for any news. The three friends made their way towards Dumbledore's office in silence.

~@~

Severus was wandering through the dungeons with downcast eyes. He was pretty certain that Harry should be back by now. Severus sighed. If he was, he certainly hadn't seen him. It only served to further instill his fear of rejection.

James had just entered the main doors to the castle, Sirius and Remus close at his side, when a figure dashed past them. James was just able to throw his hand out to catch his son by the back of the loose robe he was wearing.

"Dad?!" Harry yelled out in surprise. He was struck motionless for a moment as he stared into the cool hazel eyes of his father. He gave the man a huge smile and a tight hug. He pulled back giving his father a peck on the cheek.

"Can't talk now. See you later." Then he continued his dash towards the dungeons. "Give mum my love," was yelled from down the hall.

James laughed and shook his head. He led his companions up to talk to Dumbledore, ignoring the grimace on Sirius' face and not noticing till they were half way up the stairs that Sirius had left them.

Severus began to walk toward his classroom when he heard footsteps echoing through the halls. His stomach began to tie up in knots and the familiar dread and self loathing began to take over. What if he was not the same person Harry had fallen in love with? He wasn't 16 anymore, and in many ways he was not the same person he had been. 20 years had passed since they were together, and he'd seen a lot of life since then. And of course, Harry must certainly think that he despised him. Snape had never given him any reason to feel otherwise.

He raised his eyes to look in the direction the sound was coming from. His heart caught in his throat when he saw Harry standing at the end of the long hallway, eyes trained on him. Severus was unable to read the younger mans face, and he was afraid to even guess what Harry was thinking. He willed his feet to take a few steps closer to Harry. Just a few.

Harry saw him standing there. It had only been a few days, yet it felt like a lifetime since he had last stood in this man's classroom asking to be excused. He felt out of place standing there in an over-sized robe, and his cheeks flushed scarlet when he remembered why he was in the headmasters robe in the first place. Did he just see Sev take a few steps closer?

Harry's heart began to pound and his mouth went dry. What if too much time had passed? What if Severus didn't care for him anymore? He took a few steps closer toward the elegant man at the end of the hall.

Sweet Merlin, did Harry just blush? Severus' mind reeled back to the last words they had shared before Harry was whisked back to the present.

"Yes, Sev, I realize now that I've always loved you. I just didn't know who you were. But will you still love me? Can you, will you wait for me?

Harry had always loved me? That's what he said. But that would mean that he loved me in the here and now. Then he heard his own voice, carried over through time.

"I'll wait forever to be with you again, Harry."

And he had. So why was he standing here like some buffoon? Why didn't he go scoop Harry up in his arms and never let him go? He knew why. Fear. He was so afraid that Harry would think him old, ugly and mean. He couldn't bear it. Not after waiting 20 years.

Sirius didn't care what James and Lily said about the situation. He wouldn't allow his only godson to be a concubine to the greasy Potions Professor. If Snape didn't correct the situation and marry Harry, then Sirius was going to beat the man into a pulp. Then maybe he'd toss Snape into the large room in the west wing where Hagrid had his three headed dog. If that didn't convince the man to marry Harry, he'd ship him off to Azkaban and let the Dementors take care of him. He had heard enough rumours about that place to scare even old Voldemort into behaving...

 

...Well, maybe not Voldemort, but anyone else.

Entering the dungeons from a hidden passage at the far end of the hall, Sirius witnessed as Snape and Harry saw each other again. He stayed in the shadows, watching and listening. Even with them standing several feet apart from each other, Sirius could see the love they shared, which made him smile. He decided that he wasn't needed here after all. He turned and left without ever being seen

Harry took another few steps closer, his gaze fixed on Severus' obsidian eyes. He felt as though he could get lost within their depths. Harry cleared his throat. It was now or never.

"Sev?"

There it was. The name Severus had not heard in 20 years, from the only lips that he had ever allowed to utter it.

Severus closed his eyes as they filled with tears. A tidal wave of emotions crashed over him. All the fear and loneliness of the last twenty years were swept away leaving only the love that had remained strong. He felt Harry step into his arms and embrace him tightly. Severus felt like he was the one who had come home, not Harry.