SIX

Again, it wasn't the expected person who answered.

Somewhere to the side, Severus caught Black sulking at the loss of attention. Part of his celebrated with glee. But it was only a very small part. The rest of his focus, down to his very soul, was looking at the slightly bedraggled boy who had just entered the room.

Harry Bloody Potter.

Severus cringed. This time he meant it literally. Potter had obviously been in a war zone.

Everyone else seemed too shocked to speak.

'What on earth did you get yourself into?' Severus found himself demanding. Underneath all his many masks, he was celebrating. You're alive!

Externally, he stuck with his typical response to the outlandish things Potter managed to pull off.

Potter had the nerve to look up at him with an innocent smile.

'Oh, you know. The usual.'

Severus could only imagine what that might mean.

'My dear boy, are you alright?' Seems Albus had finally found his voice. To his shock, Potter's attention didn't waver from himself.

'Did you know that the potion doesn't stop fears, only suppresses the body's ability to include them in rational thought?'

Severus found himself raising one eyebrow. 'I had realised that, yes.'

Potter huffed.

'Well next time you decide to put me through something like that, at least have the decency to give me a calming draught as well.'

Severus suddenly found it very, very hard not to smile. The whole hall was focusing on what Potter was saying, however Potter had been staring Snape in the eye the whole time. After a few subtle gestures, he realised the boy wanted him to look into his thoughts.

Due to the potion, Potter's thoughts were actually almost impossible to make sense of. The only thing Potter had managed to get across was a direction to look at his arm.

Severus hesitated.

This morning, he wouldn't have even considered taking a Potter's advice, however… No one seemed to notice, but Potter's scar wasn't the same as it had been when he left this morning, and he had not a dragon, but a snake bite swelling on his left arm. Also, since Potter's return, Severus realised his mark had stopped burning. The real clue, however, was the material that Potter's wand was made out of.

Yew.

So for the second time that day, Severus Snape threw all caution to the wind, and ignored his instincts. Surprising everyone in the room, Severus harshly pulled up the sleeve of his left arm, to reveal the dark mark.

Only there wasn't a mark there.

'Gone.'

The word escaped his mouth full of emotion and freedom.

Potter's laugh was like a breath of fresh air to a dying man.

'Just like the idiot who put it there.' Gasps were heard around the hall, and in the pandemonium, only Severus saw Harry wink.

'Nice plan, Sir.'

Severus had had one of the most shocking days of his life. A mere potions class had turned into disaster, which turned into horror, which turned into comedy.

This morning, a mere ten hours ago, he would never have thought Potter capable of it. He would never have thought Potter aware of anything remotely Slytherin either. But Potter had been aware he was using poor grades to push Granger. As he was grabbed by the crowd and hailed hero, Severus Snape came to a horrifying conclusion.

Harry James Potter had chosen to make him hero.

'Who would have thought-' Harry potter announced, after a quick meeting with Dumbledore that had the old coot grinning, then announcing the completion of the prophecy and the permanent fall of the Dark Lord.

'-that the power the Dark Lord knows not, was nothing but a grumpy Potion's professor with a streak for revenge.'

Severus looked across the room at Harry James Potter as the boy laughed and celebrated with friends, and took a long swig for a glass of firewhisky.

Habeo noli timere: I do not fear.

Severus scowled into his cup, but a tiny smile tickled at the corner of his mouth.

'I hate Potters.'