Harry could immediately feel the myriad of emotions that weren't his own, whirling around him as he plunged deeper and deeper. Incoherent voices accompanied the silvery wisps of color continuing to flash by, too quickly for him to decipher until they slowed, painting a vivid scene before him.
When he finally felt solid ground beneath his feet, Harry glanced around, squinting as he waited for his eyes to adjust to the sudden brightness of his surroundings.
It was a corridor at Hogwarts, he realized. One that seemed secluded and rarely frequented by students.
A boy was settled on the window alcove, dressed in school robes with a Slytherin crest on the front, flicking through the aged pages of a thick book perched on his lap. His distinct hooked nose and greasy black hair was recognizable anywhere, and Harry thought his father looked slightly older than the last memory he'd unintentionally seen of him. It was still strange though, seeing his father sitting there nearly the same age as Harry, himself, compared to the formidable figure he was familiar with.
Harry moved closer, trying to get a better look at the book that his father seemed to be deeply engrossed in when he suddenly became aware of the soft echoing of boots emanating from around the corner, drawing closer with each step. Snape stiffened, one hand hovering near a robe pocket where Harry assumed he kept his wand. It was as if his father was anticipating a sudden attack, and Harry half expected James and Sirius to appear, the events from that memory trickling into his mind as he made to turn around.
When he did, the person he was met with made his breath catch in his throat.
A girl now stood in front of him, her red hair cascading in soft curls past her shoulders, also wearing school robes, but with a Head Girl badge, gleaming silver where the sunlight hit it, pinned next to the Gryffindor crest.
"Mum," Harry breathed, his heart performing a somersault in his chest when his mother's green eyes seemed to connect with his own, but of course, he reminded himself that she didn't actually see him, her eyes were looking through him toward his father.
The last time Harry had seen his mother in a memory, he didn't exactly get the chance to really look at her, with all that had been happening. She had been furious... James and Sirius had been taunting his father two against one... and his father was being humiliated…
This time though, Harry had the opportunity to properly soak in every detail of his mother that he couldn't before. He quickly came to the conclusion that the wizarding photos he'd seen simply couldn't compare to his mother standing in front of him, just an arm's length away, and Harry yearned to be able to reach out and touch her, to make her aware of his presence, to be able to speak to her.
Lily tucked a stray strand of auburn hair behind her ear and hesitated for a moment, before she finally spoke.
Harry tore his eyes away from his mother and glanced back at his father, who hadn't immediately acknowledged her presence, his body taut as a bow, vaguely resembling a human statue until only his dark eyes dragged from his book over to her.
"What are you doing here, Evans?" His voice sounded cold, forcefully devoid of all emotion. "Shouldn't you be with Potter?"
There was the same biting tone that Snape had so often referred to Harry with for the past five years, but this time, he couldn't seem to prevent the underlying bitterness and resentment from leaking through.
"No, I wanted to talk to you," Lily replied, taking a few steps forward as Harry stepped out of her way, not wanting her to walk through him.
Severus looked away, snorting derisively, "I doubt he would approve of you speaking to me."
Lily paused, frowning as she crossed her arms over her chest, "Why does it matter what he thinks? Just because we're dating doesn't mean he owns me."
His father glanced up again, raising a sardonic eyebrow, his mouth opening briefly as if to retort before he seemed to think better of it. Instead, he pursed his lips, shutting his book with a snap, and began roughly stuffing it into his bag.
"Well, we have nothing to talk about. I believe you've made that perfectly clear two years ago."
Harry frowned; he swore he heard a slight tinge of hurt in his father's voice, and perhaps, his mother did as well.
"I know," Lily sighed, her arms falling back down to her sides, "and I've been thinking about it a lot lately…"
Severus' hands stilled, and even though he didn't fully turn to look at her, his gaze set on the stone floor beneath them, Harry could tell his father was listening.
Lily fiddled briefly with an invisible thread on her robes, then, as if making up her mind, she closed the distance between them and pushed herself up onto the ledge beside him.
She drew in a deep breath, "We were best friends… and even though I was rightfully angry, maybe I'd been a bit hasty… ending our friendship like that because of some poor choices and that despicable word…"
I don't need help from filthy little Mudbloods like her!
The words reverberated in Harry's mind before he could stop them.
"I didn't mean it," Severus said softly, his expression stilled guarded. "Even at the time... I wouldn't hesitate to take it back if I could..."
"I know," Lily said, turning towards him. "And I forgive you, Sev."
A long drawn out silence filled the corridor, the words seeming to be suspended in the air between them. Harry could tell his mother had caught his father off guard. Surprise flitted across Severus' face, and for a moment, his father seemed at a lost for words, his mouth opening and closing several times without a sound.
"I don't…" Severus trailed off with a bewildered shake of his head, closing his eyes. Then he took in a sharp breath, and opened them, finally meeting her gaze. He searched her face, apparently looking for any signs of ingenuity. "Why?"
Lily sighed, glancing out the window. "I still don't like the sort of people you hang around with, but I know you, Severus." She shifted her gaze meaningfully back to him, "All those things that they're obsessed with... it's just... not you."
"Really?" said Severus, sharply. "Then what exactly do you think I am?"
Lily considered her response for a moment, absently tracing an uneven crack in the stone with her finger. "I don't think you're pathetic, or a coward… I don't agree with any of the things people say about you…" she said slowly. "You're not a lost cause..."
The sharp lines on Severus' face softened slightly at that, his posture less stiff as he regarded her incredulously. "Why would you...?"
Lily looked straight at him, green eyes glittering in the sunlight. "Because I know you're still in there— the Sev I knew since the day we met in the park is still there, somewhere, deep down." She looked away, pausing for a few seconds, before continuing in a softer voice, "But when I saw him slipping away... I suppose it terrified me, seeing you going down a path I couldn't follow and sympathizing with them, against people like me."
Harry caught his father's nearly imperceptible glance at his left forearm, where the Dark Mark must be already burned into his skin, hidden beneath his robe sleeve. Severus remained quiet though, seeming uncertain as to how to respond.
"I miss you, Sev," Lily said, breaking through the silence that had come over them. "Can we start over? I'd much rather have you as a friend, not an enemy."
His father frowned. "I have never been your enemy, Lily," he said in a very quiet voice, and he suddenly looked worn and tired. "But it's too late now, what's done is done."
For a moment, his mother's brows drew together in confusion, but then comprehension seemed to dawn on her.
"The rumors are true, then?" she said softly. "You took it, didn't you?"
Severus didn't answer her for a long moment, and then, as if coming to a decision, he slowly pulled up the left-hand sleeve of his robes.
A writhing snake greeted them, protruding from the mouth of a dark skull, standing out vividly against his father's pale skin. It looked red and a bit inflamed, as if the mark had been acquired recently and the skin hadn't had time to adjust to it.
Harry noticed his father steeling himself as he waited for her reaction.
But his mother said nothing, nor did she recoil away. She simply frowned as she gazed down at it, a sadness in her eyes. Her hand made a slight movement, as though she wanted to reach out and touch it, but stopped herself.
"Did it hurt?" she asked, a note of concern in her voice.
"It was as expected," Severus said stiffly, giving a small shrug. There was an inscrutable look on his face. "It burned, just as it does during his summons."
Lily glanced up at him, "Why did you do it?"
His father pressed his lips together, staring down at the mark, seeming to contemplate his response. "I thought he would give me purpose... that he would make me feel less useless, less weak…"
"You're none of those things, Severus."
His father released a heavy sigh and roughly slid his sleeve back down, concealing the ugly mark once again, before continuing, "He also promised power— a chance for vengeance…"
Lily studied him for a moment. "Is that what you really want?"
"I admit it was appealing at first," Severus confessed, averting his eyes. "But now…"
"You're having second thoughts?" Lily finished for him, sounding hopeful, and looking a bit relieved. "It's not too late to le—"
"No," Severus cut her off with a sharp shake of his head, "You can't even begin to imagine the things he does to those who attempt to leave."
Lily appeared startled, eyes widening slightly, "You've already seen…?"
His father gave a curt nod, "At the initiation ceremony, as an example..."
The memory of Voldemort torturing his father that day in Diagon Alley flitted into Harry's mind then, and he shuddered to think of the many more sadistic ways of torture that Voldemort was capable of inflicting on his victims.
His mother frowned, staring at his father for a long moment.
"Then he won't know," she said finally, placing a hand on Severus' arm, a determined gleam in her green eyes. "We'll find a way. If you want to."
His father looked down at her hand resting on his arm, then back up at her, something indistinguishable glinting in his dark eyes. His only response was a faint nod of his head.
Then, suddenly, his parent's faces became blurry, and soon, the corridor around them was dissolving entirely, swirling away as if it was made of smoke.
The memories that followed were short and quick, giving Harry a glimpse of how Severus and Lily's relationship slowly mended during the rest of their seventh year. Every time they were together, Harry noticed it was always in secluded areas in the castle, or in well hidden spots down by the lake, far away from any other students.
Harry drank up every little moment, noting how his father seemed to relax— even appearing happy— when they were together, talking and enjoying one another's company. This was more confirmation that Severus really cared about her, and Harry was reminded of those pictures his father had shown him, of how he spoke of her still after all these years…
"Are you seriously going to brew out here? In front of the lake?" His mother laughed in one memory as his father prodded a small pile of sticks with his wand.
He sent her a sly smirk, "Need I remind you— you're the one who keeps suggesting I should spend more time outdoors."
A flash later, and then...
"He's such an inconsiderate toerag!" Lily fumed, tossing her bag onto the seat of the window alcove, and lifted herself onto it next to Severus. "Still strutting around the place like a damn peacock."
Severus made a disparaging noise as he flipped a page of his book. "When is he not?"
Lily shook her head, rummaging in her bag. "Honestly, I can't stand him and Black sometimes."
"I still don't understand why you put up with him," Severus muttered, scribbling something on a piece of parchment.
His father's hand abruptly stilled, and he glanced up at her, lifting a questioning eyebrow.
"I broke it off," she said, by means of explanation, pulling out her charms textbook and setting her bag aside. "It wasn't working anymore."
Harry only caught a glimpse of his father's surprise before everything blurred again, shifting and dissolving and reforming.
The next thing Harry knew, he was outside, warm sunlight beating down on him as he stood near the edge of the Black Lake, in a spot that he had never been to before. When he looked around, he found both his parents sitting with their backs against a tree, an assortment of textbooks, parchments, and quills spread around them.
"What are the main ingredients in the Blood-Replenishing Potion, and what effect do each have on the final outcome?" Harry heard Severus saying as he moved closer, his father's quill furiously scratching on his parchment.
But his mother hadn't been listening; she appeared to be lost in thought as she absently chewed the end of her quill, gazing out at the lake. She turned towards him after a moment, tossing her vibrant red hair to one side as a slight breeze swept it into her eyes. "Severus?"
His father halted his frantic scribbling, looking up from his parchment. "Yes?"
"Can we take a break?" Lily said, tucking away her quill and setting aside her book and parchment. "We've been at it for hours, and besides, it's such a beautiful day today. Why let it go to waste?"
Severus looked as if he couldn't believe she would suggest such a ridiculous thing. "Our NEWT exams begin tomorrow, Lily."
"I'm aware, Sev, but it's still good to take a break every now and then." She sent him a small smile, drawing her wand, "You know, to let your mind rest for a bit." And with a swift flick of her wrist, the books surrounding her were stacked neatly beside her bag.
His father rolled his eyes, "My mind is well rested. And in any case, we still have to review—"
"It's not as if you don't already have the entire textbook memorized," Lily interjected, gesturing at the book on his lap. "I'd say you're more prepared than anyone, perhaps, even the teachers."
Severus shook his head and didn't respond, though Harry caught the slight upward twitch of his lips as he attempted to return his attention back on his textbook and parchment.
After stretching out her legs, Lily got to her feet and made her way over to a patch of soft grass nearby. Harry watched as she laid down and made herself comfortable, her head resting against her arm.
Then his mother looked over her shoulder back at his father— who was also watching her now— and beckoned him to join her.
"Come on, Sev," said Lily, patting the grass beside her.
Severus didn't move, simply arching an unkempt eyebrow at her. Lily waited expectantly, and after several seconds, Severus conceded, giving an exaggerated sigh as he, too, swiftly organized his things with a wave of his wand, then made his way over to join her on the grass. When his father— albeit awkwardly, and seeming not at all relaxed— finally settled down beside her, Lily grinned at him, and Harry saw his father return a very small smile of his own.
A comfortable silence fell over them, punctuated only by the soft rustling of the leaves against the wind and the chirping of a flock of birds fluttering by. Eventually, his father managed to somewhat relax, mimicking her position with his head resting against his arm as he followed her gaze skyward.
"Remember when we used to pick out shapes in the clouds?" Lily said, turning her head towards him.
Severus nodded, "I've always thought it's a rather pointless activity."
"Oh, really?" Lily raised an eyebrow, a smirk appearing on her face. "If I remembered correctly, you seemed to enjoy it back then." She nudged him playfully with her elbow, lifting her eyes upward again, "Come on, it'll be fun— just like when we were kids."
"Or we could do something productive instead—"
Lily rolled her eyes at him, "Just humor me, Sev, and tell me what you see."
His father huffed, looking up at the clouds littering the sky, his eyes narrowed in focus, regarding each of them as if he were assessing the quality of potion ingredients. A few seconds later, he pointed up to his left.
"I suppose that one is shaped like a cauldron."
"And that one looks like a vial."
Harry gave a small snort of laughter, unsurprised by what his father saw in the clouds. Of course, it was just like him to see potion related objects...
"You really are pants at this," Lily muttered, giving him a mild look of annoyance, though her lips were twitching. "Is potions all you can think about?"
A small smile played on his father's lips when he turned to look at her. "Well, do enlighten me. What do you see?"
His mother smiled back at him before raising her gaze back up at the sky, humming softly, eyes sparkling in the sunlight. "I think it looks like a rabbit— you see the ears?"
Severus narrowed his eyes, giving it another brief, considering look. "Those ears, as you say, are the stirrers in the cauldron."
Lily chuckled, giving an amused shake of her head, before she directed their attention to another cloud.
Not wanting to crane his neck every time he tried to follow their gaze, Harry settled on the grass beside his mother, facing both of his parents as they continued gazing up at the multitude of puffy clouds above them, listening to his mother occasionally laughing at the shapes that were suggested.
Harry wanted to commit every little detail— the sound of his mother's laughter, the sparkle in her eyes, the way her smile seemed to radiate as much warmth as the sunlight, and his father's small smile in turn— to memory, and wished that he could linger in this moment longer, feeling content to simply sit and observe his parents all day.
But then, a small movement from within the forest behind his parents suddenly drew Harry's attention. He squinted at the trees, thinking it was probably an animal, when a face partially emerged from the shadows and into the sunlight. Curious as to who was apparently spying on his parents, Harry got to his feet, intending on getting a closer look at this mysterious person, who was now crouched behind the thick oak tree that his father had been leaning on a few minutes prior.
It was a girl, a Slytherin as indicated on her robes, who appeared to be nearly the same age as his parents with long murky, brown hair held together neatly in a braid down her back. She was peering around the tree, her sharp blue eyes fixating on Severus and Lily, a pinched expression on her features—
Why did she seem so familiar?
Had he seen an older version of this person somewhere recently...?
But before Harry could place a name to the seemingly familiar face, the world around him became unfocused and soon, everything dissolved, swirling away again...
Once everything stilled, Harry immediately realized that he was no longer at Hogwarts. Instead, he now stood on a beach, the ocean reflecting a fusion of pink and orange as the sun glowed warmly, nearly beginning its descent down toward the horizon.
"Any particular reason why you chose to come here out of all places?"
Harry turned at the sound of his father's voice beside him, watching as the man drew his wand, eyes cautiously scanning the vicinity. Some time must have passed from the last memory as Severus appeared slightly older; he was now wearing the familiar black trousers and boots that Harry was accustomed to seeing, but with a dark blue shirt underneath his black cloak.
"My parents used to take us here on holiday," his mother said next to his father, clutching a small picnic basket in her hand. She took a glance around, "It's a rather secluded beach, unlikely for anybody to see us, so I figured, why not?"
"An adequate decision," said Severus with an incline of his head, before raising an eyebrow. "Is this considered our first proper… date?"
"I suppose it is," his mother replied with a soft smile. "Seems sort of silly, doesn't it, in the midst of everything that's been going on recently."
His father smirked, drawing his wand. "Well, according to your sentiment, we all need a break every now and then."
He began casting enchantments to conceal them from any possible onlookers, even though there wasn't another soul on the stretch of beach for as far as Harry could see.
Lily shot an amused look back in Severus' direction, before she set down the basket and reached into it, pulling out what looked like a tiny rolled up handkerchief.
"It would be nice if we didn't have to be so secretive all the time," his mother said, placing the handkerchief roll on the ground. With a wave of her wand, the handkerchief enlarged, becoming what appeared to be a picnic blanket, fit for two, when unrolled and spread out on the sand in front of them.
"It is not safe, otherwise," his father said. "If any of the Death Eaters or the Dark Lord finds out…"
"I know," Lily muttered with a hint of resignation, settling down on the blanket. "And I can't wait until this is all over."
His father made a noise of agreement, slipping his wand back into his sleeve and coming to sit beside her.
"Has he been summoning you a lot lately?" His mother asked after a moment, brushing away a few strands of auburn hair that swept into her eyes and tucking it behind her ear.
Severus fingered a pebble sticking out of the sand and nodded, "Mainly for updates on the potions he has requested."
Lily drew her knees up and loosely wrapped her arms around them. "Were you there? At that Death Eater raid last week?"
There was a small tilt of his father's head in confirmation.
His mother sighed, "It was a right mess with the Order…"
"I'm aware," his father said. "I was the one who alerted Dumbledore a few days prior to it. The Dark Lord has expressed his displeasure at his plans being foiled."
Lily turned towards him sharply, "Does he suspect…?"
Severus shook his head. "I don't believe so," he tried to reassure her.
"Are you sure?" his mother said, sounding unconvinced.
"If he did, I most likely would not be here with you now."
She sighed, putting a hand on his arm, "Did he torture you?"
His father looked away and didn't respond. He didn't need to though; the darkness in his eyes and the grim expression on his face said it all.
"Why can't you just quit," his mother said with a small shake of her head, so softly that Harry almost missed it.
"You know I can't, Lily," his father said, a hint of exasperation slipping through into his tone, as if they'd already had this discussion once before. "I foolishly made the decision to join the Dark Lord, and now I have to answer to the consequences."
Lily frowned, "Those consequences don't have to dictate your entire life, Severus."
"They do, and they always will, until the Dark Lord is defeated," Severus said firmly. "And the only way the Order even has a chance is with information from the inside."
His mother gave him a long considering look, before she glanced away, sighing heavily, seeming unable to come up with anything to counter that statement.
She absently flicked off some sand that had got on the blanket, then looked back at him, her eyes dimmed, "I guess I'm just worried that... you would answer his call one day and not come back."
"I know," Severus took her hand in his and gave it a squeeze, "and I'll do my best not to let that happen."
Lily nestled against Severus' chest as he wrapped his arm around her and pulled her close, tucking her head beneath his chin. They lapsed into silence for a minute, gazing out at the setting sun, listening to the gentle swelling and receding of the waves on the shore and the occasional seagull squawking in the distance.
It was a rather peaceful place, Harry thought. Maybe he could ask his father if they could visit this place one day...
"Severus?" His mother whispered, drawing away slightly so she could look at him.
He met her gaze, "What is it?"
"I know you hate thinking about what ifs but… if you could go back… who would you choose? I mean, between You-Know-Who and me?"
"You," Severus said firmly, tightening his hold around her, "without hesitation."
Lily smiled warmly, leaning her head back against his chest.
"I love you, Sev," she said softly.
The corners of his father's lips turned up as he pressed a kiss to her hair.
"And I, you," he murmured.
Then they were gone in a whirl of color and smoke...
"Where are you leading me, Severus?" Harry heard his mother ask as his surroundings reformed around him.
"I believe that is for me to know, and you to find out." His father smirked over his shoulder as he strode past where Harry stood, his cloak billowing out behind him.
"Why are you being so mysterious?" Lily said, raising an eyebrow, lagging just a few steps behind him.
His father didn't answer her question, continuing onward as he simply responded with, "We are nearly there."
Harry hurried to follow, glancing around him as he did. He wondered what his parents were doing out here at a time like this. The snow covered countryside they were currently on seemed to stretch out for miles, and dusk was quickly settling in, the last vestiges of orange near the horizon beginning to fade away into darkness. In the distance, Harry could make out the specks of light from a cluster of houses and the white wisps of smoke ascending from the tops of their chimneys against the navy blue sky.
It must be really cold, Harry thought, as he watched his mother lift her hands out of her pockets and clasp them briefly to her mouth to warm them, her breaths coming out as white puffs of smoke. Then, clutching her cloak tighter around herself against the bitter cold, Lily quickened her pace so that she was walking beside Severus, nearly matching his long strides.
She glanced up at him, giving him a teasing look, "Did you do something different with your hair?"
Now that his mother mentioned it, Harry realized that his father did look slightly different; his hair was slightly longer and not as greasy as usual, and surprisingly, it was pulled neatly into a short ponytail at the nape of his neck.
Severus gave her a sideways glance, "Perhaps."
Lily smiled, her eyes twinkling, "I like it. You should consider doing it more often, Sev."
His father made a noncommittal noise in response as they approached the edge of a dark forest. By the light of his wand, Severus led the way in, and after a few short minutes of walking, he abruptly came to a halt. It was nearing full darkness now, but Harry still noticed a strange sort of shimmering, as if there was an invisible barrier, in front of where his father had stopped and pointed his lit wand.
"It's here," said Severus, waving his wand and beckoning Lily after him.
The shimmering suddenly gave way to rippling...
And then, it was as if they had passed through a magical barrier into a different world.
The forest seemed to have suddenly come alive as a multitude of colorful lights danced in the trees around them. It took Harry a moment to realize that those lights were actually fairies— hundreds of them, if not thousands— flickering on the branches or fluttering by from tree to tree. It reminded him of the grotto of fairies that were at Hogwarts during the Yule Ball, but this one was infinitely more breathtaking.
"It's just like I remember it," his mother said, her eyes glittering as she gazed around. "It's been so long… How did you manage to find it again?"
"You just have to know where to look," Severus replied, pocketing his wand. He glanced at the fairies surrounding them before he turned his gaze entirely to Lily, more interested in watching her reaction, the awe on her face.
His father was looking at her with the same look he had when he conjured his Patronus that night in Harry's room…
"It's beautiful," his mother whispered.
"It is," his father agreed, clasping his hands behind his back. He cleared his throat, "I thought it was a rather fitting place…"
Lily shifted her attention to him when he didn't continue after a few moments.
"For what?" she prompted.
And Harry couldn't help his mouth falling open as he watched his father drop down on one knee, pulling out a small black box from his robe pocket. This was...
"Lily..." Severus said softly, opening the box to reveal a simple, yet elegant ring nestled within. "Will you marry me?"
Harry grinned as he looked toward his mother, eagerly waiting for her reaction.
Lily gasped, her hands covering her mouth in surprise as she glanced down at the ring, before her eyes were entirely set on Severus. She sniffed, eyes bright, then, unexpectedly, she launched herself into Severus' arms, causing both of them to land in a heap on the forest floor, bits of snow covering their robes.
"Shall I take that as a yes?" his father asked after a moment, the corners of his lips quirking into an amused smile as he wrapped his arms around her.
His mother laughed softly, wiping her eyes, then she drew herself up slightly from where she was resting against his chest and looked down at him with a warm smile, her green eyes sparkling.
"Yes, of course," she replied, before leaning down and kissing him soundly.
Before they could draw away, the world around around Harry swirled again...
The next memory was brief, giving him a glimpse of his parents secretly making their marriage official at the Ministry with an old ministry wizard and modifying his memories afterwards.
Then Harry found himself in a small, well lit kitchen.
His parents were sitting at the table, his father reading the Daily Prophet while his mother was assembling a sandwich— one that seemed to only consist of an overwhelming amount of tomatoes and mustard between two slices of bread— beside him.
Harry couldn't understand how that could possibly be appetizing as he watched his mother take a bite of her sandwich, seeming to relish the taste, and apparently, he wasn't the only one as his father was now raising a disbelieving eyebrow at her from behind his newspaper.
"Do you want some?" Lily said when she'd caught Severus staring.
"No, thank you." His father replied, folding the paper and setting it aside. "Are you feeling all right, Lily?" he asked tentatively, eying the sandwich in her hand. "I thought you hate tomatoes and mustard with a burning passion."
"I usually do," she said, after swallowing a mouthful, the corners of her lips curling upward, "but I can't seem to get enough of it lately. I'm absolutely craving it."
Severus frowned, brows drawing together in confusion.
His mother sighed in mild exasperation, though her smile didn't waver in the slightest as she set her half-eaten sandwich down and turned towards him. "I have something to tell you, Sev."
"What it is?" he asked, instantly alert, concern coloring his tone. "Is something wrong? Are you feeling unwell? Do you need to see Madam Pomfrey—"
He cut himself off, shooting a glare in Lily's direction when she let out a soft chuckle in response to his reaction. She shook her head and cleared her throat, her smile brightening. Reaching forward, Lily took Severus' hand and pulled him from his chair, leading him out of the room and into a cozy looking sitting room. They settled down together on the loveseat.
"What is it?" his father repeated, watching her intently with a hint of apprehension.
Lily drew in a deep breath. "I'm pregnant."
It seemed to take a while for her words to reach him.
Severus blinked, "You're what?"
His mother brought his hand to her flat belly and cupped her smaller ones over it. "We're going to be parents."
His father's dark eyes darted back and forth from her smiling face to their cupped hands. Harry could practically see the gears in his head turning as he attempted to process the news.
"You're certain?" he whispered, a multitude of emotions flashing across his face. Surprise and joy and adoration first and foremost, but there was also a flash of fear. "I'm… I'm going to be a," he cleared his throat, "a father?"
Lily nodded, her green eyes shining. "I had suspected as much, but the potion confirmed it."
She drew him out of his shock when she placed a gentle kiss to his lips and wrapped her arms around his neck. After a moment, his father curled his arms around the small of her back and pulled her closer as he leaned back on the sofa, her head tucked beneath his chin.
"I know you had some doubts about all this, but you're not your father, Sev," Lily said softly against his chest. "You're a much better person than he ever was."
"So you claim," Severus said, the corner of his lips curling upward ever so slightly.
His mother drew back and gave a playful roll of her eyes, "You are— even with your stubbornness and temper, I know you're going to be a great father to our son or daughter."
His father pulled her close again, tightening his hold in response, and pressed a kiss to the top of her head. "We shall see."
Everything swirled again, and before it could properly reform itself, Harry felt a brief rush of panic overwhelm him, making him gasp at the abrupt change from the previous pleasant memory.
He tried to look around at his surroundings, but he could barely make out anything this time. It was nearly pitch black. He nearly missed his father stalking by past him, appearing to be in a hurry and, without having to voluntarily follow, Harry was pulled along after him. He wondered what could have gotten his father so rattled as the warm lights from a cottage came into view in front of them. Harry followed as his father entered quickly.
"Lily?" Severus called, a bit breathlessly, once he'd shut the door.
She appeared in the doorway to the kitchen a moment later, looking much more pregnant than the last memory Harry had witnessed, her belly now engorged like she had a watermelon hidden beneath her robes.
"Severus?" Lily said, giving him a concerned look. "What's wrong?"
His father said nothing, just wordlessly went to her and abruptly pulled her into his arms, his body moulding around her bump. Surprised, Lily wrapped her arms around his neck, an unsettled look on her face as she laid her head against his shoulder. "Sev?"
"He's going to be specifically targeting our son," Severus whispered against her hair, "The Dark Lord…"
His mother drew back, keeping a hold on his arms as she looked up at him, eyebrows furrowed, "What are you talking about?"
"There's a prophecy," his father said, releasing a slightly tremulous breath as he pulled away and began pacing the length of the sitting room. "Lucius and I overheard it when we were on our assignment and reported it back to him… It foretold of someone who will be able to defeat the Dark Lord. Born at the end of July to parents who have thrice defied him..."
"A prophecy?" Lily said, eyebrows raised. "Does he actually believe in that sort of rubbish?"
Severus nodded grimly, "He believes it refers to our unborn child."
His mother sunk down onto the sofa, her arms falling protectively over the swell of her stomach as she stared up at his father in disbelief, "How does he even know...?"
"I'm not certain," Severus said, shaking his head.
Lily's eyes widened in alarm, "Does he know you're the father?"
"No, he does not, at the moment, suspect me in connection to you," Severus said quietly. "However, he has ordered all the Death Eaters to find out exactly who is."
His mother looked momentarily stricken as his father collapsed onto the sofa beside her. He rested his elbows on his knees and ran his hands tiredly down his face. It was then that Harry realized how exhausted his father was, looking paler than usual, dark circles forming underneath his eyes as if he hadn't been getting enough sleep lately.
"I should have done more to prevent this... that bloody prophecy," Severus briefly clenched his hands into fists, then unclenched them with a sigh, "if I had only known…" he murmured, looking sadly toward the bulge of her belly.
"Don't blame yourself," Lily said softly, moving closer and gently taking his hand in hers. "We'll get through this. He's not going to come anywhere near our son," she declared, and Harry felt a rush of affection flood through him for his mother.
His father straightened and squeezed her hand in response, a fierceness glinting in his dark eyes. "I will do anything in my power to ensure that."
Then the scene had changed to a room Harry didn't recognize. His parents were sitting around a table, with Dumbledore and James sitting across from them. They discussed Dumbledore's plan to have James— who was now an Auror— stay with Lily for protection whenever Severus wasn't home, with the intention to make it appear as if they were a couple.
Harry couldn't see how his father would ever agree to that, given the clear animosity between him and James. But when Harry looked toward his father, waiting for a reaction, he was surprised that the man didn't argue. Instead, he just sat there with a stony expression, arms crossed, completely unreadable.
"You were rather quiet today at the meeting," said Lily, taking a seat beside Severus on the sofa. "Are you all right with this? This whole plan with James…"
His father was glaring at a spot on the floor, lips pressed into a thin line. "Of course not," he bit out, appearing to hold back a scowl. He released a heavy sigh and waved a hand dismissively, "But it doesn't matter what I think, as long as you and our child are safe."
His mother turned towards him, reaching forward and cupping his cheek with the palm of her hand, drawing his attention to her.
"I love you. You know that," she said softly, giving him a knowing look.
There was a faint nod of his father's head, his expression softening as he met her eyes, as if that was the reassurance he had needed, but could not voice.
Before Harry could hear his father's response, the scene had shifted and reformed again...
He was now standing in a brightly lit room, in front of a blank white wall. It was a hospital room, he realized as he turned around, most likely St. Mungos. His mother was resting on a bed, leaning back against the crisp white sheets, looking exhausted but with pure bliss on her face as she cradled something wrapped in a blue blanket to her chest. A mediwitch was clearing the empty potion vials off the table in the corner of the room and to Harry's surprise, James was seated in a chair next to his mother's bed.
Harry took a few quick steps closer to his mother's bedside and peered down at his younger self, fast asleep, swaddled in a blanket.
But where was Dad?
He must be here somewhere...
Harry glanced around the room again, frowning when he didn't see any sign of his father. He was sure he had been here, remembering the picture he'd received from his mother…
Only after the mediwitch left the room, closing the door softly behind her, did his father suddenly emerge from a corner of the room, having canceling the disillusionment charm on himself. He shot a look at James, who clearly took the message and stood, heading for the door.
"Right, well, I'll be outside if you need me," James said over his shoulder on his way out.
His father quickly made his way over to her bedside, coming to stand opposite Harry. "Are you all right?" he asked, looking her over with concern.
"I'm fine, Sev," his mother said softly, giving him a reassuring smile. She gazed back down at the baby in her arms, one hand stroking the tuft of dark hair messily adorning the infant's head, "This is your Daddy, Harry."
"He's beautiful, Lily," Severus whispered, gently pressing his lips to her forehead.
"I think he looks more like you," Lily said, a look of deep fondness crossing her face.
"I beg to differ," his father said dryly, gazing down at his son. "He is very fortunate to have inherited your nose."
His mother laughed softly, and then the baby in her arms seemed to stir, whimpering as his little arms seemed to reach into the air, toward Severus. She held the tiny bundle out to his father, who hesitated for a split second, before he bent down and gently scooped baby Harry into his arms, cradling him.
"Hello," his father murmured, lightly tracing his thumb over the infant's small features, the gesture ever so tender. It was then that baby Harry decided to open his eyes, blinking blearily up at his father, who gave a small gasp. "And he certainly has your eyes, Lily."
Harry smiled, a warmth blossoming in his chest as he continued to take in the pleasant scene before him.
His father's expression was so full of awe, adoration, pride, and… love as he continued to gaze down at the infant that it brought a lump to Harry's throat. He didn't think he would ever see so many emotions present in his father's dark eyes, but there were, openly displayed in front of him, in plain view.
Harry could practically feel it— the love his father already had for his younger self... for him…
He didn't want to leave yet, but all too soon, the world around him shifted and dissolved, swirling away, once again.
A/N: I'm sorry for the long wait, but I hope you enjoyed this extra long chapter! I had to end it here because it was getting way too long, a lot longer than I had anticipated. I had a fun writing Sev and Lily together, which got me wondering what would happen if she were to somehow come back into Harry and Severus' lives now with Kieran and Clarice there. Anyways, get ready for some little Harry scenes in the next chapter!
Thank you so much to everyone who read, reviewed, favorited, and followed this story! I know my updates can take forever, so thanks to all of you who have stuck with this story so far.
Until next time,