The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven...

John Milton


Harry didn't think about it much, until later. There wasn't time to think about it. Everything had happened so fast after he woke up from almost being Kissed – the time turner, saving Buckbeak, saving Sirius, casting his Patornus. Everything had to be done right away. He didn't have time to stop and think about it. Even if he wanted to.

But now, it's all he can think about. It circles and circles his thoughts, never giving him any peace. It makes no sense. It calls into question things he thought were fact up until now. It is just so unbelievable that he would think he made it up, if he didn't know better. Unfortunately, he does.

Snape watches him all the time now, looking even more murderous than before. It doesn't help. Because now Harry seems hyper aware of the man's gaze. He knew Snape glared at him before, but now it is a constant thing. It really doesn't help.

It makes him think about some of the things that were said that night, in the Shack. It makes him remember how Snape shielded him – them, his most hated students – bodily from a werewolf. Severus Snape protected Harry Potter from a werewolf with his own body. That would give him a pause by itself, even not knowing, not seeing, what he had.

Obviously there is more going on here than he knows, but he doesn't have anyone to ask. Sirius is in hiding. Remus is gone. Peter is hardly an option, even if he hadn't run away. And he is most certainly not going to ask Snape.

But it bothers him. In between nightmares of being Kissed, of looking certain death in the face, he sees it. The memory. That night, the memory of his parent's death went on even longer than before. Maybe it was because he was about to be Kissed. Maybe it was the sheer numbers of Dementors present. But whatever it was, he saw was really happened that night – both during and after.

And it makes no sense.

Harry feels like he is losing his mind, thinking about it. The thoughts won't leave him alone. Snape won't leave him alone. The questions won't leave him alone. And, worst of all, his new reaction to being in Snape's presence won't leave him alone. Soon he is going to be the Boy-Who-Lived-To-Become-Insane. And what a mouthful that is.

Hermione is the first notice something is wrong. Of course she is, the witch is brilliant. But even Ron picks up on it eventually. He brushes them off, at first. When they don't drop it, he tells them a half truth. He is having nightmares about the Dementors and his parents murder. They understand that and don't bring it up again besides check in.

Hermione soon has studying to keep her occupied and Ron isn't the best at reading people, thank Merlin. He loves his friends and he is glad they want to support him, but he can't imagine explaining this one. Mione would never let it go and Ron would blow a fuse. How can they understand when he himself doesn't?

He can barely admit it to himself, let alone say it out loud. How does he explain that even though Snape is an absolute bastard to him and hates his very being, he feels safe with the man? That he has saved the boy more times than they know. That, once, he offered comfort when no one else did.

Snape shielded them from Remus. He was terrified, but he put their safety first. That impacted the young Gryffindor more than anyone knew. It was the first time an adult had protected him like that. No one else had ever made such an effort. Who would protect an unwanted freak? Who would protect a hero?

When Snape pushed Harry behind him, pressing into his chest with his arm, Harry had felt a wave of safety and warmth, behind the terror of seeing Remus coming after them. Someone thought he was worth the effort. Someone cared.

Harry has a scar on his ankle, from where Aunt Marge's dog Ripper bit him before he made it into the tree on one of her visits. He had stayed up there for hours, petrified, ankle throbbing and dripping blood. His 'family' had watched and laughed. No one cared. The most he got was an old flannel to wrap around it so he wouldn't get blood on the floor.

But Snape, who hated him, had put himself in harms way first.

The contrast makes Harry want to cry. How fair is it, that Snape cares more for him than the people who are suppose to love him? Not that Harry is under the impression that life is fair. He learned long ago that it isn't. Still, sometimes the hope gets too strong and makes him lash out against the world. Hope has always cause him more trouble than it's worth. Too bad it's so hard to kill.

But as time goes on and the nightmares get worse instead of better, Harry knows he has to do something. He has to talk to Snape. Bloody hell.

He slips into the classroom just as the last class of the day, third year Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs, leaves. He hops up onto a stool and watches the man clean up. He banishes the leftover potions, collects any unused ingredients, moves the cauldrons off of the worktables. All the time he never glances Harry's way, even though he knows the man is aware of him. He doesn't mind the wait. Frankly he is glad for the chance to gather his thoughts one more time.

He isn't expecting this to go well. At all. But he has to try, even if his supposed Gryffindor courage has left him now that he is here.

"Lost Potter?" Snape sneers, startling Harry and causing him to jump.

"No Sir," he answers automatically.

Snape raises an eyebrow at the 'Sir', but doesn't comment farther. He goes back to cleaning up.

"I, ah, I wanted to say thank you," Harry manages to say eventually. And Merlin, doesn't he sound like an idiot. Words have never been his strong suit but does he have to sound so bloody nervous?

"Thank me Potter, whatever for? Surely not for saving your life? Again, I might add."

Bloody Snape and his bloody sarcasm. Not that he was expecting the man to make things easy, but still. "Yes, actually. I know you aren't going to believe me, but..." he shrugs and trails off when Snape turns his sharp glare on him again.

"Oh, has our precious Saviour designed to come down off his high throne and acknowledge the peasants?"

Harry can feel his face flush. The anger, the words he wants to say, to lash out at the Potion Master, are right on the tip of his tongue, but he holds them back. He shakes his head sharply instead. Snape approaches him and he feels the tension leave him rather than increase. Damn bloody memory. Damn bloody man.

"Cat have your tongue?" he asks, now leaning against the table Harry is sitting at. It is the most relaxed he has ever seen him. It makes him look more human. As if Harry needed the reminder to begin with. He hasn't be able to forget it, not since that night.

Bloody hell.

Harry looks up, meeting dark eyes, before looking away again. "I see my Mum's murder, when Dementors are near. That's why I react so badly. I keep hearing her scream, begging for Voldemort to spare my life."

He risks a quick glance at the man and is surprised to see him looking back at him in shock. Not because he thinks that Snape would be unaffected by the words, but because he is showing it. He fidgets nervously. "That night, when Sirius escaped," and here he glances at his Professor again, who is recovering and looks disgusted, "that night I was almost Kissed. I saw the Dementor's face. It was going to suck my soul out. I kept hearing Mum scream, seeing the bright green light as she died. And," he takes a breath, "I saw afterward also. That night."

"You remember," Snape murmurers, almost too soft to hear. His voice is smooth and dark.

He looks up, but he isn't seeing Snape anymore. Not as he is. He is seeing his as he was, all those years ago.

Harry remember hearing his Dad die. He remembers seeing Mum go down in a flash of green light. He remembers the pain in his head and the scream Voldemort let's out when his curse is reflected back at him. He remembers crying.

Little Harry has no idea what is going on. All he knows is that his head hurts fiercely and that his Mummy isn't moving. He let's out a scream of his own and then begins sobbing. He is scared and confused and alone and hurt. What is happening?

He cries and cries and cries until he hears something else. Footsteps. Daddy? Uncle Paddy? Uncle Moony? But now, the man who enters is a total stranger. Black clothes and black hair and pale skin. He takes one look at Mummy and begins to cry too. He makes as much noise as little Harry had, holding Mummy close, but she still doesn't move.

Harry begins to cry again. Why won't Mummy move? What did the bad man do to her?

"Shut up!" the dark man yells at him, "Shut up you little brat! This is all your fault! If it weren't for you, Lily would still be alive."

"Mummy," he cries.

"Yes, you little dunderhead, it's your fault Mummy is dead!"

Harry doesn't know the exact meaning of the words, but he does get that he is the reason Mummy isn't moving. No. "No," he howls and sobs. It can't he true. He wouldn't hurt Mummy. He loves Mummy.

But the dark man only sneers at him. "Silence," he shouts, still holding Mummy, "you don't deserve to cry. Little boys how kill their Mothers don't deserve to live." He stands up at last, gently putting Mummy down. He stands in front of his, stick raised. Harry likes the stick, Daddy makes bubbles come out of it. But he doesn't think this dark man is going to make bubbles. He seems too sad and too angry.

"I should finish the job," the man tells him. "No one would know. No one knows you are alive yet. When they find out what happened, no one will expect you to be alive. I can finally be rid of the Potters."

Harry whimpers. The man sounds so angry and his face is red and puffy from crying. Mummy always kisses his cheek when he cries. Maybe this is what the man needs? He holds out his arms. "Up," he says.

The man sneers. "Up? I am contemplating murdering you and you want me to hold you?"

"Up," Harry says again.

The dark man looks at him before giving a heavy puff of air and putting away his stick. "I can't believe I'm doing this. Damn your eyes." He lifts Harry up, carefully supporting him. Harry gives the man a wet kiss when he can reach his face.

The man sputters. "Disgusting little beast, what was that?"

"Betta?" he asks.

"What are you babbling about?"

"'Issss betta?"

"No your wet slobber did not make me feel better."

No? Oh well then. Harry does it again. "'Ow?"

The man lets out another puff of air. "Yes, now it's better, now will you stop drooling on my face?"

Harry buries his head in between the man's neck and shoulder. His head still hurts and the red dripping down is getting into his eye. He let's out a whimper.

The man goes over and sits down on the floor, away from Mummy and his crib. He lifts Harry's face gently and looks at his head. "That looks like quite the wound. I bet it hurts, does it not?"

He whimpers in agreement.

The man takes out his stick again and mutters something. The red goes away and his head stops hurting. "There, that should do it for now," the man says.

"Mummy?" he asks the man.

"Your Mummy is dead child. She is not coming back."

"Ba' Hawwy?"

The man let's out a loud puff of air again. He must like doing that. "No child. Good Harry. You're a good boy."

"Goo' Hawwy. Mummy?"

"No."

Harry begins to cry again. The man pulls him closer, hugging him against his chest. Harry can feel his hair get wet. The man must be crying too. But that's alright. Because Harry wants his Mummy, but the dark man's arms feel safe. He gives good hugs, even if he is sad too.

He isn't sure how long they sit there, crying and hugging. All Harry knows is that he feels safe and protected. His dark man will protect him and make Mummy better. He will.

Harry doesn't remember anymore after that. Sure, for years he dreamed of riding in a flying motorbike, but nothing solid. Nothing he could explain. He never knew how Hagrid was the one to deliver him to the Drusleys. He didn't remember anything besides a bright green light and evil eyes for a long time. He forgot about his dark man until now.

He looks up at his Professor again, much aged and no longer crying over him Mum's body. He looks right back, seemingly at a loss your words.

Harry shrugs. "Call it ironic, Sir, but you're the last adult I ever felt safe with."

"Prince Potter too good for everyone else?" Snape growls.

Harry shrugs. "Ever met Aunt Petunia?"

"Unfortunately," he admits, "A right cow."

"She was one back then too? Good to know it's not just me," Harry muses.

"I take that statement to mean she hasn't improved?"

"I answer to Freak and Boy as well as Harry and Mr Potter. What does that tell you?"

"That your relatives lack a common amount of decency as well as sense. I wouldn't let them raise a house plant, let alone a child. They do realize your being there protects them as well as you?"

"I don't think they care. They'd much rather forget that I existed. I ruin their perfect, normal lives with my freaky presence," Harry sneers, looking quite like Snape in that moment.

"I presume there is a reason for this little heart to heart?" Snape asks, obviously back to his usual cheerful self.

"I keep seeing it, in my sleep. I can't stop seeing it. All of it. Besides," he shrugs, "wouldn't you wonder too? If the person who hates you keeps saving you, time and again, wouldn't you want to know why?"

Snape stares at him so long Harry is convinced he is seconds away from being thrown out. Instead Snape pinches the bridge of his nose and mutters something too soft for Harry to hear. "Lily was a childhood friend for many years before we part ways under... less than ideal circumstances."

Harry nods. "And you still cared about her when she died?"

"What do you think Potter?"

He shrugs. "Just checking. What circumstances happened that you stopped talking?"

"None of your business, you nosy brat!"

Harry grins brightly, just to annoy his Professor. His grin broadens when he is sure he sees his eye twitch.

"If that is all, I would like to reclaim my classroom from the disaster also known as dunderheads." He turns away, intent on going back to his work.

"What was she like?" Harry blurts out.

Snape turns, eyebrow raised.

"All everyone talks about is my Dad and how great he is. No one ever mentions Mum. All I know is I have her eyes."

Snape turns back around and continues with his work. "You also have her temper... and her kind heart. You are much more like her than your Father," Harry can hear the disgust in the word, "Except for your blatant disregard for the rules. That is all Potter's genes right there."

Harry smirks and shrugs, even though Snape can't see him.

Or maybe he can because he gives a loud snort. "And blatant disregard for authority. Although I blame that on Tuney and her whale of a husband."

Harry covers his mouth to muffle the laugh that escapes. So Snape met Uncle Vernon too? He almost felt sorry for the man. Snape, that is. Uncle Vernon, he wishes every misery. Just as long as he can't take it out on Harry. That never really ends well.

"Well, they say you inherit the best traits from your parents," Harry answers, being deliberately cheeky.

Snape snorts, but doesn't look at him as he speaks. "In your dreams Potter. Now I suggest you leave unless you want to clean these cauldrons?"

Harry recognizes that as the dismissal that is. "Bye Sir! See you in class," he calls as he bolts from the classroom. He is under no impression that Snape was joking. Besides, he has enough to think about for now.

Maybe the next visit.