Author Notes: Hello again, everyone! This is my first pre-Snarry in... well, forever actually. If you're following Vine and my continuation of JD's epic TMS, you must be wondering when will the next chapter be posted. Unfortunately, progress hinges on a pivotal scene that Vine is working on and RL issues have once again intervened. Please be patient a little longer.
Meanwhile, in order to stop my flighty muse from running back to anime land and its plethora of impossibly beautiful men, I am attempting this small story which will have 3-4 chapters. Enjoy :)
Warnings: Takes place around 13 years after The Final Battle. Contains fluff, possible OOCness and innocent Severus, my favourite way of writing him.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter is the brainchild of JK Rowlings.
- Chapter Start -
For the last twenty minutes or so, the only sounds in the truck were the non stop drumming of heavy rain on the roof, the frantic clacking of the windshield wipers trying to keep up, and the occasional rustle of stiff paper.
Then a long sigh sounded.
"I think we're really lost this time, dad."
Harry Potter didn't take his eyes off the road, nerves strung tight and hands gripping the steering wheel, long past feeling the rough, cracked leather against his palms. He could barely peer past the deluge of rain and swinging wipers to see what the failing headlights were picking out.
Lightning streaked helpfully across the sky, painting a monochrome scene of trees and bushes on either side of a small winding road before vanishing. Thunder rumbled a few moments later.
Cardiff truly had unpredictable weather since this afternoon had been sunny and hot.
Albus sighed again and brought the lit tip of his brand new wand closer to the map clutched in his other hand. He almost poked a hole right through it when their truck hit a pothole masquerading as an innocent puddle of water.
"Damnit! Sorry, Al."
"Nox." Albus kept his wand and folded up the map. "How do you know where this road leads to? It looks more like a dead end."
Harry flashed him a wan smile. Al could always be counted on to keep his composure, something Harry appreciated more than anything right now. If it were James - impatient and impulsive - sitting beside him, they would have ended up in a drain long before now, he was certain.
"Well, you know the old Muggle saying about a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?" He asked, wrenching the steering wheel hard right to avoid another puddle. "And a light at the end of the tunnel?"
"Let me guess, there's a house at the end of this road?" Al sounded sceptical.
"Exactly!" Harry didn't have to look at Al to know his younger son was rolling his eyes at him.
"Remind me again who's supposed to be the rational adult here?"
"Don't you start, Al. I get enough of that from your mum."
Albus Severus Potter was bright and studious and would start his first year at Hogwarts once summer was over. Harry still had no idea how he and Ginny managed to produce a son as quiet and matured as his second born. James and Lily were much more believable as their offspring.
"Speaking of mum, she must be worried."
"I'll send her a Patronus as soon as we arrive... somewhere," Harry promised. He snatched a quick sideways glance to see Al staring out the window on his side, and swallowed back a sigh.
It was Friday night and Harry was supposed to send Al to The Burrow. He and Ginny had gotten divorced three years ago after finally acknowledging that they had nothing in common apart from three wonderful children and a love for Quidditch. In fact, their intimacy in the bedroom had waned not long after Lily was born. Harry had been fine just carrying on the facade of a happy marriage, but Ginny wanted true love and the freedom to pursue it.
Hence, the divorce.
Harry, a professional Quidditch player, took care of their three children whenever he was free while Ginny, a senior broomstick designer at Broomz R Uz - took care of them during the other times.
Ginny soon found romance with one of her work colleagues, but Harry didn't. He wasn't ready to join the dating scene then and he still wasn't now. He thought he had found true love with Ginny, but it was just infatuation and teenage hormones combined with the jubilation of defeating Voldemort and the grief of losing Fred. Before they knew it, Ginny was pregnant so they had gotten married. It was the obvious thing to do and the Wealeys welcomed the happy news after losing one of their own.
Harry didn't regret it though, not when he had James, Al and Lily.
But then those dreams started about three months ago.
They were vague and indistinct at first, fleeting images of black that faded like wisps of smoke as soon as he woke up. Slowly, the dreams gained clarity; black morphing into billowing robes and a pair of endless dark eyes. These were followed by images of thin, potion stained fingers and the echo of a deep, resonant voice.
Harry would wake up from those dreams with eyes wide and heart pounding.
But why would he start dreaming of someone who had died on the dusty floor of the Shrieking Shack thirteen years ago?
After all, this year was pretty much the same as the ones before. The Prophet ran the same old articles on May 2nd, the anniversary of the day Harry Potter defeated Voldemort. There was the same recounting of The Final Battle, the same articles on Tom Riddle's past, and Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape's deaths. Harry felt the same pang of regret at how the latter two had died, and the burdens and secrets they had carried for so long.
And since Harry and Ginny's divorce was finalised on May 1st three years ago, there were the usual articles on their love lives (or lack thereof in Harry's case). The only new one this year was Albus Severus Potter's forthcoming debut at Hogwarts, rife speculation on which House he would be sorted in, and whether he would follow in his mischievous older brother's footsteps.
But there was nothing in the papers that might have triggered Harry's subconscious to dream of Severus Snape every three or so days.
Still, those dreams grew more frequent and more vivid, Snape's voice and image occasionally interspersing with images of a small cottage with a front garden in a countryside setting.
It got to the point where Harry spent more time poring over places of residence in Britain in Muggle internet cafes than he did on Quidditch. The result of his latest preoccupation was that he finally narrowed his search to Cardiff... and failed to catch the Snitch in his last two matches.
So here he was, taking a break from Quidditch and driving a rented pickup truck in an attempt to find a resolution to those disturbing dreams. James and Lily were watching a local Quidditch match with Ginny this afternoon. Harry was supposed to send Al back to the Burrow this evening and now wished he had put off this trip to tomorrow.
Al probably thought he was mad, going off in search of 'a long lost friend he had met at Hogwarts'. Harry couldn't blame him, he likely was mad, chasing after a man the whole world believed was dead just because of a couple of dreams.
But they were more than a couple of dreams.
And they were more than mere dreams.
Harry could almost swear they were like a message, beckoning him towards a mystery still unsolved to this very day. After all, there wasn't a body left behind in the Shrieking Shack when Harry had gone back to check that day. No one admitted to removing it.
Then lightning zigzagged across the dark sky again and Harry saw it - the small cottage in his dreams, only rendered in black, grey and white instead of pretty pastel hues. With his heart pounding in his chest again, he turned onto the side road and drove up the narrow path, stopping the truck before the small wooden gates in front of him. A soft light shone in one of the windows.
Harry uncurled his cramped hands from the steering wheel and placed them in his lap. They were trembling. He took a deep breath and let it out on a long, shaky sigh.
"And there's the house at the end of the road," he said aloud.
"It's a cottage, dad."
"It's still a house."
"It's also on a side road."
Harry turned to him, forehead crinkled and lips pressed tight. Then he chuckled and shook his head, reaching over to ruffle his son's hair.
Trust Al to take the mystery out of anything.
- Chapter End -
A/N: Thank you for reading! So... *nervous smile* worth continuing?