A/N: Welcome to A Snake's True Colors! Hope you enjoy!
One didn't usually visit one's dead friend in the home of his killer, Harry Potter reflected, stepping on the doorstep to Snape's private residence. He glanced around and shifted the weight to the balls of his feet, subconsciously identifying that he was in enemy territory. The place itself was not bad, but ghostly, a house with the feeling of a rickety old barn.
The brisk autumn mists bustled past him as he lifted one knuckle to knock three times and as he did, the echo broke the silence of the empty cul de sac. The noise was off-putting and Harry jerked his hand back.
Suddenly, the door creaked open to reveal a dark slit. It paused here before swinging open and letting the inhabitant into Harry's view.
Severus Snape was clearly not happy to see him. Lank black hair framed beady black eyes that glowered down at Harry like a bug he would like to step on. His robes were long and black and his body silhouetted against the dim candle-light behind him. Harry felt his temper rise defensively. It had been three months since he'd last seen the man that horrible day at Hogwarts, yet Snape was the same foul, unpleasant bat Harry had always known. Only now he was a murderer.
They glared at each other for a moment, both refusing to speak first. Snape's eyes narrowed to the point that Harry wondered if his massive nose were in the way.
"Potter." Snape said, each syllable cutting like glass.
"Snape." Harry shot back. There was silence for a moment, tense and animous, with only the sound of whispering from the trees. Harry's glare deepened as he waited for Snape to respond. "May I come in?"
Snape's eyes were hard, but he stepped back.
Reluctantly, Harry stepped directly into a tiny sitting room. The walls were lined at every point with bookshelves, making the room seem smaller than it was. A fireplace crowned the far side and Snape's actions were jerky as he reached above it to pull down a tiny aluminum box.
Floo powder. He turned abruptly to face Harry, his expression severe.
"Should anyone learn of this—." He threatened.
Harry's look was cool. "What? The Dark Lord doesn't know I'm here?"
Snape's eyes narrowed like a snake about to strike and he stepped forward, leveraging his height distance to tower over Harry. Harry glared up through his eyebrows and refused to back down.
"Be not mistaken, Potter." Snape hissed. "You are only here because Albus Dumbledore wishes you so."
Harry's eyes flashed dangerously as his volume increased. "Don't speak his name!"
Snape was furious. "You insolent child—"
"You traitorous snake!" Harry spit out. He glared into Snape's black eyes and spoke slowly. "I'm here to see Dumbledore."
"And here I thought this was a social call." Snape said, his voice dripping with venom. He twisted the metal box open and, in the silence of the room, the noise was deafening. Long fingers sank into the powder and came up with a handful the color of a candy stick. Harry watched him stiffly.
"After you, Potter." Snape said, lifting his arm into a giant black wing beckoning Harry forward.
Harry glanced at Snape before stepping into the artificially stoned fireplace. It was smaller than ideal and the scent of charcoal filled Harry's nostrils. It was with a reproachful expression that Snape followed Harry into the fireplace and, although Harry inched as close as he could to the wall, the tight proximity forced their shoulders to practically touch. Harry grimaced as Snape threw down the flew powder in one smooth motion.
"Headmaster's Office, Hogwarts!" Snape commanded.
Snape's sitting room began to spin and disjoint until suddenly the Headmaster's Office spun into view. Feeling as the floor had been pulled out from under him, Harry stumbled out of the fireplace and onto the floor. The room slowly began to stop spinning and Harry felt anger rise as he got his bearings.
The space, once warm and eccentric, now resembled something straight out of the Slytherin dungeons. Deep green walls wrapped around them, lined with shelves of leather-bound books and magical objects. A curio sat on one and an enchanted music box on the other. Harry knew Snape was headmaster, but he had not been prepared for this.
"Trouble with the Floo, Potter?" Snape commented, stepping around Harry and neatly brushing off his robes. Harry shot the man a glare as he righted himself.
The firelight danced around Snape as he walked straight to his desk and put something in the bottom shelf. Harry had a fleeting vision of Snape chopping him up for potions ingredients and delivering him to Lord Voldemort, and, despite Dumbledore's assurances that Snape was innocent, Harry fingered his wand just in case.
"Harry!" A familiar, beloved voice called. "So good to see you, my boy." Harry spun to the sound and spotted the face of Albus Dumbledore hanging on the wall.
"Professor!" Harry said eagerly.
The old man's charisma was powerful and comforting all at once, and a self of relief flooded Harry's emotions. This was the first time he would see Dumbledore since he had died. Since Snape killed him.
Harry's gaze darkened and he glanced across at Dumbledore's murderer. Snape stood at the Headmaster's desk, shrouded in black, watching him, and all Harry could think was that he didn't deserve to stand where Dumbledore had stood.
Snape's character had always been questionable to Harry.
Yes, Dumbledore had informed the Order of Snape's loyalty shortly after his death, but in Harry's opinion, that didn't excuse him. He had still bullied Harry in potions class, mocked Sirius to his death, and murdered the only man who could help Harry defeat Voldemort.
In Harry's eyes, he was nothing but a murderer.
Dumbledore smiled warmly before turning to Snape. "Thank you, Severus. We won't be long."
Snape's face was unreadable as he replied. "I'll be in my lab." He spun, black ropes whipping behind him, and exited through the far door.
Harry watched him leave, his expression dark. From the wall, Dumbledore seemed to follow Harry's train of thought as he studied the young man before him. "Professor Snape was kind to allow you in his residence to get here." He commented, lightly.
Harry's gaze darkened. "Yes. He's a Saint."
Dumbledore sighed heavily. "I assume you received my letter to the Order, Harry."
"About how he killed you for good reason? Yes. I read it."
Dumbledore stroked his beard and eyed Harry, his expression unreadable. Suddenly he closed his eyes and exhaled wearily, shifting in place. "I am sorry to have left so soon, Harry," He began. "I explained as much in my letter, but mere apologies are often no match for grief."
Harry remembered the months after Dumbledore's death and went quiet.
"You, more than anyone, deserve answers." Dumbledore continued. "And you, more than anyone, deserve happiness. You have borne more than those twice your age and while I tried to shield you from the worst of it, I worry I failed."
"It was never your job to protect me, Professor."
Dumbledore studied him sadly.
"The last few months have given me ample time to think, as I am trapped here on this wall. I have watched Death Eaters abuse my school, Voldemort destroy my country, and the Pigmy Puffs lose the World Cup. While there is little I can do for the world— there is one thing I can do for you."
Harry glanced at Dumbledore. "There is?"
Dumbledore's eyes twinkled and Harry almost spotted a smile behind that silver beard. "Let me begin by saying that Severus has created new spells in his spare time." Dumbledore said. "One of these is quite interesting. It is called tempus illustra. When paired with certain herbs, it multiplies the effect of the classic time turner, allowing the user to go back decades in time. Unlike the time turner, however, it does not allow the user to stay back in time. It lasts exactly three months before it wears off, returning the user to their present time, minutes after they left."
Harry leaned back, processing. "You're suggesting I go back in time? Defeat Voldemort while he's still a baby?"
"But alas," Dumbledore shook his head mournfully. "When a time turner is used, all future changes to the past are taken into account in the present. Think back to your third year experiments. Everything you did whilst back in time was accounted for in the present. Clearly you did not go back in time to kill Voldemort or he would already be dead."
"However," Dumbledore continued. "Knowledge of this spell made me reexamine old memories. For instance, I remember a Hogwarts transfer student in 1977." Harry perked up at the year. He knew it well. It was the year the Marauders and Lily graduated Hogwarts. Harry's mind drifted but he shut down the thought quickly. There was no way—
"His name was Harry Fletcher." Dumbledore said, "and he attended Hogwarts for only three months before he withdrew. A shame, because he was quite the quidditch talent. Furthermore—" Dumbledore paused, "he had a curse scar on his forehead in the shape of a lightning bolt."
Harry's eyebrows shot up. "You think—"
Harry reeled back in shock. That meant—
"I think you traveled back to your parents seventh year at Hogwarts, enjoyed much needed time with your loved ones, and then returned three months later, none the worse for wear. And I believe Headmaster Snape's spell is the key to it all."
Harry stared in disbelief, too shocked to let even Snape irritate him. It was surreal. Unbelievable. Impossible. And yet— Dumbledore just said that not only could he leave the war for a moment, he could do it with his parents.
Lily and James Potter.
Feelings Harry had suppressed for years suddenly attacked him in full force. Loss that he had never known them. Loneliness from years in the cupboard under the stairs. Longing for a family who cared.
All he had of them was a moment in front of a mirror. To actually meet them—
Harry thought back to 1977, a year where James (whom Harry envisioned as himself with hazel eyes) dated a beautiful redhead, a year where four boys wrecked mischief with their magic map, a year where three Animagi and a werewolf played in the shadows of the moon. He pictured them sitting (and laughing) at Gryffindor table, goblets in their hands and light in their eyes, and suddenly, he pictured himself there too.
He looked up into Dumbledore's eyes, in complete shock, incredulity, and gratitude, as Dumbledore's lips pulled into a smile and his eyes twinkled happily down at his student.
"Headmaster Snape has kindly agreed to perform the spell." Dumbledore said. Snape suddenly joined Harry's mental picture (albeit glowering from across the hall) and Harry doubted kindly was the correct word.
"I hope one day you look past your differences," Dumbledore said, "You have more to learn from each other than you realize."
Harry thought to the Snape he knew (callous, unfeeling, cruel, arrogant, a bully, and, well, he could go on) and wondered how Dumbledore could continue to make excuses for the man. But now was not the time to argue and Harry nodded his acquiescence.
Sensing Harry's discomfort, Dumbledore moved on to brighter topics. "Professor Snape is prepared to cast it today if you so choose."
This was a decision that didn't take long.
"Today is great, Headmaster." Harry said with a brightness he hadn't felt in some time.
He might see his parents today. His throat thickened with emotion and Harry swallowed.
Dumbledore beamed. "Wonderful, Harry, quite wonderful. Now, I suspected thus, and so had Dobby prepare your things." Harry laughed lightly. "You will arrive before the sorting of James and Lily's seventh year of Hogwarts. I have prepared the necessary paperwork to explain that you are a transfer student. Present it to myself prior to the sorting feast.
"On the table by your trunk is the paperwork, the necessary potion, the time turner, and the glamour for the Harry Fletcher I knew. No need to cast it now— remember, Headmaster Snape will remember you and we want to avoid that at present." Dumbledore winked and Harry's smile widened, imagining all the pranks he and his father had pulled on Snape.
"While he will be casting the spell, he does not know where you are going. Distance, I believe, is essential when it comes to Severus Snape and James Potter. It is up to you to visualize where and when you are going and the spell will take you there."
"Professor," Harry began. "In their seventh year, were my parents—I mean—"
"I believe their relationship bloomed during their seventh year," Dumbledore smiled. "Now, do you have any more questions before we proceed?"
Harry paused. "How will I know when the three months is ending?"
"Pick up the time turner, Harry." Dumbledore instructed. Harry did so. It was nothing fancy - just another bronze hour glass. But Harry could only describe it as magical as he held it in his hands.
"You see the hour glass?" Dumbledore continued. "It will act as a timer until your time runs out. When the last grain of sand passes through the eye, the spell will wear off, returning you to these chambers. I will see you again in a few minutes. And no one else will even know you've gone." Dumbledore beamed.
No one else would know he was gone, Harry's mind repeated.
A sense of relief Harry didn't recognize suddenly enveloped him. Three months to be just Harry— to escape the prophecy, the pressure, and attention. To be anonymous with people he loved. Harry couldn't think of a better escape. He turned to his mentor.
"Professor Dumbledore—," Harry began, words feeling inadequate. "Thank you."
"You are very welcome, Harry." Dumbledore said with a smile. "Just remember— it will be difficult at first, as no one will know who you are. Friendships take time, so have patience and you will reap your rewards. Time with loved ones is a very rare and beautiful thing. The students of 1977 will learn a lot from you, Harry. Show them your heart and they will love you in kind."
"Thank you, Professor." Harry said again, blinking back a sudden moisture in his eyes.
"One more thing worth noting," Dumbledore mentioned. "It will be very tempting, Harry, to try and change things while you are there. To right the wrongs of the past. You must, under no circumstances, change the events of your past or tell anyone of the future. Will you promise me that?"
"You must promise me, Harry." Dumbledore voice intensified.
"I promise," Harry said.
"Now, shall we bring back Headmaster Snape?" Dumbledore said. Harry reluctantly nodded, acknowledging that Snape was a necessary evil in this scenario, and crossed to the door to knock.
A few moments later the door swung open. Fumes clouded out of the doorway and Snape's skin dripped with condensation. Harry forced himself to ignore the snide comment dangling on his tongue, thinking instead to how Snape would unknowingly reunite him with James Potter.
"Gather your things, Potter. My time is scarce." Snape said.
Harry pursed his lips but did as he was told. He set his trunk at his feet, draped the timeturner around his neck, gripped the letter in one hand and the potion in the other. His heart was beating like it knew what would happen. A little jittery, Harry turned back to Snape who clasped his fingers in an attempted show of knowledge.
"Let us proceed. I will cast the spell. You will focus on your destination with all of the clarity and precision you can muster— however little that be. Inability to concentrate will be no excuse when you are lost hurtling through space."
"Space?" Harry repeated in alarm.
"Yes, Potter, space." Snape said snidely.
"I know what—" Harry begun heatedly but Snape cut him off.
"Do as I say and you will be fine. Envision the time and place and then drink the potion as I instruct. Does that sound acceptable?"
Harry gritted his teeth and answered. "Yes."
"Fantastic." Snape's voice dripped with sarcasm. "Now, drink." Harry lifted the potion to his lips and closed his eyes.
"Be very specific when visualizing, Harry," Dumbledore chimed in. "Think of the position of the sun, of the shadows of the castle when you arrive. Try to avoid somewhere overly populated."
Harry thought of somewhere he was familiar with: the Hogwarts Quidditch Pitch. He envisioned the molten sun setting over the horizon, the keeper rings' shadows on the grass, and the crisp autumn air encircling him. He thought of the students in the Hogwarts express, of James and Lily traveling towards him, of the fact that this time, he would be there too.
"Drink, Potter!" Cut in Snape's voice. Harry took the potion in one go and distantly heard Snape's voice casting the spell.
"Tempus ilustra," His low voice cast. "Mutatio putaverunt amare . . ." His voice continued but it faded as whirring spun in Harry's ears. He felt pressure and the sound got louder and louder until Harry opened his eyes to darkness. Suddenly, the darkness turned to light and the vision in his mind became the vision in front of him.