July - Harry, age 16

Harry followed behind Mr Weasley, his smile remaining as the sounds of the wedding continued to follow them inside the reconstructed house. Despite everything, the party was more than a welcoming moment and he only hoped that whatever Mr Weasley had to discuss away from the others would not ruin the day.

The seventeen year old paused as the man opened the door to the small study, giving Harry what seemed to be an encouraging smile. He forced a grin in return, pausing as he stepped closer to the doorway and started to take a half step back. "No!"

A hand met his shoulder, Mr Weasley looking down to the teenager. "It's fine," he assured, nodding to the arm chair within the room to where Harry had instantly recognized the figure.

Snape.

Even with just seeing the back of the man's head, he knew it was him.

"No," Harry hissed once more, turning back around to face in the study as Mr Weasley remained in the doorway.

"Take all the time you need, Severus. We will all be outside for a bit." The man nodded, giving Harry one more smile as he closed the door with a soft click.

"Harry." Snape stood and turned to face the teenager. "I have been trying for some time now to speak to you." The man sighed softly as he took in his child's face. He felt as though it had been years since he had seen his child. "There is so much that I need to explain if only you will allow me to do so."

"No." Harry moved across the room and to the window, resting his hands on the sill as he stared out to the garden at the back. "I don't give a damn anymore. I'm of age now, so I don't need to see you again!" He snapped over his shoulder.

Snape took in a shuddering breath at the words. "You do not understand, Harry. You do not know what happened." He paused as he swallowed heavily, staging rooted to his spot. "If you would just listen..."

"I SAW what happened!" He turned on his heel viciously, glaring at the man across the room. "Don't worry. You played your part really well." Harry turned back to the window, shoulders and back tense with anger as he took in a breath. There had been no hiding the hurt within his voice and he absolutely hated it.

"You may have seen it but you do not understand." Snape struggled to keep his voice at a normal time. He nearly scolded the boy for speaking to him in such a way but somehow refrained. "Albus knew what was going to happen. He wanted me to kill him. It was the last thing I wanted."

"And I'm supposed to just believe you? Right?" He lowered his head to rest on his arm as he folded it across the window sill.

Snape was silent for a long moment before he shook his head, despite the teenager not facing him. "No." He paused, taking a small step towards the teenager. "No, I want you to listen to the facts and see for yourself what really happened."

Harry raised his head up, turning his head and quickly noting the step the man had made. He stood up fully, clearly looking defensive while he turned to Snape.

"Last summer Bellatrix and Narcissa Malfoy visited our home late at night. If you recall the following morning you told me that you had a nightmare and thought you heard Bellatrix in it." The man paused, clearing his throat. "Narcissa asked me to make an Unbreakable Vow. She told me that Draco had been asked to kill Albus. That if he did not do so, he would die. She asked me to do so if Draco failed. I made an Unbreakable Vow which I am not proud of but I did not have a choice. I could not refuse to do so without putting us both in enormous danger."

Harry's fingers curled up slightly into his palm as Snape spoke, closing his eyes as he was freshly reminded of the vow. Oh yes, he recalled when he first heard Snape mention it to Malfoy one night. Talking to his friends, seeing the faint marks around Snape's hand and wrist. And since then he had resented the man despite his best efforts to not let it show.

"So we'll say that's true," Harry spoke, swallowing heavily. He felt he was playing with fire, but he couldn't find himself caring. He was of age and there were aurors outside if he felt the need to get Snape to leave. "Then why not say something to me?"

Snape swallowed heavily at the question. He needed his child back. He needed Harry to trust him and if he had any hope of that happening he knew that he needed to be completely honest with the teenager. "I did not trust that to be a good idea. I feared that you would tell your friends or that you would take matters into your own hands." Snape paused for a moment before clearing his throat softly. "Albus was aware of the Vow. He did not want his death on Draco's hands. He asked me to kill him, Harry."

"And you chose to not say anything before he and I left." Harry took a step closer, his eyes remaining narrowed. "You had plenty of time to tell me something, but no you didn't trust me. You never trusted me and now look where that's gotten things. Now you expect me to just trust you."

"I could not risk you interfering with the plan." Snape once more found himself fighting to keep his tone calm. "I could not risk you being killed that night. I always trusted you. I made the decision not to once."

The teenager shook his head, turning back to the window and moving back to it while rubbing at his face. "You don't know what I would have done."

"You are absolutely right. I do not know what you would have done but I could not take that chance. If you would have tried to save Albus you could have died. I could not risk that. I will not apologize for that." A sigh escaped the man.

"I'm not apologizing for not trusting you now then." Harry kept his back towards the man, releasing a huff of breath. He hated this... but he simply couldn't just forgive and forget. He couldn't.

"I do not expect an apology. Do you think that is what I came here for?" The man took another step towards his child.

"I don't know why you're here." Harry kept his eyes focused on a bush despite hearing Snape take another step.

Snape swallowed hard at the words, forcing his emotions to remain under control. "I am here because you are my child and I love you. I know that you are planning on leaving in the morning. I know what you are planning on doing and I could not let you go without doing everything I could to try and fix this."

The teenager closed his eyes, folding both of his arms on the window sill as he listened to the man. "You could have prevented all of this if you were honest from the start. No matter what you thought might have happened, I don't know how you thought it would have played out by not telling me."

"I thought it would keep you alive and it did." Snape let out a shaky breath. "You can be as angry with me as you like but you are alive and that is what is important."

"You should have told me..." Harry removed his glasses, placing them down on the sill. Balling his hands up, he pressed his fists to his eyes as he took in a deep breath. His emotions ran high with the information. Should he believe him? He wanted nothing more than that. To have his guardian back in some way.

"Perhaps...however, I could not take that chance. There was too much at stake." Snape paused as he slowly took another step closer to his child. "I was already risking so much. I already felt so much guilt at the position I had put us both in. I could not risk your life on top of that."

Harry lowered his arms, clearly refusing to acknowledge that Snape was moving closer. "I don't know what to say... or think."

"I will admit to keeping you in the dark about many things over the years as you were a child and it was not your responsibility to be involved." The man sighed softly. "I took you at six years old, Harry. What purpose would that have served if I was on the other side this entire time. I could have killed you myself or handed you over years ago if that were the case."

Of course that had replayed in Harry's mind for days and every time he thought about it he never came up with a reason why. His shoulders slouched, looking over to Snape as he frowned. The teenager only shook his head slightly, raising a hand up to rub under his left eye to stop the tears that had suddenly threatened to fall.

"I apologize for the hurt and confusion that you must have felt Harry...that you are still feeling. However, as I have said, I could not risk your safety...your life...not for a decision that I made." The man once more took a step closer to the teenager.

"I can't just forgive and forget. I've been so... angry. So angry at you since then." He continued to shake his head, scowling at his own emotions as he caught several tears slipping down his cheeks.

Snape frowned at the site of the boy. He wanted nothing more than to comfort him, however, he was not about to push too hard. "That is fine. You do not have to forgive me. I simply wanted you to know the truth."

Harry only nodded, leaning back against the wall as he folded his arms across his middle and looked down to the floor. He wanted to believe it was the truth, and despite his mind screaming at him to question every word Snape now said, his heart ached with trust. There was never a moment since he was six that Snape did anything malicious towards him, why would he suddenly start? And for weeks he had nothing but to know it was all a terrible dream, even though it was a terrible reality.

Without any more thought, fearing he would convince himself to not do what he wanted, he pushed himself away from the wall and directly over to Snape. His arms remained wrapped around himself, yet he leaned heavily into the man's chest. Harry's eyes closed tightly at the familiarity, shoulders hitching suddenly as he took in a sharp inhale.

The man took in a shuddering breath at his child's actions. A long moment passed before he slowly raised his arms and wrapped them tightly around the teenager. "I am sorry," he breathed softly. "I never meant to hurt you so deeply." His arms tightened even more so as he bent his neck placing a kiss on top of the boy's head of hair. "I am so very sorry Harry."

Harry remained still for several moments before moving his arms to wrap under the man's cloak and return the hug tightly. He coughed out a sob, failing to hold his emotions at bay any longer.

"It will all be okay." The man's voice was a whisper as he hugged his child a bit tighter. "Everything will be okay."

"I don't ha-hate you," the teenager whispered against Snape's shoulder, turning his head to rest his cheek down. "I don't." Regret laced the boy's tone as he tightened his hold in return.

Snape hummed softly at the words before placing a second kiss on top of the boy's head. "Breath," he instructed softly. "We can talk in a few moments. It will all be okay."

Harry sighed deeply, lowering his arms just slightly as he continued to take in deep and slow breaths. It felt nearly surreal. What he had witnessed, what he had screamed and Snape still found him.

The grip that he had on the boy loosened as Snape moved his right hand to gently rub his child's back. "It will all be okay Harry, just calm down and then we can talk some more."

"I'm calm...er," he continued softly, forcing a small smile as he simply stayed against Snape's front.

"Good." Snape hummed, his fingertips tapping the small of the boy's back gently. "Would you like to sit down?"

"Yeah." Reluctantly, Harry released his hold completely and took a few steps backwards with a sigh.

Snape motioned over to a small loveseat across the room. "Come sit with me. I am sure you have questions that you want answered."

Nodding, Harry moved back to the window and picked up his glasses once more with a quick brush of his sleeve across his face. Placing them back on, he followed Snape across the room and sat down next to him with a shaky breath. "There was no other way to go about...anything?"

"Not that I saw at the time," Snape answered honestly. "I could not have you interfering with what I needed to do." The man sighed softly.

"You don't know what I would have done if you were honest," Harry spoke, closing his eyes as he leaned his head back.

"You are right, I do not know. I apologize for my actions, Harry but I could not risk finding out what you would do." The man sighed softly. "Can you honestly say that you would have stood aside and allowed me to kill Albus? That would have not tried everything in your power to stop me?"

"Maybe if you explained more into it I wouldn't have... like the why. But I don't know," he spoke gently, resting his head over to Snape's shoulder with a shuddering sigh. "It's done though."

"Perhaps that would have worked but as I have said, it was not a chance that I was willing to take, Harry. You are far too valuable to be put in such a situation." The man leaned back slightly on the couch.

Harry leaned back with his guardian, eyes remaining closed as he folded his right arm into Snape's left. For the moment things were normal. Or nearly so. "I'm sorry," he spoke softly, blinking as he raised his head up to look over at Snape.

"You have absolutely nothing to apologize for." Snape shook his head as his left hand gripped his child's right. "Nothing at all."

"No. I do." The teenager blinked, looking down to Snape's hand with a frown.

"You were allowed to feel upset and even angry with me. You do not need to apologize for that." The man gave a soft hum.

Harry continued to stare down, rubbing his thumb idly against Snape's hand as he only gave a small nod. At the time, he had wanted Snape hurt. To feel as he had felt. "And I'm allowed to say sorry."

"You are." Snape gave a small nod. "However, it is important for you to know that I was not upset or cross with you."

He gave a slight nod against the man's shoulder, looking back up to stare across the room. "How are you though?"

"I am just fine. Quite glad that you will not be at Hogwarts this year." The man paused to turn his head and place a kiss on Harry's temple. "Proud of you for what you are about to set out to do as well as terrified about what you are about to set out to do."

"I'll be fine," Harry assured softly, closing his eyes for a brief moment before leaning his head back to look up at the man. "And why? What's going to happen to Hogwarts this year?"

"I honestly do not know but with everything happening I cannot imagine that it will be a good year." Snape paused, swallowing heavily. "I think Hogwarts will be very different this year."

"You wouldn't say that without knowing something," the teenager muttered softly, resting his head back down as he released a deep sigh. "You're going back I assume."

"I know that He is gaining power and followers. I also know that He would like nothing more than to control Hogwarts. It is only a matter of time," Snape explained softly. "And yes, I will be going back. I must."

Harry nodded once, swallowing as he gathered his words. "Try to... I guess try to protect them. Ginny, Neville... all of them. I don't even want Ron or Hermione to come with me but I know they will."

"Precisely why I am returning. I cannot turn my back on my students. I will not." Snape's thumb gently rubbed against the boy's hand. "I do not doubt that your friends plan on going with you."

Harry forced a small smile at the words, looking towards the window with a soft "Yeah... McGonagall did say it's always us three when something happens." He fell silent, tightening his hand in Snape's briefly. "There was something I wanted to give you before... all of this. I mean I had wanted to give it to you after the school year." He stood from the couch, moving over to where his trunk was placed against the far corner.

It was a move to attempt to make sure he did not just leave- one that wouldn't stop him. He kept nothing of high value within the trunk.

Opening the trunk, he shuffled around several of his old school books and clothes before finding two small cloth bags. One, he could feel the shattered pieces of the item within it. He had given no thought as he threw the whole bag against the dungeon walls that terrible night. A gift ruined.

Sighing, Harry withdrew the second bag and opened it up carefully. The mirror was completely intact. Perfect.

Holding it carefully, he withdrew the second bag, holding it to his side before walking back over to Snape. He held out the mirror, sitting back down next to the man while placing the second bag on his leg.

Snape took the mirror from the boy, looking it over carefully. "This is quite nice." The man instantly knew what it was. A way for the two of them to stay in touch with one another as best as they could. "Thank you very much. This means a great deal to me." Snape's free hand moved to gently squeeze the boy's knee. "Am I right to assume that you have its mate?"

"Yeah." Harry forced a small smile, resting back into the couch. "Doesn't look as nice anymore.. but that's not the important part."

"I cannot thank you enough for this, Harry. It is an extremely thoughtful gift and it calms me just a bit about this upcoming year." The man gently squeezed the teenager's knee once more.

"I'll try to keep an eye on it nightly at least." Harry curled his arm back into Snape's, pulling his legs up onto the cushion as he sighed deeply. He turned his head slightly, burrowing his head into the man's robe. "I've missed you."

"I have missed you very much." Snape's arm moved to wrap around his child. "More than you will ever know. I was so sure that you would never speak to me again."

"I didn't think I would," Harry spoke honestly, turning his head to rest his cheek into Snape's side. "I didn't have plans to."

"I was trying to give you your space." Snape looked down at the boy. "I could not allow it to continue though. I knew that you would be planning on leaving soon. I could not let you go with a rift between us."

The teenager smiled softly, turning and wrapping both arms securely around Snape's middle. "I was ready to curse you."

"I do not doubt that," Snape hummed softly. "Nor do I blame you for feeling that way."

Harry closed his eyes, sighing softly. "You really have been okay?"

"I have been okay." Snape nodded. "I have been eating my vegetables and going to bed at a reasonable hour."

"Good. Can't say the same." Harry properly grinned at the words, looking up to Snape as he did so. Yet the expression soon turned solemn, looking back down towards his knees.

"I did not say that I slept, simply that I went to bed." The man squeezed the child closer to his side. "I am just glad that we were able to talk today."

"So am I... thanks, dad." Harry looked back up, forcing a small smile.

"I just hope you know how loved you are." The man's hand gently tapped the boy's side. "I hope that you never doubt that for even a moment."

"I know...and I won't." He shook his head, pushing himself up to rest on a knee and leaned up to press a kiss to Snape's temple. It had been years it felt like since he showed affection to the man, having considered himself too old. But now. Now he was unsure when he'd even see the man again. A brief moment later, Harry lowered his head back against Snape's shoulder and closed his eyes.

"I am very proud of you." Snape swallowed hard, forcing his emotions to remain at bay as his hand brushed against the child's side. "Very proud indeed."

"Dad..." Harry could hear the emotion within the man's tone, tightening his hold around his guardian as he did.

"I am fine." Snape gave a small nod as he squeezed the boy a bit closer to his side. "I just want you to be safe out there. Remember to use that brain of yours."

"I will," Harry assured gently, rubbing a hand across Snape's back briefly. "I'll try to keep you informed."

"Do not worry about me. I just want you to keep yourself safe." Snape's hand rubbed gently against the boy's hip. "Remember everything that you have learned. Be as brilliant as I know that you are."

"I will," Harry hummed, leaning back slightly as he forced a smile to the man. "But you have to be safe too."

"I intend to be very safe." Snape gave a small nod. He cleared his throat softly before looking down at the teenager. "I know that you are going to have to take chances, however, I want you to remember to think about them before you take them."

The teenager nodded with a small grin, releasing his hold fully as he leaned back slightly. "Don't worry. I'll be fine." He gripped Snape's arm gently.

"I know you will. You are far too bright not to be." Snape swallowed once more before his voice could crack. "Just remember how much I love you."

"Love you too," Harry whispered, leaning forward once more and wrapping his arms tightly around Snape's shoulders. His head tucked against the man's neck, releasing a shaky breath.

The man took in a deep, shaky breath as he wrapped his arms around the teenager. "You should get back to the wedding soon and I should go."

"Some things are more important than others... a wedding can wait right now." Harry perched his chin on Snape's shoulder, eyes closing with a deep sigh.

Snape hummed softly at the words before swallowing heavily once more. He would not allow his emotions to get the best of him. Harry needed him to be strong and he would be. "Do you have a plan?"

"Do I ever?" He grinned slightly, pulling back. "But not really right now... the locket Dumbledore and I went for was a fake." Shifting away, Harry reached into his back pocket and withdrew the small letter that had been within the fake locket. "R.A.B. Whoever they were took it and who knows if it was actually destroyed or not."

"R.A.B?" Snape hummed softly as he took the note from the boy and looked it over carefully. "The only person who comes to mind with those initials is your godfather's brother, Regulus."

"Then... maybe there's something at Grimmauld." Harry frowned at the info, taking the note back once Snape held it back out. "Sirius said he was killed because he was trying to back out of being a death eater one day."

"That is true." Snape gave a small nod. "If he had been thinking about leaving for some time there is a chance that he destroyed the locket as well though I can't be certain."

"I'll make that one of the first things to check. If it's not then I have to find it." Harry tucked the note back into his pocket, sitting back down fully with a soft sigh.

The man let out a sigh of relief. "At least Grimmauld is safe at the moment."

"We can stay the night there a couple nights then." He nodded once, resting his head back down against Snape's shoulder.

"I would imagine that you could." The man's hand gently patted the teenager's hip. "If you are unable to do so, I do not want you to ever worry about contacting me. You can do that when you are safe."

"I will. Maybe we can agree on a time? I don't want to try to contact you if you're busy either. Maybe eleven? And if neither of us are there, then try the next night?" Harry ran his fingers idly against Snape's sleeve, frowning.

"That will be fine." Snape's hand patted once more. "However, like I said if you are not in a safe environment, I do not want you to even attempt to contact me."

"I won't. But I'll keep you updated the best I can. Alright?" Harry's frown remained as he looked back up to Snape, soon forcing a small grin. "They'll have to accept I'm pretty clever and I was raised by you." A serious expression quickly crossed the teen's face as he spoke the words. "Please be careful... if they think for even a moment we had contact..."

"I am fairly certain that I am supposed to be worrying about you, not the other way around." Snape forced a small chuckle as he blinked several times in an attempt to keep his tears at bay.

"I'm fairly certain I can worry about you as much as I want right now and you just have to accept that." Harry gave a small grin of his own.

The man nodded softly. "I will be extremely careful, Harry. I do not intend to let anyone know that I am in any sort of communication with you at all. As far as I am concerned we have not spoken since that night in the tower."

"Not at all. I really do love you, dad," Harry spoke, swallowing and clearing his throat soon after.

Snape took in a shaky breath at the words. A moment later he gave a small nod. "I love you too, very much little boy."

Slowly, the teenager stood and moved in front of his guardian while placing his own small cloth pouch of the mirror's twin on the seat. He would make sure it was placed somewhere safe. Leaning down, Harry wrapped his arms tightly around Snape's neck while releasing a soft sigh. "I think when this is over, I'll need a long vacation," he muttered, forcing a small smile.

Snape's arms wrapped tightly around the boy. "I think that I will as well. Perhaps we could spend a few months at the cottage."

"Sounds perfect." Harry rubbed his hand across Snape's shoulders as he slowly pulled back.

Snape's eyes drifted past the boy to the clock on the wall. "I will have to be going soon. I cannot disappear for too long."

"I know." The teenager frowned as he took a partial step away. "Guess they'll start asking questions soon too." He turned to spare a glance out the window at the dimming sky.

"Indeed." Snape slowly stood. "You give Weasley and Granger my best. You are fortunate to have such good friends."

"I am." Harry turned back to Snape as the man stood, a smile breaking out across his face. "Be safe, alright?"

Snape gave a nod at the words. "I will. You be safe as well." The man paused, taking in a shaky breath. "Give me a hug and go before I change my mind completely and apparate us both clear around the world."

"Nearly tempting to not." Still, Harry wrapped his arms tightly around the man, pressing his head against Snape's shoulder. He knew there wouldn't be any hiding. Voldemort would do everything in his power to find him and there was no doubt he would go after his friends as well.

Snape hugged his child close to him before bending his neck and placing a kiss on Harry's temple. "Be safe," he breathed into his ear. "Be as brilliant as I know that you are. I love you."

"I will. I love you too." Harry tightened his hold, nearly sure it was an aching hug but he didn't find himself caring just as he was sure Snape didn't care either. "And you too."

"You have made my life wonderful, little boy. It is important that you know that." Snape tightened his hold also. "I am going to be quite cross if you do not come home after this. You remember that." The man's voice was shaky.

Harry rubbed his thumb slowly across Snape's back, eyes closed tightly as he shifted his head down to the man's chest. "Don't worry," he whispered, feeling the tears burn behind his eyes despite his best efforts. "Don't... don't even think like that."

"I will refrain from thinking like that if you do as well." Snape blinked several times. He squeezed the teenager tightly before slowly releasing his grip. "Go on now. I am sure your friends are looking for you."

"I'll be fine," Harry assured softly once more as he took a step away, his hands remaining on Snape's arms as he forced an assuring grin. "Okay?"

Snape gave a nod. "Okay." He forced a small grin. "Go on and be your brilliant self."

Slowly, Harry stepped away fully, offering a quiet, "Love you," before he turned away completely. He was sure if he waited anymore, he would just take the offer of Snape apparating them away. Far away. But it just couldn't be.

"I love you too." Snape slowly made his way over to the fireplace, reaching and taking a handful of floo from the mantel. "We will talk soon."

"Hopefully tonight!" Harry paused at the doorway, finally smiling over his shoulder as he paused at the door. "Remember? Eleven?"

"I will remember." Snape gave the teenager a nod before stepping into the fireplace. "We will talk at eleven. Now go have some fun."

With a final nod, Harry exited the study and allowed the door to close behind him.