Betaed by Barbara
The lastest chapter.
No more side-stories.
Some things will remaine unexplained. But those are only nuances, I hope. You can't finish a story, which is about life, you can only end it somewhere. This is where I decided to end.
Now, I ask you, everybody, who reached this chapter's to REVIEW it.
Chapter 20 – Don't let history repeat itself
"Sev! Pleeeease!" the little girl was tapping her feet nervously and cast a begging glance at the man and the boy standing behind her. "Graaaaandad, we will miss the train!" she pushed her trolley a little bit, then crossed her arms over her chest and stamped her foot impatiently.
The boy just rolled his eyes and didn't answer, but the tall man cast a disapproving look at her.
"Qui, behave yourself!"
The girl hugged herself even more tightly and pressed her lips into a thin line. Her emerald green eyes were lightning. Her two companions leaned back over an open box, where a small rodent was whining in something, which sounded like pain.
"His leg got stuck here, look," the boy said worriedly, as the man lifted the small opossum out of his travelling box. The animal's left front leg seemed hurt. The black-haired man shot a quick glance around, and when he didn't see anybody watching them, he pulled a wand out of his pocket.
"Ferula," he said, and when the bandage appeared on the rodent's leg, he put it back to its box. "I will bring it with me. By the time the train arrives, his leg will be fine."
"If we don't miss that train," the girl said pointedly and sneered.
"We have more than twenty minutes and we are in the station. We won't miss it," the boy snapped at his sister. "Stop being a prat. If something had happened to Hopper, you would have wanted it fixed too."
The girl turned her head away and didn't answer. The man stepped behind her and grabbed her shoulders.
"Sev is right, you know, Qui."
"You always support him," she blurted out offended.
"Not always, just when he is right," the man's voice was serious and the girl didn't reply. "Now, let's go before we really miss that train."
The girl's bad mood almost instantly disappeared. The previous excitement returned and she pushed ahead her trolley again. The man smiled at her back with appreciation, looking at the kangaroo that was on her T-shirt back. 'I'm from Australia,' it read. 'And you?' His other grandchild's T-shirt was plain blue, which matched the colour of his jeans. Both children had short, black hair, but the boy's eyes were chocolate brown, like his mother's.
When they arrived at the barrier between platforms nine and ten, they found a short, thin boy there sitting on his trunk and crying in front of the barrier, blocking their way through.
The girl called Qui stopped her trolley and stepped up to the stranger boy without hesitation.
"What happened?" she asked and crouched next to him.
The small boy lifted his head, his eyes were shining with uncertainty.
"I think I'm lost," he whispered and paled as he spotted the tall man approaching them.
"Where are your parents?" he asked and leaned forward. The boy gulped.
"I have no parents..." he said and tried to pull himself as small as he could.
The next moment the other boy, called Sev, joined them.
"Are you going to Hogwarts too?" he asked not hearing the previous words.
Suddenly, relief washed the small boy's fear away.
"Are you wizards too?"
The three exchanged glances, and smiled.
"Why? Don't we look like ones?" the girl asked jokingly.
"Uhm..." the boy's glance flickered from one to the other. They looked like Muggles, most definitely, wearing jeans and T-shirts. Although those trunks on their trolleys... "Dunno..." he muttered.
"We are indeed," the man smirked and with a tug pulled the boy upright. "But let us go now, or you will miss the train and the Headmistress will kill me. Let's walk straight at this barrier, and we will be there."
One minute later they were standing in a platform full of people, trunks, trolleys, and different kinds of animals. The large, scarlet steam engine of the Hogwarts Express was already steaming as the temperature was rising in it. The man ushered the children towards the end of the train, he apparently wanted to avoid attention.
He wasn't lucky. When they stopped and the man began to pack the trunks from the trolleys on the train, a sudden voice came from behind them.
"Snape? Is that you?"
The man didn't react, but after he pushed the small boy's trunk on the carriage, he turned around.
"Mr Diggory," he said politely and reached out his hand. The two men shook hands.
"Your grandchildren, I suppose," the man called Diggory looked at the three children. Severus smiled.
"Not quite, just the two black haired. Severus, Quirke, come here," he waved closer the two. "This man is Amos Diggory." The girl smiled shyly while the boy shook hands with the older man.
"You were the Minister of Magic, weren't you?" the boy asked seriously.
"That was more than eight years ago, young man," he smiled jovially. "And Severus, let me present my daughter, Judith..."
"Nice to see you..."
"This man will be your Potions professor if I'm not mistaken..."
Severus shook his head with amusement.
"Minerva wanted to keep it secret until the opening feast. I suppose she didn't want to scare away the parents..."
"Come on, Severus, why would information like that scare anybody away?"
Severus's smirk widened.
"Don't forget, I was the one who taught the parents of this generation..."
Diggory waved dismissively and put his daughter's trunk on the carriage.
"Off you go now..."
Severus pressed a kiss on Quirke's forehead, but the younger Severus was too serious and shy for affectionate actions like that and he reached out his head instead.
"See you later then," he said and stepped onto the train.
"See you later."
The boys helped the girls to tuck their trunks in an empty compartment, and finally, the four kids were sitting as the train pulled out of the station.
"So your father..." Judith began, but Severus snapped at her.
"Oh, shut up. And the answer to your question is: yes."
The girl blushed, but she didn't continue to pursue her companions.
"What's your name?" Qui leaned closer to the small boy in the corner.
"I'm... Thomas Warren, but call me Tom," he said sheepishly. "And yours?"
"Quirke Snape. And that is my brother, Severus Snape."
"I could tell it myself," the boy muttered darkly. "But thanks." He turned to Tom. "You are not from a wizarding family, aren't you?"
"Er..." he bit his lip nervously, "I have been told that my parents were wizards, but I didn't know them. They have died when I was a baby and I was sent to an orphanage."
The three children looked at him in horror.
"Do you live in an orphanage?" Judith asked. "But that is..."
"I have no family remaining. The man who fetched me, a tall, brown man, called Fletcher, he told me that all my family members died in the same war as my parents..."
Severus nodded knowingly.
"Many people died in that war…"
Tom looked at him.
"Did you learn about it?"
Quirke giggled and her bother shot an acid glare at her.
"No, he just read all the books he found in the house..."
"Shut up, Qui..."
"Why? Wasn't it you who stole mum's history books to read them and nagged her to talk about those things?"
Judith spoke up.
"Is that true that your mum will be the History professor?"
Qui rolled her eyes.
"Oh, yeah... And Grandad will be the Potions professor and we will be doomed..."
"Qui!" Severus yelled angrily.
"What?" she swirled to her brother. "You perhaps will be sorted into Ravenclaw, but I hope the Hat will put me in Gryffindor and that's that." She smiled to Tom, who stared at them with surprise.
Severus finally decided himself and pulled a book out of his trunk and didn't pay any more attention to the conversation around him.
By the time the witch with the cart arrived both girls were deep in telling stories about Hogwarts to the wide-eyed Tom, who barely dared to breathe in awe. Even Severus left his book for some sweets, and cautiously bought candy for three persons, putting the third into Tom's lap.
"I can't accept this," the small boy swallowed. Severus shrugged.
"It's not my money, but my parents'. And not a big deal anyway," and he closed any further arguments by burying himself back in his book.
"Does he always do that?" Judith asked whispering.
"Yeah," Qui replied. "He always behaves as if he would be my older brother, although we are twins."
"And why do you wear Muggle clothes?"
"We almost always wear Muggle clothes. We attended a Muggle primary school. It would have been a little bit suspicious to wear robes and hat..."
"Muggle school?" Judith's eyes widened in surprise. "But you are Snapes and the pureblood..."
"Don't begin this crap," she frowned. "One, mum is muggle-born and two, she didn't want us to be private students. She said we had to be amongst other children. I think she was right, but they had quite a lot of rows with Grandad about it."
Tom's voice interrupted the two girls.
"Judith, didn't you go to school before?"
"No," she shook her head. "I had some private teachers and they..."
The compartment door slid open. Two boys stood in the door, both were older than the four first years. One of them was large and oafish boy with bristly hair, slowly chewing something, and he didn't seem too intelligent to Qui. The other boy was tall and looked disgustingly confident. Both wore Slytherin crests on their chest. His eyes shot around.
"So, here are those Snapes everybody's talking about," he cast a short glance at Judith, "and the ex-Minister's little daughter. But who are you?"
Tom was scared as the bigger boy towered over him.
"I'm... I'm Tom Warren…"
The shock was clear on the confident boy's face.
"Tom Warren-Avery, you wanted to say, didn't you?" he stepped even closer and with a finger under Tom's chin, he lifted his head and looked into his eyes.
Severus lowered his book, but his sister jumped to her feet.
"Leave him alone!"
The large boy stepped in the compartment blocking Qui's way to the small boy in the corner.
"It's none of your soddin' business," he muttered still chewing something.
"I'm Rabastan Macnair, Tom, and he is my friend, Fidelus Goyle," the tall boy said waving to the oafish fellow, and reached his hand out. Tom jerked his head free and clenched his teeth.
"Leave me alone," he muttered in fear.
"You will be a member of our house, kid. Don't be so shy. We are on the same side..."
Tom trembled and tried to shift further away from him.
"I don't understand..."
"Oh, then I will tell you. Your father..."
"Silencio!" the spell muted the Slytherin, who swirled around. Severus was standing there his wand lifted. "You won't tell him anything. Neither now, nor later, if you don't want to duel with me. And I warn you: my grandfather, who taught me duelling was always better than your father. Now go, and leave Tom alone." The next moment the two Slytherins were lying outside the compartment.
Qui looked at his brother horrified.
"Granddad will kill you..."
Severus pocketed his wand and sat back.
"Not if you can keep your big fat mouth shut."
Qui put her hands on her hips and stepped forward.
"I..." but she suddenly stopped. "What was this speech about fathers and Grandad?"
"Nothing," Severus said and lifted his book up.
"NO!" Qui grabbed his book and forced his brother to look at her again. "It's not fair that you know and we don't..."
"You should read more," he lifted the book again, but this time Tom's pleading voice stopped him.
"I don't know anything about my parents, Severus..."
Severus sighed defeated and closed his book.
"Look, it's not something happy. It's about the war, in which your family perished."
Qui, hearing the word 'perished' rolled her eyes. Tom, on the contrary didn't seem to notice the adult-like word use and behaviour.
"I don't mind. I will know it sooner or later and I'd like you to tell me..."
"Please, Sev," his sister's voice joined Tom's, and even Judith looked at him expectantly. Severus surrendered.
"All right, but just a few words, because we have to change into our school robes after that," he waited for the nods then went on. "In that war when your family died, Tom, your father, mother and other family members were on the same side as Macnair's or Goyle's, the families of those two boys," he nodded towards the corridor, "and it was the opposite side to our family or even Judith's family. But it doesn't mean that you have to belong in the company of these bullies. Grandfather's parents were at that side too, and he fought against it. War is always like this. You have to make your own decision," he looked at Tom unwaveringly. Tom swallowed hard and turned his eyes to the floor.
"Does it mean that they were evil?"
A frown flickered through Severus's face.
"I don't know, Tom," he said finally. "They followed an evil man, and it possibly affected them, but I've never known them personally."
"What happened here?" a tall boy with crooked nose, bright blue eyes and auburn hair stopped in front of the compartment and peered in. "Somebody told me that you fought. Is that true?"
Severus stood up.
"It was only me. And it wasn't a fight, I just helped them out. They were harassing one of my companions," he stepped forward and reached out his hand. "Severus Snape."
The boy smiled.
"Snape, eh?" he lifted his chin a little and laughed. "At least I won't be the only one with all too famous historical family name," he grabbed Severus's hand. "Ares... Ares Hurricus Dumbledore."
"Wow," Qui cried out. "Are you the grandson of Albus Dumbledore?"
The auburn boy shook his head.
"Oh, no. I'm not so fortunate. My crazy grandfather is Aberforth. Albus Dumbledore had five daughters, no sons to carry his name... And you?" he looked at the others.
"My sister, Quirke, she is Judith Diggory and Tom Warren."
"Will you be all first years?" They nodded. "Then welcome. And try to be in Gryffindor: that's my house as well. I'm a fifth year and a prefect. Now, change your robes! We'll be there soon!"
Severus was relieved when the staff meeting ended. He had never liked these meeting, although he had to confess that with Hermione's quiet, witty remarks whispered into his ears everything was much more bearable.
The team didn't really change. The Headmistress was still Minerva, the Head of Gryffindor was Fletcher, the Head of Hufflepuff was Sprout and the Slytherin head was still Vector. Sinistra, Trelawney and Hagrid were still there in their positions as well as Filch, Poppy, Vilma (Madam Pince) and Madam Hooch. Oh, and there was him, but it didn't really count: he had missed eleven years, so he now was like a new staff member.
The new members were: Hermione as the History teacher, McDougal, the Charms Professor and the Head of the Ravenclaw house (although he wasn't really new: he had been teaching in the school for ten years) and the Defence teacher, Erica Knight.
"Aren't you afraid of the job?" Severus heard Hermione ask her after the meeting.
"Why would I be?" she asked giggling. "I have been teaching it for four years – apparently being a relative of Harold Winston Potter helped a lot against that stupid curse," she turned to Severus. "Do you know why George decided to leave Hogwarts? It happened so quickly..."
"He got married in the summer and her wife is expecting. He wanted to be with his family."
"And why did you return?"
"I wanted to be with my family as well."
"Is that true then, that this year we have to deal with four Snapes?
Severus raised an eyebrow.
"You, Hermione and the two children."
"Oh, Hermione..." Severus smirked. "Yes, if you think of her as a Snape, yes."
"It's a pity these students don't remember you and your reputation, Severus. It will lessen the impact of Minerva's announcement. In these days the Snape name is looked upon much more positively."
Severus growled and stood up.
"Let's go to the Great Hall. The little monsters will arrive soon."
"Excited, I see..."
Severus put on his bottle green outer cloak and his thoughts wandered away. In the last years he had barely worn any robes. They had lived in a Muggle environment, and Hermione had been strict. So he had soon become used to Muggle clothes, mostly jeans, T-shirts and sweatshirts. He had almost never needed to put on a coat: the part of Australia they had lived was quite warm even during the wintertime.
For the first months, Severus had hated Muggle clothes, but he had agreed with Hermione (to himself, mostly) that the kids would be better brought up in a normal environment, rather than in the wizarding community where their father's fame would have distinguished and spoiled them.
So now, in suit and outer robes Severus felt more than a little uncomfortable.
When they entered the Great Hall it suddenly hit him with full force how much he had missed Hogwarts. Hogwarts in time of peace. The beautifully lit Great Hall, the hundreds of winking torches, the enchanted ceiling, the noise of those unnerving kids, goodness, how he had missed it! But he was here again, this time waiting for his grandchildren to enter the side entrance and be sorted (although he had no illusions about the result: Severus would be in Ravenclaw and Quirke in Gryffindor, even though Severus had enough courage and loyalty to be sorted into Gryffindor as well) it was strange... But it felt as if he had arrived home, finally.
He sat down between Minerva and Hermione (as the new Deputy Headmaster it was his place), and couldn't suppress a smile when Minerva leaned closer to him-
"My goodness, Severus, with that short hair and green cloak you will shatter your female students' hearts. And perhaps not only your students'."
"It was Hermione's idea, go and blame her," he whispered back.
"I most definitely will not blame her. I'm so happy that you are here, Severus, that you finally decided to return to England..."
"We don't plan to go back, you know. Our jobs tie us here..."
A soft cling warned the Headmistress, who looked at his colleague.
"Go, welcome the first years. They have arrived."
They had, indeed. Ten of them were absolutely soaked (which meant that at least two boats had turned upside down in the lake), but everyone of them looked a little intimidated, except for Severus, who was as calm and collected as he almost always was.
"The first years, Professor Snape," the half-giant stood next to the intimidated group, his hand laid on Quirke's shoulder.
"Thank you, Hagrid," he said seriously, but when he spotted Quirke waving at him excitedly he couldn't suppress a small smile. "Follow me," he turned on his heel towards the little chamber where the first years to wait for the sorting.
Their tension grew, and everybody looked at him expectantly.
"Welcome to Hogwarts," Severus said when all were in. He said a few words about the houses and the sorting, but in the end he added. "Every house has its merits and weaknesses. And every house has produced light and dark wizards. It's not the house, which is important, but your decision how to live your life." Severus noticed the small boy they had met in the train station was staring unblinkingly at him. "Don't let stupid words and prejudices lead you astray. Whichever house you will be sorted, it won't guarantee anything. The sorting is just to help you to find yourselves." The drone of hundreds of voices from a doorway to the right slowly faded. It was the time.
The sorting was a very long ceremony this year: there were quite a lot of first years. The explanation was simple: this year was the eleventh after Voldemort's downfall. How many of these children had been conceived on that fateful April day eleven years ago?
And the next years would be much more numerous. Remus and Armena Black, children of Sirius and Armena Black, Natalia, Alfred and Alex Weasley, Bill Weasley's children, Archibald Weasley, Percy Weasley's son, Christian Diggory, Diggory's younger son, and the even younger generation: Helen Moon, Janus's daughter, Violet and Andrew Kirkpatrick, Pansy Parkinson and Andrew Kirkpatrick's children, Bill, Steven and Lilian Weasley, Ron and Padma Weasley's children, Clara Longbottom, Neville and Parvati Longbottom's daughter, Terry Boot, another the fourth one in the line, and so many others...
In the meantime, Severus tried to memorise as many names as he could. In one week he would meet with a schoolful of students, names and faces... It wouldn't be easy.
Judith Diggory was sorted into Hufflepuff.
Severus looked at the Slytherin table. It was so strange... he didn't even know them, and once, long ago he had been the Head of that House... And now, he was waiting for his two grandchildren's sorting – being sure that neither of them would be in that house.
"Snape, Quirke, Meredith!" he read the next name and smiled at the nervous girl. She was so anxious that she forgot to sneer at her second name. She didn't like the name Meredith, but Hermione wanted to name her after her mother, and Severus had found it good that both children had muggle names as well.
Whispers broke out in the Hall.
"Snape? Did he say Snape?"
"Is it that Snape family? The famous one?"
"Fool, there is NOT another Snape family…"
"Oh, my God," somebody said. "You couldn't read anything in the news about them! Anything at all!"
This had been the purpose of their moving to Australia, Severus thought satisfied.
"Gryffindor!" the hat finally cried out and the Gryffindor table erupted. For a moment, Severus couldn't help but think of his parents. If they had known... He smirked. His brother, Quietus would have been Gryffindor if he had wanted to upset their parents...
Qui jumped off the stool and pushed the hat into Severus's hand.
"Thanks, grandad," she said and whirled away like a hurricane. Severus couldn't help but shake his head. How many times had he told the girl that in the school his name was professor Snape or sir, and most definitely not 'grandad'. He inhaled deeply and went on with the list.
"Snape, Severus Winston!" The old Potter's name.
The whispers and murmurs again. Young Severus remained calm during the whole process.
"Ravenclaw!" the hat exclaimed, and this time, the shouts of joy were much louder than the ones of the Gryffindors.
"YES!" a plump boy at the Ravenclaw table shouted.
The Slytherin table clouded in icy silence.
The sorting went on.
"Warren-Avery, Thomas!" Severus's voice almost faltered as he read the name. Impossible. Avery's, the bastard's son was alive and attending Hogwarts at the same time at his grandchildren. His face darkened.
The small boy was standing in front of him. Avery's son.
But this was just a boy. And he couldn't commit the same fault twice. Once, long ago, he had judged a boy by his father – and it had been one of the biggest mistakes of his life.
Tom. The boy was named Tom, most probably after the reptile-like monster.
But he was an orphan as well. He wasn't the arrogant, pure-bred child he could have become if his parents had survived. He was just a scared child, waiting for him, waiting for the hat to sort him.
Severus finally sighed and handed over the hat.
The boy sat on the stool. From the corner of his eyes, he saw Hermione's pale face.
"Gryffindor!" the hat shouted, and Severus heard Qui's yell:
And the sorting was over.
When Severus returned from the chamber he had to place the hat and the stool in and occupied his place next to Minerva, she stood up.
"Just some words. The Forest on the school's ground is forbidden to all pupils," she looked pointedly at the Gryffindor table, where an auburn-haired boy smirked widely and nodded. "No exceptions. No magic can be used between the classes in the corridors, magical sweeties and games included. And finally, I'd like to introduce two new professors: professor Hermione Snape, who will be the History professor, since Mr Binns decided to resign..." Hermione nodded her head as enormous shouts of joy sounded in the hall. Apparently, the old ghost hadn't been any more popular than in Severus's time. "She was the professor of History in Hopsands Magic Academy in Australia for six years. And as you see, professor Weasley isn't here. He married in the summer and has changed job. Our new-old Potions professor is professor Severus Snape, who had previously been the potions instructor at Hogwarts for seventeen years, and the Board of the governors elected him as the new Deputy Headmaster of the school as well after professor Vector decided to resign from that position."
Polite clapping, not as joyful as in Hermione's case, but it was understandable: George had indeed been popular. Severus nodded his head and scowled.
Both he and Hermione scrutinised the four tables in front of them, while the kids were occupied with the suddenly appeared dinner.
"I'm so happy, Severus," Hermione whispered in his ear. "But, you know, I wouldn't have been less happy if one of them had been sorted into Slytherin..."
"I know," he replied. "And I'm quite relieved that this... Avery kid didn't end up in my old house. He will do better in Gryffindor."
Hermione's face darkened. The name Avery was a taboo in their home because of obvious reasons. But in the end she just shrugged.
"Quirke apparently likes him," they looked at the two first years. Her eyes suddenly caught a tall boy sitting close to them. "Look there, Severus! Don't you think that boy, that tall... two seats right from Quirke... isn't he familiar?"
Severus's heart almost stopped as he saw the boy. A soft touch on his arm showed him that Minerva wanted to say something.
"Yes, Minerva?" he said, but he couldn't rip his eyes off the tall boy.
"He's Aberforth's grandson, Severus."
"He looks like Albus," Severus muttered.
"I know. But he's not him. Perhaps later..." she leaned closer. "Right now he's more like the Weasley twins in their best days in Hogwarts. He was George's favourite by the way."
"Sounds like Aberforth," Severus sneered as he thought of the silly old man.
"Don't think so," Minerva replied. "He is much more serious and he is our best student..."
"You can use past tense, Minerva," Severus interrupted her. "Don't forget, the young Severus Snape has arrived, and I tell you he is as talented as Quietus was."
"His pet is Fawkes though" the Headmistress said suddenly. "Albus left it to him. So..."
"So in one hundred and thirty years we will have another Albus... What's his name?"
"So, he's not Albus then." Severus's voice sounded resigned.
"Do you still miss him?" the woman looked at him concerned.
"I don't know. Many times I simply had not enough time to miss anybody... Life became messy more times than I would have expected..."
"I heard about your newest potion..."
"It's not that new, and it wasn't only me who created it, as I'm sure you know."
"The werewolf population of the country is extremely grateful to you."
"I'm much more proud of my developed Dreamless Sleep Potion."
"I heard about it. Poppy can't stop blessing you. And if I heard correctly with your new inventions you became quite wealthy..."
"Come on, Minerva! Since the Potters bequeathed their possessions to Harry, we were wealthy enough to buy Hogwarts if we had wanted..."
"Why did you return then, Severus?" this time, his colleague's face was serious.
"Because I realised I like teaching. And now, that I have no help in my experiments I found pointless to remain in Australia alone."
"I'm really happy you are here. I missed you, Severus. And your house missed you as well..."
"I'm not the Head of Slytherin..."
"Vector would be happy to hand his responsibilities over to you..."
"I will think about it, Minerva."
"Thanks. And if you have time, please, come to my quarters for tea. It would be nice to talk to an old friend."
Their new quarters were on the second floor. It was large with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a sitting room and a kitchenette. Hermione, who had been staying at the school for two weeks already, furnished and organised it nicely, while Severus had stayed in Snape Manor with the kids.
"Your ingredients and other things are in boxes in your old office. I didn't want to unpack them without you."
"It's all right. I want to do it myself anyway."
"I'll make some tea," Hermione said. "We will have some visitors in ten minutes, if I'm not mistaken..."
The door banged open.
"You were mistaken. It wasn't ten, but one," Severus smiled at Hermione and turned sneering toward the twins. "What are you doing here?"
"I came for Pommy, and Qui decided to accompany me." Qui nodded, but neither of them went to fetch the small opossum. They sat on the sofa next to Severus and grabbed a cup of tea. Hermione sat in the armchair facing them and smiled. They were staring expectantly at the clock on the wall, the family clock with several hands.
Five hands, precisely.
Four of them were pointing to the word 'HOME'.
The fifth pointed to 'AT WORK', but not for too long. Soon it clicked to 'AT WAY' and the fireplace hummed aloud and a tall figure stumbled out.
"DAD!" Quirke shouted and jumped on the figure's neck. "The sorting hat put me in Gryffindor like Mum and you!"
Harry looked at her with his brows furrowed.
"What are you doing here? You should be in your dormitories!"
"Daaaaad," Qui ignored Harry's annoyance. "And Sev is Ravenclaw!"
"Let go of my neck, Qui. If I remember correctly we agreed to meet on the weekend..."
"It's all right, Harry. They just wanted to tell you the good news," Hermione said soothingly.
"And Pommy's leg has broken and grandad fixed it and we came to fetch him..."
"And I will accompany them to their dormitories," Hermione added calmingly.
Harry pressed a kiss on his daughter's forehead and put her down.
"Congratulations," he said finally. He turned to his son, and pulled him in a short hug as well. "I'm proud of you, son."
Severus looked at Sev, and saw the love and admiration the boy felt towards his father. They were very close: Harry and Sev, while Qui generally chose him, Severus, for the matters she couldn't discuss with her mother.
"Go to your dormitories now. It's the first day, and you have to meet your classmates... See you on Saturday. Ares and Ron will be here to welcome you to England," he shuddered as he thought of Ron's three children, but at least Ares didn't have any. His friend still didn't want to settle down. Ron, to everybody's surprise had married Padma Patil not long after their graduation. His red-headed friend had soon become brothers-in-law with Neville.
All the Weasleys were already married with children. It was just a matter of time before Hogwarts would be flooded by a new generation of Weasleys. The first would come next year: Bill's first born daughter.
Harry stepped to Hermione and kissed her neck. 'I will be in Severus's office, luv. I'll help him to unpack."
"I don't think I will wait for you, Harry. Tomorrow's classes, you know..."
When Hermione left with the children and Sev's opossum, he collapsed next to Severus.
"Hi, Dad," he groaned out.
"No," Harry yawned. "Too many new faces. The only one I knew was Cassia. Oh, and Neville, who works in the hospital's greenhouse and potions laboratory," they both smiled remembering an old conversation about potions labs and Longbottoms. "The other Healers and nurses were absolutely unfamiliar. Oh, and they were mostly just staring at me. I think I too got used to be a normal human being in Australia. This attention... The-man-who-killed-You-Know-Who... I didn't hear that crap for years..." he massaged his neck tiredly.
Severus looked at the exposed skin of Harry's neck and spotted the white lines of the scars clearly visible.
"You forgot to put a glamourie on them," he said softly.
"No," Harry shrugged. "They would know about them sooner or later. And I have nothing to hide."
The scars reminded Severus of another thing he wanted to tell Harry.
"Avery's son is here in Hogwarts."
A slight frown appeared on Harry's face, but faded away quickly.
"The poor thing. Did he grow up in an orphanage, I suppose?"
"The hat put him in Gryffindor."
Harry's eyes became distant in thought. It took a while to him to speak up.
"I'm happy to hear it. I wouldn't like history repeating itself."
Severus stood up and stretched himself.
"Let's go to my office. Hermione told me she didn't unpack my boxes."
"Oh," Harry's head jerked up. "Do you have the Memory Potion with you?"
"Just the ingredients. Why?"
"I wanted to try to brew the antidote and modify that so that it could help with serious amnesiac cases. If we add some crushed bat wings and porcupine quills..."
Harry's enthusiasm apparently infected Severus's mood as well, because he nodded excitedly.
"Let's try that!"
Later, after beginning to brew the Memory Potion, they continued their previous conversation.
"I'm happy I accepted this Healer job," Harry said and stirred the potion twice counter-clockwise.
"I think your experiences with memory and soul healing are exceptional," Severus said and powdered some dried asphodel.
"Cassia said the same," he cast a warming charm on the next ingredients before adding them. "Although it's still a miracle to me that you regained your memories. You are the only one I know. My experiences and the experts say it's not possible..."
"Don't be ridiculous. I regained them." Both laughed. "And if you want to know, it's still seems a miracle to me that you survived the Dementor's kiss. You are the only one I know."
Harry took the powdered asphodel from Severus and slowly stirred it into the concoction.
"Do you still think it was because of Malfoy's oath?"
"What else can I think?" Severus voice was slightly irritated.
"Your and Hermione's love for example," Harry said quietly. "I remember being nowhere and feeling that somewhere you were waiting for me..."
Severus couldn't answer. He sat down and buried his face in his hands; he remembered.
After the Identifier's spell sounded harshly in the silent room, Harry's body went limp in his arms. Severus refused to look up, he lowered his head and burrowed his face in Harry's shoulder.
Quiet noises of footsteps began to fill his surroundings, and soft words of quiet conversations could be heard. The weight at his left side became even heavier as the girl had almost collapsed at him.
"Harry..." Hermione whispered through her tears. "Don't go, please..."
Severus shifted Harry's body to put it on the bed, as he suddenly felt the urge to comfort the girl. But just as he started to turn around with his burden a small cough and a painful moan stopped him.
"Don't move, please," the voice was dry and hoarse. "It hurts."
Severus was so shocked that his suddenly too weak arms simply released Harry, who fell onto the ground unceremoniously.
Everybody in the room halted in shock and turned towards them.
Harry released another painful moan.
"Harry!" Hermione shrieked and in the next moment she dropped to her knees next to him. But Severus was as fast as her. He gathered the conscious boy into his arms and lifted him onto the bed.
"Harry?" he asked weakly.
"It's finished," Harry whispered.
"What? What are you talking about?" Severus asked in fear.
"The cold. The nothing. Am I dead?"
"No," Sirius's voice came from the bed's end. As Severus looked at his direction he could see everybody standing around them. "You are in the Infirmary in Hogwarts."
"Sirius?" Harry opened his eyes, but closed them quickly. "There's too much light..."
"How do you feel?" Madam Pomfrey's voice missed its usual dutiful edge.
"My scars... are burning," Harry muttered and opened his eyes again, but this time he was more cautious and didn't open them widely. "And... I'm thirsty..."
"Of course," Madam Pomfrey suddenly found her bedside manner as her look swept around. "Since he is alive, you can meet him anytime later. Now, get out!"
Severus had never understood how the nurse had been so efficient, but in five minutes there were only a few people in the room: Severus, Hermione, Sirius, Armena and Anne. Poppy was about to open her mouth to protest, but Severus's death glare forced her to remain silent.
Harry fought to sit up, and Severus helped him. The first moments were just heart-wrenching. Harry looked at them with a small amount of confusion in his eyes.
"I thought I would never see you again. I should be dead," suddenly, his voice stopped and he whirled to Severus. "Is... is he dead...?" he whispered, fear transparent in his tone.
"Yes, he is. Absolutely. He will never return," Severus said firmly and hugged him. Harry's tension lessened.
"Oh..." but in that moment he spotted Hermione over Severus's shoulder. The change was abrupt: all the blood rushed out of his face and his pupils dilated. "Hermione?"
This was the moment when Severus decided to leave the two alone: he ushered the others into the corridor and closed the Infirmary's door. Once they were out Severus turned to Sirius to explain his decision, but as his eyes met Black's he knew that Black had known. Andrus stepped up to them.
"What happened? Why did you come out?"
'Family reunion,' Severus thought to himself, but aloud he said, "Let's go to my office. I have some things to tell you..."
"I have some others as well..." Andrus muttered and pulled out an envelope from his pocket. "An official letter from the Ministry of Magic, Department of Magical Promises and Oaths. Mr Boot gave it to me as the official lawyer for Harry."
Sirius looked around, the corridor was still too crowded.
"Let's go, then. I don't think it's public..."
"I think we can begin with the letter, Andrus," Severus said as they were sitting around a small coffee table in his office. They were only three: Armena had decided not to come and had taken Anne for a walk around the lake.
"I've already read it. It's practically Dragon Malfoy's letter to Harry..."
"What?" Severus jumped to his feet.
"Sit down. No need to jump, Severus. I know you were related, but..."
"Draco wanted to save Harry..." Severus's voice was thin with emotions, but Sirius's sceptical snort and Andrus's sneer were telling another story.
"I don't think so, Severus, but I think it's better if you read it yourself," he handed over the letter. Sirius stood up and stepping behind Severus peered into the letter over the Potions Master's shoulder.
The 31st of March, 1997.
I hereby inform you that I made an oath on my mother's name to support you in killing Tom Marvolo Riddle. Through this oath I bound myself to you and I remain your bonded until you defeat him.
I still hate you, but last night, Tom Riddle tortured and killed my mother, because she refused to enter his service, and knowing that you are one of those who could actually kill the monster, I decided I would do anything to help you in your fight against him, even if you are the son of a mudblood bitch and a stupid pureblood. We are related too (to my utter disgust, I still have to add) and that idiot Noblestone spell is just nagging me to leave you alone – and now I promise I will give up my revenge against you, if you kill the monster. A half-blood monster at that – even you are better than him.
So, Potter, since I made this oath (even if it was made in your absence) to support you in killing the monster, this oath now compels you to revenge my eventual death as if it becomes necessary.
I trust in your idiotic Gryffindor nobility that you won't abuse this bond and you will use it only to defeat Tom Marvolo Riddle.
Yours in revenge,
Dragon Fortes Malfoy
"He wanted revenge..." then, Draco's entire behaviour made sense to Severus. The tear-soaked face, the self-sacrificing act... No, there hadn't been any liking towards Harry or even Severus, there had been only the sheer wish to revenge his mother's death – it had been so like Severus's life-changing decision, when he had made his oath to Albus... To revenge his brother... nothing else.
"Typical Malfoy," Black muttered behind him, and he had to agree.
"I suppose it was Harry's bond with Malfoy which prevented him from falling into the darkness and remaining soulless," Andrus's voice was even and calm. Sirius nodded.
"It's quite possible."
"The boy-who-lived..." Severus murmured in awe. But he tried to snap out of it. "I have some other news, though..."
"Good or bad?" Sirius asked furrowing his brows.
"It depends," Severus shrugged, but didn't go on.
"Spit it out," Sirius said and sat in the opposite armchair.
"Miss Granger is expecting Harry's child by October or November."
As Severus looked at his two companions, Andrus seemed absolutely calm, although he was never close to Harry. Sirius's face, on the other side, turned an ugly grey-greenish colour.
"Ouch..." was all he could say. After ten minutes of total silence he continued. "We have to do something. If the media finds out..."
Severus turned to his cousin.
"Can Harry be blamed for... sleeping with her?"
"It depends how old she was when the act took place," he answered matter-of-factly.
"Sixteen, I guess."
"That's all right, then. But Sirius is right. If you don't want your life to turn upside-down, you have to leave England for a while…"
Andrus had suggested they move to Australia. They had accepted and had bought a house there close to Melbourne. Harry had finished his studies there in Hopsands Magic Academy the following year, while Hermione had followed him one year later. Severus had encouraged both of them to study, so Harry finally had begun his studies as a Healer via owl, but he had remained home with the children and Severus, and their potions had soon become famous worldwide. It had been quite humorous that Harry had achieved his masters in Potions sooner than in Healing Studies, although the latter had been his main course. Hermione had gone to study History in Sydney in a muggle university, and after achieving a Masters in her subject she had been invited to teach in Hopsands Magic Academy.
But as time had gone by, they all had become more and more anxious to return until Harry had received an invitation from St Mungo's to be a Healer at the hospital. At that time, however, Severus and he had been in the last phase of their research on the modified Dreamless Sleep Potion and the twins were only nine, so they had decided to stay for another two years.
When Minerva had heard that they had been planning to return, she had immediately offered the History job to Hermione, and St Mungo's had offered Severus a job in the hospital's laboratory as the Head Potions Master of the institution and even his first working place had offered him the same: he could have been the Head Potions Master of the Institute for Health Potions Research.
But this summer, when Minerva had finally sent the message that the post of the Potions Master was waiting for him if he had wanted, he had chosen that without further hesitation.
It was so simple: he loved to teach.
"Let's go home. Tomorrow I have to go to work, and you have children to intimidate..." Harry's playful voice snapped him out of his memories.
"I don't think I can manage it," Severus smiled. "With Qui and Sev amongst them..."
"Age has mellowed you, Severus..."
"Age? What age?" Severus raised an eyebrow. "I'm only fifty. It was you, who turned me into a grandfather too soon. I have at least one hundred years remained to live if I can survive your kids for seven years here..." he muttered in mock annoyance. "And we can't go now. We have to wait until this stupid concoction of yours cools down somewhat."
"It can cool down very well without us, Severus. Tomorrow, we can begin the counter-potion. Let's go." Severus grunted, but gave up resisting. "Anyway, did you decide what to say to your students in their first lesson? The old speech? 'You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potionmaking. As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic...'"
"Hey!" Severus yelled, but Harry didn't care.
"... I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses...'"
"Stop it!" Severus groaned menacingly, but Harry ignored him.
"...I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death -- if you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach... Oh, and the Snape twins – our new celebrities..."
"... and myself as another celebrity, of course," Harry continued, but frowned. "No... that last sentence sounded too much like Lockhart, not you. Apropos, Lockhart now is one of my patients, so if you don't behave I will restore his memories and send him back to Hogwarts..."
"Come on, Severus! I hope my children can see their grandfather standing in front of the whole class hissing the words softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes."
"You're impossible," Severus finally laughed.
"No more than you," Harry rolled his eyes.
Severus opened his mouth to answer, but a jaw-breaking yawn stopped him.
"You were right," he said finally. "Let's go or I will be unable to utter this stupid speech tomorrow..."
"So will you say it then?"
"Of course. What else were you waiting for?"
"Nothing else," Harry smiled and shook his head. "It will be perfect."
Severus playfully hit his back. Harry chuckled, shook his head and wrapped his arm around Severus's waist as they crossed toward the door. They headed out of the office looking like any father and son, and nobody could have guessed that they'd ever been anything but.
The door clinked quietly as it shut closed behind their retreating backs.
Please, again: REVIEW!
At least this once.
I think that after more than 300.000 words written in a foreign language, I deserve at least one comment. Even if it's not more than a thanks.
To my reviewers:
Many, many thanks for your encouraging and loving comments! I hope you all enjoyed my stories, and I'm sorry if I caused disappointment to anybody. I tried to do my best, but it wasn't always easy. I'm sorry, if I didn't listen to your opinions or I shunned you. I'm sorry if I upset you. But your comments gave me the power to continue again and again.