Never Too Late

By Rosaleen

SUMMARY: The Hogwarts Headmaster enlists a little help to give Severus and Harry something they've missed out on.

DISCLAIMER: J.K. Rowling owns all.

A/N Thanks to excessivelyperky for the inspirational prologue she sent me. This is something that has been on my mind since OOTP but she gave me the push I needed to write it. I have adapted the prologue slightly (hope you don't mind perky) to fit this story. This is not set in the GSFI universe.

* means a character's thoughts.

Chapter 1-Musings and a Plan

Albus Dumbledore looked out his window. The Hogwarts Express was leaving once more for the summer holidays and he watched Hagrid shooing the chattering children into the carriages bound for Hogsmeade station. Turning back, he looked at the wreckage in his office. Poor Harry! He really had abandoned the boy this year, hadn't he? Now he was consumed by grief and going back to an aunt and uncle who neither knew nor cared about his pain.

He gazed outside again and saw Snape sitting by the lake. At least the Potions Master hadn't taken refuge in his dungeons this time, although Albus wouldn't have blamed him after the lecture he had just given the younger man. There was no excuse for stopping the Occlumency lessons with Harry no matter how reluctant the boy was to learn.

Had he been too harsh? He had told Harry he had been mistaken in thinking Snape could put his feelings aside to teach him Occlumency. "Some wounds run too deep for the healing" he had said.

Snape had had a bad year, what with a full workload at Hogwarts even without his other duties. No doubt his temper had been pushed to the limit through lack of food and rest. Madame Pomfrey had complained that her most difficult patient had lost a full stone this year. Weight he could not afford to lose. Dumbledore knew he should have considered that Sirius Black's constant presence at the Order's Headquarters might have made Severus too tense to eat or rest there. Umbridge had fulfilled the same function here. Also, he reminded himself, Harry had let his curiosity get the better of him and entered the penseive, viewing memories that Severus never intended him to see. The headmaster was unsure which memories the boy had seen but he was shrewd enough to suspect that they involved James and Sirius. There had been much trouble between Severus and those boys at school.

"I abandoned you too, Severus," Dumbledore thought sorrowfully.

Ironically Harry and Severus had more in common than either one would dream of admitting. Both had suffered unhappy childhoods and the feeling that they were somehow different from their peers. This thought gave Albus an idea. He'd been reading something recently about a strange Muggle treatment called "inner child therapy". Going to his cabinet, he took out two small bottles. One contained a blue potion, the other yellow. Next he called his deputy headmistress.


Sitting in the now cleaned office Minerva McGonagall smiled at the headmaster.

"I think it's a wonderful idea. Of course I'll help and I'm sure Hagrid would be happy to as well. Naturally we'll need the necessary supplies."

"That's where I'd appreciate your assistance and Poppy's too, if she has time before she leaves."

"I'm sure she would be delighted."

"Splendid," beamed Albus, "I'll send Remus, Alastor and Tonks for Harry tomorrow. I want to begin with Severus. Give him some time to adjust."

"Of course," agreed Minerva. "I'll fetch Poppy and we'll leave for Hogsmeade straight away."


Once McGonagall was gone Dumbledore sent a house-elf to find Severus and bring him to his office. Within five minutes a very sullen and wary-looking Potions Master was sitting opposite him at his desk.

"I want to apologise, Severus. I spoke too hastily. Last year was terrible for you in many ways and I was no help at all. I think it's time you had a little break," he held out the blue bottle to Snape who stared at it in surprise.

"A de-ageing potion?" the dark haired man raised his eyebrow.

"Yes, Severus," answered Dumbledore softly, "It is quite strong and should make the drinker two-and-a-half years old." (AN Doesn't that sound familiar? Don't worry, it will be different. There's more to come)

"We have an antidote here in case of an emergency, but things should be quiet with the students gone and so many of the Death Eaters in Azkaban."

"I'm sorry?" Severus hoped he had completely misunderstood the old headmaster. "Severus, you never had the chance to be a child, did you?" Dumbledore looked at him with wise blue eyes, "Not in any meaningful sense. I want to give you that chance. You deserve it. Minerva and Hagrid will help too. Let us take care of you for a while."

Severus's shoulders slumped. He was too exhausted to argue and if this was a temporary escape from the hell that was his life, it would be very un- Slytherin not to take it. Although he greatly resented Dumbledore's attitude at times, he had to admit that he did trust him. Taking the blue potion, he gulped it down without another thought.

Dumbledore had read carefully about the de-ageing process and had made sure Severus sat in a large armchair. He watched as the man's eyes slipped closed and he slumped in the chair. A yellow light surrounded him and in minutes it faded, leaving a very small child sitting in a pile of black robes. Very carefully Albus approached the child, who regarded him with wide dark eyes filled with sadness and anxiety. *No little child should look like that,* thought the headmaster. Crouching down so he was at eye- level with little Severus, he reached out and waited for long moments before the child moved forward to be picked up. It was as if something shattered inside the small boy. He opened his mouth and began to sob in loud hiccoughing gasps. Albus held him, rocked him and patted his back whispering, "My poor child. It's going to be all right."

Eventually the cries turned to small whimpers as the child fell into a deep sleep. Albus knew that the shock of being de-aged, whether or not it was planned, was great and the drinker required rest at first. Settling down into the chair with the sleeping child in his arms Dumbledore thought about the fun they were going to have. There was just one more thing he had to do.

It was never too late to have a happy childhood.


R&R please and let me know what you think. Thanks to my beta reader excessivelyperky.