He looked up with a start as Dumbledore and Potter returned.
"How is he Albus?"

"Awake, thank Merlin. Still weak, but he'll recover quickly now. Do you feel up to a lesson now Harry?"

Potter shook his head and silently left the hall, rude brat, not even having the courtesy to answer.

"Leave him alone for a while, Mark," Dumbledore said, a sad smile on his face. "He'll be outside, I imagine, so I suggest that you return to Gryffindor tower, maybe you could try out a few spells with your wand."

"Yes sir," Evans replied quickly, copying Potter's usual tone and looking a bit disappointed. When he'd gone, Dumbledore felt free to talk freely.

"Remus was in a loop of self-incrimination. That's an affect that can occur when a person believes they've failed a Wizard's Debt, Oath or similar bond. He blamed himself for James and Lily's deaths, for distrusting Sirius, for not killing Pettigrew when he had the chance and for not being there to save Sirius soon enough."

"That wasn't his fault, it was Potter's and mine."

"NEVER say that again, Severus! Sirius' death was no one's fault. We all made mistakes. I did, Harry did, you did, and even Sirius did. The difference is that we've come to terms with it by now; Harry has not. He really has the most impressive guilt complex I've seen."

"So you're another of Potter's lackeys," Severus sneered, feeling slightly uncomfortable at this open discussion of his feelings and, as usual, hiding it behind his customary mask. He stood up, spun on his heel and stalked out, his black robes billowing behind him. Dumbledore watched him go, shaking his head slightly.

Potter did not appear at lunch or dinner, so Severus was very doubtful as to whether he'd feel like turning up for his Occlumency lesson. After all, it was unlikely the boy would have the forethought to send him a message asking to cancel the lesson. He came, however, and when he came, he looked just as stubborn, just as insensitive, just as difficult as ever. There were no signs of guilt on that face.

"You decided to show up then, Potter. Have you read the book Granger gave you?"

"No sir, not yet."

"Disappointing, one might almost think you weren't taking this seriously. Make sure you do so before our next lesson. Legilimens!"

Sev's mind was filled with Harry's memories, he hadn't bothered to try searching for a particular time or theme. He watched, helpless, as Black fell through the veil and Lupin grabbed Potter to stop him following, as the Diggory boy was struck by Avada Kedavra and as the Dark Lord rose again. That was enough, more than enough, for him. He terminated the spell, breathing heavily himself. Potter was kneeling on the floor, curled up tightly, hugging his knees to his chest and hiding his face in them.

"Potter?" Severus asked, surprised and wondering at this reaction, far more extreme than any he'd achieved before.

Potter raised a deathly white face to look at him. His glasses were lying discarded on the floor next to him, and his emerald eyes looked greener than ever and were filled with tears that spilled uncontrollably down his cheeks. He looked about thirteen, twelve even, not sixteen by any stretch of the imagination, and more like Lily than ever.

Despite his obvious pain, Potter hadn't made a single sound. Then again, he didn't seem at all aware of anything around him either. Severus knelt down beside him, intending to help the boy to his feet. He was surprised to say the least when something seemed to snap within the boy and Potter grabbed his robes and clung to him like a lifeline as he began to cry properly, great, raking sobs, for what was probably the first time in years.

Maybe Dumbledore had been right about some of it. Severus lifted Potter of the floor easily, surprised at how little he weighed, and reached out to summon a small vial of liquid - a very strong sleeping draught, which he poured down Potter's throat, murmuring soothingly to persuade him to swallow. The boy went limp in moments.

Harry's POV

Harry woke from a mercifully dreamless sleep to a blinding headache. He opened his eyes to very familiar surroundings.

"Not again," he groaned, looking around at the Hogwarts Infiramry. It wasn't even the beginning of term! Then his memory of last night came flooding back to him: the Occlumency, how he'd broken down and started crying in front of Snape of all people. . .

"I'm here to see Harry," Snape said firmly from just beyond his bed, his voice easily heard through the curtains. Harry? Since when did Snape call him Harry?

"He's still sleeping Severus," Madam Pomfrey said, sounding a bit timid. That was a first. Normally she ruled over her domain with a will of iron.

"I know quite well exactly how long a dose of my own sleeping potion lasts, thank you. And I know that it was an exact dose because I was the one to give it to him. Potter has just woken up, and is no doubt listening to this conversation with a certain amount of amusement. (Harry hastily wiped the grin from his face) I have come to give him a second dose."

Whether Madam Pomfrey agreed or not Harry never knew but Snape swept through the curtains around Harry's bed a second later. He was holding a small vile of violet coloured potion in his hand.

"Don't say anything, Potter," he ordered. "An fortunate side affect of this potion is a slight hoarseness of the voice which could cause a significant amount of discomfort should you attempt to talk. Drink all of this."

Harry downed it in one, not daring to argue, and grimaced at the taste. He just managed to stay awake long enough to see Snape leave again before dropping back into oblivion.

When Harry woke again, he felt completely normal and his headache was gone. He opened his eyes and sighed: he was still in the infirmary.

"Right on time, Harry," Professor Dumbledore said. Harry turned to see him seated comfortably in a chair by his bed. "Professor Snape said you'd be waking. Are you feeling better?"

"Yes thank you sir."

"This is rather impressive, even for you, I have to say. I don't believe any other student has ever actually managed to be admitted to the infirmary before term starts. A new school record perhaps."

"How long have I been asleep?"

"According to Professor Snape, each dose gives you exactly eight hours sleep, he was very definite on that. You've had two, so sixteen hours. Before you ask, no he hasn't seen fit to enlighten me as to the circumstances leading to you being brought here, and I haven't enquired further, although if it is the way to make you take a nice long rest before term begins, it can't be such a bad thing."

"Can I get up now?"

"Tomorrow Harry, it's the evening at the moment, so you'd just be going to bed anyway. You've been under a lot of strain recently and you need to recover. Don't worry, I've been keeping Mark amused and our new Quidditch assistant has been continuing his lessons. I'm going to give you another two doses now. Oh yes, and Professor Snape said he would talk to you when you're up and about again."

"Sir, wait, how is Profess. . . Remus?"

"Much better, you'll be pleased to here. He'll be arriving here very soon himself, since he'll be taking up the post of Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor again. It seems he is the only man for the post. It seems to have a bad reputation." Harry took his potion.

"He's a really good teacher," he said, before falling asleep again, wondering just what Snape was going to say to him. It was unlikely to be pleasant, far more likely to be along the lines of 'stop acting like a three year old and learn this before more people get killed because of your inane stupidity'.

Sev's POV

"He's reached you," Dumbledore said gently. "Hasn't he?"

There was no need to explain who he was talking about to the other man staring blindly out of the window of his office.

"He looks too damned like Lily," Severus said, as matter of factly as he could.

"As opposed to being a miniature version of James?"

"Well, yes, I suppose."

"Harry's inherited his father's talent, some of his looks, his love of Quidditch and his loyalty."

"Loyalty!? James Potter?" Sev exclaimed incredulously.

"Believe it or not Severus, James was painstakingly loyal to his friends. It takes great courage to be with a werewolf when he transforms, yet James did it regularly. He risked his life to save yours once."

"That was to save his own skin!"

"No, he was never in any danger until he came to rescue you. In saving you, he saved Sirius from expulsion and you from Remus and probably Remus from execution as a dangerous beast. Believe it or not, he saved you for your own sake, not for just for Sirius'. When he left his Animagus form, he was immediately in just as much danger as you were but he stayed with you until he was sure you were safe. That is correct, isn't it?"

There was a long pause.

"Yes. I wronged him, Lily too."

"James was an idiot as a boy and possessed many of the failings that you ascribe to him, and he freely admitted to that. I wouldn't feel too bad about it. He was also an honorable man. There is nothing that you can do for him now, but so much you can do for Harry."

"Such as what? The boy hates me."

"Tell him stories. What he longs for more than anything is to know his parents. I saw how proud he used to look when Sirius said how much he was like James. You destroyed his knowledge of them in one fell swoop, its up to you to give it back."

Dumbledore watched in satisfaction as Severus nodded thoughtfully, then continued,

"Look a bit deeper into him and you'll see a lot of Lily there too, not just in the eyes. He has Lily's shyness, though he hides it better, her empathy, kindness and intelligence. Harry never wanted to be the Boy Who Lived - he had no choice. As far as I can tell, by wizarding law you and Remus would become his guardians after Sirius and Cassandra's deaths. Put in a bit of effort and I think you'll make excellent godfathers. You could start by washing your hair."

Severus smiled, this sally breaking through his confused thoughts.

"Yes Albus," he said obediently and left. The unusually thoughtful look on his face intrigued Remus Lupin when they passed in the corridor, but he wisely decided to ignore it and passed without comment.