Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter in any way, shape, or form, nor am I making any money from this story. I do, however, own the plot and any characters that appear in the story that are not apart of the original series.

A Different Reality

By Constellations

- Explorations and Encounters -


When Harry rose the next morning, he immediately sensed something was wrong. Thinking about it for a moment, he realized it was quiet, too quiet. While never a morning person, his godfather was always up at precisely seven o'clock to prepare for the day. The familiar sounds of clinking vials, simmering cauldrons, and scratching quills failed to greet him as he left his bedroom and headed into the hallway. Harry didn't bother to check the larger bedroom. He headed straight to his godfather's private workroom and lab. Sev was a man of habit, and the thought of brewing challenging potions and conducting new experiments always drew him to his lab in the mornings.

Walking in Harry frowned. The lab looked exactly as it had the night before, the cauldrons were neatly stacked in the corner and all ingredients were packed away on their respective shelves. Sev hadn't touched it at all. How odd. Harry though to himself as he headed back towards his room. Maybe he had a meeting, though I don't remember him saying anything yesterday. Changing quickly into a set of robes, Harry slipped on his shoes and walked down the hall. He had been meaning to explore the higher levels of the castle today anyways. He'd simply come to check back after he'd satisfied his curiosity of the towers. And maybe after lunch he would stop and visit Hagrid. The half giant had mentioned several days before about getting a new dog and had seemed very excited at the prospect.

Giving a cheerful greeting to his parents' portrait, Harry headed out to the parlor which Sev, having few visitors, had converted into an unofficial office. When he entered, Harry could barely stifle the laugh which threatened to break free at the sight before him. He had grown up listening to the infamous tales of his godfather's drunken exploits, and although the incidents were few and far between, the situations that Sev had gotten himself in were always hilarious. It was a well known truth in Death's household that Severus Snape could not hold his liquor, and his dad loved to tell those embarrassing stories whenever Sev visited. However, Harry did have a feeling some were a bit exaggerated.

Tiptoeing towards the large chair, Harry grinned in amusement at his godfather's slouched position and the drool that threatened to fall from the corner of his mouth. It was rare sight to see. Taking the empty bourbon bottle and glass from Severus' hands, Harry placed them carefully on his godfather's desk, wrinkling his nose at the smell of the alcohol. After searching through Sev's emergency stash of potions, hidden in a secret panel, Harry found what he was looking for. Gently, he placed what he assumed to be a hangover draught on an end table beside the chair. His godfather's tiny scrawl was infamous at school for being impossible to read, and the few students who were able to decipher it were highly commended for their achievement.

Shaking his head once more at the sight and wishing he could conjure a camera, Harry took out a sheet of parchment and a quill from the desk drawer to write a note explaining he would be gone. Severus was a surprisingly heavy sleeper, no matter what students' believed, and when he was in such a drunken state it was better to let him sleep it off. Harry doubted that even the whole of Hogwarts collapsing to ruins would wake him now.

The note finished and signed, Harry left through the portrait hole and headed out into the lower dungeons. The higher levels of the castle would have to wait until later. He had more pressing business at the moment.

After becoming hopelessly lost, Harry had made it a point in the following weeks after meeting Peeves to learn the dungeons backwards and forwards. In the depths of the castle, few portraits graced the walls, which made it difficult if one did lose their way. Harry had to wonder if this was on purpose.

By now he was proficient enough to maneuver his way throughout the dark maze of corridors, dead ends, and deserted rooms that encompassed the dungeons with little mishap. It had been necessary to learn quickly, after all, the dungeons were where he spent most of his time. The rest of the castle, however, was another matter. While he knew several paths to the Great Hall and had followed several of the staff around the school, he was still unfamiliar with the lay out of the floors above ground. Harry had hoped to be accustomed with the school by the time students would be arriving in the next fortnight. However, circumstances had made him unable to explore the higher reaches of the castle.

This was something he was beginning to regret…. a lot.

Harry wanted very badly to hurt whoever had had the brilliant idea to charm the staircases. They were one of the few things at Hogwarts that he'd had trouble adjusting to. Why would anyone want moving staircases in the first place? They were frustrating and very inconvenient. And they always happened to move at the worst times. It was after such a staircase had switched positions (that he'd happened to be climbing at the time) on him, that he'd resorted to asking a portrait for directions. And while portraits are generally nice about the whole thing, Harry had found out that asking them for directions was not always the brightest thing to do. For, inevitably, when you ask a portrait for directions, the surrounding portraits will want to put in their 'two cents' as well. This leads (as he discovered) to a great deal of confusion, since they often give contradictory information and like to make directions as complicated as possible. So after finally making sense of the directions, which included several of the portraits' life stories mixed in, Harry headed off in (what he hoped was) the right direction.

Harry stood in front of the statue and frowned. After his dealings with the portraits, he'd had little mishap in reaching Dumbledore's office (even though the directions had been a little off). And although that challenge had been met, a new problem had promptly arisen.

Dumbledore had changed the password.

He'd gotten the last three weeks of passwords from Peeves, who'd agreed with mischievous glee to listen in on any visitors who happened to pay a visit to the Headmaster. Harry was sure he could've drawn them out of Sev, somehow, but that would have sparked his godfather's curiosity and suspicion. This way had been much more appealing. But, it did have its drawbacks. Dumbledore must've just changed it last night. I wonder why he changed it so early. He usually keeps them longer than two days.

Harry glared at the gargoyle, which almost looked as if it was smirking at him. Stupid statue. The boy sighed and turned away, only to walk into a bright swirl of purple and silver.

A voice chuckled pleasantly and the figure adjusted its half moon glasses. "Well hello, Harry my boy, what has you up and about so early?"

Startled Harry took a step back and looked up at Dumbledore with a small smile on his face. Even though he had seen the Headmaster before in the Great Hall for meals and initially after he'd arrived at the castle, this was the first time Harry had seen the man up close. "Actually, I was waiting for you sir."

Dumbledore's eyes twinkled with his familiar mischief. "Oh?"

"Yes, sir," Harry said, "It's about Severus."

Dumbledore grew serious, "Hmm, why don't we step into my office and then you can tell me all about what he's gotten himself into now." He gestured towards the gargoyle, "Shall we?" The passageway opened at a wave of Dumbledore's hand. Harry nodded and followed him up the spiral stairs, all the while wondering how Dumbledore had managed to do that.

The inside of Dumbledore's office was a pleasant surprise to Harry. He'd pictured a small room with a more prestigious air about it, bookshelves lining the walls; stuffed with old dusty books, musty and yellowed from age. And perhaps a huge desk and a plush, high backed chair to match. Instead, he discovered an airy and spacious set of rooms, crammed with artifacts and personalized with various knick knacks and souvenirs that belonged to the current Headmaster. Dumbledore's touch was evident in the room, from the bright draperies hung from the large windows, framing the picturesque scene of the Hogwarts grounds to the intricately carved perch where Fawkes was currently sitting, staring curiously at Harry.

Dumbledore sat down behind his desk and began rummaging in the drawers. He smiled and pulled out a small silver tin. "Would you like a lemon drop Harry? I'm quite fond of them myself."

Harry eyed the tin filled with the small sunny yellow candies and shrugged. "Sure."

Though Harry hadn't thought it was possible, Dumbledore's eyes grew brighter upon hearing his answer and happily extended the tin to Harry before he reached for a candy himself. Harry's face contorted as the candy's sweet, yet sour favor filled his mouth.

The pair quickly finished off their lemon drops, while talking about such pleasant things as the weather and the lack of decent pairs of socks.

When they were finished, Dumbledore asked the house elves to serve breakfast in his office. Having not eaten since dinner the night before, Harry helped himself to toast with a large amount of strawberry jam, a steaming bowl of oatmeal, and a glass of pumpkin juice. While he ate, Harry told the Headmaster about Severus' predicament. Dumbledore simply gave Harry a small smile as the boy told his story and shook his head.

"Well, I'm sure he'll be incredibly disappointed to miss today's staff meeting, we were going to be discussing the holiday ball."

Harry snickered softly behind his glass of juice. His godfather would be anything but…though, he couldn't really tell for sure if Dumbledore was being sarcastic or not. He was a hard person to read.

"Hmm," Dumbledore murmured, "I suppose I have to save the ball for tomorrow, we wouldn't want Severus to miss out on all the fun after all."

Both chuckled at the thought. Severus hated dances with a frightening passion, and it was a vindictive pleasure of his to try and deduct as many points as possible off unsuspecting victims (students had quickly discovered that the central gardens while quite beautiful and picturesque, were not good places to conduct a romantic rendezvous; especially if they wished their respective houses to stay in the running for the House Cup).

They chatted a bit longer while Harry finished his breakfast. Dumbledore agreed to check on Severus later in the afternoon if he failed to turn up at lunch and Harry thanked him heartily. Relieved that he no longer had to worry about his godfather, Harry left the office with a lighter step. Now he finally had a chance to explore the towers.

It was only after Harry combed the higher reaches of the castle to his satisfaction, finding several secret passages and rooms that he decided to come down to the Great Hall. By then lunch was already over but Harry, exhilarated from exploring, was not very hungry.

The rest of the afternoon Harry spent out around the grounds, wandering through the various gardens and paths that lead around the castle, twisting and twining together.

As the sun began its descent in the sky and dinner approached, Harry bolted towards the Great Hall from across the lawn where he'd been watching the Whomping Willow, eager to sate his hunger with the wonderful array of foods that the house elves made each day.

Absentmindedly humming a tune, Harry slowed as he approached the entryway of the Great Hall. Seeing the table already laden with food, he happily plopped down into a chair. Scooping a large portion of mashed potatoes, cooked vegetables, and roast beef onto his plate Harry glanced at the door as many of the professors filtered into the Hall. Catching a flash of bright red hair and black leather at the entryway, the boy smiled and waved as Bill sauntered over and sat down across from Harry.

The red-head smiled. "Hey."

"Hi Bill."

"What've you been up to today?"

Harry gave Bill an innocent look. "Nothing."

"Mm Hmm. Now why do I find that hard to believe? Where did you go anyway? I didn't see you today at breakfast or lunch."

Harry poured himself a glass of milk from a brimming pitcher. "Well this morning I bumped into Dumbledore and I think he noticed how hungry I was and asked the house elves to serve breakfast."

Bill's eyebrows shot up in surprise but he didn't interrupt. "After that I finally got to explore the towers," Harry continued excitedly, "I found lots of cool hiding places. I didn't come down until after lunch was finished."

"Ah, remind me sometime to show you where the kitchens are, you really shouldn't miss meals like that."

Harry grinned. "I know, but I'm making up for it."

Bill rolled his eyes and started on his bowl of soup.

Harry was halfway through his plate when Severus finally stalked into the Hall, a thunderous expression on his face. All gossip among the staff came to halt as one by one they looked towards the door. Dumbledore smiled and gave Severus a small wave, his eyes twinkling brightly. Minerva McGonagall sat slightly stunned, but quickly shook it off and looked at him with concern. Bill froze momentarily, his spoon halfway to his mouth at the potion master's rumpled state. "Oh my." Harry snickered softly behind his hand. Bills statement summed everything up quite nicely.

Wearing his green robe and slippers from the night before, with dark circles under his eyes and in need of a shave, Severus was certainly a sight to see. Harry doubted any of the staff, except perhaps Dumbledore, had seen the man in such an unkempt state before. However, as shocking as that was, it was not the reason everyone was staring.

Severus glared as his fellow staff. "Well," he growled, "What are you all staring at?"

The other professors took the not so subtle hint and everyone quickly focused back on their meal and the latest round of scandalous gossip about the Wizarding World.

Reaching the table, Severus roughly pulled back a chair and sat down in a dignified huff at his usual spot at the end of the table next to Bill. The red-head was the first to speak while Severus shakily poured himself a cup of tea. "Well, um, I like the change in pace. The new look is uhh, unique. Blue never looked so…so blue." Bill's half-hearted smile melted away under the intensity of Severus' gaze.

Harry shot the red-head a look. "Oh, good one Bill, that really helped."

"Shut up."

"So, do you plan on keeping it that way Sev?" asked Harry. "I am kinda surprised you did it."

Severus glared at his tea bag and he dunked it in the hot water, "I'm not in the mood for this Harry."

Harry frowned, "Why are you so grouchy anyways? I thought the hangover potion would've worked by now."

Bill turned towards Severus, "You were drinking?"

"Sloshed," Harry piped in.



"I am present you know. And as an adult, it is perfectly legal for me to consume alcohol. Why on earth do you find the thought so scandalous?"

Bill shrugged, "I didn't think you were the type to let yourself go that far."

"Oh, and I assume that a perfect Gryffindor such as yourself has never been intoxicated." Severus retorted as he took a sip of his tea.

Sensing the impending outburst, Harry quickly diverted his godfather's attention. "So, the hangover potion didn't work?"

Severus looked across the table. "No… it did not work. That vial contained a hair dye, not a cure for hangovers."

Harry looked down at his plate. "I'm sorry. I really did think it was one. I was only trying to help."

His godfather sighed and the tension between the three slowly ebbed, "I know, and I apologize as well. Right now my head feels like it was squashed by a basilisk, and I'm not in the best of moods."

"You might want to re-label some of the vials," Harry ventured, "most people have a hard time reading your writing."

Severus gave Harry a glare in mock-anger. "My writing isn't that bad."

Bill laughed, "No it's appalling."

"Dumbledore can read it perfectly well." Severus said in defense.

"I also heard he uses a charm," Harry said mischievously, "You should try the roast beef. It's really good." He mentioned as Severus reached to fill his plate. Harry shoved his clean plate across the table. "Can I have dessert now? I finished everything."

Severus looked at him suspiciously. "Did you eat your vegetables?"

Harry grimaced, "Yeah, and they were nasty."

"You didn't slip them under the table or into your napkin?"

Harry glanced at Bill. The red-head winked at him and smiled. "I can vouch for him; he ate them, every single one."

Severus nodded. "Fine, then you can have dessert."

Harry smiled and slid his napkin into his robe pocket to be emptied later.

The time slipped past like sand through an hourglass as Harry continued his exploration of the castle. It was several days later, a week before students would be returning to Hogwarts, that Severus received a letter.

Harry had been outside at Hagrid's Hut waiting to meet the giant's latest pet. Eyeing the large three headed dog (which looked like an oversized black lab) with trepidation, he slowly edged away.

Hagrid chuckled and gave Harry a reassuring smile. "Don't you worry there Harry, he's just a pup. Wouldn't hurt a soul. Fluffy's playin' that's all."

The boy looked up at Hagrid, disbelief evident on his face. The "pup", only four months old, was already six feet high and was happily clomping back towards the odd pair with a large branch between his teeth, its other two heads chomping on the ends. Harry looked from the overgrown mutt to Hagrid.


Of all the names he could think to give the… animal before him… that was not one of them.

"Yep," Hagrid said proudly, "Ain't he a cute little feller?"

"Yeah…" Harry laughed uneasily as Fluffy careened back towards them, barely stopping in time. The dog dropped the stick at Hagrid's feet and the giant happily threw the stick back across the clearing. Tongue flopping out in the air, Fluffy bounded off with a loud bark. Harry looked at the wide grin on Hagrid's face and shook his head. The giant certainly loved his new pet.

Looking back at the castle he noticed a tall figure walking briskly down the lawn, robes flaring out behind him. Forgetting about Fluffy, Harry skipped over to where Severus had stopped on the grass. It must be important if his godfather had chosen to find him now (Severus made a point of staying off the grounds during midday, he burned very easily) instead of later on in the afternoon.

The sun shone through breaks in the clouds and a light breeze blew across the grounds from the east. The trees and flowers were in full bloom coloring the grounds in hues of lilac, indigo, yellow, pink, and crimson. Against the bright background, the potions master with his pale skin and black robes seemed horribly out of place, a spot of winter on a warm summer's day.

"What is it?" Harry asked, slightly out of breath.

"I received a letter from an old friend of mine, Narcissa. We attended Hogwarts together." Harry simply stared and waited to see where this was going. "She will be coming today before dinner and may stay over night at the castle. We have may things to discuss."

Harry kicked at the grass. "Oh, so you want me to behave."

"Well, I certainly hope you do. You'll want to make a good impression with her son."

Harry brightened and eagerly asked his age. "He'll be attending Hogwarts the same year you will be, if that's what you wanted to know."

The boy grinned and jumped into the air. "Yes."

Severus raised a brow at his godson's antics and smiled. "So what's his name?"

"Draco, named after his great grandfather Draconis, I believe."

"And they'll be coming today?"

"Yes, and Harry," Severus added before the boy rushed off to the castle. "No pranks. I want the boy intact when they leave."

The mischievous glint in Harry's eyes dulled for a moment before coming back to life. "Alright."

Harry peeked from behind a suit of armor near the entrance to the Great Hall and watched the blonde boy curiously. From what he'd seen so far, the boy was as stiff and aloof as he'd heard many purebloods were. In freshly pressed robes without a wrinkle or line, his hair slicked back, and an emotionless stare Draco Malfoy was the epitome of statue. His hopes deflated, Harry sighed in disappointment. It would have been nice to have someone his age to play with for a change.

The thought quickly left him and he shrugged. At least he'd still have his fun. He might've promised not to prank the boy, but that didn't mean Peeves couldn't. His godfather hadn't said a word about that. Not that Severus knew about their partnership…. But what he didn't know wouldn't hurt him.

The blonde turned away from his mother and swept his eyes around the hallway before the Hall. He seemed bored. His mother, a tall thin woman with similar white blonde hair and a graceful poise, politely greeted Severus as he walked in from the Great Hall.

As he approached, he gave a curt nod and lightly kissed Narcissa's outstretched hand. "It is a pleasure to see you again."

She gave him a small smile, breaking her smooth mask. "The pleasure is mine. It has been far too long Severus. You should come over for tea."


Narcissa gave him a knowing look and put her hand on her son's shoulder, pulling him in front. "You know my son, Draco."

Draco remained silent and stared at Severus, curiosity evident in his features.

Severus smirked, "Yes, indeed." His gaze shifted from the pair and Harry leaned farther into the shadows as his godfather settled on the suit of armor. He turned back to Narcissa. "Shall we head to my quarters? The house elves can draw up tea while we are there; there is much to catch up on." She glanced in silent question at Draco. Severus winked and looked again at the suit of armor. Narcissa seemed to catch on because she too looked straight where Harry was hiding.

"My godson will turn up soon I imagine," Severus continued. Harry scowled, angry that he had given him away. There was no point in hiding now, though he refused to reveal himself until after the adults chose to leave. "Perhaps Draco should wait in the Great Hall. I believe the ceiling will be of interest to him."

Narcissa nodded at Draco and the boy headed into the Hall after hesitating for a moment.

As the adults began to walk away, Severus look back at the armor one last time and added, "I'm sure Draco would enjoy a small tour of the castle. Don't even think about leaving him alone."

When their footsteps on the stone floor faded, Harry slipped out from behind the suit of armor and slowly crossed the corridor into the Great Hall. Draco was looking up at the enchanted ceiling in awe, the cool mask of indifference melting from his face. Harry narrowed his eyes then smiled. Maybe this boy wouldn't be as boring as he seemed.

And maybe, just maybe, he wouldn't call Peeves after all.

Like it? Hate it? Love it? I'll admit…I crave feedback. So drop me a lineand tell me what you think about what I've written…This story is a continual work in progress and I always strive to make it better…plus I do love hearing what you have to say! …Constructive criticism, etc is appreciated and very helpful

If you have any questions, be sure to leave an e-mail address where I can reach you to answer them…

As always I have my beta, Ashley to thank for helping edit!

--A word from the author:

Due to "technical difficulties" with my beta's computer and studying for finals, I wasn't able to get this chapter out soon as I wanted to. But oh well, such is life.

Only a little bit longer until summer break and I can't wait. My mind's already checked out for vacation. But over the summer I should have more free time on my hands, which hopefully means more writing, faster updates, etc…

Thank you to all my reviewers and everyone else who took the time to read my story.

HecateDeMort, starangel2106, borne-shadow-childe, Kaaera, gaul1, Night-Owl123, bahjcb, Alaranth-88, Chantale-of-da-last-generation, Shadow101, Heather, destiny a. rose, Primavera-Tiempo, Silver Scale Serpent, Lady Jillyan Malfoy-Potter, Agar, clara200, Anarual, person, Fornax, Altariel Eldalote, The Lady Reaper of the Shadows, XyBulmaXy, schmanski, angelkitty77, summonfire, Thoroughly Blue, Phisper, CheddarTrek, takuto-kun, Sarah R Potter.

The-Ever-Lazy-One – Well, not as soon as I'd hoped, but a lot faster than last time…Thank you for your patience and understanding. I hope you enjoyed his chapter.

liza123 – He will be friends with Ron and Hermione, though probably not as close as the original… as for Draco, well I honestly haven't decided.

obsidian-fox – Yes, Severus is Harry's godfather and if you read further chapters I believe they will answer your comment.

SilverTrinity – Wow, thank you. Thank you for your opinion on the Sorting as well, I can tell you took some time to think about it.

Switchfootlover & Geminia – James and Lily each decided to choose their best friend for Harry's godfather so they went with both instead of a godfather and a godmother.

japanese-jew – I've read a story or two from the series, but this story is not a cross over.

ak-alterego – Harry is nine and he really hasn't had much tutoring or will in the future to tell the truth, that's what he will be attending Hogwarts for. He's not going to be way ahead of his classmates first year. Neither Death nor Severus would want it that way.

Chaos-Empersonified – I love the quote…

Katerine-M – Thanks for your extremely long review and your opinion on the Sorting. That's the longest I've had yet. I'm glad you like the story.

BrittanyI don't get tired of them. Kudos to you for finding errors that neither Ashley nor I were able to spot. Thanks!