Author's Note: / means same day but different perspective.

Part 4:

One Year After Voldemort:

James held aloft his glass, "to Severus. The best, and youngest potions master-mistress?-oh, whatever, that we have." They were relaxing in the Black's foyer, content after the festive meal they'd shared. Best news was that the Dark Lord seemed to have disappeared after his encounter with James and Severus. It was a relief to both guide and sentinel because they had feared that Voldemort would come after them, realizing what they were.

"What are you going to call yourself?" Peter asked. "I mean, you have to be rather careful with what you say because there are some who won't understand."

"I'm going to call myself Severus, what else?" she replied, calmly sipping her drink.

"Be serious," Peter said.

"I thought that was his job," she lazily indicated Sirius whose head was leaning on Lily's shoulder.

Lily snorted, "my husband? Be reasonable. The only thing serious about him is his name-and the way he plans to prevent our son from dating."

"Why are you objecting? I think there's nothing unreasonable about saying he can't date until he's eighty five and I'm dead."

"Well, that's a step up from last week," Remus remarked.

"Yes, I will admit that." Lily yielded, pushing him off her shoulder.

"Last week?" Peter asked, confused. He was feeling further out of the loop with these people who had once been his friends. Unconsciously, he was studying Severus. The woman looked more relaxed than she had since her encounter with Voldemort.

"Yes. He said Harry wouldn't be able to date until he was the age Merlyn is now."

James studied him, "you actually know how old Merlyn is?"

Sirius shook his head, "nope. But Severus does."

"You do?" Remus asked, "really?"

Severus smiled faintly, "father says he's over two thousand. But even he was allowed to date before he got in his eighties, Sirius."

"Well, my son is like me. I will not have him playing around."

"Your son?" Remus stared at him a moment, "how do you figure he's yours when he looks the way he does."

"Yes, dear, how?" Lily smiled sweetly.

"And close your mouth, please? I have fish in front of me already and do desire to keep my appetite." This came from Severus who was trying to ignore James.

"Playing around? He's going to pay for that once Lily has him reconciled to a more appropriate age for dating." he whispered into her ear. "Sev, you can't ignore me forever."

"I can certainly try," she whispered back. "Now, hush. If I miss how he gets out of this because of you, I'm going home with Remus." He glared at her and Remus while she pertly smiled.

Remus leaned over, "don't bring me into this, Severus. I like you but not that much."

"Nice save," her reply was dry.

"I figure its cause we're raising him." Sirius spoke up once he was sure they were done and that Lily was swayed by their conversation.

Lily quirked an eyebrow at him, "yet, I don't get a say in this?"

Albus' timely spared him answering but Lily's look let him know two things in no uncertain terms. One, he was sleeping on the couch. Indefinitely. And two, their discussion was far from over. "Severus. James. Could I have a word with you?"

Exchanging glances, they rose. "What's wrong, Headmaster?" James asked once they were outside.

"You remember your old friend?"

"We have no old friends," Severus pointed out wryly. "All out compatriots are in there."

"Okay, may be I said that wrong." He was silent, trying to gather his thoughts. What he had to share with them would not go well with them.

"Oh, Merlyn, you mean Voldemort?"

"That would be him."

James reached out an arm and placed it around her shoulders, squeezing affectionately. "What of him?"

"He's back."

"I didn't know he left," she replied faintly.

"We need to talk." Albus replied.

3 Years Later:

Severus ran as fast as he could, trying to avoid the people around him while desperately hoping that one would see that something was wrong and alert the aurors. The almost balletic grace he'd perfected over the years came in handy, no matter what James thought. And it had started out as such a nice day, he thought. A gasp escaped his lips as he felt a hand close over his arm and yank him into the cool darkness. "Peter, thank Merlyn its you," he exclaimed as his eyes focused on his rescuer.

"What's wrong?" Peter said, eyeing him with concern. The two of them made their way down one of the twisting paths, hearing the footsteps behind them.

"Lucius and his cronies," the answer was gasped out. After a while, the sound of their pursuers faded into silence and Severus began to look for a way out of the labyrinthine passageways. "Peter? I think its safe for us to leave now."

"You don't know that for certain, Severus. Even you don't see everything," his reply was snide.

"I suppose," he replied, flinching back from the disgust in the voice.

"Trust me, Severus."

But there was something wrong with this situation. May be it was the tone of Peter's voice. Or the way his eyes glittered so oddly. All Severus knew for sure was that he needed to escape before...before something happened. Something that could only be related to Voldemort, the new disciple of Grindelwald. The firm grip on his arm never lessened and he didn't have a chance to gather any power before Peter kicked a can on the ground and the world faded into blackness.


James shot out of the book shop, searching desperately. He could smell the fear of his guide in the air. It reached out to strangle his feelings of security. Thrumming in his veins, a tempo beat out his only course of action-'save the guide'.

"What's wrong?" Remus asked, following him as the man stalked down the street. "Where are we going?" He tried again but James was blind to all but his quest.

Lily and Sirius saw them go by and emerged from the tavern, "what's going on?"

Remus shrugged, "we were looking at some books one minute and the next thing I know, James is out of the building doing that."

They watched him pace in smaller increments, focusing on one area specifically. Something caught his eye and he approached it, bending down and tracing his finger along the alley wall. Pulling his finger back, he saw a familiar reddish color-blood. Sniffing it, he growled and transformed into a panther, darting down the alley after a nearly invisible trail of blood.

"Severus," Lily breathed.

"Are you sure?" Sirius asked.

She glared at him, "what else could make James act like that, you moron?"

"We have a bigger problem, guys," Remus whispered. "James' exit didn't exactly go unnoticed."

Looking around they saw that a crowd had gathered, watching them curiously. They could hear the questions circling through the group, not to mention some of them looked like they were going to approach and ask if everything was all right.

Lily stared at Sirius until he finally snapped, "what?"

"This is your field of expertise, dear, get us out of here," she hissed.

"Right," he muttered. "Hope Jamie's got better luck than us."

The panther raced through the alley, conscious always of the cry for help-and pain caused by their separation. His partner needed his aid. Danger was all around and time was short.


"Peter, let me go." Severus tried to sound authoritative but it fell on deaf ears. "This isn't a good idea. You know James will be here soon." Through that something that connected them, he felt James coming closer to their location.

"Shut up, your freak," he snapped, stung by the confidence in his voice. "Now, where did it go?"

While the man was searching for his whatever, Severus was doing a little exploration of his own. There had to be some way to get out of this mess, even if it was only to delay him. Nothing. Not even a pipe to hit him on the head with. Any magic would give away his position and in this part of town, not a good idea.

Peter warned, "I wouldn't try anything, Snape, I went to a lot of trouble to procure you-even enlisted some old friends to help me. A hard working Ravenclaw like you wouldn't want all that work to go to waste, would you now?"

Severus was silent, a sneer the only answer he would allow. From his back pocket, he removed a knife and made a small incision in his hand, allowing the blood to flow onto the blade. Then he tossed it away from him, knowing James would find it and follow the scent to this spot-and hopefully to him.

"Oh, I shall enjoy seeing you taken down a peg," he ground out, angered. Finally finding the key he'd searched for, he pulled aside a clasp, revealing a keyhole. Inserting it into the lock, he pushed open a section of the wall and stepped through, dragging Severus with him. Even though a sense of vertigo hit him, nothing showed on the impassive face. "Home, sweet home," he remarked, shoving Severus along the empty path.

The door closed and sealed behind them. "That takes care of Potter," Peter spoke with the confident air of certainty.

Severus shivered mentally but remained calm. James would come. The fact that the door was undetectable unless one knew were to look, never occurred to him. He knew James-knew of his abilities. He would come.


James followed the trail until he hit the wall. Growling in frustration, he tried to claw it aside. Even transforming and using his powers had no affect. "Sirius!" he bellowed, "your lock pick would come in handy right about now!"

"Calm down, James, we're right here." Lily soothed even as her husband searched for the opening, which he found only because of the claw marks around it. "Severus will need you to keep a level head."

"I just hope he still has his-so that I can remove it once I'm certain he's safe," he snapped, energy crackling off of him. "Hurry up, Sirius."

"Are you sure he's a water mage and not a fire?" Remus asked Lily quietly.

"You think you can do better?" he snapped back, glaring at his friend.

Shoving Black aside, James made short work of the lock. "Meet a guy in Istanbul who taught me that," he muttered, throwing open the door. Once more, he made the journey as a panther and he moved swiftly, trying to make up for lost time. He knew where he was.

"Show off," Sirius muttered, watching as Remus ran off after him. Of the three of them, only the werewolf had the physicality to keep up with the sentinel. Lily and he exchanged glances before transforming into their second animagus form, that of falcons, and followed from the sky.

I know this place, the panther thought. The evil snake had brought him here before Severus was able to rescue him. It seemed that the old skinflint hadn't given up. Evil was filling the air and Severus was in the direct line of fire.


"I've heard good things about you," Voldemort proclaimed as he walked around him. "You're not quite the way I remembered you. Nor expected for one of your abilities."

"Can't say the same about you," his reply was bored. "And should I really care what you think?"

"I am pleased to hear that. A reputation such as mine is hard to maintain when one doesn't have control over everyone's minds." He smiled, but it wasn't pleasant.

"Wish I could say that my heart bleeds for your tragic," Severus sneered at the word, "plight. But I'd be lying."

"I want to see your other form. Go on, change." He ignored the last comment, it was nothing to him what his opinion was.

"What am I? A trained monkey?" He folded his arms across his chest and stared at him, "this is a waste of my time. My answer to you now is the same as then. Bugger off."

A strange hissing escaped him as his hand closed over the pointed chin, "who said anything about asking?"

He stared into the inhuman eyes, suspicious.

Again the unpleasant smile crossed his face and his eyes lit up with unholy glee. "I've come to the conclusion that if anything is worth having, its worth taking. And not even Potter will resist once I've become you."

"I wouldn't be to sure of that, Voldemort-if that is your real name. You are misinformed and seriously underestimating James," Severus taunted. "One would've thought a prospective dark lord would research those he seeks to acquire more thoroughly."

"You would do well to remain silent unless asked for an opinion," he ground out through clenched teeth.

"Why? Truth hurt?" Severus mocked. The hand on his face tightened before flinging his body against the fireplace. He pounced on his fallen body, picking it up and slamming it against the wall, one hand in the dark hair while the other griped the left arm tightly. A scream left him as fire ripped through him, tearing through the muscle and bone to the veins and burning a trail towards his core.

Strange words and sounds poured from him, holding him captive and unable to resist. The earth shrieked as it felt one of its own twisting and writhing in pain. Unasked for, aid came from the various earthen spirits to heal its child. Somehow, though his spirit ached for it, Severus knew he must resist the aid and reject the interloper, though the offer of peace was tempting.

"James!" The name escaped as both a plea and a cry of loss even as he let go of consciousness. The door crashed open and the two were torn apart, the connection brutally severed by the panther. Not even glancing at the body sliding to the floor, he leapt at the stunned Voldemort. A low growl escaped his lips and he tore into him, not allowing the man the slightest opportunity to defend himself.

Remus froze in the doorway, appalled by the brutality of James' attack. The dark eyed panther turned his way for a moment and bared bloody teeth, a warning growl sent his way. Automatically, he backed away from his sight. His stomach churning in revulsion, he turned away from the sight. Not even the wolf within gloried at it, he shied away from the superior predator.

Turning back to his prey, he continued to shred the body. On a sudden inspiration, he sent a flare of power through the nearly dead body to seek and destroy the loyal followers of this threat. All felt a curious tingle before there was nothing.

Once the animal was satisfied that the threat was neutralized, he turned to Severus. With a gentle bite, he picked up the body and stalked away, leaving Remus to deal with the bloody mess.

The werewolf watched them go with a sense of relief. Never had anything they'd experienced prepared him for the absolute predator James had become. With a sigh, he turned into the building, again feeling a sense of nausea fill him. This was not what he'd expected when he suggested that the five of them take a day off from Harry watching. Still, it could've been worse.

How, he wasn't sure, but there had to have been some way.

James paced the hall in front of the Infirmary at Hogwarts', not wanting Severus to be cared for in the coldly impersonal St. Mungo's. At the moment, Lily was glaring at him. He ignored her. Right now all that mattered to him lay in that room. It had been 1 month, 2 weeks, 3 days, 5 hours, 45 minutes, 32 seconds, and 5 milliseconds since Severus had lapsed into a coma, not that he was keeping track or anything.

But Madame Pomfrey was telling them to be hopeful. It wasn't a magical coma, just a muggle one. Severus had transformed a few days ago, indicating that all was well with the core of magic within. Waking was something that she'd do on her own. Nature was healing her on its own time frame. If they did anything, they could damage her permanently.

James hated waiting.

The mark on the left arm still glowing a white hot light. The sight of the skull and snake sickened him deeply and made the ministry want to talk to her. They had changed their minds once James had flung the minister into the lake and held him there until he died. Happily, Remus accepted the position when it had been offered to him.

When the door opened, he bolted inside. Poppy allowed him 15 minutes every hour to visit-and that was only because he wouldn't leave. There was no improvement, not that James was expecting it. He knew something that the others weren't aware of. During an extensive investigation, they had discovered Voldemort's true nature.

Voldemort was a vampire mage.

A terrible and unusual abnormality, a mixture of demon and magic. There were rumors, of course. But those who carried that particular curse had been destroyed. It was one of the darker times in their history, echoing the witch hunts that had plagued the muggle world. Witch hunts that had dented the population of earth mages.

But he had been created through dark magics and pure chaos. Left behind by Grindelwald to finish what that dark lord had begun, his 'child' had waited until his own time had come. Voldemort had set out to become all mages through the sucking and storing of their magical cores into his own emptiness.

James' actions, rash though they were, had saved them all. He had nine fire mages, five air mages, and three water mages. Only one remained, the rarest of them all-an earth mage. With Severus, he would've had that power-and a sentinel to go with it.

He pulled up a chair and sat down, "Severus, Harry's growing up so fast, you would barely recognize him. He asks after his 'mater' often-that's you, if you couldn't guess. A few days ago, he came to us and told us who we were in no uncertain terms. Wish you'd seen Rem's face when he called him 'pater'. Sirius is dad, and you can take that smirk off your face, I know you knew he was going to be called that. But what I know you'd never guess is that I'm his 'mom', while Lily is his mum. No surprise with her, huh?"

"But you would think it wouldn't have taken him four years to figure out what to call us. But I guess he was only thinking of the best way to include us all without hurting any of us. Five years old and he's more like you, Lily, and Remus that Sirius or I." Pausing, he let a smile grace his face. "Our boy is going to need professional help when he gets older and realizes that most people have only a mother and a father. Even if they have a step parent, their situation doesn't quite match that of his own."

His head fell forward, resting by the still hand. One of his reached out for it, holding onto it tightly. Poppy didn't have the heart to make leave when she found them like that a few minutes later.

He blinked, looking around the familiar building. When did they go back to El Tajin? Rising to his feet, he exited the stone doorway and looked around. The Pyramid of the Niches, he smiled fondly, where I found my first animagi form. Who, he reflected, turned out to be my spirit guide as well. Descending the steps, he let the jungle enfold him in its familiar embrace.

Yet something was missing.

It hit him as he listened to the world around him, there was no sound. No birds, no bugs. Not even the sound of a snake digesting its meal. Making his way deeper into the dense area, he hoped to find the cause because this was not normal-even for a spirit realm. He stopped suddenly, muscles tensed before he recognized the form on the road.

His spirit guide studied him through dark eyes. Turning his head eastward in a gesture for him to follow his lead, James did as well and listened. At first, the sound was so faint, he couldn't really hear it. Concentrating hard on that particular area, the sound became recognizable as the panting of someone in a great deal of pain, possibly even dying. The guide took off, with James at his heels.

Abruptly both stopped and stared. On the ground, nursing various wounds, was a sphinx. The panther slowly approached it after stalking the perimeter and securing it to his satisfaction. Watching warily, the sphinx curled in upon itself, as though ashamed to be near him.

With sudden clarity, James knew who this paralleled. Severus and himself. For some reason, Severus was shutting him out. And locking all that pain inside, letting it destroy all that they were. But why? The answer had to be here. His spirit guide looked to him to find the answer.

Taking a closer look, he could see that the left side of the sphinx remained in shadow. Taking slow, precise steps, he moved over there and revealed to the light a horrifying sight. The panther growled low in his throat as the dark light ate away at the skin, trying to burrow into the sphinx.

Even here, in the realm of spirits, they were not free from Voldemort's vindictive, poisonous bile.

The combined growl caused the sphinx to shudder and shrink away from them unnoticed. Of one mind, they swiped at the presence, driving it away. In that instant, James was left alone with the sphinx. Turning to face the creature, ignoring the impulse to chase the light as his guide had done, he touched the shoulder with gentle hands. "Severus, come with me. We...I need you."

Startled dark eyes met his blue ones, stunned by the longing there. The loss of unity seemed to become a living, breathing organism between them and the sphinx shuddered again. Agony for this friend's pain coming to the forefront of its mind.

Without further thought, it rose on weakened and bruised limbs to stumble after its partner. The sentinel heard the roar of challenge and knew what he must do. James followed after, slowly until the shadows parted, revealing Severus, who joined him. They engaged the unwelcome entity in battle alongside their spiritual counterparts in a battle unlike any since the days of Godric Gryffindor and Salazar Slytherin.

Banishing the spirit into the ether, the four studied each other. The panther bowed his head in acknowledgment but the sphinx ran towards Severus, merging with the mage. James' path was blocked by the panther who shook his head, indicating that all was well. Emerging, the sphinx joined the panther and the two left the arena.

James then caught the weakened mage, holding the frail body close. A hand ran through his unruly hair, waking his up. Blue eyes looked down into the familiar black, wondering how he got onto the bed without disrupting his friend. "Hey," her voice was raspy. "Voldemort?"

"Is no more. He touched what was mine and paid the price." Severus shivered at the hard, inhuman tone in his voice. James pulled her into him, warming her chilled body.

"James, I'm sorry."

"For what?"

"This." She gestured to her arm, the ugly mark still there-though it was no longer as bright nor as hot as before.

The head cocked inquiringly, "you asked for it?"

Severus scoffed, "don't be an ass. Of course I didn't."

"Then you have nothing to be sorry for, you git." Severus' mouth opened but James interrupted, "not hearing it. You are not at fault, so stop trying to be."

"I was just going to thank you," James looked at her doubtfully. "You have a suspicious mind, J.P."

"Only because I know how yours works," he retorted.

Before Severus could reply, Poppy walked in and saw them. Her mouth opened to scold James until she saw the dark eyes of her patient focus on her intently. She shrieked and fled the room.

Severus looked up at James, then rested her head in the crock of his neck. "You'd think she'd be used to us by now."

"I don't think even a hundred lifetimes is long enough to adjust to us, Sev," his reply was dry.

"I guess," she yawned and slept.

The End.

Note #2: The thing about Harry was inspired by "Three Mothers, Two Fathers" by Aileen Snape. If you haven't read it, shame on you. Go read it. Now.