By Nenya Entwhistle
by Ziasudra and Lesameschelle.
Note: This story has been rearranged from last time and will remain strictly PG-13.
Time is a tricky
It ebbs and it flows,
Where it goes, who knows?
February 14, 1972 (Harry is 21, and Severus is 12)
Harry: Surely it would not be bad in his first year. Surely the others in his year are too young to be cruel. Surely it would not be as bad as that memory I saw in his pensieve. I take a breath and whisper the spell that makes me invisible to all eyes. I then step onto the school grounds. It's impossible, I believe, for anyone from anywhere at anytime to breach the anti-Apparition wards. It's a good thing. Or else Voldemort could use a combination of time-turners and Apparate to attack the school.
But it is inconvenient. It still takes time, even when I have the ability to glide, to get to the front of the school, which looks the same as always. I hesitate before going inside. I'm not exactly sure what time it is. The file had only told me the day, and what spell I should use to make my presence a secret. Other than that, it had been as useless as always. From the position of the sun, I guess that it's morning. But it is before or after breakfast? Has the mail even arrived yet?
I take the chance that everyone's still in the Great Hall, even though I don't see any students walking towards it. It could be that class has already started or that breakfast is well underway. Either way, it wouldn't hurt to take a peek in to be sure.
It's useful, I have to admit, having a spell that makes me a ghost and invisible. From what my Unspeakable tells me, it's the standard repertoire of spells that field Unspeakables must know. I'm glad he has previously demonstrated the spell before, though he could have given me a heads up that I would need it. I know the file told me, but saying it twice doesn't hurt. Reminders can be dead useful.
I slip through the door, careful not to bump into anyone—because the only fault of these spells are that while I might not be seen, I still feel very much like a ghost. Once I'm in, I notice the sound and bustling of children eating and talking. I smile. It's good to hear carefree conversation. It's been a while since my Hogwarts has been like this, at least two years. Though fifth year wasn't exactly pleasant, compared to the subsequent years—it was certainly less tense and strained.
I notice the red and pink decorations straight away. They aren't quite as festive as I remember Hogwarts being, but then again—we live in different times. I can see most of the students are holding up their cards, and it looks like everyone got at least a few. Even the first years. But when I drift closer to the Slytherin table, I rescind my earlier observation. Clearly, not everyone got one. Severus didn't.
And he's not exactly hiding, but he's got his head buried in a book. I grin when I notice it's a potions book. He's probably reading it for fun. I snort. I'm not too concerned that I don't see any mail around him until I see his eyes slide from his text to the opened Valentines next to him. It's hard to see from the angle I am at, but I'm sure I catch wistfulness in them.
Somehow I never imagine Severus would ever want such a gaudy, childish thing. But I remember how I used to yearn for such things when I had gone to Muggle school, wanted someone to give me a Valentine with candy. Dudley always made sure that didn't happen. And while the older Severus I know might not want such things, it's not hard to see his child self yearning for this.
And it's an easy wish to fulfill.
I have to be fast though. The plates are clearing, and soon the students will leave. If it doesn't get delivered now, I will have missed my chance. Luckily for me, the metal file gives me no warning. It always tells me when my silly ideas are bad ones. But it does nothing now. It must be all right.
I drift out of the Great Hall and furiously make my way to the Owlery, where I find a dumpy old owl—an excuse for tardiness—and beckon it. He is only too happy to have someone paying attention to it, even if it's an invisible someone offering it a treat I snagged from a student I passed heading here. He takes it, fluffing his feathers when I conjure a Valentine. I whisper into its ear who I want it delivered to. He hoots with enough enthusiasm for his age. And I tell him to make haste… and he flies off.
Somehow the blasted owl manages to beat me back to the Great Hall. I get there just in time to see Severus' face almost glow with happiness when the silver envelope is dropped in front of him. He eagerly takes it and opens it. He has barely even read it, when an older Slytherin—I don't recognize who—grabs it from him and scans it:
"It seems Snape has a secret admirer," he sneers. "And he goes by the name of Drogo, a ghost. How ridiculous. Did you send this to yourself?"
I can hear some of those that are nearby laughing, but the rest are a bit too far to hear. The Slytherins all have amused glints in their eyes, unkind and devious. I had always wondered how they treated their own, and now I know. They're a vicious lot if you aren't strong. But in a way, it must have made Severus strong enough to bear anything that is thrown at him. Even Voldemort.
It doesn't make it any easier for me to watch. I want to throw up spells around Severus to protect him, but the file heats up in my hand with a warning. I don't want to glance down at it to see what it says, but it's insistent. I look down. You have made things worse by meddling.
Then why did it not warn me against it?
As if it can read my mind, it flashes and says: Free will.
Bloody free will.
July 7, 1972 (Severus is 12)
Severus: Only a few more days, and I will head home. I know Drogo will be there, waiting for me. I glance toward the trunk, at the bottom of which I have safely kept the only owl he sent to me. It was nice of him to do so—to remember me. I wonder why he hasn't sent any others. Maybe he knew that once was enough. I'm sure it was hard for him to even get this one to me, if the pitiful owl he used was any indication.
I miss him, though I'll never tell him that. I tense my jaw when I feel my dormmates come up. For the most part they ignore me. But sometimes they want a bit of fun, and who better to ridicule than the poorest student in Slytherin? I'm probably the worst off that's attending Hogwarts.
I grit my teeth and tense my body. Today, like the day before, they ignore me for getting ready for the school day. I guess with the end of term coming up, they don't have much time to focus on me. They're so busy being real Slytherins; they haven't kept up with their work as they should.
I smirk inside. I know their parents won't be pleased if they go home with anything less than good marks. They may not be Ravenclaws, but Slytherins certainly aren't the dunderheads that Gryffindors are. I swallow hard, not that Potter and his crowd realize that. They somehow do amazingly well in their classes despite their tendency toward pranking.
I hate them. I hate them so much. Damn them all.
October 13, 2006(Harry is 26, and Severus is 46)
Severus: Finally, he is stirring—arising. I remember to scowl when his eyes flutter open and he blinks several times until he realizes that no matter how many times he does that, he won't be able to focus on my face. He holds out his hand and I give him his glasses.
"How long?" he croaks.
"Yes," I agree. "You are still too impulsive by far."
I get the feeling he would shrug if he weren't under a heavy dose of paralyzing potion. Normally, it would not have been used, but in recent months he has developed an odd reaction whenever he takes a pain-killing potion. His body would shake violently. The only remedy is paralysis. A strong dosage at that.
When he's conscious, he makes the choice to just bear whatever pain he's in. But when he's not—we have no other option but to make sure he's comfortable. Who knows if the pain would be too much? Only he does, and I get the that feeling he suffers through it because he knows he must. He cannot afford to become addicted.
"My Gryffindor qualities will be the death of me, you say."
"It will," I hiss at his attempt to make light his injury, "if you aren't careful!"
"Severus," he says as his hand seeks mine, "you worry too much."
I sneer at the idea of that. "If you don't live, who then can we expect to kill the Dark Lord?"
He laughs a little then coughs harshly. I reach and rub his chest until he stops. "Nice try," he says in a weak whisper. "But I don't believe you."
He closes his eyes. "No more potions. I'm fine."
I say nothing, but I know he's not.
June 17, 1999 (Harry is 18)
Harry: "I understand," I say. "You've told me I was never to interfere."
"But you already have," my Unspeakable remarks, tapping his foot on the symbol of the past. "By becoming a ghost, you have interfered with the past. And you have met a future Severus, interacted with him. You are actively intruding, but as long as you restrict that to only Severus—it will be fine. But for others, you cannot do anything at all. I would recommend not meddling with Severus' life there as well. It would be in your best interest. Do you understand?"
I smile a little. "I'm going back to Hogwarts, to the past, and I get what you're implying."
"Good," he says. "Then go and keep your promise."
And I will. I will.
September 17, 1973 (Severus is 13)
Severus: She's struggling. Even I have to acknowledge that it's odd for her. She might not be the best student at Potions, she's fairly mediocre—but she isn't usually this terrible. Considering how late she walked in, late enough to have to be my partner… something is obviously up. She looks like she's been crying. Maybe it was the returned owl she received this morning. As soon as she saw it, her shoulders had kind of slumped.
It isn't often an owl was sent back. Something like that might happen to me, but it shouldn't happen to her. She's the girl everyone seems to like. Potter certainly does, I think with a sneer. He keeps glancing over, probably to make sure that I'm not tormenting her. Unlike him, I don't have to sink to the depths of immaturity. I can manage to be civil as long as others return the favor. Drogo would be proud.
He would be even happier if I helped her. My innards twist at the thought. I am being decent enough by not calling her a mudblood and sabotaging her potion as some other Slytherins would have done. But I know it would thrill him even more if I give her a hint as to what to do next. I'm still tempted just to do the potion alone and get it perfect. She wouldn't learn much, however; she would learn a little. And it would be much easier than instructing her…
"If you only made the effort," Drogo had said, "you could have some good friends."
But it's not like I want to be friends with her! She's a mudblood, inferior, and worthless. It's unfortunate that Potter's infatuation with her has elevated her level. I see no reason for it. I find him—to my rampant disgust—far more appealing than she is. Her hair is an atrocious red and her skin covered in those freckles is ghastly. What is there to her? I would hardly think Potter admires her for her brain.
"Snape," she whispers, "please help me?"
I grit my teeth. At least now I don't have to set the foundation for the bridge. She has nicely done that for me. For a good reason, I can see. I pinch the bridge of my nose and take a calming breath. Thank Merlin she had not put the beetle legs into the potion yet. She would have destroyed the thin stability it currently has.
"You want to add the bee wings," I hiss, "not the beetles."
"Oh," she says and pulls away the legs. She grabs the wings and I grab her arm before she can add them. "What?"
I release her hand as if she is a botched up potion. "You need to gently tear them up." I pick up one of the wings and start shredding it along the structural lines. "And don't go ahead," I snap. "You'll only make mistakes."
"But I don't want you to do all the work," she says softly. "I want to do my part."
Unlike some, I think, glancing to the table to the far right where Black is doing all the work for Potter. Not that Black is that good at Potions, but I suspect if he's doing most of the work—he must be far superior to Potter. I smile inwardly. It would be nice to be better than Potter at something. He and Black are far too good at magic, considering how little they work at it.
"Unlike them." She inclines her head a little to Black and Potter.
I grumble, but I let her do her part.
August 19, 1999 (Harry is 19)
Harry: I'm whistling when I walk into the phone booth that will drop me down to the Auror level. Despite the frustrations of trying to get Severus to be more than a colleague, I'm having much more success with his younger self. Actually, I like him when he's a child much more than when he's an adult.
Oh yes, he's bitter. But he's still got enough youthful earnestness to combat it. He still tries to follow the advice of others rather than turning away and doing his own thing. He listens to me, and I know how hard it must have been—to be nice to my mother. Yet, in a way it makes sense with the progression of things.
If Severus had been as awful as he had told me, when he'd been complaining about the mudblood, I don't know why my mother would have tried to help him against my father and the rest of the Marauders. If they had a working, student-to-student relationship, then it doesn't seem so unreasonable.
I almost run into Ron when I step out of the booth. "Sorry," I say. "Am I late?"
"You're about to be and so am I, if we don't hurry."
We both break into a fast walk, nearly running. We manage to get to the meeting area right before the warning gong sounds. We share grins, then wipe the smiles off our faces when Moody walks in. He doesn't stalk around with a commanding stride like Severus, but his rigid gait does the job in hinting at his strict demeanor. Imagine if he actually had been our Professor… we would have been in for a drumming.
Moody taps his wand against the wall and a map appears. "Dark magic has been spotted in these X-ed locations," he says. "Field Aurors have already been there to check around, to make sure everything is all right. But we need people on this, working to figure out why these locations are being targeted. It seems random, but I know and you ought to know, that it cannot be. There must be a reason, and we must figure it out.
"And having a few defense specialists on it, I think, would be highly recommended. After all," he says, his eyes flickering toward me, "you might comprehend why these locations have been handpicked for the Dark Mark. Perhaps, it aids in some Dark Art rituals?"
Ron narrows his eyes slightly, noticing the way that Moody's singling me out. I think Ron hates it more than I do, the way Moody is always focusing his attention on me. It's increased since Auror training has ended. I don't really understand why. Is he afraid of what I can do? It's almost like he expects me to turn out to be like Voldemort, a powerful wizard gone bad, and he's just watching for the signs. I can understand his concern, in some ways I am eerily like my greatest enemy. But there are key differences that he should realize. I am Harry Potter, not Tom Marvolo Riddle. And I will always be just Harry. I do not crave power; I never have.
"The Senior Aurors," Moody remarks, his eyes shifting toward the man and woman standing next to him, "will debrief you as to the situation. You will be split into small groups and then head out to the locations. Investigate as best you can the reason why. Understood?"
The defense team, the Aurors I work with day in and day out, all incline their heads respectfully. Ron and I are no different. Sometimes, I think Ron only chose this division to be close to me. But when I remember how well he did on his Defense Against the Dark Arts NEWTs, accuse him of choosing something he's not good at just to be at my side would be wrong. He's good, of that there is no doubt. But I can't help thinking he'd have more fun being a special ops Auror. At least, he'd be out and about rather than stuck at a desk researching anti-curses to new spells some ingenuous dark wizard had created.
I bend my head even lower, remembering to keep my eyes glued to the floor. "I understand, sir."
"Good, then I will leave you to your superiors."
He walks out, and I know that was directed specifically at me. Just when Snape is almost civil, I get someone like Moody. Merlin—I run my fingers through my hair—sometimes life is just ironic.
A/N: The reviews are wonderful as always, but I wonder where all the 350 hits go .
Thanks to Dragon Smile, Sed, Clodia (You know the outcome, but what about the "how"? I find the "how" more fascinating than the outcome. The Unspeakable isn't random. As for ghostly form, it's hard to tell when someone ages just a few years much as it's hard to tell in real life if you see the person fairly often. Time in the past doesn't quite move the same in the present. About 3 of hits actually review), Aycelcus, GarnettVII (It's easy to give up when no one seems to read it. Fanfic authors don't get paid, so the reviews are sort of like the paycheck), Vampire Queen (don't think too hard, just read and you'll understand much better how the story goes), da+blksaiyangurl, Silver pointe, Lady Lightning, Silverthreads, abby1006, Iaurhirwen (thanks for the reviewing and brownnosing, it tends to work).