Author's Note: I tried writing Harry Potter before, and eventually discontinued the fic due to lack of interest. Reviews are oxygen, people! Please leave them! And for those of you following my Star Wars stories . . . I'm sorry! I'll get on the next chapters of Imperial and Darker Than Darkness soon. But this plot bunny had to be satisfied!
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. If I did, I wouldn't be writing Harry Potter fan fiction.
"Anyone who says that sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain." -- Author Unknown
Severus Snape did not know how long he had been standing there in the white, white space when the figure showed up.
He hardly registered its presence at first, not noticing the faint gray blur in the whiteness until it grew too dark to miss. He watched it for forever and for no time at all, and somehow the timelessness seemed completely natural.
When he finally recognized the figure, he groaned aloud.
"Black," he half sighed, half growled.
Sirius Black, about twenty years old and perfect-looking, grinned cheerfully. "Hey, Snape."
Snape glared, waiting for the punchline.
Black blinked innocently back at him. "What?"
"Of all people, it has to be you."
"Well, nobody else was showing any inclination of coming to get you. And it's been a year. So I decided to come."
"I do not need getting, Black."
Sirius snorted. "Everyone need getting. You can't leave this white space unless you're shown the way out of it."
"I am perfectly capable of navigating on my own," Snape snapped back.
"Not here, you're not. This isn't Earth, Snape – here, there are different rules. So follow me."
Snape didn't move.
Sirius sighed. "I'm not going to hex you. Come on."
Snape glared. "You'll forgive me for not taking your words at face value," he said sarcastically.
Sirius nodded grudgingly. "I suppose so," he replied, completely serious.
Snape was shocked.
Sirius grinned. "I'm not sixteen, anymore, Snape, and Azkaban stunted my emotional growth. Here, I've had to time to change that, and I have decided that if we are going to spend eternity together, we may as well be civil about it."
Snape gave himself a mental shake. "Who said anything about eternity?"
Sirius sighed again. "Alright, here's the deal. When someone dies, they come here, to the White Space. The White Space is surrounded by thousands – millions – of different Places. Whoever comes to get you takes you to the Place they were taken to, and from there you learn to visit other Places. But the Place you originally go to is the one you belong to, forever. So if you come with me, you're stuck with me."
"I think I'll wait," Snape sneered.
Sirius frowned at him. "I told you, you've already been here a year – of Earth time, that is, seeing as there's no time here. Anyway, most people are picked up in the first couple days they're here. For some reason, nobody wants you – might have something to do with the whole double-agent thing, and a very select few people know that whole story. Dumbledore told us – I figured he'd come get you, but seeing as he hasn't shown up by now --"
"You're being long-winded, Black."
"Well, one of us has to be, seeing as the other isn't contributing much to this conversation!"
Snape frowned. "Who exactly did Dumbledore tell, and what exactly did he tell you?"
"Me. James. Lily. Remus. Tonks. Uh . . . Mad-Eye and Fred. And Maddy. You remember Madeleine, right?"
"Your old girlfriend? Unfortunately."
"Hey! Watch it! Yeah, her. And . . . that's it. I think. And he told us . . . pretty much everything."
Snape's heart plummeted. "So why are you here, Black? I assume Potter is rather strongly against my coming with you."
"Not particularly, no. Why would he be?"
Snape stepped forward, accepting Sirius's offer. "Then Dumbledore didn't tell you everything."
"I'm HOME!" Sirius yelled into the house as he and Snape entered the building.
Remus Lupin was the first person to come into view. "I'm right here, Padfoot, you don't have to shout." He looked at Snape. "Hello, Severus."
Somewhere in the back of his mind, Snape noted that Lupin actually looked – healthy. Like he would have looked had he never been bitten by a werewolf. And he looked young. His hair was thick, without a hint of grey, his eyes alert and sparkling, and his bearing was strong and energetic. He had no scars at all. The change was startling.
"Lupin," Snape relied after a moment.
"Remus?" a voice called. "James wants – oh, hi, Snape."
It was Black's cousin, the one Lupin had married. What was her name? Something strange . . . Tonks. Right. He nodded politely at her.
She gestured back into the house. "Come on in, Everybody's in the sitting room."
And so they were. Potter, Lily (Snape was careful not to let his eyes linger on her to long), Dumbledore, Moody, Fred Weasley, oddly enough, and a blonde witch Snape distinctly remembered as Madeleine Parkers, Sirius's girlfriend from Hogwarts, who had been killed at the start of the first war against Voldemort.
Dumbledore stood up. "Severus, so glad you could join us. We've just been having a spot of tea. Care to join us?"
"Not particularly," Snape replied, not missing how Lily determinately avoided his gaze.
"Very well, then," Dumbledore said cheerfully, not the least bit perturbed. "I must be off, anyhow. Miss Maddy – do give my compliments to your mother on her excellent taste in sweets. I'm afraid I haven't had the chance to visit yet." A soft patter on the roof made him frown slightly and glance at the ceiling. "Well, what do you know. It's raining. Best be off. Ta!" And with that, he swept happily from the room.
Lily had stood up. "Sirius?" she queried hopefully.
Sirius gave her an exaggerated look of puppy eyes. "Aw, Tiger, I'm sorry. But I told Maddy's folks we'd drop by to see them right about now."
Maddy's violet eyes narrowed. "You --"
"Perhaps Severus here will take you out. You can show him around the place!" Sirius suggested, his face brightening at this wonderful alternative.
Lily glared; Potter sprung to his feet, objecting in unison with Snape.
Sirius's eyes widened innocently. "What?"
Snape recalled something his mother had told him long ago: "Never trust a Black. They know more than they tell, they see more than you want them to, and they're smarter than you give them credit for. Never assume you know something they don't. Be prepared for anything that concerns them."
He had never believed her until this moment.
Maddy pulled Sirius from the room with a hissed, "What the hell . . ." on the way out.
Potter still stood there, glowering evilly enough to give Voldemort a run for his money. Snape stared coolly back until Lily broke in.
"James, if you won't . . . come on, Sev."
He followed her out the door and into the pouring rain. She walked ahead of him, silently, then stopped, her face turned toward the sky.
He'd forgotten how she loved the rain. As children, they had met during every storm to dance in it. Even up through Hogwarts --
Until it had happened. Until their friendship had been ruined. After that, he often saw her out with Black, dancing in the rain. It was a different dance from they one they had danced, but it still had hurt.
Potter, he knew, couldn't stand the rain. Obviously, he hated it even more than he hated Snape, or he wouldn't have let Snape come out here with his wife.
Lily bowed her head. Then, suddenly, she whirled on Snape. "Why did you do it, Sev?"
He kept his face impassive. "I've done many things in my lifetime. Which one are you referring to?"
Her face twisted with old pain. "I don't know! Any of them! All of them! Why did you call me a Mudblood? Why did you join the Death Eaters? Why did you betray them? Why did you protect Harry even though you hate him? Why did you agree to kill Dumbledore? Why did you come here? And why did you follow me out here?!"
He took a breath.
And then he began. "I called you a Mudblood not because I didn't want your help, but because I was ashamed I needed it and I didn't want word to get out that I had let you protect me. I joined the Death Eaters because it was something I could fit into – for once, I was part of a group, not alone on the outskirts. I betrayed them because I became disillusioned with them. Like Black's brother, I realized I no longer held with their ideals. I assume you know what he did and what happened to him?"
She nodded. "I've talked to him. He's a good kid."
Snape shrugged indifferently and continued to answer her questions. "I protected Harry in honour of the friendship we once shared. I killed Dumbledore because he asked me to; it was part of his mad plan, which Black says was explained to you?"
"Only Sirius is mad enough to understand it, but yes, it was explained."
"I came here because Black showed up with a sunny smile and an annoying insistence that I follow him. And I came out here with you because I – because I wanted to."
Her shrewd green eyes bore into his. "There's more to that answer, isn't there, Sev?"
"You don't want to hear it."
"Yes, I do."
"Don't Lily me, Sev! Just tell me! I'm sick of – of all of this! For once I just want to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."
So that's where Harry gets his obsession with the truth from, a traitorous little part of Severus's mind whispered.
He took another breath. "Fine. Fine. The real reason I betrayed the Death Eaters, the real reason I protected your son, the real reason I came here and the real reason I followed you out here – I love you. I love you, Lily." He turned away from her, ashamed of his rash outburst.
She was quiet for several long, painful moments. Then, she whispered quietly, "I love James, Sev."
He turned back to face her, his own features composed and unreadable once more. "I know. I'll settle for being your friend, Lily. But I won't settle for anything less."
She searched his face, looked for what, he did not know.
"I'm sorry," he added, not quite sure what he was apologizing for, just knowing that it was sincere.
She smiled slightly. "I know."
And then she took his hand, and led him into a dance: an old, old dance, one he had thought he had long forgotten. It was a dance of children, of innocence, of things he did not know anymore. But he remembered every step.
For as long as the rain fell around them, they continued to dance.
Seventy-One Years Later
Harry Potter followed his godfather into the house and shook the rain out of his hair. "Well, that was an experience," he said dryly, commenting on the pounding rain outside.
Sirius just laughed.
Harry grinned back at him, reveling in the feel of his own smooth, young skin. The hair that fell into his eyes was black as night, not the snow white he had grown accustomed to over the years, and he had no scars that he could see. Sirius said even the one on his forehead was gone, which made Harry feel strange; that scar had defined him for his first seven years as a wizard, and it made his feel slightly out of sorts to know that to was gone.
Suddenly, he was surrounded by whooping and jumping bodies that grabbed onto him in exuberance.
"Hi, Dad, Remus, Tonks, Fred . . .? Mad-Eye . . . and I'm afraid I don't know you," he said to Maddy, who had hung back from the crowd.
After introductions had been made, Harry looked around. "Hey . . . where's Mum?"
James sighed, but said nothing. Sirius pointed out the window.
There, in the middle of the storm, Lily and Snape danced.