"They did not cross over into the Summerland. Their souls have remained in limbo."
Severus' heart clinched in pain. His love was not waiting for him. "Why? Are they being punished?" Severus' heart was breaking as darkness threaten to overwhelm him.
"It wasn't their time. Their souls couldn't move on. Wouldn't move on." James looked just as pained as the men in the room.
"S-So, how do we bring them back?" Neville asked quietly.
"Not bring them back, turn back time." James held out the watch. "Stop their deaths."
"James," Albus began, "Changing the past...."
"The Goddess wills it. The Fates will it." He spoke firmly, fixing an intense gaze on each of them, and finally resting on Severus.
"How do you know this?" Severus asked.
"I was given this task. I begged for it, as did Sirius and Lily. To give them a chance to live their lives the way they were meant to. Molly Weasley stole that from them. She handed them their death sentences by denying them their right to love who they wanted. I'm stealing back their lives and giving all of you the task of making it happen, since I am not able to do it myself."
Lucius got up from his chair in one fluid motion and began pacing. He had finally accepted his life alone without Remus. That he was waiting for him on the other side. Right now, anything was better than living a half life. "What do we need to do, James?"
They all seemed to lean forward as one, intent and eager to hear how they could regain their loved ones.
James held out the watch, "take this and go back to before... Take it and bring the world back to rights and live a happy life. But remember, change only what is necessary, and no more."
"How do we change things? Where do we begin?" Draco asked frantic and nervous.
"Where it began," Severus acknowledged. "We can't stop them from going to the Burrow, but we keep them from Hogsmeade."
"Remember," James began, "You will have all of your memories and only speak to each other, not to your lovers."
"Our first mission is to keep them alive after they leave the Burrow," Lucius advised. "From there we keep them safe and break the contracts by exposing Molly Weasley and her cohorts at the Ministry."
"How do you advise that we do that?" Draco asked.
"We know what she's done and who her cohorts are," Severus spoke with enthusiasm for the first time in years. He was coming alive.
James watched him closely, seeing a faint spark of what had once been there when the Slytherin had been friends with Lily. Guilt and sadness filled him.
"Boys," Albus spoke, "remember when you change one part of the past you change the path of the future."
"The future," Neville began, "This future without Ron was...is something I don't want to live with. I'm not whole, I'm lost without him." Neville's anguish was as clear as the tears that welled in his eyes.
"None of us can live without those we love, so let's get on with it then!" Lucius announced firmly.
Severus stood up and approached James, "We were all here in the office with Albus when the attack began--waiting on them to return. We spent an hour here after they left for the Burrow."
"Yes," Lucius said as he gripped his cane and stood with Severus.
James nodded. "Then you know where to begin."
"Gentlemen?" Minerva whispered, but loud enough that all six men could hear her, even when they had forgotten she was in attendance, "Be safe on your journey and good luck in your endeavors. And make sure that infernal woman never interferes in other's lives again!"
Severus, Lucius, Draco, and Neville dipped their heads in acknowledgment toward the once stern school teacher, "We'll do what needs to be done, Minerva," Severus purred, "Three Slytherin's and a Gryffindor, what more could you expect?"
"Och! Off with ye now!" She snapped, but her tone was warm.
The four men gathered around James and waited for the man to speak or hand over the watch, with instructions. "Severus?"
"Failure is not an option, Potter. I won't fail him again."
James handed him the watch, laying it in his palm, then folding his fingers over it, enclosing it with his own hands. "It's already set for the date and year that you are to return to. As I said, all of you will retain your memories of this timeline to help guide you on your quest. Once you've changed things, saving all four of them, you'll need your knowledge to protect them from other things that could occur."
Severus stepped back, when James released his hand, and the group moved close together, so the magical chain on the Time Turner would encircle them all. "Love my son, Severus. Love him and live long together."
"Thank you, James. I swear to you, I will make him happy."
"No, thank you." James stepped back from the men, letting them get into position. "Just push the crown and the watch will begin to turn back time."
Severus nodded, and as one all of the men around him looked down at the watch as he pushed the crown.
A sensation they'd never felt before started whirling around them. Images seem to move past them in a swirling fashion. Almost dizzying in it's movements. Ghosts of the past flashed by, and sailed away into the mists around them, so quickly they weren't sure they'd seen them.
The man in question groaned as a hand patted his cheek, as the voice continued speaking, drawing him out of the fog that clouded his mind.
"Come on love, wake up. You fell from your chair. As did Neville, Lucius and Draco. The four of you have us all worried."
Severus recognized that voice now as things were becoming clearer! It was Harry! He must be dreaming. He didn't want to wake up. He wanted to hold that voice close to him and never let it go.
"Severus Alexander Salazar Snape! If you don't wake up, I'll call Poppy!"
Severus opened his eyes to find himself looking into wonderful, familiar green eyes. "Harry?
The green eyes twinkled with amusement. "Of course, it's me. Who else would it be?" Harry sat back, surprised, at the tears that welled up in his lover's eyes. "Severus, what's wrong? Did you hit your head? Maybe I should call Poppy!" He started to stand, to do just that.
A hand shot out to grab his arm. "No! No, I'm fine. I--I just have a bit of a headache."
Harry frowned as he looked at the others. They seemed to also be experiencing headaches. Something must be wrong. Did someone curse them? A delayed reaction? "Albus!"
The older man was helping Remus get Lucius to his feet, when Harry called--yelled out--in panic. "Harry?"
"Check them for curses! Something is wrong!" The younger man was clearly heading into panic mode.
Severus pulled at his young man. The love that brought him back from the brink of despair, "Harry."
"I won't loose you, Severus. Someone has cursed you. I know it."
Severus sat up, feigning rubbing at his temples. "I'm fine. We're fine. Look--the others are up now. Calm yourself, my love." His chest clenched. It felt so good to be able to say those words again, 'my love.' He soaked in the visage of Harry. He was wearing his ever present jeans and a green tee shirt that had seen better days, but the younger man had always been about comfort.
Severus looked around the Headmaster's office at his fellow time travelers. All their faces were the same to a degree. Happiness and joy at seeing the one person that made them whole, alive again. Lucius, the cold hard man of the past was holding back tears of joy.
"Poppy should take a look at the four of you. I mean all of you collapsed at the same time. A delayed curse?" Hermione argued as she continued running her hands and wand over Draco, checking him for injuries, hexes, and curses. Eventually, the blond pulled her down onto his lap, causing her to squeak with surprise. That brought a grin to everyone's faces.
"Draco!" But the young man wouldn't stop what he was doing. It had been so long since he'd held her; could feel her skin under his hands or hear her voice, even taste her lips, he would not be thwarted as he pulled her down into a kiss.
Just before his lips touched hers, he whispered, "I love you."
She smiled against his lips then joined her lips to his, keeping the kiss from deepening too much, considering the others in the room. When they broke apart, she gave his besotted expression an odd look.
"I love you too, Dray, Luv. What's gotten into you?"
Draco swallowed against the emotion welling up in his soul. Seven years. Seven years of hell without this woman. Looking at his companions, he was not alone in that sentiment. He could see it in their eyes.
Severus was holding onto Harry like a lifeline. His father and Neville seemed to be clinging to their loves as well. "I just love you so much. I don't want to live a life without you."
Hermione frowned. Draco wasn't usually this vocal about his feelings. "Are you sure you haven't been cursed when I wasn't looking?"
He cleared his throat and smiled sheepishly. "No, I'm just thankful for what--and who, I have."
Remus was worried. The feelings rolling off his mate and the almost death grip Lucius had on him was out of character. "I agree. What's going on with the four of you?"
Severus knew that this needed Slytherin cunning and quick thinking as he spoke for all four men, "I think emotions are running high right now. We are about to reveal to the world, well the Weasley's at least, that we are to wed at Yule."
"Nerves?" Ron questioned. Eying his own lover with a critical eye. "I know that Neville can be nervous at times, but the three of you?"
Lucius' gaze flicked to his companions. "Well, Molly does have quite the reputation. It was already quite evident while we were still in school."
Ron looked to the old clock on the mantle above the fireplace. "We need to leave or Mum will go spare if we're late."
The four men looked at the other quickly and agreed. "I think we should go with you," Severus stated. "Show a united front."
"United front?" Ron questioned. "This is my Mum and Dad. Not the enemy."
"He means," Neville jumped in before things got out of hand. "That we shouldn't let you go alone to tell them. We should do it together. I should be the one to announce that you are bonding with me. As Pureblood tradition dictates. Gran would have expected it."
"Yes," Draco said as he listened to Neville's quick thinking. "As should I. It would be proper." He looked at his father, who nodded his approval.
"And I agree," Severus added. "No more hiding." Out of the corner of his eye, he noted how much Albus' eyes were twinkling.
"I think I should go, as well." Albus chimed in. "This could be good fun."
Severus cringed inwardly. Oh, the next hour or so was not going to be fun. It would be the beginning of hell and he'd be damned if he'd let that old hag win this time around. No, he knew the rules of the game that she'd begun so long ago. This time, he would checkmate her as he cornered her in her own game.
He wasn't a Slytherin for nothing.
Severus grinned to his fellow travelers. Let the games begin and bring it on Molly Weasley.