Chapter One –

regret n

a feeling or expression of sorrow and guilt for a past action or event that you now wish had not happened or had happened differently

a feeling of sadness, disappointment, or longing for somebody or something that is no longer there

Harry Potter was, in many people's opinion, and there was no other way to put it, quite touched in the head. The wizarding world assumed that it was either a side affect from the strain of defeating the dark lord and losing his only loved ones along the way, or the giddiness occurring after the deed was done.

The wolfish grin on the man's face as he strode confidently through the large hallway, tracking snow across the glimmering floor, was not at all comforting to the students scurrying to their common rooms. The "smile," rather than showing that he was pleased with something, instead exuded a rather feral gleam, and it matched the wild glint is his eye. His unruly jet-black hair, although long enough so that one would think it would be tamed, seemed to be in permanent and unintentional rough layers, giving it the appearance of somewhat defying gravity. At the fast pace the man walked, it swept behind him as he abruptly turned a corner, and came face to face with an altogether rather agreeable looking gargoyle. However, the moment the gargoyle noticed the familiar gleaming emerald eyes, its expression immediately turned vicious.

"Oh, don't even give me that look, you stone bugger." The man said cheerfully, giving it a pat on the head, causing the gargoyle to snap at the already heavily scarred hand. "The old man wanted to see me anyways, so its not like it's my fault I'm here anyways. Blame him, if anyone." He added, ignoring the harsh glare the stone animal was giving him, and instead glanced down at his shoes, eyes narrowing as if looking for any flaw in the dragon hide boots that adorned his legs up to his knees.

"Potter, your wardrobe is in impeccable condition, so you need not admire it any more." A silky voice almost surprised Harry as he continued scrutinizing his boot, licking his finger slightly and scrubbing at a slight scuffmark. Hearing the man approach long before he heard his voice, however, Harry immediately straightened up, another unsettling grin appearing on his deeply tanned face.

"Ah, Severus! I didn't think you'd ever notice!" He said happily, beaming down at the slightly shorter professor. "I did wear the leather trousers especially for you, and I see my endeavors were not all in vain." Severus, however, scowled at the man before him. Barely eighteen, and yet he seemed to already have a touch of insanity to him.

"I don't believe I ever gave you permission to call me Severus, Potter." The professor said sourly, ignoring the attempt at provoking him. "Gloating Gumballs." He muttered, scowling once more at having to say the altogether undignified password to the headmaster's office. At the words, the gargoyle gave one more reproachful look towards the younger man, before grudgingly moving aside for the professor.

"Of course not Severus, but dear old Albus did." Harry cackled, smirking as he bounded up the stairs ahead of his teacher, smacking the gargoyle on the way up. "Remember, I may not have completed my seventh year here, but I am eighteen and not your student anymore!" He called from the top of the spiraling stairs, bending over the railing slightly and looking down to see the expression of utmost irritation on the potion master's face.

Harry, his long hair falling in front of his face, was quite aware of the fact that his green dress shirt (coincidentally matching his eyes) had the top few buttons undone, and also quite aware of the fact that the view of his chest would annoy the already irked man to no end, and was rewarded when the older man's glare intensified.

"Albus also has an worrisome addiction to lemon drops." Severus muttered as he climbed the stairs, reached the top to find the boy already flung into a squashy armchair in front of the headmasters desk, and one of his leather clad legs was flung over the side, the other easily on the floor, his six foot one frame making his foot able to be flat on the ground. The infernal brat was currently grinning (again), and sucking on a lemon drop, which would have, without a doubt, had a cheering charm on it if not for the fact that one was not necessary with the incessant high spirits that the boy was in.

"Ah, Severus, I am glad you decided to join us." The headmaster spoke, plucking a lemon drop from the large bowl in front of him. "Lemon drop?" He offered the bowl to Severus, who merely glowered at the man before him. "Harry, it seems as though you are the only one who ever accepts my kindly offers." Albus said forlornly, looking sadly at the young man sprawled comfortably in front of him.

"Mmm," Harry agreed, tilting his head backwards from it's resting place on the arm of the chair. "And I do believe Severus could do with one. It couldn't possibly make him any more sour, in any case." Harry snickered at his own joke, and even the headmaster suppressed a chortle, letting out a slight cough instead.

"Potter you are an insufferable brat. The only difference between you and your father is that you are even more reckless than he, which I thought was not possible." Severus spat. Harry may have defeated the dark lord, but that didn't mean Severus had to like him. Harry raised an eyebrow, resisting the urge to throw an insult back to Severus, and instead turned his gaze and concentrated on the many seemingly obscure items in the office.

"Ah, but you see, Harry has no way of knowing this, and that is the exact reason as to why I have called you both here today." The headmaster said, and this comment drew both men's attention, and also a few of the portraits on the wall paused to listen to the old man's words. "Many months ago I requested that you do some research on a certain potion, Severus, and I gave you permission to use the Black library for this investigation. You recently informed me that you found the necessary components to be able to concoct it yourself, and had done so, save one ingredient that must be added." This statement caused Severus' eyes to widen in realization and disbelief. Harry, however, narrowed his eyes, and watched the both of him, his body not tensing, but eyes carefully tracking their movements.

"I did not say I would be willing to!" He snapped, voice full of incredulousness. "You cannot expect me to add it for a reason like this!" At the word he vaguely waved a hand at the young man still lounging on the chair.

"Oy! I'm not a 'this' I'll have you know!" Harry interjected indignantly. "I'm more of a that." He said thoughtfully, before lapsing back into silence. The headmaster shot him an amused look before turning back towards the now reddening man.

"First of all Albus, the boy-"

"Man." Harry interrupted cheerfully, jumping up from his chair and bounding over to a "book" shelf, and then proceeded to stroke his chin thoughtfully as he gazed at the sorting hat sitting on a shelf dejectedly. Severus shot him a glare, before continuing his tirade.

"The child-man," he said dryly, "is bloody insane, and Merlin knows what he might do to time. For Merlin's sake Albus, he could cause an entire paradox and cause the world to implode!" By that time Severus' voice had raised in volume, although the two other men in the room seemed completely unperturbed by his growing anger. Harry, in fact, seemed completely oblivious to what the others were saying, and had in fact plopped down in the blindingly violet chair he had claimed, the sorting hat sitting comfortably on his head, looking quite content.

"Severus," Albus said quietly, all joking gone from his voice. "Harry needs this. He has become a recluse, and is hiding behind emotions that allow him to ignore all that has occurred, all his regret. Doing this will cause an eventual breakdown which, with the strength of his magic, he will not survive. He must find a time soon to let loose his emotions, when he fully understands them, and I am forced to admit that this time is in fact, not now, or in the future."

"Oh yes, I know they're discussing my life and what they're going to do with it.' Harry said musingly, causing Severus to start, having forgotten he was there, and Albus to merely glance over to where Harry was seemingly having a conversation with the sorting hat. "Yes, I believe they have decided what to do with me. But I don't think I get a choice." He paused for a moment, listening. "Ah, well, it's not like I have anything to do here anyways. No more dark lords to conquer or anything I suppose. All I seem to be doing is wallowing in regret, you understand."

"See?" Albus said, beaming up at Severus, who adamantly refused to sit in the empty plush armchair identical, except orange instead of violet, to the one Harry was sunk in to. "Harry agrees! All you have to do is toddle off and grab the potion now!"

"And, Albus, " Severus sneered, and ignored Harry, who had continued to mutter to the Hat, which was moving about all of its own accord. "What if I have better things to do with my time, and do not wish to waste my time instructing Potter in the correct usage?" Severus said this, hoping that the seemingly omnipotent headmaster would not know that the instructions were exceedingly simple. The old man paused for a moment, one long finger twirling the end of his beard thoughtfully.

"Well, I was considering having all the first through third year Potions classes be Gryffindors with Slytherins, and I suppose with that you would have your hands full." He said musingly, winding and unwinding the end of his beard, ostensibly unaware of Severus' bulging eyes and paling face.

"How very Slytherin, of you Albus." He said stiffly, while the headmaster merely chuckled, eyes twinkling madly. "I didn't think you had it in you. Very well, how many years will he be going?" Albus brightened immediately,

"Well, I'd have to say twenty one. I do think that's the right time." Severus' eyes bulged again, and he opened his mouth to speak, but Albus cut him off. "Trust an old man, Severus." As Severus glared at the man, he suddenly looked much older and wearier, as if the effects of the Second War were suddenly visible. "Please." Severus' gaze softened, and he was about to reluctantly agree, when Harry chose that moment to come back to the conversation, the sorting hat now sitting on the shelf once more, looking decidedly more lively.

"So no one actually asks me, huh old man?" He queried amiably. "More people just deciding to throw me into danger at their very own whims?" He paused for a moment, as Fawkes then decided to swoop down and land on his shoulder. "Hello there, darling. You're looking as radiant as ever." He said, gently stroking the phoenix's back as he preened. "Albus, what are you doing with me now?" He asked tiredly, allowing the mask of indifference and cheer to fall.

"Severus, if you would be so good as to fetch the potion, and also Harry's things? Fawkes has already agreed to the final process." Albus said softly, looking at Harry with his pale blue eyes, and Harry could see a slight beam of hope behind them. Severus merely nodded, and left abruptly, not particularly wishing to hear the argument that was sure to ensue.

"Albus." Harry started, arms crossed defiantly, although he knew he wasn't going to protest too much, as it wasn't as if he had anything to in this time period. "I don't know what you are trying to accomplish by this." He paused. "Actually, I do know what you are trying for, but it won't work. Anyways, what the hell am I going to do? I'm too old to be a student, and I'm sure they don't need a teacher. Besides, you want be to become 'emotionally stable,' the sarcasm dripped off of the words, "yet you want me to deal with seeing my parents, Sirius, and Remus all alive and happy? This is your way of helping me? It seems pretty twisted, old man." Harry said bitterly, a scowl twisting his normally smiling and attractive face.

"You never had your seventh year of schooling Harry!" Albus reprimanded, sounding very scholarly. "And although you obviously were doing things very worthwhile," he added hastily at Harry's frown. "It is imperative that you do so. And Harry," the headmaster said gently. "You and I both know how little you have here. You have Remus, of course, but even he has begun to continue on with life. It has been over a year and you are no closer to starting a new life than you were the day after Voldemort fell. You are filled with the regret of past events that you cannot change and refuse to accept that they were not your fault." Harry scoffed at this, but said nothing, looking anywhere but at the man he had come to think of as a sort of father figure. "And of course you will have a vial of the potion to take with you, and when you think it is time for you to return, at the end of the year you just need to ask Fawkes for help."

"Fine." Harry said, throwing his hands up in defeat, but a victorious gleam was in his eyes. "What about my condition, Albus? You can't possibly let me endanger all the students at Hogwarts." Harry swore inwardly as the twinkle in those damnable eyes brightened.

"Ah, but my dear boy, I'm sure you're already aware of another with the same… ah, condition that attended Hogwarts in that year?" He asked pleasantly, and now it was his turn for a winning glint to appear in his eyes. "You will have no problems with that, my dear boy."

"I'm not getting out of this, am I, old man?" Harry growled, eyes full of anxious resentment. Albus merely shook his head slightly.

He smiled benignly and watched as Harry sunk into the chair in defeat, glowering at everything in the room. They remained that way until Severus once more entered the room, robes sweeping in behind him. He then shoved Harry's shrunken trunk into his hands, and Harry, returning the glare with his own defiant smirk, took it and put it into the pocket of tight black trousers.

"All it needs are the phoenix tears, Albus." Severus placed one poisonously green phial, and one murky grey one onto the headmaster's desk and stood back, still refraining from sitting on the welcoming armchair.

"Phoenix tears, huh?" Harry asked, eyeing his former professor warily. "So you need one tear for each year?" He paused, then let out a barking laugh. "Tears for years! How appropriate." The other two men in the room, however, ignored him, and watched as Fawkes obligingly cried into one of the vials, and then as the twenty one tears were added, as it turned from a sickly green color, to a harmless looking lavender one. Harry sighed. "Why is it that the most fucked up potions always look the most innocent?" He ignored the sharp reprimand about his language, and grabbed the vial, swirling it in his hands and peering into it, sniffing slightly, then recoiling in disgust. "Smells like crap. You sure you made it right, Snape?"

"I assure you, Potter, it is quite safe." Severus sneered, but it didn't have the venom it normally did, hearing the slight nervousness in his former student's voice. "Go ahead and drink it and be gone with you."

"Before you go Harry, here is a letter to give to… myself." Albus positively grinned at this, before handing an envelope to Harry, sealed with the Hogwarts stamp. "Also, you will arrive at the same time of year, so the term will be in time for the welcoming feast, but please remember to give me," here he repressed another chortle, obviously quite bemused at the situation, "the letter, and everything will be sorted out, and it will all work out, Harry, my boy." Here Harry snorted derisively, but uncorked the lavender vial, still eyeing it warily.

"Wait. Why doesn't Fawkes just cry into the other one now, so it's ready when I need it?" Harry asked suddenly, not understanding why he should need to ask Fawkes to do so when he needed to return.

"You must drink it while the tears are fresh, Potter. You had years of potions, didn't you use that thing you call a brain once?" Severus snarled, looking offended that one of his students didn't know this. Harry however, just flashed his once-professor a cheeky grin.

"Well, I guess I'll see you." He said to both of them, snatching the gray vial off the desk and downing the lavender one. The last expression the professors saw on the Boy-Who-Lived was a bold smirk, and a defiant gesture that any parent would smack their child for demonstrating.