I don't own any of the characters - JK Rowling does. Merely playing - merely having a bit of fun!

xx

This wasn't real. The sun was far brighter than normal and he was outdoors somewhere. Somewhere. Where?

The grass he was sitting on was greener than the one he was used to in Scotland. Greener than in England. It was soft and it smelled wonderfully, as if there had just been a refreshing summer shower but if felt dry. His trousers felt dry and when had he last sat on the ground? On the grass?

Looking at himself, he found he wasn't wearing the clothes he had worn that morning. Black, yes, but the leg wider, more comfortable around his waist and his sleeves wider as well, not tight and narrow and long to conceal the Mark. He could even push them up.

His skin wasn't white and sallow. It wasn't tanned either but it looked – healthy.

There was no Mark.

And he felt no pain, his neck, where that snake had bitten him, it didn't hurt at all.

Carefully, he looked around – and there was blue skies, green grass, a very bright sun, casting shadows over from the trees – interesting shapes. And if he really concentrated he could play the childhood game again – guessing shapes, making out shapes and yes, there was a doe cast by the sun.

He felt warm, cosy – safe. There weren't any people around but he heard the slightest whisper of the wind carrying voices to where he was sitting against and old oak tree, the trunk comfortable against his back.

If he concentrated, he could smell the trunk, the wood, the ancient tree, the leaves up there, softly moving in the breeze and he closed his eyes – knowing he was safe.

His hands, his fingers, no longer calloused from dangerous tasks, caressed the grass, the green he was so comfortably sitting on and it felt soft beneath his fingertips. He didn't dare to pick up a blade of the green lusciousness – it might all disappear.

He felt the earth vibrate with power, contentment, happiness, joy – and footsteps who were getting nearer and nearer. His eyes were too tired to open. Too safe, too protected to have to watch everyone.

He was tired of always observing, knowing, foreseeing, guessing. Being right.

He knew the touch. He knew the hand covering his. He had known it for most of his life.

"Welcome home, Severus.", the voice said softly, her breathing fanning against his ear, his cheek.

"It's good to be home, Lily.", he answered.

He never even thought about it when he put his head on her shoulder.

xx