Takes place: Fifth Year, October/November time – GoF compliant but completely AU from then on.
Summary: A botched potion has a rather unusual side effect for Snape and Harry.
A/N: Written for the 2009 Potions and Snitches Challenge fest - Challenge: Back to the Marauders Time by brightmagic. I hope you enjoy it!
Harry nervously knocked on the door leading to the old, abandoned classroom. Snape had long since stopped snapping his head off every time he entered a room but it was never unreasonable to err on the side of caution. Snape still hated him – or at least that was what he appeared to do – but it was a much less aggressive hatred than it had been before the summer...
The summer where Harry had been forced to leave the Dursleys once and for all, not because he had finally convinced the Headmaster he didn't want to go back or because they had found a safer place to hide him, but because his aunt had been killed by Death Eaters. No aunt, no protection. No protection, no reason to keep Harry in a defenceless Muggle neighbourhood with his antagonistic Uncle and pudgy cousin.
Harry supposed he should feel guilty about being glad that Aunt Petunia was dead, but he was so filled with relief that he wouldn't have to go back to Privet Drive. Ever. Again.
Of course, living arrangements had become a bit of a problem after that, and the Headmaster had eventually decided – with much enthusiastic prompting from Harry – that it really would be best for him to remain behind Hogwarts' formidable protections.
The door was yanked open from directly in front of him and his eyes darted to take in the stern form of the Potions Master standing barely three feet away. His lopsided grin of remembrance disappeared immediately.
"Trying to make a point, Potter? Or have you spontaneously contracted a case of deafness through severe self-absorption? What are you waiting for, boy? Get in!"
Snape gestured sharply with his right arm, which Harry hurriedly ducked beneath in an attempt to cut off the tirade.
So much for avoiding Snape's temper...
Harry sighed and leaned against one of the old desks, watching as his teacher made his way to the front of the room. It's not like he expected Snape to be nice; Snape was never nice. However, Harry had learned that if he was careful, the pair of them could maintain a civil, working relationship with the minimum of derisive sarcasm as long as Harry did what Snape said when he said it. He had learned the hard way that most of Snape's instructions weren't just a waste of time; three weeks of walking around with a bad lisp after a potions accident would do that to a person.
Unfortunately, tonight didn't look like it was going to be one of the better ones.
"... just like your father: arrogant, bull-headed and determined to waste everyone else's time simply because it doesn't fit in with your ideal world view. Skin those salamanders, slice their skin thinly and hand them to me when you're done. And be quick about it!"
Drawing a shaky breath, Harry set to his task, biting the inside of his cheek in an attempt to ignore the vitriol. Over the summer he had discovered that, while Snape was still as nasty as ever, the less you antagonised him, the fewer ways he found to deride you. In fact, there were sometimes added benefits, like being brusquely taught how to brew an antidote properly or be instructed in the precise way to banish a vampire. Snape knew a lot and Harry had taught himself to put up with the bad in order to gain more knowledge, and the more respectful Harry was towards the Potions Master, the more said Potions Master seemed not to mind teaching Harry a few clever tricks.
After four years at Hogwarts, Harry felt that finally his Slytherin side was coming in to play.
"What are you doing, boy? You should know by now that salamander skin should be sliced lengthways not widthways," a silky voice purred dangerously.
Harry looked down at the offending ingredient. Of course, just because he was finally getting the hang of manipulating situations didn't mean that sometimes they required more patience than he felt he could handle. Giving the inside of his cheek a final nip, he said in a 'contrite' voice, "I'm sorry, sir. I must have been distracted. Should I start again?"
Snape sneered down his nose at Harry's chopping board and Harry waited quietly for the prognosis, reciting as many Quidditch fouls as he could remember in an attempt to not throttle the arrogant man.
Eventually Snape spoke, "I do not see any reason why I should waste perfectly good salamanders when these would work just as well. Just remember that next time your sloppiness will earn a detention." Saying nothing more, Snape glided back to his own work table and proceeded to completely ignore Harry.
Harry quickly got to work again, resisting the urge to use his sharp knife to bash the head of the next salamander in. Snape could be so frustrating!
Come on, Harry. You know the reason he's being so snappish tonight is because he's in pain; he's always like this on those nights.
'Those' nights, as Harry referred to them with sarcastic fatalism, were the nights that Voldemort chose to summon his errant spy in an attempt to teach the defector a lesson. Naturally, Snape was much harder to keep placid on these nights and Harry had long since given up trying to deflect the insults thrown at him, or even try to argue with them. The only reason Harry had been allowed to help in the first place, which Snape had taken relish in repeating many times, was because of Harry's blood link to Voldemort.
Harry's strange affinity to the Dark Lord, couple with the fact that the evil creature had Harry's mother's protection flowing through his veins, made Harry's blood the perfect final ingredient in the potion to neutralise the Dark Mark. During the weeks that Snape summoned him to work on the potion, Harry had found himself gradually becoming more and more involved in the brewing process. It was often after these inopportune meetings and the judicious insults that came with them that Snape would finally relax enough to teach Harry something new and not always on the syllabus. Harry was hoping to extend his Offensive Spells' armoire tonight and was already working through the right way to phrase his request.
A small smirk played around his lips as he remembered there had been a time when he couldn't ask Snape for anything without getting his head bitten off straight afterward. He could still remember the time when he was horrified by the very idea of being in a room with Snape, a mere two months ago.
Now it was still pretty bad, but at least he knew how far he could go before Snape turned vicious. Besides, though Harry would never admit it, he was sometimes very grateful for the man's presence. Everyone else seemed convinced that Harry needed to talk about what had happened the previous year with Voldemort, to help exorcise the trauma he must obviously be feeling. Or to be coddled, which was even worse. Snape didn't try to get him to talk about it, in fact, the man didn't seem to give a damn, and that was exactly what Harry needed at times; someone who looked to the future and made plans accordingly, instead of mithering Harry and insisting that he live in the past.
Harry shook these thoughts away with a measure of disgust. If he didn't pay attention, he'd prepare the ingredients wrong again and have Snape whisper his disgust in the tone that always turned Harry's guts to ice.
"I've finished the salamanders, sir." No hesitation, no questions, just a simple statement. Those were always the safest.
Snape glided back over and sneered at them from above Harry's shoulder. "I suggest you add them to the cauldron, then..."
Harry could tell that Snape was getting tired as the derisive drawl became more pronounced. Wordlessly, he placed the ingredients in the cauldron and held out his hand for Snape to draw the blood.
The silver knife slit easily through his arm, the sting making him bite his lip and tense as he waited for the ten precious drops to trickle down.
"There," Snape muttered, turning away from the cauldron and carefully running his wand along Harry's cut to close it. "Your assistance is no longer required past this point tonight, Potter..."
But Harry wasn't listening. He was staring at the roiling cauldron partially blocked out by his Professor's looming form.
He only had time to call out, "Professor!" in alarm before the whole brew imploded violently, dragging the frozen forms of Snape and Harry with it.
Harry came back to himself very quickly, coughing and spluttering as he was in the debris. A fine mist of dust seemed to cover everything; the air was thick with it. The destroyed cauldron sat forlornly a few feet away: a twisted black lump rising out of the floor and covered in gelatinous gloop.
Well, that could have gone better...
He slowly hauled himself to his feet, joints aching a little from being thrown against the wall, and looked around for the Professor. Sure enough, the man was standing two feet away, furiously brushing off the dust and gloop from his once-black robes. Harry looked down at himself and saw with a groan that he was covered in the same.
Upon hearing the noise, Snape spun around and came face to face with Harry, long fingers enclosing Harry's shoulders in a pincer-like grip.
"Ow! Professor..." Harry tried to squirm away but Snape's hold just tightened as the Professor turned him from side to side as though looking for any obvious injuries. "I'm fine!"
Snape sneered at him for another moment before releasing him and folding his arms menacingly across his chest.
"What did you do?" The deadly whisper was almost silent, emotionless and in that moment Harry knew that he was in big trouble.
"What did you put into the cauldron? What little trick did you play?" Snape's voice was drawling and almost soundless, yet Harry could hear every syllable and his stomach was doing panicky flops in response.
Remaining calm and still in the hopes that it might limit the damage, Harry stared over Snape's shoulder, absolutely certain he couldn't meet the burning gaze just yet. "I didn't do anything, sir. I think my sleeve might have dipped into the cauldron when you were adding the blood though."
Snape hissed angrily under his breath. "Idiot boy! You know as well as I do that any extra ingredient added to the potion would have made it extremely volatile. You could have been killed!"
The man had turned away and was picking through the debris for anything salvageable before Harry could even consider working out what Snape had meant by his last statement. Instead, he gritted his teeth against the angry exclamation which wanted to yell that Snape had been just as much to blame for the slip.
"Come along, Potter, we're going to the Headmaster's office to report this little accident." The tone of voice made Harry bristle again and only by biting his tongue and reminding himself that he'd be giving Snape just what he wanted did he manage to keep silent on the matter. There was something satisfying in denying him.
"Sir, will we need to brew another batch of potion for you after we see Professor Dumbledore?" he said coldly, determined to prove that he was better than Snape.
Snape seemed to deflate a little before his eyes and the man stopped on his way to the door to examine his left arm. "It appears the liberal dose I received through skin contact has been sufficient," the man said in an indifferent tone, which, Harry supposed roughly translated to, 'I'm fine, Potter, thanks for asking.'
Why does he have to be so difficult?
Harry stepped out into the corridor and felt a cleaning spell pass over his skin as he shut the door. He looked up in time to see a newly-immaculate Snape striding down the corridor away from him, obviously expecting him to follow.
Difficult doesn't even begin to cover it. Why does he have to have these mood swings all the time? One minute he's being as nasty and judgemental as he can and the next he does something like this. Why can't he make up his mind? I'm his assistant! He should at least make an effort to be decent to me; he needs my blood to complete the potion. What if one day I decide I don't want to freely offer my blood for the potion? What then? I mean, it's not as if I wouldn't, but all the same...
Continuing to silently grumble to himself, Harry hurried on down the corridor, close on the heels of the man who seemed determined to make Harry's life as difficult as possible one way or another. Unfortunately, Snape could brood even better than Harry and unless he wanted to go back to square one with the Potions Master and miss out on any new duelling tips, it appeared Harry would have to be the responsible one.
Why do I always have to be the adult? I've only been fifteen for four months.
"Professor?" Harry hurried up alongside Snape. "I apologise for being so negligent with the potion and destroying one of your cauldrons. I should have been more careful," he said formerly, praying that Snape would be impressed by his extended vocabulary, because he really was at the end of his patience now.
Snape gave him a fierce look out of the corner of his eye before sneering, "Next time you had better not make such a foolish mistake." He paused. "However, neither of us sustained any injury so your recklessness is not too much of an inconvenience. Now, hurry up, Potter!"
Snape pushed Harry out in front, forcing him to keep walking, but Harry found he didn't mind too much. Understanding Snapespeak was getting easier the longer he spent with the man, and as far as Harry could tell, the man had essentially stated that he'd forgiven Harry for the destroyed cauldron. Not that that did much for Harry's fried nerves though.
Harry sighed silently and turned the corner, about to ask Snape about some Defence spells he'd read about in the library, only to come to an abrupt stop two seconds later. Snape nearly ended up tripping over him, but Harry barely noticed. All he could do was gape at the group of five people gaping back at him.
"Mum?" Harry asked incredulously. "Dad?"
Suddenly there was a hand on his shoulder pulling him backwards and he found himself standing behind a white-lipped Snape – a sure sign that he was angry – who looked ready to give several months worth of detention to any one of the four Marauders, or the girl who would surely one day grow up to be Lily Potter.
"What is this?" Snape hissed. "Did you think it would be amusing to prank a Professor in such a way? Well, let me be the first inform you that you are most mistaken and that I shall personally make sure that each and every one of you will be expelled if you don't come forward with your true names immediately. Well? I'm waiting."
Harry found he could not decide who he wanted to stare at the most; his fifteen year old parents or his Potions Professor. The man looked quite deranged – almost as bad as the time when he had discovered Sirius had escaped right from under his prodigious nose – the whites of his eyes were very evident and the sneer was so pronounced that Snape looked like he was in a rictus of pain. He had the look of a man about to hex everything in sight regardless as to whether they were friend or foe.
Luckily, Harry managed to find his voice before that. "Professor," he murmured softly, shakily, "I don't think this is a prank. I think it's real."
Oh God. If this is real, how in the hell are we ever going to get back? What about Voldemort? What about...
The expressions of shock and anger on the others' faces were too genuine to be manufactured or practised. However, the alternative to this being a prank was utterly impossible so Harry just lapsed into silence, glancing between the group and Snape in the hope that someone would take control and explain it all.
Someone did end up taking control, but not in the right way.
"Snivellus," James Potter sneered, lazily drawing his wand and twirling it in tiny circles that never quite pointed in Snape's direction, but would be able to in a second should the situation so desire it. "What the hell are you on about being a Professor? As if anyone would want to hire someone like you."
The other three boys snickered appreciatively at this 'humour' while the girl tossed her head in disgust, looking very much like she wanted to turn her back and walk away. She didn't say anything, though, and Harry felt a sinking sensation in the pit of his stomach as he had a sudden, vivid memory of being taunted by Dudley.
Please don't say that my father... that he...
Harry barely had to wait before being proved right in the worst possible way.
"What've you done to yourself, Snivellus?" James continued. "Think that using one of your potions to make you look older would somehow make you special?" James threw back his head and laughed as though this was the funniest thing on the planet. "And who's this with you? One of your Slytherin pals you convinced to Polyjuice into me?"
And within a second, James's derisive gaze had moved on to Harry, and Harry realised, that with his eyes and scar concealed by the dungeon shadows, he must look the absolute spit of James Potter. Despite the fact that, for the first time in his life, that was the very last thing Harry wanted.
No wonder Snape's always–
"Always so very witty, weren't you, Potter?" Snape whispered, eyes narrowing even as he drew himself up poker-straight. "Such a pity you were born an arrogant fool."
"Me, arrogant?" James forced a laugh. "Look who's talking!"
Harry glanced again between the two glaring adversaries and realised that, out of them all, it was only he and Lily who seemed to be the impartial parties; the only ones who might be able to calm everyone down and move the situation away from dangerous waters. And Lily still appeared to be struck dumb. Quickly ducking out from beneath Snape's restraining grasp on his arm, Harry moved into the No Man's Land between them all and held his empty hands out, regardless of the Marauders' narrowing eyes and Snape's attempts to pull him back to 'safety'.
"My name is Harry James Potter, son of Lily and James Potter," he stated firmly, emotionlessly, rather reminding himself of Snape at his coldest. "The year is 1995 – at least it was last time I checked – and this is Professor," Harry purposely stressed the title, refusing to acknowledge the irony that it was him willingly saying this, "Snape, Potions Master of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry," Harry finished with a flourish, strangely determined to stress that Snape was worthy of respect, at least in their time because, despite everything, he was.
The girl had paled at his first revelation and by the time he'd finished, she abruptly turned around and strode off down the corridor without once looking back. Harry watched her go, refusing to be hurt by her dismissal – besides, she wouldn't even meet him for another five years.
And she'll be dead in six.
Harry clenched his jaw and turned towards the remaining four. Lupin was now eyeing them both curiously, no hint of animosity in his gaze, Pettigrew was gawking unashamedly, Sirius was staring with blatant disbelief and James... well, James was watching them both with a peculiar glint in his eyes. Harry wasn't sure whether this could be considered good or bad as it left him no clue as to whether the boy believed him or not.
"Well then," James said smoothly, looking very much like he wanted to laugh again, "the year is currently 1975, so I can only assume that we either have a couple of time-travellers or liars on our hands. I suppose we all should take a trip to see Professor Dumbledore..."
The glint intensified and Harry resisted the urge to step back behind Snape in case it turned out to be malicious. Fortunately, he did not have to make the decision, for at that moment a hand suddenly gripped his shoulder from behind and pulled him backwards again.
"Always reckless, aren't we, Mr Potter?" Snape hissed angrily in his ear.
Harry glanced back, shocked by the note that almost sounded like... concern in Snape's voice. Not that that was possible, though. "Err... What do you mean?"
"Forgotten the primary rule of Time-turner travel, have we?" Snape's voice was at its very lowest and coldest; Harry resisted the urge to step away. "You. Must. Not. Be. Seen. And what have you just done? Announced to known characters from our past precisely who we are and when we came from. It appears whatever intelligence I ever credited you with has been woefully misplaced!"
"Oh." OK, now Harry felt stupid. Very stupid. "Can you Obliviate them?" he hissed back, eyeing the Marauders who seemed to be watching their whispered conversation very closely. It didn't help Harry's nerves that all of their wands were still trained on them.
Suddenly, Snape straightened and stepped away from Harry. "It appears not," he said, jerking his chin down the corridor.
Harry followed his gaze and breathed a sigh of relief as he saw Dumbledore striding down the corridor towards them, Lily close on his heels. Everything would be alright now: Dumbledore would know what to do. He hoped.
Dumbledore surveyed them all from his position behind the Headmaster's desk – the six students and one errant Potions Master – over the top of his slightly uneven, half-moon spectacles. Strange instruments whirred and clicked around the room, filling the air with their soothing cacophony. Fawkes watched inquisitively from his perch, the portraits muttered among themselves, and the catalogue of knitting patterns – which should have detracted from the general air of venerability surrounding Dumbledore – merely added an eclectic atmosphere to the room.
Snape, Harry noticed, looked less than impressed.
"I daresay I do not have to tell you that this matter is of the utmost gravity," Dumbledore's calm voice asked from behind the desk.
The six students shook their heads in immediate sincerity, whereas Snape just snorted and glared at a nearby portrait, who was feigning sleep spectacularly badly.
"Ah, excellent!" Smiling congenially, Dumbledore pulled out a bag from his robes and shook it a little. "In that case, would anyone care for a Dolly Mixture? I discovered them quite recently and they are really quite delicious."
From the set of Snape's jaw, the man appeared to be grinding his teeth. Really hard. Harry had to bite his tongue quite hard to keep from bursting out into pointless, hysterical laughter.
He easily distracted himself by watching the Marauders head for the bag of sweets with great enthusiasm; even reserved Lily helped herself to a piece. Apparently they weren't yet familiar with the Headmaster's delaying tactics. Now that their faces were relaxed and confident, and not confrontational and angry, Harry found he couldn't quite tear his eyes from their familiar, alien faces.
The Headmaster was speaking again but Harry didn't hear a word. He was too busy mapping the exact similarities and differences between James's face and his own to pay proper attention. The way the other's nose was slightly longer, his hair was messier, his height was greater, and his eyes were brown...
To be honest, the resemblance was spooky. Harry knew he shouldn't be at all happy about his father's not-so-pleasant-behaviour in the hallway, but quite honestly, this boy would one day be his Dad and he didn't seem so bad when he wasn't targeting Snape...
Harry immediately yanked himself from his daydream. That tone of voice was something he had been conditioned to obey ever since he had first set foot in the man's classroom, and habits like that are not easily broken.
"Yes, Professor?" Harry had to admit, Snape had looming down to an art form.
"Do you really think that what the Headmaster is saying does not relate to you? That you are above listening, Potter?" Snape asked, his derision for Harry clearly evident from his tone.
It was a great pity that Snape's extra irritability hadn't disappeared with the pain from his Mark like it usually did. Apparently travelling to another time had shot the Slytherin Head of House's nerves to hell. Harry almost wished he could tune him out. Hot food and a warm bed sounded much more appealing than dealing with a frustrated Snape, no matter where – or when – they were.
Harry's eyes briefly flicked to the rest of the room. Dumbledore seemed to almost be amused by the exchange, while the Marauders looked very much like they wanted to call Snape every foul name under the sun. Harry's near smile was immediately diminished when he saw that Lily seemed to be regarding the scene with complete indifference.
"I'm very sorry, sir," Harry said firmly, ignoring Snape and directing his words to Dumbledore. "It's just that it's quite late and I'm tired. I'm afraid my mind was wandering a bit." He smiled self-deprecatingly up at the Headmaster, hoping that his innocent expression would win over the old man. The smile almost changed to a smirk as he saw young Sirius wink at him out of the corner of his eye.
"Not at all, not at all... Harry, wasn't it?" Dumbledore asked genially. While his face seemed passive, his customary twinkle alerted Harry that Dumbledore knew exactly what he was up to. "I'm sure we'll all be able to get in our beds soon enough. Preferably with something to eat beforehand?"
Harry nodded enthusiastically and wondered if he had imagined hearing Snape snort.
"Excellent! I'm sure these boys here will be able to see to your nutrition after you leave. Now, Professor Snape, do you think an – well, for lack of a better word – antidote can be concocted for your, ah, situation?"
Snape drew himself up to his full height. "Of course, Headmaster." Arrogant confidence was evident from the man's tone and Harry almost rolled his eyes at it before remembering that Snape's confidence in his ability was his only ticket home... save for actually living out the twenty years between where he was now to where he had been. Harry shuddered.
Snape continued, "I will require a day to make inventory, a day to set up and three days to experiment... possibly more."
Dumbledore smiled, as if a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders, seeming not to notice that Snape had just revealed that he would have two time-travellers on his hands for at least five days. "That's settled then!" he said, his cheerful voice ringing through the office. "Professor Snape will have the west dungeons to himself to experiment in while Harry continues going to classes. Well, I think that's all..."
"Wait! What?" Harry stared at Dumbledore incredulously. "Did you seriously just say I have to go to classes with my... with them?" He gestured at the Marauders, who all seemed to be trying to muffle their laughter.
"Certainly, Harry. After all, we can't have you falling behind in your education, can we?"
For the umpteenth time, Harry wondered how he could find the same person both exasperating and amusing. But then, Dumbledore always had marched to his own tune. "B-but, sir!" Harry glared at Snape, who'd retreated into the shadows. How dare he smirk at a time like this! "Shouldn't you be Obliviating them instead of encouraging me to spend time with them? You know, so they can forget that I'm their son?" Harry waved his hand wildly again, wondering if there was anyone at all in the room who wasn't wearing an amused expression.
Honestly! Am I the only one taking this seriously?
"Ah, Harry," Dumbledore chuckled, wiping a tear from his eye and pulling himself together.
Harry gritted his teeth and waited with poorly concealed impatience as the old man gathered himself again.
"Now, please forgive us, dear boy. You are quite right in recognising that young Lily and James must not know about you until later on in their lives, but that is no reason not to let them get to know you now!"
Harry closed his eyes and prayed for patience. Irritation was definitely winning out over humour now. "Would you kindly explain what you mean, Headmaster?" he gritted out, glad that the Headmaster from his own time didn't mess about as much. With Harry, at any rate.
"I do believe the esteemed Professor Dumbledore is referring to the Concealment Curse," a low voice murmured from the dark space behind Fawkes's perch. Harry smirked as the Marauders' heads snapped around comically fast, almost as if they had forgotten Snape was there. Harry hadn't. And right now, he was extremely grateful that the man was nearby to lend a little sanity to the situation, whereas a mere five months ago he would have thought the exact opposite.
"Thanks, Professor... Err, what is that?"
Snape's eyes narrowed and he looked ready to snap some derisive comment at Harry – probably something about he could never be bothered to study – when Dumbledore intervened.
"The Curse itself is from uncertain origin and all you really need to know is that it will let you wander Hogwarts with impunity, with of course, a little discretion on your part, of course..."
"What the Headmaster means to say," Snape cut in again and Harry felt another small surge of relief that the Potions Master was being so uncharacteristically disrespectful towards Dumbledore – Snape didn't like to be kept in the dark about spells being cast on his person any more than Harry did – "is that the spell in question will not affect us directly, rather the people we come in to contact with. They will remember seeing us, interacting with us, yet not our names, our features, nor our words to them once we have returned from whence we came. This spell is particularly useful in botched Time-Turner accidents and for gathering information... which you should already know, Potter, seeing as I am well aware it was on the Defence Against the Dark Arts syllabus for the first week of term."
Harry sulkily looked down at his shoes under the force of Snape's glare, mumbling almost inaudibly, "Well, you know our Defence teacher's rubbish this year."
A corner of Snape's mouth turned up. "A fair point. I shall be sure to instruct you in the Curse after we return you'd better be prepared to listen, Potter."
"All settled then?" Dumbledore's bright and cheery voice dispelled the tension in the room. At Harry's nod, he directed Snape and Harry to the centre of the room. "Won't take a minute!"
Dumbledore waved his wand in a large, looping motion, indicating the pair of them, all the while muttering in Latin. As the magic sunk into Harry's skin, a few of the quiet words registered in his tired brain, such as occultus... specalis... oblivisci. He would have panicked at the last one if he hadn't already known that Dumbledore wouldn't intentionally harm him... as well as the fact that Snape didn't seem worried in the slightest.
"All done." Dumbledore clapped his hands, making Harry jump as he was violently dislodged from his drowsing thoughts. "Now why don't you six all run along? You look asleep on your feet, Harry. Severus, if you could stay behind so I could have a word...?"
The worry came back and hit Harry full force as he realised he would have to be separated from Snape – his only link back to his own time – and what's more, he would be sharing a dorm with the four boys in front of him; one of whom he'd never met, another who he wished he never had, one he cared for dearly, and one who had once been his mentor. And Lily – there was another matter entirely. She'd spent the whole time in the office avoiding his gaze or pretending he didn't exist, and the sense of foreboding and hurt was growing stronger in the pit of Harry's stomach the longer she did so.
Overwhelmed, tired and confused, he turned to Snape, hoping the man would be able to help, would have some kind of answer as to why something like this had happened to him – them – yet again.
Snape sneered and gave a curt nod. "Go along, then," he snapped, and strangely, Harry felt his spirits sag even further. He turned towards the door, which James was holding open, only to be stopped by the sudden clearing of a throat. "And, Potter?"
Harry looked back and met Snape's black eyes without flinching. "Yes, sir?"
Snape abruptly turned and glared ferociously at the nearby portrait of a past Headmistress, who looked vaguely offended. "Be careful," came his curt reply before he turned and proceeded to ignore Harry completely.
Harry felt his lips turn up in a slight smile. "Yes, sir. Goodnight." He nodded to both the Professors before ducking out of the office, his heart lighter already.
Harry ran down the staircase, ignoring the Marauders behind him in his hoped to catch up with Lily, who was already at the bottom. Here it was, the perfect chance to get to know his parents and already one of them seemed less than impressed with him. He had to know why.
"Hey, umm, Lily...?" It felt weird to call her that, but she stopped readily enough and turned to face him from where she stood just beside the stone gargoyle. She did not, however, say a word instead simply looking at him as if he were something to assess.
"Err, hi." Harry smiled shyly and stuck his hand out to her. "I'm Harry, well you probably already heard, but I thought I'd introduce myself properly seeing as..."
The words 'seeing as I'm your son' refused to come.
Lily's face softened a little, and she looked as though she was about to say something, when something behind Harry caught her eye and her face froze into its impassive expression once more.
"Oi, Evans!" Harry heard James Potter call out. "All right?"
Lily's mouth thinned to an invisible line, her expression making her look so remarkably like Petunia when Harry had done something else wrong that he almost took a step back. Without saying a word, Lily turned and strode off down the corridor at a fast pace, not looking back once; not at James... nor at Harry.
She hates him.
The realisation caused a peculiar ache in Harry's chest.
Lily hates him. I thought they loved each other. Everyone said they loved each other...
He took a glance at James, who looked remarkably unconcerned and seemingly unaware of the bombshell that had rocked Harry's perspective of what the world was – what he thought it had been – once again.
"Hey, don't mind her." James slung an arm around Harry's shoulders and steered him down the corridor. "Evans is always like that."
"Yeah, 'cos she thinks you're conceited, mate," Sirius added, ducking James's friendly swat at his head.
"Shut up, Padfoot!" James said, then laughed.
Harry looked at them all with amazement. Out of Snape's bitter stare they all seemed in much higher spirits, and now that Harry was no longer associated with Snape in their mind, they were treating him well too. He still wasn't sure whether or not to dismiss James's nastiness to Snape, but then, it could have been a simple case of Snape constantly antagonising the Marauders. After all, the man never did realise when he pushed too far and Harry couldn't see him being any different as a teenager either.
"So what do you say?"
James slight squeeze caused Harry to look up at the taller boy. "Say to what?"
"To becoming a Marauder of course!" James crowed. "Come on, you're practically one already!"
Harry felt his mouth stretching into a smile as he glanced around their faces. Tonight, even Pettigrew didn't look that bad; the boy was smiling happily and reminded him strangely of Neville. "Umm, yeah sure." Then, with more enthusiasm, "That sounds great!"
Fred and George will be mad with envy if... when I get back.
Sirius came up from behind and bumped his shoulder. "Bet you know all about us, eh, Prongslet?"
"Yeah, I think I know pretty much everything..." Harry trailed off, staring at Sirius.
Wait a minute. Prongslet?!!
"Don't you dare!" Harry growled as he rounded on Sirius, not sure if he should start laughing in amusement, or scowling in ridicule. "I'm not, nor ever will be a Prongslet!"
The Marauders fell about laughing; James and Sirius throwing back their heads and laughing aloud while Peter snickered in the background. Even Lupin had to stop walking to clutch his sides.
"You sh-should have seen your face!" Sirius howled, sounding more like the huge, black dog he transformed into than ever. "Utterly priceless!"
"Yeah, well..." Harry pushed away from James and pretended to sulk, but he couldn't stop a large grin spreading across his face. He was really here! Really back in time with the Marauders, and what's more, he had a whole week to spend with them. "As long as it's not cute, I suppose I can leave it up to you... No." He glared at Sirius. "You're not calling me 'Prongsling' either."
"Hey, Prongs," a soft voice called. "Why don't we use...?" Lupin made a vague hand motion that seemed to make absolute sense to everyone else apart from Harry.
Completely baffled, he stared at Lupin, hoping to receive an explanation. The other boy just smiled enigmatically and continued down the corridor to the Fat Lady. "We'll explain when in the dorm and don't have unwanted eavesdroppers," Lupin explained, pointing at the wall in front of them. "The password is 'Troglodyte'."
As the Fat Lady's portrait swung obligingly forward Harry noticed, possibly for the first time, how all the portraits in the vicinity were staring at them with masked curiosity, some being more overt about it than others.
No wonder Dumbledore knows everything that goes on in the castle.
Harry scrambled through the portrait hole... and immediately tried to duck behind James. As stupid as it sounded, he had completely forgotten there would be other people in the Common Room – all of whom were currently staring at him in disbelieving amazement. Harry cursed the fact that the spell Dumbledore had put on him wouldn't come into effect until a week had passed. What he wouldn't give to have all of these people forget he'd ever been there!
"Hey, everyone!" His would-be father seemed to have no compunctions about being stared at and cheerfully Harry to the front, despite the other boy's attempts to stay behind him. "I'd like you all to meet Harry Potter, he's going to be staying with us for a while!"
Those in the room gaped at the two Potters, evidently not able to credit what they were seeing. Harry closed his eyes and prayed that he was somewhere, anywhere, else.
Then someone, Harry didn't know who, piped up, "This isn't another prank of yours is it, James?"
"Certainly not!" And suddenly, James had launched into a full explanation of what had happened, adding details here, exaggerating there until it sounded like Harry Potter, brave adventurer, had decided to go back in time to visit his parents when they were young, only to be caught by evil Snape – who had somehow tricked Dumbledore into making him a Professor – who had ended up falling through a magical time vortex with Harry.
Now it was Harry who was the one gaping as the entire Common Room listened closely to every word that came out of James's mouth. Some were even stealing astonished, or admonishing, glances at Harry and Harry couldn't think of a single thing to say to counter the flow of words, especially now that Sirius had joined in the description. He felt like the rug had been pulled out from underneath him – again – as he listened to such blatant embellishment.
Suddenly someone's hand grabbed his wrist and began to tug him through the room. Harry stumbled, almost falling and tried to pull away before realising the person who had his arm was none other than Pettigrew.
What the hell is he doing?
Suddenly, a horrible thought occurred to Harry.
He... he isn't a Death Eater already, is he? But then, what would he want with me? Voldemort has no idea who I am yet!
Before he had opportunity to work himself up any further, Harry had been pulled into the boys' stairwell and his wrist was released. Pettigrew turned back and smiled wanly at him before beckoning him further up the stairs. Intrigued despite himself, Harry followed. The boy in front of him was acting nothing like the pathetic coward he had met on the same night he met Sirius, nor the fanatical Death Eater when Voldemort had been resurrected. In fact, Pettigrew seemed as normal as any fifteen year old boy could be.
After about two dozen steps, Pettigrew reached a dorm door and pushed it open, Harry followed him in and after some more silent gesturing, shut the door behind him.
Pettigrew sighed in relief as he flopped down on one of the four-posters. "I hate it when those two start doing that," he commented blandly enough, but Harry could sense the real emotion behind his words.
Intrigued despite himself, Harry settled down on the adjacent bed. "What do you mean?"
Pettigrew shrugged, face flushing slightly as he looked down and started to fiddle with the sole of his shoe. "Dunno. Draw attention when they're lying, I guess. When they take it too far. Makes the rest of us look stupid. I could tell you hated it too."
Pettigrew's tone was almost accusing and Harry found himself staring, unable to stop as he began to see Pettigrew in an entirely new light; just a few minor changes to his looks and personality and Harry would have been looking at Neville. The realisation caused a very unpleasant clench in Harry's stomach as his perspective shifted.
"Err, yeah. Yeah. I always hate it when people stare at me for no good reason."
Harry let out a sigh as Pettigrew relaxed, though he couldn't help but wonder what precisely had been the point when this normal enough teenager had turned into the man he had been in Harry's time. Maybe the process had already begun... Harry shivered at that thought.
"So, uh, are they like that a lot?"
Pettigrew gave a small smile. "Nah, not always. Most of the time they're brilliant!" Pettigrew's face lit up and became more animated. "They're really cool and always letting me 'n Remus join in on stuff they won't let anyone else do! And we always do loads of pranks that are really funny, like last month, they..."
Harry sat back and let the words wash over him, smiling and nodding in all the right places. This boy in front of him was the child he had overheard Madam Rosmerta talking about in his third year. This was the boy who would never even dream of betraying James Potter, and at this moment in time Harry was finding it very hard to hate him.
The dormitory door burst open, startling Pettigrew enough to make him fall off the bed with an alarmed squeak as a rowdy James and Sirius stumbled into the room, followed by a half-stern, half-amused Lupin.
"Ha! Did you see them all?" Sirius said loudly as he threw himself on his bed. "They believed every word!"
"Really, Padfoot," Remus sighed, giving Harry a long-suffering look. "How many times have I told you that lying causes more trouble in the long-run?"
"So what?" James snorted and starting rummaging through his trunk. "It was completely hilarious, wasn't it? Why should anyone care what's true and what's not? Hey, Harry!" he shouted over, stopping his search for a moment. "You're already a celebrity here. Wouldn't be surprised if people start asking for your autograph!"
Harry winced and hid his head in his hands. "I hope not," he groaned quietly.
James heard him though and came over, tipping a rather large armload of chocolate frogs into a surprised Harry's lap. "Why not?"
Harry looked up and watched, fascinated, as a crease appeared between the other boy's brows, the same way it did for Harry whenever he was puzzling over something. "I... Loads of people think they know me before they've even met me in my time, like," Harry laughed derisively, "like a celebrity. I had hoped to get away from that here."
And away from the memories...
James frowned for another moment before his expression brightened considerably. "All right, then! Anyone tries to pester you and they'll have us to deal with! Anyone starts acting stupidly, we'll hex them so badly they won't be able to find their ar-" Lupin cleared his throat loudly, "-elbow with both hands. Yeah?"
Harry blinked, stunned, and glanced over at the others, who were nodding determinedly and then back at James. Ron and Hermione always stuck by him when the rest of the general populace started being too idiotic, but they never acted like they could stop any rumours before they started...
Harry felt a huge grin spread across his face. "Thanks. That would be great!" He bit into a chocolate frog and munched happily. His stay in the past already seemed to be looking up...
'occultus... specalis... oblivisci' directly translates to 'hidden... secret... forgotten'.