Chapter 22: A Way of Seeing

Harry screamed; he couldn't stop. "I didn't mean to! I didn't mean to! I couldn't let go! I wanted to, but I couldn't..." Suddenly Harry was weeping into Dumbledore's shoulder. "How? How? I couldn't...Professor! I felt like I had--like I had control! I had control over him. Over Snape. But... I wasn't in control. I hated Snape, but it wasn't my hate--I don't think I wanted to stop--I was going to take out every bad feeling I ever had on him--the Dursleys, my parents!" Harry shoved back his hair in anguish. "Professor! I've killed him!"

Dumbledore's sobbing voice rumbled in his ear, "Harry, you didn't kill Professor Snape! Voldemort possessed you. You aren't to blame!"

Harry felt he could no longer breathe. The faces of Dumbledore and the Aurors seemed to float around him.

"I have to see him!" Harry pushed Dumbledore away. He took a stumbling step toward Snape, but Dumbledore was at his elbow. "Harry, you have to go with Professor Lupin. He'll take you to headquarters. Time is shifting. We have to get out of here as fast as we can."

Harry turned. Lupin was there, looking stricken. "Harry, come with me," he said.

Harry shoved Lupin aside. "I want to say goodbye!" Harry cried. He ran toward Snape, but Fawkes snapped his bill. Harry staggered back.

Dumbledore looked around worriedly. "Yes, you must go. Without Voldemort to support it, the Time-Turner is unbalanced. Harry, you'll get your chance. I promise!"

Lupin grabbed Harry and hurried him down the hill toward the graveyard. Harry balked, but Lupin held him tighter, forcing his steps as Harry turned back, until finally they stood at Tom Riddle's grave.

Harry stared down at it. Professor Lupin pulled out Harry's wand and put it in his hand. "Do it Harry," Lupin said. "I will meet you there."

"But what are they doing?" Harry looked toward the mansion. Fudge stood with his bowler hat in his hand. The Aurors were vanishing. Suddenly the yard was empty. "Where are they?" Harry demanded.

"The Ministry of Magic, probably. We have to get out of here!"

Harry stared at Lupin. "Why couldn't I go with them?" Harry demanded angrily.

Lupin pulled his cardigan tighter. "Do you really want to be there for that, Harry?"

Harry stared at Lupin. Suddenly Harry jammed his wand against the stone. He vanished from the graveyard.

Harry staggered against the front door of Number Twelve Grimmauld Place. He put his hands over his face; he was about to cry again. Lupin apparated next to Harry and caught his arm before he could sit. "Harry, go in!" Lupin shoved the door open and propelled Harry inside. Harry felt overwhelmed. He turned and kicked over the elephant leg umbrella stand.

A black curtain whipped back and Sirius' mother began to screech. Harry ran to her and screamed back in her face. He kept doing it until Lupin said, "Harry! That's enough!" Harry ran up the stairs. He threw himself onto a bed and screamed into the pillow.

After a while Lupin came in. His face was red from crying. "Harry," he said softly. "I've talked to Dumbledore. If you want, I can take you back now."

Harry sniffed. "Back where?"

"To Hogwarts. Or if you want time alone, I have this." Lupin held up a long necklace, on which a tiny hourglass was suspended.

Harry took the hourglass and shook it. The sand wasn't moving. "What is this?" Harry asked.

"Frozen time," Lupin replied. "Dumbledore thought you might want some time alone, so he fixed the sands. If you put it one, time will stop for you. You'll have about six hours. In the morning your friends will catch up with you." Tears ran from Lupin's eyes. He blinked.

Harry stared at the bright blue sky outside. "In the morning?"

Lupin nodded. "It's not quite nine now. If you stay, we'll bring Ron and Hermione in the morning. They're still asleep. It's only three for them. Hogwarts won't have classes today. There's still a lot to do." Lupin dragged his hand through his hair. He looked at Harry kindly. "I can stay with you, if you like."

Harry shook his head. "No. Go back." He didn't understand, but he was too worn to argue. Harry slipped the necklace over his head. Lupin froze, then winked out of sight. Harry blinked. "Professor?" Harry stood up. It was perfectly quiet, perfectly still. Outside the window, clouds didn't sail across the sky. The trees didn't move in any wind.

Harry slowly went down the stairs. Sirius' mother was frozen in mid-scream. There was nothing alive anywhere, no Kreacher, no Order of the Phoenix.

Harry went back to his bed. The light never changed. Harry closed his eyes. He could still see Fudge standing over Snape at the mansion's yard.

The red sun peeked over the horizon and Ron pulled himself out of bed. He crossed to Harry's bed, but it was empty.

McGonagall's voice, rather stilted, sounded in the room, magically amplified to make an announcement: "Students. Your classes are cancelled today. A general assembly will be held at 10 o'clock. All students are to attend. Thank you."

Neville jumped up. "Did you hear that, Ron? We're out of potions today!"

Ron smiled tightly. "Sure are." Ron grabbed his robe. "Think I'll go see Hermione."

Ron walked into the common room. Hermione was already there, dressed and reading. Ron sat next to her.

"Harry didn't come in last night," Ron whispered.

Hermione nodded. "I know. I was awake all night waiting." Hermione tried to hide behind the book, but not before Ron saw a large tear on her face.

"What's wrong!" Ron demanded. He grabbed her hand and pulled her book away.

"It just doesn't feel right," Hermione replied. She shook him off with a wave and wiped her eye. "Dumbledore was going to bring Harry himself. But he didn't. That means something's gone wrong."

Students were starting to come down the stairs. Ron ducked lower into the seat. "They could have just stayed with Hagrid."

"No, Ron. Harry would have come back." Hermione pushed at Ron. "Get dressed, Ron. We're going to Hagrid's. "

Ron nodded and started to rise.

Suddenly Dobby appeared.

Ron jumped back. "Er! Dobby! What are you doing here?"

Dobby sighed and looked at the floor. His large ears drooped as he shook his head. "Hello, Harry Potter's friends!" He kept his voice down, so noone else would hear. "Dobby is afraid that there is bad, bad news!"

Ron and Hermione threw a glance at each other. "What is it Dobby?" Hermione asked.

Dobby's ears drooped even further and he held out a folded parchment to Ron. "It's in this letter." Dobby put a sympathetic hand on Ron's knee. He sighed again and snapped his fingers. Dobby disappeared.

Ron unfolded the letter. He scanned through it, his lips moving slightly. He suddenly looked sick. Hermione leaned toward him. "What does it say, Ron?"

Ron sat staring at the letter.

"Ron?" He wordlessly handed it to her. The letter was a scribble, written by Mrs. Weasley:

~Ron, something terrible has happened! Please, tell your brothers and sister--and Hermione too-- that Professor Snape is dead. Harry was with him. But don't worry, Harry is okay. Your father will explain when he brings you to headquarters! Harry is shaken, but you can't come see him now. I don't know if you should mention it to anyone else or not--Albus will make the announcement soon. I love you! Mom

Cheering rumbled from the dorms above as students celebrated the class cancellations, but Ron and Hermione couldn't share the excitement. Ginny came down the stairs smiling. She flopped down at a table and put her feet up. "Didn't you two hear?" she teased. "Classes are cancelled! I wonder what the assembly's about?" Ron handed her the letter. Ginny gasped. She turned to Hermione. "But you said that Snape was okay!"

Another tear ran down Hermione's face. "What went wrong?"

Harry was startled into wakefulness when something suddenly rocketed off his mattress. Hermione jumped from the edge of his bed, staring, her eyes wide. "Harry!" she squeaked. "Where did you come from!"

"I've been right here!" he answered. "You startled me!"

"Startled you!" Ron gasped. "Dumbledore told us to come up here and wait for you. You were not in that bed when we got here!"

Harry felt something pull against his neck. The Time-Turner's chain was wrapped around him awkwardly. Harry pulled the Time-Turner over his head and peered into it. The sands were all in the bottom glass. "I guess you caught up to me," Harry said.

Hermione crawled on her knees back onto the bed and reached for the hourglass. "Oh, that's what he meant," she said.

Harry looked at her questioningly, "Who?"

"Dumbledore," Hermione half smiled. "When he sent us up here, he said you'd show up in a minute."

"Yeah, I guess," Harry said. He looked out the window. The clouds were moving, the trees swayed in the breeze. "You know Snape is dead?" Harry asked.

Ron and Hermione nodded.

"You know what happened?"

"Yes," Hermione's eyes filled. "Voldemort killed him."

Harry was stunned. "Voldemort? Who told you that?"

"Dumbledore," Ron said. "He told us, Voldemort killed Snape last night."

Hot tears started in Harry's eyes. He furiously wiped his hands under his glasses. "Why would he say that? Why would he lie? I did it! I was the one who killed Snape!"

Hermione grabbed his shoulders. "What? No, Harry, you didn't!" she asserted.

Harry was suddenly angry. "I did, Hermione. If, if Dumbledore says I didn't kill Snape... He, he's lying to you! He isn't explaining it right!"

"Harry!" Hermione exclaimed. "Dumbledore saw what happened! There were Aurors there too! And members of the Order."

"They're lying then, too!" Harry interrupted. "To protect me, I suppose. Because of the prophecy, or something..."

"Harry!" Hermione glared. "They have no reason to lie!"

Harry jumped off the bed and raced down the stairs. Harry hauled himself around the newel post and skidded to a halt. Tonks and Lupin looked up at him; their faces were distraught. The Weasleys were there as well. Ginny was wedged between Fred and George. She wiped her face as Harry came in.

"Where's Dumbledore?" Harry demanded.

Lupin stood up. "Harry! He's at Hogwarts right now. He's talking to the staff."

"The staff?" Harry parroted. "My god! Is he telling them the truth? Is he telling them I killed Snape?"

Lupin looked alarmed. "Harry what are you saying? You didn't kill him!"

Tonks looked up at Lupin. "We know it. We all know it." She turned to Harry. "We were there!"

Hermione came up behind Harry and gave him a half hug. Harry shoved Hermione away from him. "Exactly!" he shouted. "You were there. That's why it doesn't make sense. Why are you saying I didn't kill Professor Snape?"

Lupin was closest. "Because we know you won't do it! It was a terrible way for Severus to die. It is exactly the kind of thing Voldemort would do. But it is not the kind of thing to expect from you!"

Harry felt a tightness in his chest. "But I did it. He was my hands. And my thoughts... I hated him..."

Mrs. Weasley jumped up. She sounded quite angry. "Harry Potter! I may not have been there, but I know you! Anything you did to Severus, you didn't do it as you! You were possessed! There's no arguing it!" She came up to him and shook his face with her hands. "And we're all so grateful you're not dead! Be grateful too!"

"But Snape is dead!" Harry shrieked. "Even if I didn't do it myself, it was least my fault! I let Voldemort use me! I didn't even try to close my mind! Snape was begging me to do it! I used Dark Magic, but Snape tried to stop me!" Mrs. Weasley crushed him in a hug, but Harry balled his fists. "Was Voldemort inside my head? Was he? Because if he wasn't, I killed Snape!"

Dumbledore suddenly stepped across the fireplace grate. "Harry!" he called. "Stop this! You know Voldemort was in your head. You have the proof!"

"What proof?" Harry asked. He shoved Mrs. Weasley aside.

"Your soul shield. A dead snake. You drove out the Death Eaters, the dementors, Voldemort!And now it's time!"

"For what?" Harry gasped.

"Time to say goodbye. Like I promised." Dumbledore took Harry's arm and led him to the fireplace.

Dumbledore stepped in and disappeared. Harry stared a moment longer, then stepped in himself. Harry felt the air whipping at him as he revolved crazily. He came out in the fireplace in Hogwarts' Great Hall. The hall was hung with green and silver and black, and it was packed with students. Harry gasped and turned back to the hearth, but the Order were appearing. They pushed him forward. Hermione and Ron, Ginny, George and Fred hurried to Gryffindor tables, but Moody held Harry back.

Dumbledore went directly to the podium. Students were starting to turn and point. The faces of the members of the Order of the Phoenix showed their grief, and students were noticing. The air was silent even before Dumbledore faced them.

Dumbledore took a deep breath. "My dear students at Hogwarts," he said formally. "Your classes were cancelled today to honor someone who has died."

Students turned to each other, checking to see who was missing. To the students around them, Fred and George nodded toward Snape's empty seat.

"This morning," Dumbledore said, "Professor Severus Snape was killed by Voldemort."

This time there was an uproar. Dumbledore waited patiently for the questions to fade. "The Ministry has formally acknowledged the Dark Lord's return, and this has to do with Professor Snape," Dumbledore said. "But first, I believe Harry Potter has something to say."

Harry felt a pain in his stomach. He hadn't expected this! But Dumbledore stepped down and Harry found himself dragging his feet the ever-lengthening distance. Just as Harry was hoping he'd never reach the podium, he was there. Harry took the last step. He turned to the crowd.

The students were silent, waiting. The members of the Order of the Phoenix stood respectfully. Behind him, Harry snuck a peek at the staff. In an alcove Filch sniffed and wiped his eyes.

Harry felt his jaw shake. His mind went blank. Then out in the crowd Hermione nodded to him.

Harry gulped. "I guess I came today, because I wanted to say goodbye to Professor Snape," Harry began. A few students blinked at him. Harry felt suddenly older. "I know. Who would have thought that I would ever grieve for him?" Harry paused. "But for all of you who didn't like him, for those of you he bullied," Harry felt himself in that category, and he was not afraid to say it, "For those of you who feared him..." Harry paused again. Out in the crowd Neville cringed. "I want you to know that Voldemort will meet his end because of what Professor Snape did for us this morning! Professor Snape died... because Voldemort is selfish and arrogant. He doesn't care one bit who he hurts if it furthers his ends." Harry took a deep breath. "But I care," he murmured. "And Dumbledore cares. Your teachers care. And Professor Snape cared!" Harry felt blood thundering in his head. "And it will be up to all of us to do our part to make sure the hatred and the bigotry that Voldemort believes in comes to an end!"

Suddenly the hall buzzed with emotion. It seemed crystal clear to Harry who would support the Order and who would stand with Voldemort. Dumbledore was standing right behind Harry. "Remember this," he said. "And meet me in my office."

Harry climbed from the podium, and went into the hall. His head was still buzzing. He swallowed. People, who he had thought for years were friends, would stand by Voldemort. Even more surprising were those who should have been enemies. How could Harry ever have known who was who? How could he single out people, and tell them they were no longer his friends? Couldn't he give them the chance to change? Wouldn't they see that Voldemort's path was not the one that would lead to hope? By the time Harry reached Dumbledore's office he was sobbing uncontrollably.

Harry leaned against the stone rail, turning his wand in his hand. Far below, students were filing out of the castle. Hermione came up beside him. She was still wearing black. "They granted him the Order of Merlin. First class," she said.

"I know," Harry remarked. He kept fiddling with the wand.

Hermione turned and leaned her elbows on the cold stone. "I don't know how I feel, now that he's gone. It's been strange having McGonagall for potions. It's like he just left early for vacation. Like he'll be back."

Harry didn't say anything.

"I wonder who will teach after the break?" Hermione asked.

Harry shrugged. "I don't know," he said flatly. Harry didn't look up from his wand.

Hermione turned, and watched his hands caressing the holly wand. "How did you get it back?" she finally asked.

"Dumbledore said it abandoned Voldemort." Harry stopped turning the wand and stared at Hermione. "How is that possible?"

Hermione shook her head. "The wand chooses the wizard, doesn't it? Maybe it sensed it wasn't with its proper owner."

Harry shook his head. "No. I think...I think it knows I'm ready now. I have the twin to Voldemort's wand. I have a soul barrier. It's even of my own making...I know who to trust...In some profound way, I know love." Harry stopped and touched his scar. "Hermione, I've got magic so strong I was able to drive the most powerful Dark Wizard of all time out of my head!"

Hermione's eyes were wide. "I know, Harry. You are powerful," she squeaked. "It's scary. I worry too. What's to stop you from becoming like Voldemort?"

Harry stiffened. Suddenly Ron's voice came from the stair. "I guess that's it. Professor Snape won't be around anymore."

Harry turned to Hermione. His eyes had misted over. "I know. In the end, I loved Snape, and that's what it will take. When Voldemort comes, I know how to kill him."

The End

The following sections contain SPOILERS for the HARRY POTTER SERIES

The following sections contain SPOILERS for "15 Hours"

Major Spells used in "15 Hours"

Nimorte: Voldemort uses this to call back soul fragments that he has placed in Bella and Snape's Dark Marks. Harry realizes he can use this to get Voldemort out of his scar

The Dark Mark: a Protean Spell that allows Voldemort to call to his servants and allows them to know where he is. When removed a hex is activated causes the servant to die. The hex can be circumvented by the servant using a Dark Magic spell which will cause him to align with Voldemort once again.

The Dark Magic Barrier: When Avada Kedavra kills a person their soul fragments. The fragments can be captured and used to rebound any further Avada Kedavra spells. The source of this spell is the person who wants to collect the soul fragments--usually the one using the Avada. It is used to protect the self.

The Old Magic Barrier: Similar to the Dark Magic Barrier, the Old Magic Barrier is cast by the person who is killed by Avada. It is used to protect another.

The Spell Path: Voldemort devised this potion to remove Lily's protection from Harry

Occulmency: Used by Snape to cloud the telepathic connection he has with Voldemort via the soul fragment in his Dark Mark.

Draught of Living Death: A sleeping potion so powerful it mimics death

Timeline & Exposition

Starred (*) items come from

Plus (+) items can be cannon, guesses at canon (including my own or other fans'), or complete fabrication used solely in "15 Hours"

(*) Snape is born on January 9, 1960

(+) Snape's mother is a Muggle-born witch. His father is a full-blood wizard. Snape is abused by his father and picks up the curses and hexes in an effort to protect himself.

(*) Snape starts Hogwarts Sept 1, 1971 at age 11.

(+) Lucius Malfoy observes Snape with an eye to inducting Snape into the Death Eaters. Malfoy also learns about Snape's parentage

(+) At the end of 1975 Snape's mother disappears. Snape looses his one source of comfort.

(*) Sirius tells Snape how to get into the Whomping Willow in 1976

(+) Snape's father berates him, telling Snape he got what he deserved. Further, his father tells him that it was Snape's fault his mother disappeared, because Snape had told someone she was muggle-born. James stands up to Snape's father, winning Snape's loyalty.

(*) Snape's "worst memory" takes place in June 1976 when he is 15, in 5th year (+) shortly after the Whomping Willow incident.

(+) Before the OWL test Snape goes to James to thank him for standing up for him. Instead, James succumbs to peer pressure and insults Snape.

(+) Snape transfers his resentment of James, his father's treatment of him, his mother's disappearance onto Lily calling her a mudblood when she tries to help him.

(+) Malfoy witnesses Sirius' bullying and Snape's reactions and decides it is time to approach Snape with an offer of protection and overtures of friendship.

(+) Snape denounces his mother as a mudblood and is inducted into Voldemort's service. He proves himself exceptional at spying, potions and wizard/Muggle-torture. Voldemort grants Snape the Dark Mark.

(*) Snape graduates in 1978 and spends at least 2 years as a death eater, (+) becoming one of Voldemort's favorites.

(+) Snape discovers that Avada Kedavra (AK) kills by scattering the soul. Snape believes that he can use Dark Magic to capture a piece of the soul from the murdered person and use it form an immunity against the AK. Snape explains to Voldemort. Voldemort does not want to be killed accidentally and commands Snape to do it. Because he does not want Snape to have the barrier, however, Voldemort puts a piece of his soul into Snape's Dark Mark and commands Snape to direct the barrier into the Dark Mark. Voldemort plans to take back both the soul and the barrier using "Nimorte." (This is a spell Snape does not know, so he is unable to remove the soul fragment himself, or later, from Harry.) Voldemort commands Snape to kill James as the test subject, thinking Snape will be happy to kill his old enemy. However, Snape balks when he finds James, because of James' standing up for him during the Whomping Willow incident. Snape runs away and hides in Hogsmeade. He sees Dumbledore at the Goats Head Inn, and follows to spy on Dumbledore. That night he hears the prophesy of Harry's birth.

(*) Snape hears the prophesy in 1980.

(+) Snape returns to Voldemort, hoping that by telling Voldemort the prophesy Voldemort will forgive Snape for not killing James. Instead Voldemort decides to punish Snape and test his commitment to the Death Eaters by having Snape kill a Muggle-born and take the witch's soul barrier. Bella comes to torture the chosen witch, who is Snape's mother. Snape realizes he still loves his mother and kills her to spare her Bella's tortures. Bella is able to do the Dark Magic Barrier spell and gets the soul barrier. Snape duels his way to safety.

(+) Voldemort uses Nimorte to get back his soul from Bella. His immunity to AK is incomplete, because part of the barrier stays with Bella. Voldemort does not know that the immunity is incomplete, however.

(+) Snape retains part of Voldemort's soul in his Dark Mark. Snape goes to his father, who blames Snape for his wife's death. They fight. When Snape's father tries to kill Snape, Snape fights back and kills him. Snape uses the Dark Magic Barrier and becomes immune to AK.

(+) Snape realizes a telepathic contact through Voldemort's soul fragment. Snape has the vision that Voldemort orders the Death Eaters to kill him, and Snape flees to Hogwarts. Snape allies himself to Dumbledore and swears revenge on Voldemort. Dumbledore teaches Occlumency to Snape, so Snape can keep Voldemort from having telepathic contact through the soul fragment. Snape becomes a strong enough Occlumens that he can read Voldemort without being detected.

(*) Harry is born July 31, 1980.

(*) Voldemort arrives at the Potters house on Oct 31, 1981.

(+) Snape secretly follows to make sure Voldemort dies.

(+) Voldemort kills James, then turns to Lily. When Lily is hit by the AK, her soul scatters, but she uses Old Magic to cause her soul to make a barrier around Harry. Voldemort's AK cuts Harry's forehead, but the full force is rebounded by Lily's barrier. Voldemort's partial immunity to AK allows his scattered soul to reform. Snape is enraged that Voldemort was not completely destroyed. He reacts by shooting the AK at Voldemort. It ricochets in a wild explosion, which ruins the house and dislodges a piece of the ghostly Voldemort. This fragement settles in Harry's cut forehead.

(+) After Voldemort is reborn, Dumbledore asks Snape to assist the Order of the Phoenix by tapping into Voldemort's soul fragment to determine what Voldemort is up to. Snape's Dark Mark also becomes active, so that Snape knows when and where the Death Eaters are called.

(+) The events leading up to "Order of the Phoenix" occur, as per JK Rowling's series.

(+) In Harry's fifth year, Voldemort learns of his telepathic link with Harry, not realizing it is due to a piece of his soul being in Harry, and lures Harry to get the prophesy out of the Department of Mysteries. The prophesy is destroyed and Voldemort begins work on a spell to remove Harry's mother's soul barrier from Harry.

(+) The events of "15 Hours" take place in Harry's 6th year, beginning of November.