A/N:

Dear Readers and Reviewers,

I am so happy by all the reviews you wrote, thank you so much!

I'm sorry for the long delay, I have found out that two slipped disc's were causing me the pain for the last 7 ½ month – and with pain it's hard to concentrate long. I was in the hospital since the last Update and now. This Chapter will be the last for about 6 weeks since I'm going to a rehabilitation therapy.

But do not worry, the evenings are long in a hospital… and I will be able to write a chapter or two – to bring back with me. Please be patient with me.

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Important: This chapter did NOT get betad!

I wanted to "give" it to you before I leave and didn't have the time to send it off.

Don't hesitate to let me know of any mistakes, like spelling or grammar (I'm sure you'll find a lot!) … ;) I appreciate and will change it eventually. (If it's too bad, I will repost it!)

((Music I listened to while writing: Sweet Child O' Mine played by Scott D. Davis))

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"Skill can be learned. Art comes from the heart." Heard from a very special friend of mine. Vin

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Chapter 25

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Elderberry? The door from the living to the dead… it was as if he heard Madame Hooch's voice again, but she wasn't here. It was just him. Thinking, he carefully sat down again, his arm around his knees and his head on his arms, wiping the tears off.

When the Elderberry is the door from the living to the dead, then it must also be possible to go from death to life – am I'm dead? Is this the after world? Dudly's Nirvana?

He was looking around a little closer. It was a beautiful landscape. Smooth green hills with trees and woods stretched out before him until the eye hit the blue sky on the horizon. On the grass around him were flowers blooming with bees and butterflies all around them. They seemed to be completely happy. There were some big rocks in the middle of the lawn and he heard the singing of birds. When he looked down the hill he could see the deer, moving slowly with heads on the ground while eating, towards some trees on this beautiful warm summer day.

He started to wonder how long he had slept. He knew he saw the deer in the same position before he fell asleep… but before he could think more about it, the noticed a movement next to him – the raven.

Smiling, he welcomed her back.

"You found a very nice place," it was as if she would smile at him.

"Yes," the small boy looked up into the white blooms, and the sun that twinkled at him through the branches of the Elderberry trees. He leaned closer to a stem and relaxed. "Where have you been?"

"Harry," her tone of voice was serious while she hopped a few feet away from him. "Don't be afraid."

Surprised he pulled his head up and looked at her. "Why would I be –?"

Right here, in front of his eyes, he saw the raven changing. There where a bird was before, suddenly a woman was sitting, her long dark brown hair tied back in a braid with a dark green velvet ribbon, hanging down her back. Shiny intelligent black eyes were intensely looking at him, missing not a single change or move. They looked so familiar…

Not even realising that he had opened his mouth, he closed it but opened it again. "Who… who are you?" he croaked out. Coughing he tried again with a little steadier voice. "Who are you?"

"Hello Harry," she sounded nice, just like … the raven! He didn't realise he had said that out loud, but the woman was laughing. He felt like laughing along too, but instead he was just giggling, feeling his ears heat up. But before this moment could be too embarrassing, she held out her hand for him to shake. "Just call me … Eileen." Gladly he did.

She turned towards him. "Did you sleep?"

He nodded. "Yeah I did," And quieter he added: "I was dreaming of my Daddy." I wish I would have never woken…

"Your Daddy… Severus?" She moved closer to him and when she turned her head to look at him the light of the sun was reflecting from her hair. She reminded Harry of a queen who was wearing a golden crown with diamonds in it. Didn't his Dad-man tell him a story of him being a king and his Daddy a knight? It seemed so long ago…

"Yes," he mumbled absently. "My Daddy Severus." With a sudden thought coming to life in his head he watched her move.

"Can …uh, may I ask you something?"

"Sure, what is it you want to know?" She asked with a smile.

"Can you bring me back to my Daddy? I want to go home… please?" He looked eager, as if he would just jump up and 'puff' be home.

Her face took a thoughtful look. Her right index finger went up on top of her nose, the thumb under her chin. "Well, I don't know. I might…"

Could she do that? Maybe I'm not dead after all – but how come I could see my Daddy and myself without anybody see me? Am I a ghost? Was I dreaming? And what about Sir Frederick and Neville… "Neville!" Harry shouted out.

Eileen almost jumped. "Neville? Who is Neville?"

"He is going to harm my Daddy! Sir Frederick lied to Neville, he said my Daddy wants me dead, but my Daddy loves me, he wants me home, he needs me, and my Professor – they are lonely without me and I love them, I need to go back and protect my Daddy from Neville…"

The little boy had moved forwards, his small hands grabbing her arms tightly, ranting. "Please, you've got to help me!"

An amusing smile was on her face while she was watching him.

"Please." He looked right into her eyes – he could have sworn that her warm black eyes were laughing at him.

Very gently she laid her arm around him in a warm embrace. Softly she caressed his hair, her eyes seeming to touch everywhere inside of him. Her breath feeling like a blanket, wrapping him in. "Sleep," she whispered to him and in his ears it sounded like a lullaby, softly moving him to sleep.

- . -

Neville was standing outside the potion's classroom. The black-clothed professor had just left the classroom, passing him, to go to the Great Hall for lunch. Hidden in a dark corner, pressed almost into the wall, Neville seemed to have stopped breathing. He did not get discovered and now gladly released the air he was holding.

Looking behind the man, who was drawn into his own thoughts, he also did not notice the small ghostly shadow, which was watching him closely.

Neville walked quietly to the classroom door and just hoped it would be unlocked. He was lucky, the door opened without a noise and he stole himself into the room, followed by the ghostly creature and closing the door behind him.

He had not expected to see what he saw when he turned around to face the potions classroom. He had to steel his nerves to not scream, turn and run away.

All kinds of eyes were looking at him from jars, in a cabinet across from the door. Other shelves held jar's with colourful fluids, odd looking roots or weeds, Frogs and other amphibian floating in yellow or green water, dragon teeth were collected within a red glass jar. Looking a little closer, Neville thought he could see a human hand and foot in yellow and blue liquid. There were also many chopped, diced and powdered contains in containers.

By the sink sat at least twenty dirty cauldrons, with an odd substance in it that switched colour constantly from a poisonous looking pink to a dark grey and back to pink. Neville did not feel comfortable at all in this classroom.

Harry was watching Neville closely. When he saw how pale the other boy got, he looked around the room they were in. Gross, he thought and shuddered. But interesting; I wonder what he needs the eyes for. And why are there so many different ones? Does he have daisies here too?

Neville knew he was looking for a red flower, possibly hidden in a leather pouch. He started looking through the room, trying not to get too close at the jars and their contents.

But he couldn't find a pouch or a glint of a flower in one piece. Maybe he chopped it up? Neville was wondering to himself. There were plenty of dried ingredients that could have been a flower at one time.

Feeling a little lost, he moved to the desk and pulled the top drawer open to look inside. But he only could find a black inkwell, an eagle feather quill, some parchment, a ruler, a muggle pencil and some white chalk.

Harry just stood there watching Neville's tries with waking curiosity.

The next drawer was locked. Oh, how Neville wished he could do magic! Feeling despair rise, thinking of Harry whose life he could save, he felt an uncontrolled heat on his hands and suddenly smoke rise from the wooden drawer.

Harry drew closer. Smoke? How did he do that?

In the front, where the lock would have been was now a small hand sized hole. Stunned both boys were looking at the hole. How did that happen? Surprised the other boy looked at his hand, followed by another set of eyes, which looked perfectly normal to him. Putting it aside with a shrug of his shoulders and with an unsure smirk, he pulled the rest of the drawer open – only to realize that in the inside were some spare quill feathers and a red inkwell.

Wow – Neville must be a really strong Wizard. I wish I would be this strong to. I would make myself alive again…

Disappointed, Neville let go of the wood, not even bothering of closing the drawer. Looking around, he was wondering where else he could look and discovered a door that he hadn't seen before. Although it looked like a closet door just, and made of plain wood, it had no handle.

It took awhile for Harry to follow Neville; he was so much pulled in his thoughts.

Neville stepped closer and laid his ear on it as if to listen if something was moving inside. But all was silent. It's a magical door, he thought and he knocked slowly.

Harry stepped next to the boy and laid his hand on the hard surface. He could feel a familiar tingling rising through his body. The tingling stayed, as if he was standing in a soft breeze outside on a summer day. He knew what this was by now. The ward… He almost expected to come home, to Spinner's End, when he pulled to open the door.

"Please," Neville whispered to the door, "open."

He was shocked when it was swinging toward him.

"Neat, thank you." he said politely to the door.

Harry was giggling. Did Neville think the door was alive?

Stepping through, they found themselves being in a small oval shaped room. The walls were massive uneven stone and the ceiling very high up, giving a blue light. In the middle, stood a long table covered with a weird shaped tablecloth. It almost looked like if there was a human body under it. But, no, that couldn't be, could it?

Out of one shelf they heard a slurping noise. Curious Neville looked behind the small cloth curtain, Harry looking right over his left shoulder – and both boy's were freezing with disgust. Thousands of big, fat, white maggots were squirming in a glass container. Behind that one was another one with long brown maggots.

"Urgh." Neville dropped the cloth in revulsion and turned to a different shelf, while Harry stepped back. Yuck, what does Daddy need them for?

A jar which contained long sticks of something looking like skin drew Neville's attention in for awhile, until he found a brown crumbled up paper, saying 'dried house-elf ears' on it. Shuddering he turned away. Why would the potions master need house-elf parts?

Harry wasn't sure if he really wanted to investigate what was in those shelfs. What if there was something real, real disgusting… he didn't mind seeing the maggots. While he had been at Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon, there had been a lot ugly things he had seen, and touched. One time, he must have been six or seven, while cleaning the yard, he had found a young cat a car had run over. It must have already lied there for a while, because there were all kinds of worms squirming and crawling around and in it. He had felt so sorry for the poor creature; he had buried the cat on the very far end of the yard, by the hedge. It had looked like if Harry had cleaned out the moss and weeds and Uncle Vernon did not find it. He was so much tied up in thought, he totally forgot where he was and why.

Suddenly, Neville's hand touched something soft. He stretched his fingers, feeling for it. Actually it felt ok. He followed his hand with his eyes. He had found a glass full of pearls in all rainbow colours. Looking down, he touched them more, fingers playing with them and started to wonder why they were slimy. Horrified he realized they were not pearls. Pulling the hand out, he looked for a sign of what it could be – and felt even too terrified to scream when he found it: Polished Rat Eyes.

With a strained moan he tried to hold the hand that had touched the eyes far away from himself and the other hand to cover his mouth to suppress any more noise. Stepping backwards, he tripped over the cloth that was lying on the table and pulled that one along a bit.

Harry got thrown out of his thoughts by Neville's moan and giggled nervously. The other boy's hand was coated with an odd looking yellowish slime.

Both boys turned their heads; they could see the person, which was lying on the table. It was a beautiful face, surrounded by long, blond, curly hair. Neville recognized the kind of person right away, since it was a magical creature. It was one of the merpeople that lived down at the Hogwarts Lake.

Harry didn't know what kind of person this was. He had never seen such a beautiful creature before. His eyes went up and down the man's body. When he saw that the man had scales he wondered if he was a merman. But that couldn't be real. Merpeople don't exist, do they? Uncle Vernon had said that magic creatures like unicorns and mermaids don't exist. But he also said that magic and wizards weren't real…

The other boy let out a sad sigh and touched the blue-green scales on the man's hip.

"He killed you too, huh?," he whispered to the dead body. He felt sorrow for this man, being hidden in a potion's storage room. And poor Harry, upstairs, fighting for his life…

There his hand froze. His whole body felt paralyzed. His eyes opened wide – the merman was staring at him with also wide open blue eyes.

Harry was freezing too.

This time, Neville couldn't stop it – he screamed.

Harry didn't understand what was happening. Why did the other boy act so strange? He scared him. What's going on? "Neville! What…" he felt panic rise and moved forwards toward another door he just realized was there, closer to them than the other door they had come through before.

Tumbling backwards, Neville knocked down a glass of something looked like tails, still moving.

Harry hurried and pushed his hands against the door, tears falling from his eyes. "Daddy, Daddy, where are you? Daddy, we want out of here, Daddy, help…"

Neville felt a hard surface behind himself, but he just wanted to get away and fell through, falling into a dark hole, still screaming.

- . -

Professor Severus Snape sat stiff and frozen in his chair at the teachers table in the Great Hall, looking into the shocked faces of the young students. The headmaster had just told the pupils about the Boy-Who-Died and dismissing the children a week earlier into their Christmas holiday.

Under normal circumstances the students would have been happy to get off a week earlier. But now they were shocked. Silent the children looked up at the headmaster, who just made up some kind of weird story how the Boy-Who-Lived had died in the first place.

"… and then they crashed into the ocean. Just fell down from the sky. I'm sure some of you know how dangerous those aeroplanes are. They were dead immediately, don't worry, he didn't feel any pain. Of course you and your families are welcome to the coming out par… eh, the burial. It will be held the day after tomorrow in Godric's Hollow." He clapped his hands for the attention he already got and continued: "Now, please pack your things quietly, the train is leaving tomorrow morning…" The Potion's Professor did not listen anymore. He listened to a voice calling him again instead. He heard it, deep inside of him.

"Daddy, help…"

Drawing back into his mind, he answered Harry's call calmly. 'Yes my Darling, I'm here, Daddy is here.' Oh, how he just missed his Harry, if there was just a way to hold him in his arms again!

When lunch was over he went, deep in thought, towards his dungeon office to finish correcting the second year potion essays. Even if the students got send home earlier, he didn't want to spend all holiday with marking. When he was walking pass Harry's room, he ran across a nervous looking Minerva. "Excuse me, Severus," looking around to all sides, she continued: "I'm looking for Neville. Somehow he'd disappeared. I was wondering if you'd seen him?"

He shook his head in delay. "I'm sorry Minerva; did you check in the Great Hall? Maybe he had some lunch."

"No. No, Severus, he was here just a while ago and I was speaking to Augusta – and suddenly he was gone." Turning away, she suppressed a sob. "Maybe he went this way…" Walking away from him, he just followed her with his eyes, and then turned around to continue his way into his office. Soon he had all forgotten about the missing child.

In his office he sat down by his desk and started marking.

- . -

Finally, he laid the last essay on the finished pile. Stretching his stiff shoulders and back, he went to take a look at his potions storage in the classroom. If there was too much missing, he had to send the order out soon, to replace the stock on time.

'I could order some more ferret kidney's, carline thistles hair, silverfish hearts and a couple grams of spider legs…' he thought while looking at a couple of jars in a cabinet across from the door and turned to his desk to get parchment and quill. Just a few steps away, he realised the burned hole in the bottom drawer of his desk. Surprised he stopped in his tracks.

A prank. Some student must have been in here, while he had been at lunch. Thank Merlin, there wasn't anything value in this particular drawer. Checking, he opened the drawer carefully, but he only could find what he had left in there: his spare quill feathers and a red inkwell. Nothing seemed to be removed.

Closing the bottom and opening the top drawer let him be suspicious. The prankster had searched for something special. The spy in him came to life. Thinking deeply, he let himself fall into the next chair. What would someone look for? What would he have, that someone wanted? And most important, who would want something from him?

With somebody else's eyes, he went looking through his potion classroom. He saw the jar with the Newt eyes, other shelves with jar's of colourful fluids, odd looking roots or weeds, Frogs and other amphibian floating in yellow and green water. Some dragon teeth were collected within a red glass jar. He knew there were some odd looking shapes like elves hand's and feet in yellow and blue liquid.

Well, just seeing the shape could scare someone. His sight went over the many chopped, diced and powdered contains in containers, he had. They were either fresh or dried, but nothing looked touched or moved.

With furrowed brow, he recognised the dirty cauldrons by the sink and the weird substance in them, which still switched colour constantly from a poisonous looking pink to a dark grey and back to pink.

Someone would not feel too comforting in his classroom, he was sure of that.

With a swish of his wand, the cauldrons were clean and put away on a certain shelf board just for cauldrons like these. Looking around closely, the professor was thinking as where the prankster could have gone – if he was correct and that someone was looking for something in particular. His sight fell on two hidden doors that looked like closet doors made of plain wood. There were no handles on either one.

Silently, he got up from the chair to walk gracefully over to the two doors and opened the one on his left. He looked into his private lab – but there was no hint that someone had crossed the age line he had drawn there to provide anybody going in there and have an accident.

Relieved, he realised the status spell on the small cauldron was still in place and the roses, he had placed on his work table, had not been moved or touched. Closing that door again, he was wondering if the intruder was looking for a certain rose. But before he could point deeper into that thought, he opened the other door – and stopped shocked on the threshold.

Speechless, he looked at the disaster in his private storage room.

The room was still giving off a blue light. In the middle, on the long table, the merman was still laying, the cover moved down to one side. The dead man was staring at him with wide open blue eyes.

The potions master moved into the mess of fallen and broken jars to draw the eyes closed of the merman and whisper softly at him: "My, Feldon, what have you done this time?" Then he covered the dead body with the cloth again.

Turning around, he looked at the mess around him on the floor. Shaking his head and sighing he guessed he couldn't really save the wriggling rattails or the still beating rabbit hearts. He banished both with a swish of his wand, silently. The sliced ermine he rescued, also the dog whelk nails, the bug scales, salamander tongues and the beauty-bee wings. Concerned, he checked the maggots and the polished rat eyes, which looked touched. Some of them were squeezed and the yucky smelling fluid had destroyed many other ones. Growling darkly, he sorted them and vanish the bad ones. 'For Merlin's sake – I hope I never find the one who did this. I don't know what I'd do to him…' There were some things that came right into his mind the minute he thought about it.

Snarling he wondered where the intruder went. The door behind the merman that led into his private chambers was still closed. Mumbling to himself tiredly, he checked the door to his classroom once more, but it was also closed.

Remembering the disaster when he saw it, he wondered if there was one prankster or if there were more – it didn't really happen that the students tried to pull a prank on him. He almost felt pulled back in time to the era of the Marauders. Shuddering, he was relieved to know that James Potter never would come back, and Sirius Black was still safe in Azkaban – which made him think of Harry. Before drifting off in thoughts completely, he opened the door to his private rooms.

He almost tripped over something. He must have stepped on his cloak, which was lying on a chair in the small dark hallway. How could he have forgotten to hang it up? Wondering where he had had his thoughts this morning, he closed the door behind him, and stepped without turning the light on into his sitting room.

Harry had been waiting. He knew his Daddy would come home eventually. He wanted to see him, be close to him, snuggle up to him and feel save – he almost forgot that he lived in a different world now… "Daddy," he whispered when he saw the pale Potions Master step into the room.

With a movement of the Professor's hand, the fire in the hearth came to life and turned the room into a cosy warm light. Severus took his robe off and laid it on the arm chair next to his cloak.

His mind jumped in, something didn't feel right. Freezing his muscles, he stood still, touching the surroundings with his mind, feeling for a change.

"Daddy, I'm here, right here," he almost could touch him; he was so close, just so close.

Severus was sure he felt Harry's presence closely – but that wasn't what he was feeling for right now. He couldn't have tripped over his cloak – it was right here, next to him.

The wizard flicked his hand towards the candles on the wall, and within seconds he was standing in bright light. Looking in his small hallway, he discovered a little boy, clutching himself far into the dark corner, shaking with huge fearful eyes staring at him, but not making a sound.

"Daddy, this is Neville. You have to help us; Sir Frederick is lying to us. Please Daddy…"

"What the -" 'wait, this child is too young to be a student. It must be –' "- Neville?"

"Yes, Daddy, I just told you."

The small boy looked up at him. Severus lowered himself down to the child, and asked him carefully: "Neville, what are you doing here?"

"Sir Frederick made him to go in here and look for the rose. He said you want to kill me and Neville is suppose to feed the last leave to me – Daddy, Sir Frederick is the bad one – I don't want to be dead." He was sobbing by now. This was a bad game, and oh, how much he wanted to come home and be held by his Daddy!

But even this time, the Professor received no answer from the small boy. The Potions Master did not want to touch the panicked child and scare him more. The boy was watching his every move with dread eyes. But he needed to know what was going on here. Looking at the child he whispered softly: "Legilimens" and with a gentle move he slipped into the child's mind.

The boy's mind was like the child's body – paralyzed with fear. Very cautious, he looked around more and discovered the ghostly figure, the same he had seen in the memories of his Harry. Curious, he stayed around to look at them more closely to find out what happened and what to do. With disbelieve, he watched Neville's meeting with the shiny figure.

Carefully he slipped out and looked at the child, thinking about what he'd seen. 'The Amulet is glowing? My mother's amulet? Why? This flower must be greater than I thought. What power does it have when a ghost manipulates a child to find it?' With big eyes, Neville was staring up into the potion master's face, scared of what would happen now.

"Daddy, did you go and meet Neville in his room? Does he have a green room too? Did he show you Sir Fredericks lie? Daddy, I love you."

But instead of blowing up or throw a fit, the potions professor pointed to a door across the door the children had come through and said, "Your grandmother is looking for you. She wants to leave. I will take you to Professor McGonagall's office. Come along now." He turned and walked out of the little hallway, waiting for Neville, who very slowly got up off the floor and followed him.

Nobody saw the ghostly figure which walked right next to Neville, hoping to find a way to talk to his Daddy.

- . -

"Neville, thank Merlin, Where have you been? We were all worried about you." Minerva shooed the little boy into her office, where they heard a small cry followed by some harsh words. The transfiguration professor closed the door quickly, turning to Severus with an apologizing look.

Harry grinned, he was glad Neville was back to where he belonged. He stood close to his Daddy, almost touching him. What would happen if he touched him…?

"Severus, where did you find him? Augusta was worried sick over the boy."

"He was in the potions classroom." For some kind of reason he didn't want to admit that he'd found the boy in his private chambers, even if Neville probably couldn't remember ever had stepped a foot into them. It wasn't even a lie. He child had been in his classroom…

But Minerva paid it no mind. Looking up and down the hallways on both sides, she kept on talking quietly. "Frank and Alice died last night. Augusta is completely shocked, and the doctors had told her before that there was no danger for them to pass because of their…"

Neville's parents? Yes, I know, he had told me. Is he an orphan now, just like me? Harry felt sympathy for the other boy.

Severus did not listen to the rest Minerva had to say. Suddenly it all fit. Right in front of his eyes, the puzzle was solved. He knew what he had to do.

"Minerva!" he interrupted the older lady, grabbed her hard on her arms to get her attention and spoke quietly so nobody could overhear his words. "Listen to me! Tell Mrs Longbottom to go into hiding. You must believe me, Minerva, this is dangerous. Tell her to disappear with the child and never come back!"

"Daddy?"

"But -" By the older lady's questioned look he shook his head, interrupting her.

"No, I can not tell you where I got this information from, but it is urgent. She must leave, Minerva. This is about life and death."

Harry looked puzzled. Does Sir Frederick want to feed Neville the rose too?

Minerva looked at him like he had lost all his marbles now. But he couldn't take it; he knew now what the headmaster had in mind… His face came real close to Minerva, and to a stranger it would've look like if he's threatened her but he spoke softly in her ear.

"Do it for Neville."

The transfiguration professor moved back a little and Severus let her go immediately. She looked at his face and seriously asked him: "You really mean it, don't you?"

The Potions Master did not turn away and let her search. "Yes, Minerva," he replied, "I do."

Her harsh face became soft. She laid a hand on his arm, squeezed lightly and turned away to open her office door. With one more nod in Severus' direction she went in to speak to Augusta.

Severus sighed. Yes, that's what he wanted. This had gotten urgent.

Harry was still standing next to his Dad-man. Slowly he moved his hand over to his Daddy's and touched him carefully. Before his fingers went through his Daddy's hand it felt like hitting a hindrance – just for a second it was as if he was holding his Daddy's hand. Closing his eyes, he remembered the soft heat of his Daddy's skin in his…

Severus stood there for a couple of minutes, feeling an odd tingle go over his back.

He turned with Harry by his side to go into the small room where dead Harry lay still on the stone table, with Poppy at his side.

She smiled at the Potions master and left him the chair she'd just sat on.

"Your turn," and with a knowing grin she left the room.