A/N: Decided to keep this chapter in Sev's point of view to make things a bit simpler. Be warned that from here on out, the plot gets very complicated and timey-wimey… as if it weren't already! I've also taken a few liberties with an OC character. You'll see-he features very heavily in later parts of the story that I've got planned out.

Also, I'm working on a trailer for this to post on youtube. Wish me luck!

Thanks to all my lovely reviewers! I love you guys :)

Severus spat the password ("Lemon ice!") to Dumbledore's office and took the stairs two at a time, the same mantra running through his mind over and over again.

Potter. Lily. Potter. Basilisk. Potter. Quidditch. Potter.

"Headmaster!" he cried, flinging open the door. Then he stared.

Barty. Bloody. Crouch. Bloody. Junior. There was no possible way. No way on this earth that Crouch could have beaten him to the school and beat him to Dumbledore's office. Therefore, this was most definitely not Barty Crouch Jr.

He stilled his heart and closed his mouth. No. This wasn't Barty Crouch. It was just some impostor on polyjuice potion. Dumbledore would sort it out in a moment. Right?

Barty-no, Severus told himself, the man-swallowed. "Er-" Then all surprise faded away and the man bounced over to Severus, draping one arm around his neck. Severus stiffened. "Blimey! I told you I'd see you in twelve years, didn't I? Brilliant, little old me!" The man bounced back across the room and settled down on Dumbledore's couch.

For once in his life, Severus didn't know what to think or say. Part of him wanted-demanded-that he see to the emergency for which Dumbledore summoned him. Part of him wanted to legilimize the man to find his identity. And one very, very small part of him dragged up a memory of himself sitting at a bar and the same man confronting him about something. Oh, Merlin, what was going on?

He chose the easiest route.

Severus stormed to Dumbledore's desk and slammed the note onto it. "Headmaster!" he hissed. "What is the meaning of this? Where is Potter?"

Dumbledore's eyebrows rose. "Severus, is there something I should know?"

"Read it!"

Dumbledore picked up the note and out of the corner of his eye, Severus noted Fudge's presence. Nosy blighter, he thought. Couldn't even keep his nose out of official Hogwarts business. Unless the situation were so bad that-


"Where is he?"

"Severus," Dumbledore began patiently, "I did not send this."

Oooh, someone was going to pay. With an Unforgiveable right through the eyes. Severus seethed. "Then who, exactly, would send it?" he managed through gritted teeth.

Fudge, who looked as if he were constipated, piped up with, "Sirius Black escaped from Azkaban!"

Oh god.

Sirius Black.


From Azkaban.

Where the bloody damn DEMENTORS should have kept his damn carcass in eternal torment where it belonged.

Dead betrayed my fault prophecy damn Sirius Black damn James Potter love Lily Harry Bloody Potter survives love Lily Lily LILY!

Severus couldn't see. Everything-the room, Dumbledore, Fudge, the man-blacked out and somewhere, he heard glass shattering.

"I think you'd better leave," Dumbledore's voice said. Stuttering, then the floo.

Lily Lily Lily betrayed to the Dark Lord.

Another voice said, "Er-do you think you could write out that note again for me? I've got to go give it to-well, him. If I don't-"

"Of course."

What will you give me, Severus?

"Brilliant! I'll be back in a minute! Or maybe five minutes ago, or two years from now-" The voice disappeared along with the grating of the stairs.

Anything. Anything, only please keep her-them-safe.

Secret not-so-keeper.

"Severus," Dumbledore's voice said, and a hand touched his shoulder.

Break blood damn Sirius Black!

Severus found his sight again and he lashed out at anything in sight. The ornamental vase, the stack of Hogsmeade forms, Dumbledore's favorite plush chair. All ripped to shreds and flung about the room. He didn't stop until every breakable object lay crushed and shattered on the floor-some from his hands, some from his wand, and some from the uncontrolled magic he felt flowing from his body-and he'd Avada Kedavra'd the enormous spider in the corner, narrowly missing Fawkes in the process.

"Severus," Dumbledore began again, "Please. Sit." A reparo later and the plush chair once again sat amidst the destruction.

Without a single word of complaint, Severus sat down. He felt oddly drained and tired after using so much purposeful and accidental magic, drained enough that the thoughts running through his head didn't provoke a reaction. He couldn't even think properly.

"I know this comes as a big shock to you-"

Big shock. Understatement of the decade, Dumbledore.

"-but Sirius Black has, indeed, escaped from Azkaban. We have yet to figure out how." Dumbledore waved his wand and with a burst of power not unlike Severus', the room slowly came back together. "Fudge and I believe he is after Harry."

One of the mirrors on Dumbledore's penseive cabinet shattered.

Severus clenched his fists and his whole body tensed. He couldn't even keep his own magic controlled, or his emotions, or-for the first time in years, he felt the urge to weep like a small child. Stupid, stupid Sirius Black. Damned Dark Lord.

"I think it would be best if you took the rest of the day off," Dumbledore said gently. "Go back to your home and relax."

Oh, if only Dumbledore knew of Severus' favorite relaxation techniques. The infirmary would have half the year's stock of potions before Severus felt calm again. "Yes, Headmaster," Severus murmured. He felt proud of himself-his voice didn't waver one bit. His occlumency shields slowly built back up and he regained control of his magic and emotions.

A wheezing noise filled the air, and a big blue box appeared slowly in the corner. Severus stared. The same blue box at the Malfoys'. A moment later, the door opened and a hand shoved a note out. The box disappeared without any further ado.

"Headmaster?" Severus managed to choke out.

Dumbledore swiftly snatched up the note and scanned it. "Ahh," he said. "It's… the Doctor. He says we will see him in a week and a half."

Severus rubbed the heel of his palm into his forehead. "Who, exactly, is this Doctor?"

"The man who was in here with Fudge. Really, Severus, I thought you'd be quicker than that." Dumbledore's eyes twinkled suspiciously. "Lemon drop?"

For the first time in his career, Severus accepted the candy. So this 'doctor' looked like Barty, or was trying to impersonate him-




Unbidden, the memory from twelve years previous popped into his mind. "Doctor John Smith. Happy now?"

That man wasn't Barty Crouch Jr. at all.

Severus didn't move from his bed for the next several days. Whenever he awoke, he drowned himself in another vial of Dreamless Sleep Potion. Not a single person bothered him-not even Minerva, who considered herself his maternal grandmother and made it her habit to make sure he slept and ate and washed his hair.

When he finally woke for good, a glance at the clock and his growling stomach told him he'd been asleep for three and a half days. The blinding headache and dizziness told him he'd definitely overdosed on Dreamless Sleep. But he could clear his mind, and he no longer felt blind fury at Black's escape.

He stumbled out into the Great Hall for-what meal? dinner?-only to find all the staff minus Binns and Charity Burbage sitting in the middle of the room. Dumbledore seemed to be explaining something important. Probably the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.

"Ahh, Severus! So glad to see you're back from the dead!" Dumbledore's eyes twinkled at Severus. The rest of the staff appeared to be somewhat surprised, with Minerva looking as if she would pounce on him at any moment and Filch sneering in a near-copy of his own expression. Everyone else just nodded and turned back to Dumbledore.

Severus grunted in response.

Dumbledore indicated the last empty chair. "Have a seat, Severus. We were just going over the staff changes for the coming school year."

Multiple changes? DADA, of course, but-

"-Charity Burbage is on maternity leave. She had twins and is not doing as well as we had hoped," Poppy said.

Oh. Severus rubbed his chin. He'd thought that Charity looked rather plump at the end of the previous term, but he'd never thought-

"-and Professor Binns is retiring this year," Dumbledore finished.

Everyone stared at the Headmaster as one accord. "What?" they all chorused, Severus included.

Dumbledore nodded sagely. "An old professor who taught many years ago is coming back for the term. Dr. Jamie Noble, if any of you remember him?" Several of the older professors nodded and exchanged amused glances with each other, but Severus' expression remained blank. "For the Defense Against the Dark Arts position, we have an early, voluntary applicant, Remus Lupin, who should be arriving within the next week."

Severus glowered. The Headmaster knew what kind of animal Lupin was, the damage he'd nearly inflicted, the death he'd nearly caused, and yet the Headmaster would hire him still? He would be lucky if Potter stayed out of trouble this term.

"And our new Muggle Studies professor will be a Doctor John Smith, who should also be arriving sometime this week."

Sybil Trelawny stared, wide-eyed, at Dumbledore. "Noble? He clouds my inner eye…" She stood and wandered off somewhere, mumbling about the fine art of divination.

As Dumbledore dismissed the rest of the staff, Severus remained seated, his fingers steepled in front of his nose. Three new teachers, one of whom he had yet to meet. Unless-Doctor John Smith sounded very familiar.

Severus jumped up and swore violently, causing Minerva to turn on him in sharp rebuke and Dumbledore to raise an eyebrow in surprise. "You're letting him teach?" Severus demanded of the Headmaster. "You don't even know who he is!"

Dumbledore stroked his beard thoughtfully. "No, but he says he's met you several times, and he also says he's already teaching at Hogwarts this term."

"What?" Minerva screeched. "You let someone you don't even know in the school?"

Now Dumbledore looked concerned, and he couldn't be blamed. Severus smirked at Minerva's expression of fury. "I believe," he drawled, "the Headmaster means to say that he has met this Dr. Smith on one other occasion and somehow believes him suitable for teaching."

"Now, now, it's not like that," Dumbledore insisted. When Severus raised a dubious eyebrow in his direction, he sighed. "Severus, Minerva, Filius, and Pomona-meet me in my office in a moment. You know the password."

A/N: I hope this chapter didn't move too quickly. It's a bit long for me, but I wanted all this to be from Sev's point of view. ^.^ I PROMISE we'll get to the actual school year in a few chapters!