A/N- Sorry it's been so long without an update, life got in the way. I'm now in the Netherlands, abroad! Finally, I'm super excited but I haven't abandoned my stories, I'm hoping to truly finish them this year because I have new ideas and I have to finish before I can start ya know? Anyway, this chapter was beta'd by bexstar888, and enjoy.

Chapter 26

Harry couldn't remember a time when his Christmas was as good as this one. When the Headmaster had finally departed, they were left alone with Dudley of course. They were able to have a nice breakfast before Harry returned to the sitting room and chatted with his cousin. Snape kept looking carefully over the vials and Harry knew he was itching to work with the ingredients. Harry found that he couldn't begrudge the man, but he didn't want the man to get so caught up in his potions making that he forgot Christmas.

Fortunately he didn't have to worry about that as Snape never once made a mention that he would rather be brewing a potion. The Christmas morning passed by with the boys discussing in length what Dudley's Occulmency training would consist of, then the afternoon was spent at the Weasleys and everyone going over the gifts that they received. Harry happily told his friends and cousin everything he received, well, except for his godfather's present of course.

He had seen over the last week or so how protective Ron could get and he was not trying to bring that out. By the time Christmas dinner was through Harry thought that if he died right now, he would be the happiest person in the world. He was however very grateful when they finally flooed home as he was nearly dead on his feet, but today truly had been the best day ever and he wouldn't have traded it for the world.

"Thanks for allowing me to spend the day with you and Harry sir," Dudley told Snape cheerfully.

"You're very welcome Mr. Dursley," Severus replied as he headed over to the fireplace.

"It's Evans," Dudley stressed quietly as he followed the man.

"My apologies, Harry I will be right back. I'm just going to floo him over to Hogwarts," Severus told the child, not wanting him to react like he had done once before when he had left him.

Harry nodded tiredly. "That's fine, I think I'm going to bed. If you could come and say goodnight when you get back?" He asked mid yawn.

Severus nodded. "Of course," he said before he and Dudley disappeared in the green flames.

Harry turned and headed up the stairs to his room. He knew that Snape would probably go into further detail with Dudley just what his training would entail, and if the boy complained he would lose his opportunity completely. Harry however wasn't really thinking of that, he was only thinking about the letter he had received from his godfather earlier today.

He had wanted to read it all day and this was the first time he was alone, and even though it was short he was going to use it to his advantage. Shutting his door, he made his way to his bed and pulled the letter out from under his pillow. With shaking hands - Harry was unsure of what the letter would consist of - he opened it and took another breath before turning his eyes to the page.

Dear Harry,

Please don't throw this out! I have a couple of things I want to say to you that are long overdue. First of all, I want to apologize for the way I've been treating you these last couple of days. I've been going to see a healer and he's been really helpful. He and Remus are really helping me come to terms with what we are told is a 'loose screw' that got unhinged during my time in Azkaban. Of course the healer doesn't know who I really am, at least I don't think so anyway. Anyways, how is Snivel—Snape treating you?

I just want you to know that I didn't mean what I did, I never meant to hurt you. You belong to James and if he was here he would be busting my balls for the way I treated his son. While I was hurting you, I wanted you to know that something in me was yelling at me to stop; but I couldn't. I need you to know that you didn't deserve this. There are some things that are hard for me to talk about that stems from my childhood and growing up the way I did, which is why I thought that what I did was right, but I'm in no way trying to excuse my horrible behavior.

I am a pureblood wizard, of an Ancient and Noble House, I was their heir and growing up I was a disappointment. I was constantly the victim of ridicule and pain by my parents. They didn't like to get their hands dirty the muggle way by dealing with me, my mother in particular loved the cutting curse with a passion and I was a constant source of an outlet for it. As you can see my beliefs are scattered across the board as to what I deemed is appropriate and what is inappropriate punishment. I constantly said that I didn't hit you, in my mind a hit is violence, but I failed to realize that words and shoves hurt just as much, maybe more when you love the person who is doing it.

Remus doesn't know that I wrote this to you, but I couldn't let Christmas go by without giving you a bit of an explanation from me. You cannot understand my hatred of Snape, and why I think he is an unfit guardian for you, but that's another thing my healer and Remus says I have no control over. I hate that he is raising you and I can't. I'm your godfather not him! I just hope that greasy git isn't hurting you. I'm not sure when I'll be able to see you again, but I do hope you find it in your heart to one day forgive me. I love you kiddo, don't you ever forget that.

Padfoot

By the end of the letter Harry was staring blankly into space, he didn't want to hope again but Sirius had definitely seemed sincere. It was very hard for him to doubt the words written in the letter - maybe his godfather had changed? He reread the letter again, thinking of how he missed his godfather and that the letter showed that he was getting help. That had to mean something, right? He unconsciously hugged the letter to his chest, wishing that he could just talk to Sirius. His eyes widened when he realized he could - and he wouldn't even have to leave the house. He remembered how Sirius had given him one of the twin mirrors after showing him last year.

Smiling slightly at the prospect of speaking with his godfather for the first time in a few days, he moved to get it but stopped when he heard a knock on his bedroom door.

"Harry may I come in?" Severus asked from outside the door. He felt that the child should have a bit of privacy, he was after all a teenage boy.

"In a moment, give me a second," Harry replied hurriedly as he moved to put the letter in his trunk where the mirror lay.

He didn't want Snape to accidentally read a piece of it as he knew that wouldn't go over well in the slightest. He hurried back to his bed and tried to calm his frantic heart, Snape was after all a spy and was bound to notice Harry's flushed face and would question him.

"Harry are you well?" Severus asked when a minute literally rolled by and there was still no response from the child.

"You can come in," Harry told him finally, hoping the man didn't look so curious. He knew that he had an excited look on his face, as Sirius's letter had made him feel hopeful.

Severus let himself in, his eyes immediately taking in the excited expression on the child's face. It hadn't been there when he left with Dudley, and he had to admit he was a bit curious to know what brought it on. "Anything you want to tell me?" He asked.

"No sir, only that this was the best Christmas I ever had," Harry told him truthfully, half lying over the fact that Snape would definitely want to know about the letter. He promised himself that if Sirius got angry, he would be bringing in his guardian. But then he had to remember that Sirius was going to be talking to a piece of glass, so he couldn't hurt him even if he did get angry.

Severus nodded slowly, but the teacher wasn't fooled. Harry wasn't a good liar and the fact that the child had barely kept eye contact with him had alarm bells going off. "Has Black tried to contact you in anyway?" He felt he had to ask.

Harry forced his face to take on a scowl at that, bringing forth the memory of his godfather hurting him to add to the effect.

"No, he didn't. Why would he? I don't deserve to be a Potter, remember?" He asked softly, idly wondering if his godfather would take back some of the mean things he had said. He didn't want to push Sirius too much, especially if Sirius decided to push back.

"I just wanted to check if had had a chance to read your letter?" Severus asked, trying to move the conversation away from Black. He was happy to see that Harry brightened up at the question.

"I did," Harry said volunteering no information, knowing Severus would assume he didn't want to talk about it. He knew he was right when the man only smiled at him in return.

"Alright then, you can have that bit of privacy. I just came to wish you goodnight," Severus told him, moving to tuck the child in, who once again didn't protest.

It saddened him of course, but at the same time Severus was relishing in this. Due to the war and the loss of his love, he had never thought he would have a chance to have a child. Harry was better than any child he could have had as he was Lily's son, and soon to be his.

Harry smiled happily in his bed as he was tucked in. "Well, I love you then," he said shyly. Those words still felt weird on his tongue, but he did love his guardian, just like he loved Sirius, although maybe he loved Snape a bit more at the moment.

Severus felt his heart swell with pride, and gently mussed the boy's hair. "I do too," he murmured softly. He did love the child, but he couldn't bring himself to say the words as easily. When Harry really needed to hear it then he would, but right now all he could do was show him. "If you need me in the night, you know where my room is," he told him.

"Mhm, I do," Harry agreed as he closed his eyes and turned on his side. He felt the soft kiss on his hair, and he felt like his heart was going to burst out of his chest from how loved he currently felt. He said nothing however, knowing the Slytherin would get embarrassed if he did, and simply listened to the man shut off the light and closed the door on the way out.

He waited until he couldn't hear the man's footsteps before he carefully got out of bed and turned on his side lamp before making his way to his trunk. He opened it up and grabbed both the letter and the mirror before taking a seat on the side of the bed. He took a breath as he stared at the glass for a moment, saying nothing as he prepared himself.

"Sirius, are you there?" Harry asked quietly in the mirror.

He was rewarded for his efforts when he saw his godfather's surprised face in the mirror. "Harry," he breathed out softly as he shut his own bedroom door so Remus couldn't hear anything. "How are you kiddo?"

"I got your letter," Harry told him softly.

"Good, I meant every word I said," Sirius told him quietly.

Harry nodded slowly, feeling a little skeptical - he had been burnt twice before, after all. "How was your Christmas?" He asked conversationally.

"Oh you know, Molly sent over some food for us, but I noticed I didn't get a present from you this year," he pointed out blankly.

Sirius had to admit, he had been hurt when he had seen no present from his godson under the tree. He hadn't said anything as Remus had been watching him and he knew what the man was thinking. He didn't deserve to get a present from Harry, not after how he treated him. It was a surprise that Remus still wanted to be his friend at all.

"It's here in my room, I didn't send it, I wanted to give it to you personally," Harry admitted shyly.

"I don't think that's a good idea," Sirius said firmly, even as the words pained him to admit. It was much too soon for him to see Harry, he didn't feel comfortable with the idea. He didn't want to mess up any progress he had already made, not to mention the tentative trust that was coming back between him and Harry. He was not going to risk that.

"You don't want to see me anymore?" Harry asked obviously hurt.

"Of course I do, I just don't think I can control myself at the moment. I have an intense hatred of Snape, who you somehow like, and I don't think I can see you without thinking he stole you from me," Sirius said bluntly, he had never been one for beating around the bush.

"He didn't steal me away, you didn't want me," Harry said annoyingly, which was the truth.

"I wanted you, you just told everyone what went on in the house. That's improper," Sirius scolded quietly.

Harry opened his mouth to refute it, but there wasn't any point as Sirius was too stubborn, not to mention the man did have a point. You never told anyone what went on behind closed doors, and he had told because he had been scared. It was his fault that he couldn't see his godfather. He had after all chosen Severus over Sirius, and though he didn't regret it at the time, he was feeling a bit like he had acted too hastily.

"I know, I shouldn't have done that," Harry confessed quietly, as he thought about his godfather's words.

"And now you're not trusted in my presence, you ruined it for us both," Sirius replied sadly.

"How can I fix it then?" Harry pleaded, just wanting to make everything right.

"I don't know, technically I'm not even supposed to be talking to you," his godfather pointed out.

Harry huffed but said nothing as he hugged the mirror to his chest. "I haven't told anyone about the mirror," he promised.

"Make sure it stays that way," Sirius said before sighing. He looked at his godson when he pulled the mirror back from his chest.

"I will," Harry promised softly.

Sirius nodded then suddenly turned his head to the right as if he was hearing something and then the man turned back to the mirror. "Harry I have to go, Remus is calling me," he told him quietly.

"When can we talk again?" Harry asked quickly, not wanting the man to go if it meant he wouldn't get to speak with him anymore.

"Tomorrow night, same time. I'll see you then," Sirius rushed out softly.

Harry looked at the man sadly. "I love you Sirius," he murmured.

"I love you too kiddo, and remember what I said. Keep this mirror a secret," Sirius repeated before the connection between them closed.

Harry sighed, then put the mirror and the letter back in his trunk and climbed into bed. He smiled to himself, feeling pretty good. He was happy that Sirius was getting help and it seemed that it was possible that things were starting to get better for him.

The rest of the winter holidays passed by effortlessly, with Harry getting to know Dudley a bit more each time he came to have a lesson with Snape. It was slow going but Harry was surprised to see that his cousin seemed to really want his magic back so he worked hard each lesson. The result of this was that Snape had worn a smug look on his face and told him that anyone with the right control could learn the skill.

About 2 days before they were due to go back to Hogwarts, Harry had been sitting in front of the fireplace when the Headmaster floo'd over. He wasn't sure just when Snape and the man had their talk, but thankfully there wasn't any tension in the air. He gave the man a smile as he stood up.

"Hello Headmaster, what brings you here?" He asked cheerfully.

"Hello my dear boy, I need to speak to Severus about something," Albus replied in the same tone as the child, his blue eyes twinkling in delight.

"Oh he's in his lab, but I can get him for you," Harry offered with a sly look on his face.

"I don't think I quite like that look Harry, you look far too much like you're up to no good. Like James when he was planning some mischief," he said slowly.

Harry's eyes lit up at the mention of his father and gave the Headmaster a smirk that was very reminiscent of the potion masters'. "It's nothing bad," he said chuckling.

"Then yes, you may get Severus," Albus told him, wondering if he would regret this.

Harry was still grinning and took a deep breath before screaming at the top of his lungs. "DADDDDDDDDD!" He bellowed.

He had longed to be able to do that ever since he had heard Dudley do it at the age of six. Harry had never seen Uncle Vernon coming running so fast. He cocked his head to the side as he heard the slamming of doors before his father's footsteps on the stairs. He had never heard Snape be anything but silent when he was doing things, so this was a surprise and he gave the headmaster a smug look.

Severus burst into his sitting room with his wand raised, looking around the room wildly for the immediate threat. He had never heard Harry yell like that before and it had shaken him. His potion was on the floor of his lab, one of his shoes had been kicked off and he was in a state of disarray as he looked at the child.

"What is it? What hurts?" He asked immediately as he made his way over to the teen, the Headmaster he noted was here for some reason and he didn't know why.

Harry was trying hard not to giggle like a little girl at the way Snape was now hovering over him like a mother hen. "I'm fine, the Headmaster wanted to see you," he told the man.

Severus stared at the child in disbelief for a moment before he huffed. "And you had to yell my name, why? You nearly had me going into cardiac arrest Harry, I thought… Hell I don't know what I thought," he admitted.

"I just wanted to see if you'd come," he said cheekily as he assured the man he was truly fine.

"I will always come for you," Severus promised him seriously before he turned to their guest and gave the man a nod. "To what do I owe this pleasure Albus?"

"I wanted to let you know that Delores is missing, no one has seen her since the day she disgraced herself in the Great Hall," Albus replied matter-of-factly, giving the man a pointed look over his glasses.

"I wasn't the only one who sought retribution," Severus stated flatly.

"Oh I know, we're not talking about that. She got what she deserved I think, but I'm wondering if you have heard from her in the past few days," the old man asked him.

"No I haven't. Have you spoken to Minerva?" Severus asked, his calm facade in place as he looked back at his mentor.

"I have, she says that Delores was around the castle just yesterday. But I find myself skeptical as I have yet to come across her, and none of the portraits have told me otherwise," he admitted.

"So you think Minerva lied to you?" Severus asked carefully, he would have to bring the woman back to Hogwarts immediately. He had just gotten caught up in the holidays and had completely forgotten about her.

"No, I'm not pointing fingers. I just need my DADA teacher before school starts," Albus said before he pierced the man with a look. "I need her functional," he added.

"I'm sure she will be," Severus said, ignoring his rapid heartbeat. He hated how Albus always seemed to know the truth.

Albus nodded, satisfied that he got the message across before he grabbed the floo powder. "When are you and Harry coming back to Hogwarts?"

"When school starts I believe, are his relations still there?" Severus asked quietly.

"They are, but we're working on moving them to a secure location," Albus answered back half truthfully.

The Dursleys were in fact still there, but without Vernon. Albus hadn't allowed it after the day where he had gotten out and hurt Harry, the man was now residing in a jail cell somewhere. He didn't want to tell the man where, just in case Severus still wanted justice for Harry. He didn't want one of his teachers and new father ending up in Azkaban.

"Will they have any chance of escaping again?" Severus asked quietly, glancing a look over at Harry who was now in a chair and pretending that he wasn't listening to their conversation, but Severus wasn't fooled.

"No, I have precautions set in place," Albus told him firmly. "Last time was a mistake that will not happen again, I can promise you both that."

Severus nodded before sighing. "Alright, I need to discuss something else with you, so I'll meet you at Hogwarts in just a moment," he told the man.

Albus nodded, and after wishing Harry goodbye, he floo'd back to the castle.

Harry sat up when the man left and looked at the Potions Master. "Am I coming with you?"

"No, not this time. I would prefer you stay here, and maybe start packing some of your things as we're going back to the castle a day earlier than your classmates," he informed the boy.

"Why?" Harry asked curiously.

"I still have a few papers I need to grade and -" here Severus broke off with a hiss of pain as the mark in his arm flared. He gritted his teeth, god the Dark Lord sure knew how to pick the timing. He looked over at Harry to find the boy holding his head painfully.

"He's angry about something," Harry gasped out.

"Clear your mind Harry!" Severus yelled out, as he summoned his robe and mask without thought.

"I can't! It hurts too much, it hurts!" Harry panted out, trying to block the pain somehow.

Severus winced as the pain in his arm got stronger, he only had a few minutes to apparate to the Dark Lord's side and he didn't want to get cursed for being late. Regretfully he couldn't take the time out to help the boy in front of him and so he shoved the floo powder at him and gripped his face so he could look in his eyes.

"Floo Albus, tell him I've been summoned, and then floo Ron and tell him to come here. I'll be back later," he said solemnly.

"Promise it," Harry said sadly as he gripped the man's waist tightly.

"I don't have time for this Harry, I'm going to be late," Severus told him urgently as he tried to pry the child's hands from him.

"Promise it!" Harry repeated firmly.

"I promise I will be back later," Severus said gravely before he ran out of his Manor, pulling on his Death Eater robes and mask before disapparating on the spot.

Harry could only stare at the empty air in front of him, gripping the canister of floo powder in his hand as he numbly went to obey his father. He didn't like the feeling that was currently coursing through his body. He swallowed thickly as he looked at the floo powder, but he didn't want to talk to the Headmaster right now. He groaned suddenly as his scar flared more forcefully and he noted that there was displeasure mixed in with the anger.

He didn't want to be alone, but he didn't want Ron. He wanted Snape but he was gone for the moment. He set the floo powder on the floor and started to make his way up to his room, he needed to talk to someone who would understand what he was currently going through. It wasn't at all pleasant to see Snape summoned. He hurried into his room and picked up his mirror.

"Sirius! Sirius, are you there?" Harry called out distraught, the pain in his scar coming more frequently now. He knew it was only a few moments before his body was coursing in pain.

"Kiddo, I'm here, what's the matter?" Sirius asked worriedly as he picked up his side of the mirror.

"Snape, Snape is gone," Harry blurted out.

"The bastard left you?" Sirius said tightly.

"Yes, but he'll be back. He was summoned," Harry confessed.

"Oh, that. Yeah that's rough, you witness it?" Sirius asked quietly.

"Yeah it was horrible," he admitted out softly.

"I know, but it's his job," the man murmured. "Don't worry about it, the greasy bastard knows what he's doing, he hasn't gotten himself killed yet, even after all this time. He'll be fine" He promised him.

Harry didn't comment on the language as that was the best he could get out of his godfather, he wasn't about to start a fight over nothing. He sniffled slightly as he looked at the man. "I'm all alone," he admitted fearfully.

"Shit, floo Albus then," Sirius instructed.

"I don't want the Headmaster, I want you," Harry told the man tearfully.

"Harry you know I can't do that. For starters Snape probably has me blocked from entering and two, that wouldn't be the best idea," Sirius told him earnestly.

"Why? You don't want to see me?" Harry whispered out, unable to actually comprehend that.

"Course I want to see you, but I'm not in the right frame of mind," Sirius admitted.

"But you've been going to therapy, you told me! You're fine, please I just need you to come," Harry pleaded anxiously as the pain in his scar pierced him once again.

"I can't come kiddo," Sirius said feeling like he was choking on his words; that hurt to say so much. Oh he wanted to come, but he couldn't, there was too much at stake. He didn't want to hurt the child again, he would not allow himself to do so.

"You don't want me anymore then? But last week you said you did," Harry spit out as his emotions began to get the better of him.

"I do want you, I want you unhurt. And I'm not safe right now. So you stay right there, don't you move," Sirius said firmly.

Harry winced at the pain in his head before he shrugged like he didn't care. "Whatever, I don't need you then," he said trying another tactic.

"Hey, none of that. I would come if I could, but I can't," Sirius responded.

"It's fine, I actually should go, it was good talking to you," Harry said quickly as the pain in his head worsened.

He couldn't tell Sirius, not that it mattered anymore right? He shook his head before he set the mirror face down on his trunk. He only made it two steps before his legs buckled as the pain in his scar increased ten-fold and he screamed as he fell to the floor. He began to convulse on the floor from the pain of the curse and he knew then in that moment that he was truly and utterly alone, and that thought was enough to send him into blackness.