K – Humour, General – Snape, Harry – Oneshot
Summary: Severus thinks it was bad enough being seventeen the first time around. Having to live through it a second time is surely a severe penance he doesn't deserve.
Disclaimer: JKR's world and characters, my insanity.
Timeline: Set in Harry's seventh year, but ignores the last two books almost completely and doesn't pay a lot of attention to canon from the previous books either.
A/N: This should probably go under parody, since I can't really see the characters acting like this, but it's just a fun little story so I don't care. Blame it on teenage hormones or something! And apologies to Lewis Carroll for nicking a riddle.
"Fine, Potter, you win." Severus slumped back in his chair and scowled at the chess pieces scattered across the table between them.
"Really? I haven't even got you in check, let alone mate." Harry looked down at the board and then up at Severus.
"Really. I'm sick of this game, we've been playing for far too long and neither of us is winning. So you can win. I don't care."
Harry grinned. "Cool. With Ron for a best friend I never get to say I won a chess game."
"Gloat away, then." He knocked over his king and ignored the knight lambasting him for a scurvy coward.
"Don't worry, I will." But he wouldn't, Severus knew. James would have, gleefully, but Harry just didn't feel the need to lord it over people. Funny how two boys could look so alike and be so different. Funny, too, that he remembered loathing the boy in front of him, hating him for his father and his fame and his perceived arrogance, and now they could play chess in perfect amity. "Come on, winner buys the butterbeers."
Severus heaved himself out of his chair. "I thought you didn't want to go to Hogsmeade."
"I changed my mind. I feel like a walk. Unless you'd rather another game of chess?"
"Hogsmeade is sounding more and more appealing with every passing second."
"I thought it might." No one looked up as they left the Gryffindor commonroom, accustomed or possibly just resigned to the putative Ravenclaw being given free rein in their space. "Hey, how about we go on brooms? A race!"
Severus opened his mouth.
"And we'll swap brooms so you can have the fast one this time," Harry said immediately, rolling his eyes. "Merlin, you're such a whiner, Severus."
"I am not!" he said, affronted.
"You are too! This isn't fair and that isn't fair. Jeez, when are you going to realise that life isn't fair?"
Severus looked down at himself and then at Harry, spreading his arms in illustration. "Hel-lo?"
"Okay, so maybe you have figured it out. But you're still a whiner."
"Me? Who goes around sucking up to the teachers and begging for special treatment?" He put on a simpering falsetto. "Oh, the poor little Chosen One, he defeated Voldemort so let's not give him any homework."
"Hey! One time! And I hadn't slept in two days!"
"You're not supposed to sleep during the day."
"For two nights, then. Sophist."
"Like no one else in the world gets nightmares," Severus scoffed. But there was no real heart in his scoffing because he knew better than most just how vicious and terrible Harry's nightmares were. Battling the last of Voldemort's horcruxes – his scar – for control of his very soul had left its mark. "Don't we have to get your broom then?" he asked, changing the subject.
Harry grinned and patted his pocket. "Already got it."
Severus rolled his eyes. "Of course. Heaven forbid Quidditch-prodigy Potter should go somewhere without his precious broomstick."
"You never know when you might need it. It did save me from Lestrange, after all. And you can call me Harry, you know."
"I know, Potter."
Harry muttered something that sounded like "Stubborn Slytherin snakehead". Then he grinned. Again. Normally Severus would find a person exhibiting such persistent cheerfulness exasperating, but he didn't actually mind that the other boy smiled so much because when they'd first met for the second time Harry never smiled at all. "Come on, let's grab your broom. Race you to the top of the stairs!"
"Potter! Hey, that's not fair, you've got a head start!" Severus charged up after him but Harry naturally won. "You're a cheat, Potter."
Harry grinned. "And you're a whiner."
He lunged for him, but Harry was the teenager who took down Voldemort. He skipped nimbly out of the way, thumbed his nose at Severus, and raced down the corridor toward the Ravenclaw commonroom. "I'll get you, Potter!"
He caught up to Harry at the entrance to the commonroom, where Harry was scowling at the eagle doorknocker. The doorknocker, having been glared at by thousands of students over the years, remained unmoved. 'Accidentally' failing to stop in time, Severus cannoned into the other boy, knocking him into the wall. Harry bounced back and tried to get him in a headlock, but Severus unleashed his secret weapon: Harry Potter, Defeater of Voldemort, was ticklish.
"Okay, pax, pax!" Tears in his eyes, he squirmed away from Severus, laughing hard. "Unfair advantage!"
"Now who's a whiner!" Severus demanded triumphantly.
"You are. Now get this thing to let me in, will you?"
"It's your riddle, you have to solve it."
Harry, of course, dismissed this idea immediately. "Hey," he challenged the guardian, "how about if I come up with a riddle you can't solve, I get to go in."
A bronze doorknocker, no matter how imbued with magic, should not be able to look intrigued, but this one managed it and Severus realised that Harry's madcap idea was probably going to work. For no one else it would, he was sure, but Harry was Harry. He'd long ago resigned himself to that fact. "Try your riddle," the eagle said in its soft, musical voice.
"Okay. What's brown and sticky?"
Severus smirked. "I don't think I want to know."
"You shut up." Harry eyed the guardian. "Well?"
"I cannot think of an answer to this question."
"A stick! A stick is brown and sticky!" Severus groaned with heartfelt feeling. "What? It's true! And now you have to let me in," Harry reminded the guardian. "That was the deal." The knocker hesitated. "Hey, that was the deal, remember! Don't make me ask you why a raven is like a writing desk!"
The guardian sighed but let them in. But before the door closed behind them it asked curiously, "Why is a raven like a writing desk?"
"I have no idea!" Harry tossed over his shoulder.
The Ravenclaws were no more surprised by Harry's presence in their commonroom than the Gryffindors had been by Severus's in theirs. There were certain advantages to hanging around with the renowned Defeater of Voldemort, and one of them was that people were not very likely to take exception to anything Harry decided to do. Severus had memories of a time when this blatant favouritism was a constant irritant. Now that he was able to take part in its benefits, however, he was keeping his mouth tight shut and not complaining lest it should go away. Harry led the way up to the seventh year boy's dorm and bounced on Severus's bed while he waited for Severus to unbury his broomstick from his trunk.
Dumbledore was the one who'd decided Severus should go into Ravenclaw to repeat his final year, as a way of marking him as different from the Severus who'd disappeared so suddenly, escaping the justice meeted out to all other Death Eaters. Dumbledore was also the one who'd held him down and forced him to get a haircut, as another difference. Now his black hair was the same length as Harry's, though far neater. Harry, laughing, had told him he looked just like Spock and when he wanted to be particularly irritating he would hold up his hand in the split-fingered Vulcan gesture and intone "Fascinating." Much to Ron's bewilderment and Hermione's amusement.
"Why," Harry asked in a voice of deep contemplation, "do you suppose they're so set on sticking the house colours everywhere?"
Severus glanced up at him, seeing him fingering the curtains around the bed. Only Harry would get so pensive and thoughtful over something so trivial. (Though Severus had a sneaking suspicion Harry loved trivialities because he'd had to deal with too many non-trivialities over the years, so he never complained about the habit. At least, not too loudly.) "House solidarity," he suggested, finding a packet of toffees he'd forgotten he had and stuffing them into a pocket to be consumed later.
"Yes, but... I like my house, sure, but I don't need to be rammed over the head with the fact I belong to it every minute of every day. That's why I like going to other commonrooms, it's practically a relief to go somewhere where the predominant colours aren't red and gold. What's wrong with a bit of purple, I ask! There are more than eight colours in the world. Well, seven colours and a shade, or something, since technically black isn't a colour. But never mind that. When you start liking Dumbledore's robes because he wears different colours then you know there's something seriously wrong with the world."
"More like with your head," Severus corrected kindly, grabbing his broom and jumping to his feet. Harry chased him down the stairs and into the common room.
"There's nothing wrong with my head! Hi, Luna!"
"Hello, Lovegood. There's everything wrong with your head," Severus corrected as Luna greeted them, unfussed by the fact they were trying to kill each other. He evaded Harry's attempt at retribution and said, "Come on, are we going to Hogsmeade or not?"
"Fine. But this isn't over."
"It never is."
The guardian let them out again but shouted after Harry: "Why is a raven like a writing desk?"
"Neither of them are blue!"
"That's no answer!"
"Because both of them have legs but neither of them wear boots!"
"Do you realise," Severus asked with mild interest, "that half the school thinks you defeated Voldemort by annoying him to death?"
Harry laughed and they headed down the stairs two at a time, boots clattering on the wood. A familiar cat two landings below turned lantern eyes on them and Severus stopped hastily, making Harry plough into him. By the time Filch appeared they were descending at a sedate pace, looking as though butter wouldn't melt in their mouths. Not fooled but lacking any obvious reason to attack, the caretaker and his cat watched them suspiciously as they passed, broomsticks in hand.
"I used to be the one who took points," Severus moaned quietly. "Now I have to try not to lose them." He scratched at his chin, felt the too-familiar welt beginning, and groaned. "And now I'm getting another blasted pimple."
Harry laughed. "You might want to watch the vanity there, mate."
Severus scowled at him. "It was bad enough being seventeen the first time around. Having to live through it a second time is a severe penance I do not deserve."
Reverting Severus to the age of seventeen had been Albus's last-ditch plan to save him from the howling mob that the wizarding world had become after the defeat of Voldemort. Anyone and anything who had even remotely supported the Dark Lord was at risk of dying at the hands of a lynch mob and the judicial system wasn't much better. No amount of spy work on Severus's part could possibly save him.
He'd only agreed to the ridiculous plan because Albus had been so desperate to save him. Severus hadn't cared if he was saved or not but in the end it had been easier to give in. He hadn't realised, though, that not only would he physically return to teenagerhood, but mentally as well. Oh, he still had all his memories intact, but the adult ones were more like someone else's memories and didn't impact on him. Except to give him horrendous nightmares, but Severus knew he was hardly the only one with that problem. Anyone half-way connected to Harry had survived the war with enough nightmares and nervous tics to keep a battalion of psychologists occupied for the next decade.
But in the confusion of reversion Harry had helped him where even Albus had failed. Helped him adjust to having memories that didn't feel like his own, to having essentially jumped forward twenty years into the future. A time traveller, lost out of time and trapped in a time not his own. Harry said he had helped because he knew what it felt like to have no one and nowhere to belong and he wouldn't let anyone go through that alone. And, he'd admitted, it took his mind off other things: saving Severus had helped him save himself. Or something maudlin like that. Severus had sniffed disdainfully and told him not to be so melodramatic. Harry had laughed.
Albus thanked Severus once. Not only for agreeing to be saved (which had been the first time Severus actually knew Albus had been aware how easy it would have been to just die and be done with it all) but for restoring Harry to his childhood. Harry had always had the horcrux holding him back and so he'd been happy but never free. Now he could be both, and because Severus was learning about this strange freedom at the same time, they could help each other.
They were children now, as neither had had the chance to be. Harry no longer had a horcrux in his head or a Dark Lord on his back. Severus was free of the need to defend himself against anyone and everyone who came near him – there were no longer any parents, any fellow students, to abuse him. Lily had been the one person he hadn't had to protect himself from and in the end even she had left him.
Though his adult memories might easily have belonged to someone else, the memories from prior to being seventeen were all his, clear as if he had only just turned seventeen for the first time. And with those memories, with the memories of James Potter, Severus could easily have continued to hate Harry. But he had those other memories, the memories of his adult life, which, since he didn't feel like he'd lived them, were more like a particularly graphic premonition: this is what happens when you hate everybody and won't let go of your hate. The woman you love marries someone else, you're stupid enough to join the Dark Lord of the century (which gives you little of the protection you'd hoped for and much regret), you become more bitter and twisted with every passing year until there are no more dreams, there are no more hopes, there is only everlasting Duty and a longing for oblivion. Your only future is to die hunted and hated and alone.
Severus didn't want to become that man. He didn't want to go down that path. So he'd learnt to let go. It hadn't been easy and it hadn't been a smooth ride, but he'd done it.
And now he was an idiotic teenager and friends with the son of the man he'd hated. It was the idiotic teenager part of it that really got to him, but the worst part was that most of the time he didn't even know he was an idiotic teenager because he was too busy being the idiotic teenager. De-aging was the most ridiculous and moronic plan Albus had ever come up with, and Albus had come up with some doozies in his time.
In the end, Severus just gave up and went with the flow. What else was there to do?
Breaking free of the castle and its rules, they plunged out into the cold, frosty afternoon. "Last one to Hogsmeade is a flobberworm!" Harry shouted, mounting his broom, and they raced each other across the snowy Hogwarts grounds, their shadows flickering black across the white below, growing and shrinking in tune with the undulations of the snow. A lone figure in a green tartan cloak trudged up through the snow, breaking a trail across the foot-deep drifts, and Harry swerved close to Severus. "Dare you to circle McGonagall three times! Fast as you can!"
And, because it was a point of honour that all dares had to be upheld, it was done. She clutched at her hat and shook her fist at them. "Potter!" she shouted in condemnation, trying not to laugh, and they hovered midair to wave at her. She shooed them off, shaking her head, and continued striding up through the snow towards the castle.
"Not fair," Harry whined. "Why did she yell at me? You're the one who did it!"
"Because she knows it was your fault," Severus said smugly.
"I didn't make you do it!"
"You dared me!"
"You didn't have to do it!"
"It was a dare." He took off, heading for the gates, Harry hot on his tail.
He loved flying. It was freedom; here there were no memories, no nightmares, there was only the air around him and the sky above. Making it to Hogsmeade first was only icing on the cake.
"I won!" he crowed as Harry touched down beside him. "I won, you lost!"
"Yeah, rub it in, why don't you?" Harry grumbled. "You had the Firebolt, it doesn't count."
Severus eyed the broom in his hand admiringly. "It really is a great broom."
Harry grinned. "I know. And it's the reason you won."
"Hey, I won fair and square!"
"Fair? You had the faster broom!"
"So? You always cheat!"
"I never cheat!"
"Potter, you're the biggest cheater since Voldemort and he tried to cheat death."
"No I'm not," Harry protested, bending down. Severus thought later that he really should have seen it coming.
"You are—Plufft!" A snowball in the mouth silenced him. He spat it out. "Potter!"
The battle was short but furious and waged through most of the streets of Hogsmeade until they pulled up and stopped by mutual, unspoken consent outside the Three Broomsticks. Shaking the snow off their boots and out of their robes, they went inside and were engulfed in a warm cloud of chatter. The roaring fireplace at the other end of the room sent clouds of blue smoke drifting around the ceiling to form smoky ships, cats, and other shapes as they found a table by the window that had just been abandoned. Severus reached for his money, but Harry said, "Hey, my shout, remember? You hungry? Want to split a plate of chips?" Severus shrugged. "Back in a sec."
The sun, which had stooped behind a cloud for a couple of minutes, came out again, warm rich light flooding through the windows and making the wooden tables glow golden-brown. Around him laughing, chattering children ate and drank in unconscious confidence in themselves and their world, a world where there were no more Death Eaters, no lingering fears. No reason to worry. For the first time in his life, Severus could relax into a feeling of real and genuine security.
And then there was Harry, plomping himself down in the seat opposite and handing Severus a butterbeer, laughter in his eyes and snow in his hair. "What are you grinning about?"
"It must be something to make you grin. Seriously, I spent six years thinking you didn't even know how to smile."
"Just because there wasn't anything about you to make anybody smile doesn't mean I didn't know how to smile."
Harry scoffed. "You just didn't know. Go on, be honest."
Severus didn't like being honest. Being honest meant remembering those memories of the other him, the other him he didn't want to remember. He would rather remember these memories he was making now.
Harry understood, of course, though he didn't say anything, just waved a hand and grinned at him in apology. "Never mind. Just drink your butterbeer and stop grinning like an idiot. People'll notice."
A herd of fourth years trooped in noisily and Harry and Severus rolled their eyes at each other (honestly, the younger years were so small these days) and drank their butterbeers.
Madame Rosmerta brought over the chips, a huge steaming plateful preceded by a mouthwatering smell. Fat, crisp, and golden, they were everything a chip should be and Severus and Harry dug in happily. "Not even Hogwarts can do chips like this," Harry said gleefully around a mouthful.
Severus mumbled an agreement around his own mouthful of chip. He had never done this in his first life. Never sat with a friend in simple companionship, open trust, and confidence in both his friend and himself. First time around with Lily he had had no self-confidence and that was why he'd taken those fatal steps down the wrong path and lost not only Lily but his self-respect. This time, though, he had the strength and confidence to make his own way without worrying about what others thought of him or whispered about him. And he had Harry, already older, at least in soul, than Lily had ever been. Even if most of the time he didn't act like it.
"So why didn't you want to come to Hogsmeade?" he asked after he'd swallowed.
Harry shrugged. "Didn't feel like it."
"And now you do?"
"So what made you change your mind?"
"Does it matter?"
"No, I just like annoying you."
Harry grinned. "You haven't changed, you know that? At least now you can't take points." Severus instinctively looked around to make sure no one was listening. Harry smiled, but it was a rueful, understanding smile. "Hey, Boy Who Lived here. I got really good at knowing when people were listening in on my conversations."
"Yes, well, who wants to be normal."
"Normal? What's that?" Harry reached for a chip, quirking a questioning eyebrow.
Severus sighed. He was seventeen for the second time and friends with his most-loathed student. "Potter, I really and truly wouldn't know."
Hermione and Ron passed by the window, hand in hand, their cheeks flushed with cold and maybe something more. Merlin preserve him from hormone-crazed teenagers. Harry watched them go with a faint wistfulness. Hermione more than Ron. Severus gaped. "No wonder you didn't want to come to Hogsmeade."
"Who? Severus, has the butterbeer gone to your brain or something?"
"Because of Granger and Weasley. Merlin, you've got a crush on her!"
"I do not!"
"You do so!"
"I don't. And even if I did – which I don't – it's none of your business. What do you care anyway?"
"I just like being able to hold it over you," Severus said with cheerful honesty.
"I hate you too," Harry pouted.
"When did this happen, anyway? I thought you liked the Weasley girl."
"You knew about that?"
"Please, Potter, I'm hardly blind. So, Granger now? That's a bit of a change."
Harry shrugged. "I'm a teenager. You think a crush is going to last forever?" He leaned forward, elbows on the table. "Well, come on, you know mine, what's yours? Anyone you've got a crush on? Luna's pretty cool. And turning out pretty good too. If I didn't have a crush on... you know, I'd have one on her."
Severus rolled his eyes. "You're disgustingly loyal, Potter."
"You're a teenage boy. You're supposed to have three crushes at once while dating someone completely different. But not you, no, it's one girl at a time."
Harry shrugged and grinned. "So I'm not normal. Hardly a big shock. Come on, who've you got a crush on?"
"Potter, every girl in the school is at least twenty years younger than I am."
"No, they were twenty years younger but now you're the same age."
Severus put his head in his hands. "The worst of it is, that sentence actually makes perfect sense."
"You must have a crush on someone."
"Why?" he asked indignantly, lifting his head.
"You're seventeen, Severus," Harry said as if that explained everything. "You must have had a crush by now."
"Once," he admitted. "And that was a long time ago." It was hard to remember that the girl he had a crush on was dead and buried and that all that remained of her now was the boy sitting opposite him, the same age as he.
"Ew," Harry said with understanding. "That means she's now old enough to be your mum."
"Thank you for that delightful image. I needed that."
"Well, as long as she isn't actually your mum, it's okay. Have you seen Terry Boot's mum? She's hot."
Severus groaned. "Merlin, Potter, we're teenagers. When did that happen?"
"Hey, you had a choice in the matter. I just have to get it over and done with."
"A choice? You think I had a choice? Have you met Albus?"
"Point," Harry acknowledged.
Once they'd finished their food they wandered around Hogsmeade then went back up to the castle for dinner, where they separated to go to their house tables. Severus applied himself to his dinner and ignored those around him. He didn't have any friends in his house, only classmates (unless you counted Luna, who was not easily rebuffed and a friend of Harry's besides). By nature he was a solitary person; one or two friends were all he needed; as no one here in this time subjected him to the persecution of his first try at school years, he was content. Harry wandered over to the Ravenclaw table after about ten minutes and sat down next to Severus with the assurance of one who didn't think to doubt his welcome. Sadly, he had good reason. Severus's housemates made room for him without demur, and if any of them wondered why he was friends with Severus of all people, none of them let it be known in look or word.
"Had enough of the lovebirds already?" Severus asked as Harry transfigured a roast potato into a plate.
"Oh, stick it in your ear, Severus," Harry ordered, transferring a pile of roast chicken onto his plate.
Severus rolled his eyes. "Teenage angst, never pretty."
"Yeah well, you would know."
"Get knotted, Potter."
"I'm afraid not. Get it? A – frayed – knot."
"You're a blithering idiot, Potter," Severus told him resignedly.
Harry just grinned. "Hey, Luna!" he called down the table. "Is a blithering idiot related to a blibbering humdinger?"
"Only through their mothers," floated back the calm reply.
"What I want to know," Severus said, "is whether Lovegood infected you or the other way around."
This earned chuckles from those around them. "I don't know," Boot offered. "Lovegood's always been pretty... unique."
"Yes," Padma Patil said, "but Harry's always been a bit..."
"Insane?" Severus completed.
Severus snorted. "Please, Potter, we have met you. We're not like your adoring and ignorant public."
"I'm not insane!"
Severus neatly cut up his chicken. "Potter, do the words 'killed a basilisk with a sword' mean anything to you? What kind of twelve year old goes running after a giant killer snake? An insane one, obviously."
"One of these days," Patil said enviously, "you have to tell us the whole story."
"Who, Harry?" Boot asked dismissively. "He can't even tell you how he defeated You Know Who."
"Vol-de-mort," Harry said clearly, rolling his eyes. "He's dead, he's not going to come back just because you say it. When the whole wizarding world can say his name then I'll tell you."
"So never, then," Severus said, earning a couple of mild glares.
"Never mind that," Boot said, "how did you defeat Vol-Voldemort today?"
More heads turned, interested, as Harry sat up, grinning. "The power of lurrve," he leered. Severus rolled his eyes and Boot looked dubious. "No, really, I stuck in his head the image of Fudge and Umbridge kissing and he self-destructed."
"I think I'm going to self destruct," Patil said, looking queasy.
"No, really," Boot insisted, and Harry launched into another wild and implausible tale that had all the students around him listening in. Everyone knew perfectly well that the true story of Voldemort's defeat had never been released in full detail, but Harry's fellow students enjoyed his imaginative forays into What Could Have Been, each more preposterous than the last. Severus particularly liked the one about the trained army of killer pygmy puffs (complete with sound effects), but the one where Voldemort was allergic to peanuts and choked on one cunningly hidden in his breakfast also had a certain charm (especially when Harry acted out with greatly exaggerated flair the sneaking of the peanut into the Death Eater kitchen and then played Voldemort for a melodramatic death scene).
Severus stayed silent as the other students egged Harry on, watching as Harry held the group in the palm of his hand, lifting them to shouts of laughter or disbelief. He was one of seven people in the entire world to know the truth of Voldemort's fall, one of three to have heard it firsthand from Harry's mouth. And knowing of that battle for his very soul, knowing how much Harry suffered for it even now, it amazed him that the boy could laugh and joke about Voldemort's defeat. Until Harry turned a laughing face to him, some strange and unnaturally bright light in his eyes, and Severus suddenly wondered if this was the only way he could deal with it. To push the pain away and turn it into a joke so that it didn't hurt so much.
He could understand that.
After dinner Harry dragged him off. "Come on, let's go to the commonroom. Gryffindor," he added, before Severus could do more than open his mouth.
"And do what?"
"You and Hermione could have another battle of Trivial Pursuits."
"That is a ridiculous game."
"You only say that because she beat you last time."
"She's half my age, Potter. She's not supposed to know more than I."
"Come on, it's Hermione. The only reason Dumbledore's got an edge is because he's eight times as old. Give her twenty years, though..."
"Besotted." Severus rolled his eyes.
"I am not! It's true!" He elbowed Severus. "Go on, admit it!"
Harry lunged for him, trying to get him in a headlock. "Admit it!"
"No!" Severus fought him off and fled.
"You'll admit it if I have to tie you down and hex you!"
"Never!" he yelled over his shoulder and ducked under a tapestry into a hidden passage, laughing at the sound of Harry's footsteps hard on his heels.
If he had to be seventeen again this wasn't so bad a way to do it. No one hated him, no one was out to get him – and he had friends. Life was completely messed up and read more like a fantasy novel than real life, but it was his life and it was a good one.
"Get back here, Severus!"
Severus smiled and ran faster.