AN: Thanks for agreeing to come along for the ride. We have reached the end of 'The Time is Right.' If you have enjoyed this so far, there is one more part to this universe. It is called the 'Cutting Room Floor', for it is little scraps that couldn't quite make it into the story. So, watch my profile for it if you wish.

As per normal, if it is improved, thank Yen.



Severus strode down the hall, his robes billowing out behind him. Any student would dodge out of his way hoping it wasn't him that the man was after. Any professor would check his face to decide if they would sneak behind him to see what happened next or listen to gossip later. But there were no students in the hall; they had left three days ago for the summer, and the other professors were already heading out or were putting the last things together so that they could. He would already be gone except for this summons from Minerva. Harry was waiting for him. Because of that, Severus glared at the gargoyle and growled out the password.

He rose up the spiral staircase and swept through the door just to stop on the other side, his gaze darting from Minerva to Filius. 'Minerva is retiring. Filius it taking her place. Surely they are not going to ask that I become the Deputy.'

Minerva watched as the Potions Master stopped, obviously uncertain, at least to her, about why he was wanted. A glint of gold caught her eye as Severus moved his left hand. 'That ring saved us a lot of trouble. Even though the others thought that Harry and Severus were rushing into the commitment, I was glad they were going that fast.'

Five, almost six, years ago, she had been positive that she was going to have to find a new defense teacher. Professor Alexander had been relentless in his pursuit of Severus. She didn't even want to think of the number of times Severus had put the man into the Infirmary before March came.

She still distinctly remembered the time that Harry had walked into the Headmaster's office and told her that he would be covering Alexander's classes the next day. He had then walked out with a look that she had never expected to see on Harry's face - Severus sure, but not Harry's. She had followed to make sure that Alexander would live and to assuage her curiosity. She knew that Alexander had been boasting about some plan that he had over the weekend, but it was now dinnertime Sunday night. Harry and Severus had literally just walked through the door. She had been sure that the man had had no way of springing whatever he had planned by them, she was wrong. Harry substituted the next day as Alexander was stuck in the Infirmary. Poppy had threatened to keep the imbecilic professor there the rest of the week.

The ring had ended all of that. The day that Severus walked through the hall wearing it Alexander had stared at it and then tried to say that it was false. Minerva and the other professors that had attended the wedding made sure that he knew it wasn't.

Brushing off the memory, she focused on the man who was waiting on her. "Severus, you know that I am stepping down as Headmistress this year."

Severus nodded. How could he not? He had supplied the entire staff with hangover cures and stomach soothers after the party.

"Well, since I am leaving, the true Headmaster has to retake his post." She looked over at Filius before looking back at Severus. "It seems I have only been the Acting Headmistress for these past eleven years. It explains why the floo address stayed the Headmaster's office."

Severus folded his arms across his chest as he tried to fight off the feelings that were trying to swell up. "Are you saying that I am still the Headmaster of Hogwarts? Albus dissolved those bonds."

Filius cleared his throat lightly. "Yes, he did. But there were a couple of forms that were not followed, so the school is technically still under your leadership. You have just been on a long hiatus."

Severus raised an eyebrow at the current Deputy. "And what was the reason given for my hiatus?"

The diminutive man grinned. "Oh, none has been given, but we could call it a mental leave of absence." His grin broadened into a smile as Severus' glared at him. "Or we could just leave it as it is - blank."

Severus shifted his gaze between the two trying to discern the truth of what they were saying. "Why am I just now being told?"

Minerva refused to look at Albus' portrait. The painting and her had argued about this since she had found out where Severus was. Albus insisted that Severus would want the position back eventually, and that this was the best way to do it. No one could stop him from taking the position back. His spell did break the bond to the school, but the leftover paperwork would be a non magical tie that would still exist. Albus had won the argument by telling her that Severus needed time. She won the next one when she insisted that Severus would not be cornered back into the position five years ago.

"We thought you would enjoy being just a professor for a while." It was Filius that answered. "But now that your Assigned Acting Head is retiring, you have to accept your position."

'And that explains why I was never given back the Head of Slytherin post. You can't have the Headmaster being the Head of House.' Dropping his crossed arms, he sighed.

Minerva fought back her smile. They were almost there. She couldn't mess up now. "So, who do you wish to be your Deputy?"

Filius looked a bit uncomfortable as he waited to hear. He was not sure if he wanted to continue being Deputy, but it was far better than being the Headmaster. His research schedule would not be changed again if he stayed in his current position. Though if Severus chose someone else, it would free up a lot of his time.

Severus fought the urge to rub his forehead. He could feel a headache coming on. This was going to eat into his summers with Harry. Then his eyes widened. He was going to have to find a new Potions Master. Making a mental note to ask Derrick if he had a suggestion, he looked at Filius. "If you wish to remain as Deputy, I would ask that you do so."

"I will." Filius barely kept from squeaking in happiness. Manipulating this particular Slytherin was hard to do, and they've made it this far. He could not be the one to mess it up. "So, Headmaster Snape, are there any particular items you wish to discuss this summer?"

Severus shook his head and then looked at Minerva. "I need to see everything that was done since I have been gone. I don't suppose you have it all prepared, do you?"

Minerva turned toward the desk, glad for a moment to smile as broadly as she wanted. They had him. Pulling the shrunken file from the desk, she wiped her face clear. "Here it is."

Severus glanced between the file and them. Reaching out to take it, he looked over the portraits before resting his gaze on the other two living creatures in the room. "Is there no way I can complete the forms now?"

Filius tried not to stare at the folder. If Severus could open the folder, then he had to be the Headmaster. If he couldn't then all of this was for naught. "Severus, we researched all of this thoroughly..."

Severus absentmindedly flipped open the folder and scanned the first page as he tried to process the idea that he was still the Headmaster.

"...and there is now no way you can complete the forms to leave the position." Filius barely kept himself from stressing the 'now'.

Snapping the folder closed, Severus shrunk it and dropped it into his robe. If Filius said that there was nothing he could do, then there was nothing for him to do. It was time to go home and break the news to Harry. "I'll look over it at home. Filius, I'll contact you later. Minerva, thank you for giving me this time. Enjoy your retirement."

Minerva and Filius watched as he strode back out the door. They waited until the heard the gargoyle move back into place before looking at each other.

"He knew." Minerva sounded certain about that.

Filius nodded. "But I think he didn't figure it out until he opened the folder. So, I say we did a good job."

Minerva nodded. "We did. Now, how shall we celebrate?"

"With tea, lemon drops and biscuits." The voice came from behind them.

They both grinned at the twinkling blue eyed portrait, and answered together. "That sounds good to me, Albus."

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Severus walked down the hallway trying to figure out just why they had manipulated him. He knew that they had, and he had let them do it. They were trying to put him back where he was now ready to be. But they had succeeded in fooling him until Filius had used his title. It was at that moment he knew what they were doing.

'But does that explain why I was let back in? Was I still perceived as the Headmaster?'He felt a heavy weight settle onto his shoulder. "I still think you are the one that blocked the dissolving of the connection between me and the school. And I will be telling Harry that."

Fawkes just trilled happily as Severus strode towards the doors.