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Reading the Past to Change the Future - The Philosopher's Stone

Chapter Text

Today was a wonderful day for Harry Potter, he was finally returning to Hogwarts, leaving the nightmare of the Dursleys behind for year another term. He was going home. Even though he had made the journey countless times before Kings Cross Station and the Hogwarts Express still held their own kind of magic for Harry. Ron and Hermione were prefects this year, so he was sharing a carriage with Neville and a curious girl named Luna Lovegood. She was odd but Harry liked that about her.

While there was a sense of nostalgia about returning to the castle, Harry couldn’t cast from his mind the fact that Cedric was dead, and Voldemort was back. He hated being stuck here. Alone with nothing but his thoughts, his friends were chatting away, but it wasn’t enough to distract him. His dreams were worse. Voldemort’s high cold cruel laugh as he taunted him, his parents appearing before him and Cedric’s lifeless eyes haunting him constantly. Harry was snapped from that dark place but a warm hand resting upon his knee, he turned to see Luna smiling at him.

“It’s ok,” she whispered, “we all have days like these, but we smile through the pain right?”

Harry’s eyes widened at the message hidden within that sentence. It was ok to feel this way, but people would worry unless he plastered on his perfect smile. He flashed the blonde that oh so fake smile and she nodded but he knew she understood.

It wasn’t long before the train made it to its destination, hundreds of children disembarked heading for the carriages. As the trio walked onwards the light began to fade and for the first time, Harry was stunned. Before there was nothing pulling the carriage and now there stood a large skeletal Pegasus-like creature. Leather-like wings folded against its side, it stood head and shoulders above Harry but didn’t even move when he ran his hand down its flank.

“Harry, what are you looking at?” Neville asked curiously.

“Don’t you see it, Nev?”

“There’s nothing there Harry, same as always.”

“Don’t listen to him, Harry…” Luna said quietly, “I can see them too.”

He took a step back, admiring the creature in all its glory. Its coal-black eyes turned to him, assessing. It dragged its hooves along the ground as if it was telling him to hurry up and board, so he did. Seating himself beside Luna, he leaned over to whisper in her ear as she read from her upside magazine.

“Luna, what are they?” He jerked his head in the direction of the creatures.

“Thestrals. Amazing gentle creatures despite their intimidating appearance. Yet lonely.”

“Lonely?”

“Yes. They can only be seen by people who have seen death.”

“Seen death… Cedric…” Harry whispered to himself.

“Yes. Only those who have seen someone die can see the thestrals, that’s why they’re lonely. Not many can see them?”

Harry tugged at his cuffs, the question burning on his tongue.

Without missing a beat Luna replied.

“You want to know who I saw die?”

Harry nodded shyly.

“My mother. She liked to experiment and one day a spell went horribly wrong. I was nine.”

Harry didn’t know how to react. He wanted to say he was sorry, but he knew those words meant nothing, he heard them a million times himself, so he just placed his hand on her knee as she had done earlier. They sat in silence for the rest of the ride, no words were spoken even as her hand slipped into his as they entered the castle. The pair walked silently alongside Neville who said nothing about their clasped hands even when they made their way to their separate tables in the Great Hall, his hand left hers reluctantly but not without a soft smile.

The feast passed in a blur as it did every year. Ron and Hermione were arguing over something stupid, Dean was talking football with Seamus, Dumbledore made his weird speech before dismissing the students for bed. Harry wasn’t tired, the nightmare that haunted him stopped him from turning to the common room. He slipped away in the crush of students instead heading for the astronomy tower. It was the best place to not be found. He didn’t want to be found tonight.

He crept up the stairs listening for signs of Filch, Peeves or Snape, but the only sound he could hear was his own racing heart. Sneaking out always gave him a little trill but tonight it was a hollow victory. His heart pounded harder, tears springing to his eyes as he thought of the Hufflepuff dorms missing a student. A student that would never return. He would never forget the mournful howls of Amos Diggory. They would haunt him for the rest of his life.

Settling himself on the viewing platform he let the cool night air wash over him. He had thought about talking to Ron or Hermione, maybe even Neville but decided against it, this was his burden to bear. Plus, Harry had secrets of his own. He took a small package from his pocket, tearing open the plastic film, he placed a cigarette between his lips as he flicked open the lighter. The flame flickering slightly in the breeze but didn’t die as he lit the end, pulling hard, filling his lungs with grey. As he exhaled, a little of his anxiety and guilt slipped away with it. As he took another drag, a tear slid down his cheek and before he could stop it, there were more following. Tonight, he would allow it. Tonight he would cry for Cedric and his parents before he locking the emotions away until they slipped over once more.

Caught up in his thoughts he didn’t hear the footsteps behind him or the swish of the long cloak trailing behind the figure like wings. Professor Severus Snape was on night duty, always on the lookout for students to dock points from. He thought he hit the jackpot when he came across Potter, spawn of the man he loathed and the woman he loved, sat alone in the astronomy tower and smoking to boot. He was set to approach the boy and reprimand him, assigning detention and taking many house points but a small, broken sob stopped him dead in his tracks. He watched the boy’s shoulder shake and realised he was crying. Despite hating the boy, Snape knew what he was feeling right now, the guilt at surviving when someone you could have saved was lost. But the boy couldn’t have done anything. He hated the boy, but something flooded his chest, causing him to pause. He wanted to comfort the boy and tell him everything would be alright, but he couldn’t give away his position like that.

Turning on his heel, Snape left the boy to his tears and clove-scented smoke.

When Harry woke the next morning, his throat felt dry and sore from a combination of crying until he was hoarse and smoking a few of his favourite clove cigarettes. His eyes were puffy and red. While he wasn’t ready to face reality yet, he couldn’t hide any longer.

The Great Hall should have been alive and rowdy with the students heading the breakfast, but it was sullen and quiet, even the Slytherin table was unnaturally subdued. Cedric’s death had hit everyone hard and a few who believed the Dark Lord has returned only soured the mood even more. When he entered a few students began whispering and pointing, the rumour mill was working harder than ever. No doubt most of them thought he was lying about Voldemort being back, but he couldn’t bring himself to care right now. 

He sat beside Ron who was already stuffing himself full of bacon, sausage, and eggs but the thought of food turned Harry’s stomach. Hermione was opposite, buried in the paper, it brought a fleeting smile to Harry’s face. His studious friend always had a plan.

She looked at him over the edge of the Daily Prophet, her own eyes rimmed red much like his own. She offered him a small smile as he reached for the coffee, completely bypassing all of the food items.

“Not hungry, Harry?” Ron asked.

Harry just shook his head. A knowingly look passed between Ron and Hermione but both opted to stay silent, Harry would talk to them when he was ready.

At the Head table, all the staff including Snape glanced towards the solemn Gryffindor, shoulder slumped over his mug, eyes downcast. Dumbledore knew the burden Harry carried and reminded himself to take Harry aside later. Remus Lupin who has been reinstated as History Professor after Professor Binns had finally left the castle, could be found could practically smell the grief flowing off his cub, his wolf whined, wanting to take the boys in his arms but he doubted it would help Harry right now.

As breakfast drew to a close, Harry slung his bag over his shoulder but didn’t rise.

“You coming, Harry? We don’t want to be late for Transfiguration.” Hermione said.

“Go on ahead, I’ll catch up.”

His bushy-haired friend paused before nodded and dragged a protesting Ron away, leaving Harry in peace. One by one the students left for lessons until on Harry and the staff remained. Snape was the first to leave, his cloak billowing behind him. Sensing Harry wanted to be alone, Dumbledore rose and silently left, the other staff quickly following, although Remus hesitated before he too left the Hall.

As Remus left and turned towards the DADA classroom, the silence hit Harry. Alone at last. He sat there for a moment longer, wanting to make these minutes stretch as long as he could. Tears threatened again but Harry pushed them back, he had to be strong for what was to come.

As Harry pulled himself together, a quiet pop drew him from his thoughts.

A letter floated down and landed on the table before him. It was addressed to him. Picking up the parchment with trembling hands, he cracked the wax seal and a neat emerald script greeted him. It read:

Harry, I know this letter isn’t going to arrive at the best of times for you. It is vital you read this letter and do exactly as it says.

We are sending back 7 books detailing your life at Hogwarts. While the events of the first four books have already come to pass there is little that can be done about them, but they still need to be read. It will gain you the allies you need for the upcoming battle and you may find something more you have been searching for.

The last three books hold details of things that haven’t yet come to pass. These will arm you with the knowledge you need to change the future, win the war and even prevent many people from dying. In the next hour, you need to gather the people listed below in the Room of Requirement, ask Professor Dumbledore if you don’t know where it is. The books will be waiting for you.

Hermione Granger

The Weasley Family – including Bill, Charlie, and Percy.

Severus Snape

Albus Dumbledore

Minerva McGonagall

Remus Lupin

Sirius Black

Nymphadora Tonks

Andromeda & Ted Tonks

Neville Longbottom

Luna Lovegood

Narcissa Malfoy

Dobby, Winky & Kreacher

Some memory vials will also be there to show you the outcome of the current course you are taking. While it is dangerous to meddle with time, we have deemed it necessary. Use this spell – memoria visum - so everyone can view the memories together without the aid of a Pensieve.

Good luck Harry. I feel you may need it.

T.R.L, J.S.P, A.S.P, L.L.P, R.N.W, H.A.W. & S.H.M

P.S. As soon as you enter the Room of Requirement, time will be frozen, and Harry open your heart to others, Harry, don’t lock yourself away.

Harry stared at the letter in shock. Books for the future, this couldn’t be real. But then again a few years ago he believed magic wasn’t real. Jumping up he fled the hall but instead of heading for McGonagall’s class, he headed for the Headmaster’s office.

Chapter Text

Harry ran down the corridor leading to the Headmaster’s office, a smile on his face. He had a chance to end the war, end Voldemort and keep his friends and family safe. He yelled Mars Bars at the gargoyle not breaking his stride even when he burst into Dumbledore’s office much to the surprise of the man himself.

Dumbledore’s blue eyes sparkled over his half-moon spectacles as he petted his frazzled phoenix.

“What can I do for you, Harry? If I recall you’re supposed to be in Transfiguration right now.”

“Sorry…Sir. But you… need to see this.” Harry panted as he thrust the letter towards the man.

Dumbledore’s eyes scanned the letter, widening as he popped a lemon drop into his mouth. He considered it for a moment before lifting his gaze to the panting Harry.

“Well… what are we waiting for.”

Harry beamed as Dumbledore rose, Fawkes perched on his shoulder.

“You gather your friends and I’ll gather the others and meet you on the 7th floor. I believe Luna has charms.”

Harry turned to leave.

“Oh, Harry.”

“Yes, sir?”

“Inform Professor McGonagall for me.”

“Of course.”

Harry headed to the Charms classroom first as he only had to collect Luna, so it would be easy to get her first, then head to the Transfiguration to get everyone else. Harry entered Flitwick’s classroom, grabbing Luna from the front and shouting apologizes to the Professor as he headed towards McGonagall’s classroom.

The door banged open, McGonagall raised her eyes for marking essays to find a disheveled Harry and beaming Luna.

“Mr. Potter, I do believe your 40 minutes late.” McGonagall snapped.

“Sorry, Professor I was with the Headmaster. I am to gather you, Ron Hermione, and Neville to meet him on the 7th floor.”

Ron, Hermione, and Neville rose quickly packing their things away and baffled McGonagall following.

“Oh, guys, take Luna with you. I still need to get the twins and Ginny. Do you know where they are?”

Hermione spoke first.

“Ginny has Defence and the twins are in Potions.”

Harry spun to head down towards the classrooms, only to see them running towards him the Weasley clan and Professors following behind. He spotted Tonks’ bubble-gum pink hair straight away, the real Moody limping behind. He had been in the hospital wing with Harry last year and obviously wanted to check everything out before letting them rush in.

Harry also noticed how much Andromeda looked like Bellatrix, the same face and hair although Mrs. Tonks’ hair was a light brown to Bellatrix’s black mane. Narcissa also had a striking resemblance to her sister but her blonde hair and pale blue eyes set her apart.

“Harry, my boy. We were just headed up. It will take a moment to get up all the stairs.” Dumbledore said with a laugh.

“Don’t worry Professor, I know a shortcut.” Harry winked.

He led the group to an unassuming statue finding the loose brick and pushing it in to reveal a slanting passageway. He had a feeling the Headmaster already knew about this one, and as the group appeared on the other end in front of the portrait of Barnabas the Barmy teaching ballet to trolls. He asked the castle for the room mentioned in the letter and the door appeared, swinging open, inviting them in.

The group headed in to find a roaring fire, tea and coffee was being laid out by the 3 house-elves. Dobby bouncing over the Harry leading him to the sole armchair closest to the fire. A ring of sofas surrounding them and everyone shuffled into place looking at Harry.

Harry took a quick sip of his coffee, noting the only other people sharing his love of the beverage were Mrs. Tonks and Snape. Everyone else had tea, with the exception of Remus who had hot chocolate. Dobby must have remembered the Professor’s chocolate addiction. A shaggy, black dog lay at Remus’ feet. Noticing Harry the dog bounded over, launching at Harry, licking all over his face.

“Come on, Snuffles. No licking please.”

As the dog relented, Harry laughed. Ron and Hermione who had not heard him laugh almost all year looked hopefully that things would be turning around for their friend.

“Right. You are all probably wondering why you are here.”

“Obviously, Mr. Potter.” Snape hissed at the boy.

“Severus, please.”

At Albus command, the man huffed and settled on the end of the sofa furthest away from the boy.

Harry quickly recounted the details of the letter and everyone’s eyes widened.

“Books for the future?” Hermione gasped.

“That’s impossible.” Snape snapped.

“Settle down, everyone.”

The chatter stopped as the Headmaster spoke. Before he could say anything more and loud pop rang out and 7 books fell onto the table. The title of the topmost book glared at Harry. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone.

“Ready?” Harry asked.

21 heads nodded and the 3 house-elves settled themselves near Harry’s feet, cushions appearing for them.

“This is a book about my life…”

Snape scoffed.

“…it holds details of the past which I will find uncomfortable and details of the future we can change. Together.”

Everyone seemed to hold their breath as Harry commanded the attention of everyone in the room.

“We will take turns in reading chapters. We don’t have to worry about food as my friends here…” Harry gestured to the house-elves “… can provide that…”

“Also, anything else we need while we are here will be provided by the room,” Dumbledore interjected.

“While we are here, I have suspended lessons and the other Heads of Houses and staff will be taking care of your pupils, Severus, Minerva.”

He turned to Harry.

“Who will start?”

“I will.” Harry said, “Then we will pass it around, so no one has to read too much.”

Harry settled back into his chair, feeling the weight of the book in his hands. It would contain secrets he had kept for most of his life, secrets he kept from his family and friends but if it meant saving people he would give them away. He just hoped they didn’t react too badly.

Chapter One… The boy who lived.”

Chapter Text

He took a sip of coffee as he began to read.

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley…”

“Who are they?” Neville asked.

“My aunt and uncle,” Harry muttered without looking up.

“… of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” Harry snorted and gave the twins a knowing smile.

“… They were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious; because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense. Mr. Dursley was the director of a firm called Grunnings, which made drills.”

“What are drills?” Arthur asked, his head cocked in confusion.

Harry didn’t need to answer as Hermione did.

“There are tools used for building Mr. Weasley. They make holes in things.”

“Oh. Wonderful.”

Harry softened at his father figure’s reaction.

“He was a big, beefy man with hardly any neck, although he did have a very large moustache. Mrs. Dursley was thin and blonde and had nearly twice the usual amount of neck, which came in very useful as she spent so much of her time craning over garden fences, spying on the neighbours. The Dursleys had a small boy named Dudley and in their opinion, there was no finer boy anywhere.”

Harry reached the end of the paragraph as Ron burst out laughing, clutching his stomach. The adults looked at him in confusion, but Harry’s smile only grew as Ron wheezed, over and over trying to stifle his giggling.

Harry shook his head but continued.

“…The Dursleys had everything…” Harry scowled at the book. They did but he never got any. “…everything they wanted, but they also had a secret, and their greatest fear was that somebody would discover it. They didn’t think they could bear it if anyone found out about the Potters.”

“There’s nothing wrong with them,” Remus growled.

Ron and Hermione saw the hurt look in Harry’s eyes at the mention of his parents, although no one else seemed to notice it.

Harry cleared his throat, Remus quieted.

“Mrs. Potter was Mrs. Dursley’s sister, but they hadn’t met for several years…”

Narcissa and Andromeda glanced at each other.

“… in fact, Mrs. Dursley pretended she didn’t have a sister, because her sister and her good-for-nothing husband were as unDursleyish as it was possible to be.”

Remus and Snuffles both growled as the book called their friend good-for-nothing.

“unDursleyish isn’t a word.” Hermione huffed.

“The Dursleys shuddered to think what the neighbours would say if the Potters arrived in the street. The Dursleys knew that the Potters had a small son, too, but they had never even seen him. This boy was another good reason for keeping the Potters away, they didn’t want Dudley mixing with a child like that.”

Harry heard several sharp intakes of breath, but it was Arthur who spoke.

“Harry, do they still think like that?”

Harry didn’t look up, he just shrugged, and he shuffled in his seat returning his attention to the book.

“When Mr. and Mrs. Dursley woke up on the dull, gray Tuesday our story starts, there was nothing about the cloudy sky outside to suggest that strange and mysterious things would soon be happening all over the country. Mr. Dursley hummed as he picked out his most boring tie for work and Mrs. Dursley gossiped away happily as she wrestled a screaming Dudley into his highchair.”

Harry chuckled at the image.

“None of them notice a large tawny owl flutter past the window.”

At the mention of the owl, Harry felt a pang in his chest, he hadn’t visited Hedwig in a while. As if sensing his desire for his friend the owl appeared in the room, hooting as she perched on the arm of Harry’s chair rubbing his hand and he smoothed her feathers.

“Hey, girl. Miss me?”

She nipped his fingers in annoyance but soon relented under his smoothing fingers.

“Missed you too.”

Luna smiled at the exchange thinking that Harry had a really strong bond with his owl.

“At half-past eight, Mr. Dursley picked up his briefcase, pecked Mrs. Dursley on the cheek and tried to kiss Dudley goodbye but missed, because Dudley was now having a tantrum and throwing his cereal at the walls. ‘Little tyke’, chortled Mr. Dursley as he left the house. He got into his car and backed out of number four’s drive.”

Molly huffed, muttering something about bad parenting, the twins sank lower into their seats. Harry took another sip of coffee, observing the others as the bitter liquid revived him. Everyone was so focused on him they hadn’t noticed Sirius changing from his dog form, his head resting against Remus’ leg. Harry snorted.

“Sirius, if you’re going to be human at least sit on the sofa.”

Heads spun to the escapee, gasps ringing out, but no one said anything as Harry got up and drew the man into a tight hug, holding him close as if he was going to disappear at any moment.

“Sure thing, pup.”

He sat between Narcissa and Andromeda. He looked left at Andromeda.

“Hello, cousin.”

Andromeda smiled as she squeezed his hand, he looked right to Narcissa.

“Hello, cousin.”

Narcissa nodded.

“Continue prongslet.”

Harry glared at his godfather.

“And who do you think you are talking to?”

“Sorry, oh, Mr. wise and powerful, do continue with your wonderful tale.”

“Ass,” Harry whispered to barking laughter from Sirius but continued none the less.

“It was on the corner of the street that he noticed the first sign of something peculiar – a cat reading a map.”

Sirius snorted.

“I bet you that’s Minnie.”

“Don’t call me Minnie, Mr. Black.”

Sirius’ barking laughter filled the room, a warm feeling expanded in Harry’s chest as the sight of his godfather.

“I’ll take that bet cousin,” Tonks said.

“Put your money where your mouth is, darling.” Sirius cooed, setting 5 galleons down on the table.

Tonks smirked setting her own coins on the table.

“For a second…” Harry continued, “Mr. Dursley didn’t realise what he had seen – then he jerked his head around to look again. There was a tabby cat standing on the corner of Privet Drive, but there wasn’t a map in sight.”

“Definitely Minnie.”

“Mr. Black!”

“Oh, come on. You know you love me.” Sirius chortled at the annoyed Professor, who only huffed in response.

“What could he have been thinking of? It must have been a trick of the light.”

“What else could it have been hmm…? Magic maybe.” Hermione stated.

“Mr. Dursley blinked and stared at the cat. It stared back.”

“I have to say, Minerva, it does sound an awful lot like you.” Albus deadpanned.

“As Mr Dursley drove around the corner and up the road, he watched the cat in his mirror. It was now reading the sign that said Privet Drive – no, looking at the sign, cats couldn’t read maps or signs. Mr. Dursley gave himself a little shake and put the cat out of his mind.”

“Along with all his intellect and wit,” Harry muttered.

“As he drove towards town he thought of nothing except a large order of drills he was hoping to get that day. But on the edge of town, drills were driven out of his mind by something else. As he sat in the usual morning traffic jam, he couldn’t help noticing that there seemed to be a lot of strangely dressed people about. People in cloaks.”

Minerva signed rubbing her forehead. “So much for the Statute of Secrecy.”

Mr. Dursley couldn’t bear people who dressed in funny clothes…”

“Hey, they aren’t funny!” Sirius stated, rather loudly.

“They are for muggles, Siri. Muggles don’t wear cloaks.” Harry said plainly.

“Oh, right.”

“…the get-ups you saw on young people! He supposed this was some stupid new fashion. He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel and his eyes fell on a huddle of those weirdos standing quite close by. They were whispering excitedly together Mr. Dursley was enraged to see that a couple of them weren’t young at all, why, that man had to be older than he was, and wearing an emerald-green cloak! The nerve of him! But then it struck Mr. Dursley that this was probably some silly stunt – these people were obviously collecting for something… yes, that would be it. The traffic moved on, and a few minutes later, Mr. Dursley arrived in the Grunnings car park, his mind back on drills.”

“Harry?”

“Yes, Luna.”

“Oh, nothing. I just wanted to say your name.”

Harry smiled at the blonde girl’s odd behaviour, but his heart raced as he remembered the feeling on her hand in his.

“Mr. Dursley always sat with his back to the window in his office on the ninth floor. If he hadn’t, he might have found it harder to concentrate on drills that morning. He didn’t see the owls swooping past in broad daylight, though people down in the street did, they pointed and gazed open-mouthed as owl after owl sped overhead. Most of them had never seen an owl even at night-time. Mr. Dursley, however, had a perfectly normal, owl-free morning.”

“Not anymore.”

“Why’d you say that Harry?”

“Hedwig here…” he said ruffled with owl’s feathers “likes to watch dear Mr. Dursley up at least one hour before his alarm, a little payback.”

Hermione shook her head smiling.

“He yelled at five different people. He made several important telephone calls and shouted a bit more. He was in a very good mood until lunchtime, when he thought he’d stretch his legs and walk across the road…”

Harry chocked on his coffee.

“That man doesn’t walk anywhere?”

“…to buy himself a bun from the baker’s opposite.”

“That makes sense.”

“He’d forgotten all about the people in cloaks until he passed a group of them next to the baker’s. He eyed them angrily as he passed. He didn’t know why, but they made him uneasy. This lot were whispering excitedly, too, and he couldn’t see a single collecting tin. It was on his way back past them, clutching a large doughnut in a bag, that he caught a few words of what they were saying.

‘The Potters, that’s right, that’s what I heard--‘

‘—yes, their son, Harry—’

Mr. Dursley stopped dead.”

“If only.”

Everyone held their breath.

“Fear flooded him. He looked back at the whisperers as if he wanted to say something to them, but thought better of it.”

“Never stopped him before.”

“He dashed back across the road, hurried up to his office, snapped at his secretary not to disturb him, seized his telephone and had…”

“Harry, that’s the wrong word.”

“No, it isn’t Ron.”

“I thought it was called a feletone.”

“I did too, son.”

“No, Ron, Mr. Weasley, it’s called a telephone.”

“I’ll have to remember that,” Arthur muttered.

“…almost finished dialling his home number when he changed his mind. He put the receiver back down and stroked his moustache, thinking… no, he was being stupid.”

“Well, at least he admitted it.”

“Potter wasn’t such an unusual name.”

“There’s only one. Our one.” Remus sadly announced.

Most cast their eyes down as Minerva dabbed her eyes with her tartan handkerchief.

“He was sure there were lots of people called Potter who had a son called Harry.”

“Unfortunately, no,” Harry replied.

“You’re talking to a book mate.”

“I know, Ron.” Harry sighed.

“Come to think of it, he wasn’t even sure his nephew was called Harry. He’d never even seen the boy. It might have been Harvey. Or Harold.”

The twins couldn’t contain their laughter at the words. Harry scowled at them.

“All right there, Harvey?”

“Or is it Harold?”

“Can it!”

Harry tuned out their snickering as he read on.

“There was no point in worrying Mrs. Dursley, she always got so upset at any mention of her sister.”

“She hasn’t changed,” Snape muttered. The only ones close enough to hear were Moody and Andromeda who opted to ignore the comment.

“He didn’t blame her – if he’d had a sister like that…but all the same, those people in cloaks… He found it a lot harder to concentrate on drills that afternoon, and when he left the building at five o’clock, he was still so worried that he walked straight into someone just outside the door. ‘Sorry’ he grunted…”

“Did I read that right?” Harry scanned the words again “…apparently I did.”

“…as the tiny old man stumbled and almost fell. It was a few seconds before Mr. Dursley realised that the man was wearing a violet cloak. He didn’t seem at all upset at being almost knocked to the ground.”

“IS it just me Albus, or does that sound a lot like Filius?”

“Indeed it does.”

“On the contrary, his face split into a wide smile and he said in a squeaky voice that made passers-by stare: ‘Don’t be sorry, my dear sir, for nothing could upset me today! Rejoice, for You-Know-Who has gone at last! Even Muggles like yourself should be celebrating, this happy, happy day!”

“Definitely Filius,” Albus whispered as Minerva nodded rather vigorously. Both knew the Charms professor could get a tad enthusiastic after one too many Ogden’s.

“And the old man hugged Mr. Dursley around the middle and walked off. Mr Dursley stood rooted to the spot. He had been hugged by a complete stranger. He also thought he had been called a Muggle, whatever that was. He was rattled. He hurried to his car and set off home, hoping he was imagining things, which he had never hoped before, because he didn’t approve of imagination.

As he pulled into the driveway of number four, the first thing he saw – and it didn’t improve his mood – was the tabby cat he’d spotted this morning.”

“How did he know that?” Sirius asked.

“It was sitting on his garden wall. He was sure it was the same one, it had the same markings around its eyes.”

“Well, that answered your question, Sirius,” Remus replied.

“’Shoo!’ said Mr. Dursley loudly. The cat didn’t move. It just gave him a stern look.”

“100% Minnie.”

“And why do you say that Mr. Black?” Minerva said giving him her signature look. Sirius slumped in his seat, wilting under the professor’s stern gaze.

“…..”

“I thought so.”

“Was this normal cat behaviour, Mr. Dursley wondered.”

Sirius didn’t reply, but he pouted like a scolded child.

“Trying to pull himself together, he let himself into the house. He was still determined not to mention anything to his wife. Mrs. Dursley had a nice, normal day. She told him over dinner all about Mrs. Next Door’s problems with her daughter and how Dudley learned a new word (‘Shan’t!’).”

“Someone should really sort that child out.” Molly chided.

“Too late.” Harry spat at the mention of his cousin.

“Mr. Dursley tried to act normally. When Dudley had been put to bed, he went into the living room in time to catch the last report on the evening news.

‘And finally, bird-watchers everywhere have reported that the nation’s owls have been behaving very unusually today. Although owls normally hunt at night and are hardly ever seen in daylight, there have been hundreds of sightings of these birds flying in every direction since sunrise. Experts are unable to explain why the owls have suddenly changed their sleeping pattern.’ The newsreader allows himself a grin. ‘Most mysterious. And now, over to Jim McGuffin with the weather. Going to be any more showers of owls tonight, Jim?’

‘Well, Ted,’ said the weatherman…”

Harry paused looking over at Mr. Tonks, who had a large grin on his face. He caught Harry’s stare.

“Yes lad, that’s me alright.”

Tonks looked over at her father wide-eyed.

“That’s you dad?”

“Yes, Dora. I used to report the muggle news, which was interesting.”

Andromeda snorted at her husband's response.

“…’I don’t know about that, but it’s not only owls that have been acting oddly today. Viewers as far apart as Kent, Yorkshire and Dundee have been phoning in to tell me that instead of the rain I promised yesterday, they’ve had a downpour of shooting stars! Perhaps people have been celebrating Bonfire Night early – it’s not until next week, folks! But I can promise a very wet night tonight.’”

“That was definitely Dedalus Diggle. No matter how much he denies it, that man never had much sense!” Minerva sighed.

“Mr. Dursley sat frozen in his armchair. Shooting stars all over Britain? Owls flying by daylight? Mysterious people in cloaks all over the place? And a whisper, a whisper about the Potters…

Mrs. Dursley came into the living room carrying two cups of tea. It was no good. He’d have to say something to her. He cleared his throat nervously. ‘Er – Petunia, dear – you haven’t heard from your sister lately, have you?’

As he had expected, Mrs. Dursley looked shocked and angry. After all, they normally pretended she didn’t have a sister. ’No,’ she said sharply. ‘Why?’

‘Funny stuff on the news,’ Mr. Dursley mumbled. ‘Owls… shooting stars… and there were a lot of funny-looking people in town today…’

‘So?’ snapped Mrs. Dursley.

‘Well, I thought… maybe… it was something to do with… you know… her lot.’”

“Her lot! What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“While I agree with you Sirius, maybe we should let Harry finish.”

“But Remus… he… he!”

“Sit down, Sirius.”

Sirius stared hard at his friend.

“Now!” Remus snapped, his eyes flashing amber.

After a tense minute, Sirius relented and sat, arms folded across his chest, anger written all over his face.

“Mrs. Dursley sipped her tea through pursed lips. Mr. Dursley wondered whether he dared tell her he’d heard the name ‘Potter’. He decided he didn’t dare. Instead, he said, as casually as he could. ‘Their son – he’d be about Dudley’s age now, wouldn’t he?’

‘I suppose so,’ said Mrs. Dursley stiffly.

‘What’s his name again? Howard, isn’t it?’

‘Harry. Nasty, common name, if you ask me,’”

“Well, no one’s asking you! Harry is a wonderful name.”

“Thanks Mione.”

“Oh, yes,’ said Mr. Dursley, his heart sinking horribly. ‘Yes, I quite agree.’

He didn’t say another word on the subject as they went upstairs to bed. While Mrs. Dursley was in the bathroom, Mr. Dursley crept to the bedroom window and peered down into the front garden. The cat was still there. It was staring down Privet Drive as though it was waiting for something.

Was he imagining things? Could all this have anything to do with the Potters? If it did… if it got out that they were related to a pair of – well, he didn’t think he could bear it.

The Dursleys got into bed. Mrs. Dursley fell asleep quickly, but Mr. Dursley lay awake, turning it all over in his mind. His last, comforting thought before he fell asleep was that even if the Potters were involved, there was no reason for them to come near him and Mrs. Dursley. The Potters knew well what he and Petunia thought about them and their kind… He couldn’t see how he and Petunia could get mixed up in anything that might be going on. He yawned and turned over. It couldn’t affect them…

How very wrong he was.

Mr. Dursley might have been drifting into an uneasy sleep, but the cat on the wall outside was showing no sign of sleepiness. It was sitting as still as a statue, its eyes fixed unblinkingly on the far corner of Privet Drive. It didn’t so much as quiver when a car door slammed in the next street, nor when two owls swooped overhead. In fact, it was nearly midnight before the cat moved at all.”

“Is it nearly time for lunch?” Ron asked.

“Ronald, it’s barely half past 10. Do you think about anything else?”

“Not really. But it doesn’t change the fact I’m hungry.”

Hermione sighed.

“A man appeared on the corner that the cat had been watching, appeared so suddenly and silently you’d have thought he’d just popped out of the ground.”

“Must be a wizard apperating,” Moody muttered, the first sound from the Auror. “Fool.”

“The cat’s tail twitched, and its eyes narrowed.”

“It has to be someone Minnie knows.”

“Nothing like this man had ever been seen in Privet Drive. He was tall, thin and very old, judging by the silver of his hair and beard, which were both long enough to tuck into his belt. He was wearing long robes, a purple cloak which swept the ground and high-heeled, buckled boots.”

“This man is sounding very familiar,” Harry stated, casting a sideways glance at the Headmaster who smiled in response.

“His blue eyes were light, bright and sparkling behind half-moon spectacles…”

“DUMBLEDORE!” several voices chanted.

“…and his nose was very long and crooked, as though it had been broken at least twice.”

“3 times actually.”

“This man’s name was Albus Dumbledore.”

“Knew it.” Ron chimed.

“We all did, Ron.”

“Albus Dumbledore didn’t seem to realise that he had just arrived in a street where everything from his name to his boots was unwelcome. He was busy rummaging in his cloak, looking for something. But he did seem to realise he was being watched because he looked up suddenly at the cat, which was still staring at him from the other end of the street. For some reason, the sight of the cat seemed to amuse him. He chuckled and muttered, ‘I should have known.’”

“Prepare to lose, Dora.”

“In your dreams. And, call me that again and I’ll hex your bal…”

“MISS TONKS!”

“..ls off!”

The twins looked at the young Auror, her hair now a mixture of red, orange and blonde, resembling the flickering flame of the fire.

“You know Tonks…”

“You’re pretty ballsy…”

“We like it!”

“He had found what he was looking for in his inside pocket. It seemed to be a silver cigarette lighter.”

At the mention of this Harry paused, leaning down his whispered in Dobby’s ear who nodded and popped away.

Hermione cocked her head in confusion, while Ron just looked at his friend.

“Really?”

“Really!”

Dobby returned a moment later holding a small box in one hand and a small silver object in his other. He promptly handed them to Harry who patted his small friend on the head.

“What’s that Harry?”

Harry just looked at Hermione as he drew a clove cigarette from the box and lit it with the lighter. He inhaled deeply, exhaled grey.

“Harry! You’re too young to smoke.” Molly howled.

“But old enough to die.”

Molly fell silent at that.

Propping the cigarette between his lips, he read on.

No one else commented on his habit, even Snape, but the Potions professor already knew.

“He flicked it open, held it up in the air and clicked it. The nearest streetlamp went out with a little pop. He clicked it again – the next lamp flickered into darkness. Twelve times he clocked the Put-Outer…”

“It’s called a deluminator, actually.”

“How did you know that, sir?” Hermione asked curiously as ever.

“I invented it.”

“Awesome,” Ron whispered.

Albus just smiled.

“…until the only lights left in the whole street were two tiny pinpricks in the distance, which were the eyes of the cat watching him. If anyone looked out of their windows now, even beady-eyed Mrs. Dursley, they wouldn’t be able to see anything that was happening down on the pavement. Dumbledore slipped the Put-Outer back inside his cloak and set off down the street towards number four, where he sat down on the wall next to the cat.”

Sirius leaned forward, eager for the identity of the cat to be revealed.

“He didn’t look at it, but after a moment he spoke to it.

‘Fancy seeing you here, Professor McGonagall.’”

Sirius leapt up. “I knew it! I fricking knew it! Hand ‘em over.”

Tonks reluctantly slid the 5 coins over to join Sirius’ as he swept them up and put them in his pocket, a knowing grin plastered on his face and he thumped back into his seat.

“He turned to smile at the tabby, but it had gone.”

“Where’d it go?” Ron asked.

Hermione slapped a hand to her forehead in exasperation.

“Instead he was smiling at a rather severe-looking woman…”

“Well, thank you, Mister Potter.”

“I didn’t write it, only read it.”

“…who was wearing square glasses exactly the shape of the markings the cat had had around its eyes. She, too, was wearing a cloak, an emerald one.”

“That’s like the third time the colour emerald’s been mentioned,” Hermione stated.

“Well, it’s a lovely colour.” Luna said dreamily.

“It’s also Professor McGonagall’s favourite colour.”

Said professor and several others stared at Harry in shock.

“How did you know that, Mister Potter?”

“You more often than not wear an emerald cloak, you use emerald chalk in class, and you correct your essays with green ink, it was a natural assumption, and you just confirmed it.”

Minerva blinked in shock, but shot a Harry a pleasured smile.

“Her black hair was drawn into a tight bun. She looked distinctly ruffled.

‘How did you know it was me?’ she asked.

‘My dear Professor, I’ve never seen a cat sit so stiffly.’

‘You’d be stiff if you’d been sitting on a brick wall all day,’ said Professor McGonagall.

‘All day? When you could have been celebrating? I must have passed a dozen feasts and parties on my way here.’

Professor McGonagall sniffed angrily.

‘Oh yes, everyone’s celebrating, all right,’ said impatiently. ‘You’d think they’d be a bit more careful, but no – even the Muggles have noticed something’s going on. It was on their news.’ She jerked her head back at the Dursley’s dark living-room window. ‘I heard it. Flocks of owls… shooting stars… Well, they’re not completely stupid. They were bound to notice something. Shooting stars down in Kent – I’ll bet that was Dedalus Diggle. He never had much sense.’”

“You’ve already said that Minnie.”

“You can’t blame them,’ said Dumbledore gently. ‘We’ve had precious little to celebrate for eleven years.’”

Some of those in the room had lost friends and relatives to the first war. Molly’s head collapsed as she thoughts of her brothers who see saw everyday in her own twins.

Before the mood could fall anymore, Harry pressed on.

“I know that,’ said Professor McGonagall irritably. ‘But that’s no reason to lose our heads. People are being downright careless, out on the streets in broad daylight, not even dressed in Muggle clothes, swapping rumours.’

She threw a sharp, sideways glance at Dumbledore here, as though hoping he was going to tell her something, but he didn’t, so she went on. ‘A fine thing it would be if, on the very day You-Know-Who seemed to have disappeared, at last, the Muggles found out about us all. I suppose he really has gone, Dumbledore?’”

Harry knew what day they were referring to, the day he became an orphan.

“It certainly seems so,’ said Dumbledore. ‘We have much to be thankful for. Would you care for a sherbet lemon?’

‘A what?”

“They are a muggle sweet, Professor.”

“A sherbet lemon. They’re a kind of Muggle sweet I’m rather fond of.”

“Professor, Hermione already said that.” Fred jested.

Dumbledore chuckled.

“No, thank you,’ said Professor McGonagall coldly, as though she didn’t think this was the moment for sherbet lemons. ‘As I say, even if You-Know-Who has gone –’

‘My dear Professor, surely a sensible person like yourself can call him by his name? All this ‘You-Know-Who’ nonsense – for eleven years I have been trying to persuade people to call him by his proper name: Voldemort.”

“You’re wrong, Professor?” Harry exclaimed.

“Hmmm?”

“Voldemort…”

Several people flinched.

“Oh, grow up. Voldemort… isn’t even his real name?”

Snape raised an eyebrow.

“Well, enlighten us then, Mister Potter?”

“His real name is Tom Marvolo Riddle Jr. Son of Merope Gaunt and Tom Marvolo Riddle – a muggle.”

Snape’s eyes widened.

“Which means despite all the pureblood bollocks he spews, he himself is a half-blood.”

“Very true, Harry. But may I ask how you know this?”

“He told me.” Harry shrugged.

“What?!” Exclaimed several people.

“In the graveyard, he told me I stood on the bones of his filthy muggle father.”

“Muggles aren’t filthy.” Hermione defended.

“I know Mione, he just nuts.”

Sirius snickered at that.

“Professor McGonagall flinched, but Dumbledore who was unsticking two sherbet lemons seemed not to notice. ‘It all gets so confusing if we keep saying “You-Know-Who”. I have never seen any reason to be frightened of saying Voldemort’s name.”

“I second that, Professor,” Luna said softly.

“Me too.” Echoed Hermione.

“I know you haven’t’ said Professor McGonagall, sounding half-exasperated, half-admiring. ‘But you’re different. Everyone knows you’re the only one You-Know – oh, all right, Voldemort – was frightened of.’

‘You flatter me,’ said Dumbledore calmly. ‘Voldemort had powers I will never have.’

‘Only because you’re too – well – noble to use them.’

‘It’s lucky it’s dark. I haven’t blushed so much since Madam Pomfrey told me she liked my new earmuffs.’

Ron and Sirius turned a little green at the thought.

“Professor McGonagall shot a sharp look at Dumbledore and said, ‘The owls are nothing to the rumours that are flying around. You know what everyone’s saying? About why he’s disappeared? About what finally stopped him?’

Harry knew what was coming.

“It seemed that Professor McGonagall had reached the point she was most anxious to discuss, the real reason she had been waiting on a cold hard wall all day, for neither as a cat nor as a woman had she fixed Dumbledore with such a piercing stare as she did now. It was plain that whatever ‘everyone’ was saying, she was not going to believe it until Dumbledore told her it was true. Dumbledore, however, was choosing another sherbet lemon and did not answer.

‘What they’re saying,’ she pressed on, ‘is that last night Voldemort turned up in…”

Harry suddenly stopped reading, a lump in his throat. His eyes shining with unshed tears. Luna rose from her seat and silently made her way over to Harry’s chair, bending down to whisper in his ear.

“Are you alright Harry?”

The boy shrugged.

“If you don’t want to continue I’ll take over.”

Harry stared up at the blonde girl, her blue eyes were completely sincere. When Harry spoke his voice was strong but shaky.

“This… this is something that I… have to confront Luna. Sooner or later.”

The girl nodded and skipped back to her seat.

At Harry’s words, several people realises that Harry had never processed his parent’s death. Sirius and Remus who had lost 3 of their friends became sullen. They lost two to death and that was easier to accept than losing one to betrayal.

“…Voldemort turned up in Godric’s Hollow. He went to find the Potters. The rumour is that…”

Harry breathed deeply before he spoke the words.

“…that Lily and James Potter are – are – that they’re dead. Dumbledore bowed his head.”

The real Dumbledore along with everyone else bowed their heads in respect for the dead, so no one saw the lone tear making its way down Harry’s cheek.

“Professor McGonagall gasped.”

The room was solemn and silent as Harry desperately wanted this chapter to be over.

“Lily and James… I can’t believe it… I didn’t want to believe it… Oh, Albus…”

“I still can’t believe it.”

“Dumbledore reached out and patted her on the shoulder, ‘I know… I know’ he said heavily. Professor McGonagall’s voice trembled as she went on. ‘That’s not all. They’re saying he tried to kill the Potters’ son, Harry. But – he couldn’t.”

Harry took a deep breath.

“He couldn’t kill that little boy. No one knows why, or how, but they’re saying that when he couldn’t kill Harry Potter, Voldemort’s power somehow broke – and that’s why he’s gone.’ Dumbledore nodded glumly.

‘It’s – it’s true?’ faltered Professor McGonagall. ‘After all he’s done… all the people he’s killed…”

Harry paused at the soft sob from Molly as she remembered her own brothers who had lost their lives in the First Wizarding War, Arthur whispered softly into her ear and he stroked her auburn mane.

“…he couldn’t kill a little boy? It’s just astounding… of all the things to stop him… but how in the name of heaven did Harry survive?’

‘We can only guess,’ said Dumbledore. ‘We may never know.’”

“That’s a lie Professor, you know perfectly well how I survived and one day I’m going to make you tell me,” Harry said without looking up from the page. Dumbledore just nodded at the statement knowing that by the time they finished reading these books, so many secrets would be revealed, not just from Harry’s past but his own, Severus’ and Voldemort’s too.

“Professor McGonagall pulled out a lace handkerchief and dabbed at her eyes beneath her spectacles. Dumbledore gave a great sniff as he took a golden watch from his pocket and examined it. It was a very odd watch. It had twelve hands but no numbers; instead, little planets were moving around the edge.”

“My mother gave me that watch when I was a child, she called us her little stars, except me, I was little moon.”

“Us?” Ron asked.

“Me, my brother Aberforth, who we will probably learn about later on and my sister.”

Harry found it strange that he mentioned his brother by name but not his sister. Harry was the only one who understood the look in the Headmaster’s eyes. It was grief. Harry turned his gaze to Ron, the hard look stopping any further questions.

“It must have made sense to Dumbledore, though, because he put in back in his pocket and said, ‘Hagrid’s late. I suppose it was he who told you I’d be here, by the way?’

‘Yes,’ said Professor McGonagall. ‘And I don’t suppose you’re going to tell me why you’re here, of all places?’

‘I’ve come to bring Harry to his aunt and uncle. They’re the only family he has left now.’

Harry's mood darkened, the air around them turned cold and icy.

Chapter Text

Ice began to form on the arms of Harry’s chair, a frozen mist sprouted sending the occupants on the room into a panic. The 3 house-elves leapt away shivering, most of the others in the room sat stunned at the young boy’s display of power. The only two that had any clue of what to do were Luna and Severus. They knew Harry needed to be calmed immediately before he hurt someone.

Luna wanted to comfort Harry but had no idea what you could say to someone that had been hurt the way he had. She didn’t know how he’d been hurt but she knew. The anger in those emerald eyes said enough. Severus, on the other hand, knew exactly how Harry was feeling, he had felt it himself. Anger, hurt and betrayal caused by the people that were supposed to care for you. The temperature in the room dropped further, his breath forming small clouds. He needed to do something, anything.

The room sensing his need formed another room and Severus knew he had to get Harry into it now. He used the stealth he’d developing in decades as a spy, he moved around the back of the sofa, moving steadily towards the boy. Reaching the boy’s chair he noticed the tears sliding down his cheeks and the hissing. The boy was a Parselmouth!

The only ones aware of this hissing were Granger and Weasley as they were closest to Potter. Grabbing the boy by his arm, Severus hauled him towards the new room. Harry kicked and screamed at the movement, but Severus had no choice, he could feel the boy’s magic building. Severus launched Harry and himself inside the room, the door slammed shut behind them as Harry’s magic exploded blowing Severus back. His head colliding with the wall, lights danced before his eyes. A wet warmth trickled down his cheek and he knew he was bleeding. Severus slumped dazed to the floor, the boy was hunched, trembling before him.

Minutes passed, Severus could hear Albus outside asking if they were okay but before he could reply wards shot up around the room, sealing them in. Severus raised himself up, his ears ringing, head throbbing. He turned his attention to the boy curled up whimpering on the floor, trembling fiercely. Severus quickly assessed himself, there was no major damage, but he would need a pain reliever and something for his headache once they returned. He moved towards the boy slowly, knowing he would be jumpy.

“Potter, are you okay?”

Silence apart from rasping breaths.

“Potter?”

Nothing again.

“Harry?” Severus’ tone softened as he addressed the boy.

Ever so slowly the boy relaxed from his curled position, turning to face his professor.

“Sir?” Harry’s voice was hoarse from screaming, his eyes red and puffy behind his glasses. Tear track painted his face as his lower lip trembled still.

“Are you okay?”

“I think so.”

Harry met Severus’ eyes, noting the blood running down his cheek. The boy shot up, latching onto Severus’ chin, tilting his face to inspect the wound on his forehead. Severus hissed at the calloused finger prodding at the cut and the touch instantly softened.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.”

Severus sighed.

“It’s nothing. I’ve had worse.”

“I know.”

Severus wondered how the boy could know, but then he knew Harry would react the way he did without knowing much about his life outside of school.

“It doesn’t need stitches, but it might leave a scar,” Harry added shyly.

“Another to add to my collection.” Severus chuckled darkly.

“It shouldn’t be.”

Severus raised his eyes to Harry only to notice that his eyes were locked on the stone floor, tear threatening once more.

Severus reached out to clasp the boy’s shoulder.

“Better me than someone else.”

Harry gasped at the touch meeting Severus’ gaze, a light blush staining his cheeks. Severus thought it was rather cute before he stamped that thought down. Since the incident with Lupin in the boy’s 3rd year, Severus had come to admire his bravery and determination. Then last year in the tournament he had noticed the physical changes, Harry grew taller and began to fill out his lanky frame. He was beautiful with his emerald green eyes, full lips and stained cheeks.

Severus could have controlled himself, but he found that he didn’t really want to at this moment. He knew that if Harry rejected him, he would never speak a word of it to anyone, that’s just who Harry was. For the first time since Lily’s death, he was taking what he wanted.

The older man leant forward and connected his lips with Harry’s.

The boy’s eyes widened.

Harry registered the pressure of his professor’s thin lips upon his own fuller ones. He didn’t understand, he was stunned unable to response.

As those lips moved away, Harry blinked.

“I’m sorry.”

His professor began to move away. Before he could think Harry’s hand clenched fistfuls of those black robes pulling the older man back. It was Severus’ turn to be stunned as the lithe boy slid into his lap, fingers clucking at his robes bringing them chest to chest, able to feel each panting breath the other took.

“Why did you do that?” Harry’s voice was barely a whisper.

Severus swallowed.

“Because I wanted to.”

Green eyes meet black as the gravitated towards each other once more, unable to deny this feeling growing between them. This time when their lips meet, Harry’s eyes slid closed enjoying the light pressure. Moving closer so he was flush against Severus, Harry sighed giving Severus the perfect opportunity to insert his tongue into the teen’s mouth.

Harry fidgeted as Severus’ tongue swept through his mouth before slowly coaxing his own to come out and play. Harry lost track of time but when they broke away they were both panting, chests heaving. Neither spoke.

Severus cupped Harry’s cheek, his thumb running over the boy’s kiss swollen lips. Harry returned the gesture but avoided the man’s injured forehead, instead, he ran his hand through those strands of onyx hair. It felt baby fine and so soft, no greasy at all.

Severus sighed at the intimate gesture, his eyes sliding closed, just enjoying the closeness before it had it end.

“We shouldn’t do this.”

He hadn’t spoken them, but it didn’t change the truth behind them.

“I know.” Severus’ heart hurt as he spoke the words. He was destined to be alone, after all, he was a Death Eater and a spy. Love was for the weak and he couldn’t afford to be weak, and neither could Harry.

“But…”

Hope fluttered in his chest as Harry spoke.

“But?”

Severus allowed himself to hope as his heart began to race.

“But… I don’t care.”

Severus’ jaw dropped as Harry’s free hand slid up his chest, resting over his racing heart.

“And neither do you, Professor.”

Severus surged forward, wrapping his arms around Harry's waist, one hand sliding up to the boy’s shoulder, the other to his hip.

“Cheeky. Impudent. Brat.”

Each word was punctuated with a kiss.

“And you love it.”

Harry froze at his own words.

“I do.”

“What?”

“I do love it. I love how brave you are. I love how you defend your friends no matter the cost to you. I love the way you look after Quidditch practice, all windswept hair and flushed cheeks. I even love the way you look when you cry, those emerald eyes flooding with tears. I love how broken and utter perfect you are, Harry Potter and I always will.”

“Oh.”

“Still that all I get ‘Oh’.”

“I don’t know what else I can say.”

Severus’ buried his face in Harry’s chest, hoping to hide the fear in his eyes. The fear of rejection, of humiliation, of losing someone else he loved dearly. He had love Lily’s but in the way a brother loves his sister, but Harry he truly loved. Harry, he would die for, he had known it from the moment the boy set foot in the school 4 years ago.

“I do actually…”

Severus squeezed tighter.

“I don’t know if I love you, I have never been loved before by anyone. But…”

“You were so loved, Harry. Lily and James both loved you so much.”

“I know. But I never got to feel it. The closest I’ve got to feeling that love is from Molly and Arthur, but they have their own children to worry about.”

Severus stay silent holding the boy close as he poured his heart out.

“I don’t know if I love you, but I’ve always watched you. I’ve watched you protect so many people not just your Slytherins. I’ve watched you take aside students who need more support than others. I know you care so deeply, and I want to see where this goes.”

For the first time since he held Lily’s body in his arms, Severus allowed himself to cry.

Severus trembled in Harry’s arms, Harry buried himself in Severus’ hair, breathing in his scent. Sandalwood, fire smoke and something vaguely spicy yet distinctly Severus. For the time in the lives of either man they allowed themselves to be vulnerable in the arms of another, to give the hearts they had long since locked away to someone who would protect it with everything they had.

As tears dried, the embrace remained. Harry would have once feared long stretches of silence, feared it no more in Severus’ arms. Harry smiled into Severus’ hair as the man sighed against his chest.

“Harry, we’ve got to go back.”

“I don’t want to.”

“We can’t stay here forever, love.”

“I know. I know.”

Harry reluctantly pulled back.

“Don’t worry, Harry. I don’t know what caused that reaction back there…”

Harry stiffened, but Severus’ soothing hands relaxed him once more.

“I don’t know what caused it and I’m not going to ask. You can tell me when you’re ready but remember this Harry, I’ve been through it all too.”

He laid his forehead gently against Harry’s mindful of his wound.

“You can trust me.”

“I know.” Harry breathed against his lips.

Harry quickly pulled Severus in for a chaste kiss before rising, holding his hand out for Severus to take.

“Let’s go.”

As quickly as the wards appeared, they fell. Harry entwined his fingers with Severus’ as they stepped out into the reading room once more.