Dumbledore was gone and Snape was the Headmaster of Hogwarts. The first thing he would do was hire Potter in some capacity.
The thought brought him up short, his feet almost stumbling to a halt as it dropped into his mind like a stone.
Hire Potter in some capacity.
Snape sneered. He couldn't possibly have thought that. In the eleven years since the final defeat of Voldemort Severus Snape had rarely thought of the importunate brat that had delivered the blow that saved the world. He knew that Albus Dumbledore had seen to Potter's care after the final battle, but like the rest of the Wizarding world, Snape had been caught up in the rebuilding of the destruction that the Dark Lord had caused. In all honesty, he hadn't the faintest notion if the boy had taken his NEWTs, much less what the boy's scores might have been.
Come to think of it, it was as if the boy had fallen from the face of the world. The Daily Prophet had lauded Potter briefly as a hero before going on to the more current interest of the reformation of the Ministry, once the breadth and depth of Death Eater influence had been exposed.
But the thought kept coming back, insistent.
Hire Potter in some capacity.
Snape could feel the buzz of ancient magic around the edges of the words, a forceful insistence that spoke of stone-cold determination.
Hire Potter in some capacity, Headmaster.
Bring Harry Home.
The force of the demand almost sent him to his knees. It was the castle - Hogwarts had addressed him directly, a circumstance that Snape had never heard of before, and feared the meaning of.
Hogwarts wanted Harry Potter to return.
Snape frowned, indecisive. There was, unfortunately, a veritable blizzard of paperwork awaiting him in the headmaster's - now his - office. If there was one thing that the wizarding world shared with its non-magical counterpart, it was reams of papers to be filed, filled out, and signed in centuplicate. Yet this matter of Harry Potter, the very nature of the demand that Hogwarts made on him...
Paperwork or research?
He stared down the corridor that led to his office and shook his head. There was no real competition after all. His cloak swirled menacingly around him as he whirled around to head to the Library, and Snape almost regretted the current absence of the little monsters - also known as schoolchildren - to frighten.
Snape enjoyed the way his footsteps echoed in the empty corridors, the clear ring of booted heel striking polished granite. It was an ominous sound that could send would-be miscreants scurrying down halls and to their dorms in an ever-pleasant game of cat and mouse. He most enjoyed it when students were too occupied to notice the fair warning of his purposeful stride and could strip points for anything from being out of bounds to flagrant indecency.
Students caught in flagrante delicto by the Headmaster of the school. He chuckled. Griffindor was in such danger of losing points this year -
That thought brought him up a bit short. Albus Dumbledore had been a great man. He would be greatly missed, by Snape and by countless others. If there was one thing, however, that Snape never wanted to emulate in his mentor and friend, it was a level of favoritism that could split the school. Snape had always promised himself that should he ever become Headmaster, he would not so blatantly favor one house over another, even his own.
He would have to give up one of his favorite hobbies.
Turning a corner, he found himself at the doors of the Library with a puddle of Hermione Granger at his feet.
"Oh! Goodness! I'm terribly sorry Headmaster, I wasn't looking where I was going." Granger had grown up in the decade or so after the defeat of the Dark Lord, not that she'd had much choice. The youngest Weasely son had died on the field, leaving her pregnant and unwed. If not for Dumbledore's influence, Hermione Granger would have been expelled just before her NEWTs for lewd behavior. The wizarding world was not particularly forgiving of such pregnancies, and Granger, despite being at the top of her class, found herself alone and virtually unemployable at the age of eighteen.
The Weasley clan though not hooked on the notion of 'pure blood' was, in a number of ways, very traditional. They'd abandoned the girl when it had become obvious that she had allowed Ronald to touch her before marriage. Snape found it incredibly ironic that they couldn't have cared less that Granger was a mudblood, but having allowed Ronald Weasely intimacy on the night before he died could not be forgiven.
"No matter, Miss Granger. As it happens, you are precisely the person I wanted to see."
Surprised brown eyes met his. "Sir?"
"I was wondering if you could give me Potter's direction, I need to speak with him."
She blinked, surprised. "Potter? Who -"
"Harry Potter. The-Boy-Who-Lived. Surely you remember him." Granger continued to stare at him and he glared back at her, anger rising. "You do know who I'm talking about, do you not? Harry Potter, lightning-bolt scar, Triwizard Champion, defeater of Voldemort?"
"Harry..." Her eyes closed, and she frowned slightly. "I... Once I knew someone named Harry. Why would I know where he is, though? He was just a schoolmate."
"Just a schoolmate?"
Something twisted in his gut. There was something terribly wrong with this. "I see. Never mind, then. Will young Robert be attending classes this year?"
She smiled softly. "Yes. The pen addressed a letter for him today."
He nodded, unsuprised. Robert Ronald Granger would not quite be eleven come September, but he was as brilliant and precocious as his mother was.
Granger excused herself, murmuring something about meeting her son after school. Snape stared after her thoughtfully. He knew that she had spent a number of years in the Muggle world, gaining the higher education that the Wizarding world would have denied her. Fortunately for her, her parents had been quite supportive, helping her with both the time and space to grieve for the loss of the young man she had planned to wed as well as welcoming the new addition to their family.
When Hermione Granger had re-entered the Wizarding world she had not needed to take the Defense Against the Dark Arts position Albus had offered her. Wizarding Britain might not have welcomed an unwed, muggle-born mother, but Granger's brilliance and inventiveness had been all but pounced upon by the Americans almost from the moment she had entered Diagon Alley.
Sometimes Snape wondered if the current Minister of Magic, Percy Weasely, regretted the treatment Granger received at the hands of his family, as it was costing the British Ministry a fortune to purchase the gadgets and widgets that Granger had successfully adapted from Muggle to Wizard use. It would be interesting to see what would happen this year, as William Weasely's eldest would begin Hogwarts this year with Granger's son.
He shook his head. Weasely/Granger confrontations were the least of his worries if Hermione Granger could barely remember the Boy Who Lived. That smacked of something sinister and terribly insidious.
With the Dark Lord long gone, there was only one person who could have done such a thing, especially if it was on the scale Snape was beginning to suspect. The one person in the world that everyone trusted to do the right, just, and honorable thing, even in hideous, trying times.
It sounded like Albus Dumbledore had a lot to answer for.
And, of course, he just had to be dead.
In the Wizarding World there are, of course, a few dozen ways to try to speak to the Dead. One or two of them are not even considered Dark Arts. If one has the native talent to do so, it is possible to wander around cemeteries and converse with those entombed there. With the right spells, one might be able to view recreations of past events and by doing so understand the motivations behind them. When one has blood and bone belonging to the deceased, it is possible to brew revelations.
Of course, Snape wasn't a gifted medium, despised the wand-waving needed for psychometric spells, and while he had more than enough skill to brew the appropriate potions, Albus had been adamant about being cremated and his ashes scattered throughout the grounds of Hogwarts.
On the other hand, he did have the obligatory snoozing Headmaster portrait of Dumbledore in his office.
For a moment, he studied the portrait that was placed above and behind the headmaster's desk. It was typical of Albus to have had the portrait painted while he was wearing magenta robes decorated with puce paisleys. It amazed him that portrait-Albus could sleep with that eye-blinding combination on. Snape snorted.
"Wake up, old man." He ignored the chorus of irritated jeers that came from the other Headmasters and waited for the portrait to gain a little bit of sense.
"Ahhh, Severus. Lemon drop?"
"Don't be ridiculous."
Albus shrugged and took one out of the tin in his hand. Somehow the artist had managed to capture that infuriating twinkle in the old man's eyes.
"What can I do for you, my boy? Isn't it a little early for you to be needing the help of the quietly dead?"
"It would be if I knew why the castle is demanding the return of one Harry Potter... and if the impudent brat's best friend had a notion of where he was. Or even who he was."
"Ah. Harry Potter. An intriguing problem, my old friend." The twinkle in Dumbledore's eyes faded as the portrait seemed to stare off somewhere in the middle distance. "I had not thought that it would begin so soon."
"That what would begin so soon?"
"You need to get him into the castle."
"Indubitably so, given the demand that the Castle itself is making upon me. What have you done?"
"What was necessary, but soon - you must find him, Severus."
"Where has he gone?"
"I don't know."
Snape scowled. Of course, it was entirely possible that this claim was true. Wizarding portraits of this type had the imprint of the personality of the one who had been painted and as such had a limited access to the knowledge that the sitter had held. Unfortunately, if Albus Dumbledore had not allowed this information to be available to his portrait, then short of a series of spells that involved an unreasonable amount of blood, there was little chance of retrieving the information.
"Damnation and Perdition! How am I supposed to deal with this?"
"Perhaps I left you a message about it?" That damned twinkle was back and Snape simply growled at the portrait. It was, of course, possible. After all, his desk was covered in approximately a half-ton of parchment and he had already found a variety of messages referring to some of the quirks of staff and of the castle.
"Perhaps you did -" There was a tap on his door. "Enter!"
"Headmaster?" Granger poked her head in the door, revealing that she had changed out of the casual muggle clothing he'd seen her in earlier and that she'd swept her hair up into a rather elegant chignon. "You were asking me earlier about Harry Potter? I thought you'd like to see this."
She handed him a creamy piece of parchment with the Hogwarts Seal at the top. He scanned the familiar words written in an easily recognizable, elegant hand. A Hogwarts Acceptance Letter written to one Harry Potter, #4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey.
A Hogwarts Acceptance Letter that was dated today.
He stared at it. "That's just about impossible."
"Perhaps he had a son?" She winced as he threw her one of his best scowls. Snape managed to school his expression with some difficulty. He doubted that there would be much point in mentioning that Harry Potter had not only been in her year, but in her House.
"Perhaps. I do know that the last time an acceptance letter went to that address, it was almost impossible for it to be delivered. I think that I will have to do the honors myself."
Granger's eyebrows lifted in surprise. "If you wish it hand delivered, Headmaster, I don't mind taking it. This address is in the Muggle world you realize."
At this, Snape smiled faintly. Hermione Granger had spirit. Perhaps he should put her name forward for Deputy Headmistress. As it was, he was certain that she would make an excellent Head of House, not that he had told her that she would be taking over for Minerva McGonagall yet.
"I am aware, Miss Granger. However, I think that in this case it would be most apropos for the new Headmaster of Hogwarts to bring this information to Harry Potter directly."
"As you wish, Headmaster." She frowned slightly. "I was wondering if you would mind if I took a couple of personal days, sir, to equip Robbie and spend some time in London."
"Miss Granger, I know that this will come as a shock after nearly five years of being co-workers, but if you would please call me Severus?"
"Yes, sir - I mean Severus. I never could get into the habit of calling the Headmaster Albus."
He laughed, ignoring the shock that registered in her eyes. "I know. I was never quite able to do it either. However, despite the fantasies I engaged in while you were in school, I find it strangely distressing for you to be quite so subservient. Even if you cannot find it in yourself to call me by name, even 'Professor' would be preferable."
"I - well, thank you. Severus." Her eyes smiled though her mouth hardly moved. "Ron is probably rolling in his grave, but... you may call me Hermione."
"Perhaps. I was not precisely one of his favorite people."
"Well, no. You were a sadistic bastard, if I may say so."
"Of course you may. I work very hard to be, you realize." Snape quirked an eyebrow as she smothered a grin. How very odd that she could recall that, but not that Harry Potter was one third of the unbreakable trio. "But that is neither here nor there. One thing, Miss Granger - Hermione - that I insist that you realize. The Wizarding World is not very progressive in many ways. The family values that most hold to, while admirable, are unaccountably unyielding. Despite the many unfavorable, cruel, and misguided things that have been said of you by people I know you cared for and trusted - you are a talented, competent, honest woman and I think you need to know that Albus Dumbledore was not the only person to see that."
For a moment she gaped at him, mouth moving and nothing coming out. Then her jaw snapped shut and there was a suspicious brightness in her eyes. Even after five years as a teacher at Hogwarts some of the staff and student body shunned her outside of formal situations.
"Thank you. Sir."
"You're very welcome, Miss Granger. As to your leave, I see no difficulty in that so long as the rest of the letters ready to go."
"Professor McGonnagal finished signing them and mentioned that she was glad that she would be retiring at the end of summer. I can't blame her. I'd never quite realized how much work it was, between the Acceptance Letters and the equipment lists. Which reminds me... there's a second letter to the same address - for a Bella Black."
"An embarrassment of riches, I see."
"Two magical children in a Muggle household? It must be quite frightening, really."
Snape remembering the madness of Bellatrix Black Lestrange nodded.
So it was that Severus Snape arrived at #4 Privet Drive precisely at six o'clock in the evening on July 31st. Hermione had theorized that it was fairly likely that the whole of the family might be home at such a time. Snape knocked on the door, feeling strangely uneasy about being in this odd, structured little neighborhood.
A childish soprano called out "I'll get it!"
There was a mild scuffle inside as a slightly deeper voice objected, "Bella! It's my turn! Agh!"
A pair of thuds echoed through the door and Snape moved back slightly, startled.
"Why don't I answer the door, instead?" asked a pleasant tenor and the door opened.
For a moment, no one spoke. Two pairs of emerald eyes, one young and one unimaginably old, stared at the man on the porch before the door slammed shut.
"Well. That indeed answers that question. The Boy-Who-Lived lives here." Snape wondered if he should feel relieved. He didn't.
The door opened again, slowly this time. The green-eyed man, appearing to be in perhaps is early twenties, stood in the doorway, frowning. "Professor Snape. How may I help you?"
"Mister Potter. How delightful it is to see you. May I come in?"
Potter frowned, running a hand through his eternally messy hair. "I don't think -"
"Not as a usual action, no. But I believe that we have a number of matters to discuss."
"Snape, no offense, but now is hardly a good time to talk."
"Have I come at a bad time?" Snape could see a mop of messy black hair over Potter's shoulder.
Green eyes flicked over him, distant pain reflecting briefly in his features. "It's... never mind. We were just about to have cake. Please, come in."
"I could return in an hour or so, if that would be more convenient. I do, however, need to speak to you. Headmaster Dumbledore died a couple of weeks ago."
"Oh." The green eyes glazed over for a moment. "That explains..."
"Coming, Harry! Why don't we bring the cake into the living room and we can share it with our guest."
"Evan James. Two Harry's would be a bit confusing, I should think." Potter managed a smile that failed to approach his eyes. "Harry, Bella - come out here and meet Professor Severus Snape."
"Headmaster Severus Snape." Snape slipped in smoothly, abruptly realizing that Potter did not know.
"Headmaster? Congratulations." Potter's smile was genuine. "So, come greet Headmaster Snape. He's in charge of Hogwarts, where I expect the two of you have been accepted."
"Hi." The small, black-haired boy moved in front of the smaller girl and then held out his hand. "I'm Harry Potter. This is my cousin, Bellatrix, but we call her Bella."
The girl bobbed a tiny curtsey, but did not approach her dark eyes watchful.
"I am pleased to meet you. Both of you."
"Please sit. I will be back in a moment. Would you care for anything to drink?"
"No, thank you." Snape avoided the beverages of the Muggle world, as they had a tendency to put the most appalling things in them.
"I'll bring out the cake, then."
The children stared at him, eyes bright with curiosity. He ignored the discourtesy for the moment, knowing that he hadn't the comforting aura that Albus Dumbledore projected. It was much more difficult to ignore the lithe form that wended its way effortlessly into the back of the house.
The boy hadn't changed much since the final battle. The contained power and unnatural grace he had developed both on and off the quidditch pitch was still enough to send spikes of arousal through anyone above the age of puberty and of the proper inclination.
By rights, the young man should be the toast of the Wizarding world. Why was he living here, in Muggle obscurity?
"Who wants some cake?" Oh, that tenor was smooth, like toffee and caramel.
"Me!" "Me!" The childish chorus rang and Snape looked down at the two impossibilities standing by the-Boy-Who-Lived's side. Two pairs of eyes, black and green, stared up at the young man in adoration. Surprisingly long-fingered hands cut small slices of cake and placed them on thin porcelain plates and were accepted with rather more grace than the demand for cake.
"Evan?" A strangely resigned entreaty shone in child-Potter's eyes.
"No, Harry." Old emerald eyes met young, defiant ones and the younger Harry Potter backed down. "Harry, Bella - why don't you take your cake out to the back yard?"
He watched as Harry - Evan? - took the hugs generously bestowed upon him before the children went outside, and frowned slightly as he examined the younger man again. There was no doubt in his mind that this was Harry Potter. At least, it was his Harry Potter. But there was something about him that was not quite right. His face was too young, his eyes too old. He looked impossibly like the Harry Potter that had stood beside a storming sea, calling ice and fire down from the heavens.
He did not appear to have aged even a day from the time he defeated Voldemort. Even allowing for the slow aging of wizards, a decade and more should have shown on his face.
"So." Solemn green eyes looked up. "I assume you're here for a reason."
Snape leaned back slightly, steepling his fingers. "Ostensibly, it was to deliver acceptance letters to one Bella Black and one Harry Potter. You might understand why the names caused a certain consternation."
"Mr. Potter -"
"James. I don't use Potter."
"I am hardly going to call you James, Mr. Potter."
"No, I suppose you couldn't. Call me Evan, then, Professor, because I don't answer to Potter."
The younger man sighed. "Can't you just accept that I have changed my name and gotten on with my life, Professor? It would be hideously confusing for there to be two Harry Potters, so I decided that there would not be."
"Mr.-Evan, you have yet to explain why there are two of you in the first place."
"That's rather a long involved story, Snape. And one that Dumbledore knew all of the specifics of. Can't you trust that?"
Potter looked started by the flat negation.
"Beyond the fact that I myself am not satisfied without the information, surely there will be others who will be disturbed by the fact that the next school year will begin the education of one Harold James Potter and his cousin Bellatrix Selena Black. "
"Hmmm. Actually, they won't be. The Wizarding world doesn't remember me." Potter - James! - stood and moved over to the window. "What do you remember about the final battle, Professor?"
"What kind of idiot question is that?"
"An honest one. I have not had the opportunity to ask anyone that."
"Of all the ridiculous things -"
"Very well. It was mid-February, as I recall."
Evan laughed, darkly. "Valentine's Day, Snape. The evil, old bastard attacked on Valentines Day."
Snape felt a distant surprise, the kind that comes from being reminded of something that he already knew. After all, the Call had come during the Valentine Feast, the precursor to the Ball that one of the other professors had wheedled Dumbledore into allowing.
"Yes. Valentine's Day, a day for lovers. The Dark Lord enjoyed the irony of battle on a day that had come to be dedicated to the expression of love. He said he'd found a way to bring the wards down, to draw you out of the castle."
"You don't remember what he used, do you?" Those bewitching green eyes were dark with something Snape couldn't quite identify. "I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. It really did take everything."
"What took everything?"
"Did you know that you can't kill something that isn't alive?"
Snape blinked at the non sequitur. "What?"
"You can't kill something that isn't alive."
"It seems like that is something that rather goes without saying, Potter."
"James. Or Evan."
"Evan. I fail to see the relevance of your statement."
"It was something that I became curious about, seventh year. How do you kill someone who isn't really alive? A being that is embodied can have the body destroyed, but we already knew that eliminating Voldemort's physical form didn't seem to be terribly effective. It seemed obvious to me that no matter what one tried to do to his physical form, his spirit would continue on to try again."
"Not an unreasonable hypothesis, I suppose."
"Then I thought about Trelawny's prophecy. It's very odd to me that someone would say 'Neither can live while the other survives.'" Harry shrugged. "I thought, 'I'm alive, right?' But it made me think."
Snape stared at him in dawning horror. "You can't be implying -"
"I see that you caught on faster than I did." Harry's smile was bitter. "I asked Dumbledore about it, and he told me not to worry. It didn't matter."
"It didn't matter?" He'd felt stirrings of lust for... Merlin! "What was he thinking?"
"That it gave his tool an unexpected edge. It's amusing, isn't it, how no one really questioned how a fifteen-month-old baby could survive the Killing Curse. Dumbledore announces that my mother's love saved me and people accept it at face value."
"But -" Snape stopped, unsure what to say. "In the end, I do remember Darkness and Light."
Evan nodded. "The feel and spray of the sea in winter. Voldemort chose his bait wisely. The Death Eaters attacked the school when the Great Ward went down, but he himself - he wanted me to come alone. I did, of course, because one of the things I learned in all of the research into life and death magic, I realized that Voldemort had one, enormous weakness."
"And what was that?"
"Dark Magic. Everything he was, spirit, body, and mind, was held together with Dark Magic. If it could be purged from him, if it could be nullified, he would be forced to let go of the world."
Snape nodded, thinking. Strangely, his memory of that event became utterly clear. He could smell the sea and sand; feel the spray and pain of the injuries inflicted upon him. Voldemort standing upon a think basalt slab and Potter seeming to kneel in supplication. He never heard the incantation, but the results had been immediate and shocking as something was ripped from him, through the Dark Mark. Voldemort, writhing in pain and screaming his rage to skies that had grown dark with a whirling mass of Dark energy.
"I used the link between us, and I pulled it from him. I ripped the tentacles of his hatred from every being he'd ever touched, ever influenced. I grabbed it and held it and refused to give it back, even as the body he built from my blood and his father's bones and Pettigrew's flesh fell apart. I listened to him scream as every curse he'd ever cast ripped through him to pool above us."
"Hmmm." Snape considered this. It explained quite a few things that had puzzled him as they had re-built the world they lived in. Many of the Death Eaters had died in the Battle for Hogwarts, but of those who survived, some very odd things had happened. Lucius Malfoy had been killed outright by some kind of magical drain, but Narcissa Malfoy had been returned to the age of a teenager. Longbottom's parents had abruptly returned to sanity and no one really understood why. He himself had... de-aged?... some eight or so years, but it had always been unclear to him why that should have happened.
"You did more than pull his magic."
Evan shook his head. "The results were unpredictable - in some cases removing Voldemort's magic simply returned the victim to the state he or she was in when they first encountered it. In some cases it killed, because the victims own magic was so intertwined with Voldemort's that they could not survive without it. For example, Bellatrix Black Lestrange was marked when she was an infant, a sacrifice to the rising Dark Lord. Removing his influence from her returned her to the condition she was in when it started... it left her a baby. Removing his influence from you... You gained back some of the years that he took from you. Unlike Malfoy, you never allowed yourself to become dependent upon Voldemort's darkness."
"If what you say is true, Malfoy should have known that Voldemort was... well, not quite dead."
"Yes. And it's the reason behind his anger at the Death Eaters who were not true to him, who didn't come find him. They knew he continued to exist because without him, their lives would have ended also."
Snape shuddered. "How did you neutralize his magic?"
"Love. In varying degrees, most of the Wizarding world loved Harry Potter. Nearly all of it was superficial and fickle, but even when they thought me a selfish glory-hound, they generally appreciated the deliverance promised the by the Boy-Who-Lived. It was the largest source of pure, Light energy that was available." Sadness chased across his features for a moment. "So I used it."
"Merlin." It was a good thing that he was sitting down. "You deliberately took and destroyed the love that others bore for you."
"Yes. Or, I took all of it that I could reach. Some people were very stubborn about giving me up."
"Yes, Dumbledore was one, although his love for me was not all that deep. He appreciated me much as a man might appreciate a fine tool, but it didn't go much farther than that. It was fortunate that I already knew that before casting the spell."
"If it was so shallow, why did he refuse to give it up?"
"Because someone has to love me in order for me to live."
So simple, so matter of fact.
"Long ago," said Evan in a singsong, "There was a young girl who received a letter from a strange and marvelous school. This letter told her that she was a witch, which was almost as good as being a princess! Not that she really wanted to be a princess, because that was her older sister's job, being the princess who went shopping and sewed and bowed to every whim of their mother's. No, it was much better to be a witch. So this young witch went to the marvelous school and learned many interesting things. She also met an interesting boy, a boy so interesting that she married him right after graduating.
"But all did not go smoothly for the young witch, who was essentially disowned by the princess after their parents deaths. Though she was in love with her husband and he with her, there was an evil, Dark Lord on the loose, and both she and he believed in fighting the Dark Lord and his minions. Still, there was time for private affairs, and soon enough she fell pregnant with twins.
"No one knew that she was pregnant with twins, because something inside of her was certain that she should not tell. She had taken Divination while at the marvelous school, and while she thought it was mostly a foolish thing, she had to admit that she could see signs and omens, things that filled her with dread. So she performed a charm, an ancient enchantment designed to further the lifespans of witches and make life easier for a family. One of her babies was banished to a stasis womb, allowing her to bear only one child at a time, and to give each one the greatest survival chance possible. This child she named Harold James Potter. The child that she intended to carry to term was named Clayton Evans Potter.
"But something went wrong. The evil spread by the Dark Lord had begun to infect the ranks of the light, in small ways and in large ones. The Death Eaters had found her and her husband. She had been hexed in the ensuing battle and gone into labor. Her infant son was stillborn just at the stroke of midnight at the end of July."
"But you're not dead."
"Lily Evans Potter was driven more than slightly mad by the death of her firstborn, Professor Snape. She obliviated the midwife and used her own blood and tears to create, for most intents and purposes, a golem. The infant she put to breast was little more than a reanimated body infused with the single-minded love of a madwoman. Without that love, the little golem would have withered to nothing, eventually."
"Golems can't perform magic, Evan."
"No. But you can't kill that which does not live."
"What are you gibbering on about."
"I wasn't what anyone could have considered truly alive until Voldemort tried to kill me. You can't kill that which is not alive. You can, however, put most of your life force into a spell designed to murder a living being and have that being suck it away from you. In fact, you can do that and have the object literally rip part of your soul out."
"The annihilation of Voldemort."
"Basically, you're saying that you were ensouled by the Killing Curse."
"That is insane, Potter."
"James. Or Evan."
"You are Harry Potter!"
The boy smiled. "Does it matter?"
"Of course it matters, you foolish boy." He didn't quite understand his own determination about the issue.
The young man turned fully toward him. "I'm not a boy, Snape."
The words echoed in his head like a drum.
I'm not a boy, Snape.
He stared at Evan-Harry?-Evan and shook his head slightly.
"'m not a boy." Hot breath on his cheek. Moist lips caressing the shell of his ear. "Professor."
"We could die tomorrow." Snape breathed the words in time with his memory. He stared at Evan, at the lean, lithe body. "You said that to me."
Evan nodded. "Yes."
"What did the Dark Lord use to lure you?" Not that he didn't know the answer to that question, he could feel the edges of a memory-spell dissipate.
"Take me. I want to remember this when I die."
"You knew. The night before."
"I knew he was coming. I knew what I was going to do."
"You're a student, Potter. I'm not allowed to touch you."
"Do you want to touch me?"
"You thought you would die."
"I need love to survive, Professor. I wasn't expecting anyone to be so tenacious in holding on to it."
The heat of a lean body burning through his robes. It was astonishing that they did not spontaneously combust. "I cannot -"
An eager hand wrapping around his cloth-bound length. Merlin! "I'm Harry Potter. I break all the rules. Break them with me for a change."
A mouth, sweeter than it looked and more demanding than he had ever experienced.
"Take me. I want to remember this when I die."
Severus could smell the musk of Harry-Evan?-Harry's rising desire, and could see the resignation in his eyes. "You took it."
"No. It was what kept me tied to this body. Your love."
"I didn't remember."
"Dumbledore." Evan shrugged. "The death of Voldemort triggered the stasis womb, allowing Harry to develop. More than that, Bellatrix and one or two other Death Eaters had been found as infants or children on the field of battle. As her closest 'living' adult relative, I took her in."
"I could have helped you."
"I - I had hoped you would, but you were injured. Then you didn't come and Dumbledore somehow managed to acquire this house and re-Ward it. I couldn't live there, with everyone -" Gone, Snape thought. Or oblivious to his existence. "I came back to the school briefly, to take the NEWTs. But... you didn't recognize me, like everyone else. So I thought what I'd felt was wrong. That it had rid you of whatever you felt for me."
"A memory charm."
"Perhaps. I don't know. We've been quite isolated, really. This place has been under the Fidelius Charm, with the Headmaster as our Secret Keeper."
Snape considered that. "I see. Do you think you will need a new one?"
"I don't know. I've never been sure why Dumbledore put us under the charm in the first place."
Snape nodded. That was fairly typical of Dumbledore. "Come back with me."
"Come back to Hogwarts."
"You must be insane. Hogwarts is hardly a hotel."
"No, but we are in need of several new teachers. Unless I'm mistaken, you were extraordinarily good with Charms and equally good in Transfiguration. Minerva is retiring by the end of the summer and Flitwick is retiring at the end of this year."
"You are insane. No one wants a golem teaching their children."
"Evan, no one will know."
"They will find out. It's worse than lycanthropy. No one wants to have a soulless monster teaching their children."
"You are not a soulless monster!" A small, black-haired body threw itself across the room to attach itself to his waist. "You're not!"
"Just 'cause mama made you different than she made me..."
"I love you, Evan. I don't love soulless people!"
Snape found himself laughing. The bewildered look on Evan's face was priceless.
"A difference that makes no difference is no difference." The light soprano from the hall caused Snape to turn. "We keep telling you, Evan. You're more than human enough for us. We love you."
"Come to Hogwarts." Snape could remember the feel of Evan in his arms. Could remember one night where he had allowed himself to know it. Knew what the aching chambers in his heart were. "Voldemort's gone. Doesn't that mean it's time for you to live?"
"Perhaps it is."
I'm thinking that this may need a sequel.
As to why it's the Mathematician's Premise: A difference that makes no difference is no difference. Basically this is a reference to the Turing Test of whether or not a machine can be considered intelligent. If an interrogator can't tell the difference between the machine and a human, then there is no difference between them.