Turning Time

BOOK-LENGTH, MARAUDERS'-ERA! After the Second Wizarding War, Harry Potter struggles to shake his past. The deaths haunt him. His friends, and the family he has made for himself, have changed. And he now knows the truth about Severus.
Ginny offers him a solution. He has the opportunity to travel back to the 70s, meet his parents, get closure. However, things aren't that simple.
What will Harry change in his past, both intentionally and on accident? Will his father like him?
Can he prevent everyone from discovering the secret behind his blue-eyed, light-haired disguise?
Harry finds out how time will turn for Severus and if the lost boy has a chance of being happy and finding love.
**Cover art designed using gimp.

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17. Albus Dumbledore

The Hogwarts Express gleamed scarlet on September 1st, 1975. Harry walked down the train’s aisle, looking into the compartments. He found Lily and Severus sitting in a compartment in the middle of the train, and when Harry slid the door open, they were laughing. Or, rather, Severus was at least smiling.

 

    “Oh, Jacob, hi!” Lily stood and hugged him.

 

    “Y’know, I did see you a week ago.”

 

    Lily let go, embarrassed. “Yeah, still.”

 

    Over the summer, Harry saw Severus and Lily three times a week. He watched their relationship change, sort of like a flip book — each time he saw them, they were an adjusted image on an entirely new page. Even though Severus and Lily were still just friends, Harry felt out of place when he was around the two. He knew they wanted him around, but he had to try hard to convince himself to stay, because he felt they’d be happier without him there.

 

    “We should probably head over to the prefect’s carriage,” Harry said to Lily.

 

    Along with their school letters, Harry and Lily received prefect badges. The owl delivering the news went to Lily’s house, but it couldn’t find Harry’s home. It had circled overhead Severus, Lily, and Harry for an hour before Lily happened to say “Jacob”, which confirmed Harry’s identity. None of the three had given the bird much thought until it swooped down and dropped the letter in front of Harry.

 

    This was a definite change — Harry knew that Remus had been prefect in his timeline, and now Harry had been chosen instead. Oddly enough, this struck a chord in Harry. Dumbledore had chosen Ron and Hermione instead of him in his fifth year, so it was almost like Dumbledore was compensating for his decision.

 

    “Let’s wait until Raven gets here,” Lily replied. 

 

    A few minutes later, Raven arrived. They helped her put her things on the shelf over their heads.

 

    “It’s been so long,” she said, then hugged each of them.

 

    “Hello, Raven.” Remus had appeared in the doorway.

 

    “Remus!” Raven wrapped her arms around him, and they stood like that for a moment before she kissed him.

 

    Remus had reached his adult height, like many of the other fifth year students. His hair, grazing the nape of his neck where Raven held him, was as long as Severus’.

 

    Lily and Severus had looked away, both different shades of pink.

 

    “Long time no see,” Raven said when they parted.

 

    Remus glanced at the others, noticing their awkwardness. He cleared his throat. “I wish I could stay, but James would want me to be with them.” Remus kissed Raven again. “I’ll see you round, okay?”

 

    Harry was surprised at the tone in Remus’ voice. It was clear that Remus didn’t feel any sort of obligation or annoyance at being with Raven; it was genuine desire. Remus left the compartment.

 

    “How were your summers?” Raven asked, sitting next to Lily.

 

    Lily glanced at Severus, smiling a little. “Good, yours?”

 

    Raven looked between the two, as though waiting for them to explain the story behind the look they exchanged. The two didn’t get the hint, so Raven replied, “My summer was fine. I got out more, since my parents were away most days.”

 

    Harry checked his watch. “We should probably get to the prefect’s carriage.”

 

    “Oh, okay.” Lily got up.

 

    “Oh, so you two are prefects? Congratulations!”

 

    “Thank you!” Lily gathered her things. “See you when we get to the school.” She and Harry left the compartment.

 

    The prefects’ compartment was filled with vaguely self-righteous, conceited chatter. The only group to be polarized from the others was the Slytherins, who stayed in the corner, backs straight, clearly aware of the divide between themselves and the others. They pretended as though it didn’t bother them, but Harry saw through their pride with an amount of empathy that caught himself off-guard. 

 

    As the war progressed, Harry had noticed, the fractures in the school system deepened. He hoped the houses wouldn’t fall back into their old fighting habit.

 

+++

 

    Teachers loaded the fifth years with homework right away. Fortunately, The O.W.L.s weren’t much of a threat to the Quidditch team, since James and Harry both didn’t need to study much and because they were the only fifth years on the team. Still, it was enough to limit the antics of the Marauders and the Slytherins.

 

    It made sense, then, that the chill of December came as a relief to the students, who were anxious to be off school.

 

    Lily invited Raven, Severus, and Harry to her house for the holidays; of course they accepted.

 

    Severus, who had not been concerned about gifts the previous year, set to work at making things for the others. Harry, too, felt happier than ever at this time of the year; wholeheartedly appreciating the towering fir trees Hagrid brought from the Forbidden Forest and the new holiday dishes at supper. He even appreciated Peeves’ out-of-tune, rude renditions of Christmas songs.

 

    Time was pulled out from beneath them, and soon, Lily, Severus, Raven, and Harry were on the Hogwarts Express.

 

    Mr. Evans was waiting for them as they got off the train. The four piled their on a cart and rolled it over. Lily ran and hugged her father before anyone spoke.

 

    Harry noticed Severus was now taller than Mr. Evans, though this was due in part from Severus’ improved posture.

 

    “Evening, everyone.” Mr. Evans shook their hands, eyes almost narrowed when he made eye contact with the boys. “Your mother had to stay behind to get the dog from the vet,” Mr. Evans explained to Lily as they left the station and headed toward the parking lot.

 

    “You have a dog?” Severus asked. He seemed offended that she hadn’t told him.

 

    “They got him while I was away, but I got to name him. So I chose Harry.”

 

    Severus and Harry glanced at each other. Raven also looked at Harry, but she hadn’t been in James’ tent when James had asked what Lily’d want to name her kids.

 

    Mr. Evans warmed up to the boys on the car ride, as if in sync to the car’s heating. He had, as it turned out, an endless reservoir of questions about life at Hogwarts.

 

    Harry had the sense — perhaps due to aging three years (in Mr. Evans’ eyes) since the last time they’d gone to Lily’s — that Mr. Evans was more wary of him. This also seemed to be the case with Severus, but it was still hard to tell.

 

    The Evans had hung a Christmas wreath on their front door. As the group stepped inside, they were overpowered by the scent of sugar cookies.

 

    “Lily!” Mrs. Evans took of her oven mitt and hugged her daughter. She then pulled away and looked over the group. “You all have grown so much!” She hugged each of them in turn. “Though, you’re still twigs,” she told the boys. “And Severus, you’re already taller than Grandpa Ross, who was the tallest person on my side of the family. Not really a hard title to have, though. But Jacob, you fit right in as an Evans. Is your family all short, too? Oh, don’t worry, dear, you’ll get a growth spurt soon, I bet. Oh! Hang on — the second batch is nearly done.” 

 

    She peered into the oven. “They need a few more minutes. Oh, hello, girls.” Petunia and another girl her age had just ran down the stairs, laughing.


    “Hello,” the other girl said. Petunia had frozen, staring at Harry. He looked away.

 

    “This is Rebecca,” Lily said. “This is Raven, Severus, and Jacob.” Lily gestured to them.

 

    “Oh, you’re Jacob!” Rebecca turned to Petunia, who turned red and pulled her back up the stairs.

 

    After her mother turned away to put on some tea, Lily whispered, “Don’t mind them. They’ll be up in their room mostly. Just don’t try to tick her off. She could blackmail me.”

 

    “Why’s that?” Raven asked.

 

    “I let Severus stay over a few summers ago when he ran away from home.”

 

    “Oh. But surely they’d understand, wouldn’t they?”

 

    Lily hesitated, then explained, voice even quieter, “Well, we were sharing the bed, I don’t think they’d understand that.”

 

    Raven blinked. “Oh.” She glanced at Severus, whose cheeks were pink. He was all too aware that Raven knew how he felt about Lily.

 

    Mrs. Evans turned off the water, adjusted the stove, then approached them. “Let me show you where you’re staying.”

 

    It was the same as second year; boys in the basement, girls upstairs.

 

    “Be in bed by eleven — but you’ll be so tired, I don’t see that as a problem. And Lily, may I speak with you?”

 

    “Sure.” 

 

    Mrs. Evans spoke two rooms over, but it was loud enough for the others to get a gist of the conversation. “...I don’t want any messing around...catch you with...they won’t be allowed over again...clear?”

 

    They pretended not to have heard when Lily returned in a huff. “What does she think we’ll be doing? We’re fifteen, for God’s sake. And neither of you are pigs like James.”

 

    Severus, though still taken aback by Mrs. Evans’ concern, smirked.

 

    The oven timer rang.

 

    “That’ll be the cookies!” Mrs. Evans ran into the kitchen.

 

    “It’s okay, I have it,” Lily said, opening the oven.

 

    “Are you sure?”

 

    “I’m sure.” Lily pushed past her mother with the batch of cookies.

 

    “Well, call if you need anything.” Mrs. Evans untied her apron, hung it up, and left, with an uncomfortable silence in her wake. Lily had seemed to get along with her family when they last stayed over.

 

    The four set up Christmas decorations around the house while they waited for the chocolate pecan cookies to cool.

 

    “The cookies are from an American recipe,” Lily said, pouring hot chocolate into Christmas mugs. “Here you are…” She handed them their plates and they sat down at the dining table.


    Severus ate five cookies, more than any of the others, as though he’d suffered from the same starvation as he used to experience over the summer.

 

    “Sev, you’ve got some chocolate on your face,” Lily said after setting their dishes in the sink. Severus tried to study his reflection in the tiny mirror on the fridge.

 

    “Hang on. I got it.” Lily wetted a paper towel with hot water and wiped his face.

 

    Harry glanced at them from the edge of the kitchen, flashing back to when they ate ice cream in Diagon Alley several years ago.

 

    Mr. Evans walked in. “Hey, what —!” Then he realized that they weren’t doing anything. “Oh, apologies, I thought —”

 

    “What did you think, Dad?” Lily brushed by him and threw away the paper towel. “What is it with you two? I only see you once or twice during the school year and you watch over me like a hawk! I love you, of course I do, but I’m fifteen and I don’t need you babying me.”

 

    Mr. Evans put up his hands in surrender. “Alright Lily, I understand. I’ll talk with your mother.” Still, he eyed Severus before leaving.

 

    Lily sighed and turned to the others. “Severus — and Jacob — they’ll get more used to this in a couple days. It’s just that, after James, they’re suspicious of me and boys, especially because I think they worked it out that it ended badly. They wouldn’t have let you over if they didn’t already know you. But don’t worry about it; let’s just get settled.”

 

    Severus and Harry unpacked their things downstairs.

 

    After a few minutes, Severus stopped what he was doing and said, “Her parents don’t like me.”

 

    “Sure they do.”

 

    “James, stop —” Severus caught himself. “I mean Harry…You don’t have to lie.” He continued to stow his clothes in the dresser.

 

    “Do you understand why they...well, you know.”

 

    “Lily tried to explain, but...” Severus kept his head down, as though bracing himself.

 

    “They think you’re replacing James. At least, they think you two fancy each other.”

 

    Severus turned toward Harry. “What? I — how could they…” A bigger question hit him. “Why do they think she fancies me?”

 

    “Look, I wouldn’t get your hopes up —”

 

    “I know,” Severus interrupted through his teeth. “You don’t have to tell me she really doesn’t.”

 

    “...Lily’s generally a, well, overtly kind and perhaps flirtatious person.”

 

    “Why don’t they hate you, then?”

 

    “Maybe Lily doesn’t act the same way around—”

 

    “Sure, that’s part of it, but maybe it’s because you’re better looking. And less…odd.”

 

    Harry furrowed his brow. “Better looking? I look like James, don’t I?”

 

    “Yeah. If he looked like I do, she wouldn’t have been with him.”

 

    “Severus, you’re going to be miserable if you keep thinking like that.”

 

    “But you don’t deny —”

 

    “She wouldn’t like James for his looks, just like she wouldn’t dislike you for yours.”

 

    “So you’re saying she doesn’t care that I’m ugly.”

 

    Harry bristled. “How the hell should I know?”

 

    They both fell silent for a time.

 

    Then Harry said, “Just be respectful to her parents and they’ll warm up to you. Don’t think about it so much.”

 

    The conversation was dropped. Lily called from the top of the stairs, “Are you two decent?”

 

    “You’re saying we should we change into our pyjamas, then?”

 

    “Yeah, then come upstairs to my bedroom. Oh, and there’s tea if you want it.”

 

    The two boys changed, facing away from each other. They went to the kitchen upstairs and had the tea that was set out for them. Then Severus and Harry went up another flight to Lily’s bedroom.

 

    Before opening the door, they heard, “...it makes sense, I mean, you fancy Severus, don’t you?”

 

    Raven had asked this, her voice just loud enough to make out.

 

    “What makes you think that?”

 

    Harry, sensing an opportunity for Severus to be upset, signaled him to go into the room. Severus ignored him. Lily, after a pause, continued, “No, I don’t, not at all.”

 

    “It’s okay, you can tell me.”

 

    “I don’t! I’d tell you if I did, I promise.” Then she was quiet. Harry was about to knock on the door when Lily continued. “He’s like a brother to me...no, not even that...he’s just a good friend, and I honestly can’t imagine being together. At all. I mean, he’s not really the sort of person you’d imagine —”

 

    Harry knocked on the door. “Come in,” Lily said.

 

    Severus’ face burned red, but otherwise there was no sign that he’d overheard.

 

    The two girls sat on Lily’s bed, Raven in a white vest top and fleece pants, Lily in pyjama shorts and a button-up top. They had already finished their tea and set the cups down on her dresser.

 

    “So what do you want to do?” Lily asked. The memory of playing Truth or Dare hung between them, but it seemed out of place to suggest.

 

    “We could just talk,” Severus said.

 

    “Sure.” Lily uncrossed her legs and leaned back, stifling a yawn. She rested her head on Raven’s shoulder. “What should we talk about?”

 

    Severus’ eyes moved from Lily’s legs to her eyes, and he shrugged.

 

    “How about...the delicious cookies you made tonight,” Harry suggested.

 

    Lily laughed. “I’m glad you liked them. But we would’ve had twice as many if you all hadn’t eaten so much dough.”

 

    “I’m innocent,” Raven said, holding up her hands.

 

    “You’re right, it was all Jacob.” They exchanged a smile, then something caught Harry’s eye.

 

    “When’s that picture from?” He pointed at the frame on her dresser. The landscape in the picture was familiar, somehow.

 

    Lily lifted her head to look. “Oh, my mum must’ve put that there while I was away. Well, we used to go on family trips. That’s from the Forest of Dean. I was eight.”

 

    “Why don’t you go on trips anymore?” Raven asked.

 

    “Things are different now. Isn’t it like that with your families?”

 

    “Yeah. My parents let me alone for the most part. And with the War and all, they have less time.”

    Severus’ eyes narrowed slightly. “Whose side are they on?”

 

    They all looked at Raven.

 

    Raven cleared her throat. “They’re more conflicted than they let on. But… You-Know-Who’s side is more appealing. We never really talk about it, as a family, I mean. And with you all, I didn’t — I didn’t bring it up before because I’m ashamed of them. And I know they care about me, but only the version of myself that could’ve been in Slytherin. They don’t look at all of me. I don’t know how to explain it — maybe you can relate — but they ignore who I am when they’re mad; they just look at the choices I’ve made that they don’t like, and when they’re nice to me, they ignore my choices. They pretend that nothing has changed about me since first year, when I stopped studying the Dark Arts.”

 

    The others processed this. Finally, Lily said, “I think I understand. In the reverse sense, at least. My parents often complain that they can’t tell anyone I’m a witch. Hogwarts, and magic, that’s all they care to know about my life when they write.” She paused and pulled a piece of lint off of her shorts. “And you saw how they treated you all. My life has become their source of entertainment. Well, something they can focus on to distract themselves from work, and whatever else.” Lily fidgeted under everyone’s gaze. “What about you, Jacob?”

 

    “Er…” He recalled how it used to be with the Dursleys. “They — my parents — don’t like magic. They’re afraid of it. They make it clear that I’m not wanted.” Harry noticed Lily’s expression of concern. “But, yeah, in the end, they cared — I mean, they care about me. I suppose, it’s like not appreciating something that’s constantly around you, to point that the person’s a bother, but when there’s a chance for them to be gone, you realize how important they are.” Harry rarely talked about his family with Lily. It felt more real than usual, this time.

 

    “Now you’d be wanting me to say something, right?” Severus’ tone was blunt, his eyes locked on the rug. “You’ve already heard all of it.” Severus sipped his tea, signaling the end of the discussion.

 

    The other three fell silent. Harry knew that he needn’t feel bad for inventing problems, especially when he knew the most about Severus’ home life. The two girls, however, seemed to realize their family issues were more trivial than Severus’. 

 

    Lily lit up. “Hang on. I thought of something we could do! It’s a Muggle game that my sister played at one of her friends’ birthday parties. It’s called Spin the Bottle.”

 

    Harry flashed back to the summer before his fifth year in the original timeline. Dudley was having a belated birthday party; belated because the family (minus Harry) had taken a trip to France for the initial celebration. Vernon and Petunia agreed to leave Dudley alone in the house until midnight after he whined about privacy. Harry stayed upstairs in his room until he realized Vernon had told him to take the trash out. He snuck downstairs, making as little noise as possible, though Dudley and his friends were being loud enough to cover his tracks. The group had moved furniture and sat on the carpet, a bottle spinning between them. The most memorable, albeit frightening, image that arose was of Dudley slobbering on a girl who would later be his girlfriend (for a week).

 

    “No, I don’t think there’s enough people,” Harry said, shuddering.

 

    “Oh. Yeah, that’s true. It was just a thought.”

 

    “How do you play?” Severus asked.

 

    Before Lily could respond, Harry cut in, “Doesn’t matter. But we don’t need to play a game, talking’s fine.”

 

    Severus raised his eyebrows at Harry, suspicious, but they moved on.

 

    Lily now seemed intent on avoiding serious subjects. “Oo, okay, so if you had to date anyone at school, who would it be?” She looked at Harry.

 

    “I dunno.” Harry frowned. “Violetta.”

 

    Lily blinked. “Isn’t she a little too old for you? And besides, she’s doesn’t go to Hogwarts anymore.”

 

    “Fine. Florence, then.”

 

    Lily remained skeptical, but didn’t push the subject.

 

    “What about you, Lily?” Raven asked, trying to sound teasing. There was an audible forcefulness in her voice.

 

    Lily glanced at Severus. “God, I dunno. Er, there’s this Ravenclaw in Potions —”

 

    “Who?” Severus glared, more frustrated than upset.

 

    “Jonathan Myrad.” Jonathan was different from James and Severus; soft-spoken, generally kind, and not particularly clever.

 

    “What do you see in him?”

 

    “It’s not that I like him, but I had to choose someone. And, well, he’s handsome.”

 

    Raven, watching her expression, nodded. “He is.”

 

    Severus scoffed. “So you only like him for his looks?”

 

    “I already said I don’t like him. It’s just that if I had to choose, and I don’t like anyone, then…”

 

    “But that’s what matters to you.”

 

    Lily drew herself up. “No, it’s not. Leave it alone, will you? It was a silly question. Meaningless, really. And besides, you can only pretend looks don’t matter, because it has to, at least a little. Don’t act like you’re an exception.”

 

    Harry knew Severus wanted to continue arguing, but Severus had realized, perhaps, as he stared at Lily, that she was right. His were sharp with a counterargument just out of his grasp. Severus’ intensity made Lily blush, and she averted her eyes.

 

    “I’m going to get water from the tap. Anybody want something?”

 

    The three shook their heads.

 

    When Lily’s footsteps had faded, Raven spoke up. “It doesn’t matter to her anymore, you know.”

 

    Severus snorted. “Alright.”

 

    “It’s true. I can tell.”

 

    “Oh, can you?” Severus studied his hands, distancing himself.

 

    “I can tell that she —” Raven stopped herself. Severus, hopeful, met her gaze. “She wouldn’t befriend someone she only notices for looks, so obviously it doesn’t matter. She talks to you, though —”

 

    “So you’re saying I’m —”

 

    “Which means you’ll always mean more to her. And look, I don’t know why you still believe you aren’t good-looking — you’ve got beautiful eyes, you know —” She fidgeted, but kept looking at him, and continued, “And there’s not much to compete against at our school, take Lockhart, for example —”

 

    “Thanks,” Severus said, stopping Raven mid-sentence.

 

    Raven blushed and nodded. He gave her a small smile to tell her he meant it.

 

    Lily came in, shutting the door behind her. “Sorry, I had to let Harry go outside.”

 

    Severus fumbled with an apology. “Look, earlier, I didn’t mean to —”

 

    “It’s okay.” Lily sat down. “You know, I just admired Jonathan from afar, I know there’s more to him than what I said. But, when I was with James, I don’t think he saw much beyond what...he could just look at.”

 

    It was clear she’d been thinking of what to say, but Harry didn’t believe what she’d said was true; it was just her way to understand their relationship. He knew there was more to it than that.

 

    “How about you, Severus? Anyone in the school, who would you pick?” Lily asked.

 

    Severus raised his head and studied her. Lily’s brow furrowed almost imperceptibly, as though considering that he might choose her. Then he replied, “Professor McGonagall, most likely.”

 

    Raven, still tense, smirked. “You’re not serious, I hope?” Severus hid a grin as the others laughed.

 

    “I didn’t know we could choose professors,” Harry complained. “In that case, Grubbly-Plank, definitely.”

 

    Lily nodded in agreement. “Right, Violetta is too old, but Grubbly-Plank is fair game.”

 

    Severus was relieved that the topic of who he fancied was dropped.

 

+++

 

    Lily padded down the stairs in a dress and tights, holding a stack of records. “Okay, I’ve got the Jackson 5 Christmas Album, this one’s just called A Christmas Album — that’s Barbra Streisand, and here’s Elvis’ Christmas Album.”

 

    Severus shrugged, but Lily looked to Harry, the only other supposed Muggleborn.

 

    “Jackson 5,” Harry suggested.

 

    “Jackson 5 it is.” Lily put it on the record player and set the needle on the record.

 

    As soon as it started playing, Lily grinned. She turned and took Severus’ hand, and they started to dance.

 

    Harry and Raven, though awkward at first, followed their lead.

 

    “Jacob, have you got a moment?” Mrs. Evans called over the music.

 

    Harry shot Raven an apologetic look before going into the kitchen.

 

    “Can you chop these up for me?” Mrs Evans placed a cutting board, salad bowl, three knives, and vegetables on the counter in front of him.

 

    Harry was used to cooking; he had hours upon hours of experience of simply cutting up food, thanks to the Dursley’s. Mrs. Evans didn’t seem to notice the skill in his hands; she was frying meat as she observed the others.

 

    “What’s going on with Lily and Severus?” she asked, turning on the faucet to rinse a pan.

 

    Harry hesitated, then went back to the peppers. “What do you mean?”

 

    “You know. Do they fancy each other?”

 

    “No. They would’ve told me.”

 

    “Are you certain? You can tell me. It’d be just between us.” She smiled sweetly at him.

 

    “I’m certain.” Harry put the peppers in with the rest of the salad. “Is that all?”

 

    Mrs. Evans soured slightly. “Yes. Thanks.”

 

    Harry went back to the living room. He was now aware of Mrs. Evans’ eyes pressing on them.

 

    A half hour later, Petunia, Rebecca, and Mr. Evans filed into the room, carrying boxes of ornaments. “Time to decorate the tree!”

 

    “Hang on, I have the biscuits. C’mon, everyone, help yourselves.” Mrs. Evans offered one to each person. “Rebecca, this is your first time over, so I’ll explain; if you get the biscuit with chocolate in the middle, you get to put the star on the tree. Who was it that had it last year? Oh, Petunia, that’s right.”

 

    Everyone took a bite of their biscuit, then examined the inside. Severus presented his to the group. “I have it.”

 

    “Oh, how exciting!” Lily beamed at him.

 

    “Hang on, is this everything?” Mrs. Evans surveyed the boxes of ornaments.

 

    Mr. Evans sat down in his armchair. “I don’t know, it was hard to tell. We couldn’t get the light on.”

 

    “Then I’ll go up with the kids to check.” She motioned to the four of them. “C’mon.”

 

    The attic was stuffed with bins, and ten degrees colder than downstairs. Mrs. Evans looked for a lightbulb while she spoke. “Severus, your family lives close to us, do they not?”

 

    “Er, yeah.” He glanced at Lily.

 

    “Where, exactly?”

 

    “Spinner’s End.”

 

    Mrs. Evans faltered as she unscrewed the lightbulb. She knew enough about the area to realize that Severus was poor. “Oh, okay, right by the factory.” She put the new bulb in, tone lighter than before. “Well, are you going to see your parents? Are they going to meet us?”

 

    Severus squinted and blinked in the light. “Er — no, I wasn’t planning to.”

 

    “I don’t mean to pry, but...why not? They do know you’re staying here, don’t they?” Mrs. Evans directed them to the boxes in the back.

 

    Severus shook his head. “No, ma’am.”

 

    Lily brushed against Severus’ shoulder, letting him know she would handle it. “Mum, they don’t get along.”

 

    “Oh, come now, I’m sure they would love to see you.”

 

    Severus frowned and crossed his arms. “My parents are dead.”

 

    Mrs. Evans gasped a little, then looked to Lily, who shook her head to signal that he was lying. “Oh. Why on earth would you say something like that?”

 

    Severus gave a little shrug, then reached across her to pick up a box. Mrs. Evans caught sight of a scar on his hand, and fell silent.

 

    They brought the ornaments down and began to decorate. After the lights and ornaments had been hung up, there was one thing left.

 

    Mrs. Evans handed Severus the star. “Be careful with it.”

 

    Lily rolled her eyes. “It’s alright, it’s not a family heirloom or anything. Here, I’ll get you something to stand on.” Lily carried over a stool that wobbled as Severus stepped up. Lily held it in place as he balanced on the top step. As Severus reached to top the tree, he tensed, as though willing himself not to break anything.

 

    Severus placed the star. Once he’d stepped back, everyone except Petunia clapped. Severus blushed, though he seemed proud that for once, he hadn’t messed things up.

 

+++

 

    It was nearly eleven at night on the Sunday before Christmas when Severus said to Harry, “I want to see my mother. I have a couple of potions to give her.”

 

    “Okay, but I thought you didn’t want to see her.” Harry yawned. He was ready to sleep.

 

    “I didn’t, but now I do. And...I didn’t say anything before because I didn’t want Raven and Lily to know, much less Lily’s mother. They haven’t met her and they don’t have to be involved. If we left in an hour, they wouldn’t know we were gone.”

 

    “I’m assuming your mum’s not working?”

 

    “She doesn’t work on Sundays.”

 

    “Okay, well, wake me up when you’re ready.”

 

    An hour later, the two creeped upstairs and dressed for the cold weather. Once outside and a ways down the street, Harry offered his arm to Severus and Apparated before Severus’ house.

 

    Severus approached and knocked on the door. He was met with silence. Then, after nearly a minute, the door opened.

 

    Eileen stood in the doorway, her hair up in a lopsided, improvised style, eyes tired.

 

    “Severus.” She smiled and hugged him. Harry took a step back in surprise. “You came to stay for New Year’s.” Her long fingernails gripped Severus’ back.

 

    Severus pulled away. “Actually, no. I wanted to give you these.” He reached into his pocket and produced three vials. “I labeled them, but just in case… this one is for your back.” He handed it to her. “If father drinks a few drops of this, he’ll go to sleep. Just be careful, or he’ll get suspicious. And don’t put in too much.” Severus handed her the liquor-colored vial. “This last one you’ve used before. For protection.”

 

    Eileen pocketed them, glancing behind her. “Thank you. Your father’s asleep, why don’t you come inside?” She didn’t seem to acknowledge Harry.

 

    “No, we have to be going.” Severus squirmed under her stare. “Listen, take care of yourself, okay?” He started to turn.

 

    “Alright. Fine. Go on then. I don’t mind, just leave me here with him, won’t you!”

 

    Severus kept walking. Harry followed, flinching at her words.

 

    “YOU’RE NO BETTER THAN THE REST OF THEM! YOUR FATHER, THE PIGS AT WORK — YOU’LL BE JUST LIKE THEM!”

 

    A few lights in the surrounding houses turned on. Eileen slammed the door.

 

    Severus had stopped walking, and his eyes were shut. Harry didn’t know what to say.

 

    “C’mon,” Severus finally said, as though he’d been waiting. They Apparated back to Lily’s.

 

    When they were beginning to fall asleep again, Harry said, “Your mother seemed a lot different from when I last saw her.”

 

    Severus sighed. “She’s very… possessive of me. Can we — I want to forget about it, okay?”

 

    “Okay. Goodnight.” Harry knew how to work out the reasoning and actions behind kids, but adults were more complicated. He did know that the increased attention Eileen had shown Severus did not mean she loved him more.

 

+++

 

    Christmas passed. Severus, Raven, and Harry met several members of the Evans family when they visited for dinner. Petunia kept her distance, for the most part, and Mr. and Mrs. Evans gave them room as they warmed up to Severus. The stone Severus had given Lily during their first year at Hogwarts now read “Lily Evans and Severus Snape.” There were two words left.

 

    On the last full day before they went to school was quiet, but no one dared to think it was boring. They knew they had to appreciate the precious time they had before school.

 

    Lily got up from the sofa and addressed the other three. “Let’s take Harry for a walk.”

 

    Raven and Severus had stopped reacting when Lily said the dog’s name, but Harry still felt strange. “Alright, where to?”

 

    “Just along the river. There’s a pond five or ten minutes away by foot.”

 

    “Let’s go, then!”

 

    They bundled up and set off alongside the river, which was only partly frozen. Harry noticed the ruins of the wooden bridge that collapsed when Severus had walked across it.

 

    Raven, holding the dog's leash, took in the unfamiliar surroundings. She was the only one who hadn’t spent time over the summer to bond.

 

    Lily took a careful step onto the ice, hand in hand with Severus. “You don’t think it’ll break, do you?”

 

    “I don’t think you should risk it.” Severus hung back, but his arm was stretched all the way. He dropped his hand to his side and watched her start to walk.

 

    Lily turned. “Well, are you coming?”

 

    Severus hesitated, then followed her onto the ice.

 

    Raven and Harry stood by the edge, both prepared for the surface to collapse.

 

    Severus struggled to walk quickly, as though he’d never been on ice before. It was likely that this was his first time. Lily, however, was determined to get to the other side. She noticed Severus was falling behind and turned just in time to see his feet give out beneath him. Severus landed hard on his back.

 

    Harry, Raven, and Lily all shuffled toward Severus. Harry could hear heaves of sound from his direction, and thought the boy was crying.

 

    When they reached him, however, they realized he was laughing. Harry couldn’t remember the last time Severus had laughed so hard — if he ever had to begin with.

 

    Lily started to giggle, then Raven, and soon they were all laughing, clouds of their breath rushing into the sky.

+++

 

    In early February, Raven was helping Harry with his History of Magic essay on the rights of elves when a first year approached Harry. “Dumbledore wants to see you in his office.”

 

    Harry felt a swoop in his stomach. “Did he say what for?”

 

    “Dunno. Professor McGonagall told me to tell you.”

 

    “Okay. Thanks for helping, Raven, I think I can manage now.”

 

    “Alright…but I have a lot more to explain about guidelines on house-elf welfare, you know.” Harry paused, realizing the similarity to Hermione. He stood and made his way to leave. “Hang on, you don’t think Dumbledore knows, do you?” Raven whispered.

 

    Harry tried not to panic. “I hope not.” He climbed out through the portrait hole and made his way to Dumbledore’s office. He realized, standing before the gargoyle, that he didn’t know the password. Just as he was about to guess, the entrance opened. Harry climbed up the spiral staircase, willing his hands not to shake.

 

    Dumbledore sat as his desk, fingers steepled.

 

    Harry cleared his throat. “You called, sir?”

 

    “Ah, yes…Jacob, sit down, please.”

 

    Harry did so, glancing at the Sorting Hat that was propped on the stool beside Dumbledore.

 

    “I wanted to meet with you about your prefect duties.”

 

    Harry relaxed and nodded, observing the office, trying to distract himself. Not much had changed from when he was a student, though there were some objects missing here and there.

 

    “It would be safe to assume that everything is going smoothly?” Dumbledore studied him, brilliant blue eyes twinkling behind his spectacles.

 

    The emotions stirred by talking to Dumbledore were overpowered by Harry’s fear that Dumbledore had figured out Jacob Walker was a lie. “Yeah, everything’s fine. Er, to be honest, I don’t actually do much, sir.”

 

    Dumbledore nodded once, slowly. He continued, more casually, “And how is Remus? I haven’t spoken with him in a while.”

 

    “Good. There haven’t been any recent incidents with his transformations.” Out of the corner of his eye, Harry saw a flash of gold. Harry’s throat contracted as he stared at the six-ringed Time-Turner on a shelf to the right of Dumbledore.

 

    “I’m glad to hear that.” Dumbledore raised his eyebrow just enough for Harry to notice.

 

    Harry gulped and shifted in his chair, avoiding looking at the Hat or the Time-Tuner. “Well, I have loads of homework so I should probably go —”

 

    “Of course.” Dumbledore smiled. “Have a nice evening. If you ever need to reach me, feel free to stop by.”

 

    “Yeah.” Harry stood and hurried out of the room. He broke into a sprint as soon as he was in the corridor. There were two — no, three, possible explanations for Dumbledore having the Time-Turner.

 

    Harry ran through the portrait hole, up the stairs to the dorm, and grabbed Hermione’s purse. Harry rummaged for a moment before finding the Time-Turner. He sighed with relief. He wasn’t trapped here. Harry’s first instinct had been that Dumbledore took his Time-Turner. But maybe it was the other way around.

 

    “What’s going on? What did he say?” Raven hurried into the room, closing the door behind her.

 

    Harry ran a hand through his hair. “I think Dumbledore knows. He didn’t say anything about it… but I saw — I saw he had a Time-Turner that was like mine.”

 

    Raven sat down on Remus’ bed. “Does that mean you used his Time-Turner?”

 

    “I don’t know. It makes sense — the Time-Turner Ginny gave me could’ve been modified or invented by Dumbledore…or maybe someone gave it to him?”

 

    Raven shook her head. “If you say they’re identical, and it’s different from the usual ones, it has to’ve been from Dumbledore. And you know how you’re confused about how the whole time thing is working out? Well, maybe Dumbledore’s Time-Turner works differently, and that’s why time, as far as we can tell, isn’t screwed up.”

 

    There was a knock at the door, then Severus entered. “What happened?”

 

    Harry caught him up quickly.

 

    Severus’ brow furrowed. “Did the Headmaster give it to her?”

 

    “Would he have had time, though, before he died?”

 

    Severus shrugged, averting his eyes as he remembered that he was the one who’d killed Dumbledore. “She could’ve stolen it.”

 

    Harry considered this. “Maybe, but it was probably magically protected. It could’ve been moved from Dumbledore’s office… or maybe McGonagall went through his things and gave it to her.” He knew the shallowness of his theories; there was only one that he actually believed was likely. “If Dumbledore, somehow, gave Ginny the Time-Turner…well, why would he have? And why wouldn’t he have given it to me directly? Why didn’t Ginny tell me who it was from? And what does Dumbledore expect me to do?”

 

    Raven and Severus glanced at each other. No one had an answer.

 

    Harry didn’t want to jump to conclusions, but what if Dumbledore had wanted Harry to change time? That couldn’t be right. Dumbledore would’ve helped him accept what bad things had happened, not try to change them.

 

    Raven stood. “I’m gonna go back downstairs. Harry, if you need anything, tell me, alright? And… I wouldn’t think about it too much. If you can’t ask him in this time, then there’s really no way to find out, so you needn’t worry about it.” Severus followed Raven out.

 

    Raven’s right, Harry thought. I can’t ask the Dumbledore of the past, so I won’t know until I get back to my time.

 

    Harry didn’t want to assume the connection, but he couldn’t help but wonder if he was following what Dumbledore had intended for him to change.

 

+++

 

    “Happy Valentine’s Day!” Lily sat down next to Harry, beaming.

 

    “You too. Er, I mean —” Severus fumbled with what to say.

 

    Lily smirked. “It’s okay. I know what you mean.” She turned to the others. “So, what are you all planning on doing in Hogsmeade?”

 

    Raven took Remus’ hand. “We’re going to the bookstore for tea and...there’s a few books we want to read. What about you two?”

 

    “Er, us three.” Lily glanced at Harry. “I was thinking we’d get a Butterbeer.” Severus and Harry nodded.

 

    Raven squeezed Remus’ hand, then gave them a small wave. “Okay, well, see you around.”

 

    “Hang on, Remus.” Lily took his arm and looked him in the eye. “Do James and Sirius have anything planned for today? Any pranks we should watch out for?”

 

    Remus scratched his head and squirmed a bit. “No pranks,” he replied carefully.

 

    Lily glanced at Severus, relieved. “Okay, then we’ll see you ‘round.”

 

    The three finished their breakfast before heading to Hogsmeade. They shopped for a few hours before going to the Three Broomsticks. As they finished a second round of butterbeers, Severus’ eyes locked on something behind them. “I thought it was a coincidence at first, but Potter has been following us since we left. Wait, don’t look!” He grabbed her arm. “Sorry. We shouldn’t let on.”

 

    “I thought Remus said they wouldn’t prank us!”

 

    “Well, technically Potter’s just stalking us.”

 

    Lily nodded. “I feel bad, Remus being torn between our friend groups —”

 

    “It’s his choice to be friends with them.”

 

    Harry crossed his arms. “It’s his choice to be friends with us.”

 

    Severus pursed his lips, holding back from arguing further.

 

    “So what should we do?”

 

    Severus thought for a moment. “How about a Love Potion?”

 

    Lily shook her head. “Not on me, you’re not.”

 

    “No. No, of course not.” Severus pulled a vial out of his cloak.

 

    “You carry Love Potions with you?” Lily raised an eyebrow. “Should I be concerned?”

 

    Severus blinked. “No, I have more potions than just this. They’re in case of emergency, you see.”

 

    “You’re my Potions Master, you are.”

 

    Harry raised his eyebrow at Lily. Severus smiled a little, relieved. “Yeah, I suppose I am. Well, this is a potion for temporary love at first sight. It’s a lot easier to make one to induce love for the first person the drinker sees than one for a specific person.”

 

    “Who should Potter see, then?”

 

    The three looked around the pub for ideas. Harry’s eyes fell upon the shrunken heads guarding the entrance. “How about them?”

 

    Lily looked to Severus. “Would it work?”

 

    Severus’ eyes darkened with a malice that could be matched with his past self, the one on his way to becoming a Death Eater. “I believe so. Does anyone have a chocolate, or something?”

 

    Harry looked to Lily and Severus, then realized he had one. “Here.”

 

    Lily raised her eyebrows. “Ooh, who’s it from, Jacob?”

 

    “I don’t remember her name.” Harry didn’t understand what it was about Jacob Walker that attracted girls; it wasn’t as though he were famous, and he hardly spoke to anyone outside his immediate group of friends.

 

    Severus set the chocolate on the table and poured a few drops of potion onto it. The droplets sank into the chocolate, which was now bright red. “That should do it. Alright, here’s how this’ll work: Lily, you leave the chocolate here, okay, and write a note that says...here’s a quill and parchment...that says, ‘Dear James, Happy Valentine’s Day. I hope you like the chocolate,’ or something along those lines.” He waited for her to finish. “And then write, ‘Jacob and Severus think I’m writing a note to tell you to bugger off. Really, though, I want to meet you in private. Go to the shrunken heads and...they’ll tell you where to meet me.’”

 

    Lily took a few moments to finish. “Then you and Harry should leave. Meet me across the street.” Then she spoke more loudly, making sure Sirius and James heard: “I’ll meet you over at Zonko’s.”

 

    Harry and Severus left the Three Broomsticks and headed across the street to hide. A couple minutes after, Lily came out and hurried across the snowy road. 

 

    She shuffled to a stop and grabbed Harry’s arm to steady herself. “The heads agreed to relay my message after I told I them I was getting revenge. They were pretty understanding.”

 

    Severus put a hand on her shoulder. “But you didn’t tell him the real point was for James to fancy them, did you?”

 

    “Should I not have?”

 

    The door of the Three Broomsticks opened and James came out, and although it was hard to tell from their distance, he appeared hopeful.

 

    He carried the chocolate in his hand. 

 

    Lily gripped Harry’s cloak. “Oh, no, he didn’t eat it.”

 

    “Well, of course he didn’t eat it. The heads didn’t want to be licked by such a pri— ” He noticed Lily’s embarrassment and redirected her attention. “Look, there, he must be going over to Sirius and Peter.” As he made his way, James ate the chocolate. His stride faltered momentarily, then he continued with new purpose.

 

    “Who did he see?” Lily craned her neck around the corner.

 

    “Either Black or Pettigrew.”

 

    “But which one of them did he see first?”

 

    James said something to Peter, pointing at the parchment in Peter’s hand. He seemed to say, “Can Sirius and I have a moment?”

 

    As Peter shuffled over to Zonko’s Joke Shop, James confronted Sirius, his dramatic expression evident even from where the three watched down the street. Confusion deepened in Sirius’ expression.

 

    Then James kissed Sirius.

 

    Lily put a hand to her mouth. “Oh my.”

 

    But none of them expected Sirius to reach into James’ hair, pushing his lips back with equal force.

 

    A few students stopped to make sure that what they were seeing was actually happening.

 

    As Sirius and James remained in embrace, Lily and Harry kept a shocked silence, whereas Severus started to laugh.

 

    Harry was the first to speak. He turned to Severus. “Did you give Sirius a love potion?”

 

    “No,” Severus managed between bouts of laughter.  

 

    “Do you think Sirius knows that Potter…?” Lily processed their realization differently; she then made a decision and started toward the two boys.

 

    Severus groaned, and his smile faded. “What is she doing?” He and Harry rounded the corner and jogged to catch up.

 

    “Clear out, everyone.” Lily put her hands up, dispersing the crowd. “We gave both of them a Love Potion. We were just getting payback for James being a creep. That’s alright, you can laugh. Ha ha. Okay, nothing to see here.”

 

    Sirius parted from James, still gripping his friend’s coat collar. He studied James, realizing the true cause of the dopey expression on his face. Sirius’ face cracked in horror and he pushed James away before storming off.

 

    “I’ll go after Sirius,” Lily offered. 

 

    Severus held James back from chasing after Sirius as Harry uncorked the cure. He persuaded James to drink it, then Severus and Harry both sprinted in the opposite direction.

 

    When they were at the outskirts of the town, they slowed to a walk. “There’s Lily and Sirius.” The two had stopped by the fence that surrounded the Shrieking Shack.

 

    Upon seeing Harry and Severus, Sirius nodded a curt goodbye to Lily and hurried past them.

 

    “Well?”

 

    Lily considered them. “Can I trust you not to tell anyone?”

 

    Severus and Harry nodded.

 

    “Okay. So Sirius wasn’t under a spell or a potion. But if anyone asked, he was, and we’re responsible. Got it?”

 

    Severus’ eyes widened. “So he is a fairy.”

 

    Lily crossed her arms. “He said he doesn’t know, he can go either way. And, besides that, it’s none of your business.”

 

    Severus stared at Lily, mouth ajar. “Why are you protecting him?”

 

    “I’m not protecting him. It’s a stupid thing to be made fun of, you know. He’s a jerk, but people should focus on that instead of something silly like…well, you know.”

 

    Harry couldn’t help feeling hollow, feeling the full force of what it meant to not have known Sirius at all. Sirius had fancied his dad, at least in this timeline. “We’d better go before James comes after us.”

 

    That evening, Sirius and James were awkward around each other, even when doing something as innocent as studying. It was strange; the ease they always expressed in each other’s presence was gone. This was heightened by the whispers and stares that followed their every move.

 

    The turn of events satisfied Severus immensely, but it was clear he wished for James to know the truth. His promise to Lily was all that held him back.

 

+++

 

    Word spread through the school that the Ministry had won a significant battle over the Death Eaters. The excitement was quickly distinguished amongst the students; the Slytherins collectively did not speak for the entire day.

 

    It wasn’t a relief to have the Slytherins silent because they simply stared, faces like the masks of Death Eaters, their expressions dark. At breakfast and lunch, their table was devoid of sound. The other students became queasy with dread and began to doubt the success of the Ministry. The Professors took points from Slytherin and gave dozens of detentions instead of sending them to their dorms. The Professors kept the Slytherins around only because they valued the students’ education. The Marauders spent their time trying to get the Slytherins to react; whispering in their ears, singing to them, dry-humping them, insulting them. The Marauders’ failure to make any progress worsened the mood of the students.

 

    Severus was quiet throughout the day, which he explained was because, “...I’m just thinking.” Then, two hours before dinner, he left for the library. Harry, Lily, and Raven remained in the Study Hall, squirming uncomfortably under the glares of the silent Slytherins.

 

    Severus reappeared that evening. Halfway through supper, Severus said, “You know what you do to a Boggart when it shows you your worst fear?”

 

    Harry looked at the Slytherin table. “You turn it into something that you’re not afraid of.”

 

    “We haven’t learned about Boggarts yet. How do you two know?” Lily looked between them.

 

    Severus swallowed, composing a lie. Harry could tell the boy was suffocating the memories of the incident from fourth year. “I read ahead. Anyway, just wait…” He looked over at the Slytherins. 

 

    As the Clock Tower chimed seven thirty, the faces of the Slytherins change. The pallor of their skin turned white. They gradually began to realize what was happening, rather comically, by pointing at each others faces. Some turned in their seats, garnering the attention of the students around them. Harry realized what the pale face and black lips and eyes added up to: 

 

    Severus had turned the Slytherins into mimes.

 

    All at once, the Great Hall was filled with laughter. Even Dumbledore, Harry noted, had trouble hiding a smile. He glanced over to their table. At first Harry thought Dumbledore assumed it was him, but he must’ve been studying the Marauders, who were in hysterics just beyond Harry.

 

    Raven regarded Severus. “How’d you do it?”

 

    “First, I figured out which curse they used. I realized, as soon as Sirius pretended to do something very graphic to Mulciber—”

 

    Lily couldn’t hold back a giggle. “That was in Potions, right? With his wand?”

 

    Severus rolled his eyes. “Yeah. Anyhow, I realized that it’d be impossible for anyone to keep calm through that, and I know none of them are very good as an Occlumens. It was described in one of the first books I bought; the curse ensures that the person is unable to speak or move suddenly. It’s almost an Unforgivable, but not completely binding, so even the Ministry uses it, especially when transporting prisoners.” Severus noticed their attention was fading. “Well, anyway, I invented a potion to make them look like mimes. I convinced the House Elves to let me put the potion in their drinks —”

 

    “How’d you manage that?” Harry asked.

 

    “It was simple: purebloods treat them the worst.”

 

    Raven cut in. “Because purebloods are the only ones who can afford them. Given the opportunity —”

 

    “Hang on —” Lily continued to gape at Severus. “You invented a potion?” 

 

    Raven and Severus glanced at each other, both having history in the area. Severus shrugged. “I’ve done it before.”

 

    “Oh.” Lily blinked. “Carry on with the story, then.”

 

    “So the potion should last for twelve hours. Since I came up with it, that’s how long it’ll take them to come up with an antidote. And because the potion forces them to be quiet; now they can only move their lips slightly.”

 

    “Sev, you’re brilliant.” Lily hugged him.

 

    The four looked back to the Slytherin table; some of the younger students who had been the most afraid came up to the Slytherins and mocked them, or, more appropriately, mimed them. There was nothing the Slytherins could do to retaliate while the staff was right there. Some of the Slytherins got up to go back to their dorms, others tried to seem as though they weren’t bothered by their transformation.

 

    James had noticed the hug and approached their table. Many students had come to the Marauders’ table to congratulate them, so convinced they’d done it that they were oblivious to half-hearted protests by the Marauders that they were innocent.

 

    “Do you know who did this, Snape?” James asked, voice low.

 

    Severus didn’t respond at first, surprised at James’ calm tone. “I did.”

 

    James’ eyebrows flickered up, then he extended his hand. “Well done, mate.”

 

    Severus stared at the hand before reaching out and shaking it.

 

    James averted his eyes, conflicted and awkward, then rejoined Remus, Sirius, and Peter.

 

    Lily was too shocked to comment, but something else struck her. “Severus, I thought of something. Are they — the Slytherins — gonna know it’s you?”

 

    Severus nodded gravely. “I’m expecting them to.”

 

    Lily rested her hand on his arm. “Look, you should know that it was worth it. What you did last year when they attacked us — that was certainly not cowardly. But I think, now more than ever, you are truly brave to stand up to them.”

 

    “I’m not becoming like Potter, am I?”

 

    “No,” Raven replied immediately, before Lily could reply. “I mean, you stand up for what you believe in, but a lot of people do that, not just James.” She nudged Harry. Raven had previously made it clear to Harry that he wasn’t like his father. He found it odd, then, that so many people in his timeline been convinced that they were so like each other.

 

    Lily took her hand off Severus’ arm and put a slice of toast on her plate. “Severus, we just need to make sure they don’t spring anything on you, alright?”

 

    Three days later, Severus left Lily’s sight. It was as simple as her venting while looking out beyond one of the Hogwarts courtyards. She didn’t notice when Harry and Severus pulled away from either side of her.

 

    Mulciber and Avery took their wands and threw the two boys behind a stone pillar that bordered the courtyard. What about Lily? Where’s Lily? Harry thought, head in agony. Perhaps they underestimated her.

 

    “Mulciber?” Harry heard Severus say.

 

    “That was very clever, what you pulled the other day. Your only flaw? You forget that house-elf scum have a tendency to provide information to anyone who asks. Or, rather, whoever has the right methods of persuasion.”

 

    Severus’ words were labored. “Who said…I didn’t want you to...know it was me?” This statement was punctuated with a gasp of pain.

 

    Harry saw Avery pull Lily over toward him. Head pounding, Harry tried to get to his feet. He was knocked back by a Body-Binding spell.

 

    Avery held Lily’s wand in his other hand. Before Avery realized the carelessness in keeping it so close to her, Lily kicked him in the shin, grabbed her wand, and disarmed them both. Before they could make a go for a wand, she stunned them.

 

    They were flung into the courtyard. Professor Sprout, who was on her way to the greenhouses, started and looked around. When Mulciber and Avery recovered and got to their feet, they ran.

 

    Lily, breathing hard, waited until they were gone before she dropped her arm and went to Severus’ side.

 

    “Are you okay?” Lily looked around; there were no other witnesses, except Harry, whom she remembered upon seeing. “Jacob?”

 

    Harry couldn’t respond.

 

    “Finite Incantatem!”

 

    Harry, freed, gave a weak thumbs up, then forced himself into a sitting position.

 

    Lily propped Severus’ head on her lap and brushed his cheek with her hand. “I’m sorry. Are you badly hurt?”

 

    Severus’ voice came out as a whisper, his eyes closing momentarily with pleasure as her fingers brushed his face. “Of course not. I’m fine. I think we should break their wands.”

 

    “No, it’s not worth it, and you’ll get in trouble. This is fine.” Though probably unintentionally, “this” seemed to refer to be their intimacy in that moment.

 

    Harry got to his feet, realizing that almost two years ago, when Lily protected Severus, he had rejected her in favor of the Dark Arts. Now, he had accepted her protection.

 

    More than that, they had accepted each other’s.

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