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Fic: Promised


Okay, so last time I posted a story I tortured everyone and just posted it, probably messing up a lot of folks feeds.  So I decided not to do that this time, especially with the 205K word monster that I wrote for the nukebigbang.  But I am cross posting the information for people who ARE interested.  This is a fanfic written for the nuke (Noah and Luke - As The World Turns) fandom, and the challenge I did for it was to combine the nuke with a Drarry (Draco and Harry slash pairing from Harry Potter fandom).  This is what I came up with.

Title: Promised
Author: neddiheht (Ashavan Doyon)
Artist: ritalaura2000
Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: All ATWT characters the property of P&G/Telenext. Harry Potter and the characters associated with that universe belong to J. K. Rowling, Warner Brothers, and Scholastic. No copyright infringement intended. No profit made from this fiction.
Characters/Pairings: Noah/Draco, Luke/Neville, Luke/Noah, Draco/Harry. Some mention of other fun pairings not involving Luke, Noah, Draco or Harry.
Word Count: 205,207
Warnings alternate universe, graphic sex, arranged marriages, mpreg, some mention of non-consensual sex. This is a Nuke fic set largely in the Harry Potter verse and combined with a Drarry pairing.
Summary: Luciano Grimaldi was a perfectly happy young wizard. His family carefully neutral during the war, he has found happiness in the years since Voldemort's fall with herbologist, hero, and friend of the Savior, Neville Longbottom. Only he's just been informed that in the tradition of ancient pure blood families, he was promised at birth, in an offering to keep his family safe, to the son of infamous American Death Eater Winston Mayer.

Noah Mayer is a very unhappy wizard. In love for years with fellow Death Eater Draco Malfoy, the two young men have secretly found solace and love in each others arms, dreading the day they knew would come. They are promised, in the traditions of the oldest families. Promised to young wizards who didn't know. Married, for all intents and purposes, almost at birth to strangers who will doubtless hate them. Now they must surrender to duty and obligation. Now they must turn their backs on a love they know and risk everything for what might be. Noah always knew he hated pure blood traditions. This was why.

Author's Notes: I entered this project with a clear idea of writing a Drarry where I replaced Draco with Luke and Harry with Noah, and threw in Reid as a replacement for Snape for good measure. That's not at all what I wrote. Instead I ended up combining the universes and running the ongoing Drarry and Nuke pairings in parallel. It is, I know, very long, for which I freely blame Nic, who taunted me that I would need to write 100K words for it to be a challenge. I have written two side stories based on the larger story written here for the big bang. I'd have included them as epilogues, but it is almost entirely HP characters, and both are over 50K words besides. I may post links to them at the end, when I'm done. Dani: for all your hours spent reading and coaxing and telling me when I'd stepped over a line, thank you. Laura: the banners you made are beautiful. Everyone: I do, of course, love comments.
Link to Story Master Post: Yeah, it's a LOT of chapters. Worth it though, I hope!
Link to Art Master Post: Some Seriously awesome banners and photo manips!

Title: The World Keeps Its Own Secrets
Author: neddiheht
Rating: A possibly racey R in places
Pairing: Snarry (Severus Snape/Harry Potter)
Word count: 1116
Disclaimer:
Harry Potter, Severus Snape and all other characters, places, etc. from the Harry Potter universe are the property of J.K. Rowling. No claim of ownership is intended by this piece of fan fiction.
Summary: When Harry is sent back in time to avoid the killing curse, he finds himself in a mask of his own creation, faceless, voiceless, friendless, teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts for his sole confidante, Albus Dumbledore.  But one of the professors is suspicious, and won't let the secrecy of the new Defense professor go.
A/N: This is the final chapter.  I hope everyone enjoys, and comments are always appreciated.

---
"Do you really believe I should have let you die?" asked Harry very softly as they arrived at the now pristine townhouse at Grimmauld Place.

"I would never have wanted, Harry, to be the cause of your death," said Severus.  "Unlike your friend Granger who can only guess at the risks you took... I know, Harry.  Aqua Vitae is considered mythical for a reason," he shook his head.  "No wizard would dare to risk it."

"But Severus," said Harry, turning to face him as he dragged him slowly, step by step, towards the bedroom he intended them to share, "I did cause your death.  And I knew, and I... I had to try.  I love you."

"It's been fifteen years."

"And I still feel it here," said Harry, pressing a hand against his heart.  "We have a lifetime.  We finally have a lifetime to spend together, Severus.  We have both sacrificed enough," he leaned in briefly for a kiss.  "Now you are mine, and I am yours.  Forever.  One soul.  Bound."

"Albus intended that we..." Severus' voice was hesitant.

"I know.  He intended you finding me, seeing me as I am, to separate us.  He assumed that you would see me and run."

"Do you want me to run?"

"Never again, Sev," he said, stepping up to the man and slowly unbuttoning Severus' robe, button by agonizing button.  "I meant it.  I am yours."

Severus stopped Harry's hands from their work on his robes, pulling them away from the buttons and kissing them, and then his lips, softly.  So tender.  He'd forgotten how gentle this man could be, how delicate his touch could be, how delicious the taste of his lips.  Harry shuddered.  "Missed you, Sev."

Severus smelled of hospital and cleanliness, but even a year of constant cleaning spells hadn't been able to eradicate the powerful smell of the potions laboratory from the man's flesh.  Harry breathed it in.  He'd missed this.  The private closeness.  The taste of his skin and his lips, drowning in the breath of his love.

Harry dragged his fingers along the side of Severus' face.  "You're so beautiful."

"I'm not," said Severus quietly.

Harry smiled, leaning in to taste Severus' lips again.  "You are beautiful to me.  You will always be."

They'd reached the door of the bedroom.  Harry pulled Severus into him, wrapping his arms around the tall man and resting them crossed behind Severus' back, resting just above his arse.  "I bound myself to you, Severus.  Until the world is dust.  We have endured so much." He leaned his head against Severus' chest.  "I'm so sorry, Sev, that I left you so alone, knowing what it was that you'd have to go through."

Severus brushed a hand through Harry's shaggy mop of nearly black hair and kissed him gently on his forehead.  "We both had a duty we could not control.  We sacrificed our lives and our youth to it.  You lived under a cloak of fear and hopelessness to stay hidden.  I hid my mind from the world and from the Dark Lord.  The world kept its secrets.  But Harry, my love," he crooked a finger under Harry's chin, tilting it up so he could place a gentle kiss on Harry's lips, "It is done, and we are free."

Harry smiled at that, taking hold of Severus hand and dragging him to the bed.  Harry pulled off his Muggle style tshirt.  Where once Harry had sported a six pack and well muscled features, a year of living sleeplessly off of potions had taken a toll.  His skin was deathly white, his ribs showing along his chest.  Severus gasped at the sight, remembering the hale and healthy young man he'd known.  He knew what it meant.  Harry had been living on his magic, on the same sort of nutrient potions that had kept Severus alive for the past year.  Severus knew his own body bore the scars of such treatment, but to see it on Harry as well.

Severus closed his eyes, leaning his forehead against Harry's.  "You should have lived, Harry... you sat and watched me and you should have lived."

Harry pressed a finger against Severus' lips.  "The world was still keeping secrets and so was I.  That's over now."  Harry's hands deftly slipped buttons from their holes and Severus robe fell to his feet.  Then a vest, and an ascot.  By the time Harry reached the loose flowing shirt, his patience was frayed enough to simply rip it from Severus' body.  Severus too was painfully thin, and always had been.  But Severus had been under the care of the healers at St. Mungos, and they had not allowed his body to decay in the ways that Harry's so clearly had.  The snake that marked their bonding had settled coiled up the left side of his chest, it's head over Severus' heart.

"I want us to live, Harry," said Severus, his voice a whisper against Harry's cheek.  

Harry's unbuckled his jeans, letting them fall to the floor and then shucked his red and gold silk boxers.  His breathing was deep, his voice breathy and sultry.  "Severus..."

Merlin, he'd missed that voice.  Harry's voice.  The piece of him that Harry had let him have... only him.  It wrapped around Severus and held him safe and made him feel wanted, made him feel... it made him feel.  It was something outside of duty, something for him.  To feel.  To live.  Severus dropped his own trousers then, letting them pool at his feet with the silk boxers he favored and pressed his desire against Harry.  "Let us live, my love."

"Merlin, Sev..." said Harry, falling backwards on the bed and pulling Severus with him.  "I've wanted..."

Severus breath caught as they landed together, their bodies ready and pressed against each other. "So much..."

Then there were no words.  They had loved in secret, touched in secret, whispered quiet silent love, and their pent up need had not forgotten.  Together they thrust in painful desperate friction against each other, until at last a quiet spell was spoken, and long delicate fingers delved into Harry to ready him.  If there was any cry of pain it was made silently into the mouth of the other, as they kissed with a passion meant to make up the years of loneliness they'd each suffered, the years of waiting without hope.

Together they joined, their willful silence slowly abandoning them as they wrapped themselves in each other and shared the joys of ecstasy.  And when Harry was full with the love of his beloved potions master, they lay together basking in their love, wrapped tightly in each other's arms, and they slept, finally content.

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Title: The World Keeps Its Own Secrets
Author: neddiheht
Rating: A possibly racey R in places
Pairing: Snarry (Severus Snape/Harry Potter)
Word count: 1428
Disclaimer:
Harry Potter, Severus Snape and all other characters, places, etc. from the Harry Potter universe are the property of J.K. Rowling. No claim of ownership is intended by this piece of fan fiction.
Summary: When Harry is sent back in time to avoid the killing curse, he finds himself in a mask of his own creation, faceless, voiceless, friendless, teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts for his sole confidante, Albus Dumbledore.  But one of the professors is suspicious, and won't let the secrecy of the new Defense professor go.

---
The cramped Ministry room was crowded.  Here, today, Molly Weasley was to be charged and sentenced to Azkaban for her role in the loss of Harry Potter.  No amount of pleading on the part of wizards from the Order of the Phoenix had calmed the incensed Wizengamot.  Even the Minister was unable to prevent the heroine from being called before the court.

Tension crackled across the room like a living thing.  The Weasleys had been Harry Potter's staunchest allies, and not one of them could reconcile the curse cast by the matriarch of the clan with the certain knowledge they all shared that Harry was their family.  Molly stood calmly in the center.

"Molly Weasley.  You know the charges.  Are you prepared for sentencing."

"I must protest, Minister," said Arthur, acting as her advocate.  "You've given no opportunity for evidence to be presented.  For Molly to even provide an explanation for her actions."

"Her explanations do not matter, Arthur," said Dolores Umbridge, from amongst the assembled council, with perhaps too eager of a smile, "she broke the rules, and those who are naughty ought to be properly punished."

"Naughty!" thundered Arthur, desperately trying to summon the calm that had kept him alive and employed at the Ministry during the war.

Molly set a hand on Arthur's arm. "I am ready," she said.  She'd known, as Harry she was sure had not, that the Wizengamot would hold her responsible.

"You, Molly Weasley, shall be sentenced to Azkaban..." there was a sound of a scuffle in the hall and a great boom as the ancient doors to the room were obliterated.  Clouds of dust filled the room as a man in torn and battered robes that sent a pervasive chill into the room before him strode casually into the room, disarming Aurors as they dared to point their wands at him.  The Minister had his wand drawn and ready, but simply waited.

The faceless hood stared at the Wizengamot and the chill from the man's Dementor's robes had many of the wizards and witches assembled shaking.  The crowd watched as the Aurors collected themselves behind one of the few who had not been disarmed.  The hood looked in her direction for a moment.

"There is evil in this world yet, Professor," she said quietly.

"Indeed," said a hissing sibilant echo that had a number of people in the room gasping in recognition.  "And were you prepared for it, Miss Shaddersford?"

"Thanks to you," she said quietly, lowering her wand.  "Why have you come?"

"Stop talking to this interloper at once!" said Umbridge, leaping to her feat.  "We must have order and propriety.  Escort this man out!"

"I am here to speak on behalf of the accused," echoed the sibilant tones.

"She has already been deemed guilty of casting dark curses on the Savior of the Wizarding World," said Umbridge coldly.  "We needed only sentence her.  And you have no standing here."

"Dolores," said Kingsley, his voice strong and certain, "as Minister, I should like to hear what Mister Evans has to say.  Surely you are aware he was considered the most accomplished Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts that Hogwarts has ever known."

Umbridge turned back to the robed man.  "So you're the mysterious Jamie Evans," she glanced over him.  "That's hardly proper attire for a courtroom. Your skills, however renowned they might be," she leveled a withering sneer at the Minister, "buy you no acclaim here."

"Perhaps this will do, then," said the man, tossing the robes aside.  Beneath he wore simple Muggle clothing.  His hair was still shaggy and messy, prone to going every which way, with bangs that drooped over an old and faded scar.  Bold rimmed glasses had been replaced with owlish round ones, though of rather better frames than he'd had in school, and his green eyes stared at her balefully through them.

His action set off a number of gasps through the crowd as he was recognized.  Murmurs started.  Dolores was calm and glared.

"Off with the glamour then," she said.

Harry raised his hand.  "It says 'I must not tell lies' - who else would even know the scars were there, Dolores.  Look," he said raising his hand and stepping forward so that she could see, "see the proof that you engaged in torture while you masqueraded as a Professor at Hogwarts."

"You needed to be taught a lesson," she shrieked.

"Not to tell lies?  Everyone knows now that I was, in fact, telling the truth.  I have no doubt, Dolores," he said calmly, "that you even knew that when you endeavored to break my spirit."

Umbridge had her wand drawn now, ready to point at Harry.  "You cannot be allowed to interfere in Ministry business!"

"Ministry business?" snapped Harry. "Trying and sentencing a woman I love more than life itself, a woman I consider family, for cursing me.  Sending her wrongfully to Azkaban as you did my godfather.  Doing it in my name!  That Ministry business?"

"But she cursed you!"

"Yes, she did," said Harry calmly.  He turned to Molly and embraced her warmly. "Thank you, Molly. I know it was a lot to ask of you."

"Did you find him?" she asked.

Harry smiled as he looked towards the door where the tall vaguely bat-like figure of Severus Snape emerged through the remains of the door.  Snape glanced at Kingsley and nodded briefly in acknowledgement.

"We still need to sentence..."

"Oh, Dolores, do sit down and stop embarrassing yourself," said Kingsley.  "By order of the Minister of Magic, Molly Weasley, you are cleared of all charges."

"But..."

"I said sit down, Dolores."

Dolores Umbridge fumed as she glared at Harry and the Minister.

Arthur seized Molly in a hug.  From the gallery Hermione and Ronald Weasley leapt over the rail and rushed over to Harry, virtually tackling him in a hug of their own.  He greeted them warmly, but said very little, merely shaking his head and promising to explain later.

Molly looked at him with a question in her eye and he smiled, just a hint.  "Molly, Arthur, I believe you both know my bonded," he said with a smirk, holding his hand out to Severus.

Molly's hand went to her mouth.  "It was.  You bonded to Severus, dear?"

Harry nodded, clasping Severus' hand and pulling the tall man to him.

"Severus... you were..." Arthur looked at Harry.  "How is this?"

"Don't try to figure it out, Mr. Weasley," said Harry.  "Time travel messes with the brain."

"You're with Snape?" hissed out Ronald.

"I'm far more interested," said Hermione, "in how Professor Snape is even alive.  We saw the attack.  We watched him die."

"My rather reluctant student," said Severus, "managed to brew the water of life."

Hermione stared at Harry.  "Three tears from a thousand year old crocodile?  Milk curdled by the passing of Baba Yaga?  The sorrow of a lonely god?  Brewed in the fire of the earth?  Harry!"

"Well, erm.  Yeah, there's rather more to it than that, Hermione."

"I know!" she shouted.  "You could have been killed!  What were you doing brewing such a thing!"

"Saving Severus," said Harry plainly.  He leaned close to his love.  "I had to do it."

"You bonded to him so that you'd be able to..."

"No," said Harry flatly. "Severus and I bonded because we love each other.  That's the only reason.  I..." Harry gulped and leaned his head into Severus' chest.  "I didn't know it would allow me to save him.  Not then."

"Blimey, Harry," said Ron.  "You mean to say you bonded with Snape expecting that he'd die?"

Harry nodded miserably and Severus clutched him closer, amazing all on-lookers by kissing Harry softly on top of his head.  "I'd hoped... I never expected to find a way..."

"Clearly," said Hermione, "if you were willing to try something so desperate as the water of life."

"I'm a potions master now," said Harry softly, "there were other brews I could have..."

"Shh, Harry," said Severus.  "You never would have brewed those.  Not even for me.  Even Aqua Vitae was far too risky.  You should not have done it."

"I had to," breathed Harry. "Don't you understand, Severus, I had to."

Severus didn't respond, he just nodded to the Weasleys, leaving unspoken that they'd have to catch up with Harry later as he wrapped his arm gently around Harry's waist and led him from the room.

They watched him go, the stares of the wizards who had assembled to watch the trial still on Harry as he left the room. 

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The World Keeps Its Own Secrets - Chapter 9


Title: The World Keeps Its Own Secrets
Author: neddiheht
Rating: A possibly racey R in places
Pairing: Snarry (Severus Snape/Harry Potter)
Word count: 1551
Disclaimer:
Harry Potter, Severus Snape and all other characters, places, etc. from the Harry Potter universe are the property of J.K. Rowling. No claim of ownership is intended by this piece of fan fiction.
Summary: When Harry is sent back in time to avoid the killing curse, he finds himself in a mask of his own creation, faceless, voiceless, friendless, teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts for his sole confidante, Albus Dumbledore.  But one of the professors is suspicious, and won't let the secrecy of the new Defense professor go.

---
The restricted ward at St. Mungos was not a pleasant place.  Partly because the victims of the worst enduring curses that Voldemort's minions could concoct lay here screaming, but mostly, for Harry, it was that the man he loved most in the world, his Severus, lay there in a bed unmoving.  A private bed, in a private room, arranged by the Minister of Magic.

It had been a year.  A year since he'd fed his love, his bonded, the water of life.  An impossible potion, the water of life could repair almost any injury given enough time.  But Nagini's venom was formidable.  To Harry's horror in researching the venom, he'd discovered that Arthur Weasley hadn't really survived it.  The miracle that had him living was a temporary affair... eventually the venom traces in his system would build up and kill him.  His treatment had been swift and benefited from the Order's love of the man and his family... he'd still live a long life, but he'd never reach the lengthy span promised most wizards.

Formidable described the venom perfectly, just as impossible described the water of life perfectly.  An impossible venom countered by an impossible potion.  Harry stroked the long delicate fingers of his beloved.  Harry had awoken five years ago from the haze of the potions that had concealed him from the world, that had concealed his identity as he studied pharmacology in the Muggle world, that kept him safe from his master as he learned the subtle art of potions that had eluded him for so long.  

Severus had felt him wake from that clouded life.  How could he not... they shared a single soul.  And that terrible night, unable to do anything to interfere, Harry had felt him die.  He'd felt the part of their soul that was Severus return to him.  But he'd prepared.  So very long he'd prepared.  Potions mastery had a dark element to it, deep and forbidding, and a master could not help but know of the mysterious brews that created life and suffocated hope, that nurtured passion and fed love.  Just as there was liquid luck and bottled glory, so also could life be brewed and bottled and purified to its rarest essence.  

Most considered the brew a myth.  Like the Philosopher's Stone, or Horcruxes, it was a fabled rumor among experts and nothing more.  But Harry Potter had more than enough experience with impossible things.  As Jamie Evans he'd emerged from the shell of existence Severus had created for him and he'd delved deep into the corners of the earth and into the depths of places no human foot had trod in centuries.  In the very shadow of Hogwarts he'd waited that night, cradling the miracle brew in its impervious container until the deed was done and his love's body had been abandoned.

A year.  Severus still hadn't woken.  He still hadn't done much more than breathe.  Harry still waited, ignoring the wails of the other patients leaking through the heavy door, watching.  Sleepless eyes fixed upon Severus face, he waited.  A healer came once a day to check on the fallen wizard, as they had since he arrived.  The healer didn't ask questions, just cast a cleansing charm, checked the nutrient potions, and then left as quickly as possible, chased out by the chill of the man's protector in his Dementor's robes.

Once a week Kingsley Shacklebolt would arrive and check on the fallen wizard.  He'd talk to Harry, quietly and in hushed tones, using no names, and try to convince him to give it up.  Each time Harry would shake his head sadly, look at him with eyes of brilliant green, and whisper "the water of life."  Kingsley would sigh, return Harry's look with sad eyes of his own, and then give the new healer instructions about their mystery patient and the shrouded stranger who was spoken of only as Mister Evans.

The charms on the restricted section prevented word from spreading about the patient, and indeed no one who had been inside could even remember the hooded figure that hunched next to the bed, tenderly grasping the unconscious wizard's hand, whispering to him in low sibilant tones.  Of course, the Master Healer of the ward could see him.  He knew.  And he said nothing... his memory of that shroud and those tones were forever embedded in his memories of Hogwarts.

Harry looked adoringly at the face of his beloved.  He'd been living on potions.  It wasn't healthy, and Severus would kill him when he woke up for abusing his skills so.  But he'd been awake and watching his love every moment of every day for a year, saving only the brief visit he'd given Molly to warn her of his impending death.  And today he was glad of his vigilance.  An eyelid fluttered as he watched and Harry's eyes grew wide.  He stroked the man's fingers.  The eyelid fluttered again.  Harry's heart leapt in his chest as his fingers moved from Severus' hand to his face tracing the lines.  Again, this time the eyelids fluttered, opening slowly.  Black eyes, dead and soulless stared into the room.

Harry gave out a cry of desperation as he slipped his hands into his robes and began to feed the man potion after potion, carefully measuring amounts and feeding them to him one after another.  The healer's rushed in, alerted to their patient's waking by the monitoring spells on the room, trying to get to their patient only to find themselves thrown back with a force most Aurors would be hard pressed to manage.  Then the Master Healer was there.  The spell to cast him back was easily deflected.  That drew Harry's attention, and the barest hint of a smile.

"Professor Evans," said Marcus Billpot softly.  "Let me help you."

The empty cowl stared back at him for just a moment and then nodded.  "Come then," said Harry quietly, his voice his own, bereft of its usual sibilant echo.

That itself shocked the healer, but he approached all the same.  "What are you feeding him," asked Billpot, seeking out empty vials to look for labels but finding none.

"Something that is necessary, Mister Billpot," said Harry rather softly.  He glanced up.  "It will save his life."

"I don't doubt that, sir.  I just don't know how you're going to get around the soulless problem.  I mean, Snape was a git," he nodded at the patient, "but no one deserves to live like that -- empty."

Harry heaved a deep breath as he held up the potions and gave the very briefest explanation for each.  

"I get that these potions make it possible for the body that has lost its soul to have it bound back into its body, but even if you had a willing sacrifice," said Billpot slowly, "even if you sacrificed yourself, sir, it wouldn't bring him back.  You'd need his soul, and he might have been a rather dark wizard, but I doubt he was hiding away his soul."

"He didn't have to," said Harry very softly, "our soul is a shared thing, and it will walk beside me forever."

"Sir?"

Harry clasped Severus' arm and the tattoo of the serpent slid across Harry's skin and onto Severus.  Marcus' eyes grew like saucers as Harry shuddered.

"What are you doing?"

"Giving him back his soul," said Harry weakly.  "Wake him."

"It's not safe, Professor."

"Now, Mister Billpot."

The Healer pointed his wand at Snape. "Enervate!"

Severus convulsed, his eyes closing momentarily as his body was shocked back into its natural rhythm.  His eyes opened to a room full of stunned healers, a rather dull former student from Gryffindor whose robes marked him as a healer, and a shrouded figure in Dementor robes.  "Harry..."

Harry choked back a sob as he threw back his hood.  "I am here, Sev."

"I am dead then."

Marcus stared at Jamie Evans, who was clearly too old to be Harry Potter, and yet looked rather exactly like him excepting some fine lines at the corners of his eyes and the barest hint of gray at the temple.  "Professor Evans?"  

Harry ignored him, his attention on Severus.

"I am to be tormented in death by Gryffindors," wailed Severus.

"Melodramatic much," said Harry, leaning down to kiss Severus rather seriously, if briefly on the lips.  "I've missed you."

"You promised you would."

"I'm a Gryffindor," said Harry, with a playful eyebrow waggle, "we always keep our promises."  He looked up at the stunned healers.

"Professor Evans?" asked Marcus helplessly.

"Yes."

"But you're... you're Harry..."

"Potter, yes."

"But you're dead," said the rather confused healer.  "Two weeks ago, at Hogwarts."

"Obviously not all things are as they appear to be," said Harry.

"But two weeks ago... you were..."

"Involved in an incident?  For me that incident happened fifteen years ago, Mister Billpot," said Harry slowly.  "Rather obviously, it did not involve me dying."

"He's still rather dense," said Severus slowly, pulling himself upright against his pillows.  "Perhaps you cursed him too severely in that exercise all those years ago."

"Probably," said Harry, leaning down again to kiss Severus gently on the lips.  He shuddered as the sensation filled him.  "Oh, Sev.  I need you..."

"Yes..." breathed Snape.

Harry grabbed hold of Severus and there was a soft crack.

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The World Keeps Its Own Secrets - Chapter 8


Title: The World Keeps Its Own Secrets
Author: neddiheht
Rating: A possibly racey R in places
Pairing: Snarry (Severus Snape/Harry Potter)
Word count: 2335
Disclaimer:
Harry Potter, Severus Snape and all other characters, places, etc. from the Harry Potter universe are the property of J.K. Rowling. No claim of ownership is intended by this piece of fan fiction.
Summary: When Harry is sent back in time to avoid the killing curse, he finds himself in a mask of his own creation, faceless, voiceless, friendless, teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts for his sole confidante, Albus Dumbledore.  But one of the professors is suspicious, and won't let the secrecy of the new Defense professor go.

---
He knelt by the body of Severus Snape.  It had not yet grown cold, but the venom had mixed with the dead man's blood and was working already to destroy what was left of his body.  The soul itself had fled.  He reached over to the far arm, the marked arm, and pulled the mark of the Dark Lord from the man's body with a muttered spell.  Even in death the mark resisted, pulled and tried to call out to its master, but in the end the dark lines of mark pulled away from the flesh leaving the arm as pale as the rest of the man's body.  He smoothed down the dark greasy hair, running a hand along the pasty white flesh of the dead man's face, his touch tender, almost loving.

"Who are you?" asked a voice from behind.  The kneeling man did not need to look or guess to know that a wand was drawn and pointed at him.

"Leave me in peace," said the man, recognizing the professor's voice immediately.  They had been friendly, almost, once. "I have little time."  His voice wavered oddly, resonant and impossible, the truth of it concealed by layers of magic wrapped around his vocal cords.

"You are too late," said the professor who had walked in on the scene, his wand drawn, but no longer pointed quite so deliberately.  "The Dark Lord's serpent is deadly."

"There is much that can be done in the face of death, Horace," said the kneeling man, not bothering to look up, but continuing to cup the dead man's cheek tenderly.  "You of all people should know that."

Horace hesitated.  As a potions master he was too aware of the dangerous and forbidden draughts that might stave off death, or even restore someone recently deceased to life.  But this man's soul had fled.

"He was my student, once.  The best I ever had.  I would not see his body soiled by living death."

The kneeling man turned, his face still concealed, "We are bonded, Horace, I could not defile him so."

The professor hesitated.  Bonded?  Snape? He'd had no idea the man had taken that drastic step.  Few couples in the wizarding world dared. "Then what do you intend to do?"

The man pulled a vial out of his robes.  "The moment was foreseen."

"How?"  Horace asked.  He couldn't help but recognize the impossible brew the man held.  He stepped closer and even in the dim light, skilled eyes picked up on the tears that still fell from within the hood to fall on the fallen body of the once formidable potions master.

The man pulled back his hood and stared back at the professor, choosing to answer how he had foreseen the event rather than address the vial in his hand.  "I lived through it," he said simply, quietly. The glasses were no longer round, and the hair was still somewhat unkempt, and the eyes were still the green that Horace recalled... he still had his mother's eyes.  The scar had faded considerably, and there were hints of gray, just hints, at each temple.  

"Harry?"

"Leave me to my love, Horace, while I still have a chance to save him."

Horace nodded once solemnly and apparated away with an audible pop.

Harry Potter turned back to the fallen form and raised the head of the dead potion master, pouring the contents of the bottle down his throat and forcing the dead body to swallow with a quick flick of his wand.  "Please, Sev," he pleaded quietly, his desperation edging into his voice.  "Come back to me..."

---

Kingsley Shacklebolt stood bewildered.  In front of him was a man he had known for many years.  A young man he respected.  A young man who was no longer so very young.  And he held a dead man in his arms.

"He betrayed us all, Harry."

"Minister, I need you to do this for me."

"Harry..."

"In two weeks my younger self will testify and explain to you how important this man was to our victory.  He will tell you and the world that this man is a hero.  That he did not deserve to die.  That he sacrificed his entire life selflessly to protect the Boy-Who-Lived."

Kingsley looked at the older Harry Potter... and he knew it was indeed Harry Potter.  He'd gone through all the usual tests of identification.  "Yet this supposedly dead man lives.  How?  And why?  Can you tell me at least that?"

"The water of life, Kingsley.  I used the water of life.  As for why... I love him.  He needs care, private care, in St. Mungos.  Protected and secret.  Even with so potent a potion... he was very nearly dead.  It will take time for him to recover."

"Harry... the water of life will bring back his life, but not his soul."

"Minister.  Kingsley.  We are bonded.  Our soul is one."

Kingsley's eyes grew very large.  He took a deep breath and closed his eyes.  "For you, Harry, I will do this thing.  I hope your testimony proves him more than the traitor I believe him to be."

---

A hooded man stood at the grave of her son.  It had been a year since the defeat of Voldemort and few visited the grave anymore.  He was, like so many others, too much a reminder of what had been lost.  Arthur had pushed her to let go, and she knew the sentiment was well meant, that Arthur grieved also, in his way.  They had all lost so many friends, to have also lost a son had nearly broken them both.  

Molly approached slowly.  "Did you know my son?" she asked quietly, her wand quickly at the ready just in case.

The man's head turned slightly.  "One always remembers those who made one laugh," said a voice from the confines of the hood, it's tone and character clearly masked with magic.

A smile touched Molly's lips briefly.  He had always made everyone laugh, her son.  "He gets few visitors anymore."

"It is easier, Mrs. Weasley, for some to let go of the past than for others."

"Do I know you?"

She could almost hear a chuckle.  "I only came to pay my respects.  You were my real purpose."

"Me?"

"You visit every Thursday," said the man, his voice still filled with an odd and clouded resonance.  "I would speak to you of our Savior."

Molly suddenly became angry, her wand once again ready.  "Look you, I do not take kindly to people using my son to get to Harry!"

"He has not come out of Grimmauld Place in months, Molly," he said, turning to look at her, the inside of his cowl concealed in an inky blackness.  "Surely you know that."

"How did you know about Grimmauld Place?"  Molly's wand now pointed directly at the man, the experienced witch more than ready to strike.  Harry's residence was a well kept secret; only members of the Order had known about it, and a few Death Eaters, all of them dead.

"I know more about Harry Potter than most," he said, "more than even you know, and you were the closest thing to a mother he had."

"Harry saved our world," said Molly simply.  "If he craves peace, surely we owe him that."

"It is not what he needs."

"And how would you know what he needs?" snapped Molly.  This was not what she intended when she set out from the Burrow this morning.

"It is enough that I know," said the man, not moving.

"Not to me."

The man hesitated for a moment, turning away and then looking toward her, his face still hidden in the all too clearly magically enhanced shadows of his cowl.  "Did you know that Harry Potter is bonded, Molly?"

Understanding suddenly washed over Molly's face. Harry's unhappiness, his loneliness in the end, his pushing away of everyone he loved, even...  "That's why he turned down Ginny.  But how, when?"

"Fifteen years ago.  At the age of nineteen."

"Fifteen years ago he was four," said Molly uncertainly.

"A true bond calls through all the ages of person's life, Molly, as you know well," said the man, reaching to press a hand against his chest just over his heart.  "I am here to warn you.  Next week Harry Potter will finally emerge from Grimmauld Place.  A rumor will reach him that Severus Snape survived the night of Voldemort's attack, by way of a poor choice of words in an owl from Horace Slughorn, and he will go to Hogwarts to speak with Minerva and his former potions master about it.  Horace saw something that night, you see.  But there is a man waiting at Hogwarts, a Death Eater cunningly hidden who has lain in wait for this moment, for just this opportunity.  He will use the killing curse on Harry.  We both know how few defenses there are against it."

"There are none.  You can't stop a killing curse.  Only Harry has ever survived the killing curse, and twice at that."

"That's not quite true.  You can evade a killing curse.  You can dodge it.  You can be somewhere else... or some when," said the man, looking briefly away.  "No one uses the one sure defense, the defense of time, because it's impossible and dangerous and risks so much with paradox.  But someone did.  Someone knew.  Someone threw Harry out of the path of the curse and hurled him into the vortex of time. That someone is you."

"But... he'd have to..." Molly practically staggered backward.  This was Harry they were speaking of, Harry Potter... her son Ron's dearest friend since their first year at Hogwarts.  The man her only daughter had fallen madly in love with.  "You can't ask him to..."

The man threw back his hood.  "Yes, Molly, I can.  And I know what it means, and what it will mean.  I will have to walk through the years back.  But I will thank you for it."

"Harry... what..."

"You must not fail me.  Please.  I need him, and unless this happens, I will never meet him as intended.  Even if I somehow survive the curse, I will go through life incomplete, alone, and I will fade.  And I would not do that to him.  I love him too much."

"But Harry," said Molly stepping up to him, "this is a paradox, you are risking..."

"Time is not so fragile as the Ministry would have people think," said Harry curtly.  

Molly hesitated and looked at him straight in the eyes.  "Bonded... Harry... why?"

"There's only one reason to accept a bond, Molly," said Harry.  "Of all the people I know in the wizarding world, you are the one who understands this best."

Molly could believe that, it was likely she and Arthur were the only bonded couple Harry knew.  Even his parents had not taken that step.  "Is there truly no other way?"

"There are many... I've had years to think of alternatives.  But none will place me where I need to be to find love.  You treated me as family, Molly.  You do not truly know what that meant to me.  What it still means.  But I have known love, and I would rather that curse strike me down than live without it."

"What about Ron and Hermione?  They love you, Harry."

Harry hung his head, looking at his feet.  "And I have missed them, all these long years."  Harry looked up and his green eyes burned.  "But I love him.  And I cannot give him up."

Molly studied the no longer quite so young man before her, stepped forward, and pulled him into her arms.  "Then it will be done, my dear, dear boy. It will be done.  But we will miss you."

"And I you."

---

Harry didn't see the cloaked and hooded figure behind him.  He couldn't.  He'd left Grimmauld Place only hours ago, and made his way to the very edge of Hogwarts itself.  He was let in, of course.  In past the construction.  In past the collapsing towers and devastation.  His heart tore at the sight of it.  In the midst of the wreckage came Minerva McGonagall, his old teacher, now headmistress.  The man had risen from within the stone to which he had bound himself.  Risen and drawn his wand to speak the curse before any could react.  Screams erupted from the courtyard.  Wands were drawn.  Curses flew.

But only two of these curses could matter.  One, screamed in fury by the figure of a Death Eater, cackling madly. Perhaps he had been driven insane by the loss of his lord, or perhaps merely by the act of being a stone all this time for the chance to kill Harry Potter.  His curse was simple, a ray of green light accompanied by the feared words of an Unforgiveable Curse, "Avada Kedavra!"

The other curse came from the most unlikely of places.  A red haired matronly woman, full of cheer and rosy cheeks, touched with an enduring sadness, for it was here that she had lost a son.  Her words were quietly spoken, but firm.  And her curse was spoken first.  Green light sailed for the savior of the wizarding world, carrying death and hopelessness.  But where it was aimed, there was no longer a living creature to slay.  Harry Potter had disappeared entirely, without a trace.  The Death Eater who cursed him fell to the ground, struck by dozens of curses all at once.  Minerva looked at Molly, standing, her wand still pointed at the spot where Harry had been.

"What have you done?" said Minerva, her voice quiet but carrying across the field.

Molly looked at her former teacher, a tear falling down her cheek as she covered her face with her hands, but when she spoke it was not to the formidable headmistress, nor to the Aurors who surrounded her, but to the spot where Harry had disappeared.  "For you Harry.  As I promised."

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The World Keeps Its Own Secrets - Chapter 7


Title: The World Keeps Its Own Secrets
Author: neddiheht
Rating: A possibly racey R in places
Pairing: Snarry (Severus Snape/Harry Potter)
Word count: 1476
Disclaimer:
Harry Potter, Severus Snape and all other characters, places, etc. from the Harry Potter universe are the property of J.K. Rowling. No claim of ownership is intended by this piece of fan fiction.
Summary: When Harry is sent back in time to avoid the killing curse, he finds himself in a mask of his own creation, faceless, voiceless, friendless, teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts for his sole confidante, Albus Dumbledore.  But one of the professors is suspicious, and won't let the secrecy of the new Defense professor go.

---

"There's no chance?" asked Harry, his customary cloak on, but with the cowl uncharacteristically down.  The school year was nearly over.  He would have to leave soon.  It had been months since Severus first came to him in his chambers.  They'd continued their affair quietly and secretly, telling no one.

"I'm afraid not, my boy," said Dumbledore sadly.

"I..."

"I have established a fund for you to draw upon, should you have need."

"Money is the least of my concerns, Albus."

"Severus?"

"He found out who I am some time ago," said Harry hesitantly, then glared at the headmaster.  "Someone gave him the password to my chambers."

"Do you think it would have stopped him not to have it?" asked Dumbledore.

"No.  And it would take an accomplished wizard to get through my wards even once through the door, and Severus is certainly accomplished enough to manage that with or without your help.  But it tells me you wanted him to know."

"He was falling in love with you," said Dumbledore seriously.  "Surely you understand.  I needed him to stop. I needed for him to have a reason to stop other than me telling him to. I knew he would when he saw..."

"We didn't."

"What!?"

"We didn't stop, Albus."

"You mean you..."

Harry nodded.  "He wasn't the only one falling in love."

"All this time?  What are you going to do?" asked Albus.

"I cannot stay.  Eventually, here, I'll stumble on a paradox that the world will notice.  I've no doubt I've come perilously close already.  And the world keeps its secrets.  The world is far more forgiving of such things than I was taught to expect, but those rules exist because people tested the boundaries too often."

"Where will you go?"

"I'll return to the Muggle world as myself and go to University.  I think a Muggle perspective is valuable. Then I'll apprentice to a witch doctor in Africa to do an advanced study of hexes and potions.  I believe that's where Horace got his advanced training."

"Your master will know."

"I will not know and in not knowing will keep that knowledge from my master.  Severus has agreed to brew the necessary potion.  I will become the persona I created, and he will create a shell for me to inhabit."

"He's letting you go?"

"No.  We will never let each other go," said Harry.

"What are you planning, Jamie?"

"You will know when it is time, Albus."

Dumbledore saw something then in the boy's expression, his eyes widening as realization hit.  "If this is... I won't do it, Jamie."

Harry turned to him.  "You manipulated me my entire life, Albus.  Kindly and with compassion, but I still watched the people I love die.  I still ended up in danger.  I started fighting this war when I was eleven, after years with a Muggle family that will never forgive me for being different or special.  I am going to go out into the world, in a persona that will not and cannot remember the love I feel for him.  I will not do that without being bound.  I'd cheat on him, never knowing, and never forgive myself for it."

"Do you know what it means to be bound, Harry?  No one does it for a reason!"

"Molly and Arthur did."

Dumbledore quieted.  "You know the Weasleys."

"I know how this ends, Albus.  I am entering with my eyes open."

"And yet still you hope to change it."

"It is in my nature to hope for the impossible.  One does not live one's life as the Horcrux of a dark wizard without learning that impossible is a state of mind."

Albus turned and stared into his eyes.  "A Horcrux..."

Harry nodded.

"You are saying too much..."

"I am setting you on the path, not telling you where it leads," said Harry quietly.  "But if I say more than I just have, the world will not permit it.  If you had not already suspected, no doubt I would be suffering for my words.  Now you know.  More than you should.  You will bind us together, Albus.  If you do it, with that wand... my bond with Severus cannot be broken, ever.  Not by any wizard anywhere.  Every spell cast by the elder wand is perfect."

"You still know too much."

"Now you know how I will feel for all of my years at school," said Harry.  "Please, Albus."

"When?"

"You will know."

---

"I... it is not too late, Severus, for you to change your mind."  Harry looked at him, running a hand down his cheek.

"I will not change my mind.  Indeed I think my mind knew long before my heart caught up," said Severus.  "Are you sure.  Here?"

"It is a special place, in need of new and better memories."

"You'll not explain that, I expect."

"I cannot."

Harry looked up at the moon.  "It is time."  He dropped his cloak to the ground.  "Alimee.  If you could fetch the headmaster and bring him here."

Alimee disappeared and Severus looked at Harry with a question.  "You cannot apparate in Hogwarts."

"You can if you are a house elf."

"And he can bring the headmaster here?"

Harry nodded.

Albus appeared then, quite suddenly and very disoriented.  "How did you do that, my boy?"

"I did not.  I asked someone who could.  It is time, Albus."

"You are both sure of this?"

They nodded.  

Albus sighed.  "There can be no barriers between you."

Severus nodded and twisted his wand so the rest of their clothes joined the dementor cloak in a pile.

"Once I start..."

"We are ready, head master."

"Severus?"

"He is my love, Albus," said Snape quietly.

"Join then."

Harry stepped up to Severus, close enough for their skin to touch its entire length, foreheads one against the other, hands each clasping the other's forearm.  It was close and intimate, and both their bodies were reacting to that closeness.

Albus pulled his wand then and began to chant, his voice strong and powerful and certain.  And as he spoke magic twisted itself in strands and bound them, pulling them together until their bodies stood entwined in elegant cris-crossed patterns that sunk into their skin.  

Albus looked seriously at Harry.  "Harry James Potter.  Affirm."

"I, Harry James Potter, do swear for now and all eternity this vow of love.  You are my heart and my soul, and the very best that I am exists within you.  I am the phoenix that is reborn.  Here in my heart, my love for you will live until the world is dust.  You are within me, Severus, and I bind that piece of you to me."

Albus turned to Snape.  "Severus."

"I, Severus Snape, do swear for now and forever this vow of love.  You are my heart and my soul, and I am nothing without that part of you within me.  I am the serpent that is renewed by the seasons and the shedding of its skin.  Here, where my heart will ache when we're apart, my love for you will live until the end of time.  You are inside my very soul, Harry, and I bind that piece of you to me."

They felt the fire of magic then, the pain of their love embodied as their skin became magic's canvas.  Across Snape's back a great serpent slithered and hissed and slid along his skin to wrap itself tightly across their joined arms.  And on the other a phoenix flew, swirling it's flight around their other arm.

"You truly intend this madness?" asked Dumbledore quietly.  

"We do."

"Once you kiss the binding can never be undone."

"I know what this act holds, Albus," said Harry.

"Severus?"

Severus said nothing, instead simply taking Harry's lips against his own.  The magical threads that held them together began to glow and Albus spoke again, the words of primal power that would literally fuse their souls into a single entity, unbreakable, inseparable, forever.  Albus knew this to be a painful process, knew that most couples cried out.  Knew that most separated and broke the bond before the process could work.  But Harry and Severus simply clung to each other, tears falling down their cheeks, whispering I love yous until the pain stopped.

Finally the magic holding them against one another faded, but they did not separate.  Only their arms moved, each folding the other into an embrace.  Harry whispered something into the air and then both he and Severus were gone.

---

"I will miss you," said Harry, pressing his hand against Severus' heart.

"Our bond travels with you, Harry," said Severus quietly, the magical tattoo slithering seamlessly from Severus onto Harry as though their skin were a single canvas.  "Please... come back to me."

"It will be years," said Harry sadly.

"I will be waiting, however many years it becomes."

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The World Keeps Its Own Secrets - Chapter 6


Title: The World Keeps Its Own Secrets
Author: neddiheht
Rating: A possibly racey R in places
Pairing: Snarry (Severus Snape/Harry Potter)
Word count: 1812
Disclaimer:
Harry Potter, Severus Snape and all other characters, places, etc. from the Harry Potter universe are the property of J.K. Rowling. No claim of ownership is intended by this piece of fan fiction.
Summary: When Harry is sent back in time to avoid the killing curse, he finds himself in a mask of his own creation, faceless, voiceless, friendless, teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts for his sole confidante, Albus Dumbledore.  But one of the professors is suspicious, and won't let the secrecy of the new Defense professor go.

---

Severus tried to forget the kiss, and the words that had followed it.  He'd tried to forget that the headmaster had given him the password to Evans's rooms months ago.  Tried to pretend that he didn't ache for the touch of those lips against his again.  This was silly.  He'd never even seen the man, not really.  And yet there was no denying the strength of the attraction that he felt for his fellow professor.  

It was the silence that drove him to it, finally.  Jamie had taken to eating alone in his rooms.  There were no more teas.  There were no more dinners.  Severus was starved to hear that voice again.  Not to listen to it echoing in sibilant tones through an open door while the man taught the intricacies of fighting dark magic, but the softness of it that he'd come to enjoy during tea and a game of chess or mah-jong.  He managed to make it two weeks before taking matters into his own hands.

Flitwick had relieved him in the regular nightly patrol of the corridors an hour ago, but Severus hadn't found his way to the portrait leading to Professor Evans's suite.  He'd been surprised to learn it was in the Gryffindor tower, and that itself gave him a grim foreboding.  Evans had mentioned that it had been a Gryffindor who betrayed the Potter family... and that revelation had him just now fearful that it might be Sirius Black in the Gryffindor tower.  Sirius Black who had betrayed his Lily, his dearest friend.  Sirius Black with whom he'd had a torrid love affair once, before James had stolen him away.  Love of James, anyway. James himself had always belonged to Lily, though they both allowed Black to hang on.  To be the boy's godfather. Sirius Black, who Albus Dumbledore might just have it within his heart to forgive.  The thought terrified him.

He had to hope.  He knew Black's voice, knew the feel of his lips.  Knew them too well.  It had been Black's screams that accompanied his first ecstasy.  Black's kisses that had wrapped their way around his heart.  Lily had warned him.  Known that it would end in heart break.  Known that it would sour and turn into a hatred that would pull them all apart.  

He stopped before the portrait and spoke the password, unwrapping wards as he spoke.  And he kept unwrapping them... Evans didn't take chances.  Gringotts had more security!  Snape allowed his mouth to twist into a smile as he found his way through and expertly wrapped the wards back into place.  The Dementor's cloak hung in the corner, the room done in the bright red and gold of the house.  He glanced at the book shelves and was surprised to find a number of books on Quidditch as well as the expected volumes of dark magic and works on the defenses against it.  A number of rare and ancient works on time travel and its effects also graced the shelves, protected by glamours as powerful as those that concealed the dark arts books.  He was prepared then, if someone made it through.

Snape walked quietly through the suite, disarming wards and rearming them as he went until he stepped quietly into the bedroom.  A red haired boy lay there.  Or he was meant to think so.  To think it was a Weasley.  Severus held back his reaction and instead looked for the signs of glamour, and finding them unwove this one too, and left it unwoven.

The boy in the bed clutched at his forehead, tossing and turning.  His pasty body dripped with perspiration, and the marks of tears ran down his cheeks.  He was slight and pale, with just a hint of brown hair marking his chest.  The scars on his arm were real, Snape noted, but his face... it was like looking at James Potter.  The boy's cries grew worse as he screamed and held his hand against his forehead.  His hair was long and a deep brown just this side of black, and it went untamed and wild, though attempts had clearly been made to tame it.  His skin still had that bit of glow that spoke of youth, and yet the growth of beard that spoke of adulthood.

The boy was calling his name.

Severus remained calm.  He knew what it probably meant.  The hint of the scar he'd seen as the boy writhed in pain and nightmare.  The resemblance to that man he'd hated.  No wonder he hid.  If Evans opened his eyes, Severus had no doubt he'd be staring into Lily's eyes.  Silently Severus cursed Dumbledore.  The boy had been right to hide.  He'd have been known almost immediately.  And there were many dark wizards who would just love to cast Avada Kedavra on this boy... on this man.  This man who'd entranced him.  This man who'd tried to be an island until Severus had forced him to stop.

This man that he was falling in love with.  Severus felt his body shudder.  He'd tried not to admit it to himself until now.  That he'd grown too fond of the young professor to really consider it just a fascination.  

Honesty.  If that's what Jamie wanted, then that's what he'd get.  Severus would follow his heart... just this once.  Severus took a deep breath and slid out of his shoes, sliding under the covers to pull Jamie Evans into his arms and whisper soothing words to him.  Jamie settled, but it didn't last.  The nightmares came again, and Severus kept holding him.  There were other names.  There were screams of remembered pain.  There were shudders and sweating and that electric feeling that Snape still feared to name as he held the young man.  And finally there were sobs into his shoulder as Jamie woke.  When he was done he pulled away and looked at Snape with those eyes, with Lily's eyes.

"Better?" asked Severus quietly.

"How did you?"

"Your wards were very good, Harry."

"My name is..."

"Harry Potter," said Severus.  "Don't you dare sit there staring at me with my best friend's eyes and tell me a lie."

"Why did you have to push," said Harry, pushing him away.  "I don't want people in danger again because of me."

"My duty is to throw myself in front of that danger and never let it harm you."

"And what if that duty gets you killed, Severus?"  Harry looked down.  "I get you killed, Severus."

"Then I will die having protected you.  I would gladly have done it for Lily.  I will do it gladly for you."  

Harry looked him in the eyes.  "I don't want you to die..."

"And you think I relish the idea?  Dying for the son of a man I hated?"

"He gave you reason," said Harry quietly.

"You know then."

"I know I tried to stay away.  I didn't want... It was so much easier not to want you when I hated you."

"To not feel this?" asked Severus, running the backs of his long fingers against Harry's cheek.

"But I do want you," said Harry glumly, as if it was the worst thing in the world.

"Do you think I would be here if I didn't share that desire?"

"I thought if you got through the wards... I thought you would see me and know who I was.  I thought you would run and leave me to be alone."

"And now that I have not?"

Harry looked at him and hesitantly drew close to his face, tilting his head.  It was an invitation, and Severus pushed aside his misgivings and took it, letting their lips meet, and move, and finally consenting to the demands of Harry's tongue when it demanded entrance.  Hands moved against bodies, lips moved against lips, tongues danced in quiet ecstasy.  When they finally broke away, both were breathless.

"We shouldn't be able to do that..." said Harry.

"Apparently we can," said Severus quietly.  "I'd... I'd like to do more."

"Sev..."

"I'm falling in love with you, Harry," said Snape quietly.

"You must know how dangerous this is..."

Severus kissed him again, seriously on the lips.  "I don't care."

"How very Gryffindor of you."

"Coming from you, I'm sure that was a compliment," he said, his lips going to work on Harry's neck.

"Severus... Merlin, Severus, we can't do this."

"Do you..." he sucked deeply on Harry's neck, leaving a mark, "really," he kissed him again, "want me to," he dragged his tongue lightly across Harry's nipple, "stop."

"Don't you dare!" said Harry, slipping his wand from under the pillow to spell away Snape's clothes.  "Now... where were we..."  Snape's tongue teased Harry's nipple sending Harry groaning.  "Right... that's fucking brilliant. Who said anything about stopping!"

Severus didn't stop.  He teased Harry to the brink with kisses and fluttered eye lashes and searing looks and the tease of his tongue against Harry's neck and chest.  Finally when Harry lay begging beneath his touch, Severus slowly pulled off the red and gold boxers and freed Harry's manhood, swiftly swooping down upon it and devouring it, sliding swiftly up and down the length as Harry bucked like a wild animal, grasping wildly at the sheets.  Severus felt it as Harry reached the point of no return, felt it as the boy's scrotum tightened and shrunk against the body, felt the spasms beginning.  He felt the hot spurts of liquid spreading against the back of his throat, and still he did not stop until he had devoured it all.

He slid up Harry's body to kiss him and Harry's lips were ecstatic to thank him for the pleasure he'd received.  "I..." Harry hesitated.  "I want you... I mean.  I... Dammit.  I'm not good at this."

"You'd think you were a virgin, Harry."

Harry laughed.  "You'd think..."

"Wait.  Harry?"

"I was saving the world and trying to stay alive.  When did I have time?  But I want it to be you.  Tonight.  Please?"

"Harry..."

"The world owes both of us some happiness..."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes.  No.  But... Sev," he rested his hand against Snape's cheek.  "You aren't the only one who was falling in love."

"It doesn't have to be tonight..." said Severus.

"I never know if I'll have more than today, Sev.  I want you inside me.  I want that," he pointed to Severus' hard masculinity, "buried to the hilt inside me.  And I want you crying my name until you come."

"Demanding aren't you?"

"Severus... you don't have to..."

"Harry," he said grinding his hips into the young man, "clearly I want to.  But you're... I mean."

"Please..."

"Is this truly what you want?"

Green eyes met black.  "I love you, Sev."

Snape leaned down to entangle their lips once more and then slowly, gently, took the gift he had been offered before he offered himself in return.

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The World Keeps Its Own Secrets - Chapter 5


Title: The World Keeps Its Own Secrets
Author: neddiheht
Rating: A possibly racey R in places
Pairing: Snarry (Severus Snape/Harry Potter)
Word count: 1251
Disclaimer:
Harry Potter, Severus Snape and all other characters, places, etc. from the Harry Potter universe are the property of J.K. Rowling. No claim of ownership is intended by this piece of fan fiction.
Summary: When Harry is sent back in time to avoid the killing curse, he finds himself in a mask of his own creation, faceless, voiceless, friendless, teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts for his sole confidante, Albus Dumbledore.  But one of the professors is suspicious, and won't let the secrecy of the new Defense professor go.

---

They sat across from each other in Snape's sitting room.  Alimee had gratefully brought them tea and biscuits, basking in Harry's praise and quiet words of thanks.  Harry was subdued, sipping his tea.

"I... I don't expect for you to let down your cowl, but will you at least talk to me?" asked Severus. "I had hoped we'd become closer than this..."

"I would have thought you'd have more caution.  You who plan and plot and carefully construct everything."  

Severus smiled quietly.  This man knew him.  Not just knew about him, but knew him somehow.  "Sectumsempra, Jamie?" He took a small sip of his tea.

"It was as close as I could really get to an Unforgivable."

"Who taught it to you..."

"Secrets, Severus."

"For all you know there is Veritaserum in that tea," said Snape, the corner of his mouth twisted into a slight grin.

"There is not."

"How do you know?"

"Because you felt that jolt too.  And you would not sacrifice it with a betrayal.  Not yet.  Not now."

Severus set his tea down.  "You scared my students, Jamie."

"I bloody well hope so," said Harry fiercely.  "And the Gryffindors too!"

"I haven't seen a display of magic like that... it's been a long time."

Harry nodded.  "I... I felt it necessary."

"To defeat Dumbledore?"

"I expected to lose, you know," said Harry.

"But you didn't.  He's the most powerful wizard in the world.  Even the Dark Lord would not challenge him openly.  And yet you fought him to a standstill, after fighting the seventh years from your class by yourself, you fought him and won.  And your seventh years... they acquitted themselves well.  But not one curse did they land against you, not even when they outnumbered you still ten to one."

"Is that what attracts you?" asked Harry.

Snape's eyebrow went up.  "No.  You fight and cast and move and speak with the desperation of someone who has known loss, of someone who is so very keenly aware of the consequences of loss.  Real devastating loss," Severus head fell.  "I... I have known a loss like that... I have..."

Harry leaned forward and set a hand on Severus shoulder.  "It is a horrible thing when the death of someone we love forces us to a duty we cannot control."

Snape glared at him.  "Albus would never have..."

"No, he would not.  You did."

"We must have been very close."

Harry laughed.  "Not so close.  You do a very good job of pretending to be a dark wizard."

"Then why?"

"One day, Severus, perhaps I will be able to tell you that," said Harry.  He sipped his tea for a moment.  "But that day will not come soon enough."

"You fought like it's all you've ever done.  Like you've been dodging curses..."

Harry had to stop his hand from going reflexively to the scar on his forehead.  "All my life?  Maybe I have."

"Are you so careful because you're alive now?  Is that why you fear paradox so?"

"Severus... Sev... I don't wish to talk of the future.  It carries too many bad memories."

Severus smiled.  "No one has called me Sev in a very long time."

"Would you prefer I didn't?"

"No.  I am... I am glad, Jamie," said Severus quietly.  "I just wish... I wish I could call you by a proper name.  See a real face."

"I am a dangerous distraction for you."

"The Dark Lord is not stirring.  Not yet.  And my former compatriots are busy being respectable for the most part.  They have, almost all of them, accepted that he has passed from this world."

"Fine.  You are a dangerous distraction for me."

"I am sure it is such a horrible inconvenience for you," said Severus.

Beneath the cowl Harry smiled.  "I am willing to suffer it for the time being," he said.  

"Why does Dumbledore trust you?"

He shook his head.  "You know I will not tell you that."

"Jamie... I... I need more."

Harry stood up and turned away.  "I wish I could give you more.  I... I've been sitting here, Sev, wanting to kiss you all this time.  Even though you're trying, trying so very hard, to get me to slip.  I admire that bit of Slytherin in you.  I wish my own house traits were so strong.  I always thought they were.  Just now I am not sure."

Severus gulped softly and poured himself a bit more tea.  "Surely to defend against the dark arts one must keep one's weaknesses hidden."

"Wanting to kiss you, Sev... that's not a weakness."

"You think not?"

"Your duty, Severus.  To the boy.  To Lily.  It gives you strength, does it not?  Has it not always?  Strength to defy the Dark Lord.  Strength to betray him.  Strength to go before him and spy for the light, knowing every instant is to risk a death that your allies don't even comprehend." Harry turned to look at Snape whose sallow flesh had gone completely white at his words.

"How do you know these things, Evans?" asked Snape, his voice at the edge of its control.

"I know many things best left hidden, Severus.  There will come a time when you share it with me willingly.  I can only ask you to trust that."  He turned to face Snape, who had pulled his wand.

"Legeli..."

Harry shook his head.  "You trained me in Occlumency, Severus.  You will not get secrets that way."

"I..."

"Trust me."

"You scare me, Jamie."

"You trusted someone once.  You know how.  You're just out of practice."

Severus looked at his tea cup.  "I have been wanting to kiss you too, Jamie."

Harry's heart jumped a little bit.  Was he really so excited to learn that Severus Snape wanted to snog him?  No.  That wasn't it at all.  He was excited because Severus was admitting that he wanted to.

"I am not a potion... I am not glory or fame to be brewed and bottled.  I require only one thing, Severus.  Honesty.  Is it a ploy?  Tell me now.  I do not need Veritaserum to see the truth in your words."

"You hide in a cowl and you ask me about honesty?  When I say I want to kiss you and have to use a name I know is not yours!"  Snape stood.  "Yes... yes, Jamie.  Whatever this is... this spark between us.  I value it.  I ache for it.  I listen to your voice and I want to see the lips that speak them, I want to feel them.  But don't speak to me of honesty, Jamie.  Because everything about you is a mask and a lie."

"No, Severus.  Only what I show the outside."  Harry pulled his wand and spun it about the room, plunging it into darkness with a wordless Nox.  In two steps he was against Snape, pulling the professor against him and pulling his head down to kiss him.  Their lips crushed against each other fiercely for a moment that stood gloriously still.  Snapes hands had wrapped around him, one against his back, the other running through his hair.  Long delicate fingers pressing against his skin.  It was wonderful, and all too brief.  Harry leaned forward and whispered into his ear.  "The truth, Sev, is that I want this, and it terrifies me that I must not have it."  He pulled away and the fireplace flared to life just as Harry tossed the floo powder, visible only as an silhouette before the flames as he disappeared.

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The World Keeps Its Own Secrets - Chapter 4


Title: The World Keeps Its Own Secrets
Author: neddiheht
Rating: A possibly racey R in places
Pairing: Snarry (Severus Snape/Harry Potter)
Word count: 2435
Disclaimer:
Harry Potter, Severus Snape and all other characters, places, etc. from the Harry Potter universe are the property of J.K. Rowling. No claim of ownership is intended by this piece of fan fiction.
Summary: When Harry is sent back in time to avoid the killing curse, he finds himself in a mask of his own creation, faceless, voiceless, friendless, teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts for his sole confidante, Albus Dumbledore.  But one of the professors is suspicious, and won't let the secrecy of the new Defense professor go.

---

"We are doing an exercise," said Professor Evans.

"You mean like, actually casting?" asked a nervous Slytherin in the front row.

"Yes, Amelia, like really casting.  What good is knowing defenses against the dark arts if you have never cast them?"

"But sir," said Marcus Billpot, a Gryffindor in the third row, "we can't... these are hexes and curses and..."

"It's an exercise.  No one has to participate.  I just hope that you will.  But be warned.  We will be using real curses.  Madam Pomfrey and Professor Snape will be on hand, but the curses are dangerous. Not all curse wounds can be healed."

"Why?"

"Because, it is not enough to know, Mr. Billpot.  Can you deflect a curse when you're injured and scared?  When the world seems to be falling around you.  When dementors fly in the winds above and your life is at risk?"

"I don't know."

"Would you rather know now, Mr. Billpot?" asked the professor.  "Or when the life of a wife and a son rely on the knowledge?"

"I..."

"Are you sure Professor Dumbledore knows about this?" asked Amelia.

"He does.  He was reluctant, but has acquiesced," said Harry.  "And your head of house will be there.  You need not fear the Gryffindor in me will prejudice me against you."

The room chattered suddenly.  Professor Evans had never revealed anything about himself, ever, beyond his name.  Not his voice, not his face.  Not even his given name.  There were still students who suspected it was a woman under those voluminous robes.

"Enough.  Yes, Mr. Billpot.  I was in Gryffindor."

"We thought you went to Durmstrang," said Marcus softly.

"There is no need to gossip about me, Mr. Billpot.  Five points from Gryffindor."

"I thought... if you were a Hogwarts student that you must be Slytherin," said Amelia.

"The sorting hat certainly thought so," said Harry quietly.  "But it placed me in Gryffindor all the same.   And Ms. Shaddersford... five points from Slytherin.  I would have thought you would have found a way to ask if you had questions.  By seventh year you should all know better."

"Will we really need any of this? I mean, you-know-who, he's gone now isn't he?"

"Leaving behind countless unknown death eaters and no body.  Hmmm.  Yes, I think you may need this.  Was there not a Grindelwald before there was a Voldemort," the room hissed in surprise as he said the name.  "Students who do not wish to participate may elect not to.  It will be dangerous, and there will be injuries.  Real injuries."

The class quieted.  "You really think we'll need this don't you?" asked Marcus.

"I think it's my job to prepare you whether you ever need it or not."

"Professor..."

"Yes, Mr. Billpot.  I am sad to say that there is evil in this world yet.  And I would never forgive myself if you left this class less than prepared."

---

Albus Dumbledore, Severus Snape, and Madam Pomfrey all sat in the faculty box of the Quidditch Pitch.  Several students sat in the stands, having elected not to participate, or who had parents who had refused to allow it.  On the ground Professor Evans stood, twenty students from seventh year arrayed around him.

"This is not a proper exercise," he said, his voice magnified by the Sonorous charm, "without a scene you can understand."  As he spoke walls rose, and crumbled and they realized they were standing all of them, in a facsimile of the courtyard of the castle - absolutely and utterly flawless.  Above them the sky darkened and dementors flew, and the magical wards of the castle crumbled.  Walls had shattered and there were bodies on the ground.  The students in the stands hissed as they saw their own faces among the illusory dead.

"Understand this.  The Ministry does not outreach well to magical creatures," said Evans, his sibilant tones rasping from his throat, "and should the day come when we see war again, we can rely on this.  Some will fight for whatever dark wizard decides to force his views upon our world."  Centaurs and giants appeared among the buildings.  "If they hit you, it will hurt.  But they are constructs only and can be dispersed with any hex or curse.  Your only solid enemies are the dementors above and myself.  Treat them with the caution I have taught you.  Because they are real, sent from Azkaban."

The students hissed in disbelief.  "There will be no quarter asked or given until I surrender, save that those injured severely will be apparated away for treatment," said Harry quietly.  "And there is no hold or limits, save that the Unforgivables are, of course, forbidden."  Then with a pop and a blur of white light he was gone and the scene began to move.

Albus surveyed the field.  "You are sure this is necessary," he asked the young man who had appeared beside him.  He had watched the shocked looks on the faces of the students as the first student fell and was quickly apparated away.  He had watched them running in terror from dementors as they tried desperately to seize a happy thought for their spell.

"Evans's students are doing well," said Severus.  "Only one has fallen.  In this nightmare," he gestured to the scene. "Yet I do not see them yet facing dark wizards, Jamie."

"Patience, Severus.  First they must lose hope.  Then they must see that it can get much much worse."  He paused.  "Besides.  The Dark Lord always preferred to send those he considered lesser creatures into battle first, before risking the purity of wizard blood."

Severus looked at the scene and nodded. "True."

Albus looked at him with a certain amount of terror.  "What are you going to do?"

The boy apparated away with a pop and then he was on the ground in the midst of the students, throwing curses and then apparating away, a column of flowing silvery light that dodged and weaved and cursed and counter cursed.  

Amelia fell to the ground with two broken bones, vomiting frogs before she lost consciousness and was apparated away for Madam Pomfrey to treat and in her place an illusion of her, lifeless on the ground.

Marcus looked around him in terror.  The professor hadn't been kidding.  His right arm hung loosely from his shoulder as he desperately tried to curse the wily bastard with his wand in his left hand.  Nothing seemed to stick.  The young Gryffindor managed to fight off the giants and the centaurs, blasting several with curses, but it was like Evans was everywhere at once, casting curses he'd never seen or even heard of.  He felt hope seep from him as the dementors circled lower.

The scene stopped as Evans sibilant voice sounded in their skulls.  "You are doomed, you know.  Would you join your friends?  Surrender him... surrender him and I will be merciful.  Surrender Mr. Billpot and I will stop this now..."

His fellow students looked at Marcus suddenly with torn eyes as the dementors descended yet lower.  Marcus felt despair.  Again the professor was among them.  Sectumsempra! came a cry and a Slytherin fell their chest crossed with blood as though ripped open.

They were only five now, back to back, blocking curses which seemed to come from everywhere, four boxing in a fifth who desperately tried to maintain the shield of silvery light to keep the dementors from approaching them from above.  They were all agreed not to surrender Marcus, but they could make no progress.  Not one curse had hit the professor.  Not one.  The giants and centaurs kept coming, an endless stream.  And the professor, with a pop, would appear and hit them again with a curse.  Mr. Everett had been hit with the strange slicing curse that the professor had used and was still casting curses as blood foamed from his mouth.

"Sectumsempra?" said Snape as Evans appeared in the booth again briefly.  "An unusual curse..."

"Indeed, Professor.  Unique," said Evans. He turned to the headmaster. "Will you give them hope, Albus?"

He glanced at Evans.  "And what if you win?"

"I'm good, Albus, but I think, probably not that good.  And should I win, there is still a lesson.  One person cannot fight a war for them."

Albus nodded as Snape shook aghast at Jamie's implication... that he stood a chance against Dumbledore.

"Come at the appropriate time, then," said Harry, and apparated back onto the field, throwing another curse.

They were down to four now.  Everett incredibly still stood, his face white and shaking, blood running down his robes.  Billpot stood in the center of the other three, casting his hope, what he had, at the dementors above.  There was a crack as Albus Dumbledore appeared amid the ruin.  "Enough!"

A second crack sounded opposite Dumbledore, Evans, artfully blocking the curse Everett sent his way.  "Come to save your students?"

"Dispel your dementors, Jamie," said Albus, his voice calm.

Evans spun his wand artfully and pointed his wand to the sky, "Expecto Patronum!" he bellowed the words and the silvery light from his wand bounded forth towards the sky, the silvery glory of the stag tossing and rending the dementors aside.

"You would challenge me yourself?"

"I will protect my students.  They do not enter this alone."

Evans apparated next to the remaining students carrying them into the stands and then reappearing on the field.  "Then let us begin."  He pulled his wand to his chest and then to his side in the traditional duel salute and then spun in a wild circle, his arms wide as he circled the winds in his wand and tossed the vortex at Dumbledore, casting him into one of the walls of the construct.

Their duel lasted over two hours.  At the end, soaked from head to toe, with three broken limbs, burns, and wounds across his body, Albus Dumbledore knelt painfully, head bowed, and presented his wand.  It was without surprise that Harry noted that Dumbledore had chosen to duel him without using the elder wand.  Evans knelt across from him, taking the older man into his arms.  Albus looked up.  "You give me hope, Harry," he said quietly so that only Harry would hear his words.  "If you can defeat me... maybe..."

"It's best not to speak of such things, Albus," said Harry quietly, glancing at the stands.  Then he stood and swept his hands in a circle, dispelling the illusion and the constructs he'd created.

"This exercise is over," he said, his voice echoing over the field.  He'd have a busy evening getting all the dementors back to Azkaban.  "Fifty points to Slytherin House, for Mr. Everett's defense of Marcus Billpot against others within his house.  Twenty points to Gryffindor for each of their three survivors of the exercise.  Twenty points to Slytherin House, for Mr. Everett also survived and fought while gravely wounded to the very end.  Students who participated in the exercise are dismissed without homework for the weekend.  Students who did not will give me two feet on strategy and what they saw in the exercise.  That is all."

---

Harry met Dumbledore back in the headmaster's chambers.

"What are you doing here," asked Madam Pomfrey, her gaze a silent accusation.

"I came to check on the headmaster, and to receive treatment myself," said Harry quietly.

"I have no treatment for you..."

"Pomfrey!"

"Yes, headmaster?"

"You'll treat him," said Albus. "And you'll do it here, privately."

"But headmaster..."

"He asked.  Before I entered the arena.  And he expected to lose."

"Then one of my assistants can..."

"No.  It has to be you," said Harry.

"Why?"

Harry let his robes fall to the ground, revealing a body battered by curses and elemental forces.  The white of the scar on his forehead stood in stark contrast to the soot and burns across his face.  Madam Pomfrey gasped staring at him as the significance registered.  "Mr. Pot..."

"Jamie Evans.  Here I am only Jamie Evans," said Harry quietly.

She turned to the headmaster.  "You knew."  Her blistering glare got a tired nod from the headmaster.

"What was the meaning of that exercise anyway," she said turning to Harry.  "Filling my hospital wing."

"I was giving them a chance to live," said Harry.  "They will not need it today.  Or indeed for many years, I hope.  But when they do, they will remember."

Madam Pomfrey treated his wounds, and, for all her bluster did so kindly.  When she was done and gone and Harry dressed once again in his dementors cloak, Severus Snape arrived in Dumbledore's rooms via floo.  Harry had time, barely, to draw up his cowl, as Snape stepped into the room.

"Headmaster.  Evans," said the potion master.

"How are your Slytherins?" asked Albus.

"Demoralized.  As are the Gryffindors, though they show it less."

"You would prefer I let the head master win?" asked Harry.  In truth he had been dealt a blow himself by defeating Dumbledore.  He'd had practice, of course. His only human contact during his year of self imposed exile after the war had been dark wizards coming to find him and duel.  He'd become rather an expert out of pure necessity... much as he had with all the other dark arts.  Well, that and helping poor Kreacher make repairs to the damage done to Grimmauld Place.  He sighed softly.  Molly would be horrified if she'd known.  Frankly so would Arthur.

Snape shook his head.  "They are still students, Evans.  Was that really necessary?"

"Would the Dark Lord have given them quarter just because they were students?" asked Harry quietly, his voice his own.

"You know he would not," said Snape, then hesitated and looked at John directly.  "Does not.  I saw Remus Lupin and at least one Weasley among the dead in your little game, Evans.  When is he attacking?  Give us information we can use!"

"You know I cannot, Severus.  All I can do is make sure those I teach are prepared.  The students need to know how real it can be."

Severus glanced at the head master who shook his head.  "Still won't tell us, Jamie?  You have to know some of us have figured it out."

"It's best not to speak of such things," said Harry. "The world keeps its own secrets."

"Jamie... Please..."  Severus reached over to take hold of his hand.  

Harry felt a pleasant jolt as Snape's delicate fingers took hold of his.  

"You felt that," said Severus.  "Would the world let you feel it if it objected so?"

Albus cleared his throat.

"Tea?" said Severus.

Within his great cowl, Harry nodded.

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The World Keeps Its Own Secrets - Chapter 3


Title: The World Keeps Its Own Secrets
Author: neddiheht
Rating: A possibly racey R in places
Pairing: Snarry (Severus Snape/Harry Potter)
Word count: 2790
Disclaimer:
Harry Potter, Severus Snape and all other characters, places, etc. from the Harry Potter universe are the property of J.K. Rowling. No claim of ownership is intended by this piece of fan fiction.
Summary: When Harry is sent back in time to avoid the killing curse, he finds himself in a mask of his own creation, faceless, voiceless, friendless, teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts for his sole confidante, Albus Dumbledore.  But one of the professors is suspicious, and won't let the secrecy of the new Defense professor go.

---

"The students are afraid of him, Albus," said Minerva, her frustration and worry written on her face.

"He is not who he claims to be.  I have checked, as thoroughly as I may, given that none of us have seen his face or heard his voice," said Snape, sipping his tea.  "Surely there can be no reason for such secrecy."

Albus shook his head.  "Minerva, I don't doubt the students are afraid, but that's his job.  Jamie is perhaps a bit theatrical to be sure."  Dementor's robes.  He hadn't expected that.  "But can you deny the students are learning? Learning a real respect and fear for the dark arts?  Isn't that his job?"

Snape shook his head.  "I've been nothing but impressed at the scope and prowess of his teaching," said Severus, a statement that brought a bewildered stare from McGonagall.  Snape did not compliment people lightly.  "But I fear he asks too much too fast of the students."

"You are the only other teacher as demanding," said Albus simply, meeting Snape's glare.

"He's teaching fourth years a rudimentary Patronus charm," said Snape, setting his tea cup down. "A Patronus, Albus."

"Would you believe he asked me to allow it in the curriculum for third years?" said Albus.

McGonagall's hand went to her mouth.

"They shouldn't be learning it at all!" said Snape.  "Maybe in their seventh year!  We all know respected wizards who can't cast one.  And only Aurors really have need of it."

"Maybe he fears they'll have need of it," said Albus, his brow set with worry.  "It is a defensive spell, and has legitimate uses for communication as well."

"He's teaching fifth years to duel, Albus, really duel, not the play of the second years," said Minerva quietly.  "And quite ably too!"

"Did you have doubts to his qualifications?" asked Dumbledore quietly.  The question was asked to Minerva, but Snape did not doubt who he was really asking.

"I have checked thoroughly," said Snape.  "This man does not exist.  That itself is more than just suspicious. I would have expected to find a shell, some farce at least to keep suspicion away, but there is nothing at all. I... Albus.  Tell us.  We can be trusted!"

"Those are his secrets to tell, Severus. I trust you would not wish me to tell him yours."

"By Salazar, Albus.  That's what he said!"

Dumbledore smiled.  "Really.  That's a rather better sign than you think.  Perhaps you should get to know him.  He speaks to no one outside of classes.  He keeps to himself even more than you Severus."

"You wish us to get to know him, Albus?" asked Minerva.  "But he's..."

Severus looked seriously at Albus.  "May I speak to the headmaster a moment alone, Minerva."

"Albus?" she asked glancing at him.

"It's okay, Minerva."

Minerva nodded at the headmaster and gave a piercing look to Snape as she left.

"You should reconsider this, Albus," said Snape simply.  "This man... I fear how he can possibly know so much.  He is in your circle, and that is dangerous."

"What do you know."

"That things are not so simple," said the potions master.  "I tried to give him Veritaserum on the train."

"That's a serious breach of trust, Severus."

"The vial shattered."

"Wandless magic.  I wouldn't have expected."

"Albus!  Do not take me for a fool," said Severus.  "Though after watching him I have no doubt he could do wandless if he wished.  He knew the vial would shatter.  Dared me to form the intent to use it on him.  Contrary to what Minerva thinks, the man excels at his job.  It's like that is all he has ever done... protect himself from the dark arts.  Which of us was he, Albus?"

"If you were willing to feed him Veritaserum, then surely you would not balk at Legi..."

"He is very resistant. Far closer to my level than I would wish to admit. I would have had to push to the point of damage."

"Severus, why will you not just trust me?"

"He will not let any of us close enough to get to know him.  He is remarkably like..."

"Yes, Severus.  He is a loner, like you.  A man built of secrets and pain and loss. A man afraid to allow anyone close.  One day you will understand why."

"Why does he wear those robes, Albus?" asked Severus.  "Dementors robes.  Draining him of heat and love and happiness constantly.  And he is in them every moment.  Do you realize, Albus, that he casts a Patronus wearing those robes.  Fully corporeal, Albus, the most powerful thing I've ever seen.  And he's coming up with the thought that makes that Patronus wearing those robes.  Why?"

"I cannot tell you," he raised his hand to stifle the man's protest before he could make it.  "There are limits, Severus."

"Cannot, or will not?"

"Ask him.  Maybe he will choose to tell you."

---

Severus was surprised to learn that the man ate in the kitchens.  More surprised to learn that he knew the house elves, and by name.  That he treated them with a conscientious kindness.  That he treated them like people.  His cowl still covered his face, his voice still spoke in a sibilant echo that could not be real.  But he was somewhat more free here in the kitchens than Snape had ever seen him.  Who was this man?

"Jamie..."

The man turned.  "Yes, Severus?"

"I am concerned.  You do not socialize.  It's not healthy."

"I'm not a student for it to be your concern," said Harry curtly.  "And faculty tea parties do not interest me.  But... thank you, Severus. It feels good for someone to... besides, I have been socializing.  Alimee," he said, looking at the house elf he'd been talking to, "this is Severus Snape, our potions master."

"I am knowing Professor Snape, Professor Evans Po..., sir," he yanked on his ears.  "I am knowing him well.  I am cleaning the explosions in his class room when the students makes mistakes."

The man's hand moved to the house elf's ears, gently pulling the elf's hands from its ears.  "It's okay, Alimee.  So, you know him, but I am introducing him to you.  Or am I wrong that he has never asked even your name."

Severus looked at Harry quite oddly then.  "You socialize with the house elves, Evans?"

"They are my friends, Severus."

"What about Albus?"

"A mentor... not a friend," there was regret in that voice.

"What about me?" asked Snape.

"You tried to feed me Veritaserum on the train, Severus," said Harry his voice low.  "Do you honestly want me to believe that you wish to be a friend?"

Alimee gasped at the revelation, but was quietly and meekly backing away.

"I... I was overly concerned about..."

"No," said Harry, reaching out a hand to squeeze Snape's.  There was electricity in that touch, and they both knew it. Inwardly Harry cursed as his trousers became suddenly tighter. "Never apologize for that, Severus.  You are doing what Albus wanted of you.  What he always wants of you.  Your concern, behind that veneer you project to the students, is what keeps them safe."

"I will be getting tea for you both," said Alimee.

"Can you bring it to my chambers," asked Severus, glancing at the hooded man.  "I would have us continue in more comfort."

Harry looked at him oddly, though of course all Snape saw was an odd tilt of the head.  "As you wish."

---

Snape's quarters were comfortable and less severe than Harry expected.  The bookshelves dominated the room, everywhere. The colors were Slytherin, green and white and black, but done tastefully.  A careful eye could spot deep shades of purple here and there, shades that matched the rich eggplant of Snape's antiquated tie beneath the robes that he had dismissed when they entered.

"Will you not remove them even here?" asked Snape, with a look at the Dementor's cloak Evans always wore.  "The room is warded... better, I dare say, than even the headmaster's office."

"You would have me confess."

"Would it be a confession?" asked Severus.  "Does it have to be?"

"I think it would be all you needed to know the truth," said Harry, reaching down to pick up his tea and take a sip.  "and you having the knowledge is dangerous."

"For whom?" asked Snape.

"Not just for me.  What is it you want, Severus?"

Severus rolled up his sleeve, revealing the almost invisible remains of his Dark Mark.  "Which of us were you?"

Harry laughed.  "You have that little trust of me?  I am not a dark wizard, Severus, whatever you may think."

"Then prove it, Evans.  Show me."

Harry considered for a moment and then pulled up the long sleeves of his robe revealing his arm.  There were marks there, remains of the cuts that Pettigrew had made, carving a likeness of the dark mark into his flesh as he used Harry's blood to restore Voldemort.  Snape peered at them, but they were healed well enough that the likeness did not show.  Snape ran his fingers along the marks and his face grew pensive.

"Did you try?" his brow furrowed.  "Why?  You are remarkably competent."

"A compliment?  How unlike you, Severus.  I did not try to commit suicide," said Harry, gleaning his meaning at once. "I gained my skills and my scars honestly, at school and through battle.  I was... held, for a time, by the Dark Lord.  I understand you have also had the dubious pleasure, so I know you understand.  This was done then, to claim from me my blood."

"You escaped?"

"Obviously."  He shook his head.  "I like you rather more than I should, you know, given that you're being a total prat."  He pulled his wand and unwrapped the magic from his vocal cords.  "This at least," he said, his voice no longer concealed by sibilant tones, "this I will grant you, Severus.  Should be maddening, I think, to listen to that for any length of time.  Must drive my students nuts."

"They listen because you teach them things they never dreamed to know," said Severus softly.  "Never dreamed to be allowed to know.  Not this fast, not this early," he hesitated. "Not this well."

"Another compliment?  I'm surprised at you," said Harry.  Then very softly.  "I wish I could spare them that."

"You really do," said Snape quietly. "And yet you know with a frightening certainty even Albus doesn't share that you cannot. The vial of Veritaserum shattered, Evans.  I have some idea of what that could mean.  I do not need to wonder what gives you such certainty."

"Does it surprise you that I hold affection for my students?" asked Harry, his voice catching.

"You still present them only the mask.  You are not like old Slughorn who collected his students like prizes, or Minerva whose stern demeanor cannot begin to hide the fact that she loves every student she has ever had."

"And do you show your Slytherins the man behind the mask, Severus?"

"You think there is one?" came the reply, eyebrows raised.

"I think you let yourself be defined by a duty," said Harry hesitantly, his finger running along the edge of his tea cup.

Snape reeled, but he left it hidden behind his mask.  The very one they were discussing.  "You know too much."

"And it still causes me an enduring sadness.  To know I can't ease your burden."

"You would, if you could, wouldn't you.  Me... a death eater.  Why?" asked Snape.

"Because I've come unexpectedly to like you." His voice dropped to a whisper, "More than I should allow myself to like you. And because you are more than just that, Severus.  You could not produce a Patronus if you did not have a happy thought in there somewhere."

"And that matters to you?"

"I too had occasion to be seen as only one thing because of a mark I could not control.  I let it destroy my happiness, let it possess my life until everything became about my task as I watched friends and loved ones die around me."  Harry hesitated.  "I've said more than I should have.  I..."

Snape reached for Harry's hand and Harry felt that jolt again. "Jamie... don't go..."

Without the magic overlaying Harry's voice, Severus could hear the choked sob.  "I..."  Harry stood.  "I have to."

"What if I would ease your burden, Jamie," said Severus, just a peek behind the mask.

Harry turned away.  "I'm sorry... I can't."  He retrieved some floo powder from his pocket and tossed it into the fire, disappearing through the fire into his own chambers.  He emerged from the fire and fell to his knees, pulling off his cloak.  He'd never realized just how much he cared for that man.  That voice that sunk into his body and pulled at him.  That severity that Snape exuded.  It was having an entirely too powerful effect on him.  His entire body was alive in ways he had never experienced.  Fumbling with Ginny had never done this to him, what just talking to Severus was doing.

---

"What is this mark he speaks of, Albus?" said Severus, looking seriously at the head master.

"You are treading on dangerous territory old friend," said Albus.  "Jamie has good reasons for concealing what he does."

"I... I find him. Compelling."

Albus raised an eyebrow at that.  "You must control yourself, Severus.  What you suggest could be very dangerous for both of you."

"But why, Albus?  I know you of all people are not so provincial to object for the obvious reason."

"Because the world keeps its own secrets," snapped the headmaster.

"He said that too.  It's a reference, very old, very obscure," said Snape quietly, meeting the professor's eyes.  "From a treatise on magic that influences time.  It's a reference to paradox, and the dangers to a wizard who has traveled to his own past."

"So that's what he was doing over the summer," mumbled Albus.  

"Who is it?" asked Severus.  "And why does he fear paradox so much?  We both know the danger is usually minimal."

"The bottle of Veritaserum broke, Severus.  That should tell you he has good reason."

"I'm...growing tempted to take that risk," said Severus, turning his head away.

"That bad?" asked Albus looking at his potion master a little sadly.

"He has been more guarded than he was that first time.  But we have been having tea.  And lately dinner also. I feared he would not risk it, but he does."

"And you like him."

"We talk about strategy, and potions and the dark arts.  He has a view point that is refreshing.  But he always pulls away.  He won't let me get close..."

"You didn't answer the question, Severus."

"Yes, I like him.  More than is safe for any of us.  He makes me laugh," Severus looked away.  "Do you know how long it has been since someone made me laugh?  He feels like he had so much life in him once.  He shows me, just glimpses.  And it's... intoxicating.  I don't have Lily to keep me sane through the loss this time," he looked away again with eyes tortured by guilt.  "I should focus on that duty. On keeping The-Boy-Who-Lived safe."

Albus smiled.  "He is still safely ensconced in the Muggle world for the time being."

"You will not tell me where?"

"No.  You would go to see.  To remember those eyes."

He probably would.  She'd been his best friend.  And those eyes had been his best ally, forcing him to look within himself for the truth.  "Is it so horrible to have loved a friend so much? They're not related are they?  I mean... I checked, of course, because of the name..."

"Perhaps you should try asking Jamie.  He might be willing to tell you."

"He... he reminds me of her. The way I feel comfortable with him.  I... I want to know him, Albus.  To really know him.  And all I ever get are his voice and those bloody robes."

"You said he laughed.  That you get glimpses.  You must know that to show himself would be to confess his identity, otherwise he would long ago have discarded the robes.  He is keeping people from getting close, from recognizing just who he is."

"I would recognize him, then?"

"I did.  Though it took me a moment."

Severus sighed.  "Thank you, Albus.  For taking the time to..."

"Nonsense," said Dumbledore, turning away.  "And Severus... his portrait password is 'mother' -- in the end I think he'll forgive me."

"You..."

"Kindness and compassion, Severus."

"What about the risk of paradox?"

Albus looked at him.  "You must choose whether you wish to take that risk."

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