Home is where you can go back.
Home is where you can go back.
Disclaimer: I own nothing except the plot.
Pairings: Severus/Harry (slash but not the main plot of the story)
Summary: AU. Tom Riddle adopted by Harry and later by Severus when they are bonded; Tom has lost his memories and become a baby again instead of being dead after the war.
AN: I’ve not read the seventh book and it’s been a while since I’ve gone over the other six books so the story is definitely AU. I read enough fanfics to be spoilers over the ending so I have a gist of it. It’s not that I don’t have books, I got all here, the last was given by a friend but Severus’ death really suck so in my head I denied his death or resurrected him somehow.
Thank you very much Metzy78 for beta the story. She added ideas onto the story that amaze me.
Please forgive any small errors or discrepancies that may have resulted from miscommunication between myself and my beta Metzy (who helps me around the edges when my English needs a little tweaking). Sometimes my vision and her edits don’t quite meet in the middle.
Tom was so, so cold and his body would not stopped shaking. His small fingers clutched the sweater closer, cramping the fabric in front of his chest hoping it could somehow help to reduce the cold. He had copied it from one of the warm looking people that he had spied on hurriedly passing his hiding place, but it had given only a small amount of relief.
A grating noise started to irritate him. It was even worse than the machines noises that came from the factory across the street, a small tear creeping into the corner of his eyes when he remembered that first blissful hour it had ceased and he had managed to finally get some sleep before the noises had resumed louder than before. Tom listened carefully trying figure out where it was coming from and was shocked to realise it was his own clenching and chattering teeth.
Tom was scared. He had thought he could survive without his caretakers when he magically disappeared from the orphanage. Out here he could get away from the bullies and the whispers from the other kids. It was such a happy time for him at first. No curfew, no harassment and he had bought as many lollies and all that he wanted just from the begging he made on the street. He learned to copy from the street entertainers and even sang a few songs that he picked up here and there.
Best of all, he found this hiding place to stay, an abandoned warehouse in a run down, and he had found particularly noisy, estate. Tom sighed when he thought back to that first day of winter. He had left the orphanage without any clear plans or thoughts of the future. He had forgotten to bring silly things like his diary and his favourite socks, but he had also forgotten the important things such as blankets and his one worn jumper. It would start to snow soon, growing heavier and heavier over the next month. He was so cold now and the future began to dull from the initial bright sparks he had lit. He began to fear for his life.
He wanted to live. He did not understand why such a thing was so strongly impressed in his mind. His thirst for freedom and comfort, had diminished, and even his sweet tooth had failed him some weeks back, but life was the one desire that had yet to diminish and he would not relinquish it without a fight.
Harry Potter’s fingers ran roughly through his hair, the nervous gesture finally settling to needing his scalp at the base of his neck. Fate just seemed to love playing with him. After all, what else could explain the fact that every time his life seemed to settle into some pattern of contentment and normalcy, the carpet would be ripped, or at least pulled a little out from under him.
An hour ago….
Harry was leaving work early today, eager for the outing he had planned with Teddy and James, his godson and son. Unfortunately an inevitable emergency had made him delay his departure for an hour while he checked up for dark art activity in lower London. “Just great”, he thought. He knew that Ginny would not appreciate waiting around for him in an unfamiliar part of town so squarely in the middle of Muggle territory.
After their reunion after the war, her constant nagging and questioning of everything got on his nerves and had been a one of the contributing factors in their break up. It had happened just a few months before their planned spring wedding. He had resigned himself to the fact that it was finally over and begun making tentative steps to moving on when three months later, Ginny had attempted to get back together with him when she found out she was pregnant. They had tried at the relationship again, but nothing had really changed, and it had not worked out. When she finally accepted it was over, they had made the decision to keep the baby. Children were the most precious thing in the Wizarding world, and in an attempt to promote the repopulation of the Wizarding World, abortion under any but the most except extreme of circumstances was declared a “kiss worthy” crime. James had been the only good thing that came out of their relationship.
From the first day he was born, Harry had shared James’ upbringing. He never did ask Ginny outright, but he knew she had somehow used magic to impregnate herself with his child as they had given up on any sort of physical relationship months before even the original break up. At least, they still remain friends but Ginny often gave him a hard time and he accepted it with grace. He could never shake the small amount of guilt that he carried after their breakup. They had been gone through so much together, and there was no reason why it shouldn’t have worked out, but somehow being with her had never quite felt right. He had spent a few nights over Firewhiskey contemplating the feeling and kept coming back to a few lines of poetry almost forgotten. ‘The heart can be fooled, and the mind subverted but the Soul… The soul cannot be quietened. It Roars, It ages, It Demands.’
Ginny’s red hair stood out in stark relief against the crowd in this dreary weather. She sat at the table outside the café with the hot cup of liquid still steaming, completely at odds with the almost non-existent remains of a pastry. A slight snarl of annoyance fleeted across Harry’s features. Such a blatant, if not large, display of magic in an obviously Muggle area demanded he make an immediate arrest. He shook his head to clear away his final thoughts of the inevitable words Ron would have for him if he followed his instinct.
He composed his face in a somewhat forced calm and strode to Ginny’s side and greeted her with a light kiss on the cheek.
“How are you Ginny?”
She smiled and folded her paper, “Good Harry and I see you’re well too”. They had been seeing each other every week since they had started sharing James’s care, and tried to maintain a friendly, if not sometimes uncomfortable friendship for James’ sake.
“Where have you been? I’ve been here waiting for an hour”, her voice now a little clipped.
“Sorry, another emergency at work. Thanks for waiting; I owe you one. Where are the children?” He was scanning around the area for them.
“They’re around somewhere. I told them they could look around as long as they stayed close”
“How long since you last saw them?” Harry frowned. He had a bad feeling about this.
“About forty minutes give and take. Why?” she looked up innocently at him. Harry was not particularly good at controlling his temper at the best of times, but when it came to his family and from her experience, the look on his face showed had well and truly reached that point and was about to erupt.
“Merlin help us” Harry spun around scrambling to find a somewhere discreet he could perform the Point-me spell to locate the children.
“Harry, Harry!”, “What’s going on?” Ginny caught up with him at the nearly corner.
“Merlins balls Ginny, this is Muggle London not Diagon Alley. You’re can’t let them out of your sight for 2 seconds let alone 45 minute to wander about alone” He screamed,
“I’m not interested Ginny, just leave off and let me perform the damn tracking spell”. He took off at a dead run and finally found a nearby alley reaching for his wand.
Chapter 2: Chapter 1:
Home is where you can go back.
Warning and all the disclamations is in prologue.
AN: Thank you Metzy78 for beta the chapter.
Please drop a line; I’m really appreciated for your thought and comment.
Chapter 1: Two Goldilocks and the one Bear
Teddy Lupin clutched James’s hand. He was starting to feel very uneasy and a little scared about their surroundings as the crowd of people started getting thinner the further they walked.
Teddy concentrated on making sure he didn’t let his fears show on his face as he didn’t want James to know that they were lost. Teddy could not understand how one minute the giant wheel he remembered from television, with all the kids riding around in seeing all over the city, was in their sights one minute and lost the next.
Teddy did not want to turn back as that meant admitting to James that they were in fact not getting any closer to the wheel. He remembered one of James’s recent tantrums, and was quite sure he did not want to start up those screams again without an adult around to save him. ‘James is such a baby anyhow’ he thought.
Aunt Ginny told him to take care of James since he was older and therefore he had to be responsible. He did not want to disappoint her as she might tell Uncle Harry. Uncle Harry was like a father to him and he didn’t want to do anything to disappoint him. He wanted to be brave and strong just like his uncle Harry, and make him proud. Teddy continued to reason with himself and decided he had to be brave and take James to the giant wheel like he promised, because his grandma always told him, ‘a good man keeps his promises above all else’.
Teddy’s amber eyes drifted down to little James to see how is he doing. The younger boy was skipping happily along at his side, quietly singing a nursery song to himself. Teddy could not help but squeeze on James’s hand a little tighter, this time not out of fear but love.
The boy looked almost a carbon copy of his brave Uncle Harry, with only his eyes showing that he took after Aunt Ginny at all. He had heard everyone talk fondly about how much James’s eyes made him look like Uncle Harry’s dad. They had the same bright smiles as when Uncles Harry told Teddy how much he looked like his own dad, Remus. It felt good to have someone, as important as Uncle Harry was, to tell him how loved he was, and how his own Dad would look after him from heaven the same was as Uncle Harry’s dad looked after uncle Harry.
It feels like an hour later when the two little boys came to a weary stop. James started to cry a little because he was hungry, and much to Teddy’s relief told him that the giant wheel could wait and he wanted to go back to Aunt Ginny get some food. They turned around and began their return journey, but they seemed to have made quite a few wrong turns because it didn’t look familiar.
While Teddy was trying to remember if they had passed here before, James suddenly stopped crying and pulled Teddy toward a deserted building.
“No, James we can’t go in there, it’s dark.” The little boy however had other ideas and dropped Teddy’s hand before running inside. James disappeared inside the door which was swinging almost ominously back and forth in the autumn gales.
Teddy had no choice but to follow behind and finally caught up with the boy inside what looked to have been an office in the now abandoned warehouse. James had his hand in a bag full of crisps, and was noisily stuffing them into his mouth like there is no tomorrow. Teddy felt his own stomach grumble and joined James, not thinking about where the chips had come from or who they belonged to.
The chips finished, they soon found all sorts of other foods hidden under the table, and inside a nearby cabinet, and continued to eat their fill.
Suddenly, they heard footsteps and creaking from the wooden stairs leading up to the office. They huddled into the cabinet and pulled the door closed, trying to keep quiet as the sound got closer and closer, until the door finally swung open.
Tom was still cold when he returned home from his hiding place. His eyes widened when he noticed he couldn’t see the packet of potato crisps he had left out this morning. Tom was very careful with his meagre possessions, and had worked out that while a lost sock was annoying, lost food left out where the rats or other pests could get it could spell disaster. For that reason he was always careful where he kept his food and he knew that he would not have accidently misplaced it. He quickly scanned around the room and confirmed that the other doors and windows were still closed and that none of the old mice holes had been unblocked. That confirmed, he finally saw the empty packed on the ground. He had not lost them, it wasn’t a stray mouse or dog, and someone had come in here and eaten his chips. His hands clutched into fists, as the horrible feeling sank into his gut. He quickly ran around the room to his hidely-holes and found that his worst fears were true. The intruder, and all of his food were gone. He began to growl when he realised that there would be nothing to hold off the hunger and cold tonight, nor tomorrow.
“Where are you…you mongrels?” he fumed.
James wrapped his arm around Teddy’s, as his small body quivered, and tears began to form in his eyes. The rage from the unknown person grew stronger and stronger almost as if thunder strummed through the room.
Tom heard a sniffing sound and dashed to the cabinet, “Who’s in there?” As he swung the doors open, a small boy sprang out, forcefully knocking him down before escaping out the door. In an instant, a scream, a bang and then silence.
Severus rushed into the building and froze in horror as his heart stopped watched in slow motion as James tripped and began falling from the stairs which had given way beneath him. Severus felt his instinct start to kick in as the muscles coiled to spring forward towards the little boy. Just as his body started the movement, he was stunned by the crack of an apparition as someone suddenly appeared in the spot mid air beneath James cushioning the little body with his own as the unknown rescuer slammed into the ground.
For the second time that day Severus was frozen in shock. ‘Not even someone with the damned luck and Auror honed skill of Potter could have made that catch’.
Severus snapped into action as his well worn reactions, created in the cauldrons of 2 wars and sharpened by his days as a spy, drove him towards the little boy. He quickly ran his keen eyes over the boy who seemed to have no visible injuries from the fall, but was obviously still shaken from it. He looked back down at the mysterious saviour to see a second small child, who looked not much older than James himself. The second boy groaned in obvious pain, almost appearing to still have the outline of James from where he had impacted.
“Are you injured?” he put James down and turned to start checking the unknown boy for injuries.
Severus was unsurprised to see Harry had arrived and dropped down beside them enfolding his son in his arms.
Severus turned back to the injured boy, leaving Harry to deals with James and Teddy, who seems to be calling for his godfather from the doorway above. When the boy did not respond, he took out his wand and began scanning for damage. He was relieved to find the boy was only slightly bruised with no internal bleedings. ‘The boy must have used accidental magic to save James’. Severus sneered to himself as he ended the scans, ‘another infernal Gryffindor no doubt. Why am I always surrounded by them’?
Harry held James in one arm while he wrapped Teddy in the other. He wanted to reach down and bundle Teddy up into his arms as well, but Teddy had grown alot over the last year and promptly informed Uncle Harry that he was far too old for such things. He was so glad that both boys were alright, and was listening to James telling him about the giant wheel and how Teddy had promised he would take him there for a ride.
James was a little muddled in some of the story, and got a few things mixed up, but then again he was only six. Harry had been able to piece together the rough story from James and had to stop him a few times to give a pat and a handful of soothing words to Teddy who could only manage the occasional murmured “sorry” amongst a few stray tears.
‘It looks like James inherited my luck of getting into trouble and then back out of it.’ Harry sighed ‘I’m sure this adventure and will only be one of many to come.’ With James and Teddy finally calmed down a bit, he turned his attention back to the mystery boy who had apparently saved his son from death or at least horrific injuries.
Harry remembered vaguely that he could not find the boys, on the initial casting of his spell. Something had been blocking the spell and in a panic, his mind had leapt to Severus. Ginny had meanwhile caught up with him and been scathing at the idea suggesting that Hermonie would be better to help since she was not only one of the smartest witches of their age, but was a Muggleborn witch who could surely help them far better in this Muggle area. Harry had stiffly reminded her that Hermonie was out of the country today before hurrying off to search for the boys. Just before he left he instructed her to contact theirs and Teddy’s families to let them know what had happened.
Harry was not sure why, but a small amount of calm had washed over him when he saw Severus arrive. It was that familiar warm feeling that somehow everything would be fine. Now looking back at it, he wondered why the tall dark pale man would have that affect on him? He left off wondering further on the surprising feeling, and went back to when they had both found the building.
A strange sought of feeling similar to a notice-me-not charm, seemed to surround it. Not waiting to delay further, they had both entered the building and split up to begin the search, neither sparing another thought at the obviously strong but subtle magic.
He was jolted from his ponderings as James’s voice cut into his mind,
“Oh! It’s him, Dad!” James pointed at the other boy and gave that familiar look as if to say ‘it was his fault not mines’, “He scared me and I ran out the door and fell!”
Tom awoke to the feeling of being watched. His eyes snapped open, blue instantly meeting piercing onyx, almost as if they were trying to look through into his very soul. The next things he noticed was the smooth stick the man pointed at him, his questioning gaze seemed to reach the man hovering above him.
“It is a wand. It helps to focus magic. If would seem that You have just used magic to save that boy”, the man said in a paced and neutral tone. Tom nodded and his eyes widen as he remembered what have taken placed a few minutes ago.
When the thief had pushed past him flying towards the door, he had instantly started the chase like a predator. It had taken only a few moments of anger before he recognised that the intruder was only a little boy younger than himself. Tom knew the danger of the stairs, and was opening his mouth to yell a warning as he heard the sickly crack of the wood splitting in two. He dove forward desperately reaching for the boy even as he knew deep down it was too late.
Tom saw the terrified brown eyes of the screaming boy as he fell faster and faster towards the ground. Time almost ground to a halt as Tom say the moment when the eyes of the falling boy grew wide and his pupils expanded as the wild and almost animal instinct hit that noone would save him. In that moment Tom remembered the terror and pain from his own short life, and he recognised that he himself had experienced that same feeling time and time again. Noone will save me. With that thought he suddenly felt a connection to the other boy. Tom felt an overwhelming urge wash over him to be there to catch the boy and save him from the sadness and pain as no one had done for him.
In the next instant he felt his world narrow painfully, then his fingers grasping onto a small body, and finally the impact as he hit the ground before he was swallowed in pain and darkness.
Tom slowly opened his eyes to be met in the piercing gaze of onyx. He blinked a few times then notices the stick the man was holding. The man with inky hair matching eyes seemed to study him for a moment before a careful practiced mask settles over his features. He spoke in a practiced emotionless tone, answering the question on Tom’s lips.
Tom listened to the measured words before responding, “I’ve one of them,” he slowly nodded towards the stick, “It called a wand huh?” The corner of Toms lip corner turned up a little. He knew immediately this man was different from the others in the world in the same way he was different to the other children in the orphanage. They were the same.
Tom did not see the raise of an eyebrow as he turned instead towards the high pitched slightly whining voice. It was the ungrateful brat he had saved.
“Oh! It’s him, Dad! He scared me and I ran out the door and fell!”
Chapter 3: Chapter 2:
Home is where you can go back.
Warning and all the disclamations is in prologue.
AN: First I would like to thank Prisca for her previous beta work, I’m sorry that it have not work out.
Second I would like to thank Metzy, who betas my other stories have agreed to take this story as well.
Third please forgive any small errors or discrepancies that may have resulted from miscommunication between myself and my beta Metzy (who helps me around the edges when my English needs a little tweaking). Sometimes my vision and her edits don’t quite meet in the middle.
Metzy is working through the earlier chapters of this story and should catch-up to the newer chapters soon, so bare with us.
Please no flame (I not cope well with them), I really appreciated that you reading the story, if possible please drop me a line…it would help a lot in my writing or encouraging me. Thank again for yours reviewed.
Thank you very much Prisca for beta the chapter.
Metzy78 will rebeta this chapter soon.
Tom Riddle remembered why he hated other kids again, the little boy he rescued was one, honestly he wondering wondered why he did it; they were always blaming him if something had gone wrong, he was their personal scapegoat.
Tom thought that finally meeting his own kind, he would be out of this, living better and having the home, he had been longing for. It all was a dream. He should have known better, nothing good ever come to him without a price. Tom sneers and glared at the brat; the boy carried by his father, a spoil brat no doubt, the man seems not very tall and when he met the emerald eyes, Tom froze.
‘Powers, enormous powers showing through the man’s eyes.’ Tom became dizzy from it, the power overwhelmed him and he feared the man; he diverted his eyes to see that the other man watching him,
“You were talking about a wand.” The onyx showing that he wanted the answer now and he was not to sway,
“Ehm, this is my wand, the orphanage found it beside me, I didn’t know what it was though, but it got a name on it and that’s how they registered me on the record.”
Tom pull the wand he hid inside his clothes; that was the only thing that he really owned and it made him feel safe. Tom truly feels completed when he holds it closely by him. He did not want to hand it over to the man but he knew he has no choice and he really wanted to know who he is. The man is the key to the past.
Severus holds the wand, the piece of wood looks familiar; he turned the end of the stick up to see the inspection and almost dropped the wand. He tightened his hold as if crushing the wand; he was thinking of breaking it in half, but a hand reach out and took it from him.
“Easy there Severus, what’s the matter with you today?” Harry laughed, and dropped the children when he noticed Severus pale face turning into deadly white, the man could use some suntan Harry mused. His hand reaching the wand, seeing the man is about to snap it.
Harry was alarmed, he did not need to look at the wand to know who it belonged to, and he knew no other wand except Voldemort to be his brother wand. The feeling of magic he has when he touched the wand was compatible and screamed loudly to him.
“You’re Tom Riddle.”
“Uncle Severus, why are you stunning him?”
Teddy was shocked when the other boy, Tom Riddle as Uncle Harry had called him, fell down to the ground; Uncle Harry quickly picked the boy up before Uncle Severus did anything other than the dark glares he was giving the boy. Teddy was terrified, he heard that Uncle Severus could be a very nasty bastard from his Uncle Ron and all sort of other names which he had forgotten and when Uncle Ron thought no one was listening; he understood what Uncle Ron means now. He feels sorry for the other boy.
Teddy’s question was ignored; however, Uncle Harry is very angry. He could feel the air crackles like if an electric storm were building around them. He quickly pulled James in his arms and prayed very hard that nothing was going to happen.
“Severus.” Harry scold, still shocked from the fact that Riddle was being alive and he was in his arms, the boy was so lighter than Teddy, ‘Oh Merlin, Riddle is a little boy again.’
Harry stares at the boy, it was definitely Riddle, the feature still the same and his eyes as he remembered from Dumbledore’s pensive before Riddle splits his soul. He knew he did the right thing but it will not be easy if he was continuing this course of action.
“Let’s go home, Severus could you portkey the children home, I’ll apparate with the boy.” He sighs, Severus is giving a killing intent aura and the day was not over yet.
“Daddy, must we going to our room now, I want to be outside and play Quidditch with Teddy.”
Harry put James down and nodded his approval at Teddy, who was already inside their room and set up the play station, the Muggle’s game Hermione had given to James last Christmas.
“I’m sorry James, but I have to talk to Uncle Severus about business. How about I promise, we’ll play tomorrow? OK.” James knew that tone, it was when his dad was not going to change his mind, and he gave a sniff before closing the door.
“Teddy, James if you need anything calls for Tinker, OK boys?” Harry shouted outside the door, “Good night boys. Don’t stay up too late. Tinker will let me know if you do.”
“Yes dad, night!”
“Sure, good night Uncle Harry”
Harry was weary, he really was looking forward to spending time with the boys, and he could not help it. Who would have thought the boy, Riddle, who he had put in the guest room could be so much of a problem, ‘who am I kidding, that is the previous Dark Lord aka Voldemort.’
He gave the boy a sleeping draught before cancelling the stunning spell, he was not sure what to do, but first, he needed to deal with Severus and his killing intent.
Severus was shaking, he could not going through this again, not the third time. Severus felt warmth on his hand; the gentle touch spreading and calming him like the Calming Draught.
“The boy, I’m going to kill him now.”
“Severus, no, he is just a boy.”
“That boy is Tom Riddle!”
“Yes Severus, he is Tom Riddle not Voldemort”
Severus looked down at Harry Potter as if the young man was crazy; his eyebrow raised “and that made a difference, how long do you think he’ll know who he is?”
“Dang it, Severus, I don’t know but one thing I’m sure of is: I will not kill him in cold-blood.”
“I’m not asking you to, I will do it.” Severus spun around his robe flair as usual, he had made his decision. The doorknob did not budge, Severus turning back to Potter, eyes narrowed, knowing it is useless to open the door once Potter warded it, no spells could be undone unless he let them.
“Severus, you’ll not leaving this room til you promise me you’ll not harm him until he become Voldemort again.”
“I’m not risking this new peace for that chance again Potter.”
“All I’m asking is for you to be patient, all we know is that Riddle is alive, we don’t even know how and your mark is gone. I’m sure the boy is Riddle; his soul is intact and not split, he is not a horcrux.”
“What about the prophecy?”
“I don’t know, Severus, I cannot kill a boy, and that boy saved James today.” Harry turned away, but not before Severus caught the tears glittering on the emerald eyes set.
In that moment, seeing Potter broken form, Severus pulled the other body to him tightly, Harry wept silently as he remembered the past,
“Please Severus. We have killed because of the war, but now, to do it, it is nothing but a murder of an innocent. ”
“We’ll speak to Dumbledore; maybe he could shed some light to this.”
Severus knew Potter won this round and properly but there will be many more to come, he sighs, not looking forward to it, he really hated to be a loser, but he could not go against the boy’ will, not since the war ended nor that day when he knew he loved him.
Chapter 4: Chapter 3:
Home is where you can go back.
Warning and all the disclamations is in prologue.
AN: Please drop a line. Thanks.
Thanks Liz for your comment, hope you’ll enjoy the next chapter.
Dumbledore closed his eyes and sat lightly tapping his fingertips together as he thought deeply on the news they had given him.
Harry and Severus observed their late mentor with mixed feelings. It had taken a long time and they had both grown used to seeing him surrounded by a golden frame on the wall behind the Headmaster’s desk, amongst his esteemed predecessors, rather than across the desk in the flesh. It was a great relief and source of comfort that they could still see and talk to the man; however, they still missed the feeling of the warm squeeze from his reassuring hand, or the hundreds of little things that the picture frame did not allow.
Suddenly, his twinkling blue eyes opened and his piercing stare reached out from behind the half-moon spectacles, “Sorry, dear boys, it’s beyond my knowledge.”
Harry thought he would fall off the chair. The old coot still managed to surprise him, even after his death.
“Albus!” Severus glared, not believing a word from the late headmaster,
“Severus, do not raise your voice in my office,” chided the current Headmistress.
“It is entirely alright, Minerva”, Albus’s mouth turned up in a slight twitch “Severus is clearly worried. You can tell from the new wrinkles around his eyes” he added as a slight chuckle was barely contained.
Severus sulked at seeing the way Harry was also trying to hide a snigger behind a sudden fit of coughs and even Minerva couldn’t resist a dignified twist of her lips. With that the tension evaporated from the group; it was just like Albus to break the ice. The news of Riddle being alive is dreadful indeed. The Wizarding World in Britain had only started to show signs of real progress towards a recovery, and another setback like this could well lead to the collapse and destruction of the fragile society.
Dumbledore fondly watched his loved ones relax before turning to the more serious side of their discussion, “I’m not sure how Riddle came to survive, but I am sure it had nothing to do with his own planning or foresight. This is more likely one of those natural mysteries that springs up in the universe every once in a while. No one had ever created a Horcrux before Tom came up with the theory, and I am grateful that the knowledge was almost certainly lost along with him”,
Dumbledore’s eyes were moist with tears at the thought of the lost boy. “Since Harry destroyed the last part of his soul in the battle, he should by all rights be completely gone from the world”. His voice turned a little more wistful “If it is indeed the work of fate, or the universe herself that he has returned, and has been given a fresh new chance…”, his eyes met each of his companions one by one before continuing, “and that is not something that can be ignored or taken ligh…”.
“Albus, you have completely given leave of your senses this time” Severus sneered. “How can that monster possibly have been granted a second chance when so many better souls suffered an undeserved death because of him?”
The twinkle flared infuriatingly as Albus added in a soothing but firm tone, “I am not arguing who deserved life and who did not my boy, as that is something that lays purely at the feet of Death’s jurisdiction. However, regardless of what has happened, Tom has been given a second chance. I’ve made many mistakes Severus, and one of my greatest was regarding to Tom Riddle”.
A small amount of warmth entered his voice now, “I see this second chance for him as a way that maybe some my mistakes with him can be set right this time and maybe help to undo a little of the past for him. I’m not asking you to agree with my reasons, but I am asking that you see this as the opportunity and maybe venture a bit of trust that this can be the start of a different future”.
Albus turned his gaze squarely to Harry, “Look deep within yourself Harry, and I think you will see that this is something you can do”, Albus paused a moment as he saw harry weighing his words, “I am entrusting the Riddle boy to you.” Their gazes still locked, Albus could see as the decision was made, and the late Headmaster knew without a reply that Harry would accept the task, no matter what is cost him.
Severus was angry. He knew nothing good could come from this meeting, but he hadn’t believed it possible that the old man could continue to manipulate him so thoroughly from beyond the grave. His eyes implored Harry as he gently squeezed his shoulder, pleading with him to ignore the old man’s request.
“I’m sorry, Severus, but Albus is right. I have made the vow to do the right thing where ever I can, and this is the right thing to do.” Harry took Severus’s hand in his, and waited silently asking for his support.
Severus shook his head, “Give me a few minutes to clear my head, excuse me, Minerva,” he added sadly as an afterthought, before exiting the office.
Severus strode aimlessly around the Hogwart’s grounds; finally stopping when he reached the lake. He was so very tired. He sighed as he thought back on the last few years of his life. It would have been a good life lived if he had died from Nagini’s poison. A solid and proud last chapter for his life. He had not expected to be alive after the war; it was why he had the strength and determination to see things through no matters the cost to himself or his reputation. Albus had persuaded him he could make a difference and he had.
He cast his gaze over the lake as his thoughts continued to wander. Years had passed since the last battle and everyone had moved on including him. Harry and Minerva had supported him through those awful years, not once allowing him to sink back down into his overbearing self, he chuckled. They had both crept into his heart and filled the void left by Albus and Lily.
Severus’s heart was heavy as he recognised the familiar feeling deep in his soul. The long held pain from his youth that had faded down to a whisper had returned in full force. Unintentional, Unforseen, Unrequited love. He held the feeling close for a moment almost revelling in its cruel embrace, criticising himself for not realising his mistake until it was too late. He was however, he reminded himself, older and wiser this time, and he promised himself that he would use the knowledge that had been so harshly learned and not push away the boy as he had with Lily. He would not stand on the sideline this time. A flash of anger mixed with amusement passed over his face as he realised he couldn’t predict if this tactic would proved better or worse for him as the last spectacular failure.
Moments passed as he turned the thoughts over in his mind when he realised that he loved Harry more than he had ever loved Lily. It was an adult love rather than the ideal fantasy he had with Lily. He smiled a little. The first love is always the hardest to forget but it could not hold a candle to what he felt for Harry.
Severus focused his mind on the decision at hand. ‘Must I always make my life so difficult’, he wondered. ‘Am I so pathetic that I will base the reason for my existence on another?’
In the end, it always comes back to one thing. He wants a life with Harry, and sharing a life with Harry world mean learning to share him with others. Sometimes that would mean being annoyed by the Weasley’s, and sometimes it would mean sharing precious time with him and his son. And it seemed that from today it would me throwing himself into a possible dark and dangerous future by sharing Harry with Riddle. But for the chance to have Harry in his life he would share him with Voldermort and the death eaters combined.
“Harry, are you sure you should let him go?” Minerva asked as she watched Harry track the dark haired professor as he strode out of the room.
Harry was lost a little in his own world as they walked leisurely into the adjoining study where tea was waiting for them. She had been aware of Severus’s feelings for a while now, and knew that Harry remained as imperceptible and dense as ever.
“What Severus? He’ll be back.” Harry shrugged easily taking the cup she offered. Minerva squinted her left eye just a little as she sized up the boy, no man before her. Maybe Harry wasn’t as clueless as she thought he was about Severus and the way he thought. But that wasn’t the same as knowing how the complex man felt about him.
Harry watching Minerva while sipping his tea. He knew what was going through her mind, and knew he should open up to her. He was so grateful for his old Head of House being there for him in his life, he didn’t want to risk alienating her.
“Minerva thank-you for your concern. Severus just needs some time to work out his emotions. We’re both a little selfish deep down. I need to do this and it will be easier if Severus know’s this decision is not up for negotiation” Harry said a little wearily rubbing his eyes,
“How long have you known?” Minerva’s eyes narrowed watching Harry like a hawk.
“Properly…, over a year now I think. But I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. After all the trouble with Ginny I hadn’t thought about it seriously, but recently,” he smiled before correcting himself, “actually it was today, that I started to be able to see us together as a family one day.”
Minerva dumbfound for a moment before laughing, ‘poor Severus. He doesn’t stand a chance’.
“Don’t tell him OK”, Harry pleaded, “I haven’t said anything because I wasn’t sure and I didn’t want to hurt him after everything went through. A small smirk turned the corner of his mouth and his eyes filled with genuine love, “It would have been impossible to not see at least some of his puppy glances by now and not get the hint. Not even I am that innocent”.
‘Puppy glances’ Minerva and Harry were roaring with laugher when Severus found them.
“Are you sure Severus?” Harry had expected Severus to agree in the end, but not this quickly and certainly not stating his intention to share Tom’s upbringing with Harry.
“Yes Potter, we will share the responsibilities and duties of bringing up the boy, and understand that that for you will include legally adopting him.” Severus met Harry’s eyes with a small but sincere smile, but his tone left a lot wanting and Harry frowned.
“Severus if you are going to be part of this new beginning for Tom, I need you to promise that you will treat him with the same respect and care you would a son. That means meeting his emotional needs, not just the physical”, Harry’s emphasis was a little grim, but he had tried to put his message across without sounding too distrustful. He still carried bitter memories of Snape’s treatment of him from his youth, and he knew Severus well enough to know that the man could twist any situation if needed. He needed a firm and clear commitment.
When no reply was forthcoming, Harry nudged the other man’s arm, “Severus?”
“I get it, Potter. I promise. Is that enough for your Gryffindor sensibilities or does your Slytherin side require an unbreakable vow from me?” Severus knew when he was beaten. He also knew the path ahead was long and he would do anything necessary to make sure they were all safe from Riddle should the way turn dark. Severus held his breath hoping that by mentioning the unbreakable vow Harry would not demand it from him.
“Of course not Severus,” Harry smile sweetly, “your promise is enough; I know you would never go back on your word once given.” Severus felt the knots of anticipation start to unwind as happiness spread through him. Harry had agreed to raise the boy with him. There might finally be a chance that his dream of a home together could be realised, but just as quickly as the euphoria had risen, it was replaced by a wave of anger and then by a small sense of disgruntled pride. Harry had twisted his words back on him in a truly skilful and Slytherin move, beating the master snake at his own game.
Minerva watched the couples with a quiet contentment. She was sure it would not be long before she received an invitation to their bonding ceremony.