Severus finished grading Hermione's latest paper. It was as usual, excellent, He yawned and looked at the following parchment. It was Finnigan's. Severus shook his head, "not tonight." The man could not suffer through the boy's halfhearted attempt at producing adequate work. Severus already read Lovegood's rather off topic essay on nonexistent creatures.
Lily walked in with a sad face. "What is the matter?" He said as she sat in front of his desk.
His wife sighed and rubbed her face, "I am worried."
Severus grabbed her hand and squeezed, "about?"
"You." She replied simply. Severus did not want to delve into the conversation. It appeared he had this conversation with Lily at least once per week. He wanted to reassure her that everything would be fine but he could not. Not anymore, things were moving quicker than he and Albus ever expected. Just last week there was an attack on Amelia Bones' last remaining brother. Susan lost her parents and baby brother.
Scrimgeour tried to make amends with Albus to no avail. The headmaster denied Scrimgeour the supposed help he needed. The minister of magic was floundering to protect the wizarding world. He failed to see that Albus's advice was not self promoting but to help the fight. The minister approached him time and time again but Severus remained "Dumbledore's man."
"Lils, I can't have this conversation once again." He said tiredly. His wife had a bad feeling about him teaching DADA. She was against it ever since Albus appointed him.
"That is a very short shelf life." Lily whispered at night and worried that something bad would happen.
Lily stood up and sat on his lap. She hugged him tight, "What have you learned about young Theodore?"
"Why do you ask?" Severus asked.
"Casta Nott was found dead yesterday night." Lily replied.
Severus kissed her cheeck. "I know, I told him this morning. He left early for the Yule break." Theo refused to let me help him. "He is a Death Eater." He said sadly.
"How have you learned this?" She asked him carefully.
"Draco knows." Severus said just as quietly. Lily frowned and Severus explained, "Theo confided in him and wanted Draco to join."
"Did Draco tell you this?" Lily asked him with worried eyes.
"He did not. I spied on him and looked into his mind." Severus replied openly. "Draco is conflicted you see. Theo and him are close, they always have, both sons of known death eaters. Theo is aloof but friendly to him. Theo has a mission and Draco is afraid of what the Dark Lord could make his friend do."
"Why are you so calm about all of this?"
Severus kissed her hands, "Albus and I have thought about Theodore for months. It has been planned since the summer when Theo was inducted. He was the only possible option. Thadeus must have reconnected with him and convinced him to join the cause."
Lily stood up and paced, "But this boy, he's part of Dumbledore's Army. Surely, he could not."
Severus shook his head, "he is sixteen and his father took an interest on him. A lonely boy whose mother never paid him any attention. Theo grew up alone, parentless, friendless and now he has a father who seems to care about him. It must not have been hard for Thadeus to convince him to pledge. Theo never stood a chance against him and Voldemort."
His wife shook her head, "What do you think Voldemort has planned for this boy?"
"He plans to enter Hogwarts and kill Albus." Severus was clear. "And now it will be easier. Thadeus will hold Theo and fill his head with more lies. He is not lost to us, not yet."
Lily frowned, "what do you mean? He's a death eater."
Severus rubbed his temples. "Theo is not evil. He has not tortured nor killed anyone. He is but a stupid, misled child. I know what it is like, to make a choice that will forever haunt him."
Lily stopped pacing and looked at him fiercely, "you do not know. Severus, you were never a death eater. I need you to understand that."
Severus nodded, "well, I believe that Theo could be persuaded."
"What is the plan of attack then?" Lily asked once more.
"To wait." Severus replied a little angrily.
"Dumbledore's plan." Lily replied.
"Yes, and before you ask. I tell him every day that it is not enough. I tell him we have to act. It was a win that he let me teach the children. He almost refused to hire Slughorn once more." Severus pointed out.
Lily nodded and held him. "What do you want to do Severus?"
"I want for Theo to not go through this. I want for the kids to not have to fight in a war but they will. I can see it clearly Lily and I am so afraid for our son." Severus said honestly. Lily was ever so brave. She smiled and kissed him, "let's forget for a bit. We have Augutus' wedding this Saturday. We have to be cheerful for him and Percy. We have to at least try."
She smiled and kissed his lips, "I'm sorry love, I worry you every day."
Severus kissed her back. "You keep me sane Lils. You keep me honest my love." Lily kissed him again.
"Are you hungry? I thought of going to the kitchens for some supper." She said and dragged him with her. Apparently, he was too thin.
He dressed in black robes and watched as Lily put on a black dress for Slughorn's party. "I still think this is a waste of a perfectly good evening." Severus said as he offered his arm.
Lily rolled her eyes. "It will be fine to see Horace. It's amazing I see so little of him."
"Slughorn is annoying." Severus grumbled as they walked to the potion's classroom.
"I think he is sweet." She said and smiled prettily at him.
Severus smiled softly at her. "Only you could."
Severus saw Harry and Luna Lovegood chatting with Hermione and Ron. Ginny danced with Dean Thomas while Harry glared daggers at the boy. Some things did not change. Severus tried to keep away from people while Lily chatted amiably with Slughorn and his other guests.
The potion master hoped to see Draco around but it appeared the boy was not invited to the little soiree. He was not surprised. Horace was prejudiced against Draco because he was a Malfoy. Draco did not seem to care much. Severus looked around and saw Hermione and Ron dancing gently. The redhead was not completely clueless with Hermione. If memory served him right the Ron from the other lifetime was not invited to this party or at least had not come with Hermione. He would have to ask Harry.
Lily eventually found him. "What great fun! Come you must meet some of Horace's friends."
Severus frowned, "I rather not." He replied and drank a firewhisky.
"Fine, you old grump." She said and left him alone once more.
He watched as Ginny and Thomas fought. Harry always seemed to be nearby the girl while Lovegood chatted with Longbottom who smiled every single time the girl spoke.
It was a boring party. Severus longed for his bed and sleep. He watched as the teenagers tried to behave like adults and as the adults behaved like teenagers. The man was ecstatic when Lily approached him and asked to go back to their quarters.
They walked hand in hand to their quarters. "Do you wish to take the train tomorrow with the children?" His wife asked him as they undressed for the night.
"Absolutely not. We will get them and apparate to our home." He said and brushed his teeth before going to bed.
Lily applied lotion to her face. "I thought so as well. Hermione and I have yet to buy our dresses for the wedding. I thought it would be nice for us four to go to London and shop."
"That sounds bloody painful. You know me, get me whatever it is you desire me to wear but I am not shopping." He said and nuzzled her neck.
"Maybe I'll have better luck with Harry." She said and sighed.
"Highly doubt it." Severus muttered and tried to sleep.
Severus could not help but feel relieved when it was time to leave the castle. Hogwarts became a dark cloud. He breathed easier when he grabbed Hermione's hand to apparate her home. Severus watched as Lily and Harry appeared.
Lily grabbed Hermione's hand, "We are leaving now. Severus call Tuney to let her know we made it home. Do not tell her Hermione and I have not gotten our dresses yet." His wife kissed his cheek and left with the teenager.
"I am going to see Dudley." Harry raced out of the door. Severus grabbed the phone and dialed Petunia who sounded frazzled.
"They went to the supermarket I believe." Severus replied when Petunia asked after Lily and Hermione.
He went upstairs to his bed and took a nap. Maybe it was the fact that he was back home but he slept without any difficulties.
The man woke up to Harry shouting his name. "Dad, I just got back from aunt Tuney. She's furious with you."
Severus frowned, "why would she be cross with me?" He said as he walked downstairs to see his son eating a bowl of cereal without milk.
"She said that you probably did not have your outfit for the wedding which is why mum had to go and get it." Harry said in passing as he went to their fridge to drink some milk.
Severus frowned. "Thanks for letting me know."
"You're welcome. Want to take a walk?" Harry asked him.
The older man nodded, "your mother and Hermione will not be here until much later."
Harry led the way and they walked around the neighborhood.
"Dad, could I ask you something?" Harry said as they walked towards the park.
"Ask away." Severus said and sat down to see the children play on the swings.
Harry looked at him, "why didn't you tell me about the prophecy?"
Severus looked at his child calculatingly. "What prophecy?" Severus reached for Harry's thought and found him and his friends looking into old daily prophets from around the time when Voldemort first fell. He also so Harry talking to Draco, "Theo spoke of a prophecy… It was to be you but your father interfered. He cast the killing curse and it rebounded."
The older man realized it would be moot to lie. "You were not supposed to be born until late August. Your mother clung to that." He said shaking his head.
"Please tell me. I need to know. All these years. I never knew, you should have told me about us and You Know Who before I went to Hogwarts. Gus had to fully explain whey everyone stared at us." Harry said tiredly.
"Your mother and I wanted to protect you." Severus replied honestly. "We thought that you were too young to know all of it. Every year, your mother and I would thik about telling you about the propechy but it did not matter."
Harry frowned, "of course it matters. It is about me! I ought to know."
"We should head home and wait for your mother to have this conversation." Severus tried to stall.
"No. I have to know now." Harry continued.
Severus sighed. He was tired, it was a common theme with him now, the feeling of tiredness. "Very well. I beg you to let me tell your mother that you know."
Harry nodded and waited for him to begin his tale.
"As you know your mother and I were childhood friends. Don't make that face. I will skip what you already know." Severus sneered back.
"We graduated and that same day Lily decided to become part of the Order. I tried to dissuade her but James Potter, Black and Remus were also members by then. You do not know this but Lily and James Potter were engaged soon after the King Cross attack. I became a member as well to keep Lily protected. Your grandparents died a few months later. Lily realized she did not want to marry Potter and moved in with me."
Harry paid attention. "Lily and I were not fighting at the front. Black and Potter, the Prewett brothers and most Gryffindors were doing that for us. I did research and Lily continued her studies as a mediwitch but we were expected to fight as well. And so we did, we fought and tried to make a life for ourselves. Lily and I got married and were very careful. We did not want children so soon you see. We were both young married and just out of school."
Severus explained. "I came home one afternoon. It was almost night when Lily came in. I remember I was making dinner and the smell must have triggered her sickness. She went straight to the loo and puked all over. I ran and asked her what was wrong." Severus shook his head.
"She told me she was pregnant. I ran past her and vomited as well." Harry frowned.
"I am not proud of my reaction. I could not believe it. We were so very careful. Your mother was confused and I did not explain. I knew about the prophecy. Narcissa told me about it, she was worried about Draco. I grabbed your mother and took her to the Burrow. I looked for Narcissa and she told me about the prophecy. She knew it was Barty Crouch who heard and relayed the prophecy. I sought Dumbledore who confirmed it. "The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies..." Harry paled considerably.
"Voldemort only knew the first part. I fixated on that. I drank and barely made it to the Burrow. I explained the prophecy to your mother. We were both scared but she just knew that it could not be you. You were to arrive by the end of August. It was Alice who was in danger. It would be Neville she said anxiously. I was not so sure. Frank and I were directed to safe houses and protectors." Severus continued.
"I had the marauders. Frank had the Prewett brothers and Kingsley. It worked for a couple of months until the attack in Diagon Alley. I told you about that day. Potter died, and Lucius was killed a few days later. Narcissa found me. Black and Remus were beside themselves with pain. I think Narcissa was the only reason why Sirius did not go mad with grief. He lost his parents, Reg and James all within months of each other." Harry looked sad.
"We lost many friends Harry. We all did. Narcissa is so very strong and so is your mother and Molly. They became friends, Molly and Narcissa bonded over motherhood and included Lily and Alice whenever possible. The night that you arrived was the happiest of my life and the most terrifying because it marked us. Your mother's pain began at 8:00PM. It was in the back of my mind that you could arrive at 12:01 AM for all we cared. It just had to be August first but it was not. You were a red, angry thing born at 11:50PM on July 31st. It sealed the prophecy. Voldemort only had to choose between you and Neville."
Harry looked at him and waited, "we hid. There were some close calls but nothing happened. I redoubled security and then it happened. Remus and Narcissa were at the Burrow. Sirius was away I can't remember where. It was only us three and your cat Knox. You don't remember it. It must have died when Voldemort came in or escaped. We never saw it again."
Severus remembered that night, "Voldemort came in. I yelled for Lily to apparate but Voldemort dropped the wards. It was my fault, too much magic. He found us and we were at his mercy. I aimed my wand to kill but he imperiod me and took me to the nursery. He wanted you and Lily to see me die. I was ready to give me life for you and her. I tried to kill him. Lily and you could not move. She told me that it was as if she were petrified."
"Voldemort and I, we dueled and aimed to kill. I don't remember what happened next but your mother says the curse blinded her for a second, it rebounded you see. Lily woke up to your crying. I was dead."
Harry frowned, "The books say you defeated You Know Who."
Severus shook his head, "I tried but it was your mother, her love for me and you. Her love shielded me. My heart stopped. I died and your mother brought me back. I cannot explain it. No one could ever it happened and the prophecy became void. He was to mark you but Voldemort could not. He gave me this." Harry saw his forehead and the bolt.
"The prophecy is null. He marked me, as you know, I was not born as the seventh month dies." Severus said lightly.
Harry rubbed his face. "He's marked you. It has to be you now. I am sorry dad."
Severus shook his face, "It doesn't have to me. Don't you see? I could pick up and leave with you and Lily. I thought about it many times. Lily would not leave and neither would you. So now it is up to all of us to end it."
Harry shook his head once more. "He is targeting you. You are the one he wants. He made it clear when he came back and last year too. He wanted to get to you through me."
Severus nodded, "yes. He will not rest until he's killed me."
Harry hugged him. "Thank you for telling me."
"I don't want your mum or Hermione worrying. Let's have Augustus' wedding and then you can tell Hermione and your lot of friends." Severus said carefully.
"What happens next?" Harry said as they walked back.
Severus remained quiet and then told him. "I don't know. Albus has a plan and I have been told to wait for something."
"You will not last as a DADA teacher. They only last a year." Harry replied.
Severus chuckled, "I could always go back to Potions."
Harry half smiled, "I don't want you to go the same way Quirrell did."
"That will not happen." Severus was sure of that. He feared for Albus. The old man was too calm about Theo. He insisted on having Theo as a spy and needed for the boy to be vulnerable. "He needs to go ahead with the plan to kill me. He will not do it." Albus kept repeating that over and over every time Severus asked to talk to Theo.
They made their way home. It was no surprise that the women of the house were not home yet. Harry stayed in his room while Severus stayed on the couch watching a film. He fell asleep at one point. It was a nice dream. It was him and his parents. Severus was very young, his father hoisted him up onto his shoulders. They were walking alongside a park. Severus smiled at his mother who laughed and kissed his cheek.
"Sevvie." She said and peppered his face with kisses. Severus then was down and toddled away and sat on the swingsets while his parents kissed and ate ice cream.
Severus woke up with a smile. Hermione and Lily bustled downstairs, "Severus, dinner is ready." Hermione called out from the dining room.
He stood up and stretched, "How long was I asleep?"
"A couple of hours." Harry replied as he set the table.
Severus used the loo and washed his face. He dried his face and smiled, it had been a nice dream, hopefully a memory.
They had dinner. Severus felt refreshed. It was a light meal. They were expected to be at the Burrow tomorrow for Christmas lunch and opening presents. Augustus and Percy would marry on Boxing day. Harry and Hermione stayed in the living room reading and playing video games. Severus and Lily went upstairs to their bedroom. Severus brushed his teeth and showered. Lily joined him. "Why are you smiling so much?" She asked him gently.
Severus kissed her under the shower. "I had a dream about my parents. I was small. We were in the park."
Lily smiled with him. They went to bed early, Severus remembered Harry's conversation and understood that he had to tell Lily. "Harry knows about the prophecy and how it happened that February night."
Lily held him, "It was a matter of time." She said and nuzzled his neck.
"We'll have a happy Christmas and wedding." She said with finality.
Severus woke up to Lily kissing his cheek. "Wake up Sev. The kids are waiting to open their presents."
Severus grumbled and woke up. The kids were excited over their pile of things. Severus smiled and pecked Lily when he saw her gift, it was a beautiful set of potion vials. Lily kissed him too when she saw his gift. It was a golden doe brooch, "It's enchanted, you touch it and it will communicate with mine. He showed her his silver doe brooch. It connects to yours too. It acts as a patronus just in case, when you touch it, it will trigger a message or a happy memory if you need one."
Lily hugged him. "It is beautiful Severus. Thank you."
Hermione was speechless, "that is very advanced magic."
"It is." Severus said.
"Dad is very good with charms. He invents spells." Harry said proudly. He wore his Weasley sweater. Hermione wore hers as well.
"It is not something I want to market. It's just for our usage." Severus said while eating some toast.
"Be ready to leave in an hour. Have your bags ready, dresses and robes, we are not coming back until after the wedding." Lily announced.
"Are you sure we all fit in the Burrow?" Severus asked.
Lily shrugged, "well, Petunia and Tobias will stay in Charlie's room. Ron, Dudley and Harry, will stay with the twins. Gus will stay with Percy. Charlie will share with Bill. Hermione will bunk with Ginny."
"Where are we sleeping?" Severus asked.
"Ron's bedroom." She replied simply.
"I think it's a bad idea. We should not stay overnight. We can apparate back."
"Molly thinks is best that we stay there. It is not safe to apparate under the influence she said." Lily pointed out.
"We are not teenagers Lily. I doubt we will get drunk." Severus said with a frown.
Lily laughed, "when was the last time we got drunk?"
Severus frowned, "I don't rightly remember."
Lily kissed him. "It will be a nice party."
"It will be." Severus said and put on his Weasley sweater. He wore a midnight blue with two wands.
They flooed to the Burrow and were actually the last ones to be there. Remus and Sirius were in the garden having a smoke. Severus joined them. "Gentlemen."
"Severus." Remus said while offering a cigarette.
"Molly expects us to be inside in a few minutes for lunch." Severus said after a while.
Soon enough, Ginny came looking for them. "Mum says lunch is ready, to come and help."
"She is very bossy." Sirius said as he followed the other two men.
Petunia was frazzled as was Molly. Percy and Gus were oblivious. They were kissing and wore big smiles. The teenagers traveled in packs. Ron, Dudley and Hermione played a game of exploding snap. Draco, Ginny and Harry talked about quidditch or something with brooms.
The youngest Lupin girls were asleep while Lyra and Callista played with the twins who were showing them muggle magic tricks.
Severus approached his dad who played chess with Arthur. "Dad, I have to ask you something."
"Ask away." His father said and it brought a smile to Severus' face. "I had a dream yesterday. About you and mum."
His father looked away from the board, "was it nice?" His father looked scared for a second.
"It was; it was very peaceful." Severus continued as his father relaxed.
"What was it about?" Tobias asked. The game forgotten. Arthur stood up when Molly called him.
Severus sat where Arthur was and began to play. "We were in a park, you hoisted me up on your shoulders. I was really young I think, three or four."
Severus moved a piece and looked at the board, "mum wore a white dress with."
"Yellow flowers, her hair was half up and half down. She used to wear it that way when we met. That was not a dream, it was a memory." Dad said a sad smile.
"I'm very sorry Severus." His father continued.
"Thank you." He said and gave him a smile.
"I've forgiven you. I hope you know that. We were happy once and we were happy again before she died." Severus said with a serious tone.
Tobias nodded, "I will not have enough days to ask you for forgiveness son."
Severus shook his head, "No more talk of this."
Harry ran past them. "Aunt Tuney said to go and help her in the kitchen. Dad, they are setting up the tent for tomorrow. Uncle Remus said to go help."
"Duty calls." His father and him stood up and went their ways.
Severus aimed his wand at a part of the tents. "At the count of three." Arthur bellowed.
They all aimed and waved. The tents were beautiful while with a silver vine and floral designs. "All set. Let's get back it is bloody freezing." George yelled.
They all did and set out to drink hot cocoa and cookies. Molly sent them all to bed at 9:00PM. They all had a big day. Draco seemed reluctant to leave after seeing Harry and Ginny make eyes at each other. Narcissa had to glare at him before they left through the Floo.