The Healing of Lethe
by Winoniel


October 2001

Green eyes, glowing green eyes, growing smaller and dimmer, further and further away……

Ungh…..  Mouth pried open, something forced down my throat.  It’s dry, hard, I choke…..

I feel so weak, …..so cold, …so….alone…..

A mill chimney stark against the dreary grey sky…..a desolate ramshackle house …. Home!  …. yes…. but,  so weak…..so…..alone……

Severus awoke with a start.  He’s had the same dream, without fail, every night that he could remember.  Unfortunately, what he could remember was not very much.  His memories consisted basically of days spent either trying to find odd jobs, hunting for food among the trash bins behind the many businesses in the city, or hiding from hooligans and police, and nights spent huddling in abandoned doorways, clutching his coat and sparse possessions.

He looked around the alley in which he’d found some shelter overnight.  He felt bathed in the stench from the rubbish bins overflowing with rotting refuse, blending with the sullen fog rising from the nearby river.  Around the bins, his eyes caught the thin shadows of mice and rats cast by the meager light of the gray, overcast sky.  There were several mounds of clothing bundled close to the walls which he recognized as fellow homeless men.  He stood, straightening the thin fabric of his clothes.  They were cheap and rough, but worn in enough layers, they were protection from the coming winter’s chill. They were the remnants of the wardrobe he’d been given at the shelter before he’d decided to escape that atmosphere of hopelessness and desperation.

Picking up the grocer’s bag that he’d protected by hiding it in his voluminous collection of shirts and waistcoats, he inspected its contents.  He had several slightly broken, but fully wrapped chocolate bars scavenged from a dumpster behind a fancy chocolatier, some bruised fruit he’d gotten in exchange for unloading boxes for a kindly produce stand owner, a copy of yesterday’s local newspaper, and a rapidly hardening hunk of cheese he’d found by chance in a dropped bag outside the local Tesco.  All-in-all, a veritable feast, along with the daily news.

There was one other item. He never carried it in his bag, but instead, always carried it in an interior pocket, close and protected.  To him, it was something precious, something that made him different from the other homeless men unwilling to ‘go on the dole.’  It was something that kept him striving to regain his memory after so much struggle and disappointment.  It was actually rather innocuous, just a beautifully carved stick about a foot long, but every time he touched it, he was permeated with a charge that overwhelmed him with its sheer force and impact.  He felt powerful, with a sense of authority and command that was unlike anything else in his life of care and struggle.  It seemed to imply that there was something important that he would learn were he just able to remember what it was!

He knew that he’d been more than just another vagrant, an idler without home, employment, or family.  Once, he’d thought that there was the slightest wisp of what could possibly be a memory, a vague, fuzzy image of himself in black robes, framed by the light of dozens of candles, glaring at someone—a pale face in which green eyes burned with anger.  It was gone even before he could decide that he’d really seen it, but that scrap of prayerfully-held recollection became a recurrent theme in his musings.  Who was he?  What had he’d done before he’d awakened in the hospital after—he’d been told—over three years of being in a coma?  Could he have been a priest or monk?  Maybe an actor—he chuckled mentally at that image—or perhaps he was one of those self-deluded aging queens that thought affecting a ‘Goth’ look would make his admittedly gaunt appearance more attractive to younger men?  Severus shuddered at the thought.

He also shuddered at how far he must have fallen to reach his current state.  Nevertheless, here he was.  All he was certain of was his name and the notion that the stick he protected was important to recovering his life.  He was also certain, he thought ruefully, that if he didn’t move soon, any of the few day jobs in the run-down market section of town would be gone.  Running his hand through his hair, he wished he had time to go over to the public toilets in the nearby park to wash up.  Still, striding out of the alley with a dignity belied by his shabby clothing and the parcel bag in his hand, he set off, if not eager, at least resigned to face another day.

*

June 2002

Green eyes…. further ……and further … away …

…..so cold, …so….alone…..

…home!

Severus gasped and flung himself straight up in his bed.  Panting, he leaned over trying to collect his thoughts.  The dream was becoming more vivid, the image of rooftops and threatening skies more tangible, as if it actually existed outside his imagination.

He sighed heavily, ran his shaking, cold hand over his face, and got up.  There was no use, he was never able to go back to sleep after that particular dream.  He may as well get up and just go to the shop early.  He could get a lot done before everyone else came in.

After years of arduous struggle, Severus had begun to feel as if he was finally getting some sort of life.  He had a tiny cold-water flat that he shared with three other men—three dim-witted slobs, he snorted—who were also regaining their lives after years of hard luck.  He had little in common with them except for the desire to work rather than live on charity, but they all had tenuous employment and together were able to keep up with the rent.

He knew that he was lucky to get his job as a clerk in a used-book store.  He had no papers besides those he was given in the shelter.  He never even bothered to try to negotiate the paperwork morass required to get DHSS documents. (1) He had no relatives, no references, and no documented work history.  He had been recommended as a good worker by the grocer for whom the taciturn but efficient day worker had lugged boxes and made deliveries.  The bookstore owner had hired Severus on the spot, for which he was grateful, having no other options.

The work was relatively easy, doing inventory, unpacking and cataloguing book and journal shipments, doing some minor binding repair, and sometimes accompanying Gabriel Greerson, the shop-owner, to estate sales to forage for old and rare books.  Severus had originally been hired as a salesclerk.  However, after two hours, in which he’d questioned, then insulted the book selections, intelligence, and parentage of their first few customers of the day, it was apparent the dour man had absolutely no people skills.  Greerson had decided to sack his new employee at the end of the day.  The savvy shop owner only changed his mind when he noted how quickly Severus was able to take charge of the inventory, obviously having a quick mind to go with his cutting tongue.

It was a decent life, but Severus was ever more haunted by his dream and the stick which he still kept close, even after so many years with no indication of its origins or purpose.  In the evenings, while his flat-mates played cards or drank whatever spirits they could afford that week, Severus would go out into the small postage-stamp sized back garden shared by the four flats in the building.  It was dusty and neglected, ignored by the other residents, which suited Severus just fine.  Taking his evening cup of tea—he was not above a drink or two with his flat-mates, but tended to remove himself when they got deeper into their cups—he would gaze at the sky, musing on his present circumstances, becoming more sanguine about his future, though still distressed at the prospect that he would never recover his memories of his past.

*

April 2003

“For he’s a jolly good fellow, which nobody can deny!”  The voices, raucous and boisterous, shouted as the crowd hefted their brimming glasses toward the mousey young Johnny Wearing, who smiled shyly and ducked his head at the attention.  He was getting married in two days, so Gabe Greerson had closed the shop early, and the entire staff had gone to the pub to toast his good health.

Severus, though he’d bought a round, did not join in the singing, preferring to sit quietly in one of the shadowy booths to the side.  For some reason, while he did not encourage over-friendly relations with his co-workers, he savored the atmosphere of mutual respect among the staff at the slightly old-fashioned but relaxed bookstore.  He wouldn’t say he really fit in with the more sociable, carefree young men and women who worked there, but they blithely disregarded his ill-tempered jibes, and included him in such outings with light-hearted cheer.

Walking home later that evening, he decided to take a slightly different walk home.  The gentle, humid sense of approaching spring teased him with a sense of hope and anticipation unlike anything he’d felt in the last couple of years.  He strode along the deserted footpath that followed the river, turning up his nose at the trash that floated near its banks.  His footsteps grew slower, however, stilling as a sense of import began to infuse his system.

Severus looked around, taking in the dark, sluggish water, the massive chimney rising from an abandoned mill, the rundown brick houses, many on their last legs. For the first time in the short time he could recollect, he felt a sense of recognition, of something important from before….

Impatiently, he climbed the unkempt bank, crossing a cobbled street, his feet drawn through the derelict neighborhood like a horse returning to its stable.  He halted before the house that had haunted him in his dreams for years, slowly walking to the door in a daze.  As he turned the knob, he could feel a warmth emanating from his hand, gently caressing the discolored metal, then sensed more than he heard, the dropping of a series of tumblers in the lock before the door simply swung open widely with a loud creak.

Well, that was anti-climatic, he snorted wryly.  He stood before the door, peering into the dark, feeling like an Edgar Allen Poe protagonist.  The air, stuffy and still, spoke of years of neglect.  Well, no one lived here, and the door, though originally locked, seemed to open for him.  He wasn’t thinking of actually —no, that was madness!  Yet, he paused and closed his eyes.  He knew, just as he knew he was Severus Snape and he was living and breathing, that this was his home.  He couldn’t explain it logically.  The only evidence he had was a wisp of a nightmare, but he knew it.  And he knew that he would claim this place as his own.  Finally, taking a breath, and for some reason taking out the stick where it rested in his pocket, he stepped inside.

*

May 2004

“So, what do you think, Severus?”  Greerson slid the last book back in the cardboard box and looked enquiringly at his assistant.

“Rubbish, the lot of it!”  Severus sneered dismissively, tossing the book he had been evaluating back in its box.  “The cardboard box is worth more than these moth-eaten bodice-rippers.”  He stood, stretching out the kinks in his back and neck, rubbing his hand over the thick, ropey scar on his neck. No one in the hospital had been able to explain his scar, tentatively attributing it to a fight in which Severus had been knifed by his opponent.  He often mused that his previous life had to have been pretty eventful if his various scars and aches were any indication.

“Ah, well, we did pick up a nice collection this morning,”  Greerson said, amiably, gesturing Severus to follow as they left the flat.  It was a glorious spring afternoon, and the two had gone to a picturesque little town a few miles away to inspect the various auction houses and estate sales, searching for used and rare books for the store.  “There’s one other place, another bookstore in an alley off the High Street.  The owner is retiring, and while he doesn’t have much of an inventory, I thought I’d take a look.”

They got in the car and Greerson drove down a narrow, cobbled street to a small, dusty little shop.  There were several other book-buyers there, and apparently had been there since morning, as it had, as Greerson had noted, very little left that they found interesting.  After looking around, Severus was drawn to several books in a dark corner.

“Hello, laddie,” a raspy voice broke in on his thoughts as he moved closer to look at them, “Interested in the magical books, are ye?”

Surprised, he glanced sharply at a wizened old man leaning against the wall.  The man shrugged and motioned Severus towards the shelf, and adjusted a lamp so that he could see better.  “They’re charmed so that you wouldn’t have been able to see them unless you were a wizard yourself,” he explained. “Not much custom for them here, I’ve had them for years.  If you’re interested, I’ll let the lot go for four Galleons, or would ye prefer pounds?”

Magical?  Him?  Could that be that powerful energy that he sensed from the stick that he carried with him at all times?  He looked at the elderly man again, but he was negotiating with Greerson over a set of science fiction anthologies.  Severus took a deep breath, and opened one of the books.

*

Eighteen pounds, seven hours, and half a bottle of wine later, Severus sat with his mind spinning. The books were astounding, not for what they said, but for the implications of their very existence.  There was a magical world hidden in the midst of the everyday one, and he thought that he might be a part of it!  The books, Kennilworthy Whisp’s Quidditch Through the Ages, Gerda Catchlove’s Charm Your Own Cheese, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and the Rune Dictionary, spoke of people who used magic to play sports, cook their food, and effect all manners of things.  They used wands like his to channel their power.  That energy—magic—could be used in so many ways!

He must have been able to use magic, but he had absolutely no recollection of it.  Not only did nothing in the books sound familiar to him, but he couldn’t think of how to get more information.  He’d excitedly gone back to the bookstore only a few hours after seeing what they contained, but it was already shuttered and closed for good.  It seemed that the aged owner had disappeared from the face of the earth, as no one in the shops nearby, nor any of the booksellers in town had any forwarding information for him, and no one seemed to have any clear idea of where he’d even lived before he’d moved.  It was clear to Severus that the man lived in a wizarding community that was not visible to non-magical people, just as the books could only be seen by a wizard or witch.

Returning home in the gathering gloom, Severus tried to think like a magician.  If only he could regain his memories!  Could he call his memory back?  He sat quietly and tried to get into a meditative state.  Holding his wand in his hand, he focused solely on the idea of his past, he fervently commanded it to return.  Waiting anxiously, he tried to will the power within him to well up to do his bidding.  Nothing happened.  After a few minutes, during which he began to feel foolish, he tried to sit quietly and order his magic to work.  Again, nothing happened.

After hours of meditation and mental commands, Severus was mentally and emotionally exhausted and had no more remembrance of his past than he’d had that morning.  His idea that these books would be the key to his problem implacably thwarted, he’d been reduced to praying and pleading with no result.  Blithering idiot, he berated himself, you would like to think that you’re special, that you’re not just an ordinary, run-of-the-mill chap with a seemingly dodgy background, but face it:  this is all that you are, nothing more, nothing less.

Disillusioned, and more frustrated than he would allow himself to acknowledge, he began turning off lights and putting away the books, bottles, and used glasses.  Glimpsing roiling clouds as he pulled the dusty curtains closed, he noted the wind had picked up as a storm swept in over the river. He began to ascend the rickety staircase to his bedroom, his leaden footsteps on each step echoing the heaviness of his heart.  Why had he allowed himself to hope?  He knew what a futile exercise that was for the likes of someone like himself.  Now he was even more disenchanted—he snorted at his pun—with his circumstances than before.

Knock, knock!  A heavy thud shook the walls of his shabby house.  His emotional self-battering momentarily interrupted, Severus froze.  For a moment, he couldn’t seem to place the sound that reverberated through the now dust-filled air.  At its repetition, he realized, someone’s knocking on my door? Shaking his head ruefully, he decided that he really had to reread Edgar Allen’s poetry soon before he was doomed to repeat it.  Going back down the stairs, preparing to send whichever troublesome beggar or salesman it might be on their way, he was actually grateful that he was delayed in turning in to his solitary bed.  It had been a day of disappointment, what was one more?

Opening the door, he was confronted with a striking sight.  What was most arresting wasn’t the fact that a young man dressed in long robes, carrying a broomstick and holding a quivering glass bottle was standing on his doorstep in the middle of the night.  It wasn’t even the dramatic impression he made with the lightning of the summer storm blazing over his shoulder, or his hair tossed in the wind.  It was that fact that he had unforgettable, compelling, brilliant green eyes.

The man looked down, murmured a few quiet words, and the bottle stilled.  Returning that remarkable gaze to the dumbfounded amnesiac in the door, he said, “Hello, Severus, I’m thrilled to see you again.  May I come in?”

Eyes narrowing, Severus pulled himself together and snapped, “I’m sure I’ll feel the same, after you’ve answered a couple of questions:  who are you, and how in the name of hell do you know me?”

The mystery-man, taken aback, paused, then tentatively smiled, and holding up the bottle, said, “It seems that you have need of some of your memories, and I wanted to give them to you personally.”  He glanced around hastily, and continued, “It appears the wind is much stronger here than where I set out.  It also appears that the house three doors down has quite the nosy neighbor.”  He smiled and looked meaningfully past Severus into the room behind.

Grudgingly, Severus moved slightly to the side, letting the other into the house.  He watched suspiciously as the man used his wand to cast some sort of spell on himself.  Severus managed to keep his expression blank, but he was stunned to see the soaked clothing dry immediately, though the hair still looked quite a bit mussed.

“I know it’s late, but when I saw that you Accioed your memories—” the man began.

“I—what?” Severus interrupted.

“Sorry, I should start from the beginning.  My name is Harry Potter.  Are you saying that you don’t remember me?”

“I’m saying exactly that.  Please sit down, Mr. Potter. I would appreciate it if you would explain who you are, how we know each other, and what you meant about my memories.”

*

Severus was annoyed.  Apparently, he had challenged the gods when he’d earlier dismissed the impact of one more disappointment.  He tried to make sure that he understood.  “Am I to understand that even if I manage to put these memories back, I still won’t remember the majority of my past?”

Wearily, Potter ran his fingers through his riotous mane.  He had transported himself—Disapparated, he’d called it—back to his house to find books that could both explain Severus’ amnesia and recommend any magical treatment.  They’d spent the remainder of the night going through them.  “It appears so.  You see, these are specific memories that you gave me.”  Severus shuddered at the story the man had told him, with its spies, giant snakes, Dark wizards, Death spells, and magical battles, spun over the hours to the soundtrack of the increasingly savage storm outside.  “If we were to replace them, they would have no context to which they could be connected.  At best, you would just have these scattered images and associated emotions.  At worst, they would quickly slip to wherever the rest of your memory has been lost, and be themselves forgotten.”

He shook his head as Severus lifted the teapot enquiringly.  They had decided to stop for the night, get a little sleep, and resume after a few hours of sleep.  Severus, his mind reeling, could hardly take it all in.

“So, I was your Potions and Defense instructor?  How was it, then, that I was made headmaster of the school during that last year before Voldemort’s demise?”

The boy looked away and answered guardedly, “Well, erm, the headmaster died, you see, so, erm….”

“One of the most powerful wizards in the world just …. died”  Severus asked, unbelieving. “Under what circumstances?  Had he been ill?”

“Look, Severus, there’s a lot more to this than I have the energy to tell in one night, particularly after flying for hours and the shock of finding you alive.  Could we discuss this more in the morning, or rather, later this morning?” Potter shot back.

“Most certainly, Mr. Potter.  We can resume later today.”  Severus said silkily, wary but determined.  He didn’t think the other man was lying, but how would he know?  The tales he’d been told that night were so fantastic, they seemed to be beyond Potter’s ability to fabricate them.  Unless he was involved in an elaborate scam with the bookshop owner, how could he have concocted a story that fit so neatly with what Severus had read in those books?  And more importantly, why would he?  Severus had nothing anyone would want, besides a tumbledown house.  Shaking his head resignedly, he showed the resourceful Mr. Potter to the threadbare second bedroom, pointed out the loo, and went to his own bed and fell to sleep straight away.  For the first time in years, he didn’t have the dream.

*

“So imagine my surprise, I’m at the Ministry of Magic, just having finished giving a speech on the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts, when the vial in my pocket begins to vibrate!  I realize, none to soon, I might add, that the vial is being summoned, so I quickly put a spell on it to keep it on my person, make my apologies, and grab my broom.  I put a sticking charm to affix it to my broomstick, take control to avoid flying into a couple of trees, a lorry, and several cathedrals, and here I am!”

Somehow, Severus didn’t think it was quite as easy or smoothly managed as the description, but with a small snort of disbelief, he watched as the man turned another page of the massive, leather-bound tome he had resting in his lap.  “Let’s try this one.”  Harry said.  He glanced at the book again, practiced the wand movement several times, then waving it gracefully, intoned “Recipe memoriae!”

Severus sighed.  Over the course of the afternoon, they’d tried most of the memory spells they’d found.  So far, his memory was just as elusive as it had been for the past three years.  At least, though, he had an explanation for his dream.  He had been given a magical remedy—a bezoar—after having been bitten by the Dark wizard’s familiar. Apparently after having administered it, Harry had gone off to view the memories that Severus had given him, defeated the wizard, and returned to take Severus back to the school’s infirmary.  By that time, though, Severus had panicked at the thought of being found by Death Eaters, and with his last remaining strength, had Apparated back to his childhood home.  Because that was his only memory, and it was strong enough to recur so often, Harry seemed to think that was an important cue, but knowing little about magic, Severus was in no position to judge.

He jumped and his jaw dropped as an owl swooped in the window and flew lazily to Harry’s shoulder.  The young man untied what appeared to be a letter from its leg, and fed it a bit of the bacon from their lunch. Severus hastily closed his gaping mouth and shook his head.  He had a great deal to learn, or rather, relearn, about the wizarding world.

“Don’t give up, Severus,” Harry said, his eyes intense and his jaw set.  “There are tons of spells that we haven’t tried, and we haven’t even begun to explore potions.  I promise you that we will figure this out!”  He turned to read the letter, and Severus gazed at his unlikely ‘therapist.’

The young man was positively gorgeous, with glowing golden skin, delectable plump, pink lips, and tousled hair that screamed to be touched.  Of medium build, but graced with a broad chest, lean, sinewy muscles, and a commanding presence, he’d told Severus that he was twenty-four years old.  He was much too young for Severus, who had been informed that he was forty-five, and wondered, why do I feel so much older?  Harry was much too beautiful for Severus, who saw himself every morning in the mirror while shaving, and though he had a healthy appreciation for his intelligence, had no illusions about his appearance.  Harry was too open, too generous, too kind, just too much of everything for Severus, but a man could dream, couldn’t he?

“Listen, this letter is from my friend, Hermione.  She’s a really brilliant witch, and she has some thoughts about potions we could try.  I’m really exhausted, so I shouldn’t try to Apparate there right now.  I’d probably splinch myself in my state.”  Severus winced.  He had no idea what ‘splinching’ consisted of, but it sounded quite painful.  “Could I snatch a kip in your spare room for a few hours?  I’ll pop over to her place tomorrow morning, and return here in the afternoon. Is that alright?”

“You don’t have to work tomorrow?”  Severus considered.  He had plenty of vacation time, and things were rather slow at the shop right now.  He was sure that Greerson would give him a few days off.

Harry smiled absently while he gathered the books into a neat pile on the table.  “Oh, I’m a free-lance warding consultant, and my next contract is not until the summer.”  Turning toward Severus, he smiled proudly.  “My only major obligation is the care of my three children, but they are visiting my mother-in-law for the weekend, and she would be thrilled to have them for a few days more.”

Ouch.  So much for dreaming.  Potter was married with children.

“In fact, the youngest boy is named for you and the headmaster, Albus Severus, though he goes by Al.”

“Unfortunate child,” Severus interjected.  “I suppose you were too soft-hearted to personally abuse him yourself, and you gave him that regrettable moniker so that others would do your dirty work?”  Severus lifted an eyebrow and handed Harry his cloak.

“Actually, I named him after the two most courageous men I knew.  He carries the names well, I think. I can’t wait for you to meet him,” Harry chuckled.

Severus was silenced.  First, Harry thought that he was courageous?  Second, he planned on their association continuing long enough for Severus to meet Potter's family?  He was preoccupied during their good-byes and planning to meet the following day.  After years of never concerning himself with the opinion of others, he discovered that he was rather interested in the thoughts and feelings of one Harry Potter, and he found that rather disturbing.

*

“Severus, where are you?”  Harry called out.  He bounded into the kitchen, a huge grin across his face.  “I think I have it!”  Tossing a book down on the table he sniffed the air appreciatively.  “What are you cooking?  It smells really good!”

“Potter, I can hardly fathom how you’ve reached the age of twenty-four without the ability to focus for a least two minutes in a row,” Severus grumbled, quickly masking his pleasure at the compliment.  “What is it you have?”

“Hermione had some great ideas, which I pursued with the medi-witch at Hogwarts, and a Healer at St. Mungo’s—that’s the magical hospital in London,” he added at Severus’ raised eyebrow.  “As much as they could determine without actually examining you, they thought that the issue was probably a combination of physical trauma from the snakebite and poisoning, the physical and emotional drain of giving me your memories so quickly, and in such an unorthodox manner, combined with the magical drain of Apparating so soon after the traumatic event.  They were actually amazed that you didn’t splinch, leaving pieces of yourself strewn all over England.”

“Thank you for that heartening image, Potter,” Severus responded dryly.  “I assume that the two minutes are up, and you’ve flitted to another topic?”

“Hmmm?  Oh, no, I mean yes,… well…”  Admittedly, the little imbecile wore stupidity beautifully, his confusion resulting in an appealing flush to his cheeks, ears, and neck.  Severus wondered exactly how far down the body the blush traveled before he dragged his thoughts back to the conversation.  He pulled a chair out at the table and gestured to the man to sit down.

“Why don’t you have something to eat, Mr. Potter?  Perhaps your babbling is caused by low-blood sugar?”  He sneered, pouring soup in a bowl and slicing bread.

“Oh, thanks!  I’m starving.  I’ve been traveling all morning, trying to get some answers.”  He beamed gratefully at Severus, who felt a pang of guilt.  After all, the brat had been scrambling all over England and Scotland for him.  He didn’t have to do it, and Severus, griping aside, found such undertakings on his behalf strangely heartwarming.

“No, I should thank you, Mr. Potter.  I am most obliged to you for your efforts,” he said stiffly.

“I’m glad to help, but if you really are obliged, perhaps you could do something for me?”

Ah, here it was.  Severus knew that there would be a price for the man’s help.  After all, nothing was free in this world.  He sat back to hear what would be demanded of him.  “Yes?”

“Would you please call me Harry?”

Oh.

“At any rate, the Healer thought that the cure will probably be a potion-spell combination….”

*

June 2004

The Healer had been correct, and with his help, and the research that Harry and Severus had conducted, they found a potion that would heal Severus’ mental blocks.  The Sanatio Lethes Draught required several esoteric ingredients, had a long and involved brewing schedule, and apparently was most efficacious when the gathering and preparation of the ingredients, as well as the brewing, was conducted by the person to be healed.  Madame Pomfrey, the medi-witch at Hogwarts—interspersed between bouts of hugging and medically scanning Severus with her wand—had said something about ‘sympathetic magic.’

Potter—no, Severus reminded himself, Harry—had no qualms assuring Severus that though he remembered nothing of his previous work, the difficulty brewing the potion wouldn’t be a problem for him.  “You are one of the foremost Potions Masters in the world, Severus,” Harry noted, gazing at Severus intently.  “There is a level of instinct, as well as innate discrimination of sight, smell, and touch that still resides in you, whether you remember it or not.”

Severus smirked, “Of course, I’m sure that whatever I did, it was done with a measure of refinement probably rarely seen, if even recognized….”  Hearing Harry’s mumbled, “Arrogant prick,” Severus continued, “But from your information, this potion hasn’t been brewed by anyone in centuries….”  He broke off, unwilling to expose how unsure he himself was about his ability.

Harry, though, immediately sensed his uncertainty.  “That’s true, because there are spells and simpler potions for the majority of memory problems that most Healers encounter.  As I said, your case is tricky because of the convergence of so many disparate incidents with totally unique results.  But Severus,” here, the intensity returned to Harry’s face, “you can do this.  If it will make you feel better, why don’t I contact one of your colleagues?  If at any time, you don’t feel confident to continue, they would jump at the chance to brew and test this potion for you.  Alright?”

Nodding his head, Severus turned back to his book, a slim volume that had come from Harry’s ‘family’ library.  Apparently, Harry’s godfather had belonged to a family of Dark wizards, and if this book was anything to go by, he could see why they were feared.  While ostensibly devoted to cures for mental curses, it spent an inordinate amount of time describing, lovingly and with a great deal of graphic detail, the ghastly curses and hexes for which it recommended specific counter-curses and healing spells.

They were making progress on both fronts.  They had a number of spells on which to conduct further research, they had begun to collect the ingredients from a number of apothecaries in England, and Harry had planned a short collection trip for the upcoming weekend.  Severus was amazed at how well they worked together.  While many people were intimidated by his scathing comments and natural truculence, Harry took his acerbic remarks and threw more back at him, usually with good humor and subtle respect.  It was heady for Severus, who had not had a close friendship with anyone since his awakening, and if the truth be told, he suspected that he had not had one before, either.

He looked over at the young man, and found those green eyes watching him.  Harry started a bit at being caught staring, but he did not look away immediately.  A curious expression flitted across his face, he smiled, and then returned to his own book.  That’s interesting, Severus thought.  He found that he was unable to focus on his work, with the delicious young man sitting across from him.  He’d known he was attracted to men, but had not acted on it, not knowing what he had done in his past, and trying to keep his present life as simple as possible.  He was finding those reasons less important when it came to Harry Potter, though he could tell from the man’s homelife that he was regrettably straight.

To impress the fact on himself further, before he made a fool of himself, Severus closed his book and began, “Potter—”

“Hnuh-uh, it’s Harry.  Remember?”

“Quite.  So, Harry, tell me about your children.”

“Ooh, boy, big mistake!  You don’t know what you’ve just gotten yourself into,” Harry chortled.  He closed his book, took a number of wizarding photos out of his pocket, and scooted over to Severus on the sofa.  “The oldest is James, named after my father.  He’s four, and quite the daredevil.  He’s already a terror on his training broom, and is quite obsessed with Quidditch.”

Severus remembered the first magical book he remembered reading, and looked at the photo.  His attention was caught by the other boy in the photo, one who looked like a junior version of the man next to him.  “That’s Al, Albus Severus.  I know parents aren’t supposed to have favorites, and I adore all of my children, but he really holds the strings to my soul,” Harry continued softly, his eyes warm and gentle.  As he turned slightly, his eyes grew distant, and his hand rested on Severus’ thigh.

“When he was born, he opened his eyes.  The midwife said that newborns don’t see anything at first, but he looked right at me, and I felt his magic reach out to mine.  Ever since that night, we’ve connected on a level that I’ve never felt except with one other person.”

“Your wife?”  Severus asked reluctantly.  He knew it was better to hear it, and move on.

“Erm, my ex-wife, you mean?”  Harry seemed startled.  “Actually, no.”

“Ex-wife? You are not with the children’s mother?”  Severus was surprised.  Harry had seemed to spend so much time with his children.

“No, we divorced very soon after Lily was born.  That’s her, by the way,” Harry pointed to the toddler covered in some sort of pureed vegetable, “She’s an expert at getting more food on herself than in.  The children live with me, as I was their primary caretaker even before the divorce.”

Harry continued, with a touch of defiance.  “Ginny wasn’t prepared for motherhood.  We got married more because it was expected than out of any real love or desire for each other.  We’re still friends, but she is pursuing her Quidditch career, I have the children, and we’re both happier for it.”

Harry’s hand, which had been resting on Severus’ leg, moved and touched his arm.  “Severus, I have a confession to make.  There is a reason that I was able to respond so quickly when you summoned your memories.”  His other hand came up to touch the older man’s cheek, and then he stood and turned his back to Severus, though he persisted in his explanation.  “I have been carrying them with me since that night in the Shrieking Shack.”

Sensing Severus’ surprise, he smiled apologetically over his shoulder, but resumed, “I guess I’ve been sort of obsessed with you for many years.  Initially, at school, we had very little use for each other, and I was sure that I hated you.  Later, I found a book of yours, sort of a cross between a textbook and a journal, in which you’d put a lot of your thoughts.  I didn’t know it had belonged to you, and I developed a real crush on that person.  When I found out it was you, I had a major shift in my attitude, but then something else happened that led me, wrongly, to distrust you, and I was unable to work out how I really felt while you were ‘alive.’

“It was only in the years after we’d assumed that you died that I’d finally come to terms with my emotions.  In fact, it was my attraction towards you that convinced me that I am gay and made me realize how unsatisfactory our marriage was.”  He turned and looked at Severus straight on.  “I hope that doesn’t offend you or make you too uncomfortable, because I am determined to help you until we have resolved your amnesia.  I just thought that I should tell you the truth.”

Staggered, Severus replied, “Why should I be offended?  A handsome young man has just said that he’s attracted to me.  You should be more concerned about your eyesight or mental health than my comfort.  From what you tell me, one of the characteristics of my house at school was the ability to take advantage of opportunities offered.  Are you offering, Harry?”

Harry’s mouth dropped open, then he laughed.  “I have forgotten how blunt you can be when you want, Severus.  I hadn’t thought of offering as I believed there wouldn’t be the slightest chance you’d take me up on it.  However, yes, I am.”  He got up, and moved around to Severus, who reached out and put his arms around the young man.

They kissed gently, then more avidly, with little finesse, more a contest of lips and tongues and teeth, hungry and needy.  Their hands moved restlessly over arms and ribs, thighs and buttocks.  Severus rested his hand on Harry’s chest, where he could just barely caress the younger man’s nipples through his shirt.  From the whimpers and gasps, it appeared that his explorations were enjoyable.  He stopped kissing, mainly to gasp some air, but also to take in the sight.  It was delightful!

Harry had thrown back his head, exposing the long line of his neck. His eyes were closed, his eyelashes like smudged brushstrokes on his cheeks, and his tongue poked out from his lips, which were red, puffy, and swollen from their kisses.  His chest was heaving with his panting, and a sound suspiciously like a purr filled the air.  Severus’ sensitive nose could pick out an aroma that was going to be irrevocably associated with this occasion:  citrus shampoo, leather book bindings, and the haunting smell of arousal:  the sweat and musk of an excited young man.

Severus could feel the length of Harry’s body quivering against his, and he stooped slightly and turned so that their burgeoning erections met.  Their echoing groans incited him to grind his groin against that of the shorter man, and he was rewarded by the most enthusiastic, erotic sounds pouring from the mouth of his young lover, “Oh, yes, oh, gods……fuck!….. yes, Severus, so good, so very good, oh, gnuhhh…….”

It was like music, sweet and seductive, making Severus ache as they teased themselves by writhing against each other, then pulling back lightly so that their hardened members just tickled at contact.  They were both breathing heavily, the air rich with their moans, muttered imprecations, gasps and gurgles as they crushed their bodies together driving remorselessly towards their completion.

Severus almost wept as his hips snapped, wanting to come, yet wanting the moment to last forever, just hanging in time. Harry got there first, his body freezing, then his hips pulsing rapidly for a few seconds as he keened and collapsed forward, his breath gusting up into Severus’ ear.  The tickle was all that was needed to send Severus over the edge, a sob bursting from his lips as his torso quaked, threatening to shake himself senseless.  His legs turned boneless as a warm wetness spread from his groin, and holding up Harry’s motionless body, he sank to the sofa.

They rested there for several minutes, Harry sprawled over Severus’ chest, those heavenly lips whispering brilliant nothings against his scarred neck.  It was both soothing and sensuous, their fingertips lightly touching lips and hair, caressing and learning.  At one point, Harry sucked Severus’ fingers into his mouth, his eyes dancing at Severus’ guttural groan.  “Stop that, you imp.  Remember, I am an old man, you’ll be the death of me…..Ahhhhh!”  He was trying to make sense of what Harry’s mouth was doing to his fingers, as he visualized another part of his anatomy receiving such attentions.

“Well, that was certainly fun,” Harry responded merrily.  “I haven’t done that in so long, I can’t even remember.  It made me feel like a teenager again.”  He lazily stroked his hands through Severus’ hair.

“What was that, last weekend for you?  You’re hardly more than that now,” Severus sniggered, “Well, I can honestly say that I don’t remember ever doing that.”  He smiled more broadly at Harry’s chuckle, feeling more expansive and buoyant than he had since he’d reawakened.

*

July 2004

“If I hadn’t known that magic exists, this would have convinced me,” Severus whispered, holding the pewter stirring rod gently while Harry counted the requisite number of counter-clockwise stirs.  They were in the potions lab that Severus had found in the basement of the house at Spinner’s End, having spent the past few days chopping, stewing and extracting.  They were currently making the devilishly tricky base of the Sanatio Lethes Draught.

As Harry was wont to mention every few minutes, he’d been right.  While he read and interpreted the directions for the potion, once Severus knew what he had to do, each step was done flawlessly.  At present, he lacked the background knowledge to brew, but all of the instinctive aspects of his ability were still there to be called upon.  Even Severus was impressed by how fluidly he moved through the preparations.

At times, the former Potions Master would go almost into an intuitive state in which he would sniff or test the texture of the liquid, and he would wonder aloud what would happen if he adjusted the dimensions of his slices or if the dryness of a certain herb would change the effectiveness of the potion.  Harry was dumbstruck at the questions, but they eventually resolved to have several batches brewing simultaneously, with slightly different preparations, keeping rigorous records of the experiments in a research journal.

Severus was in heaven.  He finally, really believed what Harry had told him about his previous life.  He could feel how right it was for him to be at his cauldron.

“It’s mesmerizing to watch you work—I could look at you for hours,” Harry sighed, a smile playing around his lips.  Severus’ breath caught at the sight.  If he didn’t have at least another hour stirring and adding more ground quahog shell, he’d take the young man right there over his work station.

“Since you apparently have the time to gaze at me for hours, perhaps you’d do me the favor of moving your indolent arse over to the counter to finish shredding the sea holly root?  I will need it this century,” Severus snapped, though with very little bite.  Harry rolled his eyes, and moved over to the counter.

“I really love watching your hands.  I remember the few times you would demonstrate during our class.  Your hands flew through the preparations, like a ballet of fingers and knives, darting between herbs and roots and flowers, stirring and chopping and pouring.  I remember the way you stood, staring so intently into the cauldron, puzzling and redrafting the steps of the potion on the fly.  I love watching the muscles in your arms flexing and stretching….”  Harry’s voice murmured in the background while Severus slowly sprinkled the ground shell into the liquid.

Severus’ trancelike state collapsed as part of Harry’s monologue intruded on his introspection:  “….I really fantasize about your cock, how it would taste in my mouth, testing its heaviness on my tongue, licking the bitter fluid from the tip, trying to suck the whole, huge monster into my mouth…..”  Severus’ knees almost gave out.

“Harry, it’s almost impossible to tell, but have you taken complete leave of your senses?”

A giggle followed, “No.  I was just trying to see if you were paying any attention to what I was saying.  I have to admit, it didn’t take half as long as I thought you—unnngh!”  Severus had come up behind Harry, taken the sharp knife out of the young man’s hands, then shoved his back up against the counter while he nibbled on Harry’s earlobe.

Harry smiled wickedly, then pushed Severus back.  Slowly, his eyes locked on the older man’s, Harry sunk to his knees, his smile widening at the groan that accompanied the realization of what he was doing.  His hands quickly separated Severus’ robes, and he rubbed his face along the man’s legs and thighs like a cat with a beloved master.  Keeping their eyes locked, he opened Severus’ trousers and burrowed his hand in to curl around the heated flesh of Severus’ erection.

“Talk to me, Severus.”

“What?”

“I want to hear your gorgeous voice as I suck on your cock.  I want to know how it feels.” Here he released the straining hardness and grinned at Severus’ gasp when the cold air of the basement coiled around his turgid flesh.  “Come, on, talk!”

Severus, realizing that it would be practical to appease someone about to suck one’s penis, said leisurely and seductively, “Do you realize how exquisite you are on your knees before me, Harry?  Your cheeks are flushed a delightful rose, and your eyes are glowing with lust---ohhhh, mmmm, yesssssss……”  he moaned as a tantalizing pink tongue licked the spongy head of his cock, slowly, lightly, but gradually increasing in speed.  He continued, “Your tongue is so—so, ahhh…  lithe and agile, but I want to feel what it’s like when you nibble on it—oh, yes, like that….. oh, yesssss…. like that, my Harry…….  ahnnghhh…..”

His hands resting on Harry’s head, began a frenzied caress over his ears, carding through his hair, trying to keep from holding his head and pumping.  He  wanted to keep his eyes open, to savor the image, perhaps save it for some masturbation material, but they kept closing from the bliss of that tongue and those lips, so responsive to his description—which reminded him….

“Hmmm, oh yesssssss…..erm, where was I?  Oh, th-th-there, …. there…. I-I-I can’t wait to feel your mouth on me, warm and welcoming, ohhh,  ohh…..yes—yes……drooling with anticipation right before you swallow it whole, ohhhh yess, like that, ….. Don’t stop!..... Yes, take me in your mouth, take me……Ahhhh!!!”

Severus was staggered at how quickly the intensity had built.  Between the eroticism of directing the young man’s actions, the feeling of that luscious mouth on his prick, and the delicious waves of pleasure throbbing throughout his body he hardly realized he’d ejaculated until he saw the hot pulses fill Harry’s mouth, dripping down his chin onto his chest and knees.  A moment later, everything whited out as his eyes rolled back in his head, his heart stuttered, then pounded in synchronicity, and his toes curled in his shoes.  It was only his bottom resting on the counter edge, and Harry’s hands pressed against his hips that kept him from toppling over.

He came back to himself as Harry continued to lick and swallow, cleaning up the softened organ, his delicate strokes on the overly-sensitized skin causing delightful shivers to course up and down Severus’ spine.  Looking up, Harry said, “Oh gods, how I loved that.  I love the sound of your voice saying all of those delightfully naughty things.  It does incredible things to me!”  He gave one final lick, then kissed the tip, slowly, gently, lovingly.  It made Severus’ depleted cock give a slight swelling twinge, which amazed him, but more astonishingly, it made his lonely heart break wide open.

“Harry, let me take care of you,”  Severus pleaded.  Harry shook his head and smiled impudently, still on his knees, while he tucked Severus back in and straightened his trousers.  “No need, Severus.”

“Really, I want you to enjoy this as much as I did, please.”

Severus understood when Harry arose, displaying the wetness spreading over the front of his jeans.  The charming little wretch gave an answering smile, and repeated, “As I said, there’s really no need.”

*

The day was warm, but it wasn’t the weather that spread a light sheen of perspiration on Severus’ face, back, and clammy palms.  He flinched as he felt the ground reappear under his feet, and tried to dismiss the feeling of his body being pulled through a dark, too-small tube from his mind.  He opened his eyes—which immediately widened in astonishment —to a most ridiculous sight:  a large, rambling house that could only be held together by magic and only have been constructed by a witless blind man.  Harry had Apparated them both to the Weasley family home, the Burrow.

They were supposed to be just dropping by to pick up Harry’s children, who’d been visiting with his wife, Ginny, and her parents while Harry and Severus brewed.  Harry warned the older man, though, that since news of Harry’s discovery of Severus had circulated, there would probably be a bit more family and some friends also in attendance.

Harry had mentioned some names, people with whom Severus had worked at Hogwarts and in the Order.  Many of them had doubted his loyalty at some point during the last year before Voldemort fell, if not before, but all had supported Harry in his quest to get Severus’ name officially cleared.  He suspected that while they would support his return, it was really Harry for whom they had expended their efforts.  Because Harry thought his re-entry into wizarding society was important, they were there to greet him, but if Severus hadn’t been the boy’s personal crusade, would they have been so welcoming?

At any rate, Severus knew enough to realize that he had to rein in his habitual truculence.  While he may not like them, he needed them if he was to find a new life.  And while they may not like or trust him, they recognized that Harry did, and that was good enough for them.  Nevertheless, his dismay grew as the importance of having to be pleasant—alright, if the truth be told, be less unpleasant—to so many people became more and more apparent.  He knew this was impossible, he just couldn’t—

“Shall we?”  Harry broke into his panicked thoughts calmly.

Severus looked at the stunning young crusader who had taken him under his wing.  Those eyes—which had haunted him for so many years, and had warmly supported and encouraged him in the past few months—gazed at him evenly.  They reminded Severus of companionship, joking jibes, discussions about children, magical theory, and whether eggs are better scrambled or fried.  They lit a tiny spark that reminded Severus of lips and fingers and tongues and toes, of sweaty skin sliding, of slippery apertures begging to be breached, of rigid organs with soft skins.  They reminded Severus that he was not alone, that he had an ally and lover, but more importantly, he had a friend.

He nodded grimly, “Yes, let the sunshine and light-hearted banter begin!”

Harry was still laughing when he knocked, then opened the door.

*

As Harry had promised (when would Severus learn to trust his personal crusader?), the impromptu social had not been as bad as he’d feared.  Everyone there knew that he’d lost his memory, so they made few demands of him other than a few minutes of conversation.  Minerva McGonagall and Kingsley Shacklebolt asked if they could call on him sometime soon to which agreed, as they seemed less objectionable than the rest.  But all of them made mention of how his actions were instrumental in the fight against Voldemort and thanked him.

What he found most overwhelming was the sheer number of Weasleys.  He often felt adrift on the sea of boisterous red-heads, glancing around for Harry’s mussed mane to anchor himself for a moment.  At several points, when it seemed his irritation would overcome his natural self-control, Harry would pop up out of nowhere, with a calm word, a glass of cool water, or to just touch his arm briefly.  Looking around after one such encounter, he saw that Harry’s rescue had not gone unnoticed.  There was an appraising look from Harry’s close friend, Hermione Granger before her attention turned to her toddler, another redhead.

One aspect of the day that was a pleasant surprise for Severus was meeting Harry’s children.  While James, with his bounce and auburn hair, could obviously hold his own with the more clamorous Weasley children, the boy quite politely shook Severus’ hand while enquiring if he knew anything about Quidditch.  When Severus mentioned a few facts he’d remembered from Quidditch Through the Ages, James smiled happily and plunged into a most confusing monologue on the subject, scattered with questions about Severus’ prowess on a broom.

Harry, seeing Severus’ bemusement, gave the boy a biscuit and a child’s broom and sent him off to play with his cousins while he introduced Severus to Al and his eighteen-month-old.  Lily was a giggling bundle of curls, ribbons, and some remnants of lunch who promptly began to gnaw on Severus’ jumper while cooing and patting his cheek.  He sniffed the sweet fragrance of talcum, oatmeal soap, and juice, entranced by her tiny hands and rosy cheeks.

Upon meeting Al, he was forcibly confronted with Harry’s words about the child’s first minutes.  The boy looked up at Severus solemnly, then smiled.  He was a miniature version of his father, and Severus took an immediate liking to him.  The boy was endearing, asking Severus questions about his memory and the potion they were making.  Like his father and sister, he was also quite tactile, stroking Severus' hand while they talked, his grave expression and adult level of speech a marked contrast to his age of three years as well as to that of the other children present.

Later, Severus reflected while he sat on the side of the room as Harry collected the children’s belongings.  He had not liked any of the children he’d come across in his neighborhood or the bookstore, and he assumed that he hadn’t liked any in his previous life, but he could see himself becoming attached to Harry’s children.  He stilled.  He was becoming more than just attached to Harry, he thought he was falling in love with the wonderful young man.

*

August 2004

“So this is it.”  They both looked at the unassuming purple liquid gently undulating in its goblet.  The Sanatio Lethes Draught was to be taken immediately before the casting of the spell which would help Severus restore any lost memories.  He would then retrieve his memories and wait.  There was no indication how long it would take for his memory to return, assuming that the process was successful.

They were in Harry’s home south of London.  Since they were combining a particular potion and spell for the first time, they had no idea how painful the process would be, or how long Severus might be unconscious.  Harry thought it would be best for them to be on the floo system so that he could call for help from St. Mungo’s if necessary, and Severus, excited but apprehensive, saw the value of caution.

He’d taken a week of vacation from Greerson’s shop.  The staff there thought he was having some type of medical treatment for his amnesia at a hospital in London, and he’d been sent off with cards, gifts, and best wishes.  He’d had to swear several times that no one would need to stay with him in London and promise that he would be fine.  Greerson, who had met Harry a couple of times when the young man had dropped by to meet Severus after work, seemed to have divined their relationship.  He said nothing, just gave Harry his phone number, ‘just in case he needed someone to help out—Lord knows that Severus was churlish enough when healthy, he was probably quite the handful when recuperating.’  Severus was surprised, but appreciative of their good cheer and kindness.

As he looked around Harry’s charming cottage, he thought back over his life since the coma. The months on the streets, eating scraps and food from rubbish bins, begging for work, his good fortune in finding the job at the bookstore, of discovering his home in Spinner’s End, the stroke of luck finding magic books, and the miracle of Harry Potter appearing at his door had all led inexorably to this moment.  This was what he needed, to recover his memories, so he could live his life.

Or was it what he really needed?  Though Harry hadn’t wanted to say much on the subject, Severus had gotten a pretty good impression that his present reticent behavior couldn’t compare to the misanthrope he’d been before.  From the description of their interactions at Hogwarts, it seemed that he had been petty, full of invective, resentful, and cruel to all of his charges, but to Harry in particular.  Apparently, there was a reason for his actions, but Severus wasn’t at all sure that it was valid or even reasonable.  He evidently was so disliked that he would have died forsaken and unwanted on the floor of some abandoned shack if Harry hadn’t taken to carrying bezoars.  Most telling, it seemed no one else had missed him besides the gorgeous young man.

With his memories returned, he would have his life back as a wizard, one of the most pre-eminent Potions Masters of his time.  He would have the respect of his colleagues, and Harry had said that since his name had been cleared of any crimes committed while fighting Voldemort—Severus shuddered to think what they might have been—he could return to his job teaching at Hogwarts.  Severus snorted at that.  Even in this incarnation, he hated most children, Harry’s delightful three not-withstanding. Now that it wasn’t an obligation of his protection, he didn’t see that happening anytime soon.  He was more intrigued in Harry’s suggestion of a potions lab.  He could sell the more esoteric formulas by mail-order—no retail shop for him, he’d learned that from working at Greerson's!

What concerned him most was the enmity that had existed between Harry and him.  The one thing that he’d noticed time and again was how surprised everyone seemed at the companionable friendship the two had developed.  It didn’t take a genius to realize that their previous relationship had to have been disastrous.  He knew his own propensity for holding a grudge, and while he recognized that Harry had been diplomatic in describing their differences, and obviously had put it behind him, would Severus be able to do the same if his memories returned?  Why had he been so hateful to the young Harry?  Could he have detested the boy’s father that much?  Would that hatred return when he remembered?

In fact, were his memories that important?  It was true that they would be necessary if he wanted to regain his former skills to work with potions. It was a thrilling line of work, never dull, always challenging.  He had to balance that, however, against what he already had.  For the first time in his life, he had the respect, trust, and friendship of his employer and co-workers.  He had his own place, albeit a shabby two-up/two-down on the dodgy side of town.  He had plenty of food, his health, and a damned fine-looking man in his life with whom he enjoyed making love.  He knew that to risk any of that would be folly.

“Severus.”  Harry’s voice interrupted his fretful thoughts.  “You don’t have to take the potion.  I know that you are content with your life.”  He grinned, “I think it’s the first time since I’ve met you that I’ve seen you so at peace with yourself.  But you won’t jeopardize that contentment by taking this potion.  You will not lose this—” he waved his hand, “if you regain your memories.”

Severus sighed.  “Harry, I know you haven’t told me everything, but I do know that we were constantly battling.  We loathed each other.  I just cannot go back to that.  I’ve struggled too much in this life and my previous one: I won’t go back to that again.”

“But, you don’t have to!”  Harry retorted.  “It’s not what happened in the past or now that caused your reactions to events.  It’s how you saw yourself, how you chose to react, how you interpreted the events around you.  Then, you were a bitter, hurting and hurtful man who felt buffeted by the circumstances around him.  In the past few years, you’ve overcome so many obstacles without the emotional baggage that had hampered you before, and you’ve developed a more positive way of dealing with adversity.

“Severus, don’t you see?  You are the same strong, courageous man that you were before, but without that past, you have allowed your innate goodness guide you in your choices:  to work rather than collect social funds, to find a flat, to listen to your intuition and find your magic.  The old Severus and the new Severus are the same man!  While the old Severus hated James Potter, and wealthy, arrogant purebloods, and saw all of that in Harry Potter, the new Severus was unencumbered by those prejudices, and we connected, and fell in love!”

Severus’ eyes widened, and Harry muttered, “Oops….”

Averting his eyes, they fell on the goblet.  He soldiered on, determined and resolute, “Look, Severus, we can talk about our feelings later, they really are not the issue here.  The way I see it, the issue is trust.  Do you trust yourself and me enough to have faith that we’ll get through this?  “Because if you don’t, it won’t be your memories that drive us apart.  It will be the fact that we don’t have the friendship, the trust, the respect that I thought.  That will eventually drive us apart.”

“You’re right,” Severus responded thoughtfully.

“Of course I am.” Harry exhaled noisily, and smiled.  To Severus, it seemed that the sun shone brighter, and golden light infused the air and warmed his heart.

“When did you become so wise?  The impression I have from your friends is that this maturity is rather new-found,” Severus countered.

Harry laughed, “It’s amazing how having children will force you to grow up, if you have a mind to raise them properly!”  He sobered, and continued, “Severus, I know that much of your past was not pleasant.  I can honestly say that most of mine was not either, but it is that past that made you who you are.  You are an intelligent, brilliantly witty, sexy,” Harry’s voice dropped an octave, while Severus’ cock gave a twitch, “wizard.  You will be that whether you have your memory or not.  Repairing those broken links will give you the self-awareness to know, to truly understand what has happened to you, but they are not imperative for you to be the wonderful person that you’ve grown to be. It is totally up to you whether or not you take the potion.  I will support you either way.”

“Thank you,” Severus said, deciding quickly.

Taking a deep breath, Severus quaffed the light, bubbly liquid.  He nodded to Harry, who pointed his wand and said quickly and clearly, “Sano Mentis Oblivium!”  Severus then took his wand, and uneasily eyeing the thin silvery strands stretching from the glass bottle to his temple, replaced all of the memories that Harry had stored.  Then he waited, but not for long.

With a soft huff, Severus fell to his knees as intense, razor-sharp pains radiated around his skull, pulsing in his ears and eyes.  He felt as if his face and neck were ablaze, incinerating his flesh and hair, drying, burning, then consuming the air in his nose, throat, and lungs.  Eyes rolling back into his head, he slumped to the floor, unconscious.

*

“No, the Healer just left.  He’s fine, just drained and exhausted.  He should be awake within a few hours.”  Severus could hear Harry’s voice from the other room.   The lack another voice led him to believe that the man was in the midst of a Floo Call.

“No, thanks for the offer, we’ll be fine.  How’re the kids?”

“Great!  Tell them that Severus will be fine.”

“Mmm, certainly!  Give them all a hug and a kiss for me.  I should probably be around to pick them up tomorrow afternoon or evening.  Thanks, Ginny.”

After a few minutes, Severus heard sounds floating up from the kitchen, and as the smell of a rich broth or stew reached him, his stomach grumbled loudly.  He sat up in bed, calculating the distance and amount of strength he would need to make it across the room to the bathroom.  His full bladder encouraged him to chance it, so he flung back the bed linens.

Harry had to have spelled the bed, because at that moment the door opened wider, and he entered swiftly, “Good morning, Severus, it’s great to see you up.  Can I help you to the loo?”

Severus, already weakened by his few movements, nodded tersely.  Harry supported him to the toilet, left him alone for a few minutes, then returned.  Seeing Severus’ wan face, he picked him up and deposited him gently back on the bed, and left again with a light, “I’ll bring up some broth and bread.”

Severus was speechless with horror.  His mind was filled with scene after scene of gruesome, vicious cruelties committed by Death Eaters on their defenseless victims, of the atrocities that the Dark Lord had participated in to grant himself more and more power and to prolong his life, of the dreadful potions he had devised as a Death Eater himself.

Harry returned with a tray, and seeing Severus’ dismay, bustled around the room opening curtains and letting in the brilliant sunshine.  Neither said anything while Severus sipped the soup and broke pieces of the bread, and buttered them before popping them in his mouth.  Done, he pushed the tray off his knees, and Harry removed it, still watching him carefully, but not speaking.  Severus lay back down, pulled up his sheets, and turned to face the wall, while Harry left the room, silently closing the door behind him.

His head pounding, Severus allowed another series of images to fly past.  Many of them were like the tantalizing small wisp of memory that he had seen back when he lived on the streets.  They showed him in his robes at Hogwarts, sadistically taunting the young Harry in class, stalking him in the halls, forcing him to serve detentions, cruelly sabotaging his potions work, and violently raping his mind when he was supposed to be tutoring him in Occlumency.

“Severus?”  Harry’s light tenor interrupted the appalling picture show in his mind.  “Is there anything I can get you?”

“No,”  Severus groaned.  “How can you bear to be in the same room with me?  What possessed you to find me and help me all of these months?  Are you mad or masochistic?”

“Severus.”  The end of the bed lowered where Harry had seated himself.  “Please look at the memories that I stored for you.”  He slipped under the sheets and curled himself around Severus’ back, arms lightly embracing his chest.  There was a headache potion in one hand.  Severus took it, popped off the lid, drank it quickly, and lay back, head spinning.  “Please, Severus.  Look at the memories from the bottle.”

He did.  He saw the scenes growing up with Lily Evans, and saw himself protecting and helping Harry time after time.  There was another memory in the bottle, one that had not originated from himself.  It showed him begging at Voldemort’s feet in the Shrieking Shack, Nagini’s attack, and his blood pouring out on the floor while he whispered to Harry, “Look…at…me…” (2) He saw himself attempt to redress his wrongs, give everything he had to thwart the Dark Lord, to fulfill his promise to Albus Dumbledore.  He saw himself gaze into the glowing green eyes of the boy that he’d helped defeat the Dark Lord.

“Severus, you’ve done horrible things, but you have given more than anyone I know to make up for them.  You’ve saved me innumerable times, and you managed to give us what we needed to save us all from Voldemort.  Please accept—as I have, as everyone else has who knows you—that you’ve paid enough.  You deserve to have all of the happiness that you can find.  Please, let me be a part of that, if I can.”  The arms tightened around him, and Severus relaxed into the shelter of Harry’s embrace.

*

May 2008

There was rousing applause as Harry stood up and made his way to the podium, checking the modulation and volume of his Sonorous spell.  “Thank you, Minister, for your introduction and kind words.  I would also like to thank the board of St. Mungo’s for inviting me to talk to you tonight.  As you may know, I don’t go about in society much, but I think that it is important that we don’t forget what happened.”  Harry smiled and nodded at the dignitaries seated at the tables flanking the podium.  Severus saw him scanning the crowd, and when their eyes met, his smile grew even more brilliant.

“I really welcome the opportunity to remind everyone that it was because I was a highly visible fighter that I was asked to give this speech.  However, it was the efforts of many witches and wizards that resulted in the defeat of Tom Riddle and his followers ten years ago.  I would like to take a moment of silence to remember those who gave their lives in this noble cause.”  Harry, the others on the stage, and the members of the audience bowed their heads and thought of those who had died in the battles and skirmishes that had come to be known as the Second Voldemort War.

After a reflective pause, he resumed, “I would enjoin us to remember the horror and fear of that time in order to ensure that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past.  There are seeds of mistrust, fear, and cowardice in us all that allowed Voldemort to rise to power.  We must be every vigilant to make our society one of equality, trust and freedom.

“I also bid you to understand that our safety and knowledge was gained by those pains and hard times that we suffered and overcame; and recognize that we remember those times and those courageous fighters best by living our lives to the fullest in this peaceful time gained by their sacrifice.”

To thunderous applause, Harry left the podium, but instead of returning to the table on the podium, he moved to the one set on the side of the large ballroom at which sat his children and partner.

“That was a brilliant speech, Papa!”  James crowed.  “Listen to all of the applause!”

“Thanks, James,”  Harry bowed with stylized formality to his son as Al and Lily giggled.  “What did you think, Severus?”  he asked as he seated himself.

“Hmmm, was that directed to the larger crowd or your audience of one?”  Severus smirked.  “Because I assure you, I have no need of a reminder.”  He looked around at his exquisite young mate, and their three charming children.

“I remember everything that is important.”

*



(1) The Department of Health and Social Security was a ministry of the British Government in existence for twenty years from 1968 until 1988, and was headed by the Secretary of State for Social Services.  Though its work is now handled by the Department for Work and Pensions, the initials 'DHSS' are still used by the general public.

(2)  Excerpt taken from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (US edition), p. 658



Click 'Back' on your browser to comment


DISCLAIMER: Neither this site nor any of the authors or artists represented here have made, nor will make, any attempt to infringe on the copyrights held by the Corporations or Individuals that are part of Harry Potter. This site is purely for the enjoyment of the fans and no monetary gain is made from it.