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Chapter Twenty-Five

Sev lay on his back and stared blankly at the rapidly darkening sky.  The full moon shone brightly to his left, creating a convenient distraction.  James sat off to one side, panting heavily and watching the Whomping Willow intently.  Neither moved for the longest time, each lost in their own thoughts.  They were only interrupted by the heavy beating of wings as a large leopard landed next to them.  Both watched as Harry changed back into his human form and rushed over to them.  

“ James!  Severus!  Are you alright?”

“ I'm fine, Harry,” James said, “ But I'm not so sure about Snape.  He had a pretty big shock.”

“ Sirius told me what he did.  Trust me, he won't do something so stupid again.”

“ How do you know?  I mean, Sirius just doesn't think things through properly.”

“ James, I can't believe you're going to let him off lightly!”

“ Harry, calm down.  Nothing bad happened.  Sirius was just playing a prank.”

“ How can you defend him?  Sirius may be immature, but he's not completely stupid.  He did it on purpose.  Maybe he didn't think through all of the consequences, but sending someone blindly into a place inhabited by a live werewolf is obviously dangerous.  Sev could have been bitten.  Or mauled.  What would have happened to Sirius if Sev had been killed?”

“ He didn't think…”

“ You're right.  He didn't think.  And if he comes near me or Sev again, he won't be able to think for a very long time.  James, do you know how long it takes to wake from a magically induced coma?”

“ No…”

“ Well, you can tell Sirius from me that any more pranks like this and he'll find out from first hand experience.”

“ You wouldn't….”

“ Sending a year mate to his death is something I wouldn't do, but exacting revenge is another matter.  Tell him to stay away from me and my friend.”

“ But, Harry….”

“ I don't want to hear it, James.  I'm not angry with you, just disappointed you are taking Sirius' side.  I know he's like a brother to you, but he's lost my trust.  You asked me last month why Sirius wasn't selected to join the Order of the Phoenix.  This is a prime example.  How do you think the rest of the Order would have reacted if one of their youngest members killed our one and only spy in Voldemort's ranks?  Do you think they would have been pleased?  He would have been executed on the spot for treason.  You may think he's responsible enough to join such an important organisation, but as you have seen tonight, he will not be ready for a long time.”

“ I see your point.  Getting our spy killed would be bad…”

“ It would be worse than bad.  It would be disastrous.  Imagine how many lives Sev will save over the years.  If that was taken away, Sirius would be responsible for more than just Sev's death, but the deaths of those he could have saved.  Innocent people who just want to live their lives.”

“ I'll talk to him.”

“ Good.  Thank you for saving Severus, I wish I could have been here to do it myself, but things didn't work out that way.  I know Sev will resent you for this, but there's nothing I can do to change that, and good will come from it in the future.  For now, I think it would be best if you left.”

“ Sure Harry, if that's what you want.”

“ Please.”

James turned and headed back to the castle, his body beginning to shake as the shock started to set in.  He hadn't expected everything to work out like this.  He knew Sirius was wrong to do what he did, even to a Slytherin.  If the spy had been killed, it could have had really bad consequences.  As he reached the main doors and pushed them open, he decided to head straight to bed.  It had been an eventful evening, and he just wanted to sleep it off.  He would talk to Sirius in the morning.


Harry watched the shadowy figure of his father disappear into the school before walking towards where his friend was sprawled on the floor.  Sev didn't react as Harry dropped down next to him and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.  Concerned, Harry gave the younger boy a small shake.

“ Severus, are you alright?”

The fifth year turned his head towards his friend and gave him a blank look.

“ I was so scared, Harry.  And you weren't here to save me.”

Harry let out a great sigh.  He was relieved Sev was coherent enough to speak to him, but he was also worried about the empty look in the boy's eyes.  Even in the future, as Harry's Potions Master, Sev had never looked so blank.

“ I'm sorry, Sev.  I would have come if I knew.  You know I would.”

“ Didn't you?”

“ Didn't I what?”

“ Know.”

“ Of course not!” Harry said in shock, “ What makes you think I did?  I would never do anything to hurt you.  You're my friend.  You know that.”

“ Not as good as Black.”

“ I'm not even talking to Sirius at the moment.  I told him straight, if he ever does anything to hurt you again, he will regret it.  Whatever gave you the impression that I was better friends with him than with you?”

“ He told me you were close.  That you weren't even my friend.”

“ I don't believe he said that.  Were those his exact words?”

“ No…”

“ Well then.”

“ But he implied that you are closer to him and his Gryffindors than to me.  I know you are friends with them, but I hate that you have secrets from me that you don't have from them.  Like where you are from, or where you learned all that you know.  Black implied that you share things like that with them.  But you've never told me.  Never.”

“ Sev, I haven't told anyone those things.  Only Dumbledore and some of the Order members.  Not the Marauders.  It's something that could have major consequences if it ever gets out, and I can't let that happen.  The information cannot be given lightly.  As for Remus being a werewolf, I didn't tell you about that because it wasn't my secret to tell.  I was asked to keep it quiet, and that is what I did.  I don't break my word if I can help it.  Sev, if it means that much to you, if it will make you trust me, then I will tell you what you want to know.  I will tell you where I am from, and what I have done in my life.”

“ No, it's alright Harry.  Just the fact that you are prepared to tell me is enough.  I don't want to compromise anything important.”

“ That's fine, Sev.  But I assure you, one day you will know.  And when you do, I hope you don't hate me.”

“ I could never hate you, Harry.”

“ Don't make promises you can't keep.”

“ You did.  You said you would look out for me.  Instead, I find Potter is the one to save me from the werewolf.”

“ I'm sorry, Sev.  As I said, if I had known, I would have prevented it.  But you have to learn to take care of yourself, Sev.  I won't always be here to protect you.  In fact, I won't be here for much longer.  I will do the best with the time I have, but you have to accept that things will happen, and I can't solve everything.”

Harry felt bad for telling Severus that he didn't know about the Whomping Willow incident.  He knew about it, but couldn't interfere.  He had to let events play out as they should have, and not changed any of the details.  The incident had also driven a wedge between him and Sirius that he doubted would ever be breached.  Although he had vaguely known what had happened, the reality of Sirius' maliciousness shocked him.  Before he had all of the details, he thought it was an accident, but having seen it first hand, it was something he could never forgive.  When he got back to his own time, he was going to have a little chat with his godfather.

The pair sat on the grass for several minutes before Harry finally stood up, dragging Sev to his feet with him.  He sent a look to the Whomping Willow, behind which Remus was suffering his transformation alone.  But Harry knew that the werewolf would have to do without them for one night.  Sev was the main concern at the moment, and that was all that mattered.

“ Sev, let's go back to the castle.  I think we both need to get some sleep.  You'll feel better in the morning.”

“ Sure, if you like.”

Harry sent the younger boy a concerned look as he trailed behind him up to Hogwarts.  Sev seemed too distant for comfort, more like the Potions Master of the future than the shy youngster Harry had grown to count on.


The next morning Harry went down to the common room to find Severus staring blankly into the fire.  The fifth year was startled out of his thoughts when Harry placed a hand on his shoulder.

“ Sev, are you coming down to breakfast?”

“ I suppose.”

“ Did you get any sleep at all last night?”

“ No.”

“ Have you been here since we got back?”

“ Didn't see the point in going to bed.  I knew I wouldn't sleep.  And at least here I feel safe.”

“ You should have told me.  I would have brewed you a sleeping draught.”

“ I doubt it would work.”

“ I'll make you a Draught of Living Death.”

“ What's that?”

“ A potion.”

“ I gathered that,” Sev said with a frown.

“ It's the strongest known sleeping potion.  Very potent.  You only use it in emergencies.”

“ What's in it?”

Harry smiled, thinking back to his first ever potions lesson.  

“ Well, Asphodel and Wormwood play a large part.”

“ Oh.  I'll have to remember that.”

“ You will.”

“ Are we going down to breakfast, then?”

“ Sure,” Harry said, pulling Sev up and heading for the door.


The Great Hall was packed as usual as the pair headed to the Slytherin table.  Across the Hall, Harry got his eye on the Marauders huddled in a group at the bottom end of the Gryffindor table.  They looked up as the two Slytherins entered, and Harry sent a vicious glare in Sirius' direction.  The boy's eyes widened and he looked down at the table.  Harry looked at the others sitting on either side of him.  James looked between to two in despair, Peter looked indifferent, Lily looked furious and was glaring daggers at Sirius, and Remus looked simply devastated.  Sev saw his friend had slowed and followed his gaze.  As soon as he saw Remus he started to shake slightly.  Luckily, Harry noticed quickly and steered him to the opposite end of the Great Hall, seating them with their backs to the Gryffindor table.

“ You ok, Sev?”

“ Yeah.  He looks so harmless like that.  You would never guess what he was.”

“ He is harmless like this.  You may not know it, but this is killing Remus.  All of his life he has been so careful not to hurt anybody, and now this happens because a friend he trusted with his secret abused that trust.  He feels awful, believe me.  What you have to understand, Sev, is that it wasn't his fault.  When he's in wolf form, he has no control of his body.  You shouldn't blame him for something that he had no control over.  If you want to blame anyone, blame Sirius.”

“ I do, I really do, but I can't help but resent Potter as well.  I mean, we hate each other, and always have, and now he has something to hold over my head for the rest of my life.”

“ It won't be that long,” Harry muttered.

“ What?”

“ Nothing,” he said, “ Anyway, at least you are alive.  And I know this means you owe James a life debt, but at least you know he cares.  He may not like you, but he was willing to risk his own life to save yours anyway.  And he has asked for nothing in return.  Remember that.”

“ I just don't like owing him anything.”

“ Why do you hate James so much, anyway?  And Remus.  You've never liked them, and I was wondering what started it all.”

“ We've been enemies for as far back as I can remember.  The Potters and Snapes have always opposed each other.  For as far back as the family can be traced, the Potters have been Light wizards.  The Snapes, on the other hand, have always been Dark.”

“ But I thought I told you Light and Dark was irrelevant.”

“ You did, you showed me that it was the intent that was evil, not the magic.  But the Potters don't understand that.  Every Potter that has ever lived has been a devout Light wizard.  They have never strayed, and for a Potter to use Dark magic of any form would be unheard of.  In my family, everyone has been Dark.  Not necessarily evil, like my father, but all Dark.  That's why we were destined never to get on.”

“ Sev, if you ever met a Dark Potter, would you give them a chance?”

“ That would never happen.”

“ But if it did…”

“ If I ever met a Dark Potter, one without the prejudices the rest of the family hold, I would give them the benefit of the doubt.”

“ Good.  That's all I wanted to hear.”

“ Why do you ask?  Is there something I don't know?”

“ There are a lot of things you don't know, but most of them you are not ready to learn.”

“ If you say so.”

“ I do.  Now, you told me why you don't get on with James, but what about the others.”

“ Well, I'm not allowed to talk to Lily Evans, because my father would never approve of me fraternising with a muggleborn.  As for Pettigrew, he's a moron.  Not worth my time.  Lupin is a friend of Potter's, so we dislike each other by default.  And Black is another matter.  You see, half of Black's family is Dark, and half is Light.  Sirius Black is on the Light side, and wants everyone to know it.  He's always claimed to be a Light wizard, and if he was friendly towards me, that would mean he was openly accepting of Dark wizards.  He wants to avoid that if at all possible.  The thing is, for someone who claims to be good and Light, he certainly pulls some rather dark pranks.  I think murder of a classmate could qualify as evil.”

“ I see your point.  He's lost my trust, and I doubt he will ever regain it.  It's too late for that.  I never thought he could be so malicious.”

Their quiet conversation was interrupted by polite coughing behind them.  Harry turned and came face to face with the object of their conversation.

“ Can I speak to you, Harry?”

“ I have nothing to say to you, Sirius.”

“ Please.  I have some things to say.”

“ Go ahead.”

Sirius glanced at the surrounding Slytherins, who were all listening to the exchange in interest.

“ Can we go somewhere more private?”

“ No.  I think this is something the rest of my House should hear.”

“ Harry…”

“ No.  If you have something to say, you can say it here.”

Sirius glanced at the expectant faces.  Lucius was looking especially attentive.

“ I came to apologise to you, Harry.”

“ What are you apologising to me for?  It's Sev you should be saying sorry to.  After all, it was him you tried to kill.”

The nearby Slytherins all let out gasps, and started passing the message down the table.  Soon, a quarter of the Hall was speculating on what had happened.  Word soon passed to the Hufflepuff table, and then the Ravenclaw table.  Minutes later, the Gryffindors had joined the discussion.  The teachers had also heard and were listening out for Sirius and Harry to continue.

“ I didn't try to kill him…”

“ Sending into a situation where he was facing a wild animal with no defence is not the sort of thing that is harmless.  He could very easily have been killed, and that would have made you a murderer.”

“ I'm not a murderer!”

“ But you could have been.  Easily.  Which would have made you no better than a Death Eater.”

Some of the older Slytherins sent Harry poisonous looks, but were too interested in the conversation to interrupt.  Sirius was staring at the green eyed boy in horror, slowly shaking his head.

“ I am not a Death Eater.”

“ No?  They kill without thought.  You almost did the same.  Tell me, what is the difference?”

Luckily, Dumbledore took the opportunity to interrupt them.  Walking over he held up his hands.

“ Boys, I believe we should take this up to my office.”

Harry, Severus and Sirius all nodded, and reluctantly followed the headmaster out of the Great Hall, leaving loud whispering in their wake.


“ What happened?” Dumbledore asked as the four took their seats in the headmaster's office.

“ Black tried to kill me,” Sev announced.  Dumbledore raised one eyebrow and looked to a squirming Sirius.

“ Would you care to explain, Mr. Black?”

Sirius hung his head and glanced to Harry for support.  He was disappointed, though, when his eyes met the cool gaze of the other boy.  He would be getting no help from Harry.

“ It was meant as a prank, Sir,” he started, “ Snape had been snooping around where he shouldn't have, and I thought I'd teach him a lesson.”

“ That's all well and good, Mr. Black, but that still doesn't tell me what you actually did.”

“ I told him if he wanted to know what was going on, he should look under the Whomping Willow on the full moon.”

Dumbledore paled and his eyes lost their twinkle.  A frown marred his wisened features as he gave Sirius a disappointed look.  

“ Mr. Black, you know what resides under there on the full moon, yet you consciously sent a fellow student there undefended?”

“ Yes.”

“ You do understand that I am well within my rights to expel you.”

“ Yes, Sir,” he answered quietly.

“ I believe, as Mr. Snape was on the receiving end of such a dangerous and thoughtless prank, he should be the one who decides what your punishment should be.”

Sirius looked horrified at this suggestion, but Sev just looked thoughtful.  He had wanted a way to get rid of Sirius for years, he and his group of friends.  Now he finally had the chance to mete out the ultimate dishonour.  Expulsion.  He glanced at the gobsmacked Gryffindor.  He couldn't make such a big decision on his own.  He looked over to the one person he knew would give him a fair answer.  As his gaze shifted to the other Slytherin, he saw Harry shake his head slightly.  Getting the message, he looked back at the headmaster.

“ I don't want you to expel him.”

Dumbledore looked a little surprised, and Sirius looked shocked beyond belief.  He was speechless.  The boy he had almost had killed was not going to expel him.

“ And why would that be, Mr. Snape?” the headmaster asked him.

“ There are worse punishments.”

“ Are you sure?”

“ Yes.  I would like you to give him a month of detentions with Filch, take enough House points that Gryffindor will be out of the running for the House Cup, and ban him from performing any pranks for the rest of the year.”

If the first two requests had horrified Sirius, the last left him gaping in astonishment.

“ I can grant you those requests,” Dumbledore said, “ It seems only fair if you are sparing him from expulsion.  What shall the penalty be if he performs any more pranks this year?”

“ Expulsion.”

“ I see.”

“ Call it parole.  If he breaks it, he receives a worse punishment.”

“ So be it.  Sirius Black, I hereby sentence you to one month of detention with Mr. Filch, the removal of 250 points from Gryffindor, and a ban on pranks of any kind until September 1st.”

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