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Chapter Twenty-Eight
Tearful Goodbyes

The rest of the evening went well for everyone.  The pranksters all left the Hall, changing back into their regular school robes for the students and normal clothes for the adults.  Harry concealed those who could not become invisible, and they all headed back to their tables, where they took the place of the fakes left to conceal their absence.  The mood in the Great Hall was even more jovial than before, and the only person not enjoying himself was Sirius.  The Gryffindor was sitting at his table, a deep scowl on his face.  Harry could see from across the Hall that the newly created Dark Mark was still bothering him.  Despite his attempts to look surly, Sirius couldn't conceal the pain in his eyes.  While eating his meal, he was favouring his uninjured arm a lot, and the Boy-Who-Lived felt a little guilty.  Sev elbowed him in the ribs, bringing him out of his thoughts.

“ Stop it.”

“ Stop what?” he asked in confusion.

“ Stop feeling guilty.  He deserved it.  Anyway, it's not like it's permanent.  You'll get rid of it later, right?”

“ Of course.  I'm just worried that he'll never forgive me for ridiculing him in front of the whole school like that.”

“ He will.  Anyway, isn't it you who should be forgiving him, and not the other way around?”

“ I think he's suffered enough.  He didn't intend to kill you, just scare you, and he's been thoroughly humiliated in front of everyone he knows.  He has to spend the next two years of his life with these people, and whenever he does something they don't like, they can remind him of this.”

“ I know I will.  I can't wait!”

“ Sev, don't provoke him.  He's already tried to kill you once.  Anyway, I think more than anything it's hurt him inside.  It doesn't matter that he will be laughed at for this.  You said it yourself; half of his family is Dark.  He doesn't want to be associated with them, and what happened tonight went against everything he has spent his life trying to prove.  His allegiance to the Light.  Having Shirley's Mark burned into his skin will be the ultimate degradation.”

“ Can you really remove it?”

“ Yes, of course.  The only one who can remove the Dark Mark is the one who created it.  Or if you have one yourself, the one who created yours.  The one to give the original Mark has power over all created thereafter.”

“ Does that mean you could remove mine if you wanted to?  Because you gave Shirley his?”

Harry looked at his friend for a moment, considering what to tell him.  He knew that Sev never asked for the Dark Mark, and would do anything to get rid of it.  On the other hand, the Order needed their spy, and Sev was the only person they could trust with the job.  Harry had a big decision to make.  He could lie to his friend, and break a trust he had worked very hard to gain.  Or he could tell the truth, and offer Sev the choice.  If he made the wrong decision, the Order would be without a spy, but Sev would be free to live his own life.  If he chose to help the Order, he would be condemned for the rest of his days.  Harry looked deep into his friend's eyes, making his decision.

“ I could.”

“ Really?  You could make it go away?”

“ If that's what you want.  I should have told you after Christmas, but I acted selfishly.  We needed a spy, and you were a good candidate.  The decision is yours.  I will remove it if you want, and won't try and talk you out of it.  All I ask is that you give it some thought.  Tell me tomorrow before you leave.”

“ Alright, Harry, I'll think about it.”

“ That's all I ask.”

Harry turned away and looked out over the Great Hall at all of the smiling faces.  There were so many people he had grown to love over the course of the year.  It would be really hard to say goodbye.  He knew that the next day before the train left would be his last chance to see most of them.  Those in the Order he would see later in the summer at meetings, but the others he would be seeing for the last time.  Even if he met them in his own time, they wouldn't be the same as they were now.  Minerva was the perfect example.  He had known her as a seventh year student in the forties, and it wasn't the same seeing her now, or even thinking of her in his first four years at Hogwarts.  She was less carefree, and seemed to have the weight of the world on her shoulders half of the time.  He missed seeing her as a child, and he dreaded seeing those he knew now as adults.  Sev was the one he would miss the most.  At the moment, he was the younger boy's best friend and confidante.  In the future, Harry was just an annoying student that the Potions Master despised.  Breaking through that would be hard.  Sev had twenty years of bitterness and self loathing in Harry's time that wasn't present yet.  He was still a child.  A rather mature child, but a child nonetheless.  He still had some of the innocence that the hated Potions Master had lost long ago.  

Harry's eyes met Ginny's across at the Ravenclaw table, and his heart constricted in his chest as she sent him a dazzling smile.  It had been over a year since their time together in Grindelwald's prison.  Then, he hadn't been ready to move on with his life and leave Gallatea, even though they could never be together again.  A thousand years separated the two, and it was an obstacle Harry logically knew could never be breached.  As a ghost, Gallatea could never be with him, and no matter how much he wished things could be different, it was an impossible situation.  But now he looked at Ginny and saw a beautiful young woman who had loved him for years.  At first, he knew it was simply a crush on the `Boy-Who-Lived', but over the course of the last three years, as she had grown to know him as a person and not just a figurehead, her feelings had become more real, and now she loved him for who he was.  That was something Harry had always wanted.  With Gallatea he had found someone who couldn't relate to his fame, and therefore it was never an issue between them.  When Harry finally realised he would eventually have to find someone from his own time to be with, Ginny was the perfect choice.  She knew him for himself, and he had feelings for her in return.  Never again would she be swayed by his fame, as she had seen him as a real human being.  Someone who was fallible, just like everyone else.  Harry couldn't deny that he was special, and always had been, but Ginny was somebody who had seen him at his worst and still loved him.  When he had been fighting his depression after the vampire bite, she had risked everything in telling Remus, all so he could help Harry get better.  In Grindelwald's headquarters she had seen him tortured day after day, and had still comforted him.  When he thought about it, Ginny was the one person who understood him, and that was a good enough reason to be with her.  He would always love Gallatea, but it was time for him to move on with his life and find happiness again.


The next day Harry woke up bright and early.  It had taken him a long time to go to sleep the night before, as he had been thinking over everything that had happened over the last year.  It had been rather eventful, especially with Voldemort in full power.  Harry had learned to appreciate what the adults of his time had to live through the first time, and when he went back he vowed he would share some of his experiences with the students.  Although they had been told by Dumbledore after the Triwizard Tournament that the Dark Lord had risen again, they didn't really know what that meant.  They had heard stories growing up from their parents and older siblings, but they themselves didn't know what was to come.  The time the time travellers found themselves in at the moment was at the height of Voldemort's Dark Reign of Terror, and they had been given the unique opportunity of seeing him at his worst.  This would give them an advantage when they went home, as they could plan counter offensives knowing the way their enemy would think.

Harry eventually dragged himself out of bed and pulled his clothes on, waiting for the morning knock on his door.  Both he and Sev had packed their clothes the night before, so they would both be ready to go down to breakfast on time.  Most of the rest of the school would be in a panic, running around trying to find stray socks and books, but the two Slytherins were ready to leave.  Sev didn't want to go home, as it would mean spending the summer with his father, but he didn't have much choice in the matter.  Harry had offered to let him stay in Domus Corvus Corax with him and the other time travellers, but he had turned the older boy down.  His father was an issue he would eventually have to face, and if he did decide to stay as the Order spy, then staying at the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix would look more than a little suspicious to a hardcore Death Eater.

Eventually, at ten to eight, Harry heard a knock on the door.  He went straight over and pulled it open, revealing Severus.  Waving him in, Harry led his young apprenticed to a chair and sat down opposite him.

“ Hi Sev.  Ready to leave?”

“ I've packed, but I'm not looking forward to going home.  My father's not the most pleasant person to spend time with.”

“ I can imagine.  Will you be able to come to Order meetings this summer?”

“ I doubt it.  Why?”

“ As you know, I always planned on leaving, as did Hermione, Ron and Ginny.  As you would have heard last night, we are not coming back next year, so this is the last day I will see you.”

“ But Harry, I'll see you once the school year starts at the Order meetings.  My father can't stop me going when I'm not at home.  Just because you're not at school doesn't mean we can't keep in touch. We can owl each other…”

“ Sev, you're not getting it.  When I say I'm leaving, I mean I'm leaving for good.  Where I'm going, I can't have any contact with people from here.  I have to go back to the place I come from.  I never told you where I was from, but it's time for me to go home.  I've been away for three years, and I want to see my family again.  I'll see you again, I promise, but I doubt you will be able to accept me when the time comes.”

“ I will, Harry.  You are the only real friend I have ever had.  You've taught me everything I need to survive in this war and be a spy.  I've decided to stay as a spy, because you helped me to see that I can do a lot of good working for the Order, and this is the best way I will be of use.”

“ It will be a hard life, Sev.  You will end up bitter and lonely, even if you don't want to.”

“ How do you know that?  How do you know a lot of things?  You seem to be able to tell the future, even though it is your friend Ginny who is the Seer.  Does she tell you?  Or is there another reason?”

“ There's another reason, but I can't tell you.  It's too much of a security risk.”

“ Harry, you can trust me.”

“ I know, Sev, but I'm afraid you'll laugh at me, or not believe me.  It's a pretty incredible story, and not many people would be able to accept it.”

“ I would.”

Harry looked at his friend and saw the earnest look on his face.  Coming to a decision, he let out a long sigh and stood up.

“ Are you hungry?” he asked the younger boy.

“ Not really.  Why?”

“ Let's go for a walk.”

Harry held the door to his room open and waited for Sev to go through it before exiting and shutting and warding it behind him.  He strode through the common room and out into the dungeons, looking back to make sure that Sev was following him.  He led the other Slytherin out of Hogwarts and on to the quidditch pitch, stopping at a discoloured piece of grass.  Sev came to a halt next to him, and waited for his friend and mentor to speak.  Eventually, Harry waved his hand over the ground and muttered under his breath.  Before them, words began to appear on a piece of stone, written in three different languages.  Sev glanced at the plaque before him, recognition shining in his eyes.

“ Severus, do you remember the day we came for the quidditch tryouts, and I showed you this spot?

“ Of course.  You said you'd explain when I was older.”

“ I did.  I was going to leave it for another twenty years, but I believe now would be an appropriate time to tell you.”

“ Tell me what?”

“ The truth.  I just hope you don't hate me for it.  For who I am.”

“ I could never hate you, Harry.”

“ But you do.  With a fiery passion.  You see, I'm not from around here.  In fact, I'm from a very long way away.  In time, but not in space.”

“ In time but not in space?  That doesn't make sense.”

“ It does.  What I am about to tell you can go no further.  Only a few know the truth, and even then, only Dumbledore knows nearly everything.  He knows of the past, but not the future.  You see, Sev, I am from Hogwarts.  I have spent seven years of my life here.  Just not now.”

“ Not now?”

“ No.  I started in my first year in 1991.  I spent my first four years there as normal, but then in 1995 everything went wrong.  I accidentally activated a magic amulet called the Amulet of Time.  That's why you haven't seen me before this year.  I have always been here, just not at the same time as you.  My friends, Ginny, Hermione and Ron, and I have been travelling through time for the last three years.  We spent our fifth year at school in the time of the Hogwarts founders.  I was present when Salazar Slytherin was defeated.  I saved Godric Gryffindor's life.  I fell in love with Rowena Ravenclaw's daughter.  I was there.  I lived it.  And then I had to leave.  You see, the amulet only works once a year, and if I had stayed there, I would have been trapped.  Why do you think I'm so close to the Grey Lady?  She is my love, Gallatea.  And Peeves.  I knew him when he was a first year.  And then last year, we went to a different time.  We ended up in 1943.  I saw the defeat of Grindelwald, and placed the Dark Mark on Tom Riddle's arm when he had just left Hogwarts.  He was Grindelwald's apprentice.  This is how I know so much.  How I have developed skills that no-one else knows about.  How I know wandless magic.  I wanted so much to share this with you, Sev, but I couldn't.  I've grown to like you as a friend.  You are a wonderful person, and I am really going to miss you when I go back to 1995.”

“ You're kidding, right?”

“ I'm afraid not.  Ask me anything.  Anything that would prove to you that I am what I say I am.”

“ Tell me what happens in the future.  If you are from 1995, you will know.”

“ That's the one thing I can't reveal.  I didn't even tell Dumbledore.”

“ Why not?”

“ Because if you knew what was to come, you might try and change it.  The four of us have tried very hard over the last three years to make sure not to change anything.  The more people we tell, the greater the risk.  I can't tell you what happens.”

“ I hate you, don't I?  You keep saying that someday I will hate you, even though I have never given you any reason to think that.  At first, I thought you were just being paranoid, but now I guess it's because you know for sure.  You know that I hate you.  What I don't understand is why?  Why would I ever hate you, Harry?”

“ Because of who I am.  Who my father is.”

“ Who is your father?”

“ Look at the stone, Severus Snape, and learn the truth.”

Sev looked down at the black onyx set into the ground in front of him.  The Anglo-Saxon and elvish were incomprehensible to him, but the message in English made him believe Harry's story.  There was no other way a thousand year old plaque could be inscribed in modern English unless someone from the future had been there.  When he read the inscription again, though, his heart froze.

To Gallatea Ravenclaw
A special gift for a special friend. I will remember you always.
From Harry Potter

“ Harry Potter.  Your name is Harry Potter.”

“ Yes.”

“ Your father is James Potter.  James Potter, the boy who has ridiculed me since my first year.”

“ Yes.  I knew you hated him, which was one of the reasons I never told you earlier.  I wanted you to get to know me before you knew my name.  In the future, you are my Potions Master.  You have always been horrible to me, just because you had a grudge against James Potter for saving your life from the werewolf.  You judged me then because you hated my father.  You didn't give me a chance to prove I was more than him.  That I could understand.  In this time, you have seen that I am more than my father will ever be.”

“ I don't get it.  You're nothing like James Potter.  Like any Potter.”

“ You're right.  Over the years, I have led a hard life.  I have learned that Light and Dark aren't so different.  I have lost all of the prejudices of my youth.  I have spent time in all four Hogwarts Houses, which has given me the chance to see the world from different perspectives.  You once told me that the Snapes and the Potters never got on because your family was always Dark, and mine was always Light.  You also told me that if you ever met a Dark Potter, you would give them the benefit of the doubt.  I am asking you to honour that promise.  I want to be the one to break the chain of hatred that has plagued our two families for centuries.  Help me break it.  Be the first Snape to understand, and be understood.”

Sev stared at the boy who had taught him so much.  How to fight.  How to duel.  How to stand up for himself and what he believes in.  How to respect himself.  As he thought it over, he realised that Harry had never been anything but a good friend to him.  He had always stuck by him, no matter what, and even crossing his own father to do so.  He had been mad at James after the Whomping Willow incident, because Sev had been in danger.  The fifth year suddenly understood that Harry had chosen to befriend him, even though he was horrid to him in the future.  He had given him the benefit of the doubt, and grown to know the person Sev was now.  The least he could do was return the favour.

“ Harry, you're right.  We know each other.  We are practically like brothers.  We can't continue like Potters and Snapes.  I'm your friend, and always will be.”

Harry grinned widely, and pulled Sev into a brief embrace.  He hadn't wanted to tell the other, but now that he had, he felt he had done the right thing.  It was just a shame Sev wouldn't remember any of it…


As the pair got back to the castle, the rest of the school was gathering in the Entrance Hall to wait for the horseless carriages that would take them to Hogsmeade.  As Sev went down to the Slytherin dungeons to gather his possessions, Harry went over to a few people, saying goodbye to them all.  Eventually, he came to a stop in front of the Marauders.  Sirius scowled at him, and Peter looked blank, but the others all gave him a warm welcome.  Lily gave him a warm hug, and James and Remus each gave him pats on the back.  Harry shook Peter's hand briefly before turning to Sirius.

“ I'm sorry for what I did last night, Sirius.  It was the last part of your punishment.  I shouldn't have been so harsh on you.”

“ Harsh?  You call permanent disfigurement harsh?”

“ It's not permanent.  I created it; I can get rid of it.  Just give me your arm.”

Sirius gave him a wary look before lifting his left arm and pulling up his sleeve, revealing the Dark Mark.  Harry placed his hand over it and concentrated hard.  Sirius felt a slight tingling sensation where the ugly black mark was, and gasped when Harry removed his hand, revealing unblemished skin.

“ I'm sorry.  Forgive me?”

Sirius looked into Harry's guilt filled eyes and gave him a watery smile.

“ Forgiven.  I'm sorry for the prank I pulled on Snape. It was irresponsible, and stupid.  Forgive me?”

“ Forgiven.”

The pair embraced briefly, and Harry went over to have a word with Dumbledore.  The headmaster nodded and clapped his hands to get everyone's attention.

“ Could everyone please assemble on the front steps by year and House?  One of our leaving students would like to take a photograph.”

Many of the students started to grumble, but everyone took their places.  Harry watched as Ginny set the timer on her camera and rushed to take her place.  When the flash went off, Harry weaved a spell, placing it on all of the students, excluding his parents.  The spell was set to activate an hour later, giving him time to say goodbye.  The charm had been designed by Hermione earlier in the year for when they had to leave.  It had been cast over the Order members at the last full Order meeting, excluding only the Hogwarts staff, Eustace, and the elves.  It was set on a timer, which would activate the spell when the four left that time.  It was designed to let the people remember the events of the year, but none of the specifics of the four time travellers.  They wouldn't remember their names, what they looked like, or anything to do with time travel.  The spell would only be broken when they saw the four for the first time in the future.  It was their safeguard against anyone changing the future.  It hadn't been necessary the other times, but 1976 was too close to their own time for comfort, and they couldn't risk it.

Once the photo was taken, everyone made their way down to the carriages.  Once they reached the station, Harry, Ginny, Hermione and Ron said tearful goodbyes to everyone.  Harry gave Sev a long hug, while Ginny did the same to Remus.  When it got to Harry and his parents, he whispered to them not to mention any of the specifics of their presence to Sirius, Remus and Peter, telling them of the spell.  Although they didn't know the reason why, they agreed and each gave him a long embrace, with Lily giving him a kiss on the cheek.  They promised to see him on the first of September, before he left, as arranged.  As they climbed into the train compartment and the train pulled away, Harry watched them waving through the window as tears slowly trailed down his cheeks.  Ginny came over and pulled him into a tight hug as he cried for the parents he was losing all over again.

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