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Chapter Five
Worried Weasleys and Panicking Padfoot

“ Harry?”

“ Hello, Sev,” the green eyed boy replied with a smile.

The Potions Master looked at the time travellers in shocked confusion before imitating Minerva's action of shaking his head as if to clear away the last remnants of the spell.  Sitting down heavily in a newly conjured chair, he rested his elbows on his knees and placed his head in his hands.

“ My best friend and mentor is Harry Potter…”

“ Surprise,” Harry said weakly.  The man gave him a withering look before looking up at the headmaster.

“ Albus, tell me it's not true.”

“ I'm afraid it is, child.”

“ I did say I'd see you again in twenty years,” Harry said tentatively.

“ I looked up to you, Potter.  I respected you as a friend, and this is how you repay me?  I cannot believe this!  The one person I trusted the most in the world turns out to be Harry bloody Potter!”

“ You said you wouldn't hate me,” Harry whispered.  The older man looked at him sharply.

“ What?”

“ You said you wouldn't hate me.  You told me if you ever met a Dark Potter you would give them the benefit of the doubt.”

“ Potter,” he said in warning.

“ And I believed you, like the fool I am!  We were friends for a year, Sev.  A year.  And here I thought that meant something to you.”

“ It did!  That's the problem.  You are just like your father.  I was taken in by his lies often enough as well!”

“ Sev, I'm not lying!”

“ Really?  Then tell me Potter, because I'm curious.  If it wasn't all an act to make fun of me, then why would you even try to make friends with someone you had hated since you were eleven?”

“ Because when I sat down at that Slytherin table I saw a young boy.  Fifteen years old.  And he was someone worth making friends with.  I saw a boy who was the perfect Slytherin, both cunning, sly and ambitious.  But I also saw something else.  I saw a vulnerable young man who had suffered much like I had in his short life.  Not in the same way, but who had also known hardships.  And in that moment I saw a worthwhile human being.  Someone I would want as a friend.  You may think I'm just a carbon copy of James Potter, but you're wrong.  While he and his friends could barely look past House rivalries to befriend me, I looked past the person you became.  I didn't care that in the future you would make my young life a living Hell.  I looked past it and saw someone I could relate to, and pass on my knowledge to.  I saw someone who would always be there for me, as I was for him in my short stay.  And I hoped that once I got back, we could reconcile our differences and make a fresh start.  I was always willing to try if you were, and hoped we could be friends again.  I guess I was wrong.”

Having said his piece, Harry stood and walked out of the office, leaving a gaping Severus in his wake.  Ron, Ginny and Hermione sent the Potions Professor pointed looks before standing to follow their friend.  Eventually, only Severus and Dumbledore remained, and much to the Potion Master's dismay, the headmaster's eyes were twinkling brightly.

“ Whatever you want to say, Albus, just say it.”

“ What makes you think I have something to say?”

“ I'm sure, after what just happened, you will have some whimsical and nonsensical pearl of wisdom to impart on me.”

“ Indeed, although I shall be blunt.”

“ That'd be a first,” Sev muttered under his breath.

“ I just wanted to ask you why you felt the need to question Harry's loyalty as a friend.  From what I know about Harry, he treasures the few close friends he allows himself, and would never do something as spiteful as pretending, just to gain blackmail material.”

“ But he's Potter!”

“ And therein lies the problem, my boy.  When you look at him, or even hear his name, you see James, not Harry.  You see James, the one who bullied you in school and did everything possible to make your life miserable.  You see the boy who unwaveringly defended his friend after he tried to kill you.  What you don't do, Severus, is look past the name to the boy you grew to know.  Harry Anguifer, as you knew him in your fifth year, was simply Harry Potter.  The only difference is that you looked beyond the name, as you had no reason to be prejudiced against him.  You saw Harry, not James.  He is still the same, Severus.  To him, he left 1976 only a matter of hours ago.  Even seeing you now, the way you were when you were unfair to him as a student, he is still willing to make amends.  That is how much you mean to him.”

Sev sat in thoughtful silence for a few minutes.  Eventually, he looked up at the headmaster with regret in his eyes.

“ You're both right.  I should look past his name and see the boy I once knew.  I looked up to him because he was a good person, despite everything he had been through.  I have misjudged him, because I have become the coldhearted bastard he knew I would.  He said he thought I would put that aside, but when he saw I didn't he said he was wrong.  But he isn't wrong.  I think it's time to lay James Potter to rest, and see Harry as his own person.”

“ Very good, Severus.  I am proud of you.  Now, all you have to do is tell Harry exactly what you just told me.”

“ But I don't know where to find him.  And he must hate me.”

“ Harry doesn't hate you.  He never did.  The only person he feels a negative emotion that strongly about is Voldemort.”

“ Where has he gone?  Do you know?”

“ You know him well, Severus.  Tell me, where would he go?”

“ The quidditch pitch.”

“ Then go and find him.”

Sev gave the headmaster a sharp nod and left the office with a dramatic swirl of his black robes.


Harry sped at top speed around the pitch, trying to leave his frustrations behind him.  Logically, he knew he should have expected no more from the Potions Master, but he had kept the hope alive none the less.  What Sev said had hurt, and for the moment he just wanted to keep flying.  It had always been the one thing guaranteed to keep his mind from wandering to things he really didn't want to think about.  Now, though, it was losing its effectiveness and the odd stray thought flitted across his mind.  Sev's reaction had been typical of this Snape, yet when he looked into his eyes, he could still see traces of his friend hidden in there.

Going into a steep dive, Harry passed Ron, Hermione and Ginny, who were sitting in the Gryffindor stands watching him.  He didn't mind them being there, even if he really didn't want to talk right now.  Their presence alone comforted him no end.  He would always be able to rely on them to do the right thing.  After three years of adventures together, the group was closer than ever, and they had become a family.  They were all each of them had for such a long time and they had built bonds that could never be broken.

As Harry began to tire and flew lower to the ground, he noticed a dark figure standing off to one side, hiding in the shadows.  The long greasy hair and billowing black robes were unmistakable.  With a sigh, he flew down to where Severus was standing and lightly leapt from his broom in front of him.

“ Hello, Professor Snape, what can I do for you?”

Sev winced at the title and gave Harry a searching look.  The emerald green eyes were shuttered, showing no emotion.  Severus knew from experience that Harry was steeling himself for disappointment, and didn't want to show the other man how much he was hurting.  Taking a deep breath, he said the one thing he never believed would be said to James' son.

“ I'm sorry, Harry.”


As the group made their way back to the headmaster's office, they heard raised voices coming from the direction of the gargoyle.  Sprinting over, Sev gasped out the password and they rushed up the spiral staircase.  As soon as they reached the top, Harry pounded on the door and waited to be admitted.

“ Come in,” came Dumbledore's voice through the door.

Harry pushed the door open slowly, taking in the scene before him.  Although the voices had stopped at the knocking, the room was in complete chaos.  Sirius and Remus were stood next to Dumbledore behind the headmasters' desk, and the rest of the staff, excluding Umbridge, Hagrid and Minerva, were on the other side.  Most of the teachers had their wands drawn and pointed at the convict, and Professor Flitwick was bouncing up and down in alarm.  Trelawney was huddled in the corner, hiding behind an ornamental umbrella stand and muttering about seeing the Grim.

“ What is going on here?” Severus demanded.

“ I think they're a little upset at seeing Sirius here,” Harry muttered.  Before he could say anything else, most of the room's occupants started shouting and pointing, or simply staring at them in alarm.  The four had been instantly recognised, and everyone had suddenly regained their memories of the group's time in the past.  Sirius looked as if he was about to faint, Remus was openly gaping at Ginny, Flitwick was squeaking madly, and Trelawney was muttering about death omens.  The rest of the teachers were firing questions at either the headmaster or the new arrivals.

“ Silence!”

Everyone shut up immediately and looked at the headmaster, who was now leaning on his desk and glaring at them all.

“ That's better.  Now, I want everyone to sit down, quietly, and wait for an explanation.  We still have a few people to wait for, so until then I will let you ask a few questions.  Harry, if you could?”

Dumbledore gestured to the floor, and Harry nodded in understanding.  He waved his hand in a complicated pattern and enough chairs for those present and those yet to arrive appeared.  They were arranged in rows in front of the desk, and four extra ones had appeared behind the desk, two on either side of Dumbledore's chair.  The time travellers took these seats, and the headmaster sat between them.  Once everyone was sitting comfortably, Dumbledore smiled at them and asked them the obvious question.

“ What do you want to know?  And one at a time if you please.”

The teachers looked at each other before some of them raised their hands like obedient students.  Dumbledore let out a chuckle and signalled for Professor Vector to start.

“ Um…I was wondering why Sirius Black is here, and why you won't call the Ministry.”

Dumbledore's eyes twinkled madly as he gave the professor a wide smile.

“ Sirius is here because I asked him to come, and I haven't called the Ministry because if I did they would arrest him.”

“ Why don't you want him arrested?” was the next question.

“ Because he is innocent.”

This caused quite a stir, as teachers started to valiantly protest.  Sirius and Remus tried to blend into the background, but they found themselves bombarded with questions.  Eventually, Harry had had enough, so he stood up and sent out green and red sparks.  As soon as he gained everyone's attention, he slowly gave them an answer.

“ Alright, that is enough.  My friends and I have had a very stressful day, so if you would please stop shouting it would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you.  Now, I have a way of proving that Sirius is innocent, and it should be arriving right about…”

With a *pop*, Minerva and the Weasley twins appeared in the middle of the room.

“ …now.  Fred, George, if I could trouble you for my `pet', I would be very grateful.”

Fred grinned at the Boy-Who-Lived and stepped forward, handing him a glass jar with a very irate rat inside.  Remus and Dumbledore gasped in surprise, and Sirius let out a sob of disbelief.

“ Everyone, I give you Wormtail, Voldemort's personal servant, also known as Peter Pettigrew.”

The talk started immediately, but everyone was soon silenced when Harry waved his hand at them, casting silencing spells on each of them.

“ I did ask nicely, but you wouldn't listen.  As I was saying, before I was so rudely interrupted, Sirius is innocent, and the real culprit was Peter Pettigrew, who I have here in this jar.  Professor Dumbledore, could you please see that Wormtail is delivered to the right people and that Sirius is freed?”

The headmaster nodded his head in agreement, all the while looking at the captured rat in amazement.

“ Harry, how did you catch him?” the teary voice of Sirius came from the back of the room.

“ I spotted him when I went to Diagon Alley with the Weasleys.  He was there to catch me, but I saw him outside Gringotts in his rat form.  I simply sneaked up and stunned him.  `Mione put him in an unbreakable glass jar she had conjured.”

“ I thought you couldn't do magic in the holidays.”

“ Ron, Hermione and I were given permission.”

“ Oh.  Harry, I-I don't know how to thank you…”

“ You don't have to, Siri.  I did it because I knew you didn't do anything,” looking at Sev, he added, “ This time.”

As this sank in, Minerva whispered to Hermione that she was just going to get her parents, before blinking out if existence.  The room was silent while everyone digested what they had just been told.  The peace was interrupted when Minerva returned with a rather frazzled looking pair of Muggles.  Obviously, they had never experienced apparition before, and seemed a little shaken, but none the worse for their trip.  As soon as she saw them, Hermione leapt to her feet and rushed across the room, throwing her arms around her mother.  The woman looked down at her daughter in confusion, wondering who she was.  It had only been a week or two since she had seen her, and she had changed drastically.  Pulling back, Hermione wiped the tears from her eyes before repeating the action with her father.  Once she had calmed down, she looked at them both and gave them a weak smile.

“ I've missed you so much, both of you.”

Comprehension dawned in the Muggles' eyes as they realised that the beautiful young woman in front of them was their daughter.  Mrs. Granger was the one to ask what was going on.

“ Hermione?  Is that you?”

“ Yes, Mum.  I realise I look different…”

“ What happened?  What's going on?”

“ It's a long story, Mum.  If you would like to sit down with the others, we'll explain when the Weasleys get here.  If there's anything you don't understand, I'll explain better later.”

“ Alright, honey.  Are you alright?  Has something happened?”

“ Something's happened, and I admit it wasn't easy, but I survived and I'm fine now.”

“ Alright, we'll wait.  But this had better be good, young lady.”

Once the Grangers were seated, the room fell into an uncomfortable silence.  Harry and Sev started up a mental discussion about potions to pass the time, but the rest simply became lost in their thoughts.  Eventually, several *pop*s could be heard as the redheaded family began to appear.  All of them were there, both Molly and Arthur, as well as Charlie, Bill and Percy.  They looked at the large crowd of assembled teachers, two Muggles, a convict and a werewolf.  Confused, they turned to Dumbledore for an explanation and their eyes widened when they spotted the time travellers.  Molly, Arthur and Percy had only seen the four that morning, and so they were rather shocked by their appearance.  Recognition flashed in two pairs of eyes, though.  

“ Weatherby?” Bill asked in disbelief as he looked at Ron.

“ Yes?” Percy answered automatically before realising it wasn't him who was being addressed.  Following his brother's gaze, he realised he was talking to Ron.

“ You remember me, then, Bill.”

“ How could I forget?  When I was in my first year you were the one who always helped me with my homework.”

Ron and Ginny turned to their father, who was giving them a stern look.

“ I can't believe you two were in the Order!  Fighting in battles!  Nearly getting yourselves killed!  I'm so proud of you,” he finished warmly.

Molly, who still didn't know what was going on, picked up on the mention of battles.

“ You fought?!  In battles?!  How could you endanger yourselves like that!  Did you ever kill anybody?!  When did this happen?”

“ Calm down, Mum, it's not like it sounds,” Ron said in a soothing voice.  Ginny poked him in the ribs and glared at him.

“ It's exactly like it sounds, Ron, don't try and sugar coat it.”

“ I don't understand!  Why do you both look different?  When I heard the Headmaster wanted to meet us, I expected something from Fred and George, but never you two.  And you, Harry and Hermione, what do you have to do with this?”

“ Molly, dear, if you and your family would care to seat yourselves, all will be explained as soon as possible.  We have been waiting for you to arrive, and people are getting impatient,” Dumbledore placated.

The maternal Weasley nodded her head and went to sit down.  However, as she moved to take her seat, she realised who it was next to.

“ Sirius Black!”

“ Calm down, Mrs. Weasley, he's innocent,” Harry interjected before she could do anything.

“ Harry, dear, he betrayed your parents…”

“ No he didn't,” he said, looking at the shocked Weasleys, “ It was Peter Pettigrew.  We've captured him, though, so Sirius should be freed soon.”

Although Molly didn't look happy about it, she took her seat, as did the rest of the family, and waited with everyone else for an explanation.  Harry started to pace back and forth before beginning his tale.

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