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Lily's Thorn

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Harry Potter’s fourth year at Hogwarts had shown him that he couldn’t catch a break. The Triwizard Tournament had been reinstated and proved that he wasn’t ever going to be normal, either. Of course, none of his years at Hogwarts were normal, but he could always hope, right? Every year, it was always something - this time, it had been his name coming out of the Goblet of Fire. It shouldn’t have surprised him, not really, but of course, it did.  He had honestly thought that it just wouldn’t happen to him. 

He had been wrong, as usual.

Harry had realized that a lot of insanity, degradation, humiliation, and loneliness he had experienced throughout the term had hardly ever abated. There had been many who had thought that he had done it on purpose, that it should have been Cedric and only Cedric as the Hogwarts Champion. As if it was Harry’s fault. Even Ron had abandoned him for a time; even he had bought into all of it, jealous because of the attention Harry was receiving. Or at least that’s what Hermione had said.

 He had pretty much come to expect weird things like this to happen to him, but it hadn’t made any of it any easier.

Now, the third task was two days away. He was getting ready in the dorm with the others for school that morning. He went to brush his teeth and wash his face when he caught a glance of himself in the mirror. He looked at himself, and for a moment, it almost seemed that his hair was a bit… different, somehow. As soon as he looked again, though, he was sure he had imagined things.

Why would his hair look different all of a sudden, anyway? If it was looking different, then perhaps it was just growing a bit. That was normal, right? Harry shrugged it off.

The next two days went by in a flash, and before he knew it, the third task had arrived and passed with a resounding bang. The next day, he was left numb and reeling. The cup had been a portkey. It had taken him to the graveyard where Cedric had died, and Voldemort had returned. It left him feeling numb, and he couldn’t think straight. He had seen Sirius again, only for him to disappear shortly afterward. It wasn’t enough time. 

Harry would probably never fully remember the days immediately following the third task. He did remember meeting with the Diggory’s the next day, which was hard for him. He imagined it was even harder for them, though. He was alive while their son was dead. He tried to give them the winnings from the tournament, but they wouldn’t have it. It wasn’t as if he needed the money!

Harry spent the next week avoiding everyone. They all gave him a wide berth anyway, and he was okay with that. He was still reeling from what happened.

“Harry, are you a bit paler than usual?” Hermione asked him four days after the Task, looking at him rather strangely.

Harry shrugged and looked at his hands. Did they seem a bit paler than usual? Maybe, but he had a long, stressful time of it lately. “I don’t know, maybe a bit,” he told her. “I bet it’s stress, you know? A lot has been going on.”

Hermione nodded, and that ended that conversation. It wasn’t too much longer before they were on the train back home and forced Harry to return to the Dursley’s once again. If they noticed anything about him being a bit paler than usual, they didn’t say anything. Not that he had expected anything else, of course. Now all he could do was wait until he was able to leave the Dursley’s once again.

Harry spent the better part of the next month avoiding them. They didn’t care that he seemed a bit paler than usual. He still attributed it to stress. His hair was a bit different, too, and he realized he hadn’t imagined it that one day. He just attributed it to the fact that hair changes and grows as you get older. Yeah, sure that made sense.

Harry also noticed that his fingers seemed to be a bit elongated, and he was a bit taller, too. Those were all normal changes, though, right? He just hadn’t noticed them before. He was also not receiving any letters - at all. It was infuriating, and as the days ticked closer and closer to his birthday, he felt more and more alone. Not since the summer before his second year had something like this happened. He was sneaking outside to hear the news from the flower beds, trying to hear something, anything, about what was going on.

Then, finally, it dawned on him that his birthday was tomorrow. Would he receive any presents? He had also been having nightmares about Voldemort killing Cedric. It was killing him that he had no one to talk to. He went to bed that night but wasn’t sleeping very well as he waited for the time to tick until he was fifteen. He wasn’t sleeping, anyway.

Then, midnight struck, and Harry almost immediately felt... different. He just attributed it to getting another year older. There was a tap at the window, and a large barn owl was waiting there. He quickly got up and let it in. He landed on Harry’s bedpost and held out his leg, which had a large, official-looking envelope wrapped to it. He untied it, and the owl dashed off through the window.

Harry stared at it. It was from Gringotts, addressed to him. He frowned. What are they sending me a letter for? he thought to himself. It was rather odd. He almost thought about going to sleep and reading it tomorrow, but it was just so out of the ordinary. He tore it open. Inside was another letter and a plain envelope. He ignored that for now and then opened the letter, written on official Gringotts parchment. It was also quite short.

Dear Mr. Potter,

Your mother, Lily Potter, left this in our possession before she died. She instructed that this be delivered to you at midnight on your fifteenth birthday if she did not come to retrieve it sooner. Since she did not, we have delivered this as requested. This should arrive at precisely that time. 

Sincerely,

Ripclaw

Potter Family Account Manager

Harry continued to frown and set the letter down. He looked at the envelope that had been hidden in the official envelope. It was plain and unadorned, with only one word on the front in a pretty, perfect, looping scrawl - Harry . He opened the envelope, which had two sheets of parchment in it. He knew as soon as he read the first line it was from his mother. His heart rate sped up immediately.

Harry, my sweet boy - 

I am sitting here writing this letter with you sleeping in the crib next to me. I hope that when you are reading this, that I am there next to you. I also hope that I have already told you and not hidden the truth from you and James this long. However, if you are alone, then I did not survive the war. I hope that James is there with you, though, and if he is, please know that I am sorry to you both. You need to know the truth. You both do. 

I told Gringotts to send this letter to you at midnight on your fifteenth birthday, hoping that if I am not around, at least you will be old enough to understand. I also hope that you will forgive me. I have been lying to James and lying to you. If you have not already looked in the mirror, then please, when you do so, do not hate me. If I am there, I will explain what this means.

Harry was trying not to grip the parchment very hard because it was from his mother, so it was obviously old. However, there was such a myriad of emotions going on inside of him. He was glad to have something more of his parents, something of her, but so confused as to why he was even receiving this letter in the first place! At the moment his mother said to go to the mirror, he felt such a sense of confusion he jumped up instantly, setting the letter on the bed.

Harry left his bedroom and went into the bathroom, going straight to the mirror. He nearly screamed in shock and had to clamp his hands over his mouth to avoid doing so and waking the Dursleys. The person looking back at him was not him; it was not the face he had looked at for the past fifteen years.

The face looking back at him was a bit paler than his own. The features were a bit elongated, more angular than his own, but not quite as sharp as they could be, he supposed. His hair wasn’t longer, but it laid flat now, so it was falling into his eyes. He hadn’t even noticed! It was straighter, though it was still black, and there was a bit of a curl at the end. He also noticed there was a bit of auburn in it now, too. The only thing that stayed the same were his eyes - his mother’s eyes, which still looked back at him. It was some of the changes he’d noticed before, only intensified.

He was taller now, too, and still skinny. His nose was different, and he wasn’t wearing his glasses - and found out he didn’t need them. He hadn’t noticed that, either. He had just assumed they were on if he saw right. That sounded stupid now. Who was he? He touched his face, just to make sure it was him and was extremely disappointed and terrified when his hand touched his face in the mirror, too. Something also seemed familiar about the face, but he couldn’t place what.

What the fuck was going on?

Harry ran back into his bedroom as quietly as he could and grabbed the letter off his bed to read the rest of his mum’s letter, his breath hitching as he read on.

The guilt is horrible, and I am ashamed of what I have done. Around the end of October, James and I had a fight. It was awful. I was very upset and left. I went to a bar in a town far away, where I knew that I did not have any friends. And I drank. 

I thought for sure that fight with James would end our marriage and wanted to drink my life away. I ran into an old friend, one whom I knew would not lie to me or make me go back to him. I knew any of my other friends would; that wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I told him everything. We slept together, and I immediately regretted it the next morning. We swore never to speak of it again. 

I went home, and James was worried sick about me. I apologized, we made up, and I thought nothing of it. I never told him that I had cheated. Until a month later, I discovered I was pregnant. I told myself that it had to be James’, but I knew that there was every chance it might not be. So, I made a paternity potion. I knew how happy James was at being a father and felt horrible for my betrayal.  I tested it when you were born against James… and it was false.

James Potter is not your father. I put a very precise glamour on you to hide it when I found out because I was so ashamed at what I had done. If this has failed you, then I am sorry that I never took it off. I should never have put it on, but now it is too late.

I hope that I have already told you. The truth is, I am thinking about coming clean when the war is over. We are in hiding right now, and it just isn’t the right time. I know that James would be okay though it would be hard for him to take. If he is there and I am not… James, please know that I am sorry, truly, and sincerely sorry.  I love you both more than anything, and it was never my intention to hurt either of you. You must know the truth, though.

Your biological father is Severus Snape. I have no idea if you know him, but I beg you to find him. I never told him anything.

Severus is a complicated person. Before our meeting at the end of October, I hadn’t spoken to him since we left Hogwarts, and we stopped being friends years before then. He has had a difficult life and has not made the right decisions. He deserves to know the truth and to be given a chance to be in your life. I hope he already is, but I have no way of knowing how this war will turn out or if I will tell him the truth when it is.

If you are alone right now, I cannot apologize enough for what I have done and for the lies that I have led you and everyone else to believe.  Please know that I love you more than anything, and I never meant to hurt you. 

Love forever,

Mum

P.S. I have also written a letter, which is to be delivered to Severus at the same time as yours.

With two phrases, Harry felt like his whole world was crashing down upon him - James Potter is not your father, and Your biological father is Severus Snape. He put his head in between his knees to try to stop himself from hyperventilating. He wanted to believe that it was all fake, and he just kept repeating the word “No” over and over again. Deep down, he knew it wasn’t. He had noticed something familiar in the face that had been looking back at him in the mirror, and now he knew why.

The letter was now on the floor, and he looked at the longer fingers of his hand. He remembered the angular features of his face - his new face, he thought as his heart sunk even further. He knew where he had recognized the features. He had seen them every day in Potions class, every day at the teacher’s table in the Great Hall. It was of a man who glared at him and made his and his friend’s lives absolutely miserable. 

It was of his father.

Tears were now freely streaming down Harry’s face. What was he supposed to do? Harry quickly grabbed a spare bit of parchment from the floorboard, along with his quill, and quickly wrote a letter to Sirius. He didn’t know what else to do, but he knew, as of right now, his life was over. He was never leaving this room, and he had no idea what to tell the Dursleys come morning. They couldn’t see him like this. They would throw him out, and he had nowhere else to go.

Sirius -

Please come quick. Something happened. I’m so confused. Please come. I got a letter from Mum last night, and now… I look different. Something changed. Something’s seriously wrong with me. Please come. I don’t know what to do. Help me.

Love,

Harry

Harry quickly released Hedwig, waking her up and then tied the letter to her leg. “Please, hurry,” he told her, stroking her feathers. “Please.” He gasped as he watched her leave. His voice was even different now. It was deeper, not like his real voice - his old voice

He was still crying and curled up on the bed. His knees were no longer knobbly, like before. His glasses were still sitting on the bedside table where he’d put them before going to bed last night. He’d never need them now, he thought to himself as the tears flowed down his cheeks. So, my father is a man who hates me? How can I ever face him, look him in the eye again? He had never felt more lost and alone. He could only hope that Sirius would come and fix this, tell him none of it was true. 

Somehow, though, deep down, he knew that it was - and looking in the mirror was proof of that.

Chapter Text

Harry knew he slept, though he wasn't sure how much. When he woke up the next morning, he wasn't crying any more. He couldn't tell what time it was, but judging by the light coming from the window, it wasn't that late. He wanted just to stay there in bed because, after the bombshell that had been dropped on him, he didn't ever want to leave this room. That was not something that he ever thought he would say, but at least shut up in here, he could pretend that the letter never came.

There was a knock on the door, and Harry jumped. "Boy!" Uncle Vernon yelled. "What are you still doing in bed? Help your Aunt with breakfast. Get up! Now!"

Panic rushed through him. There's no way any of them can see me like this , he thought to himself. "Er, I'm not feeling well," he yelled, terrified that Uncle Vernon would burst in there and see him. For good measure, he started coughing, hoping that he would buy it.

"What's wrong with your voice?" he demanded. 

Yes, the new voice still sounded a bit wrong to him. It was deeper than his own - or, well than it used to be. He had forgotten that his uncle would notice. "I'm sick. That's why it sounds odd."

"Stay in there, boy! We don't want to catch anything," Vernon ordered, and then Harry heard his uncle's heavy footsteps making their way down the hall, then the stairs.

Harry breathed a sigh of relief because there was no way that he could explain his new face and body. He was prepared to stay in bed all day. He hoped that Sirius would come, but he didn't seriously think that his godfather could help. He hadn't known what else to do. He wanted to drown himself in his sorrows, and he had never felt so lost. His whole identity was gone now. Who was he? Harry Potter was a lie.

The next thing he knew, there was some commotion downstairs. He sat up slightly, trying to discern what it was. He looked at his clock and realized it was only seven-thirty in the morning. It made sense that Vernon would want him up to do breakfast, but who could be at the door? His door opened all of a sudden. In a panic, Harry threw the covers over him, trying to hide himself as the door closed.

"Harry?" He recognized that kindly voice. Dumbledore?

"Harry, what's wrong? In your letter, you said something about looking different?" Sirius! He did come! Harry slowly put the covers down, looking between Sirius and Dumbledore as he did so. Both wizards' eyes widened in shock. "Who did this to you?" Sirius asked.

"You came!" Harry couldn't believe it. He sat up, grabbing the letter off the floor. "I got this from Mum, or it says it's from her. It said -" His voice caught in his throat, and he couldn't even finish the sentence. Fresh tears started forming his eyes.

Dumbledore took the letter from his hand, his eyes scanning the pages. "It says that James Potter is not really his father." He said it so calmly. Harry wanted to scream at him. How could he be calm about this?

"What?" Sirius yanked the pages from the older wizard's hand before reading it himself. "This can't be real!"

"Is it her handwriting?" Dumbledore asked calmly.

"But, Dumbledore -"

" Is it her handwriting?" He asked, a bit more forcefully this time. "It looks like hers to me."

Sirius froze for a second, before nodding. "Yes, it looks like hers. She had to have been coerced or-"

"Severus Snape would do no such thing," Dumbledore said, taking the letters back before walking up to Harry. He took out his wand and waved it over him a few times. "I do not see any spells of any kind on him, but nonetheless, I will go to Gringotts straight away. I will return as soon as possible." He looked between both him and Sirius. "Stay here. I will be back in half an hour." With that, Dumbledore swept out the door and left.

Sirius walked over to Harry and sat down next to him on the bed. "It's okay, Harry, it'll be okay. This has to be a lie."

"No, you know what the lie was?' Harry said without even thinking. " I was the lie."

"It can't be true."

"So, that wasn't her handwriting? The fight between her and my - I mean, James - didn't happen?" Sirius didn't respond. "Look at me. Take a good look at me, Sirius. Take a good look and tell me I'm not his son." Sirius looked straight him, before looking away. That's what I thought. Deep down, Harry knew it was true.

~~~~~~~~~~

True to his word, Dumbledore returned around eight, because Harry could hear him downstairs. In a short while, the door was opening, and even though Harry knew it was just the headmaster, he still flinched that the Dursleys would see him. They didn't, though, and it was just Dumbledore.

"So? What did Gringotts say?" Sirius asked.

"As I suspected, the Gringotts Goblins confirmed the letter was authentic," Dumbledore said.

"How can it be?" Sirius asked. "Harry just can't be that git's son-"

"It would seem that he is, Sirius," Dumbledore told him. "I would think, as his godfather, you would want to support Harry. This cannot be easy for him." Sirius didn't say anything. "Now, Harry, pack your things. You are leaving. You cannot stay here."

Harry nodded, not too surprised by his words. No, he couldn't stay at the Dursley's looking like this. It didn't take him long to pack everything he needed, and then he was ready to go.

"Cover your face and hunch down," Dumbledore instructed. "You are a bit taller than before, and they cannot see your face." Sirius transformed, and the headmaster put his arm around him. "Also, act sick. It will help with the story." Harry nodded, and the group made their way out of the door and down the stairs.

"You're taking him?" Vernon asked. Dudley peaked in from the living room, and Aunt Petunia came in from the kitchen.

"Yes, he's quite ill," Dumbledore told him, patting Harry as if in a confronting manner. "We will take him, and he will be as right as rain. You'll have him back next summer, good as new. Never fear." For good effect, Harry started coughing.

"Fine. Just go." Vernon then went into the kitchen, leaving them alone in the entryway. Harry wasn't surprised that he bought that.

The group headed out of the house, Dumbledore removing his hand as soon as they were out. "Stay covered." They made their way down the street, and into a smaller side street. They found an alley, and the group went in. "Hold on to me." Harry did as he was asked, and then suddenly, he felt a very unpleasant sensation.

It felt as if he was being stuffed into a tight rubber tube, being pulled from all directions. It felt like his eyes were being forced back into his head, and his eardrums were being pushed into his skull. When he stopped, he immediately thought that he was going to vomit. "What in the bloody hell was that?"

"Apparition, the act of a wizard going from one to place to another by thought," Dumbledore explained. "You did well, Harry. Many wizards vomit their first time."

"I can see why," Harry said, taking a deep breath. He wasn't sure he ever wanted to do that again.

"Come now, both of you," Dumbledore said, and Harry noticed that Sirius was standing right next to him. "We need to keep moving." Sirius transformed again, and they were walking down a street of derelict, dilapidated buildings, with broken-down street lamps.

Harry did not feel comfortable here. It looked like a very dodgy place. "Why are we here?"

"Your father lives here."

Harry had been about to say that his father was dead, and then he remembered the letter from last night. He just nodded but removed the hood from his head. They continued walking down the street until they reached a particularly rundown house. He lives here? Harry thought to himself.  A lot of the buildings along here looked deserted, and he wondered how anyone could live here.

Dumbledore knocked on the door, and the angry face of Severus Snape appeared. "I am not in the mood for -" It was then that his gaze fell on Harry, and all emotion was stripped away. His face instantly paled, and suddenly, the potions master stepped back and allowed the trio inside.

As soon as they were inside, they were greeted with a small room that looked like an overgrown library. The walls were completely lined with books. There was an old, rundown sofa, armchair and table in the center of the room. It definitely looked like it hadn't seen much use, but that almost made sense - after all, Snape was only there a couple of months out of the year.

Snape commented that he needed a drink. Sirius transformed back into a human again. "Make me one, too, Snape, and make it a double." The potions master returned a couple of minutes later with two drinks in his hand and handed one to Sirius before sinking into the armchair. There was a coffee cup on the table, as well as a few sheets of parchment and two envelopes, just like Harry had received.

Sirius stayed standing, as did Dumbledore. Harry took a seat on the couch, as far away from Snape as he could get. Shouldn't you stop thinking about him like that? Harry thought to himself. After all, you're a Snape now, too. He is your father. Harry wanted the couch to swallow him, and he wrapped his arms around himself.

Sirius downed his drink and then set it on the table. Then, in a few steps, he had walked straight for Snape, a murderous look in his eyes. "How dare you?" He hollered. "How dare you touch her, you greasy-haired git? You're not fit to breathe the same air as her!"

Snape was fast and quickly pulled his wand out on him. Sirius stopped in his tracks, pulling out his own wand. "I have had a trying morning, Black," the potions master said. "Go ahead. Try me. I dare you." Neither moved for a moment before Snape spoke again. "For your information, she wasn't exactly pushing me away. She came over to me that night. She poured her heart out to me about the terrible marriage-ending fight she'd had with your blessed best friend Potter. She was so upset at what he'd said to her, you should have seen her."

"Why you-" Sirius started, but he was cut off.

"Gentleman," Dumbledore said, a warning note in his voice. "We are supposed to be the adults in the room, aren't we?" The two just glared at each other, but both lowered their wands. Sirius moved back to where he had been standing previously.

"So, I see you received the letter as well, Severus?" Dumbledore asked. His f - Snape nodded, downing his drink in one gulp. "May I?" The old man didn't wait for permission, but picked up the letter and scanned through it. "Similar to Harry's." He set both letters on the table.

"What are we going to do, Dumbledore?" asked Sirius. "Can't you just put the glamour back on?" Harry looked up at that. Could they do that? His hopes were dashed as Dumbledore shook his head. "No. Truth be told, I have no idea how Lily managed to do such a complicated glamour that lasted so long."

"But -" Sirius tried to argue, but Dumbledore cut him off.

"No, Sirius," Dumbledore said firmly. "Transfiguration was my specialty, not Charms. I dare say even Filius Flitwick, who is supremely gifted himself, could not recreate it. Lily not only created a glamour that aged with him as he would grow but also changed his eyesight, his height… There are too many layers to recreate, even for me. I could, possibly, do a temporary one, but Lily created one that lasted for fifteen years, and it had a time delay on it." He looked over at Harry. "Quite impressive."

"Impressive?" Snape said scathingly. "She lied. She hid him from me and lied ."

Dumbledore nodded. "I realize that, Severus. Things were complicated back then. You know that better than anyone. She did what she thought was right."

"By hiding from me the fact that we had conceived a son? And then hiding him, disguising him as the son of another?" Snape asked. "No. There is no excuse. There is never an excuse for that!"

Throughout the discussion, Harry had been sitting on the couch, not saying a word. As he heard Snape's words, he had to admit that for once, they were in complete agreement. He knew that his mother had probably meant well, but that didn't excuse the fact that she had lied totally and completely.

"I'm sure Lily had her reasons," Dumbledore said, seemingly trying to keep the peace.

"Can you blame her?" Sirius blurted out.

"No, Black, I do not blame her for wanting to," Snape retorted. "I simply said there isn't an excuse for it."

"Stop it, both of you," Dumbledore said, a firm tone to his voice. Both men ceased speaking though they continued to glare at each other. "Regardless of your feelings for one another, not only are you on the same side, but both have a role in Harry's life. Like it or not, Sirius, you are his godfather, and Severus, you now know that you are his father." Neither man spoke.

"Why did she do this?" Harry spoke, his voice still sounded odd and foreign to him. He had to agree with his fa - with Snape, though.

"Isn't it obvious?" Snape responded. "She was ashamed. She'd given birth to a Death Eater's son."

"Now, Severus -"

"It's true, Albus, and you know it," Snape said, cutting him off.

"Whatever reasons Lily had are irrelevant," Dumbledore said. "Now, obviously, Harry must remain as he is. Harry, you may tell Miss Granger and Mr. Weasley the truth, but I'm afraid everyone else must remain ignorant."

"What? Why?" Harry demanded. "I lost my face, my identity, now I have to lose everyone I know?"

"This is your true face, Harry," Dumbledore said gently. "This is who you are, and truth always has a way of coming out in the end. It is too much of a risk to tell the entire Weasley family, as trusted as they are. There are simply too many of them, and we must keep this between as few people as possible."

Harry wanted the couch to swallow him whole. He was losing everything! In a matter of hours, he had lost everything and everyone. Would Sirius want anything to do with him? Ron? Hermione? He failed to see how anything good could come of this.

"In a few days, I will send Miss Granger and Mr. Weasley over. After all, you cannot go to them. Not yet," Dumbledore said. "I trust that you wish to tell them what has happened on your own?" Harry nodded. "Good. Sirius, you can tell Remus because he might be of help to us. Now, there is still a lot to discuss. I think that father and son need to get acquainted, so I will return around lunchtime tomorrow so we can finalize details."

Harry was fuming, and a quick glance over told him that Snape was, too. Dumbledore was pushing this under the rug like it was no big deal. The old man was basically saying that oh, yeah, so you were lied to for the past fifteen years. Let's just move on now. It may not be that big of a deal to him, but it was to them. Their whole lives were getting turned upside down.

"Now, Severus, if you please, a word." With that, Dumbledore walked into the kitchen, seeming to assume that Snape would follow. The man in question glared at the door but did eventually follow the old man into the kitchen. Sirius stayed in there, taking a seat next to him on the couch.

"Listen, Harry -" 

"Don't say it's going to be okay, Sirius," Harry told him, leaning away from him. "I mean, how can it? Besides, why do you want anything to do with me? You and Snape hate each other, and he's my -" He couldn't even say it.

Sirius slowly put an arm around Harry's shoulders. "You're still my godson; Snape can't change that," he told Harry. "This doesn't change who you are."

Harry wasn't sure he believed that. How could you go from thinking you were one person, and then suddenly find out you were another? And Dumbledore just expected that to be okay? He wasn't sure how he was ever going to get used to it. What were they supposed to do, play house?

~~~~~~~~~~~

Meanwhile, Severus had followed Dumbledore into the kitchen. "Albus, you cannot seriously leave him here?"

"What else do you propose we do with him?" Dumbledore asked. "With his true face revealed, it is fairly obvious that he is your son, despite the signs of Lily that are in him. You are his father, and regardless of whether either of you wants that, you two must find a way to deal with this."

Severus had many things that he wanted to say, but he knew that at times like this, arguing with Dumbledore was like arguing with a brick wall. "I don't know the first thing about being a father! My own wasn't much of an example."

"Harry has never had a father, so I think you two are in the same boat," Dumbledore told him. "Now, I must leave, and I will take Sirius with me. Talk to him." With that, Severus followed the old man out of the kitchen where Black and Po - no, Harry, his son , were sitting. "Sirius, we should leave now."

"But, Dumbledore, can't -"

"No, Sirius. They need time alone. You and Harry will get to see each other soon, I'm sure," Dumbledore said. "Now, Harry, Severus, I will be back around lunchtime tomorrow. We do have some details to finalize about how we are going to proceed from here."

Proceed from here? Don't you think we've had enough for a lifetime? Severus thought to himself. However, Black reluctantly got up, leaving him and Harry alone. Harry was sitting there on the couch brooding. What was he supposed to say to him? He was not a sensitive man, and besides, he wasn't sure there was anything to say to him.

Lily, did you really trust me so little to not at least have the letter sent upon your death? Severus thought as he stared at him. He had known the moment he saw him that everything was true. The eyes were the same, Lily's eyes. Everything else was a perfect marriage of them. Harry had his sharp features, which were lessened by some of Lily's softer edges. Harry's hands were his, and that brooding expression on the young man's face was his, as well. He wasn't sure where the nose came from, though - probably from Lily's side of the family somewhere. 

I have a son. With one letter, I went from being a solitary man to father of a fifteen-year-old, and not just any fifteen-year-old - that one. Severus stood there, staring at Harry until he figured that one of them should say something. "Do you want something to drink or eat?" Very eloquent, Severus.

"No."

Severus nodded. He had expected as much. "You must understand that if I would have known -"

Harry nodded. "You didn't. Mum made sure of that." He finally lifted his gaze briefly, but then lowered it again. "You know, I'll understand if you don't, I mean… If you don't want to…" He shrugged, seemingly unable to get the words out.

Severus just stared at Harry. Is he seriously asking me if I want to ignore him now that I know the truth? "You're my son, and you certainly don't expect me to ignore it, do you?"

Harry lifted his gaze, staring at Severus for a moment. "I guess not."

"For the record, I don't know the first thing about-"

Harry nodded. "I understand. Me neither." 

Severus nodded back. You two are doing great, he thought sarcastically to himself. He took a look around as the silence stretched on, and all of a sudden, memories started rushing back. None of them were pleasant. He had grown up here. It was his family home, but that didn't mean he had any good memories. His father had been an angry, abusive man. His mother, while she meant well, had spent most of her time fending him off. That left him as a child very much alone.

Severus had long since stopped feeling sorry for himself. He had accepted a long time ago that life wasn't fair. He was sure that Potter's life growing up was better than what he was going to be faced with living here. That was when it hit him - no child should have to live in this house. He looked back down at the young man - at his son, and knew what he had to do. 

"I have some… errands to run," he told Harry. Harry looked up at him and nodded. "I apologize for leaving, but it can't be helped. There is food in the kitchen. Help yourself. I will return shortly." He knew by the look on Harry's face that he shouldn't go, but he had to. This needed to be done. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~

It took him longer than he wanted to make the necessary phone calls - besides the fact that he hadn't used one since he was a child - but he did return within the hour.

Harry was still sitting in the same place on the couch when he got there. He looked up at him, a look of shock crossing his face. "I didn't expect you back so soon."

"I live here. Where did you think I would go?"

"I thought -" Harry's voice dropped off, and he shrugged. "It doesn't matter what I thought."

Severus, however, knew what the boy had thought. He reminded himself that it was necessary, and part of him wanted to tell Harry why he had left. He told himself it would be worth it in a couple of days. "I know what you thought," he told him, "but leaving for an errand does not mean that I am leaving." Harry nodded. "Perhaps, next time, I will tell you when I will be back." Harry nodded again.

The two stood there in silence for a bit before Harry spoke. "What do I call you?" Severus wasn't used to hearing his voice sound so small. Usually, you couldn't shut the boy up.

Severus hadn't even considered that. That was the last thing on his mind right now, and he immediately felt uncomfortable. He wasn't meant for this, fatherhood. He never wanted kids, and what was he supposed to do with a teenager? "I think Severus would be acceptable, or Sev, if you prefer," he told him. "When we are in class, of course, you would call me Professor as would any other student."

Harry didn't respond immediately. "Sev?" he finally asked.

"Yes, it's a nickname your mother used to use for me," he told him. "She found 'Severus' stuffy and formal, despite the fact that it is my name." 

A small smile started to form on Harry's lips, but it didn't stay long. "You know, I wouldn't blame you… I mean, you didn't ask for this," he said, once again, his voice small and quiet, very unlike him. "If you don't want to… you know, I mean… I would understand."

Severus was starting to figure out that he couldn't continue being surprised because it was becoming clearer to him the longer he was with Harry - his son - that he didn't know him at all. His whole opinion of him had been founded upon what he thought he was seeing from him and what he thought were similarities to his father. As it turns out, that wasn't James Potter but himself, putting Severus in the position of being forced to admit that he was wrong.

It blew him away that Harry would even think that he would leave him, but based on their previous interactions, Severus couldn't blame him. "Harry," he said, taking a few steps closer to him. "You are my son, regardless of the circumstances. Now that I know… I am not the kind of man who would abandon you." 

Harry looked up him again, and Severus could see the shock and disbelief on his face, but it was covered up quickly. Figuring that they couldn't stay there any more with brief statements followed by awkward silences, he decided that he should at least show him where he was going to be sleeping - at least for now. "Let me show you your room."

Harry looked up at, and a look of shock crossed his face. "My room?" He said, his tone having a note of disbelief in it. "I have a room?"

Severus was confused by his reaction because he didn't understand it. "Why wouldn't you have a room?" he asked. "Do you think I would make you sleep on the floor?" Does he think so little of me? I wouldn't blame him. " Come on." He lead him down a short hallway, where there were three doors. The door straight ahead was his. Next to that was the bathroom. It was the third room that he led Harry to. It hadn't been used in a long time. He opened it up, allowing Harry to go through first. He was sure it wouldn't live up to his expectations.

"This is my room?" Harry asked. 

Severus, still a bit confused by his reaction, simply nodded. The smile that broke out on the teenager's face took him by surprise.  Why should he be shocked at having his own room? Was he treated so poorly at his aunt and uncle's place? This wasn't the time for serious discussions, though. They had enough of that for a while. 

"Yes, it is," Severus said, and then went past him inside. He took out his wand, putting some spells on the room. After all, it was a bit musty, and he was sure that bed was not suitable for sleeping. A few spells would take away some of the mustiness and make the bed suitable for a real bed. It was only temporary, though. Seeing that smile on Harry's face, the way it lit up… He knew that he was making the right decision. The sooner they were out of this house, the better.

Chapter Text

Harry looked at the room - his room - and knew that he shouldn't be happy about it, but he was. The Dursleys had said, "You're going to sleep here." That wasn't the same as someone telling him, "This is your room." The fact that it had been Sna - Severus saying that was a bit odd because it seemed out of character for the man.

The room itself wasn't special. It was obvious, despite the spells that he'd used, that it hadn't been used in a long time. The spells had taken out some of the old and musty smells that he could have sworn he smelled. The bed was obviously old and disused, but so was the one that Harry had currently slept on over at the Dursley's. It didn't bother him at all

It was HIS room.

They stood there in silence. The awkwardness was palpable. What were they even supposed to say to each other? Harry's mind was still reeling. First of all, to find out that Severus was his father, and then… well, to say the other man had acted a bit odd was putting it mildly. He had been so sure that he would just put him in a room and tell him to stay there, or at least just leave him be and ignore him. He was doing nothing of the sort. He had come back; he had pointed out twice that he wasn't going to ignore him… It was a lot to take in.

Severus spoke again. "Do you want to play chess?"

Harry looked at him, kind of shocked at what he had even suggested. Chess? "Er, yeah, sure." What else were they supposed to do? Stare at each other? Oh, yeah, that would work out so much better than what they were already doing, which was standing with a good distance between them, speaking in short sentences, and not looking at each other. That was no way to go about things; even he knew that.

Severus nodded, and Harry followed him back into the living room. The older man waved his wand, and a wizarding chessboard appeared on the table. He waved his wand again and moved the chair so that he was across from the couch. Harry only noticed then that both letters had been covered up. He gestured to them. "Do you mind if I -?" Severus shook his head, and the young man pulled them out from underneath the chessboard, letters, envelopes, and all.

Harry set aside his own letter, before grabbing the one addressed to Severus. The letter addressed to him was only one page instead of two, but the handwriting was clearly the same. There was also the same letter from the goblin from Gringotts.

Dear Severus,

I sincerely hope that I have already told you the truth, and if not, you must know that I never meant to hurt you.

I know that you remember our night together, but you must know that we conceived a son that night. I admit that I felt ashamed that I cheated on James and that I had not given birth to his son and that I hid it. I have disguised Harry with a complicated glamour set to fail on his fifteenth birthday. That is why I have sent this letter to you, and a letter to him as well. 

James and I named him Harry James Potter, but the truth is that he is your son. 

I cannot apologize enough for this, and if this is taking you by surprise, it means that I did not survive or have chosen not to tell Harry and James the truth. I hope that James is still alive, but regardless of who is raising Harry, please know that I never meant to hurt you. I am already, as I write this, planning on telling you and James the truth when the war is over and removing the glamour I put on. If I didn't, then I have hurt all of you terribly.

If James and I have both died, then Harry is probably feeling very hurt and confused. Please be a part of his life. If anything, do it for the friendship we once shared. I never meant for this lie to go so far, or to hide our son from you… but he is our son, and he deserves to have his father - his real father - in his life. Also, if I am dead, then I never told you, and for that, I cannot apologize to either of you enough for what I have done.

 

Always,

Lily

Harry couldn't imagine what he had gone through reading that, finding out that a boy you had hated for the past four years was your son. It wasn't until he looked up that he noticed Severus had been reading the letter his mother had written for him. He gave a sigh, and around that time, the older man looked up from the letter and handed it back. He tried to hand him his own letter, but he simply put a hand to stop him.

"I do not need it," he told him simply. "What is says is quite evident. I do not need to keep it."

"Do you mind… I mean, do you mind if I keep it?" Harry asked. Severus gestured that it was okay, and Harry set all the parchment and envelopes aside. It was then that he heard a growling from his stomach, and realized that he hadn't eaten all day. "Er, I might be… getting a bit hungry now. Sorry."

Severus just nodded and got up. Harry sat there for a second before following him into the kitchen. It was just as worn down as the rest of the house. It was truly a horrible house, even for someone who didn't live there very often. He wondered why Severus even put up with it. They ate in silence before going back out to the living room.

Harry took a seat on the couch in front of the chessboard, and Severus took a seat opposite him. "Just so you know, I really only play with Ron," he said, "and I'm not very good."

"Just because you lose to Mr. Weasley does not mean that you are incompetent when it comes to chess," Severus told him as they began to play. "Besides, if you do not wish to continue, we do not have to."

He shrugged. "No, I don't mind. I like chess. It's just… I lose."

"Everyone loses occasionally."

"I don't suppose you do."

A smirk crossed Severus's face. "It depends on who you are speaking of as my opponent," he said. "For instance, I lose to the headmaster, but then again, he has many years on me."

"Do you lose to anyone else but him?"

"Occasionally." Harry met Severus's eyes above the chessboard. "Years of experience."

Harry nodded. He actually thought he was doing quite well for a while, and managed to take a few of the older man's pieces. However, that faded as the game went on. By the time it was over, he just leaned back and groaned. "Just like when I play Ron."

"You are not bad, actually," Severus admitted. "However, your issues come in the second half of the game, when things get more challenging. Your strategy fails, and you start being reckless." The shocked look must have shown on Harry's face because he continued speaking. "I don't suppose Mr. Weasley or anyone else has ever told you this." Harry shook his head. "Well, now that you know you might be able to work on improving if that is something you wish to do."

Harry wasn't sure. He wasn't as big of a fan of chess as Ron was, but he was a competitive person. The desire to get better and actually beat someone for a change was very enticing.

"Do you wish to play again?" Severus asked.

Harry nodded. "Sure." The second game began, and Harry finally broached something that had been at the back of his mind. "You knew as soon as you saw me that it was me and that the letter wasn't fake."

Severus nodded. "I did," he said, "aside from recognizing her handwriting. I thought it was some sort of cruel joke until I saw Black and Dumbledore with you." He looked up at Harry from the chessboard. "I saw myself and your mother, as well. Your eyes are also, as they say, a dead give away. It was a bit… overwhelming, to say the least."

Harry nodded. It was nice to have more of her when he looked in the mirror - not that he had been able to look in the mirror since last night when he had read the letter. He knew he would have to at some point in time. He couldn't avoid it forever. Besides, he'd never backed away from a challenge before. He wasn't about to start now.

The two played in silence for a while. It seemed that neither of them knew what to say to each other. That was understandable, though, seeing as how they were basically complete strangers despite the fact that they'd known each other for four years now. It was obvious that they didn't, though. For instance, Harry would never have expected Severus Snape to even be trying to be a father. He had been so sure, yet he was. In his own way, he was trying, and he didn't even like him, and that was putting it mildly!

"Have you given any thought to what you're going to tell your aunt and uncle? Or Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger?" Severus asked, bringing Harry out of his stupor. 

"Well, the Dursleys aren't going to care," Harry said. "In fact, I'll be happy if I never have to go back there again, and I know they would too." The second question gave him a bit of pause, though. What was he going to tell Ron and Hermione? "As for Ron and Hermione, I guess it's not so much of what I'm going to tell them, but how. I mean, besides, they're coming over expecting to see Harry, and they don't know that's me. It's not going to be easy to explain." He paused for a bit before continuing. "I mean, what if they don't…" He couldn't even say it. What if they didn't accept the truth?

"I am not an expert in such matters, but I do believe that if they don't accept you as you are, then they were never truly your friends, to begin with."

Harry looked up at Severus. It was hard, but he had to admit that Severus had a point. That wouldn't be an issue, though. This was Ron and Hermione, and even though Ron had abandoned him for a bit last year, he would be okay. This was different. He nodded. "I'm sure they will."

"Indeed," Severus said as they continued playing in silence again.

As expected, Severus beat him - again. "I am never going to beat you, am I?" Harry asked.

Severus shrugged. "There is no way to know that."

"Well, I lose to Ron, what's one more person."

"That's probably not the best way of thinking about it if you ask me," Severus said. Harry shrugged. "Chess is all about strategy, thinking many moves ahead, and being able to adapt your strategy when your opponent decides to change things on you. It's not something that most people can do without much practice. Your friend is what they call a prodigy in the game." He looked at him. "If you do not wish to play again, we-"

"No, let's do it," Harry said, figuring they had nothing else to do. "If you don't have anything better to do."

"I do not." Severus reset the game.

"Do you mind if we eat first?" Harry asked since he was getting rather hungry. It had been a while since lunch. Severus nodded and made them something before they went back to their third game. "So, who taught you how to play?" Harry asked out of curiousity partway through the game. He expected to hear one of his parents.

"Lucius Malfoy did, actually," Severus admitted.

That was not what Harry had expected him to say. He raised an eyebrow. "Really? That's interesting."

Severus nodded. "Quite," he said. "He was four years above me in school."

They played for a bit longer, but as dinner time neared, Severus said that he had some work to do down in his lab. He almost just went straight down without telling Harry another word but turned back to tell him to knock on the door if he needed something. He also told Harry he could read anything if he wanted to before going down to his lab. Harry appreciated that he was trying not to act like he was abandoning him like he had this morning.

Harry just nodded, remembering that he had spent most of the time he had been gone brooding. He walked around for a bit before going to put his trunk in his room. He let Hedwig out. He looked through his school books again, his mind wandering as he wondered how life was going to be different now. Dumbledore said they had things to figure out when he came over for lunch, but how was he supposed to do this? Be someone else? How was he going to fool everyone?

~~~~~~~~~~~

Severus found himself quite distracted. He had parted ways with Harry after the last chess match. Harry's reluctance to ever go back to his relative's house, combined with being happy to have a room seemed to say quite a lot about where he lived. It was a bit worrisome if he was honest with himself. He had wanted to ask about it, but again, he didn't feel as if it was the right time. When that time came, he would be questioning the boy over his feelings about his aunt and uncle's house. Now was not the time.

Severus had gone down to his lab, nearly forgetting about Harry, so he told him to knock on the door if he needed him. Due to the delicate nature of the potions lab, he really didn't want the boy down there. Besides, he was rather atrocious at potions and might end up blowing the house up because he accidentally contaminated the lab by touching the wrong ingredient.

Severus started brewing a paternity potion. It wasn't that he didn't trust the letters - or his own eyes for that matter - but he wanted to see it for himself. He wasn't planning on telling Harry about this because he wouldn't understand his reasoning. The boy seemed to have been through enough already. The paternity potion wouldn't be ready until later on that night, so he was working on a couple of other potions as well. He came back up for dinner before going back down to his lab again.

When Severus came back upstairs again, Harry was already asleep. He needed a piece of hair for the paternity potion, so he walked towards his room. The closer he got, he heard moans and words coming from the room. Listening more closely, he could make out 'Cedric' and 'don't kill him.' Part of him said that he should just leave it be, but he knew better than anyone else about nightmares. After what he'd been through, it was only understandable. He wasn't sure why it surprised him nonetheless.

He slowly opened up the bedroom door, and sure enough, there was Harry in the middle of a nightmare. It was a conflicting feeling. It was his son, though, in truth, they didn't seem to really know each other at all. He has based all of his feelings on the boy based on who Harry's father was - on who he thought his father was. None of that was relevant now, of course. He wasn't sure what it was he was supposed to be feeling now, and that wasn't something he was used to.

Severus hesitantly walked into the room. He sat on the side of the bed and reached out a hand and touched his shoulder. He hadn't touched Harry at all since he had come here this morning, and in fact, they had barely gotten within a few feet of each other. Harry immediately started to fight him, his touch obviously something different in his dream. He reached out another hand and tried to shake the boy awake as gently as he could. "It's me," he said. "It's me."

Harry slowly came out of his dream. "What, what happened…" he said sleepily.

"You were having a nightmare."

"I'm sorry I woke you up." Harry moved over, closer to the wall, trying to get away from him.

Severus tried not to take that as an insult since they were both in new territory. He watched as the boy curled up into a ball. "How often have you had them?"

Harry shrugged. "Just occasionally," he told them, "but since that night when Voldemort came back… every night." He almost seemed ashamed, which Severus didn't understand.

"I have something that might help." Severus went down to his lab and got some Dreamless Sleep. Having nightmares every night was more than anyone should have to deal with. Even he didn't have to deal with that. He brought it back up and handed it to Harry. "Don't take all of it, only a sip. You can't take it every night, either."

"Why not?"

"Because it's addictive," Severus said simply. "Most basic forms for Dreamless Sleep and Sleeping Potions are addictive on some level. Mine is designed to be less so, but nonetheless, the effects can be addictive." He paused for a moment before continuing. "You should be careful with it."

"Thanks."

Severus nodded. Harry took it and immediately drifted off. Part of him was sure that he would wake up tomorrow and find out this had all been a dream. He wasn't sure if he would be relieved or disappointed. He'd never wanted children. In fact, he didn't even like kids, and now he found himself a father to none other than Harry Potter. It was enough to make anyone's head spin. He looked down at the boy's sleeping form and could see the resemblances to him and Lily, how they perfectly melded to make one person - their son.

Severus concentrated on what he had to do, though. He had come up here for a reason. He reached out, his movements a bit slow and cautious, and carefully plucked a hair from Harry's head. Harry stirred a bit but did not wake from his Dreamless Sleep-induced slumber. He carefully got up from the bed and closed the door behind him as he left. Going back down his lab, he examined the potion. It had sat for the proper amount of time and was the perfect shade of grey.

Severus carefully dropped the hair into the small cauldron he had used for it. For a moment, nothing happened, and then slowly, the potion's color changed from grey to a bright shade of blue. He wasn't surprised that it came out positive, but nonetheless, he did feel better to actually see it himself. He would not, however, mention this to Harry - ever.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

The next morning, Severus got up and started making breakfast before Harry awoke. When it was nearly complete, Harry finally stumbled in. "Coffee?"

Harry looked at him, sleepily. "I can have some?"

"Of course." Severus wondered why he needed to ask in the first place.

Harry shrugged and then got a cup before sitting down at the table. They ate in silence for a while before Harry spoke. "So, you and my mum were friends?'

Severus looked up. He was about to tell him not to worry about what didn't pertain to him, but then it occurred to him that it did pertain to him. After all, it was only natural that he would be curious about his parents. "Yes, we were," he admitted. "She grew up not far from here. We met as children before Hogwarts."

Harry nodded, a bit shocked. "I didn't know that."

"No, I don't imagine you would have," Severus said. "We stayed friends throughout most of our years at Hogwarts, despite the fact that her fellow Gryffindors were none too pleased about that. We were… very close."

"Something happened, though, right?" Harry asked. "I mean, the letters were pretty clear that something happened between the two of you, and you stopped being friends."

Severus didn't meet Harry's eyes. How was he supposed to tell him the truth of what really happened? "It's complicated," he said, but he could immediately see the boy retreating again. A sigh escaped his lips. "Towards the end of our fifth year, I said something that… I deeply regretted afterward that I do not want to repeat. She never forgave me, and I do not blame her. Our friendship had been strained before that, due to some choices I was making." 

Harry nodded, and Severus had to be glad that at least the boy already knew he was a Death Eater, so he didn't have to explain what Lily meant when she said that he had made "bad choices," which was putting it mildly if he was honest with himself.

~~~~~~~~~~

After breakfast, they played another couple of games of chess, where of course, Harry lost yet again. They were eating lunch when there was a knock at the door.

"Finally," Severus muttered and got up to allow the Headmaster entry.

"Good afternoon, Severus, Harry," Dumbledore greeted pleasantly. "Ah, eating lunch, I see. Don't mind me." The two continued eating. "So, how are things?" They both glared at him. "Now, now, both of you, if you would refrain from doing that while I'm here." They decided to cut lunch short.

The trio moved into the living room. Severus sat on the couch with Harry, while Dumbledore took the chair. He took some parchment out of his lavender robes and set them on the table. He then pulled out a long, eagle-feathered quill. 

"So, where shall we start?" Dumbledore asked. "Ah, yes, what about with a name? Do either of you have any suggestions?" They both glared at him. "Both of you stop that, right now. Glaring at me isn't going to get either of you anywhere."

Severus leaned forward, took the quill from Dumbledore's hand, and wrote down a few suggestions before passing it to Harry. The boy groaned, wrote down a few names of his own, and then it was passed to Dumbledore yet again. Dumbledore added a few himself. Severus crossed out a few. It went like this for a while before it was passed to Harry yet again, who crossed out a few. Severus took it and looked at the names left. He then wrote a name down at the bottom before passing it back to Harry. There was one single name suggestion left. Harry nodded, and Severus passed it to Dumbledore.

"Jacob Alexander Snape it is," Dumbledore announced, making a note on another sheet of parchment. 

Severus glanced over at Harry, who had become quiet yet again. They had talked more since he had arrived here yesterday morning - had it really been just yesterday? - but he supposed that was different than designing his new life . Dumbledore's nonchalance about the whole thing wasn't helping, either. It made him want to hex the old man into next week.

"So, where do we go next?" Dumbledore asked. "Ah, yes! Schooling - where were you before? Obviously you were not at Hogwarts. Homeschooling?"

Severus shook his head. "No, I think it's best if we stick to versions of the truth," he said. "There's a smaller school in Ireland. He went there."

Dumbledore nodded. "Yes, good idea, Severus. So, Harry, you went to the Ireland School of Magic."

Harry furrowed his confusion. "Wait, there's a school in Ireland?"

"Of course. There are only twelve major magical schools in the world, but there are many small ones, typically ones created locally to avoid major travel," the old man explained. "However, sometimes, it's just so the people in a particular country can have their own school in case parents wish to keep their children closer to home. Some places also have their own unique magical history, and start their own magical school in order to continue with that tradition."

Harry nodded, and Severus wondered if that would leave him even more confused. "I doubt anyone at Hogwarts has been there, not even the teachers," he pointed out. "So, you shouldn't have to worry about it. Most will not even have heard of it." 

Harry glanced over at him and nodded. "So, what's next?"

"The subject of your past," Dumbledore said, "or shall I say - Jacob's past. Were you raised by your mother? Did you and your father have contact over the past fifteen years at all? I -"

"No," Severus said flatly. "He was not raised by mother, and I said before, I believe a version of the truth is wisest. He should have been raised by someone else other than her, and not remember his mother, whoever we say that is. He should also not have known me until recently. That will raise too many questions that I cannot answer."

"Selene Vorchester," Dumbledore said. "She is my suggestion for the name. The family itself is pureblood, and they disappeared some time ago. They're little known, but it might make things easier for you, as well. Besides, as far as anyone is aware, they were wiped out."

Severus nodded. "I also suggest the story of your conception stays the same as well," he told Harry. There was no reason to pretend that the boy wasn't there. This involved him. "The best lies are those that are simple and easier to remember. You will get fewer questions, and they'll be easier for you to answer."

Harry nodded. "So, who raised me, then?" he asked. "Saying that it was my aunt and uncle, which is the truth, would be too suspicious? I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but we can't have too many similarities to… well, me."

"Very astute," Dumbledore agreed. "You are quite right… so then? Some distant relative? A cousin, perhaps?"

"Yes, an elderly distant cousin," Severus said. "She recently passed away. If we also stick to the truth - that his mother knew of my ties to the Death Eaters and didn't trust me to have any contact with my son - then she gave him to her cousin to raise when she died. He was young, so he doesn't remember her. Then, when the cousin was dying, she had no choice but to tell both of us the truth. We don't need explanations, I think, as to why he has my last name or anything of the short… They're both dead, and his mother - who made the decisions - has been dead for a long time. If there is anything that we don't know, we can leave it open-ended and simply say that we don't know because she didn't tell anyone."

Dumbledore nodded, making some scribbles on his parchment. "Any particular name for this cousin?" They shook their heads. "Valerie Daleman it is, then. The name is from no one, so you should not receive any questions. Next, I believe, is your birthday, Harry."

Harry groaned. "Of course, I have to even change the day of my birth. It's not as if Jacob Snape and Harry Potter can have the same birthday, though many people do."

"It would be too suspicious," Dumbledore said. "We need as few similarities as possible. Do you have a preference as to a date?"

Harry seemed to think about it for a second. Severus fully expected to hear him say no, and shrug it off. His response, therefore, surprised him. "June 22nd."

Both men stared at him. "Any particular reason?" Severus asked.

Harry looked over at him. "That's the date I started to notice changes," he explained. "Hermione noticed, too. That next week, I noticed that my hair was lying a bit flatter, my fingers were longer, and I was a bit taller, too. It all sort of… fell into place, when the spell completely disappeared the night before last."

"June 22nd, 1980, it is then," Dumbledore said, making another scribble. I believe I have everything I need. I will make the necessary documents, make sure that they are in the proper places. I will send you the copies that you will need. I have a contact or two at the Ministry that I can trust to put the papers in. I will make the proper excuses so that no one suspects anything. I will make sure your name is at the proper places at Hogwarts as well, along with a letter from your mother, dated long ago, saying she wishes you to not attend. No one will question it. You should receive your Hogwarts letter soon along with everyone else attending."

"How are we going to sort him?" Severus asked. He saw Harry glance over at him before looking back at Dumbledore.

"I think a public sorting will be best," Dumbledore said. "That way, there can be no arguments about what house he is supposed to be in."

Severus groaned and then levelled Dumbledore with a glare. "Really, so my son sorted into Gryffindor isn't going to raise eyebrows?"

"He already is," Harry said.

"That's not my point."

"Severus, a public sorting is the best option," Dumbledore said. "Everyone else is sorted publicly, after all. There should be no difference in this situation."

"Except I've already gone through it," Harry said. "And actually, the hat wanted to put me in Slytherin. I heard from Hagrid that all Slytherins were evil, so I told it no."

That was something that Severus had never known before. Was the boy implying that the hat would use this opportunity to put him back where it always thought he belonged? Lily was a Gryffindor, after all, but for the purposes of this charade, it would be easier for him to be a Slytherin.

"What do I say about friends?" Harry asked, changing the subject before Severus had a chance to reply. "Teachers? People I used to know?"

"I think it's best if you say as little as possible, but when you do need to say something, answer simply," Severus suggested. "As for friends, it's best if you say were a loner. Being my son, no one will question that, and therefore, you do not have to fake letters from friends or give a reason as to why you are not speaking to them any more."

"Your father is right," Dumbledore agreed. "I think I have what I need. If I need more, I will be in contact."

"Speaking of friends," Harry said, "do you know about Ron and Hermione?" Dumbledore averted his gaze as he gathered up his pieces of parchment. "I haven't heard a word from them all summer. Is everything alright?" 

"I'm sure they are fine," Dumbledore said. "I'm sure they have their reasons. Perhaps they were busy -"

"There's no reason not to write me," Harry said. "Why would they do something like this? Do you know something? What's going on?"

"Trust me when I say that everything is fine -"

"Why haven't they been writing to me?"

Dumbledore got up and headed for the door. "I did what I did for the best," he said. "I will let them contact you in due time." With that, he walked out the door, and he was gone.

Severus could tell that Harry was frustrated, and he didn't blame him. "My first piece of fatherly advice, and take from it what you will," he told him. "Don't trust anyone and take everything you're told with a grain of salt, especially if it comes from Albus Dumbledore." 

With that, Severus walked into the kitchen, because after that, he really needed a drink. After quickly downing his drink, he came back out to the living room to find Harry still sitting there, looking thoroughly confused at his words. Harry didn't seem to notice that he'd walked back in and said, "What in the world is that supposed to mean?"

"You'll figure it out," Severus said, and Harry looked up at him, finally noticing that he'd walked back in the room. "I wouldn't expect anything less from Lily and I's son." Harry blinked at him, before nodding, but he didn't say a word.

Chapter Text

"I have to go again," Severus told him, and Harry didn't notice him leaving the room again because he was so wrapped up in his thoughts. His mind was still reeling from what Severus had said. He couldn't figure it out, but he also wasn't sure how he was supposed to feel. Severus was acknowledging that he was his son, he was trying. That meant the world to him, but after their shared past, he wasn't sure how he was supposed to feel. After all, the man hated him, right?

Harry nodded as he still grappled with his conflicted feelings. To say that the past twenty-four hours had been a roller coaster ride would be an understatement.

"I will return by dinner time," Severus told him. It was then that Harry noticed he must have gone back in his room and removed his outer robe because he stood there in simple a black button-down shirt and black slacks. It was a bit odd because he'd never seen Severus wear anything but robes, and he wondered what it was he needed to do that required him not to wear a robe.

Where was he keeping his wand anyway? Surely he'd have it with him. Before Harry could formulate a response, Severus was walking out the door, and he was alone again. He gave a sigh and then looked around the room. Well, he had to have some way to spend the next few hours, right?

Harry went into his room and looked over his school books for a while, but that quickly got boring. Sighing, he got up and started looking around at the immense tomes that covered the walls of the living room. He figured that Severus was the kind of guy who liked reading, but still, this was a bit mental, in his opinion. They weren't all in English, either. He picked out what looked like French and Italian, plus one that could be Russian, as well, and that was only what he saw on first glance as he walked around the room.

Most of the books were old, as well. Most looked like they were immense. The combination made Harry a bit afraid to touch them. Severus had told him that he could read anything, though… So, Harry started pulling random books off the shelf. They were about everything under the sun. There were plenty of Wizarding books - books on archaic spells and methods, potion techniques, and anything else one could think of. There were also Muggle books as well, by various different authors, though nothing that looked to have been released anytime recently.

Harry was honestly curious to see this side of Severus because prior to him moving in here, they had only seen one side of each other. Now, he was in Severus's house looking through his books.

Harry wasn't sure how long he did this until he came across something that wasn't a book at all. As he grabbed it off the shelf, he realized it was a picture album, with the word Friends on the front cover. Opening it up, he saw the words Lily & Severus written on the inside cover in a neat and tidy scrawl - his mother's handwriting, obviously, not Severus'. Besides, the idea of a photo album was a bit too cute and silly for him, anyway. Nonetheless, here it was, on the shelf, despite the fact that their friendship had ended a long time ago.

Harry, curious, turned the page. The first few photos were stationary. One of them was apparently from a birthday party, though whose he couldn't tell. Presents were sitting on a table on one side of the picture. The picture itself was off three people. The girl on the far right side of the picture was obviously a young Aunt Petunia. She was glaring at the two people sitting on the other side of the couch. One was of a girl a bit younger than her, with dark red hair and a large, blinding grin -  his mother. The boy next to her was dark-haired, sallow, and expressionless - Severus.

Harry stared at them for a second, not sure how he should be feeling. There was a lot of that lately. It was his parents, as children. He knew they had been friends, but it was different seeing it. Neither appeared to be Hogwarts age yet, either, as they looked to be around nine or so. 

There were several more pre-Hogwarts pictures, and they were all the same - his mum was smiling, and Severus was… not. The pictures changed when they reached Hogwarts, as his mother must have learned how to make the potion that caused them to move. The pictures were the same. There was one - second or third year; he couldn't tell which - of both of them. Severus scowled until Lily poked him in the side, and then he actually grinned . That was odd enough, but there were others like it, too.

There was another picture just of Severus, probably fourth year, but Harry couldn't be sure. He seemed to be studying, at the very least he was reading something. He looked up at the camera - presumably held by his mum - and smiled at her. Of course, he went back to scowling soon afterward. It was just odd, seeing him smiling and grinning in these pictures, even for brief moments. It didn't seem like something that he would ever do, yet he smiled for her. Or so it seemed.

His mother also seemed to be a dork, too. For one thing, there was no purpose for some of these pictures, and usually, the ones of her were of her either grinning like a madwoman or being silly and trying to poke Severus in the side to get an expression out of him. It worked, apparently, but it was just… silly and dorky. It made him smile and roll his eyes at the same time. All the while, he was still feeling conflicted. These were pictures of his parents as kids and teenagers. 

Harry continued flipping through the photo album until he came across one in their fourth or fifth year. Again, it was of the two of them. His mother was looking at Severus, gesturing, and moving her lips. She was apparently telling a story, by the way, the picture looked. Severus was looking at her with a look in his eyes that took Harry a bit to decipher. It caused him to flip back through the previous photos before going back to that one. Then, it all hit him.

Severus was in love with her.

That had to be it. The expression on Severus's face was of… bemusement, he would say, but the way he stared into her eyes… At the very least, he had feelings for her. Harry knew one thing, though - he'd never looked at Hermione or Ron with that expression. In fact, he wasn't even sure he could look like that with Cho. Wanting to decipher it, to see if he was right, he looked through the rest of the pictures. Unfortunately, there were only a few more pages before the photo album ended. There was still half the book left empty, indicating when she bought it, she assumed there were be more pictures.

Harry flipped back to that one picture. Somehow, it made him feel a tad better to know that there might have been something else there, at least from Severus's side. There was no indication that his mother felt the same way, though. Now, there was no way of knowing what would have happened. After all, Severus had admitted that towards the end of their fifth year, he'd said something so horrible to his mum that she'd never spoken to him again, or that was the impression he'd got. Although his mother's letter, as well as Severus's own words, seemed to indicate that his becoming a future Death Eater was also a large part of the reason as to why their friendship ended.

Harry felt a little better now, despite how crazy the past day had been. He was getting some kind of clue into his parent's past, and that was something to him. After all, if his whole life had been a lie, at least he had a right to get clues into what really happened, right? The idea of being a product of some drunken, adulterous one night stand with nothing else to go on was not as appetizing as being the product of a loving relationship between Lily and James Potter. It was what it was, though.

Harry wasn't sure how long he spent looking through that photo album until he heard the door open behind him. "Hey," he said by way of greeting.

Harry heard footsteps coming closer to him, and then Severus's voice. "Where did you find that?" he snapped.

Harry jumped in shock. "Sorry, but, er… you did say that I could read anything."

"Yes, I did say that," Severus said, the anger dissipating from his voice. "I apologize. You have a right to look at that." 

Harry heard his footsteps continue on to the hallway, but he called out to him before that could happen. "You… cared about her, didn't you? As more than just a friend." He looked over at Severus and found the older man looking back at him.

Severus waited for a second before continuing. "Yes, I cared for her very much."

Harry nodded. "This picture, the way you're looking at her…"

Severus walked over and looked down. He looked only briefly before turning and walking away. "It is all… irrelevant now." He then paused and looked at him. "I trust you to realize that I am a solitary man, and I am not used to having to answer about such things. However, with that being said, you have a right to this information. I will endeavor to answer questions if you have them."

Harry nodded. "Thank you. I appreciate that." He then watched as Severus left, continuing back down the hallway. He came back a short while later and then headed into the kitchen, presumably to start dinner. At the very thought of food, Harry's stomach began to rumble. He gave one last look at the photo album and put it back on the shelf where he found it.

~~~~~~~~~~

Harry insisted on helping Severus with dinner, which surprised him. Apparently, his Aunt and Uncle 'made' him cook. The more Severus saw and the more he knew, he liked them less and less. 

"So, exactly how many languages are you fluent in?" Harry asked during dinner. 

Severus smirked. He had figured that if he looked at the bookshelves, the different languages would clue him in. "Actually, I speak many languages. Seven to be precise."

Harry raised an eyebrow at that. "Really?" he asked. "Which ones?"

"If you must know, in addition to English, I also speak French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Japanese," he said, enjoying the look of shock on the boy's face. "I also have some conversational skills in some of the other European languages."

Severus enjoyed the way Harry just stared at him for a moment, before speaking again. "How?"

"Time and practice, obviously," Severus told him. "And I happen to enjoy learning in various capacities. Besides, you never know when such knowledge will come in handy." That didn't seem to make much sense to Harry, because he was still in shock afterward. 

They played another game of chess afterward, and Severus made a mental note that they needed to find something else to do. Obviously, they weren't going to be sitting around and playing chess for the next three weeks until he had to go to Hogwarts a week before term started. Honestly, he thought Harry was getting better with every game, but he still got easily frustrated when things didn't go his way. 

Severus got up early the next morning and started breakfast. He had this morning planned out. Admittedly, he was a tad nervous. This was something new for him for both of them. He made breakfast, and then went and woke up Harry. "Get up," he said. "Breakfast is ready. We have something to do today."

"We do?" Harry said, his green eyes blinking up at Severus sleepily. "What?"

"You will see," Severus told him. "Now get up."

Harry nodded. "You're not wearing robes again."

Severus shook his head. "No, I am not." He then left and went back into the kitchen. The boy followed him a short time later. They ate mostly in silence, with the boy drinking coffee again. That reminded him that he had asked permission for it yesterday. "Why did you ask yesterday if you could drink coffee?"

"My aunt and uncle never let me," Harry told him. "Told me I wasn't allowed."

Wasn't allowed? Yes, Severus was certainly liking these people less and less. Yes, Petunia had not been a pleasant girl from what he'd seen, but he wouldn't have thought she'd allow this sort of treatment.

After breakfast was over, Severus told Harry to get dressed and that they were leaving. Harry shrugged and said he was already dressed. He looked the boy up and down and noticed the bagging clothing he'd been wearing. "Why do you wear those clothes?" He looked down and saw some shoes that certainly looked like they needed to be thrown out. He had assumed they were just for wearing around the house and hadn't paid much attention to what Harry wore at school when out of school robes. "And those shoes are not acceptable."

Harry shrugged. "They're hand-me-downs from my cousin, Dudley," he explained. "The Dursleys wouldn't buy me any clothes."

"Surely, you have your inheritance from your mother and Potter?" 

"Yeah, but I never really have time to go and buy them, and they're just clothes."

Severus shook his head, a wave of anger washing over him. This was not an acceptable way to treat a child; even he knew that! He was also quite aware of the irony of that statement, considering how he treated some of his students. That was one thing, though. It was entirely another to have someone treat a child they were raising in such a way. It reminded him too much of his own experience growing up.

"Not any more," Severus told him. Severus was not about to allow Harry to continue wearing someone else's clothes, especially not with what they were doing today. He looked at his watch. "We have some time before we have to be at our meeting point. I will endeavour to buy you a proper outfit, and then afterward, you will throw away all of that rubbish, and I will get you a proper set of clothes."

Harry blinked at him. "Er, thanks, but you don't have to do that -"

"It's done," Severus said, and then he walked over to Harry. "Have you done side-along Apparition before?" 

Harry groaned. "Yeah, when Dumbledore brought me here."

Severus nodded, ignoring the groan. "Good." With that, he grabbed Harry's arm and then Apparated him to an alley in London. He noticed Harry bending over after they had finished. "You'll get used to that."

"So, I've been told," Harry commented before standing up. "Isn't there any easier way to travel?"

"It is the fastest, and we can't Floo where we are going today," Severus told him.

"You still haven't told me what that is."

"You will find out," he told Harry, before leading him out into the street. They made their way to a clothing shop that happened to be nearby. "Pick out one outfit and one pair of shoes."

"But I have no idea what size I am," Harry whispered. "I wasn't entirely sure before, but I certainly am not now that I have a new body." 

Severus groaned, and then picked out an outfit that he thought might fit him. "There, I am guessing that is appropriate."

Harry looked at it; a shirt, a pair of jeans and a new pair of shoes. He shrugged, then Severus watched him go change. He came out a bit later. "They fit fine, actually. Good guess."

"Excellent. Let's pay for it and leave. Don't change out of them," Severus told him. "You are not wearing those other rags that pass for clothes ever again." They did that, and then Harry threw the other clothes in a rubbish bin outside the store.  After that, Severus led the boy to another alley and waved his wand. "Getting rid of the store smell. Are you ready?"

"Again?"

"Yes, again," Severus told him. "Just a couple more times today." Harry groaned, but then Severus had grabbed his arm and they were off again, in another alley in another town. \

"Where are we?" Harry asked. 

"Dover," was Severus' quick response. He led Harry out, and then they walked for about ten minutes until they left the main area of the town. They slowly came across a house - traditional, straight lines. A man was waiting to see them. 

The man was a few inches shorter than Severus, with short, dark brown hair. He was thin and severe. "Mr. Snape, a pleasure to see you again," he said, his voice firm. "This must be your son."

Severus nodded. "Yes, Jacob," he said, remembering to use his new name as he gestured the boy next to him, who was still staring up at the house. "This is Donald Morgan, the realtor."

"Shall we, then?" Morgan then turned and walked towards the house.

"What are we doing?" Harry asked Severus once Morgan's back was turned.

"Well, considering we are standing at a house and speaking to a realtor," he said, "I thought it was pretty obvious that we were looking at houses. Two to be precise. This is the first one."

"Why?"

"Because that's typically what you do when you buy one."

Harry suddenly stopped walking next to him and stared at him. "You're buying a house? Why?" Severus looked at him. "Because of me? Wait, you're buying me a house?"

Severus sighed. "Us, I think is the proper term since I will be owning it, and you are not living there alone."

"Of course, of course, it's just… why?" Harry asked. "I thought you hated me."

"Because no child should have to live in that house," Severus said simply. By Harry's silence, it was clear that he understood he meant the house in Spinner's End. "Considering our new circumstances, our past experiences with each other are unfortunate but irrelevant." 

Morgan just stood up at the door, and by the look in his face, it was clear he was confused as to why they had hung back. Severus continued to walk up to the door, and he heard Harry following behind. "Is everything okay?" Morgan asked.

"Yes, it is fine." With that, Morgan led them in.

~~~~~~~~~~

Harry was quiet as the man, Morgan, showed them the house. It was nice, but it all reminded him too much of Privet Drive. There was nothing unique or anything appealing about it. When they were done, Morgan led them to the front door and asked them what they thought. It took a couple of seconds before Harry realized that both of the men were looking at him. "Er, what?"

Severus just said, "Give us a second." Morgan nodded and walked out the front door. Severus looked at Harry. "What do you think?"

Harry shrugged. "It's okay. You're the one buying it."

The older man sighed. "I asked for your opinion. I wouldn't have asked for it if I do not want the truth."

Harry paused for a second, and took a deep breath, steeling himself before answering. "I hate it."

"That's a strong statement." 

"It reminds me too much of the Dursleys'."

Severus nodded. "Very well, then." With that, Harry followed him out of the house where Morgan was waiting for them. "Thank you for your time. If we are interested, I will be in contact." They shook hands and then began walking until they were out of sight.

"So, that's why you weren't wearing your robes today."

"That is correct," Severus replied. 

"Where is your wand?"

Harry watched as Severus rolled his sleeve and showed his wand, in a holster on his arm, before rolling it back up. "A wand holster," he said. "I didn't even know they made those."

"Of course they do. Where is your wand right now?"

"Er, in the waistband of my jeans."

"Exactly." They made it back to the alley, and then Severus grabbed him and they Apparated again. It was a bit easier this time, but Harry still didn't like it. At least he didn't feel sick to his stomach this time - at least not completely.  

"Where are we now?" Harry asked.

"Salisbury," Severus replied.

They walked out of the town and made their way out of the city again. Harry was beginning to see a pattern. The first house had been out of the city, too. Then again, this made sense. After all, Severus lived in a dungeon and had admitted that he was a solitary man. It was only logical that he would want to live somewhere out of the main part of the city.

They came upon a house, and for a moment, Harry was sure that this couldn't be the one they were going to. After the last house, it was completely different. However, there was a car in the driveway and a man standing outside. 

As soon as they walked up, the man walked towards them. He was a portly man of around fifty. "Wonderful to see you again, Mr. Snape," he said, his voice and manner very friendly. It was honestly a little funny, because Severus was not a friendly man, nor a man most people would want to be friendly with. However, the man quickly turned to him and shook his hand. "You must be young Jacob."

Harry blinked. "Er, yeah."

"Wonderful," the man said. "I'm Patrick Johnson, the real estate agent. Your father wanted you to see this house, so shall we?" He then turned and made his way to the house. This was when Harry really got a good look at it.

It was a Tudor style house, far different from the traditional style that they had seen at the last house. The bottom half of the house was a dark brown brick. Harry couldn't tell what the top half was, white brick or stone with brown wood overlay. It was beautiful, he thought. Johnson led them up to a covered porch, which was made of a dark wood that blended in nicely with the brick. 

The door was dark brown, with an oval window. Johnson opened it up, and they walked into the foyer. The walls in here were a beige color. The first room they were showed was directly as they entered, off to the right. Johnson called it a formal space. There was a fireplace off in the back of the room.  Johnson explained that the old couple that currently owned the property had loved fireplaces, so they'd had four put in.

Johnson then led them across the foyer to another room, which he said could be used as either a study or a guest room. It had a closet, a fireplace, and led straight into a bathroom with a small linen closet. They were lead back out into the foyer from the bathroom. They came across a staircase. It went up, and then there was also a door. Johnson led them to the door before leading them down into the basement. He explained it was finished. There were two large rooms, but that was it.

Johnson led them back up to the first floor and continued on. They came to the kitchen, which was open to a breakfast area and a great room. There was another fireplace here towards the back of the great room. The kitchen counters were done in a dark granite, and the cabinets were done in a dark mahogany. There was an island, as well. The appliances were there because Johnson explained that they wouldn't need to bring the appliances with them to their new place. The current owners had apparently moved up north to be closer to their kids since they were getting on in years.

The rest of the house, Harry had noticed, was unfurnished. So, apparently, they took the rest of the furniture with them. After that, Johnson led them past where the breakfast area was. There was a door just past that that led out to a small covered porch. There was another door that led back into a mudroom, which was connected to a coat closet and a storage room. There was also an entryway that led back into the breakfast area. From there, their realtor led them to the stairs and up to the second floor.

Harry was already having trouble keeping the smile off his face, and he noticed a smirk from Severus out of the corner of his eye. Upon reaching the second floor, they were greeted with a little window seat by a large window right next to the stairwell. Harry liked it and could see himself sitting there. Johnson led them into what he said was the smallest of the three bedrooms. It had a small closet, and they were quickly onto the second biggest bedroom. When Johnson said it would be his room, he was sold.

There was no adjoining bathroom, but it had a good-sized closet. Harry could see himself in there, but they were quickly moving along. Next to that was the laundry room, and Johnson explained that the old couple had decided to leave the washer and dryer there and buy a new one. They moved along to the rest of the house. There was a second bathroom, and from there, they went into the master bedroom. It had a huge walk-in closet and the largest bathroom in the house.

Does Severus even need a closet that big? Harry thought to himself. However, Johnson was leading them out and saying that they were done. They followed him out of the house. Johnson had smiled the whole time and had actually talked to him the whole time. He had showed Severus the house yesterday, of course. Harry couldn't stop smiling, but as soon as Johnson left them alone to 'talk things out,' he tried to make the smile disappear.

"So, what do you think?" Severus asked.

Harry pictured the unique architecture inside the house, the woodwork on the ceiling… He cleared his throat. "Er, well, I mean, it's nice, and…"

"You love it, don't you?" Harry nodded, the smile coming back. "Yes, your mother was never good at hiding that smile of hers, either." With that, Severus walked over to Johnson. "We'll take it."

"Brilliant!" Johnson said. "I'll give you a ride into town, and we'll sign the papers." He led them over to his car, and they were then headed into town.

We have a new house, Harry thought to himself. He still wasn't sure how he felt about this whole father-son thing. It was still a bit early for that, but… This was a step in the right direction.

Chapter Text

Johnson drove them back into town and to his office. He prattled on about the elderly couple who currently owned the house. Severus didn't particularly care, but he could pay attention nonetheless. The information might be relevant at some point. Apparently, the couple had moved to be closer to their children and grandchildren. There was another buyer interested in the house, but Johnson was of the opinion that the couple wouldn't like them as much as a "single father and his son."

Severus glanced back to look at Harry. He wasn't sure about the idea of being a father, and hearing someone else calling him a father just seemed odd. It almost seemed as if he was pretending to be someone else, and he had to remind himself that he really was a father. Harry looked like he wasn't used to being taller just yet. He seemed a bit squished in the backseat, but luckily, the drive wasn't that long, and soon, they were at Johnson's office in the city. 

Johnson escorted them inside his office and proceeded to discuss the details about the offer. Severus was offering nearly market value for the house - it was in great condition, and any issues it had he could fix with magic. He wanted him and Harry out of Spinner's End. He emphasized that he wanted to move in tomorrow. As Harry wandered outside from sheer boredom, Johnson called the owners. 

The owners accepted the offer, as they were fairly desperate to get their house sold these months after they had moved. That was the impression that Severus got from Johnson anyway. After that, there was the process of drawing up the paperwork and signing it. The entire process was tedious. He was grateful when it was over. 

Johnson informed him that he would have the paperwork sent off as soon as possible so that the owners could sign the paperwork, sent back, and returned tomorrow. Of course, Severus had waved his hand subtly over the paper to make sure everything went as efficiently as possible. He went and had the money transfer started and was back to get the keys from Johnson, who told him that the owners had no problem with them moving in tomorrow. The paper was going to be signed, and the money received, after all.

The next step was to contact the power company and get the account changed into his name. After that, Severus was directed to the water and gas companies and compelled them to add him in tomorrow. He was not waiting days for them to finally decide that he was worth seeing. When that was done, Severus was ready for lunch. He went out and found Harry coming back towards the office. "That took long enough," Harry said, his hands stuffed into his pockets.

"It was a long process," Severus said simply. "Would you care for some lunch?"

"Yes, I'm starving." They found a nice Muggle diner, ate and then were out on the street again. "How are you so well adjusted?" 

Severus looked over at Harry, and he didn't need to ask for clarification. "My father was a Muggle," he said, keeping his voice low as they walked back up the street. "My mother was a Pureblood. He wasn't fond of anything magical, to put it lightly."

Harry nodded. "Today makes a lot more sense then," he said. "So the only magical blood I have in me is… my paternal grandmother." 

Severus nodded, though the thought hadn't occurred to him. "That is correct." He looked around, as they came upon a furniture store. "I suppose that we need to buy some new furniture because what is in Spinner's End is not coming with us."

Harry nodded. "Are you sure about this? It's a lot of money, I mean -"

Severus cut him off. "I can afford it. I have not used hardly any of the money since I started working at Hogwarts. I might as well put it to good use." 

Harry followed him into the store. They slowly started picking out something, and it became clear to Severus that they had different tastes. Harry wanted pieces that were a bit less traditional. They picked out their bedrooms relatively easily, but then came time to pick out the pieces for the rest of the house. They spent the better part of the next couple hours debating about pieces before they finally picked out some that were a mix of the more traditional that Severus wanted and the less traditional that Harry wanted.

Severus made sure that the pieces were going to be delivered tomorrow, and then he and Harry were back out walking down the street. He looked over at him. "I did promise that I'd get you new clothes." With that, they made their way into a couple of different clothing stores, and Harry left with a whole new wardrobe. "Anything that they gave you needs to be destroyed."

A smirk crossed Harry's face. "With pleasure, believe me."

After that, it was getting rather late, and Severus was leading Harry back to the alley so they could side-along Apparate home when they came across an electronics store that caught the young man's eye. It was obvious that he wanted to go in. "Do you wish to go in?"

"No, it's okay," Harry said. "It's just… I've never been in one before. The Dursleys never let me go." 

"Fine." Severus then led the boy inside. By the time they left, he had bought Harry many things and had them all set to be sent over to the new house the next afternoon. He also managed to procure some boxes that he would need for the move. They stopped by another store to buy some other necessary things for the new house. After that, Severus side-along Apparated Harry back to Spinner's End for their last night there. His last night there. It was an odd thought, he found a most welcome one; he would not miss that house.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Harry and Severus ate dinner, and then it was time for packing. Only Harry didn't need to. There was only a few things that he'd taken out of his trunk when Dumbledore and Sirius had taken him from Privet Drive and brought him here. As it turned out, Severus didn't have much to pack either. He set the books in the living room to pack themselves, and also shrink as they did so. He went into his room and packed the rest of the stuff as the night went on.

This had been quite a few days for Harry. Somehow, none of it seemed real. The house - their house - was amazing, and Severus had spent quite a bit of money on him today. In fact, if he tried to think about it, he would feel extremely guilty. Normally, he had more money than he knew what to do with. Now, he didn't have access to any of it. 

Harry didn't think for a second that Severus was doing any of this for completely magnanimous reasons. Partially, maybe, but he knew him too well to think that it was the only reason. Severus was doing all of this because he probably didn't know what else to do, and he felt that this was what he should do. It made him feel even more guilty, and he wasn't sure why. 

At some point that night, Dumbledore Flooed in. Severus and Harry were both in the living room at the time while books zoomed off the shelves, then shrunk and plopped into boxes. "There was one matter that we did not discuss the other day," the old man's head said from the fireplace. "Harry, my boy, are you going to be taking the same extracurriculars this coming up year?"

Both Harry and Severus spoke at the same time. "Of course." "I think not." Harry turned his head to stare at Severus.

"Divination is a useless subject unless you are actually a seer, which you are not," Severus stated matter-of-factly. "Care of Magical Creatures is interesting when you have the right teacher, but it is useless if you are not going into a subject that involves magical creatures… which you are not. Therefore, there is no point in continuing either subject."

Harry stared at him. "But I've taken them for two years. It would be stupid to try to start other subjects at this point."

"You will manage."

"How?" Harry scoffed. "I can't learn a subject in less than a month."

"It's called a crash course."

"What are you suggesting exactly?"

"Arithmancy and Ancient Ruins in place of Care of Magical Creatures and Divination," Severus said.

Harry couldn't believe his ears, and the man was serious! "There's no way I can manage that."

Severus's eyes narrowed. "You are my son. You will manage."

Dumbledore seemed to be enjoying the show because the old man said nothing as the two stared at each other. Harry looked between them before looking back at Severus. "Fine. Arithmancy and Ancient Runes, but I get to keep Care of Magical Creatures, just like Hermione."

"Can you handle that?" Severus asked.

Harry shrugged. "I can do it for one year." He wasn't planning on continuing with Care of Magical Creatures, but he felt like he needed to do it for this year. 

"Wonderful," said Dumbledore from the fireplace. "I will leave you two, then." With that, the old man was gone, and they went back to packing. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~

The next morning, Harry awoke and headed into the kitchen for their last breakfast in this house. They ate mostly in silence until there was a tap-tap at the window. There was a barn owl at the window, with something tied to his leg. Harry got up and let the owl in. It landed on the table and stuck its leg out. He untied the letter, and it flew off without a second thought. As Harry looked at the envelope, Severus went up and shut the window.

"Your Hogwarts letter, I am assuming?" Severus asked as he set back down.

Harry nodded. It was, and it was addressed to his new self. It was a weird sensation, staring down at a stranger's name and realizing it was you.

Jacob Snape

Second Bedroom

Spinner's End

Cokeworth

Midlands

Harry just sighed, the first line burning into him as he opened up the envelope. There were two letters inside.

Dear Mr. Snape,

Well, that was going to take some getting used to, Harry thought as he continued reading.

We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted as a transfer student to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from the Irish School of Magic. Your transcript from the school has been received. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment. 

Term begins 1 September. We look forward to seeing you.

Yours Sincerely,

Minerva McGonagall

Deputy Headmistress

Harry didn't ask how Dumbledore got a transcript and instead grabbed the next letter, which was the typical list of books and stuff that one got as a first-year - except, of course, the books were those that he needed for his next year. He sighed and set the list aside. It wasn't as if he didn't know already, but he would still need to buy mostly new stuff. After all, he could have some stuff from the Irish school - but not everything. The Hogsmeade permission slip was there, too. He handed it straight to Severus, who took it without a word. Severus glanced up at him but didn't say anything. 

"I'm fine," Harry said, knowing that he would never ask. "It's just a bit weird is all." In fact, he hadn't even looked himself full in the face since the change. He'd always looked away from his face in the mirror. On top of it all, he had to start getting used to this new name, too. The feeling of losing his identity, what he had felt the first day, came rushing back, and he was suddenly no longer hungry.

Harry looked down at the table, but he could feel Severus's eyes on him. Looking up at Severus, he looked him in the eyes. "I'm fine, really, I promise," Harry told him. "This is just weird. It's a lot."

Severus nodded. "Indeed, it is."

After that, they finished up breakfast. Severus went to make sure that he had gotten everything that he wanted to get. They decided that they could come back later, so Severus decided to take Harry and side-along Apparate him to the house. Harry had his trunk, and Severus had a couple of boxes. Harry immediately went up to his room while Severus set the boxes in the living room. After that, they went back and grabbed a couple more boxes. It was then that the electronics store showed up with the shipment from the day before. The furniture place hadn't shown up yet, and probably wouldn't until later. Severus directed them to the living room and Harry's room.

They really needed the furniture before they could continue, so they went back and got a couple more boxes. All the Apparition was tiring, though, so after that, they walked into the city and had some lunch - since they had no food yet. They had to go back, though, so they got takeaway and then headed back home as a guy from the water company showed up. 

Severus and Harry ate their lunch. After that, they didn't really have many more boxes, so they got the last of them and then headed back to the house. The guy from the gas company showed up not too much longer after that, and then they were just waiting on the furniture company. Luckily, that didn't take too long. 

That was the longest part of the day, as it took a long time for them to get all of the furniture inside the house. Severus told them that they would put everything where it needed to be, and Harry could tell that he was getting annoyed. That emotion coming from Severus was something he was quite familiar with, actually. After that, all that was left was to get everything situated. Luckily, Severus used magic for most of that, which made it go a lot faster.

Dinner time came around, and they had to go get some more takeaway before continuing with the house. It seemed like it would never end, but having magic certainly helped things go by faster for most of it. By the end of the night, they were mostly done. Severus suggested that they go by Spinner's End, to make sure nothing had gotten left behind. "You didn't bring anything of your… family's with you, did you?" he asked.

Harry shook his head. "No, I don't think so," he told him. "Why?"

"Go check. If you don't want it, make sure you leave it in Spinner's End."

Harry nodded and then went to double-check his trunk. They hadn't really gotten him anything, but some of his old clothes were still in there. He grabbed them, and after that, Severus took him back to Spinner's end.

"Just put them on the floor," Severus ordered before going downstairs. He came back up empty-handed, and then searched the rest of the house. Harry checked the room that had been his for a few days, and then went back out to the living room to wait for him. "Very well. Let's go out back."

A confused look crossed his face; Harry followed him outside and out behind the house. Severus raised his wand, and then uttered a few words in Latin that Harry couldn't catch. At first, Harry wondered what he'd done, and then he noticed flames licking at the bottom of the house. He gasped in shock as the flames quickly spread and started to overtake the entire house.

"Why are you burning it down?" Harry asked.

"Leaving it all behind," was the only response Severus gave. Harry almost asked for clarification until it hit him. Severus had hinted that there were not good memories, despite the fact that he was only leaving because of Harry. It made sense to him then. The house would burn down, and with it, all of the bad memories of what they had before could go with it. It was the start of a new life.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The next morning, Severus got up early. As he was finishing up breakfast, Harry got up, grabbed some coffee, and joined him at the new dining room table. It was their first full day in the new house, and Severus still found that sometimes, he forgot the boy was there unless he was with him. He was so used to being alone, and now, he was sharing his life with someone - his son.

"Things are going to change," Severus said once they finished.

Harry looked up. "What?"

"You have some work to do," Severus told him. "For instance, you have two years of catching up to do with Arithmancy and Ancient Runes. I will work on getting you something, but as soon as we get your books, you need to work on that. Your potions skills, on the other hand, you can work on now. They are abysmal, and I will not have my son being an imbecile in the fine arts!"

Harry narrowed his eyes at him. "Did you ever think that maybe it was the teacher?"

Severus narrowed his eyes back at the young man and fought the rise of anger that welled up in him. I am pretty certain that you are not supposed to hex your own children when they annoy you , he thought to himself. "Care to prove that?"

Harry's expression turned from anger and annoyance to shock. "Come again?"

"I have an errand to run at the Ministry," Severus said. "I have to hook our Floo up to the rest of the Floo network. Therefore, you will have the house to yourself for a couple of hours. I shouldn't be long. I will you give you a potion to do, one which an incoming fifth year should be able to do easily. If you are right, then the potion should be satisfactory. If it is not, then you need more work, and I was right."

Harry seemed to think it over for a moment before answering. "Deal."

Severus nodded, and after they finished cleaning up from breakfast, he wrote down a potion from memory that he knew Harry should be able to do but mostly likely wouldn't. He handed it to Harry. "There. Complete that while I am gone, and don't burn down the house, please. We just bought it."

Harry rolled his eyes. "Fine. Is there anything else? You said 'things' are going to change."

Severus nodded. "I think it is best if I teach you some more advanced dueling and defensive spells."

Harry brightened up at that. "Really? Are you serious?"

"I don't joke."

"Brilliant!"

A smirk crossed Severus's lips. "It won't be as much fun as you seem to think it is."

Harry's smile faded a bit, and his expression turned into one of firm resolve. "I can handle it."

Severus knew that Harry had no idea what he was getting into, but he still enjoyed seeing him be so confident. "Yes, and I also think that it's best if you learn Occlumency."

"Occlumency?"

Figures that he wouldn't know what that is, Severus thought to himself. "Occlumency is the skill of shielding one's mind from other forms of mental attacks." 

Harry nodded. "That sounds interesting, but why?"

Severus paused for a second. He was privy to certain information that Dumbledore had wanted to keep from Harry. Severus had disagreed once he had found out, but he hadn't really cared. Until a few days ago. Harry had just been the son of a man he hated. Now, he was his son. Things were different. However, now was not the time to be telling the boy everything. "The Dark Lord is quite skilled with it," he told him, by way of an explanation. 

Harry frowned for a second, thinking. "Yeah, but he can't get to me unless I'm there, right?"

Severus knew he had to be careful when he answered this. "Perhaps not, but it is still a useful skill to have," he told him. "You will come face to face with him at some point. Consider it part of your defense training. Besides, it will also help organize your thoughts, making things like your schoolwork easier to deal with." 

Harry nodded in response. "Okay, that makes sense. Anything else?" He seemed to expect that there was a list that Severus had.

Severus smirked. "Other than perfecting your homework, no."

"I can't even turn in my homework. That belongs to Harry Potter."

"It doesn't matter; it will help to make sure you on the right track."

Harry rolled his eyes. "Fine."

Severus nodded. "We'll start at six with exercising tomorrow morning then."

Harry's eyes widened. "Six in the morning? Exercising? Why?"

Severus sighed, getting annoyed that he had to keep explaining things to this boy when they should be rather obvious. "Because despite whatever shape you think you might be in, keeping yourself at a good physical condition is always necessary," he told him. "You are not standing still when you're dueling an opponent most of the time, unlike in school. You are oftentimes moving around as you are dueling someone."

Harry nodded and seemed to think about everything that Severus had told him. "I will be back later once I get this settled." He handed Harry some money. "If I do not get back in time for lunch, go into the town. I should be back before then, though." With that, Severus left to go get the Floo set up, especially since he had burnt down his old house, which was currently attached to him. He'd find some way to explain that, and when he returned home, he had a Floo Call that he needed to make.

Chapter Text

Harry sighed after Severus had left and looked at the parchment he had given him. This was not how he wanted to spend his summertime. Deciding he might as well get it over with, he went downstairs. The first room he came to as he reached the bottom of the steps was obviously the potions lab. There was another room, but as Harry went to open it, it was locked. Shrugging his shoulders, he turned around.

In the middle of the room, there were several cauldrons. Why does he need that many? Harry thought to himself. The walls were shelves, lined with potions ingredients, and vials of various sizes. He looked at the parchment, which had very specific directions as to how to make the potion and where to find the ingredients. He gathered the ingredients, and slowly started making the potion as instructed. 

Twenty minutes later, the potion was halfway completed. Severus' instructions said to let it simmer for fifteen minutes, before adding in the next few ingredients. Harry prepared the next section of ingredients, and then went and got something to drink before going back downstairs. He only had to wait a few minutes after that before it should be ready for the next step. Harry put the ingredients in as instructed, and then looked at the last step. It said to let it simmer for another ten minutes, and then to put a stasis spell on it until Severus got home.

Shrugging, Harry went upstairs again until he needed to put the stasis spell on. After that, he had no reason to go back downstairs. He wasted his time listening to music and looking at the new things he had. It was then that he heard something downstairs. He went downstairs and saw Severus had returned. He was putting some food in the refrigerator.

"Oh, hey, you're back," Harry said, by way of a greeting.

Severus nodded. "Indeed," he told him. "The Floo is set up. I also went by Hogwarts and spoke to Professor McGonagall. She has already spoken to Dumbledore. The week before Hogwarts, you are to take assessments for each class you are entering. They will be prepared and administered by the teacher to make sure that you are not behind since you went to a different school. I have to return the week before school starts as it is. You will accompany me, and then you take the tests."

Harry nodded. It all made sense, but the idea of taking seven - no, wait, eight - tests was a bit daunting. 

"If you do satisfactory in your potions work with me over the summer, I will pass you, and you will not have to take that test," Severus continued. "As for your Defense Against the Dark Arts test, Dumbledore himself will be administering it to you."

That shouldn't be too bad, Harry thought to himself. 

"Now, for the potion," Severus said, and not waiting for any word from Harry, he made for the basement door and walked down. Harry followed him, hoping that he had done his job and proved him wrong. He was not incompetent when it came to Potions; he was sure about that.

Harry watched as Severus removed the stasis spell and examined it. "It's satisfactory, but you could have done better," he said finally.

Harry's heart sank. "I did it just like you said!"

Severus scoffed. "I don't think so, or it would have turned out perfectly," he told him. "You didn't do as badly as I thought you would. I give you credit for that. Next time, you need to be more precise in your ingredients. When something says that an ingredient needs to be chopped a certain way or be of a certain length, then you need to do it precisely as it says. I can tell just by looking at it that you need to be more careful with the ingredients. "

Harry nodded, resigning himself to the fact that while at least he had proved he wasn't horrible, Severus still thought he could do better. "Okay, I'll do better next time."

"See that you do." Right then, there was a knock on the door. Severus frowned, and then headed upstairs. Harry followed him up. He was planning on going upstairs when he heard a familiar voice coming from the door.

It was Dumbledore, with a very confused Ron and Hermione behind him. Harry smiled and almost ran towards them until he realized how he looked. They wouldn't even recognize me, he thought sadly. Would things be the same between them? No, that was impossible. Things would never be the same.

Dumbledore escorted Ron and Hermione, and Harry looked over at Severus. He saw that his manner had stiffened. Of course, he wouldn't be happy about this. "Very nice, Severus," Dumbledore said, looking around. Severus just nodded. "Mr. Weasley, Miss Granger - there is he." The old man pointed right at him. "I trust Harry will explain everything."

They both shared a look before walking past Severus to stand in front of him. "Harry, is that really you?" Hermione said until she looked into his eyes. "Of course, your eyes are exactly the same!"

Ron frowned. "Really, mate? Why did they do this to you?"

"They didn't do anything," Harry said. Ron's frowned deepened as he spoke. "Look, come up to my room. I'll explain everything." Harry began to lead them up the stairs.

"I'll be downstairs," Severus called.

"Okay!" Harry called back as he made his way to his room. He gestured for both of them to sit on the bed. 

"Harry, what's going on?" Hermione asked.

"Don't worry. I'll explain," Harry said, as he searched for the letters. 

"Is Dumbledore doing this to hide you? But why with Snape? You sort of look like him, too," Ron said.

Harry groaned. "Yeah, because I'm his son."

That shut them both up. At least for a moment, as Harry found the letters. "Not funny," said Ron.

"I wasn't joking," Harry said, sliding both letters to them and sitting on the edge of the bed. They leaned together to read them. "Severus and I received those at midnight on my birthday."

Hermione gasped, putting a hand over her mouth. Ron's expression was unreadable. "This is… I can't believe this," she said. "How could your mother do that to you?"

"Isn't it obvious?" Ron said as he finished. "Snape's a Death Eater." Hermione elbowed him.

"No, he's right," Harry said. "That probably is the reason why. That and she cheated on James. It's obvious that she was going to say something, but died before it could happen."

"How, though?" Hermione asked. "I mean, no glamour can do what you had on before."

Harry shrugged. "Dumbledore isn't sure, either," he admitted. "He said it was impressive that she managed to do one that aged with me and had a time delay. It removed itself at midnight on my birthday, the same time I got my letter."

"Of course!" Hermione said as if a light switch had been clicked on. "That's why those changes happened, around the third task, and before we left school!" Harry nodded, glad that she had picked up on it. Ron, on the other hand, just looked confused. "Really, you didn't notice?" Ron shook his head, and Hermione just groaned. "Honestly, you are so dim sometimes… He was getting taller, his hair was changing, his fingers were getting longer, he was paler… It all fits, because I can see them in you now."

Ron nodded. "If you say so," he said.

"Even I noticed," Harry couldn't help but saying. Ron didn't say anything to that.

"So, what are you going to do?" Hermione asked. "You've been staying here with him?"

Harry nodded. "Yeah, ever since my birthday," he told them. "Thanks for ignoring that, by the way."

They shared a look. "We wanted to write, mate, really, we did," Ron said. "Only…"

"Dumbledore said not to," Harry said. "Yeah, I know."

Hermione looked surprised, and Harry didn't blame her for that. "Really? How?"

"I pretty much got that from Dumbledore," Harry explained. "When he came over to sort out my new identity, I asked about you two, and that was pretty much what he said. It was infuriating." 

"I'm so sorry, Harry, but he made us swear!" Hermione said.

Harry nodded. "I know. It's okay."

"So, how are you going to be dealing with this?" Hermione asked. "You said something about a new identity?"

"What's wrong with Harry Potter?" Ron asked, and he almost sounded annoyed.

Harry narrowed his eyes at Ron for a moment before turning to Hermione. "Well, I can't be Harry Potter any more, obviously," he said, "so we came up with a new person. I am now Jacob Snape. I am a transfer student from the school up in Ireland, despite the fact that I am obviously British. I didn't know that Severus was my father, and likewise, he didn't know about me. I was the product of a one night stand between my parents. My mother died when I was young, and I was raised by a distant elderly cousin, who recently passed. Before she died, she told me the truth and sent for my father." He shrugged his shoulders. "Here I am. I will be taking assessments to make sure that I am up to par, so to speak."

Hermione nodded, following along on what he was trying to say. "I see, so take part of the truth and blend it with the lie," she said. "It makes sense, considering the circumstances."

"Considering the circumstances?" Ron said as if she had said something wrong. "They're trying to erase who he is!" The redhead turned to Harry. "I'm sure Dumbledore can find a way to put you back, mate. You don't have to deal with this."

Harry was starting to get more and more annoyed as time went on. "Deal with what? The truth?"

"You can't be happy with this," Ron said, almost imploringly. "I mean, Snape is a right bastard!" Hermione looked upset with him, and gave him a slap on the shoulder. "What he is! Harry, are you just going to forget about how he's treated us, you most of all. He's a right bastard, and you know it."

"Of course, I haven't forgotten!" Harry asked, his anger rising. "But he's trying, at least!"

"Oh, he's trying so everything is okay then?!"

Harry's eyes narrowed dangerously, and he gripped the comforter of the bed in an effort not to punch Ron in his freckled face. "No, of course not! I'm being ripped away from my entire life. I'm losing my identity and probably all of my friends, because other than Severus and I, only Dumbledore, Sirius, Remus, and you two are allowed to know," Harry said. "I haven't been able to look straight in the mirror since the change. No, it is not okay. But he's trying, that might not mean anything to you, but it means something to me."

Ron's eyes narrowed then. Hermione looked between, and it was clear that she was wondering what to do. "How can you trust that slimy, Slytherin git, Harry!" Ron yelled. Hermione reached out to him, but he shoved her way. "He's taking you away from everything you know, and you're just going to sit back and allow that! How do you know that he didn't arrange this somehow, that he hasn't put something in some potion he gave you!"

"Because I'm not an idiot, you bloody moron!" Harry said, standing to his feet. Ron quickly did the same, leaving Hermione on the bed, looking between them. "You weren't there; you didn't see how he reacted when he first saw me!"

"Harry, he's a bloody spy, you don't think he's going to be a fucking good liar?"

It took every ounce of self-control Harry had then not to grab his wand and hex Ron into next week. "You know what? I am getting bloody sick and tired of you."

Ron looked taken aback. "What is that supposed to mean?"

"You are supposed to be my best friend, but you sure as bloody hell aren't acting like it," Harry told him. "Last year, when you should have believed me above everyone, instead you acted like a jealous git because I was getting all the attention! Now, when I need your support more than ever, you again can't accept what's really going on because it inconveniences you, and it would require you to deal with change. Well, too bloody bad. If that's how you want it, the Floo is downstairs, first room after you enter across from the study. Feel free to leave of your own accord." Harry crossed his arms over his chest.

Ron was seething in anger by now. "Fine. Hermione, let's go." He made for the door, but Hermione just crossed her arms. She looked away from both of them and stayed right where she was. Ron realized she wasn't following him once he reached the door and looked back. "Hermione, come on."

Hermione turned her head towards Ron. "No, Ron," she told him. "I tried to understand what you were doing last year because I felt bad for you. But I don't understand this. Harry needs us, and if you can't accept the change that's going on right now, then fine. Go. But I won't turn back on my best friend."

Ron just glared at her. "Fine, side with him. I knew you would." With that, he turned and left.

"It's not like that, you dolt!" Hermione yelled after him. She rolled her eyes, but Ron was gone. "I'm so sorry about him."

Harry sighed and sat back down on the bed. "It's not your fault."

"He'll come around."

"I'm not sure I want him to," Harry said, surprising himself by his honesty. He didn't want to deal with someone who didn't trust him. He couldn't deal with that. This hadn't been easy for either him or Severus, so he couldn't just sit by while Ron tried to undermine everything they were doing.

Hermione smiled at him. "You still have me."

Harry smiled back at her. "I know, and I appreciate that. Really."

Hermione cleared her throat. "So, any thought about your scar?"

Harry looked up at her, a confused look on his face. "Oh, right, that, er… I don't know."

"Do you mind?" Hermione asked, before pushing his hair away from his face. She seemed to be analyzing it. "I think I have an idea. I have some makeup. It might work, and with a bit of magic to help it along, I think it can be almost completely unnoticeable. I'll be right back!" 

Hermione quickly left, but to her credit, she was back very quickly. "Okay, here we go. You might be a bit paler now than I am," she said.

"I didn't think you wore makeup."

"I don't," she said plainly. "My parents got it for me. They think since I'm almost sixteen that I need it." She shrugged. "At least it'll have some use." She pushed back his hair. "Hold that."

"Yes, ma'am," he said, putting his hand up to hold back his hair from his forehead.

She gave him a friendly glare. She opened up the makeup container, and put some on her finger. She spread it over his scar and then made a noise of disapproval. "Yes, you are paler than me, but not by much," she told him. "Now, let's go find your father so he can finish this up for us since we can't do magic."

Harry nodded and then led her downstairs. Dumbledore was gone. For that matter, so was Severus. He held up a hand to silence her and then walked to the door to the basement. He knocked on the door, and a few moments later, Severus appeared there. 

"Yes?" he deadpanned.

"Professor, I was wondering if you could do something for us," Hermione said. "I'm working on hiding his scar." She reached up and pushed back his hair. "See? But the makeup only does so much, and it's not the right color. It's all I had. I thought maybe you could-"

Severus held up a hand to silence her. "Yes, I understand what you are getting at." He drew his wand from his robes and pointed it at Harry's hand. "Miss Granger, please step away. Harry, hold back your hair." They both nodded and did as they were told. He muttered a few spells before putting his wand back in his robes.

Hermione moved in front of him and looked up. "Excellent, of course, sir."

Severus nodded. "Naturally."

"I can't even see it any more."

Harry just looked between them. "I'll have to take your word for it."

"Or go and look in the mirror," Hermione said. 

Harry got what she was saying, and shared a look with Severus. He knew that he needed to. He had only done it once, looked himself full in the face. He needed to do it again and get used to doing so. He nodded and then motioned for Hermione to follow him. He led her to the bathroom. Steeling himself, he took a deep breath before looking himself full in the face. 

Harry didn't feel shock or disbelief this time, because he had been expecting to see the face that looked back at him. Well, at least partially, anyway. 

"You know, it's not a bad look, Harry," Hermione said from the doorway behind him. Harry turned his head for a moment and looked at her before looking back in the mirror. "Well, it's not. It's just different. A bit more… well, a bit longer and more angular than how your face used to be, but not quite as sharp as Snape's is." He looked over at her again and saw her shrugging her shoulders. "It's just different. It'll take some getting used to, that's all."

Harry nodded as he turned towards Hermione. "Yeah, I know. It's just weird because it still doesn't feel like my face. At least I'm getting used to the voice."

"Yeah, the voice is going to take some getting used to, as well," she told him as they headed back towards his room. They both sat down on his bed. "So, how is the whole transfer student thing going to work? How are you going to be sorted?"

"Yeah, we discussed that already," Harry told her. "It's going to be a public sorting, either before or after the first years, I'm not sure." Either way, it was bound to be really embarrassing standing there in front of the entire student body and being sorted alone. "The assessments are going to be taken the week before school starts. Severus has to be there a week early anyway, so I'll take it after we go there."

"So, you're not going to take the train then?" Harry shook his head. Hermione then brightened up instantly. "Oh, I was made Prefect!"

"No one deserves it more than you," Harry told her.

"Ron was, too, by the way…" Hermione put a hand on his arm. "It would have been you. I know it."

Harry shrugged her hand off. "It doesn't matter," he told her. "Oh, and I'm not taking Divination any more," he told her. "Severus insisted. My schedule will actually be exactly the same as yours." 

Hermione smiled. "Great! If you need help, I'll be happy to help, of course."

Harry smirked at her. "Oh? And how is Hermione Granger going to be friends with Professor Snape's son?"

Hermione paused for a second. "Good point," she told him. "At the very least, I can help you get caught up. How are you going to get caught up?"

Harry shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know," he told her. "Severus said it would be a crash course as soon as we buy the books. He's also going to be teaching me Occlumency and advanced dueling and defense."

Hermione moaned. "Oh, that is so fascinating. I wish I could join in. Wait, maybe I can!" With that, she practically jumped on the bed and ran off.  Confused, Harry followed her. She had headed straight for the basement door and knocked on it.

Severus answered the door a moment later, not looking amused at being interrupted again. "What is it this time, Miss Granger?"

"I was wondering if I could join you and Harry for the advanced lessons?" Hermione asked.

"No."

Hermione looked shocked. "Please, sir. I promise I'll keep up."

Harry looked at Severus from over Hermione's head. Severus looked at him before looking down at her. "Fine, but only a couple days a week, and you formally meet 'Jacob' in a few days," he told her.

Hermione brightened. "Thank you! You won't regret it!" She said the same time as Harry said, "What's in a few days?"

"See that I don't," Severus said before looking at Harry. "That's right. I have not explained it to you yet." He then quickly explained about the Order.

Harry nodded. "That explained why Ron said you were a spy. I didn't question it, because it made sense."

Severus nodded. "Indeed, now if you don't mind." With that, he shut the door in their faces.

Harry and Hermione made their way back up to his room. They talked for a bit more before he gave her a tour of the house. He explained when she expressed surprise that it was Muggle that Severus was, in fact, a half-blood with a Muggle father and a Pure-blood mother. She was also quite shocked that the color palette wasn't all black. He didn't blame her for that one.

 "Yeah, I was a bit shocked at first, too," he told her as he led her around. In fact, the palette was pretty well rounded, well, for Severus. The walls were kept in mostly ivories, off-whites and creams in most of the house. The furniture was mostly black or dark brown, with tables and such being a dark wood. In his room, Severus had changed the wall color to a light blue with his wand.

 After that, he gave her his old Firebolt, knowing that to have it as Jacob Snape would be suspicious. Hermione nodded, knowing what it meant to him, but he just couldn't keep it. It wouldn't make sense. He also gave her Hedwig, which was even more heartbreaking than losing the Firebolt. He loved Hedwig, but she was too unique. He told Hermione to take good care of her. Before she left, Hermione gave him a hug, saying it would be okay, that he would see. He said thanks before he saw her off from the Floo.

Severus came up soon after that and asked how everything was. Harry explained what happened to Ron. "So, that explains why I didn't see him," he said. "Are you…?"

Harry shrugged. "Yeah, I mean… There's nothing that can be done. It's like you said, he must not have ever truly been my friend," he said. They had lunch after that, and then played a game of chess before Severus informed him that they would be having dinner at the Malfoys'. "Wait, what, why?"

"Lucius Malfoy is an old friend of mine," Severus said. "Besides, he needs to know first thing. If you wish, you may call it Death Eater Politics."

Harry nodded. It made sense because it would be suspicious if he didn't tell his so-called friends and Voldemort. Severus went back to work in the lab for a bit, giving Harry a book on Occlumency and telling him to read until they had to leave. He was not looking forward to dinner with the Malfoys.

Chapter Text

Harry flipped through the Occlumency book that Severus had given him. The idea in and of itself was intriguing, but he couldn’t imagine putting something like this into practice. It required quieting your mind, controlling your emotions, and then blocking someone else from accessing it - like Voldemort. He could see why it would be necessary for him to learn it, but how was doing that even possible? He could see how Severus would be good at it, though, as he tended not to show much of his emotions anyway. He couldn’t see himself being any good at this.

It was all a bit overwhelming, and he was grateful when Severus told him that they should start getting ready to go to Malfoy Manor for dinner. He wasn’t quite hungry yet, but he had a feeling that “dinner” over there meant a lot more than just going over, sitting down and eating dinner. There was most likely a lot of small talk before a three or possibly four-course dinner was served. That was not his scene, and despite his newfound relationship with Severus, he was pretty sure it wasn’t his either. This was despite the fact that he claimed that he and Lucius Malfoy were “old friends.” 

Harry went downstairs, meeting Severus in the hallway. His heart was beating rapidly inside his chest. He had no idea how he was going to fake it, not knowing Draco Malfoy - or even Lucius, for that matter. He wasn’t overly fond of either of them, and he despised Draco. “Maybe this isn’t such a good idea,” he said. 

“I regret that you are now subject to the inner politics of the Death Eaters, but you are,” Severus said frankly. “You cannot get out of this.”

Harry knew that was true, but that didn’t make it an easier pill to swallow, so to speak. ”I just… I mean, maybe I can act like I don’t know Mr. Malfoy, but Draco?” He shook his head; his hands curled into his fists.

Severus grabbed Harry’s shoulder and turned him so that they were facing each other. “This is only the first test of many ,” the older man said, annoyance evident in his voice. “I am also not fond of dying , and if the Dark Lord finds out of the truth, that’s exactly what will happen. It is extremely important that they suspect nothing. Contrary to what you might think, none of them are idiots, and that includes Draco. You two have spent a great deal of time paying attention to each other. Granted, that was entirely negative, but that is beside the point at the moment. You’d be surprised how easily some people will be fooled by your face, though. Watch what you say, don’t say anything that a Muggle might say, and you will be okay. If you can get through tonight, you will be fine.”

Harry took a deep breath, knowing that Severus was right. Tonight was necessary. He nodded. “I can do this.”

Severus nodded, removing hands hand from Harry’s shoulder. “I believe you can. Shall we?” With that, they went towards the Floo and were, within moments, in the entryway of Malfoy Manor.

Harry looked around, and it was everything that a manor’s entryway should be - tall, grand, with pictures on the walls, and a table with some elaborate vase on it. There were coat racks, though Harry supposed they were more cloak racks then coat racks, considering this was a Wizarding home. He dusted himself off and noticed Severus doing the same out of the corner of his eye.

A moment later, Lucius Malfoy walked into the room. “Severus, pleasure to see you again,” he said, as he strode forward and shook Severus’s hand.

Right behind him was his wife. Harry remembered getting a glimpse of her last year at the Quidditch World Cup. That had been the only time he’d seen her. She walked forward straight towards them. Harry froze for a second, but she went up to Severus and kissed him on the cheek. “You need to visit more often,” she said. “Lucius told me that you moved out of that… shack you were living in before. I’m so glad. I’ve been telling you for years -”

“Yes, Narcissa, we can discuss that later,” Severus said, cutting her off. Harry had the feeling that was a conversation that they’d had before. Considering how Malfoy Manor looked, he couldn’t see them understanding where Severus had been living until… well, yesterday. “This is my son, Jacob.”

It was then that the Malfoys, which now included Draco, who had come in behind his mother, noticed him. All three of them looked at him, and Harry suddenly felt even more uncomfortable than he had before. He desperately wanted to go back to the house. 

“This is Lucius, his wife, Narcissa, and their son, Draco,” Severus said, introducing each of them in turn. 

Harry just nodded, feeling incredibly awkward. He wanted this night to be over. Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy greeted him in turn, and then he found himself face to face with Draco Malfoy. “Pleasure,” the youngest Malfoy said, holding out his hand. Harry reluctantly took it. “I guess we’ll be going to Hogwarts together soon.” 

Harry nodded, noting with a bit of satisfaction that he was now slightly taller than Draco. “Yep, that’s how it seems.”

“Where did you go to school before?” Draco asked. “Not the school in Ireland?” Harry was grateful that Draco seemed to have already heard of it. He nodded in agreement. “I overheard that you didn’t even know that you had a father until a few days ago. How did that happen?”

Harry was finding it difficult not to slap Draco across the face. “Obviously, no one decided to tell me.” He couldn’t keep the slight hint of anger out of voice.

“Rubbish, that,” Draco said. 

“I completely agree.”

“So, who raised you then?” Draco asked. “Your mother?”

Harry shook his head, the memory of his new life coming back to him. “No, she died when I was little,” he answered. “I was raised by a cousin of hers. She was old, and she knew that you know… So,  she contacted m - Severus, and told us both of the truth.”

Draco shook his head and quickly seemed to wave off that conversation and move on to another so fast Harry was sure that he’d get whiplash. “You’ll like Hogwarts, you’ll see,” he told him. “I was just made Prefect, you know.”

Figures that they would give the Slytherin Prefect to him, Harry thought to himself. “Congratulations.”

“Do you play Quidditch?”

Harry’s heart skipped a beat. Damn, we didn’t think about that , he thought to himself. “Er, yeah, a bit,” he said, hoping that his nervousness was coming off as just that - nervousness. “I don’t have a broom, though.”

Draco gave him a nonchalant wave of his hand. “I have an extra one. My father bought it for me for Christmas in my first year, Nimbus 2000, but then when I made the Slytherin Quidditch team, my father bought the entire team Nimbus 2001’s,” he explained, an arrogant smirk across his lips. “Only the best, you know. If you want to play a quick game, that is.”

Harry looked over at Severus for some indication that it was okay. He desperately hoped he would say no because if anyone would know his flying style, aside from Ron, it would be Draco. It seemed that the three adults had been in a conversation with each other. He could tell by the look on Severus’ face that he wasn’t sure it was a good idea, either.

“Now now, Severus,” Lucius piped up before Severus could say anything. “Before you say anything, he’ll be with Draco. Let the boys have a bit of fun before dinner starts.”

“Very well,” Severus said, though it was clear that he didn’t like the idea. “Just be careful.”

“Don’t coddle the boy,” Lucius said. “There’s no harm here.”

Harry understood the meaning, though, but he was quickly dragged off by Draco, who had grabbed his arm. He yanked it away from his as he was lead straight up a stairway and down hallways until they came to one room where Draco stopped. 

“My bedroom,” Draco explained as he opened up the door.

A large bedroom greeted Harry, one much bigger than his own. There were more things in there than he could even look at, and everything looked expensive. Honestly, it all seemed a bit much to him.

In a moment, though, Draco was there, holding two brooms. “The old one was still in my closet. Here.” He held out one of the brooms towards him, and Harry took it.

It was just like his old one, the one that had blown into the Whomping Willow during that match in his third year. “Thank you,” he told him.  Draco waved off the comment, and then led him out of his room, and back down where they came from. “How do you not get lost in this place?”

Draco chuckled. “I grew up here,” he told him. “I wouldn’t recommend wandering this place without one of us, though, or at least a House Elf.”

Harry nodded. “Point taken.” 

It wasn’t long before they were out through the back door of and on the grounds. Draco led them to a shed near the house. He opened it up with a tap of his wand. Harry almost said something about not doing magic outside of school, and then it occurred to him that with all of the magic in this place, the Ministry probably couldn’t distinguish one magic from another. Draco reached in and then brought out a Quaffle. For some reason, Harry had been expecting a snitch.

Draco led him farther into the clearing. “So, my goal is over there, and then you need to score in would be the opposite end, okay?” Draco pointed to two opposite ends of the clearing. “First to ten points wins?”

Harry nodded, having got the idea. They both mounted their brooms and pushed into the air, Draco carrying the Quaffle still. The blond threw the Quaffle high in the air. Harry rushed up, quickly grabbing it. He was used to playing Seeker. In fact, he’d never played another position before. Maybe that would prove useful. 

Draco was right after him, but Harry’s arms were longer, and he grabbed the Quaffle first. He had gotten used to his Firebolt, and the old Nimbus was a lot slower. Nonetheless, he bolted down off towards his goal, but the blond was right behind him. Draco’s broom was better, but Harry was the better flyer. 

Draco came up next to him and slammed into him. Harry’s grip loosened, and the Quaffle was out of his hands. Draco scooped it up and then bolted off towards the other hand. Groaning, he turned around and bolted back down to the other end of the clearing after Draco. He dearly missed his Firebolt, but there was nothing that he could do about that now. He just had to get used to this broom again, that was all.

Harry came up alongside Draco, about to slam into him when the blond threw the Quaffle. It flew off, right into the area that the blond had designated as the goal. He threw him a glare, and the blond went off to go fetch the Quaffle. He’d make a better Chaser than a Seeker, Harry thought to himself, as Draco threw the ball up into the air again.

Harry flew up, snatched it before the blond even had a chance, and bolted off down to the other end of the clearing. Draco tried to hit him again and push the Quaffle out of his hands, but he had fallen for that trick once. It wasn’t going to happen again. He could tell Draco was getting frustrated, so he threw the Quaffle off towards his goal before he could lose it. 

Draco groaned, but it was Harry’s turn to smirk this time. He went to fetch the Quaffle. By the end of the game, the score was seven to ten in favor of Harry. “Not bad, Jacob,” said Draco as they went down to the ground. Harry threw the blond his Quaffle back. “I”m a Seeker, of course, not a Chaser, but you should try out for the House Team.”

“You know, there’s no guarantee that I’ll be in Slytherin,” Harry told him. “There are four houses from what I was told.” 

Draco just shrugged as he walked back to the shed and put away the Quaffle. “Your father is Head of Slytherin House. Why would you be put anywhere else?” Harry nodded and wondered what would happen if he was put into another house. He had been afraid of that kind of reaction. “So, he told you about Hogwarts then?”

Harry nodded as they walked inside. “Yeah, he told me some.”

Draco directed him to a washroom on the first floor. “We should wash up before dinner. You can use this one. I’ll be at another one.” Harry went to hand him back his broom, but the blond waved it back. “I don’t need it. You don’t have a broom, so you might as well keep it.”

Harry was a bit shocked. “Thank you.”

“Think nothing of it,” Draco said as he walked off. “See you in a bit.”

As Harry washed up, he realized that the youngest Malfoy had probably done that because he wanted him to like him. It only made sense with Severus being Head of House and all. He walked out of the washroom, and walked down the hallway on the first floor, wondering where everyone else had gone. He heard voices coming from a nearby room and followed the sounds.  He set the broom outside of the room he heard the voices coming from, and then entered the dining room, where Severus, as well as the elder Malfoys, were standing. It seemed as if he had walked in on a conversation. “Sorry, Draco and I finished our match. He’s up washing up, and I didn’t know where anyone was, so I-”

Mr. Malfoy waved off his comment, cutting him off. “Of course, we were about to call you two for dinner, anyway,” Lucius said. “Draco won, I assume?” 

Harry felt his anger rise and reminded himself that yelling at him would probably not be a good idea. “No, actually, I did,” he said. “By three points, as a matter of fact.”

Mr. Malfoy raised an eyebrow, a surprised look coming across his normally composed face. Mrs. Malfoy giggled a bit, and a smirk crossing Severus’ lips. “Oh? Do tell then, Jacob?” Mr. Malfoy asked.

Harry shrugged, and he heard Draco coming up behind him. “Nothing to tell, really,” he said. “It was fun. Draco was good, but I was better.”

Mr. Malfoy’s eyes went to his son right then. “I’m a Seeker, not a Chaser,” Draco said defensively. 

No, I’m just a better flyer than you , Harry thought to himself. Right then, a timid House Elf popped in the room, interrupting whatever response the elder Malfoy may have planned. The House Elf kept his gaze low, as he bowed to Mr. Malfoy. “Dinner is ready, Master.”

“Good. Serve it quickly,” Mr. Malfoy ordered sharply. “Shall we?” He gestured towards the table. Everyone sat down. Mr. Malfoy sat at one end, while his wife sat on the other. Severus was directed to sit at one side of the table, while both Harry and Draco sat across from him.

“What would you like to drink?” Mrs. Malfoy asked.

“Water is fine,” Harry nodded. A glass of water appeared for both him and Draco. He noticed then that all three adults already had a drink. At that moment, salads appeared in front of everybody. The salad had tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, olives, and some sort of vinaigrette.  It was quite good, actually, for a salad.

“So, you and Draco are the same age,” Lucius said. “What classes will you be taking?”

“Other than the core classes,” Harry said, “I’m taking Care of Magical Creatures, Arithmancy, and Ancient Runes.” He still wasn’t looking forward to having to learn two years’ worth of work in a few weeks, but that wasn’t something he needed to worry about tonight.

“Ah, same electives as Draco then,” said Mrs. Malfoy. “Wonderful. He can help you if you need help getting caught up.”

Please, God, no, Harry thought to himself. He instead just shrugged his shoulders. “I think I’ll be fine.”

“I don’t mind,” Draco said. “I’m top of the class, you know.”

Almost ,” Mr. Malfoy said. “That Muggle-born Granger girl continually beats you.”

“Except in my class,” said Severus from across from him.

“Of course,” Mr. Malfoy said, waving off the comment.  “So, Jacob, have you been to see Hogwarts yet?”

Harry shook his head. “No, sir,” he replied. “I’ve never been there. Severus has to be there early, anyway, so I’ll have a week or so to get acclimated.”

“How are you adjusting to everything?” asked Mrs. Malfoy from the other end of the table. “Such a trying time for you, I’m sure.” She didn’t seem to honestly care, but it seemed more like just another question for her to ask.

Why are they asking me all these questions? Harry asked himself. I’m not the only one here! He shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know,” he said. “Fine, I guess.”

“You do not have to talk about any of that,” Severus said, and Harry shot him a grateful look. He had no details of his former life and knew that the potions master was bound to have talked about what they already knew with the Malfoys already. 

“Of course, of course,” Mrs. Malfoy said, as their empty salad plates disappeared. “My apologies.”

“At least you didn’t have to stay in that shack Severus used to live in,” Mr. Malfoy said.

“Well, for a few days,” Harry said. “It wasn’t that bad.”

Both elder Malfoys scoffed at that remark. “Of course, it is!” Narcissa said. “So, what is the new house like? You must have us over.” At that moment, five plates of Beef Wellington appeared in front of those seated around the table.

“Well, it’s not Malfoy Manor,” Severus said, “but it’s a Tudor style. Three bedrooms, but the third bedroom is being turned into a library.” He started to eat. “Delicious.”

“Naturally,” said Mr. Malfoy with a smirk, and it wasn’t clear which statement he was referring to - the house comment, or the food comment. “At least that will get them out of your living room.”

Severus shot Mr. Malfoy a glare. “They needed to go somewhere, and my family home was not that big,” he said. “Besides, I didn’t need anything else. I’m only there about two months out of the year.”

“But still, you needed a proper house,” Mr. Malfoy responded. “At least finding out that you had son prompted you to move.”

Harry just ate his food, hoping that the comments weren’t directed towards him any more. It was a bit odd seeing them bantering. I guess they really are ‘old friends,’ he thought to himself. The food was delicious, though. The Dursleys never served anything like this unless Uncle Vernon had an important client over, and then he usually wasn’t invited.

“Are you two getting along alright?” Mrs. Malfoy said. 

Severus and Harry shared a look. “Well enough for complete strangers,” Severus said. Harry nodded in agreement. “We’re making it work.”

“How were your grades at your old school, Jacob?” Mrs. Malfoy asked.

Harry had been hoping that they would ignore him. “Well enough,” he responded, figuring that sounded better than saying that at least he passed.

“If you need help, I’m sure Draco will be happy to lend you a hand,” Mr. Malfoy said.

Yeah, you said that already, Harry thought to himself. “I’ll keep that in mind,” he said. He figured that blowing off the comment again was probably not the best idea. They were obviously trying to push him into a friendship with their son, which he supposed made sense considering that they were friends themselves.

“At least you already know someone,” Mrs. Malfoy said. “Draco, you should introduce them to some of your friends. We could have them all over. I’m sure they would have a great time. That way, you don’t have to feel like you don’t know anyone from school.”

Harry nodded while he felt a sinking feeling in his stomach. “Not a bad idea, ma’am,” he said. Inwardly, that was the last thing he wanted. Part of him also wanted to know what he was going to do if he wasn’t put into Slytherin. No one would buy that. He knew that the hat wasn’t likely to put him into Gryffindor twice, not after what the hat had said to him.

“It’s settled then,” Mrs. Malfoy said. “If it’s alright with you, of course, Severus. We don’t want to monopolize your son’s time.”

“We’ll see,” Severus said. “He has some catching up to do today, so I’m going to have him on a study schedule. If there’s time, I’m sure Jacob would like a break.”

Harry was grateful that Severus wasn’t automatically agreeing to everything they said, not that he had honestly expected him to. At least he was trying to take some of the attention off of Harry because he didn’t like all the questions or attention.

“You’ll like them, I’m sure,” Draco said, speaking up for the first time since dinner started. “You should definitely come back sometime before we got to school.” 

“What was it like where you grew up? Did you have friends at your old school?” Mrs. Malfoy said.

Harry had known that this question was coming sooner or later. He also knew that he had to be careful about how he answered. He didn’t look at Severus before he answered, though, because logically, he would only know what ‘Jacob’ had told him. “It was all right,” Harry answered. “My cousin, Valerie, who raised me, sort of me let do my own thing when I was home from school. Not a bad life, I suppose, though. No real friends. I stuck to myself mostly.”

“Well, at least you know Draco now,” said Mrs. Malfoy. “Severus told us that your mother’s been dead for some time, and now your cousin… Such a shame.”

“Yes, well, at least you’re back with your father where you should have been from the start,” Mr. Malfoy said. “There’s no reason to keep a child from his father.”

“Agreed,” said Severus, a hint of anger in his voice. “Inexcusable.”

It was then that their dinner plates disappeared, as everyone had finished their food. Harry wasn’t sure he could eat any more, but then a goblet with the dessert appeared in front of them. It was a trifle. He looked in it to see if he could see what it was. It appeared to be some sort of cake, sponge cake, probably, with raspberries, peaches, custard, topped with whip cream and toasted almonds. It was absolutely delicious.

“Are you a bit nervous about changing schools?” Mrs. Malfoy asked him.

“Yeah, a bit,” Harry replied. “I mean, I’ll be the only new person there above first year, and I get sorted in front of the entire school alone, so yeah, I’m a bit nervous.”

“I’m sure you’ll manage just fine,” Mr. Malfoy said. 

Harry nodded. “Of course,” he agreed. What else was he supposed to say? It wasn’t as if he could get out of this. “I’m a bit excited, though, because… it’s Hogwarts after all.”

The dessert goblets were taken soon afterward, and Harry was afraid he might need to be rolled away. “Jacob and I should get going,” Severus said, slowly standing up. Harry followed his lead, thankful to finally be leaving. “He has had a long few days, and he has a lot to do before he starts school.”

“Of course,” Mrs. Malfoy said. “You should join us in Diagon Alley tomorrow! We’re going to buy Draco’s school things. Maybe Jacob will get to meet some of his schoolmates there, as well.”

“Wonderful idea, Narcissa,” Mr. Malfoy agreed. “What do you think, Severus?”

Severus looked at him. “I’m sure that can be arranged,” he told him. “What do you think?” Severus turned to Harry, addressing him.

“Sure, sounds great,” Harry said.

“It’s settled then,” Mr. Malfoy said. “Tomorrow afternoon, it is. We can meet up there.”

Within a few minutes, they were back home. “I am ready to just to go bed,” Harry said, more to himself than to Severus.

“You should,” Severus agreed, “because we’re still working in the morning before we meet up with the Malfoys tomorrow afternoon.” Harry wasn’t exactly looking forward to it, but there was nothing that can be done. “In the meantime, I am going to make a Floo call Dumbledore and then Black.”

Harry frowned at him in confusion. “Why?”

“Because it is necessary that Harry Potter be there,” Severus said. “Harry Potter and Jacob Snape must be seen in the same place together, to avoid any discussions about any coincidences. Black is forever whining about being trapped in that house, so I’m sure after I talk to Dumbledore that he and Lupin can make sure that ‘Harry Potter’ is there.” 

Harry went to bed soon afterward, thinking how weird it would be to see… well, himself, there at Diagon Alley while he was someone else. Yeah, that wasn’t going to be weird at all.

Chapter Text

Severus woke up early the next morning, as per usual. Last night had gone as well as could be expected. Harry had answered everything correctly, and any awkwardness he might have shown only served to further the situation the young man would have actually been in. Today was another test for Harry. They were going to buy his books and such at Diagon Alley. First, though, Severus had a few things that he wanted to accomplish before they met up with the Malfoys after lunch.

Severus made them some quick breakfast before going and waking Harry up. He had told him that they would be getting up early. He went into his room and turned on the lights. The young man under the covers groaned. "Get up," Severus ordered. "I told you we were getting up early, did I not?"

Harry groaned and slowly removed the covers. "Okay, I'll be right there," he said, his voice groggy.

Severus was satisfied with that and went back downstairs into the kitchen and dining room. He set the food on the table to make it easier and quicker. He had cooked lightly this morning, because they would be exercising, after all. They would get what they needed for now, and they would replace what they burned later. Harry slowly dragged himself in. He grabbed himself a cup of coffee and sat heavily down in the chair across from Severus. He wordlessly started eating. The two ate in silence. 

They cleaned up, and then Severus lead into an open area of the floor. They were both already wearing comfortable clothing for this, so that was convenient. They stretched out their muscles and such as they let the food settle.

"Why are we doing this?" Harry asked.

Severus groaned. "So, we don't hurt ourselves, obviously." After they had finished, Severus led Harry outside. They started with a run. After walking and occasionally running around Hogwarts, he felt that Harry should manage just fine with a mile run. He kept up a decent pace, though, to see how Harry managed. After they had made it back to the yard, they cooled down before switching to other exercises. By the end, they worked out every muscle in their bodies. Harry, the younger of the two, was breathing more heavily. 

Severus stared at Harry for a moment before speaking. "You are younger, yet you're the one that is in more pain."

Harry glared at him. "I haven't done that in… well, I'm not sure if I ever have," he said. "I thought I was in decent shape, you know, walking around Hogwarts and all, but… apparently not.

Severus smirked. "The more you do it, the more used to it you will be." 

Harry nodded. "Why are we doing this again?"

"Greater strength and endurance when dealing with enemies," Severus responded. Harry nodded, and he led the boy inside. He went down to get him a potion to relieve the soreness he was feeling. "Here, take this. It will help with the soreness." Harry nodded and took the potion without another word. 

Severus made them a snack to eat. After they were done with that, he suggested that they both go and take a shower. He went downstairs, grabbing a book to read as Harry walked down. He handed the boy another potion to do. This time, he added in a few tips based on what had gone wrong with the last potion - namely, to be as exact as possible. Harry groaned but trudged off downstairs to the potions lab without another word. Severus continued to read until Harry trudged up the stairs almost an hour later. 

"I'm done," he told him.

"We shall see," he said, setting his book down and then leading the boy back downstairs. Harry had tried to take the notes to heart, but it was clear that there was still more work to do. "Better," he said. "You still have room for improvement, but better."

Severus was surprised at the smile that broke out on Harry's face. Why was he smiling? He had merely said that he was showing improvement. There were much higher compliments, though admittedly not necessarily from him. Then the boy's smile turned into a smirk. "I told you that it was the teacher," Harry said. That earned him a glare from Severus.

"Moving on," Severus said, leading Harry right past the stairway into the second room of the basement. He opened it with a tap of his wand. The room was completely empty, and he knew this confused Harry. He stood in the center of the room, directing Harry to stand a few feet in front of him. "I'm sure you think very highly of yourself when it comes to defense. You will find you are mistaken."

"But we can't do magic outside of school?" Harry asked.

"You are not going to get caught," Severus told him, rolling his eyes. "I live here. The Ministry cannot determine who spells in an area are cast by when there are is more than one magical user. You lived in the Muggle World with Muggles, and therefore, any magic was your doing. You were also Harry Potter, and you must realize that the Ministry would watch you a bit more closely. You are not any more, though, yes?" Harry nodded.

Severus raised his wand, indicating for Harry to do the same. The boy did so. "I do not see the need to go with the formal dueling technique. Your opponent would not, I assure you," Severus told him. "Okay, we shall start with the basics, yes? Attempt to disarm me." Harry nodded. "Very well, then. On the count of three. One." Severus, of course, had never planned on waiting. "Expelliarmus!" Harry's wand flew out his of hand and right into Severus's own. 

Harry stood there, shocked and wandless. "You said three."

"Do you really think that your opponent, be it the Dark Lord himself or a Death Eater, would give you proper time?" Severus asked. He was fairly certain that boy could hear the tone in his voice, one that clearly said that he should have known better.

Harry's shock visibly lessened. "I suppose that makes sense."

"You suppose?"

"Can I have my wand back now?" Severus threw Harry his wand; the seeker caught it deftly in midair. "Again?" Harry asked.

Severus nodded. "On the count of three." Again, Severus only counted to one, but in Harry's defense, he tried to be more prepared and yelled Expelliarmus a split second before Severus himself did. Both wands flew out of their hands. A smirk crossed Potter's face. "You are learning. At least now, you have your opponents wand. However, your opponent has yours." With that, Severus held up Harry's wand as proof of that statement. "Keep trying to disarm." They switched wands and went back at it again.

Severus was no longer trying to disarm him, though. Instead, he would put a shield charm or such other protections made to prevent Harry's spell from taking his wand from him. Harry was mostly unsuccessful, but there was a decided difference in his demeanor from the exercising or the potions. He wanted to do this, and it showed. He tried harder, sometimes a little too hard. He wouldn't use the disarming spell on its own but tried to pair with other spells to surprise Severus. 

"You are too predictable," Severus told him as they began to wind down. "You need to start working on being able to use the spells without saying them aloud. This will take time, though, and is something that you don't typically start learning until next year." Harry nodded, and the two went upstairs to lunch.

"When do we have to meet the Malfoys?" Harry asked.

"Soon," Severus replied. "As soon as we are finished here, we need to leave."

"I can't believe I have to hang out with Draco ," Harry said off-handedly.

"You did well enough last night," Severus told him.

Harry shrugged. "Yeah," he said. "I guess he's not that bad, but he's still a pompous, selfish little git." Severus didn't argue with him on that one. "He did give me a broom, though, since I can't keep my Firebolt. He also wants me to try out for the Slytherin Quidditch Team - he assumes I'll be in Slytherin."

"Naturally," Severus agreed, although the thought of him trying out for them was concerning.

Harry seemed to debate over something before deciding to ask. "No matter what house I was in, do you think I could…? Try out for the team that is?" Harry asked. "I mean, not as a Seeker, obviously. That would be too risky. I think Draco's under the impression that I should be a Chaser because Draco would never suggest challenging him."

Severus thought it over. There were risks, and he knew that Dumbledore would disapprove. However, that old man had no say-so in Harry's life any more. There was no reason the boy couldn't try out. Besides, Draco would be one of the ones most likely to recognize Harry's flying style. The youngest Malfoy hadn't given any indication that he'd noticed anything whatsoever, and if he had, Severus would have surely been called last night.

"Very well," Severus respond. "Any position but Seeker."

Harry nodded, breaking out in a huge smile. "Thank you! I just couldn't imagine going without Quidditch. Actually, I was thinking Chaser."

It wasn't too much longer before they were on their way to Diagon Alley. They Flooed there and then walked out onto the street. It didn't take them long before they spotted those that they were there to meet. All the typical greetings were exchanged. Draco didn't waste any time in engaging 'Jacob' in conversation. 

"Where shall we start?" Draco asked him. Harry looked around at the adults and shrugged his shoulders. 

"Why don't you two start with your robes?" Lucius offered. "Surely, you both need them. We can get some of your things and meet you there."

Severus detested the idea and felt the boys should have to help out. Draco, however, had already agreed and started walking down the street. Harry shrugged and followed him.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Harry followed Draco down the street of Diagon Alley. It was clear that the blond had no intention of being in a hurry today. "So," Draco was saying, "Mother was saying that we should have everyone over on Sunday, so two days from now. Do you think that'll be okay for you?"

Harry shrugged. "I guess so," he told Draco. "I'd have to ask Severus." 

"I don't think you'll have a problem getting him to agree," Draco said, with that manner that if it came from a Malfoy, why would anyone dare to disagree? It annoyed Harry to no end.

Draco stopped by Quality Quidditch Supplies, pausing outside the window to look at the Firebolt. "Ever ridden one?" he asked Harry.

Harry shook his head. "No." He would have to explain how he, a loner, had come in contact with one. "I hear they're amazing."

Draco nodded. "I've been trying to convince my father to get me one, but he refuses," Draco told him. "Sees it as unnecessary, even though Saint Potter has one."

Harry froze for a second and knew that he should have foreseen that Draco would start talking about...  well, himself. "Who?" he decided on saying. "Oh, right…. Harry Potter. You go to school with him."

Draco nodded. "He thinks he's so wonderful…" Draco said. "Oh, look, there he is now, with the Weasel and Granger in tow." 

It was the weirdest sensation. Harry followed Draco's gaze, and there was… well, Harry. It was like seeing your double. He stared for a moment. Sirius looked just like him. Ron was being a bit stoic, which he expected after their argument yesterday. Hermione was perfectly normal, though. It felt like he had stepped into some strange alternate universe. He knew he looked different, but it was hard to remember you were seeing someone who looked the way you were supposed to look.

Sirius, who looked like Harry Potter, turned his gaze towards them and glared. "Malfoy," he said, and Harry to fight the urge to shudder and hearing his old voice coming out of someone else's mouth when that someone looked like his old self and that someone… Oh, yeah, so this was giving him a headache.

" Potter," Draco sneered. 

Harry looked in between Draco and Sirius/Harry and decided seeing Draco beat up his godfather in disguise was probably not the best idea. "Er, Draco, let's go… We're supposed to be at Madam Malkins, right?" he said. He tugged at Draco's arm, and the blond followed him down the street. "I take it you're not fond of each other."

"They think they're self-entitled," Draco told him. "Just because Potter's famous and has a scar, he thinks he's better than everyone else. You won't like them, either, trust me."

A wave of anger rushed through Harry and knew he couldn't keep his mouth shut any longer. "Okay, I can't take this any more," Harry said, turning towards Draco and stopping both of them right there in the middle of the street. "You will not tell me what - or who - I do or do not like. That is my decision to make, not yours. Maybe your friends at school follow you willingly, but I will not."

Draco looked taken aback, and it was a few moments before he spoke again. "I didn't mean for it that way," the blond said. "I just meant that he annoys me. I didn't mean to offend." He seemed kind of startled, actually, but Harry hadn't been about to just stand there and listen to him go on about what he should or would like. 

After that, Draco acted like the argument hadn't happened. They made their way to Madam Malkin's and were both getting fitted and measured for robes when the adults came by. They had bought some, but not all of the necessary ingredients, while they were waiting. It wasn't too much later before the robes were done, and the group was off down the street. They picked up a few more things on the way before heading into Flourish & Blotts.

As it so happened, the Weasleys were there. "Harry"/Sirius was refusing to buy his school things because he said he didn't need them yet and would get them later. Of course, they knew that he wouldn't be seen again, but the rest of the Weasleys couldn't know that.

Harry was paying as little attention to the group as possible as he and Severus bought his books. The Malfoys were right behind them. "Draco," Harry said, hanging back, figuring he needed to play his part. "Why were they all staring at me? Potter, Granger, and the others…?" He was sure that he'd seen other classmates there, too, staring, but those were the ones that had stood out to him for obvious reasons.

"Weasleys. Disgrace to wizardkind, if you ask me. Anyway, you look like the Professor a bit," Draco answered. "They're probably confused and can't put two and two together."

Harry shrugged his shoulders. The Malfoy's said that they were going to head back home. After they made their way back down the street, Harry turned to Severus. "I was wondering if we could stop by the Magical Menagerie," he asked.

Severus nodded. "Very well," he said, and then they made their way down the street to the Magical Menagerie. 

Harry looked around, but the idea of getting another owl just made him miss Hedwig. He was about to ask Severus if they could leave when he spotted something over in the corner. Harry walked over and spotted a small, tiny black kitten in the corner of the store. The kitten wasn't caged even, and couldn't be more than a few months old. There was something about the way the kitten's green eyes stared at him. He picked it up and made his way to the front of the store. 

Severus raised an eyebrow at him but didn't say anything. "How much?" he asked the shop worker. 

The shop worker raised an eyebrow as well. "Oh, that tiny thing… She's the runt. What about these over here?" She pointed to some other kittens playing nearby. 

Harry shook his head. "No, I want her," he said. The shop worker charged him half price for the tiny thing. They bought everything else the kitten would require, and then they headed home.

~~~~~~~~~~

When they got back from Diagon Alley, Severus immediately grabbed Harry's Arithmancy and Ancient Runes books and made a list of what Harry needed to know to pass the assessment. He also made up study guides for the other subjects, too, even some in addition to the potions work he was already doing. Personally, Harry thought he was going a bit overboard. 

Harry spent the rest of the afternoon, either studying or watching the kitten. She hid under his bed for a long time, but finally came out after a couple of hours, and laid on the bed next to him. He saw a name in one of the books that he picked out for her - Moirai, which apparently meant Fates in Ancient Greek. Somehow, he thought it fit.

Around dinner time, Harry went downstairs and helped Severus finish up. He knew that he didn't need help, but honestly, Harry didn't mind cooking. Besides, he wanted to feel useful. They had to learn to deal with each other, and considering that they'd only been at this a couple of days, he thought they were doing all right. He knew that it was only a matter of time before they got into a yelling match, but at least they were both trying to work with what had happened.

They finally sat down for dinner. "Did you pick out a name for it ?" Severus asked.

Harry rolled his eyes. " Her name is Moirai," he said, "and she has come to love my bed." He paused for a second before asking the next question. "Are we starting the Occlumency training tonight?"

Severus nodded. "Yes, that was the plan. Why do you ask?"

Harry shrugged. "Just curious." Honestly, though, he was nervous. "How is it going to work?"

"You will find out," Severus told him. "There's no reason to obsess over details." Harry supposed that was true. Severus rolled his eyes and continued on. "We will start with meditation training before we actually start using Occlumency. We will talk more about it later."

Harry nodded again, feeling that was fair enough. Occlumency seemed very difficult, and he wasn't sure if he was ever going to get the hang of it. He owed it to himself to at least try. It did seem a handy skill, but despite the fact that they were related by blood, he was not Severus. Occlumency required a lot of control of your emotions and your mind. Perhaps that was why Severus was starting with meditation training instead of going straight to Occlumency.

Harry and Severus played chess afterward. Of course, Severus won. "Why do you beat me at everything?" Harry asked.

"I do not," Severus said. "I am a good flyer, but I am not a Quidditch player. You could probably beat me in a game if I cared to play, which I do not."

"Dueling, chess -"

"Age and experience."

Harry nodded. It was frustrating, though. It wasn't that he was used to winning, because that was far from the truth. What annoyed him more than anything was that it seemed he was not making progress. It hasn't been that long, Harry thought to himself. Give it time. " I will get you eventually," Harry said with a smirk. 

Severus smirked back at him. "You can try." They played another game of chess before Severus went down to his lab to work.

Harry went back to studying and reading, but Moirai was getting more comfortable and wanted attention. It seemed she appreciated him saving her from the Magical Menagerie. She purred every time he touched her and then would step on his books or lay on them as he was trying to read. She wouldn't come off unless he gave her the attention she asked for. 

Once Moirai was satisfied, she went up and laid on his pillow. "You know, I have to put my head there tonight when I go to bed," he told her. Her response was to make a small noise, almost as if she was saying that she had heard him. She stayed right where she was, though. He noticed that she hadn't left his room, though, and wondered how adventurous she would get.

Later on that night, Severus came back into Harry's room and told him it was time to do Occlumency training because they had another early morning. Harry wasn't sure he would ever get used to it. Getting up for school was one thing, but he had never needed to worry about that during the summer. 

Severus materialized a chair to sit in. Harry sat up against the headboard, moving Moirai over. "Now, close your eyes, get in a comfortable position and clear your mind," Severus said slowly. "Clear your mind of all thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Anything that could be a distraction." He went on like that for a couple of minutes. Harry was trying to concentrate on his voice and what he was saying, but the whole time thoughts kept creeping in. Was this going to work? Is there a point to this? Will I ever be able to do this? It made it quite distracting.

Then, Severus's words began to change. "Now, picture something blocking your mind from all outside intrusions," he said. "You can picture a wall of stone, fire, water, earth, air. It doesn't matter which one you choose, only that you choose one and stick with it. Imagine what you choose surrounding your mind and protecting you from everything outside it." He went on like that for another few minutes.

Harry was trying, really, but this was just so… How were you supposed to do this? Just picture it? He didn't understand meditation. He listened to Severus's voice, but eventually, he dropped off and stopped speaking. Harry then started feeling rather stupid. Why were they just sitting there? He tried to clear his mind again, but it was harder for him to do now that he'd broken whatever little concentrate that he'd had. 

After a while, Severus spoke again. "Okay, we are done for tonight. Open up your eyes." Harry did as he was told. "How do you feel? Did you listen to what I was saying?"

"Listened, yes… Implemented, er, probably not."

Severus gave a heavy sigh and rolled his eyes. "You are supposed to be trying to feel the shield around your mind," he told him. "This is step one!"

"I'm trying!" Harry said, levelling Severus with a glare.

"Then prove it!" Severus told him. "This is an important, very useful skill. You must actually try to do it, and not just let it happen. It doesn't work that way."

"I know that," Harry told him, crossing his arms. "It's not that easy. At least not for me."

"Because you are not trying hard enough," Severus said, standing up. "Pay more attention tomorrow night, and keep reading the book I gave you in your spare time. Now go to sleep. We have another early morning."

Harry rolled his eyes at him but got ready for bed. He wasn't sure he would ever get this Occlumency thing.

Chapter Text

Severus had just gotten into bed, planning to read for a bit before going to sleep himself. He, of course, wanted to be up earlier than Harry, as he had this morning. At that moment, though, the Dark Mark began to burn on his left forearm. He grit his teeth, gripping the forearm. He had known one was coming. He would have to worry about it at school, at least not as much. He still must go every time it burned. Heaven forbid Dumbledore lost his spy… Groaning, he quickly dressed and made his way downstairs and straight for the door.

That was when it hit him. He had a kid. He couldn't very well just leave because he had no idea when he would be back. The Dark Lord might keep him for a day or two, or maybe just a few hours. Sighing, he turned around and walked back upstairs, straight to Harry's room. The boy was sleeping soundly for once, though for how long that would be, he wasn't sure. 

Severus leaned down, removing his right hand from the Dark Mark on his left forearm. He reached out and gently shook Harry awake. The boy slowly began to wake, blinking at him groggily in confusion. "I have to go." His words didn't seem to sink in, because he got the same confused look in the boy's green eyes. " He calls. I have to go." Harry nodded. "I don't know when I'll be back." With that, he swept out of the room.

In a short time, he had Apparated to the Dark Lord's current hideout; his Death Eater mask firmly in place. He made sure his mental wards were up, too - now more than ever, it was important that the Dark Lord be kept out. There were others approaching it as well, and as he went inside, a few more were in there, as well. He immediately found Lucius, though, of course, he didn't acknowledge him. He could always pick his old friend out, even in Death Eater's robes. Lucius had a distinct way of walking and moving about him. Besides, it was always a good idea to know where he was.

Severus and the others immediately bowed to the Dark Lord, going to their knees in submission and keeping their heads low. 

"Rise, my loyal subjects," the Dark Lord said from his place at the front of the room. "Tell me, what is the news from the Ministry?" Severus could feel a few of his fellow Death Eater's stiffening a little bit and knew that was not a good sign. None immediately piped up. The Dark Lord immediately became enraged when no one answered him. He drew his wand, yelling, " Crucio!" at a random Death Eater. Severus did not turn to see who it was. "I ask again… what is the news at the Ministry?" There was a warning tone to his voice, and a shiver of fear went through the Death Eaters.

"M-my lord," said a voice that Severus recognized but could not immediately place. "The Ministry doesn't trust Dumbledore. Rumor has it that Fudge thinks that Dumbledore is trying to usurp him."

"We have also been slow in infiltrating the Ministry higher up, my lord," said another voice. "We are making progress, though, just not as quickly as originally anticipated."

The Dark Lord raised his wand and Crucioed someone else. Severus couldn't tell if it was one of the people who had spoken up or some other poor sap. "What is the news from Hogwarts?" Though he did not say his name, everyone knew who the Dark Lord was speaking to.

"Hogwarts is unchanged, my lord. Dumbledore has been unsuccessful in finding a new Defense Against the Dark Arts Teacher," Severus explained.

"There's a rumor at the Ministry that Fudge will make a nomination himself before long, in an attempt to keep Dumbledore in check," said the second voice from earlier.

The Dark Lord seemed a bit more satisfied with that. There were brief talks about other things before the Death Eaters were excused to leave. Severus, of course, stayed behind. Once everyone had left, the Dark Lord beckoned him forward. "Something else you wish to say, Severus?" he asked. "Something you didn't wish to say in front of the others."

"Yes, my lord," Severus said, getting off the floor and making his way to the Dark Lord's side. "I recently discovered a few days ago that I… have a son. One that was I was unaware of."

"Oh? Who was the mother?"

"Selene Vorchester, little known pure-blood," Severus said. "We had a one night stand that apparently resulted in a child. I was contacted by a distant cousin of hers that raised the boy after her death many years ago. The cousin was apparently on her deathbed."

"The boy is with you now, then?" The Dark Lord asked. 

Severus nodded. "I have already introduced him to Draco," he said.

"Good." The Dark Lord nodded. "Will he serve me willingly… when the time comes?"

A wave of anger rushed through Severus, but he kept his mental wards firmly in place. He also kept his emotions firmly buried. "I will make certain of it, my lord," Severus said respectfully. He was then excused soon afterward.

Severus went home and went immediately to bed. He knew he wasn't going to sleep that well tonight, though. He never slept well after a Death Eater meeting.

~~~~~~~~~

Harry awoke the next morning. His memory came back of Severus waking him up, telling him he was leaving for a Death Eater meeting. He could smell food from the kitchen, so he was back at least. He wondered when Severus had gotten back last night.

Harry walked in. "Morning," he greeted. He grabbed a cup of coffee as Severus finished up the food and brought it to the table. He looked up at Severus and wondered if he should ask. What had happened?

"If you're wondering, I am fine," Severus said, not looking up at him. "If there is something that you need to know, trust that I would tell you when the time is appropriate." 

Harry nodded, hating that he was so transparent sometimes. After they finished eating, it was time for exercising. Harry dreaded this part after yesterday, and it wasn't any easier today. When they got back, they showered quickly before having a snack. Then, it was time for potions. Harry received another parchment with a potion on it that he had to complete. He tried to be more precise, but it still wasn't good enough. He wondered how much he would need to put in before Severus would be satisfied. 

After that, it was Harry's favorite part of the day - defense training. He didn't care if Severus was better than him right now. It only made him more determined to beat him one day. After that, they ate lunch. Then, Harry was put to work studying. Ancient Runes and Arithmancy was going to be tough. Even with the sheets of parchment that Severus had given to him to help him learn, it was still going to be tough. He had hoped at first that it might help break down the book; it was still a lot to learn over the next two weeks. 

Harry took a break later and played with Moirai. Actually, she insisted that he put his attention from the books to her by practically laying on them. He moved the books and played with her until she decided she was bored, and the kitten went to curl up in the corner of the bed and take a nap. He went back to studying after that for a bit until dinner time. He and Severus played chess afterward until Severus went downstairs to do some work. 

Harry read and listened to music until Severus came upstairs for Occlumency. After last night, he was a bit nervous about doing it again. The older man materialized a chair to sit in. Moirai got startled and ran underneath the bed. "This time, pay attention," Severus told him as he sat down.

Harry glared at him. "I do pay attention," he told him.

Severus glared back at him, but then closed his eyes. Harry did the same. Last night didn't go any better. It was so hard to just sit there and do nothing . He knew this was supposed to help him focus or whatever, but how were you just supposed to stop your mind from thinking? Or only thinking about one thing? That didn't even make sense to him.

"You can open your eyes now," Severus said. Harry did as he was told. "Did you concentrate this time?"

"I wasn't trying not to concentrate," Harry told him. "Look, how are you just supposed to… stop doing and thinking? How are supposed to think about one thing and stop everything else?"

Severus gave a heavy sigh. "Perhaps I was not clear on that," he told him. "When meditating, you are not supposed to stop all thought completely. That would be most difficult, even for the most trained mind. You are not supposed to stop thinking altogether. Just being able to turn your focus away from whatever you are thinking about and turn it towards your mental walls. Eventually, it'll come easier."

Harry nodded. Severus sounded annoyed, but he gave the man credit for not yelling at him after he failed two nights in a row. "I really need to learn this, don't I?" He knew Severus was right about needing it when he eventually faced Voldemort, but he knew it was more than that, too. "I'll keep trying." 

Severus nodded. "See that you do." With that, he stood up and vanished the chair. "See you in the morning."

~~~~~~~~~~~

Harry and Severus went through their normal morning routine until it was time to leave. He wanted to forget that he'd agreed to go back over to Malfoy Manor, but Severus wouldn't let him. Once again, he found himself at Malfoy Manor. It seemed as if he had just been here. In fact, he had just been here a couple of days ago. He didn't want to be there now, and he hated that his 'new life' was making him be around them more. There wasn't much he could do about that, though. 

Harry was led up to Draco's room. There was most of the fifth year Slytherins and then some. It was a lot more people than he had been expecting. He wanted to turn around and leave right then. This was way too many Slytherins for him to deal with right now. How was he going to do this? They were all staring at him. He swallowed any flight reflex he might have been having at the moment. He was a Gryffindor; he was no coward. He didn't run away from a fight.

"Well, don't just stand there, come on in," Draco said, beckoning him inside. "We don't bite." There were chairs of various kinds set up around the room. Draco and a few of the girls, Pansy included, were sitting on his bed. Everyone else was spread around near it on the chairs. There was one chair left, closest to the bed where Draco was sitting. He walked over and sat down quietly without saying a word. "Well, since he isn't going to introduce himself, this is Jacob, the one I was just telling you all about." 

Draco went around and introduced everyone to him. Of course, he knew most of them already — almost all of the fifth-year Slytherins, minus Millicent Bulstrode. Pansy Parkinson explained that they had invited her, but she declined, citing that she had a family thing to do today. There were three of the seventh-year Slytherins - Pucey, Montague, and Warrington. There were also two fourth-years that Harry had never seen before, a boy and a girl. 

The boy was tall, with shoulder-length blond hair and blue eyes. He had a cold expression and only nodded when his name (Marcus Truchet) was said. He was sitting right next to the only girl he hadn't known, whose name was Salenia White. She was tall, as well, with long, curly red hair, light freckles, and green eyes. They were both very thin. Salenia greeted him warmly, coming over and hugging him. He found that very odd coming from a Slytherin.

"Draco told us everything," said Pansy from her place on the bed next to Draco. "It's so awful. How could everyone have lied to you like that? So terrible."

Pansy didn't sound like she actually felt bad for him, as the only thing Harry heard in her voice was fake sincerity. "I've been asking myself the same question," he said in response. "I guess we'll never know." 

"Are you excited about going to Hogwarts?" Tracey Davis asked. 

Harry nodded. "Yes," he said. "I've heard a lot of good things about it. Everyone's heard of Hogwarts, of course, but Severus has told me some things over the past… what, five days or so." Had it really been five days already? It seemed like everything had just happened. It was hard to believe that five days had passed already.

"Severus?" said Crabbe from a chair to the right of Harry somewhere. "You call your father by his first name?"

Harry gave him a look that clearly said he thought he was a moron and might be one of the dumbest people on the planet. "Of course, you idiot," he told him. "I just met the man a few days ago." There were some chuckling and eye-rolling at that remark from others in the room. At least he wasn't the only one that thought that Crabbe was an idiot. 

"Hogwarts is brilliant, for the most part, anyway," said Daphne dismissively from her spot on the bed next to Pansy. 

"Yes, some of the classes are interesting, but others are just downright dull," said Elizabeth Runcorn.

"History of Magic," said Blaise Zabini. There were nods all around the room.

"That bad, huh?" Harry said, reminding himself yet again that he wasn't supposed to know these details.

"It's taught by a ghost," said Draco.

Harry just gave a light laugh, figuring that would be a good response. "Wait, you're serious? Who lets a class be taught by a ghost?" In hindsight, it did sound rather ridiculous, though he had become accustomed to it over the past four years. 

"Dumbledore," said the rest of the group in unison. 

Harry looked around the group. "That seems rather ridiculous," he settled on saying. There were nods of agreement. "What about the other classes?"

"Well, your father's class is my favorite," said Draco.

The group went around telling him how bad certain classes were. The general consensus was that Potions was good, Transfiguration wasn't bad despite being taught by the Head of Gryffindor, and Arithmancy and Ancient Runes were good, too. Charms was all right, though they didn't seem to like Flitwick very much, felt he was too soft. They didn't mind Herbology but found Astronomy boring. It pretty much went on like this until they were telling him about the teachers. Obviously, they all spoke highly of his father - being their Head of House and all. The only class they hadn't talked about in great detail was Defense Against the Dark Arts.

"What about Defense?" Harry asked. Everyone exchanged glances.

"Positions cursed," said Daphne. Harry knew that sounded ridiculous, so he scoffed. "No, really, it is. We've had a different teacher every year." There were more nods of agreement.

"There's Lockhart," said Theodore Nott from the chair next to his. 

Harry looked around the room as every single other person in the room burst out in laughter. Honestly, he would have too. But he wasn't supposed to have any prior knowledge. "Wait, Gilderoy Lockhart? The author?" he asked once the laughing had died down. "I heard he was in St. Mungo's now… That's right, he taught at Hogwarts, didn't he?" Yeah, okay, that had been a bad choice on Dumbledore's part, but surely Lockhart had been the only one who applied. Dumbledore wouldn't have hired him otherwise, right? One could only hope. 

"What a complete nutter," said Marcus. There were nods of agreement.

"That bad, huh?" Harry asked. There was a lot of eye-rolling in response. Yeah, it really had been that bad.

"Seriously, there had to have been someone better," said Blaise.

Draco scoffed. "I bet he was hoping that he would meet an 'untimely death' like Quirrell."

Harry reminded himself that he shouldn't know anything about Quirrell or what happened. He put on a confused look, or what he hoped was one. "Quirrell?"

"Our Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher our first year," Draco answered. "Something happened with Potter, though, so it was all very hush-hush, of course. Dumbledore awarded Gryffindor a lot of points after that, though, taking away the House Cup that Slytherin rightfully earned."

Harry had never thought about it from the other side. He had just wanted Slytherin to lose as much as anyone else. It never occurred to him to think about how they must have felt having Gryffindor be awarded all those points for some vague things that people only knew half-truths about.

"And then the Defense teacher our third year was a werewolf," Elizabeth said.

Harry had to think quickly about how he was supposed to feel about that. It was a lot harder than he had expected, trying to act like he didn't know anything. "A werewolf? You're joking, right?" he asked, but it was clear that they were, of course, not joking. Draco commented on Lupin's rags for clothes before Harry changed the subject. "What about last year?"

There was some eye-rolling there. "Dumbledore hired Alastor Moody," said Draco, "and the guy was a complete nutter. Acted at the end of the year like he hadn't known any of us." Honestly, Harry had to admit, it all would seem extremely mental if he didn't know first hand that it all happened. "Has your father said anything about who it's going to be this year?"

Harry shook his head. "He hasn't mentioned it much, but I don't think they've found one yet."

"School starts in less than a month," said Warrington from somewhere to his right. 

"Yeah, shouldn't Dumbledore have hired someone already?" Montague asked from his seat next to Warrington.

Harry was reduced to shrugging. He agreed, but there wasn't anything that he could say. "You would think so," he said, "but that's as much as I know. I haven't asked. We've had other things to talk about." He wanted to keep the questions off himself. "So, what about Hogwarts? You've told me about the teachers and the classes. What about the other houses?" He knew the answer to that already, or he was pretty sure he did, but it would keep them from asking questions about himself.

"Slytherin is obviously the best," Draco said. Obviously, Harry thought to himself and fought the urge to roll his eyes. 

"Of course," echoed Pansy. "The other houses are such pushovers."

There some nods and chuckles from the other group. Harry immediately felt uncomfortable and wondered if he had pushed this conversation in the wrong direction. 

"Well, the Ravenclaws are all right," said Daphne.

"Stay away from the Hufflepuffs," said Pucey from somewhere near Warrington and Montague.

"Yeah, they're pathetic," said Blaise, a condescending tone to his voice.

Harry was a bit shocked that they didn't seem to like any of the other houses, and no one had even mentioned the Gryffindors yet! He wondered if this was how all of Slytherin House thought or just Draco and his group of slightly more prejudiced Slytherins. 

"And don't even get me started on the Gryffindors," said Draco with heavy distaste in his voice. Harry regretted bringing this conversation up at all.

"Now now," said Salenia sweetly from a few chairs down, "the other houses aren't that bad." Marcus was nodding from the chair next to her, but everyone else just stared at them. "What?" She held her hands up, almost as if she was shocked at the reaction, though Harry doubted that. "Any of the other houses can be… fun and useful if you play your cards properly. We are Slytherins."

"Agreed," Marcus said. "Besides, Alana Teale is my sister. She's in Gryffindor, and she's not so bad most of the time, despite the fact that she was adopted by Muggles - which wasn't her fault, by the way. Not everyone is created equal, you know, and that goes for Slytherins, too." 

It was clear that it was not a popular opinion. After Marcus and Salenia's words, there was a lot of eye-rolling and scoffing. Harry just nodded, though. It was nice to see that maybe, just maybe, not all Slytherins felt the same way that Draco Malfoy did.

"Well, there are the Weasley twins," said Theodore.

"Oh, everyone knows they should have been in Slytherin," said Daphne.

There was some laughing at that remark. "Yeah, if Dumbledore wouldn't have died of a heart attack on the spot at a Weasley being in anything but Gryffindor," said Elizabeth, which was followed by more laughing.

There was a bit of silence before a smirk suddenly crossed Pansy's face. She looked at Salenia. "So, are you finally going to go out with Vickers this year?" she asked the redhead. "He fancies you, you know."

Salenia scoffed. "Vickers fancies anything in a skirt," she said. "I wouldn't go out with him if he was the last person alive. I'd rather go out with Goyle." At the mention of his name, Goyle opened his mouth to say something. Salenia held up a hand before he could even say a word. "That was not an offer." There were laughs from the others around at that comment, though Goyle didn't look too pleased.

After that, the conversation stayed on less serious matters. They talked about who fancied whom, who was dating whom, and all that. It was a stark contrast from the earlier conversation. Elizabeth asked him about his friends back at the school in Ireland, or if he had been seeing someone. 

Harry quickly shook his head. "I was a bit of a loner, so there was no one," he said. "I pretty much stuck to myself."

"What was the school like?" asked Draco.

Harry shrugged his shoulders. He had been afraid of this question. "It was small," he admitted, assuming that compared to Hogwarts, that would be true. "The teachers and the classes were all right, but I bet it was nothing compared to what Hogwarts is going to be like."

"Are you taking the Hogwarts Express with the rest of us?" asked Theodore.

Harry shook his head. "No, I'm going up early with my father," he admitted. "Maybe some other time." 

The conversation turned back to gossip after that. A couple of hours after he had arrived, Marcus and Salenia left. Salenia came up to him and hugged him, saying it was nice to meet him. He found it very strange. After that, as dinner got closer, more and more people started to leave until Pansy and Daphne left. That left him and Draco alone.

Draco looked over at him. "In hindsight, perhaps I shouldn't have invited so many people," he said. 

"You think?" The words were out of Harry's mouth before he could take them back, but he wondered in what universe Draco thought that this was a good idea. He had been expecting Pansy for sure, and possibly Crabbe and Goyle, maybe Blaise and Theodore, but… There had been so many more people there. It had been a bit overwhelming.

Draco just shrugged his shoulders. "Well, think of this way - you already got it out of the way? Now, at least you'll know people when school starts in a few weeks." He stood up. "Do you want a tour? You didn't get one last time."

Harry nodded. "Sure, why not?" Maybe after that, they could do some flying before Severus made him leave. It was better now that everyone else was gone, even if he still wasn't too fond of Draco. 

Draco then gave him a tour of the house - if he could call it that. Harry wasn't sure that the tour would ever end. He was most surprised by the music room. Apparently, Draco's mother thought that singing and piano lessons were a necessity that a person was supposed to be 'well rounded.' Harry couldn't believe it and commented on not believing that until he saw it. Draco volunteered to play for him, but that was when a House Elf came and told him that Severus was asking for him.

"Some other time," he told Draco.

Draco nodded. "You should come over later this week," he told him. "I can play for you, sing for you if you don't believe me, and then maybe we can play another game of Quidditch. Long time since I played anyone with your skill."

Harry smirked. "Yeah, I'll bet," he told him. "We'll see. I'm fairly busy, but I'll try." After that, he expected he and Severus were going to go home, but that was not where he was taking him.

~~~~~~~~~

Severus Apparated him to a dark street with a row of houses. Harry looked around. "What are we -"

"Remember what I told you before?" Severus said quickly. "About the Order?" Harry nodded. "There's a meeting tonight that I'm required to attend. Here." He handed him a piece of paper. On it was written the words Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place . "Memorize it." Harry did as he was told, and then Severus burned the paper. "Now, think about it and look at the row of houses."

Harry looked at the houses, thinking about the address. Suddenly, a house seemed to appear in between two of the others. Harry jerked back slightly. "What was that?"

"The house is protected," Severus explained, "by a Fidelius Charm. You know -"

"Yes, I know what that is," Harry said, cutting him off. 

The two of them walked up and knocked on the door. The door opened. Molly Weasley was there. "Severus," she said. "We were just expecting you." She let them in, and there were a ton of people he didn't know there, but also a few he did. Everyone seemed to be moving into the kitchen. "This must be your son. Dumbledore was telling us about him."

"Never would have thought you the type, Severus," said Arthur Weasley from behind her.

"Neither did I," said Severus in a flat tone.

Harry immediately had a feeling that he couldn't do this and backed towards the door. Severus's hand on his shoulder stopped him, though. 

"The other children are upstairs, Jacob," said Mrs. Weasley in a curt tone. She called for her children and then four redheaded teens and one bushy-haired teen appeared on the stairwell. Fred, George, and Ginny looked a bit confused. Hermione's expression was unreadable. Ron looked almost angry, and the thing that worried Harry the most was that he didn't know if that was part of the act… or if Ron really was that angry. Harry couldn't blame him; he was still angry himself.

Mrs. Weasley introduced each of them before introducing Jacob. Mr. Weasley told them to make him feel welcome. Harry, however, found he couldn't move. He backed up a step; he wanted to leave. Dealing with Draco and the other Slytherins was one thing; they didn't know him. Fred, George, Ginny… they knew him. Severus's hand was still on his shoulder, though, so he couldn't go far. He felt himself pushed forward towards the stairs and looked over at Severus.

"Go," Severus ordered, motioning towards the stairs. "They don't bite."

Harry took a deep breath and then made his way towards the stairs.  For a moment, he stood there with them before they were all ushered upstairs by Mrs. Weasley. They stood there in the hallway for a moment before Fred and George broke the silence. 

"Are you going to say hi?" Fred asked.

"Or just scowl and sneer like your dad?" George asked, finishing his brother's thought.

Harry was torn between glaring at them for that remark and laughing. The result was a bit of both. "Sorry about that," he told him. "Hello, I'm Jacob."

"We should probably stop standing in the hallway," Hermione said, ushering all of them into the nearest room. "It's nice to meet you." She held out her hand. Harry was a bit shocked, but he shook it.

"Yeah, you, too," Harry said. He had been unsure as to how they would treat him. After all, he knew these people, so it might be harder to pretend, so to speak. So far, it wasn't that bad. The twins were the twins. Ron and Ginny hadn't said anything, but Hermione was being civil. Granted, Ron and Hermione knew the truth. It turned out his bushy-haired friend was a fairly decent actress when she wanted to be - well, so far, anyway.

"So, why haven't we seen you at Hogwarts?" Hermione asked after a moment of silence. "Surely, Professor Snape would have wanted you there." 

"My mother died when I was little. My cousin raised me," he told her. "She sent me to the small school up in Ireland. I didn't know about my father until a few days ago. My cousin was dying, and she told me the truth."

"You mean they never told you?" Fred asked.

Harry shook his head. "Nope, not a word," he said.

"What did they say when you asked about him?" Ginny asked, speaking up for the first time. She didn't seem too keen on him or anything, but it seemed she was, at least, curious.

Harry shrugged. "Nothing really," he said. "The questions were always diverted. Needless to say, it's been a long week."

"So, how are you going to be sorted?" Hermione asked.

"Or are they just going to stick you in your father's house without even bothering with the Sorting Hat?" George asked with a smirk.

Harry rolled his eyes. "No, I'm going to be sorted publicly," he said. "Then, I have assessments for each class in the week before school starts to make sure that I am… up to par, so to speak."

"Well, if you need help, I'd be happy to," said Hermione.

"Yeah, Draco mentioned that you were top of the year," Harry said. "Actually, thanks. I'd appreciate the help."

"Ah, met Malfoy already have you?" Fred asked.

Harry shrugged his shoulders. "Yeah, our fathers are friends, apparently," he said. "He's an arrogant little git, but he's not that bad. Some of his friends actually mentioned you two." At that last remark, he looked at Fred and George.

"Oh, really?" asked George.

"What did they say?" Fred asked.

"That you two should have been in Slytherin," Harry said. They got a kick out of that and proceeded to start laughing. Ron, on the other hand, was not amused.

"Fitting in with the other Slytherins, aren't you?" Ron asked.

Hermione glared at him. "Ron! Jacob hasn't said one bad thing since he's come here," she said. "What's wrong with you?"

"Yeah, he's not so bad, Ron," said Fred. "Calm down."

Ron just huffed, got up, and left. 

"Sorry about our little brother," said George. "He's been a bit… sensitive lately."

It was Hermione's turn to huff now. "So, I didn't ask, do you prefer Jake or Jacob?"

Harry honestly hadn't thought about that. "Er, it doesn't matter," he said, waving off her question. "Severus calls me Jacob, but if you want to call me Jake, that's fine with me."'

"What about Jakey?" asked Fred.

Harry laughed. "I would prefer not, but if you really want to, go ahead." The twins didn't seem to care that he was Snape's son as long as he wasn't being a right git. Hermione was acting a bit stiff, but he had expected that. After all, she had to act as if she didn't know him.

They talked about, with Fred, George, Hermione, and Ginny giving their own account of Hogwarts, which differed quite greatly in some areas from what Draco and the Slytherins had told him. They didn't hold his father in such high esteem, which was only to be expected. They didn't say anything negative about the other houses, except that most Slytherins were gits towards them for being Gryffindors. Harry said that he'd already sensed as much from hearing it from the other side, so to speak.

It was a while later before they were called down. Harry took the time to pull Hermione aside and tell her what time to be there - after all, 'studying' was only a cover. Sure, there would be some of that. 

When they got downstairs, all of the Order members were leaving. He saw Dumbledore walking out without a word at all. Severus was standing there in the entryway with Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. "You two should stay for dinner," Mrs. Weasley said.

Severus shook his head. "Another time," he said. "We've had a long day. I just wish to get home."

Honestly, so was Harry. It was a bit draining having to deal with the Slytherins and then, ironically, the Gryffindors. He told himself that he would need to get used to pretending to be someone else. For right now, doing it in small doses was enough for him.

After they got home, Severus asked him how things went.

"Fine," Harry admitted. "It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Fred and George didn't seem to care, though Ginny was a bit… quiet. Ron left soon after I came in. Oh, and I told Hermione to come over first thing tomorrow morning, is that okay?" 

Severus nodded. "Yes, after all, I did say she could come over a couple of times a week," he said. "When she starts makes no difference."

The two of them ate dinner and played some chess before doing the meditation training again. Harry had a hard time concentrating because the whole day had left him rather drained, which of course, aggravated Severus. He told Harry that he needed to try harder because this was just meditation training, not Occlumency.  Harry just wanted to go to bed. Today had taught him one thing, though. He had wondered if he could do this, if he could pretend to be someone else, despite Severus saying he could. It hadn't been as bad as he had thought it would be. Maybe, just maybe, he could actually do this.

Chapter Text

Hermione came over early the next morning. She had the same reaction to the exercising that he did - how was Severus in such good shape? Of course, she took everything in stride, as if it was all a challenge. It was just something else that she needed to excel at because she excelled at everything. She was Hermione, after all. She hadn't brought a spare set of clothes, though, so she used spells to quickly clean them after all the exercising they had done. They had a spare bathroom downstairs, so she used that while Harry and Severus used both of the bathrooms upstairs. 

Potions was next, and Hermione got a warning from Severus not to help him. To her credit, she tried really hard not to, only merely offering a suggestion or two. Severus nodded and gave him more pointers for next time. Harry was determined not to need any suggestions one day.

After lunch was Harry's favorite part of the day - defense. He wondered how things were going to work now that Hermione was here, and quickly found out when Severus said that he and Hermione would be dueling each other. Severus watched. Harry surprised himself a bit by beating Hermione. He thought they would be more evenly matched.

"Miss Granger," Severus said, annoyance laced in his voice, "there is no reason as to why he should be beating you."

Harry took a bit of offense to that but put it aside. After he beat her again, Severus walked over to Hermione and stood behind her. Leaning down, he whispered something to her. Harry saw his father's lips moving but couldn't hear a word he was saying. Hermione's expression turned from neutral to one that seemed to be one of determination. The next time they dueled, she got the better of him, and he had a hard time beating her again after that.

After lunch, Harry and Hermione were in his room studying. Moirai was curled up in between them as Hermione was helping him get caught up on Arithmancy and Ancient Runes. "What did he say to you?" he asked.

Hermione paused for a second. "He told me that I should stop thinking about you as my best friend while we were dueling," she said softly. "He told me to think of you as the enemy, to try to put myself in the proper mindset. Then, he told me what you would do to me and my parents if you were." 

Harry looked up at her. "That sounds like him ," he told her. It wasn't typical motivation but seemed to have worked.

"It's a shame I'm not coming back until later this week, at least I assume."

"Yeah, I don't see what the big deal is," Harry told her. "I don't see why you can't come back more often."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Honestly," she said, shaking her head. "Isn't it obvious?" When he just stared at her, she went on. "He wants to spend time with you. Yes, all of this is necessary, but he doesn't want me around all the time, because then the two of you can't be alone. This is his way. He's very private after all, isn't he?"

Harry felt like a real idiot after that. Of course, why hadn't he thought of that before? "Yeah, I guess that makes sense."

"You two have to find a way to deal with this on your own, and you can't do that with anyone else around," she explained. "You two need to be alone, and your time alone will be very limited once we start school, especially with him being a teacher and all."

Harry nodded. "Yeah, that makes sense," he said, still feeling like a bit of an idiot. He was still coming to terms with everything, but he was beginning to slowly realize over the past few days that the new arrangement wasn't all bad.

As dinner neared, Severus came up and told Hermione it was time to leave and that she could come back on Thursday. Hermione wanted to stay until Occlumency, but that wasn't happening. It was clear that he didn't want her staying all night since she'd been here all day. He had a spare Occlumency book, and gave it to her, telling her to start with meditation. He told her the basics and then told her to leave. 

Harry and Severus cooked dinner and played some chess before Severus went down to work for a while. They practiced their meditation before going to bed. 

~~~~~~~~~~

The next day, Severus had a Fidelius Charm put on the house, to protect it and them. He knew it was because of him, and he also knew it was necessary. Dumbledore came over to perform and then gave them pieces of paper to allow people - such as Hermione, Draco, or anyone else who might need to come over- in the house. 

A couple of days later, Severus let Harry go over to Draco's to fly for a while. He made the mistake of mentioning to the blond that Hermione had been over, helping him. 

"Why in Merlin's name would you do that?" he asked, shocked and offended. "And why wouldn't you ask me for help when I already offered?"

Honestly, that thought hadn't even occurred to Harry. After all, it wasn't as if they were friends - then again, what else would they be? "We ran into each other in Diagon Alley," he said, "and we got to talking a bit, and she offered to help. I said, yes. I'm sorry, I just didn't remember that you offered, too."

Draco was clearly offended that he seemed to have chosen Hermione over him. He actually felt bad, because the blond hadn't been all that bad. Besides, if he was going to be sorted into Slytherin, it wouldn't do to be making enemies before school even started - especially not with Draco Malfoy. "Look, you can come over tomorrow afternoon," he told him, hoping that smoothed things over. "I need all the help I can get."

Unfortunately, Harry didn't realize at the time that tomorrow meant the same day that Hermione was coming over. In fact, it didn't occur to him until Draco walked into his room. Surely, Severus must have realized Hermione was up there, too, but had still allowed Draco to come up. Draco looked clearly shocked to see Hermione lying on his bed, one hand scratching Moirai and another writing notes.

"Now, look, Draco," he said, "she's my friend, too. I don't care about the whole Pureblood hatred for Muggleborns thing, so you will just have to deal with it."

To Draco's credit, he didn't insult her the rest of the afternoon, but he wasn't overly kind, either. That didn't seem to bother Hermione any, and it was a step in the right direction. After all, he wasn't asking them to like each other or anything. He just didn't want Draco making her cry or having either of them trying to hex - or punch or slap - the other.

~~~~~~~~~~~

The next two weeks went pretty much the same. The daily routine was long, but Harry came to like it. In fact, when it came time for him to go to Hogwarts with Severus, he was actually going to miss the routine. His relationship with Severus was… coming along. At least that was the only way to put it that he could think of. After all, there were still moments when he wanted to scream at him, but he was also beginning to really like having him around, too. They didn't always see eye-to-eye or get along, but that was only to be expected. They seemed to have grown to understand each other, which considering where they were when this month started… that was saying a lot.

On his last day with Draco before leaving, the blond finally took Harry back to the music room he'd showed him during one of his previous visits. "I did tell you I would play for you," he said, sitting down on the piano bench. Harry was content to just stand there and listen to him. Draco, however, just looked at him. He motioned to the empty spot next to him on the bench. "Well, sit down, I don't bite. Unless you want me to, of course." A smirk crossed Draco's lips at that remark.

Harry had no idea how to take that remark. He just stared at him for a bit before sitting down next to him. Draco still had that blasted smirk on his face. They sat there together for a bit before Draco cleared his throat, put his fingers on the keys, and began to play.

Harry almost expected Draco to be mediocre because he couldn't be good at this. It just didn't seem to be in character. He was wrong about that, though. Draco was actually very good. He didn't recognize the song that he was playing. It was beautiful, soft and passionate. He didn't know that Draco could feel any of those things, let alone play it.

When Draco finished playing, he took his hands off the keys, and then looked over at Harry. "You see? I can play."

"Yeah, you can," Harry said. "You're very good."

"I know," Draco said, that dreaded smirk playing on his lips again. Harry wanted to slap it off his face. "I sing too if you remember me saying."

"I do remember," Harry said. "Will you sing for me?" He was curious now that he'd heard the blond play. 

Draco never let the smirk leave his lips. "No. Always leave your public wanting more."

Harry rolled his eyes and levelled Draco with a glare. "You're an arrogant little shit. You know that?"

That smirk continued to play on Draco's lips, and it annoyed Harry more and more. "Yes, but I'm that way for a very good reason."

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hermione mentioned something on her last day with them about missing the training. Severus basically said that it couldn't be helped, because while he was free to teach his son anything he wanted, the same didn't go for her. She started muttering about a secret place and then gasped. "Professor, if there was somewhere… private, where we absolutely wouldn't be bothered by anyone, could this continue, once a week if possible?" she asked. "After all, we can come up with an excuse if we need to."

Severus studied for a moment. "Yes, I suppose."

"What about the Chamber of Secrets?" Hermione suggested. "After all, Harry is the only one who can get in." 

Honestly, it was genius. "Very well," Severus agreed. Hermione beamed. "In the mornings, when there aren't Quidditch games, we can practice defense." That was good enough for her. 

Besides, if Ron and I could go in as much as we did second year, this shouldn't be a problem, Harry thought to himself.

~~~~~~~~~~~

The month was almost over. School started in a week, so they had packed the night before, and Flooed to Hogwarts with all of their stuff. Severus had his trunk redone while had he had been over at Draco's, so now it said JAS instead of HJP. "Where am I staying for the next week?" Harry asked as they walked into the room.

"Obviously, with me," Severus drawled as if that was the most obvious thing in the world. "The couch can be transfigured into a bed at night. We are about three doors down from my office and the Potions Classroom. I will spell the door to allow you entry whenever you wish."

Harry nodded. He hadn't been officially sorted yet, so it wasn't as if he could stay in one of the dorms. Besides, he doubted that Severus would let him stay there all by himself anyway. It should have been obvious that he would stay here. It made him feel comfortable knowing that he could come here whenever he wanted, though.

He looked around the room. There were two chairs and a small table by the fireplace that they had come out of. On the wall to his left next to the door was a desk. In front of him was a coffee table and a couch. On the other side of the door was a tall bookshelf. Past the living room in front of him was the kitchen, with a small, rounding dining room table and two chairs. The couch and armchairs were black; everything else was brown, and the walls were spelled a light beige. There was a small hallway beyond that, which he assumed led to Severus's bedroom and the bathroom.

Harry moved his trunk over the corner, feeling a bit weird that he had to live out his father's living room for a week. It was only for a week. Of course, after that, who knows how often they would see each other? He let Moirai out of her cage, and she proceeded to start sniffing around.

Severus must have seen something in the look on Harry's face right then, because the next thing Harry knew, he was standing beside him. "Perhaps, we should come up with a new arrangement," Severus told him. When Harry looked confused, he continued. "We have had a routine, one which we cannot continue now. We will see quite a bit of each other over the next week, but you have a lot of studying, which must take priority. Perhaps, dinner one night a week, and then you can come over Sunday afternoon, and we can… play chess? If you want, and don't have anything else to do, of course."

Harry smiled brightly. "I like that idea," he said. "I was afraid… I thought maybe…"

"We will continue to adjust," Severus said with a nod as he went to his bedroom. He came out a few minutes later, saying something about taking Harry to the staff meeting briefly.

Harry blinked. "What? Why?"

"To meet your teachers, of course," Severus said as if the answer was obvious.

"But I - Oh. Right." Harry had been about to say that he already knew them, but Jacob didn't, of course, and he actually didn't know his Arithmancy and Ancient Runes teachers - provided he passed the entrance tests, of course. 

~~~~~~~~~~

Severus led Harry out of the dungeons. The staff meeting took place up in the teacher's lounge a few floors above them. The boy was quiet, and he wondered how he was going to adjust. Yes, he was talking to Draco as Jacob, and even Hermione while Draco was around. Harry had met with some of the other Slytherins once, and the Weasleys. However, this was different. This was fully immersing himself in his new life.

While the adjustment hadn't been easy on either of them, Severus admitted that he liked having Harry around. A month ago, he would have poisoned anyone who suggested that. Of course, a month ago, he didn't know that Harry was his son. They were still adjusting, but things were better. They were more comfortable around each other now. School would change things, but hopefully not too much. Harry had seemed pleased with his suggestion, but tests and homework would change things for both of them. Severus didn't want things to slip backward, so to speak. He still wasn't entirely sure what he was doing.

Upon arrival at the teacher's lounge, Severus found he was last to arrive. This was unusual, but not unexpected. He knew there was a chance he might be late because he stayed longer at the house to get more time there with Harry. However, since the meeting hadn't officially started yet, he wasn't overly concerned about that fact. 

"Ah, Severus, you've arrived," said Dumbledore brightly. "And you've brought young Jacob, wonderful to see you again. Doing well, my boy?" 

Harry just nodded. Severus introduced one by one, though granted he knew most of them. Appearances must be kept up. Harry muttered hello, giving a weak wave of his hand. There were shocked looks on some of the faces of his colleagues, almost as if they thought this might have been some sort of elaborate joke.

"Now that we are all acquainted, you have some entrance exams to do, yes?" Dumbledore asked. "As I will be administering your Defense exam, perhaps we should get that over with tomorrow?" Harry nodded. "Great. I'm sure you can get your Potions one out of the way tomorrow, as well." A schedule was quickly hashed out.

Severus wrote it down for Harry:

Monday - Defense (am) & Potions (pm)

Tuesday - Charms (am) & Transfiguration (pm)

Wednesday - Herbology (am) & Astronomy (midnight)

Thursday - History of Magic (am) & Care of Magical Creatures (pm)

Friday - Ancient Runes (am)

Saturday - Arithmancy (am)

This would give them Sunday morning and afternoon together before the feast that night when all the students arrived, and the sorting. After that, Severus told Harry he could go back to his room now. He knew that the boy was uncomfortable. 

"I had no idea that you had a son, Severus," said little Filius Flitwick from Severus's right. "All these years…"

Severus scoffed. "Obviously, neither did I or he would have been here," he said.

"How has he been adjusting?" Minerva asked.

"As well as can be expected," Severus said. "Now, last time I checked, we were here for a staff meeting, were we not? Which does not include discussion about my and my son's life." Just because he had a son now, did not mean that he wanted to spend the entire meeting talking about it. It didn't concern anyone else.

~~~~~~~~~~~

After Severus got back from the meeting, they played some chess before dinner, which they ate in the room. It wasn't as if Harry had expected to eat in the Great Hall with only the teachers there. They played another game after that before going to bed. After breakfast, Harry made his way to Dumbledore's office, uttering the password that Severus had given him. The gargoyle moved aside, and Harry walked up and knocked on the door.

"Come in," Dumbledore beckoned from the other side. Harry walked in, and there was Dumbledore, sitting on the other side of the desk, the familiar twinkle in his eye. "I would tell you to sit, but that's not necessary. Considering what you accomplished earlier this year, and before that… I don't think a Defense exam is necessary. You have more than proved yourself."

Harry blinked at him. "So, I can go."

Dumbledore smiled at him and nodded, and Harry left. He went back to Severus's rooms and told him what had happened. Severus didn't seem surprised. "So, just Potions this afternoon and then -"

"Not necessary," said Severus. "You have proved that you are capable of handling the coursework."

Harry beamed. "Thank you!"

"Do not thank me," Severus said. "You did the work."

"With your help," Harry said, still smiling.

Charms and Transfiguration went well. Transfiguration wasn't his best, but he had completed the task well enough that McGonagall passed him. Herbology, Astronomy, and History of Magic went well enough. None of the teachers were giving him full tests, but merely a task or two that he should know at this stage and a couple of questions to prove his knowledge. 

Care of Magical Creatures was…. interesting. Harry had met Professor Grubbly-Plank last year. She had a foal Unicorn and asked him questions about it as well as asking him to do a few things. It was relatively easy, as he remembered it from last year. He wondered where Hagrid was, though. Severus wouldn't say anything or even hint if it was Order business. Harry thought it was, though.

~~~~~~~~~~

Severus knew that Harry was most worried about his last two tests. He passed his Ancient Runes exam. He admitted that he was proud of him. After all, how many people could learn enough in two weeks of a subject they'd never taken. They were playing a game of chess before Harry went to study for his last exam tomorrow. That was when he heard the Floo went off beside them. He looked over to see Dumbledore's face looking at them.

"Sorry for the interruption," Dumbledore said, though he didn't truly sound sorry. He sounded distracted almost. "Severus, I'm afraid I must pull you away from Harry. I have called an emergency staff meeting."

Severus nodded. "I will be there shortly." Dumbledore's head disappeared. "I will be back soon." Harry nodded, and with that, Severus was out the door. He made his way up to the teacher's lounge. Everyone arrived shortly, and finally, Dumbledore told them why they were all there.

"I have received a letter from the Ministry just now," he said. "I was informed that the Ministry has passed Educational Decree Number Twenty-Two. It allows the Ministry to appoint a teacher if I cannot find one."

"They haven't -" began Minerva, but Dumbledore cut her off.

"They have. I was informed that Minister has appointed his Senior Undersecretary, Dolores Umbridge to be Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher." There was some muttering around the table. Severus groaned. Dumbledore could have solved this issue by giving me the job. Dumbledore held up a hand to silence the muttering. "I know what you're thinking. We can't do anything about this situation. Therefore, we must do our best to make her feel welcome. Also, I would like to add that it would be in our best interests if you do your best not to piss off the Ministry."

Dumbledore didn't have to look at him; Severus knew he was talking about him. He rolled his eyes. The Headmaster dismissed them soon afterward, and Severus went back down to his rooms to find Harry curled up on the couch with his cat, studying. 

"So, what was that about?" Harry asked as he put the book down on the coffee table. Severus figured that he would find out soon enough, so he told him what happened. Harry was understandably shocked. "Why would the Ministry do that?"

"They obviously don't trust Dumbledore," Severus said, "although that's nothing new. They are interfering. Dumbledore said we should try not to piss off the Ministry while we're at it." Harry had seen the Daily Prophet articles, though they had been rather distracted as of late. 

"Was he talking about you when he said that?"

Severus smirked. "Yes, he was. I wish to say the same to you. Remember, you are not Harry Potter any more. Things are different now." As his son, Harry would be treated differently now.

Harry nodded. "Okay, I'll do my best." They continued their chess after that before Harry studied for his last test - which again, he passed.

~~~~~~~~~~

On Sunday, it was the night of the feast - and his new sorting. He and Severus talked and played chess all day before they had to go to the Great Hall, as the students would be arriving soon from the train. "What am I supposed to do?" he asked. 

"You will be in the room behind the teacher's table until Dumbledore announces you," Severus explained, "and then you will be brought out to be sorted before the first years arrive."

Yeah, that's right… Harry would be sorted alone. Better, he supposed, than being sorting along with a bunch of first years, seeing as how he was fifteen and not eleven. It was still going to be awkward. 

Harry was ushered into the room, and it felt like he was back there for ages. At first, it was just the noise from Severus and the other adults. Then, the noise on the other side of the door got louder and louder as the students arrived and started sitting down. Meanwhile, Harry just paced. He wanted this done. He was more anxious now than during any of the entrance tests. Eventually, the noise died down, and Dumbledore started speaking. Harry could hear pretty well from his vantage on the other side of the door. He knew the "start of term" stuff took place after the sorting, so the words were short. 

"Welcome, students. I have a couple of things that I need to announce before we can continue with the sorting," Dumbledore said. "As you may have noticed, the Gryffindor table is missing someone. Harry Potter received an owl over the summer inviting him to a school out of the country and has decided to take it. We, of course, wish him all the best." Harry figured that was an excuse because he could have sworn that Severus told him the excuse to the order was going to be 'training.' "With that being said, we also have a new transfer student! I would like you all to welcome Professor Snape's son, Jacob, from the Ireland School of Magic, who will be entering as a fifth year."

That was his cue, although, did Dumbledore really have to say he was Severus's son? The last name and the resemblance should have made it obvious. Harry exited the room. Harry could feel every eye on the Hall on him right now, and it made him want to go and bury himself somewhere. He could hear the whispers coming from the students, and it made him want to run back into the room to hide. He found his father's face from the other side of McGonagall's vacant seat. He walked around the teacher's table, keenly feeling the eyes of the entire population of Hogwarts - minus the First Years, of course - as he walked over to the stool. Professor McGonagall was standing there next to it, the scroll in her hand. The hat was sitting upon it. Harry could feel his heart beating rapidly inside of his chest.

"Place the Sorting Hat on your head, sit on the stool and be sorted into your house," she said simply, gesturing to the stool and the hat.

Harry took a deep breath. His mind flashed back to his first sorting, which seemed like such a long time ago now. He picked up the hat, sat down, and put it on his head. He felt the hat fall down around his ears, and suddenly, felt like an eleven-year-old again. 

"Well, well, you again," the hat whispered in his ear. "I must admit, I am a bit surprised to see you again, especially under these circumstances. Besides, I don't typically sit on someone's head more than once, and you I have three times. You were rather difficult to place last time, but I wonder, are you going to disagree with me this time? No, I don't think so. I won't give you the chance. I am going to put you where you should have been in the first place." With that, the hat opened its brim wide and yelled, "SLYTHERIN!"

Some boos and jeers were coming from the other three houses, but Slytherin screamed with joy. He quickly got up, put the Sorting Hat back on the chair. Harry let out a breath he didn't even know he had been holding and quickly made his way to the Slytherin table, opposite from where he usually sat. He had expected this, although admittedly he was a bit disappointed. Things were much better this way. He found a convenient empty spot next to Draco and watched as McGonagall led the First Years in.

Chapter Text

Harry only now noticed the buzzing that was going on in the Great Hall. He'd been so concerned about the sorting that he hadn't noticed. Everyone was talking about two things, and they were both about him. One - the disappearance of Harry Potter. Those who believed the Daily Prophet thought he was hiding because he was scared. Those who didn't, and believed Dumbledore, thought it was training. Others didn't know what to think. The Slytherins thought they had this year already conquered when it came to Quidditch. After all, without Potter… Two - the fact that Professor Snape had a son. He couldn't hear what was being said by the other houses, but he could only imagine the shock going through the Gryffindor table.

Harry got a good look at the staff table this time. He had been more concerned about getting sorted before. His eyes fell on the new face to the table - the new Defense teacher, Umbridge. She was dressed in pink from head to toe, and honestly, just looking at her made him a bit sick. He remembered what Severus had said, though - to not do anything to draw attention to himself. He had no idea when his first Defense class would be. Typically his favorite, he wasn't looking forward to it this time.  He tore his eyes away from the pink mess as the hat began to sing.

The hat's song this year started off by saying how great things had been when Hogwarts had first opened, and it mentioned great friendships - specifically Slytherin and Gryffindor and Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw. Then, it started to get into the problems that arose in the school due to Slytherin's beliefs. The hat went on to sing that the houses solved the problem, but of course, Slytherin left the school and left the houses divided, "never once united as they were meant to be," the hat sang. It then flat out warned that sorting may be wrong, that external foes threatened the school, and that "we must unite inside her or we'll crumble from within."

Harry clapped along with everyone else and saw the song clearly for what it was - a warning. "Does it do that every year?" he asked, trying to keep up appearances as the 'new kid.' He wasn't sure how he felt about the concept of house unity at the moment. Before, he would never have associated with Draco. Now, the blond was pretty much his only friend in Slytherin house - and yes, he did use the term 'friend' when referring to Draco. 

Draco nodded from beside him. "Yes, every year it does a song before it starts sorting the first years," he explained, "but it's usually not in the form of a warning for house unity." He scoffed, and it was clear what the blond thought about that.

Harry looked around and saw nods coming from the others around them. It wasn't a popular opinion it would seem. He wasn't surprised, really, and knew the idea of uniting all four houses wouldn't work. After all, Gryffindor and Slytherin hated each other. Yet, here he was - a little of both. He glanced over at Hermione, who was talking with Ginny. She caught his eye and gave him a quick wave before going back to her conversation. Harry didn't plan on not being friends with her - or the twins for that matter. He didn't want to not be friends with Ron, either, but he wasn't sure where he stood with the redhead at the moment.

Ron had been wrong, and Harry wasn't going to go crawling back to him when he couldn't accept how things were now. Severus was his father, and that made him a Snape. Now, he was a Slytherin. Ron had to accept that, and get over whatever it was that was bothering him. If he didn't… well, Harry supposed he had other friends. 

Harry looked back at Draco for a moment before glancing at the staff table as Professor McGonagall, standing in front, started calling out student's names. The long line of first years dwindled one by one, from Evan Abercrombie into Gryffindor all the way down to Rose Zeller into Hufflepuff. Then, Dumbledore stood and announced the feast had begun. Food plates and goblets filled, and Harry's stomach started to rumble. He hadn't realized how hungry he was, so consumed he had been about his sorting. 

"I wonder who that woman is up there?" asked Daphne from the seat across from him. 

"Yeah, the one in the horrible pink clothes," Pansy echoed from the seat next to her, across from Draco.

"Umbridge, the new Defense teacher," Harry explained, getting some looks of surprise from the others around him. "She works for Fudge."

"What's she doing teaching here for?" asked Theodore from his left.

Harry shrugged. "I don't know, some interference from the Ministry," he said. He got some more surprised looks. "What? My father's a teacher, remember? You didn't hear any of this from me, though." He wasn't sure how much he was supposed to be telling them, but he didn't see any reason in not warning them. After all, they hadn't been all that bad to him. 

The talk of Umbridge died down after that, but after a few moments, Draco spoke up. "I told you you'd be in Slytherin." That dreaded smirk on his face again, the one that annoyed Harry and made him want to smack the smirk off the blond's pointed face.

Harry rolled his eyes. "Don't start," he said. "I never said I wouldn't be." That dreaded smirk didn't leave Draco's lips. The talk continued as they ate until, eventually, Dumbledore stood up and began giving the start of term notices. He had just introduced Grubbly-Plank and Umbridge when Umbridge herself interrupted. Dumbledore looked taken aback but allowed her to speak. There were some smirks and looks of surprise from some of the students, who clearly thought she was a bit crazy. Things were just not done that way at Hogwarts.

Umbridge went on… and on… and on. Harry wondered how long she could lecture. If this was the way, all her classes were going to be like… well, at least it was about Defense, right? She started by saying how great it was to be at Hogwarts and then went on and on about how change needed to be brought at Hogwarts. If he hadn't already been warned about her, he might not have understood completely. However, Severus had warned him. Combine that with her speech, and he wondered if it meant that the Ministry was interfering. That seemed to be what was going on.

Eventually, Umbridge stopped speaking as about half the students in the Hall had gone glassy-eyed. Dumbledore clapped, and most of the staff followed his lead. He noticed that a few of them only clapped once or twice before stopping - his father and McGonagall being among them. The Headmaster continued with the announcements, and most of the older students started talking again.

"What was that all about?" said Crabbe from the other side of Draco.

"Obvious, isn't it?" Draco said with a sneer.

Crabbe and Goyle gave blank looks, which only earned an eye roll from Draco. "It means the Ministry is interfering," said Theodore. "Probably not happy with how things are, I suppose."

"Rightly so," said Draco. "Dumbledore -"

"I don't like her," Harry said, interrupting before he could stop himself. He also had no wish to hear whatever Draco had been about to say about Dumbledore. "I have a bad feeling from her, and I've learned to trust my instincts." It also didn't hurt that Severus had given him a very clear warning about her, as well. If Severus told him to watch out, it was probably for a good reason.

At that moment, Dumbledore dismissed the students. Everyone started getting up. "Come on," Draco motioned for Harry to follow him.

Harry just stared at him. "What?"

"You're new here. I'm a Prefect."

"I'm not a First Year, though." 

Draco grabbed his hand and pulled him up. "Don't whine. Now come on," he said. "First Years, over here." The first years slowly gathered around him and Pansy, who had walked around the table to stand on the other side of Draco. It made Harry feel very out of place, as he was clearly the tallest person there, even taller than Draco, albeit only by a few inches. It was only then that Draco let go of his hand as if he hadn't done anything strange at all. "I'm Draco Malfoy, and this here is Pansy Parkinson. We are your Fifth Year Prefects. Now, follow us."

Harry followed along, wishing that he could have followed someone else - anyone else - instead of walking along with Draco, Pansy, and the First Years. He was a Fifth Year for crying out loud! Draco and Pansy explained some basic things about Hogwarts as they walked before they reached the wall that was the entrance to the Slytherin Dungeons. Severus had told him where it was, but he had already seen it before - he'd been here as a Second Year when he and Ron had disguised themselves as Crabbe and Goyle to talk to Draco.

" Sanctus," said Draco, and the wall opened up before them. "Don't write down or give out the password. Don't forget it, either, or you're waiting out here until someone comes around." The two Prefects led the group inside and gave them a speech very similar to what he'd heard in his first year from Percy. All the while, Harry remarked to himself how little the place had changed. Granted, he hadn't been paying much attention before. He did notice a warning about the Giant Squid coming by the window that looked out onto the lake. Now that was new. He hadn't even paid attention to it before.

Pansy took the girls, while Draco led him and the First Years into the boy's dorms. He showed the First Years their dorm before leading Harry to theirs. The door was marked Fifth Year . He opened it up. It had none of the warmth of Gryffindor, but it was not as cold and dank as he'd always thought it would be. The room was rectangular. His bed was the first bed on the right, and Draco told him the next was Blaise's followed by Draco's own. The door to the bathroom was on the wall directly in front of them. On the left wall, Goyle was right across from him, followed by Crabbe and Theodore across from Draco.

Moirai was scratching in her cage. "Okay, hold on," Harry moaned, going over and letting her out. She dove underneath the bed. He set up her box, and her food and water, before following everyone else's lead. He knew he'd gotten rather quiet. Draco asked if he was okay, and he's just replied, "a long day" before going to bed, with Moirai curled up at the foot of his bed.

~~~~~~~~~~

Harry woke up with Moirai sleeping on his head, purring incredibly loudly. He smirked at her, scooting himself out from underneath her. He gave her a pet, scratching her head a bit. She got even happier, stretching a bit before curling back into a ball. He got up and got ready for the day. 

During breakfast, they got their schedules. As it turned out, he didn't have Potions or DADA until Thursday, as their first day's classes were actually on a Tuesday this year. Their first class was Double Herbology with the Ravenclaws. He'd never had any classes with the Ravenclaws before, which was obvious seeing as how Gryffindor always had Herbology with the Hufflepuffs and Potions with the Slytherins.

Harry wasn't sure how he felt about not having his father's class right off the bat. It wasn't that they didn't get along, but he had absolutely no fond memories of that class whatsoever. In fact, that class had been quite horrible for him over the years. He wasn't sure what it would feel like now that… well, now that things had changed, to put it simply. As for Defense… he had always looked forward to that class, and part of him still did. He hoped that it wouldn't be as bad as he thought, but he knew that if his father was warning him about Umbridge, then he needed to take that to heart.

After breakfast, the Slytherins went down to the greenhouses for their first class of the new year. They had a free period after that before lunch. After lunch, they had Charms and Transfiguration. Harry noticed how he always seemed to end up next to Draco in every class they were in. He found it didn't bother him as much as he had thought it should. He wasn't sure why or what he should think about it and put it out of his mind for the moment.

They were heading to the Great Hall for dinner when Severus caught him. He told Draco and the others to go on ahead and hung back a bit. 

"How was your first day?" Severus asked.

Harry shrugged. "Fine," he said. "Nothing exciting." 

"Good, then that means you haven't gotten in trouble yet."

Harry rolled his eyes. "It's not as if I go searching for trouble or anything," he said, a bit defensively. Trouble seemed to find him, and that was not his fault, was it?

"Of course not," Severus said, the sarcasm evident in his voice. "So, do you wish to have dinner tonight in my rooms? If you'd rather go with Draco and the others -"

Harry quickly cut him off. "No, I'd love to," he said. He knew that they had agreed to this, but it was great that their new routine was finally starting. 

Severus nodded. "Very well." With that, they headed back towards his rooms.

~~~~~~~~~

Severus led Harry back to his rooms. He had some dinner sent up from the kitchens before, hoping that his son would agree to eat with him tonight. "I have something to show you first." Harry looked a bit confused but followed him past the kitchen to the small hallway that connected to his bathroom and bedroom. There was another door there now.

"I don't remember that door being there before," Harry commented.

"That's because it wasn't," Severus said. He opened the door to show a second bedroom. "It connects to the room next door, which I had outfitted into a bedroom." The room had a good-sized bed with white sheets and a blue comforter. There was a dresser, and a closet, as well as end tables. All the wood was dark, nearly black. 

"Is it mine?" Harry said with fascination as he stepped closer to the now open door.

Severus rolled his eyes. "Obviously," he said, his voice heavy with sarcasm. "You are my son, do you imagine there's someone else who I would do this for?"

Harry looked over at him and smiled. "I imagine not," he said. Harry stepped into the room. It was very simple, but of course, Severus knew that Harry wouldn't be using this very much if it all. Harry looked over at him and was about to ask why when Severus answered the question for him.

"I thought you might need one," Severus said. "If you need to be alone, or your nightmares have been troubling you… You can come here. Just make sure you tell me you're here, so that I know, no matter what time it is." Harry nodded. "Have your nightmares been troubling you?" Severus was pretty sure they had because he had been hearing Harry moan in his sleep. "Why haven't you asked for more Dreamless Sleep?"

Harry shrugged his shoulders. "I just… I ran out. You said it was addictive, and -"

"I appreciate that you were thinking about that, but I am a Potions Master," Severus pointed out. "If I thought it was becoming dangerous for you, I would say so. You should have asked." He led the boy out, and closed the door. Severus went into his bedroom momentarily and came out with a vial that he handed to Harry. "Here. Just take a few drops at night. If you need more, ask, but gentle with it."

Harry nodded. "Thank you."

Severus brushed off his thanks. "There is no need for that," Severus told him as they headed back to the kitchen where they dinner waited, the heating spell he'd put on it still in place. He removed the heating spell, as it was no longer necessary. They started to eat, making small talk as they did so. "How were your first day's classes?"

Harry shrugged. "Fine, I guess," he said. "Got some homework and all, but not bad. What about yours?"

Severus groaned. "It never fails, I start off every year with Gryffindor and Slytherin First Years," he said in between bites. "I think it's Dumbledore's never-ending plan to annoy me." He wouldn't doubt that at all. Harry did know what that old man could be like sometimes.

Harry just laughed. "I doubt that. It is a bit weird, though."

"I've been a teacher for fourteen years, and I always have that class on the first day, most of the time on the first class," Severus said.

Harry just chuckled. "I was in that class, remember?"

"Oh, yes, I remember," Severus said. "Try as I might to forget sometimes." Harry just rolled his eyes. A bit later, Severus spoke up again. "Did you do your meditation training last night?" Harry froze for a second and then didn't respond. The silence was all the answer that Severus needed. He had to fight the growing anger and fear that rose in him. "It's important." His voice was firm, with a harsh edge to it.

"I know."

"Then why didn't you do it?"

"I forgot."

Severus fought the urge to turn the table over in anger or either pummel or hex the boy. None of these were viable options, of course, so he just gripped the table hard with one hand, and his fork with the other. "You cannot simply forget. It is important. Your life depends on it. My life depends on it."

"Of course, that's what you care about," Harry said, defiance and anger in his voice. "That if I fail, it puts you at risk." With that, his green eyes swirling with fury, he stood up and turned to head for the door.

You were destined to have a bad temper, Severus thought to himself as he stood up to follow. Your mother had a wicked temper, but at least she wasn't prone to violence. " Harry, stop," he called out.

Harry turned around; his jaw set boldly. "Why?" Harry asked. "Just because you're good at it, doesn't mean that I ever will be! I can barely meditate, let alone do Occlumency! And then you sit there, and accuse me of not trying, like you always used to, almost as if you… almost as if you don't care. Well, I'm sorry." He turned to leave again.

Severus reached out, and hesitated for a moment, before putting a hand on his son's shoulder. That fear went through him again, fear that Harry would walk out the door and not want to come back. He wasn't sure he could take that. He had sworn he would not be like his father, but there was some of the old bastard in him whether he wanted it to be or not. "I am a difficult man. I am not a patient man, either," he said. "You of all people should know that." Harry looked back but didn't turn around. "Dumbledore discussed prior to us finding out the truth of your parentage about you possibly learning Occlumency from me, but it was I who suggested you start this early. This is not easy on either of us." Severus paused for a moment, telling himself that he needed to continue before forcing himself to do so. "You have to realize that I would keep you at arm's length if I didn't want you to be a part of my life."

Severus was not used to having to be so open, but he knew that for Harry's sake, it was necessary. Harry slowly turned around, the harshness and anger having passed. He was not used to being afraid of anything, and he knew that he was giving the Dark Lord an easy weakness he had never had before. He wondered what he would do if - no, when - the Dark Lord threatened his son. He felt fear that Harry would walk out of his life when they had come so far in so short a time. He also feared to lose Harry in the impending war. It was a bit overwhelming for him, and not feelings he was used to having.

"I know, Severus, I do," Harry said a bit calmer than before. "I know that you're trying, and you don't know how much I appreciate that. You have to realize that I'm not going to be as good at certain things as quickly as you are. And look, I promise to try harder with the whole meditation and Occlumency thing. Okay?"

Severus nodded. "Okay. Will you come back and eat now?"

Harry nodded, and the two made their way back into the kitchen. "The food is cold," he said as he sat down in front of Severus.

Severus rolled his eyes. "Good thing there's magic, then, isn't there?" He waved his hand over both plates, and the food instantly warmed.

"I love magic," Harry said with a smile as he tucked in. 

They made more small talk before Harry headed back to his dorm or the night. Severus dwelled on his thoughts as he prepared for bed that night. It was a bit shocking at how much things had changed recently. He would never have considered dropping his walls for anyone. He wasn't even sure when it happened, but ever so slowly, that young man was cracking his walls and forcing himself in. Had he always been like this and Severus just never noticed? He saw himself in the boy, yes, but he also saw Lily - not just physically, but even his personality seemed to be a blend of both of them.

~~~~~~~~~~

Harry was glad that he and Severus had made it through their first major fight. For a moment there, things had seemed like the old days. He had seemed like the old Severus, the Professor that he'd hated for so many years. It had been more painful than he would have liked to admit. They had been fine in their little bubble together, with only Hermione and the Malfoys around, but now… They were back at school, in an environment that had been toxic for them before. Harry had been worried about this and was glad the two of them had worked through it. He supposed families did that, right?

Draco had asked why he hadn't met them for dinner, and Harry explained to him that he had dinner with Severus. The next morning, he had Ancient Runes. He was used to having every class with Hermione and the other Gryffindors, so it was nice to see her in this class. Hermione had a different class after that, but she caught him quickly to ask him how his first day went. He shrugged and said that it went fine and that he'd had dinner with Severus afterward. She told him that the Gryffindors felt like the wind had been taken from underneath them, and they pretty much believed they were done for the upcoming school year without their star Seeker. Harry shrugged, because as Jacob, he had no opinion, and as Harry… there wasn't anything he could do about it.

They had History of Magic after that. After lunch, the Slytherins had another empty period. Harry wanted to get a head start on his homework. He did not need a lecture from Severus about that. So, he went to the library, and Draco wanted to go with him. Theodore followed. As soon as they got there, Theodore parted ways with them. Harry hadn't really expected him to sit there and study with him or Draco. He hated that he had already had homework, but it wasn't as if he expected the teachers not to give homework just because it was the first week. They were already pushing the fact that the O.W.L exams were at the end of the year, which their "entire future" depended on. As if he didn't have enough to worry about.

Harry started going through the bookcases. He had to act like he didn't know his way around. Admittedly, he didn't know his way around the library as well as Hermione, but who did? He faked it by asking a couple of questions, to keep up appearances, and doing more looking around than was necessary. Draco didn't seem to think anything of it. Harry found a couple of books that would be helpful for his homework and found a table to sit down at. It was not more than a minute later before Draco came over and sat down across from him as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

It hadn't escaped Harry's notice that Draco always seemed to be around him. Sure, he did consider Draco a friend, but during class, during lunch, in the common room… the blond was never far. It wasn't a coincidence, that was for sure. He found he didn't mind it, though he did find it a bit weird. He put it out of his mind and started going through the books, writing down as many notes as he could for the homework that he had been assigned.

"Don't write that." 

Harry was a bit startled after he heard Draco speaking to him. He looked up to see the blond looking right at him. "What? Why not?"

"It's unnecessary information," Draco said. "You're only wasting your time. That's not what Professor Babbling wants to know."

Harry his quill down. "And what, pray tell, does she want to see?"

Draco leaned across the table, and marked out a couple of lines, putting checkmarks near a few others. "Less of that, and more of that."

"Are you sure?" Harry asked, frowning at the notes.

Draco nodded. "Of course," he said. He then explained exactly why Harry was wrong, in his typical arrogant manner. 

After Draco was done, Harry knew he was right, but he was also a tad annoyed. He knew he was scowling a bit now, but he scratched out more notes and added more of what the blond had suggested. "Do you have to be right about everything?" Harry asked before he could stop himself. "And why are you helping me, anyway?"

Draco didn't even look at up as he responded. "Yes, actually, I do, if you must know. Also, you asked for help. You didn't think that was going to stop just because we came back to school, did you? You admitted you weren't that good at Ancient Runes or Arithmancy. You are fairly intelligent as well, and my friend or I wouldn't bother."

For some reason, the words took Harry aback. Draco had said it very simply as if it were nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, the blond still hadn't looked up from his own studying. Harry watched him for another moment, trying to figure him out, before going back to his own note-taking. They finished up their work before putting the books back and heading to Charms. It was only as they were leaving that they saw Theodore again, who told them he'd been studying at a table in the back of the library.

Harry had Charms class after that, their first repeated class. After that, they went to dinner before heading back to the Slytherin Common Room. That night, Harry looked at his schedule for the next day - Double Potions, and then after lunch, Defense Against the Dark Arts and Transfiguration. He wasn't sure how either Potions or Defense were going to go now. Either way, tomorrow should be interesting.

Chapter Text

Harry woke up the next morning, proud of himself that he had actually remembered to do the meditation last night before putting his silencing charms up and going to bed the night before. He still wasn’t sure he was getting the meditation right, but he trusted that Severus would keep him on the right track for this Occlumency thing he was supposed to learn. He trusted that the man knew what he was doing since Severus was apparently proficient enough for Dumbledore to want him to teach Harry. It just wasn’t easy for him, but he had promised Severus that he would try harder.

The Slytherin Fifth Years didn’t have a first class, but for the second class, they had Double Potions with the Gryffindors. The others were already bitching about it, and Harry bit his tongue, figuratively speaking, of course. He walked in, Draco right beside him as usual. He wondered how things would go. This class had been notoriously horrible for him. Things were different now, of course. Severus had passed him into the class without testing him. That meant a lot, but he was still a bit nervous.

Harry hadn’t realized that he’d stopped moving as soon as he’d walked into the dungeon classroom. People were walking in around him. His father was seated at the desk and looked up at him. Harry met his gaze and then went to sit down in an empty seat that Draco was motioning him towards.  The seat, of course, was at one of the front tables and right next to Draco. It was only then that he looked around and noticed Hermione. She was sitting at the back table in the row next to them, the table that she usually shared with Ron, and…. well, him. She was now alone, and it made him feel guilty. She waved at him and then continued to prepare herself for today’s lesson.

Harry looked over at Draco, and almost thought about moving, but that would be suspicious. Therefore, he stayed where he was. He glanced around and saw Ron sitting at the table next to hers in the row over with Dean and Seamus. Two girls whose names he didn’t know were sitting in front of them. (How did he not remember their names?) Lavender, Parvati, and Neville were sitting in the front table. Next to them, in the front of Hermione’s row, were Blaise, Elizabeth, and Millicent. He turned around to see that behind him was Theodore, who seemed to have gotten stuck with Crabbe and Goyle since Draco wanted to sit with him. Behind them were Pansy, Daphne, and Tracey.

Hermione didn’t seem to be bothered sitting by herself. She just sat there, patiently waiting for the class to start as she sat in the Slytherin-Gryffindor divide. That’s clearly what it looked like to him. All the Gryffindors were seated in the next row over except for her, and while there were Slytherins seated in the front table, the room was clearly divided between the two houses. It seems as if his best friend had chosen not to take a side.

At that moment, the door the classroom closed shut. All whispering and fidgeting stopped, and Severus walked to the front of the room. “Settle down,” he said, though the words weren’t necessary. Harry had never known his father to need to tell a class to settle down when he entered the room. His mere presence was usually more than enough for that. He started off talking about the O.W.L and the ‘high standards’ he expected from his students. He pointed out that most would not be continuing, because apparently, he required a very high grade on the O.W.L to get into his N.E.W.T’s class. 

“Miss Granger,” Severus said once he had finished talking about the O.W.L exam next June. The class, including Harry himself, all turned around to look at Hermione. She seemed to be a bit shocked at having been singled out. “While I know you think very highly of yourself, I do not allow students to sit alone in my class. Yes, I realize there are empty tables as there undoubtedly is every class; nonetheless, you must move to a different seat.”

“But -” Hermione started, but Severus cut her off.

“Do not argue with me in my own classroom. Five points from Gryffindor. If you say another word, it will be detention, and I can only imagine how embarrassing that would be for a Prefect such as yourself,” Severus said. Snickers were coming from behind Harry. “Silence.” The snickers behind him died off. “Now, move tables. There are plenty of empty seats. Miss Roper and Miss Moon have only two people at their table, as does Mr. Malfoy and Mr. Snape. Choose a different table.”

Harry hated the way Severus had spoken to Hermione, but he understood it was necessary. He could only imagine the backlash he would receive if he started being nice to her just because she was friends with his son. Hermione, meanwhile, had turned beet red. She glanced around the for a moment, before putting her stuff in her cauldron, grabbing her bag, and walked straight for Harry. She sat down next to him. The whole class started buzzing at that.

“Silence!” Severus bellowed. “I will start taking off house points and handing out detentions if I keep hearing talking in my class.” The class silenced immediately. “Now, today, you will be completing a potion that regularly comes up on the O.W.L exam - the Draught of Peace. Be warned: if you are too heavy-handed with the ingredients, you will put the drinker into a deep and sometimes irreversible sleep, so pay attention to what you are doing.” Hermione, sitting on Harry’s left, sat up a little straighter as she paid the utmost attention to what Severus was saying. “The ingredients and method are on the blackboard.” He waved his wand, and the words appeared on the board behind him. “You will find everything you need in the store cupboard.” He flicked his wand again, and the door to the cupboard swung open. “You have an hour and a half. Start.” 

Harry stared at the blackboard, dread setting in. It was the most difficult potion he’d seen, perhaps aside from the Polyjuice Potion that Hermione had brewed in their Second Year. That had been Hermione , though, not him. Severus had tested him during their few weeks together over the summer, but nothing he had done was quite like this.

As the class went on, Harry did his best, occasionally getting nudges from Draco when he was off-track. He’d nearly forgotten the hellebore in the third line of the instructions when Draco had nudged him. Hermione was so intent in her own potion that she didn’t seem to notice anything - or anyone - else.  With ten minutes left to go, Severus announced, “A light, silver vapor should be rising from your cauldron now.” 

Harry supposed you could call the vapor from his cauldron silver, though it was darker than those of both Draco and Hermione, and a bit heavier than theirs, as well. Since they were sitting on either side of him, it made his own potion obviously wrong. Maybe you shouldn’t sit with the two best people in your class when you’re not at their level, he thought to himself. At least it was better than the green sparks emanating from Ron’s cauldron, he noticed with a glance around the room. 

Severus glared at the class as he walked around the room, mostly ignoring Hermione and the Slytherins, though he noticed Crabbe and Goyle’s potions were a bit too thick, and the vapor nearly black. He made his way over to the Gryffindor row, as Harry dubbed it. He made a beeline for the back table two rows over, where Ron sat with Dean and Seamus. Ron’s cauldron was still emanating green sparks, and Seamus was poking at the bottom of his, as the fire seemed to have gone out. “Mr. Weasley,” Snape said. “Do you wish to explain to me how you managed to emanate green sparks?” Ron’s cheeks flushed as red as his hair, but he didn’t speak. “I asked you a question.”

“I don’t know, sir,” Ron said, annoyance laced through his voice.

“You don’t know,” Severus said. That was clearly not the answer he wanted. “Well, then perhaps you can think about that, and follow the directions properly next time. Evanesco .” Severus waved his wand, and the contents of Ron’s cauldron emptied. Ron was furious but just sat there, as there was nothing he could do. The Slytherins’ snickered, even Draco from beside him. “The rest of you who followed the directions properly , fill up one flagon with the contents of your cauldron, clearly mark it with your name and put it on my desk for testing. Your homework is twelve inches of parchment on the properties of moonstone, and its use in potions-making, to be handed in to me on Monday.”

As Harry filled the flagon with his potion along with everyone else, he found it hard to feel bad for Ron. After the argument that they’d had, and Ron’s refusal to speak to ‘Jacob’... he deserved it. He assumed that’s why Severus had chosen him to pick on since ‘Harry Potter’ was no longer in the class. Harry heard something from behind him and turned to see Goyle’s robes on fire. His flagon wasn’t in his hand, and it seemed as if he had tried to fill it, causing the flagon to shatter. Crabbe and Theodore stepped back from him, and Theodore glared before finishing filling his own flagon. Harry just shook his head and set the flagon on his father’s desk, his father giving him a nod as he did so. He then gathered his stuff. 

Hermione leaned close to him and whispered. “Have you had Defense yet?” She was speaking so low that no one else could hear except him.

Harry shook his head. “No. Why?”

“Be careful,” she warned, and then she left the classroom.

Draco looked at Harry as they walked out. “What was that about?  What was she whispering to you?”

Harry shrugged. “I’m not sure.” She said to be careful in Defense, but what’s that supposed to mean? Harry thought to himself.

Draco raised an eyebrow, but as soon as they exited the Potions Classroom, the Slytherins stopped them. “Draco, Jacob,” said Pansy, a note of disgust in her voice. “Why did you let Granger sit at your table?”

Draco put a hand on one of his hips. “What did you expect me to do? Stop class and demand she sit somewhere else?” He rolled his eyes. “Honestly, Pansy. Besides, she’s a friend of Jacob’s.” The Slytherins all looked at Harry, and he felt anger rising in him. “We helped him study over the summer. He was a bit worried about passing his entrance exams, and we are the top two in our class. Having the two of us there meant there’s no way he could fail.” The blonde shrugged his shoulders. “Besides, as long as I don’t have to talk to her aside from studying, she’s not half-bad.” That earned Draco some chuckles, and the group made their way to lunch.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Harry thanked Draco on their way to lunch for sticking up for Hermione, and the blonde brushed it off like it was nothing. After lunch, they made their way to the Defense classroom. Harry’s heart was beating faster than it should. His father had warned him about Umbridge, and now Hermione had, too. That wasn’t typically a very good sign, and the first class hadn’t even started. He hoped it wouldn’t be as bad as he feared, but if Hermione had taken the time to warn him, right after Potions class… he wasn’t going to hold his breath on that one.

The class went in and took their seats. Draco was to his right, and Elizabeth ended up on his left. 

“Good afternoon, class!” said Umbridge after they had all sat down. There were a few mutters of “Good afternoon” from the around the room. “Tut, tut, well that don’t do, will it? Now, I would like you all to say ‘Good afternoon, Professor Umbridge.’ One more time, now. Good afternoon, class!”

“Good afternoon, Professor Umbridge,” said the class in response, as Harry wondered what special brand of hell they’d stepped into. 

“There, that wasn’t too hard, was it?” she said with a very sweet tone to her voice. “Now, wands away and quills out, please.”

Wands away? That typically wasn’t a very good sign, either. Harry put his wand back in his bag and pulled out his quill, ink, and parchment. Umbridge pulled her wand out of her bag, which was an unusually short wand, and tapped the blackboard sharply with it. Words appeared immediately on the board behind her:

Defense Against the Dark Arts

Return to Basic Principles

“Well, now, your lessons in this subject have been uneven and fragmented, haven’t they?” Umbridge said, turning to face the class. Her hands were folded neatly in front of her. “Most of your previous teachers do not seem to have followed any Ministry-approved curriculum, and you have had a different one every year. This, unfortunately, means that you are far below the level that we’d expect of students in their O.W.L year. You will be pleased to know that such is not the case this year. You will be following a carefully constructed, Ministry-approved course that is theory-centered. Copy down the following, please.” 

She rapped the blackboard with her wand again, and the message disappeared and was replaced by another one:

Course Aims

  •  Understanding the principles underlying defensive magic.
  •  Learning to recognize situations where defensive magic can legally be used.
  •  Placing the use of defensive magic in a context for practical use.

For a couple of minutes, the only sound heard in the classroom was the scratching of quills on parchment. When they finished, she asked to verify that no one had got a copy of the book due to the ‘regrettable lateness’ of her appointment. There was, again, muttering of no around the room. “Now, when I ask you a question, you will respond with ‘Yes, Professor Umbridge’ or ‘No, Professor Umbridge.’ Is that clear? Now, again, do you have a copy of the book?”

“No, Professor Umbridge,” said the class in response.

“Good,” she said. “Luckily, I have a class set for this reason that the Ministry provided.” She flicked her wand, and books zoomed out behind the teacher’s desk, one to each student. “You will need to leave those here for the other classes, but the library has a few copies for homework purposes. I recommend writing to your parents immediately and having them send you one. Now, if you would turn to page five, and read chapter one, please. There will be no need to talk.” She went back to sit at the teacher’s desk, watching them all.

The book was dreadfully dull, almost listening to Professor Binns drone on in History of Magic. Seriously, was this going to be what the whole year was going to be like? They were just going to be reading out of a book and maybe taking some notes? It seemed rather hard to believe, and also a bit ridiculous. A glance to his right showed Draco frowning at the book, before flipping through the pages quickly and then going back to the page he’d been on. It almost seemed as if the blonde had been looking to see if it got better. Apparently, not because he was still frowning. It almost made Harry miss the smirk.

The silence was then broken by a voice coming from behind him. “Er, Professor -” said Theodore.

“Students will raise their hand before they speak in my class,” said Umbridge, once again in that sweet voice of hers. Theodore must have raised his hand after that because the next thing she said was. “Yes, Mr. -”

“Nott, Professor. Theodore Nott,” he said. “I had a question.”

“On the chapter? Of course, dear,” she said.

“No, not the chapter exactly,” Theodore said. “On the course aims, to be more precise. We’re not going to be actually practicing the spells?” 

“Practicing them?” Umbridge asked. “Why, I can’t imagine when you need to use spells in this classroom, Mr. Nott. Surely, you aren’t proposing that you will be attacked in this classroom?”

“No, of course, not, but…” Theodore’s voice trailed off, though there was a sense of… confusion in his voice.

“Intelligent and clever people at the Ministry have designed and approved this course,” Umbridge continued, “and the Ministry believes that the best way to learn is a secure, risk-free way.”

“That doesn’t even make sense,” Harry said before he could stop himself. “If we were going to be attacked, it won’t be -”

Hand, Mr. Snape,” Umbridge called out. He assumed that she must recognize him from his resemblance to his father.

Harry thrust his hand into the air, knowing that he should shut up, but unable to stop himself. Umbridge ignored him, though. Fury raced through him. From a couple of chairs down, Daphne raised her hand. “Yes, Miss -”

“Daphne Greengrass, Professor,” she said. “How are we supposed to properly learn about defending ourselves if we’re not going to actually do anything?”

“I don’t mean to criticise the way things have been done at this school, but you have been exposed to some very irresponsible wizards in your years here, including very dangerous half-breeds, ” she said, and Harry wanted to reach down and get his wand. He forced himself to stop, reminding himself that as Jacob Snape, he didn’t actually know Lupin. “You have been exposed to spells beyond your age group, and told to expect Dark attacks every other day. This is not true.”

There was silence in the class for a bit, before Draco raised his hand. “Yes, Mr. Malfoy,” she said. So, she knows Lucius Malfoy , Harry thought to himself. It was the only explanation as to why he recognized Draco.

“Yes, Professor, I was wondering… isn’t there a practical portion on the O.W.L. exam as well?” Draco asked. “How are we supposed to be properly prepared for that without actually practicing all the necessary spells?”

“As long you study hard enough, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do the spell under the controlled examination conditions,” Umbridge said. “The theory should be sufficient -”

“And how’s theory supposed to prepare us for the real world?” Harry asked before he could stop himself, raising his fist into the air.

“This isn’t the real world, Mr. Snape, this is a classroom,” Umbridge said, her voice like honey dipped in poison. 

“Yes, but the classroom is supposed to prepare us for the real world.” He didn’t even bother lowering his hand. “How is theory supposed to prepare us for what’s waiting out there?”

“Nothing is waiting out there,” Umbridge said. “Who do you think would want to attack children like yourselves?

“Pretty much any dark wizard ever,” Harry said. “Or are you going to say that there isn’t any of those either, because if so - then why do we have an Auror department?” There were some snickers at that from around the room.

“Ten points from Slytherin, Mr. Snape.” The classroom silenced immediately at those words. 

“Now, let me make a few things perfectly clear,” Umbridge said. “You have been told that a certain dark wizard has returned from the dead and is at large once more. This is a lie.”

“Says who?” Harry said, his fist in the air again. I was there, you toad-faced bitch, he thought to himself. I fought him. I saw him. I watched Cedric Diggory die right in front of my eyes. I have nightmares about it. He knew that as Jacob Snape, he couldn’t say certain things. He wasn’t Harry Potter, but he wasn’t about to let her get away with saying that Voldemort wasn’t back. “Were you there? Because from what I heard, no one was, so how do you know?”

Umbridge bristled a little at those words. “Of course not, but the Ministry says -”

“So, just because the government and the papers say it’s true, that means it is?” Harry asked, his fist in the air.

“Why do you propose, would they lie about something like that?” she asked, in that same honeyed-poison voice. 

“Because they’re the government and the papers, and that’s what they do,” Harry said, causing a few more snickers to go around the class.

“Detention, Mr. Snape!” Umbridge called out. “Tonight. Five o’clock. And I will be speaking to your father about this. Now, get back to your reading, class. The Ministry assures everyone that they are in no danger from any dark wizard. Page five, ‘Basics for Beginners.’”

Harry knew that he had lost this argument. As it was, he had detention tonight. He knew he shouldn’t have opened up his mouth, but he just couldn’t help himself. He still saw Cedric’s death over and over, and he wasn’t going to let some Ministry bitch belittle that, or ignore the fact that he fought Voldemort. He also knew that he wasn’t the only person in this class who knew that, because there were other Death Eater’s children here.

One thing he knew, though… He was going to hear about this from his father; he was sure about that.

~~~~~~~~~~

Draco questioned him as soon as they got out of class, wondering what in Merlin’s name he had been thinking to take on Umbridge. “Regardless of who’s lying or telling the truth, whether it’s Potter or the Ministry, I don’t like her,” Harry said flatly. “She’s wrong. Not allowing us to use magic is just stupid, and I couldn’t take it.”

He wasn’t the only one who disliked her, though Harry knew that he had been out of character for a Slytherin, most likely. They went straight to Transfiguration. He had a brief period of rest where he scarfed down food between the end of that class and when he was due in Umbridge’s office. He split from Draco and the others and headed there. The room looked completely different now than the previous times he’d seen it. It was all pink, and kittens, and lace… and rather disgusting. 

“Good evening, Mr. Snape,” Umbridge said.

“Evening,” Harry said stiffly.

“Well, sit down,” she said, gesturing to a small table with a single piece of parchment on it. He sat down. “You will be serving detention for the next three days to reinforce the lesson. Don’t bother getting out your quill. You’re going to be using a special one of mine.” She handed him a long, thin black quill with an unusually long point. “You will write, ‘I must not tell lies.’”

“How many times?” Harry asked, faking politeness.

“Let’s just say as many times as it takes for the message to sink in.”

“I haven’t got any ink,” Harry pointed out.

“You won’t need any,” Umbridge said, and it almost sounded as if there was a laugh in her voice. 

Harry put the quill to the parchment and wrote I must not tell lies . A gasp of pain escaped his lips. The words had been written on the paper in bright, red ink, and the words had also been etched into the back of his right hand, almost as if they had been cut there by a scalpel. As he stared at it, the skin healed over. He looked over at Umbridge, but then looked back at the parchment and continued writing.

It seemed to go on for hours, the constant pain in the back of his hand, and it healed over again seconds later. What seemed like forever later, Umbridge finally told him to stop and called him over to her. She grabbed his hand and examined the place where the cut had been. “I haven’t made much of an impression yet, have I? I suppose we’ll have to try again tomorrow evening, won’t we? You may go now.”

Harry grabbed his bag and left.

The hallways were deserted. It was past curfew, that was for sure, though he wasn’t sure how late it was. It had been at least four or five hours, he had to imagine. He headed straight for the dungeons, wanting to go straight to bed. No studying would be done tonight. He would make it up tomorrow. He passed through the Entrance Hall and then headed towards the dungeons. As he went down the stairs, he saw a familiar face at the bottom - Severus, who was not happy, judging by the glare on his face. I am definitely in trouble , Harry thought to himself.

Chapter Text

Harry froze as soon as he saw the look on Severus’s face. Yes, he was definitely in trouble. He wasn’t a coward, though. So, with that in mind, he went down the steps to accept his fate. Severus had his arms crossed over his chest, that glare never leaving his face. “My office. Now.” Severus’ voice had a tone of finality to it, a tone that said if Harry disobeyed, he’d be grounded for life. He wasn’t sure how these father-son things were supposed to work just yet, but he was fairly certain that Severus wasn’t supposed to be looking at him like that. 

Harry just nodded, and wordlessly followed Severus to his office. As soon as the door closed, the Potions Master turned on him. “You got detention on the third day of classes?” Well, it did sound pretty bad when he put like that. “And I warned you about her! Did you ignore me on purpose, or do you just like getting in trouble?”

Harry was starting to get angry now because Severus was making judgments before he even knew the full story. Then again, that was pretty much his father to a T. “It’s not my fault. She was being annoying. How did you know anyway?” There was no way Umbridge could have mentioned it.

“Oh, no, of course, forgive me ,” Severus said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “It’s never your fault, is it? And never mind how I found out. That’s not important.”

“No, not when she’s standing there, saying that Voldemort isn’t back!” Harry yelled back at him. “And not letting us use magic in class! Come on, it’s Defense Against the Dark Arts!” It was ridiculous. He couldn’t have just sat there and done nothing.

“The Daily Prophet has been making those claims for months now, Harry, what difference does it make if she says it?” Severus said, still very angry. “And of course she’s not letting you use magic. The Ministry is terrified of Dumbledore and what he might be trying to accomplish here. That’s why she’s here. Isn’t that obvious? You know who she reports to. I warned you about her!”

“I know, but I lost my temper! I’m sorry, but she was infuriating. Even the others thought so, too,” he said, throwing up his hands. It wasn’t as if Severus couldn’t understand that. How was he supposed to just sit there and let her say rubbish like that? That wasn’t who he was!

Severus’s eyes moved from his face to the right hand, the one that was red and raw from using Umbridge’s quill. Harry immediately put it down. “Why is your hand red?” Severus demanded.

“Nothing. I’m fine. It’s nothing.” He could handle it. He didn’t need to whine and cry to his father every time something happened, the way Malfoy sometimes did. He wasn’t going to be that person. It was detention - barbaric detention, yes, but he was tough. He could handle it.

“You just got out of a four and a half hour detention with Umbridge,” Severus said, sounding very much as if he didn’t believe him. “And with you, it’s never nothing. Why is your hand red?” With that, Severus grabbed and looked at it. “And raw. Why?” He looked up at him again.

Harry sighed, knowing that he had lost this argument, and explained everything - the black quill, the hours of writing with it, and the way it had healed over. He also told him about the words she’d said as he left. Severus’s once angry gaze turned into one of pure fury.

“She did what?” His voice was low and dangerous, and if Harry hadn’t been absolutely sure that Severus wouldn’t hurt him anymore, he would run as fast as he could in the other direction. He’d seen that look on the Potions Master’s face before, and it was never anything good. “Follow me. Now.”

“What? Why? I can handle it. It’s just -”

“No. It isn’t. And I am going to talk to Umbridge for daring to do that to my son. For once, don’t argue and do as I say,” Severus said, cutting him off. With that, Severus left the room, and Harry had no choice but to follow him. He hoped Severus didn’t kill her, not that it wasn’t tempting, of course, but probably not the best course of action. He had to admit, though, that he liked the sound of hearing ‘my son’ coming from Severus.

~~~~~~~~~~

Severus didn’t even bother looking behind him to see if Harry was there - he knew he was going to follow him. The nerve of that woman… how dare she, that fucking bitch. He had never heard of a quill such as the one Harry described. It was inhumane, and the fact that she had used it on a child - his specifically - was infuriating. A thousand ideas were running through his head, all of them about how he could get back at her for this. He was nothing if not vindictive. 

Severus walked up the stairs until they reached the floor that held Umbridge’s rooms. That was when he nearly ran someone over. This someone called out to him, “Severus! What in Merlin’s name -”

Severus turned a fierce glare at Minerva McGonagall. “Not now, Minerva. I have to go and hex some sense into Dolores .”

A confused look crossed her face. “What - hex some - what happened?”

Severus sighed. He didn’t have time for this. He wasn’t about to let Minerva talk him out of it. If anything, it be helpful if she was on his side. Of course, he would never assume that Minerva would disagree with him about this issue. “She used a quill on my son during his detention with her this evening. The quill apparently used his own blood as ink.” He turned to Harry. “Jacob, show her your hand.”

“But I -”

“I said, show her. ” Severus was not in the mood for the boy’s disobedience and attitude right now. For just a little bit, he wanted him to actually do what he told him to do. 

Harry relented and walked over to Minerva, holding out his right hand, which was still red and raw. Severus hadn’t given him a healing potion yet on purpose, because he didn’t want her to try to deny it. He didn’t know Umbridge that well yet, but now he knew that his feelings about her had been right. That’s why he learned to trust his judgment and why he was even more annoyed that Harry had deliberately ignored him. Did this happen to all parents, or was it just because he was the father of Harry Potter?

Minerva gasped in shock as she saw Harry’s hand. “I cannot - I mean - It’s horrific! That can’t be legal!”

“Of course not,” Severus barked. “Now, if you don’t mind, I have a colleague to kill.” With that, he turned and began stalking down the hall.

“I’m coming with you,” Minerva called out, as she and Harry followed him to Umbridge’s office.

Severus reached Umbridge’s rooms and slammed his fist on the door. She answered a moment later, a fuzzy pink dressing robe on. “Severus, Minerva, what is the meaning of -”

“You loathsome bitch,” Severus said, pushing his way in, before rounding on her. Harry and Minerva followed, closing the door behind them. He was seething with anger. In fact, he wasn’t sure he had ever been this angry before. He could just imagine all the ways he could torture her right now for what she did. “You used that vile quill on my son . How dare you. I will -”

Minerva stepped forward, putting an arm across his chest to stop him. She knew him well enough that she probably assumed that he was about to take out his wand and use some nasty, dark curse on her. She wasn’t far off actually. “Dolores, I think what Severus is trying to say,” Minerva interrupted, “is that you do not have the authority to punish the child of another teacher. Now, I don’t blame you for not realizing that. It’s been a long time since any of the staff have had a child at Hogwarts, but there you have it.” Minerva’s tone was matter-of-fact, but there was an edge to her voice. Severus was half-tempted to push Minerva out of the way, and make sure Umbridge knew where she stood with him.

“You cannot question my authority with the students while they are in my class,” Umbridge said, standing her ground. He noticed her gripping her wand tightly.

“I can when it’s my son ,” Severus said. “You -”

Minerva cut him off again. “As I said before, since Severus is Jacob’s father and his Head of House, you should have gone straight to him when he acted out,” Minerva told her firmly. 

Umbridge looked between both of them. Minerva’s gaze was firm, and Severus knew his own was full of fury. “Fine,” she said, before turning to him. “I trust the punishment will fit the crime.” She did not look happy to have her power taken away.

What for saying the truth that you and the morons at the Ministry are too scared to accept? Severus thought to himself. “Do you have children, Dolores?”

Umbridge looked taken aback. “What? No, of course not!” She actually looked a bit offended that he had even suggested the idea.

“Then don’t tell me how to raise mine, ” Severus said, and with that, he stalked out of the room, taking Minerva and Harry with him. He was still fuming. Yes, Harry shouldn’t have spoken out in class, but the form of punishment, and on his son. 

They walked a bit down the hallway before Harry finally broke. “You didn’t have to do that!” he yelled.

Severus turned to him, his glare firmly in place. “And what did you propose I would do when I found out what she’d done? Tell you that’s fine and send you on your way?”

“Well, no, but I could have handled it!”

“You weren’t handling it!” Severus told him. “It was barbaric, and not-”

“But -”

“Mr. Snape,” Minerva said, interrupting the argument that had transpired in the middle of the hallway, “I’m sure your father was only doing what he thought was right. It was horrible what she did, and of course, any parent in his right mind would be horrified.”

That seemed to take Harry back a bit as his once angry and defensive demeanour seemed to vanish instantly. He looked up at Severus for a moment, before nodding. “Yeah, I suppose you’re right. I’m sorry I yelled and got in trouble, Dad.”

Severus’s anger vanished as he heard that one word. Harry had called him Dad. He was torn between shock at hearing that word from his son’s lips and wanting to hear it again. It took him a moment before he could gather his thoughts, but he nodded. “Yes, well… I will see you tomorrow night for your detention.” Harry groaned. “She assigned it. My hands are tied.”

Harry nodded. “I know that,” he said. Severus quickly handed him a healing potion from his robes, saying that he would need it. “Thanks. I guess I’m going to get back to the dorm now. See you tomorrow, Dad. Professor McGonagall.” He then turned and left.

Severus just turned and followed Harry with his eyes until he was out of sight. “First time he’s called you that,” Minerva said. Severus nodded. “Quite powerful, I would imagine. I wouldn’t know, personally. You’re quite lucky, you know.”

“Yes, I suppose so,” Severus agreed, “though that is not a word I would normally use for myself.” Somehow, he was, though. Maybe this wasn’t the way he would have originally picked for things to happen, but he knew that now he wouldn’t have changed it for anything.

“You also realize your outburst, and our interference with Umbridge will cost us,” Minerva said, glancing over at him.

Severus nodded. “Yes, I am aware,” he said. “I do not regret it if that’s what you’re asking.”

“You realize that even if you tell Albus or the Ministry, she won’t lose her job,” Minerva pointed out. “Nothing will happen.”

Severus groaned. “Yes, Minerva, I realize that,” he said. “I have my own brand of retribution.” She raised an eyebrow. “All in good time. All in good time.” A smirk crossed his face, and he headed back to his rooms.

~~~~~~~~~~

Harry woke up the next morning with Moirai chewing on his hair. He looked at her, picking her up. She was getting a bit round in the belly area now, not quite as scrawny as she was when he had picked her out at Magical Menagerie. “What are you doing, you little brat?” He asked the small black kitten. She gave a single meow, and then squirmed in his hands, pawing at him. He held her close to him, but she put her paws up to stop her from getting any closer. “Fine, you silly little thing,” he said, letting her go. She scampered off to the edge of the bed, curled up, and began cleaning herself.

Harry shook his head and got out of bed. As soon as he got dressed, a very annoyed Draco came up to him. “So, what happened to you? After detention, you came back to the dorm and went straight to bed.” His hands were crossed over his chest.

Harry just shrugged. “Yeah, my dad caught me coming back and wasn’t happy,” he told him. “By the way, how do you wonder he found about that since Umbridge and I were in her office all night?” He raised an eyebrow and looked pointedly at Draco.

Draco shrugged. “Of course I told him,” he said. “He asked where you were, so I told him. What did you expect me to do?”

“Nothing less,” he said as they went down to breakfast. “It all worked out for the best anyway.”

As they sat down, Draco asked, “So what happened? You said the Professor wasn’t happy that you got detention. I mean, not that that woman didn’t deserve it, of course.”

Harry sighed, wondering how much he should tell them. So, he told them about the quill, earning some horrified gasps from their friends sitting around them. He explained that his father had been furious, and with McGonagall’s assistance, had gotten the detention switched from Umbridge to his Dad.

“That’s just horrible!” Daphne cried from a couple of seats down. “What a vile woman!”

“Yeah, so I wouldn’t recommend getting detention with her,” he warned.

“Thanks for the warning,” Salenia said from his left.

After that, they had their second Herbology class, followed by their second History of Magic class. After lunch, they had Care of Magical Creatures class. Hagrid still wasn’t back, and Harry hoped that he was okay. He didn’t have time to enjoy dinner, as he had to run to his father’s office. After all, he had detention still, even if it wasn’t with Umbridge. At least with Severus, he knew what to expect.

“So, what do you want me to clean?” Harry asked as he walked into the room.

“Nothing,” Severus said, not looking from the stack of papers he was grading. Harry frowned, thoroughly confused. What did he mean, nothing? As if sensing what he was thinking, his dad took his wand and turned the chair on the other side of the desk around so that it faced the wall instead of him. After that, he waved it again, but Harry didn’t see that it had done anything. “Sit.” Harry did as he was told, and then he saw a spot that had been made on the wall opposite him. “You will practice your Occlumency meditation. Stare at the spot on the wall, and meditate. Do not look away until I say.”

Harry froze for a second before glancing back at Severus. Surely, he couldn’t be serious. “For how long?” He knew his voice betrayed how much he hated this idea. It was torturous! Not like Umbridge, of course, but in its own way.

“For one consecutive hour,” Severus told him. Harry noticed the word ‘consecutive.’  “Again, do not move until I say.”

Harry sighed and did as he was told. He tried to meditate, but he couldn’t meditate for that long. He was sure that Severus didn’t mean for him to do that, but merely to try. It was hard, though. It felt like the longest hour of his life. At one point, he couldn’t take it anymore. He was going to go crazy! Surely, this wasn’t possible. No one could do this! “Has it been an hour yet, Dad?” he asked. Harry hadn’t called him that intentionally. It had slipped out completely by accident. It seemed, though, that a dam had broken. The word came out a lot easier, and he had never considered using it before. 

“Fifteen minutes.”

“Huh?” What did he mean by that? It made no sense.

“That was how much longer you had left,” Severus said. “You remember, I said consecutively.”

Harry groaned. “You can’t be serious!”

“I don’t joke,” Severus said. “Start over. It wouldn’t be detention if it were easy. Now do it again.”

Harry groaned again, even louder, if possible. He tried to meditate this time, too, but that was easier said than done. Eventually, he just sat there and stared at the wall. Trying not to sigh, he actually attempted to meditate. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to, it was just… He was staring at a wall . This was horrible. He would rather clean. 

“You may stop now,” Severus said.

Harry sighed relief. “Thank God,” he said, turning the chair around to face Severus. “So, what else?”

“Nothing, you’ve been here nearly two hours, you can go,” Severus said, stopping grading papers to look up at him.

“Great! See you tomorrow, then?” With that, Harry left. He was not looking forward to two more days of this detention that Severus had given him - staring at a wall for an hour. Seriously, he’d rather clean.

~~~~~~~~~~

Harry left his father’s office and walked towards the Slytherin dorm. As soon as he got inside, he stopped and froze. While some people were milling around in small groups, for the most part, the Slytherin dorms had been split into two large groups. One was closer to him, made up of mostly the younger years, who seemed to be playing Truth or Dare. The other group was on the other side, nearest to the glass wall that looked out into the lake. The older years were there. Both groups were sitting in a circle, but the older group had a few bottles of alcohol, and every person had a glass.

How had they gotten alcohol? Harry thought to himself. He knew Fred and George snuck out to get it for the Gryffindor parties, but how had the Slytherins gotten ahold of some? He could have sworn he heard someone say, “Never have I ever…” though the voice faded off, so he couldn’t hear what they hadn’t done. About half of the people in the group took a swig from their glass. Some of them must have noticed him because some glanced at him. Pansy elbowed Draco in the side. The blonde turned around and met his gaze. He smiled, and waved him over, motioning for Pansy to make room. 

Harry, however, had absolutely no interest in playing “Never Have I Ever.” He had seen some of the older years play it during parties in Gryffindor Tower, but he always been too busy not getting killed by something to care. Besides, he hadn’t done anything, never kissed, or… anything. What was he supposed to do, sit there like an idiot? For some reason, it annoyed him that Draco and everyone else was playing it when he couldn’t. So, they had all done… things? He knew that Draco and Pansy had gone to the Yule Ball together last year, so maybe they had… but that annoyed him, and he wasn’t sure why.

Harry made a beeline past them and went straight into his dorm and went to studying. No one came after him, and that was okay. It was quite a while later before the door burst open, and a slightly angry Draco Malfoy stood there, hands on his hips. “Jacob, where the fuck were you?” 

“Detention and then studying.”

Draco scoffed. “I know that , you bloody moron. I motioned you over. I know you saw me. Why didn’t you come over?” Harry shrugged his shoulders, not saying anything. “We were just playing Never Have I Ever.” He made it sound as if it was no big deal.

Harry was silent for a second but didn’t say a word. It was clear that Draco was waiting for an explanation. “Does it matter?”

Draco’s hands moved from his hips to be crossed over his chest. “So, what, you just didn’t feel like hanging out with your friends after detention with the Professor?”

Harry wasn’t sure why, but then he just blurted it out. “I haven’t done anything, okay!”

Draco blinked for a second, but his posture relaxed. “Is that all that was bothering you?” He was acting like it wasn’t a big deal at all.

“Well, I haven’t, so how can I play a game like that?” Harry asked. “Besides, isn’t it a Muggle game?”

Draco shrugged. “It’s just a drinking game,” he said. “Besides, we can add truth serum to ours if we wanted to, to make it more fun. At any rate, I haven’t done anything, either. I mean, there was that one kiss between me and Blaise last year during Truth or Dare, but that was nothing. It was barely even a real kiss. At any rate, it’s fun to sit there and watch everyone else drink for the simplest things.” A smirk crossed the blonde’s face.

Harry didn’t think that sounded like fun at all, and it was quite weird to him that it didn’t seem to bother Draco at all. “What, so… you haven’t , I mean… done anything else?”

Draco shook his head. “No, why? I’m not just going to go out with just anyone, you know. Don’t think everyone is as experienced as they might want you to think.”

Harry just sat there for a second. He wasn’t sure what to say. “So, how often do you guys actually play the games? It seems a bit… out of character.”

Draco laughed and sat down on the edge of his bed. “And you would know that, how? You’ve been in here less than a week,” he said. “For your information, we only do it the first Friday back, you know, as a welcome back. Then, after Quidditch games, if we win, of course, and then right before the end of the school year.”

“My dad doesn’t know?” He remembered McGonagall having to come and break things up before, and wondered how that worked here with the proximity of the Slytherin dorms to his rooms.

“I don’t think he cares as long as we keep things reasonable,” Draco said. “We’re not being too wild in here, or anything, at least not compared to how I’m sure those Gryffindors act.” Harry could attest to that, at least. He had seen some of the parties for himself. “Anyway, next time, you should come join us and not come in here and hide.”

Draco got off his bed after that and went to his own. After that, the others started arriving. He wasn’t sure what to think about… well, anything really. The Slytherins played drinking games. Draco had wanted him to play, had made room for him. Draco, who, contrary to Harry’s opinion, hadn’t done anything, not with Pansy, except for a brief kiss with Blaise last year that he didn’t count. He was bothered by Draco playing the game and confused that he hadn’t done anything. All this was after a very weird detention with his father. 

Harry resigned himself to not think about any of it right now, to push it out of his mind and go to sleep. He could deal with this another time, any other time. Moirai curled him next to him, and he slowly drifted off.

Chapter Text

After breakfast the next morning, Harry headed to Moaning Myrtle's bathroom. That was where the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets was. He hadn't been in there since second year, though he had seen Myrtle last year. When he got there, Hermione was already there, patiently waiting. "How long have you been here?" He asked her.

Hermione shrugged. "Only a couple minutes," she said. "Now we're just waiting on your dad." Harry nodded. "So, you got detention with Umbridge?" Harry sighed and then proceeded to fill her in on what happened as best as he could. Even though no one else was around, this was still a public place. Anyone could walk in. "Jacob, you really shouldn't lose your temper like that." Apparently, Hermione agreed.

Harry nodded again. "Yes, I know, but I couldn't help it," he said. 

"I tried to warn you."

"I know."

"We had the same problem in our class. Me, Dean, and even Parvati were speaking up about it, but she threatened us with detention, and well…" Hermione shrugged her shoulders.

"Yeah, no, I understand," he said. "I don't know when to stop. The detention with my dad wasn't much better." He explained what he'd been forced to do.

"That's difficult, especially for you," Hermione said. She was about to say something else when the door opened, and his father walked in. 

"I trust that you are both ready," he said.

Harry was half-tempted to say that they'd been waiting on him , but decided against it. Luckily, it didn't seem as Myrtle was out today, so he walked over to the sink and found the snake on the faucet. Taking a deep breath, he said, " Open ," hoping it was in Parseltongue. It was, and the opening to the Chamber of Secrets appeared. Harry looked around at Severus and Hermione, neither of whom had ever been down here before. "Yeah, it's not pleasant, so you know." They both nodded. "Me first, I guess." With that, he then slid down the slide, finding himself in the Chamber once again.

His last memories of being here were not pleasant. He had nearly died saving Ginny and fighting off Riddle's memory from the diary. It was just as filthy as he remembered. The snake's dead body was farther up, but bones and huge snake skins still riddled the floor. 

Severus and Hermione were right behind him. They both looked around the room. "You weren't joking," Hermione said. "I heard about this, of course, but…"

Harry nodded. "Yeah, it's pretty bad in here," he said. "Now, there are only two rooms, really. There's this one, with the bones and the snakeskin and the next big one with a giant body of a dead Basilisk. There's more room in the next one, though."

"Yes, let's go into the next one," Severus said. "I will deal with the Basilisk's corpse." Harry led them out, and as they left, Severus muttered a spell. Flames could be heard from behind them.

"What was that?" He asked.

"If we're coming here every week, there's no need to keep all the bones," Severus explained. Harry nodded and continued to lead them through the hallway into the last giant room. Salazar Slytherin's face still greeted them and laying right through the middle of it. Severus raised his wand and uttered a spell. The basilisk's body disintegrated. His father waved his wand again, and the air cleared a bit from the spell of the dead body. "There, that's better. Now, face each other." Harry and Hermione did as they were told. "You're going to be practicing nonverbal spells. This is typically something that you won't learn until next year, but I feel it's a useful skill to have. Don't worry if you cannot master it right away."

Harry and Hermione began dueling. Even Hermione struggled with using non-verbal spells, but she was very persistent and kept trying. Every time Harry tried to use one, he failed. Severus just yelled at them to concentrate, to picture the words of the spell and what they do. It wasn't that easy, though, at least not for them. 

~~~~~~~~~

After they were done with their session, they made their way out of the Chamber. Hermione was commenting on how much harder it was doing nonverbals and was going on about how handy it would be once they had conquered this skill. Severus reminded them about visualization, and also about exercising. Hermione surprised him by saying that she had continued to do so. "I get up early while everyone is asleep, and go down to the common room to exercise," she said, "then I go up and get in the shower. About this time, Parvati and Lavender are up and starting their routine. Sophie and Layla are just waking up."

"Who?"

"Sophie Roper and Layla Moon," Hermione said, and then it dawned on him who they were. "Seriously, Harry, you've had classes with them for the past four years. How do you not know them?

About that time, they reached the slide, which didn't go up. "So, how exactly are we going to get back up?" He asked. "The method we used last time doesn't work this time, I'm afraid." Somehow, he didn't think he could call Fawkes to them again. 

Severus sighed and tapped his wand against the slide. Notches appeared that would allow them to go up the slide. Shortly, they were all back up in Myrtle's bathroom. Hermione said she would go and check to see if the coast was clear. Severus promised to see him tomorrow, and then Hermione popped her back into say everything was good. They left, both Severus and Harry heading back to the dungeons.

~~~~~~~~~~

Harry parted ways with his father and headed back towards the common room. Draco was sitting on the couch with some of their classmates. 'There you are," Draco said, looking up as Harry was walking by. "I thought you were avoiding us."

"No, I was with my dad," he said, which was the truth. "And now I'm going to study since I still have detention later."

"Yeah, how did that go?" Draco asked him as the blonde followed him back to their dorm, leaving their friends back in the common room. 

Harry shrugged. "Fine, I guess," he said.

"What did he make you do?"

"Stare at the wall."

Draco raised an eyebrow in confusion, and Harry didn't blame him. He realized only after saying it that he probably should have just lied. "Wait, he made you stare at the wall?" After all, it wasn't as if he didn't know what Severus's detentions were usually like.

"He's been trying to teach me meditation, but I haven't been as diligent, so he did it to make sure that I tried," Harry explained, hoping that explanation was sufficient. 

Draco seemed to accept it because he shrugged as he walked over to his bed. "So, did you want to study together?" He asked as he gathered his stuff.

Harry looked over at him and shrugged. "Sure, why not?" He gathered his things, and they said goodbye to their friends before heading to the Great Hall for a quick lunch before heading to the library.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Harry and Draco made their way to the library. As they arrived, they found Hermione coming up to them. "Hi," she said to them. "Do I mind if we study together?" 

Harry shrugged, looking over at Draco. The blonde shrugged back. The three of them made their way over to the table. Draco sat next to him while Hermione was sitting across from him. Harry began to work on his Potions homework because he didn't want to screw up on that. He was writing down notes, with one book in front of him. Hermione had three, while Draco had one book in front of him. He felt Draco elbow him in the side. "What?" He asked.

"Don't write that," he said.

"Write what?" Harry felt like he had missed something.  That wasn't entirely unusual, but still…

Draco leaned over and scratched out a few lines on his parchment. "That," he said. "You're getting off-topic. Your father doesn't want to hear about that. He wants to hear about this." He pointed his quill a couple of areas of the book. "And this." He scratched a note on the parchment. 

Harry looked at the spots on the book Draco had motioned at and wrote them down. That did make more sense. "Thanks," he said, going back to work. Of course, the blonde didn't hesitate to make a suggestion or two later as the afternoon went on, but he never overly helped him. Harry always took it as pointing him in the right direction, just like he had the other day. He would tell him to expand more here or take out that part there - things like that.

"You should let Jacob do more of his own work," Hermione mentioned.

"I am," Draco said. "You don't see me writing it for him. Like you never did that for Weasley and Potter?" Hermione opened her mouth to argue, and then just went back to work. That caused Draco to smirk. "Speaking of which, you and Weasley have a fight or something? You sat with us the other day in Potions, quite unusual sitting with the Slytherins, and now you're studying with us."

"Is that a problem?" Hermione asked. "Tiring of my company or something?"

"Of course, since day one, but that's not why I ask," Draco said. "Besides, is it a crime to be observant?"

Hermione glared at him. "Actually, for your information, yes, we did," Hermione said. "I'm tired of his shit. Not that it's any of your business. Besides, you two can study just as well with me here."

Draco waved off her statement, and once again, Harry felt like he was missing something. Why did the blonde care if Hermione sat with them or not? He didn't have to say yes. Harry would have understood. It wasn't as if they were ever going to be friends, not really. He expected as much. The fact that they were civil to each other on his behalf made things a lot easier on him because he needed both of them right now for different reasons - Hermione as a link to his old life and Draco as the anchor to his new. 

As they were leaving for dinner, Harry told Draco that he didn't need to say yes to allowing Hermione to study with him. "Is she your friend?" Draco asked in response. Harry nodded. "I'll deal, then." That ended the conversation right there.

~~~~~~~~~~~

When they got back to the common room, there was a notice on the blackboard - Quidditch tryouts were Tuesday after dinner. He hadn't noticed that earlier. "When did that go up?" he asked Draco.

"Last night," Draco responded. "You are trying out, aren't you?"

Harry nodded. He would miss Quidditch too much if he quit, though he knew that would also miss being Seeker. He had done it for three years. Of course, he didn't count last year since there had been no Quidditch due to the Triwizard Tournament. "Yes, I told you my dad said it was fine."

"Just making sure," Draco told him.

"You'd never let me live it down if I didn't." Harry turned to him and gave him a smirk.

Draco smirked back. "Of course not," he said. "You're more talented than most of the saps that are going to be trying out."

Harry didn't doubt that, despite the fact that he was a Seeker and not a Chaser. Perhaps that would work out in his favor, though. The Gryffindor tryouts had been last night, according to Hermione. She had mentioned it offhandedly to them after they'd left the library. Draco had been so sure that the Gryffindor team wouldn't stand a chance now without their 'Star Seeker.' Hermione had simply smiled and told him not to be so sure. Draco asked her who the new Seeker was. She paused and simply said that Ginny Weasley had been named the new Seeker, and Ron was the new Keeper.

Harry knew that Ron would be happy about that, although he wasn't sure how he felt about playing on opposite sides. He was surprised by Ginny, though, but he figured although she was probably a fine flyer; there had been no one else trying out. In a way, he felt bad for what happened because he knew how put out the Gryffindors had been about his loss. It wasn't as if there was anything he could do about it, though, and he was certainly more than just a Quidditch player, which seemed to be the main reason why they missed him.

"Who is the Captain again?" Harry asked the blonde.

"Montague," Draco said, pointing him out. "Remember? I could have sworn I mentioned that."

Harry shrugged. "I'm sure you did," he said, looking over. Montague was friends with Pucey and Warrington, both of whom had been members before. He knew he was better than either of them and certainly faster, but it remained to be seen if Montague would put him on the team over his friends.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Harry had another detention with Severus that night. The next day, the school was buzzing with the new Daily Prophet article announcing that Umbridge had been made High Inquisitor. Apparently, an Educational Decree had been passed, and that's why she had been given the vacant Defense Professor position. The teachers were all going to be inspected. The Slytherins couldn't wait for Severus to be inspected.

When Harry went to see Severus, he seemed to be working on something. When he asked his father what it was, he told him it wasn't important. They spent the day together the next day. His father gave him a wand holster, like the one he had, and said he'd ordered it for him. Harry thanked him. They ate, talked a bit, and played chess - of course, Harry still lost. He still, technically, had detention that night. As the night was coming to a close, he mentioned to Severus. "That callous twit," his father said. "I have better things to do than oversee worthless detentions that I did not assign and were not warranted in the first place. Go back to your dorm and do your homework. If anyone asks, you did your detention today."

Harry was not going to moan about that. When he got back to the dorm, he complained about constantly losing to his father when they played chess. Draco just laughed, saying that, of course, he lost to Severus. Apparently, Severus and Lucius played chess and went back and forth. Draco had never beaten either of them, but he said he managed to beat most of Slytherin house, whether or not that was true remained to seen, though.

~~~~~~~~~~

Monday's first class brought the last new class, Arithmancy. That was followed by Double Potions. Hermione sat with him and Draco again. They handed in their moonstones essays as Severus handed back their grades for the Draught of Peace they'd done last week. Harry noticed with shock that he'd gotten an E. An E! There was only one grade higher than that. As he looked around, he noticed that both Hermione and Draco on either side of him had gotten that grade - an O. Figures , he thought to himself.

Things had been different before. He and Ron had typically gotten the same grades, or at least neither of them had ever gotten Hermione's grades. It hadn't seemed that bad, but it was hard to feel good about an E when the two people on either side of you were getting O's - and always got O's. Still, though, it was by far the best grade he'd gotten in Potions. He wondered for a moment if it was because of the change in his relationship with Severus, but he quickly squashed that. Severus Snape was not the kind of man to do anything like that, which meant that he earned this grade. That meant that he had come a long way. He was proud of that, but it was hard when you were surrounded by the two best people in class.

Hermione and Draco both glanced over to see what he'd gotten on the potion. He was not ashamed of his grade. It was a good grade - for him, a great grade. He couldn't remember the last time he'd passed this class, let alone an E. Still, though, here he was, sitting in between two people with O's, who always got O's. Quickly, he pushed that out of his mind. This was better than he had ever done, and he wasn't going to let the fact that he was probably never going to get the grade he needed to get into his father's O.W.L. class bother him. At least not yet.

Today, they were working on a Strengthening Solution. Harry tried to be even more diligent than he had before. He still required a couple of nudges from Draco, though, but the potion turned out pretty well, he thought. It was still turquoise, though bluer than Hermione and Draco's. At least it better than Neville's whose potion had turned out pink, or Ron's whose turned out lime green. They bottled up their potions and set them on the desk. No homework was assigned, thankfully. Severus dismissed the class, and students started to pack.

"Mr. Snape, come here." Harry's head snapped up at his father's voice. It was still odd to be referred to as that, even more so by his own father. He understood that appearances must be kept up in class. It was still weird, though.

Harry walked up to him, hearing Hermione whisper something to Draco along the lines of 'shouldn't help.' He frowned a bit but continued to go up to his father's desk. "Yes, sir?"

"I received this sometime last night," Severus said. "I didn't find it until this morning." The rest of the class was packing up behind them. None of them seemed to pay him any mind as his father slipped an envelope over to him.

Harry's eyes widened as he saw the handwriting - it was from Sirius. He hadn't spoken to him since he and Dumbledore had come to get him from Privet Drive, the day of the change. That had been so long ago. The next time he'd seen him, Sirius had been in disguise as… well, him, as Harry Potter. They hadn't spoken, though he knew that Severus had to ask him to help them out. It wasn't that he hadn't thought about him; his life had just been crazy, and he had been trying to adjust to everything that had happened. He felt guilty now for not thinking about him writing him. He didn't think that Severus would have prevented it, though he knew the two despised each other.

"Don't open it," said Severus warningly. "Don't let anyone see it, and open it when you're alone."

Harry nodded. "Thank you." He wasn't sure what to do with it, or what the letter said. It was from Sirius, though! That was more than enough for him right now. He slipped it into his robes, not wanting anyone to see it. He turned around and went back to the table that he shared with Draco and Hermione.

They were in the middle of an argument. Hermione was in the middle of saying, "he'll never do the work on his own." It was clear that he had interrupted it, and probably, not a moment too soon. It sometimes seemed that they did nothing but argue.

"Seriously, you two, I was gone for like two seconds," he said, looking in between them as he walked past Hermione to start packing up his stuff. He was more than just a bit aggravated, especially since this time it was about him, not something they'd argued about before.

"Oh, Jacob, we were just -" Hermione started to say, but then her voice dropped off. "I mean -"

"She says I'm helping you too much," Draco said, having packed up his stuff. 

Hermione glared at him. "Well, you are."

"No, I'm not ," Draco said definitely. "Besides, if he didn't want my help, he wouldn't let me."

Harry rolled his eyes. Hermione had always helped him and Ron, and she had always helped Neville. "It's not a big deal," he said. "Besides, I wouldn't have gotten that grade without him."

"It was too much help," Hermione said. "He was nudging you all the time."

"No, I wasn't," said Draco. "Only when he needed it."

"He doesn't need it," Hermione said.

"Yes, actually, I do," he said, "and please don't talk about me as if I'm not here." That was more annoying than anything else, aside from the fact that Draco was right.

"Sorry," Hermione said, "but you can do it on your own. You're smart, you just... needed to apply yourself a bit. You are, but you'll never learn if Draco's helping you."

"If he wants to help me, he can," Harry said. "Besides, it's not as if I'm going to get the grade I need on my O.W.L to get into the N.E.W.T' .s level class anyway, and we all know it." He swung his bag over his shoulder and walked out of class. He heard footsteps behind him, and soon enough, Draco and Hermione had caught up. 

"That's not true," Hermione said. "Besides, the O.W.L's are a long way off. If you're getting that good of a grade now, you're sure to build on it." Harry nodded. He wasn't sure he believed her, but he had to admit, it would be nice if she was right. He glanced over at Draco, who nodded at him. "So, an O is the highest grade, right?" Hermione asked, apparently wanting to change the subject as they walked towards the Great Hall for lunch.

Draco explained that the passing grades were O for Outstanding, E for Exceeds Expectations, and A for Acceptable. He explained that the failing grades were P for Poor, D for Dreadful, and T for Troll. Harry noticed that when he said the last couple of grades, he was sneering. He was sure that someone like him couldn't imagine getting anything like that.

As soon as they walked into the Great Hall, two friendly and familiar voices came up behind them. Two arms went around Harry's shoulders. "Hey, Jakey," said Fred.

"Hey, Jakey," echoed George.

Harry smirked. "Hey, Fred. Hey, George." He hadn't thought that they would seriously call him that, but then again, he hadn't told them no.

"How did your first week at Hogwarts go?" Fred asked.

Harry shrugged. "Not bad," he said. "It's different, but I'm adjusting." It had helped to have Draco and Hermione - well, more Draco than Hermione since they were in the same house.

"Good to hear. See you later, Jakey," said George, before the twins walked off.

Hermione shook her head and said her goodbyes as well, before following them to the Gryffindor table. Draco, however, looked at him strangely as they headed over to the Slytherin table. "Jakey?" he said, unable to contain himself it seemed.

Harry laughed. "They want to call me that," he said. "It's not a big deal to me, though I seriously didn't think they would. They were with Hermione when we met." That was partially true because it hadn't occurred to him until now that he'd need an excuse as to how he knew that. Draco seemed to accept that explanation, and they ate before heading to their afternoon classes.

~~~~~~~~~~

Defense Against the Dark Arts was their first class after lunch, and they were all dreading it. It was the same as the first class - well, minus the yelling. Umbridge sat at the front of the class, watching them as they read the next chapter. Draco flipped ahead, before going back to their chapter, a look of annoyance on his face. Harry looked around, saw that Draco wasn't the only one frustrated. Theodore looked irritated, as well. After what happened last time, neither one of them said anything. 

Charms class was after that. When that was done, they went to dinner. Draco wanted to go to the library real quick, so Harry went with him. They studied for a bit, before heading back to the dorms. They studied for a bit more on a couch in the Slytherin common room before the blonde said he needed to go because he and Pansy had Prefect duties tonight. 

Draco wasn't back by the time Harry went to bed that night, but he went to bed early. He took that opportunity to read the letter from Sirius that Severus had given him earlier. He grabbed it off the bedside table where he'd set it after getting undressed and opened it.

Dear Harry,

I am sorry that I have not contacted you before now. I figured that you and Sn your father needed time to adjust to the new… situation. 

Harry read in between the lines. Sirius had needed some time to adjust, too. That was understandable, considering that he was now the son of one of my most hated enemies. The word father was was scrambled and messed up as if Sirius hadn't wanted to write it. He had a feeling that Remus might have had something to do with Snape being scratched out after only two letters and the words 'your father' being written instead.

I should have written sooner, though, and I'm sorry about that. It doesn't matter who your father is. James and Lily made me your godfather, and Snape can't change that. I would like to see you. I know you have a Hogsmeade weekend sometime next month. Let me know when you find out what it is. Snape can get the letters to us.

I hope your classes are going well and that you are adjusting to everything.

Sirius

P.S. Remus wants to see you, too. I told him about how you look now, but he wants to see new your new face. He hopes that you two are getting along okay. He also says hi.

A smile broke out across Harry's face. Sirius didn't seem to care that he hadn't written him either, or at least he hadn't mentioned anything about it. Quickly scrambling to his trunk, he got a quill and some ink and wrote down a quick letter.

Dear Sirius,

I'm glad you wrote. Yeah, we did need some time to adjust. It was a bit unusual getting used to, but having that month mostly to ourselves helped. School has been… different. I'm getting used to it, though. People treat me differently, but now because I'm a Snape, not because I'm 'Harry Potter.' I would love to see you, and Remus. I think our first Hogsmeade weekend is the first weekend in October, but I'll ask Dad to make sure.

Great to hear you from you. Classes are good.

Harry

Harry had opted to be a bit vague on the house thing. He hoped that Sirius already assumed that he was Slytherin now; he knew that Remus probably would. He quickly sealed the letter and set it in the drawer on his bedside table, promising to stop by his father's office to give it to him to send off. After that, he drifted off to sleep. Tomorrow night was the Quidditch tryouts, and he wanted to make sure he was fully rested. 

Chapter Text

Harry woke up the next morning to Moirai purring loudly by his ear. He looked over at the black kitten, who was currently curled up in a ball sleeping away. She had no cares in the world. He smiled at her before dragging himself up. It was early, and the entire dorm was still asleep. Crabbe and Goyle's snores echoed throughout the room. He put on some comfortable clothes and headed down to the common room. He had decided that he needed to get going on exercising. After all, that was the routine that his father wanted him and Hermione on. She was doing it every day. He hadn't exercised once since coming back to school.

Walking downstairs, the common room was, of course, empty. He spent the next hour jogging, stretching, and various other exercises - what he had done with Severus before the school year had started. About an hour later, Harry made his way back upstairs. Most of the common room was still asleep. The only one stirring was from the third bed on the right-hand side - Draco's. Of course, Draco - being Draco - was always up before everyone else. 

"You're up early," said Draco as they both headed towards the bathroom to shower. 

Harry shrugged. "Exercising." At the raise of one of Draco's eyebrows, he continued. "It's good for your body. It keeps you in shape." Draco nodded, and that ended the conversation.

~~~~~~~~~

At breakfast, the entire Slytherin table it seemed was talking about the tryouts. Harry did not need a reminder. It had been all he had been thinking about all morning. Suddenly, he didn't feel so hungry. He forced himself to eat because it wouldn't do him any good if he starved himself today because he was too nervous about the tryout to eat. This was stupid; he was an excellent flyer. That was one thing he was sure about. That wasn't stopping him from being more nervous than he had ever felt in his life. He had competed in the Triwizard Tournament last year and faced down Voldemort, yet it was a Quidditch tryout that was making him nervous. How much sense did that make?

Something else going around that morning was Umbridge's first class inspection. She had apparently inspected the Sixth Year NEWTs Divination class. From what he heard around the table from the couple of Slytherins who were in that class, it hadn't gone well for Trelawney. He found it hard to be sympathetic. After all, she had predicted his death pretty much once a week for two years. Not to mention that time she had said he was born in Midwinter. Still, he hated Umbridge more, and no one seemed to really be on Umbridge's side except Umbridge.

~~~~~~~~~

After lunch, the Slytherins had Care of Magical Creatures with the Gryffindors. Professor Grubbly-Plank was still substituting for Hagrid. Unfortunately, Umbridge was waiting right next to her, clipboard in hand. Harry groaned, and he noticed some of the other students did, too. 

"You do not normally teach this class, am I correct?" Umbridge was asking as the class arrived at the trestle table where the bowtruckles were.

"Yes, that is correct," Professor Grubbly-Plank responded. "I am substituting for Professor Hagrid while he is on personal leave." Her hands were behind her back, and she was bouncing on the heels of her feet. 

Harry stayed silent. After all, he had never met Hagrid before - well, Jacob hadn't, anyway. He was only supposed to know what Draco and the other Slytherins had told him. Hermione had come over to stand next to him and Draco, and a glance over at her showed that she was worried. A look to his other side at Draco showed the opposite reaction. A confused mix of feelings went through him at that moment. Hagrid had been his friend since day one, but he didn't know Jacob. Draco hadn't been Harry's friend, but he had been there for him since he had become Jacob. He was his friend and wasn't nearly as bad as he had thought he would have been. 

Draco leaned over to say something to Crabbe and Goyle, who had come to stand on the other side of him. Harry had no doubt that no matter what Draco had been like with him, he would not hesitate to say something against Hagrid to Umbridge, who was a member of the Ministry. Harry nudged Draco in the side. The blonde turned his head, a confused look on his face, but he stopped whatever discussion he'd been whispering about with Crabbe and Goyle.

"Well, I wonder," said Umbridge, lowering her voice, though Harry could still hear her, "the Headmaster has been unwilling to give me any information regarding Professor Hagrid's leave. Do you know anything about his absence?" Harry could feel Draco's excitement at that question.

"'Fraid not," said Professor Grubbly-Plank. "I don't know anything more about it than you do. Professor Dumbledore owled me and asked if I would like to do a couple of weeks of teaching work, and I accepted. That's as much as I know. Shall I get started, then?"

"Yes, please do," said Umbridge, scribbling something down on her clipboard. She watched the students and questioned them on magical creatures throughout the class. Most answered the questions just fine. That lifted Harry's spirits a bit because he had been partially afraid that they would make Hagrid look bad. As Jacob, he may not know him, but as Harry, he always would.

"As a temporary member of the staff, how do you find Hogwarts?" Umbridge asked, returning to Professor Grubbly-Plank's side. "You know, overall, as an objective outsider? Do you feel that you receive enough support from the school management?"

"Yes, of course, Dumbledore's excellent," she responded energetically. "I'm very happy with the way things are run, very happy indeed."

Umbridge had a disbelieving expression on her face. She made a small note on her clipboard but continued. "What are you planning to cover with this year, assuming, of course, that Professor Hagrid does not return?"

"I'll take them through the creatures that they would most often see on the O.W.L," she said. "They've studied unicorns and nifflers. There's not much left to do, so I figured that I'd cover prolocks, kneazles, and make sure that they can recognize crups and knarls…"

" You seem to know what you're doing at any rate," Umbridge said, making an obvious tick on her clipboard. He didn't like her emphasis on you, and liked it even less when she asked her next question to Goyle: "Now, I hear there have been injuries in this class?"

Goyle grinned, and of course, Draco spoke up for him. "Yes, that was me," he said. "I was slashed by a Hippogriff."

"A hippogriff?" Umbridge scribbled frantically on her clipboard. 

"If Malfoy hadn't been such a stupid git and had actually listened to Hagrid…" muttered Ron from the other side of the class.  As much as Harry appreciated that his former friend had said that, the redhead should probably have kept his mouth shut - not that Harry was one to talk, of course.

Hermione shook her head but didn't say anything as Umbridge turned towards Ron. "Five points from Gryffindor, Mr. Weasley." She turned back to Grubbly-Plank. "Thank you very much, Professor Grubbly-Plank. I think that's all I need. You will get the results of your inspection in the next few days."

"Jolly good," she said, and Umbridge took off back towards the castle, and the class continued.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Harry didn't start feeling the nerves again until after Transfiguration ended. Then, as they walked down to dinner, they started to kick in again full force. He made himself eat, but if he was honest with himself, he didn't feel like it very much at the moment. His stomach was twisting around itself. He knew he had nothing to do worry about - he was a very good flyer, but that didn't stop him from being nervous anyway. Draco was doing his best to try and distract him from the impending tryouts by deflecting the conversation away from them. That was easier said than done, as the Slytherins were excited; it was all they could seem to talk about.

On the way to the tryouts, Harry took the opportunity to drop by his father's office real quick and hand over the letter. He told Draco to give him a minute, assuming the blonde would have wanted to walk right in with him. He couldn't give Severus the letter with Draco around. Luckily, the Potions Master was in there, working after having left the Great Hall earlier after dinner. "Hey, Dad. I was just headed to tryouts, but I wanted to give you this first," he said, handing over the letter. "It's my reply to Sirius' letter."

Severus set the letter aside as he graded papers. "I will send it off tonight."

"He and Remus want to see me," he said. "The first Hogsmeade weekend is the first weekend in October, right?"

Severus nodded, putting his quill aside for a moment. "I do not think it wise to meet with a convicted killer in the middle of the day in Hogsmeade."

"We've done it before."

"That doesn't surprise me," Severus said. "Nonetheless, if you want to meet with them, we can come up with a way for you to do so. I will send my own letter along with this one tonight."

Harry smiled brightly. "Thank you!" He was excited at the prospect of seeing Sirius again. Things had been rather awkward and tense the last time because he had just found out the truth of his parentage. It seemed like a lifetime ago. "Anyway, I need to go to tryouts now. Draco's waiting for me."

"Nervous?" Severus said, going back to grading papers.

Harry nodded. "You have no idea," he said.

"You'll do fine." His father looked up at him again before looking back down at his papers, making a flurry of red marks on the one he was on.

Harry smiled at him. "Thanks. I know, but… I'm still nervous. I'll see you later." He left, meeting with Draco, who was waiting for him outside of the rooms.

"Did he tell you what you wanted to hear?" Draco asked.

"For once, yes," Harry said as they headed towards the Quidditch Pitch, and his nerves returned in full force.

~~~~~~~~~~

Harry stood there, gripping the broom that Draco had given him tighter than was probably necessary. There was a gaggle of students around - some he knew, some he didn't. Other students sat in the stands, ready to watch their friends and classmates try out for the team and hopefully make it. Montague, the Captain, was standing off the side not far from where he stood with Draco. Pucey, Warrington, and Bletchley were standing near him. That made Harry nervous. Crabbe and Goyle were standing nearby. He had been surprised to see them there, but then again, they were basically human Bludgers already, weren't they?

"Don't be nervous," Draco said from his side. "I saw you fly. You'll do great."

Harry nodded. "I know. It's just… I've never done this before, and some of the people here were on the team last year," he said, forgetting for a moment that there hadn't been Quidditch last year.

"There wasn't Quidditch last year," Draco clarified. "It was cancelled because of the Triwizard Tournament, so it was the year before that. And yes, some of them were on the team that year. Bletchley has been Keeper since his second year, so it's unlikely that his challenger will beat him. It's his last year, too, same with Pucey and Warrington."

"Who I'm up against," Harry pointed out.

Draco nodded. "Yes, but don't worry about them," he said. "You're a better flyer than either of them by far." 

Glancing around, Harry saw Marcus and Salenia standing there. "What are they trying out for? Chasers, as well?"

Draco nodded again. "They've both tried out for the last two years, but never gotten on the team," he said. "They're good, actually, but there's only ever two spots, you know? The last Captain, Flint, he was a Chaser, too. Pucey and Montague were on the team that year. They were on the team the next year, too, the year I made the team. The next year, though, Pucey didn't make the team. Flint choose Warrington instead of him. He wasn't happy about that, let me tell you."

"I can imagine," said Harry in response. He couldn't remember offhand, which had been a better flier. Looking at them now, standing with Montague and Bletchley, Bletchley was the leaner of the four of them, but all three were bigger than either him or Draco. He had been Seeker, so he had always been more concerned about Draco and the Snitch than what the rest of the team was doing. Besides, Lee Jordan's commentary was good for keeping up with that.

"He swore he would make the team this year, though," Draco added. 

"What about Beaters?" he asked, enjoying listening to Draco talk for the moment. It kept his mind off his nerves as last-minute people filled in either try out or watch.

"Crabbe and Goyle, mark my words," said Draco. "They're human bludgers themselves, so they should do fine. Derrick and Bole finished school with Flint." A few other people were trying out for Beater's position, though, but Harry had to agree with him.

Montague decided he didn't want to wait and whistled to get everyone's attention. He gave a brief speech on how he expected things to do, and after that, all Harry had to do was wait until his name was called. He started gripping his broom tighter as each person before him went. He felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to see Draco there. "Stop worrying; you'll do great."

Marcus and Salenia both went, and did well, he thought. He was too nervous to say anything to them, and a short while later, Montague called his name. He took a deep breath and mounted his broom, going into the air as the Captain handed him the ball. He felt instantly better as he was up in the air. He was not up against Bletchley, who had already finished his tryout, but a much smaller and very nervous second year.

Harry flew around as quickly as he could, sending various shots. The first few were more basic, easier, but he started to try other things - fake-outs and other shots that he had noticed the Gryffindor Chasers doing while he had been on their team. The second year managed to block the first one, but after that, all the others sailed by him. Harry felt bad for him, actually, but only a little. He couldn't help but feel a bit elated now that he was done.

Harry went down to the ground as Montague grabbed the ball again, ready for the next in line - Pucey. Warrington had been the first to go. He had been decent - a bit slow, but aggressive. Personally, Harry hadn't been impressed, though. He didn't expect much more from Pucey, either, but then again, the Slytherin team was always about aggression and intimidation from what he remembered. He was proved wrong, though. Draco was right - Pucey was angry at not having made the team two years ago, and it showed. He flew better than Harry had ever seen him - though not as good as him, of course - and with plenty of aggression, showing off as much as he could. It was a good tryout, and he was pleasantly surprised at how well he'd done after not having played on the team for two years.

There was only one other person up after that, but Harry didn't pay much attention. He hadn't paid much attention to the Beater tryouts, either, though he had noticed that Crabbe and Goyle had done decently. The other Beater prospects were a little more… wild than them, and he wasn't sure about them now that he was looking at them objectively. Harry gripped his broom tightly again as the tryouts wound down, and Montague began to pace.

After a moment, Montague stopped and whistled again to get everyone's attention. "Okay, let's get the obvious out of the way," he said. "Draco Malfoy is unchallenged as Seeker, so he remains Seeker." Draco smirked as they heard some clapping in the stands, presumably from their friends. "Bletchley stays Keeper." The little second year looked downcast, but not surprised as Bletchley gave a smirk and a nudge to both Warrington and Pucey. They both looked confident, and it was clear by their interaction that all three expected Montague to announce both of them as the other two Chasers.

"Beaters are Crabbe and Goyle." That left only the Chasers to be announced, and Montague hesitated a bit. "Pucey…" Warrington and Bletchley both congratulated him. "... and Snape." Warrington and Bletchley both froze. It was clear both of them hadn't been expecting that. They clearly thought that Montague would show favoritism towards his friend, and had been wrong. A furious look crossed Warrington's face. Pucey said something to him, but Harry couldn't tell what. At the moment, he had just let out a deep breath that he hadn't known he had been holding in.

"I told you," said Draco, momentarily laying another hand on his shoulder. 

"You were right," he said. "Nothing to be worried about. You agree with Montague's choices?"

Draco nodded. "Absolutely," he said. "Warrington didn't do bad today, but not as well as Pucey, and definitely not as well as you. You by far had the best tryout today. Crabbe and Goyle were better than the others, as well, and so was Bletchley." He shrugged. "Warrington's just pissed off because he was on the team two years ago and got beat out today. It happens. You win some, you lose some. Montague just wants the best possible team, and that includes you." It probably didn't hurt that he, Crabbe, and Goyle were friends with Draco, but he wasn't about to say that. 

Warrington, Bletchley, and Pucey went up to Montague. Warrington was still pissed, but Montague didn't seem to be taking any of it. Eventually, Warrington stomped off towards the castle as the crowd died off. He, Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle made their way over to Montague. "Okay, team, first practice is two days from now, at seven. Don't be late. We'll talk more then." After that, everyone started heading back towards the castle.

They met up with their yearmates as they were walking towards the dungeons, who congratulated him, Crabbe, and Goyle on jobs well done. Harry just wanted to go back and go to sleep. He was exhausted and drained. He had made the team, though. He did stop by his father's rooms, and he did stop by to tell him that briefly before heading back to his rooms and going to sleep.

~~~~~~~~~~

Severus shut the door to his rooms as Harry left. His son had made the team. He had looked elated, but drained, and quickly left, citing that he wanted to sleep. He didn't blame him. He couldn't help but feel a sense of pride that his son had made the house team, not that he was surprised, of course. Harry had always been a better flyer than most people, and it seems that hadn't changed despite being a Chaser now and not a Seeker. He was adjusting rather well, all things considered. Aside from the incident with the Umbridge bitch, everything else seemed to be fine.

Severus sat down at his desk, a letter sitting on it. He hadn't sent Harry's letter to Black yet, but he needed to do so before the night had ended. He had told his son he would, after all. He read over the letter once more, before sealing it with Harry's letter.

Black,

While I understand your continued relationship with my son, I do protest meeting him in broad daylight in Hogsmeade. From my understanding, you have done this before last year. He does want to meet you, and I do not plan to do anything to prevent him from doing so. However, considering the fact that you are a wanted criminal, I want to make sure that you know what you're doing and will not put my son in danger in any way.

S

Severus sent both letters through the Floo to Grimmauld Place. He detested the idea of Black's continued presence in Harry's life, but he knew better than to tell them both they couldn't speak. That was foolish, though the idea of never having to deal with Black ever again had merit. He could not and would not control his son's life, though. That, unfortunately, meant having to deal with Black for the unforeseeable future. He would, however, make sure that Black wasn't going to put Harry's life in danger only to see him for his own selfish reasons.

Severus went back over to his desk, looking over the notes that he had sprawled across there. This potion would work in time, but he needed to finetune it. It could prove too fast too dangerous if he didn't plan this out properly before he started trying to make it. Experimental potions could be dangerous.

Frowning, he made a few more notes, scratching out some ideas and rewriting them before standing up. He would worry about that potion later. He had some time yet before it would need to be ready.

Chapter Text

Compared to the day of the Quidditch tryouts, the next day was completely uneventful. The only exciting thing going around Hogwarts was the next of Umbridge’s inspections - this time on Professor McGonagall. It had been one of her second year classes in the morning. The Hufflepuffs were talking about it during lunch, and by dinner time, the entire school was talking about it. Apparently, McGonagall, in typical McGonagall fashion, hadn’t taken any of Umbridge’s shit and wouldn’t even let her speak. Harry remembered Umbridge’s inspection of Care of Magical Creatures the day before, and could almost picture McGonagall shutting her down. He was almost sad that he hadn’t been there to see it.

The next morning when he and Draco had arrived for breakfast, there was a conversation going on between Daphne, Pansy, and Blaise. They looked at both of them as they sat down in between Theodore and Marcus. Crabbe and Goyle were sitting next to Blaise, and looked a bit off-put that Draco wasn’t sitting with them. Then again, Draco hadn’t sat with them the entire school year, all ten days of it. The conversation died off as they sat down and acted for a few minutes as if they hadn’t been carrying on a conversation when they had walked in.

“Draco, I find something very curious,” Pansy said.

“Oh, and what is that?” Draco asked, a bored and drawling tone to his voice as he ate. 

“You see,” said Pansy, “you and Jacob are spending an awful lot of time together.” Harry’s head snapped up at the mention of his name. He looked over at Draco, who didn’t seem overly interested in the conversation. 

Draco shrugged, not even looking up at them. “Your point being?”

“My point is,” said Pansy continuing, “that we just find it curious that since the start of this school year, you haven’t hung out with poor Vincent and Gregory at all. Just Jacob.”

Draco’s head snapped up to look at the three of them. Blaise and Daphne were smirking on either side of Pansy. “You’re overthinking things,” he said, his grey eyes giving them a fierce glare.

“Are you sure about that?” Blaise asked. “Because - “

“Yes, I’m sure,” Draco said, cutting him off. “You’re overthinking things. Now drop it.” They did drop it, and the conversation turned to other things after that. Nonetheless, Harry had a slight feeling that he had missed something. What were they trying to get at? So, he and Draco hung out a lot. They were friends. He, Ron, and Hermione had hung out a lot, too. He wasn’t sure what they had been trying to hint at, so he put it out of his mind.

~~~~~~~~~~

Potions was their first class that day. Severus started handing back the essays, and Harry was satisfied with the A he had gotten on his. He preferred to have gotten an O, of course, but that was never going to happen. At least he had passed. Draco peaked over to see his paper, and Harry saw the bright, shining O on his paper. Hermione did the same, but he noticed her paper had gotten an E, not an O. He found that rather strange, but he knew that Hermione might be a bit put out once she saw Draco’s grade. If she saw Draco’s grade, of course. 

“I have given you the grades that you would have gotten had you turned that work in for your O.W.L,” said his father as he walked around the room, handing back essays. “This should give you a realistic idea of what to expect when that examination comes and what you need to work on. The general standard of this homework was atrocious. Most of you would have failed your examination. I expect a great deal more effort on this week’s homework on the various varieties of venom antidotes. If the standard isn’t improved, then I will start handing out detentions if anyone gets a D.”

Draco started to snigger, and Harry nudged him in his side. “Some people got D’s ?” Harry nudged him again, and the blonde didn’t say anymore, though that superior smirk was still on his face.

“We are continuing the Strengthening Solutions today,” Severus continued. “You will find your mixtures as you left them last lesson. They should have matured over the past couple of days if you made them correctly.” He waved his wand, and the instructions appeared on the board. “The instructions are behind me. Carry on.”

Harry was determined to do a good job on this potion, and he paid diligent attention to each instruction that his father had written on the board. He still got nudges from Draco a couple of times, but all in all, he was relatively pleased with himself when the class ended. His potion still ended up a bit greener than the turquoise it was required to be. Both Draco’s and Hermione’s were the proper color. 

After they had turned in their potions, they were packing up when Hermione started speaking. “I would have preferred an O,” she said, “but I’m okay with what I got. Somewhere to go from here, right, Jacob?”

Harry knew why she was saying this. She wanted to make sure that he didn’t feel bad about him getting an A instead of E, which he had gotten on his first potion. “Yes, I know,” he said.

“What did you get on the essay, Draco?” Hermione asked conversationally.

Draco scoffed. “An O, of course,” he said as if the very idea of getting anything else was insulting.

Hermione got quiet for a moment before speaking again as they were walking out of the dungeon. “Oh. That’s just… I mean, that’s great for you, of course…”

“Let’s see your essay,” Draco said, holding out his hand. Hermione hesitated for a second, before digging hers back out as they walked and handing it over. Draco gave another scoff and handed it back to her. “I see why you got an E instead of an O, Granger.”

Hermione’s eyes widened, and she did nothing but look at the essay over, and over the entire time, they walked into the Great Hall. “Did you have to do that?” Harry asked him.

Draco smirked at him. “Of course,” he said. “She typically either beats me or equals me in everything, so I’m going to enjoy it when I beat her fair and square for once. She’ll have to learn not to go off on those tangents in her essays, especially in Snape’s class.” Harry rolled his eyes but didn’t continue the conversation after that.

~~~~~~~~~~

That night was the Slytherin team’s first Quidditch practice. He was nowhere near as nervous as he had been for tryouts a couple of days before. He and Draco had gone back to the dorm room to change into their Quidditch robes. “Nervous?” the blonde asked him.

Harry shook his head. “A bit. I mean, it’s my first Quidditch practice, but not as much as I was the other day,” he said. Well, it was his first Quidditch practice as a Chaser , though he had been to plenty as a Seeker. Wood had been a taskmaster, after all. 

“It was a tryout,” Draco said simply. “Of course, you would have been a bit nervous.” 

Harry felt the need to roll his eyes at that because he doubted that Draco knew anything about being nervous during tryouts. He didn’t think that Draco had actually tried out back in their second year. Chances are, he was the only person who tried out. That and his father buying the entire team brooms would pretty much have made up Flint’s mind. “You told me not to be nervous, as I recall,” he settled on saying.

“Of course, I did.” The two of them made their way out of the dorm and into the common room. “I’m your friend. What was I supposed to say? ‘Sure, be nervous. It’s going to be nerve-wracking, but you’ll do fine. However, yes, be nervous. Be very nervous,” Draco drawled. “Honestly…”

Harry did roll his eyes that time. “No, of course not, I just mean that -” What had he meant? Isn’t that what a friend was supposed to do? Do their best to ease their friends’ nerves and make them feel better? 

Draco just smirked at him as they walked out of the common room, seeming to know that he’d won that argument. Harry gave him a good-natured shove. “You can wipe that smirk off your face, thanks,” he said, which only caused Draco to chuckle. 

Harry was still getting used to the idea of being friends with Draco. He had only agreed to spend time with him at first because he felt it made sense, and since he had assumed he would be in Slytherin, it would do no good to alienate him. However, as the weeks had passed, things had changed. He wasn’t as bad as he had expected, and while he was still a pompous, arrogant little shit, Harry found himself actually enjoying spending time with Daco. That thought in and of itself was strange, but since they had come to school, he hadn’t been without him for very long. The only time they were separated, it seemed, was during his and Hermione’s training sessions with Severus Saturday morning and during his time with his father on Sunday. It was a bit weird, or at least it should be. For some reason, though, it wasn’t.

Before long, they were at the Quidditch pitch, and Harry and Draco made their way to the locker room where the other members of the team were waiting. They took their seats, and Montague was leaning up against the wall. As soon as they sat down, he pushed off from the wall and stood in front of the group. “Okay, so here’s how this year is going to go,” he said in a plain, matter-of-fact tone. “We’re going to train hard. We haven’t won the Quidditch Cup in four years, and that’s going to change. We will win this year.” Harry heard the meaning behind the words: by any means necessary. 

Harry could, and would not cheat. Yes, he knew he was in Slytherin now, and yes, he knew the Sorting Hat had wanted him in there from day one. Nonetheless, he wouldn’t resort to cheating. If Montague encouraged that, and he knew that at some point he would, Harry planned on putting his foot down. Besides, it wasn’t like they weren’t going to get caught. It was bound to bring the whole team down when the other team was allowed a penalty shot - or three - because their team was cheating. It didn’t make sense to him. Maybe if they couldn’t get caught, but there was always a good chance of getting caught in a Quidditch game with Madam Hooch watching.

Montague talked for a little while about strategy. He hadn’t specifically mentioned cheating, but Harry waited for it. Surprisingly, though, it didn’t. Their Captain just talked about being aggressive while playing, to not shy back from the other team, and stuff like that. He didn’t specifically mention cheating at all. He knew it was coming, though. It was only a matter of time.

~~~~~~~~~~

All in all, their first practice went well. Montague had talked about some plays for a bit before they went and actually began practicing. Their Captain was a taskmaster, and everyone seemed to be putting everything they had into their first practice, even Crabbe and Goyle, who never seemed to show much interest in anything except food. That is, everyone except Draco. It was about halfway through when Harry realized what was going on. Draco was watching them, not the Snitch. He wasn’t doing anything . He tried to look for the Snitch after that, and it took him some time to find it. He was, after all, more worried about trying to score and not looking for the Snitch. He did manage to spot it eventually on the other end of the pitch.

Immediately, a wave of anger rushed through him. What was Draco playing at? It shouldn’t be any of his business, but it annoyed him nonetheless. After all, Montague was the Captain, yet he didn’t seem to be too worried about Draco and what he was - or wasn’t - doing. Harry just put the anger into his training and noticed that towards the end of practice, Draco actually went and looked for the Golden Snitch. It was too little too late as far as Harry was concerned.

They went back to the locker rooms and changed as Montague told them what they needed to work on for their next practice Sunday night. He waited for Draco almost out of habit, though he was still annoyed with him. They walked back to the Slytherin Common Room in silence, and it was about halfway there before Draco started to speak. “What’s wrong with you?” Draco asked. “Practice went well if you asked me.”

“I didn’t,” Harry snapped, and he didn’t look over to see the expression Draco’s face. He could imagine the blonde was a bit shocked, though. “Practice went well for us . Do you know what you did?” He realized that he had stopped walking, and the two of them were now facing each other in the hallway. Harry tried to tell himself that he shouldn’t care. He wasn’t the Captain. Montague was. What Draco did during practice was none of his business, but it did bother him.

“Oh?” Draco crossed his arms over his chest.

“Nothing.” Harry saw an almost confused look crossing Draco’s face. “You did absolutely nothing but watch the rest of us work. Even Crabbe and Goyle were practicing! All you did was fly around, observing the rest of us like you’re better than us while the Snitch was on the other side of the pitch!” He could tell by the fleeting look of shock crossing Draco’s face that had caught him off guard. He had no idea whether that was because he didn’t think that it was true or he didn’t think that he was going to get caught.

“I was just -” Draco began and then seemed to switch gears. “I always come through when it counts.”

“Oh, really?” Harry said, knowing first hand how much of a lie that was. “So, you’re undefeated then, I take it.” He knew that was a low blow because he was the only person to have defeated Draco to his knowledge. Draco’s silence was the only answer that Harry needed. “I thought so. You’re getting complacent. You don’t know what the new Seekers of Hufflepuff and Gryffindor are like; you only think you do. If you let yourself get smug about it instead of actually doing the work, you’re going to bring the whole team down. We are working.”

Draco just stood there for a moment, and Harry wondered if he’d lost his temper. Okay, so he had lost his temper. He and Draco had become friends, though, and he didn’t want his temper to lose his biggest ally in Slytherin. Things would get very hard for him if he made an enemy of Draco. “You’re right,” Draco said. “Potter’s gone, but that doesn’t mean I should get complacent, especially when you and everyone else on the team are working so hard. I should put in the work, too.”

Harry stood there in silence for a moment, a bit surprised that it seemed he had won this argument. He hadn’t expected Draco to agree with him. “Well, okay then,” he said. “Glad you agree.”

“Next practice will be different,” Draco said as they began their walk back to the Slytherin Dungeon. Harry found that he actually cared if it was. This was his team now, and there was nothing he could do about it. He was going to do his best because he didn’t like losing at Quidditch - no matter what his position on the team happened to be. He wanted Draco to do well, too, which surprised him a bit. He put that thought out of his mind, though.

“So, you found out where the Snitch was, did you?” Draco asked, trying to lighten the mood. “Not trying to steal my position, are you?”

Harry scoffed, silently knowing that he could easily do so if he wanted. No, he had promised Severus. It would be too suspicious. “No, don’t worry, and it took me a while to find it if you must know.” That, at least, was true, but not for the reason Draco would think. It wasn’t that he wasn’t as good at it - history had proved otherwise - but he had been too busy being a Chaser.

“Good, because don’t think that practice is a sign of how good or bad I am,” Draco said, the trademark smirk on his face. 

“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Harry replied as they went into the Slytherin Common Room.

~~~~~~~~~~

Severus made his way up to the Headmaster’s Office. The Headmaster had requested to see him. Since there was no reason at the present time for the old man to want to meet with him, he found himself a bit confused. After all, school’s second week had just ended, so it couldn’t be school-related. There hadn’t been a Death Eater meeting, as Voldemort was still building his army and getting his plans in place. There hadn’t been an Order meeting either, so it couldn’t be that. Therefore, there was no logical reason for this meeting to be occurring. The Potions Master still found his way to the gargoyle, and uttering the password, went up into the Headmaster’s Office.

“You summoned me, Headmaster?” Severus asked as he went inside.

“Ah, yes, Severus,” said the Headmaster, those damned blue eyes twinkling at him. “Please, do sit down.” He gestured towards the chair in front of him. He did as he was told, sitting down across from the Headmaster. “Tea? Lemon Drops?”

Severus shook his head. “No, thank you,” he said. “Now, why did you ask me here?”

Dumbledore smiled at him. “I simply wish to see how things were going.” Severus just sat there, silently, because the Headmaster never just simply asked him up here for a talk. There was always an ulterior motive where he was involved. “I was wondering how young Jacob was doing.”

Severus’s black eyes flicked towards the portraits on the walls, before looking back at Dumbledore. Of course, the old man couldn’t be honest with them around. Everyone knew that the portraits liked to travel between frames and gossip. “He is fine,” he said.

“He is adjusting well enough? Doing well in his schoolwork?” Dumbledore asked.

“Yes, he is doing fine,” he said. “It hasn’t been an easy transition, but thanks to Mr. Malfoy and Miss Granger, he is adjusting well enough.” 

“That is good to hear,” Dumbledore said. 

Severus found this whole thing rather odd. He knew that Dumbledore was invested in his Harry. He was still his Golden Boy, after all. The Potions Master also knew that the old man had his plans for his son, but that didn’t mean that he had to like being in the dark. “If there is something -”

“No, Severus, nothing at all,” Dumbledore said, the tone in his voice unfailingly pleasant. It gave nothing away, which annoyed Severus to no end. “How are you adjusting to fatherhood?”

“Well enough,” Severus admitted. “It is something that I am getting used to.” He did not feel like going into greater detail in that regard. They were doing great, him and Harry, all things considered. Just over a month ago, they had hated each other. They most certainly did not now.

“Of course,” Dumbledore said, simply sitting there, sipping his tea.

“If there is nothing else -” Severus began.

“No, that is all,” the old man said. “Just checking on our exchange student. We haven’t had one in many, many years. I am invested in the boy’s future.”

Of course, you are, Severus thought to himself. He knew the old man had something up his sleeve, but he knew better than to try and pry such information out of him. The Headmaster never told everyone everything, but he confined in Severus more than most. He didn’t think for a second this was just a social call, but only time would tell as to what was really going on. However, Severus took his leave of Dumbledore. He had better things to do than sit here watching the Headmaster drink tea.

~~~~~~~~~~

Saturday morning came. Harry was, as he had been doing every day, up early to exercise. After breakfast, he headed to meet with Hermione and Severus for Defense training. She was, as she had been last week, already there. After they exchanged greetings, something irked at Harry’s mind. “I was wondering something,” he said. “Why have you been getting so upset at Draco helping me?” Silence followed his question, and she averted her gaze. “Is it because it’s not you helping me like you always used to do with me and Ron?”

Hermione looked up at him then. “No, of course not!” she said. “It’s just…”

“Because, you know, you used to practically do half of Ron’s work for him,” Harry pointed out.

 A flash of annoyance went through Hermione’s eyes then. “I know, and don’t think I’m proud of that fact now, because I’m not,” she said.

“Is it because you fancied Ron?” Harry asked her, the words coming out before he could stop.

A look of shock crossed Hermione’s face, but she quickly covered it up. “You knew that, huh?”

Harry nodded. “Yes, I figured it out,” he said. It had been kind of obvious actually, not that Ron would have noticed anything. He hadn’t planned on mentioning it at all, ever, but it had just come out. He was still trying to figure out why she had a problem with Draco helping him.

“That was part of it,” she admitted, “but that wasn’t the whole reason. And it has nothing to do with this.” She took a deep breath before continuing. “Look, I realize something now. Ron was a bad influence on you, and don’t argue with me. He’s not stupid or weak or anything like that. He’s not, but he just doesn’t apply himself or see the need to try. You always stuck to him like glue, and so that sort of rubbed off. I didn’t want either of you to fail, and I was afraid you both would if I didn’t, so I helped you more than I should have.”

Harry had never considered that before. For the most part, his and Ron’s grades had always been decent, outside of the obvious classes that they didn’t do well in, like Potions. It never occurred to him that she may have feared them failing without her help. “We wouldn’t have failed,” he told her. “We always managed.”

Hermione nodded. “That’s probably true,” she said. “And maybe I worry too much.” She shrugged her shoulders. “It doesn’t matter now.”

“So, what does that have to do with Draco helping me?”

Hermione sighed. “It’s like I said, I always thought Ron was a bad influence when it comes to academics,” she said. “I saw you doing better, studying more and all that. And on your own, without help, because I should never have helped you or Ron as much as I did. I know that. I guess seeing Draco helping you so much; I was afraid you would slip into bad habits.”

Harry shook his head. In a way, he understood what she was saying. At least she was acknowledging that she shouldn’t have helped them so much. Not that he turned down the help before, because honestly, who would? “It’s not the same thing,” he said. “He’s not doing the work for me, like you doing half of Ron’s paper that one time.”

Hermione blushed, burying her face in her hands for a moment. “I know, and I’m so ashamed of doing that now,” she said. “I just don’t think you see how smart you really are, and I was afraid if you let Draco help so much, you never would.”

Harry walked over, putting a hand on Hermione’s shoulder. “You need to stop worrying so much.” 

“I know,” she said, smiling at him. “It’s just… this change has been good for you. You realize that, don’t you? I think you’re more comfortable, more yourself now. It suits you, and I don’t just mean your new face - sorry, I mean your true face - but just everything.” Harry wasn’t sure what to say to that, because honestly, he hadn’t thought much about it. Maybe she was right, but he was saved from having to think about that anymore as his father walked in.

~~~~~~~~~~

Training went well, Harry thought. He and Hermione still had a lot of work to do, but each time they trained with Severus, they got a little bit better. Severus left ahead of them, leaving Harry and Hermione to walk out alone. He noticed that Hermione was being rather quiet. He didn’t think it was because of their earlier conversation. “What’s wrong, Hermione?”

“Nothing,” she said. He gave her a look, one that clearly said that he knew she was lying. “Really, it’s just… This got me thinking again about something, something I’ve been thinking about. It doesn’t matter, though.”

“Hermione…”

“Look, it’s just that… Umbridge is horrible, and her class is utterly ridiculous,” Hermione said, a fire in her eyes now that he had gotten her talking. “You and I may be learning how to pass our O.W.L’s, thanks to Snape, but no one else is. It’s just ludicrous that we’re stuck with her because the Ministry is a bunch of morons. Someone has to teach Defense; someone has to.”

Harry was confused. “What are you going on about?”

“Well, if circumstances were different, I would have asked you to teach defense.”

Shock ran through Harry at that. Him? Why would she suggest something like that? “I can’t teach defense,” he said, hoping to brush this conversation under the rug.

“Of course you can,” Hermione said. “We need someone with real experience, and that’s you. Your father can’t do it publicly for obvious reasons, but if you were still Harry Potter, you could.”

A mix of emotions ran through Harry at that - anger and fear among them - and he quickly made to push them all down. “No, I couldn’t have taught anyway. I mean, you and Draco must have beaten me in every test.”

“No, actually we didn’t,” Hermione said. “You were the top of the year in Defense in our third year, the only year we’ve had a competent teacher. And I’m not talking about tests and grades, Harry! There are more important things. Look at what you’ve done.”  

The anger came back, along with annoyance. How could Hermione just stand there and say that when she knew first hand what he’d had to go through to do those things. “It’s not that easy,” he said. “I mean, you can just say that I have experience with Defense like it’s an easy statement to make, but it’s not. It’s a lot more complicated than that. I mean, I hardly knew what I was doing most of the time, and I almost always had help. I got through it because I was lucky or I got help, not because I’m brilliant at it or anything. You don’t know what it’s like. It’s not just knowing some spells and throwing them at Voldemort or anything like that.”

Hermione had fallen silent, simply listening to him rant. Harry just kept talking, not being able to stop now that he’d gotten started. “I mean, when you’re close to death or watching a friend die, it’s just… You don’t know what that’s like. That’s like saying Cedric Diggory was stupid or something -”

“Calm down, Harry,” said Hermione, finally speaking up. “That’s not what I meant, and you know it. But everything you just said, that was why I would say you. It doesn’t matter now, though, because we can’t put the spells back on you just for this. It’s too much of a risk to you and your father. That’s just what I was thinking, that’s all.” Harry had a headache now, and he didn’t want to think about this anymore. She had a point - someone had to do it, but there was no one, was there? They were silent the rest of the way as they left, promising to meet up later for studying as they usually did.

Chapter Text

Severus poured two glasses of Pinot Noir. He preferred brandy; it was most certainly his alcohol of choice. He didn't mind a good glass of wine when he could find it, however. He picked up his glass, looking at his guest that sat in the chair across from him and raised it. "Another year," he said simply before bringing the glass to lips and sipped it before setting it back down on the table. 

"Yes, another year," said Aurora Sinistra in response as she brought her own glass to her lips. Once she had taken a sip, she set it back down on the table next to his. "So, Severus, how have your classes been so far?"

Severus rolled his eyes. "Same as always," he said. "Most of them are imbeciles with no respect for the art."

Aurora smirked at him. "You say that every year," she said, picking up her wine glass and taking another sip. "And as I always say, you should try teaching Astronomy. No one respects that. Few take the N.E.W.T's level and don't comment on your lack of N.E.W.T's level students. You require an O, so of course, you only have a handful of students every year."

Severus returned her smirk. He didn't bother to explain himself. They had this conversation every year. His response would always be that he only wanted the best students, which is why his requirements for the N.E.W.T level courses were higher than the other teachers. He and Sinistra had been working together for about ten years now. They had mostly ignored each other at first but slowly had become friends of a sort. Their occasional talks at the end of staff meetings and meals had turned into about once a month talks over the past several years. "And I suppose, as usual, you'll complain that no one has a proper respect for Astronomy because even if they get the required grade, most students will drop anyway," he said as he picked up his wine glass and sipped it.

Aurora just continued smirking, not deigning his comment with a response because she knew he was right. That was her usual response. "So, how is your boy?" she asked, changing the subject as she took another sip of her wine. "I'm still trying to reconcile you , of all people, having a son."

Severus scoffed. "Trust me, at first, I thought the same thing," he said. "It's been an adjustment on both of our lives."

"He seems like a good boy," she said. "Very quiet in class, always stands with Malfoy. Decent grades so far."

Severus nodded. He had been adjusting very well to life as Jacob Snape instead of Harry Potter. He attributed a lot of that to Miss Granger and Draco. Granger had stuck by his side, regardless of the change in appearance that had come when the spells had fallen. Draco had taken to "Jacob" almost instantly, which did not surprise him in the least. "Yes, he's been doing very well so far," he said. "He's getting along with the other students rather well."

"And the two of you? Must be hard going from complete strangers to father and son," she said.

Severus nodded. "We are managing quite well under the circumstances," he said. That statement was more truth than he would have believed. He and Harry had come a long way in the past month. At the time, he was just hoping for them to tolerate each other, considering their history with each other. He would like to say it had come a lot farther than that. After all, his son was calling him "Dad" now. The word itself… it was a very powerful word. He enjoyed hearing it, in spite of himself. He never thought he would want fatherhood; it wasn't something he would have chosen, and certainly not being the father of Harry Potter. However, now that it had… he knew he wouldn't go back even if he could.

Aurora smiled at him. "Not everyone would have done what you did," she told him.

"What was I supposed to do? He had no other family." That wasn't exactly true, but it was the story as most of the world knew it.

"And if he did? If he had some other family to go to?"

Severus sipped on his wine because he knew the answer to that. As it happened, Harry did have family. Family he didn't intend on letting his son ever go back to. "Then it would depend on what he wanted," he said. "I certainly wouldn't remain out of his life either way."

Aurora nodded, lightly tapping her brown fingers against the wine glass as she smiled at him. "It's a lot to take in, I'm sure," she said, as she took another sip, "especially since you never wanted kids to my knowledge. That's one thing we agreed upon if I remember correctly."

"It doesn't matter what I wanted now," Severus pointed out. She was right enough, though. She had asked his opinion one day, years ago now. As a Hogwarts teacher, dating was difficult for those who actually wanted to do so. She asked if he wanted to settle down. It had been, prior to that point, one of the few things they had not discussed so she had asked out of curiosity. He had scoffed at her and told her of course not. Neither of those was anything that he would want was what he had told her at the time. She had agreed, though she said she was not opposed to the whole affair; it hadn't been anything she was looking for, either. Now, that conversation seemed like a lifetime ago.

Aurora gave a dismissive wave of her hand. "Yes, of course. I meant no offense." She took another sip of her wine before changing the subject. "So, what do you think of Umbridge?" Severus rolled his eyes and told her about the incident involving his son. Aurora agreed it was horrible, though she disagreed with him going to her rooms and yelling at her the way he had. "There are other ways to get back at someone," she told him, "though I don't blame you for wanting to get your son out of detention with her after finding that out. Anyone would do the same."

"I am aware of that," he said as he finished his glass of wine. He already had something in mind, though it was still in the planning stages. He watched as she finished her own glass of wine and sat it on the table. 

"Well, as enjoyable as our conversations always are, Severus, I do have work to catch up on," she told him, standing up. He got up and followed her to the door. "As always, I love our talks."

"Same to you, Aurora," he told her. She gave him a smile as she left, and he shut the door behind her. He headed over to his desk. While he went over the papers that sat there, he looked over at the potion once again, before resuming his markings as he revised his plan.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sunday came around, and Harry found himself again in his father's rooms. They ate lunch together before starting chess. They talked about Quidditch, classes, and the like. Harry enjoyed these days when it was just the two of them. "By the way," Severus asked him as he moved a piece, "where did you hide the letter?"

Harry looked up at him over the chessboard, slightly confused by the apparently random question that was being asked. "The letter?"

Severus looked up at him, his face unreadable. "Yes, the letter that Black sent you," he said. "The one that uses your real name, and cites me as your father. The one that could get us killed if in the wrong hands. That letter." His voice was deadly even, a tone that his father had rarely used with him.

Harry froze. What had he done with it? He remembered writing the response and putting both in his bedside drawer. "I - I think it's still in the drawer of my bedside table."

Severus groaned, putting his face in his hands. "Go get it," he said quickly before looking up at him. "Now, go get it! Do you have any idea what could happen to both of us if someone read that letter? Go! Now!"

Harry scrambled up out of his chair, their chess match forgotten. In hindsight, his father had a point. He needed to be more careful about this stuff. How stupid was he? What if someone had found that? His mind immediately went to Draco, and he felt a pang of guilt for thinking about the blonde. It wasn't that he didn't trust him. They were friends. It was that he felt like he shouldn't trust him. Their previous history had shown exactly what he was like, and he was having trouble reconciling that with the person he'd made friends with. He wanted to trust him, but he knew exactly how he'd react if he found that letter.

Harry made his way to the Slytherin Dungeon, sneaking his way past his housemates and into his dorm. He grabbed the letter, which luckily didn't look as if it had been touched or moved. He slipped it into his robes. He left, making his way towards the exit when he heard Draco calling him. He turned around, and there he was, standing right behind him.

"Aren't you supposed to be with your father?" Draco asked. "What are you doing back here so soon?" 

Harry felt his heart beating rapidly inside his chest. "I'm heading back there now," he said as he tried to come up with some realistic excuse as to why he was back here. "Er, my father just wanted to see some of my work for my other classes, you know, make sure things are up to par." He probably would at some point, he realized.

Draco just nodded. "Of course, that makes sense," he said. "Well, I'll see you later, then?"

Harry nodded back. "Sure, see you," he said, making his way out and back to his father's room.

"Did anyone see you?" Severus asked as Harry entered the room. "Put that in your room."

Harry shook his head. "No, Draco caught me as I was leaving, but I made something up," he said. He went into his room and put the letter in the drawer of his bedside table before coming back out as he and his father started their chess match back up again. "Sorry. I wasn't thinking. It didn't look as if anyone had touched it or been around anything of mine."

Severus moved a piece. "That's good, but you should be more careful. Don't leave anything that can tie you to Harry Potter outside of these rooms."

Harry nodded. It was another reminder of how much had changed, but looking up at his father, not all of that was bad. After his father beat him in chess (again), he put up the board. Harry found himself immediately confused. Usually, they played multiple games as they talked. "Is something wrong, Dad?"

Severus looked down at him. "No, nothing is wrong, but I do have something to show you," he said. "Come with me." Harry was confused, but he followed out of the rooms.

~~~~~~~~~~

Harry followed his dad to the seventh-floor corridor. He was still confused as he was lead to a hallway with a tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy teaching trolls to do ballet. There was a blank stretch of wall opposite. He opened up his mouth to talk, but Severus put a hand to silence him. He looked around, seemingly making sure that they were alone at the moment. When he seemed sure, he began pacing. He walked back and forth three times in front of the blank wall and then stopped. At that moment, a door opened in the blank wall, and Harry's mouth opened his shock.

"What? I don't understand -" he said.

"I'll explain inside, now get in," Severus said, ushering him inside. "I didn't think you'd heard of it. I found it during school when I was looking for a place to hide." Harry didn't ask. "I happened to come across this corridor, and the door opened. It took me a while to find it again, but I did. It's called the Room of Requirement or the Come and Go Room. It always seems to be equipped for the seeker's needs. You need to walk in front of it three times, and the door will appear. Be careful if you are being followed."

"Why are we here?" Harry asked, still a bit confused as to what had brought them here.

"I needed a private room with a Floo, one that could not be tracked and was separate from the rest of Hogwarts," he said. 

"Why?"

Severus walked over to the only thing in the room, a fireplace. A fire was already roaring in it. He reached into a bowl that was sitting on the mantle and grabbed a handful of Floo Powder, throwing it into the fireplace, saying the address for Grimmauld Place. It was then that Harry realized why they were there. He was going to see Sirius! "You and Lupin can come through now Black," he said, and then stepped away from the fireplace. A moment later, Sirius and Remus walked in.

"Sirius!" Harry walked forward and hugged him. His godfather hesitated for only a second before hugging him back. "It's good to see you."

"It's good to see you, too, Harry," he said.

Harry released Sirius from his hug and turned to Remus. "It's good to see you, too, Professor Lupin."

"No need to be so formal with me anymore," Remus told him. "Call me Remus. I'm not your teacher anymore, and haven't been for quite some time." He looked more tired than ever, and robes were shabbier than the last time he'd seen them. He was beaming at him right now, though. "Your eyes are still the same, and you look just like Sirius said." He clasped him on the shoulder. "Your features are much sharper now. You're paler than before, but not quite like Sev. More like Lily there, I would say. No glasses, I see. More manageable hair, and with a bit of curl, I see. You're the perfect marriage of both of your parents."

Harry beamed at him. It meant the world to hear that, and he appreciated that much more now than he did when he found out, seeing a strange face in the mirror. "Thank you." Sirius was quiet, and he could almost feel the displeasure coming off Severus. His father moved away from the three of them, standing a few feet away.

"What did you guys do about the scar?" Harry explained about Hermione's idea involving Muggle makeup and magic. "And that worked? Quite ingenious."

"Where is this place?" Sirius asked, looking around. "You said you were Flooing us in, and I assumed it would be your rooms since you wanted the privacy."

"The Room of Requirement, or the Come and Go Room," said Severus, speaking up for the first time since Sirius and Remus had come in the room. "Surely even you have heard of it. We needed somewhere private, that cannot be tracked, and is separate from the rest of Hogwarts. This room does that. Besides, you didn't think I actually wanted either of you in my private rooms, did you?"

Sirius levelled Severus with a glare, and Harry saw him clench his fists. Remus sent him a warning look, and his godfather opened his palms. "We heard about that room and searched for it, but never could find it," he said. "How did you find it?"

Severus just smirked. "What, jealous that I know something that you don't -"

Sirius opened his mouth to speak, but Remus beat him to it. "Can you two act like you're the adults in the room and not Harry? Besides, we're all here for Harry , not so you two can bicker over some schoolboy grudge that you two should have gotten over long ago." They were both quiet. "So, Harry, how has school been so far? Getting along with your classmates?"

Harry appreciated Remus for being the voice of reason. He wished that his father wouldn't have baited Sirius the way he did, but it wasn't as if he was expecting them to get along any time soon. "Not bad. I'm getting along with the other Slytherins fairly. Draco's helped a lot with that, and Hermione's great. She doesn't care about all this. Fred and George don't know, but they don't treat me any differently, either."

Harry didn't miss the look of shock on Sirius's face when he mentioned Slytherin. He assumed right, though - Remus wasn't shocked at all. Meanwhile, Severus had a self-satisfied smirk on his face. "Wait, you're in Slytherin?!" Sirius exclaimed. "Why did Dumbledore do that?"

His father rolled his eyes. "Dumbledore didn't. Honestly, Black…"

"Sirius, I did try and tell you not to be surprised," Remus said simultaneously.

"The hat sorted me," Harry said. "I was always supposed to be Slytherin. I told the hat no last time, but this time, the hat didn't give me a choice." He shrugged. "I'm fine with it. It's not that bad." 

Sirius looked like he didn't believe a word of that, but let it go. "I notice you didn't mention Ron," he said. "Did something happen?"

Harry told them about the fight when he'd told Ron and Hermione the truth, how Ron had taken it poorly and left. "We haven't spoken since," he admitted.

"That's a shame," said Remus. "I'm sorry about that, Harry."

"I'm sure he'll come around," said Sirius. "Give him time."

"I honestly don't care anymore," Harry said. He was done with Ron. The redhead hadn't tried to talk to him at all. He could always come with Hermione if he wanted to. They spent most of Saturday together. While the lessons with his father wasn't common knowledge for obvious reasons, but it was common knowledge that he was in the library to study with Hermione and Draco every Saturday afternoon. He obviously didn't want to or didn't care. That was fine with Harry. He only wanted people in his life who would stand by him, and that wasn't Ron.

Sirius opened his mouth to say something - Harry assumed it would be to Ron's defense - but Remus cut him off. "By the way, what is your new name?" Remus asked.

"Jacob," Harry said, grateful for Remus's intervention because he didn't want to talk about Ron anymore. "Jacob Alexander. You can still call me Harry when no one else is around, though." 

"If you are all quite through now, can we get down the reason why we're here?' Severus said. "Black wants to see Harry, but insists on putting him in danger in order to do so."

Sirius glared at Severus again. "I would never put my godson's life in danger."

"So you don't consider seeing him in public when you are a wanted criminal danger to him?" his father asked. Sirius's glare was his only response. "How reckless and foolish of you. No matter how remote, it is dangerous ."

"It's not your decision to make!" Sirius retorted.

"It is now," Severus responded. "I will not allow you to put my son's life in danger."

Harry wished that they wouldn't fight, but he wasn't expecting anything else. It was clear from the annoyed look on Remus's face that he wasn't surprised either. Harry opened his mouth to speak, but Remus beat him to it. "Sirius, Severus, stop," he said firmly. "Severus, I see that you are not suggesting that they not see each other, just in a safe manner. This is understandable. And knowing you, you have a plan in mind, don't you?"

Severus nodded that self-satisfied smirk on his face again. Harry knew his father was probably getting enjoyment out of the shocked and annoyed look on Sirius's face. "Yes, as a matter of fact, I do," Severus said. "This room is always equipped with the seeker's needs. I made sure when I came in that this room was safe and secure. No one else will be allowed entry. The Floo is separate from the rest of Hogwarts and cannot be tracked, as I already mentioned. You can see him here, and only here as long as you are a wanted man. Here, you can see him anytime you want."

Sirius seemed torn. Harry assumed it was between knowing that was a good idea - and it was, it was a great idea - and his dislike of Severus. It was, once again, Remus who spoke up. "That is a good idea, Severus, isn't it?" He turned to Sirius, almost daring him to disagree.

"It's a great idea, Dad," Harry said, turning and smiling at his father. It was perfect. 

That seemed to have jolted Sirius. It hadn't occurred to Harry that the use of the term 'dad' might shock him, but it had. In hindsight, of course, it would. He knew this would be hard on Sirius. It hadn't been easy on him, either, but he used the name so much now he didn't think about it. Besides, as much as he loved Sirius, it was just something he was going to have to get used to hearing.

Remus elbowed Sirius. "That works, I suppose," Sirius said. It was clear that he wasn't happy. 

Severus wasn't happy, either. "Now that's settled, I will leave you to it," he said. "If you'll excuse me." He then made for the door.

Harry felt a sense of panic rise in him. That wasn't what he had intended at all. It seemed Severus assumed that he would want to spend time with Sirius today. Sure, he did, but not at the expense of his father. Sunday was, after all, their day. He didn't want to give that up, not even for Sirius. "Wait, Dad!" Severus stopped and turned back to him. "It's great to see you both, but today is really our day. I promise I'll see you both soon." He gave Sirius a hug, and then Remus as well. It was obvious that Sirius didn't like it, but Harry wasn't about to start picking sides here. 

"Of course," Sirius said simply. "We'll be in touch. Just Floo Grimmauld."

"For now," Remus said, speaking up. "We're going to be getting in a place in Hogsmeade. Sirius wants to be closer to you, and I agree."

"Dumbledore won't like that," Severus said drawled.

"I don't care what Dumbledore wants," Sirius said. "Besides, I'll be careful. I won't go outside. We'll have up the proper wards and spells."

"That sounds great," Harry said. Though he knew it was a risk for Sirius, he would be happy to be closer to them.

"We'll make sure that you know where it is," Remus said. "It was good to see you. I just wish I could see more of you and the castle, but go ahead and go." He smiled at him, though Sirius was oddly quiet. Harry said his goodbyes and followed his father out.

~~~~~~~~~

Harry followed Severus back to his father's rooms. They walked in silence, and Severus wordlessly got the chess game going. That was their usual routine. Harry knew that his relationship with Sirius would make things difficult. As they played, he also realized how affectionate he'd been with both Sirius and Remus. He was not that affectionate with his dad. He had only just recently started calling him Dad. They slowly started talking again as the afternoon went on, and they played their last game as dinner approached.

Severus walked him to the door, and Harry turned to him. "Thank you for today," he said. "I really appreciate it."

"Don't mention it," Severus said, his voice even. 

Harry stepped forward, enveloping him in a hug. It was clear by the older man's reaction that he was not used to that. He knew he wasn't going to be affectionate. That was fine. But Harry liked some affection. That's why he hugged Sirius and Remus and Hermione at times. Severus' arms slowly went around him, though Harry kept it brief and stepped back. "You know that my relationship with Sirius - and Remus - doesn't change anything between us, right?"

"Yes, I am aware," Severus said simply, though he noticed that his father's demeanor had become a bit less icy. 

Harry smiled up at him. "I'll see you tomorrow then," he said, before leaving, the door being shut behind him. After that, he made his way to dinner and met up with Draco and the others. He glossed over any details of his day with Severus, as a good portion of it couldn't be explained. All in all, though, the day had gone pretty well. He had a method of seeing Sirius, and his father didn't think he was going to abandon him for his godfather. Sirius would need to get used to it, but Remus seemed to be okay with it. Hopefully, that would help. For once, it seemed like everything - at least in that regard - was going to work out okay.

Chapter Text

That night after dinner, the Slytherin Quidditch Team had their second practice. It went well. Montague was tough, but Harry was just happy to be playing Quidditch. Yes, he wasn't a Seeker, but he found he was quite enjoying being a Chaser, at least at the moment. He wasn't too fond of either Montague or Pucey, but so far, they were working rather well together. Actually, he wasn't really fond of anyone but Draco, and the blonde still got on his nerves sometimes. At least he was trying to practice. He would let the Snitch run around for a bit, before going to find it. That was really the only way to practice without having someone to practice against.

The rest of the school week was relatively boring, at least for Hogwarts. Umbridge was still doing her inspections, and there were three that week. On Tuesday, she did the fourth year Ancient Runes class, followed the next day by the third year Arithmancy class. On Thursday, she sat in on the seventh year N.E.W.T Charms class. Thankfully, Harry wasn't in any of those classes. He had enough of her in the Defense classes without seeing her outside of them, too. 

Saturday came, and Harry was glad that he had been exercising every morning. He had to admit that Hermione was right - it was better to exercise early in the morning. He was glad that he had started doing it now. He usually felt better now once he had done that. It was a good way to start the morning. After breakfast, he made his way to the Chamber entrance, where Hermione was waiting for them both, as she usually was. "Morning, Hermione," he said. She didn't respond and was simply sitting there. Hermione wasn't a daydreamer, so this was odd for her. He took a step towards her. "Hermione?"

She looked up at him then, seeming to snap out of her reverie. "What? Oh, sorry, I was just… thinking."

"Thinking about what?" he asked.

"You know, what we talked about last week…" she said. "I really do think it was a good idea. It's just… There's no one to teach it. None of the adults we know can get involved for obvious reasons." She gave a heavy sigh. "It's been occupying my thoughts a lot lately. I don't blame you for this, because you know, me saying that you'd be perfect to teach everyone. That's not what I mean. I just mean that we're going to be stuck with Umbridge, and I hate her, that bitch…"

"Such language, Hermione," he said, sitting down next to her as they waited for his father to arrive. "And I know what you meant. I don't like her, either. 

"A lot of people will fail. You and I won't, but a lot of other people will."

"It's not your responsibility to help everyone, Hermione," Harry told her. "If they don't realize they're going to fail and don't do extra studying, that's their problem."

"It isn't that easy," Hermione said. "You can't learn everything from a book. You of all people should know that. We need a teacher, a proper teacher."

"Then why don't you do it?" Hermione looked at him like he'd grown two heads. "I'm serious. You're top of the class, and you can argue about me beating you the year Lupin was teaching all you want. I can't just show up as Harry Potter, and Jacob Snape can't do it. You're the next logical choice if you ask me." 

A deep blush crossed Hermione's cheeks. "I - I don't think so. I mean, I don't think I'd be any good at it, and no one would listen to me," she said.

"I think you would," he said. "Besides, if they don't want to help themselves, they deserve to fail. You've been taught by my dad this past month or so, same as me. I'll even help you if you want."

"What, the power behind the throne?" She said, smiling at him.

Harry laughed, not realizing at all that it had come out like that. "That was not at all what I meant," he said. "I just meant that if you needed advice, you know I would -"

It was Hermione's turn to laugh now. "I was just kidding. I knew what you meant, and thank you," she said. "But I don't know about this." She started wringing her hands together. "I just… do you really think I could do this?"

"Of course," he said, putting a comforting hand on her shoulder. "I wouldn't have suggested it if I didn't."

Hermione was silent for a few moments before responding. "Okay, then, let's do it," she said. 

Harry nodded, slipping his hand off her shoulder. "Okay, I'll mention it to Draco." The words came out of his mouth so quickly. He wanted to tell him. It seemed a bit strange that it wasn't that long ago that he had hated him, and here he was, wanting to tell him about a secret defense club.

Hermione's body instantly stiffened beside him. "Er,  Harry," she said nervously. "Look, it's not that I don't trust Draco. It's that I don't necessarily trust his friends, the people that he hangs out with. He doesn't have the best track record. I know you two have gotten rather close recently, but if he told one of his friends, and they told the wrong person… It could be over for us before it even starts."

A weird mix of emotions ran through him then. He knew he was already lying to Draco, but for some reason, adding on another lie seemed to make him even worse. Harry thought that it didn't make sense. It shouldn't bother him that he was adding another like onto the big one. Besides, Hermione did have a point. Draco and the other Slytherins didn't have the best track record as far as trust went. It made sense to be a bit wary.

"You know the hat stressed house unity," Harry pointed out.

Hermione nodded. "I'm aware; I just think we should be cautious, okay?" 

"Sure, Hermione, whatever you say," he told her. He wanted to tell Draco, and it almost hurt thinking that he would be lying to him about something else, on top of all the lies he was already telling. They were friends, and Draco had been a good friend, too. He didn't necessarily trust all the other Slytherins, though.

"I'll start spreading the word as much as I can without drawing too much attention," she said. At that moment, his father came in, and they went down into the Chamber for their lesson.

~~~~~~~~~~

Harry didn't mention the news to Draco, just as he hadn't mentioned it to him last week. He told himself it was for the best, that Hermione had a point. It seemed wrong to him, though. He told himself that it was just because he had become friends with Draco. However, he was friends with Draco as Jacob, not as Harry. That barrier meant something - that no matter what, there was a wall between them. It was a bit depressing, but he put it behind him. It was necessary, and this was his life now.\

The next day, Harry was spending the day was his father, as he did every Sunday. The two of them were playing chess when Harry told him about the defense club idea that Hermione had come up with. Severus was silent for a bit before responding. "It is not a bad idea," he said. "I believe that you and Miss Granger would do a more than adequate job. While I do not think that either of you has to help the other students, I agree that it is unwise for everyone to be helpless because we have an incompetent Defense teacher again ."

Harry was glad. He had been a bit worried about what Severus would say, but he was glad that they weren't the only ones who thought it was a good idea. "I have some warnings for you, though," Severus continued. "Be careful about who you let in, as one wrong word to Umbridge, and your little fun is over. I cannot help you again if you are caught, you understand?"

Harry nodded. "Yes, I understand," he said.

"Good," Severus said. "My other piece of advice is not to be fooled by meeting in some off the wall place because you think it's secluded. In some place public and loud, a large meeting of people is less likely to go noticed." Harry hadn't thought about that. He assumed that quiet equaled secrecy, but he trusted his father's advice. "My last piece of advice is to use the Room of Requirement. The Chamber would have more secrecy, but that would mean revealing that you are a Parselmouth which is unwise, to say the least. Few know about the Room of Requirement, and I have already explained to you how it works. If you are careful, it can be just as secret as the Chamber."

Harry nodded. He had a lot to think about now, and he needed to talk to Hermione about it. He would probably have to wait until next Saturday, prior to their next private lesson with Severus. He knew better than to ask him about this again because they needed to keep him out of this. If Umbridge did manage to find out, he didn't want anything to tie this to his father.

~~~~~~~~~~

Harry's first class of the day was Double Potions, and the first thing he noticed as class was fixing to start was that Umbridge was there. Obviously, she had chosen this class as her evaluation period for Severus. The most annoying thing of all was that he had her class first thing after lunch, and he had already seen her for another evaluation two weeks ago - Care of Magical Creatures. Figures, he thought to himself. He did not want to see her any more than he had to. It didn't seem as if that was going to happen. Hopefully, she would be finished with the evaluations soon.

"As you can see, we have a visitor with us today," said Severus. His voice had a low, seething tone to it as he gestured towards a dim corner of the dungeon. Harry could tell he was not pleased about this, and he didn't blame him. Umbridge was sitting there, her clipboard sitting on her knees. "You will be doing the Death Cap Draught today. This potion is excellent practice for some of the more dangerous potions you will be doing over the next couple of years. That is if you are lucky enough to move on."

Umbridge' hem hem'- ed from her corner, but Severus just ignored her. "You will find any necessary ingredients in the store," he said, waving his wand. "I recommend using gloves, as the Death Cap Mushroom is highly toxic. Getting any of this Draught on your skin will be most unpleasant, let me assure you. While touching the mushrooms will most likely not cause you any distress, you are better off having the gloves on during this lesson." The students rustled in their seats a bit. "The directions are on the board." He waved his wand again. "You may begin."

The entire class put on their gloves before milling around Snape's stores to get the ingredients they didn't already possess - like the highly poisonous mushrooms they were working with. Neville was shaking so badly, Harry was worried for him, especially without Hermione to help him. After all, she sat next to him on the Slytherin side. Everyone began work on the potion, a lot of students being more cautious with the Death Cap Mushrooms. Meanwhile, Umbridge spent the first half an hour making notes in her clipboard. Harry was very interested in what her questions to his father would be, so much that he was being a little careless with his potion. A sharp nudge in his side from either Draco or Hermione reminded him to pay more attention when his mind would wander off.

Umbridge finally decided to get off her feet, and strode over the Gryffindor side of the room, peering into Dean Thomas' cauldron. "Well, your class seems very advanced for their age," she said brusquely to Severus's back, "though I question how wise it is to teach them this potion. The Ministry would prefer it if it was removed from the syllabus."

Severus turned around, his face a mask as he stared at her. Umbridge cleared her throat. "How long have you been teaching at Hogwarts?" she asked him, her quill positioned above her clipboard. 

"Fourteen years," Severus replied, his expression still unreadable. Harry just stared at them before getting a nudge from Draco and going back to his work.

"And you first applied for the Defense Against the Dark Arts position, correct?" she asked.

"Yes," his father said simply.

"And you were unsuccessful?" 

Severus's lip curled. "Obviously."

Umbridge scribbled on her clipboard, as both Professors ignored the few snickers that went around the class at his remark. "And I hear that you have applied for that position every year since then, is that correct?"

"Yes," his father said quietly. He looked very angry, which Harry figured wasn't good for Umbridge if she didn't shut her mouth.

"Do you have any idea why Professor Dumbledore has consistently refused to appoint you?" Umbridge asked.

"I suggest that you ask him," Severus said venomously. 

"Oh, I shall!" Umbridge said, smiling sweetly as she made a few notes on her clipboard. 

"I suppose that this is somehow relevant?" Severus asked, his black eyes narrowed as he looked at her.

"Of course," Umbridge said. "The Ministry wants a thorough record on the, er, backgrounds of the teachers here at Hogwarts." She turned away after that, going to question Pansy about the lessons. Harry got another nudge from Hermione and went back to his potion. It was a bit pinker than the bright red it was supposed to be. 

Severus made his way around the room, glaring at each student. Neville's potion was jet black, while Ron's was so pink it was almost white. "Bottle your potions, put your name on them, and set them on my desk for evaluation. Your homework is two pages on Billywig Stings, their uses in potions, and how they work with other ingredients." 

Harry slowly poured the potion into the vial and bottled it before setting it on the desk. He needed to get to lunch. He gathered his stuff and looked up at his father. He still seemed rather angry, not that he blamed him. He would be angry, too, if Umbridge had asked him all those questions. Harry liked Umbridge less and less as the days went on, and he had never liked her to begin with. He swung his bag over his shoulder and walked out with Hermione and Draco.

~~~~~~~~~~

Over the next two days, Harry thought of little else but Hermione's defense training thing, and more precisely, if he should tell Draco or not. It was driving him a bit mad. Part of him thought he shouldn't be obsessing about this, particularly not with whether or not to tell Draco Malfoy anything. The other part of him thought it made perfect sense, considering the fact that they had become quite close over the past six weeks or so. It made him more confused and torn than anything else. He wasn't sure what to do. He hadn't mentioned it to his father, but he would probably stress caution.

On Wednesday, they heard that Umbridge had evaluated the fourth year Muggle Studies class. One of the Slytherins had heard it from one of their friends who happened to be in that class. Harry would be glad when these evaluations were over. He just had to hope that he didn't happen to be in any of the other evaluations that were going to be done. Her classes were still a joke if you asked him, and seeing her, there was more than enough for him.

That night, Harry went up to the dorm instead of staying in the common room after dinner. There had been so much on his mind over the past couple of days; he had just needed to get away. Of course, it didn't take Draco that long to come up and find him. When the blonde found him, he had been lying on his bed half-studying/half-thinking. He looked up when he heard the door open to find Draco standing there.

"So, feeling more antisocial than usual today?" Draco asked, coming over to sit on the edge of Harry's bed. The blonde set his homework towards the edge of the bed.

Harry shrugged. "Just wanted a bit more peace and quiet to study," he lied. "That's all."

Draco glanced down at the book that was open in front of Harry before looking back up at him. "That's the same page you were on when you came up here ten minutes ago," he said. His gray eyes glanced over to the page notes. "And you haven't written anything else since you've been up here."

Before becoming friends with him, Harry had never given much credit to Draco's perceptiveness. Now, he noticed it more, and in cases like this, it was actually kind of annoying. He sighed. "I'm fine, really," he said, looking down at his book. He hoped that Draco would just let it go. 

"You're obviously not fine."

Harry groaned. Of course, he should have known that he wouldn't let it go. What was he supposed to tell him? He looked back up at Draco, and suddenly it clicked for him. The truth. That's what he had to tell him - the truth. If anything, his time as a Slytherin so far had taught him that they were not evil. Sure, some of them were definitely worse than others. Draco had shown that he was not the person that he had always thought he was. Yes, the blonde had been horrible to them over the years, but the person sitting across from him now didn't even seem like the same person that had antagonized them over the past four years. 

It wasn't just that, either. He was realizing that his prejudices against the Slytherins were unfounded. Yes, some of them may deserve that, but he was starting to believe more and more that they didn't deserve it as much as the other houses thought they did. Especially now that he was on the other side of the fence, so to speak. Being Severus' son as well didn't help matters either in that regard. No one outside Slytherin house - aside from Hermione, Fred, and George - had even attempted to talk to him. Sure, when he had been in Gryffindor, he hadn't spoken to people outside of his house that much, either. Maybe that was part of the problem. After all, didn't the Sorting Hat stress house unity?

"Is there a reason why you're staring at me?" Draco asked, breaking Harry out of his reverie.

"Oh, sorry, I didn't realize." He had been thinking so deeply; it hadn't occurred to him that he had been looking at Draco the entire time. "Look, if I tell you this, you have to swear you won't say a word to anyone." 

Draco looked shocked. It was clear that was not what he had expected Harry to say. "Sure. Okay."

"No, this is important. You have to promise me," Harry said, leaning forward slightly. "Promise me that you won't say a word to anyone, ever ." 

Draco looked even more surprised at Harry's insistence. The look of surprise faded into one of acceptance. "If it's that important to you, I could always take a Vow." Seeing the blank look on Harry's face, he continued. "A Vow of Secrecy. Surely, you've heard of them. I just vow not to say anything about whatever it is you're going to tell me, and I will be physically unable to say anything. It's not like a Wizard's Vow, which can cause you pain or even death if you break them, which of course, you knew already."

No, I hadn't heard of them, Harry thought to himself. There are vows that can kill you if you break them? That was a scary thought all by itself. Luckily it seemed as if Draco had thought he might have confused the Vow of Secrecy with the Wizard's Vows and not that he hadn't ever heard of them before. He concentrated on what Draco had said about the Vow of Secrecy, though. He hadn't heard of any of it before. "I - I can't ask you to do that," he settled on saying. It didn't seem right, because it seemed as if he didn't trust him at all. He did, or he wouldn't be telling him this.\

"You didn't. I offered." Harry blinked as he thought it over. It meant a lot to know that Draco was even willing to do this. "Look," the blonde continued, "this obviously is serious and means a lot to you. If it will make you feel better, I'll do it. It won't hurt me or cost me anything. It's just a formal promise that makes me unable to say anything about it."

Draco didn't seem to think it was a big deal, or at least he wasn't acting like it. It was a big deal to Harry, though. "If you're sure," he said.

"I'm sure," he said, getting up. He walked over to his bed before coming back and sitting back down on the bed. He had a thick book in his hands. He quickly flipped through it. He seemed to find what he was looking for after a minute as he set it down on the bed, moving Harry's homework over. Open was a page about the Secrecy Vow. "I wanted to make sure that I had the wording right." He held out his hand, and Harry slowly put his own over his as Draco gently gripped his hand. Harry returned the grip, looking down at the book before looking up at Draco.

Draco looked back up at Harry. "So, I'll vow not to repeat anything you say to me over the next… five minutes?" Harry nodded. "Good. Oh, and what is your middle name?" 

Harry hadn't realized that was necessary, but glancing down at the book, it was. "Alexander."

The blonde nodded and then cleared his throat before taking his wand and tapping it on their joined hands. "I, Draco Lucius Malfoy, hereby make a Vow of Secrecy to you, Jacob Alexander Snape. I vow that what you say to me in the next five minutes I will not repeat. Do you accept?"

Harry could feel the magic as soon as the wand was tapped on their hands. He could still feel it now. He glanced down at the book to make sure he said the words right. He wasn't sure what would happen if he had them wrong and didn't want to find out. "I, Jacob Alexander Snape, do hereby accept those terms." The magic surged for a moment before fading away. It took Harry another moment before he let go of Draco's hand.

"There? Painless," Draco said. Harry nodded, though he could still feel the warmth of Draco's hand. He was sure that was because of the magic involved in the Vow. "Now, what is this all about?" The blonde folded his arms across his chest.

"Well, Hermione had this idea - and it is her idea - and it's a good idea -"

"I should have known Granger was involved if you didn't want to tell me," Draco said, interrupting.

Harry rolled his eyes. "I wanted to tell you, or I wouldn't have. Okay? Can I continue now?" He nodded, and Harry told him about Hermione's defense idea.

"Well, something Granger and I agree on - Umbridge is a joke," he agreed. "It's not a bad idea."

"Do you want in? Hermione's going to try and spread the word to some of the other houses. It just… doesn't seem right that the Slytherins be excluded completely, but…"

"You don't trust some of the others," Draco said, finishing Harry's thought. "And Granger doesn't trust any of us, not that I blame her. Pansy and I haven't been very pleasant to her in the past." That was an understatement, but Harry wasn't supposed to have first-hand knowledge of any of that stuff, not as far as Draco knew.

Harry nodded. "Yes, that's it exactly," he said. "I know they're your friends, and I feel guilty because I'm making you lie to them."

"Don't be," Draco said. "I wanted to know. The Vow was my idea." After a bit more discussion, they decided the group of Slytherins that they would tell, and those that they would leave out. It was a small group. Crabbe and Goyle were left out, and after some discussion so was Pansy Parkinson. They agreed that if things got tough, she couldn't be trusted, and she wouldn't be willing to take a Vow of Secrecy to prove herself to Hermione, either. 

"So, you've been having secret meetings with Granger?" Draco asked, narrowing his eyes at Harry.

Harry blinked. "No… we just ran into each other last week, that's all." \

Draco looked at him for a second and then seeming to see that Harry was sincere, nodding. They continued studying before going to bed. This may seem like a small step, but bringing in the Slytherins felt like a big step to him. He could only wonder what Hermione was going to say about this when he told her Saturday morning.

Chapter Text

Harry woke up the next morning before everyone, as he always did. He had just gotten out of bed when a sleepy Draco walked up, holding a squirmy Moirai by the scruff of her neck. Confused, he looked at Draco, still in his nightclothes. He was about to ask him why he had Moirai, who always slept with him when the blond spoke first. "I believe this belongs to you."

Harry took the small, squirming kitten from his friend's hand. "How did you get over there?"

"Jumped down and walked most likely," Draco snipped. "And then jumped on my bed and tried to sleep on my head."

Harry chuckled, though Draco did not seem amused. "She does that," he said. "One time, I woke up with her chewing on my hair."

Draco just rolled his eyes. "Let me get changed and wash my face, and I'll meet you downstairs." The blond turned and walked back to his bed at the end of the row.

Harry set Moirai down on the bed, who looked up at him and meowed. It was almost as if she was protesting the fact that she had lost her comfy spot on Draco's bed and had no one to sleep with on this one, either. She meowed at him again. He just gave her a pet, encouraging her to lay down before getting dressed and going downstairs to exercise with Draco.

At lunch, later on, they walked right by Theodore, talking to a short, blonde girl. She was a fellow Slytherin, a couple of years younger than him, but Harry couldn't place her name. He pushed the thought aside as they went and sat down at the table with their housemates. Theodore returned to the table a short while later, getting a very odd glance from Daphne.

"Why were you talking to my sister?" Daphne asked him.

Theodore shrugged. "We've been talking," he said. "I asked her out. She said yes, so we're going to Hogsmeade together next weekend."

Daphne just stared at him, setting her silverware down on the table as she did so. "She's my little sister. You're going out with her?"

Theodore nodded. "Yes, I've enjoyed talking with her during the conversations we've had so far, and I want to get to know her better," he said. "Besides, she's quite attractive, too. She's only two years younger than me, as well. She's thirteen. I'm fifteen. That's hardly the end of the world." He said it in the tone of someone who thought that it should have been obvious.

Pansy elbowed Daphne and changed the conversation. "Speaking of dating, Salenia, I heard that you're dating a Gryffindor." It was clear by the tone of her voice that she did not approve. He had to force himself not to say anything in retort to it - that there was nothing wrong with Gryffindors, that Hermione, Fred, and George were his friends. Instead, he said nothing.

Salenia was sitting off to Draco's right. "Yes, I am," she said. "She's quite fit and intelligent on top of that."

"I always thought you and Marcus -"

Salenia shook her head. "No, that's long over with. We're much better off as friends, best friends," she said. "Besides, Marcus has a boyfriend, and he's in Hufflepuff."

Pansy turned her gaze towards Marcus, who was sitting on Salenia's other side, giving him an interested look. This caused Marcus to give his friend a furious glare. "Gee, what a way to divert attention," he said. Salenia just gave him a bright smile. "And can you not talk about my sister that way, please."

Draco rolled his eyes at the exchange their friends were making. "Can we change the subject, please? Not that your love lives aren't quite interesting." Harry had to chuckle at that. Harry was honestly a bit lost, as amusing as he found the exchange. He was starting to learn and more about this group that he was now hanging out with as the days went on. It was different than his old friends in Gryffindor, but in some ways, it wasn't different at all.

"What?" Tracey asked a smirk on her lips. "Jealous that they have love lives? Or is there something else that you need to tell us."

Draco leveled her with a furious glare. "No," he said curtly, ending the conversation right there. Harry once again felt like he was missing something, but he put it out of his mind as the conversation changed to which classes Umbridge would be using for her last two inspections - Astronomy and Flying if she was going to do Flying. No one expected her to do History of Magic. After all, what was she going to do if she disapproved? Binns was a ghost, after all.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Saturday came soon, and with it, the end of Umbridge's teacher evaluations. Thursday night, she had done the third year Ravenclaw Astronomy class. That was according to one of the younger years who heard it from a friend. On Friday at dinner, the younger years said that Umbridge had evaluated the first year Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff Flying class. That meant that they were at an end, and frankly, everyone was quite grateful.

Harry made his way down to the Chamber for his training with Severus, and as usual, Hermione was already there. After their greetings, they got down to business. "I told Ginny, and she's going to spread it around carefully to some of the other people in other houses," she said. "And of course, I told Fred, George, and Ron."

"You talked to Ron?" Harry asked. He was curious because, as far as he knew, they had only spoken for Prefect-related things.

Hermione shrugged. "Just to tell him about the new defense club. I knew he'd want to be in on it, though he was a bit put out that we've been talking about it for a couple of weeks, and he's just now finding out." She rolled her eyes, and Harry had to agree with her on that one. He had gotten himself into this situation, and he had made no move to change anything between them. Hermione seemed content to stand by him, and while he may have felt guilty at first, he no longer held those feelings at all.

"Oh, yeah, and by the way… I told Draco."

A look of shock crossed Hermione's face. "You did what? You told me you weren't going to tell him!" She gave him a look that clearly said that she did not appreciate being lied to.

Harry just shrugged. "Actually, I didn't," he said. "I said, 'Sure, Hermione, whatever you say.' That is not telling you that I would not tell him."

Hermione stared at him for a moment before rolling her eyes. "Slytherins…" she muttered. Harry chuckled. "So, you're sure he won't tell… the wrong people?"

Harry nodded, knowing that was coming once he had told her about the other Slytherins. "We discussed it," he said. "He took a Vow of Secrecy with me, so he can't say anything unless I tell him to." He still had some misgivings about that, but it was said and done.

Her eyes widened in shock. "He agreed to that? That doesn't sound like Malfoy at all…" She seemed clearly confused by his comment, and he didn't blame her. If he hadn't been there, he never would have believed it himself. It seemed out of character for him, but Harry saw more and more that he didn't know Draco as well as they had assumed. There was another side to him, and that other side was who he had become closer to.

"No, he didn't agree to it," Harry said. "It was his idea. He saw how concerned I was when I was making him promise me not to tell anyone else, and suggested that to prove his sincerity. I'd honestly never heard of them."

His bushy-haired friend looked taken aback. "I've read about them," she said, and Harry almost had to stop himself from saying that was no surprise. He didn't blame her for being shocked at this development. He hadn't told her what he was going to do, and Draco willingly taking a Secrecy Vow to prove a point to him was even more shocking. "I heard that they could be dangerous."

"He said the one we took wasn't dangerous, just a basic Secrecy Vow," Harry explained. He tried to remember the words that Draco had used because he hadn't known about vows involving magic at all before Wednesday night. "He said it wasn't anything like a Wizard's Vow; it won't cause him pain or kill him. He'd just be physically unable to break the terms of our vow. And don't worry, we agreed not to tell Pansy, or Crabbe and Goyle."

Hermione nodded, though she didn't seem wholly convinced. "Well, I suppose there's nothing that can be done about it now," she said. "And it's not a bad idea. Maybe I shouldn't have been against it, but the Slytherins haven't been kind to us in the past."

"They seem to stick to themselves, but not all of them do. They're not all bad," Harry explained. "I'm seeing that now."

Hermione nodded. "Yes, I know," she said. "And the hat did stress house unity. This will be all four houses together for the first time in who knows how long. Who did you and Draco tell?"

"We haven't told them yet," he said. "We're planning on doing that slowly over the next couple of days." He rattled off the list of students that they had agreed on. Hermione nodded at some names, asked questions on others, and didn't even know some of them. He admitted that he didn't know all of them, and he had taken Draco's advice on those.

"The question is," Hermione said once they finished discussing the Slytherins, "where are we going to hold the initial meeting? I was thinking about the Hog's Head. It's out of the way, and we're less likely to be found out."

"My father had told me something about that," Harry told her. "He said that we should hold it in a loud place, somewhere public and not be fooled by meeting somewhere more private, because we think it's secluded. I think the Hog's Head would qualify for that."

Hermione nodded. "Where else then? A large group out in the grounds would be suspicious," she said. He nodded in agreement because she had a point about that. "The Three Broomsticks?"

Harry thought about that for a moment before responding. "I think that would work," he said. "A large group of students wouldn't go unnoticed there." It wasn't a bad idea. "Oh, and Severus also had a couple more pieces of advice. He said we should be careful about who we let in, but I think we already are. He also said, for the meetings themselves, that we should use the Room of Requirement."

Hermione looked both surprised and confused at the same time. "I've heard about that room," she said. "It's supposed to give you whatever you want if you knew where it is and how to get in. How did you find it? When did you find it?" He knew that it must irk her that he knew something that she didn't.

"My dad," he said simply. "He knew where it was." He explained to her how Severus had taken him to see Sirius and Remus at the room, and where it was located. He told her how he got in and filled her in on what transpired that day. "He said as long as we're specific, we shouldn't get caught."

"For instance, no one is allowed in unless they're in our group?"

Harry nodded, smiling at her. "Yes, something like that would work well, I think." The conversation ended soon after, though, as his father walked in, and they went down into the Chamber for training. He showed her the Room of Requirement afterward before they parted ways.

~~~~~~~~~

The next week went by rather quickly. Harry and Draco had met up with Hermione later on that day to study, as was their usual. The next day, Severus asked for his homework to make sure that he was keeping it up to par, just as Harry had predicted. The only work he didn't check was the Potions homework because, as the teacher of that class, he felt it would seem like special treatment if he checked it over before everyone else's. Harry had to admit that was a decent point, though he certainly wouldn't have minded having him look it over real quick.

Harry's school week was meals, studying, and classes. They slowly told all of the Slytherins they were bringing into the secret defense club of Hermione's, stressing secrecy and making sure that they knew what Umbridge would do if she found out. Harry was fairly confident that no one would gain access to the room unless they were in the group. He was sure that one word to her, though, and things would still get difficult for them very quickly.

Saturday arrived, and with it, the first Hogsmeade weekend. That also meant the first meeting for the defense group. They needed to come up with a name for that. "Are you nervous?" Harry asked her that morning, seeing that she seemed a bit off.

Hermione nodded. "A bit," she said. "I mean, I'm not… I don't do this sort of thing…"

"Break the rules, or stand up and try to convince a bunch of other people to break the rules?"

Hermione rolled her eyes at him. "I've broken the rules before, which you should know since it was usually done to help you," she said. She gave him that "you know I'm right" look before continuing. "It's just, this is different… I'm going to be convincing a bunch of people that don't really know me that I'm qualified to teach them."

Harry put a hand on her shoulder and shrugged, trying to give off an air of nonchalance to make her feel more confident. "It's no big deal," he said. "Just remember why you wanted to do this and say that we're going to help each other learn because if Umbridge won't teach us, we'll do it ourselves."

Hermione nodded. "Yes, that's good, I might use that." Harry just chuckled as Severus walked in.

~~~~~~~~~~

Later that morning, Harry and Draco met Hermione in the Great Hall. The three of them headed into Hogsmeade, and then over to the Three Broomsticks. There were students already there, a few of which Harry knew were meeting them there. "I don't know," Hermione said. "This is too public. Anyone could just walk by. Maybe we should -"

"No," Harry said, cutting her off. "A group of students, even a large one, wouldn't go that unnoticed."

"Jacob's right," Draco agreed. "If anyone sees us walking towards a place like the Hog's Head, that would be strange and might get us in trouble. As a fellow Prefect, I know you wouldn't want that."

Hermione shook her head, but she sent Harry an expression he couldn't quite read. They took some seats near the other students, who moved closer to them once they were seen. Hermione pulled up a chair next to the booth that Harry and Draco sat in. "I just think more people could fit in, you know? If I sat over here," she said, wringing her hands together.

"You'll be fine," Harry reassured her. He elbowed Draco in the side when he saw the blond rolling his eyes. "I'll go get some drinks. It seems like you need it." He got up and ordered three butterbeers from Madam Rosmerta before going back to his seat next to Draco. He noticed a few more people had shown up. So far, it was mostly Gryffindors - Neville, Parvati, Lavender, and Dean. Parvati's twin sister, Padma, was here, along with Cho and one of her giggling girlfriends, as well as another Ravenclaw that Harry didn't know with a dreamy expression on her face.

Next, Katie, Angelina, and Alicia walked in, along with Colin and Dennis Creevey. Daphne walked in after that, along with Tracey and Blaise, who settled in across from them. "How did you get rid of Pansy and Elizabeth?" Draco said, leaning closer to Daphne and Tracey over the table.

Daphne shrugged. "Just that we were going to Hogsmeade with Blaise, and we would catch up with them later," she said.

"They didn't seem bothered. They wanted to shop, and we just said we would meet up with them later," Tracey echoed. "It'll be fine as long as they don't walk in and see us." She waved it off.

Salenia and Marcus walked in next. Salenia was holding hands with a tall, curvy dark-haired Gryffindor girl who must be the girlfriend mentioned last week and Marcus's sister. A tall, broad-shouldered dark-haired boy had his arm around Marcus, so Harry assumed that was his Hufflepuff boyfriend. A slightly taller boy stood next to him, so he assumed that he must be Hufflepuff as well. Theodore walked in after that, his arm around Astoria Greengrass, Daphne's younger sister. Millicent was right behind him.

Other people were walking in, as well. Some Harry knew - Ernie MacMillan, Hannah Abbott, Justin Finch-Fletchley, Ginny Weasley, and a few Ravenclaw boys whose names he thought were Anthony Goldstein, Michael Corner, and Terry Boot. There was also Fred and George Weasley, along with their friend, Lee Jordan. And of course, Ron, who sat next to Dean and Neville. There was also a tall, blond Hufflepuff boy that Harry knew had been on the Hufflepuff Quidditch team but whose name he couldn't place.

Hermione looked even more nervous now, as everyone turned their faces towards her. Harry was surprised that this many people had shown up. Granted, most were Gryffindors who were friends with her, like Ginny, Fred, George, and Neville. The others were friendly enough to give her the benefit of the doubt, which was pretty much everyone else. He noticed all the Prefects were there, minus Pansy, of course. Most everyone had gotten drinks before coming over and now stared at Hermione, waiting for her to say something.

Hermione cleared her throat. "Er, well… hi." The faces looking at her just blinked. "Er, well… you all know why we're here. I just had the idea that it might be good for those of us who wanted to study Defense Against the Dark Arts - and I mean, really study it, because let's face it, what Umbridge is teaching us is rubbish." Her voice got a bit stronger there, and Harry noticed some people nodding. "No one can call that Defense Against the Dark Arts."

"Hear, hear," said Anthony Goldstein, and Hermione beamed.

"I thought it would be a good idea if we did it ourselves," Hermione said. "If she won't teach us, then I say, we can teach ourselves."

"How are we going to do that?" said a Ravenclaw boy that Harry didn't know. "Don't we need a proper teacher?"

"I've done it myself plenty of times," said Hermione, turning to Ron, who nodded in agreement. "If I can do it, we all can. I can help you. I mean, we can help each other, too! We need to practice real spells, not just theory."

"You want to pass your O.W.L, though, right?" said Michael Corner, who was watching her closely.

"Of course I do," said Hermione. "But it's about more than that. We have to learn to defend ourselves, because…" She took a deep breath. "Because Lord Voldemort is back." Several people were flinching, Cho's friend screamed, and even a couple of yelps. It was rather predictable. "So if you want to join us, I have some ideas -"

"Where's the proof?" asked the blond, Hufflepuff Quidditch player. "Where is the proof that You-Know-Who is back?"

"Dumbledore believes it," Hermione said.

"Yes, because Potter said so," he said.

"Who are you?" Ron asked, speaking up for the first time.

"Zacharias Smith," he said. "And I might add, Potter's gone and runoff and disappeared."

"Dumbledore told all of us exactly what happened to him," Ron said, and Harry was surprised that he was defending him. Meanwhile, as soon as his name had been mentioned, Harry had begun to feel very uncomfortable.

"Where is Potter anyway?" Smith asked. Everything about him was aggressive, from the way he looked at Hermione, to the tone of his voice.

"I don't know," Hermione said. "If you've come for me to tell you secrets about what Harry's doing, I don't know. He can't tell me anything like that." Ron nodded in her defense. "I know he defeated You-Know-Who last June and saw Cedric Diggory got killed because he saw it. And that's the only thing he did. I know because he told me. He's not here now, but that's not important because what's going on here right now is important. If Harry were here, he would be doing this with us."

"Also, if you think the only reason to learn Defense is because of You-Know-Who, you're an idiot," said Draco from next to him. "Even if he isn't back, I don't plan on allowing myself to be defenseless, not to mention failing my O.W.L's because of short-minded idiots like you."

Smith's eyes narrowed. "Why are you here, anyway?" He motioned towards the Slytherins, all of whom were sitting together. "Especially him. He's Snape's son!" Smith glared right at them.

"Excuse me?" Harry said, almost jumping out of his seat if it hadn't been for Draco's hand on his arm. "You don't even know me. In fact, except for Hermione, Fred, and George, none of you outside of Slytherin House have even bothered to try! Get to know me before you make judgments."

"Besides, Draco's right," said Blaise. Harry sent him a grateful look for changing the subject. "Even if You-Know-Who isn't back, being defenseless is just stupid."

"Dark Wizards don't just disappear because one of them does," said Tracey.

"A Slytherin would know," said a voice, but Harry couldn't see who said it.

"Stop!" Hermione said, and Harry was thankful for the volume of the Three Broomsticks. In addition to the normal patrons and the other students who were there, he doubted anyone could hear what was going on in their group. "If you don't like it, you can go. No one's forcing you to be here." Smith turned and got up, walking straight out. Another student that Harry didn't recognize went with him. "As I was saying, are we all agreed? If Harry can do it, we all can. I know he's not here, but we can do this. He didn't know anything special. He did everything - getting through to the Sorcerer's Stone in our first year, fighting the Basilisk in our second, the dementors in our third - because had to. We can do the same. The Ministry cracking down on Hogwarts, sending Umbridge, right after what happened this summer. That's not a coincidence."

"That makes perfect sense to me," said the dreamy-eyed, Ravenclaw girl.

"So, where exactly are we going to do this at?" Ginny asked, and Hermione told her that she had an idea and that she would send a message around to anyone who was interested. Harry thought that was a good idea because just blurting out about the Room of Requirement here might not be such a good idea.

"And how often?" asked Lee Jordan. "Once a week?" When that was agreed to, Quidditch practices were also mentioned, but Hermione waved them off.

"We'll work around it," she said. She pulled out a sheet of parchment. "I think we should all sign this, so we know who was here. We also agree that by signing  you agree not to mention this to Umbridge or anyone else." She signed her own name before handing it and a quill to Harry, who didn't hesitate before signing Jacob Snape on the list. Draco signed next, and all the Slytherins and Gryffindors followed. Cho didn't hesitate, either, but when she handed it her friend, she did hesitate before Cho elbowed her. Harry thought briefly about how odd it was that he felt nothing for her before Ernie MacMillan spoke up.

"What if this is found, though? We're Prefects, after all," he said.

"You can go, then," Hermione said. "Do you honestly think I'd just leave it lying around?"

"No, of course not," he said, before signing. One by one, everyone did.

After that, everyone started getting up and leaving, except for Terry Boot, who let his friends leave.  The Ravenclaw came over and said something to Hermione. She said something back that he didn't hear before he went and sat down in his seat. "I think that went well," she said, as she got off her chair and settled in across from Harry and Draco once Blaise, Daphne, and Tracey had left. Draco had assured them that the two of them would be along shortly. "I mean, sure, Michael Corner and his friends only came because he's dating Ginny and because Terry's going out with me, but -"

"Wait, what?" Harry said. "When did that happen?"

"What? Oh! I didn't tell you. Earlier this week, Terry asked me out, so we're going out today," she said. "He's waiting for me now. Anyway, we'll talk later, okay?" She got up and walked back over to Terry. The two walked together, side-by-side out of the Three Broomsticks.

"Well, isn't that interesting," Draco said as they got up. "I always thought Granger fancied Weasley, but I guess not." He shrugged and then turned to Harry. "Shall we meet up with our friends, then?" Harry nodded, and the two of them made their way out.

Chapter Text

Harry and Draco met up with their friends. Pansy and Elizabeth didn't question where they'd been, but seeing as Daphne, Tracey and Millicent were already there, Harry was sure that the question had probably already been answered. The only ones missing were Theodore and Astoria, who were on their date. They lead Harry around, and he had to act as if he'd never been to Hogsmeade before. He was shown all over. He was shown the "best" places to shop for everything you could possibly imagine, including things that he was sure he would never shop for. He was shown the best places to go on a "date" (though how any of them would know that was beyond him), including where Pansy was sure where Theodore had taken Astoria. 

They went back to the Three Broomsticks for lunch, before continuing to show him around. "You know, I think I got it by now," he said. "Really, I'm good." He bought some sweets from Honeydukes and some more parchment and ink from Scrivenshaft's. Pansy and Daphne had bought at least twice as much, though. Draco had bought some more parchment and ink, as well as a couple more quills in a couple of different colors. Harry, personally, didn't see what was wrong with plain, regular quills, but Draco had chosen two very bright, fancy-looking quills: a silver eagle-feather with a shiny black tip, and another jet black that might have been raven-feather, with a silver tip.

Draco insisted that they stop by Tomes and Scrolls, and they spent some time there looking at various books. Harry didn't think that Draco needed more books, but nonetheless, the blonde bought two more. They also ran into Terry and Hermione there, who had their heads put together over a book. Figures, Harry thought with a smile. He was almost talked out by the time they made their way back up the High Street towards Hogwarts. Also, his head hurt a little being around the girls for so long. They were much more annoying than Hermione was, and he wasn't used to so much high pitched giggling and gossiping. He was glad when they parted ways with them in the Common Room, and headed up to the library to study for a bit before dinner.

Hermione came in soon afterward and sat across from them. "Hi, how was your day?" she asked.

Harry looked up at her. "Just fine," he said. "So, how was your date?"

Hermione blushed, causing Draco to smirk at her. Harry just sat there until his bushy-haired friend cleared her throat. "It was nice," she said. "We had lunch together, we walked. We talked a lot. He's not much of a talker, but we have quite a bit in common. We like the same books; we're both ambitious. We don't agree on everything, but there weren't too many lulls. I was quite comfortable with him."

"Did he kiss you?" Draco asked, that dreaded smirk still on his face.

Hermione looked down at her book. "No," she said. "He kissed me on the cheek. We're going to have lunch together next week, and study together when we can. Not that it's any of your business, Draco." Draco chuckled to himself, and the trio went back to studying until it was close to dinner time. They parted ways, and the Slytherins headed back down to their dorm to put their stuff back before heading towards dinner.

After dinner, Harry and Draco decided to make their way to their dorm to study. The common room was rather loud, with students playing Exploding Snap and other games, or just talking. Theodore was the only one up in their dorm, and he didn't seem to be paying any attention to them. They were sitting on Harry's bed together, both of them leaning back against the headboard. They were currently working on a History of Magic essay that he would rather not be doing. 

"No, no, that was in 1604. The event you're referring to was in 1709," Draco said, pointing to a reference in the book on Harry's lap.

Harry groaned. "How can you remember all this stuff?" He looked over at Draco.

Draco smirked at him. "I work very hard to remember all this 'stuff,' as you call it," he said, leaning closer to him. The blonde turned his head towards him, the smirk turning into a smile as he looked at him. Everything seemed to freeze for a moment, and Harry was suddenly very aware of Draco in a way that he wasn't sure he had ever realized before. Their faces were only a couple of inches from each other. He couldn't take his eyes off the blonde's lips.

The heat between them was intoxicating. Harry couldn't remember ever feeling like this before; he wanted to kiss Draco more than he'd ever wanted to do anything. That both thrilled and scared him. He could almost picture it, and they were so close… It would be so easy. Their lips were only an inch or two from each other. All he had to do was just lean forward ever so slightly, and they would be kissing. Draco, meanwhile, wasn't moving. He seemed to be patiently waiting, and Harry wondered if he wanted him to. It certainly seemed like he did. Harry had never really imagined himself kissing someone before, but it had certainly never thought it would be a guy. He was straight! Wasn't he?

Harry pulled back, taking in a deep breath that he hadn't even realized he had been holding as he moved his eyes from Draco's lips. He moved them along his sharp, angular cheekbones and up the lines of his face until he met his friend's gray eyes. "Er, so what about this part here?" he asked, pointing to the next section in the rough draft of his paper.

A look of disappointment crossed Draco's face, but the blonde quickly covered it up and helped him correct his next section. Harry was only half-listening, as he was having a hard time concentrating. He was straight, but if that were true, then why had he wanted to kiss Draco? What was he going to do? He had never been more confused.

~~~~~~~~~~

The next morning, there was another Educational Decree - one banning all group activities that didn't have permission. Harry only wondered for a second who told about their meeting the day before, but there had been two people invited that left - Smith and one other person. It was undoubtedly one of them. Montague got permission to start Quidditch training again right away. It was annoying that Smith had ratted them out - because Harry thought it was him - but it couldn't be helped.

After dinner, Harry went to the Room of Requirement to talk to Sirius and Remus. He kept things brief but did tell them about the Defense Club that Hermione had come up with. They seemed to think it was a good idea, and Sirius praised them for coming up with the idea to go to the Three Broomsticks. He admitted he had gotten the idea from Severus, which didn't seem to please Sirius at all. Sirius also told them to be careful, because the latest intelligence from the Ministry was that Fudge didn't want them trained in combat. Apparently, Fudge thought that Dumbledore was forming some sort of Wizard Army, which was stupid, but it did explain Umbridge.

Harry made a reminder to tell Hermione about that over the next week. Meanwhile, Harry thought of that moment with Draco a lot over the next week. He noticed how attractive he was, the way he moved his hands, the way his eyes scanned each piece of parchment, the way he held a quill… It was actually rather obsessive, and it was driving him crazy.  It made it hard to concentrate. He was starting to think that whatever it was that was going on between him and Draco had been going for a while. However, that very thought was a sharp reminder that Draco had only known Jacob Snape for a couple of months. He, on the other hand, had known the blonde for years, and only recently had been pleasant interactions. Now, all of a sudden, he was thinking about kissing him! 

Draco, meanwhile, hadn't mentioned anything about it. In fact, the blonde was acting as it had never happened at all. That bothered him for reasons that he couldn't explain. Part of him said that they should talk about it, but another part didn't want to talk about it at all. After all, what was he going to say? "Sorry, I really wanted to kiss you, and I still do, but I'm straight. I know that doesn't make any sense, and I'm really confused, but there you go."

Even Hermione noticed though she didn't have a chance to bring it up until Saturday morning as he and Hermione were waiting for Severus before their advanced defense lessons. "Harry, are you alright? You've been… distracted this week."

"Yeah, I'm fine," he said.

Hermione raised an eyebrow and gave him that "I know better" look. "Is everything okay between you and Draco?"

Harry looked up at her "Yes, we're fine."

"I only say so because… well, you and Draco have gotten quite close, and…" Harry stared at her for a second, wondering if he was becoming that transparent. However, Hermione spoke first. "Look, just be careful, okay?"

Harry was taken aback. "Excuse me? Be careful ? What do you mean by that?" She was his best friend, but he was angered by the fact that she seemed to be telling him not to feel whatever it was he was feeling for Draco.

"I don't mean it like that, Harry," Hermione said quickly. "Look, will you tell me what happened? Something obviously did." There was a caring, worried look in her eyes, and she patiently sat there, waiting for him to pour his heart out to her. 

Harry took a deep breath before telling her what had happened a week ago while he and Draco had been studying. "I just… I don't understand. I mean, I'm straight!"

Hermione stifled a laugh before she seemed to notice the rather serious expression on his face. "Oh, I'm sorry, you were serious? I should have realized that you wouldn't have figured it out by now," she said.

"Figured what out?"

"You are not straight," she said. "Look, Cho aside - and I think that was purely superficial - you are not straight by any sense of the means. Remember Cedric? I know you were attracted to him, don't lie to me about that. Besides, you and Draco have always had a rather interesting relationship, if you know what I mean. It was always obvious to me! I tried mentioning it to Ron once, though, and he thought I was being ridiculous." 

Harry was about to refute her claims, but as soon as he thought about what she said, a sense of realization hit him. What she said made perfect sense, and he felt a bit silly now. Of course, he wasn't straight. He had almost mentioned that he'd found Tom Riddle attractive, too, but he thought that might be a bit too shocking. It also made his attraction to Draco, which he was just now coming to realize, a bit easier to deal with. He was not straight. He thought about how he'd always sought out Draco whenever he entered a room, even before he changed, and wondered how long this had been going on.

"Look, that's not what I was cautioning you about," Hermione said before he had a chance to say anything. "You have feelings for Draco, and that's fine. It seems as if he likes you back. It's just… You're keeping a rather huge secret from him. It would be hard for you, being the way you are, to keep a secret from someone that you're falling for. You're not going to want to keep lying to him the deeper your feelings get, and that's going to get harder if you admit your feelings to him. Look, just… be careful, okay?"

Harry nodded, thinking a lot about her words and decided to change the subject. He filled her in on what Sirius had said. She thought it was foolish, but she agreed that it did explain Umbridge. It seemed to spur her on. Meanwhile, Hermione told him that she had scheduled the first meeting for tomorrow night after dinner, sending around a few messages to people with directions. She also explained her idea for the coins to help give each other messages, saying that she had gotten the idea from the Dark Mark. It would allow her to mark the date of the next meeting on her coin, and all the others would reflect it. Harry praised her idea and thought that it was brilliant. 

"Also, Harry," Hermione said to him, "be careful about how… good, you are." Harry blinked at her, and Hermione continued. "I just mean… you're so good at it; you're such a natural. If you're too good, it might be a bit suspicious."

"So, you're saying I need to hold back a bit."

"Exactly! Just hold back a little at first, and not get the spells right the first time," she told him. Harry was about to say that he didn't do that, but then he remembered beating Hermione in dueling. Maybe she was right, and he should hold back a bit, at least until he saw other students starting to get it. She was right. Jacob Snape couldn't be seen getting everything right the first time. He was saved from thinking about it any more when his father walked in to start their lessons.

~~~~~~~~~

Hermione wasn't the only one that noticed what was going on between him and Draco. The next day, while he was alone with his father, he brought it up. "So, I noticed that you and Draco have gotten… rather close," the older man said as they played chess.

Harry rolled his eyes. "Not you, too," he said. "I already talked to Hermione yesterday." He felt a bit talked about out, but then again, he wasn't sure if this was the sort of thing that fathers did with their children. Were they supposed to talk about this stuff, or did parents and children typically avoid these conversations? He wasn't sure at all how these things were supposed to work. "Besides, I thought you liked Draco." 

"I do," said Severus. "He is my godson, so yes, I am rather fond of him. That is not why I brought it up." Harry looked up at him. "I merely think you should be cautious moving forward. You carry a rather large secret, and it is not just your secret that you are protecting." That thought hadn't occurred to him. If anyone found out about it, if the Dark Lord figured it out, it could put him at a risk without him even knowing why. "I should also point out that only Hermione and Ronald Weasley are privy to your secret, friends that you do not know. While I do not care if Dumbledore disapproves of you telling anyone else, it puts both of us at risk for the more people that know."

Harry thought a lot about that, and what Hermione had said the day before, as the afternoon wore on. Dinner was still an hour away or so when his father stopped their game early. He was a bit confused, but Severus explained quickly. "I'm afraid our visits are no longer just casual anymore," he said. "It's time that you take the next step in your Occlumency training - practical training."

Harry blinked. "Practical training?"

"If you have been doing the training properly, this is the natural next step," Severus explained. "The only way to truly become versed in Occlumency is to practice it. I will use a skill called Legilimency against you, and you will use your training to block me out. It can be rather unpleasant, so we'll keep our sessions brief at first." Severus used his wand to move the furniture out of the way. Harry stood a couple of feet from him, nervously wringing his hands together. "The more you worry, the harder it's going to be. Just take a deep breath, and remember your training."

Harry nodded and took a deep breath. He settled his nerves and remembered the meditation that he'd been doing for the past two months. Okay, maybe not consistently, but at least now he could meditate without his mind wandering too much. He gave another nod and said. "Okay, I'm ready." 

"Are you sure?" 

"Yes, Dad, I'm ready," Harry said. "Let's get this over with." He kept his eyes focused on his dad, but tried to envision the wall, shutting himself off, the way Severus had always explained it. The next thing he knew, Severus had said a word that sounded like "Legilimens." His resistances held, but only for a few moments before they shattered. The room vanished, and suddenly, images swam before his mind. It was so vivid, almost like a flickering film. There was Dudley riding a new bicycle…. Aunt Petunia throwing a frying pan at his head, nearly missing before shoving him and locking him inside the cupboard…

The force ended abruptly, and Harry's mind began to clear. He had a throbbing headache, and a short moment later, he felt his father's hand on his shoulder. "Are you alright?" When Harry didn't respond, Severus repeated the question.

"Yes, Dad, I'm fine, just… that was intense."

"Yes, I apologize," he said. "I stopped it as soon as I could. You did rather well for your first time. You did manage to hold me off for a bit, and you will undoubtedly get stronger over time." He left, coming back a moment later with a vial. "Take this." Harry did, and the headache cleared. His head didn't throb as much. "Now, what was that?"

"I'm sorry, what was what?"

"The vision, the second one," he said. " What was it?" 

His voice held a bit of a bite to it now, and Harry forced himself to recall what it was. "Oh, that… Nothing. Normal day, actually," he said. At least it had been for him. It hadn't hit him that time.

A dark look appeared on his father's face. " What? That is not normal. My life growing up was far from normal, and even I know that," he said. "You are never going back there. I do not care what Dumbledore says about it, I refuse to allow my son to live in an abusive household. Why were you locked in the cupboard?"

Harry was glad for Severus's caring, and the fact that he wouldn't be going back made him even happier. "Er, I lived there until I was eleven," he said. "That was where I slept, and then I got moved into Dudley's spare bedroom." The look his father's face got worse if that was even possible. He muttered to himself as he walked off, but when he came back, he seemed much calmer.

"Dinner is going to start soon," Severus said. "You should go before your friends start to worry." Harry nodded and turned to leave. "I meant what I said. You are never going back to that place if I have anything to say about it." Harry smiled at him before leaving.

~~~~~~~~~

As soon as Harry left, Severus waited until he was sure that his son was out of sight and back in the Common Room. When he was, he left and headed straight for Dumbledore's office. It almost seemed a bit foolish to be running up to his office on the verge of dinnertime to yell at the old man, because he had a feeling he knew the answer already. He couldn't let it go. Of course, he had suspected that his home life had been less than perfect. Harry's clothes that had been wearing - hand-me-downs from his cousin - and shock at getting his own room were proof of that. However, seeing it for himself was entirely different.

Severus knew full well that not all parents meant well. His own father had been a drunk. What time he hadn't spent drinking, he had spent yelling at him and his mother. His mother took the brunt of it, and she had done her fair share of yelling back. In fact, most of his memories of the three of them together involved his parents yelling while Severus himself hid somewhere to avoid it all. Occasionally, his father would start throwing things or hitting. Never Severus himself, but always his mother. He was usually ignored.

That's who he had seen when he saw Petunia, Lily's own sister, throwing a frying pan at Harry's head. He had seen his father. He had instantly felt angry, both at Lily and himself. She hadn't told him, so he had never been around. He had never wanted children, nor did he blame her for not saying anything. Her letter made it sound as if she was planning on revealing the truth, but he had his doubts about that. Reveal to James Potter that the boy he had been raising was actually the son of his worst enemy, the product of a one-night-stand? That was laughable.

Then again, this was Lily. She had been beautiful and brave… Just maybe, she would have said something. What would he have done? What would he have wanted? He would have been twenty-one at the time. He was not the same man he was now. Severus shook his head, taking the thoughts out of his mind as he reached the door to Dumbledore's office. He was not going to live in the past. There was no way to go back and change anything now.

Severus said the password and made his way up the stairs. Knocking on the door, he heard Dumbledore's voice calling for him to come in. "Ah, Severus, to what do I owe the pleasure?" Dumbledore asked. The old man didn't seem to give a second thought to the angry look on Severus's face.

"Did you know?" he asked, seething as he stood there in the doorway.

"I am sure that I do not know what you mean," Dumbledore said, looking up at him, that damned twinkling in his eyes.

"Yes, you do, you bastard old man," Severus said, stalking forward and slamming his hands on the desk. "Did you know? I saw, in Harry's mind, his Aunt throwing a frying pan at his head. I already knew that they didn't get him his own clothes, and suspected he didn't get his own room. But did you know that he lived in a cupboard for the first eleven years of his life? You did, didn't you?"

"You only say this because now you know that he is your son," Dumbledore said calmly. "Yes, I knew. It was necessary, because of the protections placed on him there that he remain."

"In an abusive household? Never," Severus said, hating how Dumbledore ignored the edge to his voice. So few people did, and it never ceased to grate on his nerves when faced with one of those few. Especially Dumbledore, who always unfailingly calm, it seemed, no matter what he was faced with. That was not something Severus understood.

"I have my reasons, Severus," Dumbledore repeated.

"I do not care any longer," the younger man responded. "He is not going back to that house. Not as long as I am his father. You may have been able to get away with making decisions for him before, but no longer. I decide what's best for him now." With one more unwavering glare towards the old man sitting at the desk, looking up at him, Severus turned and walked out. He did not look back.

Chapter Text

After dinner, Harry and Draco both headed up towards the seventh floor, and into the Room of Requirement. Hermione was already waiting, sitting cross-legged on the floor, her hands in her lap. The room was outfitted with everything they could possibly need. There were no chairs, but instead, lots of large, silk cushions littered the floor. Towards the back of the room - which was rather large - was a set of shelves that carried different instruments used for Defense, such as Sneakoscopes, Secrecy Sensors, and others. Walking over to the bookshelves, he saw every possible book on Defensive Magic. The room was quite impressive, actually.

“There’s everything here we could possibly need,” Draco said, looking around as well while there was no one else in the room but them.

“I asked for a room that could only be seen by those on the list,” Hermione said. “We shouldn’t have any problem not being caught. I also asked for a room that was outfitted for just that - everything we could possibly need for Defensive training.” She hadn’t moved from her spot on the floor, and she looked very nervous.

“Don’t worry, Hermione,” Harry told her. “You’ll do fine.” At that, there was a knock on the door, and some of the Gryffindors walked in - Ginny, Dean, Seamus, Neville, Parvati, Lavender, and Salenia’s girlfriend, whose name he thought he remembered as being Alana. They all gave exclamations of surprise as they looked around the room, but before Hermione could say anything, other people started arriving.  Harry and Draco found a couple of empty cushions near her, and slowly all the cushions were filled.

“Well, everyone, this is the place we’ve got for practice,” Hermione said. “It doesn’t need to be locked or anything, as no one else can get in but us.” People sounded impressed as they looked around. “It still goes without saying not to mention anything to anyone else, of course.”

“We hid from Filch once in here, didn’t we, George?” Fred exclaimed. 

“What’s all this stuff?” Dean asked from the book of the room, indicating the instruments on the shelves.

Hermione explained what they were before getting back to business. “I think we need to formally elect a leader. Electing someone gives that person authority and makes it formal. We also need a name, I think.” Everyone quickly said that Hermione was the leader, which caused his bushy-haired friend to blush deeply. “Er, well, thank you. Now, what about a name? It’ll promote team spirit and unity, I think.”

Angelina suggested the Anti-Umbridge League and Fred suggested the Ministry of Magic are Morons Group, but the most promising was Cho’s - the Defense Association. Ginny agreed that the D.A. was a good idea, but instead, she suggested Dumbledore’s Army. That was the Ministry’s worst fear, after all. Harry assumed that Hermione must have told her what Sirius had told him. A lot of people seemed to like that idea, and when Hermione called for a vote, it was decided. She stood up, and walked over to a wall, nailing the list of names to it before writing DUMBLEDORE’S ARMY at the top.

Hermione turned back around and faced the crowd, all of whom were looking at her expectantly. “I’ve thought a lot about what we are going to start with, and I think we should start with Expelliarmus - the Disarming Spell,” she said. “I know that it’s basic, but it’s useful. After all, your opponent can’t attack you if they don’t have their wand. Also, Harry used it against You-Know-Who back in June.” There was some surprise at the remark. “Everyone should stand up and pair up into partners so we can practice.”

Everyone stood up and paired off. Without Hermione, there was an even number of people. Draco faced him, and Harry was not surprised that the blonde had chosen him as his partner. They had partnered up together in class, obviously, but this was the first time for Defense. Harry felt his stomach flip-flop a bit, but he took a deep breath. He reminded himself to hold back a little bit because he needed other people to get it first.

“Okay, so this is the basic wand movement,” Hermione said, showing everyone with her wand. “Can everyone see me?” There were a couple of no’s from where Dean was standing, and she raised her wand, showing them again. “It’s very simple; there’s no need to over-exaggerative your movements or put an over amount of force into it, either.”

“Yeah, if you do that, you might end up sending your opponent back into the wall,” Seamus said with a grin. There were a few other chuckles as people remembered Severus blasting Lockhart against the wall. Harry, of course, had to pretend like he had no idea what they were talking about and put his best “confused expression” on while Hermione got everyone’s attention again.

“Okay, so everyone raise your wands, and on the count of three, try to disarm your partner,” Hermione said. “Three… two… one!”

Harry raised his wand to Hermione’s counting, as did Draco and many others. When she said one, all at once, a lot of spells went around the room. Harry hesitated on purpose, and Draco said, “ Expelliarmus!” Harry’s wand flew out of his hand, and Draco caught it effortlessly. “Weren’t expecting that , were you?” Draco told him with a smirk.

“I would not underestimate you,” Harry said, smiling at him, wanting to kiss the smirk off the blonde’s face. Of course, he didn’t.

“Why did you hesitate?” Draco asked.

“I didn’t realize I had,” Harry lied. They agreed to go again, and Harry acted like he was about to speak but let Draco disarm him again.

“You’re doing it again,” Draco pointed out. “Try again.”

Harry knew that he couldn’t keep hesitating like this, or Draco might find it suspicious. So, this time, he didn’t hesitate, speaking only a split second before Draco. Both of their wands flew out of their hands. That gave them both a laugh as they switched wands. “See what happens when you don’t hesitate, Snape?”

Harry smirked back at him and was about to respond when there was a loud exclamation of shock from the other end of the room. Both of them turned to see Neville holding both his and Ron’s wand. Ron, who was standing across from him, looking shocked. “I DID IT! I’ve never done that before!” Neville cried out.

“Great job, Neville,” Hermione said, giving him arm a light pat.  “I told you that you just need to focus your wand a bit more, that’s all.” She held up her wand, making a loud noise with it causing everyone else to stop. Harry thought that a good idea because just in the minute that he’d stopped dueling with Draco, he’d seen a lot of shoddy spellwork. Some people, like Ernie MacMillan, were over flourishing. Others didn’t seem to have the wand movement down at all. “Okay, that’s great work, everyone. You still need to focus your wands a bit more. Don’t over flourish, either.” She demonstrated again. “Now, try again.” 

Harry and Draco took turns disarming each other, and slowly everyone else improved. Hermione stopped them after a bit. “It’s getting late; we should go before we all get caught,” Hermione said. “Let’s just leave a little at a time, okay? I wish there was a way to see who was coming.” After all, Harry didn’t have his Marauder’s Map with him anymore. However, at that moment, a small window appeared in the door. “Same time next week?”

“Quidditch season is starting soon,” Angelina pointed out.

“Does anyone have Quidditch practice next Sunday?” Angelina announced that the Gryffindor team did. “Next Wednesday, then?” When no one said anything, Hermione announced that was the next practice then. Dean said they should have it sooner, but Hermione ignored him. Soon, everyone started living little by little. 

Harry and Draco stayed until one of the later groups. “You did great, Hermione,” he said, hugging her. 

“Thank you, Jacob, I appreciate that,” she said, smiling at him before he and Draco slipped out and heading back towards the Slytherin Common Room.

~~~~~~~~~~

The next two weeks went by rather quickly. Nothing happened between him and Draco. In fact, Harry felt that Draco was acting as if nothing had happened. On Saturday, Hermione gushed about the D.A., and how excited she was for the next meeting. Harry was glad that she was happy about it and looking forward to it. There was really no reason for her to be nervous. On Sunday, his father didn’t have another “practical Occlumency lesson” for which Harry was grateful. On Wednesday, it was their next D.A. meeting, and Hermione had them working on Stunning Spells. Harry always backed off a little bit at first, though it was rather annoying always letting Draco get the better of him first.

Before he knew it, it was Saturday again. As usual, he had his morning defense session with Hermione and Severus, and after lunch, he studied with Hermione and Draco. Afterward, Harry and Draco went back down to the common room. It was mostly deserted. There were a few scatterings of people around, but most people seemed to be out enjoying the rather nice day while it lasted. 

“You wanted to hear me sing, right?” Draco asked.

It had come out of nowhere, but Harry nodded. “Yes, you play very well, so I would,” he responded. He wasn’t sure where this was coming from, but he had been interested in hearing the blonde singing for a while now. He figured now was as a good a time as any.

“Good, then let’s go,” Draco said, leading to a piano in the back corner of the Common Room.

“Has this always been here?” Harry couldn’t remember seeing it before today. He was sure that he would have remembered a piano.

Draco shook his head as they sat down next to each other. “No, it’s new,” he said. “Just came a few days ago, one for each house from an ‘anonymous donor.’ In truth, it’s Salenia’s mother. Apparently, she thinks that her daughter wasn’t practicing enough at school. At least that’s what Salenia told me the other day.” The blonde shrugged, and Harry was suddenly very aware of how close they were. 

All of Harry’s feelings that he’d had lately came back in full force. He took a deep breath, trying to steady his nerves as Draco began to play. The blonde’s voice was as beautiful as his playing. The two fit together perfectly. Harry just let Draco’s voice drift over him. He was almost disappointed when the blonde stopped playing. His voice died off, and Draco turned towards him. “See, I sing as good as I play,” Draco told him.

“Yes, you do,” Harry responded. “You’re very talented.” He turned towards Draco, and green met gray.

Draco smiled at him. “Thank you,” and then leaned into him a little. Harry’s heart started to race. He remembered a couple of weeks ago when they nearly kissed while lying together in bed. Before he knew what he was doing, he was leaning towards Draco again. God, he wanted to kiss him. Just like the last time, it was overwhelming. They were close, and all it would be to lean forward just a little more, just ever so slightly...

Harry pulled away. “Er, I have some studying to do,” he said, scooting away from Draco and standing up. He did not miss the hurt look on the blonde’s face, but it was there for only a moment. A look of ice replaced it, and he knew. He’d hurt Draco. It felt like a knife was in Harry’s heart as he walked back up to the dorm room, but he was certain he was making the right decision. Until he could be honest with Draco, a relationship was not possible. No matter how much that hurt.

~~~~~~~~~

The next morning, Harry knew that things had changed, and not for the better. Draco didn’t wake up with him to exercise, as he had for a month now. “Draco,” he whispered near his friend’s bed, but the blonde didn’t stir. Harry exercised alone, and it felt weird. He had gotten so used to having Draco around. After he showered and dressed, Draco was gone. He had gotten ready in record time, and Harry felt a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. For the first time in a long time, he went down to breakfast alone.

When he got down there, his customary seat next to Draco was taken by Crabbe. Goyle sat on Draco’s other side. There was a spot open next to Crabbe, in between him and Salenia, so Harry was forced to sit there. Draco ignored him for the rest of the morning, and he had never felt so lonely as he walked down to his father’s rooms. 

“You seem rather quiet today,” Severus said to him during one of their games of chess.

Harry shrugged. “Draco and I aren’t talking,” he said. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

Severus nodded, obviously respecting that he didn’t want to talk, and Harry appreciated that. They played a few games before his father announced that it was time for their next practical Occlumency lesson. He was not in the mood right now, but he took a few deep breaths and steeled himself for the onslaught. Like last time, he only lasted a few moments before the visions started to come… he and Draco playing Quidditch at Malfoy Manor… he and Draco nearly kissing the day before… His father stopped the attack, and Harry’s knees went weak.

A moment later, Harry felt his father’s hands on his shoulders. “Are you alright?”

Harry nodded. “Yeah, I’m fine,” he said. “Dad, can we not talk about what you saw, please? It’s just… I don’t want to talk about it. I can’t be honest with Draco, and that means that we can’t…” 

Severus nodded. “I understand,” he said. “I would not force you to talk about something that you do not want to unless I thought it was for your own good.” Harry nodded, and they played one more game of chess before parting ways. He appreciated that his father had not pushed, because this had been a horrible day for him. It had been nice just to play chess, aside from the failed Occlumency. His father told him that he was doing fine for a beginner and that he just needed to focus more. That was hard for him right now, but he told himself he was doing the right thing.

~~~~~~~~~

The next morning, Harry found he was no longer even sitting next to Draco. Draco had moved to the table behind him with Crabbe and Goyle. Theodore, it seemed, had been forced to move into Draco’s former seat. He sat in between Theodore and Hermione, who sent him a puzzled look, but he shook his head. He couldn’t talk about it, not with so many people around. The rest of the week wasn’t much better, and when Harry went to go meet Hermione and his father on Saturday, she nearly pounced on him for information.

“What is going on?” Hermione asked. “Everyone’s talking about it, how you and Draco were attached at the hip, and suddenly, you’re not? What happened?”

Harry didn’t want to talk about it, but he knew that Hermione wouldn’t let it go. So, he told her what happened, how Draco had played for him. Then, the two had nearly kissed for the second time before Harry and pulled away. “I hurt him; I know I did,” he said. “I don’t want to hurt him, but… I just can’t be honest with him, and we can’t be together while I’m living a lie. Besides, I have no idea how he would react if he knew. I need whoever I’m with to want to be with me, and Draco doesn’t know me, not really.”

“Oh, Harry, I’m sorry,” Hermione said, hugging him. “For the record, I think you made the right decision. You need to be honest with him before you can be together, and until you can do that, maybe it’s for the best. I am sorry that he’s not even speaking to you anymore. I’d hoped you two could remain friends. I suppose it’s just you and I studying together from now on, huh?” Yeah, Harry’s work had already suffered without Draco there to help him.

On the other hand, he was able to do a lot more studying when he wasn’t playing Quidditch. Their first match of the season against Gryffindor was coming up sooner than anticipated, and Montague was being a taskmaster.  He told them that they would win by any means necessary if it came to that. Harry was so frustrated with what had been going on between him and Draco that he blurted out that he wouldn’t cheat, that it would only cost them points. He proceeded to then show Montague up in practice.

A few days before their first game was scheduled, he came down for dinner to see Warrington talking to Draco, sitting on the other side of Crabbe, the seat that Harry had been sitting in for the past couple weeks. He looked around, but Warrington looked up at him and then got up, saying goodbye to Draco before walking off. He wondered what that was about, but no one here would ask him. They had all been Draco’s friends, and while Marcus and Salenia were pleasant enough, Theodore still spoke to him, no one else did.

During practice, suddenly, he started to… well, honestly, his playing was rubbish. He couldn’t catch the Quaffle to save his life, and even when he did, he couldn’t do anything with it. When he tried to pass, he would end up overshooting. If he tried to score,  he would do the same thing. It was the strangest thing, and it left the entire team frustrated.

“Snape!” Montague hollered at him as they landed on the ground. “What in the bloody hell is wrong with you tonight?”

Harry shook his head, knowing that he was the best player on the team, though he hadn’t acted like it. “I don’t know. This has never happened to me before.”

“Well, figure it out,” he said. “We have one more practice before our game with Gryffindor on Saturday. It’s the most important game of the season and will set us up for either success or failure. I will replace you if necessary. Tell me now.”

“I’ll be fine, I swear,” he said, and they all changed and started walking back.

Draco walked just a little bit in front of him, and he nearly ran into Theodore and Astoria, who were coming back from the library. “Sorry,” he said, but neither seemed to mind.

“Is something wrong?” Astoria asked.

“Yes, you seem a bit off,” Theodore said as they began to walk back to the Common Room.

Harry shook his head. “I don’t know,” he said. “Just tonight, I couldn’t catch the Quaffle at all, and I guess it threw me off.”

Theodore frowned. “That doesn’t usually happen to you, I’m assuming?” Harry shook his head, assuring them that he usually played much better. “This just happened all of a sudden?” Harry nodded, and Theodore groaned. “Warrington, I thought his hand was a bit too close to your goblet tonight. He was sitting in your seat, remember? I didn’t think anything of it, but it did almost look like he may have had something in his hand. I thought I was imaging things, though, because I wasn’t really paying attention.”

“Like a potion?” Draco said, suddenly appearing in front of them as they reached the Common Room. He turned towards Harry. “That would explain your disastrous performance tonight. You were playing liked you’d never seen a Quaffle before, instead of being one of our best players. Go see your father.” The blonde then turned and went into the common room without another word. Theodore and Astoria followed, leaving Harry alone.

Harry turned, making his way down to his father’s office. He couldn’t even knock on the door properly, as it seemed farther away to him. Luckily, his father was still there. “Is something wrong?” Harry explained what had happened during practice and what Theodore had said. Draco had spoken to him, but things were not changed. His father took him inside and sat him down. A few minutes later, he came back with a potion. “Take this, and it should fix your depth perception issues. Unfortunately, it’s too late to do anything about Warrington. The dishes are washed, and no one actually saw the potion. If there was a way, you know -”

“Yes, Dad, I know, thank you,” he said, taking the potion. He felt better after that already. He said his goodbyes and then headed back to his dorm. Sure enough, he had no problems after that. He almost wanted to talk to Draco, tell him it was okay, that he was better. Draco’s cold shoulder over the past couple of weeks showed that he wasn’t. He would find out during Quidditch practice in a couple of days. I’m doing the right thing, aren’t I? He thought to himself as he drifted off to sleep that night. He had been certain before, but now… he wasn’t so sure.

Chapter Text

The next D.A. meeting wasn't until Sunday, and it would be the first one in a couple of weeks. With the first Quidditch match of the season coming up, Angelina had the Gryffindor team working every day. Montague believed in working smarter, not harder, feeling that overworking the team would only tire them out. He thought what Angelina was doing was laughable. Harry wanted to point out that Wood had done the same thing in his three years as Captain, and it had paid off their last year. Montague had booked the pitch for Friday night as last-minute training. 

While practice had gone well and the team was set for their match against Gryffindor, things had not improved with Draco. The blonde was still ignoring him, and he was still sitting next to Theodore in all of his classes as he had been for the past two weeks. He kept repeating that this was the right thing, despite Draco's anger, and he could only hope they could work past it and still be friends. It didn't appear as if that was going to be the case, though. He was just glad that Draco hadn't been participating in the rest of the Slytherin Quidditch team's attempts to throw the Gryffindor team off balance. He hadn't done anything to stop them, either, but Harry would take what he could get.

Saturday morning, he met up with Hermione before their defense lesson with Severus. She was excited for the next D.A. meeting the following night and was already talking about what spell she was going to teach them next. "I just think that the Reductor Curse is the next good thing after what we've done so far," she was saying. "I mean, we've done the Disarming Spell, the Stunning Spell, and the Impediment Jinx. Everyone is doing much better, too. I just think that it's a good idea. Thanks for all the feedback, too, Harry. It's really great having someone to talk to about this and bounce ideas off of."

Harry nodded, smiling up at her. "No problem," he said. "I told you when you had the idea that I would help you out if you needed me to." 

Every Saturday morning after a meeting, she would tell him what she had planned, and while she didn't really need his advice, she seemed to enjoy it when he said to her that he thought she was on the right track, or that she should hold off on a particular spell a bit. After all, Hermione was a bit above the rest of the class. It had been her idea to use fake Galleons to show when the next meeting would be. Her boyfriend, Terry Boot, had smiled at her when complimenting her, saying that it was NEWT-level and that she should have been in Ravenclaw. Hermione had blushed and told him that the hat had considered Ravenclaw before putting her in Gryffindor. 

Hermione smiled at him. "Thank you; I appreciate that," she said. "So, are you nervous about your first Quidditch match?"

He chuckled. "Well, it's not my first, but no, not really," he said. "No more than I would be before any other match. It's just a bit strange that I'm going to be playing against the Gryffindors. I mean, they're my friends… were my friends. I mean, Fred and George still are, but…"

"Yeah, I know what you mean," Hermione said, "but you have to deal with your life as it is now. I'll be rooting for Gryffindor, of course, but I hope you do well." 

Harry smiled up at her.  He knew that she was right, and playing Quidditch helped with dealing with everything else that he needed to at the moment. "Thanks, Hermione, I appreciate that," he said, as his father walked in to start their lesson.

~~~~~~~~~

Severus had cut their training short to allow Harry to go down to the Quidditch Pitch for the first game. He quickly headed down to the Slytherin locker room, arriving at the same time as Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle. Everyone quickly changed as Montague paced at one end of the locker room. He had just finished changing when Draco came up to him.

Draco's hair was Slytherin Green and Silver,  split right down the middle. He was holding two combs, one of each color in his hand. "They're Salenia's," he said before Harry had a chance to ask. "Her aunt works as a Product Developer at Magical Beautifying Solutions and sent them to her to try out.  She gave them to me so that the team could use them for the game." Harry looked around and saw that everyone else had done it already. He hadn't been paying attention.

Harry stared at Draco for a moment, wanting desperately to say something to him, something to fix what was going on between them.  There was nothing he could say, though. "Come on, it's about team spirit," Draco said when Harry said nothing. Harry took the combs, running one through each side of his hair. Draco took the combs back, and right then, there was a knock on the door. Draco rushed over, opening the door a crack and slipping the combs through.

After that, he and Draco sat down with the others. Montague was still pacing. Everyone just sat there and watched him before he stopped pacing and faced them, starting to speak. "Okay, team, we've been performing very well in practice, aside from that one hiccough Tuesday night," he said, turning his gaze to Harry before he continued speaking. "The Gryffindor team has been together for a long time. Johnson, Spinnet, Bell, and the Weasley Twins… this is their fourth season together, and the other two members of the team are both Weasley's. They're going to be comfortable together. They know every move that each other is going to make. We don't have that, not all of us together. What we do have is power and aggression. If we play the way we've been playing in practice, we can break them."

Everyone cheered and clapped, and they made their way out onto the field. The Gryffindor team arrived a moment later, their hair done in Gryffindor House Red and Gold. Ron looked incredibly nervous. "Captains, shake hands," announced Madam Hooch. Montague and Angelina stepped forward, and Harry could see that he was trying to break her fingers, but Angelina didn't flinch a bit. "Everyone mount their brooms. On the count three… one… two… three…" She blew her whistle, and fourteen brooms flew up into the air.

Harry saw Ron and Bletchley head towards the goalposts in opposite directions, while both Draco and Ginny headed up over the rest of them. This was where he wanted to be, and as with the excitement of the match, everything felt right again.  He could still hear Jordan's voice drifting in and out, though the wind was biting a bit. "And it's Johnson with the Quaffle, she's ducked Pucey, passed Montague - and ooh, she's been hit by a Bludger from behind, Montague has the Quaffle -" Harry shot forward, waiting for the pass from Montague, but George had hit him with a Quaffle from behind, or at least that's what Jordan had said. The Quaffle was in Gryffindor's possession now.

Katie flew forward, passing back towards Alicia, who passed back towards Angelina. The Gryffindors were screaming so loud it was deafening, as Harry, Montague, and Pucey tried to race towards them, but Angelina passed towards Katie, who shot forward. He'd never played against them, and while he was faster, he saw what Montague was saying now - they had played together for years, and it showed. Katie shot the Quaffle forward, but Bletchley blocked it. Bletchley threw it to him, and Harry caught it, shooting forward towards Ron.

Harry passed it back towards Pucey and shot forward again. He caught another pass from Montague, before shooting towards Ron. Ron was sitting there, on his broom, and he could see the furious glare that the redhead was shooting towards him. He threw the Quaffle towards the left goal hoop and watched it slide right by Ron's outstretched hand. "Snape scores! Slytherin leads ten to nothing," Lee Jordan said over the announcer as Harry sped off. "That was the first test for new Gryffindor Keeper, Ron Weasley. Let's see if he can bounce back from that."

Harry almost hoped he could, in the name of their old friendship, but on the other hand, that meant rooting against his own team. That was not an option, as he didn't like losing. He caught another pass from Pucey and then shot forward before passing back towards Montague as he flew past Alicia. Montague passed it towards him. Harry caught it and shot forward again. That is until he felt a Bludger hit his shoulder. It didn't feel broken or anything, but there was enough pain that he let the Quaffle go. "Oh, good Bludger from Fred Weasley - or George Weasley, ah who cares, one of them - and Snape drops the Quaffle," Jordan announces. "And Katie Bell - er, she drops it, too, and it's Slytherin Captain Montague with the Quaffle, and he's going down the pitch. Come on, Gryffindor, block him!"

Harry, for the first time in his life, hoped that they didn't. He knew how good Fred and George were, but he raced forward and saw Pucey in the corner of his eye on Montague's other side. Their Captain passed right towards Pucey, and Harry dropped back as Pucey dove around Alicia. He shot towards Ron, and he heard Jordan yell at Ron to stop it. He didn't, though, and Slytherin was up twenty to nothing. It was no time to rest on their laurels, though. 

Angelina raced towards their goal, and he raced after her. Montague was on one side, and Pucey was on the other. They had worked out moves where all three of them scored, even though Harry was their best scorer and fastest flier. If they focused on him, it would give the Gryffindors too much of a target. Angelina raced forward her goal, passing it back towards Katie, who streaked forward as Harry and the other two Slytherin Chasers raced forward to catch them. He dove forward to intercept as Katie passed to Alicia, but Alicia was too quick. It was like the girls were reading each other's minds.

Alicia shot forward towards the goal, and Bletchley reached to block, but her goal sailed past his fingers. "GRYFFINDOR SCORES! Twenty to ten to Slytherin," Jordan announced, as Angelina caught the Quaffle. She passed it towards Katie, but Harry snuck in, intercepting it and speeding down towards the other end of the field, and back towards Ron. He passed over to Montague, who sped forward, before passing back to Pucey. Harry sped around them, and Pucey passed him the Quaffle. Harry sped forward, the goal in his sights. He tossed forward, and once again, Ron let the goal slide by. "Snape scores again! Thirty to ten to Slytherin," Jordan announced. "Come on, Gryffindor!"

"JORDAN!" McGonagall bellowed, but Harry couldn't hear Jordan's response because of the wind in his ears. He'd always enjoyed listening to Jordan's commentary, but it was harder now while he was playing Chaser because he didn't have time to just sit up above everything and listen as he looked around. Montague caught the Quaffle, and Harry sped back towards him as he passed to Pucey. One of the Weasley twins caught him with a Bludger - Jordan didn't know which, so neither did Harry - and Katie caught the Quaffle and sped back towards the other end of the pitch. Harry was after her, and he saw Montague and Pucey right alongside him. 

Katie passed back towards Angelina, who speed up before passing over towards Alicia. A bludger hit her straight in the back - according to Jordan's commentary, it had been Crabbe - and she dropped the Quaffle. Pucey picked it up, and Harry turned around, speeding back towards the other end of the pitch. Pucey passed it back towards him, and Harry caught it, speeding around Katie, who came up rather quickly on him. He passed back towards Montague, who speed forward. Ron was there, but Montague sailed the Quaffle right past him. "Montague scores. Forty to ten to Slytherin," Jordan said.

Alicia had the Quaffle, and she sped off before passing to Katie. Katie dodged Pucey, who came upon her and then went around Montague. Harry was speeding past them as Katie passed to Angelina. Angelina was off, and he tried to intercept her, but she went right around him and towards the goal. She let go of the Quaffle, and it soared into the goal. "GRYFFINDOR SCORES!" he heard Jordan yell above the wind in his ears. "Forty to twenty to Slytherin!" 

Pucey had the Quaffle now and was speeding towards the other end of the pitch. He passed it back towards Montague, and Harry sped past Katie to come upon Montague, who passed it towards him. Harry sped around Alicia, who came upon them, too. He passed the Quaffle back towards Montague, who passed it back towards Pucey, but Angelina intervened and sped back down towards the other end of the pitch. Angelina passed it back to Katie. Katie sped forward, but she was caught by a Bludger in the shoulder, according to Jordan, it was from Goyle this time. Pucey had the Quaffle and was headed back towards Ron again.

Harry quickly sped forward, past his teammates, and saw Montague coming up beside him. He caught the Quaffle and went forward towards the goalposts. Throwing the Quaffle, it soared past Ron once again. "Snape scores again, third goal of the game for him, and it's fifty to twenty to Slytherin!" Jordan announced. "Come on, Gryffindor!" He was off again, though, and the wind in his ears drowned out Jordan's voice again until he heard the Slytherin crowd erupt. He slowed down a bit to listen to what Jordan was saying. Montague had the Quaffle. "Malfoy has gone into a dive! He's seen the Snitch!" 

Harry glanced up, and sure enough, about twenty feet away, Draco had gone into a dive. He saw something start streaking towards him, and there was Ginny, right on him. "Here comes Weasley - Ginny, that is, the Seeker, younger sister - but she's coming from too far away! Come on, Ginny! She has the better broom, a Firebolt - Potter's Firebolt, I wonder -"

"JORDAN!" McGonagall yelled.

"Sorry, Professor," Jordan said. "Malfoy is gaining on the Snitch, but Weasley is gaining on him, and - no, Malfoy's caught the Snitch. Malfoy has caught the SnitchSnitch. Slytherin has won. First victory against Gryffindor in years, but Slytherin has won." The disappointment in his voice was evident, but Harry couldn't help it as they all sunk to the ground. He was elated. "Final score: two hundred to twenty."

The entire team was sinking to the ground, and rushing at Draco, who had a grin on his face, the Snitch held tightly in his hand. He glanced up at the stands. McGonagall was visibly disappointed, but his father had a smirk on his face. Everyone their arms around Draco, congratulating him on a spectacular catch. The Gryffindor team was landing, too, but Harry wasn't paying attention. He was thrilled that they had won, and while the outcome of the match didn't hinge on him anymore, he found that he actually enjoyed playing Chaser a lot. It was exciting and kept the adrenaline pumping.

That was when he heard Ron's angry voice cutting through their excitement, and they all turned to see Ron standing there, face as red as his hair. "What, did your daddy slip you a potion?" Ron said, giving a sneer that would rival any of Draco's. Harry was too taken aback to say anything, and Ron went on. "That's what it is, right? Anything to win, huh, Slytherin ?"

Harry narrowed his eyes, glaring furiously at Ron. The redhead took a couple steps forward towards him until both twins came up on either side of him, holding him back. "Ron, what is wrong with you?" Fred asked.

"Yeah," Ginny said, stepping in front of him. "It happens."

"There's no need to take it out on Jacob," agreed George. "Malfoy's the one who caught the snitch, anyway."

"They were just better today, that's all," Ginny said, putting a hand on his chest as Fred and George held him back. Ron didn't seem to be listening, though, and his eyes were fixed straight at Harry. He understood. Ron was blaming him for the loss because he had switched teams, and Gryffindor had never lost to Slytherin while he'd been on the team.

"There's no reasoning with him," Draco said, stepping forward, a familiar sneer in place. "He's just jealous that the Gryffindor team can't win without your precious Potter. Your brothers are right, though. It's not Jacob's fault." The blond held up the Snitch, still held firmly in his hands. " I beat Weaslette to the Snitch. I won the game for Slytherin. Jacob and the other Chasers just helped it along."

Ron turned his gaze towards Malfoy now, as Madam Hooch showed up. "Stop this, stop right now," she said, stepping in between them. "What is going on here?"

"Ron picked a fight with Jacob," Draco said, speaking up. "Accused him of cheating, which is absolute rubbish."

For once , Harry thought to himself, Slytherin won fair and square. " Fred, George, and Ginny were simply trying to hold him back," Harry said in agreement. This had shown how far apart he and Ron were now. They had been so close, but Ron had chosen his side. If he couldn't be mature about losing a simple Quidditch match, then there was nothing more to say.

"Ron Weasley, go to Professor McGonagall's office. Now," Madam Hooch said. Fred and George let go of Ron's arms, and Ginny stepped aside to let her older brother stalk back towards the castle. Madam Hooch looked at everyone else in turn. "As for the rest of you, the show is over. Head back to your locker rooms, get changed, and back into the castle with you. Go on!"

The entire team was complaining about Ron as they went back into the locker room and then laughing about what trouble he was going to be in. Harry, meanwhile, was preoccupied with thoughts of Draco. Even though they hadn't spoken in two weeks, aside from before the game, the blonde had still defended him when Ron had attacked him. "Thanks," he said to Draco as they were leaving, "for defending me, I mean."

"Don't mention it," Draco said simply. He didn't look at him, though, and left with Crabbe and Goyle. Harry groaned. Maybe we can't be friends, he thought to himself as he left. Maybe we weren't meant to be.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Harry met up with Hermione to study. "It'll be over school by dinner time, knowing Hogwarts," Hermione said, sitting across from him. Seeing the confused look on Harry's face, she continued. "Ron. McGonagall was just going to give him a month's detention, but Umbridge showed up with another Educational Decree, number twenty-five, I think. It gave her power over disciplining students." She paused for a moment before leaning forward over the table. "She banned him for life."

"What?" Harry asked, a note of incredulity in his voice. "That seems rather steep for just picking a fight."

Hermione shrugged. "I agree, but this is Umbridge we're talking about," she told him. "Angelina is both devastated and furious. She says Ron was actually quite good when he wasn't letting the nerves get to him. Now, she has to find another Keeper, but it'll have to wait until after the Hufflepuff versus Ravenclaw match in two weeks. At least that's what I overheard. I mean, Ron and I may not be speaking, but I still care what happens to him, and you should have seen his face when he came back in the Common Room." 

Harry honestly felt bad for him. It was way too steep a price to pay for losing his temper, but he had gotten himself into his own mess. He had let his jealousy and anger get the better of him. Things could have been a lot different if he had been mature about the whole situation. Hermione was right about one thing, though - news of Ron's banishment from Quidditch was all over Hogwarts by dinnertime. As usual, anything that was supposed to be a secret never stayed one for long. The rest of the Slytherin Quidditch team thought it was hilarious, while Ron was nowhere to be found.

That night, they had a party in the Common Room to celebrate their win. As before, the younger years were playing Truth or Dare, while the older years sat in a circle, playing Never Have I Ever. Harry was going to walk right past them until he saw that he was being waved over by Salenia and Daphne. There was a spot reserved right next to Draco. Considering how tense things had been between them, he was reluctant to sit next to him, but he did so anyway. Pansy, followed by Daphne and Blaise, followed by Salenia and Marcus, sat on the other side of Draco, while Theodore, Crabbe, and Goyle sat on the other side. He had a feeling someone had orchestrated that, but he didn't want to think about it right now.

The game started, and Harry once again felt as if he didn't belong. He hadn't kissed anyone, or given a blowjob or went down on a girl or… he hadn't done anything. So, when his turn came, he dumbly said, "Never have I ever kissed a girl." Groans went around from most of the guys in the group, and only a few - including Draco - didn't take a drink. Draco's turn came, and he said, "Never have I ever snogged someone." There were more groans. Harry continually said dumb things as he became more and more obsessed with what Draco said. He couldn't help it - he was jealous. He would turn and look over at Draco, trying to figure out who he was talking about. 

Harry had identified that Draco had been interested in someone else before him, but that he hadn't really dated. He'd never dated, either. Who had he been interested in before him, though? He was desperate to know, but this game was not good for finding out that sort of thing, and it was really none of his business. The game had gone around for several turns when Draco turned to him. "You and I are going to talk. Now." The blond stood up and stalked off towards their dorm. He sat there for a moment, before going up, ignoring the smirks from Daphne, Pansy, and Blaise.

Harry followed Draco up to their dorm, and as soon as they made it inside, Draco spelled the door locked. He rounded on Harry, crossing his arms over his chest. "Can you tell me what the bloody hell is going on because I'm confused," Draco said, his voice seething with anger. "You rejected me twice."

"I know."

"Oh, you do? The first time, I chalked it up to you being insecure about your sexuality," Draco said. "I understood that. Maybe I pushed you too far too soon, so I backed off. Then the second time happened. You weren't confused then, I could sense it. You just rejected me when you obviously fancy me. You haven't made one move to try to change my mind over the past couple weeks, and then tonight, you act like a jealous boyfriend. So, what is it?" His voice was rising now, and it only made Harry feel worse. "Is it Granger? Can you tell me so that I can move on with my life?"

"This hasn't been easy on me either, but it's complicated," Harry said. It was more complicated than Draco knew, but what else was he supposed to do? There was no way for him to make him see. "And it has nothing to do with Hermione. You know that."

"Complicated?" Draco sounded as if that was the stupidest thing he had heard. " Life is complicated, Snape. This," he said, motioning between them, "wasn't until you made it complicated."

He had no idea, he thought to himself as he put his head in his hands for a moment, before looking up at Draco's angry face. "It's just… You don't understand…" He sat heavily down on the bed. 

"Then explain it to me!" 

There was only one way to do that. Despite the warnings for Draco's safety and keeping the secret that went off in his head, he waved his wand, putting up a silencing spell, and the words were out of Harry's mouth before he could stop them. "I am Harry Potter."

Chapter Text

"I am Harry Potter." Part of him wished he could take the words back; the other part desperately needed Draco to understand that he hadn't meant to hurt him. He hadn't wanted to hurt him, though he knew he had. 

Draco just stared at him for a moment before speaking. "Bullshit," he said. "Very funny. Who told you? If you were going to lie, you could have at least made up a better one."

"I'm not lying, I swear," Harry said, and he quickly tried to think of something that he could say to prove it to him. Wait, he did have something! "I can prove it to you!" Draco gave him a skeptical look, but Harry took the opportunity while he had it. "We first met when we were eleven years on the thirty-first of July, before our first year. It was in Madam Malkin's." The skeptical look on the blond's face fell, and Harry continued while he had the chance. This was the one thing, the one moment, that he was sure could prove to Draco that he was who he said he was. "You didn't know who I was, but you started talking to me instantly. Your father was buying your books, and your mother was looking at wands if I'm not mistaken. You asked me a lot of questions, but since I was raised by Muggles, I had no idea at all what you were talking about. I think I only gave you one-word answers for the most part."

Draco's expression was one of shock, and he didn't speak, so Harry kept talking. "You reminded me kind of my cousin, Dudley, a spoiled bully, so I made my mind up about you pretty quickly," Harry admitted. "First, you asked if I was going to Hogwarts, followed by if I had my own broom or if I even played Quidditch. I had no idea what that was. You said your father thought it would be a crime if you weren't picked to play on the house team. You asked what house I would be in, but again, I didn't know what you were talking about. You said you'd leave if you were in Hufflepuff. Then, you started insulting Hagrid, and that was about it for me."

Draco sat down on the bed next to him, and he still looked like he couldn't believe what he had just happened. "I never told anyone that," he said. "When I realized you were the same boy I ran into in Madam Malkin's, I knew that I couldn't tell anyone that I hadn't realized who you were, so I didn't mention it at all. No one knew that. You really are Harry Potter." Harry nodded, and Draco looked him over as if he'd never seen him before. "What's with the disguise, and saying you're the Professor's son? Is that true, or…?"

"It's true," Harry said, and then he explained everything - his parent's one-night stand, his mother hiding his true parentage, and the letters that both he and Severus had received at midnight on his fifteenth birthday when the glamours fell. He explained the alternate identity that they'd come up with and keeping the secret from everyone but a select few people.

"Your eyes are exactly the same. I can't believe I never noticed that," Draco said. "They were always my favorite feature of yours." A smile crossed his lips.

"Really?"

"Oh, yes… I liked you instantly when I first saw you; I just didn't realize it at the time," Draco explained. "I didn't realize it until last year at the Yule Ball. You looked quite fit. And then I met Jacob Snape, and I was quite taken with him, too." Harry smiled at him. "I don't take rejection well if you haven't noticed."

"I did notice," Harry said. "Though you did happen to just insult people who are nice to me, and that was very few and far between."

Draco shrugged. "So, why didn't you tell me why keep the secret from so many of your friends? Why not tell me instead of just pushing me away? Shouldn't it be my decision as to whether or not I want to be involved with all this, not yours? Or do you still not fully trust me?"

"I do trust you, I have trusted you," Harry said, laying a hand over Draco's, "or I wouldn't be telling you any of this. That's not why I haven't told you. Yes, it does put your life at risk, but it's not just my life I'm risking. I'm risking everyone's lives that know this secret, including my father's."

A look of realization crossed Draco's face. "Wait, the Professor… he's a spy, isn't he?" Harry knew to lie to him now would do no good, so he nodded. The blond seemed to think about that for a second before he squeezed Harry's hand. "You know this stays between us, right? You do realize, though, that I'm already on You-Know-Who's radar, whether or not I'm with you? You do remember who my father is, don't you?"

Harry nodded, and he hadn't considered that, or maybe he had, but not in the way Draco meant. "Yes, I know, but… I don't know. It seemed like a good idea at the time."

Draco smiled at him. "Now, will you go out with me next Saturday, Harry?" Harry nodded. "Great, now -"

Something occurred to him right then, and he cut Draco off. "Don't call me that."

"What, Harry? It's your name, isn't it?"

Harry - no, Jacob -  shook his head. "No, it's not. Not anymore, and it was never supposed to be."

Draco nodded. "Okay, then… Jacob, now, will you hold still, there's something else I've wanted to do for a long time."

Draco leaned forward, and Jacob leaned back as a sense of fear and nervousness washed over him. "I - I have no idea what I'm doing."

"And I do? Come on, Snape, we'll figure this out together, yes?" When he nodded, Draco leaned forward and pressed their lips together. Jacob hesitated for only a moment before wrapping one arm around Draco's waist, pulling him closer against him. He wanted to do anything he could to feel more of him. Draco moaned into their kiss before wrapping his arm around Jacob's neck, bringing them closer together as they kissed. The only thing Jacob wanted was to keep kissing him, and if he had any doubts about them before now, they were gone.

At that moment, there was a knock on the door, and a voice called through, "Oi, why is this bloody door locked?"

Draco groaned, reluctantly pulling away from him. "I'll be right back," he said, though he noticed the blonde's breathing was slightly laboured. Jacob realized his own was, too. The blonde got up, and Jacob quickly removed the silencing spell, as it was no longer needed. Draco answered the door to see an irate looking Theodore standing on the other side.

"I don't care what you were doing, but at least warn me if you're going to be locking me out," Theodore said, stalking off to his bed. "You know I can't stand those parties for long."

"Sorry, it wasn't planned," said Draco, sounding rather pleased with himself, before walking back to Jacob's bed. The blonde crawled up, pulled the curtains closed, and dragged Jacob with him. He chuckled a bit, but Draco silenced his chuckle with a kiss.  He wasn't sure that he could ever get tired of kissing Draco, as he felt their bodies near each other. He wanted to press him down, and… but there would be times for that later. Plenty of time, if he had his way. He knew now that he had made the right decision in telling Draco. This felt right, more right than anything had in a long time. 

Jacob reached over and pulled the blonde's body against his. Draco gave a pleasant moan as they kissed. At that moment, the door opened again. He heard talking, but he tried to drown it out. He much more wanted to concentrate on Draco's lips against his, the feeling of his body pressed up against his own, the feeling of Draco's fingers entwined in his hair. The talking grew louder, though, and suddenly, Blaise yelled, "About bloody time! Hey, Snape, Malfoy, do me a favor? Don't forget the silencing spells."

Draco groaned, breaking the kiss. "I'll be right back," he said, pulling his body away as he turned and poked his head out of the four-poster. "Would you shut your bloody mouth, Zabini, I'm busy." Blaise just laughed, though, but Draco brought his head in again, and then shut the curtain. "Now, where were we?" he said, running a finger down Jacob's chest.

Jacob smirked back at him, grabbing Draco's hand and pulling his body against his. He couldn't imagine that anything else could feel this good, his hard body up against his own as he captured the blond's lips in another kiss. It didn't last long, though, before Draco broke the kiss. "As wonderful as this is, I probably should be getting to my own bed and going to sleep," he said. "We get up early, don't we?"

Jacob smiled. "So, you're exercising with me again?"

"Yes, of course, though I didn't start exercising for the health benefits," Draco admitted. "I did it to watch you."

Jacob laughed. "I figured that now." Draco gave him a lingering kiss on the lips before saying goodnight and moving off. He laid there for a moment, smiling to himself before getting up, and changing. He did his Occlumency training, as he did every night, before going to sleep. He marvelled at how much better he felt now, and he knew there might be consequences for this later, but right now, he couldn't see any downsides to this at all.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Severus could think of better things to be doing on his Saturday night besides going and seeing Dumbledore, but the old man asked to see him after dinner. He was meeting Aurora later down in his rooms, but he could make time for the old coot. The Potions Master uttered the password, and within a few moments was sitting across from Dumbledore in his office. "You asked to see me?"

"Yes, I did, Severus," Dumbledore said. "You made a good point the last time we spoke alone like this. You are Harry's father, and thus, you make the decisions for him." He didn't hear that every day. Severus raised an eyebrow, and let Dumbledore continue speaking. He knew there had to be a catch somewhere along the line. "You have not spoken to him about the prophecy yet, have you?"

Severus shook his head. Telling him about that meant telling him about something else, too. For one thing, it meant telling his son that he had to fight the Dark Lord.  For another thing, it meant telling him how he had heard about it, and what that had led to. He may not be an expert on the matter, but a father could not just tell their son that they were responsible for the death of their mother. Yes, that conversation would need to happen sooner or later.

"Are you saying that it's my decision when to tell him?" Severus asked. "That doesn't sound like you. You're usually trying to control everything."

Dumbledore shrugged. "I know you, though," said the old man, blue eyes twinkling from above his half-moon spectacles. "You would not listen to me if I told you when to tell him, would you?" Severus couldn't argue with that, because it was true. He would tell him about that when he felt it was right. "Therefore, I have a suggestion. We would have to come up with a reason for young Jacob to be meeting with me, but I feel that he will need to know this. He will have to fight Voldemort, eventually, we both know that. He should learn more about him." Dumbledore stood up and walked over to a cabinet, opening it up. "Memories, not all mine, but all about Tom. It could help him." 

Severus thought about that for a moment. It was a good point. Learning about him might come in handy. Maybe he took that for granted because he knew the Dark Lord quite well. He nodded in agreement. "Very well, but one condition," he said. " I will be showing him the memories. Give them to me, and I will work them into our current Occlumency schedule."

Dumbledore hesitated for a moment, and Severus could see that he was reluctant to relinquish the control over the situation. "If you insist, Severus," the old man said. "Do you want them now?" Severus nodded, and he watched as Dumbledore summoned a box, and put the memories in them before handing them over. "You will keep me updated, of course, I trust?"

"If I deem it necessary," Severus said, taking the box of memories from him. Dumbledore gave him a look that he couldn't decipher before talking to him about the memories that he had procured. After that, the Potions Master left, and as he walked back to his office, he realized this put more into focus that he needed to have a talk with his son about this one day. Maybe not right away, but he had a right to know about his own future. In truth, he always thought Dumbledore should have told him about the prophecy sooner. He didn't care before, but now he did. He could only hope that when he told him the truth that his son didn't hate him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jacob woke up feeling much better the next morning than he had the past couple weeks. He got up and saw Draco getting out of bed. He smiled almost without thinking about it. Everything seemed better, despite everything else that was going on in his life. He almost felt guilty that he hadn't told any of the Weasleys besides Ron, and still telling Draco. They had been his friends first, but he had told Draco because… well, Hermione was right. He was falling for him. That was both scary and exciting. Right now, he was too happy about them being together and talking again to dwell on that too much.

He couldn't help but watch Draco while they exercised, now that he felt that he was allowed to do so. "See something you like?" Draco asked, smirking as they finished.

"Maybe," Jacob said, and Draco grabbed the front of his shirt, kissing him. He slipped his arm around his - boyfriend? Was he allowed to use that term? Were they boyfriends? They hadn't even been on a date yet - waist.

Draco broke the kiss. "As much as I love that, I have to start getting ready," he said. "Everyone will start to get up soon, and it takes time for me to look the way I do every day." 

Jacob chuckled. "Yes, I know, I've lived with you for two months now," he said as they made their way back upstairs. He got ready, and of course, had to wait for Draco as he always did. This morning, though, he was taking a bit longer than usual. "Okay, Draco, you're gorgeous, can we go downstairs now? I'm hungry."

Draco walked out and smirked at him. "You think I'm gorgeous?"

"Obviously," Jacob said, leaning in to kiss him. "Can we go and eat now?"

Draco rolled his eyes. "Yes, yes, let's go," he said. "Can't have you whining now, can we?"

"I do not whine," he said, as the blonde took his hand and entwined their fingers. "First, though, I want to go by my dad's." Draco raised his eyebrows, giving him a questioning look. "I want to tell him, you know, about us. I'd rather he not find out I'm dating someone along with the rest of the school."

Draco gave him a small smile. "Okay, let's go then," he said.

Jacob led him out and down the hallway to his father's rooms. He should still be there, as he usually opted to take Sunday morning in. He knocked on the door and heard his father's voice calling for him to enter. He gave Draco a smile, before entering the room. He walked in to see Severus sitting at his dining room table, reading the Daily Prophet and sipping on a cup of coffee. "Good morning, Dad," he said, walking over and sitting across from him.

"Morning," he said. "We don't usually see each other until later today, is everything alright?"

Jacob nodded. "Yes, everything's fine, great even," he said. "Er, look, so last night… Draco and I, we… got together." He explained what happened, now Draco had drug him upstairs to confront him about what had been going on between them, and how he had come out with who he really was. "I didn't tell him that you were a spy. He sort of figured that out on his own."

Severus stared at him for a second, before nodding. "Harry, if you're sure that this is what you want," he said. "I would have expected Draco to figure out my true alliance once you told him about yourself. He's rather intelligent."

Jacob nodded. "Yes, I'm sure that that this is what I want," he said. "I just couldn't lie to him anymore without making myself - and him - miserable." He paused for a second before realizing something that he hadn't mentioned. "Oh, and don't call me Harry anymore." His father raised an eyebrow. "I'm not him anymore. Harry Potter is… someone else. I'm Jacob now, and it's about time that I come to terms with that and stop allowing myself to be called by that name." 

Severus nodded, though Jacob didn't think that he imagined the bit of pride in his father's gaze. "Very well, Jacob," he said before clearing his throat. "You have had… that discussion, have you not?"

It took him a moment before he realized what his father was talking about. "Oh, er, that conversation, yes, I have, don't worry," he said. "I overheard the Dursley's talking to Dudley, and Hermione gave me a book to fill in the rest."

"Good," Severus said, clearly wanting that to be the end of the conversation, and Jacob didn't blame him.

"So, I'll see you in a few hours, okay, Dad?" he said, before leaving and meeting up with Draco, who was still waiting for him outside. "Brilliant, we can eat now. He was fine with it."

"Of course he is, you're dating me ," Draco said, smirking at him as they made their way towards the Great Hall, hand in hand.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Blaise just told us," Pansy said before they'd even had a chance to sit down. "So happy for both of you, of course. Glad all this nonsense is over with."

"Yes, you two are so good together," Tracey agreed.

There was agreeance from the others around them as Draco thanked them. Jacob wanted to point out that none of them had talked to him while he had Draco had not been speaking, aside from Theodore, Marcus, and Salenia. However, he didn't and kept quiet. They were obviously not his friends, but rather his boyfriend's friends - if that's what he and Draco were. Just because they were dating didn't mean that they were boyfriends. How did you know? Was there a timeframe or a sign or something? Jacob had no idea, and he was basically just winging it.

He had to admit, though, it was nice not to be ostracized anymore. 

After breakfast, Jacob and Draco were walking out when Hermione caught up to them. "Hold on," she said, and they turned around to face her. "I saw you two walking in, holding hands, which you're still doing." She waited for a second, and when no one spoke, she continued speaking. "Are you going to tell me what happened?"

"We made up," Jacob said, smiling at Draco.

"Yes, we did," Draco agreed, smiling back. "Or, rather, I yelled, he talked and explained, then I stopped yelling, and we… made up."

Hermione nodded, looking between. He knew that she was probably wondering what "explain" meant, but that conversation would have to wait until Saturday when they had more freedom to speak. "Well, I'm happy for you both, of course," she said. "I'm glad that everything worked out. We'll talk later, yes?" She gave Jacob a look and then headed up the stairs. He walked Draco to the Common Room before parting ways and heading down to his father's rooms.

~~~~~~~~~~~

"You did very well yesterday in the game," Jacob heard his father say while they were playing chess.

Jacob looked up at him and smiled. He figured that was probably about as close to saying that he was proud of him as Severus was going to get. "Thank you," he said. "I never thought I'd want to play another position other than Seeker, but I've really enjoyed playing Chaser. The game was great, so much adrenaline. It was intense. I loved it."

"Unfortunate what happened to Mr. Weasley," his father said.

Jacob shrugged. "It's his own fault for not being able to deal with the situation," he said. "These past couple of months haven't been easy on me, either of us for that matter, but we're dealing with the situation. He's just being immature about it. He shouldn't have gotten banned for life, though, but there's nothing that can be done about that." Ron wasn't his problem anymore. They played a couple more games before Severus stopped and said that they had to move on. "More Occlumency?"

"Not today," Severus said, waving his wand. The cupboard opened, and a large basin came out. A Pensieve. He remembered it from last year in Dumbledore's office. "Dumbledore feels that you need to know the Dark Lord better, and I happen to agree." Jacob watched as his father put the Pensieve on the couch. They both moved over and sat next to each other.

"Know him better?" Jacob asked.

Severus waved his wand again, and the next thing Jacob knew, he was holding a box. He sat next to the pensive on the table. "Yes, the Dark Lord made you a part of his life, whether you want to be or not," he said. "Your destinies are entwined. He has made himself your enemy, and therefore you should know as much about your enemy as you can." He gestured towards the box and opened it. In it were vials, but it wasn't potions that were inside them. "These are memories, not all Dumbledore's, but ones that he has collected. He wanted to do this with you, but I insisted that you do it with me. I thought you might enjoy that more, and I certainly prefer it. Besides, it is less suspicious." 

Jacob nodded. "Yes, I do prefer doing this with you," he agreed.

Severus reached in and grabbed a vial, pouring into the Pensieve. "Are you ready?"

Jacob nodded, and then they were going into the Pensieve. The scene they watched was of a man named Bob Ogden, who was trying to get a man named Morfin Gaunt to go to a hearing at the Ministry for "teaching a Muggle a lesson." The man's father was not open to the idea. He harassed his children, particularly the girl a lot. He also spoke quite a bit of Parseltongue and had a locket that belonged to Slytherin apparently. There was also a mention of a handsome man on a horse that apparently the girl, Merope, was attracted to, at least according to her brother. They were pureblood fanatics of the worst kind, and they were all a bit… odd-looking as well. 

After they pulled out, Jacob's head was swimming. "Okay, so what did we find out? What happened to the girl?"

"According to Dumbledore, Ogden came back and arrested both Morfin and Marvolo," Severus said. 

"The Slytherin locket that they had, was that real?" Jacob asked. "I mean because Voldemort is descended from the Slytherins. Does that mean that that was his family? Was that his mother?"

Severus nodded. "Yes, it was," he said, "and I do believe that we saw his father as well."

"That man, the handsome one on the horse," Jacob said. "How did that happen?" It didn't make any sense to him. There were no two people less likely to fall in love. It was only when he saw his father raise an eyebrow that he realized the answer. "A love potion?"

"That was Dumbledore's assumption," Severus agreed. "According to him, they got married not long after this, and then a few months after their surprise marriage, Tom Riddle Senior turned up alone while she was still pregnant."

"Why did it stop working?" Jacob asked aloud, but there was no way to know for sure why. It was possible that she actually developed feelings for him, but it left him wondering why all of this was necessary information. "This is necessary for me to know, right?"

Severus nodded. "Dumbledore believes it is all necessary."

Jacob groaned. "Why do I get the feeling that he's controlling my life?"

Severus smirked down at him. "You have no idea what that man is capable of, but I think we're done for today," he said. They played one more game of chess, which Jacob lost again before they parted for dinner. Jacob wished that they didn't have to deal with all of the added stuff because it seemed Voldemort was a black cloud over his life, whether he was Harry Potter or Jacob Snape.

Chapter Text

Jacob went straight from his father’s rooms to dinner and saw that Draco was already there. His customary seat next to him was open again. He couldn’t help it, but a smile crossed his face. He was a bit worn from the lesson with his father, and he still had a defense meeting later. He walked over and sat down next to Draco, who turned to him and smiled. The blond asked how his day with his father was, to which Jacob replied that it went well. Pansy then asked what they were going to do for their first date. Draco promptly replied that it was none of anyone else’s business. Jacob was grateful for that, as he wasn’t sure how he would have handled it if Draco had started talking about that right in front of him when he didn’t even know what was going on. That’s not the way he wanted to find out, either.

After dinner, they went back to the Common Room and studied for a bit before heading towards the Room of Requirement. They were alone with Hermione. He told her that he told Draco everything and that yes he was sure. He also reminded her that they would speak again on Saturday. She seemed semi-satisfied with that answer and nodded before quickly pulling him off to the side.  She held her hand up to Draco, signaling for him to give them a minute. “Hagrid’s back,” she told him. A brief surge of happiness went through him before he squashed that down. “Oh, come on, Hagrid’s your friend.”

“He’s his friend, not mine,” he reminded her. Hagrid had never met Jacob Snape, and he had not been on the list of people to tell. That list needed to remain small. Leaving Ron in was a risk, but Jacob had to hope that his old best friend would come around one day. Maybe that was a bit ridiculous at this point, but he was just glad that he was being allowed to handle this on his own, and not being pressured to do something about Ron. Despite everything that had happened, Jacob didn’t think that Ron would ever put his life at risk or anyone else’s. He knew what was at risk.

“Harry,” Hermione said, dropping her voice a bit, though it was probably out of habit, though no one but Draco was here yet since they had arrived early, “you have to deal with this. I know you don’t want to push Hagrid out. You’ve gotten to be friends with Fred and George despite everything. I know you want to be friends with him like we are now. You’re going to have to start sometime. Come with me next weekend to see him. I even told him about you. Ron’s been to see him, too.”

Jacob hesitated, but he knew that she was right. Hagrid had been a huge part of his life, and he didn’t want to cut ties with him completely. He had no idea how the half-Giant would react to Jacob Snape, though. He nodded, and Hermione seemed to be satisfied with that before he realized that she had called him Harry. That’s right, I haven’t told her, he thought to himself. “By the way, don’t call me that,” he said. Seeing her look of surprise, he continued. “I’m not him any more, and it’s time I stopped pretending that I ever will be.” 

Hermione’s look of surprise turned into a smile, and she hugged him. “I’m glad,” she said. “It’s about time, but I didn’t want to push you.” 

Jacob hesitated before hugging her back. “Thanks,” he said, as he pulled away from her and headed over to Draco.

“What was that about?” Draco asked, keeping his voice even.

“Just talking,” he said, grabbing his hand. “I’ll fill you in later.”  

Right then, everyone else started arriving and they got ready for the lesson to begin. Hermione instructed everyone in the Reductor Curse and set everyone to practicing. It seemed as if most were not going to master it. Hermione was about to end the lesson when Parvati Patil did such a good one that she had reduced half the table carrying the Sneakoscopes to dust. Lavender and Padma came over to congratulate her as Hermione ended the lesson, scheduling the new one for the same time next week. After that, Jacob and Draco made their way out of the Room of Requirement and back down to the Slytherin Common Room.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

After they made it back to the Common Room, Jacob and Draco went straight to the dormitory. Jacob crawled into bed, and the blond was not far behind. He brought his books with him so they could do some studying. As they were studying, he briefly told Draco about his conversation with Hermione - with the silencing charms put up beforehand of course. It wasn’t as if the others would think that was weird. While he knew it was a risk telling him, he felt much better now that he told him. “Still jealous?” he asked with a smirk, remembering the very even tone he’d used earlier.

Draco smirked back. “Yes, I am a very jealous person,” he said, “but don’t worry. I can handle it.” He set the books near the bottom of the bed before settling back at the head of the bed next to Jacob. “Besides, I spent quite a bit of time thinking that there just had to be something going on between you and Granger.” He shrugged his shoulders. “I know now that was stupid, but I can’t get rid of the feelings overnight.”

“You’ve been really amazing about all this, you know,” Jacob told him. “I honestly wasn’t sure how you would take everything. I wasn’t really thinking at all, actually.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not thrilled at being lied to for the past two months,” Draco responded, “but I understand it. And it explains little things I noticed, and before you say anything, yes, there were some things that I noticed that I pushed aside. Besides, the story that you told is something only you and I know, so there’s no way it could be a trick.”

Jacob smiled at him. “I know, I just appreciate it, that’s all,” he said, leaning forward and kissing him. The blond eagerly kissed him back, and though they were supposed to be studying that was all forgotten now. Draco’s lips were intoxicating, just like his hands, one of which was currently resting on his chest and the other on his thigh. Jacob currently had one hand around Draco’s waist, and the other he had resting on Draco’s chest. It was over too quickly, though, and before long, Draco pulled back. Their breathing was laboured, but all Jacob wanted to do was continue kissing him. 

“Mmm as much as I like this, I need to be getting back to my own bed,” Draco said, though neither of them moved. Jacob knew that he was right, though. Reluctantly he let the blond slide off the bed. “See you in the morning.” With that, he slipped off the four-poster. 

Giving a sigh, Jacob took the silencing charms off, got ready for bed, and did his Occlumency training before slipping off to sleep.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The next day went by without a hitch for the most part. Jacob was back sitting next to Draco. Not that there was anything wrong with Theodore, but it was nice having Draco beside him. He wasn’t sure that Theodore was quite as thrilled sitting next to Crabbe and Goyle again. Tuesday came, and before they knew it, it was Hagrid’s first class back. As he and Draco were leaving the Great Hall after lunch hand-in-hand, fixing to head down to the grounds for their class, Hermione caught up to them. “I tried talking to him,” she said. “Hagrid. I tried telling him to teach more boring OWL stuff, but he won’t listen. I saw him going into the Forbidden Forest.”

Jacob kept his reactions minimal, as he wasn’t supposed to know about any of that. “That can’t be good,” he said.

“Trust me, it’s not,” Draco said quickly. “His classes are -”

“Shut it,” Hermione snapped. “You may not like him, but I do. Let Jacob make up his own mind, why don’t you?” That shut Draco up, and also reminded him that he didn’t know Hagrid. This would be his first class with him as far as anyone else was concerned. Jacob also almost made a comment telling them not to fight over him - jokingly, of course. He decided against it, feeling it would more than likely get him smacked from both his boyfriend - if he was allowed to call him that - and his best friend.

As they and the rest of the students approached, Jacob was glad that Umbridge was nowhere to be found. If Hermione was right, it was best that the High Inquisitor was not around for this lesson. Hagrid’s return yesterday morning at breakfast had been mixed. There were some students - like Fred, George, and Lee who had been very enthusiastic - while others had not been. “We’re going to be working over here!” Hagrid yelled as they approached. He jerked his head to the dark trees behind him. There were horrible scars on his face. Hermione hadn’t mentioned that, but then again, they hadn’t talked much. The half of a dead cow over Hagrid’s shoulder only made him look worse. “A bit more sheltered. They prefer the dark.”

Draco jerked next to him. “What prefers the dark? Did he say?” He almost detected a note of panic in the blond’s voice. Jacob squeezed his hand and felt him un-tense just a bit. He remembered the last time Draco had entered the forest, and he had been scared then, too.

“Ready?” Hagrid looked happily around at the class, though none of them seemed to share his enthusiasm. “I’ve bin savin’ a trip inter the forest fer yer fifth year. Thought we’d go an’ see the creatures in their natural habitat. This is pretty rare, see, what we’re studyin’ here today. I reckon I’m the on’y one in Britain whose trained ter them.” 

“And you're sure they’re trained, are you?” Draco asked. Jacob let out a groan and squeezed the blond’s hand tighter. He wanted him to calm down. “I mean, you haven’t been all that great at in the past.” It hadn’t worked. He was truly panicked. He could hear it in his voice. Jacob nudged him, trying to get him to calm down and lay off Hagrid. It was too late, though. Most of their fellow Slytherins were murmuring in agreement, and some of the Gryffindors looked like they agreed with him, too.

“‘Course they’re trained,” Hagrid said, hoisting the dead cow over his shoulder. “Now, if we’re done, let’s go. Follow me!” He turned and walked off into the forest, though the class didn’t seem like they wanted to follow him. Jacob squeezed Draco’s hand, and gently pulled him along. He gave a look at Hermione, and she nodded, walking along with him. The rest of the class followed. 

They walked for about ten minutes until they came to a place in the forest where the trees stood so close together it almost looked like it was night outside instead of day. There wasn’t even any snow on the ground. Hagrid deposited his half a cow on the ground, and stepped back, turning to face the class. Most of the class was stepping towards him as they peered around at the trees. It was as if they were expecting something to jump out at them from the trees.

“Okay, gather ‘round, class,” Hagrid said. “Now, they’ll be attracted by the smell o’ meat, but I’ll give ‘em a call, anyway, ‘cause they like to know it’s me.” He turned his head and shook his shaggy head to get the hair out of his face. Then, he gave an odd, shrieking cry that echoed through the dark trees. Nobody laughed. In fact, everyone looked downright terrified. Hagrid gave the cry again. A minute passed, and the class peered around nervously at the trees. Hagrid shook his hair back and expanded his enormous chest, and right then, Jacob saw something from in between the blank space between two yew trees.

A pair of blank, white shining eyes were coming out from the trees. A moment later, a dragonish face and neck followed along with the skeletal body of a great, black, winged horse as the creature fully emerged from the gloom of the trees. It surveyed the class and swished its long black tail before bowing its head and eating off the cow. It was a terrifying-looking creature. He took a glance around and saw confused expressions coming from nearly everyone else. Everyone was still looking around as if they couldn’t see the creature. The only other people who could were Neville and Theodore. Theodore was standing just behind Goyle, while Neville was watching the creature’s tail.

“Oh, an’ here comes another one!” Hagrid said proudly as a second creature came out of the trees. The creature folded it’s leathery wings close to its body and then dipped its head to eat alongside the other. “Now… put yer hands up, who can see ‘em?” Jacob didn’t want to, but he raised his hand. The other was squeezing Draco’s hand more tightly than he probably should, and he didn’t plan on letting it go. Hagrid nodded. “Snape, right?” Jacob nodded back. “And Neville. And Nott. Is that it?”

“What are we -” Draco said as he turned to Jacob. The blond must have seen something on his face. “What? What is it?”

The rest of the class was looking just as confused as Draco. To answer, Hagrid pointed to the cow carcass on the ground. There were gasps, screams and squeals as the rest of the class saw bits of flesh be torn off and disappear. It had to look odd to those who couldn’t see it. 

“What’s doing that?” Parvati said. She sounded truly terrified and retreated behind a nearby tree. “What is it?” 

“Thestrals!” Hagrid sounded very proud. Hermione gave a soft “oh!” “Hogwarts has a whole herd of ‘em in here. Now, who knows -”

“But they’re really unlucky, and are supposed to bring misfortune!’ Parvati cried. “Professor Trelawney said -”

“No, no, no, no,” Hagrid said, shaking his head. “Tha’s jus’ superstition. They’re dead clever and very useful. O’ course, this lot don’t get much work, just pulling the school carriages.” Oh, Jacob thought to himself. So, the school carriages weren’t pulled by themselves, as they’d always thought. He would have been able to see the thestrals had he taken the train with everyone else this year instead of arriving early.  “Here’s another couple, look!”

Two more came out of the trees. One passed right by Parvati who gave a shriek before Hagrid told her that it wouldn’t hurt her. “Now, who can tell why some o’ you can see ‘em, and some o’ you can’t?” Hermione, of course, raised her hand. “Go on then.” Hagrid beamed at her.

“Thestrals can only be seen by people who have seen death,” she said. That explains why I can see them, Jacob thought to himself.

“Tha’s exactly right.” Hagrid looked solemn now. “Ten points ter Gryffindor. Now, thestrals -”

Hem, hem .” Professor Umbridge had arrived.

Hagrid had never heard her fake cough before and almost looked as if he thought one of the thestrals had made it before Umbridge coughed again.  “Oh, hello!” Hagrid said, smiling at her. Umbridge treated Hagrid as stupid. Anything he said as he tried to teach the class, she wrote down using it against him - that Hagrid needed to use sign language when she seemed to purposefully act like she didn’t hear him, that he had poor short term memory when she interrupted him. It infuriated Jacob. Umbridge pointed out that they were dangerous, and when Hagrid said that they might take a bit out of you if you annoyed them, Umbridge wrote down that he enjoyed violence.

Hagrid tried to explain, comparing the thestrals in that regard to a dog, but Jacob could tell it wouldn’t matter. She treated Hagrid as slow and stupid as if he didn’t understand basic English as she said she was going to walk around and talk to the class. Hermione had tears in her eyes, and she looked angry .”That horrible old hag!” She said as Umbridge went over to Pansy. Hagrid tried to regain control of the lesson, but it was hard with Pansy laughing so hard she was crying.

“You can see them, can you?” Umbridge asked Neville. “Who did you see die?” she asked, as if she was asking him for his homework. Jacob thought that was a highly inappropriate question to ask someone. You couldn’t just ask someone who they had seen die. That might be private. Neville answered his grandfather. “What do you think of them?”

“Er… they’re okay,” Neville said with a nervous glance at Hagrid. Umbridge wrote down that the student was too intimidated to admit that they were scared. Neville tried to say that it wasn’t true but Umbridge wouldn’t listen. She said she had gotten what she needed, and then went back up to the castle. 

A half an hour later as they walked back up to the castle, Hermione was seething. She was ranting about how it would have been a good lesson - though she admitted it was more NEWT-level. She was saying that it would have been an interesting lesson and then remarked that she wished that she could see them.

Jacob rounded on her. “Oh, you do? Really? Knowing what it takes to see them?” He couldn't believe she could make such an insensitive comment. Knowing that seeing death is what it takes, and knowing why he could see them. How could she stand there and say that to his face?

Hermione paled. “Oh! I’m so sorry, Jacob. I didn’t mean it like that… That was so stupid.”

“Forget it,” he said.

“Three in a class, though, that’s kind of surprising that it was that many,” she said, trying to change the subject. He wasn’t in the mood. He didn’t need another reminder that he was different. At least this time, there were a couple of people in the class who saw it with him, so he wasn’t completely alone. “I have to go to Herbology.” They said their goodbyes as he and Draco trudged up to the castle.

“Are you alright?” Draco asked as they made their way through the Great Hall and up the stairs. The blond squeezed his hand, and Jacob could tell that he was trying to be reassuring.

“Yeah, I’m fine, don’t worry,” he said. “Just a bit… in shock is all.” 

“Okay, if you’re sure,” the blonde said, smiling at him. Jacob couldn’t help it, but he had to smile back. 

~~~~~~~~~~~

The rest of the week went by relatively quickly, and before he knew it was he making his way down to the Chamber of Secrets for his weekly lesson with Severus. As always, Hermione was already waiting for him. “There you are!” she cried as he sat down next to her. “So, let’s start from the top, shall we? You told Draco everything. What happened?” 

Jacob told her how the night started after the game last week - the drinking game, Draco dragging him upstairs, yelling at him…. “I just couldn’t do it anymore,” he continued. “I was miserable. So I told him.”

“I know you were,” she said, “and I’m glad you’re happy. It is a risk, though, but I suppose no riskier than you being who you are.” She shrugged her shoulders. “So, what did your father say?” 

Jacob shrugged. “He didn’t seem surprised at all.”

Hermione nodded. “Yeah, he doesn’t get surprised very easily,” she said. “And after the lesson, you’re coming with me to Hagrid’s.”

“Hermione -”

“Oh, come on,” she said. “You need to at least try. I think it would be good for you.”

“It’s not that,” he said. “I, er, I have a date. Me and Draco.” 

Hermione smirked at him. “Oh? And what does your boyfriend have planned?”

Jacob could feel the blush heating his cheeks. “I don’t know. He wouldn’t tell me. He wants it to be a surprise.” He had asked him a couple of days ago as they were in his bed, snogging, but the blond was tight-lipped. All he would do was smirk at him and say that he would find out on Saturday, and to meet in the Entrance Hall after he got done with his lessons with his father.

“That’s so romantic,” she said. “Are you excited?”

“Nervous as fucking hell,” Jacob said, and Hermione laughed. “What do you do on a date? I don’t know.”

Hermione put a comforting hand on his shoulder. “Don’t worry about it. Just enjoy yourself.” Jacob took a deep breath. He knew Hermione was right, but that didn’t stop him from being nervous about it. He trusted Draco, though, and that meant that he would go and enjoy himself. “Maybe some other time,” she said, referring to Hagrid. After all, next week was the next Quidditch of the season. Hermione changed the subject back to the DA, and it wasn’t that long after that his father came in to start their lesson.

~~~~~~~~~~~

After the lesson, Jacob went down to the Entrance Hall. As promised, Draco was there. He smiled at him as Jacob walked up at him. “Are you ready?” Draco asked as he reached out and took his hand.

He smiled at him, entwining their fingers. “Yeah, I am. Can’t wait.” 

“Okay then,” Draco said, and then started to lead him back the way that he had come, up the stairs. 

“Where we going?” Jacob asked, somewhat confused. His heart was pounding so hard in his chest it almost hurt, and he was certain that Draco could hear it. However, the blond didn’t comment on it. He was also dying to find out what he had planned, as the blond had kept this a complete secret. In a way, it made him more excited for this day. In another way, it made him more fucking nervous than he had ever been in his life. What if he messed this up somehow?

“You’ll see,” was all Draco said in response. It was aggravating. 

“Are you going to tell me anything?”

“No.” With that, Draco kept silent until they reached the seventh floor, and then he realized where the blond was taking him - the Room of Requirement. Why were they going there? The blond paced in front of the spot where the DA meetings were held, and soon enough a door appeared. All he did was smirk at him, take his hand again and lead him inside.

The room looked completely different. While still large, there was now furniture in the form of a couch. There was some large, fluffy blankets on the floor along with some large pillows similar to the ones that were in the room for the DA meetings.  The rest of the room was relatively sparse. Jacob noticed that the lighting was a bit muted, and he supposed that it could be considered romantic. He didn’t know really, but what he did know was that he liked it. 

Draco just smiled at him. He went over and pulled a couple of blankets together before swinging his bag off his shoulder. Jacob hadn’t even noticed that he had it with him. He set it down on the ground, before looking up at Jacob. “Well? Sit down already.”

Jacob sat down as Draco took out a box. Opening it, he started pulling out food. There was fruit, cheese, water biscuits, sandwiches as well as a large jug of pumpkin juice and a Treacle Tart. “How did you do all this?” 

“Your friends Fred and George are quite informative,” Draco said. “I knew if I wanted to do this for you, I’d need the kitchen or we’d have to go to the Great Hall first to get food and then come up here. That would have spoiled the surprise. I wanted our first date to be… special.”  The blond shrugged his shoulders. “I didn’t like that idea as much, so I asked them if they knew where the entrance to the Kitchens was. They were hesitant, but when I told them I was doing something special for you they released the information.” He grabbed a couple of glasses and poured them each a glass of pumpkin juice. “What do you think?”

Jacob smiled at him. “It’s nice,” he said, taking a sip of the juice before grabbing a sandwich. It didn’t seem like a lot of trouble that Draco had gone through, but he had made an effort. He wanted this date to go well, too. After all, their relationship had to be about more than just late-night snogging. Jacob wanted to think that it was. Maybe it was that they had been friends first, perhaps that was a good thing.  It gave them something to work from, he supposed.

“I told my parents about us,” Draco said as they ate.

Jacob looked up at him. “You did?” Part of him thought, Already? Then the other part reminded him that he’d already told his father. Of course, Severus was a teacher here and would have found out anyway. Draco didn’t have to tell his parents so soon. “And?” The fact that he did mean a lot, and it only added to everything else that Draco had done.

Draco shrugged his shoulders. “They’re fine with it, of course, or at least they said they were,” he told him. “If you weren’t Snape’s son, things might be different. You're not the ideal Malfoy companion, but I wouldn’t worry about that. Don’t be surprised if you get some questions from them next time you see them.” The blond must have seen the nervous look that crossed his face because he leaned forward and gave him a lingering kiss on the lips. “I’m sorry, that probably could have waited. I just wanted to tell you as soon as possible, that’s all. They already like you, so you have nothing to worry about.”

Jacob let out a breath that he hadn’t realized he had been holding. “No, it's fine, I’m glad you told them,” he said truthfully. Draco was trying, making an effort. Jacob really enjoyed spending time with him, and he knew that the blond felt the same way. He would worry about his boyfriend’s parents another night. “I guess you’d have to tell your parents at some point that you were seeing someone, and sooner is always better than later.”

Draco smiled at him. “I couldn’t agree more,” he said. Jacob was thinking more and more that, although it was too soon to tell, the blond was going to be more than worth the risk he’d taken by divulging his secret. He never would have thought in a million years that he’d end up here, but now? He couldn't say that he’d change things if he tried.

Chapter Text

The next week went by rather quickly. After they were done with their date, they met with Hermione for their weekly study sessions. Jacob was glad that Draco was back with them. He had gotten used to it being the three of them, and he hadn’t realized how much he had missed it until the blonde was sitting next to him once again, where he belonged. The next day, it was back to Occlumency with Severus. He figured that they would get back to the memories next week. He wasn’t sure which he was looking forward to less. If the rest of the memories were anything like the first, it was going to be a long ride as they looked through them all. Occlumency lessons weren’t much better, though his father did say that he was making progress every week and that he was doing quite well for a beginner. He wasn’t sure how much he believed that, but then again, Severus was not the type to sugarcoat things for anyone.

That night was a DA meeting, and then back to classes, which luckily went quickly for the most part. The Slytherin team hadn’t really practiced much, because Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff had their game coming up. It seemed like the game with Gryffindor had been just yesterday, but before he knew it, it was Saturday and time for the second Quidditch match of the season. 

As usual, Jacob woke up early this morning and exercised with Draco. After they parted, he headed to the Chamber of Secrets to meet with his father and Hermione for their weekly lesson. “Jacob! Morning!” she said. She talked about the next night’s DA meeting and what she wanted to do with the group as the Christmas break came closer. He was listening and inserting comments occasionally when all of a sudden, Hermione stopped speaking and just smiled at him before changing the subject. “So, things with Draco are going well.” It was a statement, not a question. “I never got a chance to ask you how the date went, but I’m going to assume it went well. What did you two do?”

Jacob could feel the heat rising in his cheeks. Yes, things with Draco were going well, better than he could have imagined though it was still very early in their relationship, if you could call it that yet. “You could say that,” he said. “He took me to the Room of Requirement. He got food from the kitchens; we had a picnic, and… it was wonderful.” 

Hermione continued smiling at him. “I’m so glad,” she said. “It’s nice to see you happy.”

Jacob smiled back. “If someone would have told me a year ago, or even six months ago, that this is what my life would be like,” he told her, “you know, Severus being my father, me dating Draco, not even speaking to Ron and being fine with it, and being in Slytherin… I would have thought they were mental, and would probably have hexed them into the next century.”

Hermione chuckled. “Believe me, I know the feeling,” she said. “Not quite the same as you, but I get what you mean.” Jacob realized that her life had changed a lot, too. She no longer had her two best friends in Gryffindor; she was alone most of the time when she wasn’t hanging out with them or Terry, who was also in a different house. That was a far cry from how things were last year, and yet it never seemed to bother her.

“So, how are things with Terry going?”

Hermione gave a light shrug of her shoulders. “Well enough, I guess.”

“You guess?” That wasn’t really what you were supposed to say when someone asked how things were going with your boyfriend that you’d been seeing for over a month now. Surely, you should have some feelings on it one way or the other?

“I mean, we get along well enough, we like talking to each other and hanging out,” she said. “Kissing him is nice, but there are no fireworks, you know? I mean, I know chemistry can happen over time and we haven’t been dating that long. I guess I’m just new to all this? I’m not quite sure what to expect, you know?”

Jacob nodded. “I know the feeling,” he said. “I don’t have any advice, because you’ve dated more than me.”

Hermione gave a light chuckle, a light blush creeping on her cheeks. “Oh, honestly! Viktor doesn’t count. He mainly just watched me study. We hardly did anything else besides that, I swear, and I didn’t start dating Terry that much longer than you’ve been Draco.”

Jacob chuckled. “In all seriousness, though,” he continued, “I think you should just trust yourself.” He shrugged his shoulders. “If you don’t think the relationship with Terry is going anywhere, then break it off. If you do think it could or you’re enjoying yourself or what have you, then see where it goes.”

Hermione smiled back at him. “Thanks, Jacob,” she said, giving him a hug as his father walked in to start their lesson. 

~~~~~~~~~~~

After that, Jacob and Hermione split up, going their separate ways down to the entryway for the Quidditch match. Draco was there waiting for him. “How was your morning?” the blond asked, putting an arm around him and kissing him on the lips.

Jacob smiled down at him. “Good, yours?”

“Uneventful,” he said, and the two of them began to make their way down to the Quidditch Pitch. They found the Slytherin side and made their way to some empty seats. There were two in front of Blaise, Daphne, Theodore, Crabbe, and Goyle. Pansy and the other Slytherin girls were sitting next to them. Marcus was sitting alone in front of them, and the empty seat next to him must go to his best friend, Salenia, though she wasn’t here yet.

“Where’s Salenia?” Draco asked, having apparently noticed the empty seat in front of him.

“Getting her combs back from the teams,” Marcus answered, barely glancing back at them.

Not more than a moment later, the redhead herself appeared, sitting down next to Marcus. She handed him a comb, and they immediately started to do their hair into Hufflepuff Yellow and Black. As soon as they were done, they both turned back to look at them. “You’re supporting Hufflepuff, right?” asked Salenia, though judging by the tone in her voice and the look on her face, she didn’t expect to receive another answer.

That’s right, Marcus’s boyfriend is one of the Beaters, he thought to himself. Jacob and Draco glanced at each other, before turning back to her. “Sure,” Jacob said, taking the combs.

Salenia smiled at them. “Great! Pass them along when you’re done.” 

They both did their half-yellow, half-black - not that Jacob needed the black comb, of course - before handing them to Elizabeth, who was sitting next to Draco. In a few minutes, they all looked down at the field as both teams walked out to the middle of the field. He saw hair being turned into Ravenclaw Blue and Bronze on the opposite side of the pitch, figuring that Salenia must have given the other set of combs to her Gryffindor girlfriend for her to spread around amongst her house. That was quite clever, actually.

Down on the pitch, Zacharias Smith and Roger Davies shook hands tightly before Madam Hooch blew the whistle. Fourteen brooms shot up into the air. The game had begun.

~~~~~~~~~~~

“Welcome to the second Quidditch match of the season, Hufflepuff versus Ravenclaw. This is a test for new Hufflepuff Seeker, Summerby, who’s up against more experienced Seeker, Cho Chang,” announced Lee Jordan as the brooms soared upwards. “Smith has the Quaffle first, and he’s off. Smith passes to Calladwaller. Calladwalder passes back to new Chaser Lunz, but no, it’s intercepted by Davies. You have to know Davies wants to be the top this year, especially as this is his last year. Davies passes to Chambers who passes to Bradley. Ooh, Bradley is hit by a well-aimed Bludger by Loughton, one of the new Hufflepuff Beaters, and it’s Lunz of Hufflepuff with the Quaffle.”

The game was already intense, and it had just started. Lunz passed to Smith, who passed to Calladwaller. Smith shot forward, and Calladwalder tried to pass back but got intercepted by Chambers of Ravenclaw. Chambers passed to Davies, who tried to pass to Bradley, but he got hit by a Bludger. “Excellent Bludger by Walton, the other new Hufflepuff Beater,” said Lee Jordan. “Good choices of Beaters by Smith this year. He means business.”

“This is going to be a great game,” Draco said next to him. Jacob had to agree. Both teams meant business. Hufflepuff had the Quaffle again, and made their way back down the field. Bradley passed to Smith, who passed to Lunz, who passed back to Calladwalder. Davies came up to intercept, but he was hit by a Bludger by Loughton. Jordan's not kidding, Jacob thought to himself. Those two are good. Loughton and Walton were best friends; he knew that from Salenia and Marcus. They were like a well-oiled machine together, predicting each other’s movements.

Ravenclaw had the Quaffle again, but another well-timed Bludger, this time from Walton, and Hufflepuff had the Quaffle again. “Your boyfriend is doing quite well for himself today,” Elizabeth said to Marcus from her seat next to Draco.

The smallest of smiles crossed Marcus’s face, but it was gone in an instant. “Yes, he is,” he said, as Lunz of Hufflepuff soared the Quaffle towards Smith. “He and Adam want to be professionals some day. They have goals.” Smith passed the Quaffle towards Calladwalder, who shot forward towards the goal. Letting the Quaffle fly out of his hands, it soared right past the Ravenclaw Keeper, Johnson. “Ten points to Hufflepuff!” Jordan announced. “Hufflepuff leads the game ten to nothing.”

Ravenclaw had the Quaffle now and was working its way down the field. Davies passed to Chambers, who passed to Bradley, and then it was back to Davies. Just as Davies passed the Quaffle to Chambers again, he was hit by a Bludger. The timing had literally just been a split second off. Chambers passed to Bradley, who passed to Davies. Loughton shot a Bludger, and Davies dropped the ball. Calladwalder was right there, but the Quaffle was snatched up by Bradley. Bradley threw the Quaffle towards the hoop and they watch the Quaffle sail right past the new Keeper’s outstretched hand. “Ooh, tough luck for new Hufflepuff Keeper, Montgomery. Ravenclaw scores, and ties up the game ten to ten.”

Hufflepuff had the Quaffle after that. Smith passed to Calladwalder. He was hit by a Bludger by one of the Ravenclaw Beaters, Newberg, and Davies picked up the Quaffle. Davies passed to Bradley, but Walton hit with a Bludger and the Quaffle was back in Hufflepuff’s position. Salenia was screaming so loud that he was sure that she would go hoarse by the end of the game. Marcus, meanwhile, was gripping his seat so hard that he looked like he could just tear a piece of it off.

Hufflepuff Chaser Lunz was hit by a Bludger from Ravenclaw Beater, Pearce, and Ravenclaw took the Quaffle back. Davies passed to Chambers who passed to Bradley and then back to Davies. Davies avoided a Bludger from Walton, and the Quaffle was back in Hufflepuff’s possession. 

“There’s a lot of back and forth so far,” Draco said. “They’re pretty evenly matched.” As soon as he said that, Hufflepuff scored again, making it twenty to ten. 

“Who do you think it is a bigger threat to us?” Pansy asked him as Hufflepuff scored again, making the game thirty to ten in favor of Hufflepuff.

“I don’t know,” Draco said. “It’s hard to tell which of the Keepers is better right now. As far as Chasers go, I would say they’re pretty much even.” As he spoke, Ravenclaw had the Quaffle again and was moving it back down the field. One of them was hit by a bludger from Loughton. “But Hufflepuff Beaters are miles better, that’s for sure.” Hufflepuff had the Quaffle again. Jacob nodded as he listened to the blond speak. He was actually pretty spot-on as far as he was concerned. “I think Ravenclaw has the edge, though. They’re going to win.”

“Oh, and what makes you say that?” said Salenia from in front of Draco, a slight defensive tone to her voice.

“Simple, it all comes down to the Seeker,” Draco explained. “Chang is the better Seeker; she has the experience. Unless Summerby gets lucky, I don’t think Hufflepuff can beat Ravenclaw.” Both Salenia and Marcus sent him dirty looks, but the blond just smirked at him. “Just being logical, that’s all.” Hufflepuff had scored again, and now Ravenclaw had the Quaffle once more. 

“He’s got a point,” Jacob said. “It’s a pretty spot-on analysis, actually.”

“He’s your boyfriend, of course, you agree,” Marcus said coldly. 

A light blush crept on his pale cheeks, and a quick glance at Draco saw that he had the same blush on his, as well. “It’s not that. He’s right. Besides, Pansy asked his opinion,” he said. “So, Draco answered.” Ravenclaw dodged a couple of bludgers from Loughton and Walton, scoring again. That made the score thirty to twenty to Hufflepuff. 

“Of course, this makes no difference whatsoever as none of the other Seekers are as good as me,” Draco said, that haughty, arrogant tone he was famous for evident in his voice.

Jacob just chuckled as Ravenclaw gained possession of the Quaffle again. He had a point, though. The only one who seemed to have given Draco a challenge before had been him, and he was no longer another Seeker. Besides, the blond was doing better than ever. Just at that moment, one of the Ravenclaw Chasers was hit by a Bludger and the Quaffle was back in Hufflepuff’s position. This was going to be a long match.

~~~~~~~~~

Jacob wasn’t sure how long the game had gone on, but it was one of the longer games he’d seen at Hogwarts. The game as tied seventy to seventy. Calladwaller had the Quaffle for Hufflepuff and passed it to Smith. Smith was hit a bludger by Ravenclaw Beater, Newberg and the Quaffle was picked up by Davies. The entire match had been like that, back and forth, hit by a bludger, back and forth. There had been one brief glimpse of the snitch earlier, but Cho had lost it. Now, both Cho and Summerby were circling above the match on opposite sides, both searching for a glimpse of the Snitch that would end the game.

Davies had passed to Chambers, who got hit a by Quaffle by Walton. The Quaffle was picked up by Smith, who dashed back in the other direction. He passed to Lunz, who passed to Calladwaller. Calladwaller dodged a bludger from one of the Ravenclaw Beaters before quickly passing to Smith. Smith tossed the bludger towards the center ring, and it sailed right past his outstretched fingers. “That’s eighty to seventy to Hufflepuff! This has been a very close match!” called out Lee Jordan.

No sooner had Jordan said that then Cho went into a dive. Everyone was sitting on the edge of their seat. “Summerby is following her lead, and is coming up on her,” Jordan said, “but I think she was too far ahead and yes! Chang has caught the snitch!” Summerby had still been still a few feet behind her; Cho had been closer and had seen the snitch first. All fourteen players sunk the ground, the Ravenclaw team surrounding Cho, who held the Snitch high her in her hand.

“What a great match,” Jacob said. He could see the disappointed looks on Salenia and Marcus’s faces. 

“I called that one,” Draco said, standing up. Jacob stood up with him, and they made their way out. “We are definitely going to win this year. Mark my words.” Jacob just smiled as their group made their way out of the stands and back into the castle. Yes, he couldn’t wait for the next Quidditch match after the first of the year. 

“You think so?” Jacob asked him as the made their way out of the stands. “Both of them played very well tonight.”

“Yes, but we have one of the best Chasers in the school,” Draco said, squeezing his hand, “and the best Seeker. I have complete faith in our ability to triumph, and do whatever it takes to do that no matter what.” Jacob smiled at him. Yes, it was definitely going to be an agonizing wait until the next Quidditch match, that was for sure.

~~~~~~~~~~

The rest of the day, the game was all anyone talked about. Everyone was saying how well both teams had played, and wondering if either team could beat Slytherin. The consensus in Slytherin House was, of course, that their team was destined to win the Quidditch Cup this season for the first time in four years. There didn’t seem to be another opinion at all in the entirety of his house. The rest of the houses disagreed, but that was bound to happen.

At dinner that night, it was still a topic of conversation. “They still think they can beat our team,” Salenia said, sitting down in between Marcus and Daphne. “I was going around, getting my combs back, and I heard everyone talking.” She relayed what the others were saying - Hufflepuff says that it was just Summerby’s first match as Seeker and that he would improve. 

Draco almost laughed at that. “What, they think he has a chance at beating me? That’s laughable,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how good their Beaters are. Crabbe and Goyle are quite good themselves. Bletchley is a better Keeper by far than Montgomery. She’s just not up to par. And Summerby couldn't beat Chang. There’s no way he’s going to beat Weasley, let alone me.” There were some laughs from the rest of their group around them, who obviously agreed with him. “No offense to your boyfriend, of course.” Marcus gave a shrug.

Salenia continued, saying how she had overheard the Ravenclaws saying that Chang was flying better than ever and that they had a good chance this season with Potter gone. “I don’t think so,” Jacob said. “I mean, Ginny Weasley flew very well during the match against us, just not as good as Draco. I mean, sure, there’s a chance there, I suppose. They did well today. I would think that a match between Gryffindor and Ravenclaw would be very good, but we don’t know who Gryffindor’s new Keeper is, so there’s no way of knowing how that would work out.”

Draco nodded in agreement. “What about the Gryffindors?” he asked. “Surely, they’re being as overconfident as ever.”

“Alana said that tryouts for the new Keeper are tomorrow,” Salenia explained. “She’s trying out, so we’ll see how things go after that. The general opinion appears that if they can find a decent Keeper, that they have a good shot at salvaging the rest of their season and beating both Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw. I mean, they have the Weasley Twins and Ginny Weasley, not to mention their three Chasers are pretty good, too, but they need a new Keeper first.”

“For once we agree,” Draco said, “but still, no one can challenge us now.” There were nods from agreement from the others, and it certainly seemed as if that’s the way things were going to go. There was no way to know for sure until the next semester started and the Quidditch matches resumed again, but things were definitely looking good for the Slytherin team. Jacob thought it was a bit ironic that he had been a part of the reason why Slytherin had lost the last Quidditch Cup, and now he was going to be a part of the reason as to why they won.

~~~~~~~~~~

That night, as usual, Draco slipped into his bed again. That had become an every night occurrence between the two of them. After dinner, the blond would come into Jacob’s bed. They would study for a bit, but more often than not, they ended up just kissing. For instance, that night, Draco brought his books. “What do you think about this?” he asked, showing Draco a paper he had been working on.

Draco looked over, took his expensive quill, and marked through a few lines. He marked out a couple of other words before adding a few of his own. “There, try that instead and it’ll be better,”  he said.

Jacob looked over the work, he could see exactly what Draco was talking about. “What would I do without you?” He smiled over at him. He knew that he had Hermione helping him before, but he felt like he had been doing better schoolwork since he had been getting Draco’s help. He wasn’t sure why that was, but the fact remained nonetheless.

“Fail,” Draco said simply, smirking at him. Jacob chuckled, shaking his head, as Draco slowly leaned in, lightly touching their lips. It was a tease, the ever slightest of touches with the promise of something more. It made him want to push Draco back down on the bed.

“I thought we were going to study,” Jacob said, edging his body closer to the blond’s as he pushed his books down towards the end of the bed so that he could get closer to him because damn it, he needed to. 

“We did,” Draco said, repeating the same motion with his own books. “Now I have something else in mind.” He smirked before pressing their lips together again. Jacob moaned into the kiss, moving one hand to his hip, gripping it tightly. The blond snaked a hand around his waist, pulling their bodies close together. Nothing felt better than feeling Draco’s body up against his own, and when they were together, it seemed like everything else just drifted away.

As usual, though, it always ended too quickly. Draco pulled back, smiling up at him. “Mmm, we should probably stop,” he said. “We do get up early in the morning.” Jacob nodded, knowing that Draco was right. There was no need to take things too quickly right now. “I was thinking, next weekend is another Hogsmeade weekend, right? We could spend some time together, although we will need to separate because I do need to find you a Christmas present.”

Christmas? Fuck! Jacob thought to himself. He had completely forgotten with his life being insane lately, but as the holiday was coming in just over a month, he would need to start thinking about getting people presents. Hermione, she was always easy, but his father? What the hell was he supposed to get him? Or Draco ? He had never needed to buy something for a boyfriend before, let alone a rich one who could buy anything he wanted.

“Right, of course,” Jacob settled on saying after a moment’s hesitation. “Sure, but I’d love to go to lunch or something. It’ll be nice just the two of us.”

The blond smiled up at him. “I should get to bed,” Draco said, leaning in for a good night kiss. “Goodnight.”

Once he was gone, Jacob took off the silencing charms that they always put on and did his Occlumency training. As soon as he drifted off, he was left the remaining thought, What do you get for the boy who has everything?

Chapter Text

Jacob woke up early Sunday morning to Moirai kneading his side. "Ow, you little bugger," he said, twisting a bit to grab her. She squirmed, and he turned on his back and set him on her stomach. She purred loudly, fluffing him a bit before jumping down and making herself a spot next to him. He gave her a quick pet before dragging himself up out of bed, looking over to see Draco doing the same. He smiled over at him, getting a sleepy smile back. The two of them got dressed and then made their way downstairs to exercise. 

While they had been exercising together for a while now, the more it happened,  the more distracting Jacob found it. It was difficult to watch him stretching, the lines of his body, and not want to grab him and kiss him at every opportunity. Not looking at him didn't help either, because he could picture it just fine. He knew that Draco was looking at him , too, but the blond was a lot better at hiding it than he was. It was hard not to watch the blonde, though, and he wondered how he had gone so long without realizing how beautiful he was. 

"Mmm, you know, you watch me quite a bit," Draco said as they sat on the floor, cooling down a bit from the exercise.

"I remember you saying you started doing this with me to watch me."

"Yes, I did say that," the blond said, leaning over and pressing his lips lightly against Jacob's. Jacob reached out, pulling Draco closer to him as he deepened the kiss. He thought about pushing him down - - because he had thought about that more than just a couple of times since they had gotten together a couple of weeks ago - only for Draco to do it first. The blond gently pushed at Jacob, easing him to the ground. Jacob pulled the blond down on top of him, finding that he didn't mind this position at all. 

He wanted as much of Draco as he could get, but it didn't last nearly as long as he wanted it to before Draco broke the kiss. "We should get going upstairs and take a shower," he said. "Everyone will be up soon, and we are both very much in need of a shower."

Jacob chuckled. "I don't mind that you're all sweaty," he said, moving to kiss Draco again.

Draco chuckled before kissing Jacob. "I don't mind it either, but we still need a shower before breakfast," he said, maneuvering out of his arms and standing up. Jacob gave a sigh before getting up himself. He took Draco's hand before the two of them made their way upstairs.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Before lunch, Jacob decided to head down to see his father. They had intended to have dinner once a week after school started, but that hadn't happened, so he was hoping by going down a bit early, they could have lunch together to make up for a bit. When he knocked on the door, the door opened and he entered. His father greeted him as he entered. He was sitting at a desk in the corner, pouring over some papers. "I'm sorry I'm early," he said, "I thought we could have lunch together. I mean, we said we were going to have dinner together once a week, but that hasn't happened, so… If you're busy, I can come back after lunch."

Severus looked up from his papers. "No, I was just about to order lunch," he said. "I didn't want to push you to come over here more since you've adjusted so well."

Jacob smiled at him. "I like coming over here, even though today is partially a work day." That's why he had wanted to come over early. They still wanted to get to know each other more, and as far as he was concerned, the more time spent with his father, the better. 

"You're allowed time with your friends."

"I'm allowed time with you, too," he said. Severus let it drop after that. He was learning that his father tended to keep people at arm's length, but they were both making an effort to be a part of each other's lives. Jacob had no idea how things were going to work as the inevitable war came and escalated. Or if - God forbid - one of them didn't survive. He was going to take as much time as he could because the truth was - you had no idea what was coming; next, no one did.

After lunch, they sat down for their customary game of chess. He was yet to beat his father, and the frustrating thing was, it didn't feel as if he was getting any better , though Severus said he was. Since the man wasn't the type to sugarcoat things, Jacob took him at his words. "How are your classes going?" he said. "Your schoolwork?"

Jacob shrugged as he watched one of his pawns getting taken by one of Severus's knights. "Not bad so far," he said. "I'm keeping up. Draco is a huge help, so is Hermione, and no, neither of them are doing my work for me or helping more than they should."

"I wasn't about to ask that," Severus said. "There's nothing wrong with getting help in your classes. Your mother and I used to help each other out quite a bit."

Jacob looked up at him, a slight look of shock crossing his face for a moment. It was the first time that he had mentioned his mother since that day, not long after they had started living together when he had found the picture album. That album had said, without words, that Severus had loved his mother. This was the first time that his father had talked about her since then. "Really? You did?"

"Until our falling out, yes," Severus told him. "We made time for each other in our first few years, despite having other friends. We began to drift apart a bit after that." His father kept his eyes down on the chessboard. While he knew that it was possible that he was concentrating on the game they were playing, more than likely at that moment, he believed that his father was deliberately keeping his eyes averted from him.

Jacob remembered Sirius telling him, Ron, and Hermione last year that Severus had hung out with a group of people who had nearly all turned out to be Death Eaters. Was that why he and Lily had a falling out? That would make sense because he didn't think that his mother would be the type… and his father certainly had been, at the very least. The question was, should he ask him about it? They hadn't talked about stuff like this. Jacob knew that his father was a Death Eater - a spy, but a Death Eater nonetheless - and that made him a Death Eater's son. These were things he knew but didn't like to think about. He wasn't sure he was ready to ask him about why .

"If there's something you wish to ask, I will endevour to answer." Jacob looked up to his see his father looking up at him, the pieces on the chessboard forgotten for the moment. "I know there is a lot that you don't know, and while I can't promise I will want to talk about it, you have a right to ask regardless." 

Jacob moved his piece, as it was his turn, using the moment to try and gather his thoughts. "It's just… what happened?" he asked. "I mean, between you and Mum. Was it because of…?" His voice drifted off because he wasn't sure how to form his next words without making it sound like an accusation.

"My status as a future Death Eater?" Severus said, finishing his question for him. "Yes, it was." His father moved his own piece before continuing. "She never agreed with the other people that I hung out with, of course, and we had arguments about it. She tolerated it for a while, but then I said something I shouldn't have. That was the end of it, and she never spoke to me after that unless she had to."

At least not until the night they conceived him , obviously, but Jacob was not about to say that. "Can I… ask why? You don't have to answer, I just…" He moved one of his pieces, wondering if he may have stepped too far too soon. After all, they had only been on decent terms for a few months now. Was it too soon to talk about stuff like this?

"Why I chose to become a Death Eater?" Severus asked, once again finishing what Jacob was about to say. He didn't respond immediately, and Jacob was wondering if he was going to at all as he moved another chess piece. "Back then, I was a perfect candidate for the Dark Lord. He offered you anything you wanted, and for me - that was respect and power, as I came from a poor home life. It is no excuse, of course, but it made me an easy target. It was easier than it rightfully should have been, but they offered inclusion and acceptance to someone like me, and it didn't hurt that I couldn't stand my abusive, alcoholic Muggle father. Not to mention the lure of power didn't hurt, either. I realized too late what a mistake I had made."

Jacob nodded in response, taking in the words. He knew that his father's past would be a touchy subject because it wasn't something he could identify with. He would never make those decisions, despite the Dursleys and his home life. He couldn't understand, but at least Severus wasn't trying to make excuses or lie to him. He made his move with his piece. "Thanks for being honest with me," he said. "I can't say I understand, but I appreciate your honesty. Thank you for answering."

Jacob wasn't sure what else to say to that, but luckily, it seemed to be enough for his father, who simply nodded as they continued their game. "I can't believe Christmas is coming up," Jacob said after a while. "I had completely forgotten until Draco mentioned it last night. What am I supposed to get him? What am I supposed to get you for that matter?"

"You do not have to get me anything."

"Yes, I do, you're my Dad."

"Be that as it may, that does not require you to give me a gift if you do not wish to."

"But I do want to," Jacob said as his father checkmated him - again . "It's our first Christmas together." As a family , he thought to himself. He didn't say that out loud, though. It was weird to think he had a family, and since he had pretty much lost everyone when his mother's glamour had come off, this was more important to him than ever. Of course, he still had Hermione, and Sirius and Remus, but it wasn't the same. This was different, and he wanted them to do this Christmas right.

"That it is," Severus said. "In that case, it does not matter what you get me. I'm sure you will think of something, and that it will be more than satisfactory." Jacob smiled at him. "The same goes for Mister Malfoy. You know him quite well, and I'm sure that you will find something for him. I wouldn't worry about it." He knew his father was right, but nonetheless… first Christmas, and he didn't want to screw it up.

~~~~~~~~~~

Jacob and Severus played another game of chess before getting to work. It was time for another memory this time, after Occlumency last week. They had basically picked up where they left off. This memory was of a Caractacus Burke, a little old man who talked about a necklace that had been brought in by a young woman. She had been "pretty far along" and had a locket that she claimed to be Slytherin's. Of course, Voldemort had been Slytherin's heir, so that made perfect sense. The man had doubted it, but the locket had actually been Slytherin's. Merope, of course, hadn't known what it was worth. The man said he paid ten galleons, the best bargain he ever made. 

The important thing was that this put her in London near the end of her pregnancy. There was no telling why she wasn't using magic, though Severus said, according to Dumbledore, he believed she simply didn't want to any more. It would seem that she had chosen death instead of life for her son. Jacob didn't feel sorry for him, of course, but he didn't understand how she could have chosen death. His mother had chosen the same, but she had done it to protect him. Voldemort's mother had done no such thing. It seems that she had simply suffered and then gave up.

Since that memory had been rather short, they agreed to do one more. This one, according to Severus again, belonged to Dumbledore. This time, as opposed to just watching the memory, they both entered it. A young Dumbledore was there, in a plum suit. He went to a grim, square building surrounded by high railings. In the memory, Dumbledore met with a woman who ran the orphanage, meeting about a young Tom Riddle. The woman told Dumbledore that Riddle had been born in the orphanage; she told the tale that a young woman had come up. They took her in; she gave birth an hour later and then died. 

The woman continued that the young girl was not a looker, and hoped that the boy would look like his father. Jacob knew that turned out to be true, as he remembered seeing a young Tom Riddle in his second year, in the Chamber of Secrets. Anyway, the woman said the young girl named her child Tom - after her baby's father - and Marvolo after her father and wanted the boy's surname to be Riddle. She died soon after. No one had ever come looking for him.

As a baby, he had hardly cried. Now, he scared the other children, and there had been nasty incidents with some of the other children. After detailing an event with the boy, in particular, she took Dumbledore to see Tom. Riddle was certain that Dumbledore had been sent by the woman, Mrs. Cole, to have him "looked at," and almost commanded Dumbledore to tell him the truth when he was certain that Dumbledore was lying to him when he told him he was a professor. Dumbledore was patient and explained about Hogwarts, and about magic.

Riddle explained that he could make things move without touching them, and other things that Jacob thought were far advanced for someone who wasn't even in school yet. He had known he was different, and he was excited at the prospect. Dumbledore proved to Riddle he could do magic as well, and then caught Riddle in stealing from some other kids. Dumbledore told Riddle that this wasn't tolerated and that such use of his magic wasn't tolerated either, that the Wizarding World had laws.

Riddle rejected help from Dumbledore to buy his school things, and to Jacob's surprise, Dumbledore didn't argue with him. He handed him the school list and explained how to get into Diagon Alley. Riddle wondered about his family, about his father, but of course, Dumbledore had no idea at that point in time. Riddle then confessed that he spoke to snakes, which Dumbledore explained was unusual but not unheard of. After that, Severus took Jacob out of the memory.

"Riddle didn't hesitate to believe he was special," he told his father. "I didn't believe Hagrid when he told me. I wonder - I wonder if Dumbledore knew at all, even suspected."

"No, of course not," Severus said matter-of-factly. "Things might be different if he had, but according to Dumbledore, he was just intrigued by him, and kept a close eye on him."

"And he hated his father's name. I'm sure he found out that his father was Muggle, and that made him hate him even more," Jacob said, to which his father agreed. "And then he recreated himself as Lord Voldemort as if changing his name could obliviate his past."

"He was also quite well developed, and you notice that he didn't accept help," Severus explained, "The Dark Lord as an adult is the same. Many Death Eaters, myself included, claim to be in his trust, but I do not believe he truly confides in anyone. He tells us what he wants us to hear, and nothing more. Dumbledore also felt it important to note that he liked to collect rare artifacts." Jacob nodded, knowing that his all had to be important later at some point. He noticed that the necklace seemed to be important. Right now, though, he didn't see how.

~~~~~~~~~~

Jacob was mentally exhausted by the time he left his father's office. He was trying to see what Dumbledore was getting at with the memories, but it seemed as if Severus was trying not to overwhelm him - if his father knew where they were going. He had a feeling Dumbledore was keeping this close to the chest for the time being. Jacob saw at least part of the reason - wasn't there some saying about knowing one's enemy? Regardless of who he was now, Voldemort still wanted Harry Potter. He knew at some point he would come after him, and if he couldn't find him, he would hurt those he cared about. Dumbledore thought that he needed to know more about him. Jacob understood that, but there was something else here, he was sure of it. He just didn't know what at the moment; he couldn't see it.

Jacob had gone straight down to the Great Hall to meet with Draco and the others for dinner when he had left his father's office after a few more games of chess. The big talk was that Gryffindor had their tryouts this afternoon for Keeper. He was curious as to how things had gone, because not only was Gryffindor competition but in another life, they had been his friends. He was sure that he would have to wait to talk to Hermione later to find out who Ron's replacement was; that is, until Salenia sat down across from him, a smile on her face.

"It's Alana," she said. At the confused looks on everyone's faces, she continued. "The new Gryffindor Keeper, Weasley's replacement, is my girlfriend, Alana Teale - Marcus's sister."

Marcus, sitting next to her, looked over at her. "Really? Did you talk to her?" It was the most interested he'd seen him when he wasn't talking about his boyfriend.

Salenia looked over at him and nodded. "Yes, I wanted to make sure she'd done okay, remember?" Marcus nodded. "She was so excited. She couldn't hold it in."

"Oh, really?" Draco asked. "Is she any good?"

Salenia shrugged. "I've never played against her. I know she said she wanted to try out. She did, but she was beaten out by Ron, so she tried out again. I've never seen her play, but she had to have been the best person to try out, although, from what she said, the turnout wasn't that great. She said there were only a couple of other people."

Draco nonchalantly waved his hand. "I suppose it doesn't matter," he said. "She can't be as good as Bletchley, so we've still got this season in the bag." Jacob had to agree; so did the rest of their friends sitting around them. The talk continued before everyone went back down to the common room. He and Draco studied for a bit before going to the DA meeting. As usual, the Slytherins all left separately, using different excuses so as not to attract attention from some of the other members of their house.

By the time they got back to their common room, Jacob was exhausted. His mind was still reeling from the memories earlier. He and Draco always put up silencing charms, so he told him a bit of what he was doing. He didn't want to involve him too much, though. He hadn't even told Hermione that much about it. They ended up kissing, long, slow kisses that drove Jacob crazy. 

It had to end, though, and the blond slipped out his bed and went into his own. Jacob did his Occlumency training before drifting off to sleep. He decided to leave up the silencing charms, which he had been taking off. He silently cursed himself for being so lazy and removing it. He had been taking his Dreamless Sleep potion most nights, but when he didn't, he forgot to leave the charms on. He remembered his father's words that the potion was addictive, and thus tried to go easy on it. With a sigh, Jacob drifted off to sleep.

~~~~~~~~~

Before he knew it, Saturday was here, and the second Hogsmeade weekend of the school year. He and Hermione had lessons with his father in the morning, and after lunch, Jacob and the rest of the Slytherins headed down to Hogsmeade. Everyone split up, with most of the Slytherin girls in Pansy's group, plus Blaise going shopping together. Crabbe and Goyle headed to Honeydukes. Theodore was spending the day with his girlfriend, Astoria. Salenia and Marcus both had plans, as well - Salenia with Alana, and Marcus with Walton. Jacob and Draco had their own plans. Draco took him to a nice restaurant, a bit farther down from where he usually went. 

The restaurant was nice, and Draco insisted on paying, despite Jacob telling him he didn't have to. The blonde's only response was that he liked to spend money on people he cared about. It was nice to be one of those people, of course, but it was still unnecessary as far as he was concerned. After that, they walked around, holding hands. It was nice just to be together without school to worry about, and to feel Draco's hand in his own. After he mentioned needing another quill, Draco spent more money on him by going into Scrivenshaft's and buying him an expensive, emerald green eagle feather quill.

"You know," Jacob said as they walked out, turning to Draco and wrapping his arms around his waist, "I don't need you to buy these things for me. Really, I'm not that broke." He still didn't have access to his money, and he missed it, but it wasn't as if he couldn't deal. Besides, if he needed money, Severus was always more than willing to give him what he needed.

"I don't do it because I think you're broke," Draco said, wrapping his arms around Jacob's waist. "I do it because I like doing nice stuff for my boyfriend. Is that a crime?" 

Jacob had to admit that his heart skipped a beat as Draco called him his boyfriend. "I suppose not," he said, leaning in and giving the blond a soft, lingering kiss. "So, I'm your boyfriend, am I?"

Draco rolled his eyes, though he felt the blond tense up a bit. "Of course," he said. "We're exclusive, aren't we? You're not planning on seeing anyone else for any reason, are you?" Jacob smiled at him, shaking his head to indicate that no he was not planning on doing either of those things. "Good." He felt Draco's body relax just a bit. "I really need to go and look for a present for you, though."

Jacob felt his heart skip a beat again, but for an entirely different reason. "Yeah, Hermione is waiting for me, I'm sure," he said. They shared a quick kiss again before the two of them separated. Draco waved at Pansy, Daphne, and Blaise, who were standing off nearby. He looked over to see Hermione and Terry separating a bit, and she waved at him before walking over. 

"Hey, so how was your date with Draco?" Hermione asked.

"Good," he said, a light blush crossing his cheeks. "He took me to a nice restaurant, and then bought me a quill." He showed it to her. "He paid for everything." 

"He likes doing stuff for you," Hermione said. "That's not a bad thing. You did the same thing, too. If it makes you uncomfortable for him to buy expensive things for you, then tell him. It never bothered me." It had bothered Ron, though, and she didn't need to say that. He would not be like Ron. If his rich boyfriend wanted to buy him nice things because it made him feel good, then that was going to be okay with him.

He and Hermione walked down the street for a bit, passing Ron and Lavender on the side of the street - when had that happened? - before she suggested going into Tomes and Scrolls to look for gifts. The question still remained - what in the hell was he going to get Draco and Severus? 

Chapter Text

Jacob and Hermione walked into the bookshop, and his bushy-haired friend was at home. She immediately went around, searching every shelf one by one. He just chuckled and looked at her as she searched. “Ooh, Terry might like this one,” she said, grabbing one book off the shelf. It was a dark book, with gold lettering on it though Jacob couldn’t see what it said from the angle he was standing at the moment. 

He smiled over at her. “So, how are things going?” he asked.

She smiled back at him. “I decided to take your advice,” she said. “I do like him, and things are good. Maybe not magical or anything like that, but… we get along so well, and we have fun together. I’m enjoying it, and I decided that I should just stop thinking so much and just enjoy the fun for now. And I’m happy with that decision; things have been better on my side since I realized that.”

“I’m glad that things are going well,” he said. “You two looked very cozy after Draco and I parted.”

A light blush crossed Hermione’s cheeks, but she didn’t miss a beat as they continued looking through the shelves, heading over to the back of the shop, where some of the more expensive books were held. “And how about you and Draco?” she asked.

A blush crossed his cheeks. “Very well,” he said. He looked up and saw a brown book with silver writing on it, an Ancient Runes book. He grabbed the book, immediately thinking of it for Severus. He had seen books on various subjects in both his rooms and at the house. There were more Potions and Defense books than anything else, but he had seen a few Ancient Runes books. Not this one, so he figured it was something that he might like. “I really like him. I mean, I know we’ve only been dating a few weeks, but… yeah. Besides, Draco has been pretty good to me.”

Hermione smiled at him, grabbing another book off the shelf. “I’m glad to hear it.”

Suddenly, a voice came from behind them, an angry but familiar voice. “Slimy Slytherin git!” Jacob and Hermione turned around. Ron was standing right behind them, glaring at Jacob specifically. It was as if Hermione wasn’t even there. “It’s all your fault!”

“What?” Jacob said, and he felt Hermione’s soft hand on his arm, trying to hold him back but he shrugged her off. “And what, exactly, is my fault? Cause from where I'm standing, it seems like everything is your fault. You’re the one who started a fight with me and got yourself banned from Quidditch for life . I didn’t do a fucking thing! That was all you!”

“The fuck it was!” Ron yelled. “You fucking cheated!” Jacob was furious because Ron of all people knew that wasn’t bloody true. He was a damn good flier! It wasn’t his fault that all of this had happened, forcing him to switch houses with a new identity. “I know you did! And you took Hermione from me!”

“That makes no sense at all!” Jacob yelled back, his hands in fists at his sides to stop him from pummelling or hexing the redhead.

“Ron, Jacob, please…” Hermione pleaded. “Stop it, both of you. This is ridiculous…” Neither one of them really seemed to hear her, though. Jacob was too angry at Ron, and it seemed that Ron felt the same way.

The redhead barrelled on as if Hermione hadn’t spoken at all. “We were friends until you came along!” Ron said, and Jacob noticed that his hands were in fists, too. “I would be on the Quidditch team now if it wasn’t for you!”

Jacob hoped that the redhead tried something. He wanted an excuse, and he would not back down. “It’s not my fault that she wised up! That’s yours! It’s also not my fault that you got angry and pissed off Umbridge. That’s yours. Own up to your fucking mistakes!”

Ron opened his mouth to respond, but at the moment, the shop worker came over. “What is going on here?” he said, hands crossed over his chest. “I won’t have any of this. Out! Both of you! You can leave that book here.” He took the book that Jacob had picked out for his father and kicked both of them out of the store without another word.

“Look what you did! That was my dad’s! Now I don’t know what I’ll do,” Jacob said. “Thanks a fucking lot.” He had also missed out on an opportunity to look for something for Draco. Fuck, Ron was such an idiot. “Go back and snog your girlfriend, and get the bloody hell away from me!” Ron opened up his mouth to say something, but at the near murderous glare on Jacob’s face, he just settled for glaring and walked off. 

Jacob fumed outside until Hermione came out a few minutes later. “I bought that book for you,” she said. She grabbed the brown Ancient Runes book that he had picked out for Severus.

He let out a sigh of relief as he took the book from her. “Thank you so much,” he said. “I really appreciate it.” He immediately got out the bag of money he had brought with him and paid her back for the book as it hadn’t been cheap.

“It wouldn’t be necessary if you hadn’t let Ron egg you into an argument,” she said, giving him that “you know I’m right” look. 

Jacob nodded, immediately feeling rather stupid for letting Ron bait him, but… Damn it, what else was he supposed to do? “He’s just so infuriating,” he decided on saying, clutching the book close to his chest. “He blames us for him being an idiot when it’s really all his fault. I have nothing to do with it.” It was Ron’s fault that they weren’t friends anymore, and it had all started last year when Ron had abandoned him due to his jealousy. Jacob should have taken that as a clue, yet he had given the redhead a second chance. He had blown it.

“He actually seemed to have changed,” Hermione said with a shrug. “He seemed… regretful when we talked during our Prefect rounds. I guess not, though. I never know what to think about him anymore. I mean, he and I have to communicate since we’re Prefects, and all of our duties are done together. Sometimes he seems fine, and it’s almost like old times. I mention you or Draco and he gets all angry, and then things go off the deep end, so to speak.”

Jacob didn’t know what to think either. “By the way, when did he start dating Lavender Brown?”

Hermione shrugged her shoulders again. “I don’t know,” she admitted. “One day he acted like she didn’t exist, the next day, they’re horizontal on the couch. I think that he thinks it’ll make me jealous, as he asked what I thought after I first saw them snogging. The joke’s on him, though, because I like Terry and I couldn’t care less what Ron does.” She rolled her eyes. “Anyway, let’s stop talking about him.” They changed the subject, talking about… well, everything but Ron. It ended up being a decent afternoon before they met up with Draco and Terry and headed back to Hogwarts.

~~~~~~~~~~

“I still don’t know what to get Draco,” Jacob said to his father the next afternoon as they were playing chess. They had had lunch together again before playing a game of chess and switching to Occlumency. He didn’t think he was getting any better at it, but Severus said that he was making progress. After that, they had gone back to chess. “I was going to see if I could find a Potions book or something at Tomes and Scrolls, but Ron got us kicked out.” He hadn’t mentioned to Severus that he’d found something for him there because that would spoil the surprise.

“I’m sure you’ll think of something,” Severus said. “If you’re interested in getting him a Potions book, perhaps I could help you out with that.” Jacob raised a questioning eyebrow at his father, wondering how his father could help short of giving him one of his potions books. “If you see something on my shelves that you think he might like, just let me know and I can get it. I have some… rather rare Potions books and I know the best places to get them.”

Jacob hadn’t thought about that at all. He reminded himself to look through them before he left so that he could pick one out and so it would have time to get here before Christmas. He hoped his father liked the book he had gotten him. It was a bit nerve-wracking because he’d never worried about it before. Hermione was always relatively easy to shop for, though he would need help getting her something now since he had been kicked out of Tomes and Scrolls before he had been able to buy her something. He wasn’t worried about her, and honestly… that was it for him this year. No need to buy Ron or Fred and George anything. This year, that was it, just his father, his best friend, and his boyfriend.

Now, it would be even better if they could go home for their first Christmas together. However, as Severus was the Head of Slytherin House, Jacob knew without asking that wasn't going to happen. That was okay. Maybe it was better if this wasn’t a big deal. They were both still learning how all of this was supposed to go. Yeah, it was better this way.

~~~~~~~~~ 

The weeks were always never-ending as far as Severus was concerned. It was always one class after another, followed by grading essays and potions, most of which looked like they were done by imbeciles. Aside from the few gifted students in each year, most were done with very little intelligence. For instance, Draco was by far the best student among the fifth years. Granger’s potions skills were very good, though the tangents in her essays grated on his nerves with all of the unnecessary information that she felt were pertinent. Marcus Truchet, who was a year below, was also quite gifted. His NEWT’s classes were, of course, the less agonizing of his classes, though even there he had issues occasionally.

By Saturday, Severus was ready for a drink. Aurora was coming over again. This had been the third time so far this year, and while that was more than they usually saw each other in the first half of the year, the Potions Master found that he was not complaining. Her company was enjoyable, and it broke up the monotony of his month when he got to share a drink with a friend without the feeling that said friend or colleague wanted something from him. All she ever seemed to want was his occasional company, as strange as a notion as this was to him. 

Severus sat down heavily in his chair. He’d had two detentions today, in addition to all of the grading that he had to do. It had been a long day. He poured himself a glass of brandy, but knowing that Aurora wasn’t a fan, he poured her a glass of wine he had kept around just in case. Right on cue, there was a knock on the door. He called for her to enter, before waving a hand to open the door. 

“Evening, Severus,” she said before taking her seat in the next armchair and taking a sip of her wine. “Felt like something a bit stronger tonight?” She gave a smirk over the lip of her glass.

Severus rolled his eyes at her. “Let’s just say that I had a long day,” he said. 

“Students getting on your nerves again?”

“Always,” he said. “Teenagers are morons, to put it mildly.” 

Aurora just laughed. “Most are at that age,” she said as she sipped on her wine. “And we were all teenagers at one point or another.”

Severus did not dignify that with a response. At least when it came to his subject, most people did not understand. He knew Aurora agreed. Her NEWT’s classes were not much larger than his, and that wasn’t necessarily because people didn’t make the grade, but because they didn’t care enough about her subject to continue. At least that was not his problem. If people managed to make an O in Potions, they usually wanted to continue. Those who didn’t usually didn’t deserve it anyway. He knew that sometimes, people who wanted to go on didn’t make the grade, but to him, that meant only one thing - they were not up to par, and thus, undeserving.

“So, what are you and your boy doing for Christmas this year?” she asked after a slight pause.

“Here, obviously,” Severus said with a groan. Why ask such a foolish question?

“You don’t sound too thrilled about that,” Aurora replied.

“Well, it is… less than ideal for our first Christmas together,” he said. “I am sure that he would prefer something a bit more special, but as I cannot leave due to my Head of House duties, we will have to make due.” He had no idea what Jacob would want. It seemed a bit ridiculous to ask when there was nothing he could do about it. Jacob had nowhere else to go, and he was forced to stay here during the Christmas and Easter holidays.

Aurora gave a chuckle before taking a sip of her wine. “Severus, if you wanted to go home for the holidays, all you had to do was ask,” he said. He looked over at her, and while his face was impassive, he was anything but. Why would she suggest such a thing? “We are friends, yes? You want to spend your first Christmas with your son away from Hogwarts. I am the only other Slytherin teacher on staff. I am more than willing to take over your Head of House duties for a short while, if you are willing.”

“It is not necessary,” Severus said quickly. He immediately felt a bit uncomfortable at the gesture she was making, albeit a simple one. “You do not have to-”

“I offered,” she said, matter-of-factly. “Take it or leave it.”

“I will speak to him, but I do believe that he will enjoy that,” he said. He paused for a moment before forcing out the words, “Thank you.” She simply nodded as she took another sip of her wine. It was not that he wasn’t actually thankful. He was, and while the holiday was not a big deal to him, he was sure that it would be to Jacob. Nonetheless, he was not used to such gestures from anyone.

~~~~~~~~~~

Due to the holidays getting closer, Severus put off more memory and Occlumency lessons for the time being, though Jacob was warned to keep up his mental exercises. His father had also put off their Saturday morning lessons with Hermione. Hermione was grateful because she wanted to study more, and they had their last DA meeting of the year, too. After everyone had left, she had told him that she wanted to try some sparring when the year started up again after they went through a few more spells. Jacob praised her idea, and she beamed at him before they left the Room of Requirement.

Sometime that week, Severus came around to get the names of those who were going to be staying over for Christmas this year. Jacob wasn’t worried about it. He stayed at Hogwarts every year, and could do so once more. Most of the year was choosing to go home, aside from Crabbe, Goyle, Tracey and Elizabeth. Even Marcus and Salenia were returning home. Draco was going home to his parents. Jacob was disappointed. He would be sending his gift, then. The blond typically always stuck around for the holidays, and they had spent every day together since school started, and he would be away from him for two weeks.

You’ll live , he thought to himself as he felt Draco’s arm tighten around his shoulders a bit. The very gesture was comforting. “I’ll write to you every day,” he said. On the upside, he had his father, and Hermione was staying behind the last time he checked. He would miss Draco, though.

Jacob smiled up at him, almost subconsciously leaning into him a bit. “I’ll be fine. My dad’s Head of House. I expected this,” he said. “I guess I just expected you to stay.” He loved the feeling of the blond’s arm around him, though. It didn’t take away the fact that they would spend their first Christmas together apart.

“I would, but I told you, my parents insisted.” Draco looked disappointed, too, and Jacob knew that his boyfriend wouldn’t be staying with him here at Hogwarts. He knew better than to ask Draco to tell his parents that he was insisting on staying because the blond would never go for it.  “I’ll make it up to you before we leave and after I get back,” he said, lowering his voice so their friends sitting around them couldn’t hear.

“Mmm, good, you better,” he said, his eyes going straight for Draco’s lips. God, he wanted to kiss him, and he almost didn’t give a damn that there was a common room full of people around them - people that included his father, who was still going around and asking about being staying for the holidays or not.

“Get a room, you two,” Blaise said with a roll of his eyes from a nearby chair.

Draco levelled his friend with a glare before Tracey spoke up, saying that she thought the two of them were sweet and that it was romantic. That sent blushes to both Jacob and Draco’s cheeks. All further comments from anyone were cut off when his father appeared around the couches and chairs that they had all been sitting in. “Come here, I wish to speak to you.”

“Er, okay,” Jacob said, reluctantly removing himself from Draco’s embrace. He wasn’t sure what his father wanted to talk about because he hadn’t done anything wrong so far as he knew. It wasn’t as if he and Draco had been doing anything either, just snuggling a bit that’s all. As they walked a bit away from the other students so that they couldn’t be overheard, Jacob noticed that they were getting some stares. “Is everything okay, Dad?”

“Yes, I was actually meaning to ask you something,” he said. “I neglected to mention it this Sunday.” They had spent the afternoon together on Sunday as usual, having lunch and then playing chess for the rest of the afternoon. “If you wish, we can go home for Christmas.”

“We can?” Jacob couldn’t help it, but he had gotten excited at that. Secretly, though he hadn’t mentioned it to Severus, he had wanted to go home for Christmas - a proper Christmas. He had never had one before. The Weasleys always would have included him, of course, but he had stayed at Hogwarts with Ron and Hermione. Besides, that was hardly the same thing as spending Christmas at home with your family . Of course, then reality came crashing down around him. “Wait, how? You’re Head of House.”

“Professor Sinistra has kindly volunteered to take over my duties as Head of Slytherin House during the Holidays, if you wish,” Severus said, and he seemed as if he was expecting Jacob to say no, that he wanted to stay behind like always. “If not, that is perfectly acceptable.”

Jacob knew he was grinning, he couldn’t help it. “No, I want to,” he said. “I just didn’t think it was possible. Thank her for me, please.” He was grateful, but he felt it would be awkward to thank her for this after class, so he figured it would be acceptable to ask his father to do it for him instead. 

“I will do that next time I see her,” Severus said, and he seemed to have relaxed a bit. Jacob wondered if he had been a bit worried about his answer. At first, it seemed a bit odd, but upon second thought, it wasn’t odd at all. They were both rather new to this whole thing. After that, Jacob went back to his friends as Severus left.

Jacob went back to his spot next to Draco, who immediately snuggled into his side, wrapping an arm around him and drawing him closer. “So, what did the Professor want?” All their friends seemed to lean in a bit closer, hoping to catch a bit of gossip. “Are you in trouble again?”

“Of course not,” he said, rolling his eyes. Just because he had gotten in trouble once . All things considered, that was a pretty good year so far. “He just wanted to ask me if I wanted to go home for Christmas.” That earned some shocked look from… well, pretty much everyone, actually. “Professor Sinistra is going to be taking over as Head of House, just for the holidays though until my father gets back to school. You didn’t hear that from me, though.”

“That’s awfully nice of her,” Pansy said. “I wonder why she agreed to do that.”

“Some people enjoy doing nice things for people, Pans,” Draco said, earning him a roll of her eyes from Pansy. Draco just ignored her and turned back to Jacob. “Maybe you can come over to the manor for Christmas, at the very least I can give you your present in person now. I do plan on seeing you during the break. Don’t think you’re going to get out of that.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Jacob said. This was much better. Perhaps this would turn out to be a good Christmas, after all. He went from spending Christmas without his boyfriend at Hogwarts, to spending Christmas at home with his father with the promise of seeing his boyfriend. Of course, Hermione was staying behind as far as he knew, but he would take what he could get. Christmas was certainly looking up.

Chapter Text

Jacob woke up in a deep sweat, his breathing a bit ragged. He covered his face with his hands. He hated the dreams, the nightmares. He didn't want to get addicted to Dreamless Sleep, so he hadn't asked for more since he'd run out a week ago. It was very early Saturday morning. He hadn't even been off the Dreamless Sleep that long - he'd used it fairly regularly, but on light doses, since he had moved in with his father on his birthday four months ago. He could see why it became addictive. He didn't take it every night for that reason, but despite his father's words that he would tell him if it was becoming an issue, he hadn't mentioned it to him yet. The thing was, he didn't want his father to have to tell him that he needed to stop. By that point, he may already be getting addicted. No, he wanted to be able to handle it on his own. Well, fuck that, because his sleep had been messed up ever since.

Moirai mewed, and he took his hands off his face as he felt her little black paw touch his side. He patted his stomach, and she hesitated for a moment before jumping up on top of him. She fluffed him for a bit before laying down on top of him and curling up into a ball. He gave her pets, hoping to fall back asleep to her loud purrs, but no such luck - especially with Crabbe and Goyle's snores reverberating throughout the room. Sleep wouldn't come for him. Giving another groan, he gently scooped up his kitten and put her on the bed in his spot. She looked up at him and mewed, but he gave her another pet, and she curled herself up again and went back to sleep.

Jacob quickly grabbed his robes and got a piece of parchment. He wrote Meet me downstairs on it before setting it on Draco's bedside table. With that, he left the dorm, walking to the common room and out the secret passageway. He continued down the hall, remembering the new familiar steps Severus's rooms. He reached them, entering silently as the wards that his father put up allowed him entry. The room was dark and quiet except for the fireplace. The teen continued his way to his father's room. He had never actually been in there. He remembered that Severus had told him to let him know if he wanted to use his room here, and that's what he was going to do.

His father was sleeping on his back, chest slowly rising and falling. He sat down next to him and gently tried to wake him up. "Dad, Dad…" Severus awoke with a start, tensing up and firmly grabbing Jacob's wrist, seemingly almost on reflex. "It's me."

Severus seemed to untense almost instantly. "Sorry," he muttered, still obviously groggy from being woken up in the middle of the night. "What happened? Is everything okay?"

Jacob shook his head. "No, I'm fine," he said. "I just had a bad dream, and I wanted to come here for the rest of the night."

His father nodded. "Are you out of Dreamless Sleep?" Jacob nodded. "For how long?"

"About a week ago," he said. "I thought I would be okay for a bit since I've taken it pretty regularly, but…" He shrugged.

"Do you want to talk about the dream?"

Jacob shrugged. "It was about a door," he said." I don't know. I was running down this long, silent corridor towards it and trying to open it." He shook his head. "I don't know." There was something off about it, but he didn't know what. It was haunting, and it gave him a bad feeling, but he couldn't explain it. He couldn't shake it, either.

Severus nodded, and in his usual manner, never pushed. "Get some more from my cabinet," he said. "Middle shelf, small blue bottle. It should be labelled." Jacob nodded, leaving his father to go back to sleep. He found the bottle in question, and it was indeed labelled. He grabbed it, and then made his way back to his bedroom - his bedroom. He never would have imagined that Severus would be the type to want to stick around, to try to give him his own things, to make him feel included. Yet, that's exactly what Severus had done since day one. He had bought them a house, given him his own room in his quarters at Hogwarts, made time for him every week… This was working out, and while it shocked him, Jacob could not have been more glad.

Jacob curled up into bed, taking a sip of the Dreamless Sleep before setting the bottle on the bedside table. Within moments, he was fast asleep into a nightmare-free slumber.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Severus woke up a couple of hours later, the mark on his arm burning. He gripped it tightly. Getting up, he got dressed and made his way into his son's room. Jacob was sleeping peacefully, and he hated to wake him from a Dreamless Sleep induced slumber, but he knew if his son found out that he had been called without telling him, he would probably be quite hurt. There was no reason to anger the boy or upset him for no reason. Besides, this was something that he probably needed to know. There was no telling when his next Death Eater meeting might be his last. Jacob had a right to know.

Severus sat on the edge of the bed beside him, taking his hand off his mark and gently shaking his son awake. "Jacob, it's me," he said at the sleepy but startled look on the teenager's face. "I got called." He nodded, opening his mouth to say something but then just closed it. "I will be back. Go back to sleep, and I will talk to you in the morning."

Jacob nodded again as Severus got up. "Be safe, Dad, please," he said.

Severus turned around, his son's green eyes looking up at him from his spot on the bed. He had no idea what to say because he couldn't promise that. The older man simply nodded, and then turned and left. Within about ten minutes or so, he was at the Dark Lord's side. As much as he blamed Dumbledore for forcing him to spy again, Severus knew that there was no way for him to escape his fate. He had taken the mark willingly after he had finished school. 

Once a Death Eater, always a Death Eater. If you ran, eventually, you would be caught - at some point. Severus was safe inside the castle, but eventually, he would have to leave. He could run; he spoke enough languages that he could hide. However, he was not a coward. He would not run and hide from the mistakes that he had made. He couldn't make up for them, and nothing could take back the things that he had done. This was the closest that he could come. Now, with his son in the picture, he had another reason to stay, and he wouldn't run for anything. Not anymore. 

The Dark Lord had made sure that the boy he had thought was Harry Potter was tied into this war. Now he was, as well. It mattered very little at this point that Harry Potter had been a lie, fabricated by Lily Potter to cover up her one night of drunken infidelity.  The Dark Lord had chosen the boy and set them all down a path from which there was no getting off. He wondered what the bastard would think if he knew the truth, before he killed Severus, of course. He knew that it would mean his death if the truth was ever revealed. This charade had to continue.

Severus was broken out of his thoughts - his carefully concealed thoughts - as he and the other Death Eaters bowed before the Dark Lord. They kept their heads low as Voldemort ordered them to rise. Severus hadn't been to a meeting since the summer. Due to his position at Hogwarts, his meetings were kept fewer and far between unless something concerned him. That meant that the Dark Lord wanted an update on Harry Potter - something he could not give him. There was always the possibility that he could deliver the lie that Dumbledore had told everyone else, but the Dark Lord would likely know it was a lie as well, or he would have searched for the boy already. 

Severus was not, nor was he ever, in the mood to be put under the Cruciatus Curse. He could give him another story as the "true" story of where Harry Potter was, but Voldemort would find out that was a lie eventually. Likely, that either meant that he had not been told the truth or that he was no longer trusted. Both were dangerous for him. This entire operation was dangerous. All he could hope was that they managed to defeat him before Severus would be risking his life by returning to his service as a spy. One did not stop being a Death Eater.

Severus could hope that this night turned out well for him, as some of the other Death Eaters had good news on the Ministry front. They were gaining traction with some members of the Ministry that might end up being useful to the cause. The goal, of course, was to take over the Ministry. That required a lot of time and planning since they had to be very cautious as to who they talked to at the moment. They were operating in secret, and for the moment, that was how Voldemort wanted it. No one was looking for them because the Ministry did not believe there was an issue. It allowed them to operate behind the scenes without detection for the time being. This way, the Dark Lord could reveal himself when he wanted, and on his terms - as everything was in his world.

Slowly, everyone else was excused except for him. Severus had expected this, of course. Why else would he have been called? "Severus," the Dark Lord said, turning to him, "do you have any more news on the Potter boy? What have you been able to get out of Dumbledore?" 

Severus forced himself to stay calm. He had been in this position before. There were always times when you couldn't give him what he wanted. It really couldn't be avoided if one stayed in his service as long as Severus had - well, any length of time really. "My apologies, my Lord, but Dumbledore is keeping this very tight to his chest," he said. "He is sticking to his story, even with me. I have asked around and no one is saying anything different. If the story is different, then no one but Dumbledore is any the wiser."

For a moment, Severus thought he might escape the Dark Lord's wrath. He was mistaken, of course. "Crucio ," Voldemort uttered, and the Potions Master felt his body suddenly overcome with pain. Every inch of his body screamed as the intense pain made its way through every inch of his body. He didn't scream; he never screamed, because that was a sign of weakness. One never showed the Dark Lord weakness unless they wanted it worse. Voldemort could play with you for hours if he was so inclined. Luckily, Severus had never been on the receiving end of one of those tortures - though everyone had been tortured by the Dark Lord at least a couple of times - some more than that.

Severus waited for the white-hot pain to subside, or at least subside enough so that he could get on his knees. "For my plan to succeed, I need the boy," Voldemort said as he took a couple of steps forward. There was a dangerous edge to his voice. "You know this, Severus, and yet, when Dumbledore is supposed to trust you completely, he won't give you his location."

"He trusts others besides me, and yet no one knows any differently than what Dumbledore has told. If I may, my Lord," Severus continued before he could use the spell on him again, "when you follow through with your plan, the boy will come to you. He will not allow you to hurt his friends, those he cares about. At the very least, he will come out when you are ready to attack Hogwarts. He cannot hide forever." He forced his voice to stay calm. He could not show how this had affected him. If he did, there was always a chance he would get it worse for showing weakness. He kept his voice even and his body still, even as he could feel the aftereffects of the torture curse.

Voldemort hesitated, and that could go one of two ways for Severus. "I suppose you're right, Severus," he said. "For now, that will do. I want the boy, and I cannot win this war that is coming with the Light without his dead body at my feet. If Dumbledore wants to hide him from the world, you will find him for me."

Severus bowed deeper, keeping his emotions thoroughly in check. Any slip right now would mean his death. "Of course, my lord," he said. He fought the urge to tell the Dark Lord he would never get his hands on his son. He was many things, but foolish was not one of them. "I will increase my efforts to get the information from Dumbledore without arousing suspicion as to why." 

"See that you do," Voldemort said. "You may go now, Severus." He thanked the Dark Lord before bowing again to him and then slowly getting his battered body off the ground. He stood straight and tall as he walked out and Apparated back outside the wards of Hogwarts.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Severus felt his strength begin to fail him, and he immediately reached into his robes. Grabbing a potion to temporarily relieve his pain, he downed it before beginning the long trek back to his rooms. Luckily, the potion helped, or he wasn't sure how he would get back into the castle. He knew that there was a good chance that this had been coming. He couldn't - and wouldn't - give the Dark Lord what he wanted, which was his son. He could only hope that he could stave off his disappointment with fabricated lies. He would have to talk to Dumbledore about this.

Severus reached the doors and made his way into the entrance hall. He turned, instead of going down to the dungeons, he made his way to the stairs instead. He needed to speak to Dumbledore, and while would prefer to just Floo the old man from his rooms, it was too much of a risk with Umbridge. He didn't want to take the risk if she was watching the Floos. This was information that could not be overheard. He reached the gargoyle statue, said his password - one Dumbledore had put in just for him so that he would be notified when late-night meetings like this happened if he needed to talk - and made his way inside.

Severus had only had to wait a moment before Dumbledore appeared, wrapped in a purple silk dressing gown. "Severus, you were called, I take it," he said, making his way to his desk and sitting down across from him. "Are you alright, my boy?"

"I have survived worse," Severus said. He explained what had happened - that the Death Eaters were gaining hold in the Ministry and that Voldemort had asked about Harry Potter. He also explained that he could not give him what he wanted, and when his answer was not sufficient, he had been punished. "I can try and stave him off because if we send the Dark Lord on a wild goose chase, it could make things worse."

"I quite agree," Dumbledore said, summoning some tea. "Tea?" He shook his head, and the old man shrugged before taking a sip. "We can also not put someone on what could be a death sentence if they are discovered. It will, ultimately, be found to be a false trail, which would make things even worse for you than the alternative."

Severus nodded. "I am certain that I can stave him off," he said. "Ultimately, the Dark Lord will come here, and 'Harry' will need to be here."

Dumbledore nodded. "Once again, I agree. For the time being, he is much safer as his real self. If it becomes too dangerous -" 

Severus cut him off. "I know what I'm doing, and I can handle it." He had agreed to this, not that he'd had much of a choice in the matter. The Potions Master knew that he was good at his job, and being a spy in and of itself was dangerous. He would not run.

He didn't stay much longer after that. He soon excused himself, making his way out of the room and back downstairs and to the dungeons, his mind reeling. If he could convince the Dark Lord that when it all came to a head, that Harry Potter would be there, perhaps it wouldn't mean his death. He never thought that he would survive this war when Voldemort returned last summer. For any Death Eater, the more time spent under Voldemort's thumb, the harder it got. They all got angry at him, but as the only spy that Voldemort had in the Order, he was particularly at risk.

On the other hand, it also made him more valuable. There was no one else in the Order that was in his position - he was the only one as high in Dumbledore's favor as he was. That meant that Voldemort needed him because there was no one else that could be groomed to take his place. Despite that fact, he knew that there was always a chance that the Dark Lord could get tired of him and decide that he was no longer worth the trouble, that he could do it without his spy. The thing that would keep him alive, and allow him to spend more time with his son, would be to continue to prove that he was invaluable so that the Dark Lord didn't decide to end him before the war could be ended.

Severus reached his quarters and slowly made his way inside. The potion was already beginning to wear off. He always took a temporary potion because what he needed when put under Cruciatus was something a little different. He went to his cabinet, grabbing two potions - one for pain, one for muscle relaxing - and made his way into the bathroom. He started the tub before stripping, his muscles protesting every movement he made. He had found years ago that the combination of those two potions on his entire body helped to relieve the pain from Cruciatus. It also helped stave on any lasting effects for those, like him and most if not all, of the other Death Eaters, who had it done more times than they care to count. He would fill the tub, put the potions in, and then got in, trying to get his body to relax.

Severus would get no sleep tonight.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Severus had been correct - he had not slept at all that night. After he had soothed himself with his potion bath, he had laid down, but sleep would not come. It would not be the first time he had gone without sleep. He could take Dreamless Sleep and force it to come, but after a Death Eater meeting, he hated doing that. He despised forcing sleep, as well, though only for himself and not for others. He would tonight if it was necessary, because with classes tomorrow morning, he would need to rest. It wouldn't do if he started wanting to curse his students more than he already did. Maybe he would go to bed early tonight if he was so inclined.

Jacob got up early as he was sitting at the table and drinking a cup of coffee, continuing to read his book. "Morning, Dad." Severus just gave a low grunt of acknowledgment. "How did last night go?"

"Fine." Severus did not want to discuss it, and he told the boy before that if there was something that he needed to know, he would tell him.

"Are you sure?" Jacob did not seem convinced. Was it that obvious that he hadn't slept all night?

"Yes," he said, his voice coming out a bit harsher than intended. He immediately wondered if he should say something, but brushed it off. As much as he had come to care for his son, right now, he was not in the mood to answer a series of questions, especially when he already said he was fine.

Jacob jerked back like he had been slapped, and then immediately sent him a green glare. "Excuse me for worrying," he said, getting up and heading for the door.

Severus groaned. "Jacob, stop," he said. The boy stopped in his tracks, turning around and crossing his arms over his chest. "I am sorry." Jacob seemed to relax a bit at that. "Last night was… not pleasant, and I do not wish to discuss it." Especially since he had a feeling that his son would end up blaming himself for his predicament, and that was the last thing that Severus wanted. 

"I - I mean, you're okay, though, right?" He asked, and a worried look crossed his son's green eyes.

Severus nodded. "I am okay. I just did not sleep last night, but that is normal after a meeting," he said." I have had worse. Go back to your dorm and meet up with Draco. I will be fine." 

Jacob hesitated for a bit before nodding. "I'll see you for lunch, then, if you're still up for it?" Severus nodded because he was not going to give up an afternoon with his son because of the Dark Lord. The bastard was not going to take that away from him. The boy smiled, saying goodbye, and then making his way out. The Potions Master let out a groan. He would have to learn to curb his temper when it came to his son. They couldn't have this conversation after every time he got called for a meeting. He knew he was not the easiest person in the world to get along with him. He couldn't blame his son for being worried. He would have to work on that.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Jacob made his way down the dungeon and back to his common room. He reminded himself that he needed to be more patient with Severus, but it was only understandable that he wanted just a bit of security after knowing that his father had been called by Voldemort. He had to remember that he shouldn't pry, though. He should have backed down when his father said he was fine - even though he had obviously been not fine. Perhaps next time he could wait before asking, when he was less prone to being short-tempered. Then again, he was pretty much always short-tempered. At least he was trying, but nothing happened overnight. They both had to be patient.

Jacob entered the Slytherin dorm and found Draco waiting for him in the common room. His boyfriend had his arms crossed over his chest, and the note he'd left for him in his hands. "Meet me downstairs?" Draco said. "What the bloody hell was that about? Are you okay?" He looked somewhere in between annoyed and worried.

"I'm fine," Jacob said, waving off the question. "I just… I had a nightmare last night, so I went to go sleep in my room off of my father's rooms." 

Draco's stiffness passed a bit, and the worry took over. "Nightmare? Are you alright? Do you have those a lot?"

Jacob shrugged. "I used to… before," he said, being careful of his words since they were in a public place at the moment where anyone could overhear. "I haven't since I've come here, because I've been using Dreamless Sleep most nights, but I ran out and…" He shrugged. He would get the Dreamless Sleep when he went back this afternoon for lunch and chess with his father. 

"Do you want to talk about it?" 

Jacob shook his head. "No, I'm fine, really," he said, wrapping his arms around Draco's waist and giving him a light, lingering kiss on the lips. "Let's just exercise, and I think that will help." Besides, he would get distracted by his body protesting and getting to admire the long lines of his boyfriend's body. Yes, that would be a very wonderful distraction, and besides… Christmas was almost here, and for once, he was getting a proper Christmas. No amount of bumps in the road, not even Voldemort, could take that away from them.

Chapter Text

The next couple of weeks passed without incident, and before he knew it, it was the final day of classes. Jacob was ready for a break. It had been nice not having to worry about Occlumency Lessons or the memory sessions. The past couple of Sundays, he and his father were just hanging out and playing chess. It was nice, though he knew things would get back to normal when they got back from Christmas break. At least for a while, he was getting a break from everything. He knew it wouldn't last, but he could enjoy it for the time being. Everyone who was going home was leaving tomorrow, Saturday, on the train, except for him. He and his father would be going home on Monday. 

Severus said he was going to get some work done before going home, and told him that he could use the weekend to get his homework done while he got caught up on some grading. He knew that was not a hint, and made a mental note to do just that. Draco would be leaving, but he had Hermione to help if he needed it, since she was staying behind. He felt kind of bad for her at first since both he and Draco were leaving, but she said Terry was staying so she'd be fine and wouldn't be completely alone.

That night, at dinner, Dumbledore stood up and made an announcement in the middle of dinner. "Attention, students," he said, and the noise in the Great Hall slowly died down. "As you all leave for your Christmas holidays, I say may you have a great time and get everything you desire. For those saying, we are glad to have you with us during the holiday season. Now, I have an announcement to make." There was some mumbling at that remark, as only some of Slytherin House knew what the Headmaster was about to say as he had told his friends. How many other people knew besides them he didn't know, though he was sure a few others besides just the group he and Draco hung out with knew about it.

"Slytherin students, Professor Snape will be leaving for the Christmas holidays." Dumbledore gestured to Severus sitting on the other side of McGonagall on his right side, and the mummers increased. "If you need to speak to him, I suggest you talk to him this weekend before he leaves. If you need to speak to a Head of House while he is gone, Professor Sinistra will be taking over his duties during the remainder of the break until he returns." He gestured to her sitting a couple of seats down from Severus. "Now, please, enjoy your meal." With that, Dumbledore sat down, and the mumbling increased. He could hear some of the others in his house commenting on how strange that was. Heads of Houses never leave, while others pointed out that he had a kid now.

Jacob rolled his eyes. Honestly, he was glad that it would be just the two of them again. He felt like they didn't get enough of that, time with just the two of them. It would be nice, though, of course, they'd be coming back a few days early so his father could prepare for classes. That was fine with him, though. In the meantime, he wondered how much time he and Draco were going to get to spend together. He wondered how often the Malfoys would allow their son to see his new boyfriend. This was new territory for him. He'd never had to worry about making time to see a boyfriend, and he didn't want to make it seem like he wanted to see him too much or anything like that. He and Draco did spend literally all their time together, though, so there was that.

He was thinking about it that night as the two of them were cuddling in bed, kissing, when Draco brought up the holidays himself. "So, I don't know if you are aware, but my parents host a party before Christmas every year for all of the bigwigs at the Ministry," he said. Jacob noticed that he kept his eyes slightly downcast as he spoke and was messing with the fabric of Jacob's shirt. "I was wondering if you wanted to come… as my date, of course." The blond's nervousness seemed to pass, and he was looking straight at him, expectant. "If you don't want to, that's fine. I get that it's probably not your scene, but… I'd like it if you were to come with me."

Draco wasn't wrong. That was not his scene at all. However, with Draco looking at him eagerly awaiting an answer, it was hard to tell him no. "Sure, I'd love to, if your parents don't mind," he said. Part of him hoped they would mind, but he didn't want to disappoint Draco. If it meant a lot to him - and he wouldn't have asked if it didn't - then he would deal.

Draco smiled at him. "Thank you," he said. "You'll have fun, I promise." Somehow, Jacob doubted that, but perhaps having Draco there would make it better. "We won't be the only teens there, and sometimes we sneak off together to get out of the main party. Maybe if we can ditch the other kids, we can go up to my room."

"I like the idea of that," he said, pulling Draco in a for a kiss. "When is it?" 

"A week from today, the Friday before Christmas," Draco said. "Your father is invited every year, as a personal guest of my father's, but he never comes," he said. "Maybe for once, he will, because you're going." Somehow, Jacob doubted that and thought it was just wishful thinking on Draco's part. "And then maybe we can exchange gifts. I'd like to see you open what I got for you." A light blush crossed the blond's cheeks, and it left Jacob wondering. What had Draco gotten him ?

~~~~~~~~~~~

Severus looked through his papers on his desk. The plans for the potion were going smoothly. He still had a few more things that he wanted to verify before he started testing the potion. He had no wish to blow himself up because he hadn't double checked everything. Experimental potions were very dangerous, and one wrong move could spell disaster. He had tested potions one too many times. It was one thing when he was perfecting a potion already in existence - he could do that in his sleep - but creating a new one was much more difficult. He was taking potions that already existed and making an entirely new one to suit his needs, one that couldn't be tracked. It was not easy, but he had never let a potion get the better of him before, and certainly wouldn't this time, either.

Pushing the notes aside, he grabbed a stack of essays that he had gotten. He had picked up the first year Ravenclaw-Hufflepuff essays. The first year essays were always such a chore, though at least the Ravenclaw-Hufflepuff class was a tad better than the Gryffindor-Slytherin one. He had only gotten through a few essays when there was a knock on the door. It was rather strange, in his opinion, as he hadn't been expecting anyone. 

Getting up, he walked over to the door and opened it to see Aurora standing there, a package in her hand. "Good evening, Severus," she said.

"Aurora," he said, quickly hiding the surprise from his expression and voice.  He truly was surprised to see her, though. He stepped aside to allow her to come in before shutting the door behind her. They usually went at least a month without seeing each other, and it had only been a couple of weeks if his memory served him correctly. And what was the package for?

"I won't stay long. I'm sure you have work to do," she said. "Since your boy will most likely be coming to stay with you after his boyfriend and other friends in Slytherin House all leave, I wanted to give you your Christmas present before that happened." Christmas present? They usually just exchanged bottles of alcohol, so what did that matter when he received it or not? He also hadn't considered Jacob coming to stay here tomorrow after Draco, and the others left, but she was probably right on that. He couldn't imagine that his son would want to stay in the dorm with Crabbe and Goyle.

Aurora held out to the package. Severus gently opened it to reveal two things. The first was a camera, which he didn't own as he despised pictures. The second was a large picture album, or at least what he assumed to be one. The outside was black except for an emblem. It was a silver S outlined in Slytherin green. He had seen similar albums before like this. It wasn't uncommon for people to create them stylized like the Hogwarts Houses since one's house was often very important to them even after they left school. This one didn't have any snakes on it at all and simply had the Green and Silver S emblem.

"I know you don't own a camera, but I figured you might want one now," she said, "and I thought the album suited the both of you." She gave a shrug of her shoulders, before pushing her long, dark brown hair off them. "You can consider this a birthday present, too, since I didn't see the need to give you one without giving you the other."

Severus stared down at the album. It was such a simple thing, yet he couldn't remember the last time someone had gotten him something like this - when he received anything at all. "I got you something as well," he said, wondering if it was proper after she had given him this. He set the items on his table before making his way into the kitchen and coming back with a bottle of wine. "Here," he said, handing it to her.

Aurora accepted it with a smile. "My favorite," she said. "Thank you. This will certainly not go to waste. I will leave you to it, then. I have work of my own to do. See you when you get back, Severus." She turned to leave, heading back towards the door.

"Thank you," he said, feeling as if that was something you were supposed to say. He was so unused to needing to thank someone for something, and certainly not for a gift. Few people cared enough to give him one most of the time, anyway.

Aurora just turned back and gave him a small smile. "You are welcome," she said, before heading out and closing the door behind her.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Draco got up and exercised with him the next morning, which Jacob was grateful for as it would be the last time for a while that they would be doing this together. He would miss him, he noticed, and that was not a thought that he thought he would have when he started on this journey. He was being continuously reminded of how his life had changed. It wasn't going to get easy for him - Voldemort would make sure of that - but he thought at the end of it all, maybe he would be okay. He had to believe that there was something worth fighting for, or why else was he going to do all this?

Draco had packed the night before, and after exercising, they washed up and went down for breakfast in the Great Hall before making their way back to their dorm. Everyone did some last-minute packing before they all grabbed their stuff and headed down to the common room. Draco wrapped an arm around his waist, pulling them together. The blond lightly pressed their lips together as Jacob wrapped an arm around his boyfriend's shoulders. He had the urge to drag him to bed but knew this wasn't the time. "You should probably be going," he said, breaking the kiss, reluctantly dragging his lips off of Draco's.

Draco gave a moan of disappointment. "You're right. The others are probably waiting for me," he said. Blaise and Theodore had gone downstairs a short while ago. He didn't mind Tracey or Elizabeth, they were okay, but he didn't fancy having Crabbe and Goyle around for the next couple of days without Draco. "Perhaps you can convince your father to let me come over to see you on Tuesday or Wednesday before Christmas?" Jacob felt him rub his lower back lightly as he spoke.

"I'd like that," he admitted. "I'll talk to him and ask him if it's okay." It would be nice to see him one more time before the party, and perhaps, they could see each other at least once after that before he had to go back to school. It was only temporary, and then school would start after the new year, and things would be back to normal. That included getting back to the part of his life that was Harry Potter. That included the Occlumency lessons and memory lessons.

"I will see you soon," Draco said, giving him a lingering kiss on the lips. Jacob pulled his boyfriend closer, pressing their bodies together so that he desperately wished they had more time together. Jacob felt the blond's long, thin fingers slowly move up his back as he slipped his tongue into Draco's mouth. Draco moaned into the kiss before pulling away ever so slightly. "I really do have to go now." He reluctantly moved his arm from Jacob's waist, and he watched as Draco walked out the door. 

It felt weird,  though, being separated from him. I'll see you soon , he thought to himself. With that, he went back to pack up his stuff. He did not plan on staying in the dorm with the Idiot Twins until Monday morning. He'd spend the next two days with his father. That would be loads better than staying here. Let Crabbe and Goyle have the whole dorm to themselves, as far as he was concerned.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Jacob spent the rest of that day and the next when he wasn't with his father doing his homework with Hermione. The first thing that Severus had told him when he had arrived in his rooms Saturday was that he should do his homework now and get it over with it. He had rolled his eyes at him because of course, he had already planned on doing that. It wasn't as if he didn't know his father well enough by now to know he would be expecting him to do that. So, he had gone to the library and found Hermione there with Terry. The two were more than happy to have him join them. He was glad that they seemed comfortable together; he hoped it worked out because Hermione deserved it. 

It was a bit unusual studying without Draco, though. The two of them had studied together since the summer, and it was always either the three of them - Hermione, Draco and himself - or just him and Draco. Terry was fine, a nice enough guy, although a bit quiet at times. It wasn't the same. Neither helped him the way Draco did, but they were both more than willing to offer him help and Hermione gave him a bit more advice than she normally would. The important thing was, though, that between the two of them, he got his homework done to his father's standards so that he was free during his Christmas holidays.

Monday morning came, and Jacob was glad to be going home - if only for a short while. It was nice that he had a home to go to now, and if what his father said before was any indication, he wouldn't be going to the Dursley's this summer. He wondered if Dumbledore would have a problem with that, and then realized that he didn't really give a damn. It was his life; he hated going back there, and if his father wasn't going to push it, then… well, he wouldn't be going back to the Dursley's. That was more than okay with him, of course. If he never saw them again, it would be too soon.

He wanted to Floo Call Draco, but Jacob also wanted to get settled in first. He and his father played chess for a couple of hours before they made lunch. Severus said he was improving, but he was still sore that he was consistently losing . It wasn't that he was a sore loser - at least he hoped not - it was just that it was constant. He was determined to get better and beat his father in chess one day. It didn't matter how long it took; he was going to improve. Maybe he'd ask Draco to help him, but then again, his boyfriend was helping him a lot already.

During lunch, Jacob broached the subject of Draco coming over the next day. "So, Dad…" Severus looked up, though the look on his face clearly said he was waiting for something. "I was wondering if it was alright if Draco came over tomorrow, you know, to visit for a bit?"

"Oh, is that all?" Severus said, rolling his eyes. "I was wondering when you were going to ask. You two are attached at the hip, and I thought it very unlikely that you were only going to see each other once the entire holiday." A light blush crossed Jacob's face, and he looked down at his food as a smirk crossed his father's lips. "Yes, he may come over tomorrow. Draco is more than welcome."

Jacob looked up at his father and gave him a small smile. "Thanks, Dad," he said. He had already asked permission to go to the party this Friday, which of course, Severus had been fine with - though he was not going himself. Apparently, he had been once or twice in the past at Lucius and Narcissa's request, but it was not his scene, and he avoided it if at all possible. Still, the entire holiday was looking rather bright, in his opinion. 

He was home for Christmas; Severus was here, and he was going to see Draco tomorrow. Sure, accompanying his boyfriend to his father's huge Ministry Ball function was not at the top of his to-do list, but he would be okay because Draco was with him. Besides, his boyfriend had said that they might sneak off. He hoped that this would be a good Christmas. He knew it would be.

~~~~~~~~~~~

As soon as they finished cleaning up from lunch, Jacob rushed down to the Floo Room to call Draco. He grabbed some Floo Powder, stuck his head in and called, "Malfoy Manor." He could see Malfoy Manor materializing, though he had only been there a couple of times, he remembered it - grand, and a little over the top, in his opinion. A nervous House Elf suddenly appeared in front of him, asking him what he could do for him. "Can I speak to Draco? Please?" The House Elf nodded, muttering that, of course, he could before scampering off.

Jacob felt kind of ridiculous, just sitting there with his head in the Malfoy's fireplace in their entryway as he waited. He knew that Malfoy Manor was big, though, and it would take Draco time to get down. It was all worth it a few moments later when the blonde appeared, kneeling before him in front of the fireplace. "Jacob! It's good to see you," he said, smiling at him. "Are you home? Does it feel good to be back?"

Jacob smiled at him. "It's good to see you, too." It was good to see him, though it had only been a few days. Was that normal? He had no idea. "Yes, I am, and it does feel good to be back. I talked to my Dad, and he says it's fine for you to come over tomorrow if you want. I finished my homework with Hermione and Terry this weekend, so we don't have to worry about that tomorrow."

Draco nodded. "Good, because I did a bit of mine on the train with Theodore and the rest yesterday, so we're both done," he said. "So, you spent some with Hermione and Terry? How did that go? I've never really seen them interact before. When they did, it was only briefly, and they're always pretty professional around each other when we meet up for Prefect meetings. It just makes me a bit curious as to how well they get along, that's all. It's not like us, we had most of our classes together, and we're in the same house."

Jacob shrugged his shoulders. "They seemed very comfortable around each other," he said. "I'm glad it's working out for her." At least he and Draco were in the same house now , though he knew that Draco wouldn't speak freely in his parent's house where they could be listening in. The blond was not that stupid. "Well, I will see you tomorrow."

Draco smiled at him. "Yes, you will. I will see you after lunch." Jacob felt his heart skip a beat as he pulled his head out of the fire, ending the call. He was going to be seeing  Draco tomorrow. They had no homework to do, and just… be together. It was perfect. Nothing could ruin this as far as he was concerned. He couldn't wait to see him.

~~~~~~~~~~

That night, Jacob didn't take his Dreamless Sleep potion. He had been taking it fairly regularly since his last nightmare, and he didn't want to become dependant. He knew his father said that he would tell him, but… he had skipped taking it some nights before, so it wasn't a big deal. He hadn't been dreaming about anything, or at least nothing that he remembered when all of a sudden, a bad feeling washed over him in his sleep. He started tossing and turning as he became more and more uncomfortable. The feeling lasted, though Jacob didn't wake up until all of a sudden, a flash appeared in his mind.

He awoke with a start.

Jacob felt sticky and sweaty, and he couldn't shake the feeling that came over while he had been sleeping. It still remained. At first, the vision didn't come to him - just the bad feeling, the feeling that something was wrong, terribly wrong. I'm sure it's nothing , he thought to himself as he curled up and tried to go back to sleep. As soon as he closed his eyes, though, the vision flashed in his mind.

Arthur Weasley was lying on the ground in an unfamiliar room, bloody, torn, and trying to fight off something that was attacking him - something large. 

Jacob opened his eyes immediately. Before he could think anything else, he was out of the bed. He tossed open his door and ran down the hall, throwing open the door to his father's room with a bang. He quickly went to his father's bedside as the man opened his eyes, grabbing his wrist firmly. "Dad, it's me," Jacob said, his voice shaking a bit as he couldn't shake that horrible bad feeling.

"Jacob? What is it?" His father released the grip in his wrist as he slowly sat up in bed.

"I had a vision - I think, at least - while I was sleeping," he said. "It was quick, though, just a flash. It seemed like… it was Arthur Weasley, like he was being attacked by something… large. He was bloody and torn up." He shook his head, closing his eyes to try and block out the memory of the vision but failing. If anything, closing his eyes only made the vision come back even harder than before. "And I have a really bad feeling. Something's wrong, I just know. I did my Occlumency training, too, I swear."

"I believe you," Severus said, gently moving him aside as he got out of bed. Jacob watched as his father rushed to the closet, disappearing inside. 

"What do you think it was?" he called. His heart was still racing. He wrapped his arms around himself, almost as if he could try and squeeze the feeling out of him. So something was wrong. "Mr. Weasley is being attacked then, or could be?" He hoped nothing had happened to him. Although he didn't know him as Jacob Snape, he still cared for the man and didn't want anything bad to happen to him. 

"A vision is fairly accurate," Severus said. "Your Occlumency training is most likely working, or I doubt it would have been as brief. There is no way to know for sure, though." Severus came out, having changed out of his nightclothes and into regular clothes. "He was on duty tonight, so yes, it is possible that the Dark Lord found out about it. As I am at Hogwarts, I am not privy to as much of his coming and goings as I would like, though I am aware that he was after what he is guarding. No, I cannot talk about it." Jacob closed his mouth, knowing that there was no argument, and he was not in the mood tonight, anyway. 

"I cannot do this over Floo, so I have to go and alert Dumbledore," Severus continued. "I will be back as soon as I can. Stay here, and do not leave the house for any reason. We will talk when I get back." Severus walked over, putting a hand on his shoulder before turning and walking over to the door. 

Jacob desperately wished that his father hadn't left because he wanted to talk to him. So it was a vision? But of what? Had Voldemort sent something to attack him? It wasn't human, he knew that, but it almost felt like… it almost felt like it was him. That wasn't possible, though, because he had been here the entire time. Yet, he couldn't shake the feeling or the vision of Arthur Weasley's bloody body on the ground.

Taking a deep breath, Jacob left his father's room and headed downstairs. He would get no sleep tonight.

Chapter Text

Severus was soon at Hogwarts, and he quickly made his way up to the Headmaster's Office. Thankfully, the halls were deserted this time of night so that he didn't have to explain why he was here when Dumbledore had publicly announced that he would be spending the holidays outside of school. He ran into no one and made it safely to Dumbledore's Office. He didn't need to notify the old man that he was there, because a moment after arriving, the Headmaster walked out of the room at the top of the stairs that lead to his private quarters. "Severus? I have a spell that notified me that someone had entered," he said. "What are you doing? What has happened?"

"Jacob had a vision," Severus said, cutting straight to the point. "Arthur Weasley was attacked."

"Are you sure?" The old man said as he made his way down the stairs. 

Severus nodded. "His vision was brief, but it was clear enough."

Dumbledore turned to the portraits, uttering for one to make sure that the right people found Arthur, another to notify Grimmauld Place that the children would be arriving, and another to get Minerva McGonagall and to have her get the Weasley children as well as Hermione Granger. "Has his Occlumency training not been going well?"

"It has been coming along, albeit slowly," Severus said. "I believe it has been effective, or he would have seen more of the vision."

Dumbledore nodded. "That is good, then, because I shudder to think if the training was ineffective," he said. "He is a very emotional boy." The old man sighed. "There is nothing more you can do here, and you should be gone by the time the Weasleys and Miss Granger get here because we cannot explain this to Fred, George, and Ginny. I will be in touch." 

Severus nodded, getting up and making his way towards the door when Dumbledore spoke again. "I've also been thinking," Dumbledore said. "We might need to come up with a better cover. Not better perhaps, but… Voldemort doesn't believe you, or at the very least, he is skeptical. Maybe we need to have another sighting."

"Another sighting?" Severus asked, turning back towards Dumbledore. "You want them to see 'Harry Potter' again? How?" He knew that the old man wouldn't put his son in danger, at least not if it didn't suit him, and it wasn't for the 'greater good.' Severus doubted that was the case this time. 

"We have members of the Order who will likely do it if asked," Dumbledore said. "It would only have to be brief. But we should not talk about this now. One problem at a time. We will speak of this later, though. If we wait too long, it'll put you at risk. There's no reason to do so unnecessarily." Severus knew when he was being excused, so he turned and left.

Dumbledore was willing to put him at risk if it was necessary - but at the moment, apparently, it wasn't.

~~~~~~~~~~

Severus quickly made his way down the hall before heading back across the grounds. He Apparated as soon as he crossed the property line, quickly heading inside to find a light coming in from the living room. Frowning, he followed it to the living room to find Jacob sitting on the couch. The young man's hands were in his lap, and he was looking down at the floor. "Jacob? Why didn't you go back to sleep?"

Jacob shook his head. "I couldn't sleep after that," he said. "What if he's dead?"

Severus walked over and sat next to him. He paused for a moment, wondering how to comfort him, before putting his arm gently around him. "He and I may have our differences, but he is made of pretty stout stuff," he said. "I'm sure he is fine." Jacob leaned into him, and he was glad that he could offer him sort of comfort. "It is not your fault."

"It doesn't feel like that," he said. The boy continued to lean up against him. "It felt like… it felt like it was me, whatever was attacking him - something large. I just can't… can't figure out what."

"Don't," Severus said, a firm tone to his voice. "Don't concentrate on it. It wasn't you. You were here, with me. It was the Dark Lord, and most likely his snake, Nagini. I can't imagine it could be anything else. Either way, it wasn't you, and you had nothing to do with it."

Jacob glanced up at him. "How did I see what happened, then? Through Voldemort?"

Severus nodded. "You have a connection to him," he said. "Weren't you already aware of that?"

The young man shrugged his shoulders. "Sort of," he said. "I mean, I knew that Voldemort had transferred some of his powers to me the night he killed my mother and James Potter. Dumbledore told me that in my second year. There's more to it than that, though, isn't there? Is this why I need to learn Occlumency? Because our minds have some sort of link?"

Severus paused for a moment before nodding his head. "I apologize for not telling you," he said. "I was… waiting for the right time. A lot has happened this year."

"It's okay," he said. "I get it. There was no reason to push everything on me at once, considering what has happened to us so far this year. I get it now, though - why I have to learn this. Because, if I can see into his mind, can it be reversed?"

Severus nodded. "Most likely, yes," he said. "I do not believe he knows about it, because he would have used it if it was. Occlumency is necessary, though, to prevent it from happening." There was more, though - the prophecy, the circumstances surrounding how he found about that, and the events that lead to his mother's death. Severus couldn't tell him all of that, though. He could especially not do that right now. 

He should tell the boy to go to bed but knew that he wouldn't help. If this helped him, it was the least that Severus could do. The two of them stayed up until Dumbledore Flooed, saying that Arthur Weasley was alive, though in fairly bad shape, and that the Weasleys and Granger were going to Grimmauld Place for the holidays. Dumbledore also made a point of saying that if they'd gotten to him any later, the Weasley patriarch might not have lived.

After that, Severus told Jacob he should try and rest before Draco came over. He had been going to suggest getting back to their summer schedule, at least for a bit. Right now, he was fairly certain that his son just needed to rest after last night. He wished there was more that he could do. Jacob had just nodded and gone upstairs. There wasn't anything he could do, though, and for the first time in a long time, he felt completely and utterly helpless.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Jacob knew that he should have done some dueling practice or something, but it didn't seem that way. He knew he had fallen asleep at some point, but by the time he woke up mid-morning, it seemed as if he hadn't slept at all. He was surprised that Severus hadn't woken him up early for exercising, but he hadn't. He had been very comforting towards him last night. Jacob wished he would have known about it sooner - the connection between him and Voldemort - but at least Severus had told him. He wondered if Dumbledore would have ever mentioned it, and considering how blasé he acted about forcing Ron and Hermione not to contact him over the summer, he doubted it.

It seemed as if the old man always had his own agenda. If Severus hadn't found out that he was his son and decided to divulge some information to him, would he ever had found out? Jacob knew the answer to that - when it suited him, and only then. It was his life! He had a feeling that there was more that his father wasn't telling him, but it was just a feeling. Right now, though, he didn't care and was happy with one big piece of information revealed to him at a time.

He spent most of the time waiting in his room, playing with Moirai, who seemed to adjust well enough to being back home. That is until a certain blonde appeared in his doorway. "Flooed in and let myself upstairs," Draco said with a smirk as he took off his robes, setting them on the end of Jacob's bed. He was wearing a pair of black slacks and a black shirt underneath. 

The blonde then settled on the bed next to him. Draco moved in close to him, giving him a quick kiss on the lips. The smile faded from his lips almost instantly. "Is something wrong? You seem… off."

Jacob knew that he shouldn't be surprised that his boyfriend picked up on it so quickly; they had spent quite a lot of time together over the past five months now. It was only to be expected, he supposed. Besides, Draco was a very observant person. "I'm okay… It's just something… happened last night."

"Are you okay?" Draco asked, his voice wrought with concern. He propped himself up with one arm so that he was looking down at him, worry etched on his face. 

"Yeah, I'm fine. It wasn't about me," he said. Sighing, Jacob told Draco briefly what happened what last night, the vision he'd gotten about Mr. Weasley being attacked. "Apparently, it was true, and I guess I saved his life." He shrugged his shoulders. He supposed he should feel better about it, but he just felt numb right now.

"Well, that's good, though I don't blame you for feeling off after that." The blonde paused for a moment before continuing. "So, since when did you start getting visions?" Draco asked. "Is that new, or…?"

"Yeah, not since last night," he said. "Apparently, it's got something to do with Voldemort. I'm always finding something out about myself that I didn't know before." After all this time. Jacob was trying to just go with it, but… he couldn't wait for a point in time when he had some semblance of control over his life. Right now, he didn't feel like he was doing anything but going with the wind.

"Doesn't that bother you?" Draco said, his voice laced with annoyance as he laid back down. "That you don't seem to have control over your own life? That everyone seems to only tell you stuff when it's suitable for them? It's your fucking life!"

Jacob appreciated his boyfriend's anger on the situation, and if he weren't so drained from last night, he would probably feel the same way. "Yeah, it does," he agreed. "I just don't want to think about that right now." He turned over, facing Draco. Moirai gave a meow of annoyance at his movement, and jumped down, running out of the room. "Distract me."

The blonde smirked, and leaned in, pressing their lips together. Jacob moaned into the kiss, wrapping his arms around his waist. Slowly, the blonde pushed him gently on his chest so that he was lying flat on the bed. The shock of the movement caused Jacob to break the kiss. The next moment, Draco had moved one of his long legs over him and moved on top of him, straddling his hips. 

"I like this position," Jacob said, moving his hands to grip Draco's hips. There was something incredibly hot about his boyfriend on top of him, straddling his hips. It was far from the first time that thought had crossed his mind, either.

Draco smirked down at him. "Good, because I happen to like it, too," he said before leaning down and kissing him again. 

Slowly, the blonde slipped his tongue into his mouth.  Jacob moaned into the kiss, and then slowly slipped his hand underneath Draco's shirt. His skin was soft and smooth, and he loved how it felt underneath his fingertips. Slowly, he brought his hands up and started to undo the buttons on Draco's shirt. His fingers got stuck on the third button, which wouldn't seem to cooperate.

Draco broke the kiss with a groan. "Seriously, it's a good thing I like you quite a lot, or I would find you completely hopeless that you can't even take off your boyfriend's shirt. You act like it's the first time," the blonde said, smirking down at him as he finished unbuttoning the shirt and threw it off on the floor while Jacob just chuckled. The next moment, Draco grabbed the hem of Jacob's t-shirt before pulling it off. It joined Draco's on the floor, and the blonde leaned down and kissed him again.

Draco's fingers moved across his chest as Jacob moved his hands up the blonde's back. It felt so good to feel his muscles underneath his hands, the blonde's fingers across his skin, their lips moving against each other as they moaned into the kiss. This was exactly what Jacob needed; the only thing he was thinking about right now was his boyfriend and how good he felt.

That is, of course, until his father's voice sounded from down the hall. "Lunch is ready," he said. It sounded like he was only a few feet away. He hadn't even heard him approach at all.

"Okay, Dad," Jacob said, as Draco had stopped kissing him the moment they'd heard Severus's voice. "We'll be right there." There was no response, but they heard his footsteps going back down the hall. "For the love of…"

"At least he didn't come barging in," Draco said. "He might not let us be alone if he found us like this."

Jacob smirked up at him. "We were just kissing."

A chuckle escaped the blonde's lips. "With our shirts off," he said, and Jacob couldn't help but smile up at him. "I highly doubt that any parent would like to see that, and would make us stay where they could see us. Or interrupt us every five minutes to make sure we're not doing anything." He leaned forward, giving him a light kiss on his lips. "I suppose we should get downstairs before he comes looking for us."

Jacob nodded. "Yes, we should," he agreed, "but you're still on top of me." Indeed, the blonde was still straddling his hips. Neither had moved since Severus had come upstairs. 

Draco let out another chuckle. "You act like you hate it," he said before leaning down to kiss him again. Jacob desperately wanted to get lost in him again, but he wasn't wrong - Severus would come up looking for them soon if they weren't downstairs. The blonde broke the kiss a moment later, before slowly getting off Jacob and off the bed.

Draco threw Jacob his shirt, and he slipped it on as he stood up. "I don't hate it," he said, "but we do need to get downstairs." He would never complain about kissing his boyfriend, though, and it had distracted him from what had happened last night. It had still happened, of course, but he would much rather think about Draco than Arthur Weasley lying in a hospital bed in St. Mungo's.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Draco and Jacob headed downstairs for lunch, where it was waiting for them - sandwiches. Normally, he would have helped Severus make it, but he hadn't even thought about it. He had been so wrapped up in his guilt over what had happened last night over something he couldn't control. Helping prepare lunch might even have helped, but then again, he wasn't sure anything could have helped more than snogging with Draco on his bed. It had only been a few days, but he had still missed him quite a lot since he had gone home for the Holidays, and they had been separated.

During lunch, Draco proceeded to monopolize the conversation. Jacob wasn't sure how he knew that he hadn't felt like talking much, but somehow, he must have. He immediately launched into a conversation about their NEWT's classes. "Of course, I'll be in Potions, but if I were to try and become a Potions Master of some kind, what other classes would I need?" Draco had asked as they started to eat. 

"We will discuss this next semester," Severus had originally said. "You do not need to worry about this at this stage, and while we are out of school at the moment, I am still your teacher and Head of House." While his father may show favoritism to Draco to a point, at least he wasn't willing to give out too much information beforehand. "You can wait for a couple of months like everyone else." 

"I know, I know, but just… I'm getting top grades in everything. I don't need to take all of it next year, right?" Draco asked in between bites.

"Of course not, no one ever does," Severus said. "Most only take four or five classes, few take more than that, though I suspect you and Miss Granger will be a part of that."

Draco smirked and shrugged his shoulders. "Well, of course, one needs to keep their options open," he said. "Now, what about Alchemy, I heard - "His boyfriend went on. 

Apparently, Alchemy was a class sometimes offered to NEWT' s-level students, and he was interested in taking it. Severus simply explained that it was hard because it required NEWT' s-level Potions, notoriously the hardest class to get into because of the level of difficulty. Of course, Jacob wanted to say if Severus required something other than an O, he might have more students. Then again, he was pretty sure that his father didn't give a damn how many students he had, and felt that he probably preferred just a handful of students who could keep up as opposed to twice as many students, with only half who met his standards.

Draco seemed to want Alchemy to be a class offered to them next year and was wondering what would have to be done to get enough interest to have a teacher set for next year. Severus suggested getting some of the other top Potions students and see if they would be interested. If they are, bring it to him, as the Potions Master, or McGonagall, as the Deputy Headmistress. Apparently, that was all that could be done about it. It would be put it into consideration to hire a part-time teacher to teach the class.

After lunch, Jacob and Draco went back upstairs. They kissed for a bit more before Draco had seen his music and stereo, and started asking questions. While he seemed a bit haughty at the muggle stuff at first, he quickly became curious. The blonde went over and started picking random tapes and playing them. He would critique them or make faces when he didn't like them, and when he did, he'd listen before moving onto something else. 

It was fun to watch him, and while he was, of course, sworn to secrecy, Jacob enjoyed just watching his boyfriend have fun listening to music that he would not ever have had access to listen to. Before he knew it, though, it was time for him to leave. He had been told by his parents to be home for dinner, so they slowly made their way downstairs and to the Floo Room.

For a moment, neither of them said anything. Jacob honestly didn't want him to leave but knew he would see him in a few days. Draco put his arms around him, drawing him into a kiss. "I have to go," he said, "but just for a few days. Perhaps you can come over early so I can give you some dancing lessons?"

Jacob chuckled. His only experience dancing before had been with Parvati Patil at the Yule Ball last year. "I'm not sure I need dancing lessons," he said.

It was Draco's turn to chuckle now. "I remember watching you dance last year, Snape," he said. "You need them. Trust me. You looked like a monkey in a suit."

He pretended to look offended by his boyfriend's words. "I am not that bad!" He knew he had been, though. It had been awkward, to say the least. Parvati wasn't who he had wanted to go with, though thinking back on it now, perhaps he had mistreated her. Not to mention the fact that he had stepped on her feet quite a bit as they had danced.

Draco laughed. "Yes, you do, and I want to make sure you don't embarrass me at my parent's party," he teased, leaning in to kiss him again. Jacob wanted to lose himself in his boyfriend's kiss, but the blonde pulled away sooner than he would have liked. "I do have to go, but I will see you soon." 

"Okay, see you soon, then," he said, "By the way, thank you for today." His boyfriend raised a questioning eyebrow at the statement. "You really helped take my mind off everything, and I really appreciate that." It had been exactly what he had needed today.

A smile crossed Draco's face. "Mmm, I'm glad I could be a good distraction for you. I know it must not have been pleasant but think about it this way - at least Weasley Senior is not dead. He could be dead now if you hadn't gotten that vision or hadn't seen anything."

"You were a very good distraction," he said, drawing Draco into another kiss. "And maybe you're right." He hadn't considered that before, so wrapped up in how it had felt, that he had been the one to cause it. It hadn't occurred to him that maybe it would have happened anyway - and that his vision stopped Arthur Weasley from being dead right now, the Weasley kids from losing their Dad, and Molly from losing her husband. Severus had been trying to tell him that last night, and he hadn't wanted to listen, not yet.

"I'm always right, but I really do need to leave now." With that, the blonde unwrapped his arms from his neck. He went into the Floo, called out, "Malfoy Manor," and then disappeared in a swirl of green flames.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Jacob stood there for a moment, staring at the fireplace, before making his way out. Severus came out of the kitchen. "Did Draco leave already?" 

Jacob nodded. "Yeah, he needed to get home before dinner, but he suggested that I go over early to his house on Friday… if that's okay," he said. He was still getting used to needing to ask someone because he had been largely ignored at the Dursleys, who hadn't given a shit. He knew that Severus wanted to know because he cared, just like Jacob wanted to know when he left. 

Severus nodded. "Yes, that is fine," he replied. "Are you feeling a bit better now?"

He shrugged. "Sort of, I guess," he said. "It was nice having Draco around for a while. He got my mind off things." 

His father paused for a moment before speaking again. "I am glad. Are you two…?" 

It took Jacob a moment to realize what his father meant, and he quickly shook his head. "Nonono! We're just kissing! You don't worry about - just no. Not yet. We're taking it slowly." He really hated discussing things like this, though he knew they'd be having sex eventually, just… he didn't want to talk about it with Severus. Was it like this with all the teenagers and their parents?

"Okay, I have to ask, you understand," he said. "Dinner's almost ready. Are you hungry?" 

Jacob nodded, and yeah, he knew that, but it didn't make the conversation any easier. His stomach started to grumble, and he followed his father back into the kitchen. "I would have helped, you know," he said. "Maybe I can help tomorrow. I enjoy cooking, actually." It would be nice to get back into their routine, and after last night, he knew he needed to work on Occlumency, too, now more than ever. 

Chapter Text

Jacob spent the next few days doing things around the house to keep himself busy when he wasn't exercising or practicing Occlumency. Hermione came over one day - she and the Weasleys had been sent back to Grimmauld Place after what had happened with Arthur Weasley. The Weasley patriarch was still in the hospital, but according to Mrs. Weasley, he was expected to improve. That made him feel a little better, at least. At least he was still alive, though he wasn't sure his conflicted feelings on the matter would ever disappear. Upon mentioning this to Hermione, his friend just smiled at him.

"Jacob, don't worry about it," she said. "If you hadn't had it, Mr. Weasley would probably have died. You stopped it from being any worse, and on another note, your Occlumency must be working, because who knows, maybe it would have been like a full-blown dream." He had to admit that she had a point. Draco had told him pretty much the same thing. Hermione's response to that was, "Yes, well… he's relatively intelligent when he's not being a prat."

"He's always a prat, I just don't mind it that much anymore," Jacob told her.

Hermione rolled her eyes at him. "I noticed," she said, causing Jacob to smile back at her. 

"So, how are things back at Grimmauld Place?" 

She shrugged. "Ron is being oddly quiet and avoiding me lately. I can't figure out what he's up to, and honestly, I don't care anymore, so I'm just ignoring him and hanging with Ginny," she explained. "Sirius and Remus have been spending… a lot of time alone together for some reason, more so than I remember this summer. Mrs. Weasley says it's nothing, but... I don't know…" She sighed. "I've just been reading and going over the schoolbooks when I'm not with Ginny."

"Again?" She typically did that at the beginning of the school year. 

The bushy-haired witch gave him a friendly glare. "I want to make sure I'm prepared!"

"Hermione, you're the top student in school. The only class that you get beat in is Potions," he said. "I think you'll be fine. Even Draco doesn't study as much as you do."

"Oh, yes, and I can imagine what Draco is busier with," Hermione said. "Studying you, perhaps?" She had a knowing smirk on her face. 

A deep blush crossed Jacob's face at that remark because, honestly, she was right. They did study, but their study sessions always turned into snogging sessions. "And yet, he still manages to make top marks, even with us cutting our studying sessions short," he told her, she just laughed.

It felt good to have Hermione over. He hadn't expected to see her the entire holiday, especially since he wasn't seeing Draco again until the day of the party. When mentioning that to Hermione, she thought it sounded like it could be fun, though a Malfoy Party would probably be a bit stuffy, or so she thought. She also figured that he should have expected stuff like this dating the Malfoy Heir. She was right, of course, but then again, wasn't she always? She did tell him to have a good time, though, before she left, and he certainly hoped he would. He also hoped that Draco would like his present.

~~~~~~~~~~

On the day of the party, Jacob left the house early. He was wearing normal clothing but had his dress robes with him for later. He had promised his boyfriend that he would go over before the party - hours before - so that he could be taught how to "dance properly". He was forced to admit that he probably did need some pointers on the subject, because he had never been taught how to do that without stepping on someone's toes, literally. It wasn't as if Hogwarts had offered basic dancing lessons. 

He Flooed over and was greeted by a House Elf, who lead him to a large ballroom. It was all decked out for Christmas - a stage was set at the top of the room, and Christmas decorations were everywhere - a large Christmas tree, with lights and garland all around the hall. It was definitely festive, though he noted that there wasn't a personal touch about the place at all. It was formal and stuffy, almost as if the room was designed by someone who took a page out a book on the subject and told their staff to do it just like instructed.

"Jacob!" Draco called out from a table on the right side of the room. There were some tables gathered on the front side of the room where he was standing, presumably for eating food and making small talk. A long table was set up on the opposite side of the room, presumably for food and drinks for the party tonight. Draco was at one of the tables near the dance floor. Pansy was there with Theodore, and Salenia and Marcus were there, too.

Jacob made his way over to the group and was immediately greeted by his boyfriend, who put an arm around his neck and kissed him quite firmly. "Hello to you, too," he said with a smile.

Draco snapped his fingers, and the House Elf reappeared. "Take Mr. Snape's dress robes up to my room," he ordered. The Elf bowed and took Jacob's robes before disappearing. "I'm glad you're here," he said, turning back to Jacob. "Are you hungry, thirsty?"

Jacob shook his head. He had already eaten, and besides, he was more worried about actually dancing and not making a fool out of himself. The last thing he wanted was for everyone to start laughing at him because he was such a horrible dancer. Would Draco even want to dance with him if that were the case? What would he do then? Sit around while everyone else had fun because he was still Draco's date? "No, I'm fine," he said, hoping he sounded more confident than he felt.

Draco snapped his fingers and ordered him a water anyway, seeming to ignore that he had said he wasn't thirsty. Either that, or he assumed that he really was - or would be soon. The water was delivered soon, and Jacob found that he really was a bit thirsty. After taking a sip, Draco grabbed his hand and started pulling onto the dance floor. Pansy and Theodore weren't really dancing, but standing there talking to Marcus and Salenia. They were laughing as Jacob and Draco came up. "Okay, now, this really isn't that difficult," he said, he said, putting one hand on his waist.

~~~~~~~~~

"Come on, would you stop doing that!" Draco snapped a while later. "I'm trying to do the basics, and you keep fighting me on it!"

Jacob was honestly not trying to fight him on it, but it seemed he always managed to take a wrong step. "I'm trying, I promise," he said, looking down at his feet, trying to memorize where they were supposed to go and when. This was so out of his comfort zone. He was trying to listen to Draco, but it just seemed as if there was so much more to remember than he could handle. He knew the blonde was getting frustrated, but what he was he supposed to do? He really was trying!

"I can't believe I'm going to say this, but you're thinking too much," Draco said. "Just listen and follow me."

"I'm trying!" This came a lot easier to him than it did to Jacob. 

"Then stop looking down at your feet!"

"But I have to see what I'm -"

"No, you don't," he ordered. "You look at me." Jacob glanced up at Draco, but then immediately looked back down at his feet. A moment later, there was a pair of long fingers around his chin, and he was suddenly looking back up into Draco's gray eyes. "No, look at me. You don't need to look at your feet. Now, just let me lead and stop fighting me on this, okay?"

"Okay, I'll try." He forced his eyes to stay on Draco. "I'm not trying to fight you, I promise. I just really have no idea what I'm doing."

A smirk crossed Draco's face. "I noticed," he said, pressing a light kiss to his lips. Marcus had piped up not too long ago that if he really didn't know what he was doing, just to let Draco lead him. It would be easier on both of them because Draco did know what he was doing "Now, are you ready?" He wasn't, but he nodded and let Draco lead him, trying not to think as much - since apparently he was doing too much of that right now. Maybe by tonight, he could manage to not make a fool out of himself.

~~~~~~~~~

With a couple of hours to go to the party, Salenia and Pansy went home. With the girls gone, Theodore bowed out, saying he would be back later. He hadn't been invited, but he was coming as Astoria's date. Marcus left, too, having no real reason to stay without his best friend. Draco and Jacob made their way up to Draco's room. "See, you weren't doing that badly by the end," his boyfriend said, trying to be encouraging. 

"I just… don't want to make a fool out of myself, that's all," he admitted.

Draco shook his head. "As long as you just have fun with it, you'll be fine," he said. "You act as if I really care if you're as good at this as I am. I was just trying to help you out, so you don't step on my feet all night." There was a light smirk playing on his pale lips, showing that he was trying to lighten the mood a bit.

Jacob couldn't help but chuckle a bit at that. "Fair enough," he said, "and I don't think I was by the end of it."

"No, you were not, because you started letting me lead and do most of the work," he said, which only made Jacob chuckle. "At least, for now, it won't seem too bad once you get the hang of it. I think you were just worried about nothing. You'll be fine, once you stop worrying about it so much, and just… dance with me. That's what I was trying to get you to do all afternoon, but all you could do was just stare at your feet and one-two-one-two."

Jacob hadn't thought about it like that, but he supposed that made sense. After all, Draco had been trying to tell him the entire to stop worrying. He had told him that he needed to loosen up and just try and go with it a bit more, but he hadn't listened because he had been so obsessed with doing everything just right. Perhaps that hadn't been the point at all? He wasn't sure, but he knew that he did want to have fun, or at least try to until he and Draco could slip away.

~~~~~~~~~

The party was overwhelming, to say the least. Draco was in his element - the proud son of the Malfoys, who apparently hosted this party every year. It wasn't just the big wigs at the Ministry, through, like Draco had told him originally. There were also rich people there. He supposed anyone who was anyone had been invited. Most of their group was there - the only ones missing were Elizabeth, Tracey, and Millicent. Everyone else was here, even though Theodore was here a date, just like him. Even Neville was here, seemingly having been dragged by his grandmother. He was currently sitting over in the corner of the room, staring. He didn't seem to be having any fun at all.

Jacob wanted to go over and talk to him, even though Neville was friends with Harry Potter and not Jacob Snape. However, every time he tried, he was dragged somewhere else by Draco. It was exactly his scene, and he knew exactly what to do and when to do it. He was just his poor sap of a date, who had to be reminded to actually smile and not just scowl all the time. Luckily, the blonde was pretty good at being able to make him smile when he needed to. All it usually took was his boyfriend smiling at him, or squeezing his hand, and Jacob usually couldn't help but smile back.

Draco had momentarily gone off to talk with Pansy and Blaise, leaving Jacob with a brief respite from all of the activity. He whispered that he was going to get a drink, to which his boyfriend replied with, "Get me one, too, please, and thank you." He rolled his eyes and made his way over to the refreshment table. He grabbed two, fully intending to stay there by himself. Since he was no longer someone important, no one really gave a flying fuck what he was doing or who he was. He was just some kid at a party, and it was really nice to be ignored. Especially with all the negative press about him saying that he and Dumbledore were lying about Voldemort, he doubted he would be able to stand here by himself.

"How are you enjoying the festivities tonight, young Jacob?" A familiar voice asked from his right. Jacob's head snapped around to see Lucius Malfoy standing there before him. He quickly glanced around, but Draco was nowhere in sight. Narcissa was standing a few feet away, talking to someone. He looked back up at the host of the party. He remembered the height difference being much greater. He hadn't noticed it last time he had been here during the summer, but he did notice it now. Of course, Mr. Malfoy still had a few inches on him.

"Er, fine," Jacob responded, feeling incredibly awkward and wondering why Lucius would be coming over to talk to him. "It's a wonderful party. Everything is great. I was just getting drinks for me and Draco. He's busy talking at the moment. You know how he is." Oh, yes, that's right - he was dating his son. That's why he was here. After all, they had only met that one time during the summer. Then he had been told a couple of months later by his son via a letter that they were now dating. Of course, he was talking to him. Why wouldn't he be?

"Yes, I am quite aware," he said. It looked like he might say something, but it was hard to read to him. He was sure that he had a few things to say, but he wondered if he was holding back because this wasn't exactly the right time to be questioning him about anything. Is that what he was going to do? Jacob honesty had no idea, but he didn't really want to wait around to find out.

"I should really get back," Jacob said. "It was nice talking to you. Mr. Malfoy." It had definitely not been, but he had a feeling that it wouldn't be the last time. Taking the opportunity while he had it, he hurried off through the crowd and back to where Draco was still standing, talking to Pansy and Blaise. "Here you go." He handed the cup to Draco.

"About time, what happened?" Draco asked. "Did you get lost or something?"

"Or something," Jacob responded, taking a sip of his own. "Your father happened."

That got Draco's attention. He immediately turned to face him. "He did? What did he say? He didn't interrogate you or anything, did he?"

Jacob shook his head. "No, he didn't. I left before he got the chance.  I have a feeling it won't be the end of that conversation, though." Draco had mentioned he was not the ideal Malfoy companion, whatever that was supposed to mean. He could infer a lot, though. He was starting to realize now that by dating Draco, he wasn't just dating Draco, but Draco's parents, too. There was a lot more that went into being his boyfriend than he had realized. Not that it mattered, of course, because he wouldn't trade Draco in for anyone.

"Probably not, but you're not here to worry about that," Draco said, downing the rest of his drink and setting it on a nearby table. "Let's go dance."

Jacob groaned, but he set his cup down, as well. "Again? But we did that already. Multiple times."

"Shut up and dance with me," Draco said, grabbing his hand dragged him along. He was apparently not taking no for an answer, not that Jacob had expected anything else. He had always fully intended to go dance with him anyway.

Jacob just chuckled. "Yes, sir," he said, with a smirk on his face.

"Mmm, sir, I like the sound of that," Draco said, but any further conversation was cut off as they were swallowed up by the dance floor and the music.

~~~~~~~~~~~

A few more dances later, and Jacob was tired. He needed a break. "I just want to go sit down for a bit, okay? Please?" He didn't mind so much anymore, but he was still tired. Draco would be happy if they spent the entire time talking and dancing, but he needed a break from it all. He hoped they were going to break away soon. Draco had promised him that they never stayed for the entire time and always ended up breaking away. Hopefully, that time was coming up soon.

Draco rolled his eyes but allowed Jacob to leave. He got a snack and another drink and headed off to find a table. Some of the guests were milling around the tables talking. He spotted Neville, still looking quite bored and out of place. He made his way over to him. "Mind if I sit down?" Neville looked up as if he hadn't heard of him, a confused look on his face. He gestured to an empty seat at the table. Neville hesitated for a moment, before nodding. 

Jacob sat down a couple of seats away from him. "You don't look like you're having too much fun," he said, hoping to strike up a conversation. They weren't friends - in fact, since his change, they had never even spoken. 

Neville shrugged. "I didn't really want to come at all," he said. "I begged my Gran to let me stay home, but she said I had to come if she did. It was good for me, she said." It didn't look as if Neville agreed with her statement at all. "I told her I wasn't friends with anyone here, but it didn't matter. So I've been sitting here eating and drinking." He had a few cups around him, and some plates, he noticed.

"It's not really my scene, either," he admitted. "I came because my boyfriend asked me to be his date. What was I supposed to say to that? It hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be." 

Neville looked at him as if he was wondering what to think about all this. He had to know that he and Hermione were friends, but he didn't blame him at all for being nervous around him - he was a Slytherin, and none of the Slytherins had ever been nice to him. "I probably would, too, if I had a date," he said.

Jacob laughed. "Probably, that's a good point," he said. "I just wished he'd let me rest more. He wants to mingle and dance, and just… That's not my thing. I don't mind it. Of course, I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him. Which probably wouldn't bother me at all."

Neville seemed to loosen up a bit as the conversation went on. "I can imagine. I wish Gran wouldn't insist that I need to come. She hates it, too, so why do I have to come?"

"Why does she hate it?" Jacob asked.

"She hates the Ministry and feels that most everyone here are hypocritical arseholes," Neville said, so matter-of-factly that he almost thought he'd misunderstood him. 

After a moment, Jacob let out a light laugh. "Yeah, she's probably pretty spot-on there," he said. "At least you're not dating the son of the host. Lucius Malfoy tried to corner me earlier, and I got out of there as fast as I could."

Neville laughed. "I don't blame you at all on that one, I wouldn't want him cornering me, either," he said, right as his grandmother came over.

"Neville, it's time to go," she said. "I'm getting tired of these people. Let's go home." She seemed to notice that Jacob was there. "Who is your friend?"

"Oh, this is Jacob Snape," he said. "I'll see you next year, I suppose. Bye." Neville gave him a small wave. 

Jacob waved back and was sitting there for no longer than a minute before Draco sought him out. "Okay, enough time sulking here by yourself," he said. "Let's get out of here." Finally. He was so glad to slip away with his boyfriend, and have it just be the two of them again.

~~~~~~~~~~~

As soon as they got up to Draco's bedroom, the blonde grabbed him and pulled him into a kiss. Jacob was not complaining because he had missed him. It was weird not seeing him every day, and he had not been in the best mood. He slipped his arms around Draco's waist as his boyfriend temporarily broke their kiss. "I don't think I told you, but you clean up very well, Snape," he said.

"You did tell me that, before the party, but I appreciate the compliment still," he said. "It certainly helps if my boyfriend finds me attractive. You look quite fit yourself."

"I would hope so," Draco said. "It takes time to look this good." Jacob just chuckled and silenced any other words with a kiss, which the blonde eagerly returned. He went to work unbuttoning the dress robes before slipping it off his shoulders. Draco had been working on the buttons of his own dress robes, and soon those were off his shoulders, too, leaving them both in black slacks and white button-up shirts that they had worn underneath.

A moment later, there was a knock on the door, and the door opened to reveal Pansy, Daphne, Theodore, Blaise, and Astoria - all having escaped the party going on downstairs. "Really?" Pansy said with a roll of her eyes. "We leave you alone for two minutes, and you two are snogging already." A small smile played on her lips as they entered, indicating that she was probably joking, but with Pansy, you could never be too sure.

"Try living with them," Theodore said in a very droll manner, getting some laughs from their friends.

"For your information, this is my room, my house, and I can do whatever I damn well please, and that includes snogging my boyfriend if I so choose," Draco said, though he did pull away a bit, picking up his dress robes as he went to sit on his bed. Jacob just shook his head, picking up his own robes before sitting next to him.

"It's called a locking charm," Blaise said, leaning against the edge of the four-poster. 

Draco glared at him. "Watch it, Zabini, or I'll throw you out," he said. All in all, it hadn't been that bad of a night, though, all things considered. He wasn't looking forward to Christmas Dinner with the Malfoys - as they had been invited. At least his father would be there to act as a buffer so that he couldn't get cornered by Lucius again. He was a bit nervous about exchanging gifts, though, but figured he knew that Draco would love what he got him.

~~~~~~~~~

It was late when Jacob arrived back home, so it was strange to see a light coming from the living room. He found Severus waiting up for him in the living room. He was sitting on the couch, a book in a hand. "You didn't stay up waiting for me, did you, Dad?" 

Severus shook his head. "No, of course not," he replied. "You were at the Malfoys. I knew perfectly well where you were, and how late you would be." He put his bookmark back in his book. "How was the party? Did you enjoy yourself?"

Jacob shrugged his shoulders. "Well enough, I suppose," he said. "It was better when we went upstairs - all us kids, I mean - and just talked up in Draco's room. The party itself was fine, just… too many adults, too much of everything for me. It's not really my scene."

"Exactly why I never go," Severus said, standing up, leaving the book on the table, as he began walking in his direction. "Even though Lucius invites me because we are friends, I see no reason to bother with any of that nonsense. I would much rather be here, reading a good book. Parties have never been anything I have been interested in. I dread every time there is a staff get-together."

"There are staff get-togethers?" Jacob tried to picture all the Hogwarts staff - Hagrid, Dumbledore, McGonagall, et all - standing around, drinking and talking and laughing. The picture was so odd; he had to shake it off. He couldn't imagine that there was such a thing.

"Oh, of course," his father said. "Dumbledore insists that we celebrate the end of the every school year, to commemorate that we all made it through unscathed." Jacob chuckled, pretty sure that those were his father's words and not Dumbledores. "As it is, it is getting rather late. I wished to finish my chapter. I am going to retire for the evening."

"Yeah, me too, I'm exhausted," Jacob said, following his father upstairs. They bid each other goodnight as they parted ways at Jacob's door. For once, he was truly tired. After changing into his nightclothes, he laid down in bed. After he had finished his mental exercises, he was fast asleep; Moirai curled up into his side.

Chapter Text

Before he knew it, Christmas was here, and Jacob and Severus had been invited to two places for Christmas. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley had invited them over, and they had also been invited to the Malfoy's. He wasn't sure about going over to the Weasley's, even though he was still friends with Fred and George, but… it wasn't the same place for him anymore. Still, it had been nice of them to offer. He was fairly certain it was because Mrs. Weasley wouldn't have wanted them to spend Christmas alone, even though neither of them had any problems with it just being the two of them.

Of course, they had already agreed to go the Malfoy's for Christmas dinner, so they had declined, though agreed to come over for brunch the next day. He wasn't really looking forward to that, but at least he would see Hermione, Fred, and George. 

That morning, he and Severus exchanged gifts after breakfast. They hadn't really put up a tree or decorated, but they both went and got their gifts for each other before bringing them into the living room. He handed his father his gift, holding his, which appeared to be a box of some kind. They watched each other for a moment, both seeming to be waiting for the other to go first.

"Please," Severus said, gesturing for him to go first.

Jacob nodded and pulled back the green wrapping. The box underneath was black. It was no wider than a letter, and about a few inches tall. It had a gold clasp on the front. He opened it, and inside were some pictures and letters. Picking them up, he saw that the pictures were of his mother when she was younger, all of her smiling. The letters were all written in her handwriting, each one titled Dear Sev .

Jacob looked up at his father, a look of shock on his face. "This is all… mum's stuff. Thank you, but... it's yours. Why are you giving it to me?"

"Because I have memories of her," Severus said frankly. "You do not."

"Thank you. Really. I - I love it."

"I am glad." Severus started opening up his own gift, and Jacob felt his heart race a bit. What if he didn't like it? He hadn't known what to buy a parent. He'd never had one! As the wrapping was pulled back, revealing the book underneath, he saw his father's eyes widen a bit. "An Ancient Runes book. One I do not have."

"I'm sorry if you don't like it," Jacob said quickly. "I didn't know what to get you, and… I've seen books around here for that, but not that one, so I thought -"

"It is much appreciated," Severus said, interrupting him. "You saw something that I had shown interest in and sought to buy me something similar. Thank you."

Jacob relaxed a bit, smiling at him. "You're welcome." Okay, so maybe he hadn't needed to be nervous. At least they had their gift exchange done. Now, he had one more gift to give, and he really hoped that Draco liked it. He hadn't given a gift to a boyfriend before, either. 

~~~~~~~~~~

That evening they ended up at Malfoy Manor, both dressed as nicely as possible because nothing less was good enough for the Malfoy's. Severus had a bottle of wine in his hand and another box for Draco, while Jacob held his present for Draco tightly. They had Flooed into the Entry Hall and were dusting themselves off when a House Elf came into the room. "Greetings, sirs. The Masters will take you in the Drawing Room." He led them into the drawing-room, where all three Malfoys were sitting.

Draco shot up from his place on the loveseat the moment he saw him. "Jacob!" he said, a smile breaking out across his face. He came over, giving him a quick kiss as Jacob could feel both his parent's eyes on him. "Is that for me?" he said, pointing to the box with a smile.

"No, I decided to bring one for myself."

Draco rolled his eyes at his sarcasm, taking the box and setting it with the others as Severus greeted Lucius and Narcissa, giving them the bottle which they accepted gratefully. Draco led him over to the sofa where he had been sitting. Severus sat in a chair nearby. 

"Shall we open up our new bottle of wine?" Lucius asked, snapping his fingers. He handed the bottle to an elf, who made three wine glasses appear, pouring one for each of the adults before setting the bottle nearby. "And something for young Jacob." The House Elf disappeared and appeared a moment later with a glass of water.

As the adults started talking, Draco slipped an arm around him. "Did you miss me?" he asked softly. "Maybe we can go upstairs later after dinner."

"I'd like that, and you know I did," Jacob said under his breath as he slipped an arm around him, but he felt a pair of eyes on him. Lucius was saying something, though not to him or Draco, but his eyes were fixed on him. It made him feel very uncomfortable. Did all people feel like this when they were with their significant other's parents or was it just because he was dating a Malfoy?

"So, young Jacob, how have your classes been treating you?" Lucius said though he got the feeling that the only reason why he was talking to him was because he had seen him and Draco whispering to each other. "Your grades been satisfactory?"

"Um, fine, sir," he said. "I get decent grades, I suppose. Draco is a huge help, though. I just mean that he helps me study, keeps me on the right track." He didn't want it sound like Draco was doing the work for him or that the two of them didn't end their studying sessions with snogging, so he hoped that he was covering his bases well enough. And it was best not to mention Hermione.

"He doesn't need my help that much," Draco said nonchalantly. "I just… keep him going in the right direction, that's all." 

"His grades for the first semester were more than fair," Severus spoke up.  He wondered how true that was, but then again, his father didn't need to say it if it wasn't true. Had he really done that well? Or well enough that Severus was satisfied. 

"Wonderful, and I hear you have made the Slytherin Quidditch team, congratulations," Narcissa said, though it didn't sound as if she cared one way or the other. "A Chaser, Draco told us, correct?"

Why are they talking to me? Jacob asked himself, but he supposed it was obvious. He was dating their son. "Yes, that's right, ma'am," he said. "Draco encouraged me to do it, and I'm glad he did. It's great fun, a nice distraction from school. And I really enjoy it, actually."

"He's actually really good, too," Draco said, taking a sip of his water. "Best Chaser we've ever had by far. Between the two of us, Slytherin is a shoo-in to win the Quidditch Cup this year. Especially with Gryffindor being such a mess. Hufflepuff is strong, so is Ravenclaw, but neither can match us." A haughty look was on his boyfriend's face, but he had to admit that he was probably right. 

"Excellent, well done," Lucius said. "You must be proud, Severus." 

"Of course I am, he's done quite well," he said. 

Jacob was glad for the support he was getting from his dad and Draco. He just wished the conversation was on something other than him!

Just then, a House Elf popped in. "Dinner is ready, Master," he said with a low bow.

Finally!

~~~~~~~~~~

The conversation continued through dinner - what did Jacob do during his free time? Did he have any goals? He answered it as best as he could because he couldn't tell the truth. He just wanted to survive, not have Voldemort try something, and in his free time, he basically just kissed his boyfriend. A lot. None of those answers worked, so he said as close to the truth as possible. He told him that between studying and Quidditch, he didn't have much free time and what he did have, he spent it with Draco. Severus and Draco both tried to help dodge his questions and change the subject, but Lucius and Narcissa would not be denied.

Jacob was glad that dinner was through, and they made their way back into the drawing-room. "You have to open mine first," Draco said, not leaving any room for argument. The blonde walked over and grabbed both of their presents from underneath the tree. It had silver wrapping with a green ribbon. They both went to sit on the love seat as Draco handed Jacob the present he had bought for him, holding his present for him in his hands but not doing anything, his eyes fixed firmly on him. "Well, go on then."

Jacob nodded, slowly pulling back the wrapping. He couldn't imagine what he had gotten him. There was a plain box inside the wrapping from a store he didn't recognize. Opening it up, he gasped at what he saw inside. It was a cloak, but by far the nicest cloak he had ever seen. It was green like his eyes, of the highest quality and silk. A different kind of silk seemed to be on the side. It was so soft, and he was sure it was charmed to keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It was the most expensive piece of clothing he'd ever held.

"I - Wow, this is… Draco, this is incredible," he said. "It's so expensive, though. You didn't have to spend so much money on me."

"Rubbish," Draco said, waving off the comment with a wave of his hand. "Just say that you like it."

"I do like it. I love it. Thank you." He gave his boyfriend the briefest of kisses, very aware of his parent's eyes on him, as he kept feeling the silk of the cloak between his fingers. "Your turn." He was very anxious to see what Draco thought of his gift; his heart was racing faster than he was sure it should.

Draco started pulling back the wrapping, opening up the box inside to reveal the Potions book that he had gotten him. For a moment, he didn't react, and Jacob thought that maybe he already had it, until he looked up. A look of disbelief was on the blonde's face. "Where did you find this? How did you find this? I've been looking for this book for years. How did you know?"

Jacob wouldn't say the book was rare, but hard to find may fit better. It was an advanced book, which went into a lot of theory that made it one that wasn't sold very much. "I have connections," he said, to which Draco glanced at Severus before nodding. Of course, Jacob had asked his father to find a book, something on theory since Draco seemed to like it so much. His father had found the book. "And I didn't know. I told my father what I wanted to get you and helped me find it." A smile crossed his face. "I take it you like it?"

"I love it. Thank you," he said, leaning forward and kissing him before looking back down at the book. He started flipping through the pages almost absent-mindedly, his eyes briefly scanning them before moving onto the next page. He wasn't sure why he was worried. He had thought maybe he had this book already, but he had asked his father to make sure it was something he didn't think Draco would already have. He was interested in Potions, after all, so he would already have some novels already. It was something Draco immensely enjoyed, so it had been the first thing he'd thought of.

Jacob felt the fabric of his new cloak underneath his fingers. While he had spent his time from the age of eleven until his fifteenth birthday when his mother's magic disappeared with quite a bit of money, it still seemed weird to have something this expensive. He would never have spent this much money on clothes himself. He never really saw the need. Then again, Draco seemed to enjoy spending money on people he cared about.  Jacob had never cared about how much money he spent on his friends, either, so perhaps he should stop thinking about how expensive it was. It was more important that it was a very nice gift that he loved.

He and Draco just sat next to each other, not saying a word. Draco was flipping through his book, and Jacob was content just to sit there while Severus talked to Lucius and Narcissa. "We are heading back in a few days," his father was saying. "I need to prepare for the next school year, as you know. All teachers return a bit early, and as I am Head of House, I want to be there a bit earlier than the rest."

"Who was filling in for you while you were gone again?" Lucius asked.

"Professor Sinistra, the Astronomy teacher," he replied. "She is the only other Slytherin member on staff."

"What of your son?" Narcissa asked. "Is Jacob to go with you?"

Severus nodded. "Yes, he will rejoin the classmates that stayed behind until the rest of the students arrive, and classes start again."

"Seems a shame to miss the train," Narcissa said in almost an absent-minded manner. "Didn't he miss it last time, too? As you say, you have to go back early." 

Severus nodded, and then Lucius spoke up. "It seems such a shame that he misses the train," he said. "It's such an important part of the experience of going to Hogwarts." The elder Malfoy seemed to be thinking for a moment. "Why does he not stay here? Simply send him here when you go back to Hogwarts. He can spend some time with Draco before he goes back, and he can ride the train with his friends."

"That is an excellent idea," Narcissa said. "We would love to have him, and it would give the boys a chance to spend some time together."

They planned this. He wondered if they had been waiting all night to ask this. It had gotten Draco's attention, too. He stopped flipping through his book and looked up at the adults. "Could he?" his boyfriend asked. "That would be great." He turned to him, a smile on his face, and Jacob couldn't help but smile back. "If you don't, we won't see each other until school starts." 

However, he was a bit hesitant. He knew that the likely only reason Lucius and Narcissa wanted to do this was to "get to know him better," which most likely meant Lucius trying to interrogate him again. He was, after all, their son's boyfriend, and as Draco himself had said before, he was not someone they would have chosen for their son. 

"What do you think, Jacob?" Severus asked him. 

Jacob put a smile on his face. "Sure, sounds great," he said. "Thank you, Mr., and Mrs. Malfoy." 

"Good, it settled then," Narcissa said.

Great… Jacob thought to himself, feeling decidedly less excited about it than Draco was. It wasn't that he didn't want to spend time with his boyfriend - he did very much - but he had a feeling that his parents were going to be breathing down his neck the entire time. He was not looking forward to that at all.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Jacob wasn't able to get any alone time with Draco. The Malfoy's insisted the two of them stay down there, but at least he knew that he would be staying there. Hopefully, that meant some more alone time with his boyfriend. All he had left to do was do his mental exercises before going to bed. He woke up early the next day to exercise with his father again before having a light breakfast, showering and then heading over to Grimmauld Place to see the Weasley's.

The two got there a bit early. They heard some bustling around in the kitchen, but otherwise, the house was quiet. Mrs. Weasley poked her head out. "Oh, Severus! Jacob! Good to see you both. Now, brunch isn't quite ready yet, but it will be. Sirius and Remus are in the living room, and all the children are upstairs. Make yourself at home. Can I get you something to drink?"

They both waved off her request, but there was something that Jacob just had to ask. "Um, I heard your husband was in the hospital? Is he alright?"

Mrs. Weasley smiled. "Oh, that's very sweet of you, dear. Yes, he'll be fine. He's still a bit hurt, and he's not out of there yet, but soon enough. He'll be just fine. Thank you." With that, she bustled off. At least he was okay. Jacob wanted to see Sirius and Remus, so the two of them went into the living room quickly before he supposed he would go upstairs to see Hermione.

Jacob froze as soon as they entered the room.

Sirius currently had Remus pressed up against the back of the couch. The two were currently snogging and didn't look as if they had been expecting anyone. Severus just groaned. "Could you keep that inside of your room as opposed to when unsuspecting people will walk in?" Immediately, both of them jolted apart, not seeming to have noticed that they had even arrived.

Jacob looked up at his father. "Wait, you knew?" Why was he always the last to know everything? Shouldn't Remus or Sirius have told him something about that?

"No, but seeing as how they couldn't keep their hands off each other our last couple of years in school, I am not surprised they have rekindled things," he said. 

Remus and Sirius both looked embarrassed to have been caught. "This is not the way we wanted you to find out, Jacob," Remus said. "We were going to invite you over to our new place today, and then tell you there. Oh, yes, we got a place in Hogsmeade, so we'll be a lot closer to you, in case you want to come to visit us in addition to being able to meet again in the Room of Requirement."

"It's new," Sirius said. "We didn't want to tell you until we had something to tell. We started dating towards the end of our sixth year, but with the war and everything… well, we loved each other, but we had a lot of things to work through. We didn't want to say anything to you, especially considering everything you've been going through until we knew for sure that it was going to last. You understand?"

It took Jacob a moment to absorb everything, but slowly, he nodded. Okay, so… they were a couple, had a lot of history, needed to work through some things before springing something else on him. And they had a new place in Hogsmeade! It would make it easier to see them, though he'd been so busy he hadn't been able to get away to see them. "Yeah, I understand," he said. "I'm really happy for both of you. And it'll be nice having you closer. What does Dumbledore think about you leaving? With you still being a fugitive?"

Sirius scoffed. "I don't care. I need to get out of this bloody house! Besides, I won't leave. It'll basically be trading one prison for another, but at least that one will just be me and Remus, and a lot less bad memories." His godfather walked forward and wrapped his arms around him. "It's good to see you. I don't see nearly enough of you."

Jacob wrapped his arms around him. "It's good to see you, too." He quickly separated. "I should go, though. I mean, no one here knows except for Hermione, and - "

"No, go ahead, go," Remus said, waving him out of the room. "We'll talk later, yes?" " It goes without saying that I am not letting him go over to your 'new place' unsupervised," Severus said, speaking up. "He is my son, and you are still a wanted criminal, Black."

Remus put his hands on Sirius's shoulders as he looked like he was about to tell Severus exactly what he thought about that idea. "Of course, but we'll put up the proper spells and everything," he said. "He's your son, though, and I'm sure between the three of us we can work something out, right gentleman?" Sirius and Severus reluctantly nodded.

"I'll just… be upstairs if you need me," Jacob said. "Okay, Dad?" Severus nodded, and he took that opportunity to make his way upstairs to see if he could find Hermione. However, it wasn't Hermione he ran into first.

Ron came out of his room, and then the two were staring at each other. He had barely seen or talked to him since the argument they had that got him kicked out of Tomes and Scrolls in Hogsmeade. "I'm just going to go find Hermione," he said, immediately trying to walk around him. He did not want to get into it here, with so many people around who didn't know his secret.

"Wait." Ron put out a hand to stop him from moving. "I - I want to talk."

"I have nothing to say to you." Jacob tried to go around him again, but once more, Ron stopped him.

"Please, I - look, I want to apologize."

That took Jacob by surprise. He didn't remember Ron ever apologizing, although maybe that was just because he was still pissed at him. He looked at him for a moment. "Alright, go ahead. Give it a go."

It was clear that Ron wasn't sure what to make of that, but he cleared his throat. "I was a right arse to you, I have been for a while, I suppose," he said, shrugging. He ran a hand through his hair while Jacob just stood there, arms crossed. "I just… Last year, I suppose I was a bit jealous of you, and I just… I guess I didn't understand how you could go from hating Snape to being okay with him being your father, but I don't think… I don't think I understood how you were feeling. I mean, it had to have been a lot to deal with, and I just… I should have stood by you; we were best friends. But then you started dating Malfoy, and it felt like… Had I ever really known you? After everything Malfoy had done?"

The redhead gave another shrug, and Jacob could see that he had practiced this. "I was actually coming to find you in Tomes and Scrolls when I heard and Hermione talking so casually about Malfoy, you seem to really like him and I just… couldn't stand that, I didn't understand that, and I just sort of snapped." Ron looked embarrassed, actually, at what he had said and done. "But I lost Quidditch because I lost my temper, I've lost both you and Hermione, and she's dating Terry, and I'm happy for her and all, and…" He took a deep breath, seeming to steady his nerves. "What I'm trying to say is that I'm really, truly sorry for what I've done and how I've treated you."

Jacob stood there for a moment. He could see how heartfelt Ron was being right now, but he had been hurt. "I appreciate that," he chose to say. "It doesn't change what you did, though." He took a few steps forward so that they were not to be overheard by accident. "You were my best friend, and I needed you. I needed your support last year when I was facing a dragon, but you were too jealous to look me in the eye. I needed your support when I found out my entire life had been a lie, but you got pissy and left. Honestly, Ron, do you want my life? Because it's a never-ending series of bullshit that happens to me, and I'd be happy to give some of it to you."

Ron was silent for a moment before nodding. "It's okay; I deserved that. I don't expect things to go back to normal, but… I'd like to try and start over. Get to know… who you've become. If that's okay." The redhead then did the most surprising thing and stuck out his hand to him. "Hi, it's Jacob, right? I'm Ron. You know my brother's Fred and George, but I don't think we've ever been properly introduced. I've been a right arse lately, so I thought maybe we could start over because I've come to realize I don't really know you, and I judged you based on your last name, and your father, and I shouldn't have."

Jacob was taken by surprise. He hadn't really expected that, but if Ron was willing to admit he was wrong, then maybe Jacob could give him a shot. He took his hand and shook it. "I appreciate that, Ron. It's nice to officially meet you." It felt kind of weird saying that with all their history, but he supposed Ron Weasley and Jacob Snape didn't have any history. Maybe it was all for the best.

Chapter Text

"Are you serious?" Draco exclaimed. The two of them were lying in his bed together. Severus didn't go back to Hogwarts for about a week and a half, which means he wasn't due at the Malfoy's until then, either. "And you believe him?" It was a couple of days after Christmas, and Jacob had invited Draco over. He had just finished telling him about Ron's apology, and it had gone about as well as he expected.

"Ron is many things, but he's not the type to make something like that up," Jacob told him. "I know he's not your favorite person, but - "

"Yeah, neither is Granger, but at least she didn't betray you. Twice, if I recall correctly."

Jacob had to admit he had a point, but he also knew that Ron wasn't a bad guy. "He's not perfect, and he's made mistakes. He acknowledges them and wants to start over." He gave a shrug of his shoulders. "I owe him that, to at least try. Besides, as I said, no one's perfect. Not even you. There's a lot of things you've done to us that most people would say I shouldn't have forgiven you for."

Draco was silent for a moment. "You're right, and for the record, I'm sorry. If you want to give him a chance, then fine. I won't hex him into the next century, but if he hurts you again, I swear to Merlin - "

Jacob leaned forward, pressing a kiss to Draco's to silence him. "I appreciate that, but if he does it again, I'll hex him myself." 

"Fair enough, but can I watch?" Draco asked, leaning in to kiss him back. 

Jacob was going to say something, but anything he might have thought of saying was cut off when he felt his boyfriend pull him close to him, deepening the kiss. They had rarely had much time alone together, and apparently, Draco had been thinking the exact same thing he had. He had missed the feeling of Draco's lips on his. Wrapping his arms around him, Jacob pulled him closer.

"Do they do that a lot?" said a familiar voice from the door.

"Yes, I'm certain they do, Ron," said an embarrassed sounding Hermione. 

Draco groaned as he broke the kiss, leaning his head against Jacob's shoulder. "Why are we always getting interrupted?" he whispered.

Jacob chuckled. "I don't know, but it seems like that," he said, sitting up, forcing Draco to sit up, too. "I did tell you that I invited Hermione over, too." 

Draco leaned in as he arranged himself next to him, looking up at Hermione and Ron in the doorway. Hermione looked amused, Ron much less so. To be honest, the redhead looked a bit embarrassed until he caught Draco's eye. The two glared at each for a moment. "You didn't say that he was coming along." 

"I'm sorry. I invited him. He wanted to come along, and I thought it would be okay -" Hermione said in a hurried rush.

Jacob waved her off. "It's fine. Isn't it, Draco? Ron?" He turned to look at his boyfriend before looking over at Ron. 

Both nodded curtly as Ron and Hermione took places at the end of Jacob's bed as he and Draco curled their legs up next to them. "Yes, it's perfectly fine," he said. "Any friend of Jacob's…" He put a protective arm around Jacob, almost as if he was reminding Ron of his place.

Hermione cleared her throat. "Okay, so… Jacob, you said Draco got you a really nice cloak? I'd love to see it." 

Jacob smiled, slipping out of bed. "Oh, he did. Almost too nice, but you know Draco." He walked over to the closet and grabbed out his new cloak that he hadn't had a chance to wear yet. He brought it over, handing it to Hermione.

"Ooh, wow, this is so soft. Is this silk lining?" she asked, looking up at Draco, who nodded. 

"It seems expensive," Ron said, looking over at it.

"I've seen much more expensive ones, but it wasn't cheap if that's what you're asking," Draco said. "Only the best for my boyfriend." 

Jacob could see what he was doing. He was staking his claim, so to speak. He wanted to make sure that Ron knew that he wasn't going anywhere, that he knew how things were going to be now if he was going to be coming around more. Ron rolled his eyes at Draco's comment, but to his credit, he didn't say anything. 

"It's beautiful, and I love the color. Excellent choice, Draco," Hermione said, handing the cloak back to Jacob.

"Naturally," Draco said as Jacob hung the cloak back up in his closet before going and sliding in bed next to Draco again, who put his arm right back around his shoulders. "So, Hermione, what did your boyfriend get for you?"

A blush crossed Hermione's cheeks. "He got me a gorgeous set of stationary," she said. "Blue with gold edging and a matching eagle-feather quill. It was simply beautiful."

Draco shrugged. "I suppose that's nice enough," he said, "but it doesn't seem that personal."

Hermione looked taken aback. "It's… personal. I mean, I really like it. They're beautiful." She rubbed her hands together in her lap, appearing a bit self-conscious. 

Jacob elbowed his boyfriend in the side a bit. Draco looked over at him, a confused expression on his face. "What? Excuse me, but I think the first gift after you start dating is very important, especially if you've dated for a while," he said, a defensive tone to his voice. "I spent quite a bit of time thinking about what to get you. Didn't you do the same?"

Jacob nodded. He didn't want to make Hermione feel bad - because he thought it was a nice gift - but he had to admit Draco was right. "Yeah, I did. I wanted it to be perfect," he said. "But Hermione, don't let what Draco said get to you. If you liked the gift, then that's all that matters. Do you enjoy the gift?"

Hermione nodded. "I do. It's beautiful. Maybe Draco's right, it's not that person, but it's something I like anyway, and sometimes, you can't always find a very personal gift," she said, seeming to calm down a bit as she spoke. "What did you get him, Jacob? I know you mentioned getting your father to find a potions book."

Jacob nodded, but Draco answered for him. "Yes, he got me Advanced Potions: Ingredients, Technique, Theory and Their Effects ."

Hermione gasped. "What? I heard that's the best potions theory book in the world! How advanced is it, really? I've heard it's far above NEWT-level." She leaned forward towards him on the bed. "Please let me borrow it. You know I'll be careful."

Draco gave a wave of his hand. "Of course, when I'm done. I've only done my first read through, but yes, it is far above anything we'll learn in Hogwarts. I don't understand all of it yet, but it's very fascinating to read nonetheless." Hermione seemed to understand because she relaxed nodding at his words. Ron and Jacob had confused looks on their faces. "Well, the first read-through is just to get a taste for the information, then I have to go back through, do a more detailed read through and make notes. Once I've done with that, I will probably go through it once more to make sure I haven't missed anything."

Ron and Jacob just stared at him, but Hermione nodded along. She seemed to understand completely. "Why would you need to read a book more than once?" Ron asked.

"Because you can't get the full effect of the information with only one read!" Hermione said, sounding exasperated. "And he'll probably go through it again after the NEWT's classes, too, I would imagine."

Draco nodded in agreement. "Naturally, but of course, I'll let you borrow it before then," he said. "If you use gloves."

Hermione gasped, looking truly offended. "How dare you! I do not need to use gloves."

"Okay, fine, you won't have to use gloves."

Hermione nodded, content that she had won the conversation and would get to use the book without gloves when Draco was done with it. Jacob just shook his head at their banter. Ron, meanwhile, looked between the two of them like he had walked into an alternative universe. 

"How are things going between you and Boot, hmm?" Draco asked.

A small blush crossed her pale cheeks. "Oh, er, just fine," she said. "We've been writing, making some plans for hanging out when we get back to school. So fine, good."

Draco raised an eyebrow. "Just fine? Hmm. Interesting."

Hermione looked like she was missing something. "What? What's 'interesting'?" 

"Oh, nothing, just… not the phrase I think you should be using, but if it works for you." Hermione still confused. "Just… is that the word you use when you two are snogging?" Hermione's blush deepened, and Ron looked he wanted to be anywhere else but there. "Because let's just say, I would not use the word 'fine' to describe any part of my relationship with Jacob."

Hermione seemed to think about it for a moment, and Jacob decided to speak up before she could overthink things. "Look, if you think it's going well enough and you're happy with how things are going, don't listen to anyone else."

Hermione nodded. "You're right. Thanks, but Draco does have a point. I'll keep that in mind. Thank you."

"Aren't you seeing someone now, Ron?" Jacob asked, trying to take the heat off Hermione for a bit.

Ron groaned. "Ugh, don't mention it. Please. Yes, Lavender and I have been… seeing each other, but like… honestly, things are only okay as long as we're snogging. The moment she opens her mouth to talk, I just want to… She's just…" Ron paused for a moment, trying to figure out what he was going to say. "Look, she's not a bad person, and I don't want to hurt her feelings, but… we just don't have anything in common, and she's kind of…. annoying."

"Then break up with her," Draco said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

"It's not that easy."

"Sure, it is. You just say, 'Hey, Lavender. This isn't working. We're done.'"

"How would you know, Malfoy? Have you ever needed to break up with someone?" Ron asked. 

"No, the only person I've dated is Jacob, so no fear there." Draco said it with the air of 'look how good things are going.' He looked smug with himself, and Jacob wanted to bury himself. Instead, he just leaned into his boyfriend a bit. "What? Things are going great if I do say so myself."

"I'm not arguing with you," Jacob said. They were doing very well, but the way he'd said it was still a bit embarrassing. He didn't want to rub it in Hermione and Ron's faces, either. "But I agree with him, Ron. If you don't like her, just break up with her. It's going to hurt no matter what. You can't avoid that. Just… get it over with before you lead her on anymore."

"They're right. You're just going to have to do it. She's going to be upset either way, and there's nothing you can do about that." Hermione put a comforting hand on his shoulder. "You should just do it as soon as you get back before you lose your nerve again. Just don't say 'it's not you, it's me,' because that's always a lie."

Ron nodded and gave a heavy sigh. "When did things get so complicated?"

"They aren't going to get any easier, Weasley," Draco said.

The redhead nodded. "I suppose I'll get used it at all soon enough." Jacob doubted that would ever happen, but if it made Ron feel better about it than he supposed it was okay.

~~~~~~~~~~~

A couple of hours - and some light bickering later - Draco had to make his excuses. "Sorry, but my mother insisted that I practice piano and voice before dinner."

Ron blinked as Draco stood up from the bed. "Wait, you can sing? And play the piano?"

Draco nodded, a smug expression on his face. "He's really good, too. He played for me once," Jacob said, though that memory wasn't the greatest because he had also hurt him that night, too.

"I should do it again, and we can do it right this time," the blonde said, winking at him. "Come see me off?" 

Jacob nodded, following Draco out of the room and down the stairs to the Floo Room. As soon as they got into the room, the blonde pushed him up against the wall and kissed him hard. Jacob slipped his arms around and pulled him close as he kissed him back. Unfortunately, the kiss didn't last that long before Draco broke it, his breathing a bit laboured. "I really do need to go. I'll see you soon, and then we can… do that again."

Jacob nodded and smiled, giving him a quick kiss on the lips. "Yes, we will, and I'm staying with you, too, though I'm kind of worried about your parents interrogating me the entire time."

Draco chuckled. "Yeah, I don't think you can avoid that. You're not who they would have chosen for me, but you're who I choose, so they have to accept that." He kissed him again. "I do have to go, though." With that, he separated from him and went to the fireplace. "Malfoy Manor." With that, he disappeared into a puff of smoke.

With a sigh, Jacob made his way back upstairs to his room, where Ron and Hermione were waiting. "Draco gone?" Hermione asked.

Jacob nodded as he sat back at the head of the bed. He missed him already, even though he had just left.

"I just have one question," Ron said. "Why, Malfoy? I mean, of everyone, why Malfoy?"

Jacob chuckled. "Well, because he pushes me, we actually get along pretty well… He and I got pretty close after I went into Slytherin. He wants what's best for me; he's protective of me, he's been great about everything… and I really, really like him. "A smile crossed his face. "And he's pretty fit and a great kisser."

Ron looked embarrassed to have even asked, but Hermione just sat next to him, trying not to laugh. After a moment, the redhead seemed to have gathered himself. "Well, as long as he's good to you, I'll get used to it soon enough. Even if it is Malfoy."

~~~~~~~~~~~

A few days after that, Jacob finally got a chance to go see Sirius and Remus.  Severus Flooed him over to their place in Hogsmeade. It felt weird being so close to Hogwarts and not being in school, but he was excited to see them. Severus had brought a book - one of his Russian ones it looked like - and took a seat, content to read and ignore them while they talked. He hugged both of them as they made their way into the kitchen.

The house itself was a one-bedroom, one-bathroom. They were off in the back behind the living room and kitchen, which also included an eat-in dining room. It was simple and quaint, but it worked well enough for their purposes. As far as the other residents of Hogsmeade were concerned, Remus Lupin lived there with a rather large dog. The three of them sat around the dining room table.

"It's so good to get some time to see you, Harry," Remus told him. "How have things been going at school? How did your first semester go?"

Jacob jolted a bit at the use of his old name; he had forgotten that he had never mentioned to either of them not to use that name. Had it really been that long since they'd talked? "Oh, fine. My grades are good. I'm getting along with everyone," he said. "Just… don't call me 'Harry' please. It's just… Harry Potter was a lie, and I can't keep looking back and pretending that I'm still him, because I'm not. I'm Jacob Snape, and that's who I was supposed to be."

Sirius and Remus shared a look. "That's very mature of you, Jacob," Remus told him with a comforting smile. Sirius was silent, but he just nodded in agreement. He imagined this was hard on them both, being so close to James Potter and all. After all, they could have imagined that a part of him still lived on. But it didn't. It felt weird now remembering how many had compared the two of them. 

"And er…" Jacob ran a hand through his hair. There was something that had transpired since the last time they talked that he needed to tell them about. "So, er… I need to tell you both something. I'm... seeing someone." He had no idea how they would take it. Remus was usually pretty reasonable about most things, but Sirius' reaction about dating a Malfoy was a mystery.

Both of them looked interested. "Oh, and who is she? Or is it a he?"

Jacob blushed and nodded. "It's a he. Er, don't freak out, but… it's Draco Malfoy."

Both were silent for a moment. "What?" Sirius exclaimed. "You're dating a Malfoy? You do know who his father is, right? That's - "

"Sirius," Remus said firmly. "You remember that you are an expert on coming from a fanatical pureblood family. In fact, he is family."

Sirius was quiet for a moment. "You're right, but… it's Malfoy. It's risky; if he finds out and - "

"He already does," Jacob told him. "Do you think I'd date someone without telling them the truth? I couldn't do that. I told him when we got together, which was almost two months ago. He's not like his father. I've seen a different side of him, and I wouldn't have done it if I wasn't sure. I understand your hesitation, but I've never been more sure of anything in my entire life. He's - I - I'm crazy about him, and not being with him was making me miserable. Things are - I mean, things are going very well between us."

Remus spoke up next. "We're glad you're happy, Jacob, and if you trust him, then we trust you, don't we, Sirius?" He turned, giving his partner a warning look.

Sirius nodded. "Yes, you're right. You're happy, and he's good to you, then that's what matters." It was a very mature statement coming from his godfather, and he was glad that he was being reasonable about this.

"Wait, did you say that Malfoy is family?"

"Unfortunately, yes," Sirius said. "Most of the pureblood families are interrelated somehow, to keep the lines pure and all that. Narcissa, Draco's mother, is my cousin. Narcissa Black Malfoy." That was news to Jacob, but he doubted that he would have ever known if it hadn't come up in conversation.

For a moment, they sat there, the three of them until Jacob cleared his throat. "Um, so I have a question. How did you two get together? I mean, you dated back in school, right? But…"

The two of them looked at each other, smiling a bit. "Well, to be honest, I always had a crush on Sirius. He was handsome, smart, charming, and even though he was a troublemaker, I couldn't help myself," he said. "I never thought he was interested in me, though. He flirted a bit at times, but I thought he was just joking around like he was always. It wasn't until the end of our fifth year that I realized I might be wrong on that."

"Remus was always… different, then James or Peter," Sirius explained, "but I never knew why. I always knew I liked guys; that wasn't a question, but Remus was my friend. Then, of course, there are risks with dating a friend. It took some convincing, but he couldn't resist me."

Remus rolled his eyes, but there was a smile on his face. "We dated throughout our last two years, and into the war afterward," he explained. "Things were rough, though. We both suspected each other, and Sirius lived hard and fast. We fought a lot, even though we loved each other. We didn't really trust each other, though, and then James and Lily died, well…"

"After I came to stay with him this summer, things just…" Sirius shared a look with Remus. "We never stopped loving each other, but we had some things to work through. We talked, and things progressed, and… we just decided that we couldn't ignore how we felt, and we wanted a second chance. I wanted a second chance to do things right this time, make for what happened last time. Of course, I'm still a wanted criminal, but I'll take what I can get."

Jacob smiled at them both. "I'm really happy for you both," he explained. "I'm glad you two were able to work things out." They had issues but had managed to work through them, even though it had taken thirteen years. They were together now. Somehow, it just gave Jacob hope that maybe things would end up working out no matter what.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Severus wished he didn't have to deal with Black and Lupin. He could tolerate Lupin most days, but Black had always grated on his nerves. He was glad that the day had ended relatively quickly, and he had been content to read while Jacob visited with them. He knew that it annoyed Black that he wouldn't let them see him unsupervised, but the man was still a convicted criminal. He had to think about Jacob; someone should.

The next day came, and Severus was going to use this opportunity to do some work. He made his way to his study, across from the Floo Room. He sat down at his desk, pulling out a stack of papers from the corner. His eyes scanned the several pages of corrected notes that he had. The potion was coming along nicely, though it would still be months before it was ready for use. There were a few things he had yet to figure out, but he had accounted for quite a bit that the potion needed.

The potion he was planning was extremely difficult. It needed to be perfect, too; no mistakes could be made in the planning. Frowning, he made a couple of scratches on the notes. It wasn't ready for him to try and make, either, because he still had a few things that needed to be accounted for before it was safe for him to make. As much as he wanted this done, it was not worth his life, though Merlin only knew how many had blown themselves up by rushing through the planning stage before they were ready.

Severus scratched at a few more things, making a few more notes. He grabbed a nearby book, looking through it before setting it aside again and making a few more notes. Some potions caused similar effects to what he was doing, but none so complicated or ones that couldn't be traced back to him. There was no part of this potion that could be faulty. That was why he needed to make sure everything was in order before even attempting.

Making your own potion from scratch was far more complicated than perfecting ones already made. That he could do in his sleep. He had been doing that since his early days in Hogwarts before he even realized what he was doing. Severus had simply known that the potion was not as perfect as it could be. He had sometimes guessed correctly on how to change it. Other times it required some trial and error, depending on how much he was changing and altering and perfecting it.

Creating your own potion - while something he had done before - was far different. You had to know how each ingredient reacted to each other, and any slight variation in the process had to be accounted for before. The more complicated the potion, the more time it took to perfect. This one that he was working on now had a very specific effect in mind and needed to be untraceable. It could not, under any circumstances, be traced back to him.

He would figure it out soon enough. He always did.

Chapter Text

Jacob stood in front of the Floo, wearing black slacks and a black shirt. His trunk was behind him, his wand in the holster on his arm underneath his shirt and Moirai in her cage on the floor next to him as she mewed and scratched at the door. His father was standing next to him. It was time for him to go back to Hogwarts, which meant that it was time for Jacob to go to the Malfoy's. The next term started in about four days or so. 

"If you don't want to go, I can make an excuse," said his father. "Say you got grounded or something."

Jacob looked over at them and saw a smirk on his face. "No, I'll be okay. Thanks, though. I just… I don't know what your boyfriend's parents would ask, and especially not… them. I mean, they didn't really know me before, and now it's like… I'm dating their son, and I'm not the 'ideal Malfoy companion,' which I'm sure is a pureblood girl, which I am… neither of those things, but Draco told me not to worry about it because he chooses me, but…"

Severus put a comforting hand on his shoulder. "I can't believe I'm saying this, but you're thinking too much." 

Jacob chuckled. "Yeah, you're probably right, and I really want to spend some time with Draco before we go back. It feels like we haven't seen that much of each other since school ended."

"You've seen him every two or three days like clockwork." 

Jacob chuckled. "It's just weird not seeing him every day."

"And spending every waking moment with him, yes, I know," his father said, causing a light blush to cross Jacob's cheeks. "Now, be good."

"I am always good!" Jacob never intentionally got in trouble. It just… always seemed to happen. 

"We both know that is a lie, but that is not to what I was referring to." A blush crossed Jacob's pale cheeks when he realized what his father was talking about. "Don't think I haven't noticed how… intense you and Draco have become. Lucius and Narcissa are a bit more old fashioned; they might not be as understanding as I am. Just be careful when you two are… alone."

Jacob nodded. "Okay, okay, I'll keep that in mind," he said. "You know what else will be weird? Not seeing you every day." He turned towards him with a smile. "And that's not something I ever thought I'd say." 

"That makes two of us," Severus agreed. "Now, go on!" He gently nudged him towards the fireplace. "And remember, if you need me, owl me or floo me, and I will see you Sunday night."

Jacob nodded, taking a deep breath as he grabbed his trunk with one and squirmy Moriai's cage in the other. He walked into the fireplace, setting his trunk down as he was handed some Floo Powder by his father. "Malfoy Manor!" he yelled, and he disappeared in a swirl of green flame.

He pulled himself off the floor, dusting himself as he checked on Moirai. A bit shaken, she seemed fine otherwise and soon started meowing at him again. He grabbed his trunk and the cage and was making his way down the Entry Hall when a familiar blonde figure suddenly came into view. "Hey, there. I've been waiting for you to arrive all day."

"Sorry, I had to gather everything up, but I'm here now." Jacob didn't mention that part of that had been his nerve, but his boyfriend didn't need to hear that. Soon enough, Draco had walked towards him and drawn him down to a quick kiss. It didn't last long before his parents came into view.

"Welcome, Jacob," said Lucius. "Pleasure to have you here." He noticed the cage in his hands, and the mewing still coming from it. "What is that?"

"My cat." Which was fairly obvious. He assumed the question dealt more with the fact that they probably hadn't known he had one.

"Precious," said Narcissa, though she sounded bored. "It's probably best to keep her in your room during your duration here. We would hate for the little thing to get lost. This is such a big place, after all."

Jacob nodded. That made sense, actually. If she got lost in this place, he'd never find her. His thoughts were cut off when Lucius Malfoy snapped his fingers. A House Elf appeared before them. "Take Mr. Snape's things, and his cat, to his room." The House Elf bowed, and Jacob handed over the trunk and the cage before the elf disappeared with a pop. "Now, let us show you to your room."

What was the point in that, then? He thought to himself, but then again, it was nice not to have to lug that cage up the stairs and down the hallways. He hadn't thought that the elder Malfoys would be leading him to his room personally, though. 

Draco filed in beside him as Lucius and Narcissa made their way up the stairs, down a few hallways before coming to a large door. He looked down the hallway. Large windows were at the end of the hall, and along the entire length of the hallway behind them. Lucius opened the door, and Jacob was greeted with a posh, very large bedroom. It was definitely bigger than his own back home. 

Towards the back of the bedroom in the middle of the wall, there was a large four-poster bed. It had beige curtains and a light blue comforter. On either side were a pair of nice, dark wood end tables. His trunk and Moirai's cage were sitting at the foot of the bed. On the left wall, there was a very large wardrobe. In the opposite corner, there were two plush chairs and a table in between them. A door was not far from that, going to what he assumed was an ensuite bathroom.

"This will be your room while you are staying with us," he explained. "The House Elves will be at your disposal, simply call, and they will come and get whatever you require. Our bedroom is at the end of the hall, Draco's in the next hall over." He turned to both of them, looking between them. "Now, you stay here, and he stays there. Do you both understand?"

A light blush crossed his cheeks, and he didn't look to see if Draco was blushing, too. Jacob nodded. "Yes, sir," he said simply, and he heard Draco saying the same. He knew what he meant - no coming into each other's rooms in the middle of the night. He didn't want to think about what would happen if they caught them snogging, but he didn't plan on not doing that until they got back to Hogwarts. 

Lucius nodded. "Very well. We will leave you to get settled. Dinner will be in a few hours. A House Elf will come to fetch you." With that, he and his wife swept out of the room, leaving him and Draco alone as they closed the door behind him. 

Moirai continued scratching at her cage door, very unhappy with being locked up. "Okay, okay, give me a minute," he said, opening up the door. The little black cat scampered out, disappearing underneath the bed. Jacob chuckled as he turned back to Draco who was walking towards him. "Well, that was awkward."

Draco nodded, bringing him down into another kiss. "Yes, it was. If you didn't have a cat, they'd probably be telling us to keep the door open."

"Yes, they probably would." His dad had asked for the door to be open while they were both in the room, but Moirai knew their house. This place was much too big for a kitten to be running around in for only a few days. "You know, my Dad told me to be good before I came over here. Said that your parents were more old fashioned and probably less understanding than him."

Draco shrugged his shoulders at that remark. "That's probably not too far off, actually," he said, going over to sit on the bed. "My parents talked to me, too. 'Remember that you're only fifteen… you're too young… don't rush into anything… you haven't known him that long…'" He waved his hand, indicating that there had been more to the conversation along the same lines.

Jacob nodded as he set up, made sure Moriai was set up before coming to sit next to Draco on the bed. The blonde leaned forward, kissing him slowly on the lips before pulling away. "Did you notice your hair is getting longer?" Draco asked, reaching up to twirl a bit of his dark hair around his finger.

He nodded. "Yeah, I've been having to push it out of my eyes more now." It had gotten a bit annoying, actually. He didn't want to cut it yet, but it wasn't what he was used to. 

"It looks good on you," Draco said, lowering his hand down. "I would offer to play you a game of Quidditch, but it's freezing outside, quite literally. How about we go swimming instead?" At the blank look on Jacob's face, the blonde continued. "You do remember we have an indoor pool, yes?" He rolled his eyes. "Honestly, and I gave you a tour last time we were here."

"In my defense, that was six months ago, and this manor is as big as ten normal houses put together, if not more," Jacob replied.

Draco chuckled. "Well, that may be true… and we did go by it pretty fast," he agreed. "Do you mind if I practice first? Mother gets cross if I forget to practice every day when I'm at home. She knows full well I don't practice at school." He shrugs. "As long as I'm not slipping, though, I think she tolerates it."

"Sure, I don't mind," he said. "I'd love to hear you play and sing again."

Draco smiled as they stood up and left the room. "And hopefully, this time will go better than last time."

Jacob rolled his eyes. "You know I did apologize for that, and I think I've more than made up for it."

Draco's smile turned into a smirk. "We'll see."

~~~~~~~~~~

About an hour after Jacob left, Severus found himself back at Hogwarts. He unpacked all his things, putting them away before going to find Aurora. He figured it was prudent to find out what had transpired while he had been away if anything. He made his way out of the dungeons and up the stairs. He had been to her rooms only a few times before, as she usually came to see him. It might be wise for him to check her office first, though.

He found his way up to her office and knocked on the door. A moment later, the door opened. She was sitting behind her desk, looking over some pieces of parchment that sat there. It took her a moment to look up, and a small smile crossed her face when she saw him. "Ah, Severus, you're back," she said, pushing the parchment away as she leaned towards him.

Severus nodded, taking the seat opposite her. "Indeed, I have just finished unpacking. I wanted to see how things went while I was away."

"Nothing interesting to note," she said. "No detentions, thankfully. With that… woman around, who knows if she would even have let me handle it. I did have a couple of first years come to me, feeling homesick around the holidays."

Severus gave a wave of his hand. "That happens every year. The holidays are hard for the younger students who cannot go back but wish to," he agreed. He himself had been quite glad not to have to return home. If he could have stayed during the summer holidays, he would have. Anything if it would have meant not having to see his father ever again. Luckily, the old bastard had died when he was thirteen.

Aurora nodded. "I simply told both of them that likely they are not the only ones struggling, and to speak to their Prefects," she explained. "That they could also speak to their friends, who might be dealing with the same thing." It was much along the lines of what he would have told them. "Enough of that, though. Is your boy going to be staying with you until everyone else gets back on Sunday?"

Severus shook his head. "No, he's staying with the Malfoys."

Aurora raised an eyebrow. "Oh? Staying with the boyfriend and his family."

Severus nodded. "Yes, Lucius and Narcissa believed that he should experience the train ride back," he explained, "though I believe they wanted to use it to get to know him better as well."

Aurora gave a light chuckle. "Well, that should be an interesting story for the two of you when he gets back," she said. "I was just about done here, going over my lesson plans for next semester briefly. They don't usually change much. Do you want to go back to my quarters? We could have a drink. I haven't opened the bottle of wine you gave me for Christmas. Alcohol is much better when shared with a friend, I find."

"I should get my own affairs in order first, but thank you for the offer," he said.

Aurora shrugged. "Another time, then."

Severus nodded, getting up and heading for the door. She hadn't seemed offended at all, but he did enjoy her company, even if he couldn't spare the time right now. As his hand reached for the doorknob, he stopped and turned back. "Perhaps Saturday night, though?" he asked, turning back to look at her.

Aurora smiled at him. "That sounds just fine. I will see you then, Severus."

 ~~~~~~~~~~

Jacob ended up sitting on the floor of the music room as Draco played and sang, going through exercises and songs. The room was relatively simple, at least for the Malfoys. There were stacks of music books around, and the piano that Draco was working on. It didn't seem as if he needed any practice at all. His playing and singing sounded flawless to his ears. Then again, he was no expert on music technicalities or whatever it was called. He was perfectly content to listen to him work.

Jacob wasn't sure how long he sat there listening to him before Draco turned around to face him. "Well, I think that's enough practice for one day," he said, before standing up and walking over to him. He held out his hand for him, helping Jacob up from the floor. "Shall we go swimming now?"

"Er, um… I don't actually have anything to wear," he said, slightly embarrassed. When his father had bought him a new wardrobe, he had not thought about asking him to buy swimming shorts, too. It hadn't occurred to him that he would be going swimming anytime soon. 

Draco rolled his eyes. "Well, I have a spare you can wear; our size shouldn't be that different," he said. He led him back to his room, throwing him a pair of shorts. They changed real quick before heading downstairs. 

Jacob followed his boyfriend as he lead him past the drawing-room and dining room, leading him towards the back of the house past the kitchen. There was another doorway here, which led outside. They had taken this way previously to go and play Quidditch, but he hadn't seen the second set of doors before. He opened them, leading them into a massive indoor pool area. It was covered in glass, allowing one to see out onto the grounds, which were covered in snow at the moment, or the sky above, which was cloudy. It was nice and warm in here, though.

The pool itself was massive, with a diving board on the deep end and a waterfall over by the steps leading down into the shallow end. He spotted dials all along the pool edge, though he had no idea what they did. Off to the right was what looked like a jacuzzi. Draco threw his robes off on one of the lounge chairs sitting around, and Jacob followed suit. He watched the blonde's back as he walked over to the deep end of the pool and dived in, elegant and graceful.

Jacob smiled, walking over to the edge of the pool and jumping in. Eager to see what the dials did, he swam over to the edge. Apparently, they changed the temperature of the water as well as the color. You could make the water any color you wanted it. Turning a dial, he looked to see the water turning a deep blue. He turned the dial back before swimming over to the next set of dials and turned one. The lights along the pool changed, turning purple. Smiling, he turned the dial back to the way it had been as Draco continued swimming around behind him. 

This was by far one of the most beautiful pool areas he'd ever been in. Everything looked immaculate and expensive. He wondered if the Malfoys just thought, "What's the most expensive thing we could do?" and then did it. It all was just a little too much, though, but maybe that was only because he wasn't used to all this. He wasn't sure he'd ever be able to walk around here without an escort.

"Are you just going to stand there by the edge, or are you actually going to swim?" Draco called out to him.

"Oh, I'm coming, I just wanted to check out the dials, that's all," he said, swimming out to him. "Race you?"

"You can't beat me, but sure. I'll humor you."

~~~~~~~~~~~

Jacob wasn't sure how long they swam around, but he was quite worn out by the time they finally stopped. Turned out, Draco was a very good swimmer, and he had a hard time beating him. "Lots of lessons as a child," Draco said smugly. "A Malfoy has to be good at everything, you know."

"Oh, yes, and extremely humble as well," Jacob replied, which only earned him a splash from his boyfriend. 

"Shall we get into the jacuzzi? The temperature is always perfect." The blonde swam over to the edge and got out. Jacob looked at him as he got out, water dripping on his skin, his back smooth and elegant, his legs long and lean. He imagined himself running his hands along his back, into his hair… "Are you going to come along? I don't mind if you watch, though." He winked. "The view must have been nice."

Jacob blushed, having been caught staring and swam over to the edge and got out as Draco was stepping into the jacuzzi. "You know it was. You're my boyfriend. I'm allowed to check you out if I want to, aren't I?" 

A light laugh escaped Draco's lips as he watched Jacob walk over. "Yes, I do suppose that is quite true, and I do enjoy that my boyfriend likes what he sees," he said. 

Jacob noticed his gray eyes were aimed towards his chest, and he couldn't help but smile. He stepped into the jacuzzi, sliding in beside Draco. The blonde immediately pulled him close, drawing him in for a kiss. Jacob moaned into the kiss, acutely aware of how close they were, of Draco's bare chest. One of Draco's hands was on his neck, and the other was currently resting on his chest.

Jacob pulled back lightly. "I definitely do." He had one arm around his shoulders, the other resting on Draco's thigh.

"Lucky for you, I like what I saw, too," he said, pulling him down again.

Jacob couldn't argue, melting into the kiss. He moved the hand that was on Draco's thigh, wrapping it around him and pulling him closer. His lips were intoxicating, and he couldn't get enough of them. It seemed as if the more time that they spent together, the harder it became for him not to kiss him every time he saw him. Draco's smooth hands wandered their way down his chest as he worked his way up Draco's back. The blonde worked the hand that was around his neck into his hair. 

"It's time to get ready for dinner." The voice was stern and familiar. 

A light blush crossed Jacob's cheeks as they separated. "Yes, Father," Draco said obediently. He disentangled himself and stepped out of the hot tub. Not wanting to be alone with Lucius, he followed his boyfriend over to the wall where there were some towels. Each of them grabbed one and quickly dried off before going over and getting their things. 

The two of them headed off for the door until Jacob felt a hand on his shoulder. "Not so fast, Jacob," he said. Hearing that, Draco turned around a curious expression on his face. "He'll be along shortly. Go on, Draco." The blonde nodded, giving Jacob an expression that clearly said he was sorry before continuing down the hallway. "Now, I think it's time that you and I have a chat, don't you?" 

No, really, I'm good , he thought to himself, because he had no wish to be interrogated by Lucius Malfoy. Nor had he ever thought that if that happened, it would be because he was dating his son. "Er, sure, um, what about?" he asked as he turned around to face him because he had no idea how these things were supposed to go.

Lucius dropped the hand from his shoulder. While their height difference was not what it used to be, Jacob was still aware of how tall the other man was. "I have a simple question to ask you. What are your intentions towards my son?"

Jacob blinked up at him. "Er, what? I'm sorry, sir? I'm not even sure I understand the question." What did that even mean? Was that what parents always asked their child's significant other? Because he had no idea what this meant, nor how to give an answer that would placate Lucius and get him out of this conversation.\

Lucius looked frustrated with that answer. "Your intentions, Jacob. What are you hoping to get out of this relationship with Draco?"

"Get out of it?" Jacob was confused. What exactly did Lucius think he wanted? The confusion must have shown on his face because Lucius seemed to look more annoyed at that remark. "Er, nothing, just his… company and affection, that's all. I happen to really like your son." He hadn't even voiced to Draco how much he really liked him, but if it would get Lucius off his back, it was fine.

Lucius stared down at him for a moment, before seeming to relax a bit, as much as he ever did. "Hmm, that is satisfactory then," he said. "You should get dressed for dinner." He snapped his fingers, and a House Elf appeared at their sides. "Please escort Mr. Snape to his rooms." The elf bowed and gestured down the hallway. Lucius walked down the hallway, their conversation apparently at an end.

What the fuck was that? He asked himself. It was then that he realized the elf was still bowed, waiting for him. "Oh, er, sorry," he said. "Er, lead the way." The elf squeaked in embarrassment before walking down the hallway, leading him to his room before bowing and disappearing with a pop. Jacob just stood there for a moment before washing up for dinner. That had to be the weirdest conversation he'd ever had, but at least Lucius had seemed satisfied with his answer.

A moment later, there was a knock on the door and Draco entered, closing the door behind him. "Sorry about Father. What did he want? He didn't interrogate you too badly, did he?"

"He asked what my intentions were."

"What?" Draco looked about as confused as he had been. "What does that even mean?"

"I didn't know, either, and he didn't like that. So, he clarified and asked me what I was hoping to get out of our relationship."

Draco took a moment before responding. "What did you tell him?"

Jacob shrugged his shoulders, a light blush crossing his cheeks. "The truth. Nothing except your companionship and affection, and that I really liked you. He seemed satisfied with that because he then sent a House Elf to lead me here and walked off, so…"

Draco sighed, coming over and kissing him. "Sorry, but at least it wasn't that bad," he said. "And do you? Really like me, that is?"

Jacob nodded, kissing him back. "I do."

A smile crossed Draco's face. "I do, too. Not that I didn't know that already, but it's nice to hear." He kissed him again. "We should go, though, before my father comes looking for us again." Jacob agreed, and the two made their way downstairs for dinner. The last thing he wanted was for them to get caught snogging again, especially when they were half-dressed. He did not want that to happen again.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Dinner hadn't been that bad, all things considered. Lucius and Narcissa continued asking him questions, and Draco continued trying to fend them off and direct the conversation away. Sometimes his parents allowed that, and others they would bring the conversation back to him. It was awkward, and he was glad when dinner was over with, and they were both excused. 

He and Draco made their way back up to his room. He didn't see Moirai but knew she was around hiding somewhere. Draco flopped down onto the bed, and Jacob came to lay beside him. "Well, that was fun," he said with a heavy sigh.

"I knew they'd be like this. I mean, they're just trying to get to know you, make sure you're good for me," Draco said, giving a wave of his hand. "I just wish they wouldn't go on like this. I mean, I'm fifteen, and I am fully capable of taking care of myself. Besides, I think I can choose who I date for myself without needing my parent's opinion."

Jacob chuckled. "Isn't that the truth, and I am very glad that you chose me," he said, turning over on his side. The blonde followed suit. He reached over, resting a hand on Draco's hip. The blonde smiled at him, and all thoughts of dinner and the interrogation by Lucius were erased. 

The blonde reached over, reaching out to touch his chest. His slim fingers slowly drifting down his chest. Jacob rubbed his hip before slowly pulling Draco closer to him. The blonde kissed him before gently pushing him down onto his back. The blonde crossed one of his long legs over him so that he was straddling him. Jacob settled his hands on each of his boyfriend's hips as Draco ran his hands up to his chest before leaning down to kiss him again.

Draco's lips were slow and gentle, inviting him in and asking permission. Jacob was all too happy to oblige. He slowly slid on hand up, feeling the smooth skin underneath Draco's shirt. It seems that the blonde had the same idea because he felt his long fingers going underneath his shirt before slowly pushing the shirt off. They stopped kissing only long enough to get the shirt before their lips found each other again, their kisses almost needy and eager. 

Draco's nails lightly grazed down his chest, causing Jacob to moan into the kiss. He moved his hands to the front of his boyfriend's chest, unbuttoning the shirt before pushing it off his shoulders. Draco threw the shirt off to the side before putting his hands back on his chest. Jacob ran his hands down his chest, enjoying how Draco's smooth skin felt underneath his fingers. He moved one hand down, the other moving around to his back. He slowly ran his hand down his back, slowly running it down to his arse. 

Draco moaned, rocking his hips into him. Jacob found out that he liked that quite a bit. He pulled him closer, and the blonde rocked his hips into him again. He wasn't sure what they were doing here or where they were going; apparently, Draco had the same idea, because he broke the kiss. For a moment, the two of them stayed there like that, neither of them moving, until Draco broke the silence.

"Have you thought about it?" he asked, his voice a bit huskier than normal, but quieter, almost as if he didn't want to break the moment between them. At first, Jacob was confused as to what he meant, but Draco continued. "Sex. Have you thought about it?"

It took Jacob a moment to find his voice. "When you're on top of me, rocking your hips like that, it's hard not to think about it." A smile crossed Draco's lips, and he gave him a soft kiss. "Have you?"

Draco nodded. "Yeah, when you're kissing me like that and have your hand on my arse, as you said, it's hard not to think about it," he said. It took a bit before Draco spoke again; he almost seemed to be a bit tense. "It's just… I want to. I do, it's just… not right now, or soon, you know? I just… want to work up to that, and I figure that we'll know when we want to… take that step. Does that make sense?"

Jacob nodded. "Yeah, it does make sense. I feel the same way." He could feel Draco relax a bit. "I want to, as well, but as you said, I don't want to rush. I don't know how any of this works, but I guess we'll figure it all out together, right?"

Draco nodded, kissing him again. "Right, and for now, I am very happy with this." So was he. Right now, this was exactly where he wanted to be. "Although we should probably stop. I wouldn't put it past my parents to come and barge in." 

Jacob groaned. "Don't remind me." That thought killed any mood that he might have had up until that point because he had been so wrapped up in the gorgeous blonde on top of him he hadn't even thought that Lucius would do exactly that.

"Pick this up tomorrow?'

"If he lets me, yes," Jacob said, and Draco just rolled his eyes as he grabbed his shirt before moving next to him. At least this way, if Lucius did interrupt them before they needed to go to bed, they weren't doing anything but cuddling. He was more than happy to continue kissing him, but he knew they had needed to cool down a bit anyway. Besides, he was more than content to just spend some time with him. That was more than enough.

~~~~~~~~~~~

By the time Saturday rolled around, Jaccob was ready to go back to school. Lucius and Narcissa never left Draco and him alone for long. If a House Elf didn't come to interrupt them, then one of them would. They ended up going for a walk at one point, despite the freezing temperatures. He found his new cloak kept him quite warm, as he and Draco did, walking with their arms wrapped around each other. They went to use the jacuzzi only for Lucius and Narcissa to come to use the pool that day, too. It seemed after Lucius had caught them, they didn't want to leave them alone for too long after that. 

Saturday night, Jacob was packing his stuff when he heard the door open behind him. "Oh, still packing?" Draco asked the obvious. "I just finished, and my mother caught me and gave me a minor lecture. I think she's been dying to catch me alone the past few days, but I've been with you constantly."

"Or they've both been with us because your parents have been hovering and overbearing," Jacob said.

The blonde rolled his eyes. "She says they're concerned."

That got Jacob's attention, and he stopped packing, turning around to face his boyfriend. "Concerned? Because of what? You said yourself that they liked me."

"Oh, they do," Draco said, walking over to come and sit on the bed. "They just think our relationship is too… intense. We're only fifteen, and we're too young for such things." That gave Jacob pause, and he wasn't sure what to think about it. He stopped packing and went over to sit beside Draco on the bed as the blonde finished talking. 

"I told her it's fine, that she has no reason to be concerned. I just think she doesn't understand. I mean, I'm sure she and my father knew each other when they were in school even though they weren't in the same year, but they didn't get married to each other until their mid-twenties. Their marriage was arranged, you know. Or how did my mother put it… it was 'highly encouraged.'" He shrugged his shoulders. "So I just think they don't understand, you know? They never mentioned dating anyone else, so if they did, it must not have been enough to mention.

Honestly, that explained a lot. They didn't seem very affectionate with each other, but that still seemed rather harsh. "I didn't even realize they did that anymore," he said.

"Well, they don't, but among the older Pureblood families, it's not that uncommon," he said, "but not all of them are. One of my mother's sisters married a Muggle-born, so I think her parents were keen on making sure that she and my other aunt had good marriages. My mother did; she and my father love each other very much, but not all are like that, from what I hear." Draco said it with an air that this was just the life that he had grown up in, but it seemed very strange to Jacob.

"Yeah, I think you're right," Jacob agreed, "I mean, on your parents, not understanding. It makes sense. I mean, my dad lets us be alone for hours at a time. I'm sure they'll come around." He offered a small smile for him. "They just need time." He was, however, quite glad that he wouldn't see them again until next summer, hopefully, because he needed a break.

"Yep, I'm always right, didn't you know that?" Draco said, a smirk crossing his lips.

Jacob had thought before about kissing the smirk off his lips, so this time, he did. "You're not, and you know it." 

Draco chuckled. "Yes, I do know that, but you don't have to rub it in." He leaned in and kissed him. "Besides, I'm starting to realize my parents may not be as smart as they think they are."

That was good, though Jacob already knew that his opinions were changing. It was good to hear him say it. For a moment, the two of them stayed there like that before Jacob pulled away. "I really need to finish packing," he said, as Moirai jumped up on the bed and mewed at them. 

"Good, then your cat and I will just lounge here and watch you." Draco moved, leaning back on the bed. Moirai seemed to agree, and with him having stood up, she walked over to Draco and jumped on him, mewing at him. Jacob rolled his eyes as his boyfriend began to pet his cat, a smile on his face, as he continued packing again.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Severus was sitting in the armchair in his rooms, the fireplace roaring in front of him. Two empty glasses sat at the nearby table, the other chair empty. He had just finished his work, and come back to his rooms to wait on Aurora. As if on cue, there was a knock at the door. "Enter." 

The door opened, and Aurora came in before shutting the door behind her. "Good evening, Severus," she said, a bottle of wine in her hand. She held it up. It was the bottle he gifted her for Christmas. "I figured we could share. I find it much better when drinking with a friend as opposed to drinking alone." She sat down across from him, a small smile on her face.

Severus nodded, gesturing towards the glasses. She poured some for each before setting the bottle down. Each of them took a sip. He had to admit it was not bad; he could see why she enjoyed it so much, even though it wasn't his favorite.

"So, anxious to see your son again?" she asked, her brown eyes looking at him over the edge of the glass. 

"Not anxious, no, but if you're asking if I'm looking forward to him coming back, the answer is yes," he said. 

Her smile widened a bit, and she took another sip. "In spite of yourself, you may actually become a half-decent parent." 

Severus rolled his eyes, but he knew that she was right. "I would never have thought that it would actually feel normal to have him around," he said. "It has been… odd not seeing him." He had often wished in the past that he would never see the boy again, but since they had discovered the truth, things had changed. Now, he was a normal part of his life, and the past few days without even seeing a glimpse of him just felt strange. "Besides, I think he'll be eager to get back to school after a few days with Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy."

"I thought Lucius was a friend of yours?"

"Oh, he is. But I know my son, and I also have a fairly good idea of how Lucius is dealing with his son's new boyfriend," Severus said. He knew that Jacob would be just fine; he could deal with it, and he would have to if he was going to continue to date Draco. "They can be a bit old fashioned sometimes."

Aurora nodded. "Seems to me that is something he'll have to learn to deal with," she said. "He and Draco Malfoy do not look to be separating any time soon. Sure, they're young, but they have been attached at the hip since the moment they arrived at school this year. Well, there were a couple of weeks there, but since they were dating after that, I assume they worked whatever happened out."

Severus nodded. "Yes, I think they'll be fine, and I think he will have dealt with them just fine during these past few days," he said. He reminded himself to ask how things went when he had some time with him next, which probably wouldn't be until next weekend. That left him feeling something else altogether because it was strange thinking they wouldn't have their weekly session this week. He also wanted to remark on the improvement in his grades. McGonagall had left him his grades from the first semester, normally mailed to family, and he had shown improvement in almost every course.

Times certainly had changed, hadn't they?

Chapter Text

Sunday morning, Jacob was glad to be going back to Hogwarts. He would be out from underneath Lucius and Narcissa. He would be happy to get back to his routine, such that it was. There were good things about his routine - exercising in the mornings with Draco, defense lessons with his father, and Hermione on Saturday mornings, studying with Hermione and Draco Saturday afternoons… and the snogging sessions with Draco every night after they finished homework were certainly nice, too.

After a stiff breakfast with Draco's parents, the two of them double-checked their rooms before Jacob packed up Moriai again. The black cat was quite upset at being locked up again after just getting used to her new room. "I'm sorry, I know, it's awful, but you'll be back at the dorm soon enough," he said, remembering that the train ride from Kings Cross was several hours long. "Maybe I'll let you go in the train car, as long as I keep a close eye on you, so you don't run out when the door opens."

She mewed at him again, and he grabbed her cage, shaking his head at her. After that, the trip to King's Cross was relatively silent. They made their way to Platform 9 ¾. It seemed like so long since he'd been here, but it looked exactly the same. Lucius and Narcissa were right behind them.

Looking around, he spotted many of their classmates. Pansy Parkinson was standing with her parents. He saw Theodore Nott and Astoria Greengrass standing and talking to a man that must be his father. He saw her sister, Daphne, talking to two people who had to be their parents. He didn't see Zabini or Millicent, figuring they must be on the train already. He saw Marcus and Salenia, along with their significant others, talking to two people who looked to be Salenia's parents.

Hermione and the Weasleys came in around that time. To her credit, she didn't acknowledge them except for a nod of her head while they were still standing with Draco's parents. "Now, Draco, your O.W.L.'s are coming up, so it's important to keep your grades up," Lucius said firmly. "Remember, you are a Malfoy."

Draco gave a wave of his hand. "Yes, I am well aware of what I am, Father," he said. "We study every day. I am doing my best, and am still top of the class, just as I always have been. I'll be fine, and I'll get all O's, and make you both proud. Don't worry."

"See that you do," said Lucius. "You should get going. Don't want to miss the train." 

It was true. Eleven was clicking closer, and Jacob had learned the hard way that the train waited for no one. 

Narcissa leaned forward, giving Draco a small hug. "You two behave now."

"We always behave," Draco said, but his parents looked like they didn't believe that at all. Hand in hand, they were soon on the train and looking for their friends. It took a few minutes but they found Pansy, Daphne, Theodore, Astoria, and Blaise sitting there. It was a little cramped, and he was half tempted to tell Draco for them to find their own compartment. He certainly wouldn't mind being alone with him, either. "Where's Millicent? And Marcus and Salenia?"

"Millicent had another room already, and when she saw all of us, she said there wasn't enough room for everyone, so we found another one. We haven't seen Marcus and Salenia, but they're probably with Walton and Teale." A smile crossed her face. "So, how was everyone's Christmas?" said Pansy, though she was looking at them as they squeezed in next to her and Daphne. Theodore and Astoria were sitting on the other side, next to Blaise. 

"Just fine, thank you," said Draco. 

"Just fine?" said Daphne, and she and Pansy had identical incredulous looks on their faces.

"Jacob was with you. Did he stay with you?" Pansy asked. "What happened?"

Jacob wanted to remind them that he was sitting right there, but on the other hand, everyone was staring at them. He wanted the seat to swallow him up. He was more than willing to let Draco handle it, as his boyfriend did with most social situations. 

"Of course he did," he said. "My parents thought he should experience the train since he has never ridden it before. So he stayed with me for a few days. Besides, my parents wanted to get to know him a bit better since we are dating now."

"Oh?" said Pansy, sounding quite interested, and Jacob had to wonder if she was only interested in anything if drama was involved. "Please, do tell."

"Nothing to tell," Draco said, shrugging his shoulders. "My parents liked him well enough. They think we're a bit too serious, but they'll get used to us."

"They didn't leave us alone after they caught us snogging," Jacob said. He knew he didn't really need to remind Draco; the blonde would remember that afternoon quite well. However, he had felt the need to remind him of that, to point out that they had not had any time alone at all since that first day. 

The girls giggled. "Oh, and what happened?" 

"They caught us," said Draco. It was obvious they were not satisfied with that response. Theodore was the only one who looked like he couldn't care less. Even Astoria was looking interested in the conversation. "What? We were snogging in the jacuzzi, and - "

"Oh, my, you were snogging in the jacuzzi?" Pansy asked, a big smile on her face, as both the Greengrass sisters giggled. Blaise had a smirk on his face, and Theodore just looked bored. 

A deep blush crossed Jacob's face, and he wanted to talk about something else. Anything else. He deeply regretted saying anything now, and in hindsight, he should have known to keep his big mouth shut about such things around the Slytherin Gossip Girls. 

"Yes, I'm allowed to kiss my boyfriend," Draco said, brushing off the girls' comments. "Besides, Pansy, we need to go." Jacob gave his boyfriend a confused look. "Prefect, remember? We still need to go meet with the other Prefects and monitor the train, but I'll be back." He kissed him, before slipping out, Pansy waving as she left behind him, sliding the door shut.

"So, come on, Jacob, what else happened while you stayed with Draco?" Daphne asked, turning towards him slightly.

"Nothing," he said, honestly. "After they caught us, he interrogated me, and then we didn't get more than five minutes alone for the rest of the time I was there." 

"If it makes you feel any better, Astoria's parents didn't like me, either," Theodore said. Jacob was glad for the distraction and to talk about someone else's love life and not his. He must have seen something on his face because he continued. "Think she's a bit too young to be dating, and that we have too much of an age difference. They calmed down a bit after getting to know me, but they're not fond of it."

Astoria rolled her eyes. "As if we're not only two years apart. I don't see what the big deal is."

"They're just looking out for you," her sister said. She seemed to warm up to them as a couple because he remembered when they started dating a few months ago she had not been pleased. Jacob was just glad that after that they changed the subject because he really wanted to talk about something else now.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Draco and Pansy returned a while later, Pansy sliding in on the other side of Daphne while Draco took his spot next to him. Jacob was glad because while he didn't mind the company of the others, it wasn't the same without Draco around. They weren't really his friends, and they often wanted him to talk more when Draco wasn't around. Normally, he had no problem talking at all, but he didn't have much in common with the others. Daphne and Astoria did most of the talking. Theodore seemed content to just sit there and listen, and Blaise chimed in.

When Draco and Pansy got in, at least he knew that he could count on Draco to help monopolize the conversation, so he didn't have to talk if he didn't want to. The conversation quickly turned to Quidditch. The general agreement seemed to be that they were curious about how Gryffindor's new Keeper was going to fare, but first was their match against Ravenclaw, which took place right before Valentine's Day. 

While Ravenclaw had a solid team all around, no one in the compartment thought they stood a chance against Slytherin. Jacob had to agree. While Cho was a good Seeker, he didn't think she could beat Draco, not the way he had been flying lately. The Ravenclaw chasers were decent, but they were not aggressive enough to play against Slytherin, especially not with him on the team. He wasn't sure how Crabbe and Goyle - speaking of which, where they had gone off to? With Marcus, Salenia, and Millicent, he guessed - would fare against their new Beaters. Draco seemed to think that Bletchley was miles better than their Keeper, Johnson. 

Jacob was content to talk about Quidditch - it was one of his favorite things about the Wizarding World and Hogwarts after all - when Draco suddenly changed the subject. "So, any thought of what you're going to do for your father for his birthday?" he asked.

Jacob blinked at him, because he had meant to ask Severus when his birthday was, but it had slipped his mind. His father hadn't mentioned it, either, so he had figured it wasn't coming up yet. "Birthday? Don't tell me that's coming up soon."

"He didn't mention it, did he?" 

Jacob suddenly got a little annoyed and offended. "Six months I've known the man was my father, and he didn't mention it once. Sure, I could have asked, I should have, but… especially if it was coming up soon, why didn't he say anything!" Things had been coming along, and he knew that Severus was a private person, but… did he hate his birthday that much that he didn't even want his own son to know?

"You know how private he is," Draco said, shrugging his shoulders. "I just figured he would have told you. Just ask him about it."

"Yeah, but still, he should have mentioned it to me. When is it?"

Draco paused for a second before speaking. "Tuesday."

Jacob was floored. It was close, so close and Severus hadn't said anything about it. He knew he was a private man, but surely he understood that Jacob would want to do something? He wasn't sure what to say, but it was Daphne who spoke next. "Wait, it's two days away! Why did you never mention this to us before, Draco?" she asked. "And how do you know when it is? How old will he be?"

Draco rolled his eyes. "I'm his godson; he's friends with my dad. Of course, I knew, I've known him long before Hogwarts," he said with a dismissive wave of his hand. "I knew he wouldn't want anyone else to know, so I never said anything. He'll be thirty-six, by the way, and you are all sworn to secrecy. One word out of any of you, and he'll know who told you. I'd rather not have that conversation, thank you very much." Regretfully, they all agreed not to say anything, even though he was their favorite teacher.

Now, Jacob just had to decide how he was going to talk to his father about this.

~~~~~~~~~~

By the time they arrived at Hogwarts, everyone was starving. They got off the train, finally spotting Marcus and Salenia. Marcus's boyfriend had an arm around his shoulders, his best friend walking behind him, and Salenia and her girlfriend had one arm around each other. They waved to each other, and Daphne asked where the two of them had been. "Oh, we had our own compartment, the five of us."

Pansy elbowed Daphne, who giggled before Pansy cleared throat. "So, Walton, Loughton, I had a question for you." The two Hufflepuff Beaters raised an eyebrow. "I heard a rumor, and I was hoping the two of you could help me out. I heard a Hufflepuff got into Professor Snape's N.E.W.T's class, and he kicked them out. Is that true?"

"Oh, that was me," said Walton, a smirk on his face. "I was never a good student, but for some reason, I got an O on my Potions O.W.L. I don't know why it was just… the best Potions work I've ever done. Everything just sort of… clicked, you know? When Snape saw me, he flipped his shit, said, 'Very funny, Walton, get out.' I showed him that I belonged there, and he was furious. Made me sit alone because he was afraid of me blowing up someone else's cauldron or something. But it's okay because Adam said he got a shocked reaction from Professor McGonagall when he got into her N.E.W.T's class." He thumbed towards his best friend, standing behind him.

Both girls laughed as they came upon the carriages. "Thanks for clearing that up," Pansy said as she, Daphne and Blaise piled into one of the carriages, both girls still giggling. Of course, knowing them, they would want to know everything about everything because somehow, everything concerned them. Loughton ended up having to sit in there, which he did not look pleased about. Marcus, Walton, Salenia, and Teale all piled into another carriage.

Now, he saw the Thestrals pulling them. He froze for a second, looking at them. "What is it? What's wrong?" Draco asked, squeezing his hand before he seemed to remember. "Oh. Don't worry about it. Come on, let's get in one so we can get inside. I'm hungry, and it's freezing." 

Jacob nodded, allowing Draco to pull him into the nearest carriage, which happened to have Theodore and Astoria in it. He had his arm around her, and she was leaning into him, pulling her cloak around her. He didn't mind Theodore as much; he was one of the least draining of Draco's friends.

As the carriage pulled off, Theodore met his eyes. "They freaked me out at first, too." He didn't have to ask what he meant. They both knew. Astoria and Draco, who couldn't see them, were quiet. "Even more so since no one else could see them but me, or so I thought at the time. It didn't take me long to realize that, and I didn't say anything. No one wants to hear that you see something no one else can."

Jacob knew that all too well. He remembered in his second year when he could hear the Basilisk in the walls - he had been sure was going crazy until Hermione had helped him figure out what it was. "Yeah, that's understandable," he said. "Did you figure out what it was, or…?"

Theodore nodded. "Yeah, I did some research in my spare time. Luckily, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them is pretty handy, so I figured it out," he said. "I kept my mouth shut still, but it was nice to know I wasn't crazy."

He understood that. At least he wasn't the only person who could see them, but at the same time, he didn't think anyone his age should be able to see them. Experiencing death when you were only a teenager wasn't something anyone else should go through. 

~~~~~~~~~~

Everyone headed for dinner, eager to eat a full dinner after an afternoon of eating only treats from the trolley on the train. He saw his dad up at the big table, who gave him a nod. His mind went back to the bombshell Draco had dropped on him earlier. He couldn't believe that he hadn't told him that his birthday was coming, so soon after Christmas. He was sure there was a reason - like Draco said, he was a private person. Who just forgets to mention something like that to their own son, though? It wasn't as if he would have known about it before.

After dinner, as they were headed back to the Slytherin Common Room, Jacob stopped. "I'm going to go talk to my dad," he said, reluctantly dropping Draco's hand.

"Are you sure you want to do that now?" his boyfriend asked him. "I'm sure there's a good reason."

"I know, it's just… bothering me, so I'm going to ask him about it before his birthday comes around in two days, and I end up saying something I'll regret," Jacob said. "I'll see you in a bit, okay?" Draco nodded, and Jacob continued down to his father's rooms. He had left the Great Hall earlier than them, so he was sure that he would be here now.

Jacob knocked on the door, actually feeling a bit nervous, though he wasn't sure why. A moment later, his father answered the door. He looked annoyed as he was opening the door until his eyes fell on him, and the look passed. "Why are you still knocking? You should know by now that you can just come in." He ushered him inside. "It is good to see you, but I admit I am a bit surprised that you came tonight. Is something wrong?"

"Er, sort of…" Jacob wondered how he was going to say it. Surely, there was a way to lead into the conversation. "Why didn't you tell me your birthday was in two days?" Great lead up there , he thought to himself.  Seeing the confused look on his father's face, he elaborated. "Draco told me."

Severus nodded. "I apologize. I didn't mean to withhold that information from you," he said. "I am a private person, you understand -"

"I thought we'd gotten past some of that," Jacob interrupted. 

"Let me finish," Severus said. Jacob nodded. He was just anxious. "Now, as I was saying, I didn't mean to withhold it from you. I just… do not see it as something important. It has not always held pleasant memories for me. It hadn't occurred to me that I hadn't mentioned it, though I should have realized it would be important to you. I apologize."

Jacob paused for a second before speaking. "Yeah, I mean… you're my dad, so of course, I would think your birthday was important. It's the first of either of ours since everything went down, you know." His last birthday was when the glamour making him look like Harry Potter had failed. "Draco just… assumed you had mentioned it to me, and maybe I should have asked, but I just figured you would have mentioned it was coming up, so I'm sorry, too. I would have gotten something for you - "

"That is not necessary."

"But - "

Severus put up his hand to silence him. "I already have everything that I need at the moment." 

Jacob nodded. Was he talking about him? He had to be. A lot had happened in the last six months, and even though Severus said he had everything he needed, they should at least do something, right? He didn't want his father to spend his birthday alone. He had done that more times than he cared to remember; it was not a pleasant feeling. "Maybe we could have dinner together for your birthday. I just feel like we need to do something, you know? I want to do something."

Severus nodded. "I would like that."

"Okay, then… I'll see you on Tuesday?" 

Severus gave another nod. Jacob then made his way back to the common room. He felt better now that they had talked. Yes, he should have asked, and his father should have told him, but it was fine. They would eat dinner together. It was a small thing, but it was another big step for them. He knew now how silly it was for him to have been nervous about that conversation, because honestly, what could have happened? He just hadn't been sure of what Severus's reasons were. A part of him had thought maybe he hadn't wanted him to know. That was ridiculous, though. His father wanted him in his life; he had said as much more than once, including once tonight. 

For him, that was more than enough.

~~~~~~~~~~

Jacob felt good getting back into his routine the next day. Monday night meant the first practice of the new term. As usual, Montague was a taskmaster. The next game was against Ravenclaw and was just over a month away. While no one was worried, they had made a major statement with their win against Hufflepuff. Their Captain wanted to keep the momentum going. 

Tuesday was his father's birthday. He half expected Daphne and Pansy to say something even though Draco had sworn them to secrecy, but to their credit, they had listened to him. He didn't want to think about the bad mood that might have put him in, and with them having dinner that night, he didn't want them to fight again because they had put him in a bad mood.

After classes, Jacob parted from Draco and their friends and made his way to his father's quarters. He was about to knock on the door when he remembered what Severus had told him last time - that he hadn't needed to knock. So, he just went in, which felt kind of weird. His father wasn't there.  Now, this felt even more strange, being here while his father wasn't. He was about to leave and go look for him in his classroom or his office when the door opened behind him.

"Oh, I was hoping that you hadn't beat me here," Severus said. "I apologize, but I had some things to do before I came here." He had a stack of papers in his hand, most likely homework that he needed to grade. He set them on the desk in the corner. "Are you hungry?"

"Starving, actually, it feels like it's been forever since I had lunch," he said.

Severus lead him into the eat-in dining room and waved his wand. Some chicken, rice, and vegetables appeared before them. It must be what they were having dinner in the Great Hall. The two of them sat down and started eating. "You looked uncomfortable when I came in. Why?" His voice was even, but he looked up at him over his food.

"Er, yeah, just… felt weird just walking in, and then even weirder when you weren't here."

"Why?" Severus asked. "Jacob, you are my son. Why should you feel weird in my rooms still?" He said it as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, and Jacob couldn't help but smile.

"No, it's not that, it's just… not knocking. I mean, the only time I haven't was because it was in the middle of the night." He shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know, just felt weird without you here, too." It was a reminder of how far they'd come, though. Severus told him that there was no reason for him to feel weird coming in his rooms or being here, even if he wasn't. Because he was his son. He remembered a time when it had been weird hearing him say those words.

"So, do you usually do anything for your birthday?" Jacob asked. Severus shook his head. "Why not?"

"No reason to for the most part," he said. "My mother tried, but my father didn't think my birth was something to celebrate. Don't feel bad, he was an arsehole, and I survived. Your mother felt the need to, and always made a point while we were friends to come and tell me happy birthday." He shrugged his shoulders. "After we stopped speaking, I fell back into old habits. The rest of the staff always gives me some alcohol and well wishes, though."

Severus motioned the counter where a few bottles sat. "See, other people think it's worth celebrating," Jacob said, but Severus just rolled his eyes. "For the record, I think it's something to celebrate, though I haven't always felt like that, either. My Aunt and Uncle, well… it was something to be ignored."

"Perhaps you are correct, then, and we will make an effort to celebrate our birthdays, even in a small way," he said. 

Jacob liked that idea, the idea of them making plans together for future things, things that might become a tradition for them. Families had traditions. Maybe this was the first step. It seemed they had a lot of those, but considering where they started off, they had come a long way.

Jacob had some homework to catch up on, so he didn't stay as late as he would have liked. "We still have our Sunday, don't we?" It was good that they had a day that was theirs even while they were at Hogwarts. 

Severus nodded. "Yes, we do, but it's time to get back into the routine now."

Jacob groaned. "Yeah, I know. It's fine. I'm ready to get back into the routine again. While I hate Occlumency and I don't understand where we're going with the memories yet, it was something I got used to, you know?"

"I do know," he said, "and while you're still here, I think tonight was - in the realm of birthdays - one of the better ones."

Jacob wondered how hard it was for Severus to open up to him the way he had, and although it was slow sometimes, it meant a lot that he was trying. It was always hard, though. He hugged him goodbye, knowing he disliked physical affection for the most part, but it seemed like a good time to do it. "Goodnight, Dad," he said. "See you tomorrow." Severus said his goodbyes, slowly hugging him back before Jacob made his way back to the common room.

Jacob felt like they had made some progress, and albeit it had been small, he would take whatever he could get. They were figuring it out together, step by step.

Chapter Text

The rest of the week went by relatively quickly, and before he knew it, Saturday morning had arrived. After exercising with Draco, he showered and dressed and headed down to Moaning Myrtle's bathroom and the Chamber of Secrets that lied beneath it. He did enjoy the lessons and was looking forward to them again. As usual, Hermione was already there when he arrived.

"Hey, Hermione," he said as he sat next to her.

"Hey," she said, turning to him. Her hands were in lap, and it looked like something was on her mind. "Can I ask you something? Something personal?"

"You're my best friend, of course, you can."

Hermione stayed silent for a moment before speaking. "How far have you and Draco gotten?"

That was an odd question. The two of them had never discussed such things before, but then again, they'd never had anything to discuss. After all, she had only had a brief relationship with Krum, and he had… well, done nothing before Draco. "Er, just snogging, and that's it. I mean, we've taken our shirts off, but that's it. We've only been together for two months, after all."

Hermione nodded. "Yeah, that makes sense," she said, twisting her hands around in her lap. "See, the other night, Terry and Padma happened to be doing some rounds the same time as me and Ron. We were both done, so Terry and I hung back a bit, and spent some time together."

"You mean snogged."

Hermione gave him a light slap on his arm, but her lips were twitching up into a smile. "Alright, fine, yes, we were snogging. The farthest we've gotten is snogging with our shirts off, too. Anyway, when we were parting, he said that he really liked me and that he thought it was time to take things to the next level." He could tell by the look on her face that she did not agree with that statement. "I mean… sex? We've only been together for three months. Is that enough time? I don't…" Her voice trailed off a bit.

Jacob put a hand on her shoulder. "Calm down. Terry's a good guy. If you're not ready, you need to tell him that. He doesn't seem the type to pressure you into anything from what you've said," he said, hoping he could ease her fears a bit. "He seems like a decent guy. I'm sure if you tell him you're not ready for that yet, that you feel like he's rushing things a bit, he'll understand. You don't want to do anything you'll regret later."

Hermione nodded. She seemed to be a bit calmer now. "You're right, he's a good guy," she said. "It just… it freaked me out a bit, you understand. I didn't think we were anywhere near close to that!" He nodded. It would have freaked him out if Draco had said that to him that night they were snogging in the guest room. "We haven't even talked about it, not once. What about you and Draco? Have you talked about it?"

Jacob nodded. "Yes, we have. We agreed that we want to, but that it's too soon that we're going to wait." Hermione agreed that it was a mature decision on their part to not only discuss it, but know that waiting was the right thing for them. Any other conversation was cut off as his father walked in and he went down to start their lesson.

~~~~~~~~~~~

After lunch, he and Draco met with Hermione in the library. The two of them were only sitting there for a couple of minutes when Ron came over. "Hey, do you three mind?" He gestured to the seat next to Hermione across from Draco. All three nodded, and the redhead took a seat, getting out his homework. It was kind of nice, having Ron back. It almost felt like old times. Almost. A lot of things had changed since then.

Without even thinking, Draco leaned over and scratched a couple of things off of the notes that Jacob was writing. Ron looked at them curiously. "What?" Draco asked defensively. "See something interesting?"

"No, no, just… didn't know you helped him with his homework, that's all," Ron said. "I guess I wasn't paying attention before."

"I help him, just nudge him in the right direction." Draco gave a nonchalant wave of his hand. "I don't do it for him if that's what you're asking." Jacob groaned. Not that the blonde was wrong, but he still didn't need to point it out like that. 

Both Ron and Hermione blushed, though Ron was glaring at Draco, too. "No, it wasn't, and that's not why I'm here, either!" He put his hands up in defeat. "I hope you'll still help me if I need it, though." He turned to her.

Hermione smiled. "Of course, Ron, but I can't do it for you anymore," she said. Jacob was glad that she was standing up to him, though he was curious about what the redhead's reaction would be now that Hermione had put her foot down on doing half his homework for him.

Ron shook his head. "No, and you shouldn't have," he said. "I should do it on my own. But I'd be grateful for some pointers."

Draco muttered something that sounded like "Finally," but they were all studying after that. To his credit, Ron didn't ask Hermione to write anything for him once, though he was sure by the end of their study session that Draco was getting quite annoyed at the amount of questions Ron was asking.

Jacob was proved right as they headed back down to their dorm to drop off their books before heading to dinner. "Did he have to ask a question about everything?" he complained. "I mean, she might as well have been writing it for him at that rate." He knew he didn't like Ron, but at least he was tolerating him.

"He's trying," Jacob replied. "And you help me quite a bit, too. It's just different because you usually offer the help before I have to ask." He did appreciate that the two of them were at least trying to deal with each other, despite their mutual animosity to get along with it. Things could certainly be worse.

~~~~~~~~~~~

After dinner, a bunch of the Slytherins were spending time in the common room. The Giant Squid had swum by once, which was something he still wasn't used to. Apparently, he wasn't alone in that, because there were some first years huddled up in seats by the window, hoping to catch another glimpse. Draco, Jacob, and their friend had been sitting around the couch, some working on homework but mostly just hanging around. It was too cold to go outside, after all. The weather was still freezing, so they were better off down here by the fire.

Apparently, Moirai thought so, too. Somehow, the little brat had snuck out of his dorm and ended up downstairs. She was curled up next to him. Draco excused himself to go to the loo, and Salenia came down from her dorm at the same time. She pulled a chair closer to the couch that he was sitting in, with a box and what looked like brochures in her hands, as well as a camera. The girls immediately seemed interested, except for Millicent. Marcus was lounging in a chair near her.

"Ooh, what's that?" Daphne said, leaning towards her.

"The Valentine's Comb set, the first batch," she said. Jacob had almost forgotten about the hair color-changing combs that Salenia had. She had one for every house color. They'd used them in the first two Quidditch matches of the season. "My aunt gave them to me over the break, wanted me to try them out as they have to release them pretty soon. Valentine's is only a month away, after all." 

She opened up the box, and five combs sat inside. One was plain black, the color removal comb he had to assume. The others were white, pink, red, and purple. The girls oohed and aahed over them. Marcus looked a bit bored. Pansy asked why the purple comb was dark purple. Salenia explained that they wanted some variety because purple was also in the Spring and Summer sets. That got them excited, and Salenia handed over the brochures, and they took turns looking at that the combs.

Jacob hadn't been paying much attention, but now, Salenia was looking right at him, a smile on her face. "What?" he asked her, wishing that Draco would come back now. What was taking him so long? 

"I was just wondering if you would… let me try it out." She moved the comb to indicate what she was talking about it.

"No."

"Oh, come on," she said. "I think this purple would look so good in your black hair. Not to mention it would go with your green eyes. But you didn't need me to tell you that you were handsome, of course."

Jacob was a bit taken aback because he'd never had anyone tell him that aside from Draco. Then again, hadn't Hermione said it wasn't a bad look? He knew she was only saying it to get what she wanted, but it was still weird for him. "Alright, give it a go," he said. 

Salenia looked thrilled, and got out of her seat, coming to sit next to him and Moirai. He just sat there as she started running the comb through his hair. He looked over to see Daphne doing Pansy's hair with the white comb, while Elizabeth was doing Daphne's with the red comb and Pansy was doing Tracey's with the pink comb. A few minutes later, and Salenia announced she was done. She grabbed a mirror - where had that come from? - and handed it to him.

His hair was purple. It didn't look half bad, though. He was about to tell her to take it off when all of a sudden, a familiar voice asked, "What is going on here? And why is my boyfriend's hair purple?" 

"My aunt's new set of combs - Valentine's Day," she said, as Draco walked over. "Doesn't it look good on him?"

"It actually does," Draco agreed as Salenia handed him a brochure. "Why are you handing this to me?"

"Because you're my friend, you're very fashion-conscious, and you're going to want something if a lot of other people are wanting it," she explained. "And you're the richest person in school." 

Draco acknowledged that she had a point and looked at the brochure as Salenia held up Moirai. "My cat is purple," Jacob said, looking at the faint purple streaks that now went through her fur. Salenia's cat, a big white fluffy one, had come to curl up next to her, and he noticed she too had purple streaks now.

"No, she has purple highlights," she said with a smile as Moriai mewed. 

"Can you remove them, please? And the ones in my hair now?"

"Oh, fine, you're no fun," she said, a slight pout on her lips. "But one second." She put Moirai into his lap and grabbed her camera. Before he could stop her, she took a picture before turning to the girls and taking a picture of them as well. When he stared at her, she just said, "What? Visual proof to show my aunt of how much people enjoy the combs, and who knows they might want to include these photos in their next brochure." 

Salenia set the camera down and grabbed the color removing the comb. "Can I just… leave a bit?" He was about to protest - Draco was smirking as he looked over the brochure - when she continued. "Oh, come on, just… right in the front, framing your face? It would look so good, and it would help me see if it lasts. I'll remove it tomorrow night, I promise."

Jacob groaned. "Oh, alright. Just until tomorrow." Salenia beamed at him, and soon, most of the purple was gone. 

"You know, I think I'll order both sets," Draco said. "Even though I don't really need the entire Hogwarts set, it seems silly to just buy one house. It's new, and it's one entire set, you know? And while the Valentine's set isn't really my cup of tea, it has its advantages." Salenia seemed thrilled by that.  Jacob leaned over to look at the brochure. Apparently, in addition to the Valentine's, Spring, and Summer sets, there was also going to be a Halloween set, a Winter set, a Prism set, and sets for the Professional Quidditch teams.

"What do you get for all this?" Blaise asked. He had been relatively quiet since he didn't have enough hair to work with for the combs to be interesting to him. "They might as well pay for all this free advertisement they're getting."

"Free combs for life, and I get any set before it's released," she said. "And I don't want to be a salesperson anyway; they can keep their money. I just want the combs and bragging rights. Besides,  I have bigger goals than just being a saleswoman. I want to be a Hit Wizard." Salenia turned to Draco. "Now, could I just -"

"Don't even think about it."

"Spoilsport. You'd look good with some pink streaks, but have it your way."

Just then, a rat-faced teen walked over to them. "Oi, Salenia, can you do my hair, too?"

"Fuck off, Vickers." He remembered them mentioning a Vickers that fancied Salenia. This was him, then? He had a vibe that Jacob didn't like, though he couldn't quite put his finger on why. 

"Oh, come on, everyone else's hair was done. And I saw how much you enjoyed playing with Jacob's hair." It was true. Aside from the purple streaks in his hair, Pansy had white streaks, Daphne had red, Tracey had pink, and Elizabeth had put red streaks in her hair. "After that, maybe you'll agree to go out with me."

"Fine, I'll do your hair, but I wouldn't date you if you were the last guy on Earth," she said, grabbing the combs as he turned around. "Besides, I'm dating someone."

"Yeah, a Gryffindor and a girl. It's not a real relationship." 

So, that was where the bad vibe came from. A smirk crossed Salenia's face. "Yes, it is, just because you're homophobic doesn't mean the rest of us are." She then started putting streaks in his hair. It took them all a few minutes to see what she was doing, and then the group started to snicker. She was putting all four colors in his hair, and doing it in such a way that it looked like Valentine's Day had thrown up on his hair. It was ridiculous, and he was pretty sure that was the point. "There you go. You're done. Now get out of my face."

Vickers left, looking quite smug, but the snickers followed him. "Oh, that was genius. He's going to freak when he sees what you did," said Pansy.

"That was the point," she said, sitting back down in her chair. "No one insults my relationship with my girlfriend. Besides, that'll teach him to ask me out when I already turned him down once, and he knows I'm dating someone. Bloody douchebag. Besides, it'll wear off in a couple of days anyway. Or at least it should."

While he still found them draining sometimes, the Slytherins weren't so bad. This was something he was pretty sure even the Gryffindors would appreciate. Maybe they weren't so different after all.

~~~~~~~~~~~

The next morning at breakfast, Vickers ran towards them. He had a desperate look on his face, and his hair was still the Valentine's Vomit that Salenia had done to him last night. The students sitting around them started snickering. He begged her to give him the removal comb; he actually looked quite desperate but she refused. He pleaded, but she stood her ground, pointing out that he had insulted her relationship with her girlfriend by saying that it was "not real" - but he had not said that about Jacob and Draco. Was it just because she was with a girl? Or was it because she had turned him down and he couldn't take a hint? He couldn't respond, and she sent him on his way. He looked kind of defeated and ran out as their friends congratulated her. Salenia said she planned on giving him the removal comb later on tonight because she didn't want to lose house points; she just wanted to make him sweat a bit first.

Of course, their good mood was stolen when Umbridge seemed to be making a fuss to Dumbledore about something. The old man stood up, though he seemed reluctant to do so. "Students, your attention if you please," he said. "While we encourage students to have fun in their free time, I must implore you to keep the colorful hair for free time, and Quidditch matches." He then turned and left the Great Hall while Umbridge didn't seem quite satisfied.

"Did he have to single us out like that?" Elizabeth said. "We're the only ones who have the combs because Salenia's the only one with them right now." 

"I don't think it was him," said Theodore from her right.

Draco and Jacob both nodded. "It's Umbridge. She didn't seem pleased," said Draco. "Probably another way for her to control us. It doesn't seem as if the Ministry likes any individuality whatsoever. She's been trying to control things from the start, and Merlin forbid we have any fun."

Draco was right, and Jacob had a feeling that Umbridge wasn't done yet.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Severus had finished breakfast, reading a book and sipping his second cup of coffee. He rarely had time for such things, but he was allowing himself a moment here for it. Then there was a knock on the door. Sighing, he marked his page before getting up to find the Headmaster at the door. "Headmaster? To what do I owe the pleasure?" he asked as he let the old man inside.

"I need to ask a favor of you, Severus," he said as they both sat down on the armchairs. Severus raised an eyebrow in response. "I would like you to make me a dose of Felix Felicis."

"Liquid Luck? Why do you need that made?" Severus asked. He couldn't imagine why Dumbledore would need that potion made unless he had something planned for it. The old man usually tended to get his way regardless. Felix Felicis was intended to make sure everything went right for you for twenty-four hours. While it was tricky to make, it wasn't above Severus's skills, of course. He just found it strange that Dumbledore would request such a thing.

"I have had to adjust some of my plans due to recent events." It was a cryptic statement, which made Severus think this was even more strange. Something Dumbledore was admitting to needing help with? "I hope I do not need to use it, but I have a feeling that I need a backup plan. It might come in handy. If you do not wish to do it -"

"I didn't say that," Severus said quickly. "I'll do it. I just find this whole thing rather strange, that's all."

Dumbledore nodded. "I understand, and all will be revealed in due time, my boy, I promise." He paused for a second before continuing. "How far have you gotten through the memories?"

"We have two more. I was hoping to get through one or both of them this afternoon when he comes. Why do you ask?"

"Just curious. Things have been going well?"

"Well enough. He doesn't really understand yet, but I'm sure he will."

"Of that, I have no doubt," Dumbledore replied. "I may not get to this before you finish the remaining memories. As soon as you have finished Felix, I will endeavor to get it done as soon as possible so that we may all take the next step." Severus was even more confused now if that was possible. This was connected to one of the last two memories? That was the only explanation he could think of. 

He must have seen the confused look on his face because he smiled at him. "It will all be clear in due time, I promise." Dumbledore then stood up and headed for the door. He paused as he reached it before turning back. "Trust that I am doing this because it is necessary, and we must have all the information in order to proceed forward."

"Proceed forward with what?"

"Everything." With that, Dumbledore left. 

Severus knew he was hiding something, and whatever it was, it was big, and he needed something in order to continue. Another memory? The last memory he had called "the most important" that he had collected. Shaking his head, he knew better than to dwell on such things. He would find out in due time what the old man meant. Still, he couldn't help but wonder what was so important in that last memory? And likely the other memory he needed to collect?

Severus knew one thing, though. He wanted to put off finishing the memories for as long as possible. He would need to tell Harry the truth about the circumstances surrounding his mother's death, and he wanted to wait as long as possible to do that. He knew telling him about the prophecy was important and should have been done earlier, but he was also worried about what Jacob's reaction to his part in it would be.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Before lunch, Jacob separated from the others and went to his father's rooms. He remembered what he had said before, and went straight in. Severus was sitting at the desk, seeming to be marking papers. He looked over at him as he came in, shutting the door behind him. "How was your morning?" Severus asked as he stood up, leaving the papers on the desk. "I've been meaning to ask you. Why is your hair purple?"

"Other than Umbridge ruining a good morning, great." Jacob told him about what had transpired last night with Salenia and the combs, that morning with Vickers and Umbridge convincing Dumbledore to announce the combs when only a handful of students had them - himself, Pansy, Daphne, Tracey, Elizabeth, and Salenia. Surely, Salenia would be giving them to her Gryffindor girlfriend for them to try out, too, but that was beside the point.

Severus just shook his head. "Not something I think she should have made a fuss about, then again, she and I do not see eye to eye," he said as they walked over the couch, the Pensieve and the box of memories already waiting for them. "Now, if you wore it to class, I would have to say something, but such a small thing from a few students doesn't seem like something to make an announcement about."

The two of them sat down on the couch, and Jacob wondered how many memories they had left to go. How many could Dumbledore have collected? Severus seemed to guess this question because the first next thing he said was that there were only two left. "Dumbledore told me that he was unable to collect many from his time at Hogwarts because those few who knew him well did not want to speak up about it," he explained.

Jacob nodded. "I can understand that," he said. "I mean, knowing him before he became Lord Voldemort and being fooled by him… anyone would probably keep quiet."

Severus nodded, going on to explain what Dumbledore had told him what he had been like at school, that he had been sorted into Slytherin almost before the hat even touched his head. He told him how Dumbledore had given him the benefit of the doubt after their first meeting, but that he did keep an eye out for him. In the Chamber of Secrets, Riddle said that Dumbledore kept 'an annoyingly close watch' on him after he opened the Chamber the first time.

His father continued, explaining that, according to Dumbledore, there had been incidents during his school years, but none of them were ever linked back to him and his friends. Jacob doubted he had ever had true friends; chances are, they were more like followers more than likely. The biggest incident had, of course, been the Chamber of Secrets. Hagrid and Aragog had been framed for that, Hagrid's wand snapped, and he had been expelled even though he had done nothing wrong. 

"According to those few that Dumbledore could persuade to talk to him, he was obsessed with his parentage, determined to find some trace of his father before he had to accept that his father was a Muggle. Which is when Dumbledore believes that he started using his new name. He then set out to find his mother's family," Severus had explained. "He had not wanted to believe she was a witch because he saw death as a human weakness." Jacob could understand him being curious about his past. He had always been curious about his parents growing up, though all he had been told was this mother and aunt were sisters, and his parents had died in a car crash. That had been a lie, of course, but he could understand wanting to know where you were from. 

Severus continued speaking. "When he was sixteen, he went off to find the last traces of Slytherin's line, which he had somehow tracked down after years of research. That is where he says this memory starts. It is of Morfin Gaunt, his uncle." They went into the memory, and it took him a moment to recognize the Gaunt's house, which was dirtier than it had been in the older memories. There was a man in an armchair, who almost looked dead until Riddle came in. 

Gaunt yelled at him in Parseltongue, recognizing him for his father before noticing that he was too young. Riddle asked questions, responding in Parseltongue. Gaunt seemed to hold no remorse for his sister's death - saying she got what she deserved for falling for a Muggle. Riddle asked about Marvolo, and Jacob assumed it was because that was his middle name, so he hadn't had much else. Riddle then realized he was being faced with his son, as Morvolo had already died. 

Morfin explained that Riddle Senior had come back, abandoning her and that she had robbed him before running off. Morfin wanted to know where Slytherin's locket was. Then, Riddle raised his wand and a darkness fell over everything. Jacob and Severus exited the memory, and Jacob immediately told him the conversation that had transpired inside, since Severus did not speak Parseltongue. "But what happened with the memory?"

"It ended, obviously, so he didn't remember anything else," Severus replied. "Dumbledore said that not long after, Riddle Senior and his parents were all found dead. Gaunt confessed to the whole thing, every single detail."

"He was Stupefied. That's why the memory ended so abruptly. So, he must have used Morfin's wand to do it, then."

"Yes, I agree, and so did Dumbledore, who also noticed that Gaunt's family ring was now gone," Severus said. "He managed to uncover that memory after some time and tried to use it to free Gaunt from Azkaban, but he had already died."

Jacob thought for a moment. "The trace, you mentioned before that it couldn't sense my magic in our house while you were there," he explained. "So, that's why they couldn't tell. Because of Morfin, and because he used his wand." 

Severus nodded. "Yes. It is up to Wizarding parents to uphold that law."

"Well, that's rubbish, then," he said, and Severus seemed to agree. "I mean, not that I want the MInistry watching me closely or anything, but there has to be a better way to go about it." Gaunt hadn't committed those murders, yet he had died for them.

"I think we've had enough for one day," Severus said. Jacob didn't see why they couldn't just do the last one and get it over with, but his father was insistent that they stop there. He shrugged it off since he didn't really want to do it anyway, they could wait two weeks. After that, they played some chess for a while before Jacob left for dinner, wondering what was in the final memory that Dumbledore had collected.

Chapter Text

That night after his day with his father was the first meeting of the DA since the new term started. Hermione wanted to do a review - they had covered several spells in the first half, and she wanted to make sure that everyone was on the same page before moving forward. It was a wise decision, Jacob thought, and the meeting really went well, all things considered. Everyone seemed excited to be there, and many said they'd been looking forward to it. 

After the meeting was over and he finally made his way back to the dorm, Draco had to hurry off with a quick kiss for Prefect duties. He did his Occlumency training before attempting to drift off to sleep. As he did so, he got a brief wave of happiness that he somehow knew didn't come from him. He thought that the Occlumency training was working - at least he was putting the effort in, and his father said things were going fine. Yet, this was the second time that he had gotten something from Voldemort. This was different, though. 

Voldemort was very happy about something, happiest he'd been in a long time. Whatever that was, it could not be good for anyone else. What was it, though?

The next morning in the paper, he had his answer. The headline read that ten Death Eaters had escaped from Azkaban, including Bellatrix Lestrange, the woman who had tortured Neville's parents to insanity. Fudge gave an interview blaming Sirius for it, saying that he had helped him. It infuriated Jacob to hear that about his godfather when the truth was that the Dementors had turned towards Voldemort. That was the only logical explanation, but he didn't see that. It wasn't as if Fudge was going to admit he was wrong, either, not unless something forced him to. 

Jacob had other things to worry about, but it wasn't as if he had missed all the news about it. When you found out your father was alive and the man you thought was your father wasn't really your father, anything else was not high on your priority list. He saw the Daily Prophet articles trashing him and Dumbledore, though. This seemed like such obvious proof that Voldemort was back, he didn't know how anyone could still be doubting it. Everyone should care about this.

Looking around, it didn't seem as if too many people cared that ten dangerous criminals were now loose and likely back with Voldemort by now. The normal teenager conversations were taking place - who was dating who, schoolwork, the upcoming Quidditch match next month, Valentine's Day, the opening matches for the qualifying groups for the Quidditch World Cup, which were also coming up… There were a few at the Slytherin table aside from them who were also looking at the article, and a few more at each of the other three tables. He saw Hermione and Ron bent over the paper, Hermione gasping at something. Neville had a stony look on his face that Jacob had never seen before. 

The look at the teacher's table was quite different. All the teachers were huddled together, talking. While not all of them had a copy of the paper, they were talking about the escape. 

Jacob was saved from having to think about it too much more as Draco nudged him to go to their first class of the day, Arithmancy. While it was not his best class, he was actually looking forward to the distraction right now.  The next day, however, things got even better.

Jacob and Draco ran into Hermione in the Great Hall. She said that Hagrid was on probation, and was very upset about it. Hermione was, too. Jacob wished, for the first time, that he was Harry again so that he could say something to him. Of course, that was brief, because as much as he missed Hagrid, he didn't hate his new life at all. There were things about it and people he missed, but he felt more himself as Jacob Snape than he ever had in his fifteen years as Harry Potter.

There was, unfortunately, another piece of news they saw as they were passing the notice board in the entryway. Umbridge had put up another Educational Decree - this one was number twenty-six. It forbade teachers from giving out information not directly related to their classes. 

Jacob rolled his eyes. "Do you think that qualifies if my father is one of the teachers?"

"I wouldn't want to find out," Hermione told him. "It's best to avoid giving Umbridge the chance to answer that question." He knew that she had a point, and he wasn't about to test it after what happened last time, no matter how sorely he was tempted on occasion. It was only a matter of time before things got worse, as they always did before they got better. Jacob had a feeling that Umbridge wasn't done yet.

~~~~~~~~~~

The rest of the week was a blur of Quidditch practice, classes, homework, and Draco. The teachers were giving them more homework with their O.W.L's coming up at the end of the semester. With a couple of Quidditch practices after school that week, as well, it meant staying up late to try and finish homework. Luckily, he and Draco helping him wind down after they were done. His lips and hands were a great way to distract him from anything he was thinking about. 

By that point, everyone had known that Hagrid was on probation. There also seemed to be a general consensus that the new educational decree was to stop the teachers from talking to any students about the breakout. Lee Jordan had told Umbridge during class that she wasn't allowed to tell Fred and George off for playing Exploding Snap in the back of the class because it had nothing to do with the subject. According to Hermione, he had red marks on the back of his hands the next day.

Saturday morning, he met up with Hermione in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom. She smiled at him as he sat down next to her. "Ron wanted to come with me," she said. "We haven't been on good terms really until the break, so I hadn't mentioned it to him before, just because… well, you know how he can get sometimes. He asked where I went, so I told him, but I didn't want to invite him along when Professor Snape doesn't have to let me come along to these, and he's breaking that new Educational Decree doing this." 

"You know, I don't think my father gives a shit about what Umbridge thinks or what the decrees, say," he replied.

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Yes, I know that," she said, an exasperated tone to her voice. "As I said, that's not the only reason. I also didn't want to invite him along without asking the Professor first, especially since I wasn't invited to these at first, either? I invited myself, remember?" Jacob wanted to correct her that she had asked for permission before he remembered his father had originally said no; Hermione had practically begged him to change his mind. "So, I talked to Terry." 

The change in subject broke his train of thought quickly. "Oh? And how did that go?" 

She smiled at him. "You were right, I just needed to talk to him and tell him how I was feeling," she said. "He apologized for seeming like he was rushing me, and said that wasn't his intention. He just thinks things are going really well, that we have a lot in common, but he would never rush me into moving our relationship faster than I was ready for."

"See, I told you? You were worried about nothing."

Hermione nodded. "Yeah, I know. I should have told him to begin with, but he caught me off guard, that's all." 

"Are things okay between you?" Jacob asked. She didn't seem to be really excited about it, and he never got any feeling from her that she really liked Terry.

Hermione nodded again. "Yes, things are just fine," she replied. Jacob nodded, not wanting to push her, but she seemed to want to talk more anyway. "I'm enjoying things and having fun with him. I'm okay with that for now because I do like him, although I do get the feeling more recently that he may like me more than I like him, but I'm not sure. Besides, I don't want to end a perfectly good relationship that I'm enjoying before I have a good reason."

Jacob nodded. He had no advice to give her because his only experience was with Draco. He certainly had never wondered how Draco felt about him or vice versa. They were crazy about each other, and that was no secret to anyone who spent any amount of time with them. He would imagine that a lot of people would feel the same way with someone they dated; he didn't think she would be alone in not being entirely sure about the person they were dating.

Hermione then told him about another article that he had missed in the paper - a ministry worker had apparently suffered an accidental death by a Devil's Snare. She remembered seeing him at St. Mungo's when they had gone to visit Ron's dad, and had seen the plant coming in. She was pretty sure it was murder, although the article said that it was still being investigated. The conversation ended as his father walked in. 

Hermione immediately popped up, the expression on her face eager. "Professor, I was wondering, can Ron join us?" she asked.

"No," Severus said without missing a beat as they headed towards the sink.

"Ron really wants to join, he's willing to do the work," she said. "He can keep up, I promise."

Severus groaned as Jacob opened up the chamber. "Very well, but I am not slowing down or backing up for him. He will have to keep up." Jacob wondered if he was agreeing to shut Hermione up or if he was agreeing because he was friends with him again.

~~~~~~~~~

The next day came without incident and found Jacob heading to his father's room again before lunch. Severus already had lunch ready for him when he got there. "Thanks for letting Ron come," he told him as they ate.

"If he wasn't your friend, I wouldn't have allowed it," he replied. "He seems to have matured a bit, and as I said yesterday, he will need to keep up. You and Miss Granger have been working at this for some time now. He will be behind."

Jacob nodded, but he had a feeling Ron would be fine. He just didn't want the redhead to be too dejected that he and Hermione might be a bit ahead. He knew that Ron would work hard for something that he wanted, though. It made perfect sense to him that now that Ron was on better terms with him and Hermione that he would want to join their sessions. The two of them were still not getting the hang of doing spells without saying the incantation, but they had come quite a ways from where they'd started.

After lunch was finished, Severus told him it was time for his Occlumency training to start again. "The next step is to work on pushing me out of your mind once I've invaded," he explained as he moved the coffee table out of the way so that nothing was around in case one of them - okay, he - fell. 

"Okay, so, I haven't mastered one step, but let's move onto the next, right?" 

Jacob hadn't realized he'd said that out loud until his father glared at him. "I don't need the sass," he said. Jacob just shrugged, because he didn't think he was wrong. "You won't always be able to keep someone out, especially if they are stronger or more skilled at Legilimency than you are at Occlumency, which they undoubtedly will be. The next step is to minimize the damage by getting them out as soon as possible."

Jacob had to admit his father may have a point, once he put it like that. He still thought that if he wasn't as good at it now, chances are he never would be. That was fine; he was okay with that. The thing that bothered him was not being able to keep Voldemort out, especially if they came face to face when he wasn't disguised as Harry. 

"Alright, let's go, then," Jacob said. He put up the mental like he had been taught to do, trying to imagine it still reinforced, hoping that would help keep his father out as long as possible.

"Now, try and keep me out of your mind as long as possible, as we have been doing," Severus explained. "Once I have invaded, then use your mental defenses to push me out. Understand?" He didn't really understand at all, actually, but he figured he was talking about using the wall to push him out. Or maybe picture throwing him out, or… something like that, anyway. He nodded.

A moment later, his father's wand was raised, and the barrage of attacks on his mind began. His wall began to crumble, as it always did. He tried to keep him out, but it got harder and harder as the seconds ticked on. The wall crumbled, and suddenly images swirled in his mind - Dudley chasing him down, Dudley and his friends hunting for him, him meeting Draco in Madam Malkin's before their first year. He tried to push him out but was failing, and the memories continued - him rejecting Draco's hand on the train, getting caught by his father after flying the car to school their second year.

His father stopped, and he realized he was on the floor now. A moment later, he felt his father's hand on his shoulder, and he was offering him a vial. He downed it without a second thought before Severus helped him up. "That wasn't a bad attempt," he said. "I should have stopped sooner."

His head was no longer pounding with the potion, and he shook his head. "No, it's fine, I was trying to push you, but when the memories keep coming, it gets harder."

Severus nodded. "It does indeed get harder. You have to push past the memories," he told him. "Ignore them, because if someone was attacking your mind, they would not be random. The Dark Lord would use them to torture you, make you see what he wanted you to see. You have to learn to block them out."

"That's easier said than done," he replied. It always like a barrage of images flooding your mind. Bocking them out was like trying to get above water when someone was holding you under.

"I realize that. You just have to focus your mind, control your emotions, and keep listening to what I am telling you," he explained. "You might not ever be that good, but you are improving, albeit slowly, but it is an improvement nonetheless. We just need to keep the Dark Lord from seeing anything that we don't want him to."

Jacob nodded. He just hoped at some point that he got good enough that he wouldn't need to keep doing these lessons. Especially with them almost being done with the memories, would they do this every week then? He certainly hoped not. Luckily, though, they were done for the day. They spent the rest of the time playing chess before Jacob left for dinner.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Severus spent most of the next week debating. Dumbledore had asked him to make Felix Felicis. He knew better than to ask the old man for a reason why, because he'd never tell him. No, the thing he was debating about was that he already had one - not the one he was making for Dumbledore, but one for himself. There was no telling when it would be necessary; it was a very handy potion. While he did not believe in luck, he did believe in making it for himself.

The potion took six months to make, and while he had already started on it, did he want to wait six months before giving it to Dumbledore? Obviously, the old man was prepared to, or he wouldn't have asked. He could give the one he had to him and get it over with. He would be without it until he finished the potion. He did not think he would need it, but when one was a spy, you never knew, did you?

But if he gave it to Dumbledore? Severus would find out what the last memory, the one of Slughorn's, had really been hiding. He knew it was important, or Dumbledore wouldn't have given it to him to give to Jacob. With a sigh, he walked over to his cabinet and took the potion of the self. Severus turned and left, heading straight up to the Headmaster's Office.

In a few minutes, he was knocking on the door to the Headmaster's Office. "Severus, to what do I owe the pleasure?" he asked, gesturing to the seat opposite him.

Severus didn't sit down. He simply walked over to the desk and set the vial of clear liquid right on the desk in front of him. The old man looked at it and then up at him. "Felix Felicis."

"I admit my knowledge of Potions is a bit rusty, but I was under the impression that it took six months to make," Dumbledore said, picking up the vial. 

"It does. This is mine. I will be replacing it with the one I am making now." He knew that Dumbledore needed it, and he was more interested in the last memory. He wasn't sure he wanted to wait six months to find out the truth. Could they afford that? There was no telling what would happen in the next six months, and while he didn't think that Voldemort was ready to make his move by then, there was no way to know for sure. Besides, they didn't know for sure what the final memory really said. 

"How generous," Dumbledore said, slipping it into his robes. "I do appreciate that. Having it will certainly make things a bit easier. Getting it is not going to be easy since he did not want to give it to me the first time."

Severus had noticed. Whatever this was, it involved his son. The Dark Lord had made sure of that, and he wanted to be prepared for it. There was more coming, and if this was step one, then he wanted it to come as soon as possible. He was invested in this war regardless, but knowing his son's place made him even more invested than he had been before.

"I appreciate this, Severus," Dumbledore said. "Hopefully, I will be able to go soon. I am as eager to get this final memory as you are." 

Taking that as his cue to leave, Severus swept out of the room, making his way back to the Dungeons. He wondered how long this was going to take, and would it be worth it?

~~~~~~~~~~

Saturday morning, Jacob woke up early as usual, and he had Draco made their way downstairs for their daily morning exercise. He had mentioned already that Ron was joining for their secret Defense lessons with his father this morning. Draco was still not sure about Ron. He didn't trust him, but likewise, he knew that Ron didn't really trust Draco either, not yet. To his credit, he hadn't said anything outright negative about Ron, though he had seemed interested in how well Ron could keep up with him and Hermione.

After coming up from breakfast, Draco pulled him upstairs, and quickly put up a silencing charm. "How do you think it's going to work with Weasley?" he asked, a smirk on his lips. "I'm sure you and Granger have a routine going now."

Jacob shrugged. "We do, but should be… fun. I mean, two opponents instead of one." He knew Ron was more capable than he sometimes thought, and he was probably eager to prove himself after everything that had happened. It should be interesting.

"I will look forward to hearing about it later," Draco said, pulling him in for a kiss, though Jacob figured that he would like to hear more about poorly Ron did than anything else. "I will see you for lunch. And I suppose Weasley will be joining us for our study session this afternoon." He rolled his eyes. "More questions for Granger." His boyfriend waved him off. "Off you go before you're late."

Sharing another kiss, Jacob left, making his way down to Moaning Myrtle's bathroom. Both Hermione and Ron were already there. "Nervous?" he asked Ron.

"A bit, I mean… you two have been practicing non-verbal spells," he said. 

"Not very well, but we're working on it," he said. "We mainly practice dueling techniques, protection spells, and such."

"You'll do fine, Ron," Hermione told him. "Just like I said last night, don't think so much. You're not bad when you put your mind to it, but you can't let yourself overthink things, Just… let it happen. Even if you're not that good, as long as you're trying to keep up, I'm sure the Professor will let you stay." Ron nodded, and Hermione made a soft "oh!" as she seemed to remember something. "I've been thinking, Jacob… about the spell that your mother put on you. You said Dumbledore had no idea how it was done? And there were so many layers!"

The change in subject nearly gave Jacob whiplash. "Yeah, he did - time delay set to expire exactly at midnight on my fifteenth birthday, glamour that aged with me, changed my eyesight, my height… He said it was complicated and impressive." He wasn't sure where she was going with this.

"I've tried doing a bit of research, but it's difficult because we don't know what she did exactly, and we haven't gotten into glamours yet in Charms Class," Hermione explained. "It's just… she shouldn't have been able to do that, I mean. I haven't heard of anything like that. Surely, if glamours like that were possible, and one that wasn't able to be detected, it would be easier for Death Eaters and other Dark Wizards to escape capture?"

"Not necessarily," Ron piped up. "Not everyone would be able to do it. And it's possible that she created this specific set of glamours and spells herself based on spells currently in use. I mean, I've heard of glamours but nothing that can do that. Just stuff from Bill and Charlie when I was a kid about learning to change hair color and stuff like that. Glamours are supposed to be temporary. NEWT-level stuff. It's not supposed to last even a day, let alone do what his did."

There was silence in the room for a moment. He could almost hear the wheels turning in Hermione's head. "It's just… curious. She shouldn't have been able to do it. And yet somehow, she did. How?" Neither of them had an answer to that. It wasn't something he wanted to think about it, because he didn't want to go back, but Hermione had a point. How had she done it? He supposed they'd never know now. The one person who knew the answer to that question had been dead a long time.

Chapter Text

"So, how badly did Weasley do today?" Draco asked as they pushed their books down to the foot of Jacob's four-poster bed, putting a silencing charm around the bed. He was surprised that his boyfriend hadn't asked sooner, but after studying, there was dinner, and more studying. There hadn't been time, he supposed, until now. 

Jacob shook his head. "Not bad, actually. He lacks conviction, but his wand work is fine," he said. "He just needs to focus a bit more, I think. He's pretty good when he puts his mind to it." The point is Ron didn't always believe that about himself and let his jealousy and insecurities get the better of him. "He's trying, though. He'll get there."

"If you say so. I have my doubts, but if you think so, I'll put up with it," he said, pulling Jacob in for a kiss.

"Mmm, Hermione brought up something else that was interesting," Jacob said, breaking the kiss. Draco gave a groan, but let him speak. He told him about the conversation that he'd had with Ron and Hermione about the glamours that had made him Harry Potter. Draco agreed that they were right, and also agreed that it was likely not something that they would ever get an answer to. 

"If I know Granger, though, she's not going to let this go." Jacob laughed because he knew that he was right. Now, can we agree to stop talking about that?" Draco asked, running a hand down his back. "It's late, and there are other things I want to do before I have to go to my own bed." He smiled as he brought him down into a kiss. Ron is back?!?!? Boooooo!!!

Jacob was pretty sure he never he would never get tired of kissing Draco. It was intoxicating. Every move of his hand, his lips, his body… it just drove him crazy. Every touch was like a fire that he didn't want to put out. It felt like he was drowning, being pulled under, but he wanted to go. It was overwhelming and thrilling all at the same time. If Draco kept kissing and touching him like that, then Jacob wouldn't mind going under.

Draco pulled away, his breathing laboured. "I should - I should go. Back to my bed." Jacob nodded. He knew he was right, but couldn't bring himself to tell his boyfriend that he should go. Draco seemed to be thinking the same thing because he kissed him again before pulling away. Smiling, he slipped out of bed, closing the curtain behind him.

Jacob groaned, trying to squash down the arousal that always plagued him during his late-night sessions with Draco. He needed to sleep since they woke up early, but that was going to be hard. With another groan, he turned over and tried to go to sleep. 

~~~~~~~~~~

The next two weeks went by quickly. It was a never-ending series of classes, grading papers, only broken up by the weekends. Ron Weasley was scraping by in his Saturday morning sessions with him, Miss Granger, and Jacob. He was not as powerful as his son, nor as precise as Miss Granger, but he had natural instincts - the problem was getting him to use it. Unfortunately, that duty seemed to be falling to him. He seemed to want to do it, which was a far cry from how he acted during class. At least he had Sunday. He spent time with his son. They continued to work on Occlumency, as Severus put off revealing the prophecy. 

He was thinking about that very thing when, on Friday the Second, Dumbledore called Severus to his office. "I'm leaving early tomorrow morning. I have already notified Minerva," he told him. "I have found out where my old friend, Horace Slughorn, is located. I'm hoping that with Felix's help, I will be able to procure the corrected version of the memory. Perhaps, with Harry's help, I might not need Felix, but we both know that's not possible anymore." 

Severus wondered why he was telling him this. He had already assumed this, so there was really no point in him telling him. He was about to tell him that when Dumbledore waved at the portraits, shooing them away. He then looked back at him over the rim of his half-moon spectacles and continued. "Have you told him about the prophecy yet?" Severus' silence was all the answer that he needed. "Now, you see why I have not been able to do it yet."

"Your reasons are not the same as mine," Severus quipped. He wasn't sure exactly what the old man's reasons were, but he knew there was no way that they could be the same. Severus didn't know what Jacob's reaction was going to be, but chances are, it wouldn't be good. 

"It's understandable that you have reservations. There are terrible things in your past, and you have done some terrible things yourself," Dumbledore said. Severus did not need a reminder. "And I know what the prophecy means to you, but I do not think that you can keep this from him any longer. I don't know if we will be able to continue until he does."

Severus knew Dumbledore must have a feeling about what was in that memory, even if he wasn't completely sure. He has despised the fact that the old man was right. He was putting this off, had for over six months now. How much longer could he? Dumbledore seemed to think that he needed to tell him about the prophecy before they got any further. And he was right; Severus hated that.

He had no idea what Jacob's reaction was going to be. It wouldn't be good. 

"You must have faith, Severus. You two have come a long way, and I have a feeling it'll be fine," Dumbledore said. "I don't think you give him enough credit. Or yourself, for that matter. Your relationship has grown, and I know that it'll be alright. You'll see. Besides... "The old man sighed, and suddenly, he looked every one of his years. "Maybe I was wrong not to tell him sooner. I suppose he has a right to know. I just… felt he needed to be a kid for a while."

Severus scoffed. "That hasn't happened, anyway, Albus!" He ran a hand through his hair, trying to control his emotions. "He has had to fight off something every year, and considering how he grew up…" He balled his hands into fists. "I don't know how he'll react to what it means for me, or how he'll look at me once he's found out."

"You punish yourself for what you think are your failings," Dumbledore said, "but Severus? We all have failings. We all make mistakes — no one's perfect, not even me. You've done some terrible things, yes, but you are more than making up for it. If Jacob can see past all that, and I think he can, then perhaps, you should trust that sometimes, things work out for the best."

"I should go. I would say to have good luck tomorrow, but you don't need it," he said, turning around, heading for the door of the office. He didn't want to hear Dumbledore's incessant optimism. It usually didn't work out that way, at least not for him. 

"Severus." 

He stopped and turned around. Dumbledore had stood up and was going over to his Pensieve. He seemed to be retrieving a memory, and when he turned around, he was holding a vial. He walked over and held it out to Severus. "It's my memory of the complete prophecy," Dumbledore explained. "In case you need that, or want to show it to him instead of explaining it."

Severus nodded, wordlessly taking it before slipping the vial into his rooms and heading out. Yes, he would need it. He knew how this was going to turn out. Life had never been kind to Severus. He didn't see why this would be any different.

~~~~~~~~~~~

The next night, Severus was having a drink in his rooms before going to bed when Dumbledore Flooed him, telling him that he was back and wished to speak with him. He must have the memory , he thought to himself. With a groan, he slipped his robes back on over his clothes and made his way up to Dumbledore's office. Using his password, he headed up to see Dumbledore standing there, looking a bit tired.

"It's been a long day," said the old man, "and I used most of the vial you gave me. It wasn't easy to get it out of him, even with Felix's help." He reached into his robes, pulling out the vial and setting it on the desk in front of him. "The corrected memory. He seemed ashamed, apologetic. I should have thought about using Felix Felicis last time I talked to him about this, but it didn't occur to me that he would have tampered with the memory to protect himself." 

Severus looked at the vial for a moment before looking up at Dumbledore. "Have you seen it yet?"

He shook his head. "No, it was late, but after all the trouble, I would like to see now. If it is not too late for you?" Severus shook his head, and Dumbledore stood up from the desk, making his way over to his Pensieve. He poured the memory in and grabbed Severus' arm. In a moment, they were inside the memory.

It started off the same as the fake memory, with Riddle talking to Slughorn and asking him about something, only this time, the memory was clear - Horcruxes. The young Dark Lord appealed to Slughorn's vanity and was a very good actor. Slughorn seemed nervous but explained everything - that all he needed to kill someone, split his soul, and hide it in an object. Slughorn looked deeply troubled when Riddle suggested that seven make more sense, being the most powerful magical number. It was then that Slughorn seemed to realize that it had been a mistake to enter into this conversation. Riddle promised not to say anything, assuring him it was only for academic purposes.

A moment later, Dumbledore grabbed his arm again and was taking him out of the memory. They landed wordlessly back in Dumbledore's office, and the old man retrieved the memory, putting it back in the vial, handing it to Severus. "I have been waiting for a clue, some sign that my theory was correct," he said," and now we have it." 

Severus was silent. He had suspected, of course, that the Dark Lord had gotten into some dark magic to keep himself alive and immortal - in fact, he had said as much in Death Eater meetings since he'd returned. This went deeper than that, though. It meant that there were now objects that they needed to find and destroy before Voldemort himself could be killed, and they had no idea what these objects were or where to find them.

"So, we just found out that there is more work that we have to do," Severus said as they walked back to his desk.

"Indeed, and I believe that Riddle told Horace exactly what we need to find," Dumbledore said. "He asked about splitting his soul into seven parts. I believe to gauge his reaction, and I believe he did that. According to Harry, he told his Death Eaters last year when he returned that they had done more than anyone else to achieve immortality." The old man gave a heavy sigh. "I believe Harry destroyed one already - the diary four years ago. That leaves five more. I would assume Marvolo's ring, Slytherin's locket and Hufflepuff's Cup to be others. He would be unlikely to use some random objects."

"I agree. The problem is that we have to find them first," Severus said. It was too late for this. His mind was reeling, thinking of his son needing to deal with all of this.

Dumbledore ignored him. "I believe having something of all four founders would have been powerful to him," he continued. "But I don't believe he got anything of Gryffindor's. The only known relic of his is sitting in this room." He gestured towards the Sword of Gryffindor that sat behind his desk. "That leaves something of Ravenclaw's, which might be hidden somewhere in this school."

His logic made sense. "That leaves one more."

"I believe I have an answer to that," said Dumbledore. Of course, because he had an answer for everything, didn't he. "His snake, Nagini. You have said that she never leaves his side, that he keeps her close. It might explain why. I believe he was trying to make Harry his final Horcrux. The prophecy predicted that he would be his downfall, so I believe that would have been significant for him. He failed, of course, so the old man that Harry told me about, his vision of the caretaker being killed, might have been his opportunity to his final Horcrux."

Severus was tired. Dumbledore seemed to be finished, so he turned to leave. He had a feeling that the old man wasn't telling him everything that he was hiding something.  But he was too tired right now to care. "I still believe what I said last night," said Dumbledore to his back. "He needs to know about the prophecy before he sees that. Make sure when you tell him you impress upon him what it means to Voldemort."

He froze. Yes, he knew. He knew better than anyone. "What you believe it to be." He didn't let Dumbledore respond, and left.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The next morning, Jacob arrived before lunch, as he usually did. His father was unusually quiet today, more so than usual. Severus wasn't a very open individual, but Jacob could tell when the proverbial wall was up. He had seemed a bit off yesterday morning, too. Last time he had asked him what was wrong, Severus had reacted in his typical manner and had snapped at him. He didn't want to push him if he didn't want to talk, and surely if he did, he would have said something by now? While he knew another fight was coming, he didn't want to start it. He knew Severus well enough to know that he wasn't going to talk until he wanted to. Although, come to think of it, last time he had told him - after Jacob had got upset and nearly left.

Jacob put it out of his mind as they finished lunch and played a couple of games of chess. It was only after that Severus seemed to be willing to talk. "I have something I need to show you," he said after he had gotten rid of the chess game. He walked over to the box that Dumbledore had given him and pulled out two more vials.

"I thought we'd seen all the memories," Jacob wondered aloud. "Or did Dumbledore get the corrected one?"

"He did, but that's not what I need to show." They walked over to the Pensieve. "Dumbledore should have told you this. And I should have, too. I didn't feel like it was the right time, but I cannot put it off any longer. You need to know." He took a pause before pouring both of them in. "I only hope that you will not… judge me too harshly after you've seen it."

Jacob frowned in confusion, but he didn't have time to ask as he was pulled into the memory. He didn't recognize the hallway of the building they were in, but they were outside a door. His father was standing there. He was younger, but it was definitely him. He was apparently eavesdropping, and he heard voices coming from inside the room, they sounded familiar. One was definitely Dumbledore. Was the other Trewlaney? It had to be. They were discussing her getting a job as Divination teacher. Her interview? Then, her voice sounded odd, and he recognized the tone from his third year.

" The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies…" Just then, a large man came up, and the voices behind the door faded as Severus got into an argument with him. The door flew open, and Severus was pushed away from the door. The memory faded, but another took its place.

This time, they were inside the room before. It was Dumbledore and a younger Trewlaney. He didn't seem overly interested in her interview until she went into a trance. " The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the