Title: The Broken Boy

Author: Eriador117

Team: Post war

Genre(s): Angst, Hurt/Comfort

Prompt: Shellshock

Rating: NC-17

Warnings: See Snarry Games post for warnings.

Word Count: Approx 21,000

A/N: A big thank you to Rakina for letting me bounce ideas off her and for betaing this effort.

Disclaimer: JK Rowling owns the Potterverse, I just like playing in it from time to time.

 

 

Summary: The war had broken them all.

 

 

 

The Broken Boy

Part One

 

Severus lifted the box of Tetley teabags from the shelf, at the same time eyeing the shop's own, cheaper brand. If he bought the Tetley, he wouldn't have enough for biscuits too and what good was a lonely cup of tea without a biscuit to dunk in it? He sighed and replaced the Tetley, knowing such simple luxuries were a rarity these days. The pittance the Ministry allowed him did not go far, particularly when he had no access to the cheaper Muggle supermarkets and had to make do with the corner shop which was a few doors down from his house on Spinner's End.

 

He grabbed the cheaper tea bags (the shop didn't even have proper loose tea!) and the cheapest packet of biscuits he could find, Rich Tea. He much preferred digestives but again, the cost was prohibitive and he wondered how long he'd be able to survive on tea and biscuits. Not that he really cared much either way. Life was something he wasn't that keen to hold on to any longer, not after what had happened at that mockery they'd called a trial.

 

Despite the evidence of Dumbledore's Pensieve, Severus' involvement in the Headmaster's death was not going to be forgiven and forgotten, never mind that the man had been dying horribly, painfully anyway. It was a mercy killing, but Scrimgeour and his cohorts didn't want to see that. They wanted a scapegoat – someone to blame for everything that happened during the war – and Severus was it.

 

The crowd had been baying for blood but they'd done worse than kill him – Severus Snape had been one of the first people to have been condemned to wear a magic-inhibiting collar. Oh, he could still perform magic, but only if he wanted to suffer more pain than twenty Cruciatus curses put together. It was worse than having no magic at all. Severus could sense the power thrumming through him but it was unavailable to him unless he was prepared for the pain.

 

The collar had two other jobs too, it prevented him from actively ending his own life and it prevented him from leaving the area surrounding his house. His prison may have been a square mile and not a cell in Azkaban, but it was still a prison.

 

As he took his meagre purchases up to the counter and the shopkeeper behind it, Severus saw there was a small shelf with some clearance items. There was a small loaf of white bread which would be out of date on the morrow and a jar of marmalade on which someone had opened the safety seal. "How much for those as well?" asked Severus mentally counting out the small amount of money he had remaining for this week.

 

"Fifty pence for both," said the shopkeeper.

 

Severus lifted them up and set them down on the counter along with his tea and biscuits and nodded to show he would take them as well. Once his purchases were rung up on the old-fashioned till, Severus paid and waited patiently while his goods were bagged and handed over to him, along with twenty pence change. If he was lucky, maybe he'd die from food poisoning by eating out-of-date bread or marmalade that had been tampered with.

 

As he exited the shop, he gave in to the melancholy sigh that had wanted to escape him all morning. The sky was overcast in gunmetal grey, the March wind bitter as it whipped his hair around his face. Is this what his life was to become from now on? A walk to the corner shop every few days to exchange his money for supplies that were barely enough to keep him alive for the next week before the Ministry deigned to give him any more of his allowance?

 

He had no job; they wouldn't allow it, neither Muggle nor magical. All of his books had been confiscated, along with half his furniture and possessions in order that he be seen to be making some form of reparation to the victims of the Dark Lord. Despite over twenty years spying for the Light, he was still considered nothing less than a Death Eater and treated accordingly.

 

It hadn't escaped Severus' notice that nothing of Lucius Malfoy's was confiscated and the man had been pardoned, along with his son. Things would have turned out better for Severus too if he'd had enough Galleons to bribe the Ministry. Scrimgeour needed money to help rebuild the wizarding world and if pardoning Malfoy would get him that gold, then he would quite conveniently forget about Malfoy's involvement with the Dark Lord and make Snape the ringleader instead.

 

Severus paused a few paces from his front door; sure he was having some form of hallucination due to lack of food and company for the past two years. Not only was he in prison, he was in solitary confinement. He hadn't seen anyone from one end of the year to the next; his allowance was magically sent to him every Saturday morning, already changed into Muggle currency for he wasn't allowed to go to any wizarding banks.

 

"Miss Granger?" he gasped at the bushy-haired witch, who was staring equally flustered at him.

 

Severus could well imagine what she saw, for he'd seen it every day in the mirror. The lank hair that he hadn't bothered to wash for weeks – for what was the point? – the patched and frayed Muggle clothes (those Ministry bailiffs had even taken all of his robes!) and of course the dull eyes that saw nothing but the past, for Severus knew there was no future for him.

 

"Professor Snape," she nodded at him and he did not have the heart to correct her use of the title, for it had been so long since anyone had addressed him with even a modicum of respect.

 

The two children from next door were gazing avidly at the two of them, he felt the weight of their stares on his back as he hurried to open his front door. No point in giving the neighbours anything else to gossip about, he was sure they talked about him so much already. He fumbled a couple of times before he managed to get the key into the lock; there weren't any wards to disarm anymore.

 

Granger gasped as she saw the sparse living room that the street door led straight into.  There was one armchair and a fireplace, nothing else. Not even a rug or a carpet for the floorboards. There was a thin film of dust on the floor and square, paler patches on the walls where pictures and bookcases had once been. Both of them stood there, not looking at each other before Severus could stand it no longer.

 

"Excuse me a moment," he said and took his groceries through to the small room that served as a kitchen, taking his time putting them away in the almost empty cupboards. Anything to delay the inevitable. He had a sinking sensation that he knew why she had come. Two years ago, after he had finally defeated Voldemort once and for all, Harry Potter had been kidnapped by Bellatrix Lestrange in some sort of twisted revenge for the defeat of her Master. Granger was here to tell him that his body had been found.

 

Severus' hands were trembling as he closed the cupboard door. He clasped them behind his back so that the young witch out there wouldn't see and wonder.

 

Granger was standing in front of the fireplace, staring at the empty grate, shivering and wrapping her arms around herself. She turned on hearing his approach. "Please sit down," said Severus, indicating the only chair in the room.

 

"They – they've found Harry," she said without preamble, tears leaking down her cheeks.

 

"I guessed as much, Miss Granger," he replied gravely.

 

"It's Mrs. Zabini now," she whispered, her arms going protectively to her lower abdomen and now that he looked, he noticed the slight swell beneath her coat.

 

"So you've become victim to the new marriage laws as well?"

 

"Everyone of childbearing age has," she said bitterly.

 

Severus simply nodded. It was such a waste; Granger had a fine mind and would have made an excellent Auror or even an Unspeakable in the Department of Mysteries, but because she was a woman the new laws now made that impossible. According to the new Ministry edicts, women were there for one purpose and one purpose only: to bear and raise the children that would repopulate the wizarding world after the decimation during the war. Scrimgeour was on one of his moral crusades. According to him the collapse of family and moral values was what had allowed the Dark to flourish in the first place. He wanted to clean up what he saw as the moral decay.

 

All sex outside of the marital bed was now a crime, as was the use of any contraceptive potions or devices, whether the parties were married to each other or not. Scrimgeour wanted lots of little witches and wizards running around and by Merlin, he was determined to get them. All triads and homosexual partnerships had been dissolved, except in those rare cases where a male happened to be a bearer. In the eyes of the law, that made him a woman and despite the extra risks carried with male pregnancy, bearers were forced to have children by whoever Scrimgeour had decided to marry them off to.

 

"I knew – I knew you cared for Harry," she said. Severus didn't deny it; it wouldn't help matters now. Harry had died thinking that Severus had betrayed him – that he'd killed the headmaster in cold blood and that he'd betrayed Harry's parents to their deaths.

 

"Did Scrimgeour send you here? What does he want from me? Does he want me to pay for Harry's death too? That it was my fault the Chosen One is dead?" Severus was almost shouting now. He never thought he would feel such pain again.

 

"Dead? But, sir, Harry isn't dead," she said softly.

 

"Not – not dead?" gasped Severus, swaying a little where he stood. He placed his palms flat against the wall to steady himself as he took in the news. "But – but he's been missing for two years! How could he still be alive and not contact anyone to let them know where he was?"

 

"Professor, Harry is alive but he's not well – he's not himself any more. He was held captive and tortured for two years, mostly with the Cruciatus curse. His mind is gone, sir. He doesn't recognise any of us; he doesn't even know his own name. Harry has no memory of the last battle or the role he played in defeating Voldemort. He's – he's like a child, he throws tantrums when he doesn't get his own way and he – he does things that are inappropriate without realising it."

 

"What do you mean by 'inappropriate'?" asked Severus.

 

The girl blushed. "Erm, he goes to the toilet wherever and whenever the mood strikes him. The healers can't get him to use proper facilities and he um – he - you know – touches himself even when other people are watching. He has no sense of modesty left at all."

 

"I fail to see how this concerns me, Miss Granger. I'm not allowed to leave; I can't even go to visit him due to this damned collar!"

 

"You have to! You have to save him!" she exclaimed. "Harry's a bearer, sir, and the Minister wants to marry him off to Lucius Malfoy!"

 

 

 

 

Part 2

 

Lucius Malfoy. Even the name had the gorge rising in Severus' throat. Lucius Malfoy was the reason Severus had joined the Death Eaters in the first place. Oh, Lucius had been so clever, seducing and grooming Severus almost as soon as he'd started Hogwarts. Lucius hadn't fucked him straightaway, oh no, he was much too subtle for that. A sixth year when Severus had been a first year, he'd started out by cultivating a friendship with him. Severus Snape, a half-blood in Slytherin House had no friends there and no friends anywhere else because he was in Slytherin. He'd been all too easy to manipulate and Lucius Malfoy was a master manipulator.

 

Severus thought he'd found a friend, when really Lucius hadn't wanted to befriend him at all, he'd only wanted to recruit him to Voldemort's service when he deemed the time was right. Too young and naïve to know what was really going on, Severus had basked in the attention Lucius had bestowed upon him. Lucius was his shield against the Marauders and too late Severus realised he'd only been used, not loved. On his twelfth birthday, Lucius Malfoy had fucked him in the Room of Requirement for the first time and Severus had been sure that it meant Lucius really loved him. Lucius hadn't loved him; he didn't love any of the boys he fucked – he just loved their youth.

 

And now Lucius wanted to get his hands on Harry Potter. Severus was no longer under any illusions as to what Lucius Malfoy was. Lucius had had his eye on Potter ever since the boy's second year of school. Severus had heard rumours, which he was inclined to believe, that Lucius had paid prostitutes to Polyjuice into Harry Potter, a younger Harry Potter. Since Severus was the one to brew the Polyjuice for him at those times, Severus didn't doubt it.

 

All the brothels had been closed now of course, even those few which had been sanctioned by the Ministry and had been frequented by Ministry high-fliers, including the Minister himself. Severus often wondered what had happened the all the prostitutes who'd worked there. Were they out begging on the streets, or perhaps even plying their trade that way? It was illegal now, but they might get away with it if they were discreet.

 

"I don't see how this is any concern of mine or how I could help anyway. This collar restricts my movements as you are probably well aware."

 

"Yes, sir," she nodded. "They put one on Ron too, so that he wouldn't try and find Harry himself."

 

"I see. Is that why you never married Mr. Weasley? He was considered too dangerous to society?"

 

"What? No! I loved Ron, I still do, but none of us were given a choice who we married. The Ministry did tests to see who we would be most compatible with, magically and genetically. According to the tests, Ron and I weren't considered suitable partners for each other even though we'd been engaged since we were seventeen. Ron was forced to marry Pansy Parkinson and Ginny..."

 

"Yes?" he prompted.

 

"They made her marry Draco Malfoy. They both live at Malfoy Manor with Lucius. Ginny's had a thing for Harry for years, they even dated for a while when Harry was in sixth year. Can you imagine how she'd feel if Lucius marries Harry and she'll have to see him every day knowing they can never be together?"

 

"I still don't see how any of this has anything do to with me." Severus refused to dwell overlong on the pang of pain in his chest on hearing that Ginny Weasley, now Malfoy, still had a thing for Harry.

 

"Professor McGonagall has managed to convince the Wizengamot to hold a hearing to prevent Lucius Malfoy from making a claim on Harry."

 

"On what grounds? He's insane, you said so yourself, if that isn't enough to stop them, what will?"

 

"By citing that there is already a prior claim on Harry. Professor McGonagall wants you to claim Harry as your husband in repayment of the Wizards' Debt he owes you."

 

"Miss Granger ... Mrs. Zabini, Harry Potter defeated the Dark Lord. Any debt he owes me has been paid in full. I am not about to force a sick boy to marry me."

 

"You may think he's repaid his debt, but not according to the ledgers in the Wizengamot's possession."

 

"What ledgers?"

 

"They belonged to Professor Dumbledore, sir. Every time you saved Harry's life, there was an entry in the books; there are still two debts unclaimed. You have a right to demand this."

 

"Rights? I have no rights left!" Severus ranted.

 

"Please, sir. You've got to do this or they'll marry him off to Lucius Malfoy."

 

"Even if I were to accede to this wild request, what will it achieve? Harry is in no condition to consent to be married to anyone, never mind me! How can the Wizengamot even think of allowing him to be married off without his consent, for from what you have told me, he is in no state to consent to anything."

 

"It's because he's a bearer, sir. They want the child Harry might produce. The progeny of the Chosen One, just how powerful might that child be?"

 

"They would never allow Harry to raise a child!"

 

"No, they wouldn't. Can't you see where this is going, Professor? The Ministry removing the baby from Harry's care because of his mental instability. The Minister will raise it to be loyal to the Ministry, not to Harry. The child would be a Ministry puppet, but because it is Harry's Potter child, the people will listen to whatever nonsense the Ministry will feed them through the child."

 

It was unfortunately all too true; Severus could imagine that scenario all too well.

 

"The Minister tried to stop it, but the Wizengamot are insisting that you be allowed to attend the hearing. The Wizards' Debt Law is too old to ignore completely. They will deactivate the travel restrictions on the collar."

 

"But I still can't do magic?"

 

"I'm sorry, no. But if you win the hearing, McGonagall has made it a condition that the collar gets removed completely and you get a new wand as well."

 

"And if I win I'm supposed to marry Harry Potter? Tell me something, why is it me who is supposed to help? There are still Order members left, aren't there? Why can't one of them do it?"

 

"They've all been married off," she replied calmly. "You and Lucius Malfoy are the only unmarried wizards under sixty left. You because you're single, and Lucius because he's widowed."

 

"And so once again I'm expected to come running because the Order needs me? None of you lifted a finger to help me, did you? Where were you when those Ministry bastards stole my meagre possessions and every Knut that I'd ever earned? They even took my mother's engagement ring which was paste and glass and worthless to anyone but me! Where were you? Where were you?" he screamed.

 

"I was in a cell being raped by Death Eaters!" she screamed back, gasping for air. He didn't apologise, he knew the word 'sorry' would have been an insult at this juncture. Severus knew what the Death Eaters were capable of. "And then the Minister married me off to one of their sons!"

 

"Blaise was never a Death Eater, then?"

 

"No, but he's best friends with Draco Malfoy. We go to the Manor quite frequently. Blaise blames Harry for what happened to his father. If Harry gets married to Lucius Malfoy, I'm afraid there might be murder done, for Blaise would have full access to the Manor. I don't know who else to turn to, Professor. Please help."

 

Severus wanted to deny her; he wanted to deny all of them who'd forgotten him and left him to rot in this hellhole in Yorkshire. Left him to live in poverty with an allowance that was more like an insult.

 

"You could save Harry and get your magic back at the same time," she continued trying to coax him, but in truth she didn't need to. Severus had been sold on the idea ever since he'd learned that Lucius Malfoy had wanted to claim Harry. If Severus had his way, that would never happen.

 

"I'll do it," he said and he had to look away when he saw the tears of gratitude in her eyes.

 

***

 

Minerva McGonagall arrived on the Saturday morning before the trial. They may have lifted the travel restrictions on his collar, but they weren't prepared to allow him to travel anywhere on his own. Minerva was his jailer for the day.

 

"Minerva," he said stiffly, unable to hide the anger in his voice. Why hadn't they done anything to help him? Why had no one even visited him for two years? Had he been so easily forgotten? There was shame in it too, he was appalled that his ex-teacher and colleague saw the conditions he was living in now.

 

"Severus, oh, Severus! My poor boy! What have they done to you?" she demanded and in two strides she had her arms wrapped around him in an embrace. It was the first human contact Severus had had for years and much to his horror, tears spilled down his cheeks and he just wept against the woman's bosom. "Hush, child. It's going to be all right now. It is. It is."

 

"I... I thought you'd forgotten about me! No one came! No one came!"

 

"Oh, Severus! The Minister told us you didn't want any visitors and refused to allow travel passes for us to even check up on you."

 

"Travel passes?" Severus asked, looking up and drying his eyes.

 

"Yes. All magical travel is heavily regulated since the war. You can't even ride a broomstick these days without having permission signed in triplicate! The Floo network is patrolled by Travel Officers and if you're caught travelling without a pass, it's Azkaban. The same for unauthorised Portkeys or Apparation. Hermione told me what happened, about them taking your furniture and your mother's things. They weren't supposed to do that, Severus and you were supposed to get the allowance the same as your salary at Hogwarts. I'll be having words with the Minister about this, don't you worry."

 

"I doubt that it would do any good, Minerva. He wants a scapegoat and he's got one."

 

"You're skin and bones; you need a few good meals into you. And we'd better go shopping to get you some new dress robes for the hearing this afternoon."

 

"Will we have to time to see Harry before the hearing? Will he be allowed to attend?"

 

"I'm afraid not; he's in a secure ward at St. Mungo's. The healers aren't letting him out until the verdict and even then they aren't convinced he's well enough to leave. However, the Minister has overruled them and Harry will be released into the care of his husband once the hearing is over. Severus, just so you're prepared. Harry isn't the same as the boy you once knew. He still looks so much like a boy, he's so small. The war has changed him, Severus. He's different now. Broken."

 

Severus nodded. The war had broken them all.

 

 

Part 3

 

Their passes were checked by uniformed guards in the middle of the market square in Diagon Alley. These wizards weren't dressed in the scarlet Auror robes, their robes were royal blue with gold piping down both sides and they were in a style Severus had never seen before: double breasted with two rows of gold buttons to the waist. They looked expensive and he idly wondered how much of Lucius Malfoy's gold had gone into these new guards and their uniforms.

 

There was a commotion when a man and a little girl Apparated into the market square a few minutes after he and Minerva. The little girl didn't have a travel pass and the father was arrested, dragged off by the blue-robed guards and the girl began to wail in the street as she watched her father being dragged away.

 

Severus opened his mouth to say something to the guard, but Minerva's death grip on his arm hinted that he shouldn't speak, he shouldn't interfere. Minerva ushered him down one of the smaller side alleyways that led off the square.

 

"Don't antagonise the Blues," suggested Minerva. "They would quite happily throw anyone in Azkaban if they so much as looked at them wrong. They are not Aurors, Severus. Those arrested by the Blues are not given a trial; it's straight to prison, without recourse to appeal."

 

"You are joking? You mean those jumped-up bullies can decide to put people in jail without any reference to the law at all?"

 

"Yes, Severus. Things have changed since the war."

 

"Not for the better," said Severus softly. "What will happen to the little girl?"

 

"She’ll be processed at the children's centre and then will either be sent to any relatives she has or put into the orphanage."

 

"But they've just left her in the street!"

 

"Severus, we can't interfere. Not if we don't want to get arrested ourselves. It just isn't done. Come, let's get to Madam Malkin's, I'm sure they'll have something in your size."

 

Severus followed the Headmistress of Hogwarts down Diagon Alley to the robe shop and he saw a few people gape open-mouthed at the pair of them. He was sure that if Minerva hadn't been with him, Severus would have endured some colourful insults and perhaps people spitting on him as well. As it was, he saw a few people make a warding sign against the evil eye and he wondered if all the inbreeding over the years had made wizards stupid. It wasn't Severus who'd been the evil one; but the Minister was making sure the populace still had someone to hate, someone to blame for these new restrictions other than the Ministry itself.

 

Madam Malkin was as professional as ever and she didn't bat an eyelid when Minerva asked to see all the current dress robes they had in stock. Half an hour later, Severus was in a changing room, trying on robe after robe, none of them in black. It was strange to be back in a robe again; all his own robes had been confiscated and he'd been making do with Muggle clothes.

 

"Severus? What's keeping you?" asked Minerva. "The hearing is at one and we need to get some lunch before that."

 

"I'm still deciding. Don't they have anything in black?" he peeked his head above the changing room door.

 

Minerva's face paled. "Ssh, don't let anyone else hear you speaking like that."

 

"Like what?"

 

"Black robes! All black clothes have been banned since the war. They reminded people of Death Eaters."

 

"Oh." What was he supposed to do now? Severus had always worn black, even since before he became a Death Eater. He had no sense of what colours suited him at all. He glanced down at his black trousers and wondered that the Blues hadn't made some comment about those. Maybe they'd been too keen to arrest that girl's father.

 

"How about that bottle green one? It's dark and the colour will set off your hair and eyes," suggested Minerva.

 

"Fine, I'll take it. I'll wear it now."

 

"Take the trousers off as well, Severus. We don't want to give the Wizengamot any reason to pick on you."

 

Severus nodded as he turned around to divest himself of his trousers and Muggle shirt. He left on his undershirt and underwear, as was more traditional for wizards wearing robes anyway. The robe was thick, falling in heavy folds down to his ankles and for a wonder he'd actually worn his brown shoes today so he wouldn't need to change those.

 

Black was banned? How could a colour be banned? It seemed preposterous, but then so did the Blues, who could put anyone in jail on a whim. How could the Ministry have allowed them such power? As he came out of the changing room, he saw Minerva up by the counter and handing over the gold for Severus' new robes. Severus had no money and no pride left and he had to allow it, for what else could he do? He couldn't protest that he would pay for them, because he just couldn't afford to.

 

As they made their way to the Leaky Cauldron for lunch they bumped into Molly Weasley, looking thinner and paler than Severus remembered. Gone was the bubbly woman who had enough love in her heart to look after anyone who needed it. The woman's heart had been broken. Her husband and her two eldest sons had been casualties in the war. Arthur and Bill had both died in the last battle and Charlie had been paralysed from the waist down.

 

"Molly," said Minerva with a smile. Molly returned it, but it didn't reach her eyes. "Just off to visit Charlie?"

 

"Yes, he's starting some new physiotherapy today. The Healers think it might help him gain some independence again. I've tried to visit Harry, but they won't let anyone in to see him."

 

"I grieve with you," said Severus, realising he hadn't seen the woman since her world had turned upside down and she'd lost some of those closest to her.

 

"Severus, th- thank you," she said. "It was just a family funeral; I hope you weren't too offended not to be invited. We knew lots of people wouldn't be able to come because they couldn't get travel passes anyway so we decided just family only, since we were all at The Burrow."

 

"I assure you, I was not offended," said Severus and in fact was very surprised that the woman seemed to bear no grudges towards him at all. It had been a different story a few years ago when the entire Order, except for Minerva, had thought he really had murdered Dumbledore as per the Dark Lord's request. It seemed that perhaps the evidence of Dumbledore's Pensieve had helped more than he thought it had at the time.

 

"Minerva's told me about the hearing, Severus. I hope you win, I couldn't bear to think of our Harry married off to that man!"

 

"Thank you, Molly."

 

"Yes, we must be getting on. We still have to get some lunch, would you care to join us?"

 

"I'd love to, Minerva, but Charlie's expecting me. He gets upset if I'm late. Good luck!" called Molly as she rushed off to the market square and the Apparation point. Severus watched the Blues scan her travel pass before they waved her on.

 

He and Minerva made their way to the Leaky Cauldron in silence, Severus deep in his own thoughts. What would happen if he actually won this thing? Married to Harry Potter, he knew that much, but what did that mean? Would he just be Harry's guardian instead of the Healers at St. Mungo's? Or were they expecting him to be Harry's husband in the physical sense as well? If Harry wasn't in his right mind, how on Earth could he consent to anything? It wasn't as if they needed to know, he was sure the rules regarding consummation had been repealed in the nineteenth century. But with Scrimgeour's new moral crusade, he wouldn't be that surprised if they'd been brought back again.

 

Tom gave him a strange glance when they entered the main bar of the pub, as did most of the other patrons. Minerva spotted an empty table by the window and ushered Severus over to it. As soon as they sat down, two menus appeared on the table with the lunchtime specials. Severus wasn't feeling remotely hungry.

 

Minerva patted his hand, as if she knew how nervous he was feeling, before taking the menu up to Tom behind the bar and ordering for both of them. Ten minutes later, Tom levitated two plates of sandwiches towards their table along with two glasses of pumpkin juice. Severus would have preferred something stronger, but knew that getting drunk just before the hearing probably wasn't the best idea.

 

Sandwiches eaten (or in Severus' case picked at until they were nothing but a soggy mush on his plate), the bill paid and the juice drunk, there was nothing for it but to head over to the Ministry of Magic itself. Their wooden chairs scraped along the flagstone floor as they got up, making Severus wince.

 

"We've got permission to Apparate to the foyer rather than use the visitors' entrance," said Minerva as Severus got a quick glimpse of the golden ticket in her hands. "Ready, Severus?"

 

He nodded, even though he wasn't sure he would ever be ready for this.

 

They were searched by the security wizard, Minerva's wand was confiscated until the hearing was over and the man sniffed disdainfully at Severus when he saw the inhibiting collar around his neck. There was no way to disguise the thing without magic; Severus couldn’t even cast a simple glamour charm.

 

Once the security formalities were out of the way, they made their way down to the lower levels and to the courthouse where the hearing to decide Harry's future was being held. An usher showed them to the empty table opposite the judge and advocates' desk; the other table was already occupied by Lucius Malfoy and a cadre of Malfoy barristers. Severus couldn't afford legal representation and Minerva's finances couldn't stretch that far either. In front of the judges' desk was a hard wooden chair.

 

Malfoy smirked at him as they sat down and even though Severus was dressed in his new, fine robes, he felt naked under that gaze.

 

Murmurs broke out from the public galleries, gradually increasing in volume until the usher opened the door and the judge entered the room. "All rise for Judge Jenkins," called the usher as the judge came in with four advocates trailing behind him like ducklings after their mother.

 

As the judge reached the desk, he banged his gavel even before he sat down. "This court is now in session! Silence!"

 

The mumblings stopped as abruptly as if he'd just flicked an 'off' switch. "The court calls Lucius Malfoy to the stand."

 

Severus watched as Malfoy sauntered over the wooden chair in front of the judges' desk. It meant that only the judge and his bench would see the expressions on Malfoy's face and as such it was up to the judge to decide whether or not the man was lying.

 

Severus clasped his hands on the table in front of him and waited for the questions to begin.

 

 

Part 4

 

Even as he and Minerva made their way across London to St. Mungo's with Harry's new travel permit secure in Minerva's pocket; Severus couldn't quite believe that the hearing had gone their way. Despite Lucius' expensive lawyers and his new best friend the Minister of Magic, the Wizengamot had decided that Severus' life debts made him the more lawful claimant to bonding with Harry Potter.

 

Severus' hand trailed along his bare neck, still not quite believing that it hadn't all been some mistake and they would put the collar back on him. All his previous restrictions had been lifted by the Wizengamot. Severus could take employment; he could perform magic (not that he could perform much without a wand, mind you); he could travel with just the same restrictions as anyone else. In short, he was allowed back into Wizarding society once more and he had a signed pardon from the Chief Mugwump of the Wizengamot to prove it.

 

Scrimgeour wasn't happy and neither was Lucius Malfoy; Severus wondered how much gold Lucius had promised the treasury if the court found in his favour. Due to his position as Minister, Scrimgeour had insisted that there be conditions attached to Severus' victory and the court had agreed. If Harry Potter wasn't pregnant within a year then the marriage between Harry and Severus would be annulled and Lucius Malfoy would be free to marry him. That was the one thing Severus wasn't keen on. He had no qualms about looking after Harry and caring for his wellbeing, but to get him pregnant? It seemed that by saving Harry from almost certain rape at the hands of Lucius Malfoy, they'd been keen to get Severus into the role of his rapist instead. For in Harry's state of mind, how could sex be anything but rape?

 

Oxford Street was thronged with Muggle shoppers as Severus and Minerva pushed their way through to the grubby windows of Purge and Dowse, Ltd. The red bricks were crumbling, the gold lettering on the doors was flaking off and a thick layer of dust lay inside the window displays. Minerva spoke quietly to the only mannequin on display; the mannequin itself was wearing a lime green dress so out of fashion that surely it was due for a revival soon.

 

"Severus Snape and Minerva McGonagall to see Harry Potter."

 

The mannequin winked at them and beckoned them both forward with a plastic hand missing the right forefinger.

 

Minerva stepped through the glass and disappeared from view. Severus took a deep breath before doing the same. No matter how many times he had visited the wizarding hospital, he could never get used to the feel of the glass turning liquid around him while he remained dry himself. It was a horrible sensation and Severus shuddered as he emerged into the waiting room on the other side.

 

The welcomewitch was busy dealing with a man and two toddlers who seemed to have been stuck together at the head – they were screaming as if it was the end of the world. Minerva barely glanced at the commotion, instead striding straight towards the lifts. She held the lift door open with her hand until Severus was safely inside it and then pushed the button for the fourth floor. Once the lift stopped, Severus started heading towards the closed ward, but Minerva wasn't following him.

 

"It's this way, Severus," she said from another corridor. "Harry's in a private room."

 

Severus turned and followed her down. He should have realised they'd put Harry in a private room. Harry Potter was still the hero of the wizarding world and the Minister liked to look after his heroes; those he acknowledged anyway.

 

There was a healer standing outside the plain white door, his green robes immaculate. As well as the St. Mungo's logo of a wand and bone crossed, his lapel also sported another insignia – a red phoenix feather. This was a Master Healer. He was just a little bit taller than Professor Flitwick, as bald as an egg with a face that looked wizened and cracked like crockery that had just been dropped carelessly.

 

"Professor McGonagall, Mr. Snape. The nurse is just helping Harry to get dressed; he'll be out in a moment. Do you have all the relevant paperwork?"

 

Minerva handed over the documents to the healer. The folder contained Harry's travel pass and the findings of the hearing, basically that Harry was now to be entrusted into Severus' care rather than that of the healers.

 

"I'm afraid it doesn't matter whether Harry has a travel pass or not," said the healer. "He can't travel magically. Harry has trouble with magic – any sort of magic. You're going to have to travel back to Hogwarts by train."

 

"What exactly do you mean by 'trouble'?" asked Minerva.

 

"Well, basically it's almost as if Harry has an allergic reaction to magic. We didn't know that at first of course and we continued treating him as we would any other patient, with healing charms and potions. But any time magic was used on him he suffered the most distressing symptoms: breathing problems; painful rashes; fevers and convulsions. Now that we have avoided using magic he has recovered quite well physically and is now stable enough to be moved."

 

"Mentally?"

 

"No change there, I'm afraid, Professor McGonagall. His mind just isn't working any longer. They should be finished now; I'll just go and fetch him." The healer waved his wand at the door, it slid sideways with a soft hiss and he disappeared into the gap.

 

"I really need to get back to Hogwarts as soon as possible, Severus. Would you be all right taking Harry back on the train on your own?"

 

"I'm sure I'll cope, Minerva," he smiled, feeling the muscles in his jaw ache from the unfamiliar act. It had been so long since he'd had anything to smile about.

 

"I'll make sure Hagrid has some suitable quarters arranged for both of you by the time you get back. Not the dungeons; I think Harry has had enough of dungeons, don't you?"

 

"I do," he agreed and she shortly took her leave.

 

The door hissed again; this time the healer emerged leading Harry Potter by the hand. The boy was dressed in a pair of blue jeans and a Muggle sweatshirt which seemed rather too large for his small frame. The jeans were rolled up at the legs and there was a rip across one knee. Severus didn't know whether that was some weird fashion statement or if Harry just hadn't looked after his clothes. White trainers adorned his feet; the toe of the left one was scuffed and even as he watched Harry began to scrape his left toes along the ground. But it was the look on the boy's face that had Severus gasping.

 

There was nothing behind those green eyes… nothing at all. No knowledge. No memory. No fear. No pain. No joy. No life. The boy's gaze was completely blank. It was like looking at a life-sized doll, not a human being.

 

"Harry, remember I told you someone else was going to look after you from now on? This is Severus, he'll be looking after you from today. Say hello, then."

 

"Hello," Harry mumbled to his feet, but Severus knew he was just repeating what the healer had told him to. The boy had no idea what "hello" meant or even that he was leaving the hospital. He had no curiosity and no interest in anything going on around him.

 

What age was he now? Nineteen? Twenty? Harry didn't look much different than when he was a student at Hogwarts. His shoulders had broadened a little and his face was a bit more angular, but he was still short and still way too thin. Severus knew he was no heavyweight himself but he hoped a few months of Hogwarts' cooking would soon change that for both of them.

 

"Does he have any potions? Any medications he needs to take?"

 

"We couldn't give him any potions, but one of our healers has a wife who is a Muggle doctor. She prescribed these to calm him down." The healer handed over a brown glass bottle of pills. Calm him down? The boy was like a zombie already.

 

"He's calm now," explained the healer. "But he has violent episodes sometimes and we had to restrain him. Magic can't be used on him, so you will also need to take care of his hygiene needs the Muggle way. He can't bathe himself and I'm afraid we haven't been able to get him to use the toilet when he needs to urinate. He does use it to relieve his bowels. You'll have your work cut out for you, Mr. Snape. It won't be easy."

 

Severus nodded. It was Harry Bloody Potter – of course it wasn't going to be easy.

 

"Thank you. Harry, are you ready to go?" Severus held out his hand and much to his surprise, Harry reached out and grabbed hold of it. With Harry unable to handle any magic, they had to take the Muggle tube to King's Cross and then find their way to the mainline station. It was a nightmare trying to get Harry there. If Severus even let his hand go for a minute, Harry would wander off and just stand around in a daze. Twice Severus had to chase off pickpockets trying to mug Harry, but even if they'd managed to get to Harry's pockets, he had no money.

 

Finally they made it on to Platform 9¾ . Harry's eyes lit up as soon as he saw the scarlet steam engine; it was the first sign of any animation from him Severus had seen all day. "Choo-choo!" exclaimed Harry, smiling and clapping his hands together like a young child on seeing their first train.

 

Severus took Harry's hand again and led him onto the train. Because it was the middle of the school term, the train was fairly empty with just a few shoppers from London returning to Hogsmeade and it was easy enough for them to find a compartment on their own.

 

Severus got Harry settled in the seat across from him. After the train started moving, Harry gazed out the windows for a while, but then yawned and curled up to sleep on the cushioned bench. He looked so much younger when asleep and, if Severus dared to say it, more normal too. It was hard to reconcile this docile, quiet Harry with the student and warrior that Severus remembered.

 

Dusk was falling rapidly as the train wound its way through the countryside and Severus found himself nodding off. He woke abruptly to Harry's screams as the boy fought the demons of his nightmares. When the healer had said Harry had violent episodes, he'd neglected to mention that the violence was aimed at himself.

 

Harry was clawing at his whole body; he'd almost ripped the sweatshirt from his body and his nails were drawing blood from his arms and chest. Severus stood up and grabbed hold of Harry's arms, pinning them by his sides. Harry screamed and wriggled as Severus did his best to restrain him without the aid of any magic. "NO! NO! NO!" Harry wailed over and over again as he struggled in Severus' grasp.

 

"Ssh, Harry. I've got you. You're safe now. They can't hurt you any more. You're safe. You're safe." Severus kept talking until Harry's struggles eased and he leant his head against Severus' chest. Severus could feel tears dampen his shirt as he rocked Harry in his arms but Harry's crying was silent.

 

"You're safe, Harry. You're going home."

 

 

 

Part 5

 

They arrived at Hogwarts just as dinner was finishing and the students were emerging from the Great Hall. Gone were the black student robes Severus remembered. Each House was dressed in their own colours; red, green, yellow and blue. That wasn't the only difference.  Not one student was female; there were no girls at all. The boys stood and gaped open-mouthed at Harry, with a few whispered mutterings for good measure.

 

The older prefects who'd remembered Harry when he'd been a student chivvied their younger classmates along to their common rooms before they said anything too idiotic. Minerva and Poppy were the last to leave the Hall and greeted both of them warmly. Harry was acting as if he didn't even know anyone else was there.

 

As the staff had filed out behind the students, Severus realised there were differences there as well. Sybill Trelawney;  Ariana Sinistra, Rolanda Hooch, Pomona Sprout and Xiana Vector were nowhere in evidence and Severus knew all five women had survived the war. Survived the war – but not the new marriage laws apparently.

 

"Severus, your new quarters are in the East Tower. Poppy will show you the way; I've had the house elves send you both up some supper. I wasn't sure whether Harry would be up to eating in the Great Hall with the others."

 

"Thank you, Minerva." Ostensibly, Severus was to be Poppy's assistant in the infirmary, but really it was just a paperwork job so that he and Harry would have somewhere safe to stay. They all knew most of Severus' time would be taken up with looking after Harry.

 

Once they'd taken their leave of the headmistress, Severus took Harry's hand again and followed Poppy up the stairs to the East Tower. There was a painting of two snakes in front of the entrance to their new quarters. "Slytherin," said Poppy to the snakes and the picture moved aside so they could enter. "You can change the password if you need to."

 

Severus nodded and ushered Harry into the room. There were colourful rugs on the flagstone floor; the walls were adorned with rich tapestries in various hues, but the predominant colours seemed to be red and gold and Severus guessed Minerva or Hagrid had taken a hand in the decoration. A red velvet sofa sat in front of the red-bricked fireplace with a glass-topped coffee table in front of it. There were a couple of bookshelves on the back wall, but there were no books on them. Two matching armchairs were placed by one of the long windows; there were two of these, one on either side of the fireplace. The left one led out to a balcony overlooking the Quidditch pitch.

 

A light supper of soup and sandwiches was sitting on the coffee table, the soup being kept hot by a warming charm and the sandwiches remaining fresh by a cooling one. A jug of iced pumpkin juice and two crystal glasses sat in the middle of the table.

 

Severus led Harry over to the sofa, but Harry just stood there, as if not understanding that he was meant to sit down on it. He waved Poppy into one of the armchairs and then had to physically push Harry into sitting down.

 

"What's happened to all the girls?" asked Severus.

 

"Hogwarts is no longer allowed to offer girls education," said Poppy. "The Minister's idea, of course. It's his new marriage initiatives. He doesn't think women who are only going to be at home looking after children will need an education."

 

"But what about household charms and spells? Healing spells for sick children?"

 

"Any girl's parents, who can afford it, can hire an approved Ministry tutor. They are all vetted by Scrimgeour and the syllabus is very narrow, only those spells that Scrimgeour thinks are suitable for stay-at-home mothers to know. The girls are forbidden to take exams any more and you know that all those of child-bearing age are not allowed careers either. It's the only reason Minerva and I are still at Hogwarts; we're too old to have children or we would have been married off like the other female staff. It's a nightmare, Severus. There's no balance any more; if this keeps up, soon there will be nothing but Squibs. Magic needs both male and female magic to survive and Scrimgeour seems to be doing all he can to make the female strain die out."

 

"Has no one complained?"

 

"Plenty, but as soon as anyone speaks out, they're never heard from again. The Blues…" Poppy shuddered. "We had more freedom when we were at war than now when we're supposed to be at peace."

 

Beside him, Harry grunted and began to wail wordlessly, wrapping his arms around himself.

 

Poppy removed her wand and aimed it at Harry. "No!" snapped Severus, making Harry jump and whimper. "Harry's allergic to magic; you can't scan him like that."

 

"Oh, I didn't know. Has there been any change at all?"

 

"He liked the train," said Severus. "That was the happiest I've seen him all day. He had a nightmare on the train and tried to hurt himself."

 

Harry stared at nothing, oblivious. Severus wondered if they would ever be able to find the real Harry again.

 

"You could try Legilimency on him," said Poppy. "That's not strictly magic and you might be able to reach him in his subconscious."

 

"It didn't work for the Longbottoms," said Severus.

 

"No, but they'd been ill for a much longer time. It's only a few weeks since Harry was found; it might be worth a try."

 

"It might," agreed Severus; he was willing to try anything to bring Harry back.

 

***

 

Once Poppy had taken her leave, Severus lifted the plate of sandwiches and offered one to Harry, but he ignored it. Severus lifted a sandwich; he had to force Harry's mouth open to get him to eat anything and even then most of it just fell out and dropped onto his clothes.

 

"Close your mouth and swallow," suggested Severus, but Harry shook his head and turned away when Severus tried to feed him more. "Harry, you've got to eat. Come on, take another bite, please." What had they done at the hospital? Maybe they hadn't had much luck feeding him either because Harry was still very thin.

 

"No! Don't want to!" snapped Harry, folding his arms across his chest. "Sick."

 

"Do you feel sick?" asked Severus, surprised he was even having a coherent conversation with him. "Do you want a drink?" Severus poured pumpkin juice into one of the glasses and handed it to Harry. For a few seconds Harry just held it in his hand, then he threw it against the wall and the glass shattered against the walls, the juice staining them orange.

 

"Stop! Stop it!" moaned Harry, tucking his knees up under his chin and wrapping his arms around them. Severus had no idea what to do; Harry wasn't going to listen to reason and Severus didn't know what to do or say to calm him down. He was loath to give him the Muggle pills, not entirely sure they would help. Harry began clawing at his face, his fingernails drawing thin trickles of blood on his skin.

 

"Harry, no!" commanded Severus as he pulled Harry's hands away, but that only made Harry lash out at Severus instead. Harry was sobbing now, taking in great lungfuls of air as he tried his best to pummel Severus' face and chest, but Severus managed to keep hold of Harry's hands and avoid being damaged. Tears were leaking down Harry's face and he sounded like a cornered animal.

 

Harry glanced up, his eyes had lost that glazed look. "H - help me," he croaked before going limp. Harry's eyes rolled back in his head and he fell back towards the sofa, flopping like a rag doll. Severus lay Harry out on the full length of the sofa and propped a cushion behind his head. Severus poured out another glass of juice and waited for Harry to come round. It was a few seconds before he did and when Harry gazed around the room, Severus knew that whatever small measure of coherency Harry had possessed before, it was gone now.

 

"Harry, sit up for me," suggested Severus as he set the glass down on the coffee table and moved to help Harry up. There was no fuss this time, Harry allowed himself to be moved into position and when Severus held the glass to his lips, Harry drank down a few sips of juice without complaint.

 

"A bath before bed I think," said Severus, almost to himself and considering Harry's condition, he wasn't far off. Harry was in no state to hold a conversation or do anything much else for that matter. Severus lifted Harry off the sofa and carried him into the bathroom. The layout was similar to his previous chambers in the dungeons. A living room with the bedroom, bathroom and small kitchen leading off the central space.

 

Once in the bathroom, Severus cast a spell to fill the tub with warm water and bubble bath but he had to undress Harry by hand in case he had an allergic reaction to unclothing spells. He had to stifle a gasp when he unbuttoned Harry's shirt. The boy's torso was covered in bruises of every hue from purple and green to yellow. There were masses of scars too; he couldn't quite tell whether they were caused by whips or knives and knowing Bellatrix Lestrange, it was probably a bit of both. Harry seemed unaware that he was hurt and stood there as docile as a lamb as Severus continued to undress him.

 

Harry was so thin that Severus could count each rib and his arms and legs resembled nothing more than twigs. There were purple hollows beneath his eyes and although Harry's glasses had disappeared sometime around the last battle; Harry never even squinted. Severus guessed it was because Harry wasn't really looking at anything in the world around him. His world had narrowed down to whatever strange things were going on inside his mind.

 

The water cut off when the bath was half full. Severus put Harry's clothes in the linen basket ready for the house elves and made a mental note to contact Madam Malkin to get Harry some new clothes. For the interim, he could transfigure a few of his own. Severus would need to contact an optician as well to get Harry some new glasses, for he couldn't imagine it was doing his eyes any good not having them.

 

Severus scooped Harry up and began to lower him in the bath. As soon as Harry's body touched the water, he screamed as if he was being tortured and began struggling in Severus' arms. "No! No! Please! I'll be good! Not the water! Not the water!"

 

Mindful that he couldn't use magic if Harry fell and hurt himself, Severus took Harry back out and set him on the floor. He soaped up a flannel and washed him like that; Harry had stopped screaming, he was now whimpering as Severus washed him. It seemed that for whatever reason, Harry was also now afraid of water.

 

Harry knelt up as Severus dried him off with a towel. He lurched forward and wrapped his arms around Severus' legs. "Hurts," whimpered Harry, his whole body trembling.

 

"What hurts?" asked Severus, dabbing him a bit more gently with the towel. He rubbed Harry's back, which seemed to soothe him somewhat but Harry either couldn't or wouldn't elaborate on what was hurting him.

 

"Harry? What hurts?" Severus asked again. Harry just shook his head and didn't reply.

 

Washed, dried and dressed for bed, (a transfigured nightshirt and one of the incontinence pads Poppy had left for them) Severus carried Harry into the bedroom and set him down in the middle of the bed. As with all married quarters at Hogwarts, there was only one bedroom and one bed. Although they were married; Severus wasn't sure that Harry was up to sharing a bed with anyone, he still seemed so fragile. Remembering Harry's nightmares on the train though, he realised that he couldn't let Harry sleep alone; for he couldn't even cast a monitoring charm on him.

 

Once he had Harry settled under the covers, Severus got ready for bed and climbed in beside him. Harry turned over to face Severus and scooted forward, tucking his head against Severus' chest and placing a thumb in his mouth. Severus kissed the top of Harry's head and sighed. This was going to be a lot harder than he thought.

 

Severus was roused from his slumber by moans coming from Harry. At first he thought the boy was having a nightmare; but after a few moments he realised it was not a nightmare, nor was it a dream. He could see Harry’s eyes shining in the moonlight from the window and Severus stifled a gasp.

 

Harry had unbuttoned his pyjama top and had pulled his pyjama trousers down around his thighs, the bedclothes kicked down around his knees. Severus’ eyes were drawn to the erect cock just a few inches from his body as Harry’s hand gripped it and rubbed at it frantically. Severus didn’t know what do to. Should he let Harry know he was awake? Should he say something?

 

Harry was grunting now, arching his hips off the bed, making the mattress squeak and Severus felt his own prick quickening in response. Harry looked so abandoned, so free and Severus didn’t want to do anything that might disturb that. The boy’s ecstatic moans were going straight to Severus’ groin and he debated what to do. If he told Harry he shouldn’t be doing that in front of him now, what was going to happen when they made love?

 

Shifting as slowly as possible, Severus slid his hand down his body and rubbed his cock through the material of his nightshirt. It had been a long time since he’d felt as aroused as this and he knew he wouldn’t be able to fall asleep again unless he took care of it. His eyes wanted to close as the bliss coursed through him, but he wanted to see Harry more.

 

Harry was still thin, but he was lithe and strong, his body bathed in moonlight. How Severus wanted to reach over and lick the buds of his nipples. How Severus wanted to be the one to cause Harry’s breath to hitch in pleasure rather than his own hand, but Severus didn’t want to do anything that might panic him, so he kept his hands to himself and to work for his own impending climax.

 

Having attended a boarding school for seven years, Severus could still be quiet when he needed to and he tried to time his breathing with Harry’s moans so that he wouldn’t know what Severus was doing. Harry was not quiet; he was breathing heavily, little moans and gasps of pleasure that sent Severus’ senses reeling.

 

Harry began thrusting his hips faster and faster on the bed beside him, almost bouncing and Severus guessed it wouldn’t be long before the boy came. Severus rubbed frantically at his cock, trying to time it so that their climaxes would coincide. The noises Harry was making; the squeaks and rattles of the bed; the heat coming from the boy only a few inches away from it; all of it added something extra to his own desire. Severus felt he was close; knew it wouldn’t take much more to send him over the edge.

 

“Ahh! Ahh!” groaned Harry; his limbs jerking in every direction as he came and came all over his chest and thighs. Severus squeezed his prick faster and faster and suddenly he was there, molten white heat spilling out of his cock and onto his nightshirt. He’d bitten his lip so hard to stop from crying out when he came that he tasted blood in his mouth.

 

Harry was busy cleaning himself up with the edge of the sheet that Severus didn’t think Harry had noticed anything else except his own pleasure. Once Harry had tugged his pyjamas back up and settled back to sleep; Severus cast a cleaning charm on himself and the sheets and lay staring unseeing at the ceiling.

 

What in Merlin’s name had he done?

 

 

 

Part 6

 

Madam Malkin was too frail nowadays to do house calls but she did agree to send two of her assistants to Hogwarts to measure Harry up for a whole new wardrobe. Minerva had discovered Harry's school trunk in the Room of Requirement and at first they thought Harry would have been able to wear his own clothes after all, until they discovered the state of the garments in the trunk.

 

The clothes were far too large for Harry; even now that he was a few years older. All of them were only fit to be used as cleaning rags, if that. Most had been washed too many times; they were faded, ripped and threadbare. The only decent clothes were Harry's school things and one set of green dress robes that Severus remembered Harry wearing at the Yule Ball in his fourth year.

 

But it wasn't the state of the clothes that had Minerva and Severus wondering at Harry's upbringing, it was the stack of diaries they discovered at the bottom of the trunk, hidden underneath the photo album.

 

"You should read them, Severus," suggested Minerva, as she sipped her tea. Severus had yet to even attempt to drink his. "It might help you gain some insight into his mind and that can only help with the Legilimency, can't it?"

 

Severus glanced at Harry. He was sitting cross-legged in the middle of the floor on top of Minerva's Persian rug and seemed to be paying no attention to the discussions going on around him. Harry was playing with one of his shoes (a transfigured pair once belonging to Severus) and pretending it was a car. "Vroom! Vroom!" Harry squealed as he pushed the shoe along the rug.

 

"I don't know, Minerva. It seems such a violation," said Severus.

 

"And what the Ministry is expecting you to do isn't? Oh, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that."

 

"Why not? It's the truth. Merlin, look at him! How am I supposed to make love to a young man who doesn't even know what is going on around him?"

 

"So the marriage hasn't been ... consummated yet?" Minerva asked, delicately dabbing her mouth with a napkin.

 

"No."

 

"Well, the sooner Harry gets pregnant, the better. Or do you want him to end up in Lucius Malfoy's clutches? He'd be nothing more than a fucktoy to that man."

 

Severus gasped; he'd never heard the headmistress speak so bluntly before. "I know you care for Harry, Severus. I've seen it. Harry never knew how you felt, did he?"

 

"How could he? He didn't even know I was on our side. How was I supposed to tell him how I felt about him when he thought I was nothing more than a traitor? The one who betrayed his parents, who killed ... who killed Albus."

 

Severus felt his throat closing up against the grief that he fought so hard against every day. "Merlin help me, Minerva, but I love him and it hurts to see him like this."

 

Minerva set down her tea cup and lifted the stack of diaries off her desk, pressing them into Severus' hands. "Read them, Severus. Perhaps you'll find some answers."

 

***

 

After their tea with Minerva, Severus shrank the diaries and placed them in his robe pocket before taking Harry back to their chambers. He had some brewing to do for the infirmary that afternoon but knew that Harry was a bit over-excited after their visit to Minerva and an over-excited Harry was not someone you wanted in the middle of the laboratory. He'd take Harry to the infirmary first; Poppy could keep an eye on him while Severus went to the lab.

 

He stopped short at the bottom of the stairs to the East Tower. A man and a woman wearing the staff robes from Madam Malkin's were waiting for them. Both of them had short black hair and blue eyes, the man a bit younger-looking than the woman. Both of them had a pinched, stooped look as if they had spent too long bent over sewing tables.

 

"Professor Snape, I'm Adelaide Huntley and this is my assistant, Joseph Carlton," the woman extended her right hand and with the left, waved at her male companion.

 

"I hadn't expected you so soon," said Severus. Harry hung back and half-hid himself behind Severus' body.

 

"We can come back later if you'd prefer."

 

"No, it's fine. Come up."

 

Once the robe makers were in, they removed small boxes from their robes which they expanded with a wave of their wands. Yards of fabric spilled out; silks, satins, wool, and cotton linen in various shades and hues, but none of them black.

 

Severus had intended to stay with Harry during the fittings, but the Floo flared into life and Poppy's head appeared in the fire. "Severus, can you come to the infirmary? It's one of the seventh year Slytherins. He refuses to tell me what is wrong and will only talk to you."

 

"Harry's having his fitting," said Severus. "Is it urgent?"

 

"Well, he is in a lot of distress. I don't know whether it is from pain or because he can't tell me what the problem is. I'm sure it can wait."

 

Severus wasn't so sure. If the student had sought treatment, it must be something that was worrying him unduly.

 

"Professor Snape, we can still take care of Harry's fittings if you're not here," said Miss Huntley.

 

Severus didn't particularly leave Harry in the hands of strangers and he was torn between his duty to Harry and his duties in the infirmary.

 

"Harry, I have to go away for a little while, but I'll be back soon, all right?"

 

Harry nodded and put his thumb in his mouth, his eyes wide behind his new glasses.

 

"He'll be fine," said Adelaide Huntley. Severus hoped she was right.

 

When he got to the infirmary, Adam Clayton was sitting on one of the beds, with a very annoyed Poppy standing over him. Severus still found it a little bit of a shock to see the students in coloured robes. With a thatch of brown hair and brown eyes, the green robes did nothing for the boy's complexion. He looked as grey as a bowl of porridge and looked worriedly up at him.

 

"I'll leave you to it then," said Poppy as she swished the privacy curtain round the bed before stalking off.

 

"Well, Clayton, what is it?" demanded Severus.

 

"It's – it's embarrassing, sir."

 

"I gathered that, otherwise I wouldn't be here and you'd be talking to Madam Pomfrey. She is the matron, I'm just the assistant."

 

"I can't tell her about this! She's a woman!"

 

"Clayton, I haven't got all day. What is the problem?" Severus knew his bedside manner left a bit to be desired, but he was no longer Head of Slytherin House and was not in the mood to mollycoddle students when he was so worried about Harry.

 

Adam Clayton stood up, unzipped his trousers and pulled down his underwear. "It won't go away," he said plaintively.

 

"Mr. Clayton, you have a genital wart."

 

"A wart? How did I get that? Did someone hex me?"

 

Severus rolled his eyes. "No, they didn't. You got it from sleeping with someone who also had it. I will give you a potion. Take it for two weeks and have no sexual contact with anyone for those two weeks. You will also have to tell your past sexual partners so that they can be treated as well. And for Merlin's sake, next time, use a protection spell or a condom."

 

The boy's pallor seemed to grey even further at that.

 

Severus went off to find the required potion from the storeroom and returned with it. "Thank you, sir," said Clayton as he hurried off, the potion vial hidden under his robes.

 

"All sorted, Severus?" asked Poppy. "I don't know why he couldn't talk to me. I've been the matron of this school for over thirty years; I've seen it all before. Thank you."

 

***

 

Harry didn't like the woman who was sticking pins in him. He didn't know why he didn't like her or why he was scared of her. He wasn't scared of Severus and wished Severus was here now. Severus was nice. Severus let him play, not like Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia. Severus never hit him. Severus never hurt him, not like the bad woman from before. This woman on the floor reminded him of the bad woman and he didn't want her here.

 

"Go away," said Harry under his breath. "I don't like you."

 

The woman laughed. "Do you think anyone likes you? You're a freak. You should be locked up."

 

"Adelaide!" gasped the man beside her. "How can you say such a thing? You know he's not well."

 

"He's a nutcase. They should have kept him in St. Mungo's. That's where they keep all the freaks."

 

"I'm not a freak!" screamed Harry and in the next instant, the woman was thrown straight across the room and fell in front of the fireplace.

 

"Adelaide!" shrieked the man as he hurried to help her up. She was rubbing her head and glaring at Harry. He knew what glares were; his uncle always looked at him like that.

 

"You think you'll get away with that, do you?" she demanded and took out a pointy stick from her pocket.

 

"Expelliarmus!" roared Severus and the pointy stick flew out of her hand and into Severus' palm. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

 

"He hurt Adelaide! He's mad! Adelaide's right, he should be locked up!"

 

"Get out! Both of you get out!"

 

Once the horrible people were gone, Severus wrapped Harry up in a hug and squeezed him tight. "Harry? Are you all right? Did they hurt you?"

 

"They called me names," said Harry softly.

 

"What names?"

 

"They said I was a freak and I should be locked up. I don't want to be locked in the cupboard again," said Harry, beginning to sob. "Please don't lock me in the cupboard again!"

 

"I won't, Harry. I won't."

 

 

 

Part 7

 

 

Later that night, once Severus had settled Harry in bed he hunted out the diaries Minerva had given him. The mention of a cupboard was worrying him and Harry had been in no state to explain it any further. Had Bellatrix Lestrange imprisoned Harry in a cupboard? Is that what Harry had meant or was it something else? Severus quashed the guilt he felt at reading Harry's private thoughts and sat down with the most recent diaryl on his lap.

 

Entry dated 3rd July 1996

 

"I miss Sirius. The Order threatened Vernon at the train station and told them that my godfather had died. I've no protection now; they've just made things worse. Why did they have to say anything? Now Vernon thinks I've told them what he does to me and that's just made him even angrier than normal. I think he's going to kill me. Maybe it would be better if he does."

 

 

Entry dated 15th July 1996

 

"I think he broke my wrist again, I can hardly move my left hand at all. He always goes for the left hand in case he makes it so I can't do my chores. When he went to work, Petunia gave me some Muggle painkillers but I don't think wizards are supposed to take them. I was so ill I spent most of the day throwing up and she didn't make me do any chores today. She even let me use the bathroom instead of my buckets, but made me promise not to tell Vernon. As if I'd tell him anything. I want to go home."

 

Entry 19th July 1996

 

"Petunia's taken Dudley to visit Marge so I know it's only a matter of time before Vernon brings his friends home."

 

Entry 20th July 1996

 

"Petunia's barely been gone a day and Vernon brought five men home with him for his famous parties. I can't even write down what they made me do, it's too disgusting. I'm disgusting and I wish I was dead."

 

Entry dated 30th July 1996

 

"I can't do this anymore. I don't want to do this anymore. Dumbledore promised he'd come for me on my birthday, but he's lied to me before. What if he doesn't come? What if I'm stuck in this horrible house forever? I begged and begged not to be sent back here but no one listened. No wants to listen. They all think they know me, but they don't. None of them know Harry. All they know is Potter. Potter the brave. Potter the foolish. Potter the Boy Who Lived. Why can't they see me? Ron and the twins saw the bars on the windows and the locked doors and they still didn't realise what it meant. Sometimes I wish I was back in my cupboard. Vernon couldn't fit in there."

 

Entry dated 10th August 1996

 

"Dumbledore did come for me on my birthday, but I hadn't even packed because I was so sure that he wouldn't. He told the Dursleys that he knew they'd been abusing me all this time. I couldn't believe it! He knew and he sent me back there year after year? How could he do that to me? I soon realised he wasn't taking me away from the Dursleys this time because he cared about me – he only wanted me to convince Professor Slughorn to come to Hogwarts. I'm not a person to him. I'm just someone to be used. I want to die but I don't want to do it at The Burrow, Mrs. Weasley would be so upset. I'll wait till I get back to school. It's all too easy to fall off a broom."

 

Severus closed the book with a snap. So few words, but saying so much. The young man lying asleep in the other room had been through so much and still the wizarding world wanted more of him. They wanted Harry Potter's child, but it would be a cold day in hell before Severus gave any baby over to them, never mind his own and Harry's.

 

Severus vowed then and there that he would do everything in his power to bring Harry back from the abyss of insanity. The sane Harry was still there; he saw glimpses of him but they were few and far between. Reading the diaries and guessing some of what Harry had been through, Severus was just surprised that Harry hadn't broken before now.

 

After reading the diaries Severus realised what the healers at St. Mungo's had missed. It wasn't that Harry couldn't or wouldn't use the toilet, it was that he hadn't been allowed to when he was younger and somehow that's what he remembered now. Severus had discovered Harry using a bucket in the kitchen a few times and after explaining patiently to him that a toilet was like a bucket, they'd had no more trouble in that department.

 

Bathing was a different matter. Harry was terrified of water and Severus wondered if at some stage Vernon Dursley had held Harry's head under the water to scare him. Severus had resorted to giving Harry sponge baths as cleaning spells couldn't be used. Harry seemed to enjoy the sponge baths if his delighted giggles were anything to go by.

 

Severus ran a hand through his hair and sighed. Even if he could manage to bring Harry back, there was no guarantee that Harry would want to have anything to do with him. Harry had been captured long before the trial when Dumbledore's pensieve testimony was heard. Harry would still remember him as a traitor and Severus didn't know how he was going to bear having Harry look at him with loathing.

 

At the moment, mindless as he was, Harry looked at Severus with nothing short of awe and love. Severus didn't want to lose that; Harry was so innocent again and did he really want to take that away from him? Why was it all so bloody complicated? He had no choice though; he had to try to make Harry better, even if that meant Harry left him.

 

***

 

The next morning, Severus firecalled Poppy to be on hand while he attempted Legilimency on Harry. He had no idea what might happen and wanted the mediwitch there in case things went wrong. Poppy had brought Harry a chocolate frog. He ripped open the box, grinning from ear to ear when the saw the frog hopping away. Harry managed to grab hold of it and stuffed the whole thing in his mouth, even though they'd only just had breakfast. Both his hands and his face were a sticky chocolate mess. Severus summoned a washcloth from the bathroom and proceeded to clean him up.

 

"Tickles," giggled Harry as he tried to squirm away from the cloth, but Severus was aware of Harry's tricks and managed to keep hold of him until Harry's face and hands were clean. He banished the cloth to the wash basket and sat down opposite Harry, both of them cross-legged on the floor.

 

"Who's looking after the infirmary?" asked Severus. He was really only asking to put things off as long as possible.

 

"Madam Sprout," said Poppy. "If there's an emergency though I'll have to get back. Are you sure about this, Severus?"

 

"No, not really. But I have to try." With that, Severus turned back to Harry and took Harry's hands in his. He'd decided to do the spell wandlessly, hoping that might prevent Harry's allergy from taking hold too much. "Legilimens," whispered Severus and suddenly he was thrust inside his husband's mind.

 

***

 

Severus found himself in a forest clearing, but all of the trees were dead. They looked burned, as if they'd been struck by lightning. There was no undergrowth, just sand beneath his feet. The sky was purple, rippled with paler pink clouds. Two paths led out from the clearing. Severus took the right hand path first and followed it down. After he'd gone a couple of hundred yards, a flowery sofa popped into being on the path in front of him. In front of that a small table with a television appeared.

 

Severus sat down on the sofa and waited for the television to start. At first he thought there was something wrong with the picture because all he could see was a black screen. He could hear noises though, shuffling and sniffling. A few minutes later a shaft of light appeared on the left hand side of the screen and in the right hand side he could see the outline of a small boy. A chubby hand yanked the boy out by the front of his shirt, making the boy blink in the bright light of the hallway. So this was the cupboard.

 

"What have you been telling the school nurse, boy? Do you think we're made of money? That we have the time to keep taking you to the optician's? There's nothing wrong with Dudley's old glasses for you! You'll wear them and be thankful!"

 

"Yes, Uncle Vernon."

 

"Are you giving me cheek? Just who do you think you are? You're nothing but a vile, useless freak!" Slap! The man's hand left a reddened imprint on Harry's cheek and the glasses in question were knocked from his face. You're only good for one thing and don't you forget it! On your knees, now!"

 

"Please, Uncle Vernon! You said you wouldn't do that any more!"

 

When Vernon punched Harry on the nose, it dripped crimson as Harry struggled to breathe and cry at the same time.

 

"Don't make me tell you again!" roared Vernon, raising his arm in a threatening gesture. Harry sank to his knees and closed his eyes when Vernon unzipped his trousers.

 

Severus wanted to climb inside the memory and lift Harry out of there, but there was nothing he could do. It was a memory, it had already happened and he couldn't save Harry from the vile pile of human flesh that was Vernon Dursley.

 

The memory faded, only to be replaced with more, detailing the abuse Harry had suffered at that house. The beatings; the starvation; Vernon's parties when Petunia wasn't there and Harry was passed around the men like a party favour to use him how they wanted. Severus' chest ached to watch it, but watch it he did until the screen faded once more and another memory took its place.

 

Harry, with Ginny Weasley sitting by the lake at Hogwarts. The sun was sinking into the lake like a ball of orange flame, but the two students were too engrossed in kissing to notice the sunset. Severus felt a pang of jealousy flare beneath his breastbone at seeing Ginny Weasley kissing his Harry. She moaned and trailed her hand down Harry's chest. Harry's own hand shot out and grabbed her wrist before she got anywhere near his groin.

 

Severus could tell Harry was panicking; his breathing hitched and Severus saw him shudder. Ginny pulled away from the kiss and yanked her hand out of Harry's grip. "What's the matter with you? Why won't you let me touch you?" demanded Ginny. She gave a disdainful glance at Harry's trousers. "You're not even hard! If I'd kissed Dean like that, he wouldn't be able to keep his hands off me!"

 

"Well, maybe you should go back to Dean then!" retorted Harry, his eyes flashing.

 

"Maybe I will! Merlin knows I'm not getting anywhere with you! You're pathetic!" spat Ginny as she stalked off, shaking her hair out behind her. Severus wanted to strangle her. In the memory, Harry looked down at his unresponsive groin and wept. The screen faded and no more memories were forthcoming.

 

As Severus stood up, the sofa and television disappeared and in their place was a wooden cradle. There was no baby in the cradle, just a pile of mussed-up blankets. Severus knew what it symbolised. Harry's mind was too broken to ever fully heal. They would never get Harry back.

 

Never.

 

 

 

Part 8

 

 

When Severus returned from his foray into Harry's damaged mind, he came face to face with a physically damaged young man as well. Harry's face was covered in blisters; his throat had swollen to twice its normal size and he was clawing at his face, trying to breathe.

 

Poppy had to restrain him to stop him from damaging himself further.

 

"It was the spell!" said Poppy. "He started having trouble as soon as you cast it! Can you carry him to the bath?"

 

Severus nodded and scooped Harry up in his arms. By trying to help, he'd only gone and made things worse. Poppy ran ahead of him and he heard her start filling the bath. When he entered the bathroom; he saw Poppy had filled the bathtub with ice as well. "He needs to cool down as quickly as possible and then get some burn salve on him," instructed Poppy. Severus set Harry down in the water and as expected it started another hysterical screaming match, but Severus couldn't take him out this time.

 

"Is he hurt somewhere else?" asked Poppy, running her eyes over Harry's body as if expecting to see some injuries there.

 

"No, he's terrified of water," explained Severus as he did his best to hold a wriggling Harry in the water to cool his burns. "Harry, you're all right. You're safe. No one's going to hurt you. You're safe. You're safe."

 

It was a few minutes before Harry finally calmed down. "Sev'rus? You won't let the monster get me?"

 

"No, Harry. Never." Severus wondered if Harry could believe him.

 

***

 

Once Harry had been slathered in burn salve from head to foot and given one of his Muggle calming pills, they put him to bed to rest. Severus poured himself and Poppy a generous measure of Firewhisky.

 

"Legilimency isn't going to help him," said Severus after downing a large mouthful of the alcohol. "Especially not if he's going to have a reaction like that every time I try it. The burns will heal, won't they?"

 

"Yes, we got to them early enough. He might have some scarring though."

 

"As if he needed any more of those." Severus stared into the glass and watched the colours changing as the whiskey caught the light. He'd been so sure that he would be able to help Harry recover.

 

"Severus, was there anything of his mind left at all?"

 

"Not much," admitted Severus. "His mind was like a forest that had just had a fire; all the trees were dead and there were only a few memories remaining. Not pleasant ones either."

 

"But you said he had been lucid sometimes? That he asked for your help?"

 

"He did and sometimes when I look at him, I can see Harry, the real Harry, staring back. It's as though he's trapped inside his mind and has no way to communicate with us in a way we can understand."

 

"I would like to try some Muggle therapy with him."

 

"If his mind is gone, how can that help?"

 

"I don't think his mind is gone at all, Severus, I think it's a coping mechanism. Harry has been through something terrible and so his mind is protecting itself from remembering. The human mind can only take so much trauma, if things get too bad, there's a switch that will click to make us forget the traumatic experiences. Harry has been tortured for at least two years, and what person could cope with that? At the moment he has become very child-like, but he is not insane. He's reverting back to when he was a child, a time before he remembers being hurt."

 

"Well it must be a very young child then, for his memories were full of abuse at that house. Merlin, Poppy. What he has been through, I'm just surprised this hasn't happened before now. Did you know they kept him in a cupboard? Locked in like an animal? Harry didn't even know how to use a toilet; they made him use buckets at that place. I saw his letter, Poppy. I saw his Hogwarts letter. It was addressed to 'the cupboard under the stairs'."

 

"What are you saying, Severus?"

 

"I'm saying that Albus knew he was being abused and did nothing about it. It was in Harry's diary too, Dumbledore admitted it to Harry, that he knew all along."

 

"We have to help him, Severus. We have to."

 

***

 

Harry woke up with the scream dying on his lips. It was the bad dream again; the one he could never remember when he woke up. A lantern on the wall flared to life and he saw Severus standing in the doorway.

 

"Harry? Are you all right?"

 

"Bad dream. Bad man," said Harry and shuffled backwards on the bed so that he was tucked up against the headboard, his arms wrapped around his knees. Harry could feel his heart beating against his chest, too fast, far too fast. He was sweating and shivering as he fought the lingering fear from the dream.

 

"Do you remember the dream?"

 

Harry shook his head as Severus sat down on the bed and held out his arms so that Harry could have a hug. Severus' hugs had never scared him and he wondered why he was scared of hugs in his dreams.

 

"Do you know what a doctor is, Harry?" asked Severus as he stroked Harry's back.

 

"That's someone who makes you feel better if you're sick. Am I sick? Is that why I can't do things right and I forget things sometimes?"

 

"In a way," said Severus. "You like Madam Pomfrey, don't you?"

 

"Yes," said Harry. "She gives me chocolate. I like chocolate. I never had any before."

 

"Well, Madam Pomfrey is like a special kind of doctor who wants to help you remember some things. Would you like her to do that?"

 

"Would you come with me?"

 

"If you'd like me to."

 

"Please," said Harry.

 

 

***

 

Poppy came to their quarters for Harry's first therapy session. She'd brought along a box of toys and let Harry choose what he wanted to play with. All were Muggle toys; neither of them were sure if Harry might have an allergic reaction to magical toys as well as to spells and they had decided to err on the side of caution. Harry removed a handful of colourful building blocks and sat cross-legged in the middle of the floor. He arranged the blocks between his legs and just stared at them for a while, as if he didn't know what he was supposed to do with them. Maybe he didn't; from the memories Severus had seen the only toys Harry had received were those that had been broken already.

 

"Do you like the building blocks, Harry?" asked Poppy as Severus sat on the sofa and watched the two of them.

 

Harry nodded and began stacking one on top of the other; his tongue poking out as he concentrated. It was very disconcerting watching a nineteen year old play with toys as if he was someone much younger.

 

"What age are you, Harry?"

 

Harry looked up at the matron as if she was being very stupid and Severus had to stifle a laugh. "I'm five. I'm a big boy. Next week I go to the big school with Dudley. He's my cousin, but he doesn't like me and I don't like him. He telled my aunt that I kilt Mrs. Figg's cat, but I never, I never!" Harry was shaking just at the mere memory of his cousin.

 

"You like Severus though, don't you, Harry?"

 

"Severus doesn't hurt me," replied Harry, glancing over and rewarding Severus with a broad smile. Severus felt his heart speed up. It was a rare gift to be on the receiving end of one of Harry's smiles; they were so few.

 

"And other people have hurt you?"

 

Harry nodded and added another block to the tower he was building. "Who hurt you, Harry?"

 

"No, not allowed," said Harry, frantically shaking his head. "Not allowed to tell."

 

"Okay, Harry. Can you tell me about the bath? Why you don't like the water?"

 

"It's because of the monster, but Severus said he won't let the monster get me any more. She's gone now."

 

"What did the monster do, Harry? Can you tell us about that?"

 

"She wanted to drownded me. She pointed a stick at me and I couldn't move and then she put me in the water. It was dark and cold and I couldn't move. I couldn't get out, I couldn't get out!" Harry stopped playing with the bricks and backed into the coffee table. "Stop making me tell! I'm not allowed to tell! Something bad will happen if I tell!"

 

"It's all right, Harry. You're allowed to tell us. Nothing bad will happen to you if you tell, I promise."

 

Harry shot up from his position on the floor and kicked over his tower of bricks. He turned in circles, screaming and tearing at his hair. Severus went to go and comfort him, but Poppy held up her hand to stay him in his tracks.

 

"Harry, nothing bad will happen," repeated Poppy. "You're safe here."

 

"No! It's a trick! It's a trick!"

 

"Harry, it's not a trick, we just want you to tell us what happened. Nothing bad will happen."

 

"But it did! It did!" he ranted. "I telled him what had happened and bad things happened! I telled and they died!"

 

"What happened, Harry? Who did you tell? Who died?"

 

"I telled Sirius and Dumbledore and they both died! They both died! I killed them! I killed them!" sobbed Harry, sinking to his knees and holding his head in his hands.

 

 

Part 9

 

"I can't stay long, Professor. Blaise doesn't know I'm here," said Hermione as she looked at Harry who was again playing on the floor. It had been three weeks since Harry's outburst about Sirius and Dumbledore but he was no better. Poppy had given him some more therapy sessions, but Harry's memories were no closer to coming to the surface. Severus had received three letters from the Ministry of Health already demanding to know if Harry was pregnant yet. Lucius Malfoy was making a fuss as usual and Severus knew they were going to have to try and soon. He had rather hoped it would be with a Harry who was of sound mind.

 

"You look like you're having fun there, Harry. What are you playing?" asked Hermione, glancing at Harry's shoes as he pushed them around the floor. His shoes were his favourite thing to play with, despite the box of toys in Poppy's office.

 

"Cars," said Harry. He pushed them around, his tongue sticking out of the corner of his mouth as he concentrated.

 

"Oh. That's nice."

 

Harry looked up and stared at Hermione's gently swollen abdomen. "What's in there? Do you have a ball up there?"

 

Hermione smiled sadly at Harry. "No, it's a baby."

 

"Really? A real baby is inside you?"

 

"That's right." Hermione placed her hands over her abdomen and stroked her baby. "Would you like to touch the baby, Harry?"

 

"Can I?" Harry asked eagerly, glancing to Severus for permission. "Severus, can I?"

 

"As long as it's all right with Hermione, you may."

 

Harry reached out his hands and patted the bump gently. "Oh! Oh, it moved! Severus it moved! The baby moved!" Harry was bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet he was so excited and Severus couldn't help but smile at his enthusiasm. "My aunt says the daddy has to plant a seed inside the mummy and then the baby grows in a garden in the mummy's tummy."

 

Hermione blushed crimson. "Something like that, yes. I really have to get back now. It was nice to see you again, Harry."

 

Harry stood up and held out his hand to Hermione. "Thank you for visiting. Have a safe trip home." Hermione looked bemused as she left, hugging Harry fiercely before she did. Only Severus noticed Harry's wince. Harry was still a bit wary of touches if they weren't from Severus or Poppy. After the abuse Severus had witnessed in the boy's mind and read about in his diary, he wasn't at all surprised.

 

Severus sat down on the sofa and patted the seat beside him when it seemed as if Harry was about to retreat to the floor again. "I'd like to talk to you for a minute, Harry, then you can get back to playing."

 

"Okay," Harry smiled and bounded over to the sofa like an eager puppy. He sat down, resting his hands on his thighs and looking at Severus with a serious expression on his face.

 

"Do you like babies, Harry?"

 

"Oh, yes! I asked my aunt once if she was going to have another one so I could have a nicer cousin than Dudley, but I got sent back to my cupboard. Is it bad to have babies, Severus?"

 

"No, Harry. It isn't. Sometimes people who love each other very much want to have a baby together to show how much they love each other. I love you very much, Harry."

 

"I love you too," said Harry. "Ooh, does that mean we can have a baby? Can we, Severus? Please? Please?"

 

"Do you want to have a baby with me?"

 

"Oh, Severus, yes!" Harry sat up straight and clapped his hands. "Can we? Oh, please say we can have a baby! I want to have a baby!"

 

***

 

Severus didn't delude himself as he shared the bath with Harry later that night. Harry wanted a baby the way a child wanted a puppy. He had no idea of the responsibility involved or even of how the conception was going to be achieved. Severus knew Harry wouldn't be able to look after a child, not when he was so child-like himself, but he would be damned if he would give Lucius Malfoy and the Ministry any excuse to take Harry or the baby away from him.

 

Harry giggled as Severus washed his chest, tickling the fine hairs there. There was a thick trail going from Harry's navel to his groin; his body was that of a man, even if his mind wasn't.

 

"Will you plant the seed in my tummy tonight, Severus?" Harry asked breathlessly.

 

Severus paused. "Do you know how I do that, Harry?"

 

Harry shook his head. "But you kiss me. Mummies and daddies kiss, don't they?"

 

Severus nodded and continued to wash Harry, his cock firming up as he thought of kissing Harry and doing even more with him.

 

"And you'll plant your seed in me. Will it hurt?"

 

"It might at first but after a little while it should feel good."

 

"I know you wouldn't mean it if it hurts."

 

"No, Harry, I wouldn't." Severus washed Harry's hair before finishing his own bathing routine and then got out of the bath before lifting Harry out and wrapping him in a big, fluffy towel. Harry moaned in delight as he was dried and kept smiling at Severus all the while. As Severus rubbed the towel between Harry's legs; Severus felt Harry's cock starting to rise. Maybe they wouldn't need the aphrodisiac after all. Severus knew he wouldn't need it for himself. The desire was coursing through him already at just the thought of what they were going to do.

 

"Ohh," sighed Harry. "I feel strange."

 

"Strange, how?"

 

"It feels like a tickle, but it's inside me. It feels good."

 

"It's supposed to feel good," said Severus, leaning over and kissing Harry's chest once he'd finished drying it. They were both covered in scars, but Severus tried not to dwell on them tonight. He wanted Harry, but the guilt about doing it was eating him up inside. He was taking advantage of a vulnerable young man no matter how you looked at it. The fact that he was doing to save him from something much worse from Lucius Malfoy couldn't ease his conscience completely.

 

Severus scooped Harry up in his arms and carried Harry to bed. He lay him down and settled himself beside him, both of them still naked after their bath. Harry's nipples were two pale pink buds on his chest, waiting for Severus to make them flower. Severus leaned oven and kissed the left one, the one nearest to him. Harry's body bucked, but he didn't tell Severus to stop.

 

"That feels nice," said Harry.

 

Severus looked up and then down at Harry's groin. Harry's cock was firming up; Severus had wondered after seeing Harry's memories of Ginny Weasley if Harry was impotent, but perhaps he just hadn't been all that comfortable with her or maybe with girls in general.

 

It would be better if Harry was aroused and Severus was determined to do everything to make it as pleasurable for Harry as possible. He kissed his way up Harry's chest and along his collar bone, hearing Harry's breathy moans as he did so. Harry was enjoying this, even if he wasn't sure what it was.

 

"Kiss. Kiss," said Harry. "We can't have a baby if you don't kiss me."

 

"I am kissing you," replied Severus as he nibbled along Harry's neck and started kissing his jaw.

 

"Not there, silly," giggled Harry. "On the lips."

 

"Like this?" asked Severus as he softly pressed his lips against Harry's.

 

"Harder."

 

Severus obliged; it was no hardship to give Harry passionate kisses. Severus put all the love, all the yearning he felt into those kisses as he pressed down hard against Harry's mouth, but Harry wasn't actively participating. Severus pulled his mouth away. "Open your mouth a little, Harry. Copy what I'm doing."

 

Harry nodded, seemingly eager to comply. Severus ruthlessly squashed down what little remained of his guilt. Harry was his husband; he had to get pregnant or get raped by Lucius Malfoy, there was no in-between. Severus brought his lips to Harry's again; it was more fun this time now that Harry was getting into it as well. Severus' cock was so hard that he was sure he could come from just kissing Harry, but that wouldn't help him get pregnant any sooner.

 

Severus stroked Harry's chest, tweaking his nipples into stiff points. Harry's whole body bucked as he moaned into Severus' mouth. Severus left off kissing Harry's lips for the delights of Harry's chest and the trail of hair leading down to his groin. "Sev'rus! It hurts!" gasped Harry.

 

"What hurts?" Severus glanced up at Harry's face.

 

"There, it hurts there," said Harry, pointing to his cock and smiling shyly. "Can you kiss it better?"

 

If Severus didn't know any better, he could almost have imagined that Harry was flirting with him and that this was a mutual seduction. Severus bent his head down and sucked the tip of Harry's cock into his mouth. It tasted sweet and salty after their bath.

 

"Better?" mumbled Severus through his mouthful. Merlin, how long had he imagined having that cock in his mouth? The reality was much better than the fantasy. Harry's hips were thrusting up in time with Severus' sucking. Severus swirled his tongue around the slit and Harry wailed in pleasure at the sensations Severus was bestowing on him.

 

Harry's cock was more delicious than any sweet he had ever tasted. Precome was already leaking from the tip and Severus knew it wouldn't take Harry long to come at all. Severus licked and suckled on Harry's cock like a baby nursing, his own cock throbbing like a second heartbeat at his groin. He wanted Harry to come; he wanted to make him feel so much pleasure that he wouldn't be afraid of what was going to happen next. Severus moved his mouth, covering Harry's shaft from root to tip; he snuffled at Harry's pubic hair and sucked. Hard.

 

Harry screamed as he came, arching his body off the bed as he rewarded Severus with mouthfuls of hot, sweet come. Severus swallowed every drop as eagerly as a drowning man would gulp for air. "Severus!" gasped Harry. Severus reluctantly let the cock go with a small kiss to the tip of it, smearing come along the shaft as he did so.

 

"Did you like that, Harry?"

 

"Yes! I felt funny."

 

"Funny in a good way or a bad way?"

 

Harry grinned up at him, his whole body was loose-limbed and flush with afterglow; it suited him.

 

"In a good way. Like a really, really funny tickle. I - I thought I was going to pee, but it feels different to that."

 

"That's right, Harry. It was your seed coming out."

 

"So is that how I'm going to have the baby? You're going to put your seed in my mouth?"

 

"No, Harry. I'm going to put my seed in here," Severus pushed Harry's legs up and caressed his bottom, tickling his anus with one finger.

 

"Oh," said Harry, his eyes wide, but he didn't shy away from Severus' touches. Severus stroked him gently until Harry's thighs relaxed and his legs parted. Keeping one hand caressing Harry's opening, Severus leant over and removed the jar of oil from the bedside table.

 

"I'm going to put oil on my fingers Harry and then I'm going to put them inside you to stretch you, okay? The oil will make them slippery so it will be easier."

 

Harry nodded, his whole body flushed. Severus made sure he was generous with coating his fingers; he didn't want this to hurt or scare Harry at all. He started with one finger, pressing it gently against the ring of muscles and it disappeared inside Harry's body with a small 'pop'. Severus glanced up; Harry was still smiling and in a few moments, he was thrusting back against Severus' finger and making breathy moans. "Two fingers now, Harry," Severus said and pushed his second finger in and brushed both of them against Harry's inner walls as the muscles clamped around him. Merlin, how good was that going to feel around his cock?

 

Severus bent his head and gave Harry lots of kisses to his hips and thighs as he stretched Harry with oiled fingers, wanting nothing about this to remind Harry of his uncle and the rapes. "Look, Severus! He wants to play again," gasped Harry, stroking his renewed erection.

 

Severus almost lost it right then; but managed to squeeze the base of his cock to stave of his orgasm. Harry was thrusting his hips, impaling himself on Severus' fingers. He was rubbing his cock frantically with his hands and moaning incoherently. Severus pulled down a pillow and placed it beneath Harry's hips. After oiling his erection; using a lot more oil than he probably needed, he grasped Harry's hips and pushed inside the tight ring of muscles; Harry's breath hitched. "It hurts," he whimpered.

 

"I know, Harry. I'm sorry. Try and push me out, relax your muscles."

 

It was a few seconds before Harry did and Severus felt his cock slide in a few more inches. Merlin, Harry was so tight, despite the stretching. Severus' cock pulsed as he was gripped by velvet walls and he could no more have stopped the groans of delight than he could stop the sun from rising. He shifted his angle and Harry cried out.

 

"Oh! Magic!" gasped Harry, his erection firming up again once Severus had stroked his prostate.

 

It was magic indeed. Severus was finally at one with the man he loved, finally at one with Harry. He could feel sweat trickling down between his shoulder blades as he gazed into the greenest eyes he'd ever seen. Harry looked totally in awe of what was happening, as if he couldn't quite believe this was real. Severus gripped Harry's hips and began to thrust in earnest. "Stroke your cock again, Harry," groaned Severus. "Make yourself come."

 

"Come?"

 

"That good feeling you get. Go on, do it."

 

***

 

It had hurt a little when Severus had pushed his cock inside him at first, but now Harry just felt really, really full. He wriggled his hips a bit, trying to get that magic feeling back when Severus had touched something inside him. OH! There it was and he shrieked in delight. This was much more fun than playing cars! Severus' face was all scrunched up as if he was hurting, but he was making the same sorts of sounds that Harry was and he wasn't hurting any more. He just felt really, really good. Severus pushed in and out of him, reminding Harry of a train chugging along and he giggled at the image. Harry stroked his cock, he'd done this before, but it had never felt this good when he'd done it by himself.

 

He remembered they got angry with him at the hospital when he did it in front of people, but Severus wasn't angry with him. Severus wanted him to do it. Severus wanted his seed to come out.

 

"Harry! Oh, Harry!" Severus cried out above him and as Harry felt his insides bathed with wet warmth, he felt that funny, tingly feeling low down in his tummy and he was crying out too, making his hands and his stomach messy with his seed.

 

"Severus! Severus!"

 

Severus leaned down and kissed Harry on the mouth again. Harry liked that, he hoped they could kiss some more again. They seemed to kiss for a long time as if Severus couldn't get enough of tasting Harry. Harry moaned into the mouth above him; his cock was aching again and pressing against Severus' tummy. Severus pulled away from the kiss and glanced down at it. "Again?" he smiled and kissed Harry on the nose. "Would you like me to kiss it again?"

 

Harry nodded eagerly, that had felt really good when Severus had done it before. As Severus kissed his way down Harry's chest, Harry lay back against the pillows and gripped the sheets beneath him. His heart was beating so fast and he was out of breath, as if he'd just finished running a race. Severus swirled his tongue around the top of Harry's cock and he melted against the mattress. That felt wonderful! "Please!" begged Harry, wanting to feel like he had before.

 

Severus looked up at him, his eyes sparkling, before lowering his head and swallowing all of Harry's cock. There was no way Harry could keep still; he was writhing on the bed, pushing his cock in and out of Severus' mouth, the wonderful sensations so intense that he wondered if he might faint. "OH! OH! Snape!" he screamed and yanked hard on Snape's hair as convulsions of pleasure rocked his frame and he spurted over and over into his ex-professor's mouth.

 

"What the fuck are you doing?" demanded Harry, pushing at the man's shoulders. "Get off me!"

 

"Harry?"

 

"What the hell is going on? Where am I?"

 

"You're at Hogwarts, Harry."

 

"This isn't the dungeons," said Harry, staring around him at the curtained windows and bright pictures hanging on the wall. Pictures including photos of himself, Ron and Hermione. "What are you doing with photos of my friends?" demanded Harry. "Where are they? What have you done with them?"

 

"Your friends are fine, Harry."

 

"Right! This is some sort of trick, isn't it? Pretend I'm back safe at Hogwarts so you can deliver me to your master! I'm not stupid, Snape! I know you're a traitor!"

 

"We need to get you to Madam Pomfrey," said Snape calmly.

 

"I'm not going anywhere with you! Stupefy!"

 

Snape managed to block the spell, but it bounced back and hit Harry square in the chest. He didn't fall with the spell, but he clutched his chest and dropped the pillow, screaming in pain as the spell burned his flesh. "What did you do to me?" he screamed. "That wasn't a stunning spell!"

 

"You're allergic to magic; we need to get you to Madam Pomfrey."  Snape waved his wand, dressing himself, and then he wrapped a blanket around Harry. Wasting no more time, Snape lifted Harry up and slung him over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. Harry pummelled his back with his fists all the way to the infirmary, screaming and yelling all the while.

 

"Severus! What's happened?" asked Madam Pomfrey.

 

Was it really Madam Pomfrey or one of Voldemort's followers Polyjuiced to look like her? Harry wouldn't put anything past the Death Eaters. But what did they hope to gain by convincing Harry he was back at Hogwarts?

 

"He's back, Poppy. Harry is back."

 

 

Part 10

 

All right, Harry could grasp that he wasn't dreaming and he was in fact back at Hogwarts and in the infirmary, yet again. What he couldn't fathom was how he ended up naked in Snape's bed! With Snape sucking him off! And Madam Pomfrey didn't seem to think there was anything shocking about it. As she smoothed some orange paste onto the burns on his chest, she regaled him with the things that had been happening in the wizarding world since his disappearance. New marriage laws from the Ministry, travel restrictions and more, but she deliberately avoided talking about Snape and what Harry had been doing in the man's bedroom.

 

"What is the last thing you remember, Harry?" she asked him, spreading a large dollop of the paste on his chest, making him gasp in surprise, it felt so cold against his burns. Harry closed his eyes and tried to remember.

 

"A battle. Voldemort was lying on the ground. I killed him?"

 

Madam Pomfrey nodded and proceeded to spread the paste over his chest. He hissed when she accidentally brushed his nipple; they were still feeling very sensitive after... after... but his mind refused to go there just yet. "Lucius Malfoy had his wand aimed at me. Then... then..."

 

Something hovered on the edge of Harry's recollection - no, not something, someone. A blur of black robes as Snape ran to stand in front of Harry to block the curse erupting from Lucius Malfoy's wand. Oh, Merlin. Snape had tried to save him? As if in slow motion, Harry saw the ex-professor fall to the ground in his mind's eye. In the ensuing confusion; Bellatrix Lestrange had grabbed hold of Harry from behind and Apparated them both away from the battle.

 

More of his memory kept coming back; the dungeons at the Lestrange Manor and Bella's creative tortures. Harry shuddered and breathed deeply trying to calm himself down. The woman had been vicious; Harry lost count of how many Cruciatus curses he'd endured at her hands, never mind the knives and the whips. He'd been starved for

most of his time there, she gave him enough every few days just to keep him alive that little bit longer so she could continue torturing him. He'd prayed to die but the Fates hadn't been that merciful.

 

"I'm not allergic to magic," Harry said. "Bella cursed me when she knew the wards had been breached; she knew that if someone were to rescue me they would try magic to heal me. She wanted to make sure it wouldn't work."

 

"What spell was it, dear?"

 

"It was Excrucio Corpus."

 

"The painful body spell? No wonder magic was hurting you! Finite Incantatem."

 

Harry waited with bated breath to see if he felt the burning pain from the spell, but nothing happened.

 

"What happened? Why couldn't I remember any of this stuff before?"

 

Pomfrey had finished tending to his burns; she twisted the lid back onto the jar and sat down on the chair beside Harry's bed. This was very familiar: Harry in the infirmary with someone about to break some news to him, although normally it had been the headmaster.

 

"Harry, dear. You were kept prisoner and tortured for over two years; your mind was trying to protect you from reliving such traumatic events over and over again, so it hid them from you. When the Aurors found you in Bella's dungeons, they thought you'd lost your mind due to over-exposure to the Cruciatus curse. You weren't insane, at least not in the sense the Healers understood it. Instead, you had reverted to the mentality of a young child, to a time before you were hurt so badly. You had blocked out your time in the dungeon and everything else that had once caused you hurt. Do you remember what happened to you at the Dursleys'?"

 

Harry nodded; oh yes, he remembered that all right. He closed his eyes and blinked back a few tears. His uncle Vernon's parties were legendary in some circles.

 

Harry remembered other things too, more recent things. Lying wrapped up in a pair of strong arms, feeling safe and secure. Playing with a pair of shoes on a stone-floor, while a hand softly caressed his hair. He remembered smiling and laughing. He remembered being happy and it hurt to have lost that. He’d been happy with Snape when he had no memory of anything else. Snape had not hurt him. There weren’t beatings with a belt or a broom handle if Harry didn’t do as he was told. Living with the mind of a child, Harry hadn’t needed to worry about anything, he could just be. He could just be Harry. He desperately wanted that feeling back.

 

"Snape killed Dumbledore," Harry said softly. "Why isn't he in prison?"

 

"Harry, dear, I think you know the answer to that, don't you?"

 

He nodded. "The headmaster asked him to? Oh, God, the goblet! I poisoned him, didn't I?"

 

"Harry, Professor Dumbledore was dying long before that night. The Gaunt ring had been cursed; he'd been dying ever since that night. That's why he was giving you all the information you might need; he knew he wouldn't be here to guide you. If you need to know any more, I suggest you talk to Professor Snape."

 

Harry wasn't sure he wanted to talk to Snape, at least not yet. "Tomorrow," he whispered and turned over on the bed, his back to her.

 

***

 

 

Snape was standing by his bed when Harry woke up in the morning. The fact that Snape had been watching him sleep was rather disconcerting. Harry scrambled upright on the bed, feeling his face heat as he remembered coming in this man's mouth. No one had yet explained that to his satisfaction. Mind you, he didn't think it was the sort of thing he wanted to discuss with Madam Pomfrey. She knew too many intimate details of his life already.

 

"Why did you do it?" Harry asked without preamble. He was determined to get to the root of this once and for all.

 

"The headmaster was dying, Harry. You saw his hand. The curse was slowly eating away at his insides like a cancer; there was nothing to be done for him. Voldemort knew there was a spy in his ranks and he had been suspecting me for quite some time, thanks to Bella's wagging tongue. I had already informed the headmaster of Draco's task and he decided we could use that to our advantage. Dumbledore knew Draco probably wouldn't be able to go through with it. Although he was cruel and arrogant, Draco wasn't a killer. The whole attack on the castle that night was a trap to try and catch the spy, that is, me. But Dumbledore's plan succeeded and Lord Voldemort thought he had my undying loyalty."

 

"I'm not talking about that!  I'm not talking about Dumbledore's death."

 

"What, then?"

 

"You're the reason my parents are dead!" spat Harry. "You were the one who told Voldemort the prophecy!"

 

His guts were churning at that betrayal. Because of Severus Snape Harry had grown up an orphan. Because of Severus Snape he was made to live at that house where - where - Harry was breathing heavily now as the memories of what he'd suffered at Privet Drive and then later, in the dungeons at Lestrange Manor played over and over in his head. Harry clasped his hands over his ears as if that could stop them. "NO! Get them out! Get them out!"

 

"Harry, it's all right. Listen to me. They're just memories; your memory is coming back. Relax for me. Breathe slowly. In and out. In and out. That's it. That's it. They can't hurt you any more. You're safe now. You're safe now."

 

"Married?" yelped Harry as he remembered a small ceremony in the Ministry record office.  "I'm married to you?"

 

"Yes, Harry, we've been married for a few months."

 

"But Madam Pomfrey said homosexual liaisons are banned! I can't be married to a man!"

 

"Harry, you're a bearer. According to the laws, that makes you a woman because you can bear children. Lucius Malfoy wanted to bond with you, but because of a Life Debt, the Wizengamot decided I had a prior claim. If I hadn't, you would have ended up being raped by Lucius Malfoy; is that what you would have wanted?"

 

"So instead I ended up getting raped by you!" But even as the words left his mouth, Harry knew they were untrue. He remembered how careful Snape had been, asking him if he was sure, preparing him as slowly as possible. What would a rapist care whether or not their partner was prepared sufficiently?

 

"Harry, I'm sorry, but I didn't rape you."

 

"As good as!" retorted Harry. "I woke up in your bed with no memory of how I came to be there! How could I have consented when I didn't know what was going on?"

 

"I know, Harry, but it had to be done. If you aren't pregnant within the year, our marriage will be annulled and they will hand you over to Lucius Malfoy."

 

"What? I'm not going anywhere near that bastard! Why isn't he in Azkaban with all the other Death Eaters?"

 

"Money talks and the Ministry needed a lot of it to rebuild after the war."

 

"This is my life! I'm not getting pregnant at the Minister's whim! They can't make me!"

 

"I'm afraid they can, Harry. As you may have gathered, none of our lives are our own anymore."

 

This was a nightmare, it had to be. Have Severus Snape's child or Lucius Malfoy's? Bile rose in Harry's throat; he leaned over the bed and vomited up what felt like every meal he'd ever eaten. Snape poured him a glass of water from the jug on the bedside cabinet.

 

Harry sipped it and set the glass back down. "Why won't they leave me alone? I just want to be left alone! I killed the bloody Dark Lord for them, what more do they want from me?"

 

"Your child," said Severus softly.

 

"What? They can't do that!"

 

"Harry, they are the Ministry of Magic, they can do what the bloody hell they like and there is nothing anyone can do to stop them. Dissenters are sent straight to Azkaban without trial, or at least that's what they say. They could be murdered for all we know."

 

"So this is freedom?" asked Harry bitterly. "I wish I hadn't known any of this. You still haven't answered me, why did you tell the Dark Lord the prophecy?"

 

"Why do you think? Because I was ordered to."

 

"So, you were still doing Voldemort's bidding even then," said Harry bitterly.

 

"It wasn't the Dark Lord who ordered me that night, Harry. I was already working for Dumbledore then. He wanted the Dark Lord told only part of the prophecy, so I only told him the first part."

 

"What? Why? Why would Dumbledore want you to tell him anything about it?"

 

"Because Dumbledore wanted to know which child Voldemort would attack, which one the Dark Lord saw as a danger to him. Not knowing the full prophecy, Voldemort didn't know that by attacking you, he made you into the person who would be able to kill him. Dumbledore needed to know so that he could train you."

 

"Use me, more like!" spat Harry. Harry wished he didn't know any of this; wished he couldn't remember all the terrible things that had ever happened to him. He didn't want to remember any of it. He wanted to be like that child again.

 

"I suppose my wand got lost somewhere in the battle?" asked Harry lightly, hoping his voice wasn't wavering. He couldn't do this anymore; he had lost too much and his chest felt as if he was being crushed in a too-tight hug by Hagrid. His friends were alive, but trapped in loveless marriages, forced to bear children at the Ministry's whim.

 

"I think I was happy, wasn’t I? I was happy with you?"

 

"Yes, Harry, you were."

 

"That's something, I suppose. Whatever happens, don't let them take my baby," said Harry.

 

"You're fine now, Harry. They can't use your mental instability as an excuse any more. You won't have to give up any child. Are you saying – are you saying that you want to stay with me?"

 

Harry shrugged his shoulders. "Better you than Lucius Malfoy." It wasn't a declaration of undying love, but Snape didn't look as if he'd expected that anyway.

 

"My wand?" Harry prompted again.

 

"Yes, it got lost. Ollivander's nephew has reopened the shop, we can get you a new one."

 

"I'd like that," said Harry. "May I see yours? It seems such a long time since I held one."

 

Snape looked wary, as well he might, but he did finally allow Harry to take hold of the wood.

 

Harry caressed the handle; it felt quite a bit lighter than his own, but he felt that same tingle as when he'd first held his own wand all those years go. His magic seeking an outlet. While he seemed to be doing nothing more than holding the wand, Harry could tell the very moment Snape let his guard down.

 

Quicker than Snape could stop him, Harry had the wand raised to his temple and cast the spell.

 

"Obliviate!"

 

 

THE END

 

 

 

 

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