Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or anything you can recognise from any books or TV series or movies. I do however take liberties with the plots or mentions provided by JKR or other writers. The only profit I'm getting out of it is improving my English.

Title: Secrets & Keepers – Collision Course

Rating/Warnings: R/M [AU; Manipulative Dumbledore (therefore not Dumbledore friendly); profanity; canon-typical violence; frank discussion of past child abuse (Harry but not only) and of past child abuse of sexual nature (not Harry); not very detailed descriptions of torture (not Harry); Black family feels.

Additional warnings: profanity

Chapter summary: "A Harry Potter Protection Club is officially forming! Current active members include a Dead Man Walking, Mr. TWELWE YEARS! IN THE AZKABAN!, Professor Almost-Sister-in-Law, A Very Tired Werewolf, A Disillusioned Auror Rulebreaker and Greasehair McGrudgeholder" - summary courtesy of LimeOfMagicLimo whose comment made my day and simply had to be included.

Word count: Around 10 000 words.

Author's note/personal ramble: It took nearly two years but finally it's here, the scene that started it all. Can't believe that it took me two years and nearly 220 000 words to get there. Granted, certain elements of it had to be readjusted to fit with what certain characters already know and discussed. Obviously, it's not the end of the story itself, there will be sequels but it's a good place to end things for now.

Secrets & Keepers - Supernova: Not a sequel that I initially planned, a child born out of an interesting discussion with one reviewer, whom I will blame in the right time. For some point of time was going to be a chapter of this story or an epilogue between this part and the next one but the more time I spent on it the more I realised that it deserves a separate story on its own. And I'm sure that a lot of you would be very displeased if you realised that instead of moving forward we're travelling back in time. Not that we will spend a lot of time there or travel very far. It has a definitive ending which will allow me to move forward to...

Secrets & Keepers - Entropy: The proper follow-up to this part that might or might not incorporate certain things from Supernova (I'm on the fence with that). Aside from the usual crowd it might contain a couple of cameos from other people. For certain will cover the rest of the summer and depending from the length maybe even a part of third-year if not whole thing. As you can see I learned from experience... the chapter that was supposed to be the fourth one at the most had ended being the twelve one. So I'm not making promises I know that I might not keep.

As for the chapter: Some of you might claim that a certain character is acting a bit too cautious and... merciful but from where I'm standing he's trying his best to get himself out of this situation in one piece and preferably with something he came there for so he's cautious, as he should be. And ultimately this story is about Dumbledore's betrayal above all things, that leaves a scar.

Either way, enjoy. Sorry that it took me so long.

Not beta read. Treated with Grammarly.

Dedicated to all of my readers who stuck with me for so long. Thank You, I hope that You will find this story enjoyable. I would be the most grateful for constructive criticism.


When truth is buried underground it grows, it chokes, it gathers such an explosive force that on the day it bursts out, it blows up everything with it.

~Emile Zola

Secrets & Keepers – Collision Course

Chapter twelve: The Collision

Harry Potter, 8th August, 12 Grimmauld Place, London, early morning

He woke up to someone shaking his shoulder rather urgently and before he even opened his eyes properly he was pulled up into sitting position. He just managed to open them as he found himself again pulled into a standing position, heavily leaning against Sirius with a sheepish looking Regulus still seated in front of him.

"I didn't think that she would come this early," whispered Regulus.

"She isn't alone," hissed Sirius.

Regulus frowned, "Who could…"

"We're about to find out so get your arse into the corridor," growled Sirius as he pulled Harry with him to the corridor.

Harry obediently went with him, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes and a bit out of his depth. He had no idea who Sirius was referring to but obviously, the company was not a good thing.

Sirius positioned them at the far end of the corridor, next to the entrance of what had to be a half-bath. Next to it was standing an old-looking wardrobe. Regulus quickly followed them and soon Harry found himself pushed between and behind them with just enough space left so he could look between their arms.

"Ready?" muttered Sirius.

"If you are," replied Regulus.

Just as Sirius finished nodding something washed over Harry and the arms that partly obscured his view became transparent.

"Three, two, one," counted out Sirius softly.

The front door clicked softly, the click was followed by the churning of the locking mechanism and after a few more clicks the door opened slowly. Rather than wide open, they were only ajar and then after a long moment during which Harry couldn't help but hold his breath a hand appeared through the gap. Then the rest of the arm had followed and after a moment someone slipped inside.

From the distance, the only thing he could ascertain was that the intruder was a woman if her clothing was anything to go by. It was interesting by both Muggle and wizarding standards and brought to Harry one of the memories from the infernal car ride around the country when Uncle Vernon tried to outsmart Hogwarts's owls.

It was on one of the gas stations near a highway when Aunt Petunia very sternly told Dudley to not look to the right, which he did, as did Harry. They didn't see anything suspicious aside from what he later learned was a group of highway prostitutes.

The intruder looked very much like one. Her skirt was dark and absurdly short, showing off her legs covered in netted tights. Her boots ended just below her knee and when she turned her heel slightly to the side Harry could see that they were on a tall and thin high-heel. Her upper body fed to the image of a prostitute too and while she was wearing a leather jacket it was open and the shirt that she had underneath did very little to cover her cleavage. Then there was her hair, long, dark and curly, pulled into a ponytail on the top of her head, allowing her hair to fan around her face. From the distance, Harry couldn't see her face very well but could see her make-up which was very bold, red-lipped and smoky-eyed.

As he was observing her, she continued to make her way slowly towards them, with her left hand firmly placed on the wall, looking around the corridor from time to time. Finally, she stopped before the wall that separated the entrances to the sitting-room and the hallway that led to the kitchen. She smirked and placed both hands firmly on the wall. The wall lit up like a Christmas tree showing symbols that Harry couldn't understand. Somehow her interference had to affect Regulus because he hissed softly.

The hiss made Harry look at him. His face was turned to the corridor but his left-hand, wand-hand was pressed firmly against the wall behind them, fingers spread out and a soft glow was emanating from it.

Then the door creaked again and another hand slipped inside, quickly followed by an arm and the rest of the other intruder.

For some reason, the intruder looked disturbingly familiar even if Harry couldn't remember when he saw the man. He was also familiar to Sirius and Regulus because they both drew a shaky breath as if they had recognised him. It was only after the man raised his wand, in his right hand, left still placed firmly on the wall and the soft glow coming from the tip of it enlightened his face when Harry recognised him.

With his hair pulled back into a ponytail and wearing a suspiciously fitting leather jacket and a pair of tight jeans looking like every man that Aunt Petunia was worried about kidnapping poor little Duddykins was standing one Severus Snape.

Well, fuck.

He looked very weird without the company of his billowing cloak but at the same time put together enough to not look as odd as some wizards could get in Muggle clothing.

"Can I?" asked Snape in a whisper that could barely be heard where Harry stood.

"Now you can," replied the woman.

Then Snape stepped away from the wall, lowering his wand to the ground and doing some sort of nonverbal magic that made the tip of it glow. He went through about a dozen spells before he turned around to look at the woman.

"Waste of time," he stated simply.

"Mhm," agreed the woman.

"I hate to admit it but even Black wouldn't have been this stupid," he added. "Too bloody obvious like I said."

"Mhm," hummed the woman.

"Can we check my idea now?" asked Snape.

"Mhm," he received in reply.

"Oh, for Merlin's sake," muttered Snape. "We have a job to do and once we're done you can come back here and continue salivating over the wards later on."

"Just a minute, Severus," she replied.

"You have two," harrumphed Snape before he crossed his arms over his chest and waited.

And waited, and waited. Long enough for not just two but three minutes to pass.

"Bathsheda?" he finally asked with an exasperated sigh. "We have something to do."

"I know," she replied. "Give me five more minutes. Meanwhile, you can enjoy the view, I don't dress like a Knockturn Alley whore every day."

"Believe me, I'm enjoying it," muttered Snape. "But I would like to enjoy it after we're done with our problem, preferably in the safety of our own quarters."

"Mhm," he received in reply.

Harry smirked, he liked the witch already, even though he wasn't exactly fond of her chosen companion. If it was really the Bathsheda Sirius was talking about she surely had to have a slightly better taste in men.

And Snape, he wasn't even hiding his interest in her, staring bluntly at her rear and few more minutes trickled by like that. Until Snape decided that he was fed up with staring.

"I'm pregnant," he stated simply, waiting long enough for some sort of a reply which was another hum of acknowledgement. "I have no idea how to tell the other father," brief pause. "It's Filch."

Eww, seriously, thought Harry as he shook his head slightly.

"Did you heard even a single word that I said?" asked Snape sceptically.

"Yes," the witch replied. "You're cheating on me with your mama's new boyfriend. I'm sure that she will be inconsolable when she will find out. Without doubt, she will come and vent her spleen to our dearly demented Headmaster on how her son lives sorely to disappoint her, again."

"Well, she can go and fuck herself," replied Snape with a snort. "She stopped being my mother the moment she walked out of our lives. As it is, she's another thorn in my side. Have you heard the new policy she came up with? Supposedly to prevent another disaster like the one with that insufferable know-it-all."

"She was almost successful, you have to admit that you are a tiny bit proud," replied the witch. "It's not every day when a second-year manages to prepare such an unblemished version of Polyjuice Potion that the only thing that she screws up is adding the transforming ingredient."

"I would have been prouder if she didn't botch it up at all, was less of an insufferable know-it-all than she is and didn't plagiarise the source material in her homework. She's very good at reproducing other people's work but not very creative in testing the limits on her own. Good for an everyday brewer but hardly a genius," replied Snape sourly.

"I forgot that you like to measure up your students to your own standards," quipped Bathsheda.

"If they want to get anywhere in the field at all they will have to. Otherwise, they're wasting their and mine time and I have more important things to do than leading them by the hand. Then there's the matter of curriculum which should be set on fire along with idiots who refuse to change it. It's no wonder than no one came with anything as challenging and potentially life-changing as Wolfsbane Potion if generations upon generations are taught the same curriculum without any adjustments. If it was sorely up to me the first years wouldn't be brewing at all without solid groundwork in metallurgy and properties of ingredients," replied Snape tersely.

"I know that," she replied. "You're venting your spleen on the subject at least once a month."

"Since we're on the subject of my spleen it would be faring much better if we moved on," replied Snape. "So how much more time do you need?"

"There!" Bathsheda said happily. "You were saying?" she asked as she turned around.

Then something strange happened. The hallway shuddered, the door which was still left ajar closed shut with a loud bang and Harry left something move through him. It wasn't a very comfortable feeling, similar to having a ghost pass through him.

It caused a considerable amount of alarm in both intruders.

"What the hell!?" Snape spat. "Bathsheda?" he looked at her.

"It doesn't make sense," she whispered.

"Does to me," Harry heard Regulus mutter under his breath.

"Reg," said Sirius in a tone that carried a warning.

"Leave it," replied Reg.

Weirdly the exchange between brothers hadn't been heard by Snape and Bathsheda. It was obvious to Harry that something he couldn't see was happening to them as they both whirled around before settling back to back with their wands raised and aimed at the door and the end of the corridor where Harry, Sirius and Regulus were standing.

"Reg, stop it," said Sirius sternly. "I mean it."

"No," replied Regulus just as sternly.

"I hate his guts but I don't want to have them on my conscience," replied Sirius. "There are other ways…"

"Don't get your knickers in a twist," snorted Regulus. "It's just an illusion and I give her thirty seconds to figure that one out. I don't want them dead, just exhausted enough to overpower them."

"Well, I like to have them thrown out but it doesn't look as if I'm getting what I want either," said Sirius tersely. "What the hell you're playing at?"

"You will see," replied Regulus just as Babbling abandoned her post behind Snape's back, throwing the wand in the air which Snape caught with ease.

He didn't look good. He was sweating profusely and Harry saw a drop of blood falling from his nose. But he was still standing with his arms outstretched and wands pointed at the door and the end of the corridor. He was radiating with exhaustion and weirdly enough power.

"I think that you should stop," whispered Harry. "If you want something from him you don't want him to have a heart attack."

Then everything stilled and Snape staggered, leaning heavily against Bathsheda who caught him before he collapsed. Something changed by their end too because as soon as Snape regained his footing and some of his breath he looked up.

"YOU!" he snarled as his arm surged again into the air, with his wand pointed at Sirius. "I will kill you for that," he spat.

"That was him," said Sirius simply as he pointed at Regulus. "I was only standing there."

"Don't you dare!" snarled Snape while Bathsheda rolled her eyes, rolled her eyes for Merlin's sake.

"Interesting choice in paramours," said Sirius as he looked at her. "You couldn't have picked someone less tempered."

"Pot. Kettle. Black," replied Bathsheda simply.

That in turn made Snape look at her as he stepped away from her, "Bathsheda?" he whispered. "How could you?!"

"Because you asked," she replied with a shrug.

"Fine," spat Snape. "This ends now," he added lividly before he turned back towards Harry and both brothers. "Potter, we're leaving. Right now."

"No," Harry replied simply.

"What the hell you mean by no you infernal child?" snarled Snape. "Don't you want to see your friends again? Come back to Hogwarts?"

Harry hesitated but only for a moment. He would have loved to see Ron and Hermione again but not at the price Snape was asking him for.

"No, Professor," repeated Harry more sternly. "With all the available respect for what you have done for me in the past, I will not set a foot in Hogwarts as long as Albus Dumbledore remains its Headmaster. You can tell him that Harry Potter isn't playing in his game anymore."

"Do I look like a bloody post owl to you?" spat Snape.

"If the beak fits," coughed Sirius which made Harry smile a little.

"Potter, be reasonable," said Snape, surprisingly calm again. "They have nothing to offer to you."

"Let me think about it," sighed Harry and for a moment stayed silent before he simply said, "No."

Instead of answering Snape sprung away but about twenty feet away from them he collided with an invisible wall.

"All right," he spat. "What do you want?"

"From you?" asked Sirius. "Nothing. It was his idea," he added as he pointed at Regulus.

From the shock on Snape's face, it was clear that he just really registered Regulus's presence.

"Hi, Sev," chirped Regulus. "Fancy seeing you here."

"You have to be kidding me," muttered Snape. "You're supposed to be dead."

"So is the Dark Lord our kind and merciful master," replied Regulus simply.

"Not helping," coughed Harry.

"And yet I heard a couple of very strange tales from your self-proclaimed godson," continued Regulus.

"My godson, you prick," muttered Sirius just as Snape muttered, "He's not my godson, you moron."

"Good, you're finally agreeing on something," said Regulus cheerfully.

"Yeah and by the rate, they're going they will be best of friends by dinner-time," snorted Harry.

"By dinner-time, you will be back at your relatives and those two muppets will be in Azkaban," spat Snape.

"Boys!" said Bathsheda calmly as she approached them. "Can you talk it out like adults you're supposed to be."

"I'm not talking to you, you lying two-faced…" muttered Snape.

"Then I will simply tell it to the wardrobe since you want to be unreasonable," said Bathsheda simply. "We're on their turf, behind their wards and the only thing between us and being turned into a pile of ash is him," she added as she gestured at Sirius.

Snape snorted.

"Sirius?" she offered.

"I'm not turning my godson over to you people," replied Sirius. "You had your chance and while he was under your protection the Dark Lord made three attempts at his life within one school year. So you can stuff yourself and come back to your Headmaster with your tails between your legs and tell him that once I will dispose the biggest threats to Harry's life I will go after the other one."

"That's bloody rich, you traitor," spat Snape.

"I didn't sell my friends to Voldemort, you coward," hissed Sirius.

"Don't you dare to call me a coward!" snarled Snape.

"Stop antagonising him," said Regulus calmly.

"He's antagonising himself," replied Sirius. "Reason is not automatic, those who deny it cannot be conquered by it."

"Ayn Rand," said someone who made the entire congregation look at him.

It was a tallish, slim man in tattered clothes. He had greyish-brown hair fairly unkempt and looked as if he just rolled out of bed.

"Lupin, great," muttered Snape. "Why don't you go over there so all the idiocy in this place will gather in one corner," he suggested. "Dumbledore trusted you!"

"Dumbledore can go and fuck himself," snorted Lupin.

"That's the spirit!" chirped Regulus. "Told you that there was a reason why I liked him better than the other one."

"My father was the other one so you might lie it off, for a bit," offered Harry.

"Fine," sighed Regulus as he leaned against the wardrobe.

The wardrobe rattled and Regulus stepped away from it just a glistening, greyish, slimy, scabbed hand slipped through the ajar door. The familiar chill filled Harry and he was surrounded by the sound of rushing water that gave way to something else.

But instead of a terrified high-pitched scream from before, there was something else.

"Not Harry, not Harry, please not Harry!" he heard a terrified scream.

"Stand aside, you silly girl… stand aside now…" another voice, harsher and venomous.

"Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead –"

"This is my last warning –"

"Not Harry! Please… have mercy… have mercy… Not Harry! Not Harry!"

Somewhere before his eyes, a shape of a silvery dog appeared just as everything around him went dark.

Secrets & Keepers – Collision Course

Severus Snape

He didn't expect the Dementor hiding in the closet and it took him a moment to realise that it couldn't have been a real thing but even though he had his wand pointed at the thing there was nothing he could do but watch how Potter, the insolent child slid down the wall and collapsed onto the floor.

Regulus, the undead moron appeared to be frozen by what was before him, lost in his own head but Black… Black, as pale and as trembling like a leaf as he was still standing, with his eyes clear, wand in the outstretched hand, mouthing words that finally, finally had some effect.

Silver dog sprung out from the tip of his wand and advanced on the bogart turned Dementor, pushing it back into the wardrobe. As soon as the door closed and locked themselves shut behind them the scene before his eyes unfroze.

Black leapt towards Potter, lying him down on the floor like a limpet doll. The other moron unfroze as well kneeling by their side.

"Get rid of it!" snarled Black. "Pronto!"

"Yes, sir," replied Regulus as he sprung back into a standing position and aimed his wand at the wardrobe that quickly started to shrink.

It was only once it was just big enough to grab it he done so and disappeared with a pop.

Black meanwhile concentrated on reviving Potter who appeared to be starting to come around. He appeared to be dizzy for a moment before he shot up into sitting position and latched himself on Black like a limpet.

He was whispering something but Severus only heard separate words like 'mum' and 'Voldemort' while Black ran his hands over the kid's back and his head.

It was weird. It didn't make sense. If Black didn't want to kill Potter or use him in some sort of a ritual he wouldn't have to revive the boy. In fact, Potter was more useful to him knocked out than conscious.

Then there was the Patronus itself, fully corporal and strong, very strong. Not something someone, as deranged as Black was supposed to be, should be able to produce and yet there it was.

Then there was the sight before him, Black feeding Potter with pieces of chocolate, a common cure for Dementors presence.

But then the door behind them opened and someone stepped inside.

Severus looked over his shoulder but couldn't recognise the newcomer. He could only see that it was a female, a bit smaller than them but only by a couple of inches. Her hair was red and fanned out around her face like spikes. Her wand was in her outstretched hand and then…

A jet of red light tore through the air like it was nothing even though Severus himself wasn't able to produce a simple locking spell with his own. Probably due to the wards which meant…

He grabbed Bathsheda by the arm and pulled her as close to the wall as possible just in time to witness Black perform a shielding charm that hit it and rebound towards Nymphadora Tonks. She jumped out of the way, colliding with Lupin for a moment before she threw another spell at Black, another stunner, smart girl.

But Black shielded himself from it just as easily, pulling Potter to his feet and shielding him with his body. Weird. Then he threw a couple of hexes her way, leg-locker, petrifying charm and a stunner, all in rapid succession. Lupin got hit with leg-locking charm and went down like a sack of potatoes, petrifying charm rebounded from Tonks's shield and hit the wall by the stairs while the rebounded stunner nearly missed Severus's head by millimetres.

After hesitating for a moment and deciding that having one duller against Black worked in their favour Severus pulled Bathsheda closer to Tonks. Black was good and determined but Tonks was just as good if not more determined. What worked in her favour was that Black was a recent Azkaban escapee and Severus's knew Azkaban's dietary regime, Black would soon tire out and start making mistakes.

Predictably he made one just as he lowered his shield to throw a hex at her but instead of doing so found himself in the path of Tonks's curse, one of the transfiguration based ones and in attempt to evade it he leapt to his left while he pushed Potter away.

Then Tonks stumbled just as he heard her snarl Sectumsempra. His blood ran cold and his breath hitched when he saw that her stumble ricocheted the course of the spell and instead of coming at Black it was heading straight for Potter.

Everything slowed down and Severus saw the trajectory of the spell. Black was tall and the curse would have hit him squarely in the chest but Potter, Potter was a midget and it would hit him right into the neck. If the curse wouldn't severe his spine he would bleed out within seconds.

But then something moved and instead of Potter, the curse hit Black squarely in the chest. He stumbled and swayed for a second before he aimed his wand, with shaking arm and fired. Just a single Petrifying Charm that hit Tonks squarely in the chest. She only managed to sway slightly and she hit the floor in the same moment Black's wand slipped from his fingers and he slid down the wall.

"Sirius?!" cried out Potter. "Sirius, what's wrong?" he asked as he turned Black to examine the wound. "Jesus," he gasped as his eyes went wide and he immediately started removing his shirt to press it to the wands. "Reg!" he cried out.

"It's okay," said Black slowly.

"It's not," protested Potter.

"It is," objected Black weakly. "Listen, I need you to listen very closely. Stay with Reg, under no circumstances you're allowed to leave his side even…" he grimaced, "for a moment. He will look after you and make sure that you will be safe…"

"Stop talking as if you're dying," cried out Potter.

"I'm dying Harry," replied Black simply. "But it's okay, I got to see you and you know the truth…" he grimaced again and a trickle of blood appeared in the corner of his mouth. "That's all that matters."

"Don't you leave me, you bastard, you promised," protested Potter.

"I know, I'm sorry," was barely heard and Black smiled sadly.

"Reg!" cried out Potter just as Regulus appeared again next to them.

"Jesus!" he gasped. "What the hell?"

"She did this," growled Potter as he pointed an accusatory finger at Tonks prone form on the floor.

"Sweet Mary and Jesus," whispered Regulus as he knelt next to Black who was starting to rasp for breath.

"Reg," rasped Black. "Take… Harry… and… go…"

"I can't leave you here," objected Regulus as he tried his best to stop the bleeding but the only thing that he managed was to slow the bleeding.

"You can and you will," protested Black with all the persistence of a dying man. "Go."

"No!"

"Out!"

"No!"

"Shut up, both of you," tore through the air and it took Severus a moment to realise that it came out of his own mouth.

He hesitated. He could wait it out, admiring the irony that one of his very own spells finished off his childhood nemesis but something inside him rebelled against the idea violently. Lily wouldn't allow it to happen, she would have listened if only to figure out what those idiots were up to because they were up to something and even with one gone that still left the other.

Always your way, he cursed himself.

"You want that idiot brother of yours to live?" he asked calmly.

Regulus glared.

"Remove the ward, now," he stated firmly.

Regulus's hesitation took just a moment during which Black chocked on blood and then the ward collapsed.

Severus approached Black without hurry, feeling tempted to allow the curse to finish him off but Potter's partly worried and partly hopeful expression, with those big, green eyes staring at him, not hidden behind the damned glasses that usually covered them did something to him.

This was Lily's son and she would have been furious with him if he allowed her son to witness Black's death, anyone's death for the matter.

His hand rose on its own volition and soon the words followed it. The blood stopped flowing and started to reverse its course. The wound closed and although Black was still breathing heavily his breaths lost their raspy quality of a dying man.

"Who taught you that, Ms Tonks?" asked Severus simply without looking around, simply hearing the stumble behind his back as Lupin apparently sorted her and himself out.

"I did," coughed Black. "Serves me right."

"It does," agreed Severus. "Get him a blood replenishing potion and I will give you one hour to explain yourself."

Secrets & Keepers – Collision Course

Harry Potter

Together with Regulus they dragged a still stumbling Sirius to the sitting room which Regulus cleaned up with one swish of his wand before they deposited Sirius on the sofa. Harry immediately sat down next to him, grabbing his hand as tightly as he dared to do so.

Sirius was looking pale, very pale, but he gave Harry a small smile and weakly ruffled his hair.

"You shouldn't have done it," Harry chided him.

"That you think so is all of the reason I did," replied Sirius.

"Potion," said Regulus as he pressed an uncorked bottle into Sirius's hand and when Sirius's hand spasmed slightly he guided it to his mouth.

Sirius drank it very slowly, wincing between gulps slightly and Regulus barely managed to take the bottle away from his mouth when Snape said, "Begin."

Harry couldn't muster a glare but stared at the man. Snape was seated on the opposite couch, facing Sirius with a bored expression of his face and the tip of his wand poking out from his sleeve.

"Time is tickling," he added after a moment.

"Sit down," said Regulus as he gestured at the others.

Bathsheda sat down on the same couch as Snape, at first on the farthest end of the couch but then she moved as the red-headed woman that nearly killed Sirius sat down next to him. The shabby-looking man, Lupin as Snape called him, sat down on the arm of the couch. Meanwhile, Regulus remained standing.

"Where should we start?" offered Regulus.

"I don't care, you have fifty-nine minutes," replied Snape.

"How about the beginning?" offered Sirius. "You know, that traitor, mass-murderer business."

"We can skip that," said Sirius's would be murder. "We know that you didn't do it."

"What?" snapped Snape as he leaned forward to glare at her.

"You didn't bring him up to speed?" asked Lupin as he looked at Bathsheda pointedly. "Seeing that you most likely brought him here."

"He didn't exactly give me a chance," offered Bathsheda. "You're lucky that he didn't drag me here by four o'clock in the morning. Speaking of which what the hell happened to your neck, Lupin?"

"Wasting time," objected Regulus. "It's obvious that Nymphadora is what happened to him. Cradle robbing furball," he snorted.

"I'm twenty years old, you muppet," Sirius's would-be murderer, Nymphadora scoffed. "And whom I'm bedding isn't exactly your business you fairy, what happened to your yesterday's appendages."

"They fallen off," snorted Regulus. "Still, my baby cousin."

"She started it," answered Lupin with a shrug.

"Yeah, right and you were putting much of a fight to fend off a young ho…"

"Guys!" called out Sirius.

"You just didn't call me a hoe," snarled Nymphadora.

A shrill whistle tore through the air, right by Harry's ear.

"Sit down and shut up, you too Reg," he instructed.

Regulus grumbled but summoned from the corner of the room a chair and sat down on it cross-legged.

"I didn't do it," said Sirius firmly as he looked at Snape.

"Prove it," replied Snape stiffly.

"Can't really do so without the secret keeper," sighed Sirius. "Reg?"

"I think I saw it somewhere," muttered Regulus as he pulled out his wand.

"Here," said Bathsheda as she pulled from her jacket a folded paper and handed it to Snape.

Snape examined it carefully before he said, "All that I'm seeing is usual Quidditch trite and way too much of red-heads. Why you're putting the Weasleys photograph in my face. Don't I have enough of them during the school year?"

"Look closely, you blind bat," harrumphed Bathsheda. "How many living, breathing organisms are in there?"

"Nine Weasleys, which is about nine Weasleys too many," replied Snape sourly. "I see something that looks like a camel in the background and Messers Weasley damned rodent which both Percival and Ronald used to bring to classes on occasion. Can't tell you how many times I pulled that bloody thing from my private stores. In fact, I should send them a bloody bill for all the ingredients it chewed on."

"And you not even once tried to degut it in retribution?" asked Regulus curiously.

"Please tell me that he isn't masquerading as Ron's pet," whispered Harry into Sirius's ear.

"All right, I won't," said Sirius simply.

"Oh, Merlin," groaned Harry. "Seriously?"

"Quite ingenious of him," admitted Sirius. "The Weasleys were on the fringes of the Order of the Phoenix, not regular members, too many young children for that but Arthur helped with organising safe houses and Molly kept them stocked. They always had been staunch supporters of Dumbledore and had enough children for him to weasel himself out into their good graces. Hence access to whatever information that Arthur himself couldn't provide. I would have applauded him for the genius idea if it didn't highly inconvenience me through the past eleven years."

"Ron is my friend," protested Harry. "If he's with them aren't they supposed to be in danger."

"Not as long as they don't see him as one," answered Sirius.

"Who is the rat?" asked Snape quickly.

"One supposedly deceased wizarding hero that I supposedly murdered," replied Sirius. "Note the absence in his frontal appendages and compare them to the supposed remains of the too early departed Peter Pettigrew."

"You're trying to convince me that Peter Pettigrew," said Snape and he paused for a moment. "Peter Pettigrew, the talentless worm that was brave enough to be mouthy and clever only when he was accompanied by his usual entourage of one werewolf and two idiots not only achieved an Animagi transformation but is somehow responsible for the Potters deaths. Have you lost the remains of your marbles, Black?"

"No," shrugged Sirius. "We taught him that, James and I."

"Why? What for?" snorted Snape.

"Seemed like a good idea at the time and I had enough time to kick myself for that," answered Sirius.

"Why?" asked Snape.

"Giving him means to escape and actually allowing the man who sold my friends to Voldemort to escape. If I wanted to defend myself I would have said that apparently I got knocked out for a moment during the explosion but that's not really an excuse."

"And making Pettigrew the secret keeper apparently is?" snorted Snape. "Potter wouldn't allow that."

"Potter, as you put it for over a year lived in a constant state of fear that your dark lord would find him and his family. If I told him to undergone gender reassignment surgery and move to Australia to avoid him he would have done so just because I suggested it," replied Sirius stiffly. "He would have done anything to protect Lily and Harry from Voldemort. His only fault was putting too much faith in the ideas of a paranoid Auror who decided that the safest for all of them would be ensuring that the identity of their secret keeper would have remained a secret."

Snape remained silent for a moment before he grumbled, "Point taken. But why Pettigrew? Why not Lupin?" he asked as he gestured at Lupin.

"Because I was away and a werewolf and you didn't trust me," offered Lupin.

"Someone was passing secrets to the dark side," muttered Sirius. "Obvious leaks were eliminated with passing time but we were still left with someone who was very close to James and Lily."

"And you decided that it was me," sighed Lupin.

"I'm sorry," sighed Sirius heavily. "It should have been me right from the beginning."

"You did your best," offered Lupin.

"If I did my best we wouldn't be having this conversation," replied Sirius stiffly. "But we are, moving on."

"Muggles?" asked Snape simply.

"Pettigrew," Lupin and Nymphadora answered in unison. "Evidence is still in the box and no one of those arses even bothered to examine it," she added. "Prior Incantatem revealed both cutting charm and blasting curse on his wand. Examination of crime scene photos revealed that the origin of the blast was behind Pettigrew rather than in front of him, hence ruling him out," she pointed at Sirius, "as the one who murdered the Muggles. Obviously, the evidence is incomplete seeing that his," she gestured at Sirius again, "wands are missing from evidence box."

"But that's preposterous," muttered Snape. "Dumbledore was a Chief Warlock of Wizengamot…"

"Exactly," chorused through the room, including Harry.

"And in his hand, he had a way to ensure that his secret weapon remained malleable to do his binding," added Regulus. "All he needed was to ensure that Harry legal guardian will disappear and the idiot that he had been…"

"Thank you for that ringing endorsement, supposedly dead Death Eater turncoat," interrupted him Sirius.

"You're welcome," quipped Regulus. "He made it very easy for Dumbledore to ensure that he wouldn't see the light of the day. All he had to do was keep a secret."

"That's outrageous," snorted Snape. "It's Dumbledore."

Regulus shook his head and sighed, "He saves you from Azkaban and suddenly the sun shines out of his arse. You used to be smarter than that, Severus."

"Show him the file," said Bathsheda simply. "He can't argue with hard evidence."

"With pleasure," replied Regulus as he waved his wand.

Moments later a thick folder came surging through the air, narrowly missing hitting Snape on the head. Regulus caught it and handed it over to Snape.

"Take your time," said Regulus. "Anyone else needs to see this?" he asked as he turned towards the others when Snape started examining the folder.

"We already saw it," replied Lupin as he motioned at himself and Nymphadora.

"And Dursley was still breathing afterwards?" asked Regulus sceptically.

"Unfortunately, yes," replied Lupin grimly. "We need to talk about it later."

"There will be no later," muttered Snape from over the folder.

"I will be the judge of that," muttered Regulus. "Fancy some tea?" he offered. "Or chocolate? Or a clean shirt?" he turned to Harry and Sirius.

"Yes, please," replied Sirius.

"I'll be right back," said Regulus as he stood up. "Try to not murder each other while I'm gone."

"Speaking of which," said Sirius as he pointed at Nymphadora. "Seriously?"

"Do you have any idea how it looked for me?" she protested. "You were crouching over that poor child…"

"I'm not a child," objected Harry, observing Snape from the corner of his eye.

"He was just assaulted by a boggart turned Dementor what did you want me to do, Dora? Stand there and kick him until he woke up?" asked Sirius ironically. "Have you heard about talking down the suspect?"

"As if you ever have done it, Mr Hex First and Ask Questions Later," muttered Snape, still flipping through the file.

"In justified circumstances," snorted Sirius.

"Hardly an excuse," replied Snape. "Wait a…" he muttered and stopped reading before he looked up at Harry.

"Wait till you get to the bottom of it," muttered Lupin.

"You had?" Snape asked suspiciously.

"With considerable effort," replied Lupin.

"With reading comprehension?" asked Snape sarcastically.

"Of refraining myself from a gruesome murder, keep reading," retorted Lupin. "So, Harry how have you been?"

"Better," replied Harry simply. "But it's a worthy trade-off considering everything."

"Merlin," sighed Lupin. "How long you had him, Sirius? Twenty-four hours?"

"About thirty-five, why are you asking Moony?" asked Sirius.

"Because he sounds like you," replied Lupin.

"He always sounds like that," muttered Snape. "No respect for authorities."

"To be fair certain authorities started to disrespect me first, Professor," retorted Harry.

Snape harrumphed and Bathsheda snorted just as Regulus returned carrying a tray of tea and shirts for Harry and Sirius.

"Did I miss anything?" he asked curiously as he placed the tea down on the coffee table before he handed the shirts to Harry and Sirius.

"Just a little of irrelevant twaddle," replied Snape, still paging through the file while Harry dressed up.

"Irrelevant twaddle, you're sounding like my mother," muttered Regulus.

"Hate to point it out but he's surprisingly more restrained than the old hag," chuckled Sirius.

"He's the only thing standing between you and freedom," pointed out Snape without looking at him.

"And he's also smart enough to realise that he's grievously outnumbered," replied Sirius. "Can't even count on your girlfriend," he added.

"She's not my girlfriend," replied Snape. "Never had been."

"Want to talk about it now?" asked Bathsheda innocently.

Snape opened his mouth but after a moment closed it with quite a loud click.

"How do you do that?" asked Sirius curiously.

"I have plenty of leverage," replied Bathsheda. "And not of the carnal variety so he does listen to me occasionally," she muttered.

"I thought that we were past that," muttered Snape.

"Clearly we aren't, keep reading, I want to get my hands on it too," she replied.

"Aww, young love," chirped Regulus as he sat down.

"Shut up, Black," Snape and Bathsheda snapped at him unison.

"Hit a nerve?" coughed Regulus.

"Sincerely, fuck off," replied Bathsheda.

"How did you survive?" asked Nymphadora curiously.

"Thanks to sheer dumb luck and a lot of determination from a woman I would have proudly call my sister," replied Regulus.

"Mirzam?" offered Lupin.

"Seriously?" muttered Snape as he looked up from the file. "She's in this too?"

"She's dead," replied Sirius icily. "Had been for the past thirteen years. What's in there…" he started and then stopped. "You told him," he added as he looked at Bathsheda. "Yet you failed to mention me."

"I mentioned you, I just omitted your name," she replied.

"We will talk about it later," muttered Snape.

"We will not," said Bathsheda with a shrug. "Pot. Kettle. Black. Shut up and keep reading."

"I can fight you," retorted Snape.

"Not all of us, you can't and you know it, which is the only reason you're going through with it, you judgemental arse," quipped Regulus. "Let's level the field so everybody is on equal ground," he added as he pulled his legs into a cross-legged position. "The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches ... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies ... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not ... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives ... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies," he recited.

"You said that you didn't know," gritted out Sirius angrily.

"I lied, sorry," answered Regulus with a shrug.

"And you," Sirius turned to Snape who looked practically ashen, "you highty and mighty bastard…" he spat as he stood up, nostrils flaring, angrier than Harry had seen even when the discussed the prophecy.

He will do something stupid, went through Harry's head. Fine, let him, that bastard is the reason why the only memory he has of his mother is that of her pleading for his life.

"Wait," yelled Regulus.

"What?" snarled Sirius.

"Say it again," ordered Regulus and when Sirius opened his mouth he shook his head and added, "Not you, Harry. Say it again."

"I didn't say anything," protested Harry.

"You had," objected Regulus. "Say it again."

"He's the only reason why the only memory I have of my mother is that of her pleading for my life," said Harry the last thing that came through his mind.

"That doesn't make a lick of a sense," muttered Regulus.

"It doesn't have to," snorted Sirius as he raised his wand.

"Stop, let me think," Regulus said as he waved at him.

Sirius lowered his wand, slowly, very slowly and Snape just stared, looking carefully from Sirius to Regulus.

"How do you know that?" whispered Snape finally. "How do you know the prophecy?"

"Shut up, I'm trying to keep you from getting brutally murdered," chided him Regulus.

"Even you can't come with an excuse to justify what he did," snorted Sirius.

"Pot. Kettle. Black," muttered Regulus. "People screw up, Sirius. You screwed up, royally, with the paranoia, the secrecy, the mistrust. It's very easy to screw up when you don't know what you're screwing up. You didn't know," he said as he turned to Snape, "not until the cat was out of the bag already and you had found that she was the Dark Lord's target."

"Yes," whispered Snape, barely audible.

"Not an excuse," sneered Sirius.

"He's not making them," said Regulus simply. "Do you value your life so little, Severus?"

"I have no life," snorted Snape. "One doesn't need a Dementor to never forget the worst things they ever did."

"No, they do not," agreed Regulus.

"Do you regret it?" flew out of Harry's mouth before he could stop himself.

"My regrets don't change a thing," replied Snape stiffly.

"What if they already had?" asked Harry as something occurred to him.

Voldemort asked his Mum to step away, specifically ordered her to do so. Without a good reason, her a Muggleborn, a simple obstacle between him and Harry. It would have been very easy to just kill her and yet…

"What do you mean?" asked Regulus.

"He ordered her to step away," said Sirius slowly. "He didn't plan to kill her first…"

"Wasn't supposed to kill her at all," snorted Snape.

"And Harry?" asked Sirius icily. "I won't delude myself with the notion that you would have begged him to spare James's life but Harry."

"The Dark Lord wanted to kill the boy," objected Snape. "What I was supposed to say? My Lord, about the Potters? Maybe you should consider not killing them and go after the Longbottoms…"

"You disgust me," snorted Sirius.

"He was protecting the only one that mattered," said Bathsheda calmly. "Something I know that you had been guilty of, Sirius so lay off the stones."

"I'm not throwing them," objected Sirius.

"But you want to," she pointed out firmly. "Be enough of a Gryffindor to admit that."

"Yes, I feel the deep unyielding need to wring your boyfriend's neck because if he hadn't gone and tattled the goddamn prophecy to his master my friends would be still alive and my godson wouldn't have a giant bull's eye painted on his back," Sirius spat out.

"But if he hadn't the Dark Lord wouldn't have gone after them and wouldn't have been defeated there," pointed out Regulus. "A lot more people would have died and with everything they were involved he would have gone after them eventually just because they got into his way."

Harry hated to admit that but Regulus did have a point. Voldemort killed his parents, period, he had gone after them because Snape somehow learned about the prophecy. But if he hadn't a lot more people would have died and maybe Voldemort would still be at the peak of his power, if not ruling them all.

As painful as his parents' deaths were the alternative was even scarier.

"That's what he has on you," whispered Harry. "The ultimate hold over your head that prevents you from walking away."

"Who?" muttered Snape.

"Dumbledore, the manipulative bastard of epic proportions," muttered Bathsheda.

"Not a fan?" asked Harry curiously.

"Don't even get me started," she snorted.

"We already had," added Lupin. "She's been quite vocal in voicing her displeasure. I'm surprised that you didn't hear any of it," he added as he leaned forward to look at Snape.

"I had," sighed Snape. "I've been hearing her grievances with Headmaster from the very day she turned up at Hogwarts to teach and that was eleven years ago. Hardly a month goes by without Dumbledore setting her off with something. What do you want me to do, push him out from Astronomy Tower?"

"Poisoning would have sufficed," muttered Regulus.

"Or a good old Killing Curse," snorted Sirius.

"Amateurs," snorted Bathsheda. "You're talking about easy options."

"Have a better idea?" offered Lupin.

"Actually, I do," she replied. "Death is unavoidable, it always gets all of us in the end. But if you truly want to destroy someone and made him feel the destruction you need to start slowly," she paused. "You turn his allies into foes," she said as she looked at Sirius. "You take away his achievements," she added as she looked at Snape. "You turn his name into something everybody can spit on," she added as she looked at Regulus. "And you do it slowly, meticulously, so when everything is ready to yank out the carpet from underneath his feet there will be nothing left to stand on. Dumbledore has many allies and just as many enemies, as well as skeletons hiding in his closet. You aren't the only people he royally screwed over. So if you really want to make someone pay, do so, but remember that behind every soldier there's a general."

"It's not that easy," muttered Sirius.

"Consider it more rewarding," she offered.

"And what about him?" asked Sirius as he pointed at Snape.

"I'm sure that Bathsheda would be quite capable of erasing this day from my memory without causing any disturbance," muttered Snape.

"So that's it?" asked Sirius sceptically. "You were never there? And you get to walk away? That's not on."

"It's either that or murder,"' shrugged Snape. "Do you want to get your hands dirty just to punish me? Do you want your godson to watch it happen? What Lily would have said about it?"

"Don't you dare to bring her into it," spat Sirius.

"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches ... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies ... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not ... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives ... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies," muttered Regulus.

"He made a point," muttered Snape. "Does he have to repeat it?" he added with a grimace.

"Uncomfortable much?" sneered Sirius.

"Not exactly something your godson should listen too," replied Snape.

"That's too bad because I already had, a couple of times and I know what it means for me," replied Harry with a soft snort at the end. "That Dumbledore can check himself out from doing anything to stop Voldemort because Harry is fated to destroy him. Job well done and he doesn't even have to break out a sweat."

"It's not that simple," said Snape simply.

"It actually is," said Harry. "Name one thing that he had one to keep the students safe in the last two years. He let a Dark Lord teach at Hogwarts for an entire year and I bet he brought the stone into the castle just to lure him out of hiding. Then there's the bloody basilisk with an incompetent git for a defence instructor who shouldn't have been allowed to teach in the first place. Someone as old and as educated as he's supposed to be should have figured out that it was a bloody basilisk within a couple of days but no, let Harry take care of that because he's the chosen one. Slytherin's mythical chamber with a mythical monster inside it stinks like something Voldemort would have pulled out and wait Voldemort had been Hogwarts' student when the chamber was first opened. Definitely, a job for Harry, pardon me while I get myself suspended for not doing anything to keep my students safe. Newsflash, Harry is staying out of it and Dumbledore can go and fuck himself."

Snape opened his mouth, clearly to protest but appeared to change his mind.

"That's the smartest thing I ever heard come out your mouth in past two years," he finally said. "I applaud you, Mr Potter."

"Applaud them," said Harry as he pointed at Sirius and Regulus. "Apparently my sense of self-preservation is non-existent and I needed someone to point it out to me that my need to keep my friends safe was exploited by a lazy bastard who wants all of the recognition of being the saviour but none of the actual work."

Through their entire discussion, Regulus continued to mutter the contents of the prophecy to himself until suddenly he stood up and dashed out of the room.

"What was that?" asked Lupin sceptically.

"Judging by the speed something very important," muttered Bathsheda.

She barely finished saying that when they heard Regulus's footsteps back on the stairs. He looked disturbing, wide-eyed and out of breath, he circled the couch so he was standing right behind Harry.

Harry frowned as he looked at him and saw a silver locket dangling from his left hand as he was rolling up his left sleeve up to his elbow.

Secrets & Keepers – Collision Course

Sirius Black

Keeping himself from hexing Snape until kingdom come wasn't easy. He still felt the need to do so but he couldn't suppress his pride at Harry holding his ground against the man. At the same time, Regulus's muttered repetition of the prophecy was filling his stomach with something unsettling.

Snape was right, Regulus only needed to say it once to make a point but a continued repeat of it didn't mean anything good. It meant that Regulus was going over it and it wasn't good, not in the current company and most certainly in Harry's company.

The feeling of dread only rose when he Regulus bolted out of the room, dashing down the stairs into the kitchen.

The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches ... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies ... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not ... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives ... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies.

It flew through his mind just as Regulus returned to the room, ignoring everyone but Harry in it and positioned himself behind Harry, baring his left arm while in his left hand was resting Voldemort's Horcrux.

Then Regulus reached out with his right hand so his palm was splayed over Harry's scar and then…

The time slowed down, stretching itself out as the dark mark on Regulus's arm darkened from barely noticeable skin discolouration into a completely black outline he saw so many times in the past.

The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches ... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies ... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not ... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives ... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies.

'Not Harry,' begged the memory of Lily in his mind.

Not Harry, followed right after it.

Marked as his equal the prophecy said and Voldemort had no equals. The only equal to Voldemort was Voldemort himself which meant…

Not Harry. Anyone but Harry.

He had to know, he had to make sure. Regulus had to be wrong for once. Anything just not Harry.

He didn't know how he managed to move but somehow he did and he found himself pulling the locket from Regulus's slackened fingers. He raised his left hand to Harry's head, splaying his fingers over the scar just like Regulus did, not paying attention to his left sleeve that slid down to his elbow as he grasped the locket in his right hand.

It was an easy spell even though it was quite advanced for a regular student Harry's age. It was in the sixth or seventh year of a Charms/ Arithmancy/Ancient Runes project where one was taught how to distinguish magical energy and its source. All that was required was a simple comparison of the energy.

And it rose under his hand angry and throbbing with life.

Not Harry. Anyone but Harry.

"Sirius?" whispered Harry weakly. "What's going on?"

Not Harry.

Not Harry. Anyone but Harry.

"Not Harry," he whispered.

Secrets & Keepers – Collision Course

Severus Snape

He witnessed Regulus's presentation with a growing sense of dread filling in his stomach that he thought had peaked when the dark mark on Regulus's arm had darkened to the blackness from the days of Dark Lord's glory.

It didn't mean anything, he tried to convince himself. Dumbledore speculated that Potter received some of the dark lord's powers in the moment when Killing Curse rebounded from him. Hence that parseltongue business that would have made locating the blasting basilisk easier if he and the boy had been on civil terms.

It didn't mean anything. It had nothing to do with the vacant look on Regulus's face or barely concealed terror on that of his brother. But he couldn't tear his eyes away from Black's face either, even as he registered a definite lack of the Dark Lord's mark on his left arm.

Point to Black, he wasn't marked Death Eater, he admitted to himself.

But then Potter uttered Black's name and asked him what's wrong and Black… Black had folded, mysterious locket falling out of his hand to the floor as he scoped the boy into his arms whispering 'Not Harry' like a broken record.

Severus wasn't aware that he stood up until he was already bending to pick the locket from the floor. If he was already there he could as well check what caused that much distress.

It wasn't easy with the way Black continued to hold on the boy but somehow Severus managed to slip his hand between them until it was sprawled on the boy's forehead and he allowed his magic to nudge the magical energy within the object.

He didn't expect to feel the angry flair of the Dark Lord's life force under his hands and he could feel the increasing burn of the mark on his arm. It felt almost familiar, as if something he had experienced in the past, but only briefly…

When was it?

Lestrange, proudly showing him a tiny cup, a reward from the Dark Lord for something he couldn't summon at the moment. Same energy, same angry flair and almost palpable presence of the man himself.

And he knew what it meant. He encountered such an object in the past, a memento that had been sent to Bathsheda by one of her colleagues from Russia that puzzled the man but made her throw it across the room as soon as she examined it.

"Horcrux," she told him back then. "Encountered a couple of them as a kid at the dig sites. Wanna help me to get rid of it?" she offered.

The locket had slipped out of his fingers but for some reason, it hadn't fallen to the floor. It was a Horcrux, Dark Lord's Horcrux, as was Potter.

"You know how and why she died. Make sure it was not in vain. Help me protect Lily's son," said Dumbledore in his memories. "The Dark Lord will return, and Harry Potter will be in terrible danger when he does."

He knew, he had to know. He had seen how Hagrid smuggled the tiny bundle in the castle and saw him leaving the Headmaster's office. There was no way for Dumbledore to not examine the magical curiosum that was the toddler that vanquished the Dark Lord.

And instead of doing anything with it, instead of trying to find a way to get rid of the piece of the Dark Lord's soul in the boy or simply killing him… Potter was a child and easy to dispose of, easy to pull a convincing story on how he eventually succumbed to some sort of an injury he had sent the boy off to Petunia.

Help me protect Lily's son.

A punishment to which he agreed the very moment when he promised Dumbledore to do anything for keeping Lily safe. He couldn't stand the boy and his evident Potterness made him choke but he kept his word through all these years while Dumbledore…

While Dumbledore was raising the boy like a pig for slaughter. No wonder he didn't sweep in until Potter already handled whatever Dark Lord issue that arose, be it a possessed bumbling idiot or Slytherin monster.

Potter was a dead man walking, one that should have perished with his parents the moment the Dark Lord attacked them.

Someone pushed him gently to the side and he found himself blinking on how the locket was transferred from Bathsheda's hand into Lupin and then after the repeated performance into Tonks's.

"It's me," whispered Potter, just barely loud enough for Severus to hear. "I'm the last Horcrux."

"We will fix it," whispered Black vehemently. "I swear to you Harry that we will fix it."

"You can't fix everything," mumbled Potter as he pulled away, he was crying.

"Watch me," said Black fiercely as he grasped Potter's chin with his left hand. "I broke out from an inescapable prison because I realised that you were in danger. What makes you think that I wouldn't be able to find a way to fix it? And when it's done I will go after that bastard myself."

"It's not a death sentence, Harry," offered Regulus. "Just a minor inconvenience that requires some research. I'm sure that between the three of us…"

"Four," Lupin interrupted him.

"Five," chirped Tonks.

"Six," offered Bathsheda as she looked at Severus expectantly.

She knew, she bloody knew and was waiting for him to decide.

"Seven," admitted Severus grudgingly which made everyone look at him. "He knew, Black," he added grimly. "He had the boy in the castle for an entire day before he sent him off on his merry way to Petunia. He had to know, he was too curious to not resist the examination and he still made me promise to keep the boy safe afterwards."

Black nodded slowly.

"There's no more dangerous opponent than a former ally," he said quietly.

"And no more dedicated allies than former enemies united by a common cause," replied Severus slowly. "Truce?" the word barely made it past his throat.

"Truce," sighed Black as he slowly extended his right hand. "I still want to punch you though."

"The feeling is quite mutual, I'm sure that we can arrange for that later on," snorted Severus as he grasped Black's hand.

"Great," chirped Regulus. "Since we're all on the same page how about we start over."

The End

Till Next Part of the Series:

Secrets & Keepers – Supernova

and

Secrets & Keepers – Entropy


Secrets & Keepers - Entropy, when it will come out, will make very little sense for someone who hadn't read both Collision Course and Supernova. The order of reading doesn't matter as they both happen in their own bubble that doesn't affect the other but Entropy will continue where plots of Collision Course and Supernova left off.