Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.

Warning: This chapter is a little darker than others with torture mentioned. Nothing graphic, but there are mentions.

Flamel was late, about thirty minutes late. The three occupants of the DADA Professor's quarters were starting to get very nervous when a sharp rap sounded on the portrait (of a grumpy old charms professor, not a vampire or knight). Tom jumped up from where he had been seated on the couch and rushed over to open the door. "Welcome, Mr. Flamel! It's such an honor," he was already gushing as the not very imposing man entered behind him.

"Huh…Looks like I should have chosen the Potions Professor's quarters," Flamel chuckled with a look around the extremely bare and undecorated space.

"We normally always do," Harry grinned at him. "Er, thank you Mr. Flamel for…Um, what did you do exactly?"

Nicolas Flamel laughed a hearty laugh that brightened up his entire countenance and just looked right on his person. "Sit, sit," he motioned to Tom who resumed his space on the couch while Flamel took the empty armchair. "I'll explain everything, I promise. Answer me this though, are you well, Mr. Potter?"

"Yeah, never better," Harry asked bemused. Seeing that Harry had no clue what Flamel was talking about, Severus motioned to the bright red scars that still shone clear on Harry's wrists that hadn't faded yet from healing. "Oh…this," Harry shrugged. "It's not a big deal. I'm all healed up and the scars will fade more over time."

"What's being done with Dumbledore," Tom grumbled darkly, not liking that Harry had been injured once more.

Flamel sighed and seemed to age many years from his apparent 40-ish that he looked. "Professor Shade, I want to be very clear that Albus Dumbledore isn't evil," he raised a hand to stop Tom's protest. "He's sick, not evil. His main sin, if you want to call it that, is that he didn't get help. I feel this is something our Mr. Potter seems to be able to sympathize with based on the fact he had no idea that I was just asking about his kidnapping."

Harry shrugged with a frown. "I get it, and I've done it myself, but it's still hard not to be mad at the man when his decisions directly impact me, my life, and my health."

"I'm not saying you can't be angry," Flamel explained more. "Albus has spent many years with the wizarding world giving him more and more power. His advice and direction are sought by everyone. A Dark Lord rises to power…well, go get Albus. That wears on someone after a while, and you start to believe that you really are the only one that can make all the decisions for everyone."

"Getting help doesn't seem like even an option," Snape nodded, understanding a little more.

"Exactly," Flamel said with a sad look in his eyes. "So, he makes decisions that he hopes will carry on their results when he's no longer here and doesn't trust anyone to take up the mantle."

"So…what's being done now? Is he getting help?" Harry asked, concerned more than angry once again.

"Yes," Flamel gave him a smile at the understanding coming from the teen. "Fortunately, the wizarding world has much better treatments for dementia than the muggle one. No cure, but better treatment. If he significantly cuts down on his stress and responsibilities, then there's no reason why he can't continue to live a long and productive life. I've made him see reason on this...more like forced actually. He really shouldn't have given me his power of attorney fifty years ago."

"How are you getting him to let go of some responsibilities?" Severus asked.

"Ah, that's where you three come in," Flamel laughed. "I hope you know that Fawkes and I can communicate. It's just flashes of images he's seen and emotions, but it is a very effective form of communication. Through him, I know the three of you are in the thick of everything going on. The Board of Governors and Minerva are cutting back on his duties at the school. The Wizengamut will have to elect a new chair. The ICW will have to do the same, and I would like you three to hold an election for a new head of the Order of the Phoenix and smooth everything over with them. Albus would like to stay on in an advisory role though. I really do think that would be best, once he has less stress in his life and a better treatment plan."

"What else has Fawkes told you?" Tom asked suspiciously as he glanced at the available points of exit from the flat in case of needing a speedy departure.

Flamel's blue eyes twinkled, much like Dumbledore's. "Not much. I just know that the three of you are closer to each other than anyone truly knows and that you're very involved with Albus's Order. Even if you aren't a member," he shot a look at Tom with that statement. "I also know a little more about Mr. Potter here, but that's mainly because my phoenix really enjoys his company."

Severus nodded, back to their earlier assumptions about phoenixes. "You know he practices dark magic."

"Of course!" Flamel smiled kindly at Harry. "I'm an Alchemist, a dark wizard myself, so Mr. Potter must be as well if Fawkes enjoys spending so much time around him. I am very interested to hear all about what branch you practice. Hardly anyone in Britain studies the old ways anymore. Maybe we could chat sometime soon?"

"I'd like that a lot," Harry sighed with relief that Flamel didn't seem to know about Evan Shade being Tom Riddle. Also, he really would like someone he could talk to more about dark magic.

"Excellent!" Flamel clapped his hands in excitement. "Now, I must go get my old friend squared away. He's going in for some treatment and time off for a while. I also have to chat with Minerva about this term. So, I must be off!"

"When will we see you again?" Harry asked, wondering when they would find time to chat.

"Breakfast," Flamel smiled as he opened the portrait door. "Someone has to teach History of Magic."

They all just looked at each other when the ancient alchemist left the room. "Wait, I thought he died after my first year?" Harry spoke up, just thinking of Dumbledore's comment that Nicolas Flamel and his wife destroyed the philosopher's stone after Voldemort tried to steal it.

"Destroying the stone would not kill him instantly," Snape rolled his eyes at the brat's assumptions. "He would have stopped his aging at around early to mid- thirties, if I remember the stories correctly. So, without the stone, he and Perenelle will age, but they're magical, so they probably have a good hundred years or more they can live."

"Plus, we only have Dumbledore's word that they destroyed the stone," Tom raised an eyebrow at them both.

Harry shrugged. "It's his stone. I don't really care. I bet he has really good stories for History of Magic though."

"Come on," Severus pulled Tom up off the couch behind him. "Let's get to our rooms. It's late, and these are depressing."

Tom beamed happily at Severus, a huge smile growing on his face. "You called them our rooms!"

"Well…you obviously don't live here," Snape said sardonically as he motioned to the bare room. "You've moved into my rooms and my house, so I guess I'm just stuck with you now."

"I've only been alive for a little over a year. I don't have much stuff, so don't complain," Tom play shoved him out the portrait hole while Harry just tried to stay out of it as he followed them out.

"More than half the closet is yours!" Snape yelled in exasperation as Harry darted in the opposite direction towards Gryffindor Tower, seeing an argument brewing any minute.

"Don't kill each other! And close the door when you 'make-up!'" He called back as he quickly rounded a corner and out of hexing range.

Harry rushed down to breakfast in the Great Hall early the next morning, beating all his dormmates, since he wanted to make sure and hear what all the rumors being spread were about Dumbledore. Nagini was draped over his neck and chatting away about a juicy rat she had found in the dungeons the night before the whole way from the tower. Harry was extremely glad he had a strong stomach or breakfast would have been ruined before he got there. The snake was just so happy to be able to talk to him again. Tom had thankfully closed the Occlumency door early the night before and had just opened it again as Harry was getting ready to leave the tower. Nagini was always very chatty when she had to go a while without her hatchling being able to understand what she was saying.

Hermione was the only seventh year at the Gryffindor table, and Harry looked over at her reading a textbook longingly. Instead, he shifted his gaze over to the Hufflepuff table. Little Emilia Smythe was sitting at the end of the table, looking very lonesome at the mostly empty house table. It wasn't a hard decision. Harry quickly skipped over to the Hufflepuff table and plopped down in the seat in front of her. "Hiya, I'm Harry," he said, stretching out a hand to shake.

Emilia gave the much older student a wide-eyed gaze, with a bit of fear towards the snake around his neck as well. "Emilia," she finally said, taking the proffered hand and giving it a quick shake.

"Soooo…how's the first day going so far?" Harry asked as he pulled a plate and the bowl of eggs over to himself and started scooping them on. "Oh, snake's name is Nags, by the way. She's really nice."

"Erm, good, I guess. Everything is just so different, you know?" Emilia said hesitantly, eyes darting quickly to the snake.

Harry laughed and speared a sausage with his fork. "Exactly! I thought the same. All the candles and the staircases and the ghosts! Honestly, you get used to it though. It helps once you get in a routine with your classes and make a few friends."

Emilia smiled at him and glanced around the hall, noting the Gryffindor patch on her new friend's robes. "You seem nice and all…but may I ask…why are you talking to a first-year Hufflepuff?" Emilia asked. "Are all the older students going to talk to us?"

Harry winced a bit. "Probably not, unfortunately the seventh years tend to not socialize below fifth year. I wanted to say 'hi' because we've met before." Emilia looked at him questioningly. "You wouldn't remember," he continued with a sad look to her. "You were in a pretty bad way. I was helping out in hospital two years ago. I only remember you because you were so sick. I didn't know you were a witch at the time. I'm extremely happy you seem better now though!" It was pretty much the truth, if you squinted at it just right.

Emilia beamed at him. "Really?! That's so weird! I wish I remembered you!" Harry just waved a hand dismissively and poured Emilia some more pumpkin juice. "Well, I didn't know I was a witch either. Imagine my surprise when I got my Hogwarts letter when I turned eleven!" Emilia laughed a bright and cheery laugh that seemed to illuminate the table. "My parents thought it was a scam."

"Oh, I know!" Harry joined her laughing. "I was raised muggle too."

"Well, I had this miraculous recovery from cancer, probably close to the time you met me. When my parents asked Professor McGonagall, she came to explain everything with my letter, well, she said that it might possibly have been some kind of accidental magic that cured me. She said that there isn't a cure for cancer in the wizarding world either though, so she's only guessing. That's why I'm going to be a healer when I graduate! I already picked up several books when I got my supplies!" Emilia explained excitedly as she pulled a Potions for Healers text out of her bag.

"Wow!" Harry shook his head in awe. "You already know what you want to do with your life. You're really far ahead of all your year-mates…some of mine too if we're being honest."

"I just think that Magic cured me, so I want to use my magic to help cure others too," Emilia smiled as Nagini slithered over so she could pet the snake. "Oh wow, you're right, she is really nice!"

Harry thought about that for a minute. From his lessons with Hattie and from talking with Eb, he knew that magic was not a thing to be manipulated but which made decisions and was a presence. Maybe it wasn't quite so random that he picked that hospital and this little girl to heal. Maybe he had been led there by Magic herself. Those thoughts just gave him a headache though. "You want to see a secret?" Harry said finally as he surreptitiously rummaged through his bag.

"Course!" Emilia laughed as Nagini now slithered up her arm.

This little girl is fearless! Harry thought with a laugh. He eventually pulled a muggle ballpoint pen out of his bag and put in on the table. With a wave of his hand, it turned into an eagle feather quill.

"Whoa! That's awesome!" Emilia gasped at the magic, not knowing that what Harry had done with a wandless, nonverbal spell was well beyond a seventh year's abilities.

Harry pushed the quill-pen over to her. "Now, don't use this on your homework, believe me, the professors can tell, but it should help in taking notes for the first few weeks until you get down how to use a quill and ink."

Emilia gazed at Harry in almost hero-worship, which was amazing since she seemed to have no clue who Harry Potter was at the time. "Thank you sooo much! I didn't think I'd be taking any notes for a while. I've tried with the quill, but I'm still hopeless!"

"Well, according to some professors *cough* Snape *cough* I'm still useless with a quill. I figured this might help," Harry chuckled as Emilia twirled the quill around in her fingers. "Now, tell me all about your family. You must miss them."

Emilia was just starting in talking about her little brother when a sixth year sat beside them at the table and blinked at Harry sleepily a couple times. Harry ignored him until the sixth year (Jessup…Harry thought) spoke up loudly in the hall. "Merlin! If Potter can get away with it, I can," he said, standing and picking up his breakfast plate. "I'm joining my girlfriend at Ravenclaw."

And he did. Jessup was the first, but then, Luna promptly stood up from the Ravenclaw table and joined Neville at Gryffindor. Surprisingly, Lavender Brown then stood and walked all the way over to the Slytherin table where she slid in beside Pansy Parkinson to a bunch of sneering looks and one happy seventh year. The domino effect went on from there until the tables were all much more mixed up than normal. "I take it this doesn't happen every day at breakfast?" Emilia asked in wonder at the rapidly shuffling tables.

"No, but it's about time," Harry laughed in glee. "There isn't a rule about sitting at other tables, except for feasts, but usually people just don't. Well, besides Luna, but people misunderstand her and don't value her like they should."

Emilia nodded in sympathy. "Then, I think I'd like this Luna person."

Harry motioned to his blonde friend, now at the Gryffindor table. "Luna Lovegood. I'll introduce you sometime. What class do you have first?"

Harry and Emilia spent the next few minutes talking over how to find which classes and what the professors were like until a hush fell over the hall as Nicolas Flamel stood at the head table and cleared his throat. He was wearing muggle jeans and a red, button up shirt, but now he had black teaching robes draped over his outfit.

"Well, I have to say, I'm liking what I'm seeing out there," he smiled broadly at the tables. "I am Nicolas Flamel, your new History of Magic Professor and Deputy Headmaster, and I figure I should explain what happened last night when I so rudely interrupted your welcome feast."

McGonagall gave him a bit of a reproachful look but stood and joined him in solidarity anyway. "Right, so Headmaster Dumbledore is going to be away for a bit since he is ill at the time," Flamel paused as murmurs broke out around the hall.

"Quiet down please," McGonagall crossed her arms, and the noise immediately stopped. Harry appreciated the magic and skill of just a stare from the Transfiguration Professor in quieting a room full of teenagers. "Professor Dumbledore will be away until after the winter holidays when he will take over Transfiguration from me," McGonagall continued to explain. "I will be serving as Headmistress for the foreseeable future with Professor Flamel stepping into the Deputy Headmaster role. For now, I'll continue as the Transfiguration Professor, but some of my colleagues may be picking up classes for me now and again. I expect you all to treat them even better than you would treat me in class." There was severe punishment promised in her gaze to anyone who did otherwise.

Hermione's hand shot up from the Gryffindor table. "Will you still be our Head of House, Professor?" She asked.

"Ah, yes, thank you for bringing that up," Flamel smiled broadly at the Head Girl. "I will actually be taking over as the Gryffindor Head of House as well since I was a part of your wonderful house many, many years ago."

"Are we safe here from You-Know-Who without Dumbledore!" A third year called out from the Ravenclaw table.

McGonagall raised an eyebrow at Flamel, expecting him to take this one. "That's Professor Dumbledore," he corrected. "And, yes, that's why the Board of Governors assigned me here for this year. Professor Dumbledore may be the one wizard that Voldemort fears, but I happen to be the one wizard that Professor Dumbledore fears, as evidenced by my less than professional entrance yesterday," Flamel shot a sheepish look to McGonagall who was trying to stare down the man centuries her senior.

"Why don't you just go after the Dark Lord then?" Someone called out…probably from the Slytherin table, but Harry wasn't really sure where it came from.

Flamel sighed in exasperation. "I'm sorry, I'm not frustrated at you child, but more at the Board of Governors," he explained. "I'm an alchemist, which means I'm a dark wizard." There were gasps throughout the hall. "Yes, and that's exactly why I'm frustrated! I petition every year for dark magic to be added back into the curriculum. It was taken out a few centuries ago for some political nonsense and never added back in. Dark magic does not equal evil. It needs more discipline and respect, but it can be used for good and the betterment of society. If you had studied dark magic, you would know that an alchemist has to live by a certain set of very clear rules because of our type of magic. I cannot take up arms as a soldier, but I can protect. If Voldemort makes the foolish decision to attack the school, he will find that a 600-year-old wizard can learn much magic throughout his lifetime."

Harry glanced over to Hermione who seemed to have a very pensive look on her face. He was a little sad it took a professor to explain to her that dark magic wasn't necessarily evil to make her actually think about it instead of her coming to Harry. Really, he was just very glad she did seem to be thinking about it though.

"Right now, so quick explanation," Flamel said with a grin and a bounce, changing the subject from one he was obviously holding himself back from going into a rant on. "My great great great…" He was clearly trying to count greats until he just gave up. "Well, my granddaughter is due to have a baby in a few months. So, unfortunately my wife, Perenelle, won't be able to join me here since she's helping out. Frankly, she and my granddaughter seemed relieved for me to leave. I swear, it's like they forget that I raised seven kids of my own!"

Poppy Pomfrey snorted into her tea behind him, seeming to wholeheartedly agree with Flamel's wife and granddaughter. "Don't you even start Poppy!" Flamel called over his shoulder. "I have plenty of blackmail on you from when you were in diapers!"

"Sorry, Grandad!" She turned pink in mortification, hiding behind her teacup.

The whispers started up again as everyone looked from Flamel to Pomfrey. "I have a lot of, great whatever, grandchildren," Flamel explained with a wave of his hand. "Anyway, that means that I may have to leave quickly for the birth. I want to be clear that I'll not leave the school without protection. I'll have back-up plans for security for when I ever do need to leave the castle. Any questions?" About a hundred hands shot up into the air. "Great! I'll see you all in History of Magic," Flamel stated and turned on his heel, leaving the room without answering any of the questions.

"You all have fifteen minutes until classes start," McGonagall called out. "I recommend finishing up quickly."

"Remember, up two flights of stairs and down the third corridor," Harry said to Emilia to remind her where her first class was going to be. He was already standing and letting Nagini slither back up his arm to rush out for Potions.

"Thanks Harry. See you around?" She asked hopefully.

Harry gave her a confused look. "Of course! Why wouldn't you?! I'm going into healing after graduation too. We're going to have to keep in touch so we can compare notes on everything." Harry rushed out as all the first and second year Hufflepuffs converged on Emilia to explain just who it was she had been talking to all breakfast.

Besides now running an underground black market in ballpoint pen-quills for first years, after what he'd done for Emilia got around, Harry's beginning of term was actually quite uneventful after that first day. Harry was very happy he had stocked up on ballpoint pens for his own notes right before the term started. He had a feeling he wouldn't have any for his own personal use by the end of the second week. History of Magic classes were also extremely interesting. Professor Flamel tended to go off on a lot of tangents when explaining the material, but all his tangents were his own personal experiences during whatever it was that they were studying. Sometimes he even had first-hand experience of the event; sometimes it was just about what a kid or grandkid of his was doing during that time.

It seemed that Professor Flamel and his wife lived mainly in the muggle world as most of their kids and grandkids turned out to be squibs, and they wanted to be closer to them, not that it bothered he or Perenelle one bit. He just shrugged it off as a side effect of Alchemy and that it really didn't matter. His family was large and weird and very multi-generational, and he wouldn't have it any other way. This seemed to shock all the purebloods to no end, especially as he tended to explain what the muggles were doing during whatever historical event they were learning about as well.

Professor McGonagall was mostly covering all her own classes, but occasionally would have to call in a substitute when Hogwarts business needed to take precedence. Professor Shade tended to be the first called in as his skills in Transfiguration were exemplary, but he also had his own classes. Professor Flitwick was able to cover any of the lower-level classes, and to Harry's excitement, Sirius Black was even called in occasionally to cover as he had also done exceptionally well in Transfiguration and volunteered in order to be closer to his godson.

What Tom had renamed Harry's Law from Murphy's Law came into play at the end of September. Things had been going too well. Voldemort had been quiet. Dumbledore was getting the help he needed. Remus had actually succeeded in his memory charm to get Moody to go on vacation, and Flamel was setting in nicely to Hogwarts. Charlie had even said the dragons were unusually quiet at the reserve. They knew it was too good to last.

Tom and Harry were chatting over their link as they were falling asleep in separate parts of the castle. Tom always hated it when Severus wasn't there to go to sleep, and he tried to stay up and wait for him, so Harry kept him company telepathically. Many times they both fell asleep waiting though. Severus had been called to a Death Eater meeting and had assured his partner that it was nothing. It was just an update after the marking ceremony where the new, non-Hogwarts Death Eaters had been inducted. Severus hadn't been invited to the ceremony, so he assumed this was just a standard update about what he missed.

As Harry and Tom both fell asleep with their link open, they knew, it wasn't nothing. Violently swept into a Voldemort vision, Harry winced. He was upset his dad had to live through them, but he hadn't missed having the visions on a regular basis himself. Voldemort was standing in front of Sev who was kneeling on the hard, stone floor of what must be the Malfoy Manor ballroom. Harry wondered how they were able to remain in the manor when all the Malfoys were either incarcerated, had moved, or was a turtle. It was irrelevant though as Harry felt the quick jab of hate rolling through Voldemort as he glared at the man in front of him. "Severus, my old friend, I realized something the other day. It was an epiphany of sorts. Would you care to hear what it was?" Voldemort hissed in what the crazy man must have thought were pleasant tones.

"Indeed, my lord. What was your epiphany?" Severus asked, no emotion crossing his face. He must see how angry the Dark Lord was though, right?

"I realized, my dear spy…I don't need you…" Voldemort said calmly and dangerously.

"My lord…You have no other spy in Hogwarts or in the Order," Severus tried to remind him, a faint touch of concern just traceable at the edges of his words to those who knew him well.

"Yes, while I used to believe that to be true, now I know better. Not only do I have a spy that is actually loyal to my cause, but I have proof of your true loyalties," the Death Eaters at the corners of the room murmured dangerously as Voldemort hissed at his errant spy. "I know for a fact you fought against me at Hogwarts, going so far as to take on the persona of a Weasley twin," he almost spat out the last name.

"You are mistaken, my lord," Severus tried, defeat at the corners of the words now. "I am only loyal to you." Well…that was kind of true, Harry thought to himself. Just the other version of the crazy psychopath instead of this one.

"Oh, Severus, my dear, dear Severus," Voldemort ran a finger down Snape's cheek. Harry wondered at the control it took for the man to not shudder at the touch. "It is not I that am mistaken. Have your fun, but leave the kill to me," the reptilian man instructed his Death Eaters before stepping back.

The next half-hour was the worst of Harry's life, even beating out the graveyard since he was helpless to do anything this time. He could only imagine what Tom must be feeling. Well, he could only imagine until Tom started pushing magic through the link. It took awhile for Harry to realize what Tom was doing because it wasn't a piece of magic he had discussed with Tom much. Yes, his father had told him the theory, but it was so horrific, he would never even consider practicing it. Finally catching on to what his dad was trying to do, Harry shoved his own considerable core through the link, funneling magic to strengthen Tom's call. His dad was activating Snape's Dark Mark.

The Dark Mark was used as a brand of ownership, as a way of summoning, a way of keeping track of living vs. dead members, and also as a makeshift portkey for mobilization purposes. Voldemort could activate the mark and portkey specific members to a location for an emergency raid or for protection. He hardly ever used that feature of the Dark Mark because it required significant amounts of magic, and it would almost drain him, making it to where he couldn't then take part in the raid. With Tom and Harry both contributing their magic, it just might work though. A blasting hex shot by their vision as the Death Eater named Rookwood, who had escaped after the battle of Hogwarts, laughed viciously. He had aimed the hex directly at the potion master's hands.

Frantically, Harry pushed more and more of his magic through the link and steadied the horcrux connection through the main soul piece. He didn't think Voldemort would notice since they were bypassing his soul as much as possible, but it was a danger. Two seconds later, and Snape blinked out of existence, a loud crack resounding throughout the hall while Voldemort screamed in frustration.

It only took another second for Harry and Tom both to sever the connection with Voldemort and return to their own bodies. I need you!

I'm already on my way. Where is he?

I couldn't get him past the wards. He'll be at the front gates. Tom responded.

Harry knew his dad was already running. Grabbing his ritual bag and throwing his invisibility cloak over himself, Harry was already halfway down the steps from his dorm before Tom could give him the location. I'm coming as quickly as possible!

It was a frantic rush through the castle. Harry knew that Hattie was aware of him leaving the tower, but he didn't stop to explain where he was going. Luckily, Filch and Peeves were nowhere in sight as Harry rushed through the castle and out the front door. He could see his dad in the distance, running just as quickly as himself. The front gates never seemed to be so far away before.

Harry crashed to the ground, panting, in front of a prone Severus Snape who was being half-held in the lap of Tom. Harry threw off his invisibility cloak, dispelled his glamour to use his full magic, and started casting diagnostic spells that he had seen Severus cast on him after his kidnapping. "Someone actually paid attention," Snape gasped with a painful chuckle while Harry cast the spells.

"Shush, let us take care of you," Tom reprimanded him. "I'm sorry, Love. I have to do this. He'll just summon you back if I don't." Tom told him with fear and shame in his voice while he grabbed Severus's left arm.

"He might not be strong enough," Harry warned, knowing that Tom was going to remove the mark.

"Do it," Snape agreed with Tom, disregarding Harry's warning. "If you can summon me here, he can take me back."

The already injured man screamed out in pain as Tom closed his eyes and clutched the Dark Mark under his right hand. "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry…" Tom kept mumbling as Severus finally stopped screaming and the mark disappeared for good.

Harry breathed out in relief as Snape's eyes were still open and unclouded. "We need to get him to either Pomfrey or St. Mungos. I recommend St. Mungos. All his injuries are magical. I can't heal him myself, but I'm positive he'll live."

Severus snorted. "I know what the diagnostics mean, Potter," he said dryly. "My hands will never be the same."

Harry and Tom both looked sadly at the mangled appendages. "You'll live though, Sev. That's all that matters. We'll get through this," Tom assured him, kissing his forehead and holding him as tightly as his extensive injuries would permit.

"I'll not be able to hold a wand correctly…I'll never be able to brew potions again," the man gasped as everything was sinking in. "What am I without my magic and potions?"

"You're the man I love!" Tom was rocking him now. "We'll get through this. You can use some wandless magic. You'll see. We'll get through this together!"

A lone tear escaped one of Severus's eyes as he looked at the Necromancer in front of him. Harry was frankly shocked he was still conscious. The man was in significant pain. "Kill me," he said quietly as he glanced up to Tom.

"What?! Hell no! You're going to survive, and you'll be fine. You heard Harry!" Tom yelled out into the night.

Snape looked steadily at Harry though. "Harry can't heal me because I'm alive," he said calmly and clearly. "He could if I were dead."

Harry shook his head. "Most of my magic goes to bringing you back to life. I would have to heal the damage caused by your death."

"The killing curse leaves no damage. It would work, would it not?" Severus's eyes almost pleaded with the boy he had hated just two years before. "You could then focus your magic on my hands."

It took a long time of Harry weighing his answer before he slowly opened his mouth. "Yes, it would work…"

"Kill me then," Severus pleaded with Tom. "You've cast the curse many times. Just once more…for me."

Tom raised his wand silently, it trembled in his hand as he turned it to his lover. It seemed like an eternity that he held his wand at Severus's temple. The former Dark Lord sobbed out as his wand fell limply from his hand. "Sev, for an Unforgiveable to work, you have to mean it," he explained in a pleading tone. "There is no situation and no circumstance on this planet that would cause me to want you dead. I can't cast it."

"Please," Severus said simply as he continued to look into the blue eyes above him.

Tom was shaking his head sadly, tears falling from his eyes, as a green light shot by him following a loudly cast "Avada kedavra!"

Severus slumped into his lover's arms, dead at once. Tom gasped as his head shot up to watch his son lower his raised hand back to his side. "You…you…killed…"

"I saved him…I'm saving him," Harry said almost frantically as he dumped candles out of his ritual bag. Shaking hands lined them up and a mumbled spell set them aflame. "I didn't kill him…I'm saving him," Harry insisted vehemently, sounding more than a bit undone.

"Yes, Harry…you're saving him," Tom sighed taking in deep breaths to encourage Harry to calm down. He could see the panic attack and breakdown coming, and Harry needed to be able to perform the ritual. "You can do this…I know you can."

Harry settled down to start the ritual, but he looked up to Tom first who had backed away from Severus to give them space. "I meant it," he said clearly as he looked at his dad. "I meant it because I wanted him dead. I wanted him dead so that I could save him. I couldn't save him if he was alive."

Tom nodded. "I understand…you can do this. I know you can."

It was the strangest crossing over Harry had done so far. It felt like he was moving through gelatin, and it was a struggle to find his surrogate parent's soul. He let his love for Severus guide him as he almost swam through the grey realm. Since he was the reason for the death, it was more difficult for him to retrieve the soul. He did it though. It took all the Necromancer's strength after activating the Dark Mark portkey and casting an Unforgiveable to pull Severus back into his body. All that remained of his magic, Harry flooded into Sev's hands. He would bring him back, and he would make sure he was whole. Obsidian eyes fluttered open just as red eyes closed and the Necromancer collapsed.

Severus slowly moved his head. He knew he was lying somewhere comfortable, but he felt like he had been run over by the Knight Bus, then it had backed up and gone over him a couple more times. He gritted his teeth as a spasm of pain shot through his body. Once the wave passed, he was finally able to blink open his eyes. After just a brief moment when he had been conscious by the castle gates, he had no idea what had happened next. Slowly he took in the other two people around him. One person was curled up on the bed beside him, and the other was in the armchair, half lying on the bed, with his hand on Severus's right arm.

Snape flexed his hands slightly, feeling no pain, and they looked as they had before his ordeal. It was the rest of him that felt like nundu dung. The person in the armchair shifted a bit, woken by Severus's movements. "Sev? You awake?" A hopeful voice asked.

Bright green eyes shot into his line of vision as Harry Potter gasped at his open eyes. "Dad! He's awake!" Harry hissed out quietly, but in excitement.

The body beside Severus shifted as blue eyes blinked open, taking the place of the green. "How do you feel? Are you ok?" Tom asked frantically, but thankfully quietly.

"Of course, he's not ok. I didn't heal anything besides his hands," Harry murmured as a cool vial was pressed to Severus's lips. "Drink this, Professor. It's just a pain potion. We're going to get you all healed up, but we need you awake for the rest of it."

Severus drank the potion in gratitude finally letting out a little groan. "How long was I out?" he asked.

"Three days," Tom responded. "Pomfrey healed you as much as she could with you being unconscious, but you were hit with so many curses. She needs to heal the rest with you awake."

"I'll get her," Harry said. After some quick mumbling, Severus caught sight of a basilisk patronus rush out of his quarters.

"I'm not in the hospital wing," he said as a statement, but with the implied question.

"Dad knew you hated it almost as much as I do," Harry answered him. "He threw a fit until Madam Pomfrey let you stay here."

"Thank you," Severus mumbled to Tom. Very glad he wasn't in the infirmary.

"Professor, I'm so sorry," Harry gasped out, tears in his eyes. "I killed you…I'm just…I'm so…"

"What happened to Sev?" Severus interrupted groggily, the pain potion finally kicking in. "Stop apologizing, Harry. Thank you. Thank you for saving me."

"I love you." Severus heard as he closed his eyes to wait for Poppy. He wasn't sure which man said it, and it didn't matter. He smiled and squeezed whichever of their hands that had slipped into his.

Up Next: There be dragons...