On LiveJournal, Mywitch has created an Advent Calendar of fanart delicious enough to warm the cockles of every heart. She took our requests, and gave us a daily delight of incredible art, full of joy, silliness, poignancy, cheer and love. She is so immensely talented. When I whispered in her ear MY request, she said, “Why don’t you write the fic, and I’ll illustrate?”
It was too much fun to pass up. And this is what happened.
A special thanks to the Queen of Betas, Stgulik, for making this story better because that’s what she does so wonderfully well. Also, thank you to Mywitch, for being such a beautiful, talented friend, who encouraged me to write this. You are so incredibly gifted and generous and talented, and I’m honored to be your friend.
The title comes from the TV series The Tudors. I don’t remember the context; I just liked the way it sounded.
Severus Snape had amassed a lifetime of secrets. He collected them, pinning them to his heart like butterflies to a board, to be viewed only when curious or necessary. For every thought, for every truth, for every possibility, for every person he knew or knew of, there was at least one vicious, juicy secret stored in his hive, waiting for the chance to be harvested.
The greatest secrets, unsurprisingly, were about himself: chiefly, he had always known he would survive Nagini’s bite. Aside from the physical scars this moment would leave on his body, there were other, deeper marks he carried that reminded him this was not the end.
The deed, he knew, would be done and he would be back in his own time before anyone was the wiser. As he held his wife’s Time-turner in his hand, he had an embarrassingly Gryffindor-ish moment of guilt that he had not told her what he was doing. He had known at the very least she would try and talk him out of it, and at the most, would magically prevent him from doing it. But failure was not an option; he knew he had done it, and therefore this end must justify any Slytherin means.
It was a long journey, done in three great leaps of time, to places he knew to be unchanging or highly populated; he had no wish to accidentally materialize into some brand-new brick wall. When he arrived at the correct moment, he tucked the Time-turner into his robes and began the short Apparation to his destination.
As he stood outside his parents’ home, the thing that hit him first was the smell – a familiar miasma of uncollected garbage, questionable toilets and industrial rot that hung over the streets. Today’s Spinner’s End, with its rows of trendy coffee bars and eclectic shops, might be a fashionably bohemian side of Cokesworth, but in 1981, it had been the area’s arsehole.
It was a grey, wintry day, the kind that made everything look even more disheartening, if such a thing were possible. The sky was white, the air misty; it would be completely dark before five o’clock. Through the dirty windows here and there he saw the blurred outline of red or blue fairy lights, the branch of a half-hearted Christmas tree, a couple of faded, handmade decorations. From one of the houses came the tinny, warbling sound of a choir singing “O Little Town of Bethlehem” on the radio. Far from filling him with the joy of the season, the very grimness of it all filled him with a weary sense of nostalgia.
Time would make all the difference, in both this place and his life. Time, and maturity and change, but mostly time. Severus was prosperous now; he had a loving wife and a business that thrived. He was no longer a pariah, but a respected if somewhat reclusive member of Wizarding society. And all of that hinged on what would happen in the next few hours. It did not surprise him to find that his hands were shaking.
He slipped into the house, knowing he would not raise any alarm (because, of course, how can one trip one’s own wards?), and silently made his way to the front room. He stopped in the doorway, observing the room’s solitary occupant, and experienced a fuzzy sense of déjà vu as the memory of this moment and now converged in his brain.
The figure on the sofa whirled around, wand at the ready. “Who’s there?” he demanded. His expression was a confused blend of anger and terror. His pale face was mottled. It took him two attempts to swallow. “What the….”
And I thought I had sounded so powerful and manly. Again, Severus felt that itch of déjà vu. He almost laughed. “What’s the matter, lad? Don’t you recognise yourself?”
For a moment, Severus the boy and Severus the man simply stared at one another. To his credit, his younger self stood his ground, never lowering his wand. Severus sharply remembered the moment, and how, in spite of the fear he had felt, he had been prepared to kill this person, this intruder posing as himself.
“Who are you? What do you want?” The young man’s voice broke, and he shook his head, as if furious with himself for showing his youth. He also swayed slightly, and Severus knew he had drunk too much from the bottle of cheap vodka on the low, chipped table beside the sofa. He even fancied he could still taste the harsh, slick alcohol in the back of his throat.
Severus held up his hand. “Easy, lad. I remember how frightened I was─ er, you were, to see me.”
“So I’m supposed to believe that you are me. From the future.”
Severus felt his cheeks grow warm. “I’m not really doing a very good job of this, am I?” He shrugged. “Swanning in here like The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. But put yourself in my shoes. This has already happened in my time. It’s confusing the living hell out of me now.”
The younger Severus scoffed. “That makes no fucking sense.” The boy’s black brows furrowed in confusion. “If you’re really me, prove it. Tell me something only I would know.”
“Ah, that’s better,” Severus said. “I remember this part very well. May I?” He gestured toward a nearby chair. His younger self nodded, but remained standing, his very being vibrating with suspicion.
After seating himself, Severus looked up at his younger self. “I’m here for a purpose, boy. So first I’ll tell you what you want to know. And then I’ll tell you what you have to know.”
The boy nodded tersely. His wand lowered slightly.
“As for proof, Accio vial!” A small black bottle wrenched itself from the boy’s shirt pocket and sailed effortlessly into his hand. As the boy spluttered protests, Severus studied the vial briefly. “This is a very potent, very quick-acting poison. I found the formula in a book called Bile and Hemlock, by Eustace Concepcion. I stole it from Hogwarts in my sixth year but never told anyone, and until this afternoon, I never tried to brew anything from it.”
The boy’s eyes widened as Severus continued. “Dumbledore sent you home during the holidays to contemplate your sins, and conveniently, to keep you isolated. Mum and Da are gone, it’s Christmas Eve, you’ve been forsaken by everyone else, and you’re feeling good and sorry for yourself. Under the circumstances, I could see why you might be inclined toward brewing your own poison. You’ve been trying for the past two hours to get up the nerve to drink it, hence the Dutch courage.” He nodded toward the bottle.
“I’m not a coward!” the boy hissed. His eyes were large and cloudy with fear. It took all of Severus’ will not to sigh.
“I never said you were, boy. But you’re frightened enough for both of us. There’s no shame in being afraid.” Severus casually vanished the vial of poison. “I think my presence here should be enough to convince you you’re not going to kill yourself. Get that through your thick Northern skull right now.”
What little colour left the boy’s cheeks, and he sagged for a moment. Severus felt his eyes well up. Gods, he looked so pale and thin and broken! No wonder he had planned suicide. There had been nothing in his life at that moment to discourage it.
Young Severus lowered his head, and his greasy, unkempt hair fell forward, obscuring his features. He sat down heavily and reached for the vodka. He made an unflattering squawking sound as it too was vanished.
“And you’re going to stop drinking yourself into a stupor every night. You’re not going to turn into Da. You have dark work to do in these next few years, and you’re going to have to be prepared for it.” Severus tossed a bottle of Sober-up potion. His boy self caught it deftly and, with one swift, practiced movement, he downed the liquid. Severus watched as the eyes cleared, the hand steadied, the swaying stilled.
For a moment, neither spoke. The silence entombed the dim little room, feeding the misery that hung in the air like that fug that permeated everything in this shithole of a village. After several minutes, the boy spoke, his voice low and resentful. “Well, now that I’m sober and you’ve ruined a perfectly good suicide, what now? Are you going to give me the ‘life is sacred and cheer up, it might never happen’ speech? Don’t bother.”
Severus allowed himself to pity the lad; he felt himself to be ugly and unloved, and at that time, this was true. He was standing at the cusp of the most horrific years of his life, sick with loneliness and remorse. It was true that time had healed a lot of wounds, but seeing those same wounds right now, so fresh, so painful, was truly to relive them. He leaned forward. “Come closer, boy. I won’t bite. But I do want to tell you something.”
After a few seconds, during which mistrust and fear and hope warred in the boy’s expression, he moved toward the end of the sofa, near the large armchair.
Severus nodded approvingly. “You move with grace, I’ll give you that. I worked hard to become graceful. It’s good to see I succeeded.”
His younger self shot him a wary glance. “Pull the other one.”
Severus felt a sudden heartache; he remembered so well, moving warily toward this stranger, afraid yet curious. “I’m not here to flatter you, boy. God knows I’m still no oil painting, but I always wanted to carry myself well. I’m glad to see even now my bearing speaks of wanting to be dignified, at least.”
“Ta for the pep talk, old man.” He added the last words with a quirk of his lips. He studied Severus with a gimlet eye. “I sound a lot more posh. Still hobnobbing with Wizarding society, apparently. And I’ve put some weight on in my latter years.” His smirk soured a bit. “I look a lot like Da.”
Severus scratched his ear. “Yes, well, believe it or not, I don’t mind seeing Tobias in the mirror as much as, well, you do.” He smiled. “After a while, being alive makes things like that a great deal easier to bear.”
The boy snorted in derision. “Right now, it couldn’t get much harder.”
“I know. He was a lousy father. But that doesn’t mean you’ll end up like him, boy. I’ll assure you, you won’t.” Those words angered his younger self for some reason; Severus could see the resentment on the boy’s face. “That’s one thing for starters: Learn Occlumency, and get good at it. You’ll never stop feeling, and as hard as it is to believe, you’ll be glad of it someday. But you have to show the Wizarding world a different face. Learn to school your expression.”
“Oh, that’s all well and good for you to say now,” the boy sneered, looking up and down at his older self with disdain. “Poncin’ in here with your airs and graces. ‘Oh, everything will be hunky dory, Severus! Just eat all the shit and act like it’s Christmas pudding, Severus.’” He shook his head in disgust. “It’s all well and good,” he repeated. “You’re past all this. I still have to live it.”
“But it will be worth it, boy,” replied Severus.
“Oh, give over, will ya?” A tear spilled from the boy’s dark eyes and he brushed it away impatiently. “Can’t you remember how it felt? To walk down Diagon Alley and hear their whispers, see them pointing? ‘There goes Severus Snape, the traitor, the Death Eater, Dumbledore’s little whipping boy!’”
“They’ll say worse before it’s through, lad. And you’ll face long nights when you truly don’t have a friend.”
The boy stared at him, and slowly the incredulity turned to rage. “Then why are you making me endure it?” The tears streamed down his face. “What kind of sadistic, sick bastard are you to make me live through this hell just so you can come back and tell me all about it?”
“I told you, it will be worth–”
“Nothing is worth this!” the boy roared. “I have lost everything I ever loved! I k-killed Lily─” He buried his head in his hands and wept. “I’m everything they say,” he sobbed. “A s-sniveling coward, a f-fool, and you’re n-nothing but an older coward and fool and to come back.”
Severus rose and put his hand on the boy’s shoulder, rubbing it as his younger self wailed his grief. “Shh. It’s alright boy. It’s alright.” He waited as the anger and sorrow spent itself, and the younger Severus allowed him to comfort him. “I know, I know,” he soothed, stroking the boy’s tangled hair. He reached in the pocket of his robe and drew out a white linen cloth. “Here, lad. Funny I never carried a handkerchief in my life.”
The boy fumbled the handkerchief from Severus’ hands and mopped his face. “Sometimes I think I may be going mad,” he said. He drew in a shaky breath, and released it slowly. “I don’t know if I can do this.” The tears welled again. “The world is crushing me.”
“I know. But it’s the world you made. And what you make, you can learn to tame. Think! You’re smarter and tougher than you realise,” Severus insisted. “You will survive it. And believe me when I tell you that you will find happiness.”
The boy gave him another suspicious glare. “When?” He nodded at Severus’ fine robes. “When I’m old and fat?”
Severus laughed. “Oh, the cruelty of youth!” He patted his stomach. “I’m not fat, thank you, just well-fed. One day, you’ll give yourself permission to enjoy life’s finer things.”
The boy snorted. “Like food, obviously,” he drawled, then spoiled the repartee with a large sniff.
“Blow your nose, lad,” Severus said, wincing. “You’re a mess. And yes, I do enjoy the delights of a good Sunday roast.” He smiled to himself. “And my family. And my wife.”
The boy stilled. “You married another woman?”
“No, son. I married the woman I love.”
“How dare you? How dare you forget Lily Evans?” His eyes turned to flame. “How could you allow me to forget her?” He leapt toward Severus as if to attack him. “Damn you! She was supposed to be mine! I’m supposed mourn her forever!”
The boy lunged, but Severus already knew he would, and was ready for him. “Stop talking foolishness!” Severus hissed, grappling with his younger self. “Stop this at once!”
“She was everything! She’s the only woman I’ll ever love! How dare you make me marry─”
Severus spun the younger man until he could throttle him from behind in a choke hold. Man and boy struggled until they fell back into the chair. “Of course I never stopped loving her, you little idiot! But I stopped worshipping her! We both stopped! We had to stop, in order to save our sanity!”
“I don’t want to!” The boy screamed. “She’s all I ever had!”
He was like a wild animal, thrashing and writhing against Severus, who increased his hold until the boy was gasping for air. “She was never yours, boy,” he whispered in the young man’s ear. “She was never ours, and you have to accept it. You have to understand that in order to face the future!”
The boy redoubled his efforts to break free, but he was no match for Severus, either in strength or cunning. Gradually the boy’s struggling ceased, and he collapsed against Severus’ chest, panting like a runner. “Then don’t make me go on,” he sobbed. His head fell back against Severus’ shoulder. “She was all I ever wanted. I’ve never been with another girl except her, and it was just that one time.”
“I know. I’m you, remember? I know it hurts.” Severus, as winded as his younger self, took a deep breath. “It won’t be the last time you love a woman, son. I want you to understand and remember this above all else: in all the dark, heavy days to come, you will love and be loved. You will be wanted, and you will know such happiness and pleasure. You’ll wade through hell to get there, but paradise awaits. And the one you love will love you with all the passion and devotion you have to give.”
“You’re lying,” the boy countered, shaking his head. “I’m ugly. No one likes me. I’m the most hated man in Britain.”
Severus sighed. If he was this overwhelmed now, how could he tell his younger self the true heartbreak of what was to come? “Things will change,” he murmured quietly. He simply didn’t have it in his heart to tell him about those last, dreadful years of the war. He gentled his embrace, and impulsively, he kissed the boy’s cheek. “And it will make all of this seem like a distant nightmare.”
After a small eternity, the boy’s stiff posture relaxed and he allowed Severus to hold him. Quietly he said, “She died hating me. It’s been over a year, and I still see her in my dreams. She never forgave me.”
“I know. But one day, you’ll be able to forgive yourself, and that will be enough.”
The hope in his voice was almost musical in its pain. “Promise?”
“With all my heart, lad. You must believe me. You will be desired, and loved.”
Young Severus’ body loosened, and seemed to melt into his lap. He shifted, and to Severus’ mingled surprise and alarm, he felt himself stirring. The boy felt it too, and pressed closer. With pitch-perfect Slytherin guile, he asked, “Starting with you?”
Before he could reply, the boy turned and kissed him, his mouth hot and wet. He grasped the boy’s arms to push him away, but this only encouraged the younger man. He thrust his tongue into Severus’ mouth; artless and clumsy and overeager. It was a kiss fueled with the lustful desperation of a boy who had received few kisses in his life. Soon the boy was straddling him, rocking against his lap as if they were old lovers.
Severus felt his entire being flush with arousal. Somewhere in the back of his Slytherin’s brain he knew he should be shocked at his body’s response, and yet, he could not bring himself to stop this madness burning between them. Severus cupped the boy’s head in his hands and tilted it to meet his more gracefully. He used his mouth, his body to calm the boy, to ease into his kisses, to teach him this most subtle and useful art.
As his cock hardened and pulsed, he also became aware of something else: the parallel tracks on which his memory and his present rode in tandem had split.
He had no memory of any of this.
Their kisses deepened, grew more passionate with each increasingly heavy breath, until they were fused to one another. The boy was grinding his crotch against Severus’, his hips rolling against the friction. The boy broke the kiss and looked down at Severus. His sallow face was flushed, his mouth swollen and red, his eyes swimming with want and desire. He took Severus’ hand, and kissed it, his eyes never leaving those of his older self. “Teach me,” he said softly. “Teach me how to love myself.”
Severus managed to shake his head. “I’ve never so much as kissed another man─”
“If you can’t love me, what chance do I have? Am I so repulsive to myself?”
Deep down, in the Pandora’s Box from whence it came (this is wrong I shouldn’t take advantage he feels good gods what is he doing this can’t be happening), Severus knew this was the time to end it, but the boy was looking down at him, so needy and wild and open, and his resolve melted against the liquid, dark desire he saw in those eyes. “No, gods, boy, look at you.” Severus pulled him down into another kiss. “I have to have you.” he finished helplessly.
The transformation in the boy’s face was astonishing. He almost smiled, but a lifetime of remarks about his teeth meant he caught it in time. “Then take me. I’m yours anyway,” he breathed. “But that means you’re mine as well.”
“Yes,” Severus said, and surrendered without another struggle. With a whispered spell, he vanished their clothes. They hissed as flesh met flesh. The boy’s cock was already rigid, the tip pearly and slick from pre-cum. Severus pulled him closer and flicked his tongue over a hard, flat nipple, then sucked it into his mouth. The boy moaned and reached for his own cock, but Severus batted his hand away. “Mine,” he rasped, and silenced the boy with another searing kiss. His own cock, trapped beneath the boy’s warm, taut buttocks, pulsed with his pounding heart, and when his younger self grasped the chair on either side of Severus’ head and began to dry hump his crotch, he nearly came himself.
To even the odds, he grasped the younger man’s cock, pumping it expertly, using the knowledge of his own flesh, taking no prisoners, and he smiled as the boy’s rhythm grew loose and erratic. His youthful face contorted in ecstasy, and he reared up like a stallion as his orgasm rocketed through his body. Hot jets of spunk sprayed over Severus’ chest as his younger self came, crying out his release.
Spent, the boy slumped against Severus, shuddering. With a trembling sigh, the boy gently kissed Severus again. He even managed a decent cleaning spell, to get rid of the mess.
“Thank you,” he managed, nuzzling against Severus’ neck. He grew very still, and quietly pulled back. “What happened to your─” he hesitated. “To my neck?”
Severus touched the old scar. “Something that nearly killed us. But you will survive. Obviously,” he added with a smirk.
“It looks painful.”
Tenderly, the boy pulled Severus’ hair away from his neck and touched his lips to the scar. “Can you feel that?” he whispered, and the soft breath of his words made goosebumps rise on Severus’ skin.
“That’s too bad.” Young Severus lowered his head, pressing his lips against his collarbone. “And this? Can you feel this?”
Smiling, Severus answered, “I’m not sure. Perhaps you could try again.”
This time the boy had the cheek to laugh. He ran his warm tongue down Severus’ chest, until he reached his nipple. He captured it in his mouth and sucked, just as Severus had sucked him. “And this?” he murmured, his warm breath delicious against the wet flesh.
Severus’ arousal roared through him as his mouth traveled lower, to his ribs, his stomach, his hips.
“And this?” the boy whispered, his voice uneven, his tongue flicking out to lick the bead of moisture atop his rigid cock. Severus hissed, wanting to feel that mouth on him, wanting to be sucked, wanting…
“Stop,” he ground out, just as those thin, sneering lips pursed over the head. He caught young Severus by the hair and gently pushed him away.
The boy’s eyes grew shuttered. “Why?”
Severus stroked the boy’s face. “Because you asked me to teach you some things. That’s not one of them. I do predict, however, you will feel this.”
Wordlessly, he turned the boy around until he was once again lying with his back against Severus’ chest. He eased the boy’s thighs apart, draping them over the arms of the chair, opening him to Severus’ attentions. His cock nestled between the younger man’s buttery soft arse cheeks, and he sighed as the boy rocked his hips. Severus stroked the boy’s thighs, always moving tantalisingly closer to his cock, but never arriving. “Come on, come on,” whispered the boy through gritted teeth, straining against him.
“Shh,” whispered Severus. “Be patient.” He cupped the boy’s sac in his hands, and the younger Severus moaned raggedly as his head fell back. Severus had always loved having his balls fondled and played with, and he gave the boy all he wanted. He stroked and teased and caressed his cock and balls, his touch feather-light, holding the young man at an exquisitely high state of arousal until he was almost insensate, reducing him first to begging, then incoherency.
Finally, when his own arousal could not be held in further check, he whispered four words, and the boy nodded fervently. “Please,” he moaned, his body trembling. He prepared the boy, using a Lubrication spell; while one hand stroked the boy’s cock and the other teased and danced along the seam of his taint, Severus eased his cock into the white-hot passage of his younger self’s virgin rectum. They both cried out as Severus entered him, slowly and with as much gentleness as he could muster. It took all his formidable will not to thrust, but he held himself, concentrating on the younger man’s pleasure. “Fuck me, please, move!” the boy whined, and relaxed his thighs, lowering his body further onto Severus’ cock.
Oh, gods, he tried to be gentle. He tried. But the boy was too eager, too willing, too tight, and he was soon thrusting, pulling him down onto his hips with increasing speed and force, his arm wrapped tight about the boy’s slender waist. Clumsily, he stroked the boy’s cock in time with his own thrusts, and soon they were moving in a furious, frantic rhythm.
Severus ran his tongue over the slender column of the boy’s throat, and he turned toward Severus, trying fruitlessly to kiss him in return. Severus stilled his rocking hips. “I want to see you. On the floor. On your back.” The boy instantly obeyed; he rose from the chair and slipped down onto the threadbare carpet. He looked up at Severus with naked, open passion. “Gods, boy,” Severus sighed, sinking to his knees. “You’re beautiful like this.”
His younger self closed his eyes rapturously. He lay back, holding open his slender thighs in surrender. “Do it,” he moaned, his face flushed with passion. “Please, gods, please fuck me. Do it, please─”
“Play with yourself,” Severus commanded, and lifted those smooth hips to his. The boy’s fingers stroked and teased his cock as Severus entered him again. “Come with me,” he rasped, as he began to fuck his younger self, fuck him with all the abandon and lust and passion he had deserved.
His thrusts grew lightning fast, and as his groin boiled with his impending climax, he was awarded with the sight of the boy’s cock, jerking and pulsing. With a final thrust home, Severus came, filling the boy with his own frantic release. Their voices cried out in unison over and over, as they rode through the waves of their orgasms.
Knees aching, sweat dripping, Severus collapsed beside his younger self on the grimy carpet. The boy was also panting and exhausted, his pale skin rosy and glowing.
After a while, the boy spoke in the darkness. “Do you still smoke?” he asked, pulling a packet of Capstans from a nearby table. “Or should I say, ‘do I’?”
“Knocked it on the head years ago. Enjoy it while you can.”
They passed the fag back and forth. The smoke tasted harsh and stale. “So, you came back in time to prevent me from killing myself, and you. And to have your first autoerotic encounter. I suppose you hated to waste the opportunity,” the younger man mused, taking a hard drag on the cigarette. In the darkness, Severus could hear the smirk in his voice. “At least I don’t have to worry about you forsaking your Slytherin ways, old man.”
Severus chuckled. “Once a Slytherin…”
“…always a Slytherin,” the boy answered. “So,” he began, blowing a plume of blue-gray smoke into the room. “Did you enjoy it on that end?”
There was an underlying tone of uncertainty beneath the sardonic lilt in his voice. Carefully, Severus answered, “The more important question is did you enjoy it?”
“You already know the answer to that.” His voice was slurry; he was already dozy.
Severus took a deep breath, and steeled himself. “Actually, I don’t.”
The silence stretched out in a long brittle line. “What do you mean, ‘you don’t’?” The boy demanded.
Severus took the cigarette from his fingers and stubbed it out in the tin ashtray. “My final memory of this visit ended shortly after we fought. I remember being comforted and held. I remember being given a Dreamless Sleep draught, and waking up alone on Christmas morning.”
“Lumos.” Wandlight flared in the darkness, and the younger man glared at Severus accusingly. “Are you telling me that you changed the past?”
The boy stared at him for several seconds before understanding dawned. “I see.” With a sigh, he flopped back onto the floor. “I wish it didn’t have to be like this.”
“So do I. But I think I’m right.” Severus shifted uncomfortably; the carpet was neither soft nor particularly clean. “That’s the problem with time-travel. You’re always second-guessing yourself.”
Young Severus rolled over until he was lying in Severus’ arms. “What if I promise not to let it change anything? What if I just went on as if this never happened?”
“You know that’s not how it works.”
“But I need to remember this!” The boy rose onto his elbows, looking down at Severus. His anguished expression broke Severus in two. “I need to remember what it felt like to be wanted and,” he stroked Severus’ chest. “I need to remember how this felt.”
Looking up into his younger face, Severus felt the huge conflict press down on him like the heaviest of weights. Finally, he caressed the boy’s face, and drew him down in a gentle kiss. “All right. Calm yourself. I trust you.” He sighed heavily. “You shall remember.”
Satisfied, the boy nestled against him again. He kissed Severus’ scar again, and wrapped his long arms around his waist. “Let’s go to bed then. ‘S getting cold.”
Severus stroked the boy’s hair, lulling him. From outside came the discordant, laughing voices of drunken carolers staggering from the King’s Head to the Spinner’s Arms across the street, giggling their way through Good King Wenceslas. Severus listened until their voices faded into the distance, until the only sound was the old clock ticking in the hall, and the boy’s even, deep breathing.
Severus pressed his lips to the boy’s smooth forehead, and held him close. “Merry Christmas, lad,” Severus whispered to the slumbering form.
He touched his wand to the boy’s temple. “Obliviate.”
He returned to his proper time approximately two minutes after he had originally left. He packed away the Time-turner, and his sweet wife was none the wiser. Later, Severus made love to her with all the considerable passion of which he was capable. And in the stillness of the deep night, watching her sleeping peacefully at his side, he allowed the guilt to lead him to the docket, where he was tried and acquitted, as only a lifetime Slytherin can be. Another secret was made, another butterfly pinned, still writhing, to the board.
Time had not been altered. Severus had, after all, kept his promise. He did remember. Nothing had changed.
Nothing, except him.