The Paradox of Existence
by DragonLight


Chapter Seven:  The Passage of Time

The Christmas holidays passed both much too fast and much too slowly.  Harry would rather be done with the year.  Finished with the scroll and finished with the students.  But he wasn’t finished with either.

At least Snape and his crush had been gone during the holidays.

It had only been Harry, the Headmaster, some of the faculty and a handful of students.  And the scroll.  It was the scroll that Harry spent the most time with.  Without the burdens of classes or papers to grade, or -- heaven help him -- detentions, Harry was able to get quite a bit of it done.

He almost missed the presence of his father and his friends.  It made sense, the more he thought about it, that they wouldn't stay at the school during the holidays; after all, they -- unlike him -- had family to return to.  It was strange to see just how drastically things had changed in a single generation.

Harry tried not to dwell on it.

It was easier when the students reappeared and classes went back into full swing.  Of course, with classes resuming, Harry had less time with the scroll, and the feeling that he would never get done once again swamped him.  If he delayed even a bit, everything would change.  He kept telling himself that over and over again even though he knew it would only lead to worry and stress.  

But Severus wasn't there to tell him not to.

Young Mr Snape was though, much to Harry's dismay.  Midway through the first lesson back, Harry stopped and informed the class that their seating arrangement would be changing.  Snape and Black were now in the back row.  It might lead to Black causing more trouble, but at least Harry's nerves were much calmer without having to look the sixteen-year-old Snape in the face.

Snape was much quieter after returning from holidays, and Harry didn't really know what to make of that.  Of course he was relieved, but he had spent too many years with the adult version to know that Severus Snape never gave in easily.  That was ingrained into his Severus, a character trait.  This Severus was probably no different.

Which meant the young man was thinking.  Severus thinking could lead to problems.  Problems that Harry didn't want to contemplate, so he set them aside for more enjoyable things.  Like talking with his father and godfather and Remus, and even Peter.

It began with the stories that Harry started telling the class.  They weren't anything spectacular, were in fact very vague, but he was a teacher that had actually done something other than teach.  Thinking about it, Harry realised that having teachers with practical knowledge of the field was pretty rare, even for him, and that it was those teachers and those stories that he liked the most.  It probably explained why he taught that way.

James and Sirius and Peter were rather interested in becoming Aurors, and while it didn't surprise Harry all that much, the fact that they came up to ask him his opinion on the books they were working with to prepare for the exam and interview before admittance to the program did.

He didn't mind helping them at all, and soon their meetings after class became common.  Even his mother joined in on occasion, much to his father's transparent pleasure.  It was really the only time he didn't see his parents fighting, and Harry could see that there was something between them.  Even if Remus and Sirius still said that James didn't have a chance.

Once Lily joined the little group, though, Remus came less frequently.  At first Harry had no idea why, but then he saw Remus walking the grounds late one afternoon, and he broached the subject.

Remus as a young man was quite different from the one that Harry knew.  This Remus wasn't as surefooted as the one in the future.  He had a lot of growing to do before then, Harry knew, but still it surprised him to find that this Remus had no idea what he was going to do once he left the safety of Hogwarts.

"I can't do anything.  I'll finish here and I might as well…"  Remus sighed.  "Do nothing."

Harry shook his head and laid a hand on the young man's shoulder.  "You're letting them beat you.  Never let them win."

***

"… and then because you were in such a good mood when all the students got back, everyone thought you must have spent the holidays in some brothel on Knockturn.  Half the Slytherins insisted that they had seen you, in fact."

Harry shook his head and leaned back in his chair.  "Yeah, that's exactly what this professor did over the holidays."

Sirius chuckled.  "Well, it made sense at the time."

"Of course it did, sixteen year olds always think about nothing other than sex.  They dream up these ideas that everyone is sleeping with someone."

"Did you?"

Harry glared.  "None of your business.  Besides, I don't remember.  Sixteen was an awful long time ago."

The visits each month from Sirius, Severus, or Draco were the highlights of Harry's time.  The longer he was away from home, the more he missed it, but no matter how much he missed it he didn't have the option of going back until after the year was done and his duty to the past Order completed.  The little titbits of news that whoever was visiting him passed on was a solace he was grateful for until the next visit.

Harry needed this lifeline to his time and his life because as each day passed he felt himself becoming more entwined in the lives of those in the past.  It was as if Devil's Snare had tangled around his legs and was pulling him tight against something.  Time.  It was a tangible thing to Harry.  Something that he wished he could escape.

***

Harry slammed the quill down and shoved the parchment into his sleeve before heading off to the Headmaster's office.  He didn't make it that far, and was steered back into the little room that he always used to work on the scroll.

"You seem agitated, Octavian.  Did you uncover something?"

Harry swallowed past a lump in his throat.  Of course he couldn't explain to the Headmaster why this was bothering him as much as it was, but he needed to get the information out.  "Harold Potter.  There is going to be an attack, sir.  It's not like the other ones.  He's planning on 'making it a lesson'." ♦

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