Harry collapsed with a thump on the bed that once was Severus'. He sat up, looking around him, then stood and made his way down to the common room. Was he back? Had it worked?
His question was answered by Blaise Zabini, who rushed past him on his way to the dorms, unnoticing of the boy dressed in Slytherin robes just like his. Harry was careful not to be seen after that, but the common room was empty. Glancing at the clock, he saw that most of the school would still be at lunch.
Harry stopped in the corridor, unsure of what to do next. Then he made his way up to Dumbledore's office. "Sherbet Lemon?" he asked the guardian. The statue scowled at him. "Chocolate Frog? Everlasting Gobstone? Ice Mice?"
"Chocolate Orange," Dumbledore said behind him. The door swung open before them. Dumbledore ushered Harry on to the staircase. "What can I do for you, Harry?"
"Well, Sir," Harry said, uncertain. "I've come back."
"From where, dear boy?"
Harry sat down in the chair indicated by a long, wrinkled hand, confused. Where?
"I've come back from the past, Sir. Didn't Ron and Hermione tell you?"
"I wasn't aware that you were such good friends with Miss Granger, Harry. Did she help you."
"Yes," Harry said, trying to sort through this new information. "Yes, she did."
"Well, Harry. I expect, since you are back, that you will want your phoenix back?"
Fawkes let out an excited string of notes and swooped over, landing on Harry's shoulder and tugging affectionately at his hair. Harry laughed. "Hello," he said, running a hand over the bird's bright feathers. "Thank you for looking after him, Sir."
"Oh, it was my pleasure, my pleasure," Dumbledore said, his eyes twinkling. "I believe Fawkes is glad to have you back. It's been almost twenty years since you left him with me."
"I know. Sir, I…What has changed?"
"What do you mean, Harry?"
"Well, when I left here I was best friends with Ron and Hermione. Snape was the potions teacher, although I know he can't be still, since he…" Harry choked back a few angry tears, wondering if the pain would ever go away. He felt Dumbledore's hand land compassionately on his shoulder, and knew the old man was also remembering the death of his student. Harry picked up where he left off. "My parents were dead, I don't know if they are still, and I was a Gryffindor."
"Well, let's see," Dumbledore said, sitting down behind his desk and gazing idly at a whirring silver thing with long spindly arms. "You are still a Gryffindor, Harry. Your best friend is still Ron Weasley, although I am sad to say you have never got along with Miss Granger. Out Potions Professor… Professor Genero. And yes, your parents are still alive."
"What about Sirius and Remus?" Harry asked as an afterthought.
"Yes, they too are still with us. Peter Pettigrew, however, was sent to Azkaban after the dark mark was found on his arm."
"Perhaps you would like to see your parents, Harry?"
Harry nodded thankfully.
"Oh, honey, are you all right?" Lily Potter stepped easily out of the fireplace and enveloped Harry in a hug.
"I guess so," Harry mumbled against her pink blouse. It was so nice to see his mother like this, as family. Over her shoulder, Harry saw James Potter step out of the fireplace, having a quick word with Dumbledore.
"All right, Son? What's wrong?"
Harry just shook his head, overwhelmed by it all. Lily and James shared a look. "Perhaps we'd better take him home," Lily said. "The school breaks up for summer tomorrow anyway."
James nodded thoughtfully, then started. "Harry! Why are you wearing Slytherin robes?"
"He can tell you all that at home," Dumbledore cut in, seeing Harry's discomfort at the thought of explaining the whole exhausting ordeal so quickly.
"Yes, yes, of course," Lily said. "Come on now and we'll get you home."
"Are you sure he's alright?" James asked Dumbledore as his son and wife flooed out.
"He's been through a tremendous challenge, if memory serves," Dumbledore replied, "And he has faced some terrible decisions. I am sure, however, that he can work through it with the help of his family, now that he has them back."
"Yes, of course. I need to get home now, anyway. It's a full moon tonight."
Dumbledore smiled. "Say hello to Remus for me."
James smiled back. "He's always glad to hear from you."
He followed his family home.
As soon as Harry emerged from the floo, he was enveloped in a wave of black fur.
"Padfoot, get off him," Lily scolded. Sirius panted unrepentantly. Harry laughed. "Hello, Sirius."
"Hello, pup," The newly transformed Sirius ruffled his hair. "What are you doing back so early?"
"Let the poor boy settle down first, Sirius," Remus Lupin said, emerging from a door with a cup of tea in one hand.
Harry gazed around the room. So this was Godric's Hollow? The walls were painted a sunny yellow, and a cauldron steamed over the fireplace. Family pictures covered the walls, and the fireplace was made of worn grey stone. A thick rug covered the wooden floors, and Harry could almost see Padfoot curled up there at night. A small coffee table sat before a worn blue sofa, paper scattered haphazardly around both. Hedwig fluttered down at him from the rafters.
"Hedwig!" Harry called out in delight. Fawkes ruffled his feathers irritably. The snowy owl landed on his other shoulder.
"Remember when you got her?" Lily smiled. "Hagrid always had a soft spot for you. He just couldn't resist; you or her!" She shook her head in exasperation.
"Hagrid gave her to me?" Harry asked, pleased that the half giant was still apparently a friend.
"Of course. Harry, I think you'd better sit down and explain all this to us. It's like you don't remember anything about us." James looked very serious.
The marauders gathered on the couch and looked expectantly at Harry, as Lily fussed about, getting Harry a glass of pumpkin juice and settling him on the couch as if he had lived there all his life. Like he should have.
"So, Harry, what's been going on?"
So Harry began to tell them.
Harry felt much better after getting the story out. James had briefly flooed Dumbledore to check it was true, then had a short fit ("My son was shagging Snape?") but then settled down and thought rationally again. The break passed, and Harry returned to school in his Gryffindor robes. He met Ron, and made friends again with Hermione, much to the disgust of his redheaded friend. And life returned to some semblance of normality.
It still hurt to see another man standing at the front of the potions classroom, and it was still strange to casually mention 'Professor Snape' in conversation and have his friends ask "Who?", but the feelings passed. It didn't do to dwell on the past.
But Harry still kept the stained vial in the bottom of his trunk, and he still wore the silver chain around his neck. Because nothing could part them now. Not really.