It's been quite a while since I posted something. I'm not sure if I ever will truly finish this story. I have therefore decided to instead post my notes on what I had planned for the remaining chapters. These notes are in italics.
Perhaps at some point in the future I will flesh it out somewhat but for now, I wanted to give all of you who are still following this story the ending.
It was hours later when Severus returned to his chambers. After Salazar had arranged for him to enter the Headmaster's office, he'd looked for the diary and had, upon finding it, had to perform a number of spells on it with Salazar's guidance. Through it all, however, Salazar had refused to discuss his suspicion. "I'd rather not have you worry about it, not now when there is much to do within Hogwarts. But I swear to you, child, I will tell you all as soon as I've discussed it with the others and have the necessary facts," he'd told him. He didn't exactly like that answer but had decided to trust Salazar's judgement, especially since past experience told him that he didn't make promises lightly, so he knew that he would learn what it was about.
Severus stopped short when he caught sight of the door to his rooms. Black was sitting in front of it in his animagus form, seeming to wait for him. He looked around to make sure that there was no one around to eavesdrop, then hissed: "What do you want, mutt?"
To his surprise, the mutt didn't start barking or growling but instead just looked at him, then at his rooms.
The Potion master sighed. "Fine." He opened the door and let the dog proceed inside. When the other had transformed into his human form, he said: "I do not like to repeat myself but perhaps it is necessary for you. What do you want?"
"I need to talk to you, Snape," Black said seriously.
"What about?" Severus asked shortly.
Sirius took a deep breath. "I hate owing anything, especially to Slytherins. But today I was reminded that I owe you an explanation. And an apology I guess."
Severus was taken aback. He did his best to hide how surprised he was, turning away to instead look at his desk. "Oh?"
Sirius started pacing. "I wasn't aware of how out of control the pranks had got. Until today, that is. I mean I didn't intent for anyone to get seriously hurt. It's just..." He stopped and took a deep breath. "Okay, I should probably start at the beginning. I'm not sure how much you know about my family but I bet it's only the official part. In private they were... they were like the second category of families Healer Gallagher mentioned today. Our upbringing was mostly through curses and other spells of the Dark Arts. My parents were quite clear on their expectations and whenever we fell short, we were punished. Part of their expectations was for their sons to also get into Slytherin, just like them and the rest of their peers.
"One day shortly before my first year at Hogwarts, they had my cousins and their friends over and Bellatrix' fiancé started taunting me, doubting I'd have the wit and strength to get into Slytherin. I finally lost my temper with him and told him what I think about Slytherin. Of course my family was less than happy with me." He shuddered in remembrance. "I almost feared that I wouldn't recover in time to get away to Hogwarts," he added, more to himself. He quickly shook himself out of it, then turned his attention back to Snape. "And then on the train I heard you talking about hoping to get into Slytherin and what a great house it is. I thought... that you were what my parents were expecting me to be and, looking back, I can see that I transferred my hate for my family to you, especially because, no matter how malicious the pranks got, we were never punished or even told off." He shook his head. "The first weeks, I kept expecting to be cursed by the teachers for what we said and did but the opposite happened. They kept telling us what good, talented boys we were, especially Dumbledore. And I figured... I figured that if the headmaster said that we were good, then what we did couldn't be wrong. It was too easy to just decide that everything my family said and stood for was wrong and to never question that view.
"As for the business with Moony... well, like I said, I never intended for anyone to get hurt, not even you. And I never considered that I'd put you in danger because, to me, Remus wasn't dangerous. Merlin, I must sound like Hagrid, but it's true. I've spent so many nights playing with Moony that it never really occurred to me that he could be dangerous to others. I mean I knew that he could be scary. That's also all I intended: for you to get scared. It was only afterwards when James and Remus had yelled at me for it that I began doubting what I'd done. I even planned to go see you and apologize but then I met Dumbledore in the corridor. He told me that it wasn't necessary, that it had been a harmless scare I shouldn't have to apologize for. And of course I believed him. Until today at least."
Severus had listened intently. Now he regarded Black suspiciously. "Why are you telling me this?"
Sirius laughed mirthlessly. "Today you spoke about a private matter like your family life in front of Remus and me. I figured I owed you the same. And like Gamp said, you were owed an explanation and an apology for what I did in our 5th year." He glared at the potion master. "Don't get me wrong, I still can't stand you and I doubt I ever will but I can still admit that I did something wrong." He didn't add that it had also something to do with having received a dressing down by Godric Gryffindor himself.
Severus considered rejecting the implied apology but in the end relented. "I guess there are after all things we do agree on."
"So, truce? At least until the war is over and that traitor Wormtail is caught?" Sirius hesitated a moment, then offered his hand.
Severus regarded his critically but the other seemed sincere. So he briefly shook the hand. "Truce."
Andrea and Amela had decided to meet in an unused classroom that Saturday like they often did, considering they could hardly meet in one of their common rooms. To Andrea's relief, she was now allowed to officially join Amela in learning about Wizarding Society. Instead of discussing their recent essay they had been assigned, however, Andrea asked: "Have you heard from your Uncle Marcus?"
Amela considered teasing her friend but she was too eager to share her happiness at having once again received a letter from her uncle. For a long time she had had little contact with the Wizarding part of her family. Her father had been disowned when he had married a Muggle woman. The only time she and her mother had had contact with her paternal grandparents had been when she was three, on her father's funeral. They had made it clear that neither she nor her mother were welcome and had even gone so far as to demand that give up her father's family name because, as her grandfather had put it: "No filthy Muggle shall ever carry the proud name of Steward." Her father's brother, however, had disagreed. He had secretly kept in contact with them and had helped them understand what was happening when she started displaying signs of possessing magic.
She was torn out of her musings when Andrea nudged her impatiently. "Yes, yes. I received an owl from him this morning." She grinned at her friend. "It was carrying the package."
Andrea squealed. "So we can finally give him the present tomorrow."
Amela nodded excitedly. "I can't wait. Let's give it to him tomorrow at breakfast."
Andrea eagerly agreed.
As they had agreed, Andrea waited at the entrance to the Great Hall for her friend. They exchanged a nervous look, then Amela led the way inside and to the Slytherin table.
Draco looked up in surprise when Pansy nudged him and threw his attention to the two first year girls who were looking at him expectantly. "Yes?" he asked after a moment when they just stared at him.
They give him the present, using traditional phrases to thank him. Draco and the other Slytherins are surprised, both that the two are giving him a present and that a muggleborn and halfblood knew the traditional kind of present and protocol for giving it. Draco accepts the present, mostly since he was trained to do comply with tradition. When the girls leave, giggling, his classmates tease him about the girls having a crush on him.
Neville is allowed to return to Hogwarts. He explains that he's got strict orders from his healer not to use too much magic at once both it was decided that he would be allowed to return, accompanied by a young healer who will attend lessons with him to help out if necessary. He proudly shows off his new wand which helped with his confidence because he has an easier time now casting spells. Back in the common room, he thanks the Twins for convincing him to speak to a healer. He tells them and the Trio that he was taken to Asclepius' Hall for treatment for a week and that he started seeing a councillor, who he has special permission to still see regularly while at Hogwarts. He also tells them about his appointment at the Ministry to decide where he'll stay. He learned that he has relatives on his mother's side who are willing to take him in. He mentions that Augusta is being investigated by the Aurors. Ron asks him if he's looking forward to her being punished for what she did to him. Neville smiles and tells them that, in a way, her punishment has already begun because many pureblood families, especially old families, are looking down on her and judging her. He admits to being nervous about returning to the lessons, especially Potions. Later, Harry takes him aside and tells him (in general terms) of his own home situation and that it was Snape who helped him. Harry's expectations are proven right in their next Potions lesson: Snape is strict and harsh but not vicious and keeps attention away from the two boys.
The Twins go overboard with pranks now that Umbridge is gone and her rules have been overturned. The teachers understand their relief but are getting exasperated that they're not settling done. Snape is the first to have them stay behind after class. Afterwards they tone it down a little, at least during class. McGonagall is worried and stops them in a corridor, offering to overrule whatever Snape decided. The Twins quickly refuse: they didn't get a punishment but rather the offer that, if they behave, they will get a letter of recommendation from Snape. A member of the Board of Governors overhearing the conversation tells McGonagall that the teachers should not allow students to play them off against one another and that they should not overrule a colleague's decision without talking to them first.
Salazar talks with his fellow Founders about Voldemort using Horcruxi. He has found a way to pull soul pieces out of the vessels without damaging vessel or soul, hoping that it will allow them to return Tom's sanity. Rowena cautions him that it might not be enough, especially since one part of his soul (the diary) is already destroyed and another (the one in Harry) might not return to Tom because they cannot risk letting Tom near enough to Harry to ensure it. Godric supports Salazar, saying that they have to try, since Tom is still part of Salazar's family.
Ted Tonks visits Harry to meet him and tell him about his family. He excuses Andromeda's absence, saying that she often seems stand-offish and that they didn't want the first meeting with Harry to be tense. Harry tells them that he doesn't want them to feel obligated to have to take him in. Ted disagrees, comparing it to Harry helping his friends. He admits to having wanted a son as well. He asks if it's okay if he brings Andromeda along the next week. Harry agrees.
The Founders ask Harry, Ron, Hermione, Sirius, Remus and Snape to meet and explain about the Horcruxi and Harry being one. Harry understands that he has to die in order for Voldemort to be destroyed. The adults figure out that that was Dumbledore's plan, the abuse being designed to make Harry value his own life so little that he'd die without hesitation for the greater good. Founders tells them of potion to extract the Horcrux. Tell them that they have a plan to make Voldemort do it himself for the other Horcruxi. Salazar asks Severus to take a smaller painting of him to Voldemort.
Voldemort accepts the painting. Salazar tells him about Dumbledore knowing about Horcruxi and that there is a way to better protect the soul pieces. Voldemort agrees to do it and has Severus bring him the Diadem from Hogwarts.
Harry has a vision of Sirius being held captive at the Ministry and runs off in a panic to find a private fireplace to try and contact Sirius. He runs into Snape who calms him, asking him how Black would have been caught and why Lupin wouldn't know. He sends his Patronus to contact Sirius, surprising both Sirius and Harry when his Patronus in a doe. Sirius sends a Patronus back to let them know that he is safe and will come to Hogwarts. They figure out that it is a trap to bring Harry to the Ministry. They decide to turn to trap on the Deatheaters with the help of Tonks and Kingsley. The two Aurors pretend to have received an anonymous tip that something is going on at the Department of Mysteries. Tonks, making herself appear like a student, enters and is attacked by Deatheaters, including Lucius Malfoy. The Deatheaters are captured.
Voldemort does not appear at the Ministry. While his Deatheaters are at the Ministry, he takes the potion and collapses.
Lucius is arrested and there's talk that he will be sentenced to be kissed. Draco is angry and wants revenge. When Severus hears him, he calls Narcissa who explains to her son that Lucius' own actions and decision led to his fate. She begs her son not to do anything that would make her loose him as well. Draco relents and starts grieving his father. Housemates whose parents are neutral or not actively involved with Voldemort support him. When Narcissa encounters Andromeda who's at Hogwarts to visit Harry, she asks her to pass a request on to her daughter to have aurors search Malfoy Manor in order to get rid of anything having to do with Voldemort and to leave that part behind.
Andromeda meets with Harry. Contrary to Ted and Sirius' worries that Harry might be intimidated by Andromeda, he actually likes her strictness and her bluntly telling him their expectations and rules at home. Gallagher mentions that it's because Harry has trouble trusting adults but having clear rules he can follow gives him a sense of security.
Severus is called to hide-out where Voldemort is when he is found collapsed. He tells them that he will take Voldemort somewhere he can be treated. When Nagini tries to prevent him from taking Voldemort away, he kills her. He takes Voldemort to the Dungeons as planned with the others.
The Founders, Remus, Sirius and Severus discuss the vessels Voldemort used for his Horcruxi while waiting for him to wake. When he does, he is feral, so the Remus, Sirius and Severus bind him.
After a brief discussion, they use a spell and the Resurrection Stone to return Salazar to life for a few minutes. Salazar uses Legilimency to try and reach Tom. Tom tells him that he regrets his deeds as Voldemort but also says that it is too late for him. He can feel that his insanity is just temporarily controlled. He tells Salazar that he does not trust himself to be free, fearing that he will lose himself again, and knows that, were he to be imprisoned, his supporters would break him out. He gives Salazar all information on his followers, hiding places etc., then asks him to ensure he cannot lose himself and become Voldemort again. Salazar leaves his mind and kills Tom. He uses his remaining moments to tell Severus that he is free and that he is proud of him.
The Order uses the information Salazar got from Tom to arrest the remaining Deatheaters, including Wormtail. Sirius is rehabilitated by the Ministry. He offers to take Harry in as he promised him but Gallagher and Andromeda support Harry's decision to remain with the Tonks since Sirius still has to recovery mentally and physically himself. After talking it through with Remus, Sirius agrees and instead schedules regularly visits.
Harry visits the Ministry to discuss the new family situation. Fudge, to appease the public, apologizes to Harry for what "one misguided employee of the Ministry" did and for the Ministry being involved in defaming Harry, saying that a child like Harry couldn't of course have known that those who attacked him were only Deatheaters and not the real Voldemort. Harry, having been briefed by Andromeda and Severus in advance that something like this might happen, plays along and accepts the apology. Dumbledore shows up, having cast a spell to inform him when Harry is at the Ministry the day of Harry's trial, figuring that he is at the Ministry to fight Voldemort. He is arrested.
While riding the Hogwarts Express at the end of the school year, Harry and Neville talk about how this is the first time they aren't threading the summer holidays but looking forward to being home. The Tonks, Weasleys, Neville's aunt, Sirius and Remus await them at King's Cross. Two school owls show up for the twins, making Molly nervous because she fears that they did something bad enough to endanger their graduation. Instead the letters turn out to be the letters of recommendation Severus promised the twins. Molly is stunned since this means that the twins have already surpassed Percy's results.