Disclaimer - Guess what: They're all JKR's! I didn't invent anyone! I don't own anyone!
A/N - So here it is: the last chapter. I'll probably upload the first chapter of my new fic Runaway Dragon tomorrow. It's the Draco fic I promised you a while ago. The sequel to My Name's Severus will have to wait until after that.
Chapter 13: Severus
Harry thought about Draco's words a lot after that talk. Talk to Severus? He'd been avoiding Severus Snape on purpose so far, but he would have to talk to him sometime. Snape for some reason was one of the people he felt most guilty of betraying. Snape had risked his life to make up for having been a death eater once. How could he expect Harry to do anything less?
But then again Draco had insisted that he ought to talk to Snape. He'd been convinced that Snape could help him. That he wanted to help him. And he did know Snape well, maybe even better than Dumbledore did. And Dumbledore too had told him to talk to Snape about his problems. Both Snape's best friends agreed that he'd help Harry. They had to know.
But Lupin had said the same thing about Sirius. Remus was Sirius' best friend as well and he had been totally wrong. What if Dumbledore and Draco were wrong about Snape's reaction? Could he take another disappointment? Would he be as disappointed as he had been when he'd tried to make peace with Sirius?
Harry admired and respected Snape, but they had never been close. Harry had always reminded Snape of James too much and Snape had always scared Harry. Not that Harry had run away whenever he'd seen the potions master, but he'd always treaded carefully around him. Nobody wanted to incur Snape's wrath and he'd hated Harry anyway.
Still Snape had stood up for Harry on several occasions, had saved his life from Voldemort's attacks. Harry shuddered at the thought. Once he had been one of the few people who had dared to say the dark lord's name out loud. Now that Voldemort was finally defeated and everybody was saying his name without difficulty Harry trembled at the very thought of it. He couldn't say it anymore. He'd been unable to ever since they'd taken him to Azkaban.
He wondered if anybody had noticed. They'd all talked about Voldemort and his death eaters and the war a lot, but he'd been very quiet during most of those conversations. Maybe they hadn't. Maybe they hadn't even paid him enough attention to notice the way he spoke of Voldemort. Why would they care about that anyway? Harry Potter was nobody and Voldemort was long gone and dead, a threat to noone. Why should anybody care if Harry Potter couldn't say Voldemort's name?
Harry woke up very early the next morning. He'd been dreaming about being a death eater and going to Azkaban again. These dreams had followed him wherever he'd gone for the last five years. It was nothing new. But he felt like they'd gotten worse and more frequent since his return to Hogwarts. He seemed to remember more and more details every night. He could even recall some totally inconsequential conversations he'd had with some of the minor death eaters. He wondered what had happened to them. Which ones had died in the battle like Lucius Malfoy? Which ones had gone to Azkaban like Percy Weasley? Was it really safe to assume that those would never be back? And could it be that some had escaped entirely? How would he react if he met one of them in the street some day?
For a while Harry tried to get back to sleep. Maybe he wouldn't dream anymore tonight. But it didn't work. He was too afraid of what he might see if he did dream again.
Harry finally decided to get up and look around for Dobby. He knew that the house elves were already up at this time relighting the fires and bringing in fresh milk and bread. Maybe they could continue work on the schedules and elf files until breakfast. Or maybe they could get started sorting furniture. Anything to take his mind off the past.
He dressed quickly and started his search in the kitchens where a very old house elf he thought was called Flobsy told him that Dobby was not here and that he wasn't supposed to work this early. She insisted that he went back to bed and slept some more.
Harry sighed and left the kitchens, but he wasn't going to return to his room and try to sleep again. He decided to keep looking for Dobby instead. If he wasn't in the kitchen, he had to be elsewhere. The trick was finding out where, Harry decided. He tried the great hall first assuming that they might already be laying out the dishes, but found it still empty.
Wondering where else he might find Dobby at this time of day he left the great hall again and almost collided with none other than Severus Snape who seemed to have just come in from a very early morning stroll and was headed back towards the dungeons.
"Good morning, Harry!" Snape greeted him in an actually friendly tone. "You're up early today."
"I couldn't sleep." Harry answered trying hard to remember when he'd last seen Snape being friendly.
"Well, if you have nothing better to do, I could make us some tea in my office." Snape offered. "I've been meaning to talk to you anyway."
Harry looked at Snape incredulously. Another teacher inviting him for tea? And Severus Snape of all people? Somehow Snape had never struck Harry as the kind of person who'd want to discuss things over a friendly cup of tea.
"Thank you, Professor Snape, but I was actually looking for Dobby. We've got some unfinished work I'd really like to get done."
"First, don't call me Professor. You're not a student anymore. My name's Severus. And second, I just saw Dobby leave with the group of elves that went down to Hogsmede to do the shopping. They'll be gone for a while and once they return all the elves will be really busy with preparing breakfast. I doubt you'll be able to get a hold of your friend before nine.
"But that's when he's supposed to report to my office anyway." complained Harry.
"So what about tea in the meantime?" Snape insisted.
Harry hesitated. Snape was the last person he wanted to talk to right now, but, like he'd told Draco about Sirius, he would have to talk with him sometime. He might as well get it over with right now.
"Okay, but why is everybody around here always offering me tea?"
"I think I could find some coffee somewhere as well, if you'd rather have that."
"No thanks. I was just wondering, because it seems people either kick me out or offer me tea. Are you sure nobody told all off you to do so?"
"Well, it does make it easier to talk. From what I've heard you've been keeping to yourself a lot and people are a little worried about that. The tea is just a trick to make you stay for a while. We are your friends Harry. It's not good for you to be alone all the time. We're just trying to help."
"Look, I don't know what Draco told you about yesterday, but I'm okay really. You don't have to treat me like ... I don't know ... like I'm totally psycho or something. I'm fine. I know you're all disappointed in me. That's okay. You've got every right to be and I'm not gonna die of shock just because you tell me so."
They had reached Snape's office. Snape opened the door and waved Harry in. There was nothing that had obviously changed inside, but somehow the room suddenly felt much more comfortable and inviting. Was it because Harry was no longer a student and Snape his least favourite teacher? Was it because nothing was all that bad compared to his memories of Azkaban? Or was there some subtle change that Harry just couldn't put his finger on? Harry couldn't tell.
"Draco?" Snape said as he started to make the tea. "Draco didn't tell me anything. I didn't even know that you two talked. He'd like to make friends with you, you know, but I thought he was too afraid that you'd reject him."
Harry said nothing.
"So what did happen yesterday? Want to talk about it?"
Harry took the cup of tea Snape offered him and stared into it.
"No, I think I'd rather not talk about that. It was nothing anyway." He wondered if Snape would believe that. It was a much too obvious a lie in his opinion and Snape had always been quick to pick up on those. As a spy he'd probably had to be. His life had depended on it.
"Alright, lets talk about me being disappointed in you then. I am not."
"You ought to be. You have every right to be. I joined the enemy you risked your life to fight. How could you not be disappointed? You have to hate me."
"I have the right to be disappointed? I? How could I not be disappointed?" Snape repeated incredulously. "How could I be? What right would I have to blame you for making the same mistakes I did? I could never blame anyone who ever left the dark lord's service voluntarily. You and I are in many ways just the same Harry. To hate you would mean to hate myself."
"The same? You made up for your mistakes. You fought and defeated ... Him. I, I just ran away like the coward I am. Wonder why I ever got into Gryffindor."
"You are not a coward, Harry. And the Gryffindors were never as perfect as people used to think. They fought bravely in the war, yes, but you are not the only one who made mistakes. No house is above the others, Harry and if the sorting hat put you into Gryffindor, that is where you belong. ... I would have run too once. I was trying to run when I turned to Albus. I showed him the dark mark on my arm and expected him to kill me. I thought death was the only way to free myself of my guilt. He didn't kill me, though and I would have run and hidden the way you did if Albus hadn't forced me to become his spy. He is the one who truly defeated Voldemort. I was just one of his many tools. I'm proud of that, yes, but it wasn't my doing. Albus helped me through it all and he will do the same for you."
"I wouldn't have had your courage." Harry said shaking his head. "Not even with Dumbledore's help. And I can't go and prove myself the way you did. I can not make up for what I've done. I can not make the people forgive me."
"Ah, but that is the trick, Harry. You don't have to make them forgive you. Some already have, some will in time and some always did dislike you and you never had a chance to make them your friends in the first place. But this isn't about any of them, Harry. It's all about you. All in your head. You don't have to make others forgive you. You have to forgive yourself. That is much more difficult, but it can be done, Harry. You have to learn to forgive yourself. I know it's hard. It took me years only to understand what that means even though Albus must have told me a thousand times. It isn't the others that put you through all the pain, Harry. It is you."
"Forgive myself when everybody hates me for what I've done?" Harry nearly shouted.
"It is you who hates you, not the others. Maybe there are a few that do hate you, but they always will. You have to move on and accept it. Accept your past as what it is. The past. What counts is here and now. You have to make a new start. We are your friends. Don't push us away, because you think that you don't deserve us. We think you do. Accept that there are people who still like you. I know it's not easy, but please try."
"How could I forget what I did when I've still got that tattoo to always remind me of what I am?"
"What you were, Harry. What you were. It's in the past. I never said you should forget it. But you have to leave it in the past where it belongs and move on." Snape put his arm on the table and showed Harry his own dark mark.
Harry stared. He hadn't even noticed that Snape hadn't even covered it this day. He wore it openly for everyone to see.
"This is a symbol of my past, Harry. Just a picture. It can't hurt me. And I'm not afraid to let it show. Not anymore. As long as I was trying to hide it all the time, it held power over me, but not anymore. People know what I was. I don't mind if they do, because it says nothing about who I am and they know it. Let the past be the past, Harry. Forgive yourself and move on. Then the dark mark will mean nothing anymore."
Harry slowly rolled up his sleeve to look at his own tattoo. Of course people knew that he had one, but to just let them see it, the way Snape did? How would they react to that?
"It can't do anything to you or anyone, Harry. It's just a picture." Snape said holding his own arm beside Harry's.
Harry stared at the two tattoos. They looked exactly the same. Still he felt like they were different. Snape's dark mark seemed meaningless after all the things he had done. His own looked powerful and evil to him. Was that all in his head? Could he just stop thinking of it as powerful and it would be as meaningless as Snape's? He moved to cover it up again, but Snape stopped him.
"No, leave it like this. You have to show it that you are not afraid of it anymore."
Harry slowly nodded and stood up. Alright, he would give this a try.
All during breakfast he thought he could feel people staring at his arm, but nobody did comment on it. Harry, though still very nervous, was beginning to feel more hopeful about it. Charlie and Fred were chatting with Neville as always and Harry for the first time tried to get into the conversation. He felt a little awkward having to ask who the people they were talking about were all the time, but nobody seemed to get impatient about answering his questions.
Once when he looked up he noticed Ginny smiling at him and Draco came over to say hi before he left the great hall. Harry wondered if they'd noticed that he'd come in with Snape this morning and if they connected that with his wearing the dark mark openly.
'Forgive yourself and move on.' Snape had said. Harry wasn't sure if he could, but he was at least going to try.
Big thank yous to:
Juliana Black - Well, actually it's a mixture of both. One motive Sirius can admit to, the other he's hiding from himself. ... Where's the Shih Tzu? You promised a Shih Tzu. I love cute little doggies. Where is he? ... Well, I guess it was probably a little to far to walk for the little guy so he had to stay at home. Sniff!
J.L. Matthews - Yes, I almost gave Draco the last chapter, but this part simply was made for Sevi. Draco may understand a lot, but Sevi understands it all. Of course they'll be good mates. Draco is just the perfect friend to have (Hm ... strange that some people always disagree with me about that.)
Kris RL - Yes, I like that one very much too. Draco/Twichy's just so cute.
Taran - Well, that's why I made it PG13. (Or did you expect me to write something indecent? Okay, okay I had Harry in underwear.) That's my Draco, sweet and kind. Getting rid of Luci is one of the problems I have with my fics (but I'm actually planning one where he's allowed to stay) You like Lockhart? Hm well, without any memory he's okay with me. Trelawney? Oh she's a good laugh, but I wouldn't really miss her if she suddenly disappeared.
SophieB. - Well, Draco certainly talked Harry out of killing himself and he'll have to believe in the friendship of an old enemy. You're right about Sevi of course. I wasn't even thinking of that scene on the train when I wrote that, but now that you mention it ... Well, that question seems familiar. Where have I heard that before? Good potions masters are very hard to find and Sevi just wanted that job because it was so much more prestigious than potions. Now that he's famous and admired anyway it isn't all that important to him anymore and Dumbledore wants to keep the best potions master Hogwarts has ever had. Sevi might be a genius at DADA as well, but Remus isn't one at potions. (Okay, okay, the truth: I didn't know what other job would fit Remus and Draco easily volunteered for ancient runes.) Yes, Draco makes a much better friend than Ron, doesn't he? ... Christmas? Did I ever promise a Christmas fic? I wrote one(Recover Your Soul), but it's about Sevi and Albus, not Draco. My next fic is my long planned Draco fic though, but it's set right after the end of GOF, no Christmas in sight. With you all the way on that vote (if you can vote for two candidates at once).
KitCloudkicker - Well, he didn't want to kill Luci, but Luci left him no choice. It was kill or be killed.
Tatra - Yes, he did drink more tea! And he did in a way follow Draco's advice as well.
the plot ruiner - Hey, I didn't really think you knew any of them anyway. I was just kidding around.
Akisis - There was a time when AuthorAlert just wasn't working and then they decided you have to pay for it and Amazon wasn't working so I had to first establish an account with pay-pal which took a month, because I had to wait for a number code which arrived with my monthly VISA report before I could use it. Everybody else didn't know. The number of reviews did recede slightly during that time, but I guess they just found me in the index.
Elizabeth L. Digby - Yes, having AuthorAlert (and ReviewAlert) back sure was worth the money. Of course Draco isn't Sirius (Am I ever glad for that!), but Harry just expects everybody to judge him the same and since Draco is now a great hero ...
LanaMariah - Well, of course Draco's the best. Sevi did do a lot for Harry, but he can't just make him all right. That's something Harry has to work on himself. He got him to accept other people's help, but Harry still has a long way to go until he's really all right again. (Sorry for the delay, but I wanted this read in little pieces so every character would get their moment of glory.
Nick Alfeo - It's not entirely AuthorAlert's fault. I personally blame pay-pal for keeping me waiting a whole month for that stupid code. I don't like Ron either, but it fit the story. (Just a bit of twisting the knife around.) Nope, he wasn't worthy of a hero's death. I needed Harry to suffer another big blow and Sirius volunteered. With his history it just fit that he would let his anger take over. Well, did you expect Ginny to sew them with Harry inside? He probably wouldn't even have stood still. Remus is a very calm and understanding person (quite the opposite of Sirius). He might be disappointed, but he's never gonna judge Harry. He's trying to help. And he just happens to be my favourite marauder. I just like wolves. ... I'm not entirely sure how I picture Narcissa, but I wanted Draco to have lost all his money and that was one easy way to do that. I guess she actually did love Luci in this one, but Narcissa will have a very different role in my next fic.
meniscus - Well, not in the sexual sense of course, but now that Harry actually isn't perfect anymore Sevi does like him. No more Perfect Potter! They've got too much in common now for Sevi to still hate Harry.
Lia - Well, he had to grow up a little in over ten years. Sorry, short chapters in this one. My next fic will have longer chapters again.
Snidgey - Well, here's Sevi for you. Hope you liked. I never really watched enough Buffy to get to like it, but I remember I thought Spike was kinda cool in the two or three half episodes I saw.
Slytherin Godess and Psychotic Slytherin - Hey, Sirius is just feeling quite angry after all he's been through in Azkaban and acting impulsively as always. I suspect that he'll calm down and change his mind in time. Thanks for keeping my secrets Haley! But this one wasn't all that hard to guess, was it? If he'd met 'cold bastard' Draco in this one, Harry would have killed himself and anyway I just like Draco too much. Oh, I just can't wait for that second chapter! Did you know I love ferret stories?
Midasgirl - Of course he's sweet. Draco's always sweet (er ... okay maybe not, but I just love him.)
Karen Ann Plattes - Well, Harry didn't exactly go to see him, but they talked anyway. Yes, I've always wanted that too, but I have this nagging fear that JKR is just going to stick with the good Gryffindors - evil Slytherins cliché. I hope she doesn't though.
Shadow aka Mia - Why of course. Doesn't everybody love Draco? (At least all of my readers better should at least like him.)
Harry's Daughter, Lily - They probably will, but this fic ends here so we'll never know for sure (unless somebody writes a sequel). Your story idea is quite safe as I prefer to see Ginny with Draco, but again we'll never know for sure as the fic's ended. No, I don't think he'll ever make friends with Lavender, but who cares? None of the teachers take her seriously anyway. As for Ron: I sent him to Egypt on purpose, because I couldn't write him. It's better for him, trust me.
Ruby - Oh, he still can be quite sarcastic, but he was much too afraid for Harry's life to risk it. As for his parents: It's been five years since he had to kill his father and they never were really close. He's had to talk about it on a lot of occasions and has learned to deal with it. It doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt, but he has learned not to show it (Slytherins have always been good at that). ... Nope, no tips on skin bleaching, quite the contrary.
A/N - No next chapter this time (Sniff!), but check out my new fic. It's going to be a little unusual. And please R/R.