Title: In The Face Of The Truth
Disclaimer: I don't own anything. Note that this will be the only disclaimer that I post for the remainder of the story. It gets tedious otherwise.
Summary: Answer to Severitus' Challenge. When Harry finds out who his real father is, what will his reaction be? And how does everyone else react? When Harry becomes a werewolf, things can only get more complicated.
Ships: Minor R/Hr, other pairings may or may not come in.
Warnings: Abuse, abuse, abuse, abuse, abuse. Might have some slash. Violence, dark themes, etc.
A/N: There appear to be three classes of Severitus' challenge fics. The first is the kind where Harry and Severus immediately accept Harry's true parentage and they become a nice happy family (bar the inevitable godfather troubles). The second is the type where they both have a little trouble accepting the idea, but after about a week they become a nice happy family similar to that in type one. The third is the type where Harry becomes suicidal when he finds out. None of these seemed very realistic, IMO, at least not when I analysed my own experience with my father's death and my stepfather. So here's my take on the duo's reactions. The story has a plot too, if you're wondering.
A/N2: This is not betaed. Please excuse any grammar/spelling mistakes. I try to make sure that they don't occur, but I'm only human, and therefore fallible.
Harry shuddered as he heard a slap from downstairs and his aunt cry out in pain. He closed his eyes and took deep breaths, trying desperately not to hyperventilate. He walked over to the door to his room and closed it, then he slid his dresser in front of it. Another slap and he flinched. He sat down and curled up into a ball, desperately fighting the tears that were threatening to fall once again.
His uncle had never been abusive before this summer. In fact, his uncle wasn't even the type to be abusive. However, his uncle's business had recently hit rock-bottom and Vernon had begun drinking to drown out his troubles. And then, a mere two days into Harry's summer holiday, the abuse had begun.
Vernon made a lousy drunk.
Harry almost smiled at his nearly nonexistent humour but another cry of pain from downstairs quelled it instantly.
"Please," he whispered desperately, eyes closing as he leaned heavily against his dresser, "oh please, make it stop." He couldn't deal with this, not now. He felt like a coward. He should do something, should stand up to his uncle somehow but he just couldn't. He couldn't bring himself to leave his room, couldn't bring himself to face his uncle. He would listen to his aunt cry out in pain so long as he could put off actually feeling it himself.
He hated himself for that, for being such a bloody coward. He was the boy-who-lived, wasn't he? He was a hero wasn't he? Then why the hell couldn't he bring himself to face his own uncle? He was pathetic. If he would just do something, then he and his aunt… and Dudley, wouldn't have to deal with this. All he had to do was confront his uncle. No, not even that. All he had to do was tell someone and things would turn out alright again.
But what if they don't? asked a voice in the back of his mind. The voice was right, of course. There were far too many things that could go wrong. Confronting Vernon? That was almost laughable. The man was twice his size, and not a skinny stick like Harry was. Harry didn't have his wand; there was no way he could defend himself if Vernon truly got it into his head to attack him. As for telling someone…. He should, he knew. That's what people always said when they talked about this sort of thing. He doubted any of them knew just how impossible it really was to tell. For one, Vernon might find out. Then there would be hell to pay for sure. Then there were his friends' reactions…. No, he was better off with no one knowing.
Sometimes he would daydream about telling his friends, or his teachers. He would go through the whole scenario in his head, and had even written out a letter once, but it all amounted to nothing. He never sent the letter, never carried out any of the scenarios that had been planned out so carefully in his head.
His aunt cried out for a last time then there was a dull thud. Collapsed, probably, thought Harry, his chest tightening painfully. He closed his eyes and prayed that his uncle wouldn't come up here.
Harry hadn't been hit yet this summer, bar one or two smacks against his head, nor had Dudley. Harry hadn't because he was almost always in his room, and he always blocked the door when Vernon was drunk. Dudley was always out with his new friends. He had fallen into a new crowd, consisting mostly of people who were rumoured to do drugs. Most of his new 'friends' were well-known to be depressed, most of them clinically so. Harry didn't know much more about it than that, and he didn't much want to. Dudley's life was his own business, Harry already had enough to worry about.
There was silence then some shuffling and more silence, but no sound of anyone ascending the stairs. Harry sighed and leaned back against the dresser, body awash with relief, guilt, and disgust with himself. He looked at his bed and sighed again. He needed to sleep, he knew. He didn't relish the prospect of nightmares, but maybe tonight they wouldn't come. With that last thought he climbed into bed and fell asleep, where once again his hopes were in vain.
It was only two weeks into summer, and already he felt like he was in hell.
Harry woke up on his birthday and nearly cried out when he attempted to reach for his glasses. Clutching his broken arm to his chest, he sat up, wincing, and looked around for his glasses, before realising that he could see perfectly well without them.
He blinked in surprise and momentarily forgot the pain in his arms as he looked around, getting used to having clear peripheral vision, rather than being limited to the circle of clear sight that he had had while wearing his glasses. He looked towards Hedwig's cage and saw that she wasn't there. This puzzled him for a moment. Probably out hunting, thought Harry logically.
He stood up carefully so as to not jar his arm and absentmindedly looked into the mirror. He froze.
Who the hell was that?
He made to turn around to see who else was in his bedroom but saw that the stranger moved at the exact same time in the exact same way. He paled.
That was him.
Pale skin, deathly pale with bruises and cuts marring the white so that it reminded Harry of the phrase, "blood on the snow." Green eyes that had formerly been wide and framed with fairly stubby lashes were now slanted and sported lashes so long that he could feel them brush over his cheeks as he blinked. High, sharply defined cheekbones, thin face, sharp chin. His nose, which had formerly so resembled his fathers, was now the straight and aristocratic nose of his mother. His hair, his formerly black hair, was now a dark red. Dark enough that it could be mistaken for black in the wrong lighting, but red all the same. Not to mention that, but his former messy look was gone, replaces by a sleek style that fell past his shoulders and curled ever-so-slightly at the ends. Even his body's shape was different. Sure, he was still stick-skinny and starved looking, and still fairly short though he could tell already that he had grown a couple of inches at least, but the gawky and ill-put-together form he was used to was replaced with a graceful looking build that implied height even though there wasn't any there. The only thing recognisable about himself was a scar, which was offset by the tattoo of a snake that went across his forehead like a headband.
Harry hadn't recognised himself, and for good reason.
Harry shook himself out of his trance and pulled on his clothes, wincing when he would accidentally jar his arm. He went down the stairs to find his aunt cleaning up the mess that Vernon had made of the sitting room the night before. She looked up at him, fear sparking in her eyes before she saw who it was.
Harry gave her a slight smile, "Good morning, Aunt Petunia."
"Good morning, Harry. I'm sorry, but I haven't fixed our breakfast yet. I don't suppose-" she left off, looking at Harry hopefully. It dawned on Harry that Vernon had probably expressed disapproval about the mess the house was in during one of the beatings and Petunia was trying to fix the situation so that Vernon would have less cause to be angry with her. He imagined that that didn't leave her with a lot of time to take care of her own needs, like cooking her own meals.
"I'll cook something up for us, Aunt Petunia." Petunia nodded, but suddenly got a frantic look in her eyes. "I remember that Vernon wants steak tonight. I'll take it out to thaw." Petunia smiled at Harry through her black eye and murmured a thank-you. Harry nodded and went into the kitchen.
The abuse had driven Dudley away from home, while it had brought Harry and Petunia a good deal closer. They never actually talked about the abuse. Actually, they never talked about much of anything. Most of their time together was spent in companionable silence. There was an unspoken agreement that they would treat each other well for however long this went on. It had been started when Harry had bandaged Petunia's wounds after the first night. Things had only gotten better since.
Harry pulled the steaks out first, placing them in the microwave and setting it to thaw. Then he began to fix his aunt and himself some breakfast, making sure to use only items that wouldn't immediately be missed and that Vernon wasn't overly fond of.
He was surprised that Petunia hadn't seemed to notice his new look, but had brushed it off fairly well. Maybe he was just hallucinating earlier. A reasonably plausible explanation. After all, he had a broken arm, the pain jolting through which reminded him constantly. That, combined with lack of sleep and low food rations was bound to drive anyone to the point of hallucinating. After all, who ever heard of sudden appearance changes for no reason and tattoos appearing out of no where anyway?
"Severus, you can't keep denying this!" shouted Remus Lupin, chasing after the Potions professor as he stormed towards the dungeons. Severus turned sharply and glared at him.
"Denying what, exactly? I'm afraid, Lupin, that you've lost me on whatever it is you're trying to tell me."
"Harry is you're son, Severus. You know that." Severus stiffened and gave Remus a look that could freeze molten rock.
"I can honestly say that I have no idea what you are talking about, Lupin."
Remus stared at him for a moment, "How can you say that? You know-"
"I know nothing of the sort, Lupin! I am reasonably certain that had I ever slept with Lily I would remember, which I assure you I do not. Now, unless you are implying that I somehow can impregnate women without sleeping with them, then I'll ask you to stop wasting my time," and with that Severus strode into his office, slamming the door behind him.
Remus stared at the closed door, standing stock still in his surprise. How could Severus not know? His eyes widened in realisation. "Memory charms," he murmured before heading off to the Headmaster's office. If anyone could help him make Severus see reason, it was Albus.
Albus Dumbledore looked up from the parchment in front of him to stare at Remus Lupin in shock. It wasn't often that Dumbledore was shocked, but this was a revelation that made the others he had come across during his long life pale in comparison.
"This certainly… complicates things," murmured Dumbledore, leaning back in his chair with a sigh. He looked up at the ceiling contemplatively, a frown marring his normally jovial features.
Remus frowned slightly, "What do you mean?"
"Harry is Severus' first, and only, child, Mr. Lupin. Severus is a Deatheater." No comprehension appeared in Remus' face. Dumbledore sighed and continued, "All of Voldemort's Deatheaters pledged their firstborn to Voldemort. It was a pact signed in blood, and the only possible way for it to be broken would be if neither the child nor the parent had any idea who the child's real parent was."
Remus paled, "You mean-"
Dumbledore nodded solemnly, "Even if Severus does not fully believe you, the idea has been placed in his mind. Harry will receive the Mark on the winter solstice after his fifteenth birthday, or they will both die."
Remus slumped back in his chair, eyes closed in shock as his mixed feelings of shock, surprise, and guilt chased each other around hectically.
Dumbledore regarded his former student sternly, "Nothing that can be changed now. We need to fetch Harry, the charms would have deteriorated yesterday and he is likely to be very confused. There may yet be a way to salvage the situation."
Remus stood up to follow Albus down the spiralling staircase, but was halted by the bloody owl that fell into his arms. He paled, "Albus-"
Albus turned around at the doorway, "Yes?" Then he saw the owl.
"This is Harry's owl."
Albus merely stared for a moment at nothing in particular, giving the appearance that he was doing some very quick thinking. Suddenly his eyes jumped from the window to Remus and he spoke quickly. "Remus, take the owl to Hagrid. Have him nurse it back to health, and if he is unable to do so, have him take it to Poppy. Fetch Sirius and Severus as well. We need to make a trip to Harry's home."
Remus nodded and left, going as fast as he could without jarring the injured owl in his arm, leaving a letter sitting on the desk in Dumbledore's office, unattended.