Summary: Eleven years ago, a child of prophecy was born under a shroud of secrecy. A complex web of deception kept the boy and his father safe, shielding them not only from danger, but from truths too painful to reveal. Unfortunately, that web of deception also deprived them of the one thing they both needed most. Each other. Harry/Snape Severitus fic.
Appreciation: Special thanks to my beta, YenGirl, for agreeing to tackle yet another one of my angsty, emotional brainchildren.
Warnings: This fic will contain mentions of a rape – though it will not be graphically described – domestic violence and male pregnancy. If any of these three subjects make you uncomfortable or are subjects you would prefer not to read about, then this story is not for you. Also, there will be some significant James bashing, as well as some mild Sirius bashing. So once again, I will warn you, if James Potter and Sirius Black are your favorite HP characters, perhaps you should not read on.
Rating: Rated M due to occasional violence, mentions of rape and an overall theme that may be considered controversial or disturbing for some. Readers ages seventeen and over, please.
Disclaimer: All characters belong to J.K. Rowling, wickedly twisted for my immense enjoyment.
A/N: OK. Now that I have all those prerequisite warnings out of the way, I want to take a step back and assure you that this story will NOT be all angst, I promise! This is, after all, a Severitus fic and I plan to deliver what most Severitus fics out there deliver... emotional unrest, yes... but also those lovely, heartfelt feelings of family, trust and parental love that we all want so badly for Harry and Severus to experience with one another. Of course, the 'all is well' and 'happy ending' kind of stuff won't be immediate. There's much too much pain to overcome first.
One more comment before I leave you to it and here it is: Though this IS a Severitus, I must caution you not to jump into this story with a pre-conceived notion of what exactly that means. I don't particularly enjoy re-hashing the same old tried and true plots, so when I decided to try my hand at a Snape/Harry father/son story, I was determined to come at it from a different angle. I think I have achieved that. :)
Alright. Here's chapter one. I hope you enjoy it!
Chapter One - Requisite Disclosure
"Severus? Severus, my boy… are you still up?"
The roar of the floo coming to life, followed by the jarring sound of the Headmaster's inquiring voice, yanked Severus from a deep slumber.
Jerking upright from where he had fallen asleep slumped over a mountain of end-of-year exams he had been grading, Severus somehow managed to leap to a standing position in one reflexive motion, his chair clattering to the floor behind him. He whipped around, brandishing what he thought was his wand, before noticing his mistake and promptly lowering his eagle owl quill to the surface of his desk.
Chagrined by his overreaction, Severus strove to collect himself. He ran a hand through his lank hair and cleared his throat, drawing in a deep, lengthy breath so as to give his startled heart time to slow its quickened pace.
"Forgive me, Headmaster. I was not expecting a visit from you so late in the evening. Or rather so early in the morning," he corrected upon catching a glimpse of the grandfather clock in the corner of his sitting room. Its ornate brass hands indicated a time well past midnight.
"I'm sorry to have disturbed you at this hour," Albus prefaced. His sapphire blue eyes were lacking their customary jovial gleam, a variant detail that instantly made Severus feel ill at ease. "Unfortunately, there was a bit of an incident earlier this evening involving three first-year students, two of whom incurred minor injuries. Poppy has things under control of course, but the third student may require two potions she does not currently have in stock. I was hoping you might."
"An incident?" Severus blinked, his unease growing, the Headmaster's words prompting an unexpected trickle of cold dread to settle in his stomach. "What kind of incident?"
Albus' brief and somewhat blasé mention of this 'incident' sounded innocuous enough, but Severus suspected there was more to it than the Headmaster was intimating. It was rather morose of him to jump to such conclusions, he realized, but his propensity to gravitate toward dire assumptions had intensified over the last few months. With that wretched stone concealed within the bowels of the school all year and his increasing suspicions that Quirrell was trying to steal it, most of his thoughts these days veered toward the macabre.
"Nothing to worry about, my boy," the Headmaster insisted. "I will be sure to brief you and the rest of the staff in the morning. For now, I am only in need of a couple of potions."
Severus' dark eyes narrowed in growing mistrust, his gaze locking with those aged eyes that looked more hazel than the deep cerulean he knew them to be, the flaring green flames of his floo altering their vivid hue. Despite their variance, those penetrating orbs maintained their intense, piercing nature, amplifying Severus' already anxious demeanor and deepening his trepidation.
"What potions does Poppy require?" he asked at last, ebony eyes still leveled at the reticent wizard.
"One vial of Cardiac Stabilizing Draught as well as one vial of Inhibiting Elixir."
At the Headmaster's reply, Severus' heart seemed to stop beating for a moment before that trickle of dread he had been experiencing during the last few minutes escalated into an all-out torrential flood of panic.
"An Inhibiting Elixir?! Albus–!"
"Poppy has everything under control, Severus, I assure you. The need for such a potion is merely a precaution," Albus asserted, a smile that was obviously forced curving his heavily lined lips.
The man's placating words and his attempt at nonchalance did nothing to assuage Severus' disquiet. Severus knew – and suspected Albus did as well – that an Inhibiting Elixir was not a typical standby potion, kept at arm's length as a mere precautionary measure in case another potion did not yield a desired effect. No – an Inhibiting Elixir was only ever used as a last resort and only under such grave and rare conditions as when a witch or wizard's magic had turned rogue, attacking his or her own body while in the process of trying to rid it of a perceived threat. This situation could only occur if said witch or wizard was unlucky enough to be cursed with or come in contact with exceedingly Dark magic and even then, this particular potion would not readily be considered a viable solution. The victim's own attacking magic would have to be aggressive enough to be considered life-threatening. Otherwise, a potion to deplete a wizard's magical core would never even be considered. The half dozen or so times throughout Wizarding history when this elixir had been resorted to, the victim was rendered magically impotent afterwards, a fate so odious, that it was only ever utilized if the victim's central nervous system was in the process of shutting down… or if the victim's heart had stopped… or...
"She wants an Inhibiting Elixir and a Cardiac Stabilizing Draught?!" Severus parroted in a hoarse voice, horrid understanding rocketing through him now. His thoughts were racing a mile a minute, his mind inundated with images of all sorts of unpleasant and dire outcomes that would occur should the worst happen – a second dark stain upon Hogwarts after fifty years, investigations and claims of negligence, swarms of reporters... not to mention the distraught parents of that very unlucky child...
"Again, Severus, I must stress to you that Poppy has everything under control. She is simply attempting to be proactive in the event–"
Poppy's shrill and panicked voice cut off the Headmaster's emphatic words of reassurance, prompting the elderly man's head to disappear momentarily from the floo. Severus had but a second to feel those tendrils of heightened dread ascend from the pit of his stomach to clutch at his racing heart, when Albus reappeared, his previous composure foregone.
"Severus!" he exclaimed, more than a trace of panic to his tone now. "The potions! Do you have them?!"
Severus did not spare the time to answer. He yanked his wand from the inside pocket of his robes and summoned the required potions with haste, shoving them into a small satchel he pulled from his desk drawer.
"Step aside, Headmaster – I'm coming through," he commanded as he hurried over to the hearth, determination stealing through him. There was a child whose life was in danger and he would be damned if he just sat back and did nothing to prevent the unthinkable from occurring.
Despite being considered callous and apathetic by the student body and most of the teaching staff alike, Severus was very much an emotional being; he just happened to be more adept at hiding his emotions than most – a skill he had perfected after years of rigorous Occlumency training. He only wished he'd been in possession of this skill during his youth, when a gratuitous display of emotion meant a thrashing from his drunken father or worse, a public demonstration of Marauder brutality.
Right now however, Severus was finding it more difficult than usual to employ said skill, his current fear beginning to rival any inspired by his abusive father or his childhood adversaries.
When he stepped out of the swirling green flames and into the Hospital Wing seconds later, what he saw made that fear skyrocket. Albus and Poppy were standing on either side of one of the hospital beds with their wands pointed at the bed's occupant. Both were reciting a Resuscitation Charm in synchronized voices of barely controlled panic. After each incantation, the child's chest would compress unnaturally before arching up and then collapsing back to the mattress with a muffled thud, the small prone body yielding horribly to each invasive magicked maneuver.
Severus' legs moved without their owner's voluntary thought, driving him across the ward and closer to the dying child while his hand and gaze lowered to his satchel in search of the needed potion. His trembling fingers closed around the vial of Cardiac Stabilizing Draught just as he neared the bed, his eyes lifting at last. He gasped, nearly dropping the vial in shock when his gaze fell upon the too-still occupant of the bed...
The boy's vivid green eyes – so much like his mother's – remained hidden behind their lids and his distinctive wire-framed glasses – so very like his bullying father's – had been removed. But that familiar shock of unruly black hair and the even more recognizable jagged scar marring the sickly pale forehead left little doubt about their owner's identity.
A fleeting and heart-rending image of a grief-stricken Lily flashed across Severus' mind. He felt his chest tighten with emotion and guilt, a ragged breath dying in his straining lungs.
Oh God! Potter – Lily's son – is dying! NO!
Terrified adrenaline plowing through him, Severus wrenched the cork from the mouth of the potion vial and lurched forward. Knowing the boy hadn't the ability to swallow, he raised his wand with his right hand after shifting the open vial to his left and voiced the incantation to spell the draught directly into Potter's bloodstream. It was a tricky procedure – one taught to him over a decade ago during a required healing class he took while studying for his Potions Mastery. He'd never had to perform it before, but thankfully, his memory for spell casting was exceptional and his technique even more so.
He dropped both the empty vial and his wand onto the mattress, his trembling fingers no longer able to grip them. Standing stock still beside the bed, he waited with bated breath along with Poppy and Albus, all three of them remaining silent, rendered mute and paralyzed in their shared anxiety. Severus kept his eyes glued on Poppy's hand which was placed on top of Potter's motionless chest and the static heart that lay within it, while his own heart hammered against his ribcage painfully.
After what felt like an eternity, Poppy gasped and her hand flew up to the boy's neck. Pressing her fingertips into his pulse point, she lowered her head so that her ear was barely an inch above Potter's parted lips.
"He's breathing again," she quavered, "and he has a pulse… but it's weak."
Raising her head, she turned toward Severus, eyes pleading, emanating a fear rarely seen from the normally calm and composed mediwitch. "Severus, we have no choice now. Harry's magic is out of control, he won't survive the night otherwise."
With a quick, jerking motion of her head, her gaze lowering, she gestured toward the potions satchel he had deposited onto the bed just a moment ago. Severus followed her gaze to the bag whose depths, he knew, still housed one more vial. Only then did his stricken and disoriented brain comprehend what her words had been referring to.
The Inhibiting Elixir.
So it had come to this. The Boy-Who-Lived would in fact, not live, unless his magic was ripped from him – magic that, for some reason, was bent on destroying its owner's body while in the process of waging war against some unseen Darkness invading it.
Time was of the essence right now, but there were a million questions running through Severus' mind. The most pressing of which was...
What the bloody hell had happened to the boy?!
Severus had just seen Potter earlier that evening. He and his two foolhardy cohorts, Weasley and Granger, were roaming the halls just after dinner while whispering animatedly to themselves. Severus had admonished them for their conspiratorial behavior, telling them they should return to their dormitory immediately lest someone infer that the three trouble-seeking Gryffindors were up to something. Now, Severus knew he was correct in that assumption; they had been up to something. He also had a horrible suspicion as to what it was.
Was it possible they had gone after the Philosopher's Stone like they had done with the troll on Halloween? It seemed unlikely that any student could have deduced that the stone was being kept in the school, let alone become aware of the very well-guarded secret that it may actually have been in danger of being stolen. But Severus knew that the one weak link among those staff members entrusted with the stone's safety was also the one who spent the most social time with the three reckless first-years.
Yes, Hagrid could have easily let something slip to them about the stone.
From that bit of sussed knowledge, it would have only taken a small amount of research, a sliver of suspicion and a whole lot of Gryffindor brazenness to compel those idiotic children to take matters into their own hands. And Severus was well aware that Gryffindor courage knew no limits, not even under the threat of being eaten alive by a giant three-headed dog. But even that loathsome canine of Hagrid's could never be blamed for an incursion of Darkness so great as to trigger a wizard's magical defensive instinct to go into overdrive. Nor could any of the other five magical safeguards set up to ensure the stone's safe concealment. Even if the boy had guessed his own logic riddle incorrectly and had imbibed one of the wrong potions, he would only have been put into a magically induced coma, nothing more. That poem was meant as a deterrent to ward off a theft attempt, not as an actual harbinger of impending doom, whatever his literary mind had scripted to the contrary.
So what on earth had the boy encountered that had turned his magic rogue, prompting it to attack indiscriminately? It just didn't make sense!
His questions would have to wait though. Potter's life was on the line. All that mattered now was the boy's survival. Poppy was right, of course. There simply was no other way.
With hands that shook even worse than before, Severus picked up his satchel, withdrew its remaining contents – a single glass vial filled with a pale green liquid – and handed it to Poppy. Having no desire to witness the administration of this particular potion, Severus looked away while Poppy began to mimic his earlier actions to spell the potion into the boy's bloodstream and instead, turned his gaze to the Headmaster.
Albus was staring at him, pinning him with a blazing look of deep contemplative scrutiny and rumination. The look itself was not that unusual. However, given the dire circumstances with which they were surrounded at present and considering said circumstances had very little whatsoever to do with himself, Severus found he was deeply disturbed by the seemingly out-of-place look, his heart starting to race.
That intense feeling of eerie disquiet surged to new heights when the Headmaster opened his mouth and breathed out an almost inaudible utterance in a shaky, quavering voice.
"Forgive me, Severus."
Brow furrowed in confusion and heart nearly beating out of his chest, Severus watched, feeling equal parts debilitating dread and mind-numbing bewilderment, as the elderly wizard turned abruptly toward Poppy and snatched the wand out of her hand just as she was about to administer the potion to Potter. He then seized the vial of Inhibiting Elixir from her other hand and replaced its stopper before placing it back into Severus' satchel.
"Albus, what–?" Poppy asked, her brown eyes wide with shock.
"No. We needn't destroy Harry's magic in order to save him," he explained, his voice much stronger now. He placed the mediwitch's wand back into her still open hand and then turned back toward Severus. "There is another way – a safer way."
His confusion deepening, Severus looked from Albus back to Poppy, hoping to see an expression of enlightened agreement within her eyes… or at least a glimmer of dawning comprehension. There was nothing there but bemusement, barely controlled impatience and panic.
"Albus, there is no other remedy to tame rogue magic and you know it. We have already attempted every known non-invasive method. This is the only option left to us!" she burst out, her voice once again taking on that shrill, panicked tone. "Give me that vial!"
"We haven't tried Partem Amet," he said to Poppy, though his eyes remained on Severus.
"Partem–" Poppy echoed but then stopped before finishing her recitation. Her mouth was hanging open and her eyes were wider than Severus had ever seen them, pure shock and obvious frustration emanating off her in tangible waves. She snapped her mouth shut a second later, drew in a deep breath, no doubt as a means to induce a some measure of calm, and then spoke again.
"Headmaster, with all due respect, the idea of performing that spell on Harry, without the proper donor to cast it, is absolutely mad and completely irresponsible! I understand you wish to spare him from a life without magic, but be reasonable! A magical transfusion spell such as Partem Amet, cast by anyone other than someone who shares his exact magical makeup such as a parent or a sibling – neither of whom exist in Harry's case – would be tantamount to a death sentence. It would kill him, Albus! So unless you can raise one of the boy's parents from the grave to cast this spell, I suggest you give that potion back to me this instant so that I may save my patient's life!"
Albus said nothing during the irate witch's rant. In fact, he did not even glance in her direction. His eyes remained fixed upon Severus', blue orbs staring at him with a mixture of profound sorrow and reluctant resignation. The intensity in that sorrowful gaze caused Severus' foreboding to multiply and his heart to leap into his constricting throat, the thundering beats almost choking him.
"Albus?" Severus croaked, voice trembling. "What–?"
His question still unfinished, Severus flinched at the feel of his own wand being placed back into his right hand, Albus' long, tapered fingers coaxing his own to close around its ebony handle by curling around the back of his hand, embracing it, squeezing it.
Severus felt his blood run cold as an inexorable anguish began to take hold of him. He felt weak and dizzy, his mind disoriented, panic and utter confusion warring deep inside him. He took his gaze away from the Headmaster's hands, still clasped around his own, and looked back up into those despairing blue eyes now laden with unshed tears. He tried once again to formulate a question, desperate to comprehend the reason for the debilitating heartache gnawing at his insides or the meaning behind the raw grief reflected in those aged eyes looking back at him, but for the first time in Severus' life, his voice failed him.
"Severus, you must cast the spell… Partem Amet," Albus whispered, a lone tear sliding down his wrinkled cheek. "It can only be you. I'm sorry, my boy. I'm so… so very sorry."
Chapter End - TBC
A/N: FYI, I plan on updating this story every four to six weeks. I know, I know... most of you would prefer a faster turnaround than that. Trust me, I understand! But my life is just a bit too filled with other obligations for me to commit to quicker updates. Regardless, I do hope you'll stick around for the next chapter... which, by the way, is going to be very angsty and will include a whopper of a shocking surprise for our dear Potions Master... with a few perplexing details, too.