The Unraveling of Secrets: Chapter One

Disclaimer: It's not my story I just like to tweek it.

Also sup my peeps It has been a while since I touched this story beyond with my thoughts, so when I was reading through it and saw my less than stellar plot and words and grammar, I thought let's give them something by at least fixing it up, so if you have read this and wanna know what changed I just explained how blood type and magic type are connected and that's how that works. I didn't expand that last time.

Harry was told to act like he didn't exist, and really, he didn't want to exist after the ruddy birthday he had had. His hunger pains still lingered, even after Aunt Petunia had given him two pieces of bread and a slice of cheese. It wasn't enough after all the chores she'd forced on him after he'd made her poor Dudders afraid because of the "M" word. He wanted to take the whole bloody roof off and almost would have if his entire school stuff hadn't been locked in the cupboard just like Hedwig was in her cage. It was complete rubbish the way they acted, but Harry was too depressed that his friends hadn't written to do much of anything besides trudge up the stairs as soon as the doorbell rang.

Harry went up to his room quietly and went to sit on the bed, but what met his sight was something he had not been expecting and wasn't even sure he could define. The little green eyed- whatever it was had huge ears and a ratty pillowcase with holes cut out for the arms and legs on his too thin frame. The smallness of his body only enhanced the large ears jutting out of his round head. Harry just looked at the… thing with apprehension. "Er… hello," said Harry with nervousness lining his voice.
"Harry Potter!" said the creature in a high-pitched voice Harry was sure would carry down the stairs. "So long has Dobby wanted to meet you, sir . . . Such an honor it is. . . ."

"T-thank you," said Harry, edging to his desk chair, next to Hedwig.

He wanted to ask, 'What are you?' but knew it would be rude, so instead he said, "Who are you?"

"Dobby, sir. Just Dobby. Dobby the house-elf," said the creature.

Harry didn't know what a house-elf was, but he was fine with forgetting that for the moment to get to more important matters. The introduction was interrupted by Harry trying to find out what the little elf wanted only to see the elf seem so afraid.

"Sit down," said Harry politely, pointing at the bed.

This ended in another loud debacle where Harry was forced to try to calm the loud annoying elf as he attempted to hurt himself. Harry pulled Dobby back onto the bed. Hedwig had woken up with a particularly loud screech and was beating her wings wildly against the bars of her cage. Harry could feel his short life slipping away at the noise level. Vernon was going to kill him if he heard him.

Harry hearing about the state of Dobby's life made him think of his own lonely, pathetic existence. He might as well have been a house-elf. Locked up, treated terribly, made to do everything. Harry empathized with the elf. He wanted to give the poor thing a chance because of it.

"And I thought I had it bad staying here for another four weeks. They make the Dursleys sound almost human. Can't anyone help you? Can't I?"

Dobby dissolved again into wails of gratitude that made Harry cringe. He was going to get him killed. "Please," Harry whispered frantically, "please be quiet. If the Dursleys hear anything, if they know you're here."

The persistent elf continued to treat Harry like he was the best person he'd ever met, which made Harry blush fiercely. "Whatever you've heard about my greatness is a load of rubbish. I'm not even top of my year at Hogwarts; that's Hermione, she," But he stopped quickly, because thinking about Hermione was painful.

"Harry Potter is humble and modest. Harry Potter speaks not of his triumph over He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named."

"Voldemort?"

"Ah, speak not the name, sir! Speak not the name!" "

Harry groaned and calmed the elf, apologizing, but the elf just kept complimenting him until Harry groaned and tried to dissuade the persistent elf. It did not work. "Harry Potter is valiant and bold! He has braved so many dangers already! But Dobby has come to protect Harry Potter, to warn him, even if he does have to shut his ears in the oven door later. Harry Potter must not go back to Hogwarts."

"W-what?" Harry stammered. "But I've got to go back. Term starts on September first. It's all that's keeping me going. You don't know what it's like here. I don't belong here. I belong in your world… at Hogwarts."

"No, no, no. Harry Potter must stay where he is safe. He is too great, too good, to lose. If Harry Potter goes back to Hogwarts, he will be in mortal danger."

"Why?"

"There is a plot, Harry Potter. A plot to make most terrible things happen at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry this year." Dobby trembled all over. "Dobby has known it for months, sir. Harry Potter must not put himself in peril. He is too important, sir!"

"What terrible things?" said Harry at once. "Who's plotting them?"

Dobby made a funny choking noise and then banged his head frantically against the wall. The house-elf went through another tirade where Harry finally figured out it had to do somewhat with Voldemort before he was confused again, but before Harry could stop him, Dobby had seized Harry's desk lamp and beat himself around the head with earsplitting yelps.

Two seconds later Harry, heart thudding madly, heard Uncle Vernon coming into the hall, calling, Harry stuffed Dobby in the closet. Uncle Vernon burst into the room and through gritted teeth, his face horribly close said,"You've just ruined the punch line of my Japanese golfer joke. . . . One more sound and you'll wish you'd never been born, boy!"

Harry wanted to hiss a retort, but held back. Vernon stomped flat-footed from the room. Shaking, Harry let Dobby out of the closet. "See what it's like here?" he said. "See why I've got to go back to Hogwarts? It's the only place I've got… well, I think I've got friends."

"Friends who don't even write to Harry Potter?" said Dobby slyly.

"I expect they've just been. Wait a minute, how do you know my friends haven't been writing to me?"

Dobby shuffled his feet. "Harry Potter mustn't be angry with Dobby. Dobby did it for the best."

"Have you been stopping my letters?"

"Dobby has them here, sir." He pulled a thick wad of envelopes from the inside of the pillowcase he was wearing. "Harry Potter mustn't be angry. Dobby hoped if Harry Potter thought his friends had forgotten him than Harry Potter might not want to go back to school, sir."

Harry wasn't listening. He made a grab for the letters, but Dobby jumped out of reach. "Harry Potter will have them, sir, if he gives Dobby his word that he will not return to Hogwarts. Ah, sir, this is a danger you must not face! Say you won't go back, sir!"

"No! Give me my friends' letters!"

"Then Harry Potter leaves Dobby no choice."

Dobby ran downstairs. Mouth dry, stomach lurching, Harry sprang after him, trying not to make a sound. He jumped the last six steps, landing catlike on the hall carpet. Harry ran up the hall into the kitchen and felt his stomach disappear. Aunt Petunia's masterpiece of a pudding, the mountain of cream and sugared violets, was floating up near the ceiling. On top of a cupboard in the corner crouched Dobby. "No," croaked Harry. "Please, they'll kill me. "

"Harry Potter must say he's not going back to school."

"Dobby, please."

"Say it, sir."

"I can't."

Then Dobby must do it, sir, for Harry Potter's own good."

That was the end for Harry. The pudding was dropped, the Masons were terrified by an owl, and Vernon Dursley promised Harry he would flay him to within an inch of his life. That was the end for Harry Potter. He knew it as soon as the door slammed. Harry stood in the kitchen, clutching the mop for support, as Uncle Vernon advanced on him, a demonic glint in his tiny eyes. "Read it!" he hissed evilly, brandishing the letter the owl had delivered. "Go on. Read it!" Harry took it. It did not contain birthday greetings.

Dear Mr. Potter,

We have received intelligence that a Hover Charm was used at your place of residence this evening at twelve minutes past nine. As you know, underage wizards are not permitted to perform spells outside school, and further spellwork on your part may lead to expulsion from said school (Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery, , Paragraph C). We would also ask you to remember that any magical activity that risks notice by members of the non-magical community (Muggles) is a serious offense under section of the International Confederation of Warlocks' Statute of Secrecy. Enjoy your holidays!

Yours sincerely, Mafalda Hopkirk, Ministry of Magic

Harry looked up from the letter and gulped. "You didn't tell us you weren't allowed to use magic outside school," said Uncle Vernon, a mad gleam dancing in his eyes. "Forgot to mention it. Slipped your mind, I daresay."

He was bearing down on Harry like a great bulldog, all his teeth bared, and laughing like a maniac, he dragged Harry back upstairs. Harry was thrown into the room and just glimpsed at Dobby hiding in the closet before Vernon came down upon him. The first hits got him in the abdomen, the next to the face, the chest, and then his arms when he lifted his arms to protect himself. He felt so many of his bones breaking, the pain flooding through him as he collapsed into a ball on the floor, waiting for it to stop. He just managed to keep his eyes open as Vernon left. He saw Dobby exit looking at him with nervous fear. He barely rasped out, "Help," before he passed into the black.

Severus Snape was reading when he heard the distinct sound of someone apparating into his house on Spinner's End. He was not surprised to see it was a house-elf, as he had apparating wards around the house against wizards from getting inside his home, and only certain house-elves were allowed. He recognized the incorrigible elf immediately from his slim visits to Malfoy Manor. "Dobby, what is the meaning of this?"

The little elf looked at him with tears gathered in his tennis ball shaped eyes. "Oh, Dobby, is so sorry, sir. Dobby had wanted to protect him. Only protect him from bad wizards." The house-elf abruptly began banging his head into the bookshelves lining his walls. "Bad Dobby! Bad Dobby!"

"Stop, elf! There is no need for that! Now, get on with it!"

The little elf stammered with his eyes half open from most likely pain. "Dobby is so sorry. Dobby only meant to help. Now he's is dying, sir. The big walrus hurts Harry Potter, sir. Dobby had to help him. Dobby had to save him. Dobby make it worse."

Dobby then began again with his furious banging until Severus growled low in his throat. The bloody elf was speaking too fast to understand him. "Make sense, elf!"

Dobby stopped abruptly and pulled letters out of his pillowcase clothing. He handed the blood stained letters to Snape, who delicately took them, trying to mind the still drying blood covering them. "What is the meaning of this, elf? Whose blood is this?"

"Dobby was only trying to stop Harry Potter from getting hurt, sir. Dobby stole his letters to keep him from going to Hogwarts. Hogwarts is not safe, sir. He is not safe, sir. Dobby went to tell him so, but Dobby could not make Harry Potter stay. Dobby then went to make the large man make Harry Potter stay, but the big man hurt Harry Potter, sir. Please, sir, please. He is too good to die. Dobby found a letter in his stack, sir. It came today on Mr. Harry Potter's birthday by a special bird. It says it is for Harry Potter, sir. Dobby read the letter, and it said you's is to be contacted. It says you's will protect Harry Potter, sir. It says you's…"

"Stop! Just stop!"

Severus Snape was in complete confusion until he looked at the splattered red on the letters and pieced together the distressed elf's broken english. He only managed a deep breath before he rushed out of his door, dropping the letters to the ground in his haste to get out of the anti-apparition wards. He made it out of the wards before apparating straight onto Privet Drive.

Snape strode, his robes billowing out behind him, as he made his way to the door of the unsuspecting muggle home. He found it lucky he knew the number as all the homes looked alike on the disturbingly muggle street. He did not bother with door, but cast a quick 'Alohomora' on Number Four before stepping inside the house. He cringed at the interior before striding up the stairs where a signature of magic was weakly determined with a small wordless spell from his wand.

He went to the small room, rushing in through the door without hesitation. He saw the small form in front of him, blood pooled around the boy who was curled on his side on the floor. Snape stumbled forward at the sight of how much damage had been done to the boy. He did not know how this had happened, but he needed to save the boy quickly. This was his Lily's son.

He lifted the boy from the floor, careful of his injuries as he took him into his arms. The child whimpered but curled against his chest, and Snape saw the small relaxation of the boy's features and wondered what he had thought to relax like that in Snape's arms.

Snape wanted to see what had happened. He wanted to know why this small child, this too small of a child, was beaten on the floor of a despicable room, in a clean, pristine house, with no one there to help him. It would have to wait for when the child was not dying. Snape swept out of the house, not waking the muggles living there, not being noticed as he swept down the street, past the wards, and with only a slight crack as he apparated to St. Mungos.

He quickly got the boy to the correct healers feeling a touch of panic at all the blood and the pale pallor of the young child. He didn't know how this had happened. He needed to know, but he could not bring himself to leave the poor boy alone to tear through the muggles' minds. He even found himself wanting to follow the boy as the healers took him to a private room to work. No one stopped him as he stood there in the corner, watching them try every spell they could to fix the small, broken boy on the once white now red splotched sheets.

They were soon at a loss for what to do shouting about needing a muggle method known as a transfusion. Snape knew what this was, being a half-blood, and knew the circumstances were dire to require such methods. They were constantly debating it in front of him, seemingly not remembering he was there to listen to them bicker. He had just heard the term rare magic type and needs perfect match before stepping forward.

"If I may be of some assistance, I could possibly help you with the matter of Mr. Potter. I am Potions Master Severus Snape."

They all gazed at his imposing figure wide-eyed. "Um, yes, well, we need a transfusion to save the boy. It has to be a blood and magic match. He has a rare type of magic mostly died out by now. Do you know of anyone who can provide the donation?"

Snape thought over this for a moment, contemplating the muggles before dismissing them as this was a wizard issue and they had no magic to speak of for the boy's type. There was no one else to help the boy. No more family. He wished he could do something to save the boy as he was his protector. He had an oath to uphold no matter what, and his body was screaming at him to volunteer his own self. He did not know why, but he knew his oath could only steer him in the right direction.

He slowly nodded to the wizards and witches. "Yes, I would be willing for you to test myself against the child."

The mediwizards' eyes were wide. "Um, yes, w-well, we can try. The odds are slim to none unless you are a blood relative."

"Just try." 'You, dunderhead,' he added to himself silently.

They took a sample from him and tested it to Potter with magical means before nodding to him. Snape felt all the blood drain from his face after he was told he was an exact match blood and magic alike. He, Severus Snape, was an exact match to his beloved Lily's son. He did nothing but sit as they began to work once again, using his donation to give the boy life.

The progress was slow as hours passed and the boy was slowly being healed. His internal injuries were taken care of mostly with the organs and muscles that were beaten, torn, and bruised. His outer body had several bruises covering his back, chest, and stomach. His face had been fixed with a spell, but his bones still needed skele-gro to completely concrete his healed bones. It was pumped into his system as soon as the donation began to make the boy's colouring come back.

The boy would be sore when he woke, his voice would be hoarse from screaming, and he would have scars from the open wounds he had suffered. Other than that, there was no telling how the emotional effects would be on the boy. Snape was just relieved there was no mental damage after the concussion the boy had suffered.

What disturbed Snape the most were the defensive breaks on the boy's bones from most likely holding them in front of his face to protect himself. That meant he was being beaten by a person, someone who towered over the young boy. Snape could only feel anger for any person that would hurt the small boy. He may have hated the boy because of who his father was, but the boy was not a bad child. He had some merit.

Snape found himself pointing his wand at the child and casting Legilimency on the boy. Memories rushed past on the forefront of the boy's mind. Memories of starvation, memories of overworked days, of being locked up, and then finally of being beaten. Snape snapped out of the boy's head so fast that he actually collapsed on his knees. He was glad the healers had left so they could not see what had happened to him after the barrage of memories.

He felt the guilt hit him first. The sympathy, the pain, and the hatred for those muggles. The boy did not deserve any of that. The boy did not deserve to be hurt. He was smart when he applied himself. He was brave, loyal, stubborn, and kind hearted. He was nothing like James Potter. He was like Lily. His Lily. Snape just wished he had noticed it before the boy ended up in the bed. He could have saved him if he had noticed that something was so terribly wrong.

He was so thin, so shaky, so small, and so timid. He never spoke out of turn, never touched anyone, and when Granger hugged him, the boy had been so stiff. He should have noticed. He knew all the signs, and he had never noticed.

It had been seven hours since he found the child. He was exhausted, confused, and now his emotions were wild. He had not even contacted Albus yet. He decided on that while his mind was still working. He owled the man what had happened before returning to the room in time to see the head healer entering the room once again. Snape walked up to him, wishing he wasn't so concerned, wishing he could just leave, wishing he would leave, only he could not bring himself even to move from the boy's bedside. He wanted to be there for the child for some reason he could only account to his guilt.

"Um, Professor Snape, I thought we should discuss Mr. Potter's transfusion."

"Yes, you stated beforehand that only blood relatives could be matches."

"Yes, matches, but the issue is that you were an exact match, sir. That means you have to be a very close relative."

Snape narrowed his eyes at the man. "What is it that you are insinuating?" he all but growled.

The man looked afraid as he asked, "Is there any chance you could possibly be the boy's father?"

Severus just stared at the boy, thinking of Lily. 'I am the boy's father.'

The anguish, the guilt, and the pain he felt from that one statement made him collapse back into the chair he had been sitting in at the boy's bedside. He rubbed his hands over his face, through his hair, and down again. Severus could only nod his head to the mediwizard.

He thought of his time with Lily in November, October, months before that. They had been a couple, and now… his son was Harry Potter.

"Are you okay, Professor Snape?"

He could not stand it. Why did she not tell him? Why? He could have raised the boy, he could have done something to protect him, he could have done anything at all more than he actually had. Now, his son had been abused by muggles for eleven years, had been scarred for life, much too similar to Severus's own upbringing for comfort. And then he had… he had been his son's own James Potter. A bully for no reason but prejudice.

"What have I done?" he muttered under his breath.

"Um, Professor Snape, would you like a test done?"

Snape flashed a glare at the man and stood to his towering height. "I believe I, being a Potions Master, can do so myself."

The man only nodded and departed after a silent goodbye. Severus collapsed back into the chair with his head in his hands. He had done too much to be forgiven. He had made a mistake. He had made so many mistakes. What was he supposed to do now? How was he supposed to react? Was he supposed to tell the boy? Was he supposed to do anything at all?

He saw the boy stir in the bed, and his entire body tensed in anticipation. He was afraid. He was afraid of his own reactions, the boy's reactions, and everything else. The unknown future seemed to taunt his tense muscles as the boy slowly opened bright green eyes. They were half closed as they peered over at him. His… his son looked over at him with tired green eyes. He felt his heart jump, and it was slightly disconcerting to feel that.

"Professor? W-what?" the raspy voice began.

The child tried to stir, but Snape put a hand on his chest with a reluctant and nervous touch. He was afraid he would hurt the child, and he had already done that enough for a lifetime. The boy had been through too much to have to deal with a man treating him with undue prejudice. He would not be Tobias Snape. He would not hurt his son.

"Shush, child. You are safe now."

He had no clue how he had come to reassuring the boy, but he was a loyal and dutiful man, and this boy was his son. His son with Lily, the only woman he had ever loved. He could not just treat him the same way. Not after all his discoveries. He had finally gotten past the past, and now, he had a son. The boy visibly relaxed, and in his presence no less.

"Thank you, sir."

Severus's eyebrows rose into his hairline. "And what pray tell are you thanking me for?"

The boy blushed and shrugged his shoulders. "For saving me, being here." The boy looked down at the sheet covering him and flexed his fingers against the white sheet. "You can go if you need to. I'm sure I'll be fine, and no one has ever stayed before anyway. You probably have things to do."

Severus was taken aback. The boy expected him to just leave a child in some strange place while he was hurt. It was not going to be that way. He would never do that to a student, and he would most assuredly not do so to his son. "I shall not be leaving you, P…"

He broke off, not able to call his child that name. He could not call his son by the name of his childhood tormentor, even when the boy looked like him. He looked at the boy with pain in his eyes. He felt terrible about the boy and had even before completely realizing the child's heritage, but now he knew he had treated his son like his own father had. He had sworn to himself, to Lily that he would not hurt his child like that. He had failed.

"Are you okay, Professor?"

Snape looked at the boy with regret and nodded. "Harry, I believe I owe you an apology. I was a vile, hateful, dreadful man to you this year for no better reason than to pass my hatred of James Potter unto you for something as unjust as genetics. I misjudged you on nothing more than the shape of your face, and I was horrid to you in class. I have realized how off-based my comments have been, how wrong I have been. I was angry with James Potter for tormenting me as a child and getting the woman I had loved since I was nine. It was childish to deal out the same treatment to you for that, and you did not deserve two bully filled homes in your life after that brute Dursley and horseface Petunia and their pig of a child."

He stopped to look up from his hands and observe his child. The boy's mouth was agape, and he was looking at him with unhidden shock. He felt himself need to continue to further explain to the boy the extent of his wrong doings. "I was very off-based, and I would like to ask for your acceptance of my apology for my poor behavior."

He looked as the boy shook his head to clear his confusion and then winced. Severus found himself reaching for the pain potion by the bed and tilting his son's head back before lifting the potion vial to his son's lips. The boy drank the vial with a grimace before lowering himself onto the pillows, looking tired but not sick any longer. Severus handed the child a cup of water that he took a few sips from before handing it back. "I'm sorry. I just felt…"

"Calm yourself, Harry. I understand. You were very injured, and you are in recovery."

The boy nodded and looked over to him. "I accept. I just wanna know how you knew to come to get me?"

"Dobby, the incorrigible elf came to me. I have no semblance of a reason as to why the elf contacted me as I only just barely understood the thing when he spoke. Though he tried to inform me, but other things, such as your life, were slightly more concerning. I shall contact him later to find out as to why he came to me."

The boy nodded. "I'm just glad he did. Thank you, sir."

"No need. It is just yet another way for me to make up for my horrid behavior."

"It's okay, sir. Really. I've been treated worse, and it's not like you knew, and you know."

The boy broke off to look at his hands. Severus found himself putting a hand on the boy's shoulder in comfort. "No, Harry. It is only myself I have to blame for my prejudice and childish conduct, and you will not place any blame on yourself or take it from me. You should be angry with me, and I would rather that you were. I am so sorry, Harry. Truly, I am."

The boy nodded and raised an eyebrow at him. "Sir, how did they save me? Not that I am not grateful, but I was dead. I was sure that I was dead. I was so hurt, and I passed out."

Severus just looked at the boy with pain in his eyes. "They found a donor for a transfusion."

"A what?"

"A transfusion, Harry. It requires a certain type to match in blood and magic for the transfer to happen. It had to be especially close for you because you have such a rare type, making the need that much more. You see magic types typically run in families. As a family dies out, as does it's magical type. Blood types are muggle, mostly, so there is an easy way to pair that unless of course a wizard is a mix breed with some magical animal."

Snape watched the boy roll this over. 'Do I tell him? How do I tell him? He is twelve, a young boy. He should not have to deal with any of these problems at his age. He is a child, a young hurt child. He has no one, but if I told him… He hates me. He would never want me. I should tell him though. He deserves to know. I would not want to be kept in the dark, and neither would he. Damn Gryffindor nobility has rubbed off on me.'

"So, someone had my type, and they were a close match?"

Snape nodded silently. "An exact match."

The boy looked confused. "How?"

"Usually it only happens between a familial connection. In this case, a donor stepped forward. He was tested against you. He turned out to be an exact match, something that can only happen between close family."

Snape did not dare look at the boy when he said this. He looked at his hands, observed the slender, sharp fingers perfect for potions. "How close?"

"Father and son."

He heard a sharp intake of breath that made his eyes snap to the boy. He looked up with question in his green eyes, Lily's eyes. Severus could read hope, pain, and confusion on the boy's face. He wore his emotions in his eyes just as she did. Snape felt his stomach turn with anxiety as he kept his gaze locked with the boy. He knew he had to tell him that his already blaring guilt would not allow him to betray the boy more, but what would the boy's reaction be? Hatred he would understand. It would hurt, but he would understand. He told himself these things but knew he did not believe them.

"Who?"
Snape looked back to his hands. He was never this nervous, never this afraid, not even in the Dark Lord's presence. He knew what could happen there, but this was new and unheard of territory. This boy was making him afraid, dreadful of his reaction even. He took a deep breath and steeled himself. "Me," he whispered.

He looked up in time to see the boy's head snap up to look at him with shock. Not fear, nor disgust, nor hatred, but simple shock. Surprise. Even Snape felt surprised that the boy did not even attempt to hit him. He just sat there. The boy turned to look down at his legs under the covers. "Is it true?"

Snape was shocked that the boy thought to ask that of him. He would need to prepare accordingly to speak with a twelve year old. He thought this over then stated simply, "It is possible."

"How? When? Did my d-James know? Have you known this whole time? Did you just not want..."

Severus held up a hand at the exasperated boy. His chest was rising with the force of how quickly he shot the questions at Severus. Snape would be surprised to learn if he had taken a single breath during his inquiry. "Let me stop you there, and explain what I know." The boy nodded and leaned back against his pillows. "I was friends with your mother throughout our childhood and began to create a romantic relationship with her in our sixth year at Hogwarts. We were together for a few years afterward and around the right time for you to be mine." The young boy screwed his nose up at that. "However, we broke it off in November of 1979 after an argument. Two months later, she was wed to James Potter, who everyone had thought she had been with since school. I have no idea if James knew, but I know for certain that I was unaware. Had I known, you would have been with me. I assure you."

"So, you are then?"

"Are what, Harry?"

"M-my… uh… Dad?"

Severus looked at the boy in the bed fighting to say the words and hid a chuckle by clearing his throat. He plastered a fake frown on his face. "That remains to be seen, Harry. I shall be brewing a potion to confirm it."

"When?"

The boy did not look to be angry, just confused and a bit anxious. "Soon. When I can get to my potions lab."

The boy nodded and took on a serious face. "We are even now, Professor. You saved my life. A second time."

"And the first?"

"On the quidditch pitch with the wonky broom."

Snape nodded. "No, Harry, we are not even. I shall decide when we are even, and I believe saving your life only counts to some of the disgrace that was contained in my childish behavior."

Harry's jaw dropped. The dreaded potions master had just apologized and said that he was childish. He could not believe Snape was being so nice to him, and he was even calling his own self names. Harry did even think about calling the man a git as the man told him everything that had happened and explained that he was possibly his… father.

The man had apologized to him, he'd saved his life, and he had not left him to be here all alone when he could have easily just ditched him like the Dursleys would typically do when they did anything remotely fun. The man was also talking to him calmly, and not calling him stupid or thick for having to ask questions. It was different, but the weird thing was that his voice and presence almost felt comforting.

Harry was still confused over the news that Snape might actually be his father, but other things were in the way of him letting that sink in right now. His emotions were rattled, his body was achy, and he just felt tired. His aching head also didn't help matters. His professor that had hated him was his father, he was comforting him, but why?

"Why?"

Snape looked at him bemused. "And as to what are you confused over, Harry?"

"Why are you being so nice to me? You hate me."

"I never hated you. I always protected you, and now, I am making up for how I acted before."

"But, why?"
"I believe that is fairly obvious. I could be your father, and you do not deserve for me to pain you and belittle you."

"No one else ever cared if I was related to them or not. Uncle Vernon always hurt me, and Aunt Petunia hated me too. She tried to hit me with the frying pan once and called me a freak. And Dudley, my cousin, he used to hunt me down with his friends and get me into trouble. Why should I believe that you will be nice to me when all you have ever been to me is… well, you know," he trailed off.

The Professor sat higher in the chair and looked down at Harry with determination emanating from him. "I am not everyone else, Harry, and I am nothing like Petunia and her brutes of a family. I do not shirk my responsibilities, and if you are my son, then you are my responsibility."

Harry felt cold at those words. They were said with reassurance, but all he could think about was how the Dursleys called him a burden. He looked opposite of Snape. "I really don't want to be someone's burden again. They didn't want me, but they had to take me because I'm related to them."

Harry could see Snape stand and sit down on the bed beside him. His shoulders tensed, but he did not move any other muscle as he waited to see what Snape would do. The man grabbed his chin gently and steered him where they locked gazes. Harry gulped at seeing the man's face. There was anger there, but not for Harry. Harry could see it wasn't directed at him, and he could also see the care and concern pointed dead at him.

"Harry, you would never be a burden to me. You would be my son, my child. Even if you are not my son, which I highly doubt at this time, I shall still wish to take you in, Harry. You have lived a hard life. You deserve someone to be there for you. I know we are not close now, but I would like to give this a try, Harry."

Was he being truthful? Was he playing him? Was he going to make him accept it and then just pull it all out from under him? Would he make fun of him for it? For wanting a family? He couldn't have the hope and his father taken from him all over again. "I-I don't trust you. Yeah, I do with my life, but all you've ever done is make fun of me, publicly. I can't just forget that and tell you that I want…"

He broke off, realising he had still almost said it. "Harry, it is perfectly understandable. I shall await your decision on my offer until you trust me, but to build that trust, you do need to allow me to take guardianship of you for the summer."

Harry looked at him with confusion. "You mean I'm not going back?"
Snape's eyes widened. "No, you will not! I would not dare allow anyone to let you go back there after this, and Albus will be informed."

"No, please. I don't want him to know. I don't want to be a bother. It isn't his fault, and he'll just feel like it is."

Snape put a hand on his arm. "Harry, stop. You are not a bother, and he will be informed. You deserve and need someone to watch you, to provide for you. Not lock you up, to starve you, to treat you like a house-elf."

Harry looked away. "It wasn't so bad. Sometimes I deserved it ."

Snape grabbed his chin and turned his lowered head toward him. "No one could deserve what they did to you, Harry." Harry could only nod at the fierce certainty in the Professor's voice. He had known that, had felt that, but he couldn't shirk who he'd always been. A freak, a burden, the unwanted boy who lived in the cupboard. "That was abuse what they did to you. You are a child, an innocent who depended upon them. They had a responsibility to protect you and provide for you, to treat you like a son. They clearly failed."

Harry felt the tears prick behind his eyes until they pooled and rolled down his cheeks. He tried to pull his head away to hide his crying, but Snape held his chin and took his other hand to wipe the tears away gently. Harry felt like he was being a baby crying in front of Snape, but the man wouldn't let him hide it. "It is okay to cry, child. Do not be ashamed. You deserve to cry. Let it all out."

Harry couldn't take it anymore. The tears rolled down his cheeks, and he tried to take in gulps of air while his chest heaved. His shoulders trembled as he hunched over his own legs. Snape wrapped Harry in his arms and pulled him closer. Harry buried his face in the man's chest and wrapped his hands in the man's robes.

He knew he would be utterly mortified when he finally calmed down, but he really needed the comfort right now, and Snape was warm and holding him. He'd never been held before. He found it comforting to smell the potions lab on Snape and the way he rested his chin on his head. "Don't tell anyone. Please."

"And why would I tell anyone?"

The boy huffed and pulled away. "Fine, use it against me."

"Harry, I would not dare tell anyone about this. Beyond that, you have nothing to be ashamed of, Harry. You are a child who has been hurt."

Harry scowled and looked away. "Don't act like you wouldn't have before. I know all the insults."

Snape winced and shook his head. "Harry, I truly am sorry. I shall not be treating you like that any longer. I am going to protect you, care for you."

"I still don't believe you," he muttered

"I still plan to prove it to you."

Harry snapped his head up to the man's eyes and nodded, slightly shaken from his anger by the determination in Snape's voice. "When can I leave?"

"Soon. Your outer bruises will be gone by tomorrow. Everything else is corrected, but you will be sore and weak for the next two days."

"I can leave though, right? Please?" Harry pleaded.

"Why are you so adamant on this, child?"

"I really don't like doctors," he mumbled. His face blushed as he looked down at the sheets again. "Please, I just wanna leave."

Harry hated how whiny he was getting, but he knew doctors were bad. He was never supposed to see doctors. "Okay, Harry. I shall see what I can do."

He gave a tentative smile to Snape, who gave a tight-lipped smile that gave more reassurance than a full smile ever could. Harry looked down again. "Where will I go?"
"I am sure Albus will allow me to take you to my home. If you can agree to that, of course."

Harry thought about it. He didn't really hate Snape, and Snape had actually been human to him this entire time. And, the man was his father. Well, most likely, so he didn't even need his permission, but he still asked for it, which was sorta nice. He was being genuine with Harry, and Harry knew that. He had to know when people lied by now, and Snape hadn't once. "Okay. Sure. That's fine."

Snape nodded. "Good. we shall see the Headmaster very soon. I sent a message to him right before you woke to inform him of the situation and where you are. I am sure he will come to check on you."

Harry smiled at thinking the Headmaster would come to see him. The old man was very nice and seemed a little barmy, but that didn't matter so much. Harry nodded to the man and yawned, trying to cover it with a hand. All the talking and the emotions and the soreness was just wearing him out. He rubbed his tired, irritated eyes.

"Maybe you should take a rest until the Headmaster shows."

Harry felt the fatigue setting in as his eyes grew heavy. He could only nod as he leaned back into his pillows. He felt the sheets being pulled up carefully before they were tucked around him, making him feel warm and safe. It brought a small smile to his lips before he fell asleep.

HPSSHPSS