Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters.
The Keeper of Secrets.
Severus watched in concern as his son played with his food. He could easily discern the worried frown and stressed face which was, he was sure, a result of their earlier discussion. Seeing that Zach was not going to be eating anything right now, Severus sighed and put his fork down. Zach looked up startled at the sudden move and looked worried up at his father.
Severus shook his head slightly. "Shall we talk for a bit?"
Zach nervously put his own fork on the table and followed his father to the couch. The older man immediately sat down and watched as his son, after a short hesitation, sat in the armchair in front of the couch.
Settling in more comfortably, a direct contrast to his son's tense form, Severus immediately went to the heart of the matter.
"I have not told anyone about what you told me, in case that is what has you so worried."
Zach couldn't help the relieved sigh that escaped his lips as he relaxed slightly against the soft cushions. Severus frowned slightly.
"I understand that it's your choice whether you want to tell people or not. But you also need to understand that I am worried about what you told me. I don't like the idea of you getting into harm's way."
The teenager frowned. "I'm not going to get hurt, Papa."
The Potions Master shook his head. "So you keep saying, and I am going to trust your opinion for now, but at the slightest sign that you are in any danger because of this, we will be going to talk to the Headmaster." As Zach's frown increased, Severus leaned forward. "Zach, I really need you to understand something. I respect you, and I respect your opinion, and if you say that you are in no danger I believe that you think so. But my most important priority is your safety, and I will have you hating me for betraying your trust before I see you hurt."
The Gryffindor lowered his eyes, his frown easing from his face. "I could never hate you."
The older man smiled a bit sadly. "Maybe not hate me, but you certainly were afraid of me before."
Zach's eyes flew to his father's sad face. "I..."
The boy bit his lip nervously while Severus waited patiently for an answer to his indirect question. He knew he had overreacted at the news, his worry overwhelming his common sense and usual cool head. But he had not made any move to touch the boy. Sure, he had screamed and ranted and wished he could throttle some sense into the child, but Zach was surely used to him yelling. He had done it often enough in the past. When the boy didn't answer, he pressed the matter.
"I would never touch you in anger, Son."
Zach nodded. "I know."
Severus raised an eyebrow. "Do you? It didn't look like you did."
The Gryffindor averted his face. "Sometimes, I can't help remembering, Papa, and you seemed awfully angry at me before, and I already was in trouble for lying to you. And you had just discovered that I had been keeping even more things from you all."
Severus shook his head. "No matter how angry I get, I will never willingly hurt you. I may yell, I may ground you, I may make you do chores, but I will never hit you."
Zach looked at him curiously. "Not even to spank me?"
The older man raised an eyebrow. "If your behaviour ever deteriorates that much, it will get to that yes. But I don't really see why that should concern you to such a degree, while I know from experience that it is unpleasant, you told me yourself you had been spanked before by Lady Rose, and you didn't seem very traumatised by that."
The boy sighed. "She wasn't the only one who spanked me."
Severus narrowed his eyes dangerously. "I really should have guessed. I take it this has something to do with the Dursleys?"
Zach shivered lightly and shook his head to shake away the memories that the conversation was bringing. Vernon had been overly fond of taking him over his knees and spanking his arse raw for every minor infraction, and even for imagined ones. Lady Rose had used the same method but only when he had really messed up. And while she was never gentle when dishing out such punishments, he could always sit down more or less comfortably the next day. With Vernon, he would feel it for days and more often than not, he was spanked again before he had the chance to completely heal, meaning he had spent months in pain. Only when the school started to get suspicious did the brutal spankings stop. The soft clearing of a throat brought him back to the living room, where his father was now regarding him worriedly.
"Are you alright, Zach?"
The boy nodded slightly. "I'm fine, just bad memories."
"About the Dursleys."
This time it was no question, just a statement of fact. Zach didn't even bother to acknowledge the older man. He really didn't want to discuss it right now, the day had been trying enough, and he just wanted to go to bed and sleep. The older man seemed to sense his son's reluctance, and recalling Minerva's warning, he decided to not demand answers tonight. Zach would tell him when he felt comfortable doing so and if not, well, he still needed to go to Privet Drive and have a chat with his son's relatives; there was no reason to not use the moment to gain some further insight in his son's childhood, or lack there of.
"So, about that book..."
Zach had to suppress a sigh, while he was glad that his father had dropped the previous conversation, he didn't think he would enjoy this one much more. "Yes?"
Severus sipped his wine, regarding the boy carefully. "You told me the Dark Lord was interested in having Ravenclaw's copies which she translated against the keeper's will, right?"
Harry nodded. "That's about it, yes."
The Potions master nodded. "So, there must be something different between the original book and the translation. Is there any way you can get your hands on a copy of the original book so that we can compare them? Or rather, that you can compare them since you're the only one capable of reading that old language."
Zach munched on a bit of bread, thinking on how to phrase what he wanted to say. "I already own a copy of that book, Papa."
Severus narrowed his eyes. "I guess that shouldn't surprise me much. Why didn't you tell us at least that you had it? The Dark Lord might have been going after your copy for all we knew."
The teenager sighed, a bit relieved that the man wasn't shouting again despite the stern tone of voice his father was using. "I considered it, but the probability of him knowing about me was very low, not even people who know about the Keeper's existence usually know who exactly he or she is. It doesn't even need to be a human. And even if he had known that I was the Keeper, and that I had the book, he would still have to go into Hogwarts, he would have to know that my library is concealed in the pendent, and he would need someone to activate it so that he could reach the books."
Severus smiled against his will. "All right, you have a point there, while it could have happened, it is not very probable."
Zach nodded in agreement but didn't comment, allowing his father to voice his next question. "So, you knew all along what the book exactly contained. You could have told us about that."
The teenager raised an eyebrow. "I believe Dumbledore's friend already told you that, didn't he?"
Severus blinked, a bit surprised. "He was right about it being the history of how wizards came to be?"
Zach chuckled slightly. "It's not that centred on wizards as he might have implied. It is the story on how our world came to be what it is nowadays. Actually, Voldemort would find very little use for the book itself since it is against everything purebloods believe in."
Severus looked curiously. "How comes?"
Zach smirked at his father. "It explains exactly how it is impossible for wizards to be pure-bloods. The very definition of wizard actually goes against it."
The Potions Master frowned. He had to admit he had believed the pure-blood propaganda when he was younger, and while he didn't agree with Voldemort any more, there were still things in which he thought he was superior to other, muggle-born wizards. "I don't think I understand."
His son raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure you want to understand?"
Severus hesitated for a second before nodding, knowledge was knowledge after all. "As I'm sure Dumbledore's friend told you, millennia ago the Wingly reigned over the Earth. What he probably didn't mention, or didn't know, was that humans were enslaved to them. They did all their work, they were used for their amusement, and many of them were breed as sex slaves. Both male and female Wingly used to have human companions to warm their beds at night. While not very often, sometimes a baby was born of those relationships. Now, one can argue that Wingly weren't very nice, but they had a very high respect for life and were completely incapable to kill a baby which was part of them. That, in the end, was their downfall. The humans soon learned that those babies held power, not as strong as the power the Wingly wielded, but it was power nonetheless. More than that, if two of these people conceived a child together, that child had a high probability to also be able to wield that power. For several centuries they kept that knowledge from the Wingly until they had an army of powerful people. They revolted against them, and the Wingly lost. So, you see, wizards can not be pure-bloods because they are a mix of a muggle and a Wingly. Actually, the stronger a wizard is the more recent the union of a Wingly and a muggle has occurred."
Severus regarded his son thoughtfully. "While the story makes a strange sort of sense, how do you know it really happened? I mean, if magic was only enforced by new Wingly blood, then it would have died out long ago."
Zach shrugged. "You're assuming that Wingly keep out of the human world. They don't. They usually don't reveal themselves, but they certainly walk among us."
The Potions Master blinked. "Have you ever seen any?"
Zach gave him an amused glance. "Once or twice, yes." By the glance his father gave him, the Gryffindor knew that the man didn't know whether to believe him or not. "Lady Rose had a close relationship with some Wingly; it wasn't often, but I saw them from time to time. After you see one a few times, you learn to recognize them, and even if they are hiding who they are, it easy to differentiate them from humans or wizards."
Severus shook his head. "Merlin, to think I could have seen such an ancient creature and not have noticed. But why would they breed with humans? Surely they don't want to have anything to do with us?"
Zach sipped his drink for a few moments, considering just what to tell the man. This question was hitting closer to home than his father probably realised.
"Some do it because it grants them the chance to live new experiences. You have to realize that Wingly live a very long life. A lot of them are still survivors of that ancient war. Others are just fascinated with humans, and want to take a closer look. It's not very often that such a case ends with children, and well... Other cases it is because of revenge."
Harry hesitated again, and this time Severus notice. "Zach?"
The teenager moistened his lips slightly. "Well, there are some Wingly who are known to get married to a human every few decades and produce a child. Then they take their frustrations out on them. They are often Wingly who lost loved ones in the ancient war and that have become embittered through the centuries."
Snape stared at his son. The hesitation, the tone of voice he was using, everything was inviting him to draw a conclusion which he really didn't want to. "You are a very powerful wizard, certainly above average."
Zach nodded and leaned back in his chair. "So are you."
"What you are proposing..."
The teenager raised an eyebrow. "Doesn't change a thing."
"Are you sure about it?"
"If you're asking me whether your father, my grandfather, was a Wingly, the answer is yes. I checked it when I learned that you were my father. I knew I was quite powerful and had already checked Uncle James and Mom's relatives. Nothing had come of it which was a bit confusing."
"Merlin. And I thought it was bad that my father was a muggle."
Harry couldn't help but chuckle. "Don't think too much about it, Papa. You are still the same person."
Severus shook his head. "You realize there may be several of my half-brothers or half-sisters walking around right?"
The boy's silence was enough, and Severus couldn't help but groan and bury his head in his hands. "I don't know if I want to know."
Harry sighed. "It still doesn't make any difference, Papa. There is no way you could contact them and tell them about this without sounding mad. Your half siblings are spread through out the world. The probability of you ever meeting one of them is close to none." Looking to his watch, he sighed half in relief, half in annoyance. It was already a quarter to ten, meaning that he had fifteen minutes to get in bed. Today he didn't mind much having to go to sleep, he would be able to avoid more uncomfortable questions. "I'm going to bed."
Severus looked to his own watch and nodded, still a bit overwhelmed about the information his son had just given him. Thinking over the conversation once more, the Potions Master suddenly sat up and looked towards the door his son had disappeared through. The little minx! He had masterfully led the conversation away from the main topic Severus wanted to talk about. The older man considered going after his son and demand an explanation, but the teenager had looked tired, and he really couldn't keep the boy up when he had imposed the bedtime as punishment. Which, his mind supplied, he was not enforcing in any way. If it was not because of Zach's willingness to obey him, the boy could have gone through the whole day as he pleased. Shaking his head, the Potions Master retired to his room, he would consider what to do in the morning.
A/N: Happy new year to everyone! And as usual, thanks for the reviews and to Vinnie for beta-reading this chapter.