My Father's Shadow

Summary: A Severitus challenge. Snape shirks parental responsibilities he just learned about and Harry fights the pain inside.

Rating: PG-13 for abuse, intense emotional conflicts, depression, and language (some)

Chapter One
What a Tangled Web We Weave

Harry was laughing half-heartedly with his friends as they settled down to a heart meal for the Welcome Feast at Hogwarts for their sixth year. He watched with some amusement as the first years got sorted and contributed some small words hear and there to their conversation. When the food appeared however, Harry's eyes glazed over.


Harry watched in silence from his kneeling position in the corner of the dining room while the Dursley's ate dinner, holding an animated conversation. All of a sudden his relatives conversation stopped as Vernon looked in his direction and Harry gulped as he realized he had been caught with his head up instead of staring at the floor as instructed.

"How dare you!" he grunted in his booming voice, causing Harry to flinch slightly. "What makes you think you're good enough to look upon us, you freak? You whore of a boy who calls himself my wife's nephew."

Harry kept silent and stared at the floor resolutely. He knew that if he said anything it would end up to his disadvantage. He could hear his Uncle getting up, hear Dudley sniggering loudly in the background, hear his aunt's hushed whisper to "not do anything too drastic to the boy", then he could hear nothing but a loud ringing in his ears as his Uncle slammed his head into the wall, knocking him unconcious, without food for the fifth day.

*****End Flashback*****

"Harry, Harry mate, snap out of it would you?" came Ron Weasley's voice as he shook Harry out of his reverie. Startled, Harry flinched, blocked his face, and somehow managed to find himself falling out of his chair. Ron's amused chuckle came after him, "Got your bearings now mate?"

Harry scrambled back into his chair and tried to laugh it off, but it came out as a tilting kind of laugh. Enough to suit Ron, but Hermione looked at him with a bit of concern. He gave her a smile, genuine this time and turned back to his plate. After piling a small enough food on his plate and tucking in he found his stomach protesting and found himself playing with the food on his plate.

"Harry," Hermione said sharply, "why aren't you eating? You haven't had that much." Harry shrugged. "Dudley's still on that diet Hermione, I have to get used to this amount of food again." The truth was that the Dursley's had fed him a grand total of five times during the summer, but hell if he was going to tell one of his best friends that. Hermione gave him a stern look but accepted his answer and carried on the conversation in a different direction.

"Hey, isn't it great that Professor Lupin's back?"

"Yeah, finally we don't have a DADA teacher who will end up killing us all or teaching us glamour instead of defense," Harry said, though he was a bit preoccupied with the fact that Remus hadn't said a word to him since that last time at Kings Cross Station. He wondered if the werewolf was angry at him about Sirius, and he felt a tear prickle at his eye for a second the shrugged it off.

"And it'll be nice to have him around won't it Harry, I mean he's the only one left after Siri...." Hermione cut off suddenly, and glanced at Harry with remorse. Harry dropped his fork and glared at his face. "I'm sorry Harry...I wasn't thinking."

"It's ok Hermione, I understand." Harry rubbed his eyes tiredly. Hermione looked at him with tears in her eyes and Ron just sat there not quite sure what to say. The rest of the meal was spent in an uncomfortable silence.

Dumbledore caught up to Harry as the students headed up to their dormitories for bed. "Can I have a moment Harry?" Harry nodded, the headmaster probably just wanted to know how he was dealing with Sirius' death. He wondered faintly if Dumbledore had noticed how much different he looked this year. His friends had noticed with great amusement his new height (which was far from tall, but much taller than he had been, he was now aroudn 5"7 or so) and his hair, which had suddenly become more tameable and fuller. To his surprise, Dumbledore said nothing about it.

They entered his office with a muttered "Jelly Belly" as the password and Harry was suddenly met with a shock as he found his Potions Master sitting in one of the chairs with a sour expression on his face and a glare when he noticed Harry. "Am I in trouble sir?" asked Harry immediately, causing both of his Professor's to snort and Harry to blush.

"No, no Harry, we brought you here for an entirely different matter."

"Sir, if this is about Sirius then frankly..."

"No, no this isn't about Sirius but if you ever need to talk about it, my door is always open."

"Thank you sir." Harry took a seat and looked at Dumbledore expectantly.

"Anyway Harry, I bade you here today so that we can discuss an issue that I fear has been kept hidden from us for a very long time." Dumbledore glanced at Snape who sneered and turned to stare at the window, the headmaster sighed dramatically and gestured towards Harry's professor.

"As Severus obviously isn't willing to share his part, I'll tell you what I know. Harry- I'm going to tell you this very plainly and simply. You deserve to know this, but understand that this isn't something that we've been keeping from you. We simply didn't know. And I don't want you to take this out on us because we were completely unaware of it." At this he glanced at Severus once more, but the Professor seemed to be bent on not speaking for he continued to stare out the window like a petulant child.

"Harry, Remus Lupin found a journal this summer. It contained some of your mothers writing, some of her memories. And on the final page, there was a letter to you." Dumbledore took out a crumpled letter from inside of his pocket. "I'm going to let you read this letter, but before you do I'm going to sum it up for you to soften the shock. Harry, Professor Snape is....."

Dumbledore trailed off, he really didn't want to say whatever it was he needed to say. He couldn't seem to spit out the words. Finally, Snape got frustrated and told him.

"I'm your father."


Harry stared at the man in shock. *Well that would explain why Remus hasn't said anything to me* he thought.

"You're my what?" he choked out.

"You're father Potter, and I assure you, I'm no more pleased than you are to find out," Snape drawled out. Harry flinched involuntarily at the tone which seemed to pique Snape's interest.

"Potter, why are you so..."

But Harry cut him off. "How?"

Dumbledore was the one who answered this time. "It's all in the letter Harry. Read it," he handed Harry the letter. Harry stared at it then took off running, letter in hand, towards the Gryffindor Tower. Severus started up after him, but Dumbledore held out a hand. "Give him some time Severus, give him some time."


Harry ran all the way to the Gryffindor common room, which was surprisingly empty except for Ron and Hermione were awaiting him expectantly. Running past them he hurried up to his dormitory and unconsciously put up a sound ward. He didn't even hear Ron when he came up in a huff later, ranting about friends who were indifferent to their other friends feelings.

Harry handled the letter reverently, and placed it on his bed where he preceded to stare at it for a good fifteen minutes. In some back space in his mind he knew that if he opened that letter his world would come crashing down around him and all that he believed in up to that point would be forfeit. But in the end, his own curiosity got to him, and he opened it.

My Dearest Son,

I'm not sure you will ever get this letter. I hope you never do, for that will mean that I am alive to tell you the truth myself. But in this time and place it is unlikely, and I do not want the truth to go unknown for the extent of your life. It is not fair to you, or the other person involved.

As I'm writing this I'm not sure what will happen in your life. Right now, you're a baby, nestled in my arms, asleep and sound, safe. When you read this I will not have known your past. It's a hard thing for a mother to consider. I do not know if you know James Potter, my husband. If you do, I hope that you love him as I do. If you do not, I want you to know that he is a wonderful man and should not be blamed for this.

Harry, whatever you may believe, James Potter is not your father. Your true father is a man who you may not expect. He and I shared a love that was kept secret from everyone, even James, even my closest friends. Harry what I am writing you, what I hope to tell you, is that I had an affair.

A month after James and I married, I fell in love with another man, Severus Snape. Things went a little to far between us one night, and the next thing I knew, I was pregnant. At first I thought it was James'. That you were the child of our marriage. Then, when you were born, I saw those prominent Snape features and realized that it was not possible. I hid your features with a charm that will last until you are sixteen, then they will start to wear off. By then I hope I will have told you the truth. If not, then I hope that somehow this letter gets to you.

Harry, Severus Snape is your father.

With Love,
Your Mother
Lily Evans Potter

Harry closed the letter. And cried.