Title: I Saw You.
Summary: Severitus. Harry Potter is no stranger to skeletons in the closet. But sometimes, these skeletons can turn out to be sword-wielding undeads. And would Snape choose to carry the secret with him to his grave, just as Sirius, Lily, and James had done? Lupin plays a small-but-poignant role here. The lines in italics indicate past, while non-italics are present.
***I Saw You
"You take him! Now!"
"But, what about you? I can't keep it from him. Not for-"
"James shall be his father. And from this moment on, James IS his father. We both know that ours would never work out. Now go!"
"Severus, I'm sorry. I promise that I'll tell him when he-"
"Confound it, just GO!"
Voldemort, along with two masked murderers stormed into the room not too long later, their flaring nostrils sniffing delicately. "I detect the scent of a woman. Severus, do not tell me that there is one," hissed the fallen wizard in a low tone.
Snape swallowed nervously, but his facial muscles did not appear contrite the least bit. He was, after all, one of the few living men who prided themselves with the ability to face the Dark Lord unflinchingly, whether when they were telling the truth or otherwise.
But as Voldemort's eyes traced his own, Snape felt his bravado slipping away faster than expected. He knew for a fact that a very treacherous 'friend' had attempted to snag Snape's coveted post as one of the higher Death Eaters for his own by telling Voldemort about his affinity for Lily Potter née Evans.
Actually, thought Snape bitterly, it doesn't take a fool like Johnson to see that I've been looking at her with damned fondness since our Hogwarts days. How I resented her pity towards me, and how I even wished that I were that imbecile Potter, just so that she'd look at me with something other than sympathy in those eyes of hers. Unfortunately, when she finally did, I was already too deep in the Circle to give up all that I've strived for.
The curtains billowed. Voldemort strode over to the window, and, upon seeing that it was approximately a hundred foot drop from the balcony to the gravel below, gave Snape a tight smile. The atmosphere in the deserted monastery was chilly, tense, and deadly.
"Master, I am deeply hurt that you should doubt my loyalty just because of falsehoods," said Snape as he bowed. It was a little trick that he had picked up from Lucius – bowing kept your eyes shielded from the Dark Lord's. And it was not unknown within the inner circles that Voldemort had a disarming capability to sense when his followers were being untruthful.
Voldemort gave Johnson a scornful look, and dangled his wand lazily with his long fingers. "Oh, rest assured, Severus," he drawled. "Somebody shall pay for his treachery to his brothers…and to me."
Johnson fell to his feet, and, like a man about to die, saw his entire life flashed before his petrified eyes. "Master, I swear that he-"
And in the dead of the night, screams of agony could be heard resonating against the cold brick walls of St. George Monastery.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the shrieks died. Unfortunately, so had Johnson.
"NO!" screamed Snape, as he clutched his head in profound wrath and irascibility. His voice shook with terror, most unlike the scathing, sarcastic snarls that were his unofficial trademarks. The shadowy room camouflaged Snape's convoluted expression, but even if the boy before him were to light a candle, he would still be unable to decipher the reason behind the Potions Master's queer countenance.
They were in Snape's office, as Harry Potter, after discovering the consequences of not mastering Occlumency, was forced to continue his lessons in order to deter Voldemort from breaching his mind. Sixth year was just like any other; skeletons in dusty closets were banging on the doors, begging to be released from a lifetime of confinement. Only this time, when Harry opened the doors, he would discover that not only were there skeletons in his closet, but those creatures were sword-wielding undeads as well.
In other words, those secrets were deadly. Which was exactly why Severus Snape worked so hard to keep them under the rug all those times.
Snape's chest rose and fell rapidly, as his glinting eyes surveyed Harry. The boy had succeeded in blocking his attempts to intrude, but more worrying was the fact that Harry himself had torpedoed his way into Snape's own mind.
And he knew what to look for.
"What did you see?" whispered Snape, falling into an ornately carved chair. Behind him an inferno of orange and vermilion – the colours of Gryffindor – blazed in the fireplace. It was most curious that the fire did nothing to alter the frigid temperature in the room, but at the moment, Snape could not have cared less. Snape knew what Harry saw, but he refused to admit that all secrets were finally laid bare.
"I saw nothing."
Harry was lying. He lied in the face of the one man who purportedly held the key that would unlock the closet. But it wasn't something that he'd like to discuss – not when Snape was practically about to devour him.
It was the 31st of July, and Harry Potter was sifting through the mail from his schoolmates, his eyes taking in the senders' handwritings with the eagerness of a child. One letter, written in scarlet ink with handwriting so undecipherable that it bordered on cacography was promptly ignored.
Hermione…ah, reminding me to study for my NEWTs, as usual. Let's see, thought Harry bemusedly, she acquired Exceeds Expectations for everything, except – is this even possible? – Arithmancy? He grinned to himself. He could just imagine his friend hopping around in her own bedroom, cursing under her breath.
Ron's letter consisted of the usual heartfelt rants, and a very obvious hint that he wanted Harry as his brother-in-law. Harry shook his head. The scarlet letter was lying placidly at the bottom of the heap, but he was already feeling downright drowsy.
Ah, well. I'll leave it for tomorrow.
Little did he know that 'tomorrow' was the most momentous 'tomorrow' that he had ever woken up to.
"You….saw nothing?" asked Snape in a very controlled voice. What a liar. We both know what you saw, you sneaking abomination! How in the name of seven hells did you know what to look for? Those were suppressed memories; ones that I have tried to hard to vanquish all these years! And today, you just walked in through the doors, repelled my attack, and-
A very irritated hoot broke the scarred boy's slumber. Waking up to a pile of unfinished homework and a downright annoyed owl was definitely not Harry's ideal way to pass his hols. He sleepily shoved a platter of freeze-dried assorted insects into Hedwig's cage, and reached for his glasses.
The letter laid on his bedside table, taunting him. Harry scowled at it. For some unknown reason, he already loathed the letter even before reading it. It was ridiculous, he told himself. How can a letter be so jeering?
Fine, I'll read it. Then I'll burn it. Ha!
"I'll ask you one more time, Potter. What did you see?"
Harry wiped his nose on his sleeve, and unfolded the letter. As expected, the writing in the letter was utterly appalling, in addition to the bright red ink in which it was written in. He snorted derisively at the lack of the sender's sensibility. Who in the right frame of mind would scrawl a letter in crimson ink?
He started to read.
Forgive me, Harry, for my reluctance to address you by your last name. There is a reason behind all this, but I cannot disclose why. You might question my choice of colours, and you are right to do so. I wrote this using Secretio Potion, a concoction invented by the archmage Merlyn Greenbeard himself to keep undeserving noses out of conspiracies. That is to say, this letter is for your eyes only.
Harry, I know that it's not my place to say this, and by doing so, I will be putting the lives of several people in danger, but I cannot, and would not keep this from you.
You aren't James Potter's son.
Simple as that. Unfortunately, I have to draw the line here. Who your father is, or was, is a question that you cannot pose to me. Sirius knew, and so did your adoptive parents. And I, Remus Lupin, do not desire to be the fourth person to bring the secret with me to my grave. Though I have sworn secrecy to the quartet – your father excluded – this is one 'contract' that I would not mind breaching.
Why have I waited for sixteen long years before exposing you to your awakening? Well, it was loyalty and friendship, I suppose. We – Sirius and I – had an argument regarding this matter shortly before his death. Your genesis has always been a point of contention between the both of us, I'm afraid. And now that two Marauders are resting in their respective graves, my conscience is gnawing at me. Literally. What if I died before this letter is written? All shall be lost. Your father would be the last person to step out of the shadows. I know this for a fact.
Harry, seek him out. He lives, still. You might not know it, but he watches over you, in his own way, of course. Do you honestly think that the Dementor attack on The Three Broomsticks last month was an accident? Do you actually believe that it was sheer luck that kept you from frequenting that place on the day of the attack?
You're smart, Harry. Open your eyes. Someone out there is risking his life for you, though he would not admit it. Someone who shares your blood.
In other words, there is a man walking out there in the streets, counting the days till you would approach him, and say, "Father."
Ps: Happy sixteenth birthday, Harry.
Harry crumpled the letter in a trembling fist. Memories of the past besieged his thoughts like a very persistent battering ram.
Snape was biting my head off in Number Twelve Grimmauld Place on the day of the attack! That was why Hermione and Ron were forced to leave without me……….! Don't tell me that Snape's my-
Without waiting for his mind to answer, the raven-haired boy rushed to the dressing mirror, and stared bewilderedly at his reflection. That's impossible, he thought. How can I look like James Potter, and yet be the son of another? I have his hair, his features, his everything! The implausibility of it all was comforting, in a twisted way.
But why would Lupin lie?
For the rest of the hols, Harry teased Dudley, did his homework, and stayed out of his scowling uncle's way. He pretended that he had never read the wretched letter. He acted as though the piece of infernal parchment wasn't lying under his pillow all along. He behaved as though he did not read the letter twice daily, praying fervently that its contents would somehow morph into something less devastating.
He shamelessly told himself that he was an orphan.
But lies were not enough. Not when, with each passing day, his features began to resemble James' less and less. Harry had never realised that his nose was so horrifyingly hooked, or that, if left unwashed, his hair would become unhygienically greasy.
But, he thought, every time he peered into the looking glass, I am James' son. Right?
"Well?" prompted Snape angrily. "There shall be no traces of impertinence in my presence. When I ask a question, I expect an answer. Potter, stop holding you tongue, and tell me what you saw!"
Harry stared back, fury rising like a raging beast within him. Why should you be angry? I am the one deceived! I am the one who ought to be asking questions!
"You want to know what I saw, sir?" he snapped short-temperedly. "I already told you what I saw earlier. I saw NOTHING!"
"You liar," said the Potions Master softly. "How dare you?"
Dumbledore once told me that he'd reveal everything last year. So why did the DNA test on the strands of James Potter's hair found on the Invisibility Cloak states that I am not a descendent of the Potters?
Harry chuckled bitterly. There might be magic. There might be sorcery. But all it took was science to crumble everything to dust. And tomorrow, he thought, when I board the train to Hogwarts, I shall be an orphan no longer.
But how can I love a father who insists on living in the shadows?
And can I even find him, in the first place?
One thing that I do know is that he cannot be Severus Snape. Not the man who indirectly caused the death of my godfather. Not him.
Harry bowed. Snape's eyes were getting dangerously close to looking into his soul. "But do you know, sir, that yesterday, I came across the Mirror of Erised once again?"
Snape stared absent-mindedly at the corpse of a salamander submerged in glutinous substance. "What about it?"
"Yes, the mirror that shows you what you want. Five years ago, I looked into it and saw an auburn-haired woman and a tall, thin, bespectacled man whom I presumed to be my parents. There was also a knobbly-kneed old man who looked like I would in eighty years or so."
"But yesterday, I sought the mirror out again. I desired nothing more than to see my true parents, and I prayed that the mirror would not let me down. And when I looked, I saw an auburn-haired woman………..and a man with a hooked nose, greasy black hair, and sallow skin."
Snape looked up, his eyes void of any emotion. Something twinkled at the back of his left eye. Something that, for the lack of a better word, was called, 'tears'. How the heck did he find out? Oh, blast!
"In other words, I saw you."
a/n: Please review. How am I supposed to know what you think, if you won't tell me?