Harry was used to people watching him, but that morning the stares seemed particularly brutal. He tried to catch Snape in the act, but every time he raised his head, he had already looked away. Ron had chosen that morning to have a heated discussion with Dean Thomas, a muggleborn boy in Gryffindor, about the merits of Quidditch and Football. For once, both Ron and Hermione did not surround him. Ginny Weasley sat at his left, shooting him furtive glances. He smiled at her automatically, and was surprised by her response. She looked as if all her Christmases had come at once. Taking a chance, he spoke.
"So what do you think of Hogwarts, Ginny? Is it all you imagined?" he remembered the year before, when she had begged to join her brother on the Hogwarts express. Her eyes grew wide at his question, and she chocked on her pumpkin juice, but she finally answered.
"Oh it's fantastic! I hoped to be in Gryffindor of course, and the castle is beautiful. There's just so much to learn is all," she looked forlornly at the wand in front of her, and Harry followed her gaze.
"It was my Grandmother's wand. Everything is passed on in my family," she explained softly.
"I think that's excellent," Harry said warmly, and with some sincerity. The cloak he had inherited from his father was one of his prized possessions after all.
Ginny's blush went right to the roots of her hair.
"I…I had better go. I don't know my way around yet, and I don't want to be late," As she stood, she clutched an old book to her chest. "Bye Harry,"
He nodded absently as she left, feeling the hairs rise on the back of his neck once more. He jerked his head up, certain Professor Snape would be watching, but his seat was empty. Dumbledore however, seemed to find him incredibly interesting, but Harry scowled at him and looked away. In some ways, it was better to have Snape watching. He knew what Dumbledore wanted, and he would be damned if he gave in to the old man.
"Miss Weasley, what are you concealing beneath your desk?" Snape's harsh voice rose above the sounds of idle potion making easily.
"My…my diary Sir," the youngest Weasley's face flamed red, matching her vivid hair.
"Leave it on my desk and get back to your potion," Severus snarled, but even to him, his voice sounded weak.
As she scurried to obey, Severus rubbed the bridge of his nose with irritation. First year classes were always hard, but when Gryffindors and Slytherins mixed-well the consequences were not worth thinking about. Ginny Weasley showed some promise in the area of potions brewing, but her work was erratic and her behavior strange at times. The other Gryffindors scowled at him as he swept around the dungeon praising Slytherins and abusing them, but Ginny just worked on her potion, eyes straying to his desk occasionally.
As the bell rang for next class and the usual stampede began, she approached him.
"Sir, I'm very sorry about earlier…I just…" she started.
"Just take it and go. Don't let it happen again, Miss Weasley," Severus said absent-mindedly. As Ginny gaped at him he swept from the room, mind intent on one thing only. Preparing for his second year class.
Harry steadfastly ignored him again. Severus waited until it was obvious Neville was in difficulties over his potions. The cauldron was bubbling over; occasionally sending green sparks into the air.
"Potter! After last years' experience you should know Longbottom needs constant surveillance. Ten points from Gryffindor and detention for trying to look better through Longbottom's disgrace!" he barked, causing the class to jump.
Harry glared at him, but made no retort. A hiss of anger ran through the Gryffindor mob. Neville looked scared, no doubt wondering if Harry would be angry at his incompetence. Both Ron and Hermione were showing their disapproval markedly, but Harry ignored the interruption and continued with his potion.
"I'm sorry, Harry. D'you…d'you want me to explain to Professor Snape that it was my own fault?" Neville whispered as soon as Snape's back was turned.
Of all the students who had the privilege of being in Professor Snape's class, Neville was the most afraid. He was terrified of the man, and Harry knew what it would cost him to speak up.
"No, it's fine. It's only a detention. After all, what can the old bat do?" he smiled at the nervous boy, who nodded quickly.
What could he do indeed? As Harry found himself once more outside the Potions room, he began to have his doubts. Professor Snape was acting unusual, even for him. Over the past year, he had been almost indifferent towards Harry and the rest of his housemates, Neville excluded. His hatred of Gryffindor house was legendary, and he certainly favored his Slytherins, but Harry could see more than that. Other teachers unfairly swayed the other way; A Slytherin student could answer a question just as well as a student from another house, but was less likely to be rewarded for it. If anything went wrong, a Slytherin was to blame. Snape was the only teacher who favored them, or even trusted them. Harry sighed, pushing his fringe down unconsciously. He reached up and knocked on the door with a pale fist.
"Enter," Severus said right on cue.
Harry sighed again, and pushed the creaking door open. Severus was watching him expectantly, hands curled together on the desk in front of him.
"Sit there," Snape said pointing at the front desk. As Harry complied, Severus went to the door and began muttering and gesticulating his wand. Harry heard only one of the spells "Muffliato" and wondered what it did. After a few seconds passed in silence, the Professor finally spoke.
"Have you ever wondered why I keep few portraits in the dungeons, Potter?" he said out of the blue.
Harry shook his head; he honestly had not noticed.
"The Headmaster is particularly prudent when it comes to his staff. There isn't a single staff member at Hogwarts who doesn't owe Albus something, or who isn't hiding some terrible, shameful secret. With such rigorous screening processes, it leaves one to wonder how people such as Professors Quirrell and Lockhart were ever employed, hmm?"
He let the connotations of his words sink in before continuing.
"I attended Hogwarts myself, you know. I was in Slytherin. Albus holds a record of every misdemeanor I have ever committed under these hallowed ceilings. But it is not that he holds over me. It is something far more terrible," he finally looked up and met eyes with the boy, almost flinching as he did so. It would cost him so much to admit this to him, of all people, but he had to win the boy's trust somehow.
"I was in love with Lily Potter. Or Lily Evans, as she went by when she was at school," he said flatly, as if trying to distance himself from the emotion he still felt when he heard her name.
"What?" Harry cried, standing. "Why would you say something like that?"
His green eyes were filled with fury; an emotion rarely seen in the eyes of their predecessor.
"I met Lily before I had even received my Hogwarts acceptance letter. She was in the park, performing magic, and I knew her for what she was the moment I saw her. I was a skinny, greasy looking street kid in strange clothes, but she befriended me. She didn't ask questions when it came to her friends. Even when we were sorted, and she became a Gryffindor and I a Slytherin, it didn't change things in her eyes. Dumbledore knows how I felt, and when your parents were killed, he made me swear to protect you, whatever the costs. I have failed,"
The boy seemed to ignore the last; instead digesting and analyzing the strange story he had just heard.
"I don't understand," he said finally. "How can Dumbledore hold this over you? What did it matter if you were in love with my mother?"
Harry said the last sentence with a look of disgust, and Severus tried his best to ignore it and continue on as if he had not seen it.
"Voldemort was singularly a very powerful wizard, but his power lay in not only his magic, but in the way he influenced people. He had spies in the Ministry, followers and well-wishers the world over. His select group of followers were called "Deatheaters". I was a Deatheater. He tried to persuade many of the older wizarding families to join him, but there was resistance. Dumbledore had his own group, the Order of the Phoenix, and your parents were members. One night, while I was spying on Dumbledore, I overheard something. A prophecy. It stated that a child was to be born who would have the power to defeat the Darklord. When I relayed the information, he decided that child was you," Severus explained softly.
He knew the boy was on the verge of running, but he had already taken precautions against it. The door was securely warded, not something an 'Alohamora' would open. Harry fidgeted, glassy green eyes trained on the desk.
"Voldemort came after me…because you told him to?" Harry clenched his fist fiercely. "Everything that has ever happened to me is your fault. You're the reason my parents are dead!" the boy looked like he was about to jump across the table and murder him. Severus would not blame him if he did.
"When I found out he was going after your parents, I panicked. Your father and I-" Severus scowled at the thought of James. "We were not friends. We had much the same relationship as yourself and Draco Malfoy. Regardless, I had to save Lily. I went to Dumbledore and confessed all, and he placed your parents in hiding. I turned spy for Dumbledore; I had no choice. Without his protection I would have been sent to Azkaban prison. I was young and foolish when I joined the Darklord, and I have paid for it ever since,"
The Boy-Who-Trusted-No-One looked up at him in disbelief.
"Alright. Say I believe all of this. Why are you telling me? Why now, and not last year? And if you loved my mum so much, why do you hate me?" Harry sat back down, allowing his face to fall back into its usual blank mask.
"I am telling you this because I need to trust me. As I said, I was a spy for Dumbledore, and I need to keep my cover intact should the Darklord rise again. My cover would be blown if I had fawned over the Boy-Who-Lived, like the rest of the school," he said evenly.
There was silence. Either Harry did not believe him, or he was still trying to find some holes in his story.
"If it wasn't your fault, and my parents went into hiding, how did You-Know-Who get them then?" his voice was drained of anger, and he just sounded like a lost child who'd just found out Santa Claus was not real.
"One of their closest friends betrayed their location to the Darklord. When you defeated him, Black went insane. He went on a killing rampage, and now resides in the prison I mentioned earlier, Azkaban,"
"I need to think," Harry said finally. "I want you to unlock the door,"
Severus nodded. "I trust you realize that all of this information was meant to be kept a secret from you, at least for a few years. You cannot discuss it with anyone, or show that you have any knowledge of it,"
"Of course," Harry said stiffly. He hesitated for a second. "May I…may I come back and ask you some questions? In a few days, I mean. You could just assign me detention again, or something,"
Severus nodded. "You catalogued Potions ingredients tonight by the way, should any of your nosy housemates ask,"
As Potter passed him, he stopped suddenly.
"Thank you, Professor, even if all of this turns out to be some huge joke or lie, it's been interesting,"
Severus merely nodded again, and closed his eyes. The boy had barely scratched the surface of the lies and deceit that surrounded his life. He hadn't asked about the prophecy, or how Lily had felt about him. In fact, he had taken it rather well, all things considered. He had laid the foundations of trust, and he only hoped Harry would be brave enough to walk upon them.
A/N- Hm, so I updated this story, the one that is taking me literally years to complete. I just keep coming back to it; kind of addicting, actually. Now, I know Harry did not react the way someone would when he found out all of this information, but remember, this Harry is almost totally adrift from the world he lives in; he trusts no one, and he definitely does not trust Snape. The next chapter will be more on how he feels about it, and how he can confirm it's authenticity. As for when said chapter will appear…well hopefully it doesn't take a year to emerge. If you have any questions or comments, I love reviews, so drop me a line! ;)
Thank you to all the people who have stood by this story as it slowly appears, this chapter is for you!