Disclaimer: All characters belong to J.K. Rowling, and there are direct quotes throughout the story taken from GOF, & HBP.
Story notes: I would like to thank my beta ObsidianEmbrace for all the hard work, support and encouragement that she has given me. Without her, I would not have had the courage to post my first story! Thanks Tabitha!
Thanks also to Tambra, and Jilliane who have encouraged me to not be afraid and try!
He was swept up in the pull of the vortex, and then was spit out of the Pensieve unceremoniously, onto the floor of Dumbledore's office. Flashes of hot and cold coursed through Harry's veins, and his heart was pumping an erratic beat; the sweat was trickling down his brow, and his palms were moist. A mixture of shock, anger, and hurt, made his emotions swirl out of control; he couldn't believe it--they had lied to him-- Dumbledore and Snape both!
Harry's myriad emotions erased all logic from his mind, as he stared at Dumbledore's new portrait. Harry had not experienced this kind of anger and frustration towards the Headmaster since his fifth year. Dumbledore lied and kept secrets from me then as well, Harry thought furiously. He approached Dumbledore's portrait, with trepidation, and started to shake the portrait's frame.
"Professor Dumbledore--wake up."
Dumbledore's eyes fluttered open. The Headmaster's slumber had been interrupted by what felt like an earth-shattering tremble.
Dumbledore took in Harry's stony expression, and asked with concern, "Harry, my boy--whatever is the matter?" Dumbledore enquired in his normally gentle tone . " If I have offended you any in any way, I-"
"What is the matter, Professor," Harry said coldly, "is that you lied to me for the past seventeen years!"
Dumbledore looked taken aback. "Whatever do you mean, my boy?
"Do not pretend that you don't know what I'm talking about," Harry said frostily. "I know the truth; I went into Snape's memories—I know everything."
Dumbledore's face paled. "What do you mean everything Harry?"
"I know that Snape is my father, and that my whole life is a bloody lie!" Harry clenched his fists, till his knuckles turned white. A fresh wave of anger and hurt swept over him again, and Harry couldn't dampen the conflicting emotions towards the man before him. "Why didn't you tell me that Professor Snape is my father?" Harry said, his emotions making his voice come out very quietly.
"Harry...I know that you're angry, but--" Dumbledore began.
"Angry doesn't begin to describe what I'm feeling Professor," Harry interrupted. Saying that he was angry, would have been simple, but the waters that were Harry's emotions, ran much deeper than that. Fury was most definitely at the forefront, but there was also an empty ache in his heart, and his stomach somersaulted wildly out of control. No...anger was not the only sentiment that he was experiencing. "You. Lied. To. Me!"
Harry felt completely out of control. Tears were threatening to erupt and he struggled to maintain his composure. It was not an easy feat. "You kept secrets from me--let me grow up with people who despised me, starved, neglected, and abused me, and you knew all along, that I had another living relative, that could have taken me in. And Snape-- how long did he know that he was my father?"
"Since your fifth year," Dumbledore answered hesitantly. "I told him after you had seen Severus' memories of him and your mother. I feared that you would perhaps decide to explore more deeply, the relationship between Severus and Lily. I thought it prudent to inform him that you were his son—and let him decide how to handle the situation."
"So, he just pretended that nothing had changed, and went merrily on with his life--is that it?" Harry asked with resentment.
"Harry--by that point, Professor Snape had already resumed his spying duties for the Order, and could not reveal his familial connection to you. It would have been too dangerous to acknowledge your relationship publicly. Harry, please try to understand-"
Dumbledore looked at Harry pleadingly. The Headmaster had had to make many difficult decisions over the years, and he had--contrary to others' opinion of them--always attempted to do what was best for all concerned.
"NO, I don't want to understand!" Harry said forcefully, and glared at Dumbledore; he pointed his finger at the Headmaster. "And you? What was your excuse for not telling Snape, or myself, that he was my father?" Harry asked accusingly.
"Severus was consumed with grief after your mother died, Harry; he was not capable of looking after himself--let alone an infant."
"That doesn't explain why you waited fifteen years to tell him; why you never informed me at all," Harry said countered.
"I was concerned that if I had told Severus sooner, that he would insist on removing you from the care of your relatives--where you were the safest--because of the blood wards," Dumbledore admitted.
Harry's eyes widened at this proclamation, and he felt the blood rush to his head. "I'm tired of your excuses Professor, and I am fed up of hearing about the blood wards--your lies cost me my childhood." His voice caught in his throat, and again his eyes prickled with unshed tears.
"Harry...I am so sorry; I never meant you any harm--I only wanted to protect you," Dumbledore pleaded. "Please forgive me," he whispered.
"I'm sorry Professor, but I need time to think about this." Harry looked at Dumbledore sadly. "All I ever wanted was a normal childhood, and now I find out that I could have had one, if it weren't for you." Harry was certain that even Snape would have been a better choice of guardian than the Dursleys. Hell, anyone would have been a better choice, he thought crossly.
His shoulders slumping, Harry turned around slowly, and walked out of Dumbledore's office, silently closing the door behind him.
Tears fell from Dumbledore's blue eyes, and rolled down his pale cheeks. Dumbledore had known that one day he would have to answer to Harry, and today was judgment day...
Harry felt numb, as though he was having an out-of-body experience; as though he was watching the past seventeen years flash before his eyes--like clips from a silent movie. But it was all a lie...
Harry ascended the stairs to Gryffindor Tower; agonizing thoughts clouding his befuddled brain. He needed to rest and soothe his frazzled nerves. However, Harry would be denied that respite. The moment he lay his head down on his pillow, the memories that he had viewed in Snape's Pensieve came to the forefront of his consciousness...
By about three o'clock in the morning, Harry had abandoned his quest for sleep; it was a fruitless endeavour. Moonlight filtered in from the parted curtains, bathing the Common Room in an iridescent glow. Harry grabbed his glasses from the nightstand, put on his slippers, and donned his dressing gown. He padded his way over to the window seat, and stared with unfocused eyes at the Hogwarts grounds beyond. The Forbidden Forest looked ominous in the dark night light, and there was a hazy grey smoke billowing from the chimney of Hagrid's cabin. He briefly wondered how Hagrid was doing and if he was with Madame Maxime.
His mind just wouldn't allow him to escape the conflicted emotions that fluctuated between anger, despair—confusion, and frustration. Harry couldn't help being bitterly disappointed in Dumbledore; He had always placed his utmost trust in this man to have all the answers; but now, Harry was left wondering just how many of those answers throughout the years, had been lies!
And to be perfectly honest, Harry would never have fathomed that he could view Snape in any other role, other than professor; and yet--he found himself wondering what his life would have been like, had he been given the opportunity to grow up knowing that Snape was his father. Harry was struck with sudden clarity, that Snape had also been lied to--and manipulated by Dumbledore. Snape was fed information only at intervals to keep him in line; to do Dumbledore's bidding.
Harry was certain that if Snape had been aware of their familial connection, from the beginning--before his opinion of Harry had been formed, that Lily had borne him a child, that Snape would have been ecstatic. Harry had seen the depth of Snape's love for his mum, and Harry could not believe that Snape would have not been overjoyed to have been the father of her child. Much of the animosity that had existed between Snape and himself had been due to the hatred that Snape felt towards James Potter; and his belief that Harry was James' son.—yet another lie perpetuated by Dumbledore, Harry thought bitterly.
Harry felt a strange, burning desire to know more about Snape—his father; to know the man, not the cruel, vindictive Professor that had made his life a living hell. In so many ways, Dumbledore had played God with both of them. Harry wondered if Snape would have become a different person, had he been allowed to be a father to Harry.
It was with this thought in mind, that Harry made his way down to Snape's office in the dungeons. He muttered a quiet "Alohomora", and with a swish of his wand, the door opened. Harry began rummaging through Snape's office, thumbing through the impressive array of books on the shelves, searching through the desk drawers. He wasn't quite certain what he was searching for; perhaps some pictures of his mother, or even some letters; but knowing what a private person Snape had been, Harry knew that it was highly unlikely.
"Maybe I should search Snape's private quarters; maybe I'll find something there," Harry thought to himself. Harry was just about to exit Snape's office, when he felt a slight vibration coming from the last drawer in Snape's desk. What the hell is that? Harry leaned down to pull on the drawer. "Damn, it's stuck!" Harry said with frustration. "Alohomora," he commanded. The drawer remained stuck. He attempted several spells to unlock it but, to no avail. Damn...what the hell could Snape have in there that's so bloody secret? he wondered. Then in frustration, he kicked the drawer with his foot, and he heard a pop. "So much for magic," he chuckled to himself. Harry opened the drawer, and pulled out a tattered, and very familiar book. "Snape's Potions book," he said with wonder. "Wow!...you've saved my life more than once!" Harry said appreciatively. But why on earth was it vibrating?
Harry flipped through the pages of the book slowly, uncertain what its contents would reveal. But it would appear that his caution was unwarranted. The Potions manual looked no different than he had remembered. As his weary eyes skimmed over page, after page of Snape's scribbling, he started to feel frustrated that the book did not contain some instantly revealed secrets.
Harry was about to put the book back into the drawer, when the pages started flipping wildly of their own accord, and when-- suddenly-- the movement stilled, it landed on a page filled with Snape's scrawl. The book reminded him eerily of Riddle's diary; Harry shuddered. The words "Horcrux", "soul", and "immortal" leaped up from the page, and Harry's curiosity was peaked.
There were also several phrases written, in what looked like, Latin. Could they be spells? Hermione would know what they mean, he thought. Harry was struck suddenly, with a realization. It couldn't be... what he thought it was? Harry's stomach fluttered with excitement. Was it possible? Could it be? Was the Potions book, a Horcrux?
Harry hid the book under his robes, and stealthily made his way back up to the Tower. He had no desire to run into any of the Professors whom had opted to remain at the castle, to aid in the restoration, and to prepare for the eventual return of the students. Harry mounted the stairs so swiftly, that he almost tumbled down when the staircase changed directions.
When he finally made it back to his dorm, Harry sat down gingerly on his bed; his body was weary with battle fatigue, and his mind was reeling from all that he had learned. Harry examined the potions book more closely, and wondered if this book had anything to do with Voldemort--but no, it could have, since he'd destroyed all the Horcruxes. Harry yawned and rubbed his tired eyes. I need sleep, he thought. He would attempt to find the answers to the mystery when he woke up.
Harry lay his head on the pillow, and closed his eyes. He finally succumbed to a disturbed, restless sleep filled with bizarre dreams of Nagini's teeth sinking into Snape's neck, blood slowly trickling from his wound, and Snape clutching Harry's robes. Snape whispered..."look at me..."look at me..." He pulled Harry closer and looked deep into Harry's eyes...."look at me.....son" As he took his last dying breath, Snape mumbled, "Horcrux...book..." His head flopped to one side as he finally succumbed to death...
Harry shot up in bed, beads of sweat trickling from his forehead. His heart was pumping in rhythm to the pounding in his head. The dream was so vivid. It felt so real, so horrifically real....
Harry rubbed the grit from his burning eyes, and rested his head in his hands. Snape had created a Horcrux out of his old text, Harry was certain of it. The pieces of the puzzle suddenly fell into place--Snape had been assuring his own immortality--he had been determined to return from the veil, should death claim him. Snape had wanted to live, Harry thought. Maybe, just maybe, I can give him his wish...