Wow, so it has been a very long time since I updated. I am really sorry about that. This year has not been the best. I'm going to try and update more but it won't be regular. Bright side summer is going to come soon so I'll have plenty of time then!

Chapter 19

It was strange how it happened really. As soon as Christmas was over the nightmares came back. Harry did not understand it. He could distract his mind with other concerns, but once those concerns were gone the nightmares came.

Harry just wanted it to be over.

Yesterday, had been rather odd. Snape had been moody and Dumbledore had been concerned. However, both seemed to think Harry was too young to know. Or they did not trust him to keep his mouth shut.

Either way he was worried. Snape had such a sad look on his face sometimes that Harry had taken to following the man around. Harry had discovered that as long as he was with him, Snape seemed happy. Which in turn made Harry needed and wanted a feeling he was not familiar with, but greatly loved.

Now however, the nightmares were back and that fuzzy feeling was long gone. Harry whimpered in the dark. Halfway convinced that Lockhart was in the room with him; the nightmare had been that intense. Snuffling, Harry jumped out of the bed and padded to Snape's room. Harry took his bottom lip in his mouth and bit. Should he open the door?

Shrugging and taking a deep breath Harry turned the knob and tip-toed into Snape's room. In the dark it held an aura of mystery to it, and Harry felt like he really shouldn't be there. However, he kept thinking about his dream and shuddered. Harry hated to admit it, he was twelve after all, but what he needed most was a cuddle from his….dad.

Harry paused for a second and smiled sadly, wishing he could call the man that in real life, but then he squared his shoulders and crept toward Snape's bed. Suddenly, the form on the bed shot up causing Harry to shrink back.

"What….who's there?" The voice was thick with sleep, but Harry could make out Snape's wand pointed directly at his heart.

"S…S….Sir?" Harry whimpered, he knew he should not have come in, but how was he to know that Snape would attack him?

"Harry?" Snape's voice was a little less rough and Harry heard fumbling. The bed side light was clicked on and Harry could make out Snape's tousled hair, "What's wrong? Did something happen? Are you alright?"

"I had a bad dream," Harry whimpered. He didn't know why he had to barge in. He had horrible dreams before, and he had never acted this way. But, he supposed it had to do with how close he felt to his guardian.

"You want to talk about it?" Severus asked rubbing his hands over his eyes.

"Could I….well….would it be okay to…." Harry fumbled and he felt so pathetic that tears were coming to his eyes. Finally, he burst out, "I don't want to go back to my room!"

Snape's mind was extremely fuzzy, but any fool could tell what the boy wanted. Snape felt his heart constrict and his stomach tighten, but he kept his face passive and replied, "Of course not." Snape then pulled the covers back beside him and patted the bed, "Well…come on, hop in. We can talk about the dream in the morning if you want?"

Harry bit his lip and looked at the spot. This was what he wanted wasn't it? Harry took a step forward, but stopped. Snape would never hurt him, but did Snape really want to share his bed? Or was he just being great like always?"

"Come on Harry. You'll feel better when you get some sleep," Snape patted the space again and Harry took advantage of Snape's persistence. It had not taken him long to learn that when Snape used the gentle voice he always meant what he said.

Snape fixed the covers around the boy and himself and proceeded to find that wonderfully comfortable spot he had found earlier. When he was settled he felt a small, skinny, body worm closer to him. Smiling in the dark Snape turned around and said, "Come here."

Harry complied happily and soon both were asleep. Harry cuddled up against Snape's chest; his little face resting on the man's shoulder; while Snape's arms were around him, warding off all bad dreams.

Severus was lying on his stomach when he was slowly brought into awareness by little fingers tracing his back tattoo. Cracking one eye he watched Harry stare with what looked like confusion on his face. He should have known the boy would have found him out so soon.

"Well? What do you think?" Snape asked his voice heavy with sleep.

Harry looked at Snape and gave him a little grin, "Wicked."

Snape rolled his eyes and sat up giving Harry a full view of the praying hands.

"Sir? How many do you have?" Harry asked as he stared at the dripping blood.

"Four," Snape replied with a yawn, "Why? Do you think that's too much?"

"No," Harry replied with a shrug, "I just never thought of you as a tattoo person."

"There is a lot you do not know about me," Severus replied tweaking Harry's nose. Harry giggled and gently shoved Snape's hand away.

"True, but that doesn't mean I won't figure you out sir," Harry replied cheekily and he jumped off the bed, "Come on. It's eight o'clock and I'm hungry."

Snape groaned, "You are always hungry."

"I'm a growing boy," Harry replied in a great imitation of Snape's lecture voice, "Therefore, I eat a lot. Surely a dunderhead such as youself knows that."

Snape cocked an eyebrow at the boy. Harry gulped, thinking he had gone too far.

"You have a five second head start," Snape growled. Before he could even count to one Harry was already gone. Snape flopped back down on the bed with a smirk on his face, "Cheeky little brat."

Harry was gathering the breakfast supplies when he heard someone in the living-room. Frowning, Harry tip-toed into the hall and looked in, only to find Dumbledore beating soot off his cloak.

"Good-morning Headmaster," Harry greeted cheerfully. Dumbledore tried to smile, but Harry could tell it was strained.

"Has the morning paper come in?" Dumbledore asked walking into the kitchen.

"Yes sir, it is on the table," Harry pointed at the kitchen table and went back to prepare breakfast. He did not notice Dumbledore snatching the paper up and stuffing it into his cloak. However, he did notice Dumbledore's tense expression.

Harry was about to turn on the heat when Snape swooped in. Looking at Harry he said, "Sit down at the table Harry I'll make breakfast."

"That's okay sir," Harry informed Snape, "I can cook sir. You don't have to worry. Besides I think the Headmaster wants to talk to you."

Snape looked at Albus and nodded. He narrowed his eyes at Harry and said, "Be careful. Call me if you need anything, and pay attention."

"Yes sir," Harry nodded his head and focused on breakfast. He was happy that Snape worried about him, but he had been cooking since he was four, he knew what he was doing.

"Headmaster, are you going to stay and eat breakfast?" Harry asked not looking at the man but instead busying himself with breaking eggs.

"Not this morning Harry," Albus replied with a soft smile in the boy's direction. Harry nodded and Albus and Snape left the kitchen.

"What's wrong Headmaster?" Severus asked frowning at the worry on the older man's face, "Doe this have something to do with the discussion about my father? Do you have news about what happened?"

Albus shook his head and looked at his hands. Finally he sat down and began, "I tried Severus. I honestly did, but not even I can keep the papers at bay for too long; especially when Rita Seeker is involved."

Dread filled Severus' very being and he closed his eyes, "What happened?"

Albus handed him the morning paper and Severus unrolled it. There in big block letters was the title, BOY-WHO-LIVED: USED OR ABUSED?

Severus read the piece and had to restrain himself from marching to the daily prophet and killing Rita Seeker. She had the audacity to actually write in black and white that it was more likely that Severus Snape had coached Harry Potter to lie about his situation with his mentor Lockhart, to gain access to Harry's fame and bank account then it was that Lockhart had actually molested him. Since there were no other victims or leads it would appear that Lockhart was being falsely accused.

Severus slammed the paper on the coffee table and glared at nothing in particular. How dare she? How dare they?

"Severus are you okay?" Albus asked quietly.

"Is he going to get off?" Severus snapped glaring at the Headmaster.

"No Severus," Albus replied with a sigh, "Despite what Seeker says I have found more victims. It seems to me that not only has he used Oblivate on his victims and their families but he has also forged his own books."

"How do you mean?" Severus asked, heartened to hear that they had evidence to his misdeeds.

"Other people preformed those acts. He used Oblivate on them and then proclaimed that he preformed those heroic deeds. In fact, many of his victims and the plagiarized material came from the same families."

Severus sighed and ran his hands through his hair. Albus looked at Severus in pity, "He will not get out Severus. You never have to worry about that odious man coming after Harry."

"How am I going to tell Harry," Severus asked quietly, "This is going to hurt him."

Albus sighed, "We cannot keep this from him."

"I know," Severus sighed rubbing his forehead, "I know."

"Sir!" Harry called from the kitchen, "Breakfast is almost ready!"

"I should go," Albus stood and looked at the floo, "I have to write a press release and address Rita's allegations."

Severus nodded and watched as Albus disappeared in a roar of flame. Severus looked at the kitchen and sighed. Why did Harry's life have to be so complicated? He was twelve years old for God's sake.

"Sir!" Harry called, "its ready sir!"

"I'm coming Harry!" Severus called back. He sighed again and gritted his teeth. He did not want to have this discussion.

"Sir?" Harry asked as they ate in silence, "Did I do something wrong?"

"What?" Snape hissed and Harry frowned a little to himself. Once Harry's question filtered into Severus' worried mind he sighed and put his fork down.

"No Harry, you did nothing wrong. It is ludicrous to even think it," Harry's eyes were large and disbelieving. The boy was so damaged and now he had to deal with attention whores like Rita Seeker.

"I just received some alarming news," Severus replied placing his hands together beside his plate and giving Harry an intent look.

"Sir?" Harry asked looking with those huge green eyes at Severus. Severus could barely stand to tell him, however he had never shirked a duty and he was not about to start.

"The papers have started writing stories about the incident Harry," Severus replied hurriedly, he wanted to get this over with, like ripping off a band-aid, "And they are implying that I am pushing you to frame Lockhardt in order to gain control over you and your money."

Harry said nothing; he just stared at the table. Finally, he whispered, "But….but that's just…..wrong! Lockhardt hurt me! You saved me!"

"I know, and so will everybody else soon enough. Dumbledore will not let this pass unanswered. He has evidence against Lockhardt. More than just your testimony and what I have seen," Severus replied. Harry grew quiet, and closed his eyes. Severus was taken aback about the lone tear that fell down his cheek. Harry opened his emerald eyes and asked, "There were others?

"Yes son," Severus whispered and more tears fell down Harry's cheek, and he looked at Severus, "They were not as lucky as me were they?"

Severus did not understand at first, but then he remembered that Harry was not fully raped, the other boys were.

"No," Harry began to sob so hard his whole body was shaking. Severus rushed to Harry's side. Harry was remarkable, instead of thinking of himself he was thinking of the others. He put his chin on Harry's head and rubbed his back, "Hush now little Prince. All will be well. I will make sure of it."

Harry whipped his nose on his sleeve and gave Severus a watery smile, "I know."

Severus stared at this small little being that was put into his care and felt the enormity of the situation. There was nothing more important than this little boy, of that he was sure. He would make sure Harry survived, even everyone else did not.

"Good. Now dry your tears son and eat your breakfast." Severus replied while handing Harry a handkerchief.

Harry nodded and they began eating in silence. Severus looked at his boy and sighed. Harry's life was hard and it was not far.

They were just washing the dishes when the doorbell rang. Severus motioned for Harry to continue and made his way to the door. He looked through the spy hole, but found he could not see the man's face that was standing on his stoop. His back was turned. Leery, he knew how sneaky reporters could be. Severus opened the door and growled, "Yes?"

There was a woman and a small girl, which he had not seen from the window, who gasped upon seeing him. The man turned and his eyes widened. Severus stood erect and his grip on the door knob tightened.

There was silence. The three people on the porch were dumbfounded and Severus was conflicted. Suddenly he heard a crash and a yelp and Severus was drawn from his trance. The potions master ran toward the kitchen not even giving the three people on the porch a second thought and burst into the room.

"Harry?" Severus made a beeline toward his son not noticing the three people behind him "What happened? Are you hurt? Where does it hurt son?"

"I'm okay sir," Harry laughed and said, "I just brunt my hand. I forgot to turn off the burner and when I went to clean up the stove I accidently hit it. I'm okay."

Frowning Severus pulled out a small tin from his pocket and began rubbing its contents on Harry's hand. The pain left and Harry sighed.

"What was that sir?" Harry asked looking at the small tin.

"All purpose healer," Severus replied with a small smile, "It heals minor wounds."

"Wicked," Harry breathed.

"Yes," A voice from behind him said. Severus whirled around, "I agree,"

Severus stood between the three people and his ward and glared, "I do not believe I gave you permission to enter my home."

"No," the man agreed, "But I was worried."

Severus sneered at the man and looked down at Harry, "Finish cleaning the kitchen and then please go and play in your room. I have some visitors that I need to speak privately too,"

Harry looked between the man and Snape and blurted, "Is that your dad?"

Severus clinched his jaw and looked at the older man. He was as tall as Severus with the same black eyes and black hair, except he kept his short so it was not stringy. They had the same lean build and broad shoulders. The only significant difference was that the older man had tanned skin and was obviously older then Severus.

"Yes Harry," Severus spat, "This is my Father."

Upon conformation Harry glared at the older man and latched onto Severus," Are you sure you want me to leave?"

Severus found himself chuckling at the antics of his ward, and ran his hand through his boy's hair.

"I am an adult Harry," Severus replied tugging at Harry's hair gently.

"Just because you're a grown up doesn't mean you don't hurt," Harry whispered, "Right?"

Severus smiled sadly at his son, "Right. However, this is a private conversation between myself and my father. Do you understand Harry?"

Harry sighed but nodded, "Yes sir."

"Do not worry Harry," Severus sat the boy down, "I will satisfy your Gryffindor curiosity later."

Harry smirked and nodded as he moved back toward the sink. Severus just smiled at his son. He glanced at his father and the smile died.

"Well father," Severus began standing erect and stiff, "I suppose we should retire to the living room. Would you please leave your…forgive me? Your names?"

"Beth," the women replied faintly, "I'm Tobias' wife."

"I'm Sara," the living girl piped up, "Are you my Uncle Sev?"

Severus' eyebrows shot up and he glared at the little girl. The girl shrank from him and Beth put her arm around her glancing uncertainly at Severus. Harry bit his lip and gave Severus a startled look, but said nothing. He knew that this meeting was hard for his guardian. But seeing the old, teacher Snape was odd to say the least.

"It would seem so," Severus drawled, his voice soft and silvery. Harry knew that was not a good sign. Sighing Harry dried his hands and went over to the little girl.

"Do you want to play with me Sara?" Harry asked holding out his hand, "We could draw."

"I love to draw," Sara replied in a soft voice, eyeing Snape distrustfully.

"Boy, you have the dishes to finish," Severus voice was harsh causing Harry to flinch horribly. Severus sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. He knew better then to speak to Harry so. The boy had a hard enough time dealing with what he had learned about Lockhardt, he did not need his guardian going to pieces on him. Or act like his good for nothing relatives.

"I am sorry Harry," Severus' voice was defeated; he really needed to learn to curb his tongue when it came to his son, "You were only trying to help. Go along little Prince and have some fun, but be sure to finish the dishes later."

Harry smiled at his guardian and took Sara's hand. Harry led her out the door and soon the adults could hear two pairs of feet stomping on the stairs. Severus turned away from his father and step-mother and crossed his arms. Since allowing Harry into his life he had let his emotions get out of hand. It was imperative that he share many emotions with Harry as not to alarm the boy. Being repressed with an emotionally damaged twelve year old is never a good thing. However, he found himself wishing he was not quite so open. He felt naked as his father's eyes bore into his back.

"I'm going to go find the children," Beth volunteered glancing between the two men, "You're never too old to play after all."

That statement struck Severus as a very Dumbledore thing to say. He heard the kitchen door shut and he popped his neck in an effort to remain calm. As he tried to get his emotions in check he heard a throat clear behind him. Before he could prepare himself Tobias asked, "How you been?'

Severus snapped. He could no longer take the pain. Anger, hurt, resentment, and pain had been emotions that Severus tried so hard to hide, to not feel. Now they slammed into him all at once and he found himself barely able to think straight.

"If you had not run off you would know how I am!" Severus thundered. He took a step toward his father. Tobias stood his ground.

"Is that what you think?" Tobias whispered, but then the man closed his eyes and muttered, "Of course you would think that."

"What the hell was it then?" Severus shouted, taking another step toward his father, "As soon as I went off to Hogworts you were gone! You just couldn't stand that I wasn't muggle!"

" Severus," Tobias began, but his voice cracked but he held Severus' wild eyes, "Your mam tell you that?"

Severus growled in his throat and looked away from his father. His fists were clenched and his teeth were gritted and it was taking everything he had not to slam his fist into his father's nose.

"She did not have to. Your actions speak for themselves," Severus growled.

"Severus," Tobias sighed, and suddenly Severus noticed just how old his father looked; much older than he should. The lines of his face were deep, and his eyes held a look that spoke of many years of pain and remorse. It was like looking in a mirror.

Severus had always been a ship adrift in an ocean of pain and humiliation. Lily had tried to be the lighthouse he needed to see his way home, but she was unable to hold strong. Teenage feelings were easily hurt, especially when one was a hot blooded muggle born with something to prove. Lily had always tried to excel at everything and that broke her somehow. She lost something of herself when she tried to fit in at Hogworts, something that made her uniquely Lily.

Dumbledore had tried to be the lighthouse he needed, and he was in a way, but there never was any reason for Severus to come ashore. The ocean was all he knew, but that changed when Harry came into his life. Harry was his reason for living now. Harry was the reason he had changed so much in such a short time. Before Harry he never would have been able to see his father's eyes as his own. Those eyes were the eyes of a man who had lost everything.

Severus' sighed and rubbed his hand over his face. His anger drained and he sank into a chair. The pain was still there, as it would always be, but now was not the time to indulge in it.

"What happened?" Severus snapped. Just because the anger was gone did not mean he had to show weakness.

Tobias sighed and sat across from his son. He clasped his hands in front of him and looked at the man. He was so different; the lines in his son's face told a story of pain, humiliation, and fear. Severus looked so much older than his thirty-two years. Looking at his hands he said, "Quite simply Severus, I thought you were dead."

Severus' head shot up but he said nothing. It was just as Mr. Redford suspected, but how? Could it really have been his mother? Or had it been Lestrange? They had married only a year after his parents' divorce.

"Explain," Severus' voice was devoid of emotion and Tobias just looked at his son. There was something not right about Severus. There was a hard quality about the way he spoke. His tone brooked no argument and it left Tobias feeling uneasy. It was the way his own father had spoken to him his whole life; devoid of emotion and expression of any human feelings.

"Well… know that I could not come with you to Platform nine and three quarters," Tobias began but quickly assured his son, "I wanted to. God knows I did Severus. I was so proud of you. You were the first wizard in my family that I know of and I just knew you were going to do great and wonderful things. Maybe make this world a better place somehow…." Tobias trailed off and a soft smile graced his features.

There was a pause in which Severus already began to grow uncomfortable. Make the world a better place? If anything he had made it worse.

"But Hogwort's was not cheap, and of course the magical word doesn't have magic public schools. So I had to take every shift I could to pay for tuition. I even was thinking about getting a second job so I could save up and get you new robes. Yours were second hand and some looked a bit ratty and I knew that if muggle kids were going to tease you for second hand clothes than magical ones were sure to. Kids are kids anywhere you go, and unfortunately you would have no escape from them. I had planned on sending them to you for Christmas, but of course that never happened."

Tobias was quiet for a moment and then he plunged onward with his story, "Your mother was waiting for me. She had this dazed look and informed me that you had been killed. She said that while trying to get your trunk off the city bus a car had run the stop sign and ran you over. She did not even see the car until she saw you fly through the air." Tobias was quiet, tears were streaming down his face and he quickly wiped them away, "I remember sinking to the floor in shock. The pain was immense, and then nothing else."

"Nothing?" Severus whispered and his eyes seemed to be searching his father's for the truth, "You don't' remember my funeral, the divorce?"

"I remember the divorce, but Severus," Tobias replied looking at his son, "I don't remember anything else because…" Tobias stopped and swallowed, "I flipped my lid son. I don't remember anything because I ended up in a mental institution. They had said that I was catatonic for months. When I would come to I would become violent and scream your name. I was like that for six months. After I was released your mother and I divorced and that was it. She had given the institution all of my belongings. The only thing I wanted in the divorce was some of our photos of you and your teddy bear…..but she never would give me any and I was not up to fighting her."

Tobias reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet. He flipped it open and pulled out a small picture. He laid it in front of Severus.

It was Severus' fifth grade photograph. He wore a black polo shirt that was a size too big for him. The red tie he wore was his father's and his long black hair was slicked back.

"I tried to talk you out of that tie," Tobias replied with a fond smile, "but you would not hear of it. God, but you were a stubborn child."

"Who has turned into a stubborn man I'm afraid," Severus looked up and saw Dumbledore walk into the kitchen. The old man had his hands behind his back and walked slowly towards the table.

"Forgive me intruding my boy," Dumbledore looked at Severus and placed a hand on his shoulder.

"It is alright Headmaster," Severus replied looking at the older man. He squared his jaw and stood. There was something he had to do.

"Did you hear all of it?" Severus growled, a light came into his eyes that caused Dumbledore to tighten his hold on Severus.

"Enough to see Eileen's part in this," Dumbledore confessed. Severus quickly stood and charged into the living room.

Dumbledore hurried after him leaving Tobias to follow. Tobias was confused by the appearance of the old man. Who was he? And what relationship did he have with his son? He had only observed them together for a moment, but he already knew their relationship was deep.

"Severus no!" Dumbledore hollered and the old man flicked his wand. A ceramic pot flew from Severus' hands into Dumbledore's.

"Give it here old man!" Severus growled. His voice was low and deadly. Tobias looked at Severus and in that moment saw nothing of the little boy that he loved so much.

"Severus you have not seen her in years!" Dumbledore shouted, "You cannot just barge into the Lestrange residence unannounced."

"I don't care about being polite Albus!" Severus' hissed, "Mother has some explaining to do."

"Severus," Dumbledore snapped and Severus took a step back. Tobias could feel the back of his hairs stand up and there seemed to be a glow coming from Dumbledore's wand, "Stand down."

Both men glared at each other. Severus' posture turned defiant but than a small voice punctured the tension like a needle when it comes in contact with a balloon.

"Sir? What's wrong?"

Severus' head snapped up so fast that Tobias feared he would have whiplash. Harry stood on the stairs looking down at his guardian. Severus's face instantly softened and he took a step toward the stairs, "It's okay son. Everything is okay."

Harry looked at Severus so seriously. Much more seriously than any twelve year old should look at an adult, but then the look was gone and Harry flew down the stairs and slammed into his guardian. Severus quickly gathered the boy into his arms. Harry's small arms wrapped around Severus' neck and his head lay against Severus'.

"I'm sorry if our raised voices scared you Harry," Severus replied, and Tobias brows crinkled. Severus was mollycoddling the boy, much more than he had him. Much more than was normal, but Harry did look quite small for his age. Tobias was very much confused. Severus did not seem like the type to spoil a child. What did all of this mean? And where was the boy's mother?

"They didn't," Harry replied with a small frown on his face, "I was just worried about you. You seemed so angry da….sir" Harry bit his lip and Severus' smirked. There was a pause and Severus pulled Harry back so he could look at him. He smiled at Harry and said, "I lost my temper it seems."

"Yes sir," Harry replied faintly. The entire room knew what he had almost slipped. Harry was sure of it, but nobody was inclined to speak about it. Harry did not know wither he should be happy or upset.

Severus placed Harry onto the floor and glanced up at the stairs. Beth and Sara were staring down at Severus clearly bewildered, and in Sara's case, scared. He looked at the girl and found that he was staring into his own eyes. Severus sighed and looked away from his niece. He looked at his father and sighed again. In moments like these he wondered if he would be able to make it to the next. Harry placed his hand in his and gave his guardian an encouraging smile.

Once again Harry surprised him. He had learned a dreadful truth today about what certain people thought about their relationship and still he could smile. He was such a remarkable boy.

"Could you come back tomorrow?" Severus asked his father, "I'm tired, and I quite frankly do not want to deal with you today."

Tobias opened his mouth to speak but bit his lip. He held his tears at bay. He wanted nothing more than to hold his little boy like he used to, but Severus was not a little boy anymore. Years that could have been spent happily in each other's company were taken from them. Looking at his son it struck him that this man was a stranger.

"Of course," Tobias replied, his own voice devoid of any emotion, "Noon fine?"

"Yes father," Severus' cocked his head. Tobias' body language was different, and he found that he could no longer read him. He used to know Tobias, but that was the past. They were strangers now.

"Come Sara," Beth said as they came down the stairs, "You mom and dad are probably worried about us."

Severus glanced at his step-mother and niece. He wondered if the mother or the father was his sibling.

The trio then left without another word, taking a small piece of Severus' heart with them.

As always, review!