Disclaimer: We claim no rights to the characters of Harry Potter or the Twilight series. No profit is being made from the circulation of this fictional work and characters still belong to their respective writers.
Warnings: AU, Harry Potter/Twilight Crossover, violence, adult situations, M/M Slash.
Chapter 7: The Truths We Conceal
Severus wondered if he really was seeing the scar marking Harry's hand. What in the bloody hell?
He had seen a lot in his days as a Death Eater, many things he didn't much care to remember. Not that he deserved the grace of forgetting those things. That was what had gotten him into this mess in the first place if he remembered correctly. He'd done...unforgivable things, even after he'd changed his stripes and tried to correct his mistakes. He'd killed people, people he only wanted to protect, some with his own hand.
The scar on Harry's skin shouldn't have come as such a shock. The boy who lived had certainly been good at getting himself into sticky situations and it wasn't the only scar that he had to show for it. His most famous one stood out on his forehead, through the disheveled hair that hung down into his face. But this was a wholly different thing than anything Severus expected.
It wasn't easy playing house with Harry Potter, whether or not the boy remembered anything but small flashes of his past. He was far quieter than Severus expected him to be and normally kept to himself. This confrontation came as quite a shock. Not that he would ever admit to being caught off guard.
Harry stared at him, demanding an answer, brandishing his hand like some kind of accusation. Except he was accusing the wrong person. Severus didn't know who the right person was, whoever had left such a pronounced mark on the boy's hand, but as hard as he had been on Potter, he had never carved into his flesh.
"I wrote this on my hand, Uncle," Harry said finally. "I remember doing it. I wrote it on a paper and the words were scratched into my hand. How is that possible?"
Severus fought to keep the grimace off his face but he was afraid that it showed in some way anyway. That kind of magic was something that he was familiar with. Not that he had ever used it in particular, but it was a dark art, foul and cruel. Harry didn't seem to recall that part of it, only that he had done it to himself.
He wanted to tell Potter the truth, but it was something that he didn't quite know. And it seemed that the boy still didn't recall anything about the magical world, anything about his education at Hogwarts or his personal history with the Dark Lord. Severus knew he had to leave quickly. He didn't know how to answer Harry's questions. It hit him rather hard. He had too many questions of his own, and too much of his own haunting past bogging him down.
For years, he had worked to deceive so many people, yet now, now when it should have been over, his painful charade, he had to play another part. It seemed like things would never change, that he would even spend his self-imposed exile tormented by Lily's son.
"I know it's difficult to read," Harry continued, "but it says, 'I must not tell lies.' What did I lie about?"
"I'm not certain," Severus said, his voice quiet, control slipping back to him. He couldn't lose his temper, not now. He had badgered the boy at school, vowed never to cut him the slack that everyone else was eager to give him, but something had changed. He was torn between anger, at being spoken to so insolently, and empathy, for he really didn't know what to make of the sentence carved on the boy's hand either. He needed time to think, time to find out more about it. "I don't know everything about you, boy"
Harry's rage boiled over. "Stop calling me that!" he nearly shouted. "You're my uncle, aren't you? Not by blood, but I'm here, aren't I? You seem to know a lot. Didn't you bloody well know about this?"
The outburst pinned him in place, but only for a moment. Still, it was long enough to feel how the air was charged with anger. Severus eyed the boy once more, taking in his determination. He didn't want to give in, but he couldn't bring himself to lie either. He had spent too much time doing just that, living in the shadows of lie after lie after lie.
Severus spun quickly, tearing his gaze from Harry Potter and striding out of the room. After a moment, he heard the boy follow, but Severus didn't hesitate, if anything quickening his retreat from the house.
Retreat? Severus thought bitterly. What a coward he'd become. He pushed the thought from his mind as he slammed the front door behind him. The dreary cold surrounded him, sending a chill across his face that was instantly sobering. He wasn't running away. Harry Potter had no right to speak to him in such a manner. He wouldn't stand for it.
Holding on to that anger was easy and familiar. By the time he climbed into his car, he was practically seething. The tires slid for a moment in the muddy driveway, long enough for him to catch a glimpse of Harry on the porch, but they dug in to the road and a moment later he was in motion.
Driving wasn't something Severus was very familiar with, but if muggles could do it, so could he. It was becoming far easier each time he had to do it. The idea was a comforting thought, that somehow he had succeeded in starting to adjust to this new life. It didn't last though, like most comforts these days. Everything was always filled with lies, the truth blurry and obscure, disconnected and sometimes even hidden-but distractingly still there. Even when others couldn't see it.
Why did he have to be so damned sentimental?
Severus pulled back his hand then brought his palm down violently onto the steering wheel before he could stop himself. Only when he was alone could he allow his control to slip. He shouldn't have needed to worry about that, not on the edge of the world, thousands of miles from his former life. But that resentful thought wasn't helpful no matter how persistently it cropped up. He was not alone.
Eventually, he would have to sort out this mess with Harry Potter.
He realized that a call to Minerva was definitely in order. She hadn't been privy to most of his affairs, but she had believed it when Severus's motives for...for murdering Albus Dumbledore had turned out to be for a purpose, other than the Dark Lord's own of course. Severus ran a hand over his face, wondering not for the first time if he would ever get over the shock of that memory. Yet, if that day ever came, he wouldn't want the relief. He wanted to forget, but knew that he didn't deserve that blessing. Intentions be damned, he wasn't going to escape, to ever feel his remorse disappear, not after what he had done.
Which was what had made it impossible to refuse when Minerva sent Harry Potter along with him to this forested wonderland. The boy was trouble, but he was also in trouble, yet again. And there was more than one problem this time. Aside from the boy's rather disturbing scar, there was the matter of the vampires. Severus hadn't counted on any of this, not that he certainly couldn't handle it, but it was rather complicated. It was much more appealing to not deal with the vampires, but Potter was making it difficult.
The boy seemed to be rather persistent in his pursuit of life threatening situations. Even living a muggle life, Harry Potter managed to attract the strange and dangerous creatures of the world. The vampire problem, quite frankly, escaped Severus' reasoning. These particular vampires, from the few chance encounters with them, didn't seem particularly interested in being vampires-blood-sucking, vicious, murderous immortals. They could have been muggles, if he didn't know any better.
Unluckily enough, Severus did know better. He couldn't just ignore vampires who went to school and practiced medicine like they were normal citizens of Forks. It shouldn't have been his concern, but it was, and there was no use fighting it. He needed to know more, both about Potter's particular brand of neurosis and these awkward vampires.
Settling on that goal seemed to ground his thoughts and he took stock of how far he had driven aimlessly. At least he had the foresight to think of getting a message to Minerva and hadn't ended up driving south, further into the forest. The road was the same one that he had taken on their journey to Forks and it led to Port Angeles and, luckily, just the place to accomplish what he needed to do.
Despite being fairly remote, there were some wizards in the area surrounding Forks. American wizards, who Severus had never intended to seek out, but he knew where to start. It was time to go find the cat.
Severus scowled down at the ball of fur, the obese creature threading itself around his ankles and through his legs. It seemed intent on tripping him with its bulk. He had seen many cats, large and small, but never one so rotund. Perhaps calling it a cat was a mistake and "walrus" would have been more appropriate. The creature lifted its head to look at him, eyes large and full of mischief, as though it knew his thoughts. Without a doubt, that intelligence belonged to no ordinary cat.
"Petal," he said softly, trying not to draw attention to himself.
The upscale restaurant wasn't busy but a couple had emerged from the double doors of the entryway, heading for their vehicle. The woman smiled at him and the cat, stopping as they passed.
"Just ignore Diablo, he likes to beg for food every chance he gets," the muggle said.
"Indeed," Severus replied, which garnered a giggle from her before she continued on. He glanced back at the elephant on his toes as they climbed into their car and pulled away. Perhaps he was wrong about this cat being the particular one he was looking for. Petal Dogwood was rumored to be a skilled wizard, but "Diablo" had sat down in front of him to bat at his shoes. There weren't any other cats hanging around, however, not that he could see. He sincerely hoped the disguise was worth the plump feline act.
"I must use your floo network, Petal," Severus said, still keeping his voice low.
The cat's ears perked up and it rolled onto its feet. It pointedly turned and trotted towards the restaurant, though with its size it trotted awkwardly, to say the least. Severus followed along, wishing that there was a better way to get in touch with the wizards of the area or with Minerva herself, but he had designed this situation so that he wouldn't be called or dropped in on or checked up on. Curse Harry Potter for turning his plans on their heads!
Severus apprehensively checked the windows as the cat rounded the side of the building and headed for the garden. He certainly hoped none of the muggles had noticed him. He berated himself for not thinking of casting a glamour spell to hide his presence, but it was too late. The cat had stopped and was watching him, propped on its round bottom, tail twitching back and forth.
"I very much doubt that this wall is your floo network," Severus said.
It didn't quite roll its eyes but the cat looked a bit peeved. It stood up, placing its paws on the garden wall and suddenly it was gone, vanished through the concealing spell. Severus quickly stepped forward and did the same, hoping that this Petal was indeed as trustworthy as he had been told.
The room he found himself standing in was warm and bright, a large contrast to the chilly Washington evening that had threatened rain with its gray sky. It wasn't large, more of a cottage than anything else, though far more modern with a large touch of youth to it.
"It's not every day an English wizard comes to visit."
Severus met her green eyes, the same mischievous glint that "Diablo" had sparkling in them. She was a young woman, though these days he felt like everyone was young to him, with long, wild and curly hair. Her hands rested on her hips and Severus imagined that she was trying to project an air of confidence. Intimidating didn't work, however, not on her short but lanky frame.
"I had heard you have a connection to the floo network here," he said with only a small measure of disdain.
"Maybe I do, and maybe I don't, but if I do, I don't just let anyone use it," she said firmly.
Severus pressed his lips together in exasperation with this barefooted girl in bellbottoms and an oversized sweater. How far he had fallen, from being a feared professor at Hogwarts to a man who couldn't garner respect from children.
"My name is Earnest Nichols," Severus lied smoothly. "I've recently relocated to study the flora of this region and I find myself in need of a floo network. I was told to look for Petal Dogwood."
"A name is all I wanted, Earnest," the girl said. "And you've come to the right Petal Dogwood. You're welcome to use my fire."
She gestured to the hearth where the flames seemed to be shrinking into the coals. It would have to do. Severus hesitated, his eyes still on Petal. Perhaps she was born with the gift of obliviousness, because she only smiled back. He had to remind himself to be polite, that she was in fact doing him a service by letting him use her fire in the first place.
"Might I have a little privacy?" Severus asked, sure to keep his tone even. God, he hated reminding himself to stick to kindness and honey. How in the world did Severus Snape end up asking favors?
"Oh, right then," Petal said, still far more cheerful than anyone ought to be. "I'll go see what's for dinner then."
Her transformation into a cat was actually rather impressive, the spell coming to her fluidly and easily. Petal padded to the back wall of the cottage and pressed her paws against it, disappearing once again. It made Severus wonder, how could someone be so completely and foolishly trusting? But he didn't want to dwell on that, to think that normal people, wizard or muggle, in this world, weren't afraid of everyone. Or perhaps it was simply the remote world he had stumbled into.
"Vampires," he reminded himself aloud. "And stupid boys."
Petal had left her floo powder on the mantle and Severus grabbed a handful, tossing it into the flames. They leapt up, the green glow overtaking the orange until nothing but a vivid lime sprang across the fireplace. He could simply step through it, find somewhere else. No one had to know, except for the already clueless Petal, perhaps. Even then, she wouldn't know where he had gone necessarily. Maybe somewhere tropical, where he didn't have to pretend to be a botanist or do anything but lie on a beach. No, that was hardly Severus Snape's style, unfortunately. He never could walk away.
"Minerva McGonagall, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry," Severus told the fire and leaned his head in.
It took a moment for the disorientation to pass, but when it did, he was looking into Minerva's sitting room, the firelight the only thing to illuminate it. Damn and damn it again. He hadn't thought much of the time difference, but it was surely the wee hours of the morning and she was surely sleeping. It had been past sunset when he finally found Petal and her quaint little restaurant, which made it probably right before dawn. Too early for civilized people. Severus sighed unhappily. He could stick around, wait a little later, come back to Petal's little floo network connection, or perhaps come back another day, but it was important.
"Who's there?" Minerva's voice said suddenly. She was peeking out from her bedroom, a robe wrapped around her shoulders and held in place with one hand. The other held her trusted wand with a firm and sure grip. Her long hair was mostly piled atop her head but a length of it trailed down haphazardly.
It stirred many things in Severus Snape, for he had always seen Minerva McGonagall for a respected and powerful colleague. He remembered being at the end of her wand before as she lay into him, full of rage and determination. It had been one of his weakest moments, one of his darkest, before she knew the truth of his deeds, not that the truth really redeemed him. However, seeing her here, awoken in the early hours of morning, she looked far less powerful, far more the aging woman behind her strong features. She looked too human for him.
"Yes, Minerva," he said quickly. "I had forgotten how early in the day it was for you."
"Yes, it's early," she said. "What is it? Has something happened?"
"A lot has happened," Severus said. He was glad when she drew herself up and pulled her chair close to speak to him, looking less hesitant. The glimpse of the elderly woman was gone and all that was left was great Professor McGonagall.
"Is...the boy alright?" she asked carefully.
"Is it not safe to talk?" Severus countered at her choice of words. It hadn't occurred to him that perhaps her end of the floo wasn't safe. She had advised him to use it if something urgent came up.
"Oh, nothing of that sort," Minerva said. "I've had trouble letting go of my cautious nature is all. And it does have its place outside these walls. People are wondering what happened to Harry Potter."
"Yes, well, perhaps he should have been kept closer to home," Severus said, hearing the disdain in his own voice. "He remembers some things, select things that I am not equipped to deal with."
"You're as 'equipped' as any of us to deal with his memories, Severus," Minerva replied. "He needs someone he can trust."
Severus could have laughed in her face at that. Harry Potter trust him? Of all people, of all his friends and family and admirers, what could ever lead Minerva to believe that Harry trusted him? Even if he didn't recall all the grisly details of Severus's deeds, how in the world did Minerva believe the boy would trust him? He had been willing to put up with Potter, to be saddled with guardianship for a time, but to be trusted?
"Send someone for him," Severus said. "Come retrieve him. Or I'll send him through this fire to you, but I don't need this responsibility, Minerva. I won't be trapped dealing with the boy."
"Severus," she said angrily, standing again, drawing up intimidatingly. "When that boy awoke in the hospital, he was frightened. You saw his face, you heard him speak to us. Harry Potter, the boy who defeated the Dark Lord, was frightened. And he didn't stop acting like a cornered animal until you told him to stop being rude to me. He may not remember what he's accomplished or the strained relationship he had with you under your tutelage, but he remembers something that makes him listen to you."
Her lecture made him pause and consider it carefully, because every bit of it rang closer and closer to the truth, to the reason why he had come to terms with his decision to help Potter. The boy may well have defied him at every turn at Hogwarts, but it seemed a different life, a different world. When Potter woke up with nothing, something changed in them both. He listened to Uncle Earnest who sent him to school and took him to study plants. But Uncle Earnest didn't tell him enough, like the truths that he wanted to hear.
"The boy has a scar on his hand," Severus said suddenly, thinking of the argument in the kitchen. "It says, 'I must not tell lies.' He remembers writing it himself, on his hand, Minerva."
She had settled in her chair again and at that, her hand came to rest against her breastbone in surprise etched with disgust.
"We don't know everything about him," Minerva said slowly. "And there's no way we can. Did you ask him what he remembers about it? If he remembers how he got it?"
"No," Severus admitted curtly. No, because I was angry about vampires, the other problem I have to solve.
"That's something you must do," Minerva replied.
Again, the urge to argue with her bubbled up. It wasn't his job to ask Potter these things. He had not asked for this. But she would remind him of the same thing as before, of Potter's stupid trust. Curse that infernal bond. Where had it come from? Severus wanted to tell her that he had lost it, that it might have been there when the boy awoke and when he came with his "uncle" to Forks, but he had botched it. Yet, he didn't want to give up on it. It was cowardly to send the boy back. And Severus Snape was through being a coward.
"I apologize for disturbing you, Minerva," he said finally.
"As well you should," she said with a slight, fond smile. Severus was glad she hadn't killed him that day in the great hall. "Now, I'd like to get back to sleep, Severus."
"Of course," he said.
They stayed silent for another moment, both gazing at the other. He imagined that though his face was distorted by her fire, she could read the things that weren't said. He still carried his guilt, as he always would, and she was the only one who knew, the only one left who remembered that it wasn't for power that he did what he did. Then he sat up, breaking the connection and coming out of the hearth, back into the small and unfamiliar room.
Severus stayed as he was, crouched on the floor, for a while. His mind still had the unfortunate tendency to think in circles, and though he had figured out more, he still had some things to consider. It wouldn't be easy to make nice with Potter again. Especially considering both their tempers and not to mention that despite his words with Minerva, he still had his wounded pride. New leaf or not, it was hard not to feel a pang of anger when he remembered Harry Potter yelling at him.
He also hadn't told Minerva about the vampires. He needed to know more about them than ever without help from her. What was the Cullen boy's fascination with Potter? For that matter, what was Potter's fascination with the Cullen boy?
Severus glanced over his shoulder at Petal, standing awkwardly near the entrance and exit to the muggle world, her hands clasped behind her back. She looked uncomfortable and he wondered how long she had been standing there.
"Quite," he said curtly.
"I wasn't eavesdropping," she said, shrugging. "I came back to check though. They wouldn't give me second dinner tonight."
"A shame," Severus said, getting to his feet.
"Did you get what you wanted?" she asked.
"In a word, no," Severus replied. "But enough to be satisfied."
Petal nodded. "That's all you can usually expect. And maybe even all you need. The rest you do on your own." She winked at him and grinned a grin that showed her canines and made her look rather feline. "You're welcome to stay. Or to go. Or to come back later and use the floo. It's the only one for miles and miles and miles."
"Yes, that is what I'd been told," Severus said.
An idea struck him then, one that he felt he should have been loathe to consider. He didn't want to ask this unhinged young witch for any further favors, not when her manner grated on his nerves so drastically, but he considered the alternative, which involved nothing, nothing and nothing, that he could think of anyway.
"Your reputation precedes you, as you may have guessed, Petal," Severus began. Her brow furrowed and he could tell that she wore everything on her sleeve, her face far too expressive to ever hide anything. "I wonder if you might procure a book for me. I'm looking for something along the lines of mythical creatures. To be precise, something with mentions of immortal and undead creatures."
Petal, for all her comical expressions, managed to finally look serious. "I can find anything you're looking for, and anything you're not," she said. "Though I am curious, who gave you my information?"
"Perhaps I will enlighten you when I come fetch my book," Severus replied coolly. "Until then, Petal Dogwood."
He stepped around her, reaching for the wall but he caught her lips turning up in a smirk. Her girlish face hid a true wit, the innocent and cheerful demeanor a shield, Severus thought. She knew.
"They aren't dangerous," Petal Dogwood said as his hand touched the wall. The feeling of the spell gripped him. "But they aren't the only ones around here."
AN: So by now, most of you dear readers have probably caught on to the fact that we aren't the most dedicated updaters and we have apologized before for the long delays. Once again, we're very sorry to make you wait! This chapter has been in the works for months. It would get opened, closed, edited a little, cursed at, ignored while we watched TV, etc. We are definitely planning on finishing it, even if only because it came about because of a bet between us and I hate to lose XD We're excited to get it out there finally and hope that you all enjoy it! Writing Severus Snape is a big challenge because he's one of those characters...well, that's hard to nail down. We hope we haven't taken too many liberties with him and that he's still recognizable!
Thanks for reading, please drop us a review if you have moment =)