Disclaimer: For the last time! It's not mine!
The next day at breakfast, the first noticeable sign of the previous night's events was the absence of the entire Slytherin student body. Further examination brought the revelation that the Slytherin Head of House was not present either.
No explanation was given or offered until shortly after the morning meal had appeared on the tables. Professor McGonagall called for silence and Dumbledore stood up to address the school. He stood silently for a moment, just looking out at the students, though his thoughts were with the fourth not present and his heart with their teacher.
Finally, Dumbledore began. "I have something to confess," he said. Seated around him, he knew the teachers were confused; they were usually told ahead of time if he planned to address the school during a meal.
"Years ago," Dumbledore continued steadily, "The Magical World was informed about the death of my son." Looking down the table, Dumbledore could see several of the teachers turn deathly pale. They were the ones who remembered.
"I have to confess," Dumbledore said, raising his voice to cut off the whispers that had begun amongst the students, "That I lied to them, and so to you. I hid my child to keep him safe and because of this he is still alive."
Now a few of the teachers looked ready to faint and the students were rapt with interest. Dumbledore pressed on. "Recent circumstances have dictated that it is time for my son resume his true identity and for everyone to know who he truly is."
Dumbledore paused briefly and smiled at the school. He was not expecting an enthusiastic response, but that didn't matter. "From this moment on," he announced, his voice taking on a powerful proclaiming resonance, "Let it be known that the man who has been Severus Snape was born and is forever more Severus Deidrick Dumbledore."
Stunned silence reverberated around the room. "Enjoy your meal," he quipped and sat back down. McGonagall gave him a reassuring smile and then followed his example and began her breakfast.
Slowly the occupants of the room shook off their shock. Hushed whispers began to fill the hall, students and teachers alike eyeing the Headmaster as if he had just leapt onto the table while reciting Shakespeare. Snape? Snape was Dumbledore's son…impossible! Hagrid, with fat tears rolling down his cheeks, kept asking if it was true, and Dumbledore assured him it was.
Dumbledore's announcement was public knowledge before noon. McGonagall couldn't prove it, but she was sure that one of the staff had a very nosy younger sister who worked for The Daily Prophet.
With in hours Ministry personnel, including Minister Fudge himself, arrived to find out for themselves if what they had heard was true and to get the complete story from the Headmaster himself. Dumbledore answered their questions with amazing patience but, to their disappointment, refused to allow them to speak to or see his son.
Many of the Ministry folk kept their eyes open when walking around the school to see if they could find one of Slytherin students, but they continued to be absent from meals and classes. It was three full days before anything was seen of a single Slytherin child or their teacher.
McGonagall took her customary seat next to the Headmaster and noticed that he was looking particularly annoyed. The reason for that was sitting next to him. Fudge was back, no doubt pressing his concern for Dumbledore's mental state.
But McGonagall knew that her friend had more pressing matters on his mind than what the Ministry and the rest of the Magical World thought about him. He had confessed to her that he had agreed to let his son handle his students his own way. He hadn't heard from Severus since the Slytherin students hadn't shown up that first day, and the entrance to the Slytherin Common Room was locked.
McGonagall gave her friend a sympathetic smile shook her head. Minister Fudge continued to talk loudly even after breakfast appeared on the table. McGonagall didn't know how Dumbledore managed to put up with that whiny little man. Merlin knew that the Headmaster wouldn't be blamed for hexing the Minister permanently mute. If he didn't already have the Order of Merlin, First Class, he could certainly obtain it with that action.
Then again, he was renowned as the only one able to put up with Severus's whining; maybe he was immune to such noise now.
Or maybe he only tolerated whining from the Potions Master, McGonagall mused as she watched Dumbledore slowly bend a fork on the table in half as the unaware Minister launched into another monologue on why it was most urgent that Severus be tested for his parentage at the soonest possible date.
McGonagall had just begun her meal when the main doors flew open with a crash that resonated through the hall. Slowly, a smile found its way to her lips. She stole a quick glance at Dumbledore and saw that his annoyance with the Minister was forgotten and that everything had given way to relief.
The rest of the room had fallen deathly silent, disrupted only by a loud thump as Neville Longbottom bell off his seat and landed on the floor. He didn't bother to pick himself up but rather opted to remain where he was.
Standing just inside the doors, Severus regarded the school with a silent and indifferent expression as the early morning light streamed in from the windows and caused the red in his hair to sparkle.
Once he had allowed the school its chance to stare at him, Severus calmly stood aside and watched the Slytherin students file sullenly past him to their table and seats. Once they were all seated, Severus made his way up to the Head Table.
McGonagall smiled encouragingly at him and watched as he paused behind Minister Fudge's chair. Fudge looked completely dumbfounded. He hadn't counted on Severus looking so much like his father, that much was evident.
Slowly, Severus leaned forward until he and the Minister were at eye level. "You are in my seat," Severus hissed. Fudge fairly leapt to his feet; his face flustered, and moved to an empty spot further down the table, but not so far that he couldn't keep an eye on the Slytherin teacher.
Severus pulled his black robes closer to his body and took the vacated seat on the Headmaster's left. Smiling warmly, Dumbledore placed his hand over his son's and squeezed it gently before letting go to hand him a clean plate. Severus took it from him with a small nod.
Taking the initiative, McGonagall began a conversation with Dumbledore, breaking the shocked silence that Severus's entrance had caused. Gradually, the students and teachers resumed what they had been doing. Neville finally picked himself up off the floor and returned to his proper seat.
At the Head Table, Severus ate little and it was not long before he excused himself and disappeared out the door. The Headmaster remained at the table only long enough to swallow the last of the tea in his cup before getting up and following him.
Watching the Headmaster leave, the rest of the staff fidgeted in their chairs. McGonagall, gathering her patience, resolved not to follow her friend even though she was dying to know where Severus and his students had been. She knew Dumbledore needed some time to speak to Severus alone first. She'd give them ten minutes.
As soon as he was out of the public eye, Severus led the mask fall. His proud stance collapsed and his eyes lost their focus as exhaustion threatened to overwhelm him. Trying to keep moving, he nearly fell, tripping over his own feet, when his father was suddenly beside him, supporting him.
"Severus," Dumbledore said, the earlier concern coming back with a vengeance, "My child, what's wrong?"
Severus shook his head and clung to his father's arm. "Just tired," he whispered, closing his eyes and leaning against the older wizard. "Just tired."
"Tired!" Dumbledore exclaimed, wrapping an arm around his son's shoulders. "Severus, you are beyond tired."
Severus didn't even have the energy to shrug. He sighed and slowly opened his eyes. "Try locking yourself in with the entire Slytherin House when they are angry with you and see if you feel that it's safe to fall asleep."
Dumbledore gently pushed a soft strand of auburn hair out of Severus's exhausted blue eyes. He knew there was a lot that he and Severus needed to discuss, but it wasn't imperative to do so right now. "We'll talk about that later. Right now you need to get some sleep." Dumbledore smiled, and held up a hand to ward off Severus's next question. "And don't worry, I'll charm the door so that your colleagues can't bother you."
"Thank you," Severus replied as his eyes began to close again.
The next day the Potions Professor failed to show up for breakfast again, but the Headmaster assured the school that he'd be teaching.
"Have you seen Hermione?" Ron asked Harry as they headed down to the dungeons for their class.
Harry shook his head. "Not since breakfast. And she's still not talking to anyone," he reminded his friend.
Ron winced. "Right. I almost forgot."
The other evening there had been an emergency meeting in the Gryffindor Common Room. Everyone in their House had been present to discuss their 'new teacher'. There had been a lot of debate but finally everyone had decided that Professor Snape had been an act and that Potions was about to become a lot more bearable.
Except Hermione. She still clung to her theory that the Potions Professor had not changed. For once, everyone disagreed with her. That of course, put her in a foul mood.
Ron pushed open the door to the Potions classroom and looked in. "Hey," he said turning back around to Harry, "She's already here."
Harry and Ron took their seats near their female friend who already had her books open around her. "Morning Hermione!" Ron said, trying to hard to be cheerful.
Hermione turned slowly. "Good morning," she answered, not attempting to mask her annoyance. Then she turned sharply, hitting Ron in the face with her hair, and went back to her book.
Ron looked at Harry and shrugged. He had tried to be nice, and she hit him with her hair on purpose! He just didn't get girls and their moods. He had a feeling that he never would.
Students began trickling into the room and an instant difference was seen between the students from the two houses. The Gryffindors entered their Potions classroom cheerfully for the first time and were chatting with one another at full volume. The Slytherins, however, found their seats immediately and sat there, some with arms folded across their chests, sulking.
Ron couldn't keep from grinning when he saw Malfoy scowl as he took his seat near Crabbe and Goyle. After enduring Snape's wrath for years, it was wonderful to know that the Slytherin weren't going to be favored anymore. He couldn't help but gloat a little.
"So how is your new Head of House?" Ron called to Malfoy. Several Slytherins glared at him and Pansy turned around and with a snarl told Ron where to stick his wand. But Malfoy ranked his short nails across his desktop and didn't say anything.
Severus swore again, and forced himself into a walk. It would not be dignified to been seen running through the dungeons. But being late would be even more humiliating. He had slept most of the previous day waking briefly a few times before falling back to sleep. But his father hadn't felt that was quite enough and had removed his alarm clock so that he would sleep in.
Severus quickly opened the door to his office and dumped the books in his arms on the table. Through the opposite door he could see the students as they waited for the bell to ring. Severus reached for the charm around his neck and found that the chain was caught on his clothes. Cursing under his breath, he untangled it, and then tried to smooth his hair flat.
The bell rang just as Severus walked into the classroom. He went directly to the chalkboard and began writing on it. Behind him, the class continued to talk. Severus turned and folded his arms across chest, glaring. When the class continued to ignore him, he turned back to the board and dragged his fingernails across the blackboard, drawing out the horrible screeching noise as long as he could.
The students clasped their hands to their ears and hollered in protest before falling silent. With the classroom effectively quiet, Severus pointed to what he had written on the board. "As now both the Headmaster and I respond to Dumbledore, you must say Professor when referring to me and Headmaster for him." With the chalk, he underlined his family name on the board. "Don't forget." With that, he assigned their project and settled down at his desk to grade papers.
Ron glanced uneasily at Harry, who shrugged. Slowly Harry got out a cauldron and they began. Everything was quiet for awhile as the students went about preparing the potion. Experimentally, the Gryffindors were a bit chatty. The display by their teacher had shaken their confidence but they weren't ready to abandon their hope. The Slytherins remained sullen and many of them shot angry glares in Professor Dumbledore's direction.
Severus, for his part, ignored the entire class and directed his focus on a pile of neglected paperwork.
Fifteen minutes had passed easily when Neville came to a halt. Crossing his fingers for luck, he tossed a few spiders' legs into the potion and winced as it turned a light shade of lavender. Was it supposed to do that?
A worried glance around showed that everyone else's potion had turned a bright orange. Desperately, Neville looked around for Hermione. She was in her corner, mumbling to herself, totally engrossed in her work. Was she was still mad her at housemates? Probably, Neville figured.
Finally, seeing no alternative, Neville took a deep breath and called out timidly, "Professor Snape?"
Severus didn't even pause in his work. Without lifting his head he simply replied, "Five points from Gryffindor."
A few of the Gryffindors nearest him paused their work in unhappy surprise. Neville looked back at his potion, it was smoking now. "Professor Snape?" he tried again.
"Five points from Gryffindor," the teacher answered.
The potion was starting to smell funny now and the whole class had backed away from it in case it should decide to explode, as Neville's potions had a tendency to do. Frightened by both the state of the potion and his classmates' reactions, Neville yelped, "Professor Snape!"
Severus looked up and with a nasty sneer replied, "Five points from Gryffindor," and then returned pointedly to his work.
Having hurried to Neville's side, Hermione suddenly remembered. "Professor Dumbledore!" she called.
Now the Potions Master stood and, sparing Neville a loathing glare, marched over to the very sad looking potion and zapped the mixture away with his wand before turning viciously on the poor Gryffindor that had a unfortunately poor talent with the subject.
"Why didn't you call me sooner, Mr. Longbottom?" Severus hissed, disgust written clearly on his face.
Neville let out an odd, disbelieving squeak.
Severus gestured to the still smoking cauldron. "Tell me, did you just sit there and watch it burn for fun or are you just a complete idiot?"
Neville looked hopelessly at Hermione and then back at the teacher. "I-I-" he tried to start.
"Silence!" Severus snapped, "I have decided that I don't want to hear your pathetic excuses for your incompetence. Fifteen points from Gryffindor. Now," he pointed to the cauldron. "Start over." With that, he stomped back over to his desk and scribbled something that looked suspiciously like a failing grade on the top paper.
On the Slytherin side of the room, the students looked at Malfoy, the unanimous leader of their year, to see how he responded. The blond Slytherin only shrugged and went back to work. Still, even as angry as he still was with his Head of House, he did have to admit it was nice to see some of his old teacher in this blue-eyed Dumbledore.
Severus didn't stay long at his desk before he was up again, patrolling the class. Points were dolled out to the Slytherins and were points taken off the Gryffindors at a rate previously unseen.
It wasn't until class was nearly over that another major incident occurred. Most of the students were coming to the most difficult and most crucial step in preparing the potion correctly. The class had been studying the technique, but that didn't mean it was easy.
Goyle looked uncertainly at his potion. It was a little weak and a little watery, but it had managed to hold up so far. Slowly, he reread the instructions in the book and looked at the ingredients spread over his workspace. Finally, shaking his head, he looked for his Head of House. "Professor Snape?" he called. Severus paused in the critiquing of Lavender's potion and went over to stand next to Goyle's cauldron.
"I'm sorry," the Professor started, "I didn't hear you correctly." Goyle blinked in confusion. Malfoy quickly nudged him in the gut and pointed with the tip of the knife in his hand at the board.
"Oh, sorry," Goyle said quickly, as if speed could erase what had already been said, "Professor Dumbledore," the teacher nodded for him to continue. "I need help," Goyle admitted as he gestured to his workspace.
Malfoy looked from the Potions Master to the irritated Gryffindor students. His own potion was almost done and he figured that now was as good a time as any to test a theory. Slowly Malfoy stood up, his wand in his hand and a bat wing dangling in the other.
Malfoy waited until the teacher looked up from the student cauldrons and saw him. Then Malfoy took careful air and threw the bat wing into Harry's nearly finished potion while sending a hex at Ron.
Before Harry could open his mouth to protest, the potion exploded, showering him in a very smelly, goopy mixture. Hermione shrieked as a dark gray elephant trunk suddenly sprouted from Ron's face and white rabbit ears sprouted comically from the sides of his head.
The Slytherins roared in laughter. "Professor!" Harry yelled in outrage, trying to shake off the potion that he was covered in.
Severus leaned against the student table and crossed his arms across his chest. "Problem Potter?" he asked almost innocently before gesturing to the disaster.
Harry motioned to his filthy clothes and then to his friend's ears and trunk. "Look at when he did!" he said, pointing an accusing finger at Malfoy.
Malfoy smirked and shrugged his shoulders.
The Potions Master smiled evilly. "I didn't see anything," he said, reminding Malfoy eerily of the Headmaster. "But your potion is ruined and you do not have time to start over. 20 points from Gryffindor for incompetence and the mess that you will be cleaning up during your detention."
Harry gaped at the teacher open mouthed. "You can't do that!" he shouted, the words coming out of his mouth before he could stop them. The Potions Master straightened slowly, anger building in his blue eyes.
Ron swallowed hard. He knew that look. Seems Hermione was right. Damn. "Been nice knowing you, Harry," Ron whispered.
Severus walked slowly over to the nervous Gryffindor, time stretching on forever. The students around them were completely silent with fear and expatiation. "If you have a problem with the way I teach my class, Mr. Potter," Severus hissed, causing the boy to jump, "I suggest you take your complaint to the Headmaster."
Malfoy snickered at the pale, furious look on Harry's face. Who in their right mind was actually going to go complain to Dumbledore when the one they were complaining about was the man's son. Harry might be a superstar, but shit! The Dumbledores were practically the equivalent of Wizarding Royalty.
"10 points from Gryffindor," Severus said, moving back to his desk, "Because I feel like it."
The Gryffindors looked ready to kill, but there was nothing they could do at the moment. Angry and humiliated, they returned to their work.
Hermione, forgiving her friends for doubting her, risked death to get permission to take Ron to the hospital and promised Neville what help she could give without getting caught when she got back.
Severus was relieved when the day was finally over. He had taken a total of 186 points from the three houses (92 of those points from Gryffindor) and awarded his house with 54.
Now he was looking forward to hiding from everyone for the rest of the night. 'Hiding,' he thought to himself. That wasn't his word, it was one his father liked to use to describe his absences. He 'removed himself from aggravating company.' He never hid from anyone. Minerva, of course, doesn't count.
Severus looked up, almost startled; he hadn't been aware that someone had entered the room. He must be really tired if he hadn't noticed the door opening and a person coming inside.
Severus watched the student for a second, wondering what the impromptu meeting could be about, and then decided just to ask. "Yes Draco?"
The Slytherin student paused for a second, as if he wasn't sure what he wanted to say. Severus tried his best to wait patiently. Shame patience wasn't something he had in great quantity.
Finally Draco looked up and met his teacher's eyes without wavering. "How long are you going to keep this up?" he asked.
Severus began cleaning up the potions ingredients that had been used from the student cabinet, needing to do something other than stand still. "The obsessive point deduction and detention?" he asked his student as he put the jar of cat ears back into the cupboard, "Probably not very long. As soon as one of the Gryffindors show some of the bravery they are supposed to be famous for, the Headmaster will ask me stop."
Severus looked over his shoulder to make sure Draco was still listening to him. "The Headmaster, of course, knows that I'm doing it in the first place."
Draco snorted in something Severus could neither identify as humor or disgust. Perhaps it was a little of both.
So now he decides to favor the Slytherins," Draco growled, his cold gray eyes narrowing.
"Don't be arrogant," Severus warned him with a sharp snap that made the student flinch. "Slytherins have always been treated specially by Headmaster Dumbledore."
"But my Father said that when you were in school," Draco started to protest when the Potions Master cut him off.
"When I was in school," Severus corrected him, "I was the uncontested favorite student of the Headmaster. It bothered the hell out of students and teachers alike. That is why they treated me the way they did. I could never understand why I was drawn to him. The fact that he treated me better than any one I had ever known was not enough to make me seek out his company. I was always weary of kindness, yet I trusted him completely from the moment he first spoke to me, shortly after the feast on my first day."
"So what was it?" Draco asked, forgetting in his curiosity to be angry with his Head of House. "What made you so sure of him?"
Severus paused for a second, trying to think of how exactly to explain. He wasn't really sure of what it had been himself. It just was. "Sometimes," he finally began, "Sometimes a very powerful magical bond is formed between a parent and child. Though I had no memory of him, somehow on some level of sub-consciousness, I think I recognized him. Draco," he said, his voice softening,
"I was not mis-sorted, though I know that is what many of your housemates are wondering. I was placed in Slytherin and that stupid hat had no intention of putting me in Gryffindor. The house of the parent does not guarantee what house the child will belong to. I was not, and still am not, Gryffindor material. Had I been anything else, I would have been in Ravenclaw."
Severus shook his head and folded his arms across his chest. "Slytherins get away with stuff that would get students from other houses expelled," he added, changing the subject as be began to become uncomfortable talking about himself. "We always have."
He paused in the clean up of his desk and raised an eyebrow at the silent student. "Don't you have homework?" he asked with a slight edge to his voice, signaling the end of the interrogation.
Draco nodded, a small smile finding it's place on his face as he recognized the tone he had heard the Potions Master use many, many times, and re-shouldered his book bag. "Thank you, Professor," he said.
Draco was almost out the door when he halted at the threshold and turned back. The Slytherin Head of House had returned to his desk and to the never-ending stack of essays he so loved to torture students with.
With a trademark smirk, Draco swept out the door. Knowing the current Gryffindors, he'd have a week before he would be held accountable for his actions.
Silently thanking Professor Dumbledore for the opportunity, he hurried off to the library to check up on a hex he had been wanting to try on Granger's hair. He hoped she liked snakes.
As soon as he heard the door shut, Severus lay down the quill he had been using and rested his head into his hands with a long, tired sigh.
How long he stayed like that, he didn't know. But at some time, he became aware of a gentle pair of hands on his head and back. Slowly, he sat up and looked back, though he already knew who he'd see.
"You missed dinner again, Severus," Dumbledore said, brushing the long hair off his son's cheek.
Severus shrugged and looked away. "I was distracted," he answered softly. Then his eyes came back to meet those that seemed a mirror of his own. "I won't get them all back," he suddenly confessed, unable to keep what was bothering him locked away any longer, "Betrayal, to a Slytherin, is one of the worst crimes that can be committed against them."
"Oh Severus," Dumbledore said, cupping his child's face in his hands, "You can't save them all. You will loose some, we all do. Count the ones that don't follow that dark path that everyone seems to think they will take. Count them, not the others."
Dumbledore pulled Severus to his feet and then into a hug. The young wizard would have to work on rebuilding the trust between himself and his students, but Dumbledore had faith in him. Many of the students wanted to trust him. Severus understood them like none of the other teachers could even come close to claiming. Severus had been in their position and had the ability to help them when they felt no one else could.
Dumbledore was distracted from his thoughts when Severus sighed and snuggled closer against him. Silently, the Headmaster thanked whatever higher power there was to thank for blessing him with this child. He smiled and gently kissed his son's forehead. "I love you, Severus," he whispered.
Without realizing it, Severus began to cry. His life had gotten so much more complicated, but he had never been happier. Funny how that happens sometimes.
"Love you too, Father."
Thanks: To Meredith for helping me with Severus's middle name. It is pronounced DEE-drick (last part rhymes with brick)
Author's Note: Thank you to everyone who has been so patient with me. I apologize for how long it took me to get this last chapter up. Hopefully my next endeavor will progress faster.
Coming soon: Look for the squeal 'What You Leave Behind'. It will feature Sabra, Severus's mother.