This is going to be an extremely long last chapter so bear with me.
More Than a Promise
Nymphadora Tonks appeared with a slight crack that distilled the air in a deserted clearing some kilometers away from Little Whinging with a terrified Dudley struggling to free himself from her grip. "Oh stop that. I didn't hurt you," she said irritably her hair turned a black color to showcase her irritation.
A crack sounded and Albus and Minerva appeared with Vernon and Petunia respectfully. Vernon growled angrily before pulling his arm quickly from Albus's grip and Petunia, trembling with fear, slowly moved away from Minerva's side.
"Get away from me, you freaks," Vernon snarled angrily.
"We freaks just saved your life," Tonks snapped hair flashing red in anger.
"Calm down, Nymphadora," Minerva said gently.
"Don't call me Nymphadora!"
"You're going to have to leave England yet again, Dursley," Albus said. "This time, however, you will be leaving on our terms and not your own. You are only lucky Severus managed to deliver a warning even though it was at a great cost to his health."
"Why should I care about Severus?" Petunia sneered. "He was the one that turned my sister into a freak."
"Lily was not a freak," Minerva hissed angrily her eyes flashing with rage. "Severus did not turn her into a witch, she was born with magic and therefore always was a witch."
Petunia looked like she was about to say something else but, before she could, Albus shook his head. "We are not safe here. Come, we will take you to a hotel in France for the time being," he said before he grabbed Vernon's arm, turned on the spot and apparated away.
Minerva and Tonks followed with Petunia and Dudley in their hands.
They reappeared just beyond the city limits of Paris and the wizard and two witches quickly made sure their clothing was muggle style before they entered the city with the terrified and angry family just behind him. Dudley was gazing around with huge eyes before he spotted a restaurant nearby.
"Mummy, dad, I'm hungry," he whined.
"Let's get you settled in before you think about getting something to eat," Albus said before Petunia or Vernon could reply.
"But I'm hungry! Dad, tell these freaks to let me get something to eat or I'll waste away."
Tonks snorted. "You wouldn't waste away if you went a week without eating," she said curtly hair turning back to black to show how irritated she was.
"Mummy, the freak insulted me," Dudley cried.
Tonks scowled before waving her wand at Dudley and he suddenly couldn't speak anymore. "Much better," she grunted before she dropped back to bring up the rear of the group as Albus and Minerva led the way to a nearby hotel.
After getting the small family checked into the hotel, Tonks, Minerva and Albus walked out of the hotel and Tonks let out a long sigh of relief. "Those muggles are horrible," she exclaimed.
"I told you so," Minerva said to Albus.
"Yes you and Severus told me so," Albus said with a sigh as he led the way beyond the outskirts of Paris before the three of them apparated to the wards surrounding Grimmauld's Place.
The three of them reappeared just beyond the wards and walked past the wards before entering Headquarters. Sirius met them at the entrance to the apartment building. "How'd everything go? Harry explained everything," he said.
"It went all right," Albus said. "We took the Dursleys to Paris for the time being. I only hope Severus wasn't caught sending us that warning when he did."
"The greasy git can take care of himself," Sirius said with a snort and Tonks frowned when she heard the comment within the insult Sirius had just uttered.
"How's Harry?" Minerva asked.
"He's all right. He has a slight headache but I gave him a pain reliever and he went to take a nap in his room," replied Sirius.
"Let's get going. Minerva, do me a favor and contact the rest of the Order of the Phoenix, I believe this is something they should know about."
Minerva nodded before walking away and Albus and Tonks followed Sirius as he led the way toward the conference room of the apartment building.
Flight flew above the forest heading toward Prince Cottage in an attempt to get back to the cottage before his godfather arrived. He knew that his godfather was still at a meeting with the dark lord and that meant that Flight had a good chance at reaching the cottage before his godfather realized he was gone. He dived down toward the ground the instant he got past the wards and shimmered into his human form.
Draco then made his way quickly to the door and slipped into the cottage before gazing around. "Nova?" he called.
A bark sounded and Nova came rushing toward him before tackling him to the ground and immediately began licking him all over the face. Draco grimaced. "Stop it, Nova. Get off," he exclaimed pushing the wolf off him.
Nova barked happily before walking around in a circle around him and Draco chuckled before walking around the cottage to make sure Nova didn't destroy the cottage. When he was sure everything was normal, Draco glanced at the wolf who lowered himself to the ground and began to lick his fur.
Draco shook his head at the wolf's antics before walking into the living room to wait for his godfather to arrive. At the same time, he hoped his godfather didn't get caught after sending that Patronus to warn Dumbledore and the others that the Death Eaters were going to attack.
I hope you will be all right, Uncle Severus, Draco thought. He frowned when the floo flared to life and Harry stepped into the cottage with Dumbledore just behind him.
"Severus isn't back yet?" Dumbledore asked sounding worried.
Draco shook his head. "I didn't realize he left your little muggle visiting group," he said.
Harry tossed him a look that instantly told the blonde wizard that Harry knew he was there throughout the entire conversation.
"Well, Harry, please let me know when Severus returns," Dumbledore said glancing at the dark haired boy. "And I'd best be getting back. I have some people I need to speak to."
Harry nodded and Dumbledore floo traveled away. Harry glanced at Draco. "So why were you at the Dursleys?" he asked.
Draco shrugged. "Curiosity," he replied.
"So you know where Snape went?"
Draco nodded. "I saw him disapparate from the house and I saw the attack. You guys got out of there just in time actually. The Death Eaters attacked within seconds of you leaving and Severus was among the group."
"How'd you know that?"
"He spotted me while I was flying away and he was close to the back of the group. From the looks of it, he was late but, thankfully, Voldemort didn't notice," Draco replied.
"You all failed me," Voldemort snarled angrily pointing his wand at his gathered Inner Circle. "Crucio!"
Severus and the other Death Eaters collapsed on the ground as agonizing pain exploded in his body. Voldemort wasn't entirely sure as to how the muggles and the wizards knew they were coming since the wards were gone.
"We must have had a spy within the group," Voldemort hissed angrily. "Other wise, they would never have known we were coming."
Severus kept his Occlumency skills as strong as he could possibly make them as Voldemort scanned the Inner Circle's mind with Legilimancy. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how Severus looked at it, one of the newest members of the Inner Circle was trembling with fear and Voldemort noticed this immediately.
"Avada Kedavra!" Voldemort barked out and the killing curse slammed into the unfortunate member and he was killed instantly.
Nagini slithered into the open at that moment before examining the dead Death Eater and slithering to Voldemort's side.
"Return to your predetermined duties," Voldemort ordered.
The group stood up and Severus slowly made his way toward the floo but, before he could, Lucius stopped him. "Severus, I want to speak with you alone," he said coolly.
"About what, Lucius?" asked Severus calmly his eyes and face impassive.
"It's about Draco."
Severus felt fear well up inside him but he quenched it down. "What about Draco?" he asked forcing himself to sneer out Draco's name as he followed Lucius into the kitchen.
"Draco betrayed us by expressing his desires to not follow the dark lord and we have no idea as to where he is. He trusts you, however, Severus and Narcissa and I have agreed to give custody of him to you. When he does come to you, which will be eventually as he cannot survive on his own, make sure he pays for betraying the dark lord," Lucius said with a sinister smirk.
Severus resisted the urge to wipe that smirk off of his former friend's face. "I shall, Lucius," he replied all the while grimacing inwardly about how much he wished he could just hex his supposed allies to the moon and get on with his life.
"Very good. This shall be kept strictly between us although if you get tired of making him pay then you may always bring him back before the dark lord," Lucius said.
Lucius summoned the papers before handing them to Severus who signed them easily. He knew that he would have gotten custody of Draco the instant Lucius and Narcissa no longer wanted him as their son and the papers were only to make it legal.
"I shall file this with the Ministry right away and keep it on the down low for hte time being," Lucius said taking the papers back. "I would give you Draco's stuff right away but, for some reason, his stuff is gone so I figure he took everything with him."
Severus nodded before walking out of the kitchen and floo traveling back to Prince Cottage. Once he arrived in the living room of the cottage, he sighed before summoning the Anti-Cruciatus curse and drank it down with one gulp.
"Uncle Severus, are you all right?" asked Draco walking to the master spy's side.
"I've been better. Is Ha…Potter here?"
"Yes, Uncle Severus. He arrived about half an hour before you did. Oh and Professor Dumbledore told Harry to let him know when you got back," Draco replied.
Severus nodded. "By the way, your father signed over custody of you to me," he said. "He asked me to 'make sure he pays for betraying the dark lord'. His words, not mine."
Draco grimaced. "So I'm officially your ward?"
"What about Harry?"
"The Dursleys signed over custody before the Death Eaters attacked so he is my ward as well. Will you find him, Dragon?"
Draco nodded before jogging out of the living room and he reappeared a moment with Harry and Nova just behind him. "…and Uncle Severus said that the Dursleys signed over custody to him," he was saying when he came within earshot of the master spy.
"I was there, Draco," Harry reminded the blonde wizard.
"I will be back later, Draco," Severus said before he walked over to the floo and floo traveled back to Grimmauld's Place.
Albus glanced at him as Severus entered the conference room before taking a seat in a seat in the shadows of the room as far from Black as he could possibly get. He briefly noticed Lupin and Tonks were sitting side by side while McGonagall was sitting beside Moody and Shacklebolt with the Weasleys sitting next to Black.
"We managed to get the Dursleys out of the house and Harry here after Severus's warning arrived," Albus said. "The Dursleys are currently taking a trip in Paris and I have spoken with Madame Maxine. She has enlisted the help of Fleur Delacour and Bill Weasley to help her prevent the Dursleys from returning to Britain for the time being. Severus, what happened after the attack failed?"
"The dark lord was not too happy," Severus replied calmly. "He tortured every single member of the Inner Circle and put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the newest member of the Inner Circle and killed him."
Albus nodded. "Also," he said, "as Sirius has know doubt learned, Severus has custody of Harry Potter."
Black sneered angrily before glaring at Severus. "And why would you do that considering you hate him?" he spat.
"I do not hate Potter, Black," sneered Severus. "And it was either I get custody of Potter or Albus would send the boy back to the Dursleys. I may not like him but even I am not cold-hearted enough to send him back to those bastards."
"Oh how very kind of you," Black said voice dripping with sarcasm. "I understood that you had Snape watch over Harry for the time being, Albus, but why the bloody hell did you let him have custody?"
"Think of it this way, Sirius," Albus said calmly. "Will Voldemort," Severus flinched, "even think about looking for Harry with Severus considering Severus is a member of his Inner Circle?"
Black glowered angrily. "I suppose you have a point," he muttered before he folded his arms across his chest and added, "That doesn't mean I have to like it."
"All right. I suppose this meeting is at a close for now," Albus said before he stood up and the people in the meeting gradually made their way back to their homes or back to the Ministry.
Remus walked over to join Severus just before the master spy could floo travel back to Prince Cottage and he glanced at the werewolf with a sneer on his face. "Did you want something, Lupin?" he asked curtly.
"I was wondering if you wouldn't mind if I came over and spoke with Harry for a bit," Remus replied.
"Actually, I do mind so no."
Remus sighed. "I know that you really don't like me considering what happened in sixth year but Harry is still my best friend's son and I should be allowed to speak with him," he said.
"Then why don't you just wait until he comes over here?" Severus retorted glaring at the werewolf.
Remus let out a long sigh. "Fine, you want to know the real reason I want to go over? I want to see how Harry is settling in," he said.
"So you think I cannot take care of him like I am supposed to?"
"Now you are just twisting everything I am saying," Remus said getting a bit frustrated with the Potions Professor. "I know that you promised Lily to take care of him but, after hearing of everything Harry went through and actually meeting those idiotic Dursleys, I am trying to tell you that Harry will need more than just a place to eat and sleep. He will need comfort, a sense of security and, possibly, love as well."
Severus glared at him and a brief flash of pain entered his eyes before he looked toward the floo although Remus heard him murmur "the last person I loved was Lily and look how well that turned out?"
"Severus, you know that Lily loved you and would want you to love Harry as of he was your own. You are pledged to protect him but Harry needs more if he's going to really overcome what the Dursleys put him through," Remus said gently.
Severus glared at him, his obsidian eyes flaring with anger. "I know what I pledged, Lupin," he spat. "And that is all I will do, protect him."
"Would Lily want you to just protect Harry?"
"Don't bring Lily into this, Lupin!"
"I can and I will because it is the truth. I was there when you made that pledge, Severus, and you remember that I was there. You swore that you would protect Harry and give him love and care as well as treat him as your own should anything happen to Lily and James. And, becuase Albus placed him with the Dursleys and you thought he was being treated like James, Severus, you could not fulfill your vow but now you can.
Seveurs glared angrily at Remus but Remus knew that he knew that he spoke the truth. Remus had been there; he had been the one to cast the spell that would bind Severus to the Unbreakable Vow he swore. Also, it was obvious by the look in Severus's eyes that he had completely forgotten about the other two terms of the vow he had sworn to Lily thirteen years earlier.
Severus looked away glaring angrily at the wall as if it had done something to anger him. "I took him in to my home and gave him shelter and food. I don't think I can do more than that, Lupin. It's been too long," he added the last part so quietly that Remus barely heard him.
"Just try, Severus."
Severus glared at the werewolf. "The only reason I will even consider your suggestion, Lupin, is because of that vow I swore," he said flatly before he floo traveled away.
"I don't see why you bothered trying, Moony."
Remus glanced over his shoulder to find Sirius walking over to join him with narrowed gray eyes. "You heard everything," he said phrasing it as a statement.
Sirius nodded. "He'll always be that greasy git, Moony. Why did you even try?"
"Because, right now Padfoot, he is all Harry has. You are still not cleared yet after all. Severus is the only one that can help Harry heal."
"I can help Harry heal too."
"Yes but you are still a convicted felon until we can find Pettigrew," Remus reminded the Animagus.
Sirius sighed. "I guess so," he muttered.
Severus sighed as he walked into the living room of Prince Cottage before gazing around for his wards. Nova wasn't there as well but Severus figured that the wolf and his two wards were outside. That meant that Severus had some time alone with his own thoughts. He couldn't help but think about Lupin's suggestion; as he had said, he had been the third person involved when Lily asked Severus to swear that unbreakable vow but Severus didn't know if he could.
He had to admit, although probably never aloud, that Harry was more like Lily than James and the truce has kept them from killing each other. Plus, Severus, although he was too stubborn to admit it out loud, had been concerned and hoping that he had managed to cast that Patronus in time.
Severus knew that he wouldn't start caring for the boy instantaneously because of how long it has been since he last cared for someone but he would at least put in an effort to help the boy and not just because of the vow that he only recently remembered. Severus remembered his own childhood; his abusive father, his submissive but very kind mother who died just after his sixth year and the years he spent in a life of poverty and abuse until he finally had enough and went to the cottage. He understood what Harry had suffered through and, like Lupin said, he would be the only one who could help Harry through that.
He sighed as the conversation he had with his best friend and only love when he swore the Unbreakable Vow about thirteen years earlier came back into his mind after so many years of it being on the edge of his subconscious.
"Lily, do you honestly think I can do this?" a younger Severus asked quietly.
Lily smiled gently at her best friend. "I do, Severus. You've always had a kind heart even if you hid it behind your seemingly emotionless façade. No one could have survived long as a spy if they didn't have that kind of kindness," she said.
Severus looked away from Lily. "I don't think that I can, Lily. I already made the biggest mistake of my life by siding with the dark lord."
"Yes you did, Sev, but you repented and went to Dumbledore for help."
"Not until after I delivered that blasted prophecy!"
Lily placed a hand on Severus's shoulder. "But it was because you warned Dumbledore that Voldemort would be coming after us that you atoned for that mistake," she said gently not noticing or not acknowledging Severus's flinch at the mention of the dark lord's name. "I want you to help me, Severus. I don't trust our Secret Keeper so I want you to do something for me."
"I want you to swear an Unbreakable Vow."
"I'll do it," he said softly causing Lupin, who had been called to join them by Lily, to glance at him in surprise. He had been hesitant on letting Severus be alone with Lily when they came to Hogwarts after Dumbledore went to retrieve them after learning of who Voldemort would target so Lily had agreed to let him come with them. James hadn't been too happy but, nevertheless, agreed with Lily to keep Dumbledore busy.
"I don't want to sound mean but I really don't think Albus has Severus's best interests at heart even though he gave him a chance to repent and become a spy for the Order," she had said to her husband when she handed her son to him.
Lily stretched out a hand and Severus took it before Lupin, on an urging from Lily, placed his wand on the joined hands.
"Do you, Severus Snape, promise to protect Harry should anything happen to James and I?" Lily asked.
"I do." A thin serpentine line of reddish light circled around the linked hands.
"Do you promise to help Harry whenever he needs help?" Lily asked.
"I do." A serpentine line of blue light encircled the joined hands.
"Do you promise to care for Harry should there ever come a time when he needs it?"
"I do." The last serpentine line, green light, encircled the joined hands and forever bound Severus to his word.
Severus, I know that you can do this even if you think you can't," Lily said releasing Severus's hand while Lupin lowered his wand. "And Severus, you will always be my first and my best friend. Never forget that."
Those were the last words Lily ever spoke to Severus because she went into hiding that same day and a couple of months later, on that dreaded Halloween night, she was gone. Severus had been the one to find Lily and that was the first time since his mother's death that he actually cried. He remembered that after finally getting his tears under control, he had tried to find the boy he was supposed to protect, care for and love but the boy was already gone.
He had then gone to Albus who informed him that Harry had been given to his relatives. Severus knew Petunia but he had been so blinded by his grief that he figured Petunia wouldn't pass on her hatred of magic and her sister onto her nephew and would raise him to be as spoiled as his father had been. And, since Albus never once hinted at anything going wrong within the household, he stuck by this beliefs.
At least until recently and the wards around the household fell and he was forced to rescue the boy and learn a few surprising truths about Harry's home life. It was then that he knew he had to do everything he possibly could to keep Harry out of that household, his vow and the promise he made was not the only reason. Severus, as he had told Black, was not cold hearted enough to leave a child at the mercy of someone as horrible as the Dursleys.
When did Potter become Harry? Severus wondered silently when he realized he had just referred to the boy by his first name. In truth, he has been nearly calling the boy by his first name so many times since they arrived at Prince Cottage.
Severus blinked before turning his obsidian gaze to his godson who was standing in the living room gazing at him with concern in his eyes. Harry and Nova were sitting nearby also watching everything.
"Yes?" he asked.
"You seemed distracted, Uncle," Draco said.
Severus shook his head to clear his thoughts. "I suppose I was just thinking about something."
"A promise I made fourteen years ago." Without waiting for Harry to put two and two together, Severus led the way into the kitchen. "Come, let's get something to eat."
Draco nodded before jogging into the kitchen and Harry stood up before following him although he did glance at Severus as he sat down at the table. Severus briefly allowed him to look into the eyes that reminded him so much of his beloved Lily before he looked away and summoned the food to the table.
"Something's going on with Snape," Harry murmured later that day as he sat down on the couch with Nova resting at his feet and Draco lounging in one of the chairs in the living room.
"Like what?" the blonde wizard asked curiously.
"I don't know. I've never seen him this distracted before. Did he overhear something during the meeting that has unsettled him or what?"
"I don't know honestly. Why don't you just ask him?"
"Are you bloody crazy? He won't tell me and it'll likely just lead to another argument that will probably end up breaking the truce," Harry said with a snort.
"Harry, just ask him. I'm sure the most he will do is tell you to he won't, or can't, tell you and then you just have to leave it like that. There won't be an argument if you just accept his answer and leave him be," Draco said. "He's not an unreasonable man."
"Unless you're a Gryffindor."
Draco snorted. "Just because Sev doesn't take points from Slytherin doesn't mean we don't get punished. We usually get points taken in private or have to serve detentions that are handed out in private. Being a Slytherin doesn't mean we get away with everything you foolish Gryffindors do."
"Who are you calling foolish, you sneaky snake?"
"Why thank you. I take that as a compliment."
"It wasn't meant as one."
"So, I took it as one."
Harry scowled good naturedly at the blonde wizard who was slowly becoming his friend. "Nova," he called and the wolf lifted his head before glancing at Harry. "I think Draco could use a bath."
Nova barked happily before leaping at Draco and began covering him with slobber licks.
"Stop it," Draco said laughing before he struggled to push the wolf off of him and added, "Now that was low, Harry, even for you."
Draco shook his head as he finally managed to push Nova off him. Nova merely barked again before circling in the area between the couch and the chair before sitting down and gazing at the two wizards with liquid brown eyes. Draco grumbled as he wiped the slobber off of his face.
Harry couldn't help it; he started laughing.
Draco glared at him but he smiled before shaking his head. "I'll get you back for that, Harry, a Slytherin always gets even," he boasted.
"Good luck with that," Harry said still laughing.
As laughter seemed a bit contagious, Draco started laughing as well.
Harry sobered after about ten minutes of laughing before he took a few deep breaths to get his breath back and glanced at Draco. "Do you really think if I ask him why he's so distracted?" he asked.
"Well, the worst he can do is tell you to leave him alone so I think you should. Do you want me to come with you and hold your hand like a little baby?"
"Nova, I think you missed a few spots."
Nova leapt up before tackling Draco and covering him with licks that caused the blonde wizard to scowl and laugh at the same time as he attempted to push the wolf off him.
"Where is he anyway?" Harry asked when Nova bounded off Draco and sat back down on the floor.
"I think he might be in his lab or in his room, I don't know honestly."
"I'll go find him then. If I don't come back then ask your godfather what happened," Harry said getting to his feet.
Draco snorted. "I doubt he'll kill you, Harry, for asking a simple question."
"I'll just say you were wondering as well."
Draco opened his mouth to protest before he closed it and shrugged. "Well I am wondering as well."
"Then why don't you ask him?"
"And get turned into potions ingredients because I disturbed him, not on your life."
"Oh so you want to make me the Boy-Who-Got-Turned-Into-Potions-Ingredients-Because-He-Disturbed-Snape?"
"Nah, that would be too much of a mouth full to say."
"Oh real original."
Harry smiled faintly before walking out of the living room and making his way toward Snape's room. He hesitated outside of it before raising a hand and knocking on the door.
"What?" Snape's voice snapped from within.
"Uh, Professor, can I ask you something?" Harry asked.
There was a moment of silence before the door opened and Snape glowered down at the small fourteen-year-old boy. "What Potter?" he asked curtly.
"Well, Draco and I were wondering why you've been so distracted since you got back from that Order meeting," Harry said.
Snape raised his eyebrows. "You both were wondering this?" He asked.
Snape narrowed his eyes as if contemplating whether to tell Harry or not. "I've been thinking about your mother," he said finally, "and a promise I made to her thirteen years ago."
"To protect me?"
Snape was silent for a long moment. "It was actually a bit more than that, Ha…Potter," he said.
Harry narrowed his eyes when he noticed the near slip up. "Why can't you just call me by my first name?" he asked curtly before he swore in his head. Why the bloody hell did I just blurt that out like that? He wondered silently.
Snape gazed at him for a long moment in silence so Harry rushed to explain before the spy got mad.
"I mean, if we're going to be living together and you're going to be my guardian then wouldn't it make sense to call me by my first name? I mean, you call Draco by his first name. And you also called me by my first name when we were visiting the Dursleys," Harry added quickly.
Snape was still silent although he didn't look mad. "Very well Harry," he said finally shocking Harry to the core.
Harry was silent for a long moment. "What did you mean by the promise was a bit more than to just protect me?" he asked finally.
Snape stepped out of the bedroom before closing the door behind him. "Let's go outside for a bit," he said before he swept past Harry and began to make his way outside after informing Draco of where they were going.
"Can Nova go with you? I think he wants to go out," Draco said and Harry noticed the wolf was at the door to the house pawing at it. He shook himself amazed at how much Nova acted like a dog.
Snape opened the door and Nova immediately rushed out of the cottage and Harry chuckled before following Snape outside.
The two of them walked over to the pond in the center of the backyard before Snape sat down and Harry sat down beside him gazing at the glistening waters.
"Your mother came to me about ten months after you had been born," Snape said finally. "Remember how I told you that your mother and I were friends for a while?"
Harry nodded. "You never explained why," he said.
Snape's eyes clouded with pain. "It was the worst mistake of my life that drove her away, even worse than taking the dark mark," he murmured before he sighed and added, "What I am about to tell you, Po…Harry, I want you to promise you will never tell anyone about it."
Harry figured it was very important that he agree especially if he wanted to know why Snape thinking about his mother and the promise he made to her was distracting him so much. "I promise, professor."
"That means your friends, your mangy mutt of a godfather and Draco."
Harry bristled slightly at the insult to his godfather but decided not to voice it. "All right, professor, I promise."
Snape sighed. "When we were in fifth year, your father and Black were, to put it mildly, being prats. Whether you believe me on that part or not is up to you. Nevertheless, they basically humiliated me in front of everyone but Lily came in to stop them. I got mad at her, I was humiliated, Harry, and I didn't know what I was saying. I called her a 'mudblood' and she broke off our friendship soon after that."
Harry's eyes went wide. "You called you a 'mudblood'?" he exclaimed.
Snape nodded. "However, I was filled with so much remorse for what I did afterwards that I tried my hardest to apologize to her. She wouldn't listen to me, however, and wouldn't accept it."
"I bet. I wouldn't accept it either," Harry said narrowing his eyes.
Snape was silent for a long moment his obsidian gaze locked on the lake. "I went to my mother for advice," he went on. "She was very sick at the moment but she listened to me and then suggested I send a letter to Lily, addressed anonymously so that Lily hopefully wouldn't toss it away before she even read it, and explain everything. Tell Lily everything I was too humiliated and upset to tell her face to face and inform her. I did so."
"Did she read it? My mother?"
Snape nodded. "She wrote back explaining how she had acted irrationally and wanted to be my friend again," he said. "She forgave me for that big mistake."
"But why did you take the dark mark?"
Snape was silent for a long moment. "My mother died the summer before my sixth year. That upset me greatly because it meant I was left to deal with my muggle father until I was of age. Lucius Malfoy used my grief at my mother's death and my hatred for my muggle father to coax me into joining the dark lord. After I took the mark, the second greatest mistake I ever made, things basically went downhill from there. Your mother still listened to me, though. She was always a very kind hearted woman and she understood when I explained to her why I took the mark. She suggested that I go to Professor Dumbledore but I didn't. He never did anything for me when I went to him about my father so I figured he wouldn't do anything for me now."
"He didn't do anything for you even though your father was a…abusing you?" Harry echoed eyes wide with surprise before he sighed and added, "He did the same thing to me."
Snape's eyes flickered with surprise at that but he didn't say anything for a moment.
"So you didn't go to Dumbledore after you took the dark mark?" Harry asked deciding to return to the subject at hand.
"No. I stayed at the dark lord's side in spite of everything Lily attempted to do to convince me out of it." Snape's eyes closed and he went on, "What I am about to tell you will probably make you hate me more than you already do but let me finish my story before you try to hex me."
"I won't hex you. We have a truce," Harry retorted flatly.
"After you hear of what I did then you won't mind breaking the truce."
Harry frowned; he had a feeling what Snape was about to tell him was very bad. "So what is it?" he asked.
"A couple of months before you were born, the dark lord was getting paranoid because the Order of the Phoenix, which is the Order the headmaster told you about, had been too quiet for too long. The Order of the Phoenix is an order of witches and wizards who are determined to take down the dark lord forever."
"And you're a spy for them?" Harry asked.
Snape nodded. "That didn't happen until after this though," he said. "I was still a new recruit and, like all the other Death Eaters, I was trying to raise up in the ranks. I figured that it would be less likely I would be killed if I got into the Inner Circle, at that time I was only focused on surviving since I couldn't get rid of the dark mark I had already taken. Also, I decided that even if I couldn't trust Dumbledore, I would still try to help them. I overheard a prophecy spoken by Professor Trelawney in Hog's Head and, like any other recruit who was in the bar at the time, I rushed to tell the dark lord. In all honesty, I was hoping that the prophecy would just keep the dark lord busy and it will give the Order time to move against him. However, I was not expecting the dark lord to act on the words of the prophecy. It was spoken by Professor Trelawney after all."
Harry snorted. "She couldn't predict what was for breakfast the following day," he muttered.
Snape's lips quirked in the beginnings of a smile but he repressed it as he went on, "That prophecy spoke of a boy who would be born at the end of July and you and Neville Longbottom were the only two boys who were born at the end of July. The dark lord immediately decided to go after you because it also spoke of parents who 'thrice defied' him and your parents defied him more times than that. When I learned of this, I was so horrified by what I had done so I attempted to convince the dark lord to go after someone else. I couldn't bear it if Lily or you lost their lives, you were just a baby after all and even I am not heartless enough to condemn a baby to death. When the dark lord refused to listen to me but agreed to spare Lily, I knew that he wouldn't spare Lily because Lily would not stand aside and allow you to die."
Snape paused for a moment before going on. "I went to Dumbledore and begged him to protect Lily, James and you. I may not have liked James but even I would not have condemned him to death at the hands of a mad sorcerer. Dumbledore wasn't too happy with me but he finally agreed to send James and Lily into hiding to protect them. They decided that Lily and James would be placed under the Fidelius charm and chose someone to be their Secret Keeper. At first, we thought it was Black but we learned later that it was Pettigrew when Black escaped from Azkaban. That was when Lily came to speak with me along with Professor Lupin. She didn't trust Pettigrew and she asked me to swear an Unbreakable Vow…"
"What's an Unbreakable Vow?" Harry asked suddenly while he attempted to wrap his mind around the fact that Snape was partially responsible for his parents'. He agreed to not hex Snape until he was done but he was curious as he has never heard of an Unbreakable Vow.
"It's a vow sworn between two people with a third party as a witness that, if the vow is broken, will be result in the death of the person who broke it," Snape explained. "I would have done anything to protect Lily so I agreed to the vow. At that time, I had also already agreed to stay within the dark lord's ranks and become a spy for the Order. Lily had me swear a vow to protect you, help you whenever you need it and care for you should there ever come a time when you need it."
"Then why did you treat me like shit the last four years at Hogwarts?" Harry demanded.
"Let me finish and you will know. Pettigrew betrayed your parents after I swore that vow and I found them there but you were already gone. I didn't think that I could provide you with the care you needed but I wanted to make sure you at least got sent to a decent home. When Dumbledore told me you were sent to Petunia, I was so blinded by grief that I didn't consider the possibility that your aunt's hatred of your mother would be passed down onto you. When you came to Hogwarts, I treated you horribly in order to keep my cover, for one, and because you reminded me of everything I lost that night on Halloween. I knew I shouldn't have taken it out on you but I still did. And for that, I am sorry."
Harry blinked surprised that Snape actually apologized to him.
"When I found out how you were being treated by your relatives, I knew I had to take you in so that's what I did. I gave you a home and food to eat."
"So you fulfilled your vow," Harry said. "At least most of it. I mean, wasn't the last part of the vow to care for me should I ever need it?"
"Yes but the last person I cared deeply for was your mother and I lost her. I suppose, ever since then, I have refused to care for anyone else for fear that I would lose them eventually."
"But you do care for me, Professor," Harry blurted out.
Snape glanced at him with a raised eyebrow.
"Let me explain. You saved my life in first year from Quirrell, when Lupin tried to attack us in third year and when I ran into the forest and gave myself a bad concussion. You gave me a home and food, you listened to me when I told you everything my relatives did to me, you didn't think I was lying and you convinced Dumbledore to get me away from my relatives. Tell me the truth, professor, did you do all of this because of the vow you swore?"
Snape shook his head. "I didn't remember the vow until earlier today when Lupin reminded me of it," he admitted.
"You see, Professor? You cared for me even before you remembered that you swore an Unbreakable Vow to protect, help and care for me," Harry said triumphantly.
Snape raised an eyebrow. "Well, there goes my reputation," he said not unkindly.
Harry laughed. "I promise Draco and I won't tell anyone at Hogwarts. You'll still be the greasy bat of the dungeons when we get back." He clamped his mouth shut when he realized he had just uttered the insult he and Ron always called Snape behind his back.
Snape didn't look angry; instead he looked faintly amused. "Well, it is about time you called me that to my face," he said.
"Of course I knew. I am not a spy for nothing for one and I am not stupid for another. I've always known what you Gryffindor called me behind my back but I didn't let it get to me."
Harry flushed. "Well, anyway, it's obvious that you care for me even if you are too stubborn to admit it…"
"…and besides the truce probably wouldn't have lasted as long as it did if you didn't care for me. I mean, there were a few times when I was afraid I had gone to far and you were about to hex me."
"A few?" Snape echoed raising his eyebrows.
"You started it most of the time."
"I started it?"
Snape curled his lip in a sneer. "I am not the idiotic Gryffindor who does not know when to keep his mouth shut."
Harry glowered at Snape who simply gazed at him impassively.
"Come on, brat," he said finally getting to his feet. "Let's get inside and get you something to eat before Nova eats everything in the cottage." He gestured toward the wolf who just disappeared into the cottage when Snape and Harry finished speaking.
Harry laughed at that before getting to his feet and following Snape as the Potions Professor led the way back into the cottage to join Draco and Nova.
As soon as Severus and Harry entered the cottage, Draco glanced up at them. "You two were out there for a while and you look in one piece. I guess Snape didn't turn you into Potions ingredients like you were so afraid he would," he said smirking.
"I was afraid of that? You were the one that said that," Harry protested
"Yeah but you were the one that said you might end up the Boy-Who-Got-Turned-Into-Potions-Ingredients-Because-He-Disturbed-Snape."
"Dang that is a mouth full."
"Tell me about it."
Severus shook his head with a ruefully small smile, the first real smile to come on his face since his beloved Lily was killed and all because of two boys, his godson and the son of his childhood friend. "At least you two are getting along," he said, "considering you two are going to be brothers because you are both my wards."
"Well, it could be worse, we could have Dudley as a brother," Harry said.
"Nah, we could just give him to Nova for lunch."
Harry and Draco burst out laughing at that while Severus shook his head. Boys, he thought resisting the urge to roll his eyes as he observed the two boys who were his wards. His godson of whom custody was given to him by Lucius because he had no desire to follow the dark lord and his father would not accept his decision. And the small child of his childhood friend whose childhood was so alike Severus's that he may be the only one who could help him overcome what he suffered.
"Come on you two," he said. "There are some rules I need to go over that I haven't been able to go over until now."
Harry and Draco both groaned but they did get to their feet and walked into the kitchen after Severus.
Severus knew that it would take time for his godson and the son of his childhood friend to get used to living with him and it would take even more time for them to learn to coexist with each other to where a truce won't be necessary. However and surprisingly, Severus actually found himself looking forward to the journey and it was all because of a single dark haired boy and a vow that had suddenly turned into more than a promise made to the only woman Severus has ever loved.
To Be Continued
A/n what do you think?
I have changed the author's note because I've changed the summary of the second book of the More Than a Promise trilogy. The next book shall be an AU version of Order of the Phoenix and it shall be entitled Never Back Down. It shall be posted within the next week because I need time to rewrite the first chapter. If I finish the first chapter early then I shall post it. Here is the summary of Never Back Down, Book 2 of the More Than a Promise Trilogy:
With his new guardian and newest friend, Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts for his fifth year. But the Ministry refuses to believe Voldemort is back and Harry and his new friends must find a way to fight back or risk losing everything…