Embrace What Fate Hands You
Chapter 1: Waking to a Nightmare
I will alternate between the Canan and Parallel worlds in this story. Take note that Parallel Snape is from an AU, so he will be somewhat OOC.
Note: This story was influnced by Malora's Never Say Remember. If you haven't read it, check it out! An astonishingly awesome story. And without further ado, here we go~!
I do not own Harry Potter.
Please R&R~! Thanks so much!
o O o O o
In that space between sleep and wake, Severus Snape let his arm wander to the space beside him, only to be met with a cold, lonely, and very unexpected emptiness.
"Lily," he mumbled, but there was no response. Eyebrows furrowed, he opened his eyes, expecting to see fiery red curtaining those smiling emerald orbs he so adored. Instead, his eyes only met the dark walls of his dungeon bedroom.
His gaze instantly fell to the pillow beside him, but rather than the warm, fresh imprint of his wife, he saw a seemingly unused, starched-looking pillow. The sheets, too, were uncommonly undisturbed.
A wave of panic overtook the Potions master, and he sat up suddenly, eyes darting frantically around the space of his bed chamber.
"Lily?" He called out, trying to keep his voice calm. Part of him thought he was being absurd to feel so unsettled at waking up to an empty bed. After all, it wasn't unlike Lily to go out in the early morning to gather some potion ingredients, but a part of him insisted that something just wasn't right.
Standing up and walking around the room, he noticed little strange differences in his bedroom. There were a few items, here and there, he didn't recognize, but even more disturbing was the absence of items he knew had made themselves home in his Hogwarts Private Quarters for the past 13 or so years. Lily's make-up kit, her favorite squishy armchair, the Charms journals which normally sat beside his Potions quarterlies…they were all gone, as if they had never been there in the first place.
His heart was pounding fiercely now, but he still insisted he was jumping to conclusions as he frozenly made his way to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. He half-smirked at himself for his stupidity as he checked off one of his panicked conclusions to explain the odd familiar-yet-unfamiliar room. No, he had not switched bodies. Although, on second glance, his reflection honestly didn't look quite as he expected it to. His hair was slighter lanker, his skin slightly sallower, and more insistent frown lines marked his face like spider webs.
He made to brush his teeth and another wave of confused panic overtook him as he gazed at the sight of his toothbrush, all alone. For Lily's purple toothbrush was nowhere to be seen. Roughly, he grabbed at the shower curtain, and his suspicions were confirmed when Lily's shampoo, loofa and favorite bath salts were all missing.
His heart was once again jumping frantically, and Severus spun around and flew into the living room. He balked at what he saw. The photographs he treasured, of himself, Lily and Harry, were all gone. His mahogany mantelpiece looked extremely forlorn without them. This whole room, and the kitchen as well, looked bare and cold, robbed of the warmth she had brought to it. It was a strange sight, and it terrified Severus.
As one morose conclusion nudged at him, he roughly shoved it away. She couldn't have! Lily wouldn't!
His head was warring with his pounding heart to try to make some sense of just what was going on. It was as if Lily had woken up and left, taking every bit of herself, every evidence of their shared lives with her. But why? To the best of his knowledge, she had been as happy as he had. Had he just been deluding himself? Had Lily grown tired of him while he looked the other way, too absorbed in his research?
But no. He knew Lily. She would never have left without saying anything first, with no warning. She would never have done that to him. Or to Harry.
But then what had happened? A fresh wave of panic swept over him as he considered different possibilities-different rationals for what would suddenly cause Lily to vanish along with every bit of light and color she had brought to his quarters, as if she had never given that light to his life.
Without another moment of hesitation, Severus grabbed a handful of floo powder and called the headmaster's office.
He was instantly greeted by the same impossibly cheerful twinkling he made himself be patient with most days. Now was not one of those days. "Severus, my dear boy! Is something the matter?"
"Albus," he began, trying to school his features not to reveal just how panicked he felt. "Something's happened. I woke up, and…Lily! She's gone, I-"
Severus expected his old friend and mentor to look disturbed, concerned, perhaps betraying a hint of fear, and to instantly fly into war-mode, demanding details. What he didn't expect was the look he actually gave him. Concern, but not as he expected it. It was as if this concern was more focused towards him than the threat for Lily. Albus Dumbledore, in fact, simply looked at him with pity and disbelief for a time, and seemed quite speechless, something almost unheard of for the old wizard.
"Severus, my boy? Are you quite alright?" He asked softly.
"No, Albus! I am most certainly not alright! I woke up this morning to find myself alone in bed, with every evidence of my wife vanished into thin air! I don't believe for an instant that she left for no good reason without telling me, so something must have happened! You have to do something!"
Dumbledore seemed to consider the frantic man for a time, and Severus was becoming increasingly impatient, before the old wizard said, softly, "I'm afraid, Severus, that I am not quite sure of what you speak. Your wife, you say?"
Severus gaped at him. "This is not the time for games, Albus! Where is Lily? And Harry, is he alright?"
Albus swallowed a lump in his throat. "Severus, I'm afraid I'm going to need to talk to you face-to-face. We have…much to discuss."
Severus' fists were turning chalk white in worry and impatience, but he managed to bite out, "Fine, Albus. I'll be right there" before flooing the rest of the way into the Headmaster's office.
At least this place looked the same, he thought, though that was little comfort to him at the moment. "What's going on, Albus?" he demanded, and the older wizard looked at him again with that strange, unnerving look. Of mostly pity, confusion, concern and suspicion.
"That's precisely what I'm trying to determine, my dear boy," he said softly. "You were mentioning…your wife, I believe?"
Scowling at Albus in frustration, Severus simply nodded.
"And you said…her name is Lily?"
Severus turned a very suspicious glare on the headmaster. "What the bloody hell, Albus! You know very well that Lily and I have been married for the last 13 years!"
Albus was silent for a moment, but then pushed on anyway, asking deceivingly nonchalantly, "That would be…just to make sure I'm clear…Lily who?"
Severus gaped at him in disbelief before saying, his tone roiling with disdain, "Lily Evans Snape, of course! What are you on about, old man? You know that as well as I do-you were the one to preside over our vows, Albus!"
A flicker of understanding flashed through the old man's eyes, but he said, very softly, "My dear boy, this is not to say I don't believe you are in earnest, but I am afraid that I must take measures to ensure you are who you say you are."
Severus' scowl returned fiercely. "Albus, I can tell you anything you need to know, but what are you saying? Why would you have reason to suspect me? We're wasting valuable time, old man! Lily could be hurt, or…or even…" He couldn't finish that statement, but Albus spoke again, this time a deep sadness pervading his voice.
"I'm afraid, dear boy, that it won't make much of a difference whether we hurry, as you say, or not."
At that, Severus stood up abruptly and hit the man with a glare terrifying enough to make many a grown wizard weak-kneed, but before he could say anything, Albus raised one hand to silence him, and set him with a pleading look.
"Severus, my dear boy, Lily has not been taken away, if that is what you fear. I need to retrieve something to clear things up for both of us, so please wait here for me for a moment, my dear boy."
At Albus' pleading look and sincere voice, Severus finally took a breath and collapsed on a squishy armchair, steepling his hands and nodding numbly.
Before the headmaster could leave to his adjoining room, Severus' voice rang out once more, hoarsely, "Just answer me this. Is Harry safe? Is he here?"
A momentary flash of confusion passed Albus' face before comprehension seemed to dawn once again and a sad, small smile brushed his lips. "Harry, dear boy? As well as can be expected, considering," and with that, the man was gone.
o O o O o
Severus had barely been able to consider the baffling exchange between himself and Albus when suddenly, the door was flung open and one of the objects of his thoughts burst into the room.
A wave of overwhelming relief overtook Severus. At least one thing in his world wasn't falling apart. Almost unconsciously, Severus rose from his chair and approached the flushed, dark-haired boy and abruptly pulled him into a tight embrace.
Harry's mind was frozen. He had come bursting into the headmaster's office, clutching a broken fragment of his two-way mirror, hoping against hope that Dumbledore would be able to do something to mend it, to somehow reforge the connection. That maybe, possibly, he could still contact Sirius beyond the veil.
What he hadn't expected was to find himself face-to-face with his hated Potions instructor, the man he blamed as much as he did himself for his Godfather's death.
He had barely recovered from the shock of seeing the man he hated in place of the Headmaster he already felt betrayed by to wonder at the way he was looking at him-for once, without loathing, but with…what? Emotions he had never thought would ever touch those coal-black eyes. For the Potions Master's eyes were filled with what looked like an uncommon, deep concern, pain, and sadness. But when they focused on him they held mostly…relief? And some other, stronger emotion that almost made Harry pass out right there in shock. No, he had to be imagining it.
And then, what happened next, was something that he wouldn't have possibly imagined in his wildest dreams. The tall, dark man, his gaze never leaving him, stooped down ever-so-slightly, and pulled him into a tight, surprisingly warm embrace.
About two seconds later, Harry regained his senses enough to realize just whose chest, and whose black robes, he was being crushed into. With an upsurge of abhorrence, fear and anger, he pushed the man away, roughly, and set him with his fiercest scowl. He didn't say anything, however. He couldn't quite find the words to fit the situation. It was too surreal, and it made too little sense.
"Harry?" Snape said softly, and Harry was momentarily taken aback by the way the man spoke his name, his first name. Snape's voice was so much softer and gentler than usual that it was almost unrecognizable as the voice of the man who had made his life miserable for the last 5 years.
Harry quickly steeled his expression. The man had to be playing a joke on him. That had to be it. He was clearly trying to humiliate him to get him back for looking in his pensieve. Harry flinched at the memory. For whatever Snape may have thought of him, it brought him no joy to see how his own father had treated the snarky Potions Master. Dudley and his gang had long-ago put him off bullies for life.
"Harry? Are you alright?"
Harry flinched again at the use of his first name. He grimaced. "I'm here to see the headmaster, sir. But I'll come back later," he bit out.
Harry spun around and made his way to the doorway, but he was stopped by a firm grip on his upper arm.
"Harry, what's going on? What do you need to see the headmaster about? And where's your mother? I've been worried sick about her! And you too, for that matter, young man!"
Harry froze. For a few seconds, he said nothing. He was stunned, beyond belief, that even this man, as much as he hated him (unfairly as far as Harry was concerned), would go so far as to taunt him with his mother's death.
Slowly, he turned, and Severus was taken aback by the venom and pain in the green eyes he knew so well, and loved so much.
"That's low, sir."
"I don't understand-"
"Dumbledore's made excuses for you, and sure, I get it, maybe you're not on Voldemort's side, but as far as I'm concerned, Snape, you're as evil as they come."
Severus felt as if a shard of glass had been shoved into his heart. The loathing and anger in the boy's tone, and his words, were almost too much. Severus didn't understand what Harry was going on about, or honestly, what had him so incensed, but then a wave of anger overtook him as he thought back over Harry's wordchoice.
"What did you just call me?"
The boy stared at him for a moment before biting out "Snape! That's your name, isn't it? Oh, but if you don't like that, maybe I'll just pull one out of my dad's book! It's what you expect of me anyway, right Snivellus?" Harry sneered the nickname, and he felt, as he spat the word vomit, that he was filling himself with poison rather than extracting it. But he was too angry to care.
But then he saw the look on Snape's face, and he faltered. As expected, the man's face showed shock, anger and humiliation, but what cut Harry out of his haze of anger was the deep, almost painful hurt in the man's eyes. Wasn't that a little extreme for a simple word? But no. Harry knew that was a sore point with the man, and it gave him no pleasure to think of how this grown man had once suffered at the hands of bullies-like Harry's father and Godfather. Thinking this, Harry almost took it back, but then he held his tongue. He might as well give Snape the pleasure of screaming at him. Not like it mattered anyway. Nothing mattered, now that Sirius was gone…
But to his utter surprise, Snape didn't scream. Though he looked incredibly angry, he managed to school his features, and simply said, softly, "How…did you hear that name?"
Harry stared at him as if he'd gone crazy but found himself answering him. "Well, sir, that's what you were so angry with me about, right? That I got into the pensieve and saw that memory of yours? Of your fifth year, after OWLs?"
The man paled, but he still looked overwhelmingly confused. "What do you mean, Harry? I don't remember showing you that memory."
Harry gaped at him. "You don't…remember, sir? You didn't show it to me! I broke in, well…oh, sod it all, who cares? Are you alright, sir?"
Severus bit his lip. Something was seriously wrong. What was going on with Harry? Possible conclusions were flitting through Severus' mind but they were all just too bizarre, and too terrifying. Taking a deep breath, he said, softly, "Why…do you keep calling me sir, Harry? We're not in class." He swallowed a lump in his throat. "And…please, Harry, don't panic, but have you seen Lily? She wasn't there when I woke up…of course, I'm sure there's nothing to worry about, son. Albus assured me she wasn't kidnapped or anything so-"
Severus trailed off at the look on the boy's face. Harry was breathing in long, heaving breaths, as if attempting to stop an explosion. But then, his eyes full of unshed tears, he looked up and met his eyes with a furious glare, "You BASTARD! How can you joke about a thing like that? You know as well as I do my parents have been dead for 15 years! Why the hell would you ask me where my mum is? She's where she's been as long as I can remember-in her grave in Godric's Hollow! So don't…don't…" He broke off, his anger fading into painful tears.
But now it was Severus' turn to be furious. "Don't you dare," he hissed, and Harry froze momentarily at the familiar tone. "Is this some kind of witty prank, Harry? Did Draco put you up to this? Or the Weasley twins?"
"Draco? Why the hell would I talk to that bastard! And sir…you seriously need to speak with Madame Pomfrey if you don't know what I'm on about."
"Just explain this to me, Harry. Please. Why do you think your mother's dead?" He asked softly, pleadingly.
Harry's furious scowl froze his heart, and he felt such tremendous waves of pain and rage and hopelessness rolling from the boy that his confusion and irritation of seconds previous were replaced with a sudden desperate urge to grab his son and hold him close until they could figure out just what the hell was going on. He reached out, but the boy flinched back and scowled again.
"What do you think you're doing? Don't touch me, Snape!"
"Snape? Harry, why are you calling me that? I'm your father, for gods sake!"
Harry's expression underwent such a vast number of contortions that Severus would have found it amusing had the situation not been what it was. His face was momentarily blank, almost catatonic, and then confusion and horror overtook it, and then it turned red and splotchy in anger. But when he opened his mouth, he just laughed bitterly. "Oh, that takes the cake. I don't know what you're trying to prove, sir, but I'm really not in the mood. Go feed your lies to someone who cares."
And with that, he wrenched his arm from Severus' grip and fled down the spiral staircase.
Severus instantly took chase, but the boy was fast. He had an idea of where he might have run off to, though. After all, Harry tended to go to the same places whenever he was particularly distraught. It would just really help if Severus had a clue what was going on! For a moment he considered that this was a nightmare, and that he would wake up soon, safe in Lily's embrace, and Harry would join them for breakfast and tease him while they discussed their summer vacation plans…
But the pain as he jammed his toe against a wall didn't help to support that conclusion. He was just about to enter the entrance hallway when a familiar face stepped in front of him, stopping him in his tracks.
"Severus! Thank goodness I found you!"
"Remus! Did you see Harry? I need to speak with him!" Severus grasped the werewolf's shoulders and looked at him with a fierce expression on his face.
"Actually, Severus, Albus asked me to find you out and bring you to his office…he has something very urgent to speak with you about that should help things make a lot more sense…"
"But Harry is-"
"Harry will be fine, Severus." Remus looked at him with a bemused expression but hid it quickly and offered him a reassuring smile. "Please, Severus. I'll find Harry and bring him to meet you."
Severus raised an eyebrow, and in answer to his unspoken question, Remus waved a familiar map before him. "See? With this, there should be no problem."
Severus sighed. "Very well. I'm honestly too confused and exhausted to figure this out on my own, anyway. I'll meet Albus. But make sure you're easy on Harry, Remi. He's…quite fragile right now."
Severus had already turned and left the hallway, and so missed the look of absolute shock on the former DADA teacher's face as he mouthed silently, "Remi?"
As Remus turned to find Harry, he could only think that Albus had to be right. This was not the Severus Snape they knew. But how had this happened? And what had happened to their Severus?
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed it! Please remember to review if you can take the second!
Next Time: The Severus we know so well wakes in a Parallel World~
Till next time!