Gray Skye Mourning
As Severus Snape lay dying on the filthy floor of the Shrieking Shack, bleeding in the arms of Harry Potter, a profound, devastating realization awakens a long lost love, latent for years and torn asunder by time's cruel fate. Is love strong enough to overcome the pain from the past and ensure Severus' survival? Time-Travel fic. SSHP
Disclaimer: All characters belong to JK Rowling.
Warnings: Rated M for mature situations between Harry and Severus.
A/N: This is my first attempt at writing a Snarry fan-fiction. Therefore, I must inform you all that this story, first and foremost, will be a love story. Yes, there will be sexual moments, but they will not dominate. My focus will be the depth of emotion existing between Severus and Harry... the progression from loathing to love that entices all of us who love these two enthralling characters and the endless possibilities that surround them. I sincerely hope you enjoy my story. Here is Gray Skye Mourning, just one of those endless possibilities...
- o - o - o - o - o -
Gray Skye Mourning
Chapter One -
In the space sundering dawn's divining inception
Eradicated by his own evil intent, the monstrous fiend fell, lifeless and unseeing, as the wand that had never been his soared gracefully through the open air in search of its true master. Harry caught it with a trembling, bloodied hand, bringing about the long-awaited cessation of Voldemort's dark reign of brutality. And then...
Deafening in its ironic nullity, yet intuitive of the impending celebration. Voldemort was dead, finally and positively gone from this world. It should be the end. It should be enough, Harry thought, as his legs gave way and his knees hit the floor with a reverberating crack. The Hawthorn and Elder wands clattered to the floor, relinquished from shaking hands, blood-smeared fingers outstretched upon the chilled, stone floor to steady himself, as he fought the encompassing dread that was overtaking him.
"Harry! Oh God... Harry!"
Harry's friends were at his side in an instant. Hermione's arms encircled him protectively, allowing his head to rest on her shoulder as she held him. He could feel the warm caress of her fitful breaths cascading across his cheek as she struggled to control her anxiety, yet she retained her consoling embrace.
Soon, Harry became aware of Ron's hands on his face, beckoning him to look up into his apprehensive blue eyes. Ron's panic finally resulted in a fearful bout of inquiries.
"Harry... mate… are you alright? Did he curse you? How, Harry? How did you do that? How did you survive?"
How did I survive?... Survive... Oh God!
"Snape! Professor Snape! We... we have to help him!" Harry cried out.
He scrambled to his feet and pulled himself up to a standing position. Weak and exhausted, his legs trembled underneath him as they struggled to support his weight.
Ron moved closer, maneuvering Harry's arm to drape around his shoulders, allowing his best friend to lean on him while he strived for balance. Harry took several deep breaths, ingesting huge gulps of air into his lungs in a futile attempt to palliate his suffocating anxiety.
Hermione placed both of her hands on either side of Harry's face, disregarding the deep scarlet stains of blood befouling his skin. With a tentative tempering tone, she endeavored to bring clarity to his hysterical outburst.
"Harry... he's dead. Remember? He died in the Shrieking Shack hours ago."
"No... he... he could still be alive! I have to go! I... I have to save him!"
He heard their agitated cries, urging his return, but he could not comply. He had to get to Snape... had to see for himself what fate was ultimately bestowed upon the man.
Harry hastened past the dazed occupants of the Great Hall, through the Entrance Hall and sped through the grounds toward the portal concealed amid the gnarled bark of the Whomping Willow. As he proceeded down the narrow, twisting tunnel that led to the dilapidated structure, Ron and Hermione following in his wake, his heartbeat quickened.
Harry was terrified to lay eyes on the harrowing image that surely awaited him. When he had left the shack three hours ago, Snape had just barely been clinging to the last threads of life. He scarcely breathed, and his neck, ripped open by a deep, gaping wound, was oozing blood and Nagini's virulent venom. Logically, Harry knew he could not have survived. Every rational deliberation led to the same conclusion, Snape's untimely demise.
Despite the overwhelming evidence, Harry knew he must see for himself. He had to be certain. He just could not give up hope, not after the way Snape had looked at him, his usual cold, apathetic eyes fervent with pain and regret. There was a desperate, emphatic longing that seemed to entreat Harry to know, to understand some unseen truth… and the way he had touched Harry... so tenderly... so lovingly...
- flashback: three hours earlier -
Harry immediately yanked off his invisibility cloak and sank to the floor, nearing the professor. His quivering hands found their way to Snape's blood-drenched neck, clamping down hard on the wound to stall the rapid loss of blood. Snape clutched the front of Harry's t-shirt and spoke with a sickening, raspy voice.
"Take... it... Take... it..."
Harry whirled around in desperation, beseeching Hermione's help. She answered his silent request and handed him a flask from her beaded bag.
Returning his attention to the injured man, Harry placed the flask under Snape's eyes which were leaking a silvery viscous fluid. Memories, Harry knew, but of what he could only venture a guess.
When the small flask was full of Snape's final thoughts, Harry placed the cork on the tiny flask, pocketed it and then glanced back into the cavernous eyes of the man whom he had loathed for the last seven years.
Snape's grip on Harry's shirt tightened as the man trembled, desperate to remain in this world. The professor shuddered and convulsed as he gathered enough strength to voice another request.
"Look... at... me..."
Harry deepened his gaze, his green eyes never once averting their focus from the dark eyes trained on him. After only a moment, Snape's grasp slackened, causing Harry's shirt to hang open in the front, exposing a small portion of his bare chest. Snape's gaze travelled the distance down to the newly revealed flesh. His eyes widened prodigiously and he stared, transfixed, at the small, circular burn on Harry's chest, an unwelcome reminder of the horcrux that had fused to his skin during Nagini's attack on Christmas Eve.
Snape's long, thin fingers released the fabric of Harry's shirt and ghosted over the abused flesh, fingertips caressing softly, almost adoringly. His dark eyes snapped up to lock with Harry's once more, but this time Snape looked upon him with such intense emotion that Harry's breath hitched and inexplicable tears began to cascade down his face.
Quivering fingers abandoned their exploration of Harry's burn and instead, found their way to his left hand, which was still pressed against Snape's neck to stifle the onslaught of blood. With a trembling hand, Snape seized hold of Harry's hand and coaxed it away from the gash, turning it over to study the skin on the back. An anguished, choking moan escaped Snape's pale lips when his eyes fell upon the thin, white lines of the cicatrix narrating the ironic mantra, 'I must not tell lies.'
Again the jet-black eyes sought refuge within Harry's emerald depths. Snape's breathing was now so labored that it was almost impossible to hear his urgent whispering. Harry leaned closer to the man so that he could discern his professor's final desperate words.
"Gray? Oh God... Gray? It's... you..."
Snape's entire body was convulsing now, wracked with uncontrolled sobs and tremors. His face was drained of all color, but his ebony eyes continued to stare into the emerald depths. Harry was startled to find that he was completely lost within the impassioned eyes of this man whom he had known for years, yet somehow… had neglected to see clearly.
Harry maintained his firm grip on Snape's tremulous form, panicking when he felt the man begin to slip away.
"Professor… please… just hold on a little longer. I'll… I'll get you help…"
Snape's eyes widened further, and he struggled to speak again, his words coming out in a hushed, desperate whisper.
"Oh… God… you haven't… you don't even know…"
At once, Harry recognized the intrusion. Its familiarity was palpable, as he was well accustomed to Snape infiltrating the dark recesses of his mind. Harry allowed him access, opening his mind to Snape in a show of silent permission, drawing him in.
He assumed that Snape was searching for something, some long-forgotten memory that might bring clarity to Snape's incoherent words. Harry startled and jerked when he felt the incursion of a memory that was not his own being forced into the depths of his consciousness…
Two boys… one easily recognizable, with straight shoulder-length, ebony hair and dark, cavernous eyes of black… the other with hair the color of mahogany and startling slate-grey eyes that resembled a storm cloud reflecting a torrent of ocean waves. Both were gazing into each other's eyes raptly... hungrily... longingly... as though only the two of them mattered and the world around them had fallen away. They were embracing... arms wrapped around each other... fingers woven within strands of hair... synchronized breaths laden with overwhelming endearment... clutching each other desperately as if terrified that they would soon be torn apart. The dark-haired boy was leaning into the other... so close his lips were nearly touching the other boy's. And as they continued to gaze at one another... enraptured... captivated... lost within the depths of their fathomless emotions... tears fell freely from anguished, tortured eyes. A whispered lament could be heard issuing from the trembling lips of the smaller boy... "Promise me, Severus… promise me… promise me you'll live."
…Snape withdrew from Harry's mind, relinquished his tight grip on his t-shirt and slumped back against the cold, impartial wall. His gaze lingered on Harry's vivid green eyes for the briefest of moments, and then slowly, gradually, the life seemed to dim from the obsidian depths, tears still streaming down his pallid cheeks.
"No!" Harry cried out, "Professor… no…"
Snape raised a weak, trembling hand and placed it on Harry's cheek. Harry brought his own hand up, encircling his fingers around Snape's wrist, grasping it, holding the shaking hand steady. Snape swept his thumb along the line of Harry's lower lip, smearing the drops of blood that rested there and blending them with Harry's inexorable tears. The action done so lovingly, so beautifully, it caused Harry's lip to quiver at the gentle touch and his breath to catch in his throat.
"Gray... I'm… so sorry… I… tried…"
With those last heartbreaking words, dark eyes disappeared under heavy lids, and the hand that had been resting on Harry's cheek fell to the floor, insentient and demised.
"Harry… we have to go!"
"No…" Harry anguished.
"Harry!" Ron urged, "Come on… we have to get back!"
His friends pulled him to his feet and dragged him away from the dying man.
"There's nothing you can do, Harry. He's gone," Hermione whimpered, tears streaming down her face as her voice quavered, "We have to go, Harry…. We have to end this!"
- end flashback -
Harry burst into the room where they had left Snape hours before and froze.
Snape was not there.
The only proof of the man's harrowing ordeal was the immense pool of blood spread out on the filthy floor. Harry heard himself cry out... but wasn't certain if it was in despair or relief. He was so frightened that he was about to see his professor's dead, lifeless body, and he was grateful that this was not the case, but he just couldn't understand where Snape could have gone.
So deep in consternation, Harry flinched when he heard Hermione gasp behind him, as she and Ron rushed into the room.
"Oh my God... Where is he?" she questioned, her voice quavering in fear.
Harry spun around to face his friends, eager for them to validate his desperate theory.
"He... he must have survived!" Harry exclaimed, "He must have somehow recovered and..."
"Harry..." Hermione interjected, her face expressing deep regret and sorrow, "No. That can't be. He was dead when we left... or he was very close to death. There's... just no way he could have lived through that. I'm sorry, Harry, but it's... just not possible."
"Then someone must've helped him! He... he must have been taken to the Hospital Wing! Madam Pomfrey is probably tending to him right now!" Harry insisted.
"Harry... I don't think..." Ron replied.
"There's no other explanation, Ron! He's not fucking here, is he? Someone must have helped him!" Harry argued.
Hermione turned to Ron and fixed him with an imploring look, as if begging for his compliance. When she spoke to him, it was in a soft, yet earnest undertone. Harry only heard a portion of her whispered words.
"Just go... check with Madam Pomfrey and the others. Please. I'll stay with him."
With one final reluctant glance in Harry's direction, Ron retreated from the brutal scene and disappeared down the long stretch of tunnel that led back into the grounds of Hogwarts.
Once he had gone, Hermione fixed her attention back onto Harry, who was still staring at the morbid sight in front of him, shaking his head in denial.
"No. No. He's not dead, Hermione. Don't you dare try to tell me he is, because he can't be dead. He just... can't be."
"Harry... maybe... maybe the Death Eaters took his body. I mean, maybe they didn't want to leave any of Voldemort's followers..."
"He was NOT one of them, Hermione!" Harry bellowed, rounding on her.
"I know that, Harry, but I'm just trying to figure out what could have occurred after we left here."
"SO AM I!"
Harry lowered his head, embarrassed by his sudden incensed outburst. He took a long, slow steadying breath and ran his fingers though his grimy hair, wincing as they encountered clumps of tacky material, clinging to his raven locks. He withdrew his hands from his hair and tried to wipe away the repulsive substance from his fingers onto the front of his t-shirt. He blanched when he realized his shirt was already soaked through with the same foul fluid.
Blood... Snape's blood. All over him. The acrid, sickening smell pervaded his senses... like rust, or metal mixed with a trace of a sickening, saccharine scent. Harry swallowed hard to temper his irrepressible nausea and stall the bile that was rising in his tightening throat. He turned away from the repugnant scene and gazed back into Hermione's warm, brown eyes, filled with profound sadness and abiding compassion.
"He might have Apparated. The Shrieking Shack is beyond the wards of Hogwarts," Harry offered, a desperate, tentative edge to his voice.
"He wasn't strong enough to endure Apparition, Harry. Even Side-Along Apparition would have been far too punishing for someone that gravely injured." Hermione responded in a sorrowful tone.
"Then... then someone must have helped him," Harry concluded, "We'll just wait for Ron to come back with news."
Hermione nodded her head, then traversed the meager room, settling herself on the floor in the corner furthest away from the grim remnants of Nagini's attack. Harry followed her lead, collapsing onto the empty space beside her. She grasped his hand, still encrusted with Snape's dried blood, and held it in her own, seemingly unconcerned by the gore. There was a moment of despondent silence surrounding them, but it was soon interrupted by the question Harry knew was coming.
"Harry? What did Professor Snape reveal to you in those memories? Why are you suddenly so... so desperate in your concern for him? It... it just doesn't make sense," She asserted, "What could he have possibly shown you to change your perception of him so radically?"
"You were there in the Great Hall, Hermione. You heard what I told Voldemort. He was never his follower. He was loyal to Dumbledore the whole time. And he... he was... in love with my mother." Harry muttered, the final pronouncement coming out in a faint, uneasy whisper.
Hermione turned to face him and looked directly into his weary eyes, as if scanning for truth within their depths.
"That's not all there is to it. And don't lie to me, Harry, because I know you too damn well," She scolded, "What happened earlier in this room, Harry? He was looking at you so... differently. And he was touching you... and... something substantial obviously transpired to warrant that kind of change in..."
"Alright... OK... I... yes... yes, something did happen..." he began, hesitated for a moment, then pressed on, "Snape must have thought he recognized something, and he... well, he called me by another name. He... he thought I was someone named Gray. He called me Gray. And... and then he entered my mind, you know, like he used to when I had Occlumency lessons with him back in fifth year. And he... he forced a memory from his past into my mind."
Hermione's eyes narrowed in careful contemplation and her brow furrowed, her features tense with fierce focus. She bit her lip in an absentminded, nervous gesture and, after a brief pause, snapped her head back to meet his awaiting gaze.
"What was the memory?" she asked, ambivalence clearly etched on her worried face.
"I'd rather not say. It's just that it was very... personal," he replied, certain that his feeble attempt at diversion would never mollify her persistence.
"Personal? Harry, you said it was a memory from his past. It doesn't even involve you, does it? So how on earth could you possibly consider it personal?"
Harry closed his eyes and inhaled deeply, preparing himself for what could be one of the most difficult conversations he would ever have with Hermione. He opened his eyes, but kept them fixed on the grimy floorboards, terrified to look into her eyes as he proffered his unlikely conjecture pertaining to that one intense memory that would forever haunt him.
"It was a memory of Snape when he was younger. He was probably about seventeen, or maybe eighteen. And... and there was another boy around his same age. And they were... they were holding each other... just holding each other. But it was so intense. It was so... intimate..."
Harry took a moment to look up and peer into Hermione's widening eyes. He heaved a heavy sigh as he noticed her blatant shock upon hearing Harry's chronicle of the memory.
"Look, I know it's... surprising, but they... they were in love, OK? And I don't understand it either, but it was so real... so Goddamn real! And I... I can't get it out of my head! And I just don't fucking understand why he would have called me by this boy's name and then shoved this... this private... this obviously very well-kept secret into my mind! I just don't understand why… unless…"
"Unless what, Harry?"
"N-n-nothing. I… I… nothing," Harry stammered.
Hermione seemed to interpret his unspoken illation. She turned around to face him, her hand still grasping his, and gazed into his vivid green eyes. She hesitated for the briefest of moments, then plunged into her next unnerving question.
"You think it was you in that memory, don't you? You think Professor Snape was correct when he believed that you were Gray."
"I… I don't know..." Harry whispered, lowering his head as a wave of embarrassment took hold of him.
"What did this other boy… Gray… what did he look like?" she inquired.
"Well he didn't look like me, if that's what you're after. He had brown hair, not black, and… and his eyes were sort of a blue-grey color. No glasses. No scar on his forehead. But physical characteristics can be altered by magic, Hermione!" he replied, voice rising again in agitation.
"So what are you saying, Harry? That at some point, you're going to find a way to travel back to the time when Professor Snape was eighteen, and then… What? You're going to fall in love with him? Harry, please! This… this is madness! It wasn't you! It couldn't have been you! Professor Snape was just… delirious. He was dying, Harry. He was losing so much blood… he was confused. He just wasn't in his right mind! He looked at you… and saw someone else… someone whom he had once loved. It's actually not that unusual for hallucinations to occur during the last moments before you die…"
"HE IS NOT DEAD!"
Harry pushed himself off the ground and began to pace the short distance between the tunnel opening and the patch of floor that was marred by the dismal remains of quietus. He was so… confused… and completely overwhelmed. What Hermione had just said did make sense. Snape had lost a significant amount of blood. He could have been mistaken.
But Snape had seemed so damn certain! Harry could easily recall the man's moment of recognition. It had come when he had noticed the burn on Harry's chest, a burn that had only existed for the last few months, a burn only ever seen by one other soul – Hermione. Not even Ron was aware that the locket had burned him.
Harry's fingers drifted to the circular scar, tracing the outline of the indecent mark with his blood-stained fingertips just as Snape had done hours earlier.
The burn, however, wasn't what had ultimately convinced the man, Harry reflected. As if he had been seeking some final verification, Snape had sought out the linguistic blemish scarring the back of Harry's hand. It was only then that he was certain. For when his dark eyes had peered back into Harry's once more, it was with immense astonishment, sadness and... so much love.
Harry lifted his hand to study the words carved into his flesh – I must not tell lies. It was a distinctive disfigurement, uniquely indicative of his own personal plight. Was it even possible that another boy, from twenty years in the past, had this exact same scar on the back of his left hand?
Harry's fierce contemplation was interrupted by the sounds of heavy footfalls approaching. He spun around just in time to see Ron emerge from the tunnel's end. He was panting, and when he entered the room, he leaned forward and placed his hands on his hips, taking a moment to lengthen and deepen his breathing.
Harry, however, had no patience.
"Did you find him? Where is he? Is... is he OK?"
Ron looked up, meeting Harry's anxious gaze, but shook his head in apology.
"I'm sorry, Harry. I checked the Hospital Wing and the Great Hall. Nobody has seen him. I even had Nearly Headless Nick look in the Headmaster's office and personal quarters, as well as Snape's old quarters in the dungeon, and there's just no sign of him."
"What about McGonagall? Did you...?"
"I asked her... and Slughorn, Flitwick, Sprout, Pomfrey and Hagrid," he consoled, "Nobody has seen him, mate."
"Damn it!" Harry anguished.
"Harry, we're not going to figure this out right now. Why don't we... why don't we just go back to Hogwarts?" Hermione offered, "We should go up to Gryffindor Tower. We could all use some sleep."
Harry didn't want to go. His heart ached just thinking about leaving without knowing what had happened to Snape. But he knew he couldn't spend another minute in this room beset with Snape's blood, reminding him of that gut-wrenching moment when he had felt the life drain from the man who had clung to him in pleading desperation.
Harry nodded in acquiescence to Hermione's suggestion, turned away from Snape's blood and in compliance with his friends' wishes, followed them across the dirty room toward the tunnel. Just as the trio approached the aperture of the passage, Harry felt compelled to gaze upon the brutal scene once more.
He had only just peered past the battered, ramshackle furniture and the decaying floorboards, when a glint of something shiny captured his focus. He squinted and blinked to clear his bleary vision, desperate to gain visual clarity.
Again, a glimmer caught his eye.
Reversing his impetus, Harry rushed toward the tiny reflective flash of light. He dropped to his knees amid the blood and swept his fingers through the sickening fluid, now viscid and cool to the touch. His wandering hands soon found the source of the beckoning glister... a silver chain... and hanging from the chain was a pendant fashioned from a miniature glass vial. Harry grabbed the end of his squalid t-shirt and used it to wipe away the excess blood from the vial's surface with trembling hands. Once the blood had been cleared away, he could just make out the tiny glass container's sheltered contents… a single, black feather.
"Harry... What is that?" Hermione asked, drawing nearer to him.
"It's... it's a sign... a clue. He must have left this for me. He must have been trying to tell me something..." Harry whispered, more to himself than as a reply to Hermione's inquiry.
Despite Harry's quiet tone, Hermione heard the hushed response. She knelt beside him and placed her arm around his shoulders in a show of solace. When she finally spoke to him, it was in a faint, placating tone.
"Harry, that's... just a necklace... just a chain with a pendant. It might not even have belonged to Professor Snape. And if it did… it may have just fallen off when whoever took his body..."
"For the last time, Hermione... HE IS NOT DEAD!"
Harry sprang to his feet and made his way to the passageway entrance, passing Ron who stood motionless, stunned by the scene that had just played out before him. Clutching the feather pendant in his bloody hand, Harry turned back around to look at his two best friends. They were staring at him, open mouthed, speechless in their obvious shock and concern for him. Harry glanced from one pair of astonished eyes to the other and realized that he should offer some type of explanation for his odd behavior.
"Look, guys... I'm sorry. I'm really not sure what the hell is going on here, but... but I just can't believe that he's dead, OK? And I have to find him. I have to save him... not matter what that entails."
Turning away from his friends' bewildered expressions, Harry abandoned the grisly scene and began the long journey down the winding tunnel that led back to Hogwarts... in search of the truth.
Chapter End - TBC
A/N: Stay tuned. There is much more to come! I usually update rather quickly… about every seven to ten days. Chapter Two will most likely be posted by July 23rd.