Chapter 1—The Letters
Severus Tobias Snape sat in his quarters, marking away at a third year's pathetic attempt at an essay, his shoulder-length, ebony hair tied in the back, out of the way. The sight of all the red ink made him feel better after a long, hard day of attempting to teach a bunch of dunderheads how to brew potions. It almost made him smile with sadistic glee at being able to take his frustration out in such a manner. Almost.
But a smile rarely, if ever, graced the sallow, pale face. Joy and happiness rarely entered the dark, obsidian eyes. Not since her death. Her death caused by information given to the wrong person; information he had given to the wrong person. It was entirely his fault that his best friend was now dead, and he was doing what he could to atone for it. He was so lucky that Albus Dumbledore was so forgiving and had offered him a way to redeem himself.
"Protect him, Severus, for her sake," Dumbledore had said.
"I will. For her. Only for her," he'd replied.
But he need not fulfill that promise until the Potter brat actually began at Hogwarts, an event which was still six blessed years away.
Were anyone to actually be permitted to visit his quarters, they would be quite surprised at how homey it was. The walls in the living room were a soft blue, with white and soft brown couches and chairs, a coffee table, and some side tables. Along one wall were some bookshelves, and on the opposite wall was a cheerfully crackling fire with a chair on each side, angled towards the fire.
Suddenly, a brown owl flew in with four letters held tightly in his beak. Dropping them in front of the Potions Master, the owl flew back out the way he came. Curious, Severus put aside the ridiculous essays and –after casting detection spells at the letters to be sure there were no curses, hexes, or the like on or in them—reached for one of the letters, which was marked "Read first."
To Mr. Severus Tobias Snape,
My name is Richard Johnson, the Potters' solicitor.
Lily Evans Potter left these letters in my possession and requested that I send them to you if something should happen to her and her family, and render her incapable of giving them to you. Unfortunately, there was a fire that destroyed most of the offices, so we have been rebuilding, which is why we are just now getting these to you. Fortunately, these letters were placed in a fire-proof safe in my office and thus remained unharmed.
The numbers in the corner of each letter indicate the order in which you should read the letters. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Johnson Magical Law Firm
Slightly stunned, it was a moment before Severus looked at the other letters and noted the numbers in the corner of each one. Picking up the letter with a one marked on it, he slowly opened it, scanning down the page to see who had written it. His mother. Why would Lily have had a letter from his mother? Maybe the letter held the answers, so he began reading.
My dear Severus,
If you are reading this letter, then I am no longer living. There are a few things that I wanted tell you, my son, but only when the timing was right. I have given this letter to your father to give to you when he feels you should be told.
Tobias Snape is not your father. I was in love with a married man and had an affair with him, I am ashamed to admit. But it resulted in you, so I cannot completely regret my decision. Your real father's name is Henry Evans. Yes, that's right—Lily's father, which also means that she is your half-sister.
Because Henry was already married, we found a muggle man who was very willing to marry me. He never told me what his reasons were, but he agreed to marry me, even though he knew that you were not his. After you were born, I gave you Polyjuice Potion, which, because you were so young, permanently changed your appearance.
Henry will explain to you his reasons for what he did. He explained them to me before we got involved in our affair, but I believe that it would be better for you to hear them from him.
I am so sorry, my son. I hope that one day you will be able to forgive me. Always remember that I love you.
Severus dropped the letter in shock. No, this couldn't be true. It was impossible. While the small part of his brain that wasn't in shock rejoiced to discover that he actually wasn't related to the horrid man he'd grown up thinking was his father, it was about the only thing he could wrap his mind around right then.
A log suddenly crackled in the fireplace, pulling Severus from his shocked trance. Looking at the other two letters in front of him, he picked up the one with a two marked on it and broke the seal.
My dear son,
By now, you will have read your mother's letter. I hope that you can forgive me for my sin of unfaithfulness to my wife. I loved your mother dearly, but I was already married. My wife had tricked me into marrying her by claiming that she was pregnant with my child, which was really quite impossible. However, her parents believed her and demanded that I marry her.
It turned out that she really had been pregnant, although I was not the father, but she miscarried soon after our marriage. She was desolate until she became pregnant with Petunia. Of course, she pampered and spoiled Petunia. So focused was she on our first-born that when Lily was born, I was the only one who paid our lovely second daughter any attention.
Around the time that my wife became pregnant with Lily, I met your mother and fell in love with her. Unfortunately, because I was already married, I could not marry your mother. As much as I wanted to get a divorce, I did not wish to put my children through that. My own parents had divorced when I was young, so I knew the trauma that divorce puts a child through.
But your mother was so kind and understanding and I loved her very much. We both just wanted to forget that I was married to another woman and be happy for a while. That was when our affair began. Once she became pregnant with you, we knew we had to stop. We found another muggle (she had told me all about her abilities and had introduced me to the magical world) who was really quite willing to marry her, despite the fact that she was already pregnant with you. We never did find out why he was so eager to marry her.
They married and moved to a home nearby. My wife never found out I'd had an affair, so this was a good excuse for me to be able to still see you as you grew up. Lily and I would often visit the park, as I am sure you are aware, as that is where the three of us met.
Once I heard from Lily about what Tobias did to both you and your mother, I was ready to divorce my wife and whisk the both of you away. Of course, Lily would have gone with us, too. But your mother would have none of it, saying that I needed to keep my own family together, and claiming that Tobias would never allow it.
So, instead, I did my best to care for the both of you from a distance and eagerly watched your friendship with Lily grow. She would often talk about you, and would write to me about you, but it was not until after she graduated from Hogwarts that I discovered that she had overheard your mother and me talking about you one day just after your second year at Hogwarts. But she seemed to understand the need for secrecy and assured me that she had never told you.
I hope, my son, that you can forgive me for my unfaithfulness to my wife and that you can forgive me for not being there for you like I should have. Still, I hope it was enough, for there was little more that I could do, although I wanted to do so much more.
Lily informed me of your decision to join the Dark Lord, but we never believed you were a dark wizard. Somehow, I know that you will see the truth of the one you are currently following and will come away from it. Know that I am proud of you, my son, for all that you have overcome in your young life, and for all that I know that you can be. You have so much potential. Do not let it go to waste. Do not let yourself become depressed over the mistakes you have made. Learn from them, and then let go of them, otherwise they will weigh you down.
Severus fought back his tears. Tobias had never said he loved him or was proud of him. Yet this man, this man who he'd always thought of as his best friend's father, this man who he'd always wished were his father, too, this man who had always treated him with kindness, like Severus was his son, this man was proud of him. Even though Henry—Dad, he corrected himself—knew he was a Death Eater, he had still been proud of him.
He sat there for what seemed like hours and cried. Finally, he had the love of his father. Well, he'd always had it; he just hadn't realized that the man really was his father. Once he had regained some of his composure, he recalled the last letter. It was the one that Lily had written. Lily. His sister. She had not lied when she said she loved him, but now he understood why she had said that they could not be together. He also understood why she had not told him—it was for his protection, from the Dark Lord.
Reaching out a shaking hand, he picked up the letter, opened it, and began to read.
My dear Severus,
For dear you will always be to me, just not in the way you had wished. Yes, James knows that I am writing this to you, and he also knows why. We are about to go into hiding, so I am leaving these with our solicitor to give to you should anything happen to us.
I hope that now you understand why we could never be together. And I hope that you can forgive me for not telling you. I shudder to think of what would happen if my mother were ever to find out. But not only that, your friends would have been very upset and I feared what the Dark Lord might try to do if he found out that we are actually related.
Sev, I know that you are a good person. Yes, you have made your mistakes, but so haven't we all. I want you to know that I am proud of you, just as our father is, of what you have overcome. You do have a lot of potential. Please, put it to good use. We do not have much time left before we must give these and a few other items to our solicitor.
Please remember, Sev, that I love you and that I always will.
P.S.—Severus, this is James writing now. Lily has agreed to let me attach a note to this. I just want to say that I am terribly sorry for the way that we treated you when we were at Hogwarts. I know an apology cannot make up for what we did to you, so after this whole thing is over, if there is any way that I can make it up to you, please do not hesitate to let me know.
And I must make a request of you. Lily does not know I am writing this part, but if anything should happen to us, please look after Harry. Yes, he looks a lot like me, but please do not let that prevent you from loving him. I swear his personality is all Lily. Please, as his uncle, love him and take care of him. Sirius is still too immature to be a good role model for Harry. I don't know what I was thinking, naming him as Harry's godfather. And Remus, as wonderful as he is, is not willing to expose him to his problem. You know what I mean. Petunia and her husband hate magic, and we have stated in our will that under no circumstances is Harry to go live with them.
I want to say again that I am so terribly sorry for how we treated you. If there were any way for me to go back and undo what we did, I would do it in a heartbeat. I hope that one day you will find it in your heart to forgive me.
For many minutes, Severus just sat there, stunned. If he had ever wished for an apology from James, he had never actually expected one. Please look after Harry. And James Potter had asked him—"Snivellous"—to look after his precious son.
He definitely needed a few days to sort through this.
A/N: In the next chapter, we will see what life is like for Harry at the Dursleys'. Chapter three will bring us back to Sev, chapter four to Harry, and so on until the two of them meet. This is currently un-beta'd, as in the past, I've not had the best experiences with betas (being that they took many, many, many weeks to get back to me). Please review whether you like it or hate it, because if I don't know something's wrong, I can't do anything about it! Oh, and if anyone has any ideas for a more creative title, please let me know. Thanks! :D