Chapter 18 – Truths, Secrets and Damaged Relationships
Hey guys, I've pushed myself really hard and finished chapter 18 as quickly as possible for you all! It's over 900 words longer than I originally planned, but I just couldn't bring myself to stop writing! Thank you mandancie, ElizabethAnneSoph, femalefarrier, MissWikipedia, ramen-luver101, Atsila and Noxy the Proxy for reviewing! Thank you also to the anonymous guest who reviewed. I don't mind if you criticize my story, writing isn't exactly a strong point for me, and I don't pretend to be good at it, so I'm happy to receive some outside opinions. I'll try to clear things up with you, to help you understand the reasoning behind aspects of my story…
Firstly, I had every intention of making Harry and Snape become close (adoption eventually, hopefully). The first Fanfiction I ever read was about the two, and ever since then it has been a personal favourite for me.
Second, I understand that it was a significant change for Snape and that it happened quickly, but that's what I wanted. I'm not a fan of making Severus hate Harry for countless chapters beforehand. It doesn't turn me away from reading a story; it's just something I wouldn't write myself (sorry, I can't really explain it well). As well as having Snape caring for Lily's son (which is the main reason he changes his attitude towards Harry so quickly, aside from the horrendous abuse), I have also based the personality change on a personal experience… Long story short, I knew a girl for years, and I really disliked her. Nothing personal, she was in my sister's weird group of friends. Anyway, we ended up doing a course together and I discovered her home life wasn't fantastic (nothing physical, but her mum didn't like her much). I quickly felt bad for being so judgemental, and offered her a listening ear. Turns out I really liked her, and we quickly became friends, although we aren't anymore; her choice. I did leave out A LOT of details, but I found it quite similar to Harry and Snape in my story. I'll explain in further detail if necessary.
And with your comment about leaving out details and explanations about Draco… You're right, I did. Not intentionally, though, I was just trying not to drag his character out and have him interfere with the story too much. If there is a point where I can add further details in, I will.
Thank you for your input, it is much appreciated. I hope that I answered some of your questions and queries, and that you continue to read. I do like constructive criticism, so please don't be shy.
Also, I want to apologise for the length of the authors note! Now, I'll shut up and get on with the story!
"Harry. Harry, wake up. I need to tell you something. I'll be quick, then you can go straight back to sleep. Come on, Harry wake up."
Deciding that he had better do as he was told, Harry peeked his eyes open and squinted as a bright light hit them. He tried to keep them open; it sounded like whatever his professor had to tell him was important. He struggled to lift his arm and bring it in front of his eyes to block the light out as they adjusted to the change. He didn't remember going back to his room…
"Sir, is there an invigoration draught on my table?" Severus reached over and grabbed the requested potion, handing it to Harry. "Thank you". He knew that it probably wouldn't help much… he was getting worse, and the potions only seemed to have a minimal effect. Harry was weak to the point that moving seemed like an almost impossible task. He couldn't wait until the Magicarum Dormierit potion was made and he was back to normal.
"What did you need to tell me sir?" It was odd that Snape would wake him up like this.
"We have a guest Harry. How long they will be staying for I do not know."
"That's ok sir, I don't mind. Who is it?"
"My godson." Godson? Harry didn't think that Snape had any family… Of course he has family somewhere! He felt kind of stupid.
"I didn't know you had a godson sir. Who is he?"
"Draco Malfoy." Snape was eerily calm as he spoke, especially considering the nature of the conversation.
What?! Malfoy is Snape's godson? Why did I not know about this? So that's why Snape always favoured him and his friends in class!
"Oh okay. I guess that's ok." I'm too worn out to really be bothered by it… Harry hated the idea of living with Malfoy; he was a spoilt brat who only cared for himself. But he was right. He was too mentally and physically drained to even care that the greasy Slytherin was here. And anyway, he was Snape's godson, so he didn't have a choice in the matter. Plus he didn't want to hurt Snape by refusing to have anything to do with his family. No, he was going to try and be nice, for Snape. Only for Snape.
"Fine… I'll do it."
"Do what Harry?" Snape was giving him a look of genuine confusion.
"I'll try and be nice…for you. I'm not really strong enough to start a fight anyway." It was hard for Harry to promise that he would try and be nice to a Malfoy, but he managed. "I can't promise I won't be angry though if he's rude…" Oops, I wasn't meant to say that!
"I wouldn't expect you to not be angry. Thank you Harry, for trying to make this arrangement work. My main priority is helping you get better, and the two of you being civil with one another will help simplify things. I've already asked that he do the same with you. Hopefully there will be no dramas in the next few days. I'm worried about you Harry…you seem to be losing more energy than you can gain. It hurts me seeing you struggle to even move. I want you to be back to normal."
"Me too… Sir, why exactly is Malfoy here?"
"He had no choice but to leave his home after refusing to become a death eater, one of Voldemort's followers, like the rest of his family. He will be staying here for now, so he can continue to go to school and lead a normal life. I will have temporary guardianship over him."
"Guardianship…does that mean…"
"His parents and I have signed a formal agreement drawn up by the ministry. As of now he will be my temporary ward."
"Does that mean you won't want me anymore? Will I have to leave?" The sadness and worry Harry felt was displayed clearly on his body language and facial features. "Will I have to go back to the Dursleys?"
"Of course not, silly child. Draco is my godson; he will only be staying with me until things settle down within his family. But you Harry, you will always live here. One day you will be a part of our family…permanently. One day you will be my adopted son, my ONLY child. I will never get rid of you Harry; this is your home now too."
"You really mean it, don't you sir?"
"Yes Harry, I do! It's time to get some more sleep; you need to store up as much energy as you can. I'll be in tomorrow after breakfast to help you pack. Goodnight, my child."
As Severus left, Harry realised that no matter how many times his professor told him that he was going to be part of his family, he never got sick of hearing it. Every single time was just as special as the first. Deciding to take Snape's advice, Harry laid back down under his covers, wanting to get a good night's sleep.
As Severus exited Harry's room, gently closing his bedroom door, he was greeted by the unexpected sight of Draco standing at the foot of the stairs, arms crossed. He did not look happy.
"What's the matter Draco?"
"Why don't you tell me?" What on Earth was his godson talking about?
"What in Merlin's name are you talking about?"
"You and Potter. You lied to me! Why is he really here?!"
"Lower your voice Draco! I told you why he is here. He was sick and injured and needed to be treated." What had gotten into the boy?
"Oh yeah? What was wrong with him then?"
"He had a broken arm and a fever. Why does it matter?"
"So why not take him to a muggle healer? Why would you bring him into your own home? Why would you look after someone you despise? It matters because it is weird!"
"Do you really want to know? The truth? You probably wouldn't believe me anyway…
"Oh yeah? Try me. Tell me why he is really here?"
"You must swear that you will not repeat this to anyone… No one can even know that he is here. Promise me Draco!"
"I promise I won't say a word to anyone about this."
"Good." He paused to take a breath. "Harry was abused by his relatives…beaten half to death. They locked him in his room and left him alone to suffer. Good thing Albus had sent me to check on the boy… I had no choice but to take him with me." He paused again, sighing this time. "Just as we reached the front door his Uncle grabbed him and tried to strangle him; it was a close call… It is my duty as a teacher to make sure he recovers, and the way that he is now that may not happen." Severus suddenly felt a huge surge of anger flow within. He was angry at Harry's blasted relatives, his godson and himself. He was angry at Draco for questioning him like he did. "There, you know why he is here. Happy now?"
"No." Draco seemed confused. "Obviously Potter did something to really anger his family then. I mean, that's a big change from being pampered and spoilt…"
"Harry was never any of those things… He has been abused ever since he was a young child. He didn't even know he was a wizard until his eleventh birthday. His family are vile and cruel… Now, if we are finished here it is getting quite late. Goodnight Draco."
"Of course. Goodnight Severus."
As Draco made his way back to his room, he felt quite ashamed for questioning his godfather like that. He was replaying their conversation in his head, taking in everything that Severus had told him about Potter. It was quite disturbing. Draco couldn't help but feel a little sorry for his hated classmate.
'Beaten half to death', 'left alone to suffer', 'strangled him'. Severus' words were echoing through his mind, repeating over and over again. Potter was abused… did he really grow up not knowing he was famous, let alone a wizard? The blonde was unable to wrap his head around the thought. But that didn't mean he had to be nice to the smaller boy. No, they were still enemies.
Not wanting to dwell on Potter's home life any longer, Draco began to pack a carry bag for their upcoming trip to Romania. He was happy that he would be Potter free for a few days while they were away; he couldn't handle spending that much time in his company. What a horrible thought!
After a stressful and sleepless night, Severus entered the kitchen at 5:30 for his morning coffee, and found his house elves cleaning and preparing breakfast. "Good morning Master Severus," they all squeaked in unison. After unenthusiastically greeting them and taking a seat, the black clad wizard poured himself an unusually strong coffee, not even bothering to add his usual amounts of milk and sugar. Zapphira noticed the mood change in the potions professor.
"Is something wrong Master Severus?" She questioned, in a kind and concerned tone. "Can Zapphira do something to cheer her master up?"
"Everything is fine Zapphira. I'm just going to have a stressful few days… Draco is staying here for the time being, so he will be travelling with myself and Harry."
"Master Draco?" Raven interrupted. "Doesn't he dislike young master Harry? He better not be nasty to him. Raven doesn't like nasty masters…"
"Don't worry Raven; I've already spoken to him. They've both agreed to try and be civil with one another. You've certainly taken to Harry, haven't you?" Severus finished with a small smile.
"Yes Master Severus sir, Raven likes young Master Harry quite a bit."
The three elves continued to chat excitedly with Severus until Draco walked in an hour later, taking a seat opposite Severus and nodding to the elves. "Morning Severus."
"Good morning Draco, how did you sleep?"
"Okay I guess." He stopped as Harry appeared at the foot of the stairs, slowly making his way over to the kitchen table. Severus noticed him glaring at the smaller boy.
"Remember what we spoke about?" Severus asked Draco in an urgent whisper. "He's not well Draco," he finished. "Good morning Harry, did you take your invigoration draught when you woke?"
"Morning… Yes sir."
"How do you feel?" The oldest wizard continued, just as Harry reached the chair at the end of the table, two seats across from both himself and his godson. Severus frowned. Harry always sat near him, never by himself.
"Fine." Ah, I see. Harry's shut himself down because Draco is here, which would explain why he is so distant. Severus didn't even care that the two young wizards had never even acknowledged each other; at least they weren't fighting.
It was obvious though to Severus that Harry wasn't comfortable talking openly about his current weakened state. He clearly didn't want to appear to be weak in front of his godson. He just wished that the child would speak freely. It hurt seeing him close off so easily again, as though he were still hiding his childhood and abuse. It was like the day he found Harry; he was scared, hurt and alone.
Wanting to start a conversation between the three, Severus started speaking. "While you're both here, I want to remind you that we will be departing first thing in the morning. I'd like you to be down here at 6 for breakfast, with your packs ready to go." Both teenagers answered at once.
"Yes, sir," Harry replied quietly, withdrawn, his head bent down.
"What?!" Draco roared at the same time. "Both of us? I thought it was just me and you going…"
"No Draco, the three of us will be travelling together."
"This is ridiculous! Why can't he stay behind?!" Draco spat, pointing an accusing finger at Harry.
"Because the ingredient I need is for a potion that Harry needs to heal him. This trip is for Harry. Also, he is becoming weaker by the day; he needs to be around me at all times in case something bad happens."
Harry pushed himself up with the table and left, red-faced and shaky. He was quite noticeably fed up with the conversation, shame, anger and embarrassment flowing from him in waves. He didn't bother having breakfast.
"Then I'll stay behind," the blonde challenged, a little less forcefully.
"No, Draco. You will be coming whether you like it or not. In case you've forgotten, you also need to be protected. Now, finish your breakfast and enjoy the rest of the day. Please try to be on time in the morning. I'm going to pack and read up on a few things. I'll be upstairs if you need me."
Severus knew that Draco was smart enough to determine when a conversation was lost, and to let it go. He waited for the obedient 'yes Severus', before nodding and exiting the room, setting off in search of a very despondent, crestfallen Harry Potter.
It didn't take long to find him though. He caught up to Harry with great ease. The boy was exhausted; faint and unsteady on his feet. As they reached the surface of the second floor, Severus didn't even attempt to speak to Harry. Instead, he pulled him into a fierce, loving embrace, which the boy never returned.
Shocked and hurt, Severus released his hold and stepped back to take in the boy's appearance. He had never seen Harry look so withdrawn and depressed, and unresponsive. The older wizard was overcome by a jumble of emotions as he drank in the thick, downcast aura that was surrounding Harry… What have I done?
"Harry, I am sorry. I never meant to hurt you like this. He needed to know the truth, needs to understand what you are going through and how serious it is…" Severus was sorry, too. Harry was his child, his child that he was supposed to look after and protect. But now…now he had hurt him. The time he had spent with the boy, trying to gain his trust was most likely undone. How he wished that he had kept his mouth shut about Harry's exhaustion. And the abuse! He had told Draco about the abuse! He was beginning to wish that Draco had never showed up. If Harry ever found out that he had told his godson… I should never have put Harry in this position!
Merlin, how could he have been so stupid?! Harry had trusted him, Severus Snape, the 'greasy dungeon bat', with his deepest, darkest secrets… And what had he done? Gone and broken that precious bond of trust by telling Draco about his home life, to try and make his own life a little less stressful! He had told him in detail too. I'm so selfish! I don't deserve to be forgiven… I'm a monster!
And then, finally, it had dawned on him!
Harry heard us talking last night!
"Harry, child, you can't imagine how sorry I am. You must believe that I never intended to hurt you, or to make you feel ashamed or embarrassed. You probably think that Draco's foul mood and attitude is your fault, but it's not! Please forgive me Harry…" Still he received no response from the boy. "Please Harry; tell me I haven't shattered your self-esteem… I couldn't bear the pain of hurting you that way! Please child, answer me. I'll understand if you want to leave, and never come back, but let me help you first. I'll make it up to you, I swear. Please talk to me Harry my child."
Severus was on the verge of tears and heartbreak. He wanted nothing more than to be able to take back everything he had said to Draco, but it was too late for that now. He felt now, exactly the same as when he first lost Lily. He couldn't let that happen again…he couldn't lose Harry…
Severus felt the slightest sense of relief when the boy finally looked him in the eye. His green orbs though, were dull and emotionless. He pushed his way past Severus and brushed away the hand that came down to rest on his shoulder. "Harry?" The troubled teen spoke two lonely words…
Severus felt the last of his inner strength crumble at those two words. He would have preferred the boy to say nothing and stay mad for a day or two. Wishful thinking… Harry had once again locked his emotions away, as he had the day Severus found him. The boy was once again in denial; they were back to 'I'm fine'. He felt tears slip from his eyes as a wave of negative emotions threatened to drown him. He was unable to hold them back as he continued to speak.
"Harry, please forgive me. I'll do anything to make it up to you…" He carried on with his apology, Harry turning just enough to show the edge of his pale face. "I want to make everything right; I want you to be my son one day… I want to give you the childhood you never had. Just please…forgive me." Severus buried his face in his hands, sobbing almost silently as an onslaught of tears burst forth from his ebony eyes.
"I'll try." Severus nearly missed those two precious, softy spoken words. He looked over to his boy, the tears temporarily subsiding. "I'll try to forgive you. I just need to be alone right now. See you at 6."
Severus took a step towards the boy with an outstretched arm and stopped. He was supposed to be leaving the boy alone… He felt like nothing was going to be right between them until he could embrace the boy, and have him return it… He had damaged their relationship.
Severus, at that moment, realised how lucky he was. Harry was too kind and forgiving…a trait rarely found in humans, let alone teenage boys. "Thank you child, that means the world to me. I'm so sorry; I had no right to tell Draco about your home life… I'll leave you alone for now. Goodnight, my child."
"Goodnight sir." Severus watched Harry retreat for the last time that day…
Done! How was that? I hope you all enjoyed this chapter, and that Snape wasn't too emotional. Sorry if it was, but I kinda like seeing this side of Snape for a change! Anyway, let me know what you all think! Thank you for reading! :)