Hi! Thank you for taking the time to read. This will be a multi-chapter fic that will potentially become a series (no promises on that though). I am not sure how deep I want the relationship between Snape and Harry to get because I am challenging myself to be as true to the characters as possible.
Also, for those of you who have not read the Order of the Phoenix recently, and are a little rusty on the canon events leading up to this story I have added some key ones below.
Dumbledore has been excused from Hogwarts after the DA was discovered
Umbridge has now replaced Dumbledore as headmaster.
Harry has looked into Severus' pensieve hoping to discover his true loyalties but finding a memory of James bullying him and Severus calling Lily a mud-blood. His 'worst' memory.
Severus tells Potter he will not teach him Occlumency again and throws a jar of beetles at his head.
Severus braced his arms on the edge of the pensieve, sucking in harsh, angry breaths as the innocent-looking wisps of silver, floated on, unaware of the damage the caused. Never did he imagine that arrogant, little prat would snoop in his pensieve. He was under no delusions that Potter respected him, his privacy or any rules whatsoever but he did think the boy would have avoided the pensieve out of sheer self-preservation.
Severus allowed himself one last angry angry breath then took a long, calming one, schooling his face back to its usual inscrutable neutrality. It was rare he allowed emotion to run away with him, even anger, and Severus did not enjoy the lack of control. He'd be calm now. Severus lowered his wand into the pensieve and raised the memory back to his head. The reintroduction of a pensieved memory always brought with it a touch of the emotion the memory held and Severus had to force down the resurgence of anger and humiliation as he memory slipped back in to his consciousness.
No longer willing to look at the dungeons, the broken beetle jar that he had so recklessly thrown at Potter or the cursed pensieve any longer, Severus turned on his heel and stormed down the hall to his quarters.
"Outlet Mall" Severus spat at the Portrait of Gladoon, Outlet Mall was an odd password but secure given the wealth of muggles-related things pure blood wizards didn't know. His password was always random, always muggle-related and unlike Albus' to name his password after sweets, unrelated to his own interests. The serious-looking man in the portrait stepped aside wordlessly.
Severus entered in to the comfortable, almost soothing confines of his quarters. The small fire had already been lit by a house elf and the soft glow illuminated the dark green couch and sitting chair as well as the large stack of books on the small, glass coffee table.
Without stopping, Severus strode to his small, seldom-used kitchen and turned on the dim light. The aging yellow-tiled backsplash and worn slate counter tops were hardly lively but the familiarity of the sights that had made up his shelter through-out the past 15 years somewhat calmed Severus.
He reached atop the fridge and grabbed an old bottle of firewhisky. He wasn't one for drinking but some nights called for an altered state and this was one of them. Neglecting to grab a glass, Severus took the bottle to his much-loved easy-chair and gratefully took a swig. To be alone.
"Severus?" A familiar voice called to him, concerned. Severus froze, the bottle still raised. Unlike most wizards or muggles, Severus did not yell or drop things in surprise, he knew that acting suddenly out of fear rarely ended well, it was better to be still, to calculate. His eyes surveyed the room, landing on the coffee table where Albus Dumbledore's face gazed up at him, concerned.
"Headmaster…" It took all of Severus' effort to keep the question out of his voice. Why was Professor Dumbledore looking at him through his coffee table? And then another thought. "Where are you? Everyone has been looking."
Dumbledore, as always, heartily ignored the question with a twinkling smile.
"Not to worry Severus. I am fine. It seems that you however are not." Dumbledore said. His eyes went from Severus' closed-off face to the bottle of firewhiskey which Severus immediately put-down, embarrassed.
"How – Sir how exactly did you come to be in my living room?" Snape deflected. Anyone else and Severus would have smashed the thing in half. Dumbledore smiled benignly.
"Ah yes well, Severus, I knew our new colleague Dolores was, shall we say, less than fond of me and would be plotting my removal from Hogwarts along with Fudge of course. I thought it pertinent that I retained a way of communicating with you." Dumbledore finished his speech with a little smile then proceeded to glance curiously around at Snape's quarters. Severus observed Dumbledore impassively for a moment.
"That's a new level of intrusion, even for you headmaster". Snape replied curtly. He did not appreciate having someone able to glide in and out of his living room at will, even if it was Dumbledore.
"I meant to tell you my dear boy" Dumbledore responded with a dismissive smile "Dolores was a little faster than I anticipated in obtaining the means to remove me." If Dumbledore was worried by this at all, he did not show it and continued to observe Severus's living room with a mix of curiosity and enjoyment.
"Ah Lord of the Rings, I do so love Muggle books. They have such an inventive take on magic don't they?" Dumbledore said eyeing the stack of books by Severus' arm. For some reason, Dumbledore knowing his reading material felt altogether too personal for Severus and he felt the familiar mixture of embarrassment, annoyance and uncertainty that usually accompanied him in social situations. He was not in the mood for people tonight.
"Is there a reason you are here headmaster?" Severus gritted out, trying to keep the rudeness at a minimum.
"Well Severus this is a rather special charm of mine" Dumbledore started looking at the coffee table with a smile of satisfaction. "I did it myself you see, it only calls me when you are in distress, meaning when you pick up that bottle of firewhiskey you keep stashed behind the ice box."
Severus felt his eyes harden in anger. He was not an alcoholic, nor did he self-medicate with alcohol or display any other signs of problematic drinking. Tobias Snape may have been a drunk but Severus was not. He rarely touched the stuff.
"I fail to see why you chose the firewhiskey considering I am not an alcoholic" Severus retorted acerbically.
"Come now Severus it is charmed to your pain-relieving potions as well I don't think you have a drinking problem if that's what you are on about. Quite the opposite. I do know, however, that after a particularly hard meeting you, like any other person would, require some fortification." The initial levity in Dumbledore's voice had gotten heavier as his eyes swept over Severus' face. "Forgive me the intrusion Severus but I wanted to be sure that, while I was gone from the school physically, you would not have to be completely alone should you be…called."
Despite Severus's initial feelings of anger and violation. A part of him felt almost touched as the headmaster's face continued to search his face, concern evident in the deep brow lines.
"Did Voldemort call you tonight Severus?" Dumbledore asked with the air of a kind parent asking a small child if he had been bullied.
"No headmaster, all is still quiet on that front." Severus said carefully. He rubbed the wretched mark unconsciously. Dumbledore continued to observe him, evidently waiting for an explanation for the firewhiskey.
"I merely had an Occlumency lesson with Potter" Severus spat out, making no effort to keep the malice out of his voice. To his extreme annoyance, Dumbledore seemed to find Severus' reaction amusing.
"Ah yes, Voldemort and Harry Potter, the only things that can drive dear Severus to drink." Dumbledore chortled. Such a comment would have normally incensed Severus but the headmaster had said it with such levity and affection that Severus just grunted in agreement and took a shameless pull from the bottle.
"Occlumency is a difficult skill Severus, you must be patient with the boy." Dumbledore advised, his eyes getting that annoying softness they always got whenever the Golden Boy was brought up.
"Even if time was a luxury we did have, and I assure you it is not, there is no way I can continue to teach that boy. He is beyond insufferable." Severus seethed, enjoying the way the hateful words felt on his lips. Dumbledore's affectionate expression shifted to exasperation.
"Severus you will continue to teach that boy Occlumency, it is not only his life at stake –" Dumbledore started but before he could finish the lecture Severus cut him off.
"He looked in my Pensieve. He is no longer welcome in my office." Severus spoke with uncharacteristic sharpness to the Professor whom he usually addressed respectfully, at times even kindly. Severus was not sure why he had even mentioned tonight's events with Potter to the headmaster. Dumbledore studied Severus for an infuriating amount of time.
"Am I correct in assuming that the memory he saw involved his mother?" Dumbledore asked in a way that suggested every word was being carefully weighed.
Severus tensed than gave a short nod. "And perhaps James?" Severus gave another sharp nod. Dumbledore sighed.
"I regret that, as sorry as I am to hear your privacy has been violated and your history with Harry's parent's exposed, I must insist that you keep teaching the boy Occlumency." Dumbledore continued taking no notice of Severus' defiant expression. "For what it is worth, I'm sure Harry himself regrets –"
"That little whelp does not regret a single thing" Severus snapped savagely, unwilling to hear Dumbledore list the boy's virtues again, tonight of all nights. "That boy is an arrogant, bull-headed, self-absorbed prat. So like his father!"
"Enough!" Dumbledore roared, halting Severus' tirade. Severus stared back at Dumbledore's angry blue eyes attempting to keep his face impassive. Inside he felt like a small child who was getting sharply rebuked for something they believed to be unfair. Dumbledore sighed than continued.
"Severus I have long-since been tolerant of your hatred towards Sirius, James and Remus because it has yet to effect the war and because I know it comes from a place of deep, deep pain." Dumbedore said, true sympathy in his voice. The accuracy of Dumbledore's statement made Severus' stomach turn and he looked away from the coffee table to focus resolutely on the fire like a sullen child. "But I think it is high time you got yourself over it." Severus' mouth opened in protest but Dumbledore cut him off again. When he spoke his voice was heavy and serious.
"Severus, James died at 21, knowing marriage and fatherhood for barely more than a year. He had so much love for his family that he stepped between Voldemort and them, wandless, certain to die so that Lily and Harry's chance of escape may be increased by the smallest degree. He never saw his child grow, never got to grow himself, he died little more than a child." Severus felt himself fume at Dumbledore's words, how dare he discuss that night. Severus had seen Potter's crumpled body in the entrance; saw the wand in the living room. He knew what had happened, that Potter had sacrificed himself to save Lily. An act Severus had been unable to do. Dumbledore sighed and continued.
"Sirius was raised by the most horrendous woman I have ever had the misfortune to meet. He was thrown out at 16. He did find happiness, briefly, at Hogwarts with James." Severus snorted at this. "Yes Severus, that happiness came on occasion at the expense of others, but consider a boy who was taught nothing of the importance of character but only the importance of blood. A teaching, I might add, he rejected. He had to learn how to treat others with no guidance, no model and he still managed to love with unflinching loyalty. His reward for this of course was to be locked in Azkaban for 13 years." Severus tightened his lips. He did not care to hear these stories, he failed to see the point in all of this. If Dumbledore thought he was going to feel sympathy for the prats he was dead wrong.
"Remus, afflicted with lycanthropy, had no friends until Hogwarts and was too shy and inexperienced to stand up to the two rather intimidating boys who had shown him not only friendship and compassion but an unflinching loyalty he never imagined would be granted to him." Dumbledore completed his sermon and Severus stared back at his face, unflinching.
"I fail to see why this is of any importance." Severus responded coldly, uncertain of what else to say.
"It is important Severus because those boys grew to have their lives devasted by the war in ways that are as painful as your loss of Lily" Dumbledore responded simply. At Lily's name Severus felt as though a pin had popped his heart. "You are more alike than you know."
"Yes they were young and stupid and yes James got to be with Lily and Sirius could be cruel, but Severus my boy their lives were destroyed only years later. You got a second chance and they didn't." Dumbledore stopped talking and looked Severus in the eye, searching. "Don't you think they have suffered enough? Don't you think it is time Severus, to forgive?" "
Severus regarded the headmaster's beseeching expression for a long moment. The tension was thick. Severus did not like the immature, embarrassed feeling that accompanied Dumbledore's orders to essentially grow-up. He had always prided himself on being mature for his age. Even as a young boy he was grave, serious, his mother called him an old-soul and it made him smile.
"I will teach the boy" Severus said simply, standing up from his chair and leaving the headmaster's disembodied head to watch him from the coffee table.
Any and all feedback is appreciated as I am using this for my own writing and editing practice...in other words please review! I will try to respond to any and all reviewers.