Chapter 1 of 5
The man watched the other start stirring. After the battle had ended, Harry had gone back to retrieve the body to find that a desperate attempt he had made at healing the man had managed to keep him alive. He had been rushed to Poppy who had effectively cured him with the aid of Arthur Weasley, who remembered how his bite from the same snake had been treated.
Black eyes opened and scanned the room incredulously. They locked with brown and then closed again.
“I didn’t want to survive Lupin!” he sighed.
Remus Lupin, who had been sitting, watching Severus Snape’s healing sleep from a metal chair, slumped forward, his mouth resting on his fist that was propped up by his elbow. He slowly raised his head up to rest his chin on his fist, “Not even for your son?” he asked calmly.
Severus’ head snapped up suddenly and he glared with cold eyes at Remus, “What are you going on about?”
“I never thought I’d tell you. You didn’t deserve to know. No matter how many times I told people that if Albus trusted you then we should too, I still didn’t. And last year, after you killed him, I thought I had been proven right.”
“How moving,” Snape sneered.
“But then Harry showed me the memories you gave him. We won, by the way. Harry sacrificed himself and Voldemort was killed.”
Snape closed his eyes. No matter how much he had wanted to hate the brat, how often he said the brat was an arrogant fool like his father, he had convinced himself that he had only protected him for Lily, but he never wanted the boy to die.
“You paid for your mistakes,” Remus continued. “More than you know.”
“What do you mean by that?” Severus snapped.
“Do you remember when, a little over a year after graduation there was a night that Lily went looking for you?” Remus asked.
“Yes,” he said massaging his temples. He remembered that night, all right. Lily had been scared. There had been a Death Eater attack and the Order had promptly acted. She was there fighting, had fought him and when his mask fell, she failed to curse him. She just stared and before someone else appeared, she let him escape. She knocked at his door at Spinner’s End later that night. She yelled, she punched him, she cried that he couldn’t have betrayed her that way. She said she loved him and that she had wanted him, but how could she be with someone who hated who she was? He said he didn’t, and could never hate her. They kissed, the kiss became more aggressive and the world went hazy. Before he realized what had just happened, she was dressing herself with the clothes that had been torn off her and tossed on the floor in their frenzy. She said that it had been a mistake, that they could never be together, and left. A month later she was getting married to Potter.
“Lily had a big dilemma, you know? She loved two men; James always knew that. He also knew that if you hadn’t been a Death Eater he probably would have lost her to you. But you were, and he took what he could get, second place. She told him what had happened and begged forgiveness, and he granted it. And when your son was born he magically adopted him and loved him as if he were his own. The only people who knew the truth about Harry were me and Sirius, and I had intended to take it with me to the grave as Sirius did. Until now.”
Snape looked at him incredulously. Potter his son? Impossible! He was James Potter’s spitting image! Then again a magical adoption would add Potter’s traits to the brat. “Why tell me this now? I can’t do anything now!” he snapped.
“Yes you can. Not for the boy you can’t, but for the young man, the man that still needs a father.”
“He is dead Lupin,” Severus said bitterly.
Remus smiled, “Why ever would you think that?”
They were setting the table the Muggle way. After the final battle had ended, Remus and Tonks invited Harry to come live with them, something Remus thought was way overdue. Harry may be eighteen and a war hero, but he was far from an adult. In some ways, Harry was still a child who needed some stability. When the battle had ended and the wounded were being tended to, he had found Harry alone, sitting on the floor in one of the corridors.
“Harry,” Remus said softly. “Aren’t you going to the Burrow?”
Harry had smiled sadly and shook his head, “They are grieving. It’s time for family. For family to stay together. Hermione already left to look for her parents.”
“What about you?” Remus asked, sitting down next to him.
“I don’t have a family Remus.” He said sadly and shook his head, “You and Tonks should go be with Teddy. You shouldn’t have come. What if something had happened to you? I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself.”
“That was our choice Harry. It wouldn’t have been your fault,” he said squeezing the teen’s shoulder; but he saw Harry didn’t believe it. Harry needed someone who would take care of him; someone who was there for him after all was said and done. Someone to whom he could go and let his strong face fall, one who could shelter him and be his family. Remus thought bitterly that while he had been so immersed in his own misfortune in the past, he forgot to be that person for Harry and he decided to make it up to him. Remus knew it would be temporary, or at least he hoped so.
The doorbell rang and the three adults immediately went for their wands. Tonks stayed behind to shelter the playpen while Remus and Harry walked to the door, wands trained on it.
“Who is there?” Remus asked.
“Severus Tobias Snape,” they heard.
“And?” Remus prompted his lips twitching. From the corner of his eyes he saw Harry’s eyes widen and look disbelieving at Tonks.
“And what? Open the damn door Lupin. You are the one who demanded me to come. I am sure even your limited brain can manage the impossible task of an Alohamora.”
“Yep, that’s definitely Professor Snape,” Harry said biting his lips.
Remus opened the door and cheerfully greeted the sour-looking former Potions Master. “Good evening Severus, do come in.”
Severus Snape, in all his dark glory, stalked in the small house holding a glass bottle. His eyes scanned the small dining room, taking notice of the table set for four and the pink haired Auror holding a sleeping infant. He nodded to her and she smiled back at him. He stared at the infant and wondered if maybe his life would have been different if he had known… His eyes strayed to the other occupant of the room, who was far from being an infant. Was there any chance? Did he want any chance?
“Potter,” he drawled.
“Professor,” Harry said nervously, eyeing Remus and Tonks. “Hum, Professor, I’m sorry I left you. I thought you were dead and there was the battle. The clock was ticking.”
“You did what you had to do. Your healing charm worked well enough and I was told you were the one to come back for me. Thank you.”
Harry’s eyes widened. He probably wasn’t expecting to be thanked, or didn’t think Severus even knew how to.
“You are just in time Severus,” Remus said pleasantly taking, the bottle from him. “Why don’t you two sit at the table and Dora and I will fetch dinner. No Harry, we’ll manage. Keep Severus company.”
They both sat at opposite sides of the small square table in the center of the dining room and Severus looked at Harry, really looked at him for the first time. Lily’s eyes of course, always those eyes. Potter’s stubborn hair and bad eyesight. Lily’s nose. Potter’s round face. He was about to declare Harry had not one feature of his, when Harry tucked a lock of hair behind his ears and Severus’ eyes went from the ears to the hands. They were both his; his long fingers and his round ears. Potter’s traits were so outstanding next to his that he always missed them.
“Professor,” Harry said again.
“What?” Severus said shaking his wonderings away.
“I asked what you will do now. Are you going back to teach or be Headmaster?”
“I hate the brats,” he said honestly and, for the first time when talking to Harry, with no sneer. “I always hated teaching. I only taught because it was Albus’ way of keeping me under his thumb.”
Harry nodded in understanding.
“What will you do then?”
“I have enough money to live comfortably. When my maternal grandparents died I inherited the Prince estate. Being the only heir, I inherited everything they denied my mother in life,” he muttered the last part under his breath. “I will indulge in my research and brewing for a while. Then I’ll see where I go from there.”
“Oh,” Harry said. “So you are living off the castle grounds?”
“No,” Severus shook his head. “My house in Spinner’s End was known to all my colleagues and it’s not safe to go back when they haven’t all been arrested. And the Manor hasn’t been lived in since my Grandparent’s death almost twenty years ago, so there is no telling what condition it is in. Minerva offered me room at Hogwarts while I make the Manor ready for living,” he finished with a grim face as if living near the students was torture in and of itself.
“Grimmauld Place is safe,” Harry said. “And Kreacher cleaned it up nicely. Remus also helped me dismantle Moody’s spell, so there’s no need to see Dumbledore’s image anymore. The Death Eater that followed us there from the Ministry didn’t manage to get in, so it’s still just Order members who can.”
“That is good for you. I daresay there must be some people less than thrilled with you,” he said dryly. What was the boy onto, telling him he had what Severus didn’t?
“I live there mostly alone, although I do spend some nights here. Remus and Tonks wanted me to move in but I don’t want to impose, so I am still living there. I mean there are loads of rooms and I am sure we won’t see much of each other. You wouldn’t even notice we were in the same house. And there is a lab in the basement, I really don’t know why, but there is. Oh, and your old Potion’s book is there. I retrieved it before we left Hogwarts last year. Thought it could give me an insight on you. Didn’t help much though. I didn’t know it was yours,” Harry rushed to explain worried, about Severus’ reaction.
“Relax Potter. I can’t give you detention anymore.”
“Yeah, I am no longer a student,” Harry smiled.
“Yes you are. You still have to go back to finish your seventh year.”
“You will take your NEWTs!” Severus said sternly. Where had that come from? Since when did he worry if the brat took his NEWTs or not?
“Okay,” Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived-Twice to defeat the Dark Lord, squeaked in fear.
“You are offering me a place in your home while I restore mine then?” Severus asked, wanting to make sure he understood correctly. Harry nodded. “Why?”
“Don’t know,” Harry shrugged. “I have the space and I don’t think it’s fair for you to have to still be at a place you don’t like after all you sacrificed.”
“I was being selfish Potter. I only did it for Lily and for revenge on the man who killed her.”
“And I did it to protect the people I love,” Harry shrugged again. “Granted, I didn’t approve of his views or methods but if I hadn’t been a part of this world, if the people I loved hadn’t been targeted I probably wouldn’t have entered this war. You don’t see me running to get in the middle of Muggle wars, do you? All the choices we make are for some selfish reason.”
“You sacrificed yourself. How is that selfish?”
Harry smiled, “I sacrificed myself in the hopes that Voldemort would die and the people I loved would be able to live free. I had a reason to do it, Professor. And it was the same one you had. In the end Professor Dumbledore was right, love won.”
“I am not a nice person.”
“Wouldn’t dare accuse you of being one,” Harry bit back a smile.
“And we have never had a civil relationship.”
“People can change.”
“I am too old to change.”
“Aren’t you thirty-eight, like Remus? That isn’t old in Wizard terms…or Muggle either come to think of it.”
“You understood what I meant!”
“I’m not asking you to change Professor. I am just offering you a room in my house, temporarily and promising that you will rarely see me.”
“And you are returning to Hogwarts next fall and taking your NEWTs,” Severus said firmly.
“I will take my NEWTs. Whether I do it by returning to Hogwarts or studying on my own will be decided later. I still have four months before classes start again.”
“Haven’t killed each other yet?” Tonks asked as she floated the food to the table, followed by Remus who was bringing the bottle of wine that Severus had brought.
“Professor Snape will be living in Grimmauld Place for a while,” Harry said happily. Remus’ face brightened as he sat.
“That’s wonderful! I dare say, you two will find you have a lot in common.” For this comment, Remus received two incredulous looks and a glare.