Chapter 5: What Does It All Mean
Harry and his professor quietly ate lunch while the headache potion Snape had given him took effect.
"Professor…" Harry started.
"Yes?" Snape said after a few moments past.
"Never mind," Harry mumbled looking down.
A few more minutes passed in awkward silence before Harry tried again.
"Professor, I know you aren't the best person to ask, and I KNOW you and my dad didn't get along. I'm sorry he was so horrible to you. But, can you tell me about them? Please? Remus told me my mum was a kind witch, and excellent with charms, and she must have loved my dad very much, but that's all I really know about her except for she was smart."
Snape snorted. 'Not the best person to ask' was an understatement.
"Did your dogfather not regale you with the stories of himself and your father? I'm quite surprised he didn't take every opportunity available to brag."
"He did, Professor. But I have to believe that there was more to my father than a school yard bully. Everyone says I'm just like him, and if a bully was all he was, then I want to be nothing like him," said Harry, his eyes going hard.
His eyes. So much like his mothers. Looking at them caused a deep physical and emotional pain in Severus. It was the main reason he never looked at the boy for too long. He simply couldn't stand the reminder of Lily. Of happier times. Of the night it all went so terribly wrong. The night she died.
"I didn't know much about your father Potter. He and his gang were average students, bent on tormenting anyone they deemed beneath them. The werewolf wasn't so bad, his biggest failure was reigning the other three in once he was made a prefect, though I imagine that was out of fear of losing the only friends he had," Snape frowned momentarily. "Your father came from an extremely old, and well respected, pure blood family. One of the original fourteen as a matter of fact, though, obviously from his choice of bonded, blood purity was not of utter importance to the Potters, only happiness. James was an only child, born to his parents in their later years. If I recall correctly, Dorea was in her mid-60's when they discovered she was expecting. Naturally he was doted on, and therefore obnoxiously spoilt. He did however manage to maintain grades high enough to be accepted into Auror training. He and your dogfather joined together. They were apparently quite good. I imagine that's why it came as such a shock when Sirius was accused of their murder."
"My father and godfather were Aurors?" asked Harry surprised.
"Yes Potter, what did you think? They just lazed around all day? Sirius maybe, but your mother would never have permitted that. She believed in earning what she had, not living off what others gave her," replied Snape.
"Oh." Harry was quiet for a moment. "I just always thought he'd played Quidditch or something. My father I mean."
"He could have, I suppose. I heard he had a few offers, but with the war going on, he felt it was his duty to work for the Ministry as his father had. No time for play and all that."
"My grandfather worked for the Ministry?" Harry was wide eyed.
"Yes, Charlus was Minister for International Magical Cooperation, if I recall correctly."
"What about my mum?" asked Harry.
Snape closed his eyes for a moment to compose himself.
"Your mother and I grew up together, as you well know. She moved a block and a half from me when she was seven. Her father was foreman at the mill where my father worked. We became instant friends. It was I who informed her of her magical abilities. She was so excited when she got her Hogwarts letter." Snape paused for a moment lost in thoughts of happier times. "Of course when we got to school and were sorted into different houses it became a bit more difficult to maintain our friendship, but your mother never stood for house rivalries. It wasn't until our fifth year that we ended the friendship. It is something I have regretted every day since."
"It was when you called her a 'mudblood' wasn't it?" asked Harry.
"Yes," Snape nodded. "I tried to apologize that night, but she would hear none of it. She said James had been right about me. Told me she would hex my bits off if I ever tried to talk to her again. She married your father two weeks after we graduated from Hogwarts and went to work in the Unspeakables Department as a Charms Mistress."
Harry's eyes at this point were popping out of his head. "My MUM was a…an UNSPEAKABLE?"
"Yes," smiled Snape. "One of the best. She worked specifically in the accidental charm reversion and charm experimentation department. The charms she invented were absolutely fantastic."
"Wow," was all Harry could say. His parents had both had important, and dangerous jobs, and he couldn't help but feel a sense of pride in that.
"Did you have a chance to reflect on what else you saw in these visions?" Snape asked.
"You really think they are visions? Dumbledore told me we have weird dreams when we are under a lot of stress."
Snape shook his head. "There are more to these than simple dreams. What they are I am not yet certain, but I believe they are important."
"The prophecy said that the one who can vanquish Him was born as the seventh month dies, to parents who have thrice defied him. Why me? Neville was born on the 30th July. Why not him?" Harry asked.
"I must admit Harry, that I do not know the full prophecy, so I can only guess. I did not know the Longbottoms. Frank was a year ahead of us. He was head boy. Alice was friends with your mother, but she and I never got along. I know they were both Aurors, and Dumbledore had them go under the Fidelus as well, but Neville's grandmother was their secret keeper. I know they were also members of the Order, like your parents."
Harry nodded taking it all in. "I know the full prophecy. I heard it when it broke last year. 'The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches ... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies ... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not ... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives ... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies ...'. I guess the scar on my forehead was where he marked me as his equal, but…how can I have a power Voldemort knows not? The girl in my visions, she said I'm just a boy. And she's right. I don't have any special powers. Dumbledore told me my mum died to protect me, but that doesn't make me special. It just means I got my mother killed."
All these riddles were making Harry angry. The senselessness of it all hurt beyond measure. They were both quiet for a long time.
"Love, Harry, is your power. Your mother and I may not have been friends when she passed, but she and your father loved you more than you can imagine. Love can make a person do crazy things. Amazing things even. I know…that you think me unable to process human emotion…but once upon a time, I too loved someone with all that I had. I had hoped that it would be enough to save her, but unfortunately, my love for her failed."
"Who did you love Professor?" Harry asked.
"Your mother," said Professor Snape as he fled from the room before Harry could see his tears.
Harry had been absolutely floored by Snapes admission. It had never crossed his mind that the greasy git had a heart. Harry had thought it long shriveled up and frozen over. Snape had loved his mother. It was hard to process. When did he realize that he loved her? And how far did that love go? Was it the love of a friend? A brother? A…boyfriend? And if he loved her, why did he call her such a vial name in their fifth year? Did he love her after that? When it was too late and she was already with James? He remembered somewhere in one of Snapes memories, Dumbledore had asked 'after all this time?' and Snape had simply said 'always.' He must have been talking about Harry's mother.
"Professor," Harry called as he knocked on the door to the study.
"-o AWAY!' a male voice slurred.
'Professor? Is that you? Are you alright?" asked Harry.
Five loud thumps and the door was flung open. Snape was unsteady on his feet, red faced, and eyes glossy.
"What da ya want, POTTER?"
Merlin! The man reeked of fire whiskey.
"When did you realize that you loved my mother?" Harry ground out.
"That *hiccup* is none of your business Potter!"
"I think it is professor. If I'm going to sit here and let you in to my head, the least you can do is let me into to yours, at least where it concerns my mother," said Harry angrily. "I'm NOT a child professor, so don't treat me like one. I may not be quite 15 yet, but everyone sits here and expects me to MURDER someone, to do things most adults could never even consider doing, and I think I deserve to be treated with a little more decency. I won't ask for respect, because I know I haven't earned it. But don't send me to my death blindly. At least give me something worth dying for."
"You are more like your mother than I realized…" Snape trailed off and he walked back into the room and sat in a chair behind his desk.
"When. Did. You. REALIZE. That you LOVED my MOTHER, Professor?" Harry forced through his teeth.
Snape stared at Harry for a long while, seemingly lost in thought.
"I have loved your mother from the moment I first laid eyes on her. I love your mother still. It is part of why I have been so unfair to you all these years. You remind me so much of her. Not just your eyes, though they are the exact shape and color of hers. You seem to only see the good in others, and to stand up for those who cannot do so for themselves. Lily was the same way. I loved your mother first as a friend. She was the first true friend I ever had. It mattered not that we had little money, and that my clothes weren't as nice as hers. She was able to see past all of that and accept me for who I was inside. It was not until our third year that my feelings for her changed. I don't know if she knew then, although I have my suspicions, but I never acted on my feelings, something which I will forever regret."
"Why didn't you tell her? That you loved her? Did she not have feelings for you in return?"
"I know that your mother loved me as a friend Harry, but there was no competing with the great James Potter. He was everything I could never be. He was able to afford the kind of lifestyle your mother deserved. Your father may have been an arrogant bully, but he loved your mother, in fact, he had eyes for no other from our fourth year on, though it was not until the end of our fifth year that she finally accepted his offers. I would not have condemned your mother to a life of poverty and shame. It is true that my mother was a pure-blooded witch, but when she disobeyed her family she was disowned by them and therefore left penniless. We would have struggled for everything we had. With James, all she had to do was ask and whatever it was that she wanted was hers. I KNOW your mother did not care for material things, and even if I had had the courage to ask, after that incident in our fifth year, I ruined any chance I might have had at a life with her."
Harry sat contemplating all of this new information for quite some time. Could Snape really hate him simply because of the painful reminder he presented to him on an almost daily basis?
"Professor…was I really an only child? Did I perhaps have an older sister? Or maybe a twin? Or…or was I supposed to have a baby sister when my mum was…" Harry trailed off.
"No Harry. You were…are...the only Potter heir. Your mother had a most difficult time carrying you. When you were born, I do believe her midwife advised against any further children, unless they were to adopt. Why do you ask?"
"Because in my dreams, she tells me that Voldemort killed OUR parents, that in HER world, no one knew she existed, so no one came looking for her to kill her too," Harry spoke as if he were almost shattered. He looked at Severus with lost green eyes, "Is it possible that somewhere out there, in some other reality, I had a family? A sister who loved me and needed me?" he asked.
"Harry…I couldn't say. I've never heard of alternate realities. As a potions master, it isn't a conversation I've ever found myself a part of, and I wouldn't even know who to ask about the matter. And even so, there would be no way for you to ever see her. If there were such a thing, if she was really speaking to you (if she did in fact exist) from another reality, I'm afraid you would only ever know her in these dreams, and there is no way for us to know how long they might last."
Harry nodded his head slowly.
"Yeah…but it would be a reason for me to fight. Because someone, somewhere, needs me. Because somewhere I have a sister who loves me, and who is somehow trying to warn me and help me. Even if I never meet her, that would be enough for me. Just to know that somehow she exists."
A long while passed before either man (for how can one expect a CHILD to kill?) spoke another word.
"She told me not to trust anyone. Not even her. That these were uncertain times, and that friends and enemies won't exist and the lines between right and wrong will begin to blur." Harry laughed. "She called Dumbledore an idiot."
Severus raised an eyebrow. "She sounds like an intelligent woman." Snape paused to gather his thoughts. "Trust, Harry, is a difficult thing to impart on another human being. It can be so easily lost, but it is almost always demanded when things get rough. I know that in these last few days I have asked you to trust me without explanation, and I must assume that you have, since you have yet to attempt an escape. But whoever this person is, she is right. Dangerous times are coming. Times when everyone's loyalties will be tested, and you must be suspicious of everyone. Even of yourself."
"Professor? When did I become Harry?"
Snape smiled. "When I realized you were not, in fact, your father, or even your mother. You are your own person, JUST Harry."
Harry smiled. "I've never been JUST Harry. I like that. I've always been 'boy' or 'freak' or some kind of 'hero' people try to worship." Harry closed his eyes. "I wish I knew her name, or what she looked like. So I could thank her. I think last time I talked to her, it's all so fuzzy though. I asked her why she was telling me all this. She told me I was just a boy, and she's right. I AM just a boy. Just Harry. I don't want to be anything else."