Loneliness

Chapter 19

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling. Blah blah blah. should just put a blanket disclaimer on the site for all the idiots that could possibly believe we actually own these stories or make any kind of a profit.


Snape's breath misted the air in the cold dungeon as he sat contemplating Potter. The boy had been gone for over half an hour now, and yet still Snape sat at his desk, slumped over with head in hands. When Potter had mentioned his mother, he had lost control. He was aware that he had probably over reacted, but just the simple mention of her had pushed him over the edge. Potter was close to the truth if he had already connected him to his parents. How would he react when he found out that Snape, his Potions Master and Head of House, had been the one responsible for their deaths? For her death…

The guilt still tore at Snape. His nightmares continued, a nightly punishment and reminder of how he had so spectacularly failed, of the wrong choices he had made. He knew he would never atone for that, yet he wanted so desperately to try. He had promised that he would protect her son, no matter what, in a vain attempt to somehow make up for it, not knowing how much of monumental task that would turn out to be.

Potter was on the edge of darkness, perhaps even inside it. Protecting him, keeping him safe, would require more work than just simply watching out for the boy. He would need to make sure the boy stayed on the side of light, and if he indeed did fall into darkness, he would have to somehow pull him out of it. Lily Evans' boy could not be allowed to turn into a new Dark Lord.

However, being near the boy was agonising to Snape. Looking into his eyes every day, seeing Lily reflected in them. Not to mention the hair that reminded him so strongly of the man who had taken Lily from him. His thoughts and feelings remained ever conflicted when he looked at the boy, with equal parts remorse and hatred. The boy himself, well, Snape could not help but be reminded of himself, and that alone provoked a need to protect and guide. If only he was not the son of hose two particular people that meant so much to Snape, in so different ways, it would have been easy.

Potter was not, however, and it was far from easy. Snape knew he had a decision to make. Potter had forced his hand today, and he could stall no longer. Either he banished the boy from his thoughts and forsook his promise, or he took the boy in completely, opened up to him and attempted to save him fro the darkness that surrounded him.

Snape sat in the dungeon classroom, pondering this decision all night long.

(-)

Harry paused outside Severus Snape's private chambers, filled with apprehension. He didn't know for sure what waited for him beyond this door, but he suspected he was about to learn the truth of the connection between Snape and his parents. Either that or suffer torture and eventual death under the wand of his Potions Master. It could go either way at this point, Harry thought wryly, and then raised his hand and knocked.

Snape opened the door himself, looking as weary as he had all day. Potions earlier had been a tedious affair, wherein the usual bat like swooping Snape had been replaced with a hunched figure moulded to his desk that didn't move or say anything except to give them introductions to copy from the textbook.

'Get in,' Snape said gruffly, and once Harry had done so, he shut the door with more force than was strictly necessary.

Harry took the time to take in the unfamiliar surroundings, noting the coldness of the room, boxed in with bare stone walls. Dimmed lights that flickered like candles, the gaping hole of an unlit fireplace, a large mahogany desk with curved snakes for legs, behind which loomed a book littered shelf, and a single black rug were the only notable objects within the room.

Snape crossed to his desk and flicked his wand at the fireplace, lighting it with a whoosh of flame. Harry stepped over to the dancing flames and welcomed the warmth and the comfort that he associated with the fire. He felt Snape's eyes on him, but waited for the older wizard to speak first.

After several silent moments, Snape said, 'aren't you wondering why I summoned you here?'

'I figured you wanted to tell me the truth about my parents, actually,' Harry replied, extending a hand to the flames, before turning his head to look at Snape. 'Why else would you have summoned me here.'

Snape kept his face calm, so Harry couldn't read him. 'Down to business then. Yes, I knew your… parents.'

Harry turned his whole body to face Snape, his attention wholly on the other wizard now. Finally, he was going to learn the truth. He almost couldn't believe it.

Snape sat behind his desk and leaned his head back into the high seat, his face pensive. Harry let him think, calmly watching.

'I knew your mother since we were children. We lived close by. I knew her before she even knew she was a witch. I watched her play with her friends, and I knew she was magical. Just by looking at her.' Snape cleared his throat. 'We became friends. At Hogwarts, we were separated by house loyalty, me to Slytherin, her Gryffindor. You know all about what that is like. Yet despite that separation, we attempted to maintain a friendship. For a while it worked, but then… we drifted apart. She met your father. Everything fell apart.'

Harry felt uncomfortable, watching as his professor buried his head in his hands. He had never seen the wizard display such emotion; try as he might to hide it.

'The Dark Lord killed your parents,' Snape said, his voice only slightly muffled by his hands. 'Now you stand before me, the embodiment of them both.'

Harry sensed he had just missed a huge chunk of the story, but before he could say anything, Snape raised his head and stared at Harry. 'I vowed the day Lily died that I would protect you. That is why I watch you. I watch you to protect you, from everyone who would use you, from people you know nothing about, and from yourself.'

'Myself?'

'We have a lot to discuss Potter,' Snape replied, 'and time enough for that. What you need to know now is that I am not a threat to you. See me for detention tomorrow.'

Harry sighed. Detention again? He'd almost been free of that.

'Go now.' Snape pointed to the door.

'But,' Harry said, needing to know more.

'Not now,' Snape cut him off. 'I know you must have many questions, but I cannot answer them now. You have my word that I will, but for now, be patient.'

Harry nodded. 'Fine. But I'll hold you to that promise.'

Snape shook his head, his normally impassive face curling in a smirk. 'Oh I have no doubt you will, Potter. Now go.'

Harry left, his mind filling up with more and more questions. Snape had barely told him anything he hadn't already concluded, yet he felt this meeting was more of an olive branch, a promise of more to come. He couldn't wait to find out the whole truth.

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