Chapter 1: Legacy
Two months before Harry's birthday and a month before he was due to leave school at the end of his fifth year, he was greeted in the common room one morning by a house-elf. He was informed that Dumbledore wished to see him immediately after breakfast. Harry acknowledged the message and frowned thoughtfully to himself. He couldn't think of anything he'd done recently that would require the Headmaster's attention, and besides, he'd spoken to him only a few days earlier.
The only major result of Voldemort's plan to kill Harry this year, at least to Harry's mind, was the proving of Sirius' innocence. Although Wormtail had escaped yet again, Harry was now free to live with his godfather. He was rather enjoying the novel experience of actually looking forward to the summer holiday. He couldn't wait to see what Sirius' house was like.
He ate quickly, feeling Snape's eyes on him as usual, but didn't bother looking up as he sometimes did. He knew now that by the time his head came up, Snape's eyes would be anywhere except on him. Honestly, if it weren't Snape, he would have thought that the man was, you know, interested in him. But that thought was just too ridiculous for words. Still, the man had been watching him all year.
After he'd eaten, Harry made his way to Dumbledore's office. Another change over the past year, that. Harry was now provided with the appropriate passwords, as he invariably ended up kicking the gargoyle and demanding to be granted entrance at least thrice a year otherwise. He knocked, and entered at the Headmaster's welcome.
Dumbledore wasn't alone in his office - a goblin sat in one of the visitors' chairs, holding a large black bag in his lap. Harry blinked at the unexpected presence, but addressed himself to the Headmaster.
"You wanted to see me, sir?"
"Yes. Have a seat, Harry. Mr. Holdfast would like to speak to you."
Harry sat, and waited expectantly.
"Mr Harry Potter, son of Mrs Lily Potter, neé Evans?" questioned the goblin, his tone indicating that he clearly knew the answer, but was required to ask it. Harry merely nodded in reply.
"Your mother left some items with us, to be given to you shortly before your sixteenth birthday, should she be no longer living at the time." Here, the goblin paused and indicated the bag. "If you will accept it, our responsibility for it is ended."
"Er, yes," replied Harry. His mind wasn't exactly on the goblin any longer; he was far more interested in the bag and its contents. What on earth could his mother have left him, and why did it have to be given to him now?
Realising Harry's inattention, the goblin turned to Dumbledore. "I have nothing else to do here. If I may request some Floo powder, I will be getting back."
"Certainly." Once the goblin had left, depositing the bag beside Harry's chair, Dumbledore turned to Harry and attempted to gain his attention.
"Oh, sorry sir," came the eventual response. "I was, uh, thinking. Did you know about this?"
"I have to say I didn't. However, you have a lesson soon. I'll have it taken to your dorm."
"Yes sir." Harry repressed a sigh. But it, whatever it turned out to be, had waited almost sixteen years, so he supposed it could wait a little longer. After all, he certainly couldn't afford to miss a lesson, what with OWLs starting very soon - after the weekend to be exact.
Lessons over, he hurried to Gryffindor Tower. Hermione had naturally organised an intense review schedule for the three friends for the last few days before exams began. Luckily they weren't due to start the next session for another hour. Hermione, and consequently Ron, had decided to go to the library early, and Harry promised to join them soon.
Once in his room, he spotted the black bag on his bed. He was momentarily mystified by the fact that it had no visible opening. However, when he tentatively touched it, reaching out an apprehensive finger, a zip appeared at the top. He opened it eagerly, and saw that it appeared to be filled with an assortment of slim notebooks, some bound in leather, others in card and cloth. He lifted out the one on top, and opened it to the first page. 'Lily Evans, July 1970-September 1971' it announced in a bold, somewhat childish hand. A diary. His mother's diary.
Showing what he thought was remarkable restraint, he set the book aside to investigate what else might be contained within the bag. A glint of something metallic between two piles of books caught his eye. Reaching into the bag, he extracted the object, which turned out to be a scroll, wrapped round with a gold ribbon, sealed, and inscribed with his name.
There was no time to read it now. He resisted the almost overwhelming urge to open it despite that and instead stashed the bag under his bed and hurried to meet his friends. The sooner he got to the library, the sooner they could finish this study session and he could get back to the letter. Never mind revision and OWLs, this was far more important.
***Chapter 2: Letter
Friday night had finally arrived, far too slowly for Harry's liking. After they had completed their revision session, Ron had gone off somewhere with Hermione. It was an open secret what they were doing in these times when they disappeared off together, but for some reason they preferred to sneak around. Harry didn't understand it, but he was glad that his friends had discovered this extra dimension to their relationship. The other fifth-year Gryffindor boys were in the common room, so Harry had the dorm room to himself. No one would ask what he was reading up here, all alone, and he was determined to make the most of this rare opportunity for privacy.
He seated himself on his bed and drew the curtains around him to ensure that he would have some warning if the others turned up. Realising that this meant he needed some light, he murmured a quiet "Lumos," unsure why exactly he was whispering, but feeling it necessary. Rather nervously, he broke open the maroon wax seal on his mother's scroll and, unfurling the thick parchment, he began to read.
25th August 1981
My dearest Harry,
I hope it never becomes necessary for you to read this letter. I hope that I will be there to tell you all about this, when the time comes. However during the years I have also learned better than to ignore my instincts, and they are telling me that this letter will be needed.
Harry, first and most importantly, you should know that I love you. I have no idea how long I have been gone from you, or how much you remember of me, but I promise you, if you need me, I will be there for you. Sadly not directly, if you are reading this, but somehow I will be there. Your father wants me to add the same sentiment, but like me, hopes that you never have to read of it in a letter.
If you need help, or advice, or just someone to talk to, and neither of us are available, go to Sirius and Remus. I have no doubt that Albus - Professor Dumbledore - will help you as well. I also very much suspect that Severus will be there for you if you need him. Whatever you may have heard about him, he is very much on the side of the light. Please don't let pre-conceptions and appearances blind you to a very good man. I know he has changed from the boy I knew I knew so well, but I still trust him, with my life and yours. I hope you will understand more of this after you read what I've left you.
I'm not sure how I should say this, but I think it will be best just to start, or else I will never get finished. I'm giving you my diaries, dating from the time a few months before I entered Hogwarts. You may be interested enough to read all of them, however it is very important that you have read at least the one from my last year of school (1976-77) by the time you turn sixteen.
You should also know that all my actions were carried out with good intentions. I confess, I am unsure of the final outcome, but please believe that I chose my course in order to help you, as well as to aid him. An instinct, much like the one that directs me to write this letter, told me that it was necessary.
I hope so very much that it turns out to have been correct. I hope that it does turn out to help you.
I'm sorry that I can't be there for you, and I'm sorry if I made a mistake. I hope that you will be able to forgive me, if forgiveness is needed.
Please be good to him, my Harry. I suspect that he will need you, although I know for certain that he won't admit it. And, I think you may well find that you will need him too. Help each other, and if you can, give him my love.
All my love,
By the end of all this, Harry was more than a little bemused. What on earth was all this about? All he could figure out from the oblique references in the letter was that his mother had done something, that it perhaps had something to do with Snape and the trust she appeared to have in him, and that it should all become clear after he'd read her diaries from her last year of school. Or at least, he hoped it would become clear. He was particularly mystified by the references to the unnamed man that she wanted him to 'be good' to.
He wanted to begin reading the diaries immediately, but there was no time. The others would be coming up soon, he had no intention of sharing this with them, and he needed to go to sleep anyway. Hermione was expecting him early for yet another revision session. And he thought that perhaps he ought to pay a visit to Snape. For example, he needed to find out exactly why Harry's mother seemed to trust the man so much.
***Chapter 3: Conversation
Early on Saturday morning, long before anyone else was awake, Harry opened the first of his mother's diaries behind the dubious shelter of his bed curtains and began to read.
***29th July 1970 Dear Diary,
You'll never believe what happened today! I can hardly believe it myself. This morning, when we were leaving to go shopping, an owl flew up, and dropped a letter addressed to me at my feet. Not an ordinary letter, either, it was thick parchment with a green wax seal. A seal! Then when I opened it, it said that I was a witch and that I was invited to, well, witch school! It's called Hogwarts, and it has the most amazing crest, and the list of stuff to bring was just unbelievable.
Of course, Mummy and Daddy thought it was some kind of silly joke, but the letter did look so very official and an owl had delivered it right to me, so eventually they thought it might be real after all. Actually I think they were kind of excited by the whole idea once they started to believe it. Who wouldn't be?!
Petunia wasn't happy at all. She stormed upstairs saying that it was silly and that it couldn't possibly be real and that anyway she should have got the letter since she was the oldest. Sisters! I think she's just jealous because I get to be a witch.
Anyway, I've got to go to bed. Tomorrow we're going to try and find this Diagon Alley place.
Harry was astonished. This, like the photo album in his first year, was a revelation. His mother was a real person. She'd been young, excited about Hogwarts, glad to have one up over her older sister. He thought about it for a little while, and read a few more entries, about visiting Diagon Alley for the first time, and about the people she'd met there. It turned out that, much like Harry, she'd met fellow Hogwarts first years there too. A boy called James Potter, for one, who seemed to have stuck in her mind in particular.
At this point, however, the other boys were starting to wake up, so Harry marked his page, stuck the diary under his pillow and got out of bed. After spending the morning revising with Ron and Hermione as planned, he headed off on his own. He had a Snape to corner.
As usual, luck was with Harry. Just as he emerged from the library, he saw Professor Snape walking past, heading in the general direction of the dungeons. He followed the professor for a while, and when they were reasonably close to the dungeons, spoke up.
"What is it, Potter? I had thought to be rid of you until your exam."
Harry decided that on this occasion, politeness was justified, even if it was Snape. "Well, it's kind of important, sir."
Snape sneered, indicating the utter triviality of any need such a lowly being as Harry Potter could have, compared to his own greater concerns.
"It's about my mother."
The sneer almost fell off Snape's face, before he caught himself.
"And what do you think I could possibly know - or care - about your mother? She did, after all, choose to marry your father."
Harry reminded himself of the need for politeness. "Well, sir, it seems she wrote me a letter, and it told me that you were not exactly what you seemed."
Oh. Now that was interesting. Snape's face showed almost as little expression as usual, but around the edges traces of 'taken aback' and even a tiny glimmer of 'fear' were showing. He decided to follow up on his advantage.
"I'm not sure that you'd want it discussed in a corridor, though," he hinted.
"No. While I'd much rather not discuss it at all, I suppose it is your right," came the grudging reply. "Come on then, Potter."
Mildly astonished at how easily Snape had caved - clearly there was, or at least had been, a lot more going on than Harry had suspected - he followed Snape towards his office.
"Sit." Harry sat. Snape took his seat behind his desk, and waited to see what Harry would say. Clearly he wasn't planning to give away anything without first knowing exactly what Harry knew already.
Well, he'd better get on with it then, hadn't he? Harry produced the letter, and said "I got this yesterday, from a Gringotts goblin. Apparently my mother left it with them." He presented another piece of parchment, on which he'd copied the section that mentioned Snape, and handed it to him. No matter what his mother's advice, he wasn't about to trust the man any more than necessary. Snape may have been on the side of the Light, a spy in Voldemort's camp and all the rest of it, but he was still also a sarcastic bastard who'd had it in for Harry because of his grudge against Harry's father. Snape skimmed the parchment quickly, and made a motion as if to hand it back. He definitely looked a little mystified now, but the fear was fading.
"Keep it, I have the original," Harry said, and Snape retracted his hand.
"Is that all she said about me?"
"Yes, but she also left me her diaries, dating from when she started at Hogwarts." The fear was back, mingled with a touch of sorrow. This was absolutely fascinating. Who knew that Snape could show emotion apart from venomous hatred and unholy glee? And who knew he had such human ones as these? "I haven't had a chance to read them yet, though," Harry added, just so that he could watch the fear fade slightly at that statement.
"Well then, Potter, I suppose all you need to know at this stage is that I was… on friendly terms with your mother, and she occasionally insisted that I wasn't quite as evil as your father's friends made out." Interesting, he had said 'father's friends', and not 'father'. But Snape was still speaking. "Once you've read her diaries, come back and we will have another conversation." Snape's apprehension was showing. "And I suppose that since Lily was kind enough to shred my cover, I should not be quite so malevolent to you in private. Therefore, it will be perfectly safe for you to return." //Although perhaps not so safe for me.// Harry blinked. Snape's lips had not uttered those last words, but he could swear that they'd been spoken in his voice, dry, with an undertone of the apprehension that still lingered on his face.
"Thank you, sir."
"Unlike you, I have work to be getting on with now."
Well, that was a dismissal if ever he'd heard one. Harry got up and left. Now he had even more things to think about, and OWLs the day after tomorrow. His life just couldn't get any more complicated.
After Potter had left, Severus allowed himself to relax slightly, but only by the tiniest amount. Soon enough, after the holidays, he would know exactly what the relationship between his mother and Severus had been. God only knew how he'd react to that. Not to mention the fact that the urge to do something besides watch the boy only grew stronger by the day. The points during the conversation he'd just had when he could almost swear that he knew what the boy was going to say before he spoke. The fact that Voldemort would be calling him soon to commit more unspeakable acts. His life just couldn't get any more complicated. He somehow had the feeling that those would be famous last words.
***Chapter 4: Home
Perhaps it shouldn't have come as so much of a shock, but it did. Harry had actually managed to pass his OWLs. With a decent grade, even, in all of his subjects, including Potions.
Snape had kept his word too, ignoring Harry whenever he happened to pass him in the corridor. Which, Harry had to admit, was a definite improvement over being sneered at and insulted at every turn. During his practical exam, Snape had allowed Harry to get on with it in peace, rather than slighting his potion brewing technique at every opportunity. Of course, if Harry was accompanied by his friends, or if other people happened to be in the vicinity, especially Malfoy, then Snape reverted to his old vicious self. But Harry was beginning to suspect that his mother might have been right when she suggested that Snape was one of the good guys. However, he was certainly not a particularly nice one.
In between exams and revising, Harry had begun to read his mother's diaries. In the last two weeks, he'd managed to cover her first two years at Hogwarts. It was fascinating to read about her many more meetings with his father, and with Sirius and Remus, about her Sorting and settling in. It was downright astonishing when he realised the reserved boy she'd met on the station platform was none other than the Dreaded Potions Master. As for the point where she first called Snape her friend and then referred to him as 'Sev', well, that resulted in Harry blinking at the entry in bemusement. Then when Ron called him down for dinner, he stared at Snape the whole way through the meal. He found himself completely bewildered by the thought that anyone, let alone Harry's own mother, could have dared to call Snape by a nickname, and have been allowed to get away with it. He barely registered that Snape was watching him just as intently, and he certainly didn't notice the puzzled, and slightly worried, looks he was receiving from his Gryffindor housemates.
When his friends had questioned his strange actions - taking to his bed with the curtains drawn in his free time, staring at Snape all through meals - he just shrugged them off. He wasn't sure why he was so reluctant to tell them about his mother's legacy, and her disclosures about Snape. He only knew that something inside him was sure that telling them would be the wrong thing to do. Although it was true he found it more and more difficult to explain why he had to keep biting back a smile every time he caught sight of Snape after that. 'Sev' indeed…
Soon enough, it was all over. He was nominally an intellectual success, and he was free to spend his summer at the house Sirius and Remus had built. Those two denied any suggestion of romance between them, preferring to insist that they just felt that the two remaining Marauders ought to stick together. However, Harry knew for a fact that Sirius was gay. Shortly after the Easter holidays, he had come to the startling realisation that perhaps he preferred men. Confused, and more than a little ashamed of himself, he'd written to Sirius, who had been supportive and confessed his own predilections. Despite what they said, the looks Remus gave Sirius said very clearly that 'just friends' wasn't what he had in mind.
Anyhow, he was soon ensconced in a room of his own, with the freedom to do what he wished. He spent a lot of time with Sirius and Remus, but they were also busy with the tasks that they were performing for Dumbledore and the Order. While they were away, Harry enjoyed the luxury of having the house to himself, with no responsibilities except to keep himself fed and the place reasonably clean - not difficult, with magic at his disposal and special permission to use it. He took his mother's diaries out into the sunshine and sank once more into her world.
Harry smiled happily to himself as he read about the growing closeness between his mother and father. A pleasant feeling of foreknowledge warmed him as he read about their tentative fourth-year courtship. First kisses and falling in love, and he was remarkably unembarrassed by the fact that these were his parents he was reading about. He laughed at the pranks Sirius had played on them and Remus' attempts at manipulating them into spending time together. And while there were indications of hostility between the Marauders, Sirius in particular, and his mother's preferred confidant, 'Sev', they seemed to be held in check. Or at least, there was no mention yet of attempted murder.
Then, towards the end of their fifth year, he came across a development that made him choke.
3rd May 1975
It's been a year since our first kiss. After he kissed me goodnight tonight, just the same way he did a year ago, James told me he loved me. I love him too, and I said so. The first time we'd said it to each other. It was so wonderful, to say it and to hear it.
I'm confused, though. I do love him, I know it. I want to be with him. But as I said it, I couldn't help thinking about Sev. And that's not how it should be, is it? Surely when I tell James I love him, I shouldn't also be thinking about another man? I don't understand. Maybe I'll go talk to Sev.
4th May 1975
I did manage to talk to Sev today. I didn't say exactly what the problem was, not at first, or even that there was a problem, but he knew. It's great having a friend who knows when I want to talk and when I just want to think about something in friendly company. Anyhow, after a while I just started talking, and before I knew it, I was telling him the whole thing. It was as if I was outside myself, listening to what I was saying, and I knew exactly what it sounded like. It sounded like I love James. But it also sounded like I love Sev. He kissed me, almost the same way James did the first time. Just brushing his lips across mine. His touch saying the same thing. 'I think I could be falling in love with you.' Holding a plea. I kissed him back. And then I left. I don't know what to do. It's not possible to be in love with two people at the same time, is it? I'm even more confused and I have no idea who to talk to now.
***Harry laid the diary down carefully, and went off to mutter at the bushes for a while. What the hell had happened there? His mother had been in love with Snape? Snape had been in love with his mother? They'd kissed each other? He shuddered at the mere thought. *** Chapter 5: Revelation
After a while, Harry returned to his seat, and the diary. Rather than the feeling of pleasant anticipation he'd felt the last few times he began reading, he was really quite anxious. He wasn't quite sure that he wanted to keep reading now, but he was also unwillingly fascinated by the disclosure. He could understand why Snape had seemed both apprehensive and slightly scared when Harry had mentioned the diaries. Of course, he'd known what Harry would find in them. He felt he ought to be angry at the thought of Snape kissing his mother, but he realised once he got past the shock and the knee-jerk reaction of disgust, he didn't feel much of anything. It was something that had happened, and he needed to know how it had turned out before he could sort out what he felt. Perhaps he didn't know the story as well as he had imagined.
5th May 1975
I think Sev's annoyed with me. I suppose he has some right, after all I did kiss him, and then leave him. But he shouldn't have kissed me first, not when he knew that I love James. But then I had practically confessed to loving him too. I have to make it up to him, but I don't know what to say. I don't know what to do. We can't possibly just be friends anymore. I think James knows something is wrong too. How can he not? I haven't spoken to Sev all day, and when we saw each other at breakfast, we both blushed and looked away.
Harry read the story of the next few weeks. His mother seemed more and more bewildered by the turn of events, uncharacteristically indecisive. Her friendship with Snape came to an abrupt halt, and even her relationship with his father seemed to be suffering.
20th May 1975
I told James today. I had to. He was…remarkably calm about it. He said he couldn't blame Sev for loving me, and he said he trusted me. I'm very lucky. He told me to talk to Sev, and if we managed to sort ourselves out a little, then he'd like to speak to him too. I didn't quite have the courage to ask him why. Tomorrow's a Hogsmeade weekend, which means Sev will be around, but probably no-one else will. I'll see if he'll talk to me then.
21st May 1975
I hadn't realised how much I'd missed him until we spoke today. He was hurt, but he listened to everything I was saying. I don't think I was making much sense towards the end, but he heard me out. He loves me. I think I may love him. I know I love James. James loves me. This is never going to work. But we're friends again, maybe something more. I told him that James wanted to speak to him. James is going to stay back with us tomorrow.
22nd May 1975
Wow. Maybe this will work after all. They had a civilised conversation, not that the problem's been between them anyway. It felt completely unreal, though, sitting there discussing it. Sev told James about his parents, and about the fact that he will have no choice but to take up the Dark Arts after he graduates. He was brutally honest about the fact that we could have no future, even if he loves me and I think I love him. So we're going to find out what happens when a girl's pretty much equally in love with two men. I just can't believe that they're both tolerating this situation so well.
Harry had the feeling that 'what the hell' was once again the response called for. His father and Snape essentially agreeing to share his mother. He couldn't believe it. It was, as she had said, unreal. It just couldn't be true. But he kept reading. Over the next two years, the diary showed two couples very much in love, that just happened to involve the same woman. The first time his mother wrote about sleeping with his father, he felt that surely her relationship with Snape would end. But two months later, it became very clear that she'd… spent the night with Snape. Harry just couldn't bring himself to call it 'sex' when his mother and Snape were involved. Together. He kept reading though.
Finally, two days before his sixteenth birthday, he read the entry for the day before her graduation. And at last he understood what she'd wanted him to see.
27th June 1977
I don't know if I did the right thing, but I think I had to do it. The last few weeks, I've been feeling the time slip away. James is going to ask me to marry him tomorrow, and I will probably never see Sev again. And I can't shake the feeling that he's going to need someone, sometime, and that I can help. I found a spell, to summon the spirits of life. It felt right, demanded to be used. Last night I created a spell, and I bound our blood. I and my children will be linked to him and his.
Since I used elements of passion, I think from my reading that it will activate for the children when they reach sixteen. God, I hope I did it right, because I don't think it can be removed. Tomorrow it ends. Tomorrow I become James', always and only. And it hurts. I'm so glad to be able to promise myself to James, but I know the kind of life Sev's going to have. Professor Dumbledore's plan - which I encouraged him to agree to - may let him retain his soul but I don't think it's going to help his life expectancy at all. He is going to need me. I know it.
I just hope what I've done will be enough. Of course, I didn't tell Sev. He'd just be angry, and besides he'll find out when the time comes.
Harry couldn't make himself believe it. In two days he would have a bond with Snape? A bond created by his mother? It just couldn't be possible. She wouldn't have done something like that. But then, it appeared that she had loved the man, maybe loved him enough to do something that drastic, to commit not only herself but her hope of children to him. Confused didn't even start to describe his feelings. Although this did begin to explain some things, he supposed. He also knew what she was hinting at when she mentioned Dumbledore's plan. Even Snape might need some major help in his situation - but surely not that much!
Sirius and Remus were due to return in time to celebrate Harry's birthday with him. Perhaps his godfather would be able to help, somehow, although Harry wasn't sure that telling him would be a good idea at all.
The day after the revelation, Harry quickly read through the few remaining diaries. Graduation, engagement, the wedding were all skimmed past. It was clear she still thought about Snape, but she was also obviously happy with her life. He read about her pregnancy, and his own birth. He could not help being touched by the anticipation and love that she expressed, as he was by her descriptions of his father's reactions. But he still couldn't quite forgive what she'd done. And he couldn't stop thinking about what it all meant. Tomorrow he turned sixteen.
***Chapter 6: Birthday
Harry awoke early on the morning of his sixteenth birthday to blinding summer light. Not to mention the sound of two astonishingly awake-sounding male voices chorusing "Happy birthday, Harry", drowning out the birdsong that was his usual wake-up call. Clearly Remus and Sirius had made it home last night, some time after Harry had finally given up waiting for them and gone to bed, shortly before midnight. He glared up at them bleary-eyed, only the top of his head poking out from under the sheet.
"'S not happy. 'M sleepy. Go 'way." He pulled the sheet the rest of the way over his head, more as a gesture of his extreme displeasure rather than out of any hope that they would actually listen to his plea.
"Come now, is that any way to greet your loving godfather?" asked Sirius rather too loudly, in Harry's opinion. "Get up, Harry! We've lots of things planned, and it's already seven o'clock."
Seven?! That sort of time was positively unholy, but Harry was unwillingly becoming more awake at this point. He even managed to form a complete sentence. "Okay, okay! As long as you understand that I'm getting up under protest."
Sirius laughed. "We'll be in the kitchen when you're ready. First birthday present's over there." He indicated new jeans and a t-shirt draped over a chair.
As they left the room, Harry attempted to gather his thoughts. There was something important he should remember, but that was still hidden under the sleep-fog. What was it? A minute later, he sat up abruptly. His mother's spell! Snape! And as he sat up and thought that name, he felt a most peculiar sensation, like an elastic band snapping tight somewhere in the region of his navel.
An image of Snape popped into his head, but not one that he was familiar with. The hooked nose was immediately recognisable, but this Snape was far younger, sleeping curled in on himself in the middle a tangle of sheets. He was in what looked like a classroom, and was wearing nothing more than a tiny worried frown on his otherwise unlined face. He actually looked kind of… cute. The image came accompanied by a wash of emotions. Love, regret, sorrow, hope. His mother. This was what she'd seen, what she'd felt, after she'd completed the spell. That knowledge came with the image and the feelings, and helped him feel slightly more sane. It wasn't Harry thinking that Snape was cute, it was his mother. And it wasn't Snape at all, but 'Sev'. A more rational thought, maybe, but not a more comforting one.
As Harry readied himself for the day, and Sirius' undoubtedly elaborate plans, more images and their accompanying emotions played in his head. Of Snape and Harry's father talking together. Emotions of wonder, bewilderment and under it all, love directed at both men. That must have been the talk.
Watching Gryffindor play Slytherin at Quidditch, laughing as James pulls off a particularly audacious manoeuvre, then glancing across and catching Sev's wry smile in the opposite stand. Studying together, helping each other, explanations delivered in a tone that spoke not of pride in his expertise but of an eagerness to help another understand. Against his will, Harry felt some of his preconceptions and prejudices fade. It was hard to see the man his mother had loved so well as purely horrible, especially when he understood not just how much she'd loved him, but why, and now that he could see behind the masks that Snape had put up. The very masks that his mother had first encouraged Snape to create.
Of course, some of those images Harry could most definitely have done without. He did not need to know what Snape's face looked like when he said 'I love you' for the first time. It had been an expression of uncertainty and hope, voice so soft and almost choked with emotion. He certainly had no desire at all to know what his expression was like at the height of passion, as he gasped Harry's mother's name. Particularly not when it came with emotions of passion, love, and a sort of pleasure he'd never felt before except perhaps in the dreams that came late at night and left his sheets soaked with sweat and semen. He had the feeling that those dreams would be decidedly more explicit now. Surely no-one deserved to have their wet dreams fuelled by images of their mother and Snape? It was… horrendous! Unthinkable. His mind shied away from it.
Harry gritted his teeth, and tried to ignore the images. Hopefully they would go away after a while. He went down to the kitchen and prayed that Sirius could provide some sort of distraction.
"Breakfast is served!" Sirius exclaimed as Harry entered, indicating a plate heaped with a full English breakfast, normally one of Harry's favourite things. Today, considering what was going on in his head, he didn't feel at all up to eating. As soon as he sat down, however, he realised that he was actually quite hungry. The food vanished quickly.
As they ate, Sirius filled Harry in on the plans for the day. "Ron and Hermione will be here soon, and then I've got something planned for you. Ever been to a wizarding theme park?"
"Wow, really?" This distraction thing was a good idea, it seemed. "I've never even been to an ordinary one!" The Dursleys would certainly never have wasted their money on buying a ticket for him to go to a theme park.
"Well then, you'll enjoy this. I promise."
And so he did. Ron and Hermione Floo'd in from Ron's house, where she'd been spending the week, and they spent a happy day at the theme park. Ron had never been to a theme park either, and enjoyed it immensely. Hermione had been to a Muggle one before, but she insisted this was far better. Harry was successfully diverted from the images that had finally slowed from the torrent of the morning, but still insisted on entering his head at odd intervals. And the image of Sirius screaming loudly on every single roller coaster, no matter how tame, would stay in his mind forever.
In the evening, they returned home. Sirius produced a monstrosity of a cake, smothered in chocolate icing. Harry made a wish, blew out his candles, and keeping to tradition, refused to tell them what he'd wished for. He opened his presents, the first time he'd got to open them with the gift-givers, and thank them properly. They sat around talking for a while, and then Hermione and Ron had to Floo back. Against their protests, Harry helped Sirius and Remus clean up, and then went to bed, with only half an hour of his birthday remaining.
That night, he dreamed of Snape.
***Chapter 7: Holiday
When Harry woke the next day, he decided it was time he had a talk with Sirius. Not about the 'bond', of course - that he'd decided he wanted to keep to himself. But he did want to find out what Sirius knew about his mother and Snape and their relationship. Thankfully, the memory bombardment had stopped finally sometime during the night, but the ones that had appeared up to that point remained burned into his memory.
While he was sleeping, some other things had also sunk in. Such as the fact that Snape knew even less about this creation of Harry's mother than Harry did, and the thought that he may well have had a similar experience to Harry's the previous day. Harry decided that he didn't really want to know how Snape had taken it if it turned out to be the case. Of course, there would be far fewer memories of Harry than of Snape. That thought brought the realisation that Harry now knew far more about Snape than the Potions professor did about the young Gryffindor. Inspired by his new insights, came the thought that Snape would absolutely loathe that fact. He couldn't resist a small, evil, smile.
Harry managed to catch Sirius in the garden. "Sirius, do you have a minute?"
"I kind of wanted to ask you about my mother. You know, when you were at school."
"Well in that case, you might be better off talking to Remus. He was quite a bit closer to her than I was."
"Oh. Maybe I'll talk to him later." If Sirius couldn't give him the information he needed. Not that he knew exactly what he was looking for anyway. "What I really wanted to ask you about was her other friends."
"Other friends? She… uh… wasn't really terribly close to anyone except James and Remus. She was friendly to everyone, everyone liked her, she even talked to people in Slytherin, but she didn't have a lot of close friends."
"Oh? Not even Snape?"
Sirius was taken aback. "How did you find out about that?"
"You lied to me, Sirius." Harry said accusingly.
Diverted from his question, Sirius replied defensively "Well. Um. I didn't think you'd want to hear it. I mean, you hate Snape."
"I don't want to hear it. I need to hear it." He knew Sirius well enough now to realise that, caught out, he would be too busy trying to explain himself to question Harry's statements.
"In that case… Sit down, Harry. Lily..." He broke off. "Harry, I'm not quite sure how to say this. She and Snape were friends, very close. But that b… er, git, wasn't happy with just being friends. He had a… a crush on her and tried to steal her away from your father. He was always following us around when she was there. I think he may have… uh… made her do something she didn't exactly want to. That's why I, you know." He was certainly stepping very cautiously - not to mention unsteadily - around the topic. "I don't know why James helped him. I mean, I'm glad he did, because otherwise Remus would have…" He stopped abruptly. "I'm sorry." He didn't specify what he was apologising for.
"It's okay. Thanks for telling me."
"You're taking this very well, Harry," Sirius said, rather suspiciously.
"I suppose I am. Don't worry, I don't think it will last long," Harry replied wryly. "I don't think I'll need to talk to Remus right now."
Sirius was mildly awkward around Harry for a few days, but when Harry showed no major outward reaction to his 'revelation', he appeared to forget about it. Apart from the occasional thoughts of Snape, which turned up at the most unexpected moments, Harry thoroughly enjoyed his summer. He finally had a home, and living with people who wanted him around was an experience to savour.
Of course, he thought about his mother's diaries, and the 'bond', from time to time. He realised that he couldn't really hate Snape anymore, or even despise him as he had done previously. His father had been very understanding about the fact that Snape had loved his mother, and Harry could do no less. He knew, as his mother had known, that Snape was essentially a good man, a trustworthy one. He just hoped that his mother didn't have any more surprises up her sleeve. If this was all there was to the 'bond', he could live with it, he supposed.
The holiday slipped away. For once, Harry finished his homework in plenty of time, with Sirius and Remus to help. Of course he had to be careful, because Sirius had a nasty habit of giving him bizarre answers and suggestions, and sometimes Harry was too busy writing them down to catch on. He smiled smugly to himself when he woke a couple of times late at night to the sound of Sirius' footsteps creeping quietly down the corridor towards Remus' room. He was always very careful not to say anything about it in the morning afterward.
Shopping in Diagon Alley for this year's school supplies was amazingly fun. Sitting in front of the ice-cream parlour, listening to Sirius and Remus comment on the passers-by was another memory to remember. The realisation that he'd unwittingly chosen what he now knew to be Snape's favourite flavours definitely wasn't, and the knowledge that he had favourite ice-cream flavours made him entirely too human. The annual week-long Weasley visit was as enjoyable as always, particularly as Hermione was also there this year, on her second visit of the summer. Mrs. Weasley's hostility of their fourth year was long forgotten, and she watched Ron and Hermione's 'secret' relationship with an amused eye.
Soon enough it was time for them to return to Hogwarts. As Harry bid goodbye to Sirius and Remus and waited for the train with Ron and Hermione, he couldn't help thinking about what on earth he was going to say to Snape. He knew that they would have to talk about it, but he had no idea where to start. He didn't think he would be able to keep the knowledge he'd gained over the holiday out of his eyes.
***Chapter 8: Return
From the moment he entered Hogwarts, Harry could feel familiar eyes on him. His own turned unerringly towards a corner of the entrance hall and caught a dark flutter, as of black robes turning hastily away. That set the pattern for the day. Throughout the Starting Feast, Harry would try to meet Snape's eyes, only to find the professor's gaze would be turned away. But as soon as Harry looked elsewhere, he would feel the weight of Snape's stare on him once more. At this rate, he wouldn't have to worry about how to tell Snape about what his mother had done, because the man wouldn't even look at him! This, he supposed, could be seen as a good thing…
As he started unpacking, Harry once again began mentally composing what he would need to tell Snape. However, he hadn't come up with any sensible ideas, except for deciding that he'd definitely need to show him the diary. At least that way he might be able to avoid having to explain exactly what his mother had done to them. Maybe he could just leave Snape a copy of that page, and then somehow avoid him for the next two years? No. Unfortunately, that probably wouldn't work, much to his disappointment. Which left only a face-to-face conversation. With Snape. Who he was bound to in some bizarre way. Something akin to terror was creeping around inside Harry's belly.
Finally, he came up with something resembling an idea. He scribbled a quick, barely-legible note, and told Ron he would be back soon. He made his way to Snape's office and slid the note under the door. Then he slipped quickly back upstairs, just in case Snape had been in his office and tried to catch him. He definitely wasn't ready to talk to him just yet.
I have something very important that needs to be discussed with you, about my mother. You did say that I could come back to talk to you after the holidays, so I'll be down to your office tomorrow, right after dinner. If that's not okay with you, please tell me.
Severus had been in his office when the note appeared under his door. Normally he would have been instantly suspicious, attempting to catch whoever was stupid enough to send him a note so secretively, but he had known, in some strange way, that it had been Ha - the boy - outside his door. He didn't even want to open the door to check, just in case his bizarre suspicion turned out to be right. Ever since the events of July 31st - the boy's birthday, if he remembered correctly - he'd felt a strange reluctance to face him. It was ridiculous! He, Severus Snape, scared of a man-child not even old enough to be trusted with his own magic. Even if Potter was the Boy Who Lived, and all the rest of it.
Telling himself that didn't make him any more eager to face the boy, however. He called himself a coward, but all he was able to do was to persuade himself not to send the boy a note telling him not to come down the following day. After all, he did want to make Potter explain exactly what he'd done to give him the boy's mother's memories of him, and to make him so hyper-aware of the boy's presence. For the first time in years, he could feel butterflies in his stomach.
***Chapter 9: Confrontation
Harry knocked tentatively on the door to Professor Snape's office, carefully rehearsing what he planned to say in his head. He'd marked the page in the diary where his mother talked about the bond, so that he could show it to Snape.
"Enter," came the response, and Harry did. He walked over to stand in front of the Professor's desk. Snape looked as intimidating as ever. Harry's new knowledge may have changed his feelings about the man, but not, apparently, about the teacher. The man finished scribbling some vicious insult on the bottom of the scroll in front of him, and looked up.
As their eyes met for the first time since Harry had turned sixteen, they both took a deep breath. The strange elastic-band sensation was back, but Harry could feel it as if it were twice as strong as it had been on his birthday. For a second he was Snape, looking at him, and Harry looking back, caught as if in an infinite reflective loop. Then he blinked, and the feeling broke for a second. He looked down hurriedly. Avoiding Snape's eyes, he staggered backwards, slumping into one of the chairs in front of the professor's desk. He was fairly certain that Snape wouldn't object.
"What in Merlin's name was that?" Snape's voice sounded hoarse, unsteady, nothing like his normal, carefully modulated honey and sand tones.
"Uh. My mother did… something." Harry's voice was equally uncertain. Still looking at his feet, he extended the diary, holding it cautiously at the top so that he could avoid Snape's touch.
Snape plucked it deftly from his fingers, seeming just as eager to avoid even a slight contact. Harry could hear pages being turned. Then came the sound of fingers tapping against the desk as he read the one Harry had marked, and then turned the page back to read it again. Snape was saying something under his breath, and Harry strained his ears to catch it.
He sensed the moment Snape realised Harry was trying to overhear him, and felt Snape's lips press together to prevent any further sound escaping. He closed his eyes and fought back the vague feeling of nausea that came over him as he came face-to-face with the reality of being bound to Snape. Distantly he could feel Snape's own, matching reaction. They sat there for a while, trying to come to terms with this bizarre development.
"So." Harry said eventually. He rather suspected that he could have thought loudly instead of speaking, but he wanted to retain as much normality as possible. Hah. Fat chance! He realised Snape had overheard that thought when he caught a faint sense of sardonic amusement whisper through him. For a second he felt unduly pleased that he had made the man laugh, even if it was only silently. Then, identically shocked, they both grabbed hold of their disobedient thoughts and feelings, and tried to shove them as deep into their subconscious as possible.
"What do you suggest we do about this mess?" Harry began, realising that Snape wasn't about to say anything of his own accord.
"Did you even read that entry, Potter? Your mother said that she didn't think it could be undone, and from what I know about the subject, //as little as it is//, I suspect she may well be right." Harry rather thought that part of that last sentence had not been vocalised by Snape. It was difficult to picture him admitting any lack of knowledge out loud, especially to the loathed Harry Potter.
"Why do you always call her 'your mother'? I mean, it's not like what you were doing together is a secret anymore, not from me at least. Or were you just pretending?" Using her, like Sirius thought.
Snape's voice became dangerously low, far more steady than it had been. "There's a very good reason for why I don't say her name any more. It still hurts too fucking much, damn it!" He broke off and looked stunned, as if he couldn't believe he'd given away that much.
Harry was fairly stunned too. Despite what he'd read in his mother's diaries, he hadn't expected the sheer depth of emotion and loss in Snape's voice when he made that particular confession. To tell the truth, he hadn't expected that confession at all. He'd never heard the man swear before, not even when he'd been practically insane with fury at Sirius' escape in Harry's third year. He realised his mouth was hanging open slightly, and tried to hide it by speaking.
"So what do you think that we should do, then?"
"There is no we, Potter. There is you, and there is I, and then there is this infernal thing that… Lily… made." Oh, that hurt. It seemed he had been completely, and astonishingly, honest about his feelings for Harry's mother. For a second, Harry's heart contracted inside him. He felt like he couldn't breathe, and wasn't sure if it was Snape's emotions or his own shock.
He scraped together his scattered thoughts, and focused on the first part of Snape's sentence. "OK, then what do you suggest you and I do about this thing?"
"Nobody likes a smartarse, Potter." Hiding the emotion he realised Harry had felt behind his normal sniping.
"Well, I guess that explains your problem then." Harry clapped a hand over his mouth. Apparently it wasn't enough that he was leaking thoughts and emotions at Snape. Nope, now he had lost all control over what came out of his mouth as well. Although perhaps he hadn't needed to say it for Snape to hear it. "Er… Sorry, sir."
Astonishingly, Snape wasn't rushing to take points from Gryffindor. "Considering the situation, Potter, I think I can forgive that. And as for your previous question, I think there is very little we can do, except wait and see how this develops."
"But… couldn't Professor Dumbledore help?"
"If you think I'm going to let that interfering old bat learn about this from me, then you are very much mistaken. He'll probably find out about it on his own, if he doesn't know already, but until then, I'd prefer to keep this private. If that's all right with you."
"Actually." Harry began, but was cut off by Snape's glare. "Uh… okay?"
"Good answer, Potter."
They sat in silence for a while, until Harry thought of something.
"You know, since we appear to be, um, bonded." He stopped. Snape's eyebrows rose questioningly. Interesting, he seemed able to read the man much better now. Although perhaps that wasn't really surprising. He had no real idea why he was about to offer this, except that he wanted to, and perhaps it would make the situation a little easier. Offering the olive branch, or something.
"I do have a first name, you know."
"As do most people."
"Well, you could use it."
"I could. But if you expect me to allow you to use my first name, you are, as usual, mistaken."
"I thought so. You could still call me Harry though. If you want."
"Perhaps I will. Now, I have a lot of work to do." Another longish pause. "Maybe you would care to stay behind after your Potions lesson tomorrow, and we can discuss this further. It appears we will have to live with this for some time."
"Perhaps I will." Harry offered a tentative smile as he unconsciously imitated Snape's tone.
Snape didn't smile, but he did offer a concession of his own.