Harry knew he slept, though he wasn't sure how much. When he woke up the next morning, he wasn't crying any more. He couldn't tell what time it was, but judging by the light coming from the window, it wasn't that late. He wanted just to stay there in bed because, after the bombshell that had been dropped on him, he didn't ever want to leave this room. That was not something that he ever thought he would say, but at least shut up in here, he could pretend that the letter never came.
There was a knock on the door, and Harry jumped. "Boy!" Uncle Vernon yelled. "What are you still doing in bed? Help your Aunt with breakfast. Get up! Now!"
Panic rushed through him. There's no way any of them can see me like this , he thought to himself. "Er, I'm not feeling well," he yelled, terrified that Uncle Vernon would burst in there and see him. For good measure, he started coughing, hoping that he would buy it.
"What's wrong with your voice?" he demanded.
Yes, the new voice still sounded a bit wrong to him. It was deeper than his own - or, well than it used to be. He had forgotten that his uncle would notice. "I'm sick. That's why it sounds odd."
"Stay in there, boy! We don't want to catch anything," Vernon ordered, and then Harry heard his uncle's heavy footsteps making their way down the hall, then the stairs.
Harry breathed a sigh of relief because there was no way that he could explain his new face and body. He was prepared to stay in bed all day. He hoped that Sirius would come, but he didn't seriously think that his godfather could help. He hadn't known what else to do. He wanted to drown himself in his sorrows, and he had never felt so lost. His whole identity was gone now. Who was he? Harry Potter was a lie.
The next thing he knew, there was some commotion downstairs. He sat up slightly, trying to discern what it was. He looked at his clock and realized it was only seven-thirty in the morning. It made sense that Vernon would want him up to do breakfast, but who could be at the door? His door opened all of a sudden. In a panic, Harry threw the covers over him, trying to hide himself as the door closed.
"Harry?" He recognized that kindly voice. Dumbledore?
"Harry, what's wrong? In your letter, you said something about looking different?" Sirius! He did come! Harry slowly put the covers down, looking between Sirius and Dumbledore as he did so. Both wizards' eyes widened in shock. "Who did this to you?" Sirius asked.
"You came!" Harry couldn't believe it. He sat up, grabbing the letter off the floor. "I got this from Mum, or it says it's from her. It said -" His voice caught in his throat, and he couldn't even finish the sentence. Fresh tears started forming his eyes.
Dumbledore took the letter from his hand, his eyes scanning the pages. "It says that James Potter is not really his father." He said it so calmly. Harry wanted to scream at him. How could he be calm about this?
"What?" Sirius yanked the pages from the older wizard's hand before reading it himself. "This can't be real!"
"Is it her handwriting?" Dumbledore asked calmly.
"But, Dumbledore -"
" Is it her handwriting?" He asked, a bit more forcefully this time. "It looks like hers to me."
Sirius froze for a second, before nodding. "Yes, it looks like hers. She had to have been coerced or-"
"Severus Snape would do no such thing," Dumbledore said, taking the letters back before walking up to Harry. He took out his wand and waved it over him a few times. "I do not see any spells of any kind on him, but nonetheless, I will go to Gringotts straight away. I will return as soon as possible." He looked between both him and Sirius. "Stay here. I will be back in half an hour." With that, Dumbledore swept out the door and left.
Sirius walked over to Harry and sat down next to him on the bed. "It's okay, Harry, it'll be okay. This has to be a lie."
"No, you know what the lie was?' Harry said without even thinking. " I was the lie."
"It can't be true."
"So, that wasn't her handwriting? The fight between her and my - I mean, James - didn't happen?" Sirius didn't respond. "Look at me. Take a good look at me, Sirius. Take a good look and tell me I'm not his son." Sirius looked straight him, before looking away. That's what I thought. Deep down, Harry knew it was true.
True to his word, Dumbledore returned around eight, because Harry could hear him downstairs. In a short while, the door was opening, and even though Harry knew it was just the headmaster, he still flinched that the Dursleys would see him. They didn't, though, and it was just Dumbledore.
"So? What did Gringotts say?" Sirius asked.
"As I suspected, the Gringotts Goblins confirmed the letter was authentic," Dumbledore said.
"How can it be?" Sirius asked. "Harry just can't be that git's son-"
"It would seem that he is, Sirius," Dumbledore told him. "I would think, as his godfather, you would want to support Harry. This cannot be easy for him." Sirius didn't say anything. "Now, Harry, pack your things. You are leaving. You cannot stay here."
Harry nodded, not too surprised by his words. No, he couldn't stay at the Dursley's looking like this. It didn't take him long to pack everything he needed, and then he was ready to go.
"Cover your face and hunch down," Dumbledore instructed. "You are a bit taller than before, and they cannot see your face." Sirius transformed, and the headmaster put his arm around him. "Also, act sick. It will help with the story." Harry nodded, and the group made their way out of the door and down the stairs.
"You're taking him?" Vernon asked. Dudley peaked in from the living room, and Aunt Petunia came in from the kitchen.
"Yes, he's quite ill," Dumbledore told him, patting Harry as if in a confronting manner. "We will take him, and he will be as right as rain. You'll have him back next summer, good as new. Never fear." For good effect, Harry started coughing.
"Fine. Just go." Vernon then went into the kitchen, leaving them alone in the entryway. Harry wasn't surprised that he bought that.
The group headed out of the house, Dumbledore removing his hand as soon as they were out. "Stay covered." They made their way down the street, and into a smaller side street. They found an alley, and the group went in. "Hold on to me." Harry did as he was asked, and then suddenly, he felt a very unpleasant sensation.
It felt as if he was being stuffed into a tight rubber tube, being pulled from all directions. It felt like his eyes were being forced back into his head, and his eardrums were being pushed into his skull. When he stopped, he immediately thought that he was going to vomit. "What in the bloody hell was that?"
"Apparition, the act of a wizard going from one to place to another by thought," Dumbledore explained. "You did well, Harry. Many wizards vomit their first time."
"I can see why," Harry said, taking a deep breath. He wasn't sure he ever wanted to do that again.
"Come now, both of you," Dumbledore said, and Harry noticed that Sirius was standing right next to him. "We need to keep moving." Sirius transformed again, and they were walking down a street of derelict, dilapidated buildings, with broken-down street lamps.
Harry did not feel comfortable here. It looked like a very dodgy place. "Why are we here?"
"Your father lives here."
Harry had been about to say that his father was dead, and then he remembered the letter from last night. He just nodded but removed the hood from his head. They continued walking down the street until they reached a particularly rundown house. He lives here? Harry thought to himself. A lot of the buildings along here looked deserted, and he wondered how anyone could live here.
Dumbledore knocked on the door, and the angry face of Severus Snape appeared. "I am not in the mood for -" It was then that his gaze fell on Harry, and all emotion was stripped away. His face instantly paled, and suddenly, the potions master stepped back and allowed the trio inside.
As soon as they were inside, they were greeted with a small room that looked like an overgrown library. The walls were completely lined with books. There was an old, rundown sofa, armchair and table in the center of the room. It definitely looked like it hadn't seen much use, but that almost made sense - after all, Snape was only there a couple of months out of the year.
Snape commented that he needed a drink. Sirius transformed back into a human again. "Make me one, too, Snape, and make it a double." The potions master returned a couple of minutes later with two drinks in his hand and handed one to Sirius before sinking into the armchair. There was a coffee cup on the table, as well as a few sheets of parchment and two envelopes, just like Harry had received.
Sirius stayed standing, as did Dumbledore. Harry took a seat on the couch, as far away from Snape as he could get. Shouldn't you stop thinking about him like that? Harry thought to himself. After all, you're a Snape now, too. He is your father. Harry wanted the couch to swallow him, and he wrapped his arms around himself.
Sirius downed his drink and then set it on the table. Then, in a few steps, he had walked straight for Snape, a murderous look in his eyes. "How dare you?" He hollered. "How dare you touch her, you greasy-haired git? You're not fit to breathe the same air as her!"
Snape was fast and quickly pulled his wand out on him. Sirius stopped in his tracks, pulling out his own wand. "I have had a trying morning, Black," the potions master said. "Go ahead. Try me. I dare you." Neither moved for a moment before Snape spoke again. "For your information, she wasn't exactly pushing me away. She came over to me that night. She poured her heart out to me about the terrible marriage-ending fight she'd had with your blessed best friend Potter. She was so upset at what he'd said to her, you should have seen her."
"Why you-" Sirius started, but he was cut off.
"Gentleman," Dumbledore said, a warning note in his voice. "We are supposed to be the adults in the room, aren't we?" The two just glared at each other, but both lowered their wands. Sirius moved back to where he had been standing previously.
"So, I see you received the letter as well, Severus?" Dumbledore asked. His f - Snape nodded, downing his drink in one gulp. "May I?" The old man didn't wait for permission, but picked up the letter and scanned through it. "Similar to Harry's." He set both letters on the table.
"What are we going to do, Dumbledore?" asked Sirius. "Can't you just put the glamour back on?" Harry looked up at that. Could they do that? His hopes were dashed as Dumbledore shook his head. "No. Truth be told, I have no idea how Lily managed to do such a complicated glamour that lasted so long."
"But -" Sirius tried to argue, but Dumbledore cut him off.
"No, Sirius," Dumbledore said firmly. "Transfiguration was my specialty, not Charms. I dare say even Filius Flitwick, who is supremely gifted himself, could not recreate it. Lily not only created a glamour that aged with him as he would grow but also changed his eyesight, his height… There are too many layers to recreate, even for me. I could, possibly, do a temporary one, but Lily created one that lasted for fifteen years, and it had a time delay on it." He looked over at Harry. "Quite impressive."
"Impressive?" Snape said scathingly. "She lied. She hid him from me and lied ."
Dumbledore nodded. "I realize that, Severus. Things were complicated back then. You know that better than anyone. She did what she thought was right."
"By hiding from me the fact that we had conceived a son? And then hiding him, disguising him as the son of another?" Snape asked. "No. There is no excuse. There is never an excuse for that!"
Throughout the discussion, Harry had been sitting on the couch, not saying a word. As he heard Snape's words, he had to admit that for once, they were in complete agreement. He knew that his mother had probably meant well, but that didn't excuse the fact that she had lied totally and completely.
"I'm sure Lily had her reasons," Dumbledore said, seemingly trying to keep the peace.
"Can you blame her?" Sirius blurted out.
"No, Black, I do not blame her for wanting to," Snape retorted. "I simply said there isn't an excuse for it."
"Stop it, both of you," Dumbledore said, a firm tone to his voice. Both men ceased speaking though they continued to glare at each other. "Regardless of your feelings for one another, not only are you on the same side, but both have a role in Harry's life. Like it or not, Sirius, you are his godfather, and Severus, you now know that you are his father." Neither man spoke.
"Why did she do this?" Harry spoke, his voice still sounded odd and foreign to him. He had to agree with his fa - with Snape, though.
"Isn't it obvious?" Snape responded. "She was ashamed. She'd given birth to a Death Eater's son."
"Now, Severus -"
"It's true, Albus, and you know it," Snape said, cutting him off.
"Whatever reasons Lily had are irrelevant," Dumbledore said. "Now, obviously, Harry must remain as he is. Harry, you may tell Miss Granger and Mr. Weasley the truth, but I'm afraid everyone else must remain ignorant."
"What? Why?" Harry demanded. "I lost my face, my identity, now I have to lose everyone I know?"
"This is your true face, Harry," Dumbledore said gently. "This is who you are, and truth always has a way of coming out in the end. It is too much of a risk to tell the entire Weasley family, as trusted as they are. There are simply too many of them, and we must keep this between as few people as possible."
Harry wanted the couch to swallow him whole. He was losing everything! In a matter of hours, he had lost everything and everyone. Would Sirius want anything to do with him? Ron? Hermione? He failed to see how anything good could come of this.
"In a few days, I will send Miss Granger and Mr. Weasley over. After all, you cannot go to them. Not yet," Dumbledore said. "I trust that you wish to tell them what has happened on your own?" Harry nodded. "Good. Sirius, you can tell Remus because he might be of help to us. Now, there is still a lot to discuss. I think that father and son need to get acquainted, so I will return around lunchtime tomorrow so we can finalize details."
Harry was fuming, and a quick glance over told him that Snape was, too. Dumbledore was pushing this under the rug like it was no big deal. The old man was basically saying that oh, yeah, so you were lied to for the past fifteen years. Let's just move on now. It may not be that big of a deal to him, but it was to them. Their whole lives were getting turned upside down.
"Now, Severus, if you please, a word." With that, Dumbledore walked into the kitchen, seeming to assume that Snape would follow. The man in question glared at the door but did eventually follow the old man into the kitchen. Sirius stayed in there, taking a seat next to him on the couch.
"Listen, Harry -"
"Don't say it's going to be okay, Sirius," Harry told him, leaning away from him. "I mean, how can it? Besides, why do you want anything to do with me? You and Snape hate each other, and he's my -" He couldn't even say it.
Sirius slowly put an arm around Harry's shoulders. "You're still my godson; Snape can't change that," he told Harry. "This doesn't change who you are."
Harry wasn't sure he believed that. How could you go from thinking you were one person, and then suddenly find out you were another? And Dumbledore just expected that to be okay? He wasn't sure how he was ever going to get used to it. What were they supposed to do, play house?
Meanwhile, Severus had followed Dumbledore into the kitchen. "Albus, you cannot seriously leave him here?"
"What else do you propose we do with him?" Dumbledore asked. "With his true face revealed, it is fairly obvious that he is your son, despite the signs of Lily that are in him. You are his father, and regardless of whether either of you wants that, you two must find a way to deal with this."
Severus had many things that he wanted to say, but he knew that at times like this, arguing with Dumbledore was like arguing with a brick wall. "I don't know the first thing about being a father! My own wasn't much of an example."
"Harry has never had a father, so I think you two are in the same boat," Dumbledore told him. "Now, I must leave, and I will take Sirius with me. Talk to him." With that, Severus followed the old man out of the kitchen where Black and Po - no, Harry, his son , were sitting. "Sirius, we should leave now."
"But, Dumbledore, can't -"
"No, Sirius. They need time alone. You and Harry will get to see each other soon, I'm sure," Dumbledore said. "Now, Harry, Severus, I will be back around lunchtime tomorrow. We do have some details to finalize about how we are going to proceed from here."
Proceed from here? Don't you think we've had enough for a lifetime? Severus thought to himself. However, Black reluctantly got up, leaving him and Harry alone. Harry was sitting there on the couch brooding. What was he supposed to say to him? He was not a sensitive man, and besides, he wasn't sure there was anything to say to him.
Lily, did you really trust me so little to not at least have the letter sent upon your death? Severus thought as he stared at him. He had known the moment he saw him that everything was true. The eyes were the same, Lily's eyes. Everything else was a perfect marriage of them. Harry had his sharp features, which were lessened by some of Lily's softer edges. Harry's hands were his, and that brooding expression on the young man's face was his, as well. He wasn't sure where the nose came from, though - probably from Lily's side of the family somewhere.
I have a son. With one letter, I went from being a solitary man to father of a fifteen-year-old, and not just any fifteen-year-old - that one. Severus stood there, staring at Harry until he figured that one of them should say something. "Do you want something to drink or eat?" Very eloquent, Severus.
Severus nodded. He had expected as much. "You must understand that if I would have known -"
Harry nodded. "You didn't. Mum made sure of that." He finally lifted his gaze briefly, but then lowered it again. "You know, I'll understand if you don't, I mean… If you don't want to…" He shrugged, seemingly unable to get the words out.
Severus just stared at Harry. Is he seriously asking me if I want to ignore him now that I know the truth? "You're my son, and you certainly don't expect me to ignore it, do you?"
Harry lifted his gaze, staring at Severus for a moment. "I guess not."
"For the record, I don't know the first thing about-"
Harry nodded. "I understand. Me neither."
Severus nodded back. You two are doing great, he thought sarcastically to himself. He took a look around as the silence stretched on, and all of a sudden, memories started rushing back. None of them were pleasant. He had grown up here. It was his family home, but that didn't mean he had any good memories. His father had been an angry, abusive man. His mother, while she meant well, had spent most of her time fending him off. That left him as a child very much alone.
Severus had long since stopped feeling sorry for himself. He had accepted a long time ago that life wasn't fair. He was sure that Potter's life growing up was better than what he was going to be faced with living here. That was when it hit him - no child should have to live in this house. He looked back down at the young man - at his son, and knew what he had to do.
"I have some… errands to run," he told Harry. Harry looked up at him and nodded. "I apologize for leaving, but it can't be helped. There is food in the kitchen. Help yourself. I will return shortly." He knew by the look on Harry's face that he shouldn't go, but he had to. This needed to be done.
It took him longer than he wanted to make the necessary phone calls - besides the fact that he hadn't used one since he was a child - but he did return within the hour.
Harry was still sitting in the same place on the couch when he got there. He looked up at him, a look of shock crossing his face. "I didn't expect you back so soon."
"I live here. Where did you think I would go?"
"I thought -" Harry's voice dropped off, and he shrugged. "It doesn't matter what I thought."
Severus, however, knew what the boy had thought. He reminded himself that it was necessary, and part of him wanted to tell Harry why he had left. He told himself it would be worth it in a couple of days. "I know what you thought," he told him, "but leaving for an errand does not mean that I am leaving." Harry nodded. "Perhaps, next time, I will tell you when I will be back." Harry nodded again.
The two stood there in silence for a bit before Harry spoke. "What do I call you?" Severus wasn't used to hearing his voice sound so small. Usually, you couldn't shut the boy up.
Severus hadn't even considered that. That was the last thing on his mind right now, and he immediately felt uncomfortable. He wasn't meant for this, fatherhood. He never wanted kids, and what was he supposed to do with a teenager? "I think Severus would be acceptable, or Sev, if you prefer," he told him. "When we are in class, of course, you would call me Professor as would any other student."
Harry didn't respond immediately. "Sev?" he finally asked.
"Yes, it's a nickname your mother used to use for me," he told him. "She found 'Severus' stuffy and formal, despite the fact that it is my name."
A small smile started to form on Harry's lips, but it didn't stay long. "You know, I wouldn't blame you… I mean, you didn't ask for this," he said, once again, his voice small and quiet, very unlike him. "If you don't want to… you know, I mean… I would understand."
Severus was starting to figure out that he couldn't continue being surprised because it was becoming clearer to him the longer he was with Harry - his son - that he didn't know him at all. His whole opinion of him had been founded upon what he thought he was seeing from him and what he thought were similarities to his father. As it turns out, that wasn't James Potter but himself, putting Severus in the position of being forced to admit that he was wrong.
It blew him away that Harry would even think that he would leave him, but based on their previous interactions, Severus couldn't blame him. "Harry," he said, taking a few steps closer to him. "You are my son, regardless of the circumstances. Now that I know… I am not the kind of man who would abandon you."
Harry looked up him again, and Severus could see the shock and disbelief on his face, but it was covered up quickly. Figuring that they couldn't stay there any more with brief statements followed by awkward silences, he decided that he should at least show him where he was going to be sleeping - at least for now. "Let me show you your room."
Harry looked up at, and a look of shock crossed his face. "My room?" He said, his tone having a note of disbelief in it. "I have a room?"
Severus was confused by his reaction because he didn't understand it. "Why wouldn't you have a room?" he asked. "Do you think I would make you sleep on the floor?" Does he think so little of me? I wouldn't blame him. " Come on." He lead him down a short hallway, where there were three doors. The door straight ahead was his. Next to that was the bathroom. It was the third room that he led Harry to. It hadn't been used in a long time. He opened it up, allowing Harry to go through first. He was sure it wouldn't live up to his expectations.
"This is my room?" Harry asked.
Severus, still a bit confused by his reaction, simply nodded. The smile that broke out on the teenager's face took him by surprise. Why should he be shocked at having his own room? Was he treated so poorly at his aunt and uncle's place? This wasn't the time for serious discussions, though. They had enough of that for a while.
"Yes, it is," Severus said, and then went past him inside. He took out his wand, putting some spells on the room. After all, it was a bit musty, and he was sure that bed was not suitable for sleeping. A few spells would take away some of the mustiness and make the bed suitable for a real bed. It was only temporary, though. Seeing that smile on Harry's face, the way it lit up… He knew that he was making the right decision. The sooner they were out of this house, the better.