"So, how badly did Weasley do today?" Draco asked as they pushed their books down to the foot of Jacob's four-poster bed, putting a silencing charm around the bed. He was surprised that his boyfriend hadn't asked sooner, but after studying, there was dinner, and more studying. There hadn't been time, he supposed, until now.
Jacob shook his head. "Not bad, actually. He lacks conviction, but his wand work is fine," he said. "He just needs to focus a bit more, I think. He's pretty good when he puts his mind to it." The point is Ron didn't always believe that about himself and let his jealousy and insecurities get the better of him. "He's trying, though. He'll get there."
"If you say so. I have my doubts, but if you think so, I'll put up with it," he said, pulling Jacob in for a kiss.
"Mmm, Hermione brought up something else that was interesting," Jacob said, breaking the kiss. Draco gave a groan, but let him speak. He told him about the conversation that he'd had with Ron and Hermione about the glamours that had made him Harry Potter. Draco agreed that they were right, and also agreed that it was likely not something that they would ever get an answer to.
"If I know Granger, though, she's not going to let this go." Jacob laughed because he knew that he was right. Now, can we agree to stop talking about that?" Draco asked, running a hand down his back. "It's late, and there are other things I want to do before I have to go to my own bed." He smiled as he brought him down into a kiss. Ron is back?!?!? Boooooo!!!
Jacob was pretty sure he never he would never get tired of kissing Draco. It was intoxicating. Every move of his hand, his lips, his body… it just drove him crazy. Every touch was like a fire that he didn't want to put out. It felt like he was drowning, being pulled under, but he wanted to go. It was overwhelming and thrilling all at the same time. If Draco kept kissing and touching him like that, then Jacob wouldn't mind going under.
Draco pulled away, his breathing laboured. "I should - I should go. Back to my bed." Jacob nodded. He knew he was right, but couldn't bring himself to tell his boyfriend that he should go. Draco seemed to be thinking the same thing because he kissed him again before pulling away. Smiling, he slipped out of bed, closing the curtain behind him.
Jacob groaned, trying to squash down the arousal that always plagued him during his late-night sessions with Draco. He needed to sleep since they woke up early, but that was going to be hard. With another groan, he turned over and tried to go to sleep.
The next two weeks went by quickly. It was a never-ending series of classes, grading papers, only broken up by the weekends. Ron Weasley was scraping by in his Saturday morning sessions with him, Miss Granger, and Jacob. He was not as powerful as his son, nor as precise as Miss Granger, but he had natural instincts - the problem was getting him to use it. Unfortunately, that duty seemed to be falling to him. He seemed to want to do it, which was a far cry from how he acted during class. At least he had Sunday. He spent time with his son. They continued to work on Occlumency, as Severus put off revealing the prophecy.
He was thinking about that very thing when, on Friday the Second, Dumbledore called Severus to his office. "I'm leaving early tomorrow morning. I have already notified Minerva," he told him. "I have found out where my old friend, Horace Slughorn, is located. I'm hoping that with Felix's help, I will be able to procure the corrected version of the memory. Perhaps, with Harry's help, I might not need Felix, but we both know that's not possible anymore."
Severus wondered why he was telling him this. He had already assumed this, so there was really no point in him telling him. He was about to tell him that when Dumbledore waved at the portraits, shooing them away. He then looked back at him over the rim of his half-moon spectacles and continued. "Have you told him about the prophecy yet?" Severus' silence was all the answer that he needed. "Now, you see why I have not been able to do it yet."
"Your reasons are not the same as mine," Severus quipped. He wasn't sure exactly what the old man's reasons were, but he knew there was no way that they could be the same. Severus didn't know what Jacob's reaction was going to be, but chances are, it wouldn't be good.
"It's understandable that you have reservations. There are terrible things in your past, and you have done some terrible things yourself," Dumbledore said. Severus did not need a reminder. "And I know what the prophecy means to you, but I do not think that you can keep this from him any longer. I don't know if we will be able to continue until he does."
Severus knew Dumbledore must have a feeling about what was in that memory, even if he wasn't completely sure. He has despised the fact that the old man was right. He was putting this off, had for over six months now. How much longer could he? Dumbledore seemed to think that he needed to tell him about the prophecy before they got any further. And he was right; Severus hated that.
He had no idea what Jacob's reaction was going to be. It wouldn't be good.
"You must have faith, Severus. You two have come a long way, and I have a feeling it'll be fine," Dumbledore said. "I don't think you give him enough credit. Or yourself, for that matter. Your relationship has grown, and I know that it'll be alright. You'll see. Besides... "The old man sighed, and suddenly, he looked every one of his years. "Maybe I was wrong not to tell him sooner. I suppose he has a right to know. I just… felt he needed to be a kid for a while."
Severus scoffed. "That hasn't happened, anyway, Albus!" He ran a hand through his hair, trying to control his emotions. "He has had to fight off something every year, and considering how he grew up…" He balled his hands into fists. "I don't know how he'll react to what it means for me, or how he'll look at me once he's found out."
"You punish yourself for what you think are your failings," Dumbledore said, "but Severus? We all have failings. We all make mistakes — no one's perfect, not even me. You've done some terrible things, yes, but you are more than making up for it. If Jacob can see past all that, and I think he can, then perhaps, you should trust that sometimes, things work out for the best."
"I should go. I would say to have good luck tomorrow, but you don't need it," he said, turning around, heading for the door of the office. He didn't want to hear Dumbledore's incessant optimism. It usually didn't work out that way, at least not for him.
He stopped and turned around. Dumbledore had stood up and was going over to his Pensieve. He seemed to be retrieving a memory, and when he turned around, he was holding a vial. He walked over and held it out to Severus. "It's my memory of the complete prophecy," Dumbledore explained. "In case you need that, or want to show it to him instead of explaining it."
Severus nodded, wordlessly taking it before slipping the vial into his rooms and heading out. Yes, he would need it. He knew how this was going to turn out. Life had never been kind to Severus. He didn't see why this would be any different.
The next night, Severus was having a drink in his rooms before going to bed when Dumbledore Flooed him, telling him that he was back and wished to speak with him. He must have the memory , he thought to himself. With a groan, he slipped his robes back on over his clothes and made his way up to Dumbledore's office. Using his password, he headed up to see Dumbledore standing there, looking a bit tired.
"It's been a long day," said the old man, "and I used most of the vial you gave me. It wasn't easy to get it out of him, even with Felix's help." He reached into his robes, pulling out the vial and setting it on the desk in front of him. "The corrected memory. He seemed ashamed, apologetic. I should have thought about using Felix Felicis last time I talked to him about this, but it didn't occur to me that he would have tampered with the memory to protect himself."
Severus looked at the vial for a moment before looking up at Dumbledore. "Have you seen it yet?"
He shook his head. "No, it was late, but after all the trouble, I would like to see now. If it is not too late for you?" Severus shook his head, and Dumbledore stood up from the desk, making his way over to his Pensieve. He poured the memory in and grabbed Severus' arm. In a moment, they were inside the memory.
It started off the same as the fake memory, with Riddle talking to Slughorn and asking him about something, only this time, the memory was clear - Horcruxes. The young Dark Lord appealed to Slughorn's vanity and was a very good actor. Slughorn seemed nervous but explained everything - that all he needed to kill someone, split his soul, and hide it in an object. Slughorn looked deeply troubled when Riddle suggested that seven make more sense, being the most powerful magical number. It was then that Slughorn seemed to realize that it had been a mistake to enter into this conversation. Riddle promised not to say anything, assuring him it was only for academic purposes.
A moment later, Dumbledore grabbed his arm again and was taking him out of the memory. They landed wordlessly back in Dumbledore's office, and the old man retrieved the memory, putting it back in the vial, handing it to Severus. "I have been waiting for a clue, some sign that my theory was correct," he said," and now we have it."
Severus was silent. He had suspected, of course, that the Dark Lord had gotten into some dark magic to keep himself alive and immortal - in fact, he had said as much in Death Eater meetings since he'd returned. This went deeper than that, though. It meant that there were now objects that they needed to find and destroy before Voldemort himself could be killed, and they had no idea what these objects were or where to find them.
"So, we just found out that there is more work that we have to do," Severus said as they walked back to his desk.
"Indeed, and I believe that Riddle told Horace exactly what we need to find," Dumbledore said. "He asked about splitting his soul into seven parts. I believe to gauge his reaction, and I believe he did that. According to Harry, he told his Death Eaters last year when he returned that they had done more than anyone else to achieve immortality." The old man gave a heavy sigh. "I believe Harry destroyed one already - the diary four years ago. That leaves five more. I would assume Marvolo's ring, Slytherin's locket and Hufflepuff's Cup to be others. He would be unlikely to use some random objects."
"I agree. The problem is that we have to find them first," Severus said. It was too late for this. His mind was reeling, thinking of his son needing to deal with all of this.
Dumbledore ignored him. "I believe having something of all four founders would have been powerful to him," he continued. "But I don't believe he got anything of Gryffindor's. The only known relic of his is sitting in this room." He gestured towards the Sword of Gryffindor that sat behind his desk. "That leaves something of Ravenclaw's, which might be hidden somewhere in this school."
His logic made sense. "That leaves one more."
"I believe I have an answer to that," said Dumbledore. Of course, because he had an answer for everything, didn't he. "His snake, Nagini. You have said that she never leaves his side, that he keeps her close. It might explain why. I believe he was trying to make Harry his final Horcrux. The prophecy predicted that he would be his downfall, so I believe that would have been significant for him. He failed, of course, so the old man that Harry told me about, his vision of the caretaker being killed, might have been his opportunity to his final Horcrux."
Severus was tired. Dumbledore seemed to be finished, so he turned to leave. He had a feeling that the old man wasn't telling him everything that he was hiding something. But he was too tired right now to care. "I still believe what I said last night," said Dumbledore to his back. "He needs to know about the prophecy before he sees that. Make sure when you tell him you impress upon him what it means to Voldemort."
He froze. Yes, he knew. He knew better than anyone. "What you believe it to be." He didn't let Dumbledore respond, and left.
The next morning, Jacob arrived before lunch, as he usually did. His father was unusually quiet today, more so than usual. Severus wasn't a very open individual, but Jacob could tell when the proverbial wall was up. He had seemed a bit off yesterday morning, too. Last time he had asked him what was wrong, Severus had reacted in his typical manner and had snapped at him. He didn't want to push him if he didn't want to talk, and surely if he did, he would have said something by now? While he knew another fight was coming, he didn't want to start it. He knew Severus well enough to know that he wasn't going to talk until he wanted to. Although, come to think of it, last time he had told him - after Jacob had got upset and nearly left.
Jacob put it out of his mind as they finished lunch and played a couple of games of chess. It was only after that Severus seemed to be willing to talk. "I have something I need to show you," he said after he had gotten rid of the chess game. He walked over to the box that Dumbledore had given him and pulled out two more vials.
"I thought we'd seen all the memories," Jacob wondered aloud. "Or did Dumbledore get the corrected one?"
"He did, but that's not what I need to show." They walked over to the Pensieve. "Dumbledore should have told you this. And I should have, too. I didn't feel like it was the right time, but I cannot put it off any longer. You need to know." He took a pause before pouring both of them in. "I only hope that you will not… judge me too harshly after you've seen it."
Jacob frowned in confusion, but he didn't have time to ask as he was pulled into the memory. He didn't recognize the hallway of the building they were in, but they were outside a door. His father was standing there. He was younger, but it was definitely him. He was apparently eavesdropping, and he heard voices coming from inside the room, they sounded familiar. One was definitely Dumbledore. Was the other Trewlaney? It had to be. They were discussing her getting a job as Divination teacher. Her interview? Then, her voice sounded odd, and he recognized the tone from his third 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…" Just then, a large man came up, and the voices behind the door faded as Severus got into an argument with him. The door flew open, and Severus was pushed away from the door. The memory faded, but another took its place.
This time, they were inside the room before. It was Dumbledore and a younger Trewlaney. He didn't seem overly interested in her interview until she went into a trance. " 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..."
Trewlaney came back to herself, apologizing if she had missed something. Dumbledore's attitude had changed, though.
Jacob didn't see anymore as he was pulled out of the memory. His breathing laboured, he looked over at his father, who was not meeting his eyes. "What… what was that?" He couldn't feel right now; he could barely think. "That prophecy… that's what it was? It was about me?" That was the only explanation. "I don't understand…"
"Prophecies are just words. It's actions that make them true. I only heard the first part, which marked a boy born at the end of July as the only one who could destroy him." Severus' voice was flat, emotionless. "That could have been either you or Neville Longbottom. Voldemort chose you, and thus became determined to end the lives of Lily and James Potter, and you, as well."
"But you didn't hear all of it…" Jacob finished. "'Mark him as his equal…'" The scar on his forehead, now covered with makeup and magic.
Severus nodded. "Yes. Voldemort chose you, felt you were the bigger threat."
"But… does that apply to me anymore? I'm not James Potter's son. I wasn't born to them…"
"Perhaps not, but he was your father for the first fourteen years of your life, and he believed you as such," Severus explained. "It is Dumbledore's belief… that alone is enough. That you will not allow anyone else to destroy Voldemort, as revenge for what happened to them."
Jacob took a few deep breaths, but he felt his anger rising. "Dumbledore has known about this this whole time. And so have you. You - "His voice caught in his throat. That's why Severus had hoped that he would not judge him too harshly. If Severus hadn't been eavesdropping, then would Voldemort have chosen to hunt down and kill him as a baby? Murder his mom and her husband? He remembered Wormtail, giving them up, but his mind was reeling and his temper rising.
"You've been lying to me," Jacob said. "Why didn't you tell me straight away!"
Severus looked over at him. "I didn't feel as if it was the right time, nor did I think you would understand."
"That this is my biggest regret. I didn't have all the information, nor did I think everything through," Severus said. "I knew after I told the Dark Lord and he sent out to kill you, Lily and James Potter, what a mistake I had made. I went to Dumbledore and told him what happened. I vowed to become his spy that night, and have been every day since."
Jacob just stared at him for a moment. "Did it only matter because you were in love with my mother?"
Severus was silent for a moment. "That was most of it, but I did a lot of thinking after that. It brought to light many other mistakes I had made under his orders," he said. "Since then, I have regretted a great many things, which I will not go into. That is only one of many terrible deeds I did because of my service to the Dark Lord, but it is the one I regret the most. She would - they would both be alive now if it weren't for me."
Jacob's mind was reeling. He didn't know what to feel or what to think. "I - I need to think. I can't - I can't do this right now." With that, Jacob turned and left his father's rooms.
Severus sat in his rooms later that night, nursing a drink. With classes tomorrow morning, it wasn't his intention to get drunk. He needed to take the edge off after what happened with Jacob earlier today. It had been hard to gauge the young man's reaction to the bombshell he had dropped earlier. It had been necessary, though perhaps he shouldn't have waited so long. Dumbledore should have told the boy years ago, and Severus wasn't sure when he would have had an opportunity. They had been getting to know each other, and Jacob had enough to deal with without needing that. Perhaps he understood Dumbledore's side of this more than he originally thought.
When had he changed? While Severus had long ago realized that he had made some terrible mistakes, he couldn't say prior to finding out that Jacob was his son that he would have cared so much about what one person thought. But he did, which is what left him there, nursing a drink. Jacob hadn't seemed mad at him, so hopefully, with some time to think, things could go back to they were. How strange was it that he would now miss their time together if Jacob chose to step back? He used to despise the boy.
He groaned when he heard a knock at the door. "I am not in the mood -" His voice stopped as he opened the door and saw Aurora standing there. "Aurora. I was not expecting you."
She blinked up at him. "Obviously. If you want me to leave, I can leave." She was holding a bottle of wine in her hand for herself.
Severus stepped aside, motioning for her to come in. "Sorry, but it has been… a trying day."
She nodded and sat down in the chair next to his, pouring herself a glass of wine. "I can tell." She looked at him over the rim of her glass. "Do you want to talk about it?"
Severus stared at his own glass of brandy. While Aurora knew there were dark things in his past, it wasn't something they had talked about. He wasn't prepared to get into details now, either. "I told Jacob something earlier today, something that I did in my past that he needed to know about. His reaction was… to be expected."
Aurora took a couple of seconds to respond. "You said you needed to tell him this?"
Severus nodded. No, he couldn't have put that off any more than he already had. "I probably should have mentioned it sooner, but things are complicated," he explained, taking a sip of his drink. "I wasn't sure of the right time."
Aurora took another pause. "Do you think he understood? Do you feel like telling him at a different time would have made a difference when you two are getting to know each other?" she asked. "Did you explain it as well as you could?"
Severus took a sip as he thought it over. "I don't know if I could have told him sooner. I felt like he was dealing with enough," he replied. "I believe I did explain it as well as I could have. I don't feel that anything else I said would have changed how he reacted."
Suddenly, Aurora reached over and put a gentle hand over his. "Then you probably did what you could," she said. "You know how teenagers can get. Just give him some time. I'm sure everything will be fine." She squeezed his hand, and Severus looked up at her.
He couldn't remember her ever touching him like this before, and it had been a long time before anyone else had, either. It was strange, but not unwelcome. What was he supposed to do after this? He was stopped from thinking more when a flash of pain shot up his arm. The bastard always did have the worst timing.
Seeing his wince, Aurora pulled back her arm. "Severus, if I overstepped -"
"You need to go."
She looked taken aback, and he was already getting up, thinking first and foremost that he needed to get her out of his rooms so he could get changed and go before he was missed. "I'm sorry if I misjudged -"
Why was she being stubborn? "Get out."
She must have heard something in his voice because she gave him a cold look and swept out of the room. He had no time to feel sorry for her or for himself. He quickly changed, grabbed a pain-relieving potion just in case, and made his way out of the dungeons, making his way out of the grounds of Hogwarts so he could Apparate to his location. It had been a while since he had been called. He could only wonder what the Dark Lord would want this time.