Chapter Three - Brevis Tui Tempus Est
… “Take him and go!” He was thrust into someone’s arms. Squalling, Harry reached out for his father. There was shouting, and suddenly a vast green glow. The arms around him tightened. He grabbed a handful of curly red hair as his mother choked back a sob.
“Stand aside, foolish child.”
“I won’t let you kill Harry!” Harry looked up into that familiar hooded face. Its red eyes glittered. Someone was standing behind Voldemort with his wand raised. Just as his mother fell he heard the all-too-familiar curse.
“Avada Kedavra!” Voldemort screamed and toppled. He looked up into frenzied black eyes, into a face he knew as well as his own but little older than his waking self. “Come on, you little brat, you’re not safe here.” His chubby fists wrapped around those long, greasy locks. Harry stared at his mother’s still body as long as it was in sight. When he turned there was blood trickling from the lightning-shaped gash on Severus’ forehead…
Harry woke with a start. Silently, he reached up and felt his forehead. The scar was still there. Sev, however, was gone. Quietly, he pushed back the duvet and the soft, sweat-damp sheet and climbed out into the chilly room. Even in summer the dungeons clung to a certain bite. Sev sat at the desk in his old grey nightshirt, back to Harry. He dipped his quill and scratched something down. Harry wrapped his arms around his neck and kissed a rough cheek. “You’re up early.”
Severus covered the open book in front of him with his hands. “Most people learn not to sneak up like that by the time they reach eighteen, you know.”
“Most people don’t have to deal with you.”
“Hm. I think I can arrange for you to spend your birthday cleaning cabinets if you’re that insistent on dealing with me.” He closed the book.
“Mine.” Severus tapped his wand across the cover and muttered something Harry couldn’t make out. When he picked it up to lock in his desk the pages were stuck together. “You shouldn’t be up yet. It’s nowhere near lunchtime.”
“Nightmare.” Sev took his hands and squeezed.
“That’s my job.”
“I had to fill in.”
“Age hasn’t improved your sense of humour.” He stood too quickly for Harry to let go. Smirking, Harry wrapped his legs around Sev’s waist. “Christ, you’re heavy. How does that poor broom of yours stay in the air?” Sev dumped him on the bed and crossed his arms, glaring.
“Hey, it’s all muscle.” Harry slapped his bare stomach and grinned. Sev’s lips twitched. He looked so tired. It had been ages since he’d properly laughed or done anything but smirk. Harry looked around for the clock. Six. The sun would be up by now. “Have you been up all night?”
“I had some things to do.” Sev tugged his ratty nightshirt over his head and started looking for fresh clothes. Harry grabbed him by the waist. His fingers almost touched.
“Why didn’t you take a potion?” Sev looked up from the robe in his hands.
“Just a sleeping potion.” He shook Harry’s hands off and pulled on fresh shorts. A “Slytherin Pride” shirt hung in the crook of his arm.
“It wasn’t Draught of Living Dea—“
“No, it wasn’t Draught of Living Death. It was just a normal, everyday sleeping potion that I must have mixed improperly. Are we quite finished?” Sev yanked the shirt over his head and got both arms caught in the same sleeve. He growled when Harry tried to help.
“I’m worried about you, Sev.”
“You shouldn’t be.” He stormed into the bathroom and locked the door. Harry heard water run. He wasn’t sure if he should be more worried over the idea that Sev had failed to make a basic potion, or that it just hadn’t worked. He chewed his lip, lost in thought, as he dug through the drawer he’d claimed for a clean pair of Y-fronts. Harry was just buttoning up his robe when the bathroom ejected a shaved and robed Sev. He grabbed Harry in a tight, almost vicious, hug. “Harry birthday, you obnoxious little brat.”
“No thanks to you, you greasy bastard.” Harry held him, grateful for the odd apology and terrified of what made it necessary. Sev took his face and kissed him, and did his best at a tired, thin smile.
“If we go to breakfast now you might get some strawberries before Minerva eats them all.”
“There are strawberries?”
Severus narrowed his withering eyes. “You’d know that if you bothered to wake up at a reasonable hour once in a while.”
“Then how do you know about them?”
“I can be quite punctual when I haven’t had a hormonal teenager keep me awake until all hours. Until recently it hadn’t been much of a problem.”
“Oh, right, I’m the hormonal one. I’m not the one who scared Madam Pomfrey out of her wits.” He shifted, pressing closer to the thin body in his arms.
Severus snorted. “You didn’t put up much of a struggle as I recall.”
“I struggled just as much as you did.”
“Precisely.” Snape’s mouth twitched infuriatingly. Harry snogged him. Sev returned it with considerably more eagerness than expected, flicking his warm tongue over Harry’s palate. Harry whimpered and involuntarily raked his nails down Sev’s back. It curved like a serpent. The accompanying gasp was quite inspirational. The man pulled his head back, flushed. “Do you still want strawberries?”
The first thing Harry noticed was a large pile of strawberry hulls next to Professor McGonagall. The second thing he noticed was…
“Sirius!” He bounded over and was caught up in a huge hug.
“Happy birthday, Harry! Let me look at you.” Sev made an odd noise while Sirius held him at arm’s length. “Your hair’s a mess.”
“My hair’s always a mess.”
Sirius smiled. “You even sound like James. How’s, uh, life been treating you?” He flashed a glare at Severus.
“Okay.” Harry sat down next to his godfather, trying to ignore their open hostility. Severus took Harry’s other side, eyes firmly on Black.
“Just okay?” Sirius asked suspiciously.
“A few minutes ago you said I was brilliant.”
“Oi!” Harry hit his arm. What little remained of the staff looked stunned. Sirius’ eyes narrowed.
“Screamed it, rather. You’re quite vocal.” Harry tried to slide under the table. The look Sirius gave Sev could have cut steel.
“Keep your gob shut, Snape.” Professor McGonagall nearly choked on her coffee. All three of them looked at her.
“Dear me, nearly eight-thirty. If you’ll excuse me,” she pushed her chair back primly and left the room with her hand over her mouth, giggling. Sev watched her, shaking his head.
“That woman has the filthiest mind.”
“No worse than you, you lecherous slimeball.”
“Say that again, Black.”
“You. Lecherous. Sli—“
“So, did Professor Lupin come with you?” Harry grabbed a crumpet and tried to toast it over his wand. A few smoking crumbs landed on Flitwick.
Sirius stared through the hole in Harry’s crumpet. He looked impressed. “Uh… no, last night was the full moon and he’s sleeping it off. He sent you something, though.” Sirius fumbled with his pocket and pulled out a small package wrapped in red paper. Harry pulled the paper off.
“Oh, wow.” He immediately flicked through the book, Breaking Through The Bludgers: How The World’s Greatest Quidditch Stars Made It. He grinned at a familiar, sullen face. “Hey, there’s a big bit on Krum. Wonder if he’d sign it for me?” Sirius laughed.
“Krum’s got nothing on you. Remus’ll be glad you like it. It’s pretty new, but he was worried you’d have a copy.”
“Are you kidding? I haven’t even been to Hogsmeade since… May.” He shivered. That final Hogsmeade weekend was something he’d not forget soon. Sirius patted his back.
“I’ll talk to Dumbledore about arranging something.”
“You bloody well will not!”
“That’s it, Snape. I don’t know what kind of control you think you have over Harry, but—“
“So you’ve got the right to just hand him over to the Death Eaters?”
“Please. The Ministry’s got so many Aurors crawling around down there it’s ridiculous.”
“I think Harry’s trying to say something,” Professor Sprout said gently.
“What happened? Did they change their minds about you?”
Sirius pointed his fork at Snape’s face. “You’d better learn to shut up if you know what’s good for you, Death Eater.”
“Is anyone going to acknowledge the fact that I can actually leave any time I want to now?”
Sirius and Severus shouted in unison, “You bloody well won’t!” Sirius flushed; Severus scowled and looked away.
Harry sighed and put his head on his fists. “Can you two not kill each other long enough for me to eat?”
“Sorry, Harry,” Sirius muttered. Sev just sniffed. Harry scraped a large portion of scrambled eggs onto his plate. He poked at them savagely, his boyfriend and his godfather still glaring shrieking death at one another. Sirius finally cleared his throat. “So, is there anything you’d like to do today, Harry?”
He shrugged. “Dunno, I hadn’t thought about it.” Well, yes, he had, but with Sirius around those lans had changed. Besides, he and Sev needed a little time to recover. “Feel up to some Quidditch?”
“I think I’ll manage. Snape? You game?” Harry had a horrible image of Sev and Sirius breaking every possible rule, including the one about attacking an opponent with an axe.
“As charming as the thought of mistaking your head for a Bludger may be, I’m afraid I have important things to do.” Harry’s face fell.
“Aw, Sev, can’t you just stop for one day?” A large pit opened in his stomach and stole his appetite.
Severus touched his face with a long, tender finger. “If I thought it were at all possible, I would.” The cold emptiness cleared from his eyes for a moment. Harry was afraid he might cry. He took Sev’s hand and stared at nothing. “I’ll make it up to you.”
Sirius loudly dumped most of a bowl of potatoes on his plate. The hardness came back to those obsidian eyes. Reluctantly, Harry dug into his cold eggs. He kept one hand under the table on Sev’s leg. It was both as a comfort and as a restraint.
Harry was almost to the hoop when a fist knocked the Quaffle out of his arm. Sirius snatched it and raced for the other end of the pitch, ducking, weaving, and even using Harry’s speed against him. By the time he’d spun his Firebolt around the game was tied, seventy. “Man, you’re tough.”
Sirius grinned easily. “Getting scared?”
“Hell, no.” He grabbed the ball from the tip of Sirius’ finger and threw him off with a few well-placed loops. For several minutes they chased each other around the pitch. Harry was surprised at how lazy playing against Sev had made him.
“Bet’cha ten Galleons Snape could never score a point like that,” Sirius said smugly after a particularly impressive goal.
“He’s not that bad.”
Sirius snorted. “I’ll bet. At least he can’t be any worse than he was at school.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean he was the worst Quidditch player in our year, except maybe Wormtail. Strictly a spectator sport for Snape.”
“He’s gotten a few Quaffles past me.”
“Hmm. Tell him to try me sometime. See how he does against a Keeper.”
“Uh, no. You two? That just sounds dangerous.”
“For him, maybe.” Sirius leaned back on his broom, hands behind his head. “James would be rolling in his grave if he knew you’d hooked up with—“
Sirius leaned up on his forearm. “I was going to say ‘the worst player in the history of the sport’. Not that there aren’t a lot of other things I could say.”
“Why is everyone so dead set against us? Ron still isn’t speaking to me, half the teachers giggle when we show up for breakfast, and all you can do is badmouth him.”
“Well, there’s the little fact that you’re eighteen and he’s forty, and he’s your teacher. And he’s, well, he.”
Harry rolled his eyes and growled. “So I fancy blokes. Big fat hairy deal.”
“My point is, that particular combination of factors, along with the fact he’s Snape, is a little fucked. Heads up!” Harry was shocked out of his budding anger by a small, frantic ball of feathers clutching an enormous bundle.
“Pig!” His heart soared as the mad little owl hooted excitedly in his face. He caught the bird and the parcel; Pig nipped his finger, happy to be relieved of his burden. Harry set off for the ground to open it. Sirius followed; Pig perched on his head.
“Who’s it from?”
“Ron!” His eyes sparkled. Harry ripped open the card first. “Oh.” His heart broke. “Just Hermione.” His godfather squeezed his shoulder.
“He’ll come around.”
“I hope so. Things just aren’t the same with Sev.”
Sirius shuddered. “You weren’t—?“
“Oh, god, no. Hermione’d’ve had me fixed.” Frankly, Harry still thought of himself as fancying girls. It was just an odd coincidence that he’d ended up with Severus Snape – an exceedingly odd coincidence. With rather less enthusiasm than he’d had with the card, Harry ripped open the parcel. Inside he found a thick, white picture album with hundreds of photos from their wedding. He didn’t know whether to smile or cry.
“What did she send you?”
“Oh, yeah.” Sirius squirmed. He’d gone. Harry hadn’t asked him about it. “Anything else?” Harry looked up from a picture of the happy couple, Hermione smiling at him, Ron glaring from behind her hair.
“Uhh… don’t know.” He stuck his hand in the parcel again. There was something hard and round at the bottom. He pulled it out. The small, golden ball shot off across the pitch. “It’s a Snitch!” Harry took off after it. Hovering high above the field, he wondered vaguely if Ron hadn’t had some influence there. It wasn’t the sort of thing Hermione usually thought of. She’d surprised him in the past, though. Something glinted a few feet below him and he went into a rolling dive. The Snitch went one way, Harry followed, and it zoomed between his feet before he could stop. Sirius was stretched out on the bleachers, watching. He gave Harry a thumbs up. Harry grinned. This was his element. This was where he was happiest in the world. He was eighteen, free to do what he wanted, free to live where he wanted and with whom. Not even the Dursleys could bother him now (he didn’t expect them to, anyway – not after that letter that explicitly stated their nephew wasn’t only a wizard but a gay wizard shagging his teacher; Harry had rather enjoyed writing that one). Suddenly, something twinkled in the grass in the middle of the field. He went into a hard, fast dive and fell to the ground, struggling Snitch clasped in his hands. “Got it!” Sirius cheered.
Feeling considerably better, Harry trudged back to the bleachers, looking at the Snitch. It was an Official World Quidditch Cup Snitch. He showed the embossment to Sirius, who gave a low whistle. “Nice.”
“Yeah.” Harry plopped down next to him, still looking at the shiny gold ball. Its silver wings were motionless now that he was off the pitch proper, but the whole thing seemed to hum with potential.
“I should probably give you my present, I suppose,” Sirius said. He stuck his hand in his pocket and pulled out a very small, very irregular package in blue stripy paper. Harry peered at it and pulled off the wrapping. A shiny copper house key fell into his palm.
“Is this to Lupin’s house?”
“No, Harry. Yours.”
Harry blinked. He stared at the key in disbelief. “You’re giving me a house.”
“Well, yes and no.” Sirius leaned back, stretching his lean-but-stocky frame. “I’m rebuilding your parents’ house. Remus’ place is falling apart and it’s not even worth fixing up. He and I are planning to live there, but the house will be in your name. I hope you don’t mind a couple of freeloaders.”
The key glinted in the sun. He had a home, a real home, and a family in it. Have you got a house? When can I move in? How long ago had he said that to Sirius? “No, I don’t mind,” he whispered, awed. “Thank you.”
“It’s the least I can do after you grew up with those horrible Muggles. Are you okay?” He patted Harry’s back.
“Yeah. Just a little stunned. I mean… god… I’ve never really had a home before.” Harry was vaguely aware that his face was getting wet. It didn’t seem to be raining, though. Wiping his cheeks with his sleeve, Harry pulled off the beaded chain where he wore his dog tag. In a moment the key hung next to it. He smiled.
“What’s that? ‘H and S’?” Sirius raised an eyebrow. “When did he give you that?”
“He didn’t.” Harry looped the chain back around his neck. “I had two of them made the weekend Voldemort… y’know.”
Sirius flinched. “Interesting timing.”
“It was the last time I knew I’d be in Hogsmeade for a while. This was before anything happened. I just saw the tags and they reminded me of something he’d said once. I get a little sappy sometimes.”
“Muggle soldiers wear dog tags, don’t they?” Harry nodded. “I’m not sure I want to hear this.”
He stuck his tongue out at his godfather. “It’s not gross. It was about Sparta, and how their soldiers were paired up, and how they’d fight to keep each other alive.”
Sirius nodded solemnly. “I remember something about that from Muggle Studies. I spent most of that class paying attention to Wendy Marker in front of me, though.”
“I don’t want to go anywhere without him, Sirius,” Harry said quietly, fingering the key.
A pause. “It’s your house.”
“Does that mean you won’t go apeshit as soon as he walks in?”
“No. After everything Severus Snape has done, I don’t see how I can’t.”
“What the Hell do you mean?”
“I’ve known him a lot longer than you have, Harry.” Sirius’ eyes were cold and menacing. For a moment he looked a little like Sev. “I know what he’s capable of, and if I didn’t know that Dumbledore trusts him completely I’d have killed him as soon as I found out about you.” Harry was stunned. He stared at his godfather, who stared at the pitch.
“Why would you want to kill him?” Harry asked cautiously. Red patches rose on the backs of his hands.
“Because he’s a murderer. And probably a lot more.”
Bile welled. Harry understood that Sev would have been required to do some heinous things during his life as a Death Eater, but it was different to hear it. “Can you prove it?” he croaked.
“I can’t give you names, but I know he confessed to it when he came crawling back.” Sirius spat on the ground. “If he ever, ever lays a finger on you—“
Harry stood up. In the blistering sunlight he was suddenly cold. “He hasn’t, and he won’t.”
“I don’t just mean if he tries to hit you.” The implication hung heavy.
“He’s not a rapist.”
“They all are.”
“Not Severus. He’s downright paranoid about it!” Harry was dimly aware that he was shouting.
“He sure wasn’t when he set his sights on a seventeen—“
Harry barely stopped himself from pulling his wand. He glared at Sirius, not really sure whom he was talking to. “He won’t do that because the Death Eaters raped him.” The words were out before he could stop them. It was a major battle to keep from breaking down like a child.
Sirius froze. In a moment he licked his lips. “He told you this?”
“He doesn’t tell me anything. I figured it out on my own.”
“So you’re not sure, then.”
“Close enough.” Harry couldn’t look at his godfather. He squeezed the Snitch in his pocket to distract him from his wand.
Sirius was quiet for a moment. “Nothing stopped him the first time he touched you—“
“I touched him first!” Harry leaned over Sirius, outstretched arms caging him against the bleachers. “I practically begged him to fuck me. In his office, on the floor, with Sev asking me every three minutes if I was absolutely sure about it and I was. It was amazing. Do you want the details?” His arms shook.
Sirius had blanched. “No,” he whispered. His eyes were wide. “You’re not just protecting him, are you?”
Harry pulled away in disgust. “How can you even ask me that? Of course I’m not!”
“Okay.” He blinked, scratched his nose. “I think I believe you.”
“So are you going to stop accusing him of something he didn’t do?”
“Something he didn’t do to you, but yes.”
Harry cringed at the insinuation, but didn’t say anything. “What happens when I bring him home? Are you just going to walk out?”
“Your father would have my neck if I left you alone with him. Remus and I’ll find a way to deal with it.”
“It might be nice to have him around, in an odd way.” Sirius’ tone nearly broke the olive branch. “Remus still hasn’t figured out that damned lycanthropy potion. Last time he tried to make it, the fumes turned him green for a week.”
Involuntarily, Harry snorted. “That would have been twenty points from Gryffindor.” He suddenly remembered what Sev said that morning. Harry grabbed his broom. “Come on. I want to get this Snitch broken in before dinner.”
Harry was curled up in front of the fireplace. Sev had finally bothered to find a thick rug to put there. He frowned. The little puzzle Hagrid had given him was a lot more difficult than it looked, plus it changed every time it was solved. Right now he was trying to get six little balls in six little hooks around the edge. He’d tried his wand already; the thing was enchanted and only made a rude noise. “Dammit.”
Sev looked up from his parchment. The reading glasses were almost off the tip of his nose. He looked a little silly. “Bring it here.”
Harry walked over, still trying to get more than three balls to stay at a time. He almost got four, then two more rolled out. “Whoever designed this thing is sadistic.” Sev took it from his hands, studied it quietly, and suddenly spun the puzzle on his desk. When he abruptly stopped it all six balls were happily in all six hooks.
“Simple centripetal force, elementary physics.”
Harry raised his eyebrows. “Thank you, Professor Einstein.”
“Not that you would know anything about that, never having gone to a Muggle school.”
“Nope, not me.” Harry took the quill from his hand.
“All you’ve done today is work. You barely even said anything at dinner.”
“This is more important than you could ima— oh, all right. If it’ll keep you from sniveling…” Severus finally rolled up his parchment. Harry caught a glimpse of a lot of “est” and “sunt” and words ending in “-us” so he guessed Sev was doing something in Latin. Maybe that was why he couldn’t help with the research. He missed it; those nights in detention, piecing together shreds of information, were ironically some of Harry’s favourite memories. He leaned against the back of the chair and put his chin on Severus’ head.
“What book is that?”
“Forbidden Potions And Their Uses.”
“What’s forbidden about them?”
“Rather a lot, although your crude mind couldn’t grasp their subtle terror. There are none of the explosions you’re so fond of.”
“Hmm.” Harry stroked the piece of white at Snape’s hairline. He looked like a badger. Harry cracked a grin at the thought of telling Sev he looked like the Hufflepuff mascot. “Anything you want to do tonight?”
“I thought I might have a quiet browse through the library, unless you have some childish birthday plot up your rather dusty sleeve.” Harry stuck his lips against Sev’s head and blew. He keened and turned his chair, fighting a smirk. “You insolent dribbly…” Harry squeaked as Snape grabbed him and pulled him down into his lap.
“This is more like it. I was afraid you’d gotten tired of me in my old age.”
“Hardly. I’m not about to give up my retirement home, especially with your damnable godfather so convenient for creating new hexes.”
“Oh? Who says I’ll be able to stand you long enough for you to retire?”
“I’ll just have to retire early to make sure, won’t I?” Harry leaned up to nuzzle his nose.
“Lazy bastard. Where’s my present?”
“Present?” Snape looked innocent.
“Yeah, my birthday present.”
“Oh, that present. Let’s see, I think I can make something to turn your hair pink, but I can’t guarantee its effects will be temporary.” Sev plucked at one of his many cowlicks.
“Oi! That was an accident! It was supposed to be a good dreams potion!”
“Perhaps if you’d read the formula instead of making it up as you went—“ Harry grabbed his face and kissed him.
“Do shut up, won’t you?”
“No.” Harry found himself on the floor.
“Ow! You’re kipping on the couch tonight!”
“Perhaps I’ll get some sleep for once.” Harry growled and pulled himself to his feet. He leaned his hands on the back of Severus’ chair.
“Watch your tone, you annoying snot.” Sev put his hands on Harry’s hips. “You still expect a present after I washed my hair, do you?” Harry nodded vigourously. “Greedy. Sit.” Harry was pulled into the chair. He leaned against Snape’s thin chest. One skinny arm wrapped around his waist. “You still want to know about me?”
“Of course I do.” Harry settled his head against his lover’s neck. Snape reached across the desk and picked up his watch.
“Look at this and tell me what you see.” The rough front of the heavy bronze watch had a shield on it, segmented into four parts. In one corner was a dolphin, and in another a tree. What do dolphins have to do with trees? The other two corners were blank. In the middle of the shield was a raised, round section with a rather angular ”S”. Below the shield was something in Latin: Brevis Tui Tempus est.
“A coat of arms.”
“That, Harry, is my family crest. The inscription is the Snape family motto.”
“What does it mean?” Your time is… something. What did brevis mean again?
“’Your time is short’.”
Sev turned his head. “Indeed,” he said dryly. Rubbing the metal with his thumb he continued, “My ancestors were shipbuilders. This long predates the invention of Portkeys and racing brooms. ‘Snape’ literally means to bevel the end of a plank of wood.” Harry nodded. It explained the tree and the dolphin, at least. Severus pressed the fob and the watch snapped open. Engraved on the inside was a list of names. “Twelve generations of Snapes have carried this.” His voice was careful, controlled, dispassionate. “Go on, read it. I know you’re not too dim to do that.”
Harry squinted. The older letters were a bit difficult to see. “Magnus Snape, and Anne Miller next to it.”
“Magnus commissioned the watch when he became the head of the family. He gave it to Anne Miller as their wedding present. As the story goes, he never gave her another thing, save four children and an early grave.”
“Runs in the family, eh?”
“Potter,” Sev growled. There was a strained edge in his voice.
“Sorry. Go on?” Harry wished he had this sort of family history; the only ancestor he had any real record of was Godric Gryffindor.
Sev cleared his throat. “Anne gave the watch to her eldest son, Devoro, on his eighteenth birthday. It became traditional to pass it to the heir when he turned eighteen. Devoro gave it to his bride, Chastity. Chastity didn’t live up to her name and it took some time to determine which of her children was the eldest Snape.”
“Yes, the second eldest. The eldest was disowned.” Harry shuddered.
“How did they tell which one was the eldest Snape?”
“Erm…” he flushed a little. “The one who looked like a vulture,” he muttered quickly. Harry snickered. “I can stop, you know.”
“Sorry,” he said behind his grin. Harry wrapped his hand around Sev’s and held it against his stomach.
“No more outbursts.”
Harry shook his head.
“Any more and I’ll make sure you spend the night boiling frog spawn.” Harry made a face. The reek of boiled frog spawn would saturate the dungeon for weeks. “Now, shut up and listen like a good pain in the arse.” Harry listened to him go through the list of Snape begat Snape. It was fairly monotonous, but suddenly a name stood out.
“Isn’t Viatrix a girl’s name?”
“Yes. There were no other suitable heirs.”
“Viatrix’ only brother was a Squib. Squibs, and other such anomalies, were considered little better than bastards.” Harry started to make a sarcastic remark about greasy bastards but some turn of conscience stopped him. “Viatrix married her cousin, Dominus, in order to keep the surname.”
“Ew. I think I like the Dursleys a lot more than I used to.” Harry winced as he spoke, visions of frog spawn filling his head.
Sev wrapped his other arm around Harry and pressed his lips to the side of his head. “Let me finish.” He spoke softly, and a little sadly. Harry had the feeling there was a lot more to this story than he was going to hear. He carried on from memory. “Viatrix’ son, Eversor,” Severus stiffened slightly, “married Chlamydia Malfoy—“
“As in, Draco Malfoy.”
“There is only one line of Malfoys in wizarding Britain of which I’m aware. If you have any other information I’d be eager to hear it.”
“Oh, god. I wondered why you liked him.”
“Frog spawn, Harry.”
“Do you want me to stop?”
Harry looked at cold, guarded eyes. He didn’t, he really didn’t. It had been such a strange day regarding revelations, though. Sirius’ implication that Sev was worse than a murderer, now that he was part Malfoy… it scared him. Remember, Harry, everything that he is and did is part of your Sev; you know better than to peg him as that, too. And hasn’t he proven himself better than the Malfoys? Isn’t it the same as calling yourself a Dursley? “Go on. I’ll be quiet.” Harry listened grimly.
“Chlamydia passed it to Curtus, my grandfather, who gave it to Philia Westin. Philia killed him in his sleep.” Harry shuddered. “You would have liked my Gran, I think. She was even more bloody-minded than you.” Sev kissed his temple. “Curtus was one of Voldemort’s first mentors after leaving Hogwarts. He would have gladly become a Death Eater if she’d let him live.”
Harry took Sev’s left arm and pushed up his sleeve with a pang of sadness. The Dark Mark was gone, but burned forever as a pale, shiny scar from all the times he’d tried to remove it in flesh. Harry brought it to his cheek. “Your family made you do it?”
Silence. After what seemed a long time Severus murmured, “Yes.” He carefully freed his arm and looked at the watch again. “My father, Perditus, received the watch and immediately gave it to my mother, Arian Horace. She died when I was three. My father wasn’t the most adept parent.”
“What did he do?”
Snape shook his head. “Nothing important.” He coughed. “At the bottom, of course, is Severus Snape. The last surviving member, he’s brilliant, charming, generous—“
“Creative.” Harry smirked. Sev didn’t look amused. Harry kissed him on the cheek. “Nice to see you’re not married, at least.”
Severus was silent. Slowly, he closed the watch and pressed it into Harry’s hand.
Harry blinked. Severus refused to look him in the eye. It took a moment for words to escape. “Um… did you just…?”
“I’ve given you my legacy, Mister Potter. Do with it what you will.” Snape disentangled himself and pushed Harry to his feet. Harry looked at the watch. It ticked softly. The weight of a dozen pureblood families grew with every sound. He felt his own uncertain future staring back at him from mismatched directions. Harry opened the watch. There was just room below Sev’s name for a new line, a new lineage; there was just room beside it to end the old one.
Greasy sod who never washed his hair.
A hundred long years one way or the other.
God, the man really knew how to make somebody squirm.
Harry found a tiny, sharp stylus buried on the desk. With unusually steady hands he scratched his own scant legacy: Harry James Potter. His parents would have to forgive him for tacking their name to the Snape family roster. “Is that okay?”
Severus inspected his work. He grunted.
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