The Snape Manor was huge and seemed even bigger since it was filled with silence. It wasn't a cold place by any means, the decorating was done in warm browns and greens and scarce darker motives that gave the place somewhat cozy feel, but it lacked human presence; no way two inhabitants and few house-elves could make it homely. It was more like a house ready for a big family to move in.
Harry followed Tobias – his biological father, he mentally corrected himself as he would most likely be required address him as such – to a room that turned to be a study, professor Snape – his older brother – following behind him making his hair stand on his back due to the glare that never dropped the intensity; it was quite obvious that Snape – Severus? – didn't want him anywhere near. The whole setting would make him crazy if anyone were to tell him his life would turn out this way. Well, if they were to tell him that some years ago, now though... Well, he's already found once at eleven that his life had been one big lie, now was the second time already. And while the thing he was a Snape was a real shocker, it still didn't beat the time when he'd found out he's a wizard. He was fine before, he'll be fine again, he surmised. He'll just need to get used to the new situation again.
His father, the addressing the man such still gave him troubles even in his own mind... Well, the man explained shortly that he never knew about him and according to adoption papers he got look at at Gringotts seemed to support that since he was adopted barely a month after his birth. So it wasn't like he abandoned him, had Eileen Snape – his mother – not died, they all would probably still be clueless. His father seemed to want him, even if it probably was only an obligation by a Pureblood pride, but he was still willing to provide for him and secure him a place in his house. His brother – now this address gave him shivers – however didn't want him around, not that it was much of a surprise; he didn't want him around even before they found out they were brothers.
"Take a seat, boys," Tobias gestured to the armchairs around a small table where house elf was already readying cups of tea and some snacks.
"Now, first, Harry, I've already spoken with Dumbledore and explained the situation. Obviously, e was shocked at first, then he realized how unprotected you've been for years. He conceded that it was incredibly lucky that none of the Death Eaters ever tried to find out, nevertheless, now that it's know that you are a Snape – a fact that can hardly be hidden, despite the discrete ways the goblins handle things – they are more than likely to be staking out the house if not outright attack it. The Dursleys were informed..." he paused as he remembered the family; they were unpleasant bunch and didn't seem to mind that they didn't have to take care of Harry anymore. "They however decided to stay at their place despite understanding the danger."
Harry silently prayed the Death Eaters didn't bother with reconnaissance and burn the house down. It held so many nightmares and pain he'd even like to present, if hidden, at the time.
"Now, you mentioned you wouldn't mind moving to live with us. Dumbledore, seeing as you do have a living family, transferred all the guardianships to me. Though I'll understand you are not used to having a real family around so I'll respect your decision if you changed your mind about your moving here."
"If it's possible, I'd still like to live here," Harry said quietly and Tobias beamed at him.
"I'm very glad to hear that," he smiled at him. Not only was he glad that he'd get to spent at least some time with his younger son, as they've already lost sixteen years, but he also doubted that Harry had very happy childhood if he grew up with those bigots. His attention was drawn from his thoughts by a snort and he turned to his first-born.
"Nothing, Father," he said stiffly still glaring daggers at Harry.
"I understand that it will be somehow hard for the two of you, since you ever known each other as a teacher and student, but please, try to get along."
"It's not in my nature to get along with spoiled brats. I have enough troubles dealing with them as a teacher with some authority over them, to have one as a brother... Trouble is a very mild word."
"Severus, why would you believe that Harry was spoiled? As far as I'm aware you never knew him on personal level."
"Of course he is. I've had misfortune dealing with his types for several years, there's no way I would overlook that," he sniped and Tobias frowned. It seemed Severus disliked Harry for some time now, and didn't care about changing his opinion. Sighing he looked at his new-found younger child that took all those insults, not even going as far as defending himself, or arguing back which would be quite normal reaction for a teenager. No, the child just sat there, stared somewhere into a space, eyes emotionless and expression blank. He sincerely hoped that Severus didn't do something like that at school as well.
"I can't force you Severus, but I'd very much appreciate if you at least tried," he said his eyes pleading Severus to just do as he said. He just found a new son, he didn't want to lose him, but neither did he want to lose Severus due to some unnecessary argument.
"I will try," Severus nodded, and it was obvious that he had no love lost for Harry, but didn't want to distraught his father even more so soon after his wife's death.
"Thank you," he smiled at him and turned back to Harry who didn't even shift in his place despite being ignored – and on Severus' part insulted – during their conversation. Tobias only by will stopped himself from heaving another sigh. "Harry, before I show you your room, where you'll be staying from now on, there's one urgent thing that needs to be discussed as soon as possible."
"Despite finding your origins, I've been informed by Dumbledore that the fact you're a... Boy-Who-Lived remains unchanged. There's one decision I've made and I'm not about to change it, but before that, I want to know how do you feel about the matters with... You-Know-Who."
For a while he thought he'd need to coerce the answer from Harry. It couldn't be easy talking about someone who tried to kill you several times, while the rest of the world hid behind his back not bothering with some serious support. He even thought about asking Severus for a Calming Draught before trying to force Harry to answer since the topic couldn't be avoided. But then Harry spoke in his blank manner that bothered Tobias more and more.
"You-Know-Who needs to be stopped. There's been a relative peace for thirteen years, but he's been resurrected. It's been only a few month since he stepped out into a public view but he's been around for a year, unhindered, gathering his forces and planning his coup against the wizarding world and muggles," Harry spoke calmly and both older Snapes stared at him in disbelief. Tobias because Harry didn't seem bothered by Voldemort in the least, Severus because he's never believed Potter could form an intelligent speech not to mention he never thought the brat even thought about it seriously. Ignoring their stares Harry continued. "Obviously the sooner he's stopped the better, if it can be done before he cause any real damage, it would be probably the best," at this he sighed, stood up and walked to the window. After a little pause when he gathered his thoughts he finally spoke so quietly both Tobias and Severus had to strain their hearing to even catch it.
"No matter what I think about it, no matter what people might call me and expect from me, you need to know the why." He looked back at them, shortly concentrating his gaze at Severus before finally continuing. "There's a prophecy. I doubt Dumbledore told you about that," he said to Tobias who truly looked shocked at his words and at where he thought this was heading. "You already know," Harry said and looked at Severus. "I won't be telling you the exact contents, it's better you don't know anyway. The fact is that the prophecy pitches me and You-Know-Who against each other. Even if I wanted to hide, to withdraw from the war, he'll still come after me. It'd just be prolonging the suffering, increasing the casualties and postponing the inevitable encounter. The prophecies might be vague, but in this particular matter it was quite clear. The two of us will face each other," he said staring out of the window, and only after a while he turned back to the room, specifically to his father. "Was the answer satisfying?"
"Honestly, it was shocking. Also I can tell it was exhausting. As for satisfying... I can't agree on that, at least not on my part. Hearing you say that I don't think you will like my decision, but I still refuse to change it. Harry, I understand you think you need to fight. But there are many other people who can fight as well, MLO was created for that purpose. I ask you not to fight," he said finally in a firm tone and looked at his still teenage son and tried to gauge his response. Harry though was staring blankly as if nothing changed. The silence prolonged for several minutes before Harry finally closed his eyes with a sigh, probably the most emotions he showed ever since Tobias met him.
"I won't lie and tell I understand the reasoning, I don't. But I'll accept it's important for you, sir," Harry said still in his quiet tone that bore no emotions.
"Severus," Tobias begun, but he stopped himself staring intensely into the golden liquid that filled the tumbler standing on the desk in front of him.
"Father? What's wrong?"
"I'm... bothered... I guess. Do you know Harry?"
"I doubt there's anyone who doesn't know him."
"I didn't mean it like that and you know it," Tobias snapped weakly before sighing again. "You've known him for five years, at least as your student. Was he always like this?" he asked and pierced Severus with a look that pleaded for something, what though Severus didn't know.
"This... Merlin, he's sixteen, Severus. From what little I know about him, he's a Gryffindor. He's supposed to be a reckless teenager with no care for the real world beyond girls and Quidditch."
"He's not. Severus, does he look like any of his classmates to you? When I first saw him, I didn't recognize him at all, but I guessed he was about fourteen at most. He's small and painfully thin. The way he never speaks before spoken to, I can't stand it. Even the way he never shows any emotions. What the hell happened to him, Severus?"
"I still see him as I did before, and I assure you he's reckless enough to keep the teachers on their toes. He's brash, and as far as I know he is interested only in Quidditch, his friends and breaking rules. I won't negate your opinion on his physical state though, but let me assure you he was always small, even at the Sorting he was smallest of the whole group, that is including girls."
"Severus, I told you we went to visit Dursleys to inform them of the situation, right?"
"They were the most unpleasant people I've ever met, excluding perhaps only the patrons of Knockturn Alley. When I asked them if they would be amendable to at least let me meet Harry, once in a while... They were overjoyed, Severus. They said to... to keep the brat, spat the moniker as if he was something rotten. We weren't even out of earshot when they planned to have a celebratory dinner after having rid themselves of him for good... Severus, do you think that...that..." he couldn't even say it out loud, even if the fear resounded in his head ever since he met them.
"Do you think they were always that way to him? I mean..."
"You think they neglected him?" Severus looked at his father incredulously. Potter neglected? No way. He already wanted to retort something quite rude, when he noticed the pleading look again, and finally understood that he wanted Severus to deny it. Severus, who was in position as Potter's teacher and had five years to observe his behaviour.
"I don't think so. Beyond his usual misbehaviour, he sometimes seems to avoid human company but I've never noticed anything that would imply an neglect from his... from the Dursleys," he said seriously and saw his father heave a relieved sigh. Severus patted himself on the shoulder inwardly, good he suppressed the spiteful words.