Mortis, per minas

by Shamenka

"Look, Harry, I dragged you back here early because I discovered something, completely by accident I assure you, only I wish I hadnít." Sirius Black paced the arc in front of his godsonís chair, never looking at the boy, seeing only images he could see, etched before him on his abstracted path.

"Well, what is this great horror youíve discovered? The choice of Voldemortís underwear? Boxers or briefs then?" Harry laughed, but the sound soon died out as Sirius refused to react. It was serious then. "Why call me here if you werenít going to tell me what youíve found out? Whatís worrying you?"

"He wouldnít tell me either, kept saying I had to wait and hear it with you!" Siriusí best friend, Remus Lupin, sat beside the frustrated boy, also watching Sirius pace to and fro. "If you donít talk, and soon, Iím going to be very sick... all over your feet!"

"Right, fine, but donít ever say I didnít warn you, that I never told you, you didnít really want to hear this." Sirius took a deep breath, turned around and faced Harry and Remus. "I was spying on Snape a couple of days ago, looking for evidence that heís really not on our side at all..."

"And you found it?" Harry called out in delight, cheering his brave godfather. "Letís go tell it to Dumbledore... get rid of the greasy bastard, once and for all!"

"Silence!" Siriusí shout startled Harry into quietening down. "What I found out is far greater than Snapeís true loyalties, which, it turns out, are truly to Albus and the Order. Even though he has far less reason to side with us in this war, than he would have to side with Voldemortís Death Eaters. Oh God! I canít believe what heís suffered..." Sirius sank into the only remaining free seat and faced his audience.

Seeing Harry about to speak without much thought behind it, Remus held up a hand and silenced the lad. He let that hand drop onto his lap, refraining from touching his friend, knowing so well that, right at that moment, physical comfort wasnít something Sirius could allow himself to seek.

"Whatís wrong? I take it that whatever youíve found out is far worse than trying to have me bite him back in our sixth year?"

Siriusí face shot up, into view, his torment in sharp focus.

"Far, far worse!" Sirius took a deep breath and started once more. "Like I said, I was hiding from him, spying on him, and I was hiding in his private store cupboard. Thereís more than enough space beneath the bottom shelves for a dog to crawl in, so I did. I heard Severus talking in his office, he was chatting with his ward, his godson.. young master Malfoy, helping the kid settle his parents estates, telling Draco how deeply his parents loved each other, and him. He got custody of Draco when his parents died..." Sirius looked out the window for somewhere to look that wasnít twin sets of bored eyes. He knew full well that their disinterest was something he himself had worked long and hard to engender; yet another stupid action heíd enacted against Severus Snape. "Severus Snape has a very calming voice, when heís choosing to help someone."

Harry snorted in utter disbelief, while Remus looked like he was waiting to be convinced. Sirius looked back out the window once more.

"While under the bottom shelf I discovered a rather dusty pensieve, pushed right to the back, as if it held memories that were never far from the ownerís mind. I donít think they ever wouldnít be, given how powerful their subject matter is." Sirius sighed, as if the air came direct from the deepest reaches of his soul.

"So, what youíre saying is you read Snapeís pensieve, and now canít get the vile taste of his thoughts out your metaphorical mouth?" Remus laughed at the mental image of ĎSnufflesí sneezing at an encounter with Snapeís forgotten pensieve.

"Or did you squeal in horror and he caught you, now Dumbledore has to get rid of you to keep Snape happy?" Harry asked, he too was laughing at the possible content of Snapeís pensieve. "Well, I suppose Snapeís memories are all going to be him getting bombed out by this girl, that bloke - not even getting any from sheep!" He laughed even harder at that idea, as did Remus until Sirius yelled at them.

"Be quiet, you... you bloody hyenaís!" Sirius took a slow, calming breath before he looked at either of them. "No, nothing like that, I found out why your parents were killed, why Voldemort singled them out for his special attention, and no, Snape didnít ask him to!"

Finally, Remus realised just how serious his friend was being, how important his discoveries were.

"Have you told Albus about Snapeís involvement in James and Lilyís deaths?"

"Werenít you listening? I just said Snape wasnít involved. He never asked Voldemort to do anything against the Potters, but he thinks he might know who did!" Sirius had their undivided attention, and silence, finally. "See, when we left school, Severus got a job in the investigative branch of the Ministry. I think the closest Muggle thing would be forensic science..." He waited till Harry nodded in understanding. "Unfortunately, for Severus that is, this put him rather close to the trainee Aurors, and me and James in particular. One day, just after Harry turned five months old, James played a rather cruel practical joke on Severus..." Siriusí recollection was interrupted by Harry, an irate Harry at that.

"Severus? Severus! Anyone would think you had suddenly become the greasy gitís greatest fan; have you forgotten that this is Snape youíre waxing lyrical about?" The sixteen year old was out of his seat and shouting down Sirius for daring to sully is fatherís memory. "All Iíve got left of my dad is his good name, and now youíre taking even that away from me for the glorification of Severus fucking Snape, greasiest bastard in all of Hogwarts!"

Sirius slapped Harry, hard, once, and spoke softly to him, danger dripping off his sweet tone.

"Sit down, be quiet and listen!" Sirius glared at the boy until he sat back down.

"For your information, the trick James played on Severus Snape involved covering him, quite literally, in fecundus potion... only, James never was too great with keeping potions uncontaminated and his Ďtrickí potion had some of his own hair floating about in it!" Sirius stepped away, waiting to see if either of them understood just what he was saying to them.

Remus had always been better at potions theory than Sirius was, it didnít take him too long to realise what had happened to Severus Snape.

"Did it work on Severus then?" Remus looked worried, worried that the answer might possibly be affirmative.

"Most definitely!" Sirius confirmed before turning to the still profoundly confused Harry. "Didnít you do fertility potions last year? Iím sure I recall Hermione talking about them."

"Fecundus wouldnít work on a man, unless your saying Snapeís a truly ugly bitch, instead of a bastard?" This time it was Remus who got in Harryís face first. He didnít slap him however, he snarled at him.

"I recommend you review your notes for potions from last year! I recommend you take remedial lessons in the principles of magic. Magic is, oddly enough, mostly non gender specific! So, what the hell do you think happened, hmm?"

Harry thought for a few moments, about the effects his fatherís hair would have on the fecundus potion he deluged Snape in.

"Did he become pregnant then?" Harry hoped and prayed his response was wrong.

"He did." Sirius was quietly respectful with his response. "He mentioned it as a possibility to James. James told him that if he were, then heíd better get rid of the pregnancy immediately or heíd get rid of it for him! James was not gentle, not in the slightest. Nothing at all like the quietly spoken man I hid and listened to. Anyway, James threatened Severus, so Severus did what he thought of as being the most logical thing he could..." Harry interrupted him one more time, laughing at his teacherís fear and discomfort.

"So he ran off and had an abortion, so what, what has this got to do with my parents and Voldemort? Other than the greasy git was, or rather is, a Death Eater?"

"He did not abort! That was what I was going to say, he left the Ministry and chose to have the children..." this time it was Remus that interrupted him.

"Children? As in more than one?"

"As in more than one, yes, as in Severus Snape was pregnant with twins, fathered on him by James Potter. Twins whose very life James Potter had threatened." Sirius watched that piece of information sink into Harryís brain.

"I have twin... siblings somewhere? Does Snape even know where they are?" Harry suddenly realised that he was not alone in his life, that there was a family that was his beyond the terror that were the Dursleys.

"All in good time." Sirius indicated that his audience should remain seated and began to pace to and fro again. "It seems that the Snape family have a policy that if a member of the family becomes pregnant, no matter under what circumstances, that pregnancy is seen through, unless it would be unsafe, or totally unfair to subject a soul to some hideous agony if it lived. I never would have figured Severus Snape for the pro life lobby. Anyway, he went home to his family, told them what had happened, what James had demanded of him and they promised him their support, their love, their protection. Which he got. His friends, Malfoy senior, McNair, Avery all of them rallied around Severus and offered advice and assistance. Malfoy and his wife were very supportive, always ready listen to his hormonally driven fits and starts of depression and euphoria, after all their Draco was a little bit older than you, and Severusí godson. Well, Severus enjoyed being pregnant: for the most part. Until he met up with James in St. Mungos."

"But, James had threatened the children, why did Severus meet up with him? That would be tantamount to suicide!" Remus jumped to his feet, angered by what he perceived as Severusí bloody stupid choice.

For his part, Harry felt like crying, his mystery family drifting away on a wave of their own fatherís hatred. If James Potter wasnít so very dead, he might do for him himself.

"It wasnít prearranged. Severus had no idea that Lily, James and Harry would be there, he, Severus, was seeing one of the mediwitches about the progress of his pregnancy. He bumped into Lily and Harry in a hallway and turned to run from them. James spotted him and quickly outran the heavily pregnant Snape. He pulled his wand on Severus and pushed the tip into Severusí distended belly." Sirius stopped talking, he wiped at his eyes, rubbing tiredness and unshed tears from them, taking slow, steadying breaths. "Just as James started to promise Severus the agony he was going to end what he called Severusí bastard getís lives with, Lucius Malfoy came looking for Severus and did a petrificus totalis on James. James was pushed over and fell with a fair thump on his face, that, by the way, was how he broke his nose. Remember, Remus, when he was too embarrassed to tell us why his nose was broken and no one would repair it? His assault on Severus had been witnessed, not only by Malfoy, but by the nurses that were escorting him in his search. If I remember correctly, James told Lily someone opened a door in his face."

"But the babies, what happened to the babies? How much damage did father do? Did Snape lose them?" Harry was literally on the edge of his seat, waiting for Sirius to confirm his new greatest dread, or abate his fears entirely.

"Severus was about six months pregnant by that point. Luckily nothing happened to the babies, Malfoy had reached them in time. Severus did have a massive bruise, right across his belly from the wand point sticking in to him, but otherwise, he was fine." Sirius stopped talking again, this time his expression went from concerned to down right goofy.

"Severus spent a fair while looking at his belly over the following weeks, watching, making sure the bruise faded, watching his children move within his belly. Hands and feet and heads, pushing against his still darkened skin. He loved the signs of life from within himself, but, he had a beautiful body. Some people just donít suit being pregnant, they do become somewhat... I suppose... almost ugly in the later stages, but not Severus, he quite literally bloomed!" Sirius almost wished he could let Remus, if not Harry, see what he had seen.

"So, that was when Malfoy went to Voldemort to have him kill mum and dad, and me..." Harry looked as if he would storm off, ready to kill any Malfoy, and since Lucius and Narcissa were dead, Draco would just have to do.

"No, not at all. Oh, if that had been the worst of it, then I have little doubt that your parents would still be alive, at least your mother would. She tended to think before she acted. And there is no way on this earth that she would have tolerated Jamesí behaviour if she had ever known that he had threatened his own unborn children like that!" Sirius drew his wand and summonsed tea for the three of them, he busied himself with pouring out a cup of the warming brew before he spoke again.

"After that assault, and Iím sure you would agree that James had assaulted Severus with intent to kill his unborn children?" He paused and watched their silent nods. "Well, Severus and his family went abroad, they would let Severusí babies be born in another country. See, that way they would not be listed for Hogwarts, so little chance of you ever getting to meet them. No chance for James to kill them on a school visit. Severus really didnít trust James Potter, not a bit of trust left by this point."

"But they were born, alive, werenít they?" Harry was beginning to fear for those children, his family, fellow Potters, and he didnít know why his father would threaten them like that. He was also beginning to realise that he didnít know his father... or Professor Severus Snape! "Why did father try and kill his own children?"

"I donít really know, but several theories that were put to Severus thought that he was either trying to hide his stupid prank from his employers, or more likely, didnít want Lily to know he had illegitimate children, with Severus Snape no less!" Sirius shrugged in an indication of utter helplessness. "Your guess is as good as mine at this point."

"So, they were born, then what happened? Severus came back to the UK, what about his children?" Remus was torn between thinking up excuses for Jamesí behaviour and wanting to dash off and protect those long born children... they would be a year younger than Harry, wouldnít they? "Theyíll be a year younger than Harry then?"

"Born August 1981, both healthy and alive: a boy and a girl." Sirius remembered the utter joy in Severusí memories when he held his children for the first time, the love he felt for them, despite who their other father was! "And Severus loved them both so very much, still does, in fact. It wasnít an easy last three months, Severus had to fight his body every day to hang onto his precious babies. He was so determined to see them both alive, both free from your fatherís threats against them. McNair and Avery were with Severus when he went into labour. Severus had a bit of fun watching them run around like the proverbial headless chickens, then he sent for his mum and dad and the mediwitches who were to deliver his babies. So, while he was put under a numbing spell and was delivered of two healthy babies, McNair and Avery sent panicked messages to Malfoy and their other friends. By the time the mediwitches were finished their home was filed with Death Eaters. All pacing in circles, several of them chain smoking!" The image in his inner eye made Sirius laugh, the sight of Severusí diminutive mother facing off several hulking brutes that had terrorised their entire generation. "We should recruit Severusí mum, she had that room full of Death Eaters shitting bricks at her wrath for the mess they made, they all suddenly became very house proud and neat freaks!"

"So, are the children still living abroad? Did Severus give them away? What exactly happened that makes Severus think his children are linked to James and Lilyís deaths?" Remus wanted Sirius to get on with the story. "And what are their names? A boy and a girl, you said?"

"The boy is called Anthony and the girl is called Elizabeth. What happened was that Severus and his family had to return to the UK, they brought the children with them, of course, and never left Severus alone, in case James found out!" Sirius shot over to the window, almost as if he too was searching for the threat James Potter had become to his own children. "Harry was fourteen months old and toddling quite happily, Severusí children were literally weeks old and helpless. Severus and his companions had taken the children to the wizards park in Yorkshire, close to their family home, and were quietly enjoying the sun. The worst happened, James and Lily, in fact, all of us were there, James saw Severus and rushed up, wand waving and got as far as Avada..." Sirius was interrupted by Harryís frantic yelling.

"But you said they were alive, still... why did he do that? He was going to kill his own children?"

"He was stopped. Yet again. Malfoy stupefied him, and McNair comforted Severus, he promised them that James Potter would never trouble his family ever again. He gave him his word on that! Severus knew what that would most likely mean, he didnít hold Jamesí behaviour against Lily, or even you for that matter. So, he went to Albus, warned him of the risk to James Potterís life, not mentioning his own children or Jamesí threats against them. A lot of his intelligence reports had been delivered by highly charmed owls, there had been no reason for Severus to be near Albus since his return to the light a year or more before all this. By the start of October they were in hiding and their hiding place was breached. The rest you know all too well."

"But... what happened to my brother and sister? Didnít Snape go to prison, to Azkaban? Did they take the babies off him?" Harry was terrified Sirius was going to leave him with half a story, like having half a family... only a shadowy dream., snatched away before he could see it in the full light.

"They live with their grand parents, except when theyíre at school. They go to a small, private school, at least that was what Severus had planned for them when he discontinued using the pensieve."

"So, what now, Sirius? Where do we go from here? What should Harry do now? Would Severus be willing to let Harry know his brother and sister?" Remus hugged the young lad in question to him, rubbing his back in slow, comforting circles.

"I donít know, Remus, I really donít know... Maybe too much hate had driven the gap too wide, neither of us has ever helped close it." Sirius closed in on the other side of Harry and joined his friend in holding the boy. "Harry, now that we know we can ask Severus, beg him to let you meet your brother and sister."

"But, that can wait till after the sorting and the feast. Come on, Harry, time to get down stairs." Remus and his ever loyal dog, Snuffles, guided the shell shocked young man down to the almost empty great hall, only a few teachers and Draco Mafoy sat in there, yet. They saw him to the Gryffindor table, just as Severus Snape swept in to take his usual place at one end of the high table.

"Wish me luck?" Remus asked as he moved away, slightly.

"Good luck, Remus!" Harry whispered as he watched the werewolf walk up and sit right beside Severus Snape, and smile...