Harry’s 6th year at Hogwarts had been mainly uneventful, especially when compared with his first five years of school. It was full of small raids and minor skirmishes between the Order and the Death Eaters, but Harry hadn’t been involved and none of them had been anywhere near Harry or his friends, so he didn’t think about them too much. The Order and Albus suspected that the Dark Lord was laying low while planning something big...no one knew what. Severus Snape, the Order’s spy, had precious little to share in the way of information. Of course, since Voldemort rarely summoned Snape during the school year, this wasn’t entirely surprising.
Harry was wary of this quiet period, but he was also relieved. An uneventful school year had been a blessing and he'd rather enjoyed the chance to simply be a student for once, rather than a hero trying to save the day. It had given him time to work through his feelings about Sirius’ death and time to train properly with various Order members. Now, Harry was sitting on his bed at 4 Privet Drive, brooding over how slowly this summer seemed to be going. It was the day before his 17th birthday and he would be legally able to do magic at midnight and he couldn’t wait. He was also going to be picked up and taken to Grimmauld Place the next day and he couldn’t wait for that either.
Harry sighed and flopped backwards onto his back, staring at the ceiling. Just as he realized that if he crossed his eyes and squinted, the cracks on the ceiling sort of resembled Africa, he heard a tapping sound. He turned to the window and smiled; there was a beautiful, dark grey-brown screech owl sitting outside on the window ledge with a letter.
“Hello, there.” Harry crooned as he opened the window and the owl stepped inside. “You’re beautiful, aren’t you?” He said, stroking the owl’s head softly. The owl let out a piercing, trilling cry and Harry’s eyes widened – he was used to Hedwig’s hooting and this was nothing like that.
Thankfully, the Dursleys were out so Harry didn’t have to worry about them hearing. With a smile and another soft stroke to the owl’s head, Harry removed the envelope tied to its leg. “Thank you. Do you need a reply?” He asked.
The owl trilled again and nipped Harry’s finger softly before stepping back out onto the ledge. “Wait! I’ll get you a treat before you go.” Harry told the bird, who paused, ruffled its feathers, and then blinked at Harry while he got out some of Hedwig’s owl treats. “Here you go.” Harry said, holding out a few treats, which the owl ate quickly before it took off.
With a small smile still on his face (Harry adored owls), Harry opened the letter. A small scrap of parchment and a folded letter were inside the envelope and Harry picked up the little scrap first. In slanted, cramped handwriting were a few lines.
Mr. Potter. This letter was left in my care by your mother. She was, despite your father’s protests, a dear friend and asked that I ensure you receive it before your 17th birthday, in the event she did not live long enough to give you this information herself. As this was one of the only things Lily ever asked of me, I could hardly refuse her. If you have any questions, I suggest you spend some time in the library rather than bothering me. ~ SS
Harry blinked; he recognized the handwriting from his Potions assignments. Snape had been friends with his mother? Well, he hadn’t seen that coming. He glanced down at the folded letter. His mother had written him a letter. He touched the heavy paper gently; his mother had touched this paper. She had used it to write him a message. With a deep breath, Harry picked the pages up and unfolded them. Her handwriting swam before his eyes and Harry had to blink several times to clear the tears. Her words were written in a flowing, delicate script. Harry traced his fingers lightly over his own name, written at the top in the greeting, and then took another deep breath and started to read.
My Beloved Harry,
If you are reading this letter, than I succeeded in saving you but not in saving myself. I am sorry to have left you. You are so precious to me! As I write this, you are nearly 3 months old. Your father and I love you, so very much, Harry. You mean everything to us. You must understand; I was willing to do anything to save you! I was so afraid. That is why this letter is necessary.
You are turning 17 soon, or Severus wouldn’t have sent this. And I must warn you. When your birthday comes, you will change. It is all my fault. I didn’t realize, though! I didn’t know what I was doing…I am so very sorry, Harry. I’m not making much sense am I? Let me explain.
When I was 7 months pregnant with you, we knew the Dark Lord wanted to kill you. I was terrified that he would find us and succeed. I begged Severus to help me find a way to keep you safe, no matter what. So we researched and finally thought we’d found a way. I gave Severus the funds necessary and he purchased for me a very special bottle. Eagerly I opened it and summoned out the Genie within. That’s right, Harry. A Genie. I didn’t know what else to try! Genie magic is the most powerful there is. So I made my wish, without hesitation. “I wish for the power to protect my son!”
I didn’t realize that the Genie would turn me into one! I had no idea that would happen. I was still pregnant with you, Harry, when I became a Genie. This means you are a Genie as well and on your 17th birthday you will receive your powers. Now, I know this is a shock, but you must understand that it worked! I enlisted Severus’ help and gave him my wand and he wished for my son to be protected from harm at the Dark Lord’s hands. I granted his wish and, since you are alive to read this, it has obviously worked! But now, you share the curse I would have spared you. You are a Genie.
NEVER let anyone touch your wand, Harry. It is your wand you are bound to and whoever possesses your wand can command you. The only way to be freed from your Master is if they willingly give your wand back to you, as Severus did with me. You must not allow yourself to be enslaved this way, Harry. It is so dangerous…the temptation to keep you bound to them will be strong and you may never be freed! Now, you will not be able to access Genie magic unless you have a Master, so you won’t notice any difference in your spells and you won’t be immortal. Please, be careful, Harry. Please be safe.
You will notice some changes, however, that come with being a Genie. There are marks – things that brand you as a Genie. They are different for each Genie, though, so I can’t tell you what to expect. I must warn you: there are limits to Genie magic. Three limits, to be precise. If you ever end up with a Master, please remember these limits and tell your Master of them. 1) You cannot kill anyone within a wish. If your Master wishes someone dead, you cannot comply. Your magic won’t allow it. 2) In companion to the first rule, you cannot bring anyone back from the dead. If your Master asks this of you, explain that you can reanimate the dead body but it will still be dead. It will decompose and be mindless and it’s really not a pretty thing, so it’s best not to do it at all. 3) You cannot make anyone fall in love. Genie magic can create lust, obedience, obsession, and various other emotions…but we cannot create love. No magic can make someone fall in love and not even Genies are exceptions to that.
I have only one request to make of you, Harry, regarding your Genie heritage. Please keep this a secret! If anyone knew, they would seek to use you. Trust no one! Severus is the only one who knows what I am, and what you are. Not even James knows. Remember, it is your life and your freedom if someone finds out and binds you to them. I do not want that for you. I want you to be safe, always. Please, Harry, be safe and tell no one what you are. I cannot bear the thought of you being harmed.
I love you, Harry.
Harry let the pages fall from his limp fingers. A Genie? He was a GENIE? Harry felt panicked. He felt like he couldn’t breathe. If anyone ever took his wand, they would control him. He would be a slave. His mother was right; no one could ever know. It was bad enough SNAPE knew! If anyone found out…if anyone ever let it slip to Voldemort…he’d be screwed. No…no one could EVER know.
He glanced down at the letter and frowned. There were more pages than he had read. How was that even possible? Harry reached out and set aside the two pages of his mother’s letter that he’d read. The remaining pages seemed to be another letter, also written in his mother’s handwriting. Wondering why she’d written a second letter, Harry picked these unread pages back up and continued reading.
My Precious Harry,
You are 14 months old now, my darling son, and so active! You run around the house like a whirlwind, getting into everything. I love watching you play and reading to you and singing you to sleep. The Dark Lord is still after us, so every day I have with you is precious to me. I fear a great many things Harry, because in these times it’s hard not to fear, but my greatest fear is leaving you behind, without the guidance I wish to give when you come of age and without my presence to comfort you when things look grim.
It is because of that fear that I am writing again. In the letter I wrote nearly a year ago (to which this will be added) I told you to trust no one. I must beg your forgiveness for being so cynical. With this war and the constant fear it brings, it’s so hard to know who we can place our faith in. There is one person you can trust, Harry. One person I must plead with you to trust, no matter what. He will be able to help you, if you’ll only let him. Severus Snape. I pray the animosity Sirius and James feel towards Severus hasn’t taken root in you; that I lived long enough for you to see how good of a person Severus is. I hope I am not asking too much of you by asking you to trust him.
If nothing else, Severus will have been your teacher for 6 years by the time you read this, and perhaps that will be enough for you to trust him. It is my most fervent wish, however, that Sirius was able to put aside his hatred of my best friend so that Severus was able to have a hand in raising you. He is, after all, as much your godfather as Sirius is. I hope that Sirius allowed this since he knows I want Severus to be a part of your life.
He loves you dearly, Harry. I know he doesn’t show his feelings well and I’m sure he treats you the same as the other students, but he does love you! I’m enclosing a picture, Harry, to prove my point. Severus has held my secret all this time and I’m sure he’s kept it even as you read this. He is the best friend I have ever had and I trust him with my life. I trust him with your life as well, Harry. Please, let him be there for you, darling. He loves you every bit as much as Sirius does.
Be safe, Harry.
Harry stared at the letter in shock. Severus Snape was his godfather? Harry scrambled for the envelope and he practically ripped it in half trying to get it open again. Yes…there, inside the envelope, was a photograph Harry hadn’t noticed. He took it out with shaking hands and stared at the small, moving image. It was a young Snape holding a squirming, laughing baby in his hands. A baby Harry, with dark hair and green eyes, held lovingly in the arms of Snape. Severus smiled up at the camera, then pressed a kiss to baby-Harry’s head and snuggled him close to his chest. Baby-Harry tolerated the kiss, waved to the camera, and then nuzzled his face happily into Snape’s neck. Obviously baby-Harry was used to being around Snape.
Harry turned the photo over and read the writing on the back. His mother had written, <i>‘Severus and Harry, October 10th, 1981.’</i> in her neat script. Under it, in a messy scrawl Harry recognized from the Marauder’s Map, it said <i>‘I can’t believe you took a picture of Snivellus holding Harry! And with Harry in that awful shirt!’</i> and below that, <i>‘Ignore your father, Harry! Sev bought you that shirt for your birthday and I think you look handsome in it.’</i> again in his mother’s hand.
Harry flipped the photo over again. Baby-Harry was wearing a black tee-shirt with the green-and-silver Slytherin Crest on the front. When baby-Harry turned into Snape’s embrace and snuggled closer, Harry could just see the back of the shirt, which in silver letters read, <i>‘A Serpent loves me!’</i> and Harry blinked back tears. He had another godfather. Who hated him. Passionately. Harry tucked the photograph, the letters, and Snape’s note back into the envelope and placed the whole thing safely inside the photo album Hagrid had given him at the end of his first year at Hogwarts. Then he curled up on his bed and cried.
Harry woke the morning of his birthday with a yawn and a grin – he was 17 today! It was early – around 7AM – but then, Harry had never been able to sleep in on important days. He sat up and began examining himself. His skin had lost the tan he’d gotten over the last month and was now the color of a porcelain doll’s complexion. He frowned – he didn’t really care for being so pale, but it wasn’t horrible. Harry didn’t notice anything else right away so he went into the bathroom and stripped down, studying himself in the full-length mirror hung on the back of the door. His jaw dropped. There, in his bellybutton, was a piercing. A gold ring hung from the top of his navel and dangling from it was a blue glass charm shaped like a decorative bottle.
“Holy shit!” He exclaimed, touching his fingers lightly to the small charm. He twisted and turned from side to side, trying to see if there was anything else. At first he thought there wasn’t until he spotted a hint of color out of the corner of his eye. “What the hell…?”
Harry twisted further, struggling to see the small of his back in the mirror. There, just above his ass, was a tattoo. It was several sweeping squiggles that looked like this: ‘مارد’ and Harry had no idea what it was or what it meant. The design was scrawled in dark blue, with hints of gold flashing as he moved in an attempt to see it better. He wondered if there was a way he could get a picture of it so he could ask Hermione about it. He quickly dismissed the idea – if this marked him as a Genie, it was probably better not to arouse the suspicions of his clever friend.
Harry sighed and put his clothes back on before heading back to his room. He could use magic now, but somehow this didn’t thrill him like he’d thought it would only the day before. The only thing he wanted to do was find a book on Genies and learn all he could. Somehow he would have to do so without Hermione noticing, which seemed like a particularly daunting task just then. Harry sighed again, lying down on his back on his bed and glaring up at the ceiling. Why did everything seem to happen to him? He just couldn’t win for losing, or so it seemed…