AN: This was a challenge story I wrote in response to someone asking if I could redeem a character I hated. In this case, it's Sirius Black. Here's my attempt at redemption!
Thank you for any and all support you give! It's deeply appreciated!
Severus Snape had never been defended by anyone, much less a talking dove.
The dove sat atop a golden perch to Severus' left. His tone was even, his words clear.
"Let us not forget how many lives would have been lost had he not given so much intel to the Gryffindor side. By our estimates, thousands of non-magical lives were saved by his actions not only in Britain, but all around the world."
The glow around Severus' body intensified.
He glanced around. Across the silver table from him sat a woman in a white dress. Her hair was stringy and long, yet her brown eyes were bright, almost crystalline. She reminded Severus of a muggle pop star he had seen on a poster a few years ago. The first name was Alanis, though for the life of him he couldn't remember her last name.
"Let us not ignore the good he did for his own house. We cannot forget how many Slytherins he persuaded to not longer use such despicable language as 'mudblood.' For many, this was the first step on their road to a more tolerant worldview. At this very moment, those lessons are bearing fruit."
Severus' eyes fell on the man to the right of the woman. Scars dotted his forehead like freckles. He was dressed in a white gown, though his sleeves could not cover the round scars on each of his wrists. Still, when he looked into the man's eyes, he gained a peace he did not know was possible, a peace he hoped to maintain for all eternity.
"This is why I suggest we grant Severus Tobias Snape immediate entry into heaven."
"Thank you, Paraclete," the woman turned to her left. "Do you have anything to say, Anubis."
At the end of the table, a man with a Doberman's head stood. "I certainly do."
"Very well, state your case."
The man straightened his gray business suit as his ears perked up. He pointed to Severus. "Fourteen lives, most sacred Trinity, fourteen lives all brutally cut down by this man."
Severus couldn't help but shrink under the dog's snarl.
"We judged all of them prematurely, a fact you acknowledged at each of their trials. All of them described the absolute terror they felt at the end of their lives, Albus Dumbledore excluded of course."
Albus Dumbledore. That was the first time the name had come up, and Severus didn't think it would be the last
What had happened to the old man anyway? When Severus drew his last breath, he had expected someone to escort him into the bright light. Lily may not have met him, but if not her Dumbledore seemed the next logical choice.
Severus had never considered nobody would greet him in the afterlife. Instead, he was thrown into this stark conference room, asked if he was comfortable by a man with scars similar to the man with soft eyes. After answering, "yes," the woman, the soft-eyed man, and Paraclete appeared. Soon Anubis took his place. Nobody had told him anything. They had ceased with introductions millennia ago.
Either way, they made Severus wish he'd paid more attention during Mass. He wondered if Anubis would bring up his lack of attendance at some point.
"I would also like to point out all the grade deduction he gave his students," Anubis paused, "The unjust grade deductions."
The woman frowned. Even the scarred man's expression had hardened. Paraclete cocked his head.
"For centuries we've been sorting out these house rivalry wars, and the case load is only getting bigger. We need to maintain some type of consistency amidst it all. If we are going to throw the book at Albus and Sirius, we need to do the same to Severus."
Severus' glow dimmed. What did 'throw the book' entail?
"You know what their judgments were..."
Severus slumped further into his chair, wondering what hope was there for him if even Albus couldn't make it to heaven.
"Do not be fooled by his humble attitude. He has been just as prejudiced towards his house as anyone else we've denied entry into heaven. No matter how much he has suffered, he made sure those around him suffered just as much, in some cases more. I have yet to see any evidence that he has repented of these sins."
Severus looked at the dove, wondering if he'd object. Paraclete fluffed his feathers.
"This man is not worthy of heaven!"
"Are you telling us we should hand him over to Belial?" The scarred man asked.
"That is for you three to decide. All I can do is give my humble suggestion."
If Anubis said anything more, Severus didn't hear it. He bowed his head and began to count the golden floor tiles.
"Thank you," the woman announced after Severus reached seventy-seven tiles. "You have given us much to meditate upon."
"Indeed you have," the man echoed.
Severus raised his head.
"Dismas," the man to the woman's right called.
The man sitting beside Anubis rose.
"Please escort Severus Tobias Snape out into the waiting room. We will begin our deliberations now."
The man nodded and approached Severus. The former potions professor tensed, half expecting to be restrained by handcuffs. Instead, Dismas held out his hand. With some reluctance, Severus took it.
Together, they left the room.
There was no room starker than the waiting room.
The black chair Severus sat upon was made of onyx. Had he been able to feel pain, it may have been uncomfortable. The coloring of the chair stood in contrast to the walls, which were all bleached white. They clashed with the glistening golden ground. Nothing else was in the room. No magazines, no newspapers, not even a stray toy with which to amuse oneself. Severus was alone with him mind, and the man leaning against the metal door.
Severus fidgeted with the hem of his black gown. When he returned to the room, he should thank the Trinity for dressing him in his favorite color, assuming they would allow him to speak.
Had it been minutes, months, years? It was so easy to lose time in a place such as this. He wondered if he should be tired, or if fatigue was a nasty habit his soul would break itself of. All his life Severus had struggled to sleep every day of his life, yet he almost missed the relaxation which could come with closed eyes.
He attempted to shut his eyes, but everything remained just as clear. Despite the welling fear, his stomach was not churning, nor could he sense the beating of his heart. His body was nothing more than a hazy memory.
Severus scowled and turned to Dismas. "What is taking them so long in there?"
"They are still judging you."
"When will they finish?"
"Whenever they see it fit to do so."
Severus grumbled, "It is already taking them too long."
The man gave him a half grin. "You haven't been out here as long as you think."
"How long have I been in here?"
"I can't honestly say. It's difficult to tell time as a saint."
Severus twisted his mouth.
"I know what a century feels like though. It hasn't been nearly that long."
Severus released the hem of his robe.
"I would look at a clock for you, but they get angry when I leave my post."
"That is fine, uh, Dismas?"
"If you don't mind me asking, what role do you play in all of this?"
"I'm the bailiff, more or less."
"I know, but I don't recognize your name."
"That's a shame given that my story is one of the most famous in all of Christianity. The only problem is that in most retellings I am unnamed."
Severus cocked his head.
"Most people know me as the Good Thief."
Severus' glow grew. "I thought you were just a myth invented by Saint Luke."
"No, he's the only one who got the story right."
"Why did Mark and Matthew say you jeered at Christ if you are a saint?"
Dismas shrugged. "I murdered and stole. If I was so sinful that I was crucified, then I must have been too sinful to recognize Christ, much less make it to heaven. It only made sense for me to be a monster regardless of the truth."
"Anyway, it is great to meet you." Dismas extended his hand.
Severus took it. "It is a pleasure to meet you as well."
The door creaked open.
Dismas helped Severus out of his chair. "I'd wish you good luck, but I doubt you'll need it."
Severus wandered inside, hoping Dismas was correct in his assessment.
Once Severus returned to his seat, he eyed the Trinity. The woman was as emotionless while the man still maintained his gentle expression. Paraclete's feathers were smooth, so perhaps he had not become too ruffled by the conversation. He scanned the room for Anubis, but he had disappeared.
"We apologize for taking some time to deliberate," the man began. "There were a few details we needed to iron out."
Severus knew better than to say a word.
"It is clear to us that over the last eighteen years you have fought for what was right, even at great personal cost. All of us agree you are a hero," the man began.
Severus pursed his lips.
"We have reservations about allowing you into heaven though," the woman added.
Severus' glow lessened.
"There are certain deficiencies you possess, certain actions we cannot overlook," the woman continued. "It would not be fair or consistent with our previous rulings to allow you into heaven with no purgation."
Dismas shot Severus a look of sympathy.
"This puts us in a precarious position though," the woman continued.
Severus raised an eyebrow.
"Under normal circumstances, we would put someone such as you in purgatory for a certain amount of time. Once we determined you were ready for heaven, we'd let you go through the pearly gates," the scarred man added. "Yet you have experienced more purification in the last eighteen years than most souls will endure after eight centuries in Purgatory."
"So we needed to get creative," Paraclete chimed in.
Severus' glow brightened
"There is a program we've been meaning to try out. See, our older methods of purgation are proving ineffective. People are staying in Purgatory longer and not learning the lessons we hoped they would. This is lengthening the sentences, and is leading to overcrowding. In light of this we've decided upon some more hands on purgation."
They stared at Severus.
"What kind of program do you have in mind?" Severus asked.
"You are to perform a good deed for a soul who has lost hope, one who is in desperate need of guidance," the woman explained.
"It will be like divine intervention," Paraclete replied. "Only we will not be directly involved."
"What would the specifics of this good deed entail?" Severus asked.
"That will be up for Saint Peter and Saint Dismas to decide," the scarred man answered.
Severus turned to the man in brown. The saint flashed him a smile.
"In order to perform this good deed, you will need to work with a partner who is seeking to reduce his purgatory sentence."
"So we are in similar positions?"
"Yes," Paraclete answered. "You will be working together towards achieving purification."
"What happens if I refuse to enter this Purgatory Program?"
"Then we will need to send you to the actual Purgatory for a century."
"What awaits me there?"
"For someone like you, we would put you in a room with a television. There you would watch your entire life for a century, perhaps more if enough purification has not occurred."
Severus' eyes grew.
"The good deed should not take a century, at least not in a perfect world."
"If the good deed is shorter, why would you substitute that for the century in a room?"
"If you do the good deed your mind will be off of yourself and will be focused upon improving the world in a way you could not do while still alive," the scarred man explained. "It will purify you while helping another. It's perfect for everyone involved."
Severus tilted his head upwards. Another century reliving his miserable life was hellish enough, but the last thing he wanted to do was work with another dunderhead. Then again, how long could this mission take? Surely it couldn't take that long to perform a good deed.
What was the catch in all this?
"What is your decision?" The woman asked. "Do you want to go to Purgatory, or to be one of the first participants in the Pilot Purgatory Program?"