You Are Remembered Still
Disclaimer: All characters are the property of JK Rowling save for those I've invented.
Summary: Completed story. A young man is intrigued by the mystery of Severus Snape - shunned by history and marred by memory but never truly forgotten.
The infirmary was quiet for a change. The lanky redhead peered around the doorframe looking for the redoubtable Madam Threlkeld. She was nowhere in sight. With one last look in, he dashed across the ward to the one occupied bed. The bed's occupant looked up from his book his brown eyes brimming with intelligence and a healthy dose of curiousity. "So, what do you have for me?"
Daniel Potter placed several large leather bound volumes on the bedside table. "Yearbooks. This should keep you busy for a while, Nick."
"I asked for the latest volume of Magicks Arcanum," Nicholas ran a hand through his straight dark brown hair.
"I tried to check it out but Madam Pince wouldn't let me." Daniel perused through all the get well cards and gifts covering the next bed over. "She said she knew it was for you. She also said she wasn't about to go against Threlkeld's order against any heavy reading."
"But yearbooks are such useless drivel."
"Ah, hold that thought. These yearbooks cover our parents' time here." Daniel pocketed several chocolate frogs. "Didn't you say that your mum hardly ever talks about those days? My mum goes on and on about it."
"Hmm, yeah. Mum always says her school years were boring and unexciting."
"As if! After all she was right in the middle of -"
The rest of Daniel's words tapered off as he caught sight of the mediwitch coming their way. "Mr. Potter, visiting hours are over for today. Leave Mr. Longbottom to his rest. Those had better not be textbooks, young man."
The nurse shooed young Potter out of the infirmary. She returned and looked through the stacks of books making sure that none was more taxing than a novel. "This is the second time this year that I've had you here due to complete academic exhaustion. Why do you feel the need to take on so much?"
Nicholas grinned. "Highest NEWT scores ever and twenty galleons from the school betting pool."
"You value your health at twenty galleons? You barely made it through your OWLS before collapsing."
"Malfoy's bet ten galleons that I can't break the record. Slytherin house added ten galleons more. Ravenclaw matched the bet. So you see I have no choice. It's a matter of honor now."
"Foolishness! Let me get your Dreamless Sleep potion then lights out," said the nurse. "You can read tomorrow."
"But I'm feeling fine truly. I don't need much sleep." Her patient whined.
"You are the youngest chronic insomniac I've ever treated, Mr. Longbottom." She looked down at him hands on her substantial hips. "It's taking a toll on you. You certainly don't eat enough. Your body needs sleep to keep growing."
"Sleep is overrated. I always catch up on my sleep in the summer. Ask my mother."
"I did ask her. She admits to giving you nightly sleeping potions when you're at home." The nurse bustled off to get his potion.
Nicholas accepted the inevitable. This was one battle he was not destined to win. He was feeling a little worn around the edges anyway. He looked at the stacked yearbooks and decided to start on those in the morning.
The next day found Nicholas leafing through the yearbooks starting with his mother's first year. He looked at pictures of his parents, aunts and uncles marvelling at how young they all were. He laughed at the comments ribald and carefree sprinkled over the pictures. There was a long section on the Philosopher's Stone. He read the section avidly. No wonder Uncle Ron cringes at the mention of devil's snare.
He turned a few more pages until he reached the faculty page. Some of them he knew as his parents' friends or professional associates. His eyes locked on one unknown picture - a pale, stern-faced man with long dark hair, a hooked nose and dark eyes. Who's this? Looks formidable. Professor Severus Snape, head of Slytherin, potions master. Severus? Unusual name even for wizards. I wonder if he's Malfoy's namesake?
As with most of his generation, Nicholas had grown up knowing about the dark years of Voldemort. How Voldemort and the Death Eaters had caused discord and malice for many years until finally they were exposed and defeated by Harry Potter and the heroic wizards and witches who fought alongside him. He also knew that many of the Death Eaters came from Slytherin. Wonder if Professor Snape was one of them? How did Uncle Albus allow him in Hogwarts if he was? I've heard that name before but where?
Nicholas flipped through the yearbook to the Slytherin section. Other than a small mention of being Slytherin's head of house there were no other pictures of the potions master. He flipped back to the faculty page and read the professor's biography. It was brief to the point of scarcity - barely three sentences. Severus Snape has been at Hogwarts for almost a decade and is the longest serving head of Slytherin house. Fellowship with the International Potions Masters Guild. Published authority on poisons and antidotes. Nicholas compared this scrap of information to that of the other house heads and found it to be decidedly lacking. A Slytherin not inclined to boast? Hardly.
Prompted by some unknown compulsion, Nicholas opened the other yearbooks searching for any further mention of the elusive professor. At most, Severus Snape has one picture in each book which was the standard faculty picture, a listing of published works, potions honors and not much else. He did find many references to the man in the students' comments. Greasy git. Evil, mean bastard. Toughest teacher at the school. The comments all generally agreed that the man was unpleasant, a taskmaster in the classroom and not one to be crossed. He looked at the picture again. Well he looks unpleasant all right but not evil. Not like the way Uncle Harry described Voldemort once.
The seventh year yearbook wasn't much help. No picture of the professor just an even shorter list of accomplishments. Interesting. There were two heads of Slytherin that year. Professor Snape and Professor Sinistra.
He was still puzzling over this new revelation when Madam Threlkeld passed by to check on him.
Nicholas held up the yearbook pointing at Snape's picture. "Do you know who he is?"
The nurse studied the picture. "No, Mr. Longbottom. Before my time I'm afraid."
"Not knowing anything about him, what do you think of him?"
"He looks like someone in pain." the nurse answered. "Or someone holding on to a lot of pain."
"How can you tell?"
"I've seen enough people in pain to know one on sight. It's in the set of the eyes."
"He doesn't look ill to me just disagreeable."
"Pain is not always physical. As you get older you'll realize how true that is." The nurse straightened his blanket and moved another stack of books out of his reach. "I'm going to release you tomorrow but on one condition. Do I have your promise to rest today and eat all your meals?"
"Yes, ma'am. Every bite." The nurse walked away mumbling silently to herself.
As Nicholas waited for his lunch, he suddenly remembered where he had heard the name Severus Snape from. Every year on the anniversary of Voldemort's defeat, his family would attend a memorial service for all who had fought or fallen in the war. There was a subdued memorial stone set in the grove near where the final battle was fought. Every year his parents would make a point to lay flowers on the memorial. Some years ago, he had committed the listed names to memory just to see if he could. One of those names was Severus Snape. He wasn't listed as one of the fallen. In fact, his name was close to the top, right after Aunt Minerva's name. He was one of the small group who confronted Voldemort for the last time. Severus Snape was a hero. Why then does he seem to have been been forgotten, especially by his own school?
His reverie was interrupted by his head of house, Professor Flitwick coming in for his daily check and bringing Nicholas' lunch with him. "Now, Nicholas, I'm informed that we can expect you back in the common room tomorrow."
"Yes, sir. I can't wait to get out of here." Nicholas balanced the tray of food on the far end of the bed.
"We have missed you especially in class. No one has your flair for answering questions."
Nicholas could feel the blush creep up from his neck to his cheeks. "I try my best, sir, always."
"I can see that you are recovered for now. But I will be monitoring your reading list and class load until the end of term." Flitwick smiled at the boy fondly. "I will not have you absent from my house longer than you need to be. I've grown fond of the house cup as it sits in my office. Slytherin is nipping at our points but with two weeks left to the end of term I feel confident that we will fend them off."
"Yes, sir." Nicholas looked down on the yearbook lying open on his lap. He showed the faculty page to Flitwick. "Speaking of Slytherin house, what can you tell me about him? Severus Snape."
Flitwick was momentarily flustered. After a few deep breaths, he managed to say, "Why do you ask?"
"Curiosity mostly. He was a head of house, a known potions scholar and master." Nicholas flipped open the seventh year book. "He was one of the group to defeat Voldemort in the grove. Look at the last year's book, much is written on the all the war's heroes except for him. What was he like? The students seem to have hated him so. He looks forbidding but I can't imagine any Hogwarts teacher as being truly hateful, sir."
Flitwick moved to the end of the bed and paced. "Severus was a difficult man to know and to understand. Very complex. But you're right he was not hateful per se. He expected the best from his students and often would push them mercilessly. He was much harder on those who were truly gifted as he was. Professor Snape was not my close friend, Mr. Longbottom, but he was a trusted colleague. Albus Dumbledore had great faith in him and he was proven correct. As for the lack of mentions in the yearbook, that is principally a sign of respect for Professor Snape's privacy. He did not like public accolades preferring private appreciation and acknowledgement."
"What did he do after he left Hogwarts? Is he still publishing his works?"
"I suggest that you speak with your father and mother about this when you get home. They would be far more able to answer your questions than I." Professor Flitwick cleared his throat loudly. "Now, go on eat your lunch. I will see you tomorrow."
A few days later, Nicholas, barely visible behind a tall stack of books, made notes and murmured to himself. He had bribed his friends with one on one finals tutoring in exchange for their help in the library. They had scoured the library and found more information on Professor Snape. The picture that was emerging was a study of contrasts. He had more questions now than ever. Nicholas had a mystery on his hands and he did not like mysteries to remain unsolved.
Nicholas was astonished to learn just how well known Severus Snape had been. His derivative mixture, the Draught of Life, was the cornerstone of new medical research. It singlehandedly helped hundreds of people recover from the Cruciatus and Imperious curses. To this day, his seminal work on this subject was researched and debated. But he could find no reference to the professor's later life or any mention of a family. He had written no articles for at least the last ten years.
He had tried to engage Professor Flitwick in conversation but his head of house was adamant in his refusal to provide any answers. Madam Pince pointedly ignored his questions. The only other faculty member who would have known Snape, Professor Sinistra, avoided him in the halls. Looks like he dropped off the face of the earth. A man like that doesn't just disappear. He's left a mark somewhere. I just have to find it.
The end of term soon arrived. Nicholas got out of the enchanted car. With help from Daniel, he got his trunk and school things out. The doors of Longbottom House opened and his two younger siblings Jessica and Michael came running out. They barrelled into their elder brother like a bludger hitting its target. The assorted Weasleys and Potters in the car yelled their greetings. They all waved as the car departed down the long driveway. A house elf in a funny looking ensemble of plaid shirt, black shorts and socks levitated his things into the house.
Having just turned eleven, Jessica and Michael were impatiently waiting to attend Hogwarts in the next term. They jumped up and down excitedly beside him shooting questions about Hogwarts. "Michael, where's mum?"
"She said she had an errand and would be back later tonight."
"Need you ask, in the greenhouse of course. He had some new exotics delivered yesterday." Jessica answered.
"I need to talk to him for a bit, all right." Nicholas pulled out some treats from his pockets and made a big show of throwing them in the air for his siblings to catch. "I promise to tell you all about Hogwarts later."
Nicholas found his father just exiting the greenhouse. He hugged his father then broached the matter of Professor Snape. Neville quirked an eyebrow at him. "Why the sudden interest?"
"I'm curious. He taught at Hogwarts for almost twenty years and he was a house head. But there's only one picture of him in all the yearbooks during his tenure." Nicholas explained. "Everyone I've asked about him who knew him look at me as if I've grown an extra head. No one knows what happened to him. Those who do, won't tell me. Professor Flitwick said to ask you or mum."
"Ah, you have a mystery on your hands and like your mother, you can't let it go until you've solved it."
"I guess so. What happened to Professor Snape? Why is there this conspiracy of silence around him?"
Neville sighed and looked off into the distance. "Professor Snape was sent to Azkaban."
"What? But I remember on the war memorial a Severus Snape was listed. Daniel says that his father had once mentioned a Severus Snape who helped our side by providing information and risking his life as a double agent. I've checked there was only one Severus Snape during that time period. Plus, he created the Draught of Life. How could someone like that be sentenced to Azkaban?"
Neville turned around and put a hand each on Nicholas' shoulders. "People often judge others on what they perceive to be true not on what IS true. Severus Snape killed someone in order to save another. He was sent to Azkaban for murder, for life."
"In the heat of battle, people will get killed. War is kill or be killed!" Nicholas' eyes flashed. A strong sense of injustice coursed through him.
"It wasn't in the heat, Nicholas. It was several months after the war. You remember that your mother was rather famous in those days."
"People still ask me about what it's like to be the son of Hermione Granger. What does this have to do with Professor Snape?"
"Not all the followers of Voldemort were killed or found out during the final days of the war. Some hid for a time or escaped persecution altogether. The Ministry and our informers had a hard time uncovering those who escaped." Neville led Nicholas to a low bench. They sat down upon it. "One of them, it's not important who, cursed your mother. For days she lay as if dead. Professor Flitwick discovered the curse. For weeks, we all worked to find the counter curse but we failed. Do you remember the usual solution to powerful curses?"
"In such cases, only the death of the curse giver could possibly restore the cursed to his or her original state."
"Correct." Neville sighed before continuing. "Professor Snape found out who did the curse and killed him with an Unforgivable."
"But ... but why? Couldn't the man have been captured instead and made to reverse the curse?"
"Perhaps that would have been the better course to take. But the curse giver in this case would have rather died than reversed the curse."
"And why did Professor Snape do it? Shouldn't Uncle Harry or Uncle Ron have been the ones to go after the curse giver?"
"The curse was dark magic, very obscure magic. Something that Voldemort taught to the Death Eaters he trusted most." Neville paused as if gathering his thoughts. "Professor Snape was ... was an expert in the Dark Arts, you see. He felt that only he could have dealt with the situation and he did just that. In his own way and in his own fashion."
"So for saving mum's life he got sentenced to Azkaban? That's unbelievable." Nicholas shook his head.
"Those days were very confusing. Death Eaters who turned themselves in were being killed by the others still at large. Professor Snape and all those dear to him would have been a target no question about it. He was far safer in Azkaban."
"But surely if evidence was presented today, there could be a chance to appeal. Even after all this time, he might still be sane and -"
"It's too late for that. Professor Snape died in Azkaban."
Nicholas sniffed and blinked sudden tears away. "We should honor him anyway. Where's his grave? I want to put an offering or something."
Neville stood up. "His grave is in the sea around Azkaban."
"The jailer found his lifeless body and dumped it into the sea. Two days later the Ministry informed us of his death."
"Yes. He deserved a better end than what he got. He did so much good in so short a time."
"I still want to do something. I have to do something to commemorate his memory especially now. No one deserves to be forgotten."
"Professor Snape was never one for public praise, Nicholas. He was a very private man and only a very few people knew him well." Neville put an arm around his son. They were nearly equal in height but he knew that by next year Nicholas would in all likelihood tower over him. Glancing at his boy striding beside him, he doubted the wisdom of those past decisions. What's done is done. "Come on, your mother should be arriving soon. Your birthday party is tomorrow remember?"
"I'm too old for parties. All the noise and the people -."
"Do it for your mother if not for yourself. You know how she enjoys your birthdays."
"I hope she keeps the pictures to a minimum this year."
"I doubt that very much." Neville opened the door to the house. "Your birthday comes only once a year and she celebrates it full out. I cannot imagine what she will do once you graduate from Hogwarts."
"A full page ad in the Prophet." Nicholas ventured. "I will never live it down."
The next day guests began arriving early. Presents piled up in one of the rooms. Nicholas greeted all his guests, blew out his candles and posed for many pictures for his camera-happy mother. Through it all a part of his mind stayed on Severus Snape. Sometime in the middle of the party Nicholas came up with the most fitting way to honor the professor.
He would make sure that next year's Hogwarts yearbook had a small essay page titled Professor Severus Snape: A mystery in life, a hero in death. Now all he had to do was get on the yearbook panel. Shouldn't be too hard to do. I have enough blackmail material on Gerald Creevey to force him to elect me on to the panel. With that devious thought, Nicholas blew out the candles on his birthday cake and smiled happily for the ever present camera.
The man held his breath as he opened the post office box. He had taken a day off from work to come and check his mail. The package was due today. It had always arrived on this date every year without fail. He dreaded the day the packages stopped coming. He fervently hoped today was not that day. He turned the key and peered inside. He smiled. Today was a very good day.
He pulled out the small package and carefully tucked it inside his duffle bag. He left the post office. With years of practice, he timed the arrival of the Red Line train just right. Anticipating opening his package once he got home, he hardly noticed the dreariness of the city around him. Some parts of New York were beautiful to the eye and nurturing to the soul. He did not live in those parts. His apartment in Queens was utilitarian, clean, cheap and not too far from work. All in all he was content. But today and for the next few weeks he would be supremely happy. With happy thoughts and dreams he could keep the nightmares of Azkaban at bay.
As he entered the front vestibule of the apartment building, his landlord waved at him from the open parlor. He waved back and took the stairs two steps at a time. Four flights up and he was in his apartment. He placed the duffle bag on a counter in his spartan galley kitchen. He took out the package and unwrapped it.
"Love, your wrapping skills have definitely improved," he murmured. He retrieved a pair of scissors after encountering a stubborn lenght of string that encircled the entire package.
Finally the string was dispatched and like a child on Christmas morning he took out several items and placed them on his counter. First, he pulled out a thick envelope with the seal of Hogwarts. Ah, school reports. This was followed by several boxes of Honeydukes chocolates. In a small plastic container was a large piece of birthday cake. This he knew was charmed to stay fresh until he touched it. At the very bottom was another envelope less thick than the first one but this envelope was what he waited for all year long. The words on the front of the envelope was written in a hand he knew very well. It said "Severus."
He broke the seal on the envelope and pulled out several photos both magical and muggle. The singular muggle picture was of Nicholas, his son. It was a school picture. He was dressed in Ravenclaw colors. His long face and solemn pose made him seem older than his actual years. Well, he really is a year older. This year should have been his seventh year. The photo was captioned :
On the back was a long list of his son's various awards that year with pithy comments from other students. Severus scanned the awards avidly chuckling at some of the comments like "Top Student of the Year", "OWLs record holder", "Top Student in Potions, Charms and Transfiguration", "Most Popular Student Without Really Trying" and "Most Likely to Begin Studying for NEWTs before Seventh Year." Got that from Hermione. I was never that obsessive. He put the picture down and turned his attention to the other pictures, magical ones.
One was of Nicholas blowing out his birthday cake then smiling toothily at the camera his eyes alight with happiness. This one is getting framed. He rifled through several more quickly not seeing what he was looking for. He came to the last one. It was a candid group picture with many people from his past waving and smiling at him. His eyes pored over the picture looking for her. There by the lower left corner. Hermione looked shyly up at him. Her expressive eyes bringing back memories. He looked at her long and hard. His finger traced her face remembering the warmth and feel of skin against skin. He knew what he would find written on the other side of the picture. It was the same sweet message every year.
You are remembered still. Your H.
A/N: This story was percolating for so long. It agitated to be written preventing any work on my other fics. So here it is. Thoughts and comments are welcome.