Third Story of The Senses Vignettes, following Sight
By Alecto Perdita
Beta'ed by He-Who-Will-Be-Published-Before-I
Rating: PG-13 now?
Posted: July 11, 2004
Warnings: Pre-slash, HP/SS, meaning possible homosexual relations
Email: alecto . perdita (at) gmail . com
Harry Potter is the intellectual property of J.K. Rowling, and is being used in this fanfiction for fan purposes only. All situations, opinions and characters not belonging to J.K. Rowling are the intellectual property of Alecto Perdita.
The first time you held me, I felt ill at ease.
I'm not really sure if that was due to the fact it was you holding me or the concussion developing on the back of my head at that moment. It was during an Occlumency lesson some months back. It's always during an Occlumency lesson with us. We resumed these lessons back in September, when I returned for my sixth year here at Hogwarts. It is now June; a whole school year has passed. I like to think I've improved, but you always rip straight through my defences without fail.
That time...you held me... It was one of those rare times where I was able to deflect you from my mind and was sucked into your memories as a result. I saw the image of a rather frail and sickly woman, who walked gingerly with the hint of a limp. I had the feeling it was both a cherished and hated memory. But it was yours alone...until I raped your mind- again.
I doubt you will ever even forgive me for seeing that memory in your Pensieve.
I really loathe these lessons sometimes, more than my usual hate for them. Before this, we both had the privacy of our thoughts to hide within. But now? We've both been stripped naked to each other's examination. We've both learned things about each other we neither wanted nor needed to know. Nothing's sacred anymore.
That time, you threw me out of your mind with all the force of your will. It felt like I had been hit by a Muggle 18-wheeler. I had slammed against the bookcase on the opposite wall and a huge DADA tome knocked me out when it fell off the shelf. When I came to again, you were hovering over me with probably the worst smelling flower ever.
"Brilliant, Potter, like your usual manoeuvres," you sneered.
I had only winced and then began to rub the back of my head. A strange expression flickered across your features as you slapped my hand away. It was gone as soon as I tried to figure it out. Your expression had shuttered off again.
"How hard did you hit that bookcase?"
I winced again. Your voice was pretty bloody loud at the time.
"Pretty hard. That book hit me too."
"Can you sit up?
I tried to do just that. You sighed- a sound I usually don't hear from you. You carefully helped me to sit up, supporting my weight with an arm around my waist.
That was a first for both of us. We had never been that physically close to each other before. At first, my stomach lurched unpleasantly. I felt like I was going to throw up. I tried to calm my breathing. I felt trapped by you more than ever. You didn't pull your arm away or send me off to Madame Pomfrey immediately like I thought you would. Instead, you sat there with your arm around my waist and the other hand combing through my hair. You were only checking for that concussion.
Yet to me, it was a twisted sort of intimacy. Everything about our relationship is at least the slightest bit twisted. I don't think I've ever been held that way until you did it. I could smell you. You always smell like the potions you brew. But that time, I could really smell you. It was familiar, though I can't name it. A lot of potions smell familiar even if I don't really know their names or uses. You smelled of musk and the slightest break of sweat. That odour...it's hard to describe, but it lingers in my memories even now.
We sat there for minutes and then for what seemed like hours. Your hands are surprisingly warm. We were quiet too. I think we were both too afraid to talk then. If one of us starts, the other would have follow and whatever civil conversation that could have been would have degenerated into more petty arguments. It's always been like that between us.
"Who was that woman?" I tried to imagine who you would have such conflicting feelings towards. Was it an old flame?
"My mother," you answered.
I hadn't really expected you to answer me. Most of all, I hadn't expected your mother to be such a...plain woman. I had expected someone more severe looking, maybe somewhere along the lines of McGonagall. Instead, your mum was a mousy little woman with dark wavy hair and bright eyes- eyes bright with both life and sickness. I like to think I really did see all of that in that quick second.
I opened my mouth to ask you something more, but the quick glare you threw at me silenced me. I got the message. You didn't want to talk about it. You did a quick spell to reduce the swelling on my head and then kicked me out of your office, with only a few quick words recommending I see Madame Pomfrey soon.
It was hard to fend off my curiosity afterwards. Did you really expect me to just forget after learning something as momentous as this? It's strange to think of you as having parents or family at all. It makes you seem...human...not that I believe all that rubbish about you being a vampire. Most of the time anyway... There are some times when I wonder if your line has blood that's other than human.
I did research, you know; like Hermione does, on your family history. It's a good thing that pureblood families are so fanatic about keeping trace of their bloodline. What I wasn't surprised to learn was that your line descended from the Roman side of magic that is incorporated into today's wizardry. You just look the part, I guess, with the big nose and dark hair. Somewhere along the way, your family managed to absorb those of the Celtic and Anglo-Saxon line. Slytherins really do have good survival instincts.
What was interesting was the Prophet article I found on your mum's death. She died before the summer before your seventh year. I calculated, but I'm really not that sure. The article said your mum had been battling a chronic illness, one that manifested just when you started Hogwarts. No one really knew what it was and she just died of it after a while. That image I saw of her, in your mind, must have been the last time you saw her the year before she finally passed away.
I still want to ask you more even now. But you would never answer me. I would like to think I know you better with this little piece of information.
And now, here I stand at the door to your office. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I am here without fail. I knock. There's no reply or your usual "Enter." I nudge the door open and glance into the darkened office. The only light is that shed from the candles to the side of your desk. You're not sitting behind your desk grading essays as usual with a cold cup of tea by your arm or the occasional canter of scotch.
I push open the door until it's fully open, waiting for you to suddenly swoop down on me with a Legilimens just at the tip of your wand. It certainly wouldn't be the first time. But you don't. I see light coming from under another door to the side of your office. It's the door leading to your private labs. I carefully tip-toe up to the door and press my ear against it. It's quiet- absolutely quiet. I don't even hear the tinkering of glass jars full of potions ingredients.
I grab the doorknob and twist and then immediately regretted it. I should knock first. I should always knock first. The door swings open to reveal another empty room. There's a potion simmering over the fire, but the fire is low with no one to attend to it. Where are you?
"Professor Snape? Sir?"
My words sound far too loud and they seem to shatter the silence of your rooms. I still receive no answer. Where the bloody hell did you go? You aren't stupid enough to just leave your office and labs unlocked and unwarded like this. Something must have happened.
I walk over to the potion and peer over the side of the cauldron. It hasn't boiled over just yet. Maybe it was supposed to simmer over a low fire like this? The potion is an outrageous shade of pink. I expect it to smell horrible as most pink potions do, so far as I can remember. But it's not. Horrible smelling that is. It smells like roses and cotton candy and everything else nice instead. I pull my head away. The scent is beginning to make my head spin. You would yell at me if you were here. I really should know better than to go around sniffing unknown potions like this.
I glance around again. "Professor?"
Is this another one of your twisted little tests? Maybe you're setting me up for something you can give me detention for later? You know my curiosity always gets the better of me. A glimmer of light beside the cauldron catches my eye. It's a piece of parchment. I would recognise your precise handwriting anywhere.
I have no doubt that you have already let yourself in without invitation. I have been called away on important business and will be gone for an indeterminate part of the night. Watch the potion. The moment it turns clear, dispel the fire and bottle it in the vial provided. In the meanwhile, I have left a text on Occlumency out for you. I have already marked the passages that I wish for you to study. Do attempt not to screw my potion up. I do not wish to spend the next three months brewing it again. I would hope that six years of my tutelage in Potions has not been completely wasted on you.
I stare at the parchment. It doesn't say it explicitly, but you trust me! You trust me enough to watch your potions and stay in your office unsupervised. I blink. Did hell just freeze over? I suppose it's only because you have no choice. After all, you knew I would definitely be here. I was just the most convenient and available person. As you said, I would have to be really stupid to mess up with the task you just left me with.
I sigh and resign myself to this boring evening. I pull up a stool to sit by the potion and place the humongous book in my lap. The passages you marked for me turned out to be almost 200 pages in total length. You really must have wanted to keep me busy and out of trouble. I sigh again and begin to read.
The art of Occlumency and Legi.../i
I awake to the sound of a slamming door. My head flies up off the surface of the worktable. Shit, I fell asleep. I look over at the potion. It's still pink. Thank Merlin for small favours. I look toward the door. You must still be in your office. I try to rub the sleep out of my eyes and smooth out the wrinkles in my robes.
You enter the labs with another slamming door and the furious flutter of your robes. You must really be mad for whatever reason. You stop and stare at me. I squirm under your gaze. Sometimes, it seems like you can see my every sin with that gaze.
I take this time to look over you. You're filthy. You're covered in mud, dirt, and- blood. That redness smeared over your cheeks and hands- it has to be blood. Dear Merlin. My heart seizes at the sight of the not-so-white-anymore mask clenched tightly between your fingers. You were with Voldemort all this time. You had to have been. What did he make you do this time? Dear Merlin.
My mouth goes dry. I want to say so many things. I want to ask if you're alright. I want to know if you've been hurt anywhere, if Voldemort has Crucio'ed you for whatever insane reason. Where was that blood from? Who was that blood from? But all I can manage is a slight "Professor."
You glide past me and inspect the potion. It turns clear just as you do so. I look at the potion and then back at you. Did you just do something? You ignore my questioning gaze and the fire goes out at the wave of your wand. You bottle the potion with your usual efficiency. I would have actually believed so, if I didn't see that slight tremor of your hands for a second.
Voldemort did use Crucio on you.
"What did He do to you, sir?" I am careful not to say Voldemort's name. You may just fly off your handle this time if I do.
Your body trembles with just barely suppressed rage. For once, it is not directed at me. "Not me, Potter, but my Slytherins."
I blink again. Once. Twice. And still a third time. Voldemort has initiated more of your House into the Death Eater ranks. I now know I will not be seeing a majority, if not all of, the Seventh Year Slytherins in the Great Hall tomorrow morning. The Seventh Years were done with their N.E.W.T.s and the coming week is little more than formality for them.
You have lost them.
And you blame yourself for failing them.
"Tonight's lesson has obviously been cancelled. Now get out Potter."
I slide off the stool and stand next to you. Merlin, you smell as bad as you look.
"What are you waiting for, Potter?"
I continue to stand there. I think I'm still a bit asleep. For some reason, I reach out and touch the arm laying on the tabletop. Your knuckles are white. You throw my hand off and turn on me.
"Get out, Potter."
Your teeth are grinding as you try to spit out the words. Your nostrils are flared. Your wand is pointing at my throat. And your black eyes glint with a murderous glare. I tense up at the thought of you hexing me but relax when you do no such thing. My welcome has worn out though. I can plainly see that. I gather my wand that I left next to the cauldron. Too close to the fire now that I think about it.
I back away from you. The only sound in the room is your laboured breathing. I don't know why, but I want to make it better for you. You had watched those initiated into your ranks tonight grow as children for seven years now. I know, though I never saw, you tried to plant enough doubt in their minds to not follow Voldemort. But tonight, all you saw was your failure manifested in them.
It must have really hurt you.
I take one last look at you, leaning on the table as if for support and staring after me with those murderous eyes. You are a dangerous man, Severus Snape. I sometimes wonder if Dumbledore knows the true extent of your malice. You can positively murder someone- anyone in this school. But you and I both can see you are only viewing me as a scapegoat right now.
Because I'm here.
At least, I know there is someone you can hate more than me. Voldemort. The thought is strangely comforting.
"I'm sorry, sir. I know you did your best."
You sneer and I flee- with the scent and taste of blood still lingering on my tongue and in my nose. The pleasant smell of the potion has long been forgotten and is now lost to me.
Two more senses to go. I should have the next one out soon if my muse is willing. OMG, Miguel, you are the best. Thank you for beta'ing and helping with the Britishfying of everyone's speech.
Thank you to everyone who review Sight: bluerose16, EtherealShadow, stellahobbit, and ptyx.
Thanks ahead of time for all reviews!