"No, his eyes are deeper set than this. Makes them look more ominous."
A dark hand waved over the canvas, accompanied by the muttering of a deletion charm. Then the same hand took up the brush again to paint more black around the already over-charcoaled eyes. "How's this?"
"Better. It looks – oh wait, not two lines! There's only one vertical line between his eyes. And the bridge of the nose, it's –"
"Okay, okay, I'm trying!"
"Sorry, Dean," Harry muttered apologetically. "I just want to get it right."
Dean grunted, but didn't say more as they continued in silence under the watch of other portraits in the Headmaster's office: Dean sketching the features of Severus Snape into form and Harry looking on beside him, lost in his own thoughts.
Dean had spent at least fifteen minutes on Snape's nose before he tossed the paintbrush roughly to the side. "Why are you doing this anyway? Snape's always been such a bastard. Didn't Neville and Ginny tell you what he allowed the Carrows to do while he was Headmaster?"
"He's a Headmaster," Harry said defiantly, firmly. "He should get a portrait, just like all headmasters in Hogwarts' history."
"Then why ask me to do it, huh? It's because you can't find anyone else, isn't it? No one to commission a portrait of a traitor, a coward –"
"He's not a coward!"
"He's dead," Dean said, and Harry's face paled. He hadn't realized he was still referring to Snape in the present tense, as if Snape's body weren't currently resting six feet underground, right beside (at Harry's tireless insistence) the resealed White Tomb in Hogwarts' graveyard.
"He showed me... things, important information that helped me complete Dumbledore's quest. No, Dean, listen to me! We wouldn't have won without him."
"Doesn't mean I have to like him," Dean muttered, picking up his paintbrush again and giving portrait Snape an especially frowny mouth.
"No, you don't." Harry smiled, eyes drifting to the portrait. That looked just like the Snape he remembered: Potions Master and Head of Slytherin, someone with a mouth incapable of cracking a smile.
Harry watched Snape's face take form: a strong jawline, eyebrows perpetually knit together with displeasure, an enormous nose, stringy hair, and a generally menacing expression, forever frozen in time. Dean might not like Snape, but he was a good artist, and chose just the right colours to give portrait Snape the exact sallow skin tone that Snape has — had. Harry resisted the sudden urge to want to reach out and touch the painting. The paint was still wet, he told himself.
Besides, the real Snape was gone, and there would never be a talking Snape again, not with Dean's Muggle portrait.
"So what's going to happen to the school next year?" Dean asked, more relaxed now that he was done painting Snape's face and was working on the details of his outfit, adding button after button with glee.
"Professor McGonagall's going to take over as Headmistress. I reckon most of the teachers are going to come back. They'll need a new Defense professor, of course."
Dean laughed. "Don't they always." He gave Snape one last button, gleaming white against his black robe. "There, all done!"
Harry stared at the portrait, and his heart lurched at the face of his mum's best friend. "He wasn't a bad Defense teacher, you know. Best we've had since Lupin. Knew his stuff, and taught me Occlumency and how to close my mind... oh!"
"Harry? Harry? Are you alright?"
Harry stood up abruptly and swept an empty flask off the Headmaster's desk. Walking over to Dumbledore's Pensieve, he scooped up what looked like a silvery, misty cloud of liquid into the flask.
He returned to his spot next to Dean. This was worth a try, even though he was sure no one had done this before. Memories were part of a person's consciousness, right? Harry could part with these memories; he had already committed everything to his own memory.
"Has the paint dried yet?" Harry asked.
Dean flicked his wand over the portrait and said a quick drying charm. From his skeptical expression, Harry knew that Dean had realized what he was attempting to do.
"Don't worry, it'll work," he said.
He knelt and poured the last bit of life he had of Snape over portrait Snape's temple area. The canvas absorbed the silvery mist quickly. Taking out the Elder Wand, Harry concentrated hard on what he wanted to happen and uttered, "Ennervate!"
Disappointment washed over Harry. Snape's eyes were still charcoal black, dark but without the spark of life Harry had so often seen manifested in the form of hatred; his mouth, though in a frown, didn't cause the hair in Harry's neck to rise with the prickly sensation that always foretold an impending diatribe.
Dean walked toward the door. "C'mon Harry, we've already stayed too long."
Harry stood, his heart sinking. Snape's portrait still hadn't moved...
"We'll come back tomorrow if you want. But I don't want the others worrying."
Giving the portrait one last glance (was that a glint in Snape's eyes he thought he saw?), Harry reluctantly turned and followed Dean down the stairs.
"You could have at least said hi, my boy," the portrait of Dumblefore said, eyes twinkling with amusement down at the portrait of the latest Headmaster.
Portrait Snape squeezed his eyes shut. "Ugh, that brat's given me the worst headache. I swear, the next time he comes in, I'll –"
"It takes a while for the paint and magic to set in. The pain won't last long," Dumbledore said jovially. "Come visit me, I'll give you a lemon drop."
Snape glared, though he couldn't put his heart behind it. Potter had used memories from his youth as well as those in his recent past, a perfect mixture of strength and experience. He felt younger, more invigorated, and damn Albus for being right — his headache was already starting to subside.
He owed the boy his thanks after all.
Snape took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, relishing the semblance of life he was given. He was suddenly looking forward to Potter's visit tomorrow.