This story starts off about a month after the sad demise of Tom Riddle. A certain greasy haired individual, who thought he was going to die, has somehow survived. I'll leave it to your imagination to figure out how and why. Harry Potter, who has in his possession a crystal jar full of the said individual's memories, is understandably reluctant to meet him...
Hermione could be bossy; we all knew that. But at that particular moment, she was surpassing her own best efforts in that regard.
"You've got to give it back to him," she snapped.
"I'll do it," I said. "I'm just waiting to check first when he'll be free to see me."
Hermione snorted. "He's only just recovered. How busy can a sick person be?"
I took a different tack, a more honest one this time.
"It's horribly embarrassing for me to meet him. So why don't you take it round to his place and give it back to him yourself, on my behalf?"
I took the crystal jar of Snape's memories down from the cupboard in which I had carefully placed it. But her stern eye compelled me to place it back on the shelf again.
"They are his memories. They belong to him. Or to you, the person to whom he's entrusted them. You can't be so careless with them as to send them through a messenger. Why, he might think that I've been looking at them! And Harry," Hermione's face assumed its most prim and proper look, "that's the last thing I'd ever want to do."
I wearily reviewed in my mind a selection of insults that would suit the present situation, but rejected them all. She was right. Hermione was right. I was avoiding Snape.
"If you think I'm never going to see him, then why d'you waste your time trying to persuade me," I asked, irritably. Something in my voice indicated clearly to Hermione that this would be a good time to change the subject, or leave the house. She did both. I heard her footsteps descend the stairs of the Weasley house, and the closing of the front door. But I did not hear the door open again, minutes later, because I was wrapped up in my own thoughts.
This was the mother of all messes. I had never been so confused in my life. Professor Snape, thinking that he was dying, had given his memories to me. But he had survived. And as Hermione repeatedly reminded me, (about two hundred times a day,) they had to be given back to him.
But I could not face meeting Snape, and – I had to admit it – I was reluctant to give up that crystal jar. My attitude to that jar was becoming like Hermione's attitude to the average textbook. I wanted to devour every last bit of it. Snape's memories had become a route of escape from the fractured world around me. I looked forward to plunging into them every day – they had become my drug, my obsession. It was a relief to get away from the dead numbness of the present, into the passions and hatreds of the past.
Sometimes it seemed to me that Tom Riddle was more alive now, than he had ever been before. He lived on in the madness of grief in the eyes of the bereaved, and in the festering wounds of those who'd survived – wounds that might never be healed. All joy, cheer and hope had been bled out of the lives of the people I loved most, leaving them pale ghosts of their former selves, who numbly, mechanically, went about the business of their daily lives.
Somehow, everything that I saw within that cracked, chipped second-hand pensieve that I had purchased on Diagon Alley, seemed more alive, more real, than the world around me. And I got to spend as much time as I liked with my parents, too, albeit in the presence of another individual who was always in the picture. The individual whose memories I was exploring.
There was a peremptory knock on the door, and from its tone, I knew at once who it was. I let her in, noticing with some trepidation that she was almost brimming over with excitement.
"What," I asked.
"I've fixed it up," she said. "He'll meet you tomorrow at four o'clock."
"But how did you...?"
"Have you forgotten that admirable Muggle invention, the telephone?"
"He has one? But how did you know his number?"
"Looked it up in the directory. Tobias Snape."
"Thank you very much, Hermione," I said. The baleful glare that accompanied these words threw even Hermione off balance.
"Well, if you'd rather not, I could always ring back and..."
I shrugged. "It's best to get it over with, I suppose," I said, in a voice that doubted it. "Well, g'bye, Hermione."
Hermione gave a start. This was not a hint – this was a case of outright bad manners. But she fortunately decided to let me off the hook this time. Perhaps she felt that she'd been pushing me too hard.
"Goodbye, Harry," she said, in an almost kindly tone, and left.