author's note: I don't own any of these characters or the world they live in. If you didn't know, 'running a book' means taking bets.
Harry, Ron and Hermione sat in Hagrid's cabin, having tea. It was early July, but they'd stuck around the castle after the school year to help clean up and rebuild. The place was looking much better now, almost as if a life-or-death battle had never taken place there, though a few spots would never be the same again. Just another chapter in the castle's long history. Harry imagined a revised edition of Hogwarts, A History coming out with Hermione's carefully described account of the fight in it.
"Why'd my mum like my dad?" said Harry, voicing a question that was still on his mind. Lupin and Sirius had never really given him a satisfactory answer, and now they never would. "From what I've seen of him, it seems like he was kind of a prat."
"Well, he could be ... a bit rude, yeh," said Hagrid. "He bullied other students sometimes – but then, some kids just deserved it. He'd stand up for people smaller than him if he saw a Slytherin pushin' someone around. He wasn' all bad, Harry: not quite like you, not as kind as yer mother, but he was a good soul underneath.
"I used to see him on the Quidditch pitch, givin' the younger kids flyin' lessons. He used to give 'em rides on his broom – he had a real nice model, a Cleansweep Six, everyone was jealous."
"Maybe he just wanted them to admire him," said Harry, staring into his tea. "He wanted everyone to know what a great flier he was."
"Maybe so," said Hagrid, "but give 'im the benefit of the doubt, eh? He was doin' somethin' nice for them kids."
"He was mean to Snape, though, wasn't he," said Harry. "So much for standing up for people smaller than him ..."
"About that," said Hagrid, putting down his scone. "I'd think his motivation over carefully, Harry."
"I know, he was showing off for my mother," said Harry, a bit annoyed, "but still ... he didn't have to ..."
Hagrid got a funny look on his face. Harry realized he himself was doing something very odd: defending Professor Snape. He'd complained about him loads of times, but now he was sounding as though he really cared about the person he most hated. Aside from Voldemort himself, Snape had caused him more pain and trouble than anybody he'd ever met. And yet Harry seemed to have forgiven him, even become able to see his side of things a bit.
That was strange.
"Professor Snape did his share o' the hexin', yeh know," said Hagrid. "'S not like he was helpless. Or innocent." For a moment, he sounded grim, and there was controlled thunder beneath his tone. Hagrid had not entirely forgiven Snape for betraying the prophecy and getting the Potters killed in the first place, despite everything he'd done to mend it afterward. Nor was he happy with the way the Potions master had treated Harry at school.
"He got a decent funeral," said Hermione. "There wasn't a lot else we could do for him. It was surprising how many people showed up."
Ron snorted. "They just wanted to make sure he was dead," he muttered. "I heard Lee Jordan was running a book on it." Hagrid choked and spluttered some tea, coughing.
"We told his story, too," said Harry, rolling his cup between his palms. It was nearly cold; the tea had cooled off. "All of it. What he showed me through the Pensieve. I wonder if he would have wanted that. Maybe he'd have preferred to let everybody still think he was a git. He couldn't stand being pitied. Even from my mother. He'd rather have hate than pity."
Ron shrugged. "Doesn't matter, does it? He's dead, what we do or think doesn't make a bit of difference." He sounded uncomfortable, as though he wished they'd move on to a sunnier topic.
"I think maybe to him, the way people loathed him was sort of a sign of respect," said Hermione. "He tried to make all his students afraid of him. Just like ... just like Voldemort would have." Ron still winced at the name, but he just put his arm around Hermione and didn't interrupt her. "Neville still avoids the dungeon where he used to teach, did you notice? But he showed up to the memorial too. I heard him telling Luna that he learned a lot from Snape, even though he would never want to be that kind of teacher.
"I think it drove Snape crazy that you were never scared of him, Harry. Except maybe your first week as a first year, when he first took points off Gryffindor house for no reason, and blamed you ... You were suspicious of him, we all were, remember? But you weren't afraid of him."
"He just didn't like me because looking at me reminded him of my dad," said Harry. "I dunno. Maybe he got some twisted pleasure out of torturing me because he always wanted to do that to my dad but he never got the chance."
"Yeah, but ... remember at the end of last year, when he was running from the castle after he'd killed Dumbledore? One of the Death Eaters was cursing you, and he made him back off. You mentioned it yourself," said Ron, thoughtfully.
Harry couldn't quite think of an answer to that one. "It's my eyes," he said, but only to himself, not loud enough for the others to hear. "I've got my mother's eyes."