Of Snake Bites and Dittany Cures
Chapter 18: Down the Pensieve, Part 1
Hogwarts, Room of Requirement
Christmas Day 1997
Harry couldn't believe his luck. Snape was knocked down by the backfired Legilimens spell, the power of the disrupted connection so big that the man's head hit the stone floor so hard he fainted. If Harry was lucky – the boy was hoping so – Snape would remain out for at least a couple of minutes, giving Harry enough time to get his, or actually Hermione's wand back and escape if not Hogwarts than at least the Room of Requirement.
Snape's Laming Hex still in place, it took all Harry's willpower to stand up and get moving. But as Harry had discovered earlier, Snape's spell was not really blocking his limbs to move – it simply created a mental illusion that it was not possible. Perhaps such spells would indeed increase one's tolerance to other mental intrusions, Harry mused involuntarily, as he slowly moved towards Snape. But as he intended to never again study Occlumency, or even better to never again hear of it, it didn't really matter any longer.
Finally, the boy was standing over the figure of his fallen Professor, his eyes really taking in the unmoving figure in front of him for the first time that evening. The man was not looking well, Harry thought, rather surprised to see the much too sallow skin, sunken cheeks and the emaciated body. The boy hoped that this meant Snape had a hard time as the unwanted and undeserved Headmaster of Hogwarts – he had most certainly earned it.
Right then, Harry interrupted his musing abruptly, realizing that there might not be much time left, the wand. Snape would probably keep it on himself, he thought. But to go through the man's pockets – Harry shuddered. He could as well tell the man straight away to wake up. No, no touches – magic would be much better. But how? He was not really good in nonverbal spells yet – and wandless magic was claimed to be even more difficult. Not even Dumbledore or Voldemort were using it often...
And then Harry saw it – Snape's wand, previously hidden in one of the man's sleeves had almost fallen out of its place. The wand was now only partly covered by Snape's unmoving fingers. Harry smiled in relief, it would be fairly easy now.
The boy successfully fought the Laming Hex once more to sit and bow over the man – and soon Snape's wand was in his grasp. The wand didn't feel quite right in his hand, but Harry knew it would serve its purpose well. He turned it towards himself and whispered Finite Incantatem. The feeling of being lamed disappeared as soon as he pronounced the last syllable. Now, Hermione's wand – Accio wand, Harry said quietly and waited. One of Snape's black boots shook slightly and soon, Harry was holding the familiar wood. He breathed in relief – and unthinkingly dropped Snape's wand on the stone floor just next to the man's hand.
A less reckless young man would no doubt have run to the threshold of the room he had been hold prisoner in in that very moment and would try to escape as long as he had the chance. But Harry's eyes spotted the silvery glittering of Snape's Pensieve instead – and it occurred to him that there might be a lot of useful information hidden there from him. Since he never needed to be tempted long, Harry abruptly nodded to himself – yes, he would look inside the Pensieve. The risk was well worth the possible gain.
The boy flicked his wand towards Snape and rather absentmindly bound the man, just in case. The man appeared to be still deeply unconscious so perhaps such a precaution was not even necessary, he thought. Then Harry stepped towards the Pensieve and swirled its contents.
After a short wait, Snape's figure appeared on the surface of the Pensieve, the man walking towards Lord Voldemort, the other Death Eaters not in the sight. Some secret meeting, Harry thought, desiring for detail. As the memory Snape knelt in front of his Dark Lord, the boy didn't hesitate, bowed over the Pensieve and entered the memory.
"My Lord," the memory Snape pronounced respectfully, waiting with his head bowed.
"Severus," Voldemort acknowledged the man, eyeing him with deep interest. "So Bellatrix was wrong after all," he remarked quietly, his lips thinned in a smirk. "I have told her she was going to be disappointed. Pity she never really listens to anyone. Perhaps this will prove a good lesson to her."
"One shall hope so," Snape nodded, his gaze still turned to the carpet covering floor.
Voldemort's smirk widened. "Indeed," he said. "You two provide me with good amusement – but do not overdo it, Severus, we have other things to take care of." Voldemort motioned to Snape to rise. "I hope your shelter is well protected so that the Aurors wouldn't find you until we have overtaken the Ministry," he said.
"It is, my Lord," Snape assured. "I have taken all necessary precautions."
Voldemort gave a pleased nod. "I have not expected anything less from you, Severus. You shall remain in hiding until we have the Ministry under our power. Then I will call you again to give you new orders. For now, know that I appreciate your killing the old fool – it was fast and clean. I wouldn't have wished anything else to happen at Hogwarts, despite the boy's attempts to involve Greyback. We have to protect our children after all."
"Thank you, my Lord," Snape said, a small, self-satisfied smile playing on his lips. "Do you require me to brew anything for you in the meantime?"
"Oh yes, Severus, continue with brewing of the Polyjuice Potion. We shall need large quantities of it – and you are not going to have time for brewing after the beginning of September, I believe."
"I will prepare as much of the potion as possible," Snape promised. "Thank you, my Lord."
Somewhat disappointed that the memory was not a fresh one, despite the interaction did interest him, Harry watched the memory Snape leave the room. Then the memory shifted and Harry found himself on a small hill in a middle of an unfamiliar park.
The boy Snape, surely not much older than 10 years, was running down the hill, trying to catch a red haired girl about the same age as him who kept giggling and crying "You cannot catch me, Sev." Behind them, another girl, a bit older than the pair of them, followed, her face holding a scowl – she clearly didn't appreciate the company her friend – or perhaps sister – selected.
Finally, Snape caught up with the first girl and a moment later blocked her way. "Got you," he said victoriously, a self-satisfied smirk on his face.
The girl looked at him, her carefree face lit with happiness…
… and Harry, who followed them down the hill, gasped, for the girl had his eyes. "Mum," he whispered, astonished, and then took in for the first time also the other, scowling girl – "Aunt Petunia…"
… "That was a nice race, Sev," Lily smiled. "Have you enjoyed it too, Tuney?"
When the other girl didn't answer, Snape replied in her place: "Yes, she has."
Lily didn't hear it, but Snape – and Harry – understood quite clearly when Petunia quietly protested: "No, she hasn't, you freak."
The boy Snape turned carefully to Lily and when he saw she was looking away from them, he leaned to Petunia and said, his voice low and dangerous: "Do not call me that or you shall regret it."
The girl Petunia frowned at him, keeping her voice as quiet as he. "Why, you are both freaks. Normal people do not go to some stupid castle to learn to do freakish things… you must be separated from us, normal people. You should be labeled Severus Snape and Lily Evans, weirdos – so that the rest of us is protected from you."
Harry could tell that the young Snape was seething – but the boy even now checked if Lily was still facing away before addressing her sister. "You will not call Lily names, do you hear me? And didn't you want to go to Hogwarts with us just a week ago? But they would not accept you, you are not like us…"
"No, I am not. I am no loner as the two of you, no recluse, no freak…"
The boy Snape eyed her with growing anger, his eyes darkened with ire. "I've warned you," he mouthed, and all of sudden, Petunia's legs slipped on a heap of mud that had not been there earlier – Harry was sure – and her white T-shirt and light blue jeans were covered in dirt just as her face and hands.
Lily turned then, alarmed by Petunia's displeased cry. She quickly ran to them and reached her hand to help her sister up. Doing so, she too noticed the strange spot of mud on the otherwise dry hill and looked at Snape. "You promised me, Sev," she said, disappointment plain in her voice. "I do not care you two do not like each other. You will not hurt her."
Snape was quiet, looking even a bit ashamed of himself, Harry noticed with surprise. The boy did not even try to defend himself, not sharing the ugly names Petunia had been giving them earlier.
Petunia Evans was smirking with satisfaction as she and Lily were walking away, leaving the boy Snape standing alone on the hill, his eyes at the heap of mud that caused this. "I will not hurt her again, Lily," the boy promised finally, speaking aloud despite the girls had long disappeared from his view. "I will not hurt her – unless she hurts you again." With that he too turned and walked away.
Harry stared behind the boy, his mind trying to proceed what he had just seen. Here he had the confirmation – Snape knew his mother and aunt when they were children. Hell, it even seemed as if they knew each other long before Hogwarts, as if they grew up together, as if Snape and Lily were friends… And still it was Snape who sent Voldemort after his parents, who kept belittling Harry for years, who murdered Dumbledore. Harry didn't know what to think.
In the meanwhile the scene in the Pensieve reformed, safely interrupting his musings.
Snape, now in his teenage years, was lying on his bed in Slytherin dormitory at Hogwarts, judging by the green and silver decorations around the room. A book was opened in front of him – a volume that Harry immediately recognized as the Half-Blood-Prince's Potions textbook – and Snape was scribbling notes to one of his spells there, now and then flicking his wand, probably trying to figure out the best wand move for this particular spell.
Two boys entered the room then, laughing, and they approached Snape. Clearly unhappy to be disturbed in the middle of his work, Snape looked up, acknowledging them by a curt: "Avery, Mulciber."
"Hey, Snape," the one called Mulciber said, still smirking in amusement. "We came to congratulate you on that spell, the one you tested last week, you know. Avery here remembered the incantation and I recalled the right wand movement as you had shown it to us. One of those Gryffindor Mudbloods, Macdonald, was bothering us earlier and we tried it on her – it works perfectly."
"Do not call them Mudbloods, Mulciber, it has no sense to get unwanted attention from either McGonagall or Dumbledore at this point," the teenage Snape reprimanded, but his eyes were telling a different story – Harry could tell he was greatly interested in the effects of his spell. "Tell me rather more about the spell. Did she felt it when her arm splinched? Did it look the same as when the Sixth Years were training to Apparate? There was no blood, right, and the arm reattached itself after a minute such as I planned? Did it drop the wand before the arm got reattached?"
Avery and Mulciber looked taken aback by the stream of questions. "The arm got reattached, Snape. It didn't take long – but she did scream, so she must have noticed it. I do not believe it actually hurt, though – a pity that if you ever want to use the spell in a real fight. I do not know about the wand, sorry," Avery said finally. "Perhaps you should test your spells by yourself the next time, if you want more facts. Or ask Macdonald – or that Mud-, sorry, Gryffindor friend of yours, Evans, they are friends, right?... In any case, the spell is amusing – and if the splinched arm indeed drops the wand, then it's pretty useful, too."
"Yes, Snape, you are going to be a great assessment to our cause," Mulciber smirked. "Malfoy was right to pick you up as his protégé… Come, Avery, we will leave our genius to his research now. Fancy a Butterbeer?"
The two of them left then. Snape stared behind them, his expression unreadable. "I cannot ask Lily," he said aloud when the door closed behind them, his tone miserable. "She would think the spell Dark. She thinks all of them Dark – until Potter and his dear little friends manage to steal them and use them to amuse their admirers. That apparently is the only way to make them seem alright…" The boy shook his head in what seemed to be regret and returned to his research.
Harry stared at the younger version of Snape, scribbling a new set of notes in his book, their book actually, and was conflicted as what to think. Last year, when he had discovered to whom his Potions textbook had belonged previously, just after Snape killed Dumbledore, he was so absolutely sure that the Half-Blood-Prince was evil. In this memory, however, he stared at a Slytherin version of Hermione, a boy too studious for his own good, one who valued knowledge over everything else – except, possibly, his friendship with Harry's mother as it seemed.
Young Snape was also by no means evil – but not exactly an epitome of good either. Harry was astonished to find out that they were actually alike, that the Half-Blood-Prince was as he had envisioned him to be – clever, loyal, with a bit weird sense of humour.
He was not sure about the spells, though – he didn't think it was wise to share them with the Death Eaters in training. But Harry realized that Snape was right, too, that many of his spells would seem amusing when casted by Gryffindors – and evil when they would come from a Slytherin. Perhaps for the first time, he considered if it was the case also in the conflict between him and Malfoy – and felt his body freeze as he realized that it was indeed so.
But the Slytherins all turned dark in the end, didn't they? There was no trace of the kid Half-Blood-Prince in Snape now and Draco took the Dark Mark, too. Harry sighed; there was no sense in viewing these old memories – they were all meaningless now. What really interested him – and what was of real importance – were Snape's new memories, those which would reveal Lord Voldemort's plans to Harry. He hoped to see one of those now – for the memory shifted again…
A/N: Enjoyed? Then please leave me a review – I am much better motivated to write when receiving feedback. (-: