A Memory Found
by: Mystical Dragon
Ignoring the pain in his body and the pounding in his head, Severus tried to latch onto the dancing face of the woman in his memory as his body convulsed. The woman's face was tear streaked and Severus realized that she wasn't dancing, she was running.
He could feel her arms around him (was he a toddler?) as she ran through a thick forest, the tree limbs snapping at her, catching her hair and clothing, ripping and tearing, but she wasn't slowing down. Her breath was coming in pants and Severus knew she was coming to the end of her strength.
Severus glanced behind him to see the source of this woman's trouble. Four wizards and two witches were chasing her. Their faces were angry, twisted in hate, and their wands were ready.
Avada Kedevra was aimed but bounced off trees as his mother changed her course. For his mother, was who this woman was. He could hear those people behind them screaming about their failed attempts in a language that Severus wasn't familiar with. Severus turned his head and buried his face in her neck, terrified. This had something to do with father and his job. At least that was what his mother had said as she had picked him up from his bed and ran, their house being overrun by angry wizards and witches, intent on killing them. His mother had sustained two curses but Severus didn't know what the curses did. She was still running so they couldn't have been too bad? Could they?
Severus ignored the screaming of whoever it was that was cursing him, concentrating instead of this thin thread of memory.
The woman stumbled down a small hill and then pitched herself over a cliff that had suddenly appeared. Severus wanted to scream as the water, so far below, came rushing up to them but his mother had a firm grip over his mouth. They hit it, his mother gasped but she didn't let go. The water dragged them under, soaking their nightclothes, and mercilessly propelled them downstream.
Severus could feel his lungs screaming for air when suddenly he found it. Opening his eyes, Severus didn't see anyone chasing them anymore. All he saw was water and high cliffs to either side. His mother and him were being carried downstream, clutching each other, as they shivered in the coldness.
"Daddy?" Severus tried to call, coughing.
"Daddy's dead," his mother said, her voice hoarse with unshed tears. "They killed him."
Severus turned to her. She had a gash on her forehead and her face was tight with pain.
"Dead?" Severus asked, wondering what that was. "When he's coming home?"
Tears, barely noticeable over her wet face, managed to find their way down as she hugged Severus closer to her body.
The cliffs finally gave way to flatter land and Severus's mother dragged herself and him onto the shore. They were both shaking.
"I need to find a wand," she whispered. "I have to find a wand. They'll kill you if they find out who you parents are. No one's ever seen you before. You have an illusion charm on you now to make you look like a girl. They won't recognize you if they saw you. All I have to do is erase your memory, Jacek, and no one will ever know."
Severus's tortured body froze. Jacek? Was this memory his? But it had to be.
The woman carried Severus through another forest and only stopped when she found a hut that was occupied by an old woman. She quietly stole in the house and took the woman's wand as she napped.
Severus looked at his mother's face, noticing the blood trickling from her mouth and nose and the awkward way in which she was walking now.
"Mommy?" Severus said. "You're bleeding."
The woman gently smiled. "I know."
She apparated with him several times until she made it to someplace that Severus recognized. Knockturn Alley.
"I'm sorry, baby," she whispered. "You'll be safe in England," she said, hoarsely, her body falling sideways.
She held out the wand and changed both their clothes into rags.
She hugged him, crying. "You'll never remember it, but I love you. Your daddy loved you too. I hope someone takes you in that will love you as much as we did, or do..." she smiled, forcing back the tears, as she stared at Severus. Her face was hopeful for his future as she stroked his hair. "Someone will give you a good home," she looked around. "This is the only place...." she swallowed, a grimace coming over her face, "that I know of in England," she whispered.
With her hand shaking, she pointed the wand at Severus and whispered a memory charm. Severus blinked, wondering who the strange woman was that was staring at him with tear filled eyes. She crawled away, holding her stomach, and disappeared.
Severus was then taken in by the Knockturn Alley Orphanage. A dreary, overcrowded place, where the children had to fend for themselves and the adults didn't care. No one adopted kids in the Wizarding World hardly. Only babies stood a chance and Severus was no baby.
He saw the woman again on the back page of a discarded copy of the Daily Prophet. Her eyes were opened and unstaring and a little girl, also dead, was found next to her. They were dismissed as runaways. Severus hadn't recognize them at the time.
With a jerk, Severus realized the torture had ended and someone, someone who he should remember, was calling his name. But Severus didn't bother trying. Prolonged use of the Cruciatus Curse had the side-effect of tearing down any memory charms that had been placed on a person and Severus had never been under it for more than a few seconds.
Jacek? His mother? His father? They had wanted him? Severus felt someone touch his shoulder but didn't respond, his mind was reeling. His entire life he had sought to prove to the world that he deserved to exist, that he hadn't deserved to be abandoned on the streets of Knockturn Alley, but that wasn't what had happened.
His mother had saved his life. She could have ditched him along the way, goodness knows she would have ran faster if she had, and maybe she would have gotten herself help in time if she hadn't been so worried about him. But she hadn't. She had saved his life. She hadn't saved his life just to avoid getting into trouble, like James Potter had, but she had honestly saved his life.
Severus cringed as he thought of how she would feel if she knew what he had turned out like. Would she think it had been worth it?
Thoughts and feelings raced through his mind, as he tried to digest this information, and total blackness settled over him.
"He was under it for ten minutes," Harry said, staring at the prone figure on the bed in the hospital wing at Hogwarts. "At least that was how long he was in that shop before Hermione decided to chance it and go into the book shop even if Snape was there."
Dumbledore tiredly sighed as he watched Poppy adjust the covers that Severus had kicked off before she had injected him with a sleeping draught.
"He's not been coherent at all," Harry supplied. "He didn't even respond when Sirius helped Remus get him on the stretcher, though his eyes were opened."
Dumbledore turned to see the two men mentioned sitting on a bed on the other side of the room. Sirius looked slightly worried though the hate was still very much there but Remus looked quite concerned.
Hermione was trembling on the bed next to theirs and Ron had an arm draped around her, though he looked to be in about as bad shape as she was. Unlike Harry, Ron and Hermione had never seen anyone under the Cruciatus Curse and their horror was understandable.
"Karkaroff must have thought he would get in good with Voldemort by bringing Snape to him," Sirius growled. He may hate Severus but he hated Death Eaters more.
"Is he going to be okay?" Hermione asked.
Poppy didn't look at her. "I'm afraid, I don't know. Ten minutes is a long time and... insanity will often set in around that time. Some people can last for twenty minutes before that happens but... I don't know. Will know soon enough."
Dumbledore hated this. He should have forbidden Severus to go anywhere but he had considered Hogsmeade to be safe, even Harry was allowed to go there. But he didn't think anything would happen, especially not so soon.
Dumbledore could feel anger welling up inside of him but he forced it down. He had to stay calm, he had to. He couldn't afford to get angry. Not when so much was at stake right now. But if Severus didn't make it through then Dumbledore was going to seriously consider handing Karkaroff over to the Dementors for the Kiss, even if he did hate those creatures. Maybe Alastor was right, and some people deserved the Kiss.
"Please get me when he wakes," Dumbledore said, wanting to stay until that happened but he had to attend to Karkaroff's arrest and to the mess that it would create.
"I'll stay," Remus volunteered, seeing Dumbledore's hesitation.
Grateful, Dumbledore nodded and left the room, swallowing his anger and the bile that rose in his throat.
Remus could tell Sirius wasn't happy with his new duty but Sirius also knew when it keep his mouth shut and didn't say anything.
"You three can leave now," Remus gently said but Harry shook his head and Remus didn't press it.
Harry had been the one to blast Karkaroff off his feet so Remus guessed he deserved to see what happened with Severus. Remus just hoped he came through it.
Several hours later, Remus, engaged in a conversation with Hermione about Wolfsbane Potion and why the taste couldn't be disguised, was distracted by a movement from Severus's bed.
He was sitting up!
"Are you all right?" Remus asked, nearly rushing to him.
Severus looked at him blankly, his black eyes looked odd. "What?" he asked distractedly, rubbing his shoulder.
"Are you okay?" Harry said, coming up beside Remus.
Severus looked at Harry and then around at everyone else, looking confused. "What's wrong with Potter? I don't remember anything happening to him?"
Remus frowned. "Harry's fine," he said, being careful of his tone of voice, he didn't want to sound too coddling or Severus might get angry. "You were tortured," Remus informed him. "By Karkaroff."
Severus rubbed his forehead. "Oh, yeah. I remember that. But why are you here?" Severus asked, looking at Remus. "Which one of you is hurt?"
Remus shook his head. "None of us," Remus said, wondering how Severus was going to take this. "We just wanted to make sure you were okay."
Before Severus could respond, Madam Pomfrey bustled next to him and gave him an injection, whispering "A potion to keep him calm and cooperative," to Remus and Harry. Sirius overhead it, and grinned.
Once Severus's face relaxed a bit, Madam Pomfrey began to ask him questions.
"What day is it?" she asked.
"Saturday," Severus answered, yawning, "October the twelfth."
"Jacek," Severus answered.
Remus froze, as did Madam Pomfrey and the rest. Crap!
Harry looked away.
"Get Dumbledore," Madam Pomfrey told Hermione and Ron.
They both nodded and ran off to get him.
"Your name?" Madam Pomfrey asked again.
Severus blinked. "I told you, Severus Snape."
Madam Pomfrey gently smiled. "I'm sorry, I didn't hear you the first time. My hearing must be going," she said amiably but her voice was quite concerned for anyone that paid attention to it.
Dumbledore came in and walked up to Severus who was blinking drowsily and seemed more intent on the blanket covering him than on anyone in the room.
"Severus?" Dumbledore said gently.
Severus didn't respond.
"Jacek?" he tried. Ron and Hermione must have told him about that.
Severus glanced up. "What?" he muttered, his voice slurred and heavy.
"Never mind," Dumbledore said gently and waved for Madam Pomfrey to give him another injection of the sleeping draught.
Once Severus was sleeping, they all moved into a corner, their faces tight.
"He's insane," Hermione whispered, aghast.
Madam Pomfrey shook her head. "Not necessarily," she soothed. "He may act funny for the next few days but then he could return to normal. He's going to need some therapy though, physical and emotional. I can do the physical and...."
"Trelawney," Dumbledore said. "She may be a horrible Divination Teacher but she's a very good counseling witch. One reason why I hired her. I thought I might need her services."
Remus noticed Harry blush just a bit and realized that Harry's sudden liking of the Divination Teacher had nothing to do with newfound maturity. He was being counseled by her. A good thing, actually. Harry needed it after last year.
Over the next few days, Remus did his best to support Severus's attempts to get back to normal, especially since it was clear that Severus was having trouble. He was absent-minded, had trouble responding to his name, and often seemed to barely remember people from day to day.
Neville, who had been informed of what had happened to Severus, along with the rest of the school (though they weren't told why), was going out of his way to be nice to the teacher that scared him to pieces and many people were wondering why. Neville would often go get Severus when it was meal time and make sure that Severus had made it to his rooms at night or to his classroom in the morning. Severus, for his part, barely seemed to notice it.
Remus was worried that Severus had gone insane from his ordeal with Karkaroff. Insanity manifested itself in many forms and Severus seemed to have a form of it.
During his DADA class with the Gryffindors, Remus noticed Hermione taking notes from a large, thick book and was paying him no attention. He went to her after class and asked her about it.
"The book is on the Cruciatus Curse," Hermione said as Ron and Harry joined him in trying to see what Hermione was up too. "Insanity isn't the only side-effect of that Curse. Another one is having all memory spells or charms on a person lifted. What if that is what happened?" she asked.
Remus didn't think so, and neither did Ron or Harry.
She saw this and lifted a hand to keep them from talking. "I know, I know, it sounds far fetched. But Snape won't respond to Snape or Severus much but he will to Jacek. That's a first name. I think that is kind of odd."
Remus looked at her. "I'm not about to get my hopes up, but why would that cause him to act so weird?"
"Well," Hermione continued in her lecturing tone, "what if Snape has always believed something about himself, only to find out that it isn't true? I had a next door neighbor who found out she was adopted and she acted very different for a year before she came to grips with it and she was an adult. And," Hermione went on, "I've noticed that Snape seems to be thinking most of the time. He's not acting weird, he's just so caught up with thinking that he forgets to do things or forgets where he is or who is talking to him. I've done that before," Hermione said. "And I'm not crazy."
"All right," Remus allowed, though not convinced. "What do we do about it?"
Hermione bit her lower lip. "Ask Dumbledore about Snape's past and maybe tell Trelawney about this so she can have another angle to use during her counseling sessions with Snape."
That was decided and Remus was elected to ask Dumbledore while Harry was going to tell Trelawney.