I wonder what they will think of the things they find here when I'm gone. A lot of it will make sense, I suppose. The books everywhere. "Ah yes, well Snape had a ferociously keen mind, even if it wasn't always focussed in the right direction." In all the years where my loyalty, common sense and sanity were called into question on a regular basis, at least nobody ever denied me intelligence. I can imagine that most of the titles will come as no surprise, although probably the likes of Potter and Weasley would expect some sort of cartoon villain's instruction manual. They think in such black and white terms, those boys. Potter's father never could cope with really complex concepts either. I will never understood what she saw in him, not if I live as long as Albus did. Not that that is particularly likely.
Still, there are things that even the irritatingly persistent Miss Granger will probably never understand. Little inconsequential things. Scraps of a ruined life. It is these mundane things which define us in the end. A clock with no hands. A broken teacup. A lock of hair.
"It doesn't feel right, being here."
"I dunno, it's a good chance to poke around Snape's collection of weird stuff."
"Honestly, Ron, after everything we've found out about Professor Snape, you still..."
"You are so easy to wind up."
"Will you two knock it off!" Harry stopped his best friends before the usual argument settled in for the duration. "Look, Professor McGonagall told us we should come in here before she sorts it out. She said it would be helpful."
"Not sure about that, mate," said Ron, picking up a murky jar and peering suspiciously at the contents. "I think it'll just confirm that Snape was a nutter. But you go ahead."
Hermione confiscated the jar and replaced it on the shelf. "It's the things that don't fit," she muttered.
"What?" said Harry, opening a book at random. One glance was enough to make him wish he'd never picked looked.
"That's what Professor McGonagall said. The things that don't fit are the ones which tell us the most. I mean, we'd expect Snape's office to have loads of things in jars – put that down, Ron, I can see you – and books, stuff like that. But, oh I don't know, if he had a load of pink ties or something..."
"Pink ties? Snape?" said Ron and Harry at the same time.
"Oh for heaven's sake! Not literally pink ties. But something that we think is unusual."
"You mean like a clock with no hands?" asked Ron.
"Look, if you're not going to... Oh." Hermione broke off and stared at the object Ron was holding.
"It's completely busted," Ron said. As he held it out to her, something clattered.
The three friends gathered at the desk and examined the clock. It was small, the sort that might go on a mantelpiece, and very plain. The face had the faintest of marks, as though the owner didn't really want to know the time at all.
"I wonder what's rattling," Hermione said, turning the clock face down and levering off the back.
"Probably just some gears or whatever. Dad would love it," said Ron. "Hang on, that's odd. The face is in backwards."
Harry looked at the circle that had been revealed. He had seen one just like it in the Burrow. Not numbers but locations. Work, home, shopping. Mortal peril. But why would Snape have a clock like that? And, more to the point, why had he never mended it? Then, as Ron lifted the face out to turn it around, a slim piece of metal tumbled to the desk. Suddenly, Harry knew what it was before he even examined it. No name on the hand. No need. Just a delicate shaping of the metal.
"It's a flower," Hermione said slowly.
Harry picked up the hand and placed it back into the clock. "He didn't want to watch it," he said. "It wouldn't have moved again."
"But why is there..." Ron was silenced when Hermione elbowed him hard in the ribs.
"Let's keep looking," Hermione said in a falsely bright voice "Where did you find this?" Ron gestured to a drawer and she went to investigate. A few moments later, she swore loudly.
"Could've told you Snape booby trapped the place," said Ron unsympathetically.
"It's not a booby trap, it's a bit of... what is it?" She drew the object out.
"Broken china. This gets weirder. What's it from?"
Hermione dug a few more pieces out of the drawer. "Looks like a teacup."
"Not the sort of pattern I'd have said Snape would go for," said Ron, poking the shards. "I'd have put him down for something a bit less, well, granny-like."
Harry picked up one of the pieces. "You know what this reminds me of? That ghastly stuff Trelawney had for doing tea leaves."
"You know, you're right. Wouldn't have thought old Snape was into Divination," Ron said.
"Apart from the prophecy, you mean," said Harry.
He had told them about much of what he had seen in the pensieve in the heart of battle, but not everything. It was still too raw. This was the spot where his views of two of the most pivotal players in his life had been turned inside out. He could see the anguish on Snape's face when he realised what he had done. If he had been in that position, he would have gone to anyone if there was a shred of hope. Even Trelawney.
Hermione cradled the pieces of china in her hands. "I wonder what she saw," she said.
Harry didn't remind her that she was one of Trelawney's harshest critics. He returned to the drawer, feeling around inside.
"I think this was the last bit," Hermione said.
"Yeah, you're probably right," Harry said, and then his fingers brushed against something right at the back. It wasn't another piece of the cup, though. It was a plain white envelope. Harry peered inside and ran a finger along the lock of dark red hair.
It is these mundane things which define us, in the end.
Author's Note: Written as a gift fic for scatteredlogic on LJ, who wanted a Snape-based story with prompt objects of a clock and a broken teacup.