Title: Compassion

Summary: When Severus learns about compensation without regret. Edit: Once published as a chapter in my story Severus Snape: Saint or Scoundrel? but I liked this chapter so I've re-uploaded it. Enjoy!

Characters: Marauders

4. Compassion

It was Christmas. Lily had, as usual, gone home for the holidays (with a lot of apologies for her best friend, but he promised her he wouldn't mind, which was a lie, because he did mind, but he wasn't going to say so), which left Severus quite alone. Except that this time, the Marauders hadn't gone home either.

He really had to begin practising the Disillusionment charm.

Severus had been idly practising charms on a fly in a classroom when the Marauders had ambushed him from behind. A magnificent duel ensued. He was currently crouched behind a table on its side with his wand at the ready. There was a rustle and without looking, he raised his wand over the top of the table and shot a spell towards the direction of the noise. Potter cursed loudly. Severus had barely time to smirk at his triumph, when the table in front of him burst into several hundred pieces.

He jumped up, looking around warily. Potter and Black were crouched behind a table opposite him, laughing. Severus narrowed his eyes and aimed carefully at the ceiling. He knew very well from his experiments the walls of the castle were spell-proof towards almost anything. After a short calculation, he muttered a curse and a blue flash shot out of his wand, bounced against the ceiling towards the wall, and then hit a target behind a pool of upturned desks.

The laughter was cut short and replaced by a roar of outrage from Potter. Severus conjured a Shield at the same time as Potter tried to hit him with a Stinging Hex, jumping out from behind the desks at the same time. When this failed, before Severus could do anything else, Potter flicked his wand and Severus was hoisted into the air by his ankle.

If he had been anybody else, he would have sighed and hung his head.

'Run out of ideas, Potter?' he spat because he hadn't any better. He still had his wand, but it was a little difficult to aim while upside down. Before he could curse Potter's limbs to jelly, he had been Disarmed. Dirty cheat.

Pettigrew ran up to Potter, hovering a step before him. Black scrambled up, brushing his hair out his eyes. 'Can't afford new clothes for Christmas?' he taunted. 'Poor Snivellus.'

Easy for you, Severus fumed. You're rich and pureblood. You can buy new robes whenever you like. He couldn't.

He was suddenly dropped from a great height. He landed on his side, and the most excruciating pain shot from his shoulder to his whole body. They hadn't finished yet, of course, but Severus couldn't quite compel himself to open his eyes. His shoulder felt like it had dislocated itself. He gritted his teeth and inhaled as if through a straw. Damn that hurt.

Opening his eyes a slit, he could just discern Potter with his hair sticking up in random directions and glasses slightly askew, raise his wand. Where was his wand? Oh there, in Potter's other hand.

Well this was certainly a new low for him. He shut his eyes again and hoped whatever curse they were going to use against him wouldn't last long so he could get to the hospital wing and fix his shoulder.

He felt a harsh kick to his side. If he could, he would have shaken his head. Why were they resorting to Muggle tactics now? At least the scars wouldn't last long.

'What does Evans see in you, anyway?' said Potter. 'She's way too good for you.'

You think I don't know that?

He passed out pretty quickly after that.

When he woke up, he was in a comfortable bed with the covers drawn up this chin. His body ached a little, as if he had just been cured from the beating he'd suffered, and was suffering the aftermath. His arm was stiff, but when he turned onto his side, it didn't hurt. Opening his eyes, they fell on the wand on his bedside table. It was his, and he was in the hospital wing.

Oh great. A teacher probably found me on the floor and brought me here. Now I'll get detention for their –

Thoughts absolutely failed him here and he huffed crossly.

'Oh you're awake,' said Madam Pomfrey as she bustled over to him. 'What have those boys been doing to you?'

Severus was surprised and looked at her. 'How did I get here?'

'That Sirius Black told me where to get you,' she said crossly, making him sit up to check his bruises. 'And in a right state you were too!'

He stared at her. Black had brought him here. He frowned as Madam Pomfrey checked his temperature, clucking like a hen all the while. She asked him some questions which he answered rather vaguely, deep in thought. She finally left him to them, and as he lay back on the pillows, he let out a sigh. He couldn't think about it anymore; it was too big for him.

Someday he would understand it was compensation without regret for past deeds, when it came to his turn.