The child was unnerving. Severus would have wagered both his wand, and his nonexistent wand hand, that the child could sense him, although the boy betrayed no unease at the foreign presence.
Severus racked his metaphorical brains for what he could remember of possessions and possessing entities. The possessed must give permission somehow, on that the texts were all clear. Insofar as he knew, Severus could not remember himself seeking leave to possess anything but his own, apparently long dead body, so perhaps he was a soul adrift?
Lucius had described the Dark Lord's resurrection to Severus in lurid detail, "Less than spirit, less than the meanest ghost." The Dark Lord had said of his own state, after the failed Killing Curse.
The adults were speaking to each other, rather than Tim at the moment. They stood in the doorway of the boy's room, discussing the further possible effects of the head injury, although Ginny seemed more than competent enough to cope with it.
"Well, she coached enough Quidditch." The thought floated across Severus' mind, idly, as if it were his own. He started. The Ginny Weasley he remembered played Quidditch; either Seeker or Chaser.
"Mum was a Chaser when she was younger." The thought agreed, "Although, she was reserve Seeker." Different associations and impressions flashed through Severus. The feel of a broomstick handle, while Ginny sat behind the child, on rides around an orchard. The smell of warm ocean air and salt water. A crowd of Potters, almost enough to make a Quidditch team themselves, coming in filthy, tired and excited. Three children; the two Severus recognized as Lily and Albus Potter, and an older boy, who was really a young man.
"That's James." another idle thought informed him, "Don't you remember?"
Not only did the child seem aware of Severus' presence, he was completely unperturbed by it. Moreover, he seemed interested in communicating with Severus
Associations branched off from there, the child's mind darting about, as though to check that things were where he had left them. The images were faster and the feelings with them, stronger. Many of them people whom Severus half recognized. Any number of Weasleys, by their hair. Hagrid, unmistakable and virtually unchanged. A boy the same age as Albus Potter, who was sporting hair so blond, he must be a Malfoy, sitting with the child and helping him puzzle out a transfiguration assignment.
The boy must have caught Severus' surprise, and commented, "That's right, Scorpius Malfoy. He's dead clever. His father's hair is blond too." A picture of an adult Draco Malfoy, betraying just the slightest bit of unease, as he stood on Platform 9 and 3/4, while Scorpius, dressed in Ravenclaw robes, bounded to the Potter boy's side, to be flanked by a bushy haired girl that could have been Granger.
"Do you mean Aunt Hermione? She uses that name at work when she has to work with Muggles. Everyone says she looks like Rose."
Because they were conversing in the child's mind, Severus was getting the whole of Tim's impression of each person, the whole of his dislike or affection. Tim's experiences and thoughts of people were more grounded in feelings than words, or even pictures.
For some reason, Aunt Hermione's voice reminded him of dark places that were safe. His Ginny-mum smelled like summer and had the softest, coolest hands. Uncle Ron was a tall, sheltering presence. Potter had the stature of near sainthood, in the child's mind.
That last image was more than Severus could take. He'd had enough of Saint Bloody Potter to last a lifetime. He did hope that, when this child hit that rebellious stage, that he gave Potter holy hell.
"Why are you so angry, today?" The child thought at him.
Severus concentrated, closing his mind to the child, not liking the way their thoughts were leaking and mingling. The child's stream-of-conciousness noise became a distant hum. No feelings broke through, now.
Ginny returned from speaking to the healer. She sat down beside the child, on the bed, "Feeling better?" she asked, softly.
Tim nodded, gave her a little smile, "It's still weird, in my head." he admitted.
It would be, thought Severus, careful to keep it to himself.
"Healer Ernie said it might be." Ginny agreed, "He said not to worry. If you get a headache again, let me know." She looked over at the tray Kreacher had brought, "Soup?" she asked, "That'll probably go down easy."
The child nodded. She flicked her wand and a bowl floated through the air, to settle onto the boy's lap.
Severus was very glad that Ginny didn't seem to want to give Tim more help than was necessary. He was mortified enough by his circumstance, he couldn't bear it if the woman had spent the meal fussing over him (No, not him. The child ), like Molly Weasley might have. Instead, she sat quietly with him and after a minute, said, "So, shall I read some of your book?"
"Could you start at the beginning?" asked Tim, quietly, "I don't remember what I read last night."
Ginny smiled, "Of course, love. You know, your Dad wrote the forward. Would you like to start there?"
Tim nodded, spooning soup into his mouth.
It couldn't be a pleasant read, if Potter had a part in putting it together. Severus remembered the biography of Dumbledore; doubtless it was another pack of speculation in the same vein.
"Severus Snape was very much an enigma to those who knew him." Ginny read, "A brilliant man, with an incredible talent for deception, whose last years of life were devoted to the defeat of Voldemort. He was often described by student and colleagues alike as cold, with a cutting, sometimes cruel wit. It is well known that Professor Snape and I had our differences. However, in that last, most difficult, year of the War he bore burdens that would have destroyed most men."
Severus wasn't entirely sure where the rambling essay was going, but he had no choice except to continue listening. The child was interested in hearing the bloody tale and unless he forcibly took control of the child's body, he could not tell Ginny to stop.
"For all that, Professor Snape's loyalty never wavered. In that last dreadful year of the war, Professor Snape's entire purpose was turned to the protection of the students. His apparent cruelty, a cover for the dangerous work. Countless students were spared serious injury or even death, through his efforts." Ginny stopped reading, looked up at the child, her eyes were deeply shadowed.
Tim looked up to return her gaze, "What?" he asked.
She smiled wanly at the boy, "I just...that's a difficult time for me to remember." she said, "I was at school that year."
Tim tilted his head, "What happened?"
Severus waited for her to put the child off. Perhaps, tell him that wasn't a story she felt appropriate for young boys.
She did no such thing, "He'd been made headmaster, and there were these awful people, a brother and sister called Carrow, who'd been put in charge of the school. They liked to throw around the Cruciatus curse. They even taught it to the students."
"Is that where my father learned it, then?" the child asked, very quietly.
Ginny sighed, reached over to take Tim's now empty bowl, "I imagine so." her voice was just as quiet.
"They used it on you, didn't they?" It was more of a statement than a question.
She nodded, soberly, "Professor Snape gave me that potion he invented, so I didn't get sick from it, though." She shook her head, "He was always pretending to be mean."
Severus snorted to himself. He was a mean bastard, there was no pretense of it.
But, he wasn't mad, nor was he evil.
The witch was going on, "We didn't understand that he was looking after us. He had to pretend to be their man." She shook her head, "I had some idea that there was something weird going on. He stopped the Carrows from hurting me several times. This one time..." she hesitated, "I'd been taken to the headmaster's office by the brother, and I was so scared. I thought that they were going to do something awful."
"Worse than the Cruciatus? Like what?" the boy gasped, caught up in the story.
"I wasn't even sure, myself. I just knew it would be terrible." Ginny hedged.
Severus was glad she hadn't lost all sense of discretion. Telling a child this young that their mother was nearly raped was not appropriate, in Severus' view, no matter how open the family was.
"But, Snape...He told the brother to go find something else to do and then he made me take that potion..."
The boy jumped in, "The same one you had to give me?"
She nodded, "It knocked me out, because I didn't need as much as you. And then, when I woke up he took me down to Madam Pomfrey and told her I was hurt. But she could tell I wasn't, really. So, that made her wonder about him. She told me after, that she'd known Snape since he was eleven and she could never understand how he could have gone so badly wrong. When he started bringing her students, and telling her that they were a lot more hurt than they really were, she worked out that he was still spying for our side."
"But, why didn't anyone else figure it out?" asked the boy.
The woman smiled, but it was sad, "That's a long story. Professor McGonagal helped Professor Longbottom write that chapter."
Severus finally took in what was written on the cover of the book. He'd been so full of potions last night, that he hadn't taken any notice of the author.
Neville Bloody Longbottom.
If Severus had had control of his body, at that moment, he would have hit something.
Longbottom, in charge of writing about his life? That was the only person he could think of who would be worse than Potter.
Severus' anger needed to be vented, apparently. Some of the knick knacks in the room began to shake, ominously.
"Tim? You all right?" asked Ginny, worriedly, pulling her wand to stop the imminent magical storm.
Loudly, and right through his Occludmency shields, the child's thought voice said, "Will you calm down?"
The child took a deep breath, as though to help Severus do that very thing, and seemed to, somehow, wrest control of the magic away from Severus.
"Sorry," he muttered, to Ginny, "My head is still sort of weird."
"That's fine," she smiled, and put her arm around him, "It's to be expected. Healer Ernie said you might have that sort of thing happen, over the next few days. He said not to worry, it's just your brain healing. I think you must be more tired out than you think. Why don't you snuggle down, and have a sleep?"
The boy nodded. Ginny helped him lie down and tucked him securely in, "I'll stay right here." she said, indicating the rocking chair. She moved back there and picked up the knitting she'd been working on.
Severus redoubled his shields and brooded on Poppy's revenge.