Disclaimer : I am not J.K Rowling.
Anatomy of the Haunted
Do you believe in ghosts?
You have seen them float in the castle, talk to mediocre students who have impertinent questions about their existence, usually after a death. All of those questions, a desperate measure for a closure, lack a certain creativity. You feel your lip curl when the ghosts talk of 'going on' after death, you know that is not true. But you wouldn't pin it on the ignorance of Hogwarts ghosts, because, really, how would they know those who are dead never truly left, never truly 'gone on' as they so eloquently put it. The ghosts you are talking about are the ones who haunt you every moment if you let them. Those are the ghosts you are talking about, not a pale imitation of the-dearly-departed.
(I'd wash your pants if I were you, Snivellus.)
You have never visited their grave, the finality of her death, the finality of her name being linked with his even in death is more than you can bear. But their ghosts have haunted you even before their deaths. You keep seeing pale imitations of them in your years of teaching, you ask a girl with red hair to stand up in your class and answer your questions and are angry when she stutters through her answers. You sneer at her, and she looks like she is about to cry after she sits down but you don't care. Her hair is flaming red of an inferno, not the viscous dark red of blood, the way you remember it on her, Lily. You see him too, mere 12 year old, watching as the girl run pasts him, her diary which she clutches closely to her chest. Such crude imititations of the departed, you wonder if your life is an elaborate joke.
How long have they haunted you? You don't know.
(I don't need help from filthy little Mudbloods like her!)
(But you call everyone of my birth, Mudblood, Severus, why should I be any different?)
Was it the time you had the Mark branded to your skin? Was that the first time you heard them whispering in your ear? The ghosts who will taunt you for the rest of your life?
Of course they would find it in themselves to ruin your moment of glory, the first time the Mark had been burned to your skin by the end of the Dark Lord's wand.
You had a triumphant smile behind your Mask, the power around the Dark Lord's presence, his willingness to teach the Dark Arts to his faithful, to the followers have proven themselves, such an impossibly seductive idea. You can learn it. Learn the Dark Arts, the ever changing, mutating power that you had tried to learn yourself ever since you had discovered it, you will know it from the man who has pushed and experimented with boundaries of magic. The Mark is a shiny red burn, raised on your skin, and your fingers trace it as if to believe its reality on your skin before you kiss the Dark Lord's feet and back away, smiling.
It is you who has the power now, and you think of your father, the useless violent Muggle fool. No more, no more will you bear those petty humiliations. You will not be like your mother, who refuses to do anything even though she had magic, who cowered when the fool yelled. You loved her, but you resented her weaknesses. Now, standing in presence of the Dark Lord, in black robes, a mask and Mark vivid on your arm, you are neither of them- your mother or your father. You are also not the boy who searched his parents cupboard for clothes, choosing your mother's androgynous clothes because you hated the fool so much that his clothes demand a set of gratitude, a feeling of in debt you don't want to feel for the violent man. You are above them, a powerful, impressive figure...but a loss twinges you that takes away the glory of the moment.
(You have chosen your way, and I have chosen mine.)
You briefly think of how one good thing of your life has been taken away by Potter. To lose her to Potter! To Potter who gets everything without working for it like you do! To Potter who had been born with silver spoon in the mouth, who knew nothing and will know nothing of hardships of life as you have known them!
You regain your sense of savage pleasure when you watch Regulus Black hold out his arm, bowing his head reverentially, knowing you could throw this in Sirius Black's face, a man you hated as much as Potter. You smile knowing Sirius Black's brother is lost to him forever, the way they took Lily Evans from you. Sirius Black who had everything you wanted, and throws them away so casually, so disdainfully, as if what you wanted are essentially worthless.
(James Potter's voice echoes in his head, "Whose side are you on, Snivellus?"
"Surely you do not imagine me fighting on a side that includes you, Potter. Here I thought your head could not grow any larger.."
"This fight is bigger than the Hogwarts grounds. I suppose you are being too weighed down by that nose of yours to see it that clearly. Glad we straightened this out, yeah?"
"You imagine yourself to be quite the hero, don't you, Potter?"
"No Snivellus. But I try to be. ")
You see James Potter's judgemental eyes as Dark Lord rises to address his newly minted Death Eaters, and you grit your teeth, not letting your hatred for your father, for James Potter, for Sirius Black, your contempt for that half breed Remus Lupin, your love for your mother and your resentment of her weaknesses, your love for Lily Evans and your resentment of her choices taint this moment. Your shoulders straighten, your head bows, hoping that these ghosts would no longer weigh you down.
("I know Potter is an arrogant toerag, I don't need you to tell me that. But Mulciber and Avery's humor is just evil, Sev. I don't understand how you can be friends with them")
After the grief of her death passes, you are possessed with a clinical numbness that tries to hold in your guilt-raw and fresh,your regrets,your pain like the glass that holds in a particular dangerous potion.
["Oops" the boy's work shatters on your desk. "Another zero then, Potter".]
Perhaps it was the Sorting when you first saw him, and you were filled with anger as you watched the boy climb up nervously to be Sorted, a Potter in miniature. You were relieved and angry that it was only Potter you could see. But when the boy stares at you in bewilderment and anger in one of your classes, you see those green eyes, so like hers, not a pale imitations of hers, but exactly her eyes, you almost stagger with your loss as you look away from them.
["I told you to shut up about my dad! I know the truth alright? He saved your life! You wouldn't be here if it weren't for my dad!"]
So one by one, you'll erase her rashness, her recklessness (so like Potter's), so that her sweetness and kindness remains as sticky residue of the memory you have of her. Armed by this, it is easier to see the boy as Potter's son than hers, then the pain, regret, guilt and loss won't attack you but when you catch a glimpse of those green eyes, you know these seven years are not going to be simple. Not for you, and you'll make sure it isn't for him either.
( "What has he done to you?"
"Well it is more the fact he exists, if you know what I mean")
You are running away from the worst crime you have committed, mercy killing of an man you respected the most. It is over, it is over, you tell yourself. You should feel relief that the Dumbledore's master plan is now operation, it has kicked into high gear after his death. But when you see the boy sprawled in grass, contempt fills you at the boy's foolish revenge, the boy who knows nothing, and you say with certain relish, "Your father wouldn't attack me if it wasn't four on one, what would you call him, I wonder?"
("Congratulations on the wedding. I know your position now. But know this, you are marked by the Dark Lord himself, you and your husband have refused to join his ranks and continue to fight against him. We all know the Dark Lord is not forgiving. Keep this up, Lily Potter, and you might as well start praying for your husband while you are at it."
"My husband is much greater man than you'll ever be. Maybe you should start thinking about what that says about you. Shouldn't you, Snivellus?)
Then you see them, the green eyes looking up at him in rage and contempt, copied into the face of James Potter, your loss throttles you as the boy spits in his rage, invoking the memory of a man both she and the boy fiercely loved and he hated, "Kill me then, kill me like you killed him, you coward!"
The boy's face abruptly merges with his mother's, then his father and you have to make it stop as your wand slashes viciously through the air, "DON'T CALL ME A COWARD!"
These ghosts know nothing about you to make judgement. Nothing. So when you run with the Death Eaters, her voice whispers along with the wind in your ear, reciting the crimes you have committed over the span of your life.
When the boy wasn't around, to arrogantly strut about the castle, you could remember her imperfections in peace. You could remember her temper, her need to be right (and she usually was), her embarrassment when she is wrong-
("He is an arrogant bullying toerag, isn't he! What changed? What is he to you?"
She shakes her head, faintly embarrassed and says quietly, "I love him.")
You get angry that somehow, even in the castle that is your home, that has been your home the way Spinner's End never has been, all of your memories of her here are somehow tied to Potter. As if Potter's irrepressible presence has somehow tainted it.
("Go on, go out with me and I'll never lay a wand on old Snivelly again.")
So you think of Spinner's End, the river where she used to wait for you, both of you laughing, a refuge from that miserable home, she was innocence and childish sweetness, Lily Evans before Potter, Lily Evans unblemished by Potter's arrival. It eases you that you remember, and are furious that you are supposed to recall your surroundings as the foolish Carrows point at graffiti-ed walls and grunt something, possibly expecting you to wave your wand and erase it. You walk away, letting Dumbledore's Army, Still Recruiting shine on the wall, the fire in torch brackets illuminating them.
The quiet of the forests somehow calm your mind, and you watch your Patronus, standing, waiting. She was beautiful magic, and you are relieved that you can conjure something of beauty, something whose beauty surpasses the potions you make, the spells you create. You are struck by memory how very beautiful she was in life, something you had not thought of in a long time.
The boy emerges from the other side of the forest, crying, "Wait!" as if he was asking the doe not to go, and just for a moment, just for a moment, you understand this boy's longing, so like yours in its anatomy, so different from yours in its tenuous thread of emotions on the boy's face. You leave when Weasley surfaces, with sword in hand and the boy in the other, dragged from the icy water. Your task now over, you head back to the castle, and again, you are struck by the irony that you had sent your beautiful doe to a Potter in miniature, the owner of a stag Patronus.
You wonder how long both the Potters would continue to haunt you,because, inexplicably, you are tired.
("You are being highly ungrateful. I heard what happened the other night. You went sneaking down that tunnel by the Whomping Willow and James Potter saved you from whatever's down there-"
"You think he was playing the hero? He was saving his neck and his friend's too! You are not going to-I won't let you-"
"Let me? Let me?")
The last time you thought you would die here, you were pulled back by James Potter, who had subverted your fate then and now you lay here, bleeding, fatally wounded by the Dark Lord and his snake for that wand, and you hadn't even completed the last task Dumbledore had given you- to tell the boy-the boy that he is marked for death.
The boy appeared, looking white, shocked and horrified- he no doubt overheard the reason you had been left to die.
(James Potter's face was white, horrified, shocked as he yelled from behind him, "STOP! TURN AROUND, SNAPE!"
You couldn't move as you stared, transfixed, knowing you were about to die when you saw the werewolf struggling to get into the tunnel, drool on its incisors, clearly having smelt human blood.
James Potter's hand pulled you back, throwing you behind his body and suddenly you are grateful, as James Potter looks at the werewolf struggling to inch towards them, "RUN SNAPE!" he pushes you forward to the Whomping Willow entrance and you crawl out, and vomit on the side of the tree. James Potter limps out with scratches on his leg, and he takes you by arm to get you moving and yells, "GO! GO AWAY FROM HERE!")
"Take them " you whisper, the boy must know Dumbledore's plan for him, it rests on this boy now. Your death is coming in sure measured steps, the Potters slowly fading away and a calm peace stealing over your soul, and you say desperately, willing to see what you never wanted to see in this boy, because you can rest now, you can rest now after all these years, the ghosts that have haunted you can all rest now.
"Look... at... me."
my notes : I usually use the word haunted for Sirius after Azkaban, but the Snape piece came to my mind. :) I also wanted to expand on Snape's relationship with his parents, but when I wrote the Dark Mark scene and I thought of what he might do to his father, and I got scared of imagining it. So I decided to leave that open ended. Snape's reaction towards his mother is a reaction that is very typical of him. Neville exemplfies his under confident beginnings and instead of choosing to identify with him, like Harry does with all underdogs, Snape bullies them more, like a self hating bully. There is an element of admiration and putting her as an ideal in his love for Lily,because Lily we see, is someone who is not a doormat, but not in a passive aggressive way as young Snape was.
Reviews are shampoos for Snape, so drop in one if you like it. :)