It had been a long night for Severus Snape. The aurors had apprehended him at the school and had led him off without much discretion. He remembered how smug they had been and felt angry. As if they hadn't spent the last few years being completely ineffective to the point that they were a joke both to the deatheaters and the people they were sworn to protect. He was made to floo through the fireplace in his quarters directly to one of the interrogation rooms deep in the Ministry. The two aurors followed quickly; a pretty young woman and a middle-aged rather non-descript man.
Severus sat down without being asked and quickly strategized how he would handle this. The aurors were listing his charges which included 'murder, torture, production of illicit potions, use of all three Unforgiveable Curses, and association with deatheaters.' They were all true, at some point, in the years since he had graduated from Hogwarts. If they were to administer Veritaserum, which they were within their rights to do if they felt he was not being cooperative, he would very likely spend the rest of his life in Azkaban if he did not receive the Kiss from the dementors.
Albus and he had talked about this eventuality several times since Severus had started spying for him. The headmaster had assured him that he would be well taken care of if ever confronted by the aurors. Severus had faith in Dumbledore's reach and that he was quite capable of pulling the appropriate strings to have Severus released. Still, the situation made him a bit nervous. Albus had been known to make sacrifices for the greater good; he was very focused on the big picture and Severus wasn't sure where he figured into that now that the Dark Lord was gone.
He decided that he would give them enough information so that they felt they were getting somewhere but not enough to overly incriminate himself. This went on for almost an hour and Severus was starting to feel extremely wore down, wondering how much longer he could play this game. He wanted to go home and sleep for as long as possible. He wanted to find out what had happened at Godric's Hollow. The aurors were vague about tonight's events and all he had heard before he was arrested were a few rumors.
The door to the room opened and in walked Alastor Moody who looked at him with obvious dislike which Severus returned whole-heartedly. "That'll be all. Apparently there has been some . . . extenuating circumstances. You're free to go. We'll be in touch, though, so don't get too comfortable."
Severus felt his lips curl up into a slight sneer and stood to go. He brushed past Moody without a word and made his way out of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. He didn't see Albus in the busy foyer of the Ministry so he made his way out to the streets of London. Sure enough, the elderly man was standing with his hands folded behind his back, apparently lost in thought.
The younger man walked to stand beside the man he considered to be his mentor. He was dying to know what had transpired tonight but didn't want to appear overeager. Whenever the subject of Lily Evans came up, Albus would give him this sad little understanding smile and as a rule Severus found pity infuriating.
"I'm sorry I took so long getting here, Severus. As you can imagine, there has been much to attend to tonight."
"He's gone, then," it was a statement, not a question. The nearly constant burning on his forearm had ceased and the mark had lightened considerably though its outline could still be seen.
"It would appear so, yes."
Both men were silent for a long moment and then Severus prompted, "How?"
Albus sighed heavily and said, "I don't know. We may not know until Lily wakes up."
His heart did a little backflip; she was alive, then. Albus gave him a rather sharp look, "Severus, I must urge you to leave well enough alone. We do not yet know what effect the spell might have had on here. No one has ever survived the killing curse. Harry seems fine but we believe he only received the backlash of the curse. Just a theory, of course. Anyway, she's going to be grieving and trying to move forward and it would likely make things easier on her if you would stay away."
That little pitying smile, again, but there was a stern look in his eyes. Potter had died, then, and apparently Lily and her child had survived. Severus met his eyes and nodded his head, "You have my word, Albus. I will stay away."
It was not thirty minutes later that he was striding through an extremely busy St. Mungo's lobby. He delivered potions quite often here to supplement his income and it wasn't so unusual to see him there. Severus spotted Remus Lupin in one of the uncomfortable waiting room chairs holding a toddler which he presumed was the young Potter. Lupin looked terrible; not only tired but somehow defeated. The toddler appeared to be throwing a tantrum and Severus couldn't help but sneer. Of course, as the only son of James Potter, the child must be spoiled rotten.
Lupin spotted him and his eyes narrowed suspiciously, but when he spoke it was in a civil enough tone, though loudly as to speak over the crying. "Snape. What brings you here?"
Of course, he knew very well why Severus had suddenly appeared at the hospital and the potion's master didn't bother to hide this fact, "Where is she?"
"In her hospital room. They won't really tell me anything." His voice was slightly dull. He was absently trying to rub comforting circles on the toddler's back who was twisting, trying to get off his lap. "I think they're going to take Harry away. The healers keep coming out here to check on us like I'm going to kidnap him or something. Sirius . . ."
Severus didn't have time for this and the crying was piercing through his skull and causing a migraine. He walked over to the healer's station and looked for a familiar face. He spotted Delilah Moore who he was familiar with and actually genuinely liked. She was the no nonsense type of woman and very talented at what she did. He was glad to know that she was involved in Lily's care.
"Miss Moore," he called. She smiled tiredly at him and approached, "I heard that Miss Ev . . . that is, Mrs. Potter, is here."
"Yes, yes. It seems that everyone has. I've turned away more reporters tonight than I can count. You would think that people would be a little more respectful to a woman who has suffered such tragic loss. Her whole life changed tonight."
"Do you think . . . Could you do me a favor? I'm just wondering if I could take a peek. I'm an old friend. I just want to give her my well-wishes."
"Well, really, we're not supposed to allow any visitors other than family right now. Dumbledore said . . ."
"She doesn't have any family," And as far as he was concerned, that was true.
"Well," Delilah hesitated. Then she smiled shyly and said, "She's really going to need a friend when she wakes up. Mr. Lupin has been here all night, but, well, he seems to be having a hard time of it. Come on, just a few minutes, then."
They entered the private room that they were keeping Lily in and Severus' breath hitched for a minute when he first laid eyes on her. She hadn't changed much in their years since Hogwarts, at least not in appearance. He was almost glad she was unconscious because he knew she would refuse to see him if she were not. He just needed a few moments of her time and he was sure he could make her understand. He was aware that it was his fault, of course, and that their friendship might have been salvageable had he not joined the death eaters and built quite a reputation for himself. Their paths had crossed a couple of times in the last few years and she had acted as though he didn't even exist.
If he could get her to talk to him, he would have to work hard to control his anger at her for doing this to herself. What was she thinking? In his opinion, it had been a bad move; she should have ran instead of standing to fight. She should have just apparated away, though he knew she had felt she couldn't abandon her family. Lily had always been fiercely loyal in that way. Severus was angry she had risked her life for people, quite frankly, who were not worth her sacrifice.
James Potter had not changed much in his opinion, despite what some people seemed to think, because Severus didn't believe people changed. He knew for a fact that he himself hadn't changed even when he switched sides. And what could her son end up being other than a miniature James Potter? Lily, he knew, was a good person. The world needed her far more than the other members of her family. He was aware this was a harsh viewpoint but the war had taught him nothing if not the fact that life wasn't fair.
"Have you tried to wake her, yet?"
"Tomorrow. They're running brain scans right now. If there's any brain damage, we need to heal it while she's still out." Seeing the look Severus gave her, she hastened to add, "They've come back normal so far. She seems fine. It just seems to have put her in a deep sleep. It's unbelievable."
He nodded and they were both silent for a moment, lost in their thoughts about Lily Potter. The healer spoke again, "Oh, I just feel so sorry for her little boy, though. I had to call Child Welfare to at least take him for the night. He can't stay here. I don't like how people are looking at him. Hungry, you know? He's just a toddler and he's terrified."
"Lupin didn't want to take the boy?"
"Oh, yes, of course he did. But . . . "she blushed slightly. She was embarrassed by the archaic laws they had restricting werewolves. She had treated many of them in her years at the hospital and despised the fact that they were treated uniformly like criminals.
"Right," Severus was well aware of the laws, though they did not embarrass him or, indeed, even faze him. An idea suddenly dawned on him, "Miss Moore, would you like me to take the boy for the night? I could bring him back here tomorrow when his mother wakes."
"Oh, I don't know, Severus," she frowned at him.
"I could take him to Hogwarts with me," he had learned long ago that 'Hogwarts' was a magic word in the wizarding world, "He would not only have my protection but the protection of Headmaster Dumbledore. I don't think it's safe to just send him off with Child Welfare. The Ministry hasn't even begun rebuilding yet."
She bit her bottom lip and looked uncertain. She glanced at Lily who looked so frail and couldn't help but think the girl really would need a friend. "You'll take him straight to Hogwarts and return him straight away in the morning?"
"Yes. I'll owl you as soon as I get to the castle."
"Okay. Would you mind filling out some paperwork? Just a spelled contract that will automatically return the two of you here in the morning."
"Of course not."
Severus had a theory that Lily would be forced to talk to him if he had her son. She would at least have to be in his presence, for at least a moment, when he returned the boy. He would only need a few moments to explain everything to her and make her understand.
The paperwork was brief, requiring only a signature and a witness, and he went out to the waiting room to collect the child. Lupin was still sitting in the same place and the toddler had calmed down a little bit. He looked up as they approached and frowned at Severus. Miss Moore explained that Severus would be taking the child, just for tonight.
"I don't think that's a good idea," Remus said haltingly.
Severus was about to point out that no one cared what he thought, but Miss Moore was already saying, "I think it's nice of him to offer. Harry has had a long day and the last thing he needs is some hard makeshift bed at the Ministry while they try to sort this all out."
"He doesn't have the best reputation," Remus pointed out.
"Headmaster Dumbledore seems to trust him," said Miss Moore haughtily. She did not like to have her decisions questioned.
"Does Dumbledore know you're taking him?" Remus questioned Severus suspiciously.
"Well, I suppose he will once I get to the castle," Severus replied stiffly. He wasn't sure exactly how he would deal with that yet but figured he would cross that bridge later.
"Mr. Lupin, you've had a long day. We all have. Why don't you go home and get some rest? Come back in the morning when Mrs. Potter is awake."
Remus was reluctant to hand Harry over to a man who he knew had hated James' guts, but he had limited options. Short of kidnapping Harry, it seemed inevitable to hand him over. And he really had no desire to go to Azkaban. Then again, maybe he and Sirius could share a cell. He let out a derisive laugh before he could stop himself and Miss Moore frowned at him. With a sigh, he stood and handed Severus the toddler he had spent the last few hours trying to comfort.
If Harry had been resistant to be held by Remus, he was absolutely defiant of being taken by Severus. He began to cry again, soft little sobs and reached back for Remus, grabbing his robes. Remus gently unclenched the child's hands from his robe which seemed to upset the child even more. Severus found his dislike of the child intensifying. He didn't particularly like very young children though he occasionally looked after Draco, Lucius and Narcissa's son, who was about Potter's age and the boy was admittedly difficult. He was confident he could make it through one night. It was already late. He would just put the child to bed and go to sleep himself.
"Does he have any of his things with him?"
"Hagrid didn't bring anything with him. I could swing by Godric's Hollow and get a couple of things and bring them to you if you want," It was a blatant attempt to get permission to check up on them.
"How kind, Lupin. No. I think we'll be fine for one night."
Miss Moore smiled at Severus and said, "You'll be transported back here at ten o'clock sharp."
Severus was nothing if not a man of opportunity and life had just presented him with the opportunity to set things right with Lily once and for all.