Snapdragon´s World

To see or not to see

Life was depressing. For the umpteenth time during the last two months Severus wondered why exactly he had agreed to Dumbledore´s crazy plan. He should have faced Azkaban. Or he should have chosen death. Anything but this! How was he supposed to wait for the boy for a decade? How was he to stand teaching, a profession he´d never chosen on his own volition?

Harry Potter, son of his schoolday nemesis, James Potter, was safely put at his aunt´s – not that this was a desirable place to be at for anybody and if the boy hadn´t been who he was he´d have pitied him – and he was entitled to stay so for another ten years.

Dumbledore had argued that the boy was going to need guidance and protection once he left the muggle world and reentered his parents´, but how was he, Severus Snape, ex-deatheater and spy, friendless loner and socially inept, to be of any assistance to the boy? He´d have gone crazy long before the boy left Petunia´s care.

Severus hated breakfast at the Great Hall. Had he had a say in it, he´d have had all his meals in his dungeon quarters, where it was dark and cold and lonely like he deserved. What good was it to see others chat idly when he could never be a part of it? His colleagues mistrusted him. They had been his teachers until some years ago, they knew which company he had kept then and – undoubtedly – they all suspected which way he had chosen after his graduation.

Dumbledore, however, didn´t allow him to hide in his dungeons, but insisted he came to the Great Hall trice a day. Severus had no idea why the headmaster would enjoy torturing him when he claimed to need him, but whatever the man´s motives, it wasn´t in Severus´ power to deny him.

"Mr. Snape?" Sybill Trelawney blinked at him questioningly from behind her thick glasses. Severus stifled a sigh. Of course, of all his colleagues, it was this woman who talked to him. This woman, who had made the prophecy, the prediction, Lily´s death sentence. The seer was entirely unaware of the loathing Severus harboured against her. "May I speak with you?"

Severus gestured at the empty seat beside him, giving in to what he couldn´t avoid.

"I happened to find a prophecy today," the other professor said in a hushed voice as she sat down and sent the thousands of pearls and beads she was wearing clicking as they collided.

"Really?" Severus couldn´t resist raising a brow.

"Indeed," the woman continued, oblivious to his sarcasm. "It was made by my ancestor Kassandra Trelawney. You´ve heard of her, of course." Severus hadn´t. He hadn´t taken Divination as a student and as Kassandra Trelawney hadn´t been mentioned in Professor Binn´s History classes, it was safe to assume that he hadn´t missed much.

"How can you FIND a prophecy?" Severus asked despite himself.

"She wrote a diary, which she left to me. Of course, she knew I´d be the next in the family to possess the inner eye. There are many empty pages. She bewitched them to reveal what she saw when the time is ripe for the world to know. I look through the pages every day. Today I found a new one."

"Which you´re telling me because...?" Severus asked, careful to hide his hatered.

"It is about you!"

"About me?" Severus snorted.

"Definitely." Trelawney rummaged in her handbag and produced a battered old journal. She leafed through the pages and leaned closer to allow Severus to read when she had found what she was looking for.

Daughter of mine, the diary said,

Kindly pass on this message to the eavesdropper caught for it will put his soul to rest.

Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble

Something wicked this way comes

Eye of newt, and toe of frog,

Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,

Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,

Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing -

Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble

Something wicked this way comes

In the cauldron boil and bake;

Fillet of a fenny snake,

Scale of dragon; tooth of wolf;

Witches' mummy; maw and gulf

Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Something wicked this way comes.

Wonderful. Just what Severus needed. A dead seer mocking him. "How is this supposed to be a prophecy?" He had to use all his willpower not to curse the despisable woman there and then.

Sybill Trelawney, who had no idea about muggle literature at all, glared at him. "It´s quite obvious, isn´t it?" she snapped back. "In fact I´ve never seen one that plain. She saw, undoubtedly, that you´re not apt at divination."

"And what does she want to tell me with this song?"

"Song?" Trelawney pursed her lips and slid the diary back into her bag. "I´d say it is a potions recipe. Not that I´m an expert." She stood abruptly and left.

Severus thought about what Trelawney had said. Was it possible? There were, in fact, rumours that William Shakespeare had been a wizard. Were they true? And if so, had he left a potions recipe in plain view?

The idea was intrigueing. Identifying the ingredients – he had to use his personal copy of Macbeth – was easy, but there were no clear instructions on how much to use and how to actually brew. Severus spent a whole weekend trying to solve the puzzle, if it was one. It was amazing what a man would do if he was bored – lonely was such a harsh word – enough. If nothing else he at least gained two days during which he didn´t wish to be dead.

Although he thought he had translated the text into a modern potions recipe, Severus hesitated to try it out. It would mean to admit belief in the ´prophecy´. It wasn´t before February that the young potions master gave in to his curiousity. If he was honest with himself, he had to admit that Valentine´s day brought his loneliness to a new level of awareness and he needed some kind of distraction, but if asked he would – of course – claim to follow scientific interests.

The brewing took a whole day. Severus had no idea what he was brewing, though he was fairly sure the concoction wasn´t dangerous.

When he added the last ingredient – a newt´s eye, adding it earlier would make the potion explode, he was sure of that – the potion became a light pink and a silvery mist rose from its surface. Severus found the mist most intrigueing. In fact, he couldn´t have taken his eyes off it if he´d tried. But why would he try?

The cloud wavered to and fro while it grew. It was mostly silver, but there were flicks of pink and lilac here and there. The mist formed patterns as it rose. There were spirals and twists. At moments Severus thought it was alive. Then, all of a sudden, a window opened in the mist. It was a bit like a small muggle television. Severus leaned forward to see better.

There was he, on a sofa. His legs rested lazily on the cushions, he wore muggle jeans and a shortsleeved chequered shirt and no shoes or socks. He was reading a book. Was this his future? It couldn´t be, for he looked not much older than he was, if at all, and his left forearm was unmarked. If there had been a trace of doubt, it was destroyed only a moment later.

"Sev, love, can you take Snapdragon while I prepare her dinner?"

Severus gasped. It was none other than Lily, his Lily, who bent down to kiss him and hand him a toddler.

"Of course, sweetheart," his other self said with a smile. It was amazing, how his features softened and lost their crudeness by this simple gesture. Curious, Severus tried to see better.

The child in his lap was, as he had guessed by the name, a little girl. She had a mane of flaming red hair, just as Lily´s, Lily´s delicate nose and lips, her elegant brows. She looked, in fact, like a miniature Lily Evans. She did, but her eyes. They were nearly black, just like his. This child was, despite her resemblance to her mother, beyond any doubt, his. So it was, almost certainly, not Lily Evans, but Lily Snape.

Severus tried to back away from the cruel display. Why had a dead seer tricked him into seeing what wasn´t and couldn´t be? Moreover, what he had lost by sheer stupidity? The mist, however, didn´t let him go. It held him in a firm grip and he had to watch on as his other self played with the little girl. He summoned a teddy bear and the child babbled at him happily and chewed the bear´s ear in turn.

"Did you hear from Albus?" Lily asked when she returned with a bowl of pap. Merlin, he had almost forgotten how beautiful she was! He had seen her only once or twice from afar after their graduation. The Lily Evans in his memories was a beautiful girl, but the Lily in the silvery mist was a stunning woman. It hurt beyond measure to see her kiss him and not feel her lips.

"No. But he´s due for his weekly visit tomorrow. We´ll hear all the important news firsthand then."

"Good," said Lily. "I hate being left in the dark. Come here, Snapdragon, time for dinner. You´re looking forward to your godfather´s visit, aren´t you?" She talked all the time while she positioned the little girl in her high chair. Little Snapdragon – Severus thought they must have been out of their minds to call her that – fidgeted in anticipation.

Severus, both versions of him, watched Lily feed the baby. "Time for bed, say good night to Daddy," the young woman cried happily when the little girl had eaten her last spoonful. Snapdragon waved good night obediently and Severus felt a jolt of pain when Lily refered to him as ´Daddy´. Lily turned to the Severus on the sofa. "I´ll be back in an instant."

The other Severus smiled. "Will you care for a glass of wine, when you come back? If I open the bottle now, it has time to breathe."

"Yes, please." Lily winked and blew him a kiss. Sofa-Severus looked mischieveously. It had to be a game they played frequently. Severus wondered what was going to happen when Lily returned.

He watched his other self get up and fetch a bottle of wine from a cabinet, open it and set out two elegant glasses. This done, the other Severus returned to his sofa and resumed reading. Suddenly there was a clattering sound in the hall. Both Severuses started and listened intently. What was it?

Then the living room door was opened from outside.

Severus blood froze. The sofa-version of himself pointed his wand at the Dark Lord, who stood in the doorway, searching the room with those cruel, crimson eyes. Severus – sofa-Severus – sent a spell at the dark wizard, but it was deflected lazily. "Lily! It´s him! Take Snapdragon and run!" Helpless, Severus watched the monster point his wand at his other self. There was a green flash of light and the mist was gone.

Severus stared into his cauldron. The formerly pink potion had gone a muddy grey. The vision of Lily and the baby was gone. For a moment Severus felt a desperate desire to see more, but then he remembered he knew the outcome. Lily was going to die protecting her child, be it Harry Potter or Snapdragon Snape. She´d give her live to safe the child´s and trust in her friends to protect the baby when she no longer could.

Somebody whimpered and it took Severus a moment to realise that it was him. He hoped with every fibre of his being that little Snapdragon would find some good souls to take care of her. Dumbledore and the Order, he thought, would do it. They´d help the little girl. Dumbledore and Moody, maybe even Potter and Black. On second thought he wasn´t sure about Black, but Potter had courted Lily ever since he had seen her for the first time. Potter, being the Gryffindor he was, was going to protect Lily´s daughter, even if she was also Severus´.

It was as if a veil had been removed from Severus´ future. His life was not useless. He had a purpose, a goal. Lily, his Lily, had died for little Harry Potter. She had done so in hope of others taking over the care for her boy. To protect Harry Potter meant to do Lily´s bidding. Dumbledore had said so back then in November and Severus had agreed, but it was only now that he understood.

He had to be ready, when Harry Potter came to Hogwarts, to protect him. He had to know what Harry Potter needed to learn. He had to remain in his position as Hogwarts´ potions master, to be near the boy and teach him what he needed to be taught.

With a determination he hadn´t felt in months, if not years, Severus started to clean his cauldron. He had enough time to prepare. He was going to be ready. For Lily.