A/N: My second story, this time about Snape and Occlumency because I could never quite get my head around the fact that he never picked up on Umbridge's detentions during the lessons. The whole thing went a little further than I had originally planned. Once again, please note that English is not my first language, though I do my best to avoid mistakes.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters or places mentioned. They all belong to the wonderful JK Rowling and so does anything else you may recognize.
A/N: Here the story with the last few lines. So sorry about that (hides)
Memories and Quills
It was hopeless, completely and utterly hopeless. Well, of course it was; how could he, Severus Snape, ever have expected anything else from that arrogant swine James Potter's spawn? That boy truly was a carbon copy of his father, no matter what Albus tried to tell him each time they discussed the brat.
"He has Lily's eyes, Severus, and you know what they say, 'The eyes are the windows to the soul.'"
What utter nonsense! The boy had never shown any interest in his studies, least of all in Potions, as Lily always had, he relished his fame and flaunted that scar of his the same way his father would have done. Was this the person for whom his beloved Lily had given her life? A brat who failed to appreciate everything she had sacrificed so he might live and instead risked his life every year without a thought to the consequences?
And now Severus, of all people, was supposed to teach this epitome of Gryffindor, a House which – with the exception of Lily – he had always despised, the subtle art of Occlumency. What was Albus thinking?
At the moment Potter was lying on the floor of the dark and gloomy office after Severus's most recent – and failed - attempt at getting him to defend his mind against intrusion.
"Again, Potter. Get off my floor; it has done nothing to deserve the no doubt excruciating torture of having you on top of it."
Ah, there it was; the look which he most hated seeing on Potter's face. This look of defiance showed a complete mixture of the whelp's hateful father… and his mother. His emerald eyes were glittering just like hers had done in moments like this, but the expression on his face was one that had only ever been seen on a Potter and one that should never have been seen in combination with any feature of Lily Evans's –Severus still could not bring himself to call her Potter, even in the privacy of his own mind.
He looked away quickly, the memory proving too painful for him. Every time he saw this look on Potter's face – and he had seen it often, oh yes – he wondered what could have been, if he had not lost control of his tongue and called Lily by that hateful name. Would her eyes be looking out at him from a younger copy of his own face, rather than that of his enemy?
'No use,' he thought, cursing himself for even thinking along those lines, as he did every time it happened.
He once again focused his attention on the boy who, by now, was on his feet again, looking as insolent as ever, in spite of his most recent failure at trying to push his most hated professor out of his mind.
"Pathetic, Potter. If I didn't know how little talent you have shown over the years to anything related to work, I might think that your ineptitude was faked. But perhaps you really are as incompetent as you seem."
To Severus's disappointment Potter did not rise to the insult and instead chose to glare at him in a rather immature way. What a pity, Severus so enjoyed deducting points from Gryffindor when Potter gave him cause. Well, there were other ways of provoking a response.
"Legilimens!" he cried, pointing his wand at Potter, who had no time to react before Severus saw memory after memory passing in front of his eyes. Fighting the Dark Lord in the graveyard, watching the Diggory boy get killed in front of him, watching that mutt Black, the boy's dogfather, flying away on that hippogriff. So Potter did have something to do with that, not that Severus had ever doubted that.
This was just another case of blatant rule-breaking, in this case even law-breaking that Potter never had been nor ever would be punished for. And this particular case had cost him, Severus, an Order of Merlin and the pleasure of seeing Black punished for all that he had done to him. No matter what anyone said about Black's innocence, he wasn't and never would be innocent, even if he wasn't the one who murdered those thirteen people fourteen years ago. He had proven that he was capable of murder at the age of sixteen.
Remembering that night transported Severus to an entirely new level of fury and he dug deeper into Potter's mind, seeing more memories flying pas.
Wait, what was that? How was this possible? If Severus hadn't seen it with his own eyes, he would not have believed it. There was a corner in Potter's mind that wasn't illuminated by a single ray of light, but appeared utterly dark.
Severus had seen this before. It was an effective, if rather conspicuous way of hiding one's memories and one that was usually only used by wizards with at least basic knowledge of Occlumency, knowledge this boy clearly did not have.
There was only one other possibility and that was that Potter's subconsciousness was hiding a memory which he absolutely did not want his teacher to see, but that he himself was quite unaware of it…
But what in the name of Merlin could possibly be worse than seeing a fellow student die right in front of him and being tortured with the Cruciatus Curse?
Severus was intrigued and – dare he say it? – a little… anxious? No, it couldn't be, he was merely curious. What did he care about Harry Potter? Even in his mind the words sounded like a curse.
Still, he now focused all his considerable mental powers on this one dark corner in Potter's otherwise oh so bright and biddable mind. The shield was stronger than he had at first supposed and he was impressed in spite of himself, a feeling which he quenched as soon as he became aware of it.
But he could not deny that building such a shield required a lot of mental strength, whether the person in question was aware of the fact that certain memories were being protected this was or no. Maybe there was some truth in these rumours that Potter could withstand the Imperius Curse, after all. Until now, there had been no evidence of any extraordinary mental powers within the boy, but now…
But even a shield as strong as this could not remain intact for long and after several minutes of pain, mostly felt by Potter, but to a lesser degree also by Severus himself as his mind forced itself into the depths of the boy's, it finally gave and Severus was assaulted by an array of memories and recollections.
He could not make out a lot at first, but his general impression was that there was a lot of pink in all of them. He then realized that the sickening hue was due to the fact that all of these particular events seemed to have taken place in the office of that odious woman, Professor – if one could call her that – Umbridge.
She was one of the very few persons inside the castle and beyond whom Severus loathed more than the Potter boy, whose memories were playing out in front of him at this very moment.
Severus fought to keep hold of one of them, which was not easy at first because the whole lot of them were fairly flying past him. The sight that greeted him, when he had finally managed to grab hold of one, made him sick to his stomach.
He was watching Potter slice open his own hand with a blood quill. The boy's blood was running down his wrist to form a puddle on the now shining parchment, but not a sound escaped Potter's lips.
Severus didn't know what to make of that. On the one hand he would have expected the spoiled brat to have run straight out of the office to that of the headmaster to tell him about how that woman had hurt him. Severus didn't think even he would have blamed the boy for that. But then again, Potter's entirely misplaced Gryffindor pride probably prevented him from seeking out help from any adult, like it so often had in the past.
But – and far be it for Severus to show any sympathy for James Potter's spawn, but he was obviously in desperate need of help. As he watched more of these…memories, his thoughts were jumping around wildly. Why hadn't any of the teachers, whose duty it was to keep their students from harm, noticed what had been going on right under their noses the whole time? Had the boy's friends, Weasley and Granger, known about this and, if so, why hadn't they said anything?
One part of his mind just kept thinking, "I'm sorry, Lily. I've failed you. I swore to keep your son safe and I couldn't even protect him from his own teacher. I'm so sorry."
Soon, he couldn't bear it anymore. He withdrew from Potter's mind with enough force to send them both sprawling on the floor. For a moment, Severus lay there, stunned from the impact and let his gaze wonder over the jars of slimy creatures that "adorned" the walls of his office. For once, the atmosphere they created didn't appeal to him, but seemed oppressing. He felt trapped.
He was the first to recover and to get up from the floor, while Potter, weakened and trembling violently, continued to lie on the ground, unable to move. The Potions Master used this opportunity to reach down and grasp the boy's hand roughly. He stared at the words which were deeply engraved there.
"I must not tell lies"
He let go of it as abruptly as if he had been burnt. He was disgusted. Quite apart form the fact that of all of Potter's vices, lying was the least – on the contrary, his shameless honesty and insolence irked Severus far more than any school boy lie ever could – he knew what blood quills were meant to do. Originally, they were intended to be used only to sign magical contracts to make them binding. In the Middle Ages they were often used as punishment before they were outlawed by the Ministry of Magic, but even in those dark days, they were used only to inflict pain.
To leave scars such as these, they had to be used frequently for several hours at a time. Severus's startled eyes met Potter's. The small teenager looked like a deer caught in the wand light (How appropriate a comparison, given his father's animagus form, Severus thought sardonically). After a few seconds, Potter grabbed his wand, which had fallen a few feet to his right, leaped to his feet and ran from the office as fast as he could, leaving his professor staring at the empty doorway.
The next morning, a dark owl flew towards Harry, who, not for the first time that year, was sitting apart from his House mates at one end of the table. Attached to the bird's leg was a small parcel. Upon opening it, he discovered a rounded potions bottle with a familiar-looking liquid inside and a note.
He reached for the note first and nearly dropped it in surprise when he saw the handwriting. He usually saw it in on his Potions essays and not a word of it had ever been complimentary. Curious, he started to read it and as he did, he smiled softly. He looked up at the staff table, but the Potions Master was nowhere to be found, so he returned his gaze to the writing in front of him.
"Potter, I trust you are familiar with Murtlap Essence and are aware of its properties. This particular batch has been laced with Essence of Dittany, so as to have a healing, as well as a soothing effect. Use it sparingly."
'Maybe Snape isn't all bad, after all,' Harry thought.
A/N: Love it, hate it? Too long? I definitely know it's not too short… R&R, please!