AN: This is a gen/friend fic between Snape and Harry. Part two will likely be posted sometime before Tuesday. Hope you enjoy it. :)
The Memories of S, T. Snape
Harry's new flat in London had been carved out of leftover space in a converted old factory, and he absolutely loved it. It was long and narrow, with diagonal walls and windows in a few different corners, and two of the walls were original brick. It was technically a one bedroom flat, but the odd angles gave Harry lots of extra space, including half a dining room that Harry used for broom storage. It had only taken him minutes to connect it to the Floo network, and now his friends were either a twenty-minute walk, or a short spin, away.
As Harry sat in his kitchen on Wednesday morning, he glanced at his calendar and was surprised to find that it had now been a month since the final battle. A lot had happened in that time – trials for Death Eaters, flat hunting, funerals for friends, plans for his future – but Harry still had a mostly empty plate. Boxes were piled up around the flat, and he was forcing himself not to rush to put things away. Harry had always had something on the go, ever since he'd entered the magical world, and was trying to teach himself how to relax.
A roaring lion sound diverted his attention, and Harry walked to the fireplace. The Floo technician wizard had shown Harry how to customize the incoming Floo call sound, and he'd chosen a loud roaring lion, like Luna's quidditch hat from school.
"Good morning," Harry said, sitting on the chair nearest to the Floo and trying to appear professional and fully awake. Whoever was calling was wearing healer's robes, and Harry thought he'd seen the man before at St Mungo's.
"Mr Potter! It's nice to meet you. Bennington Locke, sir, and I work on the Spell Damages floor here at St Mungo's."
Locke had a small moustache, and the green Floo flames flared a bit brighter around the hair on the man's face. He looked to be in his late twenties, with bright blue eyes and closely shorn hair.
"Nice to meet you too," Harry said, trying to figure out why anyone from the hospital would be calling him. "Your floor sounds like it would be constantly busy."
"That it is, that it is," Locke said, smiling. "I actually wish to speak to you regarding one of our patients, as the floor is getting full, and I don't want to see him go to the Janus Thickley ward."
"Who's that?" Harry asked, leaning forward in his chair. His mind was racing as it passed over his list of friends, confirming what he already knew. All of them were now out of the hospital
There was a short pause, as if Locke was deciding whether to tell Harry now of once he'd already agreed.
"Severus Matthias Snape," Locke finally said, no trace of amusement or humour on his voice.
"Professor Snape?" Harry asked, without trying to hide his surprise.
"Yes," Locke continued, seemingly placated that Harry hadn't laughed. "Do you have time for a short meeting here..."
A large crash echoed through the Floo, followed by a shriek and the sound of crying.
"Perhaps there might be quieter," Locke sheepishly said.
Harry looked around his living room. The boxes were piled up like city towers, but it wasn't messy.
"Sure," Harry said, standing up and banishing the rest of his breakfast dishes to the kitchen. He filled the kettle as he waited for Locke to come through, and within a few minutes they were sitting comfortably on Harry's couch, chatting about life after war. For Locke it had gotten busier, and for Harry, he was forcing himself to relax.
"So, about Snape," Harry started, unsure of what to say.
"Yes..." Locke started, putting down his tea. "Professor Snape taught me well, and gave me a strong reference to secure my job at St Mungo's. So when he arrived, I tried my best to help cure the curse he'd been hit with. It hasn't worked though, and now that he's unreachable, I've tried to find a way that he can still be helped, instead of just becoming a permanent resident in Thickley."
"What, exactly, is wrong with him?" Harry asked, surprised his hand was still steady. He'd not seen Snape since a day after the battle, after they'd had a memorial at Hogwarts and collected his things from Hogwarts. Harry had just assumed that Snape was being anti-social in the new cautious public that was the post-war wizarding world.
"I can't tell you," Locke answered, looking straight at Harry. "Unless you're willing to become his caregiver, I unfortunately can't give you any details."
Before Harry could ask why the hell Locke had come to him for help then, Locke continued speaking.
"In the ward I work in, we deal specifically with memory curses and malfunctions. These range from minor incidences, similar to the memory loss from a night out drinking, to large sections of corrupted memory, or memory replacements, or most recently, people who seem to be stuck in certain memories."
Locke paused as Harry's mind translated what he was saying.
"The patients for the most part are fully functional, requiring only the very basic of assistance in remembering certain tasks. Unfortunately, we have had one or two whom have completely slipped into their memories, and require full time care."
"Oh," Harry said, still processing everything he'd been told. An image popped into his mind, of Snape lying in a hospital bed staring blankly at the ceiling as he was trapped in his own memories. And from what Harry had seen of the man's life, they hadn't been all that pleasant.
"So, as his caregiver…"
"You would be responsible for providing the professor with food, ensuring he is properly bathed on a regular basis, that he is kept safe, and that some sort of entertainment or educational stimulus is provided. Patients with memory problems tend to go mad without external stimulus. You'll draw a weekly caregiver's allowance for his upkeep, and wait until we have found the counter curse."
Harry considered this as he stared around the flat, at the boxes and randomly placed pieces of furniture. The flat had enough space that a second bedroom could be formed where the dining area was, so Harry wasn't worried that Snape would be in the way. It sounded like Snape needed long term care, which would give Harry just enough to do that he could justify not getting a job, and therefore take care of himself as well. Beside, Harry felt that for Snape's sacrifices in the war, a good deed could be returned, and he was bloody curious to what was wrong.
"What do I have to sign?" Harry finally said.
Ben Locke smiled at him and as he withdrew the papers from his jacket pocket, a great weight seemed to have been taken off his shoulders.
"Just these. And thank you, Mr Potter. I know he's not the nicest man, but I knew with you he'd be safe and treated fairly."
"Well, I won't hex him, if that's what you mean," Harry said, smirking slightly as he signed the last page.
"I think you'll find him a very agreeable flatmate," Locke commented, but there wasn't the slightest hint of humour in his voice.
Harry looked back up, but before he could ask, Locke explained his comment.
"He was cursed by Bellatrix Lestrange, with a memory loop curse. One of the reasons we can't reverse it yet is that she seems to have created it. Professor Snape realised something was wrong in the week after the war, when he began reliving some of his memories, and came to us for treatment. Unfortunately, last week he slipped completely into the memories, and we've not been able to reach him since."
Harry blinked a few times, remembering his occlumency lessons and the harsh mind that he'd fallen into when he'd accidentally managed legilimency.
"So, he's stuck in random memories of his past?" Harry asked, his stomach unsettled. As far as he knew, Snape's childhood hadn't been the happiest.
"Not random," Locke said, standing up and checking his watch. "Lestrange was a bit of an evil genius, shall we say. The professor has been cursed into a loop of memories, surrounding the first person he ever murdered."
Harry's mouth dropped open slightly as he considered the implications. The Astronomy tower, dark and foreboding at night, burned across his mind as he remembered the night Dumbledore died.
"Blimey," Harry exhaled.
Locke nodded, retrieving a small bag of Floo powder from his robe pocket.
"May I send him through tomorrow?"
"Absolutely," Harry immediately answered. He gave the flat a determined look, and took out his wand to finish unpacking.
Harry sat on his balcony in the late morning, sipping a cup of coffee and watching as people passed by the busy street below. He was only on the third floor, so every once in a while words could be understood as they drifted up. Beside him, in a matching patio chair he'd purchased at Marks and Spencer's sat Snape. Harry found it slightly disconcerting that Snape could automate through motions, but no longer function and interact with anyone. Harry almost wondered if that was what it must be like to have received a Dementor's kiss.
He watched Snape sit deathly still beside him, hair obscuring half of Snape's face from the morning sun. There was a second cup of coffee on the table in front of them, not quite hot enough to burn, and Harry carefully placed it in Snape's hand. The skin was warm, the hand muscles loose and pliable as they slowly moved to grip the cup. Harry guided the hand towards Snape's mouth, and about half way up Snape's muscle memory kicked it. It was fascinating, in a morbid way, to watch as Snape functioned almost like a robot.
Once Snape was steadily drinking his coffee, Harry returned to the medical files on his lap.
Snape, Severus Matthias. Self-admitted. May 16, 1998.Hexes unknown, modified memory curse. See Lestrange, Bellatrix. Patient appears to have been trapped in a memory loop. Originally two memory lapses per diem, now fully encapsulated within memory loop. Severe cognition impairment, still physically functional. Patient is a master occlumens.
Harry had read over the admittance papers at least twenty times, but he'd never found any clues in them. He'd also questioned Bennington Locke further, but it seemed that he was stumped as well. Snape had been cursed, Snape was stuck in his own mind, and not even a legilimens could reach him. And because they were stuck, St Mungo's had planned to stick Snape in the Janus Thickley long term ward until they could figure out how to reverse the curse.
Considering Bellatrix Lestrange had been enthusiastically killed by Molly Weasley in the final battle, Harry was fairly certain that no notes on the curse were ever going to be found. He also suspected that St Mungo's were aware of that, and writing off Snape as a lost cause unless they stumbled onto a potential cure for an unrelated case.
Fortunately, Harry had lots of free time and a rather handsome amount of funds to set aside to helping Snape. He also had two best friends were both intelligent and particularly skilled at solving puzzles. And like him, they were currently avoiding work.
Severus popped his head out of the book he was reading and looked across the kitchen. The Christmas pudding was sitting on the table, ready to go, and it was surrounded by the small presents they had for his Aunt, Uncle, and two cousins. He could hear his father clunking about upstairs, and his mother coming down the stairs.
"Severus, there you are. Make sure to put your tie on."
"But Mummy," Severus protested, a sigh of impatience on his lips. "Chris and Edward never wear ties."
"You do," Eileen Snape answered, helping fasten Severus's clip tie on.
Six hours later, Severus was leaning against the uncomfortable car door, his forehead pressed against the cold glass as his father drove slowly home. His tie had been loosened, and he shivered slightly; a mixture of tiredness and chilly winter air. Christmas supper at his Aunt and Uncle's had been fun, but now he just wanted to go home to sleep.
"Just because Wallace offers you the alcohol Toby, doesn't mean you must drink it!" his Mum hissed, leaning over the seat towards Severus's father, to keep her voice down and her hands close enough to grab the wheel if need be.
Severus was watching through a slit in his eyelids, and could see his father's body taut with concentration as he tried to drive home as perfectly as possible.
"It'd be bloody rude to turn me own brother down," his Dad argued back, his voice higher pitched than normal.
"Watch the road!" his Mum growled, and Severus closed his eyes fully. His father was not the best driver, and Severus found the drive home went much faster with his eyes shut.
"'S Christmas, isn't it?" Dad grumbled, and the car jerked slightly as he tried to right their path. "A man can have a tipple at Christmas."
"One, not eleven," Mum snapped. Severus started humming, trying to pretend he didn't know that they were still quite far from the house.
"Your flat looks good, Harry," Ron said, glancing at the plain white wall that Harry had conjured to make a second bedroom for Snape. "Clean enough that Mum can come through."
"Shut it, Ron," Harry good-naturedly said, ignoring the tease. It had started to rain over lunch, so they sat in the living room with sandwiches.
"Are you sure you're all right with him here?" Ron asked, peering about the flat and trying not to be too obvious as he looked toward the kitchen table. "Snape's still the same bloke..."
"He's not, though," Harry quietly said. "I can make him sit up and eat, but his mind... He's stuck in there."
Ron sat back on the couch and rubbed his eyes. "Have you asked Hermione? She's grounded for the next month, but she'd look it up..."
"I will ask her," Harry nodded. "But I'm not sure what she'll be able to find. It's a Bellatrix specialty; she thought it would be torture for Snape to relive the memories of the first person he murdered. So he's stuck reliving it, in a loop, and the healers don't know what's going to bring him out."
Ron looked slightly sick at the idea. "Legilimency doesn't work?"
"The healers weren't able to get in," Harry shrugged, summoning a bag of crisps into the living room. "I was only able in fifth year because I was really angry."
"Imagine that," Ron huffed with amusement. "Snape made you angry."
"I think he liked irritating people, to be honest," Harry admitted, before amending his statement. "Likes."
"Yeah," Ron agreed. "Do you think you can fix him?"
Harry glanced toward the kitchen, where Snape was sitting at the kitchen table, methodically turning pages of a book.
"By myself? Are you mad?" Harry asked, with a smile. "That's why you're here. And Hermione will be, when her parents let her out."
"That might be a while," Ron said, blushing as he grinned. "They were really angry that she sent them to Australia."
"It was probably more that she erased herself from their memories," Harry guessed. He and Ron made eye contact for a few seconds before laughing.
"You're going to get us killed," Ron parroted, faking a higher pitched voice. "Or worse – expelled!"
Harry laughed harder, remembering how much of a stickler for rules Hermione had been when they were younger.
"And then she grew up to break into Gringotts," Ron mused, and now he had that sparkle in his eyes, the one that usually appeared when he was thinking fondly of Hermione.
"That she did. She'll be able to help us figure him out," Harry said, smiling as he looked at Snape. "It'll be like another task."
"At least this one doesn't have sudden death at the end of it," Ron muttered, grabbing some crisps.
Harry grimaced and looked down at his hands. "Not for us, at least."
Ron scrunched his mouth up, twisted into the expression he normally wore when he'd said something that wasn't proper.
"So he just, he watches his memories of Dumbledore over and over, until he kills him? And then starts again?" Ron asked.
"Like a film," Harry nodded. "Of the first person he murdered."
"Bloody hell," Ron commented. "Glad it wasn't you; you'd have to live through the war and killing Voldemort again."
Harry started to nod, and then shook his head. "Technically, Professor Quirrell was the first person I murdered."
Ron blinked and looked up at him. "You're right. So maybe Snape's isn't Dumbledore, either."
"Maybe not," Harry slowly said. "Though Bellatrix was the one to curse him, and she was quite confident when she fired it off. She's been a Death Eater for years, so she would have known if Snape had killed anyone else."
"You saw it happen?" Ron asked, slouching into the couch and stretching his feet out.
"No, Ben Locke, that's Snape's healer, had a memory of it in a pensieve. She was cackling like a mad hatter; she figured he'd suffer with this memory. So she probably knew it wouldn't just be a muggle he'd murdered on a Death Eater raid."
Ron tapped his fingers against his thighs as he processed Harry's answer. After a minute, he stood up and picked up the empty crisp bowl.
"There's only one thing to it, then," Ron said, carrying the bowl to the sink. He cast a washing spell once he'd gotten there.
"What, go to the library and find as many memory curse books that we can?"
Ron scoffed and looked at Harry as if he'd lost his mind.
"No. Convince Hermione's parents that her poor professor can only be cured by her, because she's the only one smart enough to figure out what's wrong. Hermione can go to the library."
Harry laughed and clapped Ron on the back.
"You're not getting out of the library, mate."
Severus stood in front of his mother, his eyes focused on the scuffed kitchen table as his mother brought her tea to the table. She sat down in front of him, with a displeased look on her face.
"I am not going to ask how you've managed to get a hole in your new school jumper, Severus," she crossly said, grasping the hem of his red school jumper and yanking it up over his head. Severus flinched at the rough action, and wiped the hair from his eyes as he tried to figure out why Mummy was angry. He knew she could fix the tear with magic.
"I was pushed," Severus quietly said. It wasn't a lie; the mean bully Richard Wilkes had pushed him on the playground, but he didn't think Mummy really cared who had done it.
The jumper was placed on the table, and Eileen took out her cherry wood wand to mend it. Only a few seconds, and Severus watched with fascination as the threads around the hole reached out and stitched themselves together, like little stringy worms reaching out blindly for each other.
"Severus," Mummy started, holding the jumper tightly in her hand, enough to wrinkle it. "Your father drove you home from school, didn't he?"
"Yes, Mummy," Severus answered, picking at his tie. He ignored it at school, but for some reason when he got home, it really started to irritate him.
"I want you to listen to me carefully, Severus," Eileen said, leaning forward and grasping Severus's thin shoulders.
"You mustn't get in the car when your Dad drinks."
"But," Severus said, his eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "Not even after he has tea?"
His mother sighed and Severus frowned. What did she mean then?
"When he drinks alcohol, Severus. I can't always be there to protect you, and you need to watch out for yourself. Daddy likes to drink too much, and then he drives, and it's not safe."
"Like firewhiskey?" Severus asked, fidgeting under his mother's stare. "But how will I know? And why is it dangerous?"
"It's dangerous because he could hurt you," she answered, looking around the kitchen for something. "And you are seven years old. You are a smart boy, you can figure it out. You know what Daddy gets like when he's very happy and silly and has a funny smell."
She reached into the fruit bowl on the table and pulled out a pair of cheap reading glasses from the general shop. With a tap of her wand the glasses changed, and she handed them over to Severus.
"Put these on."
Severus shoved them on his face, missing his right ear at first and needing to hook it over his ear with his fingers. His face scrunched up as he blinked, as everything was blurry and the off kilter perspective made him feel a bit dizzy.
"Do you think you could go to the loo with those on?" she asked, and though it was a silly question, Severus knew his Mum wasn't joking.
"No, I can't see properly," Severus answered. The glasses were removed from his face and he shook his head to clear his vision.
"That's what your father sees when he has too much to drink. And then he gets in the car to pick you up from school. That's why I want you to know, Severus. It's not safe, and I don't want you to get hurt."
Severus stopped tugging on his tie and stared at the glasses on the table. Mummy looked upset still, and was still clutching his jumper, but Severus knew it was Dad she was angry with. He wondered how long Dad had been driving after having a drink, if it was that bad to do.
"I'll tell him no, Mum," Severus said, trying to remember exactly what she had said. Silly happy, and smelling funny.
"There's a good lad," his Mummy said, and she seemed to sigh out some of her anger.
"Why does he drive, Mum? If it's that blurry," Severus asked, pointing at the glasses on the table. "Doesn't he see that it's dangerous?"
She pursed her lips, the same way she did when Severus asked a question that she thought he wasn't old enough to know the answer to. And again, she seemed to think over many answers before giving him a very short one.
"Because your father isn't well, Severus."
"Oh," Severus said, looking again at the glasses. "So it's not really his fault? Do you still love him?"
"Yes," Mummy said, standing up and running her fingers through Severus's long hair. "It is his fault, but I still love him. And when you sometimes do stupid things, I still love you. Right?"
A slight blush flared up on Severus's cheeks, as he remembered last week, when she'd caught him wearing her dresses and pretending to be a powerful old wizard.
Early on Sunday morning Harry woke up with a crick in his neck. The rain was pattering off the balcony, and a damp chill was in the air. He moved his way through the flat, flicking on the kettle before going to check on Snape.
The man was lying flat on his back in the bed, looking somewhat like an Egyptian mummy. His feet were twitching under the covers, and his face was set into a mask of confusion. He looked younger than Harry had seen him, even more so than when Harry had first started school at Hogwarts.
"Come on, up you get. No need to hang around in memories all day."
Not even bothering to fake a smile at his horrible joke, Harry tugged the blankets down and put his hand under Snape's shoulder, giving just a bit of upward pressure. Snape then sat up on his own, set into the regular pattern of getting himself up and out of bed.
"You're not remembering Dumbledore, are you?" Harry asked, watching Snape move about the room. He fetched underpants, socks, and a vest from the chest of drawers, a shirt from the cupboard, and trousers from the cupboard as well, but this was where he always got stuck.
Sure enough, Snape stalled at the wardrobe, his hand hovering over the open door as if there was something that should have been hanging there.
"What are you missing?" Harry murmured, taking Snape's hand and putting it at the hem of his nightshirt. Snape then began to mechanically change his clothes, and Harry thought as he tried not to watch. As Snape buttoned up his shirt, an idea came to Harry.
"It's a tie. You're missing a tie."
Snape stood motionless by the wardrobe, waiting for the next movement to get them along on their day.
"And you don't wear a tie as a Professor," Harry said, proud of himself for figuring out some sort of timeline for Snape.
Severus sat at the kitchen table in the darkness, a small pad of paper in front of him as he neatly wrote out the supplies he'd need for school. It was going to be his last year going back to the Muggle school, and Severus wanted to make sure he scored higher on all his tests than the muggleborns he'd attend Hogwarts with.
"Why's it so dark in here?" Tobias muttered, stepping into the kitchen and glaring at the drawn curtains. He made his way to the icebox, and Severus didn't look up as he answered.
"Mum says it keeps the house cooler," Severus replied, searching through the back of the newspaper for things he'd need for class. His Mum planned to go to Woolworth's at the end of the week for new school things, and Severus knew to be prepared. He'd spent the summer wearing his parents' old clothes, because his father had said it wasn't worth buying new ones when Severus kept having growth spurts.
"We still have lights," Dad answered, rooting around in the fridge. "It's 1970, Rus. We can light the house up as much as we want."
Severus did look up, and furrowed his brow slightly as he took in his father. Tobias had a slightly dazed look on his face, with a sloppy smile and a day's worth of stubble on his chin. He was wearing garage clothes, and no doubt had been fixing up the car. Oddly, he had two cans of something in his trouser pockets, and kept a stance as if he didn't think they'd be visible.
"Where's your little friend?"
"Lily?" Severus asked, watching as his Dad inspected an older package of crackers.
"The ginger one," Tobias answered, taking a stack of crackers out of the packet.
"With her family," Severus answered, trying to not sound over-eager, like she was his only friend. "It's her grandmother's birthday."
Tobias nodded, searching in the fridge for something else.
"Dad," Severus started, tapping his pencil very lightly on the newspaper. "Do you think we could build a loo upstairs?"
Tobias, who'd had his head stuck in the cupboard looking for a snack, paused to look at his son.
"There's one in the garden," Tobias answered, nodding toward the kitchen window.
"I know," Severus replied, trying not to sound like he was whining. "But wouldn't it be nice to not go outside to use the loo? It's 1970, right?"
A wide grin broke out on Tobias's face, and he turned to look at the back kitchen wall where the pantry was.
"That it is, Rus. Summer's not over yet either. We'll build one, you an' I."
Severus smiled and went back to the list he was making, as his father picked up a can of beer from the fridge. It looked to be the same size can as the ones in his pocket, and Severus tried not to feel let down that his Dad had resorted to hiding beer cans in his pocket.
"He would have worn a tie as a student, Harry, so all we really know is that he's not currently in a memory during a time when he didn't wear ties," Hermione said, glancing at her watch.
"Thanks for ruining the moment, Hermione," Harry said, not feeling nearly as accomplished as he had this morning. "So essentially, Snape could be anywhere from age six to seventeen."
"If the first person he murdered was Dumbledore, then he would be eleven to seventeen," Hermione said, impatience edging her voice. "But as we don't know who the memories are about..."
"It's not exactly something you can just look up," Ron grumbled.
"Then the information isn't that helpful yet," Hermione finished, glaring at her boyfriend. She checked her watch again and Harry rolled his eyes.
"We can apparate, Hermione. You'll be home before your parents' curfew, I promise."
"Yes, well," Hermione answered, slightly flustered. "If you can try legilimency, maybe whatever memory you see will help.
"I suppose we haven't anything else to go with for now," Harry said, not looking forward to the massive headache he'd have after going against Snape's occlumency skills.
He wasn't supposed to, but Severus used the kitchen sink to brush his teeth in the winter. The outside washroom left him freezing when he had to run quickly out for a pee, and the light in the kitchen was bright enough that Severus wasn't afraid to be down there late at night.
Especially not when his parents were fighting.
With his toothbrush in hand (he never left it by the sink, in case his mother found it), Severus carefully walked back upstairs. The small third bedroom in the house was directly at the top of the stairs, and Severus had to watch his steps as he passed it because sawdust covered half the floor in front of the door, and his Dad had left some bits of lumber sticking out of the doorway.
"You started that half a year ago, Tobias Snape, and you don't even have the bloody toilet in!"
Severus winced at his mother's tone, knowing that if she'd been yelling at him, he would have tried to hide in the corner.
"These, these things take time!" his Dad yelled back, and Severus could hear a slur in his voice. It was one he'd become familiar with over the last three years.
"Oh, don't give me that rubbish!"
Severus put his toothbrush on his desk and changed into his nightclothes, not bothering to put the light on in his room. His bed, which faced the window, was chilly when he got in, but warmed rather quickly to his body temperature. He laid his head back against the pillow and stared out the window at the planes flying in toward Manchester airport.
"…wave your bloody wand then and finish it for me!"
Severus lifted his feet up, keeping them in the air just long enough for his blankets to pull in. When he put them down, the bottom of the blankets were tucked under his feet.
"Because you promised Severus you'd build it for him, you pillock! And at least when you're drunk in the bathtub, I know where you are."
A door slammed, rattling his own bedroom door in its frame. Severus turned over, yawning as he pulled his pillow closer to his shoulders. Tommy Wright, the boy who lived five streets over, was bringing in his collection of Doctor Who badges from the Kelloggs cereal boxes, and Severus was hoping to trade for the ones he was missing.
Harry dropped the book on the table and rubbed his temples. Hermione had taken to dropping by every other day, with whatever new titbit of information she had regarding the curse, but they were getting few and far between with anything useful.
"Bellatrix definitely knew which curses to use," Harry said, pushing the book closed. Hermione looked equally as frustrated with her own book, though she wasn't quite ready to give up on it yet. Snape sat in the chair beside Harry, flipping through pages of a book but not actually reading it.
"You're sure he's not actively using occlumency as well?" Hermione asked, taking a note quickly.
"No. When he uses occlumency I still see things. Mostly his anger. But when I tried yesterday his mind was just fuzzy and not focused on anything," Harry answered.
Hermione looked up and had an uncomfortable expression on her face.
"It would be impossible to break him out of this curse, if he isn't actually experiencing any memories," she carefully said.
"No, I think he is," Harry said, shaking his head. "He grunts and twitches sometimes, as if he's seeing something he doesn't like. And the blurriness, it's similar to when you apparate. You know, that fuzziness in between here and there."
Hermione gave him a considering look.
"So you haven't quite reached him," Hermione said, reaching for a book on legilimency.
"No…that's right," Harry slowly replied. "Because I don't know where I'm going. Hermione, that's it!"
"What's it?" Ron asked, walking into the sitting room. He had a bag of Chinese takeaway with him, and purple eyebrows.
"What did Fred do to you?" Harry asked, trying not to laugh.
"I don't even know," Ron shrugged, sounding exhausted, though he did smile.
"Harry thinks he's figured out the problem," Hermione said, her tone light and somewhat doubtful.
"I have figured it out," Harry continued. "I can't get into Snape's memory, because I don't know what memory he's stuck in. It's just like apparition; if I don't know the destination, I can't get there."
"All right," Ron said, plunking himself down in a chair. The takeaway was placed on the table and a spell was cast to bring out all the containers. "How do you figure out what memory he's in?"
"I don't know," Harry confessed, tossing his pencil to the table. "The only hints I have to go on are his robotic moves."
"The ones that you have to start?" Ron asked, dishing himself out some rice.
"Yeah. Like this," Harry said, placing a glass of water in front of Snape. He took the book away and put Snape's hand on the glass, lifting it slightly. Snape started drinking from the glass, as if the man had meant to do it all along.
"I wonder if you can make him cast spells," Ron pondered, adding more to his plate. "It'd be like having your own action figure, Harry."
"Ron!" Hermione warned. "He's cursed."
"Ten points from Gryffindor," Ron continued, deepening his voice in a bad imitation of Snape. "My you're looking lovely tonight Filch. Care for a dance?"
Harry snorted into his sleeve as he tried not to full out laugh, knowing by the look Hermione was giving them that it would not be a good idea.
"You think he's gay?" Harry finally asked, filling up two plates of food.
"Well, no, I don't think so," Ron shrugged, starting his dinner. "I mean look at his hair."
Hermione shook her head and sat down with her plate.
"Joking, Hermione," Ron said, flashing her a smile that was meant to keep him out of trouble. "But I mean, he must have had something stuck up his arse..."
Harry choked, trying to keep back his laughter, and nearly had some noodles escaping his mouth.
"You're going to be in a world of pain if we're able to cure Snape, and he remembers all this," Harry warned, reaching over to Snape's spot and helping the man start his dinner.
Ron's eyebrows went up for a few seconds, before he let a sly smile flitter across his face.
"But as you're my best mate, you'll give me a two day head start."
"Hah, you wish, Weasley," Harry laughed.
The record of his Mum's favourite music played in the background as Severus sat on a stool in the living room and watched his family talk. Lily had gone off to the washroom, so he was left to watch his father boisterously retell stories to his uncle from the mill he worked at, and ignore his two cousins, who were smashing hot wheels cars together on the floor. His mother was somewhere in the kitchen with his aunt, preparing the Christmas ham.
"You always scowl when you look at him."
Lily had somehow snuck back into the house, as Severus hadn't heard the slamming of the back door, and was sitting beside him again.
"Not always," Severus defensively said. "The upstairs loo will be finished soon, I promise."
"That's all right. It smells like Christmas outside," Lily said, smiling. "Mum will be here soon to pick me up though."
As if on queue, Severus had only just unearthed Lily's Christmas gift from their tiny tree when the doorbell rang. He hastily gave Lily the small box, secretly happy that she wouldn't open up the fancy quill in front of him. Lily loved to write and draw, but Severus was still afraid she'd be disappointed with the simple gift.
After she'd left for home, Severus wandered back through the sitting room and into the kitchen. His father was yelling at Uncle Wallace now, about the ruddy foreman at his job and how people were out to get him, and Severus was tired of it. It was Christmas, and they'd all heard the story before.
He gave his Mum a quick hug, pretending to say thanks for letting Lily stay all afternoon, and snuck her wand out of her apron. Severus figured his mother knew he'd taken it, but as his Aunt and Uncle were very Muggle, she likely wouldn't say anything.
And because it was her wand, the Ministry didn't know that it was Severus who was using it to take the alcohol out of his father's glass.
"M'boy here," his Dad proudly said, heavily putting his arm around Severus's shoulders. "Going to a genius school with his girlfriend. O'ly a first year and top marks he has."
"She's not my girlfriend," Severus weakly protested, feeling his cheeks flame. The level of fire whiskey in his father's glass had shrunk considerable, and Severus stopped the spell before his father could notice.
"Looked like a nice girl," Uncle Wallace said, giving him a wink. Severus blushed further and slipped away.
He managed to siphon the fire whiskey out of his Dad's glass three more times before his Aunt, Uncle, and cousins went home, and only after the door had shut did Severus realise what a bad idea that had been.
"What do you think you're doing?" Tobias said, turning to glare at Severus. It wasn't as effective as it could have been, as his Dad was leaning heavily against the front door, with a very red face and bloodshot eyes.
"I dun need you to monitor me, boy," Tobias continued, unsteadily shaking his finger at Severus. "What I drink, 'n how much, is none of your business. You get that?"
"I just didn't want you to get sick on Christmas," Severus lamely said, wondering which was the right thing to say to placate his father tonight.
"Nnnnno," Tobias said, shaking his hand and nearly whacking the newel post of the stair bannister in the process. "Yer mother put you up to this."
"No she didn't!" Severus insisted. "It was my idea, because you're more fun to be around when you're not that drunk."
"I'm not drunk," his father immediately replied, trying to focus on Severus. He couldn't seem to keep his mouth closed though, as if it had been shot up with the dentist's numbing medication. "And if I do get drunk, I'm an adult and it's none of yer business, boy. You hear me?"
He'd fairly shouted the last bit, and Severus winced.
"Fine," Severus growled. "Can I go to bed now?"
"Wassat the only thing you did? Take from me glass?" Tobias asked, his arms crossed and his eyes somewhat narrowed. There was a bit of spittle on his lips. "Or did you empty the bottles too?"
"Only your glass," Severus coolly responded, knowing that if he went anywhere near his Dad's liquor cabinet that he'd be in for so much trouble.
"All right," his Dad said, still trying to glare at Severus. "'n you learn. I'm your father, and 'm an adult. I can do what I want and it's none of your business."
"What's going on?" Eileen asked, stepping into the kitchen. She held her toiletry bag in her hands, and was wearing a jacket over her housecoat. Baths in the outdoor washroom became cold very quickly on the way back in the house.
"Nothing," Severus said, stomping up the stairs.
"You told him to spy on me?" Tobias asked, his voice following Severus up the stairs.
"I did no such thing," Eileen answered in an impatient tone.
Severus went to the upstairs washroom to drown out the noise. The sink had been put in, so they could at least brush their teeth inside. But when Severus went to the drawer for his toothbrush, he found an empty beer can hidden amongst the hairbrushes and loo rolls.
Only three more days and he could go back to Hogwarts. At least they'd had Christmas at their house this year, so Severus hadn't worried that his father had to stay sober enough to drive home.
"Thanks for dinner, Mrs Weasley," Harry said, giving the woman a hug. "It was lovely."
"You're welcome, dear," Molly answered, standing back and taking one last searching look at Harry, to make sure he was doing all right. "Are you sure you're okay, taking care of Severus?"
"Yeah," Harry answered, glancing at the stoic man beside him. Snape was waiting for Harry to initiate the next set of movements, but Harry knew if he didn't keep a loose grasp on Snape's sleeve, that the man would eventually wander off.
"He's really no trouble, I just wish we could find some sort of cure for the curse," Harry continued.
A concerned look passed over Molly's face as she studied Snape.
"Do you know, that is," Harry started, unsure of how to word his question. "Did he ever tell about..uh."
"Just say it dear," Molly gently said, ignoring the other Weasleys bustling about around them, cleaning up from supper.
"The curse is about the memory of the first person he ever killed. I saw him murder Professor Dumbledore, but have you heard rumours of anyone else that might have been... his first?" Harry rapidly said, not wanting to lose his steam.
Molly was taken aback for a few seconds, before slowly shaking her head.
"No, I don't think so," she answered, and Harry was grateful not to see irritation or revulsion in her glance at Snape. "He didn't join the Death Eaters until he'd left school, but even then, he wasn't with them for very long before he became a spy. So it's entirely likely that Albus Dumbledore was his first."
Harry frowned for a second, but plastered a smile on as he gave her another quick hug.
"Thanks Mrs Weasley. Somehow we'll figure this out."
"I'm sure you will, Harry," she said, smiling and pinching his cheek. Harry scrunched his face up and grasped strongly onto Snape's arm, leading them to the apparition point at the end of the Burrow's garden lane.
Severus sat at his regular desk in the potions classroom, holding up a beaker full of lilac coloured liquid. It had a few bubbles at the top, and Severus frowned at it before pouring it into his cauldron. He watched for the reaction, standing far enough back that any flare-ups wouldn't hit him. After scribbling some notes in his journal, he turned to the next ingredient and began to prepare it.
"Sev! I knew I'd find you here," a cheerful voice said, and Severus didn't need to look up to know who it was.
"Hi Lily," Severus said, still concentrating on his ingredient. "I had a bit of free time, so I thought…"
"You thought you'd come experiment," Lily finished, hopping onto the stool next to him. "It's a Hogsmeade weekend you know, we could have had some butterbeer."
Severus gave her a glance and twisted his mouth up.
"And been teased mercilessly by James The Prat Potter and his friends."
"He's just a stupid boy," Lily sighed, picking up a knife and helping Severus cut up his box hedge root. "He and Sirius Black snuck behind Rosmerta's bar and stole two bottles of firewhiskey."
Severus's hand paused over the root he was cutting, and his mind flashed through possible encounters with a drunk James Potter and Sirius Black.
"You should report them," Severus said, his tone cold.
Lily shrugged. "Headmaster Dumbledore probably knows. I'll bet Rosmerta has all sorts of surveillance charms. Maybe he's just waiting for them to do something stupid first."
"They already are stupid," Severus petulantly said, dumping the sliced root into the cauldron. It happily bubbled and released a peaty scent, which Severus recorded in his book. He could tell out of the corner of his eye that Lily was studying him, and scowled at the notebook.
"Letter from your father?" she asked, in a kind enough voice that Severus knew she wasn't judging his anger.
"He's such a…I hate him sometimes," Severus said, sitting back on his stool and crossing his arms.
Her large green eyes found his, and Severus felt a bit of comfort in the gaze.
Severus sighed, but kept his arms crossed as he recalled the letter.
"He got into trouble for drinking at work. Some sort of month-long suspension, and they're going to move him to another part of the mill. Mum's angry, because that's a month without pay, but he just thinks this is all a joke. He thinks it's funny."
"And you've told him it isn't?" she asked, a small amount of anger in her voice.
"Not yet, I just got the letter this morning," Severus said, smashing a plant bulb with the flat edge of his knife. "So now I'm going to worry if he'll actually get sacked, and then we'll lose the house."
"That's not your job to worry about," Lily firmly said.
"Isn't it? He asked for a bit of liquid luck in his letter, to make things easier for him at the new section of the mill," Severus said, in a nasty tone that he immediately regretted.
"Sorry," he muttered. She was eying him critically, and Severus found it unnerving.
"I think you should stop talking to him."
"Stop talking to him? He's my father," Severus said, beginning to clean up his station.
"He's not acting like one," Lily boldly reasoned. "We're thirteen. I don't worry about my family's finances, because I'm the kid. And you shouldn't have to either, just because your dad's irresponsible. So don't talk to him."
Severus folded away his cutting board and charts, shaking his head.
"I can't ignore him when I go home for the holidays, Lily. And besides, he's my Dad. I still remember when he dressed up like Santa at Christmas, and took me to the book fair in London."
Severus shoved his measuring tools into his bag, irritated with the memories in his mind of his father before Severus knew what alcoholism was.
"All right," Lily said, slipping off the stool and putting her scarf back on. "He is your dad, but I don't think he's worth it if he disappoints you this much."
Because she knew him well enough, Lily skipped out of the room and went up to lunch before Severus could snap back an answer.
Placing Snape's wand in his hand, Harry held it up as if he was going to cast a spell, and then let go. Snape's arm gracefully arched downward, before jerking quickly to the left and then completing a spiral back up. The door unlocked, and Snape strode into the house with confidence, as if he were not stuck in his memories and unaware of what was going on around him.
"This is really bloody weird," Ron said, following Snape and Harry into the house. It was dark and slightly stale smelling, but Harry found the electric light switch and was pleased to see that it turned on.
"Power still works," Harry said, talking mostly to himself as he watched Snape enter the kitchen and put on the kettle for tea. Instead of sitting in the comfortable (though very worn) armchair in the living room, Snape waited on the hard wooden chairs at the kitchen table. He sat motionlessly at the table, staring out the small window over the sink.
"Is he stuck again?" Ron asked, glancing at Snape as the looked around the living room.
"Until the kettle boils, probably," Harry answered.
The room was filed with books, stacked up on the floor, on the end tables, and double shelved on the bookcases. They ranged from magical topics to Muggle fiction, and seemed to be in an order that only Snape would understand. There were a few photos on the wall, some of Snape's family, and none of them looked particularly cheerful.
Oddly, Ron found a cabinet in the kitchen that had a lock on it, with plenty of scratch marks in the wood around the keyhole.
"What do you suppose is in there?" he asked, placing his thumb by the edge of the cabinet, where someone had tried to attack the hinges with a screwdriver.
"Easy to find out," Harry said. They ignored Snape as the man made his tea, and unlocked the door with a quick alohamora. Harry was slightly surprised that a simple first year unlocking spell did the trick, but became puzzled when he saw all the bottles inside the cupboard. At least thirteen different liquor bottles, all with funny labels that looked to be at least twenty years old.
"Weird," Ron said, picking up a bottle of firewhiskey. There were several of the wizarding alcohol, and most were empty.
"Again," Snape sneered, mostly under his breath. He was staring at the liquor cabinet with a look of disgust, but didn't seem to be seeing either Harry or Ron.
Both gaped at him, surprised that he'd actually spoken.
Ron put the bottle back and they closed the cupboard, noticing that Snape seemed to lose some of his tension when they did.
"So…what do you think that was about?" Ron asked.
"I think someone in this house had a drinking problem. And I don't think it was Snape," Harry quietly said. He looked around the small kitchen to see if anything else stood out, but it was a standard small kitchen. Smaller than his Aunt Petunia's, but certainly serviceable and only somewhat out of date. The drawer handle pull on one drawer was broken, which Harry found a bit odd, because it wouldn't have taken a second for Snape to fix it with magic.
When he looked at the handle further though, he noticed the letter L scratched into it. Harry traced over the letter with his thumb and gazed out the kitchen window, to the back garden. An old laundry line stretched from the back shed to the side of the house, and there was a rather dented metal rubbish bin near the gate. A stone path led to what looked to be an old outdoor privy next to the shed, and Harry could also see a tiny box garden with magical looking plants growing in it.
It took him another minute to notice that the path to the privy was lined with mostly buried glass bottles.
"I wonder if Mum ever came over here, to play with Snape," Harry mused, thinking of the L on the handle. Maybe she had broken it, after an argument with Snape.
"Doubt it," Ron said, shaking his head. "Would you ever come here?"
Harry bristled at that and scowled at Ron.
"Yes, I would have. I lived in a cupboard for half my life, and I promise you, it wasn't my choice."
"All right," Ron said, shrugging. "Didn't mean it like that. Let's go get the rest of his clothes so we can leave. This place is depressing."
"Fine," Harry muttered. They left Snape to enjoy his tea in the kitchen while they packed some things for him, figuring that of all places, Snape would be safest in his own house.
Severus bumped into the doorframe of the kitchen as he blearily searched around for tea. The kettle was boiling, and he could hear his mother moving about in the back garden, so Severus made a pot for them both. She was likely hanging the laundry up to dry, and Severus had learned long ago that she appreciated small things, like tea being made for her.
With his left hand he reached down for the cutlery drawer for a spoon, and frowned. The handle was dangling from it, the edges splintered from where some downward force had smashed it off the screw holding it in.
"Morning," his Mum said, bringing in the empty laundry basket. She left it on the chair by the phone, and immediately grabbed a mug of freshly poured tea. With a scrunched up face, she looked at him.
"Severus, you didn't stir the milk."
"What happened to the drawer?" Severus asked instead, nodding at it. His mother was silent for a moment, as Severus added sugar to his tea.
"Your father was angry last night," she finally said.
Angry. That was code for piss drunk and in a rant about something stupid, Severus knew.
"Can't you fix it?" Severus asked, unsure of why his mother hadn't.
"No," she simply said, twirling her finger over her mug of tea and letting magic stir the milk in. Severus stared at her as she sat down at their tiny kitchen table.
"Why not? It'd just take a second."
He put his tea mug at his spot at the table, and opened the cupboard for cereal.
"Because your father promised to," Eileen answered. "A man's worth is measured by his word, Severus, and your father used to always keep his."
Severus scoffed as he poured flakes into his bowl.
"Sure. How many times has he promised to quit drinking?"
Severus's mother moved fast and he winced when she hit him with a stinging hex.
"Everyone gets a second chance, and when he is sober, he will be reminded of his promise."
"Fine," Severus sulked, dropping to his seat at the table with his food.
His mother reached across the table for a plum from the fruit bowl and glared at him.
"Don't think that your father's drinking excuses him from my expectations," Eileen admonished. "And I fully expect you to keep your word when you give it."
Severus took a swallow of tea and put on his most sincere face.
"I give you my word that I will go and get showered today."
He ducked as she threw the tea cosy at him and then he quickly finished his breakfast.
"Don't be a smartarse, Severus Snape," Eileen warned, and with the shaking of her paring knife, Severus figured she was somewhat serious. "There will be a time when that is all you will have to give, and others will judge you on it."
"Sure Mum," Severus said, taking his dishes to the sink. He gave her a small smile to let her know he was taking her seriously, and nodded at the broken handle. "But I'll bet that stays broken for years."