AN: Thank you for the awesome response on this. My apologies to everyone who this situation is a bit too familiar to, but it's something I have been wanting to explore as Snape's backstory. And if you spot a typo, ignore it for now. ;)
The Memories of S, T. Snape - Part 2.
"I've always thought you were a giant arse."
There was no reply, as Ron hadn't expected there to be, and the kitchen clock ticked on as they sat at the table. A bowl of crisps sat between them, but neither had touched it.
"And you probably still are, even though the war's over," Ron continued. Snape stared off at something behind Ron.
"So when Harry gets you out of this, and you know he will, I want you to be somewhat human to him. And to Hermione, too."
Shifting in his seat, Ron remembered some of the nasty things that Snape had said to his girlfriend and his eyebrows narrowed.
"And another thing. You were a bloody bully at school!" Ron said, pointing his finger. "I want you to apologise to Hermione for what you said about her big teeth. Awfully rich, coming from a bloke like you whose teeth look like sh…"
A small pop sounded in the room and Harry materialised next to the table, his hands full of paperwork.
"Ron," Harry greeted, dumping the files on the table. "You having a staring contest?"
Ron looked back at Snape, whose eyebrow was twitching.
"Conversation. Made some points clear to him," Ron said, nodding.
"I…see," Harry commented, taking off his shoes and floating them toward the front door. "Thanks for watching him."
"Yeah," Ron said, standing up. "Get all the paperwork sorted?"
"Only after threatening one of the hospital spokeswizards," Harry replied, rolling his eyes. He was searching through the kitchen cupboards to find something for dinner. "I just wanted the weekly caregiver's allowance to go to a separate account so that he'd have money to live on when the curse was broken. But no, I couldn't do that. So then I had to obliviate the man and lie."
"Did it work?" Ron asked, an amused look on his face.
"Hope so," Harry answered back. "Staying for dinner?"
"Nah, Hermione's parents are letting her go out with me tonight," Ron answered.
"Oh right," Harry said, pulling a box of pasta out of the cupboard. "What the hell are you still doing here?"
"'S a good question, mate," Ron said, giving a small wave and disapparating from the kitchen.
Severus sat at the kitchen table, nudging the pile of newspapers out of his way so he could peel the carrots for dinner.
"The fifth years have taken over the common room, and are hexing anyone who makes too much noise," Severus grumbled, nearly nicking his thumb with the dull peeler.
"And you'll do the same thing next year when you have your O.W.L.s, Severus," his mother admonished. She was tying up a chicken to fit into the roasting pan.
"Mucro," Severus muttered, sharpening the knife with magic.
"Severus," his mother warned.
"You don't want me to cut myself, do you?" Severus asked, giving his Mum an innocent look. She looked like she was going to say something, but then sighed and turned back to the chicken.
"Mum? What's wrong?" Severus asked. Her letters to him leading up to the Easter hols hadn't been the most uplifting, but his mother hated the spring and Severus thought it was just normal.
"Has your father ever mentioned someone named Margaret to you?"
Her back was still to Severus, but he could tell by her tense shoulders that the question was important and that she was upset. Her long black hair, normally kept neatly in a braid, was hanging limply down and the uneven ends were obvious.
Severus finished peeling the carrot he was working on, unsure how much to tell of the truth.
"It's some woman at the mill, isn't it?" Severus asked.
"Yes, some Mugglebint at the mill," Eileen answered, bitterness in her voice. "Whom he spent his bonus cheque on, at some silly Muggle bed and breakfast in Sheffield."
Severus knew his Dad spent a lot of time with Margaret at the mill, and that he'd stayed over night with her once or twice when Eileen had been angry with him. But Severus had never thought that his father would look at someone else as anything other than a temporary respite from his mother's irritation.
"He's probably just being an idiot, Mum. You know what Dad's like," Severus placated, already forming a plan in his mind to interrogate his father.
"Oh yes I do," she said, banging the pan on the counter as the vegetables were tossed in alongside the kitchen. "My whole family warned me against marrying a Muggle…"
"But I thought he used to love magic," Severus said, clenching the peeler in his hand. He was mentally reviewing the few letters his father had sent him, to remember if his Dad had said anything special about this Margaret woman. "And you used to love showing him our world."
As if to make a point, his mother used magic to pre-heat the oven and fill the pot of small potatoes with water.
"Your father did love it. When we were teenagers he was fascinated by it."
A crash sounded in the back garden before she could say anything else, and Severus knew his Dad was home. Tobias only used the back entrance when he had left the bar on South Street, because the back alley connected almost directly to South Street. The road they lived on had a curve at the east end, which would have meant an extra ten minutes walking around.
The scratching of a key at the back door told Severus that he'd have to fix the lock housing again this summer. On the fourth try his father got the door open, and walked in with a suspicious look.
"Hullo family," Tobias said, his gaze jumping between his son and wife.
Knowing how paranoid his father could be, Severus plastered a fake smile on his face.
"Hullo Father," he echoed, pretending to find it as funny as Tobias did.
"What are we discussin' here?" his father asked, slowly and very carefully making his way around the table toward the living room.
"Your birthday," Severus smoothly lied. His mother was at the sink, scrubbing the dishes manually and likely with a cross look on her face. Tobias couldn't see it though, and Severus knew that would keep the peace. For now.
"Trying to figure out where to take an old man like yourself."
"Old man?" Tobias sputtered. He sounded amused though, and a lopsided grin slipped onto his face. "I'll show you old man. Eileen, put one of those spells of yours on dinner. We're goin' out."
"Out, Toby?" Eileen asked, turning to look at her husband. Her expression had turned into a blank mask, as if she was waiting to see if he'd disappoint her. Severus wondered how he hadn't noticed his mother becoming so bitter.
"Yes," Tobias answered, determined. "Never mind me, young Rus here turned fourteen this year and we need to celebrate. Couldn't do it at the school, so we'll go now."
Severus rolled his eyes. "I'm fifteen, Dad."
Tobias eyed him carefully as he buttoned his jacket back up.
"All right then. Fifteen. We'll go celebrate."
He stepped out into the living room, humming and rummaging in the cigar box on the bookshelf, where Severus knew he kept his secret stash of fifty pound notes.
Severus turned to look at his mother, when he heard stasis spells being cast on the food they'd prepared for supper.
"Mum, are we going?"
She shrugged and put the food in the fridge, to keep the counters clean. Severus hadn't noticed before how tired his mother looked.
"If he's in a good mood, why not? Doesn't happen often anymore."
Harry picked up a tie from the shops when he went for groceries, and hung it from a nail on the inside of Snape's wardrobe. After a bit of consideration, he also put his schoolbag on the bottom shelf of the wardrobe, and a set of Snape's school robes on a hanger.
He'd done a bit of research into Snape's family past, though there wasn't much information available, and had come up with a suspicion about whose memory loop Snape was stuck in.
The details were grim. It was odd to be sitting beside a completely silent Snape, sipping coffee, and reading about how the man's family had fallen apart when he was a teenager. His mother had filed for divorce when Snape was sixteen, and his father had been sacked from his job a year later.
Harry read further into the file, finding that Eileen Snape had moved to Belfast shortly after leaving her husband, and that Tobias Snape had kept the family home near Manchester. Harry suspected that holidays after that were never pleasant. It seemed from the police reports in the file that Severus had returned to his childhood home for the hols, as after every pub fight his father had gotten into, Severus was named as the person who'd come to pick his father up.
"This is right around the time you were probably considering the Death Eaters," Harry said, glancing at Snape. The man was steadily drinking coffee, but his expression wasn't relaxed. Something seemed to be irritating him, and Harry knew it was the memories.
Flipping over to the next page, Harry frowned. It was the death certificate for Tobias Snape, with a cause of death listed as 'liver failure.' In the additional causes box was noted that Tobias had liver cirrhosis, and prolonged alcohol abuse. The date was the twelfth of August, 1978.
"Wow," Harry said, almost as a whisper. The sun was emerging over the buildings across the street, but Harry ignored both it and the regular sounds of the morning.
"Both your parents left you. Were you there, when he died?" Harry asked, looking at Snape. The only answer he received was a rather violent twitch of Snape's lips, and a spilled cup of coffee.
During the last week of August Severus usually had the jitters, as he was looking forward to returning to Hogwarts and anxious to leave their little town. He'd learned that a late night walk in the cooling air was enough to calm him for sleep, which was necessary as Severus turned into a right bastard when he hadn't slept well enough. Being slapped by his mother twice for smarting back at her had been enough for him to learn to avoid it.
Lily was usually able to sneak out to join him, and they had a route that went through the park, passed the mall, and back through Lily's end of the neighbourhood before Severus returned home.
Nothing remarkable happened on the walks, but many conversations were held about the future, Lily's upcoming career as Minister of Magic, and Severus's upcoming fame at curing lycanthropy.
Smiling to himself, Severus slipped into the house and made for the kitchen. The downstairs was dark and Severus figured his parents were upstairs in bed already. Hopefully his Mum had left supper's leftovers in the fridge, as Severus's stomach was grumbling.
"Christ Dad, what happened?"
The light over the kitchen sink hummed as Severus flipped it on, giving just enough illumination that his father was visible at the table. His hair was sticking up wildly, blood from a gash on the side of his head still looking a bit sticky. One of his eyes was black, and his nose was slightly crooked.
"Just a little bump, that's all," Tobias answered. He had a clear glass of liquid in front of him, and winced as he drank from the glass. Severus saw that his father's bottom lip was split, and the wince was likely from the firewhiskey burning the cut.
"A little bump? Are you all right?" Severus asked, wetting a cloth and walking toward his father.
"I'm fine, I said," Tobias insisted, ignoring the wet cloth and waving his hand in an uncoordinated manner. "Be fine tomorrow."
Severus stared a little harder and noticed that there were little shiny flecks of something in his father's shirt collar. Reflective, like little shards of…
"That's glass on your shoulder.…you hit Mrs Annlewick's car, didn't you. I saw it up the road, smashed up," he blandly accused, watching for his father's reaction.
"I don't know anything about that," Tobias evenly said, pushing the drink away from himself and trying to stand.
"Does Mum know?" Severus asked, crossing his arms. "Has she seen our car?"
"Your Mum knows nothing about nothing she don't need to know," Tobias warned, lurching toward Severus. As he stepped beyond the table Severus could see that his trousers were torn and bloodied too.
"She's not stupid. Neither of us is. And I'm sure Mrs Annlewick will ring the police and then you'll have to tell her."
"Tell her what? Tobias sneered, dropping his glass in the sink. It clanged loudly and the liquid splashed over the dishcloth. "Tell her some punk kids knocked a rubbish bin into her car?"
Severus pointed his finger at his father and sneered right back.
"You think no one's going to notice? Look at yourself! How bloody drunk are you that you think no one would know it was you?"
Tobias snapped, spinning to fully face Severus and punching him fast enough that Severus had no time to defend himself.
"The alcohol had nothing to do with it! That bend in the road is always causing accidents, and that's what that was," Tobias yelled back, an ugly stench of stale whiskey on his breath.
Severus had bumped back into the kitchen door, holding his nose gently between his fingers and blinking back the sharp tears in the creases of his eyes. He could feel liquid on his lip that he was fairly certain was blood.
His father was leaning heavily against the kitchen counter where the broken-handled drawer was, staring at Severus as if he wasn't sure that Severus was going to hit him in return.
Severus withdrew his wand, not caring about any underage restriction, and held it steadily out against his father.
"Afraid to hit your old man?" Tobias taunted, cracking his knuckles.
"Crucio," Severus whispered, surprised when it worked. Tobias jerked at the sink, his arms going rigid and his face in a grimaced scowl as he grunted. Severus let the spell hold for half a minute before dropping it.
His father slumped to the floor, but before the man could say anything else, Severus stepped toward his feet and looked down on him.
"I walked past her car tonight. You could have hit me, and you probably still would have blamed the road."
He left Tobias on the floor, unconcerned whether or not his father choked on vomit if he passed out. Severus quietly prepared for bed, even though he knew his mother was sick with the flu and wouldn't have heard him anyway.
He glanced at himself in the bathroom mirror, and winced at the blood around his nose. It looked broken, and for an instant Severus regretted breaking the cruciatus curse so quickly.
"Episkey," he tried, pointing his wand at himself in the mirror. That spell could likely be justified if the Ministry ever came looking, but in the fifteen years Severus had been alive, they never had.
His nose made a painful cracking sound and the result was less crooked than before. It still wasn't perfect, but it was the best that Severus could do.
The next day was a Tuesday, and Severus knew his mother would be going to work at the local nursery, and his father would be preparing for his shift at the mill. Summers at the mill were reduced hour shifts, as there were lots of temporary workers and the senior workers tended to take holidays.
When he went downstairs however, Severus was surprised to find both his parents in the living room. Their living room was a drab white colour, likely still the builder's white that the house had been painted with when they'd moved in. His father had never bothered to paint it differently, and his mother had kept the decorations neutral. Severus's dark house robe, black shirt, and messy black hair made him stand out against the white walls.
"What's going on?" Severus asked, keeping by the stairs and watching his parents warily. There was a small suitcase by his father's feet, which was only large enough for one person's clothes. His father was wearing a dress shirt, but it wasn't buttoned up all the way and he was missing his tie. His hands had slight tremors, but Severus knew most certainly that they were because his father hadn't had any alcohol yet that morning, not that he was nervous.
"I'm going to a centre outside of town," Tobias said, leaning on his knees and not looking up at either his wife or son. "I have a problem."
Severus's eyebrows rose high enough that his nose gave a sharp pain, reminding him that it had recently been broken.
"An alcohol problem," Severus finally said, looking at his father for a straight answer.
Tobias looked up and Severus saw a guilty expression, something he'd rarely seen on his father.
"Yes. A drinking problem."
Severus nodded, unsure of what else to say. He'd known for years his father had a problem, and couldn't actually remember when his father didn't drink. But if he was going to try treatment, Severus wasn't going to undermine him. Even though he wasn't entirely certain it was his father's idea, as the air between his parents in the room was oppressively tense.
"I'm going to make breakfast," Severus finally said, passing through the room toward the kitchen. He stopped just in the doorway as his Dad spoke.
"Rus? Why did you use a spell last night, instead of hitting back?" Tobias asked.
Severus could feel the stares of his parents as he turned around slowly, the edges of his house robe twirling around his legs.
"I wanted to hurt you as badly as I felt," Severus answered.
"And did you?" his Mum asked, looking straight at him. Severus knew his Mum had a rather natural skill for legilimency, but he had nothing to hide. She'd told him when he was much younger that she'd very rarely used magic on his father, as it was a strong unequalizer. But her expression, though rather blank, still showed a bit of understanding.
Severus remembered the power coursing through his hand, into his wand, as he had cast the spell the night before. He hadn't even needed to put much effort into the spell, which Severus supposed should have concerned him.
"Yes," Severus answered, his head up. "I'm not sorry for cursing you, Dad. But I hope the treatment helps."
Tobias only nodded, and his mother rose from her spot on the rocking chair to pick up his suitcase.
"I will return this afternoon," his Mum said, helping Tobias get off the chesterfield without stumbling.
Severus said nothing, watching his father shuffle toward the door and treatment. He figured there was only a twenty per cent chance of it working, but there were only five more days until he and Lily returned to school, and then his father wouldn't be his problem until Christmas.
Harry stared at the fan mail on his desk, dumbfounded at the amount of letters. Most were congratulatory letters, and some contained little trinkets or spritzes of perfume. Some were accusatory, calling him a brutal fighter in the final battle. And some were downright greedy, asking him for money for everything from sponsorship to write a book to donations to fund the building of a school for dark magic.
"Is this why you went into hiding?" Harry asked, holding up the piles of letters and shaking his head. "These people are mad."
He continued to read a few more as Snape sat beside him, with a colourful child's book to flip through.
"Look at this one! This woman wants me to be her personal cabana boy. Oh, but don't worry, she'll pay me," Harry said, scoffing at the end. "No thank you Margaret O'Toole."
Snape growled as soon as Harry had said the name, and Harry startled.
"What was that for?"
Snape gave no response, his only movement the flickering of his hair as his eyebrows twitched. Harry watched him for a moment before speaking again.
"Margaret," Harry said, watching for Snape's reaction.
A scowl immediately set onto Snape's face, and for a second Harry thought he was going to start yelling, like he did in potions class.
"Margaret," Harry muttered, hearing Snape growl again. Harry reached for a scrap piece of paper to scribble down both the name and reaction. "Not your Mum, but whoever she was, she must have made an impression on you that you still scowl at her name."
The Knight Bus fortunately didn't ask many questions, and Severus wasn't the only student it had to pick up from Kings Cross for the Christmas hols. The weather was wet and dreary, and though Severus could have taken a train to Manchester and then a bus home, but he'd have to get to Euston Station first and he didn't want to bother.
Instead, he got on the Knight Bus with two Ravenclaws, another Slytherin and three Gryffindors, scowling at everyone and wondering what the hell his father was doing that was more important than coming to London.
The answer was the very first thing Severus had thought of, before the Hogwarts Express had even pulled into Kings Cross. He'd suspected that his father wouldn't bother coming to pick him up, and Severus found him on the couch in their living room, watching television.
"There you are," his father said, looking blearily at Severus. He had rings under his eyes, a stained vest on, and smelled as stale as the rest of the room. A plate with pizza crusts sat on the coffee table, and there were three empty cans of beer beside it.
"Your mother pick you up, then?" Tobias asked, in almost a sulk.
"No," Severus answered, staying by the stairs with his trunk. "Where is Mum?"
"Hell if I know," Tobias answered, waving his hand in the air.
"Fine," Severus said, deciding not to bother yelling at his father for not going to London. It wouldn't make much of a difference.
"I see your rehabilitation treatments worked well," Severus said, unable to resist baiting his father.
"They were frauds, out to get my hard earned money," Tobias countered, glaring.
"Ah," Severus replied. "Instead you're putting it toward beer?"
His father leaned forward, but it looked like it was taking a lot of effort to get off the couch.
"I don't need a wand to slap you for being smart, boy," Tobias warned.
Severus shook his head and turned away, not wanting to bother getting into a fight with his Dad. He started to lug his trunk up the stairs to his room, feeling vindicated when his father groaned at the noise.
"Keep it down for chrissake, Rus."
"What's for dinner, Dad?" Severus asked instead, banging the wheels of the luggage trolley on the step. He'd brought home three cauldrons to season over the holiday, so the trunk was extra heavy.
"Whatever you want," came the reply, as his Dad flipped channels on the telly. "We'll get takeaway."
Severus didn't bother answering, and hit the top bannister with the wheel of his trolley.
The door to his room was shut immediately after he entered, and the noise from the telly downstairs was drowned out. His room was only large enough for a bed, wardrobe, and tiny desk, but it was Severus's and it was where he found quiet when his parents were fighting.
Severus dropped the trunk at the foot of his bed, earning a yell from his father downstairs, and put his head in his hands as he sat on his bed. Where was his Mum? He was almost sixteen, but there was no way she would have just left him with his father. Eileen Snape was the only thing that held the family together.
A small white card sticking out from between some of the books on his bookcase attracted Severus's attention, and he quickly strode across the room, suspecting it was from his mother.
I have gone home for the day to visit my parents. I shall return later this evening, or early tomorrow morning. Try not to hex your father. As you can now see, his plans for treatment did not last.
Folding the card back up, Severus placed it back between the books where he'd found it. His father rarely glanced into his room, and Severus knew that Tobias would never find the note.
He hung his robes up in the small wardrobe, and fished out a jumper that would fit under his jacket. Lily wouldn't be home yet, as her parents drove to London and the Knight Bus travelled much faster than Muggle cars, but he'd walk around town first and then see if she wanted to meet. Perhaps by then he would have worked out some of his anger.
His mother hadn't spoken to her parents for years when Severus was little, as they were old world purebloods and not at all pleased that she'd run off to marry a Muggle. They weren't exactly keen on having a halfblood grandson either, and over the years of his life, Severus had only received a few birthday cards in correspondence. His letters to them had always gone unanswered, and long ago he'd learned not to bother. But for his mother to go back and try to amend things after nearly twenty years of being away, something must have happened between his parents when he was away for fall term.
Harry stepped back out on the balcony, two glasses of elf made wine in his hands. Ginny had her feet up on the patio coffee table, and was staring thoughtfully at Snape.
"I wonder if you put him in front of a cauldron, if he'd start brewing something," she pondered, accepting the wine from Harry.
"You are just as bad as your brother," Harry laughed.
"Which one? That's either an insult or a compliment," Ginny mischievously smirked.
"Like Ron," Harry answered, grinning because he knew she'd take it as an insult. "He said Snape was like an action figure of sorts."
Snape, for his part, sat in his patio chair and stared out at the nightlife of the city. Harry could tell, by the slight twitching of the man's hand, that he was going through another memory cycle.
"He sort of is, isn't he?" Ginny said, her voice turning more serious. "I mean, spying against the Death Eaters, being You Know Who's pretend second hand man. That's James Bond stuff right there."
"Yeah, it really is," Harry said, trailing off. They sat in a companionable silence for a few moments before Ginny spoke up again.
"Has Mum talked to you at all about a wedding?"
Harry nearly choked on his wine and had to cough to clear his throat.
"Good," Ginny said, giving him a whack on the back. "I told her not to. I thought it might be nice to take a year off, date each other like normal people, you know. Then maybe see about a serious future."
"Did that actually work?" Harry asked, relieved that Ginny wasn't expecting to jump right into marriage.
"Of course," Ginny said, smiling. "It's all about the timing. If you wait until Dad is fiddling with his prosthetic foot, or one of the twins firecalls to say they've blown up something at the shop, you can get her to agree to almost anything."
"Good to know," Harry said. He slouched back in his chair, feeling content and at peace. It was now more than a month since the final battle, and Harry was still getting used to the feeling.
His mother had been right about the Easter holidays and his determination for peace as he studied for his O.W.L.s. That seemed so long ago now, as Severus looked at his revision schedule and confirmed that there were only three days left to study before the O.W.L.s began. The only positive note was the week and a half of free time afterward, before everyone returned home for the summer holidays, in which Severus planned to catch up on all the sleep he'd missed whilst studying.
There was another positive note, a smaller one, which was that none of the Gryffindors could bother him when he was down in the dungeons with his books.
Friday morning breakfast had provided silent clumps of students in the house tables, with the fifth and seventh year students blearily eating before scrambling to cram whatever last bits of information into their minds that they could. Post owls had delivered final notes of good luck, and Severus had been pleasantly surprised to receive one himself. He saved it to open later, preferring to eat his breakfast while it was hot.
Later came just an hour after breakfast, when Severus was ensconced in a window ledge in the common room and ignoring a pair of grindylows who were making faces at him in the window. He had a thick blanket with him, several notebooks, and his worn copy of Advanced Transfigurations. He ignored Regulus Black, who was taking a break from his studying by telling bad jokes about mudbloods and purebloods, and took out the letter from his pocket.
It was from his mother, and the first few lines wished him the best of luck in his examinations. The rest of the note turned sour as Severus read, first noting that his mother announced she would not be at the house when he returned this summer, and that she was filing for divorce. Severus felt the smile that had been on his face dropping down into nothing as he read on, finding that his mother had had enough of his Dad's drinking and socialising, and after their last row, in which they'd both gotten physical, she'd decided she was done.
Severus blinked back the wetness in his eyes as he tried to keep his posture and expression normal. There were at least sixteen other Slytherins in the room, and Severus didn't want any of them to see that he was upset. Not much else was in the letter, except for a short sentence that his Mum was going back home to Belfast to stay with her family, and that he could visit for a week or two when he got tired of seeing that mudblood Margaret around the house.
She wished him luck again, and ended the letter by saying that she didn't want to uproot him from home when he was so close to becoming an adult and being able to leave on his own.
Severus stared at the letter for a few more minutes, not seeing the words, before folding it carefully and rising from his seat on the windowsill. He packed up his study things and slipped down the spiral stairs to the boys' dorm, where he found the 5th year room empty.
It was a fairly plain dormitory – a half circle with the beds parallel to and recessed into the walls, and a wardrobe and desk at the end of each bed to provide privacy. Trunks were kept under the beds, and the wall space above each sleeping nook had a target painted on it, for venting frustrations. Severus stood with his back against the cool glass wall that was the straight edge of the half circle, ignoring the creatures of the Black Lake behind him. He raised his wand at the target, throwing every spell he could think of at it as he wondered just how the hell alcohol and a stupid Muggle named Margaret had broken his family.
O.W.L.s were three days away, but Severus no longer cared.
Harry stood beside the wardrobe, watching as Snape went through his regular morning routine of getting dressed. Anticipation built slightly as Snape started buttoning up his dress shirt, and Harry wondered if they'd get further in the cycle today, or if Snape would stall again. The top button was done, and a small pause occurred, before Snape reached out to the tie on the hook and put it over his head.
Harry let a ridiculous grin out.
"Okay, what next…" Harry said, watching carefully. Snape fumbled with the knot on the tie, and left it slightly loose, as if he hadn't quite learned yet how to do it up without setting the knot on a bit of an angle. He reached back into the wardrobe and plucked a jumper off the shelf, going for a maroon one that Harry had placed there out of lack of space for it anywhere else in his flat.
"Interesting," Harry observed. Snape then kneeled to pick up the school bag and slung it over his shoulder – not both like an adult would have – but just the one. He then walked out the bedroom door, and Harry had to scramble to keep up.
Snape easily made his way through the flat and to the kitchen table, where he hung the school bag on the back of the chair and sat down. Harry watched him for another minute, but Snape merely sat there, waiting.
"Stuck again," Harry murmured. "But not as an adult. You're a child, aren't you? You're waiting to go to school. Waiting for someone to give you breakfast, maybe?"
Snape offered no answers, though when Harry put a mug of coffee on the table he immediately reached for it, instead of needing Harry to initiate the action.
The Hogwarts Express left Hogsmeade on a painfully bright day at the end of June. Examinations had come and gone, and the feeling of accomplishment Severus had felt while writing them did nothing to overshadow the utter humiliation he'd felt afterward. Severus had spent the rest of the week hiding either in the dorms or the library, refusing to speak to anyone.
The train was too small to have a cabin to himself though, so he chose a small one at the front of the first car. It had two Hufflepuffs in it, and they had given Severus a curious look as he had asked to sit with them. Severus's voice had deepened quite nicely with puberty, it was one of his only features he liked, but it irritated him that it still cracked when he was embarrassed.
He spent the rest of the train ride wondering what the summer at home with his father would be like, how he'd manage to apologise to Lily (perhaps he'd have better luck in their small town, away from the classmates who'd seen his slip up), and how he'd get revenge on stupid James Potter and his gang.
He wasn't so caught up in his sulking to not notice the students in the corridor sniggering as they walked by his compartment, nor that he didn't hear the laughter and 'Ratty Tatty Grey Pants' echoing through the corridor.
Harry carefully unwrapped Dumbledore's pensieve at his kitchen table. Professor McGonagall had been very happy to let him borrow it, and wished him luck on the plan working with Snape. Harry wasn't entirely sure that it would work, but it was the best option he had at the moment.
"All right," Harry said, holding on to Snape's hand and walking the man to the table. "If this does work, I hope you don't decide to hex me for seeing more of your memories."
Harry took Snape's hand and brought it to the bowl, letting the man's fingers trace over the runes on the pensieve. He then circled over the top with Snape's hand, letting him feel the light mist inside the bowl. Without the wand, Harry moved Snape's right hand in a downward motion from Snape's temple to the bowl, and repeated the word 'pensieve.'
"Let's see if you remember this," Harry muttered, placing Snape's wand into his hand.
Slowly, Snape lifted the wand to his temple, and Harry felt his stomach leap as he saw a small strand of memory withdrawing from Snape's mind as the wand was brought down toward the bowl. It was a tiny thread, much smaller than any of the others that Harry had ever seen, and he hoped that meant it would still work.
Excited to see if they'd get anywhere, Harry sat Snape back down at the table and gave him some Walker's shortbread, which the man seemed to enjoy. He then took a big breath, and leaned over the pensieve.
The falling sensation was both familiar and terrifying, as there was nothing solid for Harry to land on. For a second he panicked, and realised he should have told Hermione or Ron what he was doing, in case he got stuck in the memory as well. But just as Harry was trying to figure out how to leave, his feet reached something solid, which seemed to be slightly moving underneath in a rhythmic pattern, as if he were on a train or bus. The blurriness around him never cleared, but it was a bright blurriness, as if a very sunny day in which the memory was taking place, and Harry could hear voices. The voices were clear, and Harry frowned as he heard the words.
"Ratty Tatty Grey Pants!"
"Snivelly Snape, hanging in a tree. Twirling in his underpants, for everyone to see!"
Feeling an overwhelming rush of sadness from within the memory, Harry tried to push the sounds away, and found himself standing at the kitchen table again. Snape was still sitting there, eating the last of his shortbread cookies, and looking calm.
Harry's insides were clenched, thinking of the taunts in the memory, and remembering what school had been like for him before he came to Hogwarts. He put on the kettle, not saying a word to Snape and not caring about the silence. He'd hated growing up in his cupboard, hated being alone at Muggle school, hated being teased and called an ugly orphan. And Harry had had many days that he dreamt of beating up the kids that made him feel so bad, and reminded him that he was growing up in a family that didn't love him.
Harry stared at Snape, leaning against the counter as the kettle worked itself up to a boil. He looked at the man's face, how Snape seemed to look younger and less stressed now that he wasn't in the thick of a war. And yet, some of the worry lines on Snape's forehead, around his eyes, and the scowl that was never far from his lips, those hadn't left. Those had formed when Snape had been much younger, a child perhaps, worried about things children shouldn't have to worry about.
As Harry poured the tea he thought of the few seconds memory of Snape's family that he'd seen, of Snape's father yelling, his mother cowering, and Snape crying in the corner. Harry had always seen Hogwarts as his real home, because the Dursleys had hated him and going back to Little Whinging every summer had felt like a sort of punishment. What if things for Snape had been the same? What if he'd gone home to an unhappy house, and one day got tired of it? Harry had blown up his Aunt when he was thirteen, so it was entirely possible that Snape had done something similar.
"I don't think your magic would have been accidental," Harry said, as he served Snape his tea.
Severus waited by the charms classroom in the late afternoon, keeping behind the shadows of the tapestry. It was raining out, and the lanterns weren't quite able to keep the hallway fully lit. He was a bit chilled, leaning against the stone, but Lily's class would end soon and he needed to talk to her.
Once the bell had rung, Severus watched as the mix of Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs filed out, chatting to each other as Professor Flitwick could be heard calling out answers to last minute questions. Severus knew that charms was Lily's favourite class though, and predicted that she'd be one of the last to leave. Five minutes later he allowed a small twitch of a smile on his face for being right, and stepped out from his hiding space.
"Lily," Severus asked, softly and pleading. He knew as he'd grown up that he'd become sarcastic and condescending, but he tried his best to not let any of that through now.
"I don't want to speak to you, Severus Snape," Lily said, glaring at him. Her two best friends, standing on either side of her, took up a defensive stance as well.
"That's what Petunia said," Severus answered, trying to not to sound like he was sulking. "She threw rocks at me the last time I went to your house."
The summer had been long and tense at the house, with Severus's mother returning only twice to collect her things. Then his father had declared it a men's summer, suggesting they have a big party and enjoy the peace, and things became more awkward.
"Because she knows you're a jerk," Lily said, pushing past Severus.
"Wait," Severus said, catching the sleeve of her robe. He had figured she'd storm off, as Lily had always been a touch stubborn. "Just, please read this."
He'd written out his apology, providing a bare explanation to why he'd called her a mudblood at the end of last year. Part of it was exam stress, and part of it was hearing about the divorce, but Severus also acknowledged that he had been stupid as well. His mother had always told him that people should give others a second chance, even when they'd clearly been wrong, so Severus hoped that Lily would give him the chance too.
"Waaaait," a mocking voice sang, catching everyone's attention in the hallway. "Lily, Lily you must read this before I goooo."
"Sod off, Black," Severus growled, trying to stop his cheeks from flushing in embarrassment.
"Oh look, it's the Ugly Duckling trying to make amends," James Potter crowed, coming up to stand beside Sirius. Peter Pettigrew stood just behind them, sniggering.
"Or should I say the Unwanted Duckling," Potter said, smirking.
"Shut it, you tosser," Severus snapped, folding his arms across his chest. His hand was clenched tightly to his wand, in case either of them started hexing.
"That the best you can do?" Black asked, faking a yawn. "One would think a boy with such a fetish for the Dark Arts would have better insults."
Lily pursed her lips at that, giving Severus a very disappointed look. It was a sore subject between them, and she had made it quite clear that she didn't like how interested he was in the Dark Arts.
"Don't you three have something better to do?" Lily asked, staring at them. She still held Severus's note in her hand, but it had been folded small, and Severus hoped that neither Potter nor Black noticed it. By now a small crowd had gathered, and Severus thought the only thing more embarrassing than being pantsed in front of his classmates again was to have his apology letter read aloud.
"Sure," Black smirked. "But this is more fun."
"You're all berks," Lily said, trying to push past the three Marauders. She glanced back at Severus, but didn't say a word to him.
"Oh, come on Evans, we'll give him a break," James Potter said, staring directly at Severus as he said it. "After all, poor Snivelly's had a rough summer, hasn't he?"
"Fuck you, Potter," Snape growled, and a few of the students in the hall gasped. He turned to leave, but the crowd of students had formed a ring and wouldn't let him through.
"Tsk, such language," Black said.
"Is that what your new stepmummy is teaching you?" Potter asked.
Severus could feel a powerful surge of anger going through his body, and he knew the only thing stopping him from cursing either of them was that Flitwick was still in the classroom, steps away.
"Such a piss poor excuse for a wizard that Daddy left you and your Mum for a Muggle."
"Shut it James, it's none of your business," Lily said, though her tone still had no forgiveness for Severus.
"Oh it was all over the paper," Pettigrew helpfully added. "In the announcements section."
Severus ignored him, as he knew marriages, births, and divorces were always printed in the paper. Instead, he tried to calm himself down, because he knew that if he hexed Potter or Black, Lily would never forgive him.
"Or maybe it was your Mum that drove him away. Maybe she wasn't smart enough to keep him from getting bored."
Severus spun around and charged at Potter, his fist squarely hitting Potter's jaw. A roar went up in the crowd, and Severus tried to get in one more hit before Flitwick came to see what the noise was about. He could feel Black punching him from the side, but Severus had a strong hold on Potter's robes and wasn't letting him go.
"What's going on here?" Flitwick asked, trying to make his way through the jeering crowd.
Potter's knee connected with Severus's stomach, but before he could double over, Potter grabbed him by the lapels of his robes.
"You think you're such a big man?" Potter hissed, heard only by Black. "Come to the Whomping Willow next Tuesday night and prove yourself."
He flicked Severus away at that, and pretended to dust the dirt from his robes. Potter had a slight bit of blood at the side of his mouth from the first punch, but both he and Black looked amused rather than angry.
"Just a misunderstanding, Professor," Black lied. He had the attention of Flitwick, and Severus glanced around the crowd. Lily was watching, with a look of disgust on her face, but Severus was glad to see her slip the note into her pocket. Maybe he had a chance, if she read it later instead of just tossing it in the bin.
Harry studied Tobias Snape's medical file by lamp light at his desk, trying to understand part of the long medical words that were littered throughout the pages. It was nearing midnight, and he'd already sent Snape to bed for the night. A police report lay on the books stacked beside him, and his hair was sticking up on all ends from having run his hands through it.
Kingsley Shacklebolt, who had pretended to be the Prime Minster's aide during Fudge's time in office, had retained some of his passes and connections to the government access records. He had provided Harry with more information about the Snapes that Bennington Locke had been able to, and after an evening of lots of caffeine, Harry thought he'd figured out whose memory Snape was stuck in.
"Shite," Harry said, throwing his pen on the notepad in front of him. He only had one idea of how to jump into the memory loop, no clue how to disrupt it, and was a bit afraid of what he'd see once he got there. Snape was not exactly a man to appreciate sympathy.
Severus spent his Easter holidays either in the Slytherin dorms, or in the Room of Requirement. He'd found it in the fall, three weeks after returning to school for his final year. Much like the latter half of his sixth year, Severus had spent his time roaming the halls, going from class to class and mostly being ignored.
Lily had at least started to look his way again, but after his near death at the Whomping Willow last year, she hadn't given him any more chances to talk to her. Potter, Black, and Pettigrew had somehow made out that Severus had gone after them, trying to get them thrown out of Hogwarts. Lupin had been rather silent about the whole affair, but Severus thought the whole lot of them could just shove it.
He shifted from his window seat and moved to the other side of the room, where another window seat provided a good view of the quidditch pitch. There was a team practising, but they were too far away for Severus to tell which house they were from.
He withdrew a letter from his pocket as he watched them, his thumb rubbing over the raven wax seal on the letter. Even though he'd felt fairly invisible for the entire year, the Knights of Walpurgis had noticed Severus's potion skills and Dark Arts knowledge. The letter was warm and welcoming, expressing their interest in providing training for his potions mastery in exchange for two years, at minimum, of research on their projects.
Severus wasn't stupid, he knew that a man calling himself Lord Voldemort was behind the group, and that they were unofficially called Death Eaters. But he couldn't deny that he was interested in the power behind the name, and he knew his maternal grandparents would very much approve of him joining as well.
While he'd been invited again to stay with them in Belfast for a fortnight this summer, Severus knew his acceptance into the Prince family was based on his natural aptitude for potions, and the fact that he looked more like his mother than his Muggle father.
The rest of his summer would be spent in his bedroom at Spinner's End, avoiding his father and father's girlfriend, until he'd saved up enough money to move out. He wanted to take his mastery in potions, but unless his grandparents were suddenly struck with a generous pull toward their halfblood grandson, he couldn't afford the schooling without a sponsor.
He wondered what Lily was going to do. When they were kids he'd always told her she'd give the Minister of Magic a run for his money, and for an instant Severus wondered what wizarding university Lily would go to for the courses. He tamped that curiosity down and scowled at himself.
Severus pulled his knees up onto the window seat, staring at the team on the pitch and hoping it would rain. Lily hadn't spoken to him in a year and a half; there was no way she'd tell him what her plans were. And it didn't matter now anyway. Severus hadn't had any real friends before he'd met her, and he didn't need any now. He had an offer from the Knights, and he was going to become the best potions master in England.
Harry led Snape to the couch in the living room, sitting him down against the side. Harry sat at the other end, nervously drumming his fingers on his thigh. His wand was on the coffee table, and his notes were on the desktop behind him. Hermione and Ron were on the couch ready as a standby.
"Are you sure you've got the right memory?" Hermione asked, looking between Harry and the very calm Snape.
"As sure as I can be," Harry answered. "I'll leave when I need to, and then we'll see how to break the curse."
"Got it," Ron said. "We'll wait, just in case."
Harry nodded, unsure of how he'd be able to tell his friends he'd become trapped in Snape's memory, if that's what ended up happening. He'd just have to hope that it'd work like the pensieve.
"Right," Harry said, holding up his wand. Snape's eyes were the same rich black they always were, but they were missing the malice that Harry was used to.
He thought about the morning routine, and of what he'd seen of Snape's childhood home. With the image of the living room and kitchen in his mind, Harry imagined a child Snape walking to the breakfast table, dressed in his school uniform.
"Legilimens," Harry cast.
Spinner's End had become rather run down in the past two years. Severus spent most of his time in his room, where he had used magic to lighten up the walls and fix up the furniture. The rest of the house he left alone, including the broken drawer handle in the kitchen.
He'd gone to several meetings with the Death Eaters over the summer, meeting a rather large group of witches and wizards who were very interested in increasing their knowledge and power in a variety of subjects. Severus had decided to join, and used some of the small amount of savings he had to purchase new and impressive looking clothes.
After picking up his wardrobe from the seamstress, he'd returned back to the house to find his father and Margaret piss drunk in the living room. She had called him a cross-dressing freak, and Severus had used magic to turn all the alcohol in the house into lemon-juice. It was an impressive amount of alcohol, more than Severus had ever seen his father drink before.
The next day, Severus woke to sounds of crashing down below, and blearily checked the time. Half nine, which meant his father was either still drunk, or just passing into the hangover stage.
Pulling on an old housecoat, Severus glanced at his new clothes hanging in the wardrobe. Shaking his head, for there were only three weeks left of this before he went to university, Severus went downstairs.
Tobias was in the kitchen, searching through every cupboard.
"Lost your dignity?" Severus mildly asked, filling up the coffee machine and turning it on.
"Eh? Oh, you're up," his father said, struggling to get to his feet.
"I'd have to be dead not to be," Severus answered, looking in the fridge to see if there was any food that hadn't expired. He didn't look into the living room, where he'd noticed Margaret passed out on the couch.
"You going to that village of yours today, Rus?" Tobias asked, scratching the side of his head. He looked like he'd fallen out of bed, literally, but it was a look Severus had become accustomed to.
"What village?" Severus asked, sniffing at the milk carton. Still good, so he placed it on the counter next to his coffee mug.
"Either. I'm out of firewhiskey," Tobias bluntly said.
"I always wondered why Mum would buy you that, because it's much stronger than the Muggle stuff," Severus said, taking some bread out of the icebox to make toast. "And then I realised that you can't get firewhiskey at Tesco's."
"No you bloody well can't," Tobias growled, slamming the cupboard door shut. "And you changed all me alcohol to lemons last night. So today, you'll go replace it."
"Oh will I?" Severus blandly asked, pouring fresh coffee into his cup. "I'm a bit busy today. Going to university in London soon."
"Yes you damn well will," Tobias said, grabbing Severus's housecoat and trying to turn him.
"Don't. Touch me," Severus icily replied, baring his teeth at his father. He was two inches taller than Tobias, and looked down on his father with disdain.
"Let me tell you something, Severus Snape," his father hissed, and Severus fought not to pull away from the rancid alcoholic breath his Dad had. "You might think you're above me, and Margaret, and everyone else in this damn town. Dressing in your fancy wizard clothes. And let me tell you, you're a halfblood from a working man's town. I know what type of pureblood shite your mother's family is into, and you ain't it."
He stepped away from Severus, kicking shut the cabinet door closest to the fridge. Several bottles rattled inside as he did so, and Tobias swore at them under his breath.
Seconds after he'd sat down at the kitchen table, Severus's coffee cup sailed into the kitchen wall behind him, shattering and splashing coffee everywhere.
"Jesus Christ, Rus!" Tobias yelped, shaking shards of ceramic out of his thinning hair.
Without a word, Severus turned and stormed out of the kitchen, his house robe twirling behind him as he made for the stairs.
"Where are you going?" Tobias yelled, wiping the wet coffee stains on his trousers.
Severus stomped up the stairs, feeling more like an angry thirteen year old than the eighteen year old man he was.
"I'm going to get your fucking firewhiskey, and you can drown in it for all I care!" Severus yelled back.
Severus sat in the visitor's chair of his father's hospital room. It was plastic and uncomfortable, and though he was of age, Severus didn't bother casting a spell to soften the seat. He watched his father try to joke with the nurse, though his slurry voice and unkempt manner had the nurse trying to hide her discomfort. Severus stared at the hollow cheeks, reddened and splotchy, covered in uneven two-day's growth. There was a large bandage on the left side of his face, and his nose looked like it had been broken again. His father's thin black hair was matted and stuck up everywhere, and his once commanding dark eyes were rather dull.
He thought he saw a splinter of coffee mug ceramic in his father's hair, but surely the nurses would have removed any that they'd found.
"That's my boy there, 's name's Rus. He's a quiet one, but he'll show you a good time," he father said, winking at the nurse.
"Tobias," Severus warned, his voice cold and stern. The nurse left without another word and Severus was left to stare at his father, the man who looked like a stranger to him.
"I am trying to figure out what possessed you to swerve into the rather obvious bridge on Ashton Road," Severus finally said, his tone controlled.
His father sighed, and his voice turned angry. "It's these women, you know. They're all out against us men. Like your little ginger friend left you. Margaret gets all bitchy when she doesn't get her way," he sneered, working up to a proper rant.
Severus's eye twitched, but he didn't say anything.
"Anyway, she got mad because I didn't want to go to her brother's place, we had a fight, an' when she hit me I swerved the car."
"Ah. I see," Severus slowly said, eyebrow raised. "You both thought it was a good idea to argue in a moving car?"
"Well it's not the first time, was it?" Tobias said, looking like a petulant child. "She's always saying something to piss me off."
"Something to piss you off," Severus repeated, rising from the chair and pacing at the foot of his father's hospital bed, his Muggle cloak flapping slightly behind him. "And you were both drunk, no doubt."
"We'd a bit at dinner," his father defended, the red splotches darkening on his face. "Some of that cheap Russian swill. Not that it's any of your bloody business, boy."
"No?" Severus said, crossing his arms and glaring at his father. "Isn't it? Won't it be when her family tries to contact me?"
"What are you on about?" Tobias asked, the heart rate monitor betraying his rising anxiety level. "Her family doesn't care who she dat…"
"You killed her!" Severus bellowed, interrupting his father. His eyes were narrowed and his hair was falling forward as he grasped the bedrails tightly. "Laughing away in the car, when they found you, with bottles in the back. You thought it was funny. Probably thought she was joking too, didn't you?"
Severus actually enjoyed the look on his father's face, watching as the anger slipped off to a shocked blankness.
"But she wasn't. She never woke up, and they couldn't get her to. So congratulations, Dad. You drove into a railway bridge tonight, and killed the only other person that gives a damn about you."
"No…" Tobias said, shaking his head. "She's fine. I've never done no harm driving."
Severus glared at his father and turned his head slightly in consideration.
"It took them four hours to get her out of the car," Severus said, relishing the grimace on his father's face. "And you know, I suspect she knew. I don't think she died instantly. I think she knew that you and your bloody alcohol killed her."
The heart monitor beat dangerously, but Severus wasn't finished.
"And you want alcohol now, don't you?" Severus coolly asked. "Just a little, to make this nightmare go away."
His father was staring at him, fingers trembling, and Severus knew it wouldn't take much for Tobias to admit it.
"I'm not going to be liable for you anymore," Severus said. Tobias was still having trouble processing the news about Margaret, and stared at his son with a confused expression.
"Do you hear me?" Severus asked, his voice low and commanding. "I am not responsible for you. Here's your firewhiskey you wanted this morning. Do what you want with it, it's the last you'll ever get from me."
Severus withdrew a thin bottle of Foley Brynn Firewhiskey, one he'd tampered with two hours earlier when the police had come to Spinner's End to inform him of the accident. Severus placed the bottle on the side table next to his father, casting a spell so it would only be visible to anyone magical, as well as his father. He also placed a business card for Alcoholics Anonymous next to the bottle.
"Good luck, Dad," Severus said, walking toward the hospital door. He knew his father would be in the hospital for another few days, which gave him time to find somewhere else to stay until he left for uni.
As Severus walked down the hall toward the lifts, he mentally reviewed his calculations for the mixture in the bottle of firewhiskey. An odourless addition toxic to anyone with liver cirrhosis, which his father certainly had. He supposed that he should have felt guilty, but Severus realised long ago that his father not only knew he was an alcoholic, but had no desire, not even for his own family, to get help for it.
An hour later Severus sat in the living room, mug of cold tea in his hand as he stared at the far corner of the room. It was where they put the Christmas tree every year, and the bookcases behind usually had pine needles in them well into summer the year next. The bookcases were mostly empty now, books packed up neatly and shipped back to Belfast with his mother.
The phone rang, echoing in the small room, and Severus rose slowly to answer it. The nurse didn't bother with false hopes, as Severus suspected they didn't with such sudden deaths. Liver failure, the hospital was calling it.
Severus returned to his spot on the chesterfield after hanging up, sinking back into the cushions. Ever since he was a boy of ten, he'd dreamt of a car crash, a fall, an arrest - something to put his father back on track to being sober. It had never happened, and no matter how bad Tobias was, or how pathetic his situation had turned, his father had never really wanted to stop.
"It's not your fault."
Harry stood in the doorway of the room, leaning against the closed front door. He wasn't sure if Snape could hear him, but felt compelled to say something.
"This isn't your fault any more than it is mine for Voldemort killing my parents."
Snape's face turned slightly to the side, not enough to look at Harry, but enough that Harry was certain Snape had heard him.
For a few seconds there was a horrible silence in the room, and just as it looked like Snape was going to say something, Harry was forcibly pulled from the memory.
"No," Harry said, panting as he fell back against the couch. His eyes were still locked on Snape's, but the man looked as passive as he had been since coming to Harry's flat.
"Harry! Are you all right?" Hermione asked, bouncing off the couch and coming over.
"Blimey, I was there Hermione!" Harry said, hitting the side of the couch with his fist. "I saw it. It wasn't his fault."
Ron had paused the film that they were watching and looked carefully at Harry.
"Like Dumbledore?" Ron asked.
"Yeah," Harry nodded. "But I'm not sure if it was worse. It was his father."
All three turned to look at Snape, who was blinking rapidly, as if his eyes had been open for longer than usual and were dry.
"I think I've seen all the memories now," Harry said, rubbing his temple. "I just need to figure out how to break him out of them."
Hermione squeezed his shoulder and yawned. "It's almost one in the morning Harry. You need to take a break, you can think about it tomorrow."
"Is it?" Harry asked, looking up over his fireplace mantel. "I'm sorry, didn't mean to keep you this long."
"It's fine, mate," Ron said, standing up and dropping the blankets he and Hermione had been using onto the couch. "We should go before Mum sends out a search party, though."
Harry smiled and stretched as he stood.
"I'll look up more memory curse cures tomorrow," Hermione said, giving him a quick hug.
"And I'll bring new films to watch," Ron added, nodding toward the Muggle television Harry had.
"Great," Harry said, feeling a bit better, and not like he'd just failed Snape. "See you tomorrow."
They apparated out for the Burrow instead of Flooing, likely because the arriving Floo would have made too much noise. Harry flicked off the television and turned toward Snape, reaching for his hand to lead him to the makeshift bedroom.
"How long have you been trying?"
"Holy hell!" Harry yelped, tripping backward over the coffee table. He crashed to the ground and stared wildly at Snape. "How long have you been with it?"
"However long ago it was that we left my memory," Snape answered, twisting his body and cracking his back. "Answer my question, how long have you been trying to cure me?"
Harry picked himself off the floor and wiped his hands on his trousers, trying to count the days.
"About a month and a half," Harry answered, standing uselessly by the fireplace. "You've been here all that time."
"I see," Snape said, and he fought to stop himself from yawning.
"Do you know what stopped the loop?" Harry asked, curious to know how he'd once again managed to stumble upon a solution for something unknowingly.
"You spoke," Snape answered. "I assume that is how, as your speaking obviously didn't occur in the original memory."
"Right," Harry said. He glanced to his desk and was happy to see that all the notes he'd made on Snape were piled in a neat little bundle that would be hard to accidentally discover.
"I'm glad you're back, but, er. It's been five hours and I'm knackered. Can we talk about the rest tomorrow?" Harry asked, shifting on his feet.
Snape's eyes partially shuttered and he elegantly stood up.
"Of course. If you will permit me my shoes I shall leave."
"Your shoes?" Harry asked, in a confused tone. "Your bedroom is right there. I was going to change the sheets tonight, but that won't take long."
Snape snapped his mouth shut, cutting off whatever comment he was going to make, and followed Harry to the makeshift bedroom.
"Did you think I was going to kick you out in the middle of the night?" Harry asked, his focus completely on the bed sheets.
Snape was inspecting the room as Harry worked, and took a few seconds to answer.
"I am surprised you haven't yet rung the Muggle police," he finally said.
"And tell them what?" Harry asked in surprise.
"The death was ruled as liver failure, accidental, from long term alcohol abuse," Snape guardedly said.
Harry paused, struggling to put the duvet on straight.
"More of a suicide, over a very long time, I think," Harry quietly said.
He saw Snape nod out of the corner of his eye, and tossed two pillows on the bed.
"All your clothes are in the wardrobe," Harry said, pointing toward it. "Toiletries are in the washroom, and breakfast is going to be a bit late tomorrow. The hospital gave me an allowance to care for you, and it's all waiting in an account for you to use on whatever you want."
Snape's brow was furrowed as he took in the information, and his eyes were flicking slightly as he calculated what Harry would want for this act of kindness.
"I know a lot more about you now than you've probably ever wanted someone to, and you've seen a lot of my childhood memories too. Don't - don't answer now. But instead of obliviating each other, I wouldn't mind if we could try to be friends."
Harry gave Snape a hopeful half smile, and knocked on the doorframe with his knuckles.
"Welcome back, Severus."
Harry quickly changed for bed, realising just how tired he was from the five-hour legilimency session. The flat was cool, and Harry shivered as he stripped down and put on a fresh pair of boxers, slipping under the sheets of his bed. He thought he could hear Snape moving about in the flat, and tried to imagine what it would be like to be the man's friend.
Snape was still incredibly sarcastic, but if they were on equal ground, Harry supposed he could be rather funny. He was intelligent, and perhaps wouldn't mind teaching Harry a small bit about wizarding culture. Harry let a smile flitter on his face as he imagined having his other friends over as well, and a heated debate raging at the dinner table as they all ate.
Twenty minutes later, when Harry was nearly asleep, he heard footsteps outside his door. The way the flat was set up meant that his door was only accessible through a strange mini hallway of closets, and Harry wondered why Snape was watching him.
"Thank you," Snape suddenly said, quietly enough that if Harry were a touch more asleep he would have sworn he'd dreamt it.
Harry relaxed further into the covers as he listened to Snape go back to the other bedroom. Snape would be a worthy friend, Harry knew. He wouldn't speak of the memories again, unless Snape brought them up. But Harry would always remember the past that Snape had faced, that had turned him into the loyal, prickly man that he was now.