He opened his eyes to see an empty corridor. He remained there, alone, for years. The story of Severus Snape's portrait.
Behind Those Eyes
The first time he opened his eyes, he saw an empty hallway. The flagstones and torches against the walls placed him in the dungeons. The portrait of Severus Snape sighed. He had not expected any better.
The corridor that he was in was rarely used. There were no classrooms this deep into the dungeons, and no effective hiding spots. And now that he was there...
Years after his first day of awareness, a little first year stumbled into the corridor. She was a tiny thing, her head barely reaching the bottom of his portrait. Her green Slytherin robes and her red hair made her look like a walking Christmas tree. She turned her face up to his and it was as though he was struck by lightning.
Those green eyes.
He let out a strangled hiss and those eyes widened. She turned tail and ran even as he tried to shout after her. It was only when her red, red hair whipped around the corner that he managed to whisper. "Please... Wait..."
Later that week, when he was sure she had told all the students to stay away from his corridor - for it was most certainly his now, he woke up to a tingling feeling on the back of his nonexistent neck that something was different.
A pair of green eyes poked around the corner of the wall. They stared at him, unblinkingly curious, and he pretended not to see. She had to approach him of her own accord.
It seemed like hours later when she finally ventured down the corridor. She stood in front of his portrait, staring up at him, her head tilted sideways and her eyebrows furrowed.
"Why did you look at me funny?" she finally asked.
"I don't look at you at all," he replied, after some length of silence.
"Yes, you do!" she retorted, punctuating her remark with a stomp of one of her tiny, Mary-Jane-clad feet. "You look at me like you've seen a ghost! And I'm not a ghost!" She stopped, suddenly, staring at the wall, in deep thought. "I'm not a ghost, am I?" she ventured.
For the first time in what felt like ages, Severus Snape smiled. And then he laughed. The sight of this girl, so much like her, asking him if she was a ghost... it was simply too much for him to bear. He couldn't stand it. He dissolved into guffaws, his deep baritone echoing hauntingly down the hall, as the girl stared at him earnestly, eagerly awaiting an answer.
"No," he managed, his breathing returning to normal. "You most certainly cannot be a ghost. What is your name?"
"Lily Luna Potter. What's yours?"
He hesitated. "I'm the Half-Blood Prince," he finally said, with a belabored sigh.
She had taken to simply referring to him as 'Prince'. He couldn't find it in himself to call her Lily. For weeks, he had taken to simply sneering 'Potter' at her as he had done to her father and her father's father before. 'Lily Luna' was too much of a mouthful, and even saying Her name while looking at Her eyes was too much to bear. And the more he spoke to her, the more he came to accept that she wasn't Her. She had the dreamy attitudes of her second namesake, and none of the haughtiness that he had come to dislike about Her. It was almost by accident that he began to call her 'Luna', but it fit more than 'Lily' ever did and more than 'Lily Luna' ever would as a whole.
So she was Luna and he was simply Prince.
"Don't you have any other friends?" he asked her one day years later, as she sat against the wall across from him, chewing on her pencil as she worked on her first Arithmancy homework assignment.
She raised an eyebrow in a mocking imitation of him. "Three year and now you ask?" she retorted with a smirk.
He scowled at her, though they both knew it was a half-hearted attempt at anger. "Do you honestly believe I'm at the top of my 'social interaction game', Luna?" he spat. Anyone but Lily Luna would have recoiled from his violently defensive reply.
She rolled her eyes, deciding to answer the question instead of egging him on even more. "Of course I've got other friends," she said, "but even they can be imbeciles, though they're mostly tolerable. Every now and then even I need a break from them."
"You can't handle them? Even with your infinite patience?" said Snape with a smirk.
"Everyone needs a break occasionally," she replied.
It wasn't until her fifth year, while she was prepping for her O.W.L.S., that she asked him about his placement.
"Are you in this corridor because the other portraits find you disagreeable?" she asked with her nose buried in a Potions text.
He snorted. "If only. I'm in this corridor because I've been forgotten."
She looked up at him, her horn rimmed glasses slipping down over her nose. She had taken to wearing them during her fourth year, when Rita Skeeter had informed her that she had her father's eyes. "I want to be my own person," she had firmly retorted. "I love my dad, but don't define me by what he's done. I'm Lily Luna Potter. I am my own self." Up until then, she had used a charm to temporarily fix her vision but she dug her Uncle Percy's old glasses out of the attic and charmed them to her liking. Her eyes were large and owlish behind the frames now. He had stopped comparing her eyes to Hers years ago but now, she had made those green, green eyes her own.
"How could anyone forget you?" she asked.
For the first time around her, as a portrait, he smiled. But it was a wan smile, a sad smile, a defeated smile.
"I've done my research, you know," she said the day after she sat her N.E.W.T.S. "You're not just any other portrait. You've got all your memories from life, and to top it off, you can still think and come up with new ideas. Most other portraits can't do that. Only the Headmaster portraits can and there's only one Headmaster portrait that's ever been missing and my father has been looking for it for years."
He refused to meet her eyes. "What do you want me to say?"
"Why didn't you ever move to another portrait? You could've just jumped portraits until you found the Headmistress and she would have moved you to where you belong."
"Minerva believes that she owes me something. I do not want that sort of attention, and I don't want to be pitied. I am perfectly content here."
She smiled at him. "You're a Headmaster, and you deserve recognition for defending the school above all else. You did the impossible, Severus."
Hearing his name was like getting struck by lightning. He could feel nothing, he was just canvas and oil paints and a charm, but tears dripped down his cheeks and left tracks of coldness where his skin would have been.
"You don't have to face my father if you don't want to," she said softly, "but you don't deserve to rot here, forgotten and alone now that I've graduated."
"I'm not concerned about Potter," he replied. He tried to inject some snark into his tone, but even to him his voice sounded dry and shaky.
Her eyes widened with understanding. "It's Albus, isn't it?"
He wouldn't meet her eyes once more.
She walked forwards and placed a hand on the canvas, over his cheek. "There is nothing to be said between the two of you. All is forgiven."
He opened his eyes the next day in a familiar but changed office. He had removed all of Albus' trinkets when he took the Headmastership, but Minerva had moved them back. While the room lacked the organized clutter it had in the days of Dumbledore, there was an air of whimsy that it never had during his short them.
"Welcome back, my boy," said a familiar voice next to him. The old man had the twinkle back in his eye.
"Welcome home, Severus Snape," said Lily Luna Potter. She smiled at him, her green, green eyes owlishly bright through her horn-rimmed glasses. "You're finally where you should be, Prince."
The Quidditch League Competition
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