A few days later Severus woke in the morning in an awful mood. The entire night he was haunted in his dream by a ghost of a redhaired woman with master Potter’s green eyes. He remembered her name was Lily, but he didn’t know what he had to do with her. What was worse, he woke up really aroused…
When he lay and tried to calm down, he heard voices. He nearly jumped out of his skin before he remembered his room was next to the masters’ bedroom, which was adjacent to little master Teddy’s bedroom… or so he thought.
‚I talked to Robards…’ Snape recognized master Potter’s voice. Was Robards the auror Miss Granger mentioned? He quickly dropped the thought. He didn’t like to think about the aurors or the past.
‚What did your boss say?’ mistress Potter said quietly.
It crossed Snape’s mind that his room was so close he’d have been able to hear them making love – if not for the Silencing Charms placed in order not to wake little Lupin.
‚He tried to knock some sense into my head, called me an idiot, and then he remembered I am the Boy-Who-Lived’ his owner laughed bitterly ‚and started apologizing’
The bed creaked – Potter turned from one side to another – and Severus tried to imagine mistress Potter’s facial expression. He nearly managed, but for the fact he could see Molly Weasley in front of his eyes… It took him a moment to make the connection that Molly Weasley was Mrs. Potter’s mother.
‚Did you learn anything?’ the woman he had once known as Ginny Weasley asked.
‚Robards said I can’t free him’ Snape could hear muffled frustration and anger in his owner’s voice ‚Not because not, ’cause the law says so. Stupid law’ the sound of a kick.
‚Did… did your boss say anything about Malfoy?’
‚Draco lives with his mother in the Manor… that’s the only thing left of their entire fortune, the rest went to war repairs. Lucius is in Azkaban – by the way, those damned dementors are still there.’
‚Still there?’ mistress Potter raised her voice.
‚Yes. I talked to Kingsley… phoo, the Minister… He said he wants to get rid of them and the aurors had agreed. Ah, and they say Narcissa Malfoy has petitioned for visiting… I persuaded him to agree.’
‚You didn’t have to’
‚But I wanted to. Do you remember Sirius? Nobody ought to go through it alone, maybe except Bellatrix and Dolohov.’
Severus felt frustration at the name Sirius, but despite his best wishes he couldn’t remember why didn’t he like it so much. He remembered what happened recently clearly, he recalled the happenings of the last year, but the ones farther fled his grasp. The farther back, the less sure he was of his memories.
‚Noble as always’ mistress Potter whispered. Severus heard her kiss her husband.
‚Kingsley said… phoo, the Minister… that I indeed cannot free him. Such is the law and it’s the end, period, and he won’t change it even for me, even though he doesn’t like it either.’ A quiet curse ‚He said I will be forced to endure Snape’s presence till the end of my life, unless I send him somewhere away’
‚Brilliant’ he could hear sarcasm in mistress Potter’s voice.
‚Snape is not so bad’ his owner said in a tired tone. ‚It’s not the man we knew… Kingsley said, phoo – ‚
‚Let it be, most of the Order calls him by his name still’
‚He said I can at least treat him like a human. I can help him. I quote „maybe in a few years he’ll be like he was”‚
Severus heard a muffled curse word from Ginny Potter.
‚Hermione was mad when I told her. Do you remember SPEW? Her reaction was ten times worse than SPEW’ Snape thought Potter had taken leave of the rest of his senses, what was the connection between SPEW and Miss Granger? ‚She promised to learn how the Ministry brainwashes them. As soon as the ruckus with the wedding ends, she’ll try to push a law ending the slavery…’
‚Good luck to her’ mistress Potter said gloomily.
Snape turned to face the wall. He could not understand the outrage of his owner and Miss Granger. It was the fate of the losers. From the depth of his memory a Latin sentence came to him – Vae victis, woe to the vanquished. He wondered for a moment from whence he knew it – because surely not from Hogwarts…?
He couldn’t understand either how his master could even consider treating him like a human. He wasn’t a human – he was a slave. What did Granger mean, speaking about brainwashing? He was just taught how to be a good slave.
His head hurt from all the thinking so he forced himself to fall asleep.
When Snape woke for the second time, he got up and walked to the kitchen to carry the dishes prepared by the masters’ onto the dining table. He froze in place when he saw four chairs at the table instead of three. One for master Potter, one for mistress Potter and one – a high chair – for little master Teddy. Who was the fourth one for…?
He took his platter and knelt on the floor, as he was taught to. He was just beginning to eat when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned his head and dropped his gaze almost immediately – it was his owner. Did he want to forbid him from eating? He had the right to…
‚Severus… this is your chair. You will eat with us at the table from now on.’
Severus froze. To eat at the table with the owner and his family? It was not to be thought by the slave.
‚You are my owner, master Potter’ he said finally.
‚I know. And I want you to eat with us at the table, like a human.’
Snape swallowed and looked from his platter to the chair that was to be his according to Potter, and back.
‚I’m not talking just for fun’ his owner said, stressing the words, and Snape wondered if he would be punished in a moment. ‚It was an order’ Potter added, seeing his hesitation.
Severus slowly made his way towards the chair, looking the entire time at his owner’s figure, like he wanted to make sure it was not a cruel prank. Just like his father – he thought. Potter watched his every move until he took the place.
When Miss Weasley… Mrs. Potter… and Lupin’s son sat at the table, Snape got up to feed the boy. The woman gestured for him to sit down, and then took care of the child’s breakfast by herself.
Severus ate slowly, as if expecting his owners to change opinion any moment. When he finished, Potter’s wife gave him a small smile, just as she gave little Lupin one, and suggested she would take part in their game.
Potter watched his godson chasing the snitch to the last moment. He donned auror’s robes – a shiver ran through Snape – he kissed his wife and the boy goodbye, and he Disapparated.
Severus was left for the first time alone with mistress Potter and little master Lupin… He was very nervous – he remembered her reaction to the fact her husband had bought a slave. Will she want to get rid of him now? She could do anything with him.
‚P-S… Severus…’ Potter’s wife didn’t seem to know how to address him. ‚Is there anything else you could be doing?’
‚My duty is to carry out my owner’s orders.’
‚I know!’ the woman shook her head, frustrated ‚But what could you be doing?’
‚Whatever you order me to, mistress Potter’
The woman sighed heavily, and then… she sat next to Severus while he was busy throwing the ball to the child. When he realized he was sitting close to his owner, he started to change his position. He had to kneel – he wasn’t her equal!
Ginny Potter reached her hand to stop him, but too late – Snape was already kneeling on the floor, avoiding her gaze. She sighed again.
‚Let’s look at that from this angle… you are taking care of Teddy, you play with him. We’ve got more time for ourselves, but… shouldn’t you be doing something else, Professor? You don’t have children… and from what I know, you have never taken care of them.’
‚I am not your teacher, mistress Potter. I am taking care of little master Lupin because master Potter wished so. I have never taken care of children earlier, but now it is my duty.’
‚And what else? Teddy does not require care twenty-four hours a day’
‚My duty is to serve masters’…’
Severus curled into himself, as he could see the woman was furious.
‚Do you have no other qualifications? Things you have more experience in doing than you do in taking care of the children?’
At least she stopped calling me Professor, crossed Snape’s mind. He considered it for a long while.
‚I can brew potions, mistress Potter’ he said at last.