Severus woke up the next morning in a bad mood. He hoped the happenings of the day before had been only a bad dream. It wasn’t so, unfortunately – he was tormented by memories all night long. He took several deep breaths, determined to calm himself down.
He got up and was walking towards the door to check if little master Teddy is still asleep, when he heard it. Soft crying, nearly soundless. For a moment he thought it’s Lupin’s brat, but no – the sound was coming from the masters’ bedroom. He put his ear to the door. Had master Potter been wounded?
‚Harry, please, wake up, it’s only a bad dream…’
Snape recognized Ginny Potter’s voice. A bad dream? Potter was crying like a baby because of a bad dream? Laughable – he thought. He shook his head to chase away such thoughts. It seemed yesterday had shaken him more than he thought. He knew that his identity will be trying to return with his memories… the identity of a Death Eater. A murderer.
‚No! Don’t do that! Mum, no! Move aside! Mum!’
Severus froze. He rubbed at his eyes. It was not possible in any way for Potter to remember this. He was only one. Well, one and a few months – just like little master Teddy, it crossed his thoughts – but there was no option for him to remember it. He was too little.
His owner was just awakened – roughly. Tears were sliding down his cheeks, yet he did not make a sound. Ginny hugged her husband, and then rocked him like she would a small child. After a moment she reached towards the night table and took a vial out of the drawer. Snape could recognize Dreamless Sleep even from this distance. Potter shook his head.
‚Harry, please… I don’t want you to relive it again…’
‚Don’t you understand?’ the younger wizard snarled after a moment of heavy silence ‚That’s the only memory I have of them! The only one!’
A few teardrops made their way down mistress Potter’s cheek. She ran her fingers through her husband’s hair, as if trying to console him.
‚R-Remus and Sirius must have told you something…’
‚Not much’ mister Potter said in a thick voice ‚Mostly about James. How handsome and bright he was… He was not such at all! They lied to me! I’ve seen how they treated Snape!’
Potter’s eyes were blazing, his cheeks reddened in anger. Severus could not believe it – Potter was defending him.
‚Most of the teachers had known your mother…’ mistress Potter tried to change the topic.
‚She was good in Charms and Potions. She had red hair and green eyes’ Potter recited in a voice of someone who had learned those simple facts by rote.
Ginny touched his arm. The Boy-Who-Lived shook her hand off abruptly.
‚That’s everything I know about her! Everything! I know more about Remus and Tonks than about my own mother!’
Something shattered from the force of Potter’s uncontrolled magic, but neither Severus nor mistress Potter took notice. The woman was pale and her hands were shaking. The slave realized he must look similar.
He bit his lip. For Lily’s son to know so little? Scandal! Lily had been… He shook his head to dispel such thoughts. He knew more about Lily Evans than anyone else among the living. He knew more than her own son did!
To busy his hands and mind with something, he walked downstairs to the kitchen. He told Kreacher that master Potter wishes for him to carry the breakfast upstairs. The house elf finished cooking, grumbling, and Severus felt a pang of a conscience. The slave was forbidden to lie. He told himself it was for Lily’s son, and it calmed his fraught nerves a bit.
He stood by the door to his masters’ bedroom and hesitated for a long while before he knocked. The door was opened a crack and mistress Potter’s pale face peeked out. Seeing a platter with the breakfast in his hands, she smiled weakly and took it from him.
‚Thank you, S – Severus’ she said quietly ‚Could you check if Teddy is still asleep?’
Severus watched Ginny Potter turn her back on him and set the platter on the night table. He did know that she’d given him an order, so he closed the door and walked to little master Teddy’s bedroom.
When he carefully opened the door – he preferred not to think about what his owner would have done if he woke the child – the boy was still asleep. He had his father’s brown hair and he was hugging his wolf plushie to himself.
No sooner had Snape taken a few steps than the boy woke up. He turned onto his side and stared at the man for a while. His hair changed color to red, and his eyes became green like Potter’s. The man felt his throat constrict. In this moment the boy resembled Lily a great deal…
‚Sev!’ the child called, staggering to his feet while clutching the rails of the crib.
The boy was standing for a while, but then he reached for his stuffed wolf – called Remy – and lost his balance. He fell onto his rump and started to cry. Severus broke into motion finally and picked the child out of the crib, checking the state of his clothing and nappy while he was at it.
He was surprised himself at his proficiency in taking care of little master Teddy and started wondering whether he had changed some child’s nappies in the past. He could not remember anything concrete, but after thinking for some time he arrived at the conclusion that it must have been either little Draco – Lucius’s son, or Lily’s little son…
He sighed and walked downstairs, carrying little Lupin in his arms. The boy was already walking, but master Potter surely was capable of thinking up something unpleasant for him if his godson fell down the stairs. Upon reaching the dining room, he set the child onto his feet – having checked already that there is nothing that could hurt him within his arms’ reach.
The Potters walked downstairs after a long time. The Boy-Who-Lived summoned a smile to his own face, more for the child than for himself or his wife. Severus could see a deep sadness in his eyes. He wondered why he had never before seen it, and then he thought about little master Teddy. Will he see the same thing in young Lupin’s face in some ten or twenty years?
Breakfast, at least for master Potter, was quiet and solemn. Teddy, almost as if he could feel his caregiver’s mood, was not making any problems for Snape. Harry Potter, instead of reaching for his auror’s robes, threw a traveling cloak onto his own back and walked to the door, glancing at the calendar on the way. His wife followed him with a worried gaze. The slave stole a look at the date, wondering what was happening…
31 October. Halloween. Severus sat heavily on the floor, staring at the calendar like it had betrayed him. Another anniversary. How many years? How many years have passed, since Lily… He could not even finish this thought. He felt Ginny Potter’s hand on his arm and he heard her calling her husband. The woman threw something onto his back – was he cold?
‚Harry, maybe you’ll take Severus with you? It could help him…’
The words were echoing in the emptiness that had filled Snape’s thoughts. They meant nothing. He pressed his hands to his temples as though trying to find a solid point of purchase. He closed his eyes. He felt Potter take his hand.
‚Severus… open your eyes, please…’ he heard his owner’s voice.
Despite the word ‚please’ Snape treated master Potter’s words like he was taught to – like an order. He opened his eyes. He was no longer in the Potters’ home. He was sitting on a bench, and Lily’s son was crouching in front of him, holding a bouquet of white lilies in his hand. The younger man was still holding his hand, and then he took a deep breath and moved aside.
Snape’s gaze fell onto the grave he was sitting in front of. Upon which Harry Potter had just placed the flowers. Even before he read the names on the gravestone, he had known whose resting place it was. But nothing could have prepared him for reading:
Lily Evans Potter James Potter
He felt something wet on his cheeks and only after his owner lifted a handkerchief to his face did he realize that he was crying.