Pensieve of the Prince

Severus Snape realizes that he might not survive the war and decides to take the time to come to terms with his life. To do this, he must relive every memory, painful and joyous, that he has stored within his pensieve, untouched, for so long. In the end, the memories will either give him the strength needed to push through or ultimately be his undoing.

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15. Pain Is So Close To Pleasure

    It took a little while for Severus to compose himself after his meeting with Dumbledore. If it could be called a meeting, that is. More accurately, it consisted of Severus begging for the Potters to be protected. 

    All that mattered was that Dumbledore had agreed. They were to perform the Fidelus charm later this very night.

    Additionally, Lily had invited Severus over to meet her son, as this was the last chance that he would be able to visit. Severus had struggled with whether or not to accept. After all, he still hated James Potter with a burning passion, but it was cancelled out by his love for Lily. In the interest of their recent reconciliation and in light of the fact that she was nearly marked for death, he had agreed.

    Severus straightened his robes in the mirror that hung in his hallway. He wasn’t about to go to the house of his worst enemy or greatest love looking any less than perfect. So as not to get ash on his cloak, Severus apparated to their house, much like he had done the day before.

    When he knocked on the door this time, it was answered immediately. 

    “Come on in, Sev,” Lily said, glancing both ways in the dark before closing the door. It was good to see that they were being cautious. Pressing her back against the door after locking it, Lily turned to him with a light smile. “Hi.”

    “Hello.”

    “Come to the sitting room, will you? You can meet Harry,” Lily said, leading the way.

    Severus followed placidly. In the adjoining room sat James, bounding a baby on his knee. An unexpected spark of jealousy flickered through Severus, though he kept his visage blank. Lily strode over and took Harry from James. Bouncing him on her arm, she offered him to Severus.

    “Do you want to hold him?” she asked.

    “Lil-” James began.

    Lily cut him off with a look. “Severus can hold him if he wants to.”

    Severus really wasn’t much of a baby person, but he took him anyway, if only for the sake of spiting James. Harry laughed, drooled and waved a sticky hand at Severus’s face, tangling it in his hair. Carefully, Severus disengaged him and handed him back to Lily. “That’s quite enough of that.”

    “Isn’t he darling?” Lily said, looking fondly at the giggling infant.

    “Quite.”

    James was watching Severus with contempt. “Snivellus, please sit. I was unaware that we were having company,” he shot a glance at Lily, “or I would have cleaned up a bit.” James nodded towards a group of baby toys which seemed to be scientifically arranged to take up the maximum amount of floor space possible. 

    “Not if you knew it was I who was coming,” Severus replied cooly.

    “Boys,” Lily admonished. “Don’t. Please.”

    They looked away. 

    “Dumbledore told us that it was you who tipped him off to Voldemort’s plan,” Lily said conversationally to break the silence.

    “Don’t call him that,” Severus said a bit harshly. He had a flash of a memory in which he slipped and- Well, the rest could be guessed. “And yes, he is correct, of course.”

    “Then you have our thanks,” Lily replied, wiping Harry’s chin. “We’re in your debt, Sev.”

    James gave her a sharp look which she quelled quickly. Lily looked at him meaningfully, obviously prompting him to say something to that effect. 

    “Yeah, Snivelly-”

    “Don’t call him that, James!” Lily hissed. “He’s practically saved our lives and you’d still bully him?”

    “I am a Death Eater,” Severus commented. “‘Bullying’ me as you put it, is a moot point.”

    “Yes, well, it’s still not very nice,” Lily said. 

    For a moment, the three of them sat in an awkward silence. Severus was still and calm, but James seemed uncomfortable, searching for something to say that wouldn’t anger his wife.

    “So, uh, Snape, what’ve you been up to?” James asked, apparently without thinking.

    Severus turned to him slowly. “You cannot be sincere in that question.”

    James scratched the back of his neck. “Um...” he stammered. “How’ve you been, then?”

    Severus’s eyes narrowed. “As well as one can be while working for the Dark Lord and putting my life on the line to protect yours.”

    James seemed at a temporary loss for words. “How about some tea?”

    He stood abruptly and went to the kitchen. Lily shifted Harry in her lap and shot Severus a look. 

    “You’re toying with him. I know you well enough to see that,” she accused.

    “Perhaps.”

    Lily sighed. “After this is all over, it’d be nice if you two could learn to get along.”

    “Would it,” Severus said flatly.

    There was a knock on the door and Severus instantly tensed out of instinct. The more logical part of his mind said that it couldn’t be Death Eaters, or Voldemort, because they certainly wouldn’t knock. 

    “Relax, Severus, it’s probably Sirius. We’re performing the spell in just a little bit,” Lily assured him.

    “I think it is time for me to leave,” Severus stated, standing to pick his way across the sea of toys.

    “You don’t have to go because he’s here, Sev,” Lily told him.

    The look on his face said that he did indeed have to go. She sighed as he followed her to the door. It was Black.

    “What’s he doing here?” he demanded, stepping through the door and whipping out his wand.

    Severus looked at it mildly, pointed at his chest. “I wouldn’t, if I were you.”

    “Lily, are you mental? He’s a Death Eater? He’s one of them!” Sirius shouted.

    Lily gave Sirius a hard look. “He’s on our side now, Siri. Please, lower your wand.”

    “But-”

    “Do it, Sirius,” James spoke up from the doorway.

    Defeated, Sirius lowered his wand. “He’s got you all under some sort of spell, hasn’t he?” he muttered, half to himself.

    “No. He’s the one who tipped off Dumbledore,” Lily said. “We’re very grateful, in fact.”

    Sirius snorted.

    Severus regarded them all with the blank stoicism at which he had become so good. “I will be going now, if you do not mind.”

    “A polite Death Eater is still a Death Eater,” Sirius mumbled.

    Severus sneered. “A Gryffindor Black is still a Black. Now, if you will excuse me... Goodnight, Lily.” He nodded to her but merely glanced at the other two. They said nothing.

    “Goodnight, Sev,” Lily said. “I’ll see you again when this is all over.”

    Severus nodded and stepped past Sirius, headed for home.

 

    Little did he know at the time that that would be the last time he would speak with Lily. Snape knew it now, and it pained him to watch it again. And yet, he wanted to see as much of Lily as he could remember. There was a thin line between pain and pleasure, it was true.

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