I Don't Remember

Surprises

Severus

In my dazed dreams I heard voices. I couldn't make out the words they were saying. At first the voices were serious, and low. They would only whisper, from one person to another, and the world was dark. I wondered if I would still be alive when I woke up, or if this was the truth of it... This deep dusk, this cold. I wondered if the hope had before had been the dream, and that I would stay in this state forever.

Slowly, the gloom passed, and the voices grew more human. They all seemed to be talking about something miraculous. I wondered what the good news was. Eventually those voices, too, faded, and I was left with the long night of before. Yet, there were no nightmares here, as I got the blessed rare feeling that whatever this was, it was good. I fell into an actual sleep, and dreamed a beautiful dream, where the war had never happened, and she had been mine. Her hair was bright in sunlight, and her eyes were smiling at me. In my dream, she wasn't dead. In my dream, my far-off dream, I forgot unhappiness.

I awoke from that bright memory to a sunlit day falling across my face from a window. I didn't know where I was. The light and brilliance of the room seemed so contrast to what I had always been used to in my waking world, and at first I thought this was yet another mirage brought on by addled thoughts. Another moment, though, and my eyes had adjusted for me to realize the outlines of a recovery room in St. Mungos. Experimenting, my hands went to my throat and felt only skin.

"You're healed, Professor." I looked to the previously undiscovered bedside furthest from the window. Hermione Granger was sitting there, looking worse than I'd ever seen her. "You've been through lots of experimental cures, long hours with top healers, we brought in a few phoenixes, and you've slept off the rest."

I prioritized as usual. "How long have I been here?"

"Two months, total."

"Why are you still here?"

"McGonagall sent me with you, to keep the press off you." I got the feeling she wouldn't have stayed otherwise. Good. Then we were on equal footing.

"Most importantly, why was so much wasted on a dying man?"

"I believe I can answer that, Severus." My ears disbelieving, I turned my eyes turned to the door. In strolled Kingsly Shackelbolt, followed by Arthur Wesley, and pushing a wheeled kind of tray where a portrait of Albus Dumbledore was lightly leaning, smiling his half smile beneath twinkling eyes. I choked back emotion and sat staring dazedly.

"Don't look so shocked, Severus. Surely you must have realized we wouldn't let you go and die so easily?"

I wasn't sure how to reply that I didn't think being nearly eaten alive by Nagini, on orders from Voldemort, was anything remotely classified as "easy."

He continued, seeming to guess my thoughts as per usual. "Whatever happened to you, whatever may have happened to you, you cannot die on Hogwarts' ground. You are a teacher, and due to the plan we worked out, are headmaster. The magic that was activated by our colleague Professor McGonagall, to protect the school from the invading army of Voldemort, was the same magic that kept you clinging to life. Because, Severus, as a headmaster of Hogwarts School, you are, too, protected by it."

I sat there, trying to collect my thoughts, none too easy by the fact I was now the center of attention. "So... I'm re-instated then? Its as if nothing happened?"

"Not exactly, Severus." It was Kingsley who spoke. Seems we're all on first name terms now. "Minerva was deputy headmistress during Dumbledor's time. We're very grateful for your protective services when they were necessary, but now that the danger has passed, we all feel that it's time for Minerval to run the school. We are, of course, offering you back your old position as Potions Master with honors."

"Well said, Minister." Arthur spoke this time. His use of title when referring to Kingsley wasn't that big of a surprise. I had always thought he was a good man for the job few were good at. "Listen Snape," Oh, so not all of us are on first name terms. "I want you to know its nothing against you, you not being Headmaster. Its you who helped protect my daughter this past year, and without you-" His voice caught in his throat. I felt myself slacken a little, and surmised he was calling me by my surname out of respect, rather than unfriendly feelings. "Well, it's been a bad year for all of us, but without you, a lot fewer of our children and friends would be alive to see this day, and we are all eternally grateful to you."

"I see." I replied, keeping my tone even, and staring straight at Albus. "and how does everyone know that I saved the day?"

"Please excuse our dear friend Severus." he said, directing his words to everyone in attendance but myself. "He is not used to people realizing him to be anything other than a...ahem...'slimy git.'" I scowled. "As to your question, I cannot take the blame for letting the proverbial cat out of the bag. I did not tell anyone."

"I did." I was not expecting Potter to walk into the small, now rather cramped, room, yet in he strolled. He looked odd, wearing muggle clothes surrounded by wizards in their full length robes, but I imagined he was just up for anything clean and inconspicuous after a war with man and press. I tried to focus on these clothes, tried not to look him in the eyes. After the dreams I'd had, and the already eventful day, I didn't have it in me to look at Lily's eyes.

"Professor." Kingsley and Arthur moved to the side, so Harry could walk further into the room. He looked as uncomfortable as I felt. "Listen, Professor... I... I really don't know how to say this. I never thought I would, and I'm not prepared for it. I'd like more time to get my words in order, except this the only time I've ever spoken to you and not have to worry about detention, or points being taken from my house. And, if there's one thing I've learned in the past year, it's you never know what's going to come tomorrow, so if you get the chance today you have to take it."

Kingsley reached out and put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed. I had the fleeting wish someone would do the same for me. When Harry was ready, he looked me in the eyes, and I suddenly noticed how much older he looked since the short time I'd seen him last.

"I hated you, you know." I'd known. "I thought you were the blame for the deaths of all those that I loved, and the pain I'd felt, and the families that would never see their loved ones. When I found out about the prophesy, I blamed you for the death of my parents. When I saw what happened on top of the tower, I blamed you for the death of Dumbledore. But... Then I saw you laying there...

"I couldn't believe what had happened. It seemed so... wrong. I'd been hiding, Professor." I looked away, fighting my feelings; I hadn't meant for him to see that. He pressed on. "I'd heard the way you sounded, asking him to let you come get me. I know now, you would have warned me, had you come. I saw your memories... The doe..." I closed my eyes. This was too personal. "Professor, I had to tell them. I had to tell everyone. Especially after I thought you were dead. You've done so much for everyone here, and everyone out there. And I think I can speak for everyone here that the least we can do is keep you safe from the Daily Prophet and give you your place back at Hogwarts."

I sat silent for a few minutes. The only sounds were the birds outside the window and occasional trolley roll or otherwise hospital sound outside the door. Finally I sighed. "You all feel this way then?" Another few moments of silence.

"We do, Professor." I turned to look at Granger, who was speaking for the first time since everyone had walked in. "We feel it's not fair for you to spend the rest of your life in obscurity, and while we understand you may want that, we'd rather you spend it as close to a normal life. And, a few of us are sure you want that too, deep down." I saw her eyes flash to Albus, and I knew he'd had a few words to say to everyone. She continued before I could comment. "Besides that, though... We... We want you back." I looked at her to see if she was lying. She didn't seem to be. "And not just as our Potions Master... Hopefully as someone who we can come to understand and respect, as a long-hidden ally."

I began to wonder if silence after someone speaking was the new fun thing to do, and yet for all my inner sarcasm, I myself was unable to respond. What does someone say to this? Especially after the past we'd had? Luckily, I didn't have to figure that out just yet.

"Well said, Miss Granger." Albus spoke from his portrait, looking quite pleased with the world. "As to all this, Severus, can you really deny these good people the happy end they're looking for?"

I had never felt more out of my element than in this room. Put into this situation, with people who apparently wanted my company rather than shunned it, I did the only thing I felt I could.

"No Sir, I suppose not."

"All's well then!" Albus said brightly, clapping his hands together. "Wheel me out then, Kingsley. Arthur, get the paperwork together. Severus, I'll check in with you Monday." He winked at me as he left the room.

What had I done?



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