This chapter is one of my favorites. A lot of backstory on Severus.
This is the song Severus is listening to. I was listening to it (And a whole lot of other late seventies music) when I wrote it.
Start the song at about the fourth paragraph if you want a "multimedia experience". ;)
Wuthering Heights, by Kate Bush
It was a disorienting experience, Severus thought, to view one's own magically enhanced memories through a Pensieve. It was a bit like Muggle films, only one was within the film. The scene could be sped up, slowed down, run backward. To watch oneself from the outside was peculiar.
He thought he'd like to discuss the theory with Filius, he really had no idea how the things worked.
Dumbledore had asked Severus for a copy of this memory. He had agreed, on the condition that he was able to view it himself first, to make edits. Although he had agreed to provide a complete enough memory to back his tale, the headmaster had understood Severus' desire to ensure nothing embarrassing was contained therein.
The memory lightened slowly, like the set of a stage. A song that Severus had not listened to for years drifted to his ears.
"Out on the wily, windy moors
We'd roll and fall in green
You had a temper, like my jealousy
Too hot, too greedy
How could you leave me?
When I needed to possess you?
I hated you, I loved you too."
A soprano voice sang, ethereally, from the speakers of the cabinet stereo, filling up the room. The old stereo was easily the most expensive thing Tobias had ever bought for Eileen, although it was by no means a high end one. It was the only thing of Tobias' that Severus had not yet transfigured, sold or thrown out. He had also found that some magical tinkering made the sound better.
Severus' record collection had not been extensive, but he remembered the occasion of buying this one. The woman's voice had tugged on his heartstrings like nothing else had in a long time. It had a harsh, tight sound to it. Sounding both girlish and ancient. As though the singer's voice was raw from anger or tears.
He'd heard it playing inside the record shop and had felt compelled to find the name of the song and the artist. Finally, he gave in to the rare impulse and bought the LP. The more he'd listened, the more this song drew him in.
Severus' younger self sat in the living room of his father's house on Spinner's End. Rather than
wizard's robes, he was dressed in black Muggle jeans and t-shirt. He'd been out in Muggle London that day. His leather jacket hung carelessly from the back of the chair and his boots were thrown into the corner.
The house bore little resemblance to the house Severus had grown up in. His copious book purchases had begun to fill the bookshelves he'd transfigured from pieces of lumber. Quite the step up from the cinder block and plank shelving he'd used in his room when he was in school. His father hadn't allowed him to use magic to make any shelves when the bastard was still alive.
"Bad dreams in the night
They told me I was going to lose the fight
Leave behind my Wuthering, Wuthering
Severus watched himself pour a glass of white wine, his face quiet. Severus needed no Pensieve to remember how he'd felt that night. The melancholy music suited to his mood and a perfect counterpoint to the wind outside.
"Heathcliff, its me, Cathy come home
I'm so cold, let me in your window, oh!"
Tobias had been dead for six weeks and Severus had never felt so free in his life. The old man had had no other family and certainly no friends, other than the drunks down the pub. Severus hadn't bothered with a funeral; it would have been a great waste of money. Rather, he had given his father the bare minimum required by duty. No burial and grave stone for Tobias Snape. Just a perfunctory cremation and illicit dumping into the river where he'd taken Severus to fish, when he was tiny.
"Oh it gets dark, it gets lonely
On the other side from you
I pine a lot, I find a lot
Falls through without you
I'm coming back love, cruel Heathcliff
My one dream, my only master"
A sharp thumping at his door startled him (both his real self and his recorded, younger self) so much he nearly dropped his glass.
That night, he'd been expecting no one. He'd drawn his wand and opened the door by a crack. He knew that the caller must be a wizard or witch, he'd put a charm on the house to hide it from Muggle eyes only the prior week.
"Too long I roam in the night
I'm coming back to his side to put it right
I'm coming home to Wuthering, Wuthering,
Severus crept to stand where his memory self stood. He looked out at the hooded, cloaked figure on the doorstep.
"Heathcliffe, It's me, Cathy. I'm so cold. So cold"
A woman stood there, by the shape of it. She looked over her shoulder as if fearing pursuit from the street.
"Let me have it, let me grab your soul away"
"What do you want?" demanded memory-Severus.
The woman's head turned. Both Severuses bit back a gasp. The younger from surprise, the elder from unexpected pain.
Light from inside the house fell on red hair. Her green eyes were red rimmed and her cheeks blotchy. Her grey cloak covered robes the green of a healer's uniform, as if she'd come straight from work. She held her wand in both hands, nervously rolling it between her fingers.
"Severus?" the woman's voice was rough and shaky, "I-I'm sorry...I didn't know where else to go."
"Lily." breathed the memory Severus.
The real Severus crossed his arms across his chest. Already, tears had slowly started down his cheeks. He breathed deeply, mastering himself, glad again that he'd decided to view this alone first. He stepped back to lean against the wall of the memory house, willing himself to be a dispassionate observer.
"Lily." repeated Severus the younger, blankly, "What are you doing here?"
The woman tried to answer, but her voice was choked with tears. She covered her mouth with one hand, as though to prevent sobs from escaping.
"Look, you better come in. It's not safe." The elder Severus winced at his younger self's still-prominent working class accent, the T's pronounced as glottal stops. The "I" and the "T" in
"it's" lost somewhere, so that he was saying "S'nah' safe".
Severus-of-the-present was reminded why he'd gotten into the habit of always speaking so formally. The precision of the words helped him to shed the lazy pronunciation.
The memory Severus gently put out his hand, encircling her shoulders, "Come on, Lily." he said.
She pressed her sleeve to her cheek and wiped the tears there. He produced a handkerchief which she took gratefully, stepping into the room.
"I'm sorry." Lily said again, taking deep breaths as Severus turned back to the street to cast a quick "Revelio" outside. No Wizards appeared within range of the spell, so he shut the door.
Lily stood looking around the front room at the bookshelves and the one good chair Severus had transfigured for himself to read in. She looked small and lost and achingly sad.
"What happened?" The younger Severus finally organized himself to ask (it came out as "Wha' 'appened" and real-Severus winced again), after a moment of gawping at the distressed witch.
"It's James...he...he.." she pressed her hand to her mouth again as her words were lost in sobs.
Severus had never understood how frightening he was in anger, before now. He watched memory-Severus' face darken into an expression far too reminiscent of Tobias Snape in a rage, as he snarled, "What did he do?"
The young wizard's hand was tight on his wand as he crossed to Lily. He put his hands on her shoulders.
Lily reached up to put her hands on his arms, shaking her head "No...no, Sev. It's not like that. He didn't do anything." Her face was awash in tears as she spoke, "Don't..."
"Did he hurt you? I'll fucking kill him. What did he do, Lily? Did he hit you?" Severus searched what skin he could see for marks.
"He didn't do anything, Sev." she said firmly, although her voice was harsh with tears, "He didn't!"
"Are you sure?" Severus looked into Lily's eyes, searching for the truth of her words.
"Sev," Lily said warningly,"Severus! Stop." she tore her eyes away from his, and stepped back, out of his grip, "Get out of my head."
The music filled the space between them as she glared. She grasped her own wand firmly now, holding it, slightly raised, at her hip. She shifted on her feet, biting her lip, "This was a mistake." she said very quietly, taking a step towards the door.
Severus took another step back, "Sorry." he said quietly, he reached out with his left hand to forestall her "But I had to know." his voice trembled a little, "You know that..." he hesitated as though searching for the word, "People...they lie about things like that."
Lily's anger drained away. She looked around the front room again, "Yes. I know." her shoulders dropped, "Of course, I know." her voice was pained.
Severus ran his raised hand through his hair, sighing, "Look. Come sit down. I won't do that again." He transfigured the chair into a small settee. He threw himself onto it and held out his hand in invitation, "So are you going to tell me why you came here? After all this time?" Severus asked softly.
She sat down beside him, but didn't take his hand. Instead she put her wand across her lap and folded her hands over it. For a long time she stared at him, as though she wanted to read his mind, although she'd never been good at Legilimency. Severus returned her regard and waited for her to collect herself.
"You sent a wedding present." Lily said, when she finally spoke, seemingly apropos of nothing.
"It's customary." replied Severus stiffly.
"You didn't have to." she dropped her gaze to look at her hands. The watching
Severus-of-the-now was startled by the posture. She looked uncannily like her son. Strange that he'd never noticed before, but the child moved like Lily.
"Did you mean what you said? In your note?" Lily asked, cautiously, of the memory-Severus, not looking at him.
"That I still missed you and I hoped you were happy?" he asked.
Lily nodded. She didn't look up.
"Of course I did." Severus leaned forward to take her folded hands in both of his, "Are you going to tell me why you're here?"
Lily sighed, "I have been happy with James, you know. Even with the War-and everything. We've been trying for a baby." she would not look at him.
Severus leaned forward to put his forehead against the top of her head. She leaned into him with a little sigh.
"We've been trying for a baby since we got married." Lily repeated in a whisper, "It's been more than a year." The room seemed overwhelmingly quiet, neither Severus had noticed when the record ended. The needle was charmed to lift itself at the end of the record.
"I started worrying. It's a long time to try...especially since I've been keeping track of the best times to...you know." she went on. She spoke conspiratorially, as though afraid someone would overhear. The real Severus had to lean in close to hear her, "I want to specialize in midwifing, I've been apprenticed with a midwife. She ran all the charms on me last month." tears started to fall again, but her voice was almost steady, "She taught me the charms to run on James. I did it this afternoon. He'd worked all night so he was asleep. He didn't know."
Now Lily raised her head, to look at Severus. Her eyes were desolate, "He can't...can't father children. He's a Pure Blood and he must have..."
Severus blew his breath out sharply, understanding. This was the reason many Pure Blood Wizarding families became extinct. "Oh, Lily." he held her hands firmly, "Have you told him?"
"I can't bear to. He wants a child so badly. And so do I." her eyes dropped back to her lap, "I couldn't think of who else to go to."
"I don't understand. I don't know what I can do..." Severus trailed off as Lily lifted her eyes, now bright and sharp.
"Do you know how to make the potion?" She asked.
"Potion?" Severus asked, his eyebrows raised in surprise and confusion, "I can make any potion you want, but there's no cure for this. You know that."
"Occludus Paternus." Lily said firmly, those bright eyes never leaving Severus' face.
"I...I suppose...I mean," Severus paused, swallowed, "It's not a difficult potion...But..." he paused again,
"But, what?" Lily demanded softly.
"Well, who would be the...you know..?" Severus cheeks reddened as he spoke.
"The donor?" asked Lily, her eyes still sharp, although her own cheeks had turned bright pink too.
Severus nodded, "I suppose you'll ask one of Potter's friends?" his voice was harsh with what sounded like disapproval.
Lily's skin darkened to a red that was painful to look at, "I-I sort of hoped..." her voice cracked. She drew back her hands, took up her wand. Made to rise off the settee, "Never mind. I said this was a mistake."
"Lily...Lily, wait." Severus recaptured her hands and stopped her from getting up, "I'm sorry. I just...Sorry. Stupid question. None of my business. Of course I'll do it."
Lily looked at Severus, her face lighting up with a joyful smile, despite her tears. She threw herself into his arms, sobbing again.
Severus stiffened, awkwardly patting the back of the distraught woman. He put his other hand on the back of her head, stroking her hair, "Sh-sh Lily," he said, "It's okay."
She drew back, "Thank you."
"When are you going to tell Potter?" Severus asked when Lily seemed to calm down enough to speak again.
She sat back, her eyes haunted, "I'm not."
"You what?" said Severus, astonished, "You can't keep that from him. Whoever you asked...they'd be bound to say something."
"What if I asked you?" Lily said.
Severus opened and shut his mouth a few times, looking gobsmacked, "But Lily, he'd never let you."
"He won't know anything about it." Lily crossed her arms, "If you won't do it, I'll go to a Muggle sperm bank."
"A what? What is that?"
Lily made an irritated noise, " Didn't you hear about it last year? The baby they conceived in a test tube? It was all over the news." she glared at him accusingly, "Of course you don't read Muggle papers. "
"What?" Severus shook his head and put his hands over his eyes for a second, "So, what, they just use some man's..." he broke off, taking his hands away from his face. He wasn't sure what term to use.
"Sperm." said Lily, flatly, "I understand they preserve it by freezing. They would artificially inseminate me. It's very expensive, but I still have the insurance money from my parents."
"But, that sounds horrible." He gaped at her. Another horrible thought occurred to him, "What if the child was a Squib?"
"I'm Muggle born. Do you think I would care?" Lily flared. She stood up to pace. She walked right by the real Severus, looking angry and determined.
"Potter would care. You know he would." Severus said, quietly. He sat forward on the settee with his elbows on his knees, watching her move back and forth like a man at a tennis match.
"He wants a child as much as I do. He wouldn't care." she assured him.
"Lily." Severus stood, "Lily...I...I'm not sure I could." he told her. He crossed his left arm across his chest, holding the elbow of his dangling wand hand, that still held his wand, "You're my best friend..."
Lily stopped pacing, to look at him with a little smile on her lips, "Still?"
Severus sighed, with a small, sad, fond smile of his own, "Still."
The real Severus suppressed a sob.
"But," went on memory Severus, relentlessly it seemed, "I never thought of you like that. It's not that you're not pretty," he went on quickly, afraid he'd be misinterpreted, "But you're not...you know?"
"We could get drunk?" Lily said shyly, hopefully, "I don't want it to be someone who's not a friend. And I know you'd never tell."
Severus looked at her for a long time, not saying anything. She appeared to be holding her breath.
Abruptly, he turned to his bookshelves. Severus knew which book the potion was in. He knew all those potion books intimately, although he'd never made this particular potion before. He looked in the index and then flipped to the proper page, "The potion would take a week to make. You need to take it two weeks after conception, right when you miss your first period, for the first three months."
Lily nodded, "Thank you." she breathed, understanding he was giving his consent to her mad scheme.
"When would you want to..?" Severus gave her a sidelong look, without raising his head from the book.
Her face was beet red again, "Madam Bonenfant gave me a fertility potion this afternoon. And James thinks I'm at a birth tonight. Madam Bonenfant will back me up."
"Bonenfant? She's your preceptor?" Severus asked, lifting his head to look at her properly.
Lily nodded, "She knows what I'm doing. She told me not to tell her with whom." Lily shrugged, looking to the side, "It's a common enough problem that many of the midwives know women who've had to do this."
"Oh." Severus said, quietly.
"So, if you haven't got any other plans, we could do it, tonight." Lily hugged herself, now, "If you've got anymore of that wine." she indicated the sideboard where his forgotten wineglass stood.
He smiled gently, "You always get sick. I've got something better. I've got a potion that will make us really fancy each other, for about half an hour."
Lily giggled, embarrassed, "Perhaps, it could be forty five minutes?"
"Enough" The real Severus halted the memory. He wiped his face with his sleeve (although he loathed it when students did that) and used the incantation to cut the memory there. He only needed the memory to show that nothing coerced or nonconsensual had happened. He didn't need to give the old bastard a show.
Severus is based heavily on myself and my family. "Digging" has become a stroll through my subconcious I'm afraid.
My father was a millworker in Newport Wales in 1960. He would have been about the same age as Severus' parents. Toby is heavily based on him. He had a Southern Welsh accent and a stammer. He spent many, many hours with a tape recorder trying to get rid of both. Like Toby my father "married up"--my mother's father was educated gentry and something of this was passed to his daughters (Although his wife was a laundress and quite the scandal when they married). My mother was a bit posh for him.
Like Toby, my father was also an abusive drunk. My own mother made different choices than Eileen did, thank god, but my father received no funeral because we couldn't think of a single nice thing to say about him. He was cremated and I don't know what his widow (not my mother) did with the ashes.
Fun note: Bonenfant was in fact the name of the OB who delivered me. It is a French name that means "Good baby". Not kidding. Did not make that up.
Some notes on Sev and Lily's relationship: as written here, Sev is gay and either asexual or demisexual. He would not have been able to perform with Lily without help from a potion. Not because there was anything wrong with the equipment, but because he has NO sexual attraction to her. She's like a green salad offered to a cat. He is willing to do this for her because she IS his best friend.
I have had many people ask me, "But how can Snape be so nasty to Harry? He's Harry's father!
Easy. If Sev hadnt gone along with Lily's plan, Lily would still be alive. He sees Harry as the mechanism of Lily's demise.
Oh sure, he WAS the one who took Trelawny's ramblings to the Dark Lord, but he never expected that it would be taken that seriously. The guilt kills him every time he looks at Harry.
We'll also throw in that Severus as I've written him suffers from serious depression.