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an ink stain on your mind

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January 9th, 1964

Four fingers were holding the pipe of plastic in a death grip. Black eyes were watching avidly as tip touched paper and colour appeared as if by – although he knew it was not – magic.

“Be careful.” A voice in the background. Severus would have looked up at the sound of his mother’s admonishment, but he was too immersed in his task. It was hard work, using a pen like Father.

One day he would learn to write with a quill the way Mother preferred. This day was not today. Nobody in the household was keen to have ink splotched everywhere.

Four more letters to go. The last one was the same as the first. He could do it. He more than old enough for this now.

 

January 9th, 1974

The parchment Severus picked up from where it had fluttered underneath the table contained actual notes from Professor Binns’ class. ‘Disappointing,’ he thought. There were none of the plans for pranks or hexes strewn over them like Severus had been expecting. Nothing that even Professor McGonnagal would have to give her star chaser detention for.

Still, as he kept looking over it, Severus became convinced that he had come across a goldmine. A rare birthday present on a day that had started every bit as bleak as he had expected when he had left Spinner’s End after winter break.

Lily was just going to explode if he showed her this. Potter would never have let incriminating evidence like this lying around if not for Black’s desire to have a snow fight before Defence.

Lily Potter, it read in bright blue ink all around a speech supposedly given at King Arthur’s court. Lily Potter, Lily Potter, Lily Potter.

As if.

Severus imagined Potter’s face once she tore him down like he deserved. The presumptuous git wouldn’t dare show his face for days. There was every chance the humiliation would even last long enough to throw him off during next weekend’s game.

He was just about to go find her when he noticed that one of the names said something else. Hidden among ancient laws and dates he could vaguely remember Binns mentioning earlier and the twenty-four or so Lily Potters was one James Evans. And Severus –

Severus had flicked his wand and incinerated the parchment before he could even consciously think about it.

How often had he wished to change his name since last – since coming to – possibly since forever? How often had he wished he could exchange his name for hers?

Sensitive intelligence had no value if it ended up giving the enemy ammunition. If he used this to mock Potter and Black guessed and then others found out –

No matter in which direction he tried to spin it, Evans was a Muggle name. Whether or not Severus might one day find a way to make himself and Lily happen... It would do nothing to solve his problem.

 

January 9th, 1984

He was aware that he was hiding. Sorting things that had no need of sorting because he didn’t want to go to the Great Hall and discover just what fit the Headmaster’s current notion of an ‘appropriate’ cake.

It was a poor reason for once again holding up a stack of school books that his younger self had once signed ‘Prince’. It didn’t justify his contemplating, again, potential merits of moving them back into his private quarters.

He had put them in this classroom in the hope that having them near might spark some intelligence in his students.

Right.

The cupboard in the far corner was still better than a box under his bed where the house-elves could find them.

“Off with you.” Seven volumes of potions texts floated away. Severus made himself leave the room before they slid home. He could not be having with this sentimentality.

 

January 9th, 1994

This never would have happened if Black hadn’t escaped.

Severus wasn’t entirely sure how, but as he could still feel sticky liquid seeping into his skin for all that Flitwick had quickly Scourgified it off of hair, face and clothing – without the tiniest twitch of his lips, even... Even with Lupin as their teacher, the students would never have dared to be this disrespectful if Black were still in Azkaban.

Black had been inside the castle. Was maybe slipping in and out as he pleased. Who knew what else the Gryffindors might do under his influence? Potters and Weasleys and Jordans... And that mongrel, he was conspiring with – they had never stopped being friends. Severus would prove it. Nobody would disrespect him once he handed the proof to Dumbledore and the world.

“Severus Snape, Order of Merlin (Second Class),” he repeated to himself until his mind believed that the last trace of soup was gone.

 

January 9th, 2004

‘There,’ Severus thought as he pressed down the quill for a last full stop. ‘The first paper to be published in the guise of an Argentinean curse breaker – done.’

There would be a few months’ delay in its reception in Britain and wider Europe. Gadarukanaru’s bracelet – an exploration of the nineteenth pearl would have to be published in South America first. Remus would receive two autographed copies, of which he would forward one to his editor. The connections Neville had forged during his apprenticeship would also help in drawing attention on an international level, and then, finally, his work would get the recognition it deserved. It was only a matter of time.

Becoming accustomed to a writing style different from the one Severus Snape, Potions Master used to employ had been almost as hard as breaking the bloody curse in the first place, the language barrier less of an advantage than he and Remus – and Narcissa – had thought.

There was only one last detail he had to figure out before he could send the script off to Necochea. Before, when “Anselme Aguilar” had only been someone Remus had ostensibly once met during his voyages in the late 1980s, a stylized “A” had been enough of a signature for the stack of letters that had established his existence. Now, he had to choose a signature that would stay with his professional career beyond his natural life.

Luckily, he had guests arriving soon. They could help him decide.

 

January 9th, 2014

The owl that kept following Severus around was of Hogwarts stock. He had repeatedly pointed it toward the study where Remus was currently holed up to no avail.

Unless it was Teddy sending Helena or Neville contacting Severus with his own Aeschylus, Remus was the only one who ought to receive mail from that corner of Scotland.

...The headmistress had the knowledge to contact him if she wished. It was his birthday. “Fine,” he bit out, extending a hand. “If this is not a mistake, then yes, I’ll read it and you’ll have your treat.”

The letter was addressed to R.Lupin. ‘No mice tails,’ Severus griped, but even as he thought it the R flickered and began to look more like an S than anything else. Intrigued, he unrolled the parchment completely and discovered that there were two sheets.

I confiscated this off young Teddy yesterday, the missive read. Normally, it would be of little consequence, and indeed no punishment has been given. I thought you might like to have it. – M.

The second sheet, upon first glance, would have alarmed Severus to the fact that Teddy was not taking any real notes during transfiguration – if Remus had not long ago taught his son to use a secondary parchment for procastination.

There was only the occasional word proving that the rest of it was jotted down during a lesson. Focus/Red, one key note read. Another, feathers, stacked. The rest of it was a haphazard list of names.

Teddy Lupin, it read in letters that Severus had watched become more mature every year the boy had grown. Ted Lupin and Edward Lupin, in the same handwriting, were no real surprises, either. The Ted P. Lupin stung a little but reminded him that Teddy ought to spend a few days with the Potters during Easter hols. Ted Tonks, jr. looked almost uncertain, as if the writer were afraid of giving offense with the mere thought. “Unacceptable,” Severus told the surprisingly patient owl. He would have to show Remus, this was definitely a matter that Remus should handle.

The real reason Minerva had thought to forward Teddy’s scribble to him sat toward the bottom of the sheet. The sight hit Severus right in the gut and had him mesmerized so much that he was still staring at the two words when Remus slid his arms around him from behind and whispered, “Lunch?” It was hours before it even occurred to him to consider just how secret his survival might now be, regardless of how much he and Remus both trusted Teddy.

The letters were strong, the writer sure of himself, a man who would move up in the world, slightly overreaching for his not-yet 16 years.

They read: Edward Snape.