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Truth is in the eyes of the beholder

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“When did you plan to tell me about it?” Harry confronts me, as I arrive at Godric's Hollow for my Saturday afternoon visit. I know he's just worried, because he cares, but it's not his goddamn business.

“I'm almost thrice seventeen. I had no idea that I'm supposed to ask your permission. Or is it a new addenda to the Dark Wizards Act? Suspicious individuals have to report and register their partners with the Auror Office?”

Harry is nearly as angry as I am. However he regains control faster than I expected. He has grown up to be proud of. I may not share his view on certain things and he doesn't even have a vague idea about mine, but I love the boy... the young man. I don't want this quarrel. I don't want to be forced to choose. There's no doubt who I choose. Please Harry, don't make me. I don't want to lose you.

Then I suddenly remember that....

“Harry, you don't have a problem with.... with the fact that Severus is a man, have you? I mean I sometimes forget that you've been raised by Petunia. Muggles hold strange views about that kind of love. It was even illegal with them when I was a little boy. My father read the articles about the abolition of this law to us and ranted how unbelievably barbaric and backwards they were to have laws against something which is part of human nature.”

He shakes his head.

“No, I've been living among wizards long enough to know. I had no idea that you.... but that's not the point. Why Snape? All those love letters you got after the Witch Weekly articles, I'm sure, if it had been known that your interests are different, many wizards ….”

“Good Merlin, I haven't even read that trash and there were a few from wizards. I could ask you the same. You got twice as many letters, why are you married to Ginny?”

“I love her...”

“Exactly, I love Severus and he returns my feelings. What more reasons do you need?”

“Sirius, you flung yourself into Snape's arms without one moment of thought. You don't know the man. He's brave. I don't deny that, but what else? You have lost all reason. I have no idea how he did that. He loved my mother all his life and all of a sudden he discovers he's gay and in love with you. You have been enemies all your lives for heaven's sake! Get real!”

“Real? It's more real than you can imagine. Severus... he's the best thing that ever happened to me. Can't you see that ? If you can't share my happiness, can't you just accept? Accept that I love him and there's nothing you could do or say to change that.”

“Nothing? Maybe I've seen things, things you don't know. Maybe I know Snape better than you can imagine.”

Harry is holding up a flask with a silvery substance. I suppose it's the one with the memories Severus gave him, when he thought he was dying. Harry has already told me what it contains. So what? I know about his friendship with Lily; I know he went to Dumbledore because of her alone. I know about the Hogwarts Express and the horrible day of the Defence OWLs. I was there. There's nothing in those memories to make me change my mind... to make my heart change. What can be so horrible in those memories that Harry thinks it makes a difference? Nothing! Does he really think I'm that blind or stupid? I know Severus isn't an angel. He's not a knight in shining armour, paladin for the good side. I don't want him to be. He's just right for me the way he is.

Harry puts a Pensieve on the table. It's not Dumbledore's; he must have brought it from the Ministry. He's well prepared. I don't want to look at the memories. Severus entrusted Harry with them. It's indecent to show them to me.

“Scared to face the truth?”

I shake my head. No, I'm not scared. If Severus wanted me to see this, he had done it himself.

“If you're so sure to know Snape, you can look at it, can't you?”

“That's beside the point and you know it. You should have returned these memories a long time ago, not been showing them around to all sorts of people.”

“I haven't shown it to anyone else, but you need to know the truth.” Harry pours the silvery substance into the Pensieve. “You can return it yourself afterwards, if you still want to. Watch the memories and if they don't make you change your mind, I won't raise further objections”

Harry knows this is an offer I can not refuse, if only to prove him wrong.

We plunge into the basin.

There's little Severus hiding behind the hedge of a playground watching two girls. Lily, of course, is one of them. He looks so skinny and small in his odd clothes, so lonely. I feel the wish to protect him. Something in his face makes me cringe, so much longing as he watches Lily. I understand what he feels. I felt the same about James, someone just like yourself, someone who will understand, someone to belong to. But it hurts to see him look at her. Merlin, I'm jealous of a ten year old girl!

Lily jumps off the swing and almost flies. I smile; he told me about that. He has never forgotten. She gave him the idea that flying is possible. One small moment and what great magic he made of it. He said he might be willing to teach me how to do it, if I in all my immaturity sit still long enough to listen and take my ridiculous boots off the table. I replied I'd try it only when he tried the Animagus Transformation in return.

Lily plays with a flower and Severus blunders out of his hiding surprised by his own daring. He's so cute in his clumsiness and so admirable in his nerve talking to a girl like Lily. He is so brave. I remember how I was nearly dying of panic, when I tried to talk to Andromeda several years later. Petunia is a stupid bitch, but who had expected her to be otherwise?

I want to comfort him after the girls left. Don't bother with them, Sev.

The scene changes. They are together as friends. Severus obviously tells her about the Wizarding World. What a silly question, Lily. Of course, it's real. When Severus tells her that they will soon receive their letters, he looks so confident, so sure of himself, of his destiny. That's my Sev!

I can't figure out, if he really believes that her being Muggle-born doesn't make a difference. It doesn't for him. He speaks of her with so much admiration........so much – dammit, I don't have any reason to be jealous. He's with me now.

She doesn't even listen. Has she ever understood how much she meant to him?

Her question about his parents sounds like idle chitchat to me. I know I'm unfair, but I don't like the way he smiles so happily for her just saying his name. I don't like that she changes the subject again. It's all about her, isn't it? Is the magic world real? Will she be accepted at Hogwarts? Will she get in trouble with Dementors for doing magic tricks? Maybe she's just trying to distract him from his troubles....?

Severus is brought back to earth by Petunia falling off a tree.

“Yeah!” I can't help cheering the branch dropping on her head. Harry who has so far let me watch without interrupting looks shocked.

“Sirius, how can you? He attacked a defenceless Muggle girl!”

“So what? Serves her right.” I snap. “He didn't attack her anyway. Nobody can control it at that age. He was hurt. That was pretty mean what she said.”

How many times have I heard such insults? 'Mummy's blouse! Little girls. Why don't you tie up your hair in pig-tails?' They got the answers they deserved. They rarely dared to say it again. I didn't need magic to settle the argument, but Severus has never been the type for a Muggle brawl. The father of the boy I knocked a tooth out, when he pulled Reggie's long locks, came to see my father. The boy changed the side of the street afterwards as soon as he saw us. So did the father.

Lily accuses Severus of having it done on purpose. Absurd! Only a Muddle-born could believe....

The surroundings blur and transform into a different place. We are on Platform 9 ¾. I'm starting to feel uncomfortable. I do remember what arrogant, stupid prats we were, when we first met him.

I can see myself in the distance. Father is talking to me. I remember his sermon too well; what is expected from me as the heir of the Blacks; how I should behave myself. Stay with your older cousins. You bet I won't. I see other students board the train and I can't wait to follow. Reggie tried to show a brave face, but I remember the tears in his eyes. He grabbed my hands. I tried to pull away. I promise to write to him; only one year and he'll be coming with me.

Severus is standing beside a witch who obviously is his mother. They don't talk. I follow Severus' eyes to where Lily's family stands. The girls are quarrelling. Harry wants me to listen. It's about the letter Petunia wrote to Dumbledore or the one he wrote to her. Lily told us about it. I can't believe what I hear and see. Lily blames the whole thing on Severus. Petunia doesn't care. She insults her sister anyway, calls her a freak. I frown, not at Petunia. Who cares about her? This is not the Lily I knew, not the Lily whom I called my friend. It's not like Severus broke into their house and rummaged Petunia's room. It wasn't like that the last time I heard the story. Lily had invited him and showed him around. She led him into her sisters room. He saw the letter and was curious, but she was as eager to see it. They both read it and talked about it. It actually doesn't matter who saw it first and who took it. You don't blame a friend to make yourself look innocent! I'm getting angry at her. It's not just jealousy. It's... I don't know.... I don't like the way she treats him.

The next scene is the one I've dreaded to witness again. Severus enters our compartment. James, Remus and I had just started to get to know each other, talking brooms and Quidditch. I remembered the name Potter and my fear that his father bought the last Nimbus – my broomstick. We laugh at my stupidity. Lily is sitting at the window. I don't think we noticed that she was crying. I don't think we noticed her at all. Girls....

Now I do. She's still bitching at Severus. No, she isn't; she feels she's lost her sister forever and she's probably right, but it's not Severus' fault.

I feel a pang of guilt at Severus' excitement. “We're off to Hogwarts!”

Yes, we were and I made it hell for you.

What follows now still haunts me. What if James never had made clear how much he disliked Slytherin? What if I had not tried to be all right? What if? I am a Gryffindor, no doubt about it. The Hat sniggered, when it said that it takes bravery worthy of Gryffindor for a Black to go there, but it did not try to talk me out of it nor had it kept me from Slytherin, if I had wanted to follow family tradition. I wanted to be with James. Lily, I lost a brother that day, but I don't blame James for my choices.

What if Severus had replied to my taunt? He had no chance; Lily dragged him away. I was just trying to impress James, trying to be witty.

We witness our Sorting next. I smirk at Lily's reaction. I didn't like her either.

Hogwarts, years later. Late spring or early summer of our 5th year, I guess. Yes, of course, that's the memory just after I nearly killed Severus. They are arguing. He pleads their friendship. She tells him off for something Mulciber did to her friend Mary. I don't remember exactly what it was. Mary came back to the Common Room crying. She refused to talk about it. She might have told Lily, though. We would have done something to punish him, but after my idiotic stunt, we chose to stay put. I know for sure that Severus had nothing to do with it. He was with Reggie.

Severus brings us into play, sure he does and he is right. We weren't much nicer. I thought Lily tried to get Sev off our tracks, off Remus' tracks, because she wanted the stupid fighting to stop. Why is she only accusing him?

Harry is watching me with apprehension. I don't understand anymore what this is about. He said he wanted me to know the truth about Severus, but all I've seen is a disgusting truth about Lily. She claims they are best friends and then she lies to him about Remus. I've told Severus in our letters that she tried to protect her friend. Is it truly possible that he didn't know? Of course, he said that one reason he went down the tunnel was to find proof. She had lied to him for two years and continued to lie, after he got nearly killed.

I feel sick. I want out of here. I don't want to see more of this.

The day of the Defence OWL, I had only watched Severus and kept him helpless for James to torment and humiliate him in front of the whole school, in front of Lily. I don't need a reminder of what I had done that day. I know Severus has forgiven me. I try not to look at him, but instead I see Lily. Lily flirting with James! Lily smiling at Severus' humiliation! Lily calling him by the name I invented!

Mudblood, the unforgivable word! No mercy, no forgiveness, nothing but cold self-righteousness!What we did that afternoon was unforgivable. How lucky am I that Severus isn't like her.

No, I can't blame her for giving in to her friends at last. Everyone told her that Severus was no good, not just us. How can I blame her, when I didn't even dare to be seen talking to my own brother? But didn't she realize that he must have been under the same pressure? I doubt his house mates took kindly to his ongoing friendship with a Mudblood. He was loyal, no matter what they said....

I saw to it that Sev had only words to lash out. No chance to defend himself in any other way, not a fair fight! Why didn't she just cast the counter curse and stepped in between? James would never have hexed her. She knew he wouldn't, no matter what he said. I might have, but she knew how to fight back. It would have been two on on two, if she did. I don't understand..... I didn't understand it then.

To me, to us there was no doubt that Sev was just a boy she knew from home. He didn't mean anything to her. You don't flirt with a guy who does such things to your friend!

The horror trip doesn't end. Not for me, not for Severus!

However the following scenes don't hold much news. Harry's reports about these parts which were more important to the general development of the war have been more detailed. I have to admit that I wasn't really interested in the private memories and haven't asked questions. Lily and Severus were childhood friends; Lily told me about it herself. She didn't tell me what I have seen now.

Snippets of the conversations still make me cringe.

And what will you give in return, Severus?” You disgust me, Albus Dumbledore!

She and James put their faith in the wrong person. Rather like you.”

So sure to be right. A few years ago it would have hurt me to be named in line with Voldemort, but now I have to smile at the unintentional irony of his words. We all did indeed put our faith in the wrong person, the same person, the man who made us believe he cared. James and Lily paid with their lives for that mistake and our own survival was sheer luck.

“Sirius, are you all right? I'm sorry that it hurts you, but you've got to see it.”

I watch and I listen.

The silver doe slides through the air, out of the window and fades in the night sky.

Always.”

I feel like screaming, choking ….

I hear the Severus in my mind, my own memories.

As he whispers gentle insults. “Flea-bitten mutt. Romantic fool. Mindless idiot. You are mine. Sirius!”

I see his eyes glitter mischievously. I see him smile, laugh without bitterness. No, he doesn't look at me like he looked at her. I wouldn't want him to. I'm not a saintly idol out of his reach. I'm real. He is real.

Talks to portraits flutter by. I don't pay much attention. People died for the greater good. “Pigs to the slaughter” Some of us survived, not thanks to you, Dumbledore!

We land on the floor in Harry's sitting room. Harry looks at me expectantly. I summon my jacket.

“Where are you going, Sirius?”

“Home to Severus. Where do you think I'm going?”

“But... now that you've seen it? Haven't you changed...?”

“I have seen a few things which I need to think about. Things I didn't want or need to know.”

Harry raises his eyebrows. He has noticed the ambiguity in my words.

“Sirius, you...”

“No Harry, it's enough. I don't blame you for trying. I know you mean well... “

I stretch out my hand. “The flask... it's time for those memories to be returned to their owner. There are things that should remain private. No further objections or interference from you, I have your word?”

Nobody else should see those memories, especially not Harry watching them again trying to figure out what I meant or showing them to Hermione who might even get the point. Lily was my friend.

I turn to leave, but Harry grabs my arm. He still looks worried.

“Harry please....”

He shakes his head. “No, not about Snape.... There's something else I need to know. What about my father? Everyone says you were so close...” He has blushed and stutters.

“Good Lord! That has been bothering you? James and I were like brothers. James only ever loved your mother.”

“.... and you?”

I can't help laughing, but stop as his face has even turned a darker red and he looks truly miserable.

“All right, James was a good looking lad, so are you. We were close. We even slept in one bed during the holidays..... but really all we did talk about or think of was Quidditch or how he could succeed with Lily. He wasn't my type. No way! Now we're at it, neither was Remus. I could as well ask you, whether there was anything between you and Ron or you and Hermione.”

“I just thought.... “ He heaves a sigh. “I'm feeling better now. Sorry that I had to ask.”

“Never mind, you're not the only one who might have thought that. Is everything all right now? Between us?”

Harry nods vigerously.

***

I don't rush into Severus' arms. I lock myself into my rooms staring at an old photograph that shows the Lily I knew. I try to remember her patient kindness to Remus, how she cried when she believed that Voldemort got a hold on him, the effort she took to make James grow up - a bit at least. All the love and care from the letters we exchanged when we were worried that James was going to lose it.

Oh, she had a temper. She could tell us off like little boys when we were going wild. She sometimes didn't get the point of wizarding traditions and could be very stubborn. …. but she never... was like that with us. Not after we became friends. Best friends – no matter what.

James would never have blamed a mistake he made on me nor I on him, certainly not if we had a hand in the matter ourselves. Most likely we would have taken responsibility for the misdeeds of the other, even when we had tried to stop him. That's what friends do. We had our disagreements, the two or three fights we had became legend in the Gryffindor Common room. In the end we would have died for each other.

Was Severus as bad as she thought when she ended it? As bad as we thought he was? As bad as he himself has thought?

I do understand what Severus wanted to say with those memories. He picked the moments where he thought he has failed her, his greatest regrets, his confession and how he tried to make up for it.

All I could see was how she failed him. I remind myself to be fair. You can't force love or friendship. Lily simply never felt as much for him as he felt for her. He wasn't the kind of guy a girl like Lily falls in love with. James was.

I know that against better knowledge I am ridiculously jealous and I can't bear seeing Severus treated like that. Little Sev was so.... cute, so desperately trying to impress her, to please her.

I guess it's that she let him admire her, dangling at her skirts, worship the ground she walked on, when she already knew that she'd never return his feelings what bothers me.

All those times when she scolded me for fooling around with the girls. I'd never told any of them that I loved her. I'd never pretended to care for more than a good time.

Lily fell in love with James in 5th year. All of us noticed. Remus and Mary MacDonald confirmed it. She should have told Severus.

'Be grateful that Potter has saved your life!' Grateful? James wanted to save Remus not Sev. Lily knew; she must have known!

Severus spent the day after I set the werewolf on him in the Slytherin Common room. What I saw must have been their first real talk afterwards. Not one question to make sure he was all right, no 'I'm glad you didn't get hurt'. He actually did get hurt. The Willow gave him a fair beating. I don't get it! If my 'best' friend had nearly been killed the other night, I wouldn't have cared about anything else, certainly not about gratitude towards the idiots who got him in danger, certainly not about anything that git Mulciber has done. Best friends? She lied! She denied any knowledge about Remus' condition! What the hell did she think the danger was James so bravely faced? A rabid Flobberworm?

“We were his enemies, Lily, but you said you were his friend.” I accuse her picture. Lily smiles patiently, her usual kind smile. “We were friends, weren't we? We became friends once we got to know each other. You trusted me against Dumbledore's evidence, but you judged Sev on our word. You should have known him better, Lily. You missed out on a real friend.”

I haven't heard the crackle in the fireplace and twitch when Severus puts his hand on my shoulder.

He takes up the flask from my desk and holds it against the light.

“I should have known that Potter would …..”

His voice is quivering. So much pain, fear. Can he truly believe that I've changed my mind after seeing that? Of course, he can. He's Severus Snape.

“Why have you come back now that you know the truth? There was nothing brave or noble about the things I've done, all selfish and pathetic.”

I rise from my chair and pull him into an embrace.

“How can a man of your intelligence be so stupid? Those memories only confirmed what I already knew. I am the happiest man on earth to have you and I will never ever let you go. That's what I've told Harry and he gave his word not to interfere again.”

His eyes shimmer in disbelief and hope.

“You'll.... stay? With me?”

“Stupid git! I love you.”