Chapter 17 : Sins Of My Past
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Valora and Severus found themselves standing inside Valora's childhood home, watching as a younger and very drunk Valora angrily tore her father's portrait from it's place on the wall. Severus looked at the present Valora who stood beside him, clutching his hand.
"You came here?" Severus asked, bewildered.
"I didn't have anywhere else to go." she replied, her eyes still focused on her younger self who was now curled into a fetal position and sobbing, whispering the same name over and over again.
Valora took a breath of relief slightly as the image around them shifted and the couple found themselves standing in the home of Valora's old landlady, Hestia Vesalius. The old crone peered out from behind her thick, grime covered glasses, her evil smile showing rotted and yellowing teeth.
"What's a pretty, young thing like you doing looking to buy one of my flats, eh?" Hestia said with a laugh that turned into a brutal hacking cough. Valora kept the hood of her cloak up, she couldn't take the chance of anyone recognizing her.
"I just need a place to stay." Her voice came out rough and gravelly. Hestia raised a greying brow and pocketed the bag of galleons Valora had already thrown on the table and tossed the stranger a set of rusting keys.
"The room is all yours, Ms...?"
"Prince. Ophelia Prince." Valora said before swiftly walking up the stairs.
Severus turned to Valora again, this time his face held a softer expression.
"I didn't think you would have approved of Ophelia Snape, so I took your mother's maiden name instead. It was the last little piece of you I could call my own." Valora admitted shyly. Severus cleared his throat.
"And Ophelia?" he asked. Valora smiled.
"You know I've had a crush on Hamlet since I was fourteen." She said with a laugh. Severus tried to smile with her but as the image around then changed again, neither one smiled. Now they were shown a memory that had taken place after she had been living in Knockturn Alley for a while.
Valora was slumped over the toilet, vomiting heavily. Tears were streaming down her face. When she was finally done she wiped her mouth off and walked over to a mirror. With a shaking hand she tried to paint her mouth in a deep red lipstick. Next she tried to cover up the bruises that covered a good portion of her right cheek and eye. Not much could be done about them though. She was startlingly thin and much too pale, as though the slightest of breezes would knock her over. She grabbed up a bag of coins and grabbed her leather jacket. She didn't need to worry about a hood at this point. If anyone she knew saw her, they wouldn't have recognized her. Weaving in and out of dark alleys she pretended not to hear the disgusting things drunken men were shouting at her.
The memory followed Valora as she went to a dingy muggle strip club through the back entrance. Once there she slipped out of her dark green sundress and into a tight corset with thigh high boots. Valora reached into her jacket and pulled out a tiny flask. To a muggle the flask looked fairly small and seemed harmless, but it was truly a wizard's flask, meaning it could contain as much liquid as you put in it. At present Valora had about three bottles worth of bourbon in the flask.
She walked out onto the tiny stage, barely able to see straight and blindly danced around. When she was finally done she scrambled to collect the muggle money that had been thrown at her. When she got backstage she looked down at the paper in her hand, knowing she really only earned about half of what was there with the wizard exchange rate. She glanced furtively from behind the curtain. She didn't see him and so decided now was the best time to leave. Valora quickly threw her dress and jacket back on and took another long sip from her flask before going out the door. She was walking towards the bus stop when she felt someone grab her from behind. It was the same routine almost every night, no matter how she tried to avoid him, he was always there.
"Leavin' without sayin' goodbye, love?" The man asked gruffly. When Valora didn't respond he punched her hard across the face. To her dissapointment she was tougher than she looked and the force of the hit hadn't been enough to knock her unconcious.
"Nothing to say, Ms. Prince?" He asked as he slammed her ruthlessly against the wall. Valora coughed a bit on the hot blood that was filling her mouth.
"Just take the money and leave me be, Fletcher." She whispered desperately.
Valora watched all this without expression. When Fletcher came out to grab her she had to physically hold Severus back. He watched in a silent fury as Fletcher beat her, and stole her money.
"You degraded yourself and then he - he-" Severus punched the side of the strip club angrily. "Why didn't you defend yourself?" he asked, sounding utterly spent. Valora glanced at her past self, writhing pitifully in a small pool of her own blood.
"I had no will to fight back. I felt like I deserved everything I got." She said, ashamedly.
"How long did it go on?" He asked, his eyes closed in an attempt to control his voice.
"Sev..." Valora warned, knowing he wouldn't like the answer.
"Just tell me."
"Six years." she whispered. "After that I just used my savings to drink constantly. It wasn't even that I was a drunk. That's probably the worst part. I just didn't want to 'feel'. All that guilt and pain and love that I had locked up inside..." she trailed off as the scene around them changed again. They were outside a muggle pub in Surrey. It was still fairly early but an old man who appeared to own the place had Valora roughly by her arm and was forcing her out of the run down establishment.
Valora staggered down the road, haphazardly taking sips from her flask as she went. Finally she found a brick wall and slumped down against it. A tall, thin woman with a disdainful air about her walked by, tugging at her portly, blonde son to keep pace.
"Come along, Duddykins."
Valora scoffed at the ridiculous nickname. They did look familiar though, however she was a frequent visitor to this area, maybe she had simply seen them in passing. It was then she noticed a thin boy, with messy jet black hair, and vivid green eyes behind glasses following behind the woman and her son. He was struggling to carry a bunch of shopping bags, which she hoped were for him, because the clothes he was wearing clearly did not fit him, and she doubted they were even his. Still, there was something so familiar about that face, she recognized it...
"Harry." she said softly. The boy was so flustered by her recognition of him that he dropped the bags, sending the purchases all over the sidewalk. Valora reached out to help him gather those things that had fallen.
"Do I know you?' He asked, uncertaintly. Valora ran a finger down the side of his face.
"How old are you, darling?" she asked with a sweet smile.
"I'm nine and a half." He said shyly. Valora nodded, blinking back tears. That meant she'd been gone for seven years. Had it really been so long? The thin woman walked over and ripped Harry away from Valora.
"What have I told you about talking to strangers?" she demanded angrily.
"But she knew my name!" Harry protested as the woman marched him back down the street. Valora slowly stood and called out in a clear voice that sounded much more sober than she was.
"Petunia." She said. The woman turned slowly, her face pale as a sheet. "You watch over that boy. If any harm should come to him, I'll know exactly who to come looking for."
Petunia Dursley hurried her son and her nephew down the street and Valora distinctly heard her mutter the word 'freak'.
"You have no idea." Valora said to herself taking another sip from her flask. She took a good look around and decided England wasn't where she should be. Harry was young enough that he would forget this incident, surely his aunt and uncle would see to that. What if it had been Remus or worse yet, Severus? She's not sure she would have handled those encounters with the same grace.
Severus turned to her, and Valora smiled at this particular memory, then glanced up and noticed he had the tiniest of smiles on his face as well.
"What?" she asked. Severus glanced at Harry who was trying to keep up with Petunia and Dudley and then shook his head.
"No, if I told you, you would never let me live it down." He said. Valora's curiousity deepend.
"Now you have to tell me. Please? I mean if I'm showing you all of this," she gestured to the scene around them. "...you can certaintly tell me whatever it is you think I'm going to hold against you."
Severus groaned and glanced again at Harry.
"He just...reminds me, vaguely, of myself at that age." Severus said quietly. Valora's eyes went wide at the unexpectedly sweet yet sad comment. Severus rolled his eyes at her expression.
"You're right." she said quietly.
"I mean he doesn't look like me or anything, just the skinny frame and the ill-fitting clothes-"
"No, not that. I mean I agree with that as well, but I was agreeing with you that I'm never going to let you live that down."
They watched as more scenes and memories appeared. Her various travelings from England to Paris, then Paris to Italy. Whatever lightness the memory with Harry had brought them was erased by the inevitable pain it brought them both to watch Valora's past self struggle with her addiction, landing her in various dangerous situations. It was hard to piece the memories together, but it appeared as though nothing much had happened to Valora these past fourteen years, other than her addiction spiraling wildly out of control. There had been no other men, much to Severus's relief, but it didn't soften the blow of her past. They didn't speak to eachother as they watched but Severus's dissapointment and anger with her was obvious. Valora couldn't have been more relieved when they were standing back in Severus's room, as though no time had passed.
Severus sank down into a chair and rested his head in his hands, while Valora resumed her seat on the couch. Severus took a deep breath and shuffled some papers before speaking.
"So besides your Occlumens, your magic was unaffected?" He asked. Valora was puzzled by the question but answered all the same.
"I have a little trouble with my patronus sometimes but everything else is fine, why?" She asked, but Severus was absorbed in his own thoughts, no doubt beating himself up and blaming himself for everything. Valora walked over and knelt beside him, rubbing his knee gently.
"I don't blame you." She said, looking up at him with those topaz eyes.
"You should." He muttered quietly, standing up and walking past her into his bedroom. Valora sighed and followed him, leaning in the doorway.
"No, I shouldn't."
Snape was sitting in the dark chewing on the knuckles of his fists which were clasped together tightly. He glanced up at her and wanted to scream. She was so beautiful, so forgiving. After everything she had been through here she was telling him it wasn't his fault, but it was.
"If I hadn't made you leave, you'd have been safe." he said. Valora frowned and shook her head.
"No, Sev. If I had stayed I would have ruined any chance we had. Eventually I would have gotten bored and demanded to come out of hiding. If I had stayed, we would be in a worse place. I'm sure of it." she said.
"But, you would have been safe." He said again and Valora threw her hands up in annoyance before walking toward him and grabbing his face, making her look directly into her eyes.
"Stop being so blind. I'm never safe. I never really was, Sev, and I never really will be. If anything my drunken travels bought me time, and probably saved your life and Sirius's. Can you imagine if I stayed? We would have been discovered and everything we fought for would have been shot to hell. Sirius would have been killed in an attempt to get to me and no doubt Voldemort or one of his henchmen would have found and killed me, then Harry would be without any godparents or even his godmother's lover to protect him. So stop beating yourself up, because it's unnessacery and ridiculous."
Severus took in her words and knew that she was right. They would never have managed eighteen years of secretly living together without someone knowing. He reached down and brought her face to his, kissing her.
"How is it possible that after being without you for so long I still love you as much as I did back then?" he asked. Valora smiled up at him and reached up to brush his hair back from his face.
"Because you weren't without me. My heart was always with you. You can't get rid of me that easy." She told him, standing up and lying in bed. Severus repositioned himself beside her. She snuggled closer so that she was resting her head on his chest.
Harry sat in the Gryffindor common room flipping through the potions book for the answer to his homework. Only Snape would give an assignment over the holidays, that of course Hermione had completed it days ago and was now refusing to help him and Ron with. As he skimmed over the pages he noticed for the millionth time the name at the top of a page.
He threw the book down in disgust.
"Honestly Harry, the assignment isn't that difficult." Hermione said, picking the book up and putting it on the table. Ron muttered something to the contrary but it was ignored by the other two.
"I can't believe she's my godmother." Harry whispered hotly. Hermione rolled her eyes. That had to be the billionth time he'd said that since he told them, and he'd only told them a few hours ago.
"It could be a lot worse, Harry. I know she hasn't always been honest with you, but it seems like she's really trying." The brunnette said softly.
"Yea mate, and she really seems like she cares about you." Ron said. Harry laughed bitterly.
"She has an odd way of showing that she 'cares', Ron."
"Well, my mum's way of showing she cares is to scream her head off at me just about every chance she gets. Professor Nox just doesn't want to burden you with her past, since she knows you're already dealing with enough as it is." Ron said. Hermione's mouth hung open slightly at the insight in his words, even Harry raised an eyebrow.
"So you both believe all this shite about her lying to 'protect' me?" Harry asked angrily. Ron, wanting to avoid a fight, simply shrugged. Hermione averted her eyes as well in silent agreement with Ron. Harry looked at the both of them and groaned.
"She's not some bloody saint! She let her closest friends believe she was dead for sixteen years! I don't trust her." He said, before grabbing up his potions book and storming off towards the boy's dormitory. He sat on his bed and fumed silently. He knew his reasons for hating her were thin. If Sirius and the others could manage to forgive her, why couldn't he? Maybe because he was angry that she hadn't cared enough to come back. Sirius braved Dementors, the ministry and ultimately death to come back. Valora just appeared and decided she didn't need to tell him who she was. He wanted to know why. What was so important that she hid from him? Who was she?
A.N.: I don't like this chapter. I don't like how it was written and I don't think it flows well, however it had to be included. The reason there isn't much detail is because nothing really happened in those years while Valora was away. She just drank herself into oblivion. If you have a more specific question about Valora's travels during this time please feel free to ask me. The only reason I wouldn't tell you is if it gives something away in the plot but I don't believe anything in those 14 years ties in with the current plotline. So I apologize if this chapter isn't up to my usual par, but I do ask you to review. I really appreciate the enthusiasm my story has gotten so far and I'm glad you're enjoying it.
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