Chapter 1 : Severus Snape
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I want him to be put to death so that he can just be taken away from this world. I believe in the death penalty. And, after observing him in the courtroom and interacting with a lot of the family members, as well as talking to them about their loved ones, I want him to be put to death. - Abraham Scott (Angel of Doe’s Quote a Quote Challenge).
Ginny Weasley faced forward, not letting any expression cross her face. When she had to, she gripped the edge of the bench she was seated on. She faced forward, appearing to hang on to every word spoken. She would not let herself betray her true feeling.
The high ceiling of the courtroom made many claustrophobic. The Wizengamot, peering down at the individuals they had in their power, intimidated most. But this was not Ginny’s first time here. Everyone involved in the battle had had to make some kind of statement, so the community could gain some insight into what had happened.
Ginny’s statement had caused some controversy among her family and friends, along with others in the community. She had described her involvement with Dumbledore’s Army, her illegitimate partaking in the fighting and her condemnation of Severus Snape. The last of these points had interested many, and was the reason for her cautiousness.
Today, on the thirteenth of August, 1999, a special inquisition was taking place into the role of Severus Snape in the war. It was, in a way, a post mortem trial. Ginny pursed her lips, feeling as though he were in the room with them now. She suppressed a shudder. Despite the claims of Snape’s alleged loyalty to Dumbledore, Ginny remained unmoved. This was the man who contributed Voldemort’s rise, who had caused Harry’s parents to be murdered, who let unspeakable evil go on within the walls of Hogwarts, the home of so many.
But here she sat, biting back her fury. She was a Weasley, and Harry Potter’s new girlfriend too. Anything she said or did would undermine Harry’s case further.
For it was Harry that was defending Snape, Harry, who had had so much harm done to him by this man. Ginny sat, appearing to agree with him, appearing to condone Snape’s actions. Before entering the court, she had publicly proclaimed she had only disagreed with Snape’s conduct in regards the rebellion and that she fully endorsed the argument for clearing his name.
She had made another statement too, just before they left for the trial. She wondered if Harry would forgive her, her stomach tying in knots.
Harry grabbed her arm, pulling her back. They were the only two people left in the Burrow now.
“Are you sure you want to go?”
Ginny nodded stiffly. She knew he was really asking if he was on her side. This disagreement was the only black spot in their blissful new relationship.
“What would you honestly say, Ginny, if he was alive and able to defend himself? If he had lived and he was there to be tried? How would you sentence him, what would you stand up and say, even after seeing those memories like I did?”
She didn’t even look at him as she spoke words she had already silently voiced. “I want him to be put to death so that he can just be taken away from this world. I believe in the death penalty. And, after observing him in the courtroom and interacting with a lot of the family members, as well as talking to them about their loved ones, I want him to be put to death.”
He hadn’t reacted. They went to the trial in silence, but holding hands so as not to raise suspicion.
And so she sat, as Harry explained Snape’s involvement in Dumbledore’s death. Just over a year since the battle, the wounds were still fresh. She had made her statement around Christmas time, after a term in the newly remodelled Hogwarts, constantly haunted by what had taken place there. Still constantly haunted by her brother’s death. She had just turned eighteen two days ago. As usual, she was too young to have to deal with this.
Was it so wrong that she wanted stronger proof than Harry’s word? She should have believed him because he was her boyfriend and their saviour. But yet, she couldn’t believe this, and felt like a hypocrite for it. She felt completely unlike herself.
Everyone believed Harry, or seemed to. Why couldn’t she? She had believed him about Voldemort and everything else, why couldn’t she believe him now?
She stood up suddenly, apologetically whispering that she was feeling faint because of the high ceilings and temperature. She strode to the bathrooms, collapsing once she got into a stall. Could she really stand by and let him become some kind of hero?
Six years had passed. She was married now, had a son and another on the way. Andromeda was looking after James today, thankfully. Severus Snape’s trial had recommenced.
On the day she had collapsed outside the courtroom, the Wizengamot had ruled that they would resume if and when any evidence any arose absolving Snape of his current reputation. Ginny had breathed a sigh of relief and continued on with her life. She played for the Harpies, as was always her dream. She knew she would probably give up playing in a few years, but had already given some thought to writing about the game.
The first year after the Battle had been difficult, to say the least. Living in a freshly wounded society was at times as hard, if not harder, than living in a war – torn one. Hogwarts wasn’t the same for her final year, though she had been glad of Hermione’s company. Harry had been helping find the Death Eaters, and training to become an Auror, putting himself in further danger. The whole family was still in shock over Fred’s death and the death of other friends. But things had gotten better. Until now. Until everything resurfaced with this trial.
She walked around the house aimlessly, worried about the recommencement of the trial the next morning. She wondered if the arguments she and Harry had had were having an effect on the baby, who was due in a month. It had been a more difficult pregnancy, and Ginny hoped this hadn’t been because of her stress, no matter how much she was assured otherwise.
Harry entered the kitchen, slowly. “I had been thinking Gin, about naming him for other war heroes. James Sirius for the first war, maybe another pair for the second? Our war?”
“Like Remus? I suppose we can’t use Fred now that George has.” She said this lightly, placing her hands on her stomach, though fearing the worst. The trial had been just as much on his mind as the baby had.
He hesitated, before starting to speak. “I don’t know, more like misunderstood people. Like Dumbledore, who people turned on.”
She shot up out of her seat, thinking she knew, perhaps before he did, what other name he had in mind. Severus.
“Don’t you need a run through for this lovely show you’ve prepared?”
He raised his eyebrows. “Don’t start,” he whispered coldly.
She couldn’t stop herself. It was so unlike them to be fighting in this way. “They’ve recovered the pensive you used. Showing a memory isn’t going to help.”
“Hermione says they can be used as facts. It’s obvious they haven’t been tampered with. And at this point, emotion is being used alongside facts.”
He fell silent for a moment. He crossed over to her and took her hand, looking at her pleadingly. “Why can’t you believe me?”
She thought, almost with a shiver, of the horror of that year. The torture inflicted by the Carrows, the secrecy and silence in the castle. The lies enforced by Snape. That castle had been a home for her, and that home had become violated by this dark presence.
She wrapped her arms around him. She told herself it was Harry, that she could tell him anything, though it hadn’t seemed like this of late.
“I was alone that year. You left me behind to hunt for Horcruxes. I couldn’t write home, I couldn’t even talk to the others. I missed you, I missed Mum and everyone else. I was so scared.”
He rested his head on hers. “But you fought.” She felt him say this more than she heard it.
“You fought Voldemort, Harry. Voldemort may as well have not existed for me. I didn’t see him until the battle. No one talked about him directly. The enemy was localised, it was Snape.”
“But it wasn’t!” He said, exasperated, pulling away to look at her. “I told you!”
“He let it happen, Harry! He let us be hurt, that’s just as bad as hurting us. We were afraid, and we needed someone. He was who I fought that year.”
“You’ll see tomorrow, he had to pretend – “
“Show me now,” she demanded. “Not just the stuff about the war. Show me what else you know, your memories.”
He looked at her, taken aback. It was, after all, a very intrusive demand, even for a married couple. She didn’t know anyone who shared memories this way.
“I’ll be showing everyone’s Snape’s side of the story, about Dumbledore, tomorrow.”
She shook her head, the last piece of the puzzle falling into place. She knew what it would take to understand.
“Show me Lily,” she pleaded. She looked into her husband’s emerald eyes, trying to find her. The ever elusive Lily Evans. She had heard so much about her, yet knew so little.
He left without speaking, returning moments later with the pensive he was taking care of, for the trail.
“These memories are going to be tinged with what I felt, so –“
She shook her head, hardly believing she was making him give over something so personal. She took his hand, waited for him to place the memories inside, and let him guide her in. They went together.
There they were. There he was, scruffy and neglected-looking, following her. There she was, looking so like Ginny imagined her own daughter would, if she were ever to have one with Harry.
There Lily was, playing with her sister. Teased for being different. Not the perfect mother or perfect student or friend, not the woman who fought and died serving the Order of the Phoenix. She was a girl discovering a new, magical world torn apart by war. Ginny could hear her speak, watch her move, and felt she could reach out and touch her.
And there Snape was, shabby and looking though he was starved of affection. Ginny bit her lip. But surely this little boy couldn’t be the man who she fought so desperately in school? Surely he couldn’t have committed so foul an act as to join Voldemort’s forces?
Her newfound maternal instincts made her want out to reach to this boy in the too-small jeans and silly woman’s top. She wanted to take him home, to feed him up and give him a hug. She shook her head. No, she didn’t want this. Snape was evil, and deserved to die.
She watched Lily Evans weave in and out through his life, his best friend one minute, the next he was forcing her away by turning towards those who became Death Eaters. He was separated from her the moment they entered Hogwarts. They were sorted away from one another, Ginny wincing as she realised this would be just an enforcement of Snape’s feeling of abandonment. Lily went to Gryffindor, moving already towards her future husband though she did not realise it. Snape was sorted into Slytherin. Who knew what would have happened if the Hat had made another decision?
Who were they to be so unlucky? Who hated them so to make Lily a muggle born in such a horrible time? Who placed Severus in a family that didn’t care for him, that let him turn to the only group that let him belong? Not even his best friend, Lily, could help him. Ginny saw how later, Severus became trapped. He had been moving towards Voldemort since he was sorted into Slytherin, probably to feel he was a part of something.
And Lily moved away from him. Of course she did, Ginny rationalised. She liked James, and Snape knew it. She tried, of course, to dissuade him from associating with future Death Eaters, but -
Ginny flinched at what Harry had previously referred to as “Snape’s Worst Memory”, an afternoon after an O.W.L. exam, on the grounds of the school he later controlled. Mudblood. It had slipped out so easily, he couldn’t keep up his life as a future Death Eater alongside his friendship with Lily and it broke Ginny’s heart.
Later, Snape had tracked Lily down, and attempted to apologise. Did he realise how serious a mistake he had made? Ginny watched them speak, torn between the two. She knew Lily couldn’t be friends with Severus anymore, but couldn’t stand to see him without what seemed to be his only real friend.
She watched, she saw, and she felt. She felt Snape’s emotions second hand, her husband’s pain seeping through, too. It was just getting too much, as Harry’s fate was discussed when her husband brought her back to reality.
Neither said a word as he wiped away a few errant tears from her face, kissed her cheek and left the room.
The high ceiling of the courtroom made many claustrophobic. The Wizengamot, peering down at the individuals they had in their power, intimidated most. But this was not Ginny’s first time here. She was not so afraid anymore, so angry or scarred. The little baby kicked away, keeping her grounded.
The Wizemgamot had in turn seen snippets of the memories Harry had picked out. They centred on Snape’s interactions with Dumbledore during the war, only skimming over his friendship with Lily. It was deemed too personal, irrelevant.
Ginny bit her lip. Irrelevant? Snape’s love for Lily, because it was love, was what saved him. It was what was letting her forgive him, though in a court of law she supposed it wasn’t reliable evidence of anything.
One juror seemed to be causing a lot of trouble, saying that Harry felt too strongly, was letting emotion get in the way. As usual. Ginny grimaced as her husband struggled. They needed someone else, someone who didn’t have the same prejudice, who wasn’t Lily’s son. Ron could have, or Hermione. She saw them hand in hand, sitting quietly.
They could have stood up and spoken because they were Harry’s best friends. They had believed him without question, without thinking. But, Ginny wondered, was this right? Was mindlessly backing up their friend right?
The people who won wars, who came out looking the best always were the people who wrote history the way they wished. This happened age after age. Those who were defeated were deemed the bad, those who succeeded were the good.
But what about Severus Snape? Was he bad? No, not entirely. He had done bad things, but had repented. He had done more good than harm, in some ways. This being stuck in the middle struck Ginny as being particularly difficult. He couldn’t enjoy the elevated position of those who died for the order, but he didn’t deserve to be hated either.
Five years ago, she collapsed in a bathroom because she couldn’t face the thought of Snape becoming a hero. Today, she felt sickened by the continuous commendation of this man who had done so much, without reward or even respect.
She was older now. She knew more of the world, and time had healed the wounds the war had inflicted on her. There would be no running away, she decided fiercely, suddenly understanding Harry’s determination. She would stand up for Severus Snape, because someone had to.
She stood up, her movement echoing around the courtroom. She was at the front, but felt everyone crane their necks to see her.
“Ginny Potter?” One juror admonished. “Surely you are not joining the trial so late in the proceedings? Or is this a desperate attempt to help your husband, when he is so clearly fighting a losing battle?”
Willing her voice to be strong, she spoke as clearly as she could. “I only want to clear my conscience.”
She tried not to look at Harry as she crossed over to a kind of podium.
“You have seen what Severus himself showed Harry. You see that he was on Dumbledore’s side.” She kept going even as someone tried to dispute this. “He wanted Voldemort defeated, or else he would not have passed on such vital information to Harry.”
She swallowed heavily, picturing the small boy, letting him become the grown man she had feared, but feared no more. “I’ve had my problems with Severus Snape in the past. But it doesn’t change what you’ve seen. You are disputing this on the grounds that neither he nor Albus Dumbledore, the two people present, are here to defend the validity of this evidence. But then, what was the point of this trial? Neither can speak, we must speak for them.
“Severus Snape was not a perfect man. He was swayed to the side of the Death Eaters. He did not protect the children of Hogwarts in a way that was visible to us. But he protected us, all of us. He switched sides just before Voldemort fell the first time, and never wavered from this. He didn’t do what was easy, but what was right. He risked his life, being so close to Voldemort yet hiding so much from him. He gave Harry the tools to defeat Voldemort; the sword of Gryffindor, the information regarding the Horcruxes – he did so much, and for nothing.
“So, if we were to do what was easy, we would continue to call Snape the enemy. That way, we would not have to change our perception of right and wrong. We could continue to use this man as an example of evil, or we could do what is right. We can forgive him the mistakes of his past and pay greater attention to crucial role in our winning the war.”
Everyone was silent, watching her next move. “You want to serve justice. So serve it. Snape didn’t want to be a hero. He did what was right. Even if he is not held as a hero, please do not think of him as a villain. I speak because I can, because he cannot. All I ask is that you give him what he deserved.”
With that, bowed her head as she thought she should, and returned to her seat trying not to listen to the murmurs spreading. Harry concluded his argument, looking a little startled at how the trial had turned.
Within moments of discussion among the Wizengamot, the head spoke.
“This is not a trial. Severus Snape is not on trial as a war criminal or war hero. This is an investigation to discover his role in the war. The predicted result was that he had had to little a role within the Order, on Dumbledore’s side, to be pardoned. We have withdrawn this belief. We move to pardon Severus Snape.”
The head eyed Ginny as he added to this statement. “Hero worship or condemnation is up to each individual witch or wizard. Court dismissed.”
Ginny blushed. She probably spoke too emotionally. But still, she had gotten what they needed across.
Harry enveloped her in a hug before what she knew what was happening. She embraced him, knowing the rift caused by this trial had healed. He had needed to clear Snape’s name out of personal feeling, because he was Lily Potter’s son. Ginny had done what she had to, what was right. She did what Snape needed. Not to be revered, but to be forgiven.
He would never be the hero of the second wizarding war. Children would not grow up wanting to be like him. He probably wouldn’t appear on a chocolate frog card anytime soon. Children would not be named after him.
But no, Ginny smiled, suddenly. She and Harry walked hand and hand out of the courtroom as cameras flashed in their faces. Theirs would.
Albus Severus kicked, and his mother continued to smile to herself. She had done what was right.