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Chapter 59 : Trials and Tribulations
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Trials and Tribulations
For a few long moments, Severus sat in shock and didn't say anything. Sirius' words flashed into his mind like a star gone nova and he didn't know quite how to react. This was the boy whp had teased him unmercifully back when he was a child in his first life, made his time at school a living hell, and condemned him to darkness before he'd ever been friends with any Death Eater. And now he wanted Severus' help with his nightmares? But then he also recalled that this Sirius was different from the old one—that he had changed since becoming Remus and Dora's son. This Sirius was less impulsive and had learned—finally—to think somewhat before he acted. Severus thought of how it had been with the Death Eaters, and how Sirius had worked together with him and Lily to fool Goyle and the others, and had kept his mouth shut about the truth even when they hurt him. He didn't think the old Sirius would have done that, he would have sold Snape down the river faster than you could say Quidditch.
Severus knew what the older boy was going through, he'd had his share of bad dreams too after it had happened, and only talking with Harry and Ginny and later having one or two sessions with Ginny's therapist had rid him of the dreams. It had taken a lot to get Severus to even see the Healer, because he was afraid the Mind Healer would try and see other memories, ones that no child should have, and become suspicious. Severus knew they couldn't risk that. So he'd managed to put up Occlumency shields and finally agreed to simple sessions with the Healer, who did nothing more than talk with him about his kidnapping and the dreams he'd had since the rescue. No mind probes, no attempt to invade his memories.
Severus looked at Sirius, and saw that the boy was paler than normal and had dark circles under his eyes. "How long haven't you been sleeping?"
"Uh . . . about a week now," Sirius admitted. "I keep seeing that room in my dreams, you know which one . . . where they smacked us and questioned us. And then . . . just when they're doing that, I . . . I spill my guts and . . . they win . . ."
"But that never happened."
"I know, but I still dream it and . . . I wake up screaming."
Severus could see that Sirius wasn't very comfortable revealing that to him, anymore than he would be doing so to Sirius if their roles were reversed. It took courage to admit vulnerabilities to someone who you used to think was no good and wicked. "Have you talked to Remus and Dora about this?"
"Umm . . . sort of. Mum thinks . . . she thinks the whole thing was a traumatic experience for me and I need professional help. Like a Mind Healer. Like Ginny has."
"That might be a good idea."
"But I don't like people poking around in my head, Severus." Sirius frowned.
"Me either. But I went to a Mind Healer for a little while too. And they're not allowed to try and get into your head with magic. It's illegal, like using Veritaserum on children."
"You sure about that?"
"Positive. I'd never have seen one else," Severus told him, reminding the other subtly that no one had more to hide than he did.
"Oh. Well, did it work?"
"After awhile," Severus allowed.
Sirius bit his lip. "I thought . . . you might know of another way."
"You could put those memories in the Pensieve like you did your old ones, but . . . that's only temporary for this problem. One reason we did that was because we couldn't risk anyone else finding out that we were UnVeiled. That would have been disastrous. But this time . . . it's all right if you see a Healer. Everyone knows about what the Death Eaters did to us, so they expect us to need help. And they won't try and see into your mind, trust me."
Strangely, Severus' words did make Sirius feel better. "Then this therapy really works?"
"Yes. It works for Ginny and also for me. Draco had Lily do a few sessions too, I think. I'm sure Remus will set something up for you, or Dora. She's an Auror, with what she does, she probably has a Mind Healer working with the Auror staff already."
Sirius nodded. "All right. I'll . . . I'll talk to them. Hey, you want to play fetch with your fox and me?"
Severus considered. "Shadow, you want to play?"
The little fox woke and shook herself. She looked alert and eager to get some exercise.
"I think that means yes. Where's your brothers?"
"Jamie's over Celia's house and Teddy is visiting Granny Dromeda. Where's Alby?"
"Playing with Rose over at her house. I didn't feel like going over there, so that's why I'm here."
"Me too." Sirius blurred into Padfoot and got down on his front paws and barked, wagging his tail.
It seemed that was a signal for Shadow to jump on him, and the two rolled through the grass while Severus went and got the rubber ball from Shadow's pen to throw.
Fox and puppy raced about the yard, yapping and playing, while Severus threw the ball to one or the other. They always caught it eventually, and occasionally Shadow stole it out of Padfoot's mouth, making Padfoot chase her around the yard trying to get it back. But the mischievous fox always managed to get the ball back to Severus before Padfoot caught her.
That made Severus smile and think of how strange this was, himself playing, not only with a familiar, but also with his once nemesis, Sirius Black. He had never really had time to play in his former life, except with Lily, and even then they had been stolen moments down at the park, away from the criticizing eyes of Petunia and also his father. He took the ball from Shadow and threw it wide, making Padfoot turn and run for it, along with the little black fox.
Things certainly had changed since becoming UnVeiled, Severus thought, and for the better, for once.
Sirius returned home just as Alby Flooed back from Ron's house. Alby seemed grumpy, not at all like his normal self. But when Severus asked what was wrong, Alby just snapped, "I'm mad at Rosie, Sevvy! Now lemme alone!"
Severus watched as Alby stomped up to their room and shut the door.
Ginny was feeding Indi and called out from the kitchen, "What was that all about?"
"Alby came home in a bad mood," Severus replied.
Harry poked his head around the kitchen door and said, "Do you want me to see what's wrong, or did he tell you?"
"He just said he's mad at Rosie," Severus shrugged. "Then he went upstairs."
Harry went to follow his younger son, but found that Alby refused to tell him what was wrong.
"Maybe I'll talk about it later," was all he would say.
Harry came back down, hoping whatever problem Alby had with Rose could be worked out. Beth and George's wedding was in a week and the two were in it as ring bearer and flower girl.
Alby ate his supper, still sulking, and it was only after getting into pajamas that he said to Severus, alone in their room, "Rosie told me that her job as flower girl is more important than mine carrying the rings."
Severus rolled his eyes. "That's what's got you so mad? That's ridiculous, Al."
"I tol' her that, and she got all bossy and said I was wrong. But I'm not, am I, Sevvy?"
"No. You both are needed for the wedding, and George and Beth both picked you because you're the best for what they need you to do."
"I told her that carrying the rings was more important than throwing any old flowers!" Alby huffed.
"Let Rose think what she wants, she will anyway, and it's not worth getting mad over," Severus said. "I think she's crabby because soon she'll have a new baby in the house and then she won't be the baby for Ron and Hermione anymore."
"Really? But she likes Indi."
"I know, but Indi doesn't live with her. Their baby will, and she could be jealous . . . like you were at first. Remember?"
Alby nodded. "Yeah." Then he picked up the pillow off his bed. "Guess I better start practicing. I don't want to drop the rings."
As Alby walked up and down balancing the pillow, Severus started to read a new book he'd gotten. This would be the first wedding he'd ever attended. Given it was a Weasley wedding,l he was sure it would be fun.
The day of George and Beth's wedding dawned clear and warm, and everything went off without a hitch. Alby carried the rings over at the appropriate time without dropping them and Rose scattered flower petals down the aisle sweetly behind Beth as she processed down to where George and Kingsley, as the ceremony's bonder, waited. George looked dashing in a three piece gray suit with fine gold robes and Beth was gorgeous in a low cut sapphire gown with rhinestones that seemed to make her sparkle all over, her hair done up in a pretty hairdo with small tendrils hanging down to her shoulders.
Beth's father, Gabriel, gave her away and her whole family looked on, cheering, as Kingsley performed the ceremony and then George kissed the bride right on the lips.
Then came the reception, and there was a small room for the children to stay in, with plenty of food and books and toys to amuse them while the adults partied and drank beer and champagne. Severus was happy at first, but soon realized that though the Lupins, Frankie, Rose, Celia, and Cory were there, the one person he really wanted to see was avoiding him.
Every time he went to talk with Lily she was either in the bathroom, giggling over hair ribbons and other girly things with Frankie, Rose, and Celia, or talking to Teddy. Frustrated, Severus waited until he saw her come back in the room after asking Draco something and then he waylaid her by stepping out from behind the potted palm next to the door.
"Lily! I've been trying to talk with you all night!" he cried, grabbing her arm gently.
She was wearing a green dress that matched her eyes perfectly, with little lace ruffles on the sleeves and hem and sparkly shoes. Her hair was caught up with a pretty green ribbon. She looked at Severus and gave him a small half-smile. "I'm sorry, Sev. I . . . was busy and . . . umm . . ."
His eyes narrowed and he said, "Lily, have you been . . . trying to . . .avoid me? Did I do something to make you mad?" He couldn't think of anything off the top of his head, he'd hardly spent any time with her in the week before the wedding.
Lily looked pensive, then she took him by the arm and brought him behind the palm tree. There wasn't much privacy in this room, but she would take what little she could get, as she didn't want anyone overhearing what she was about to say next. It was something that had been bothering her all week.
"You didn't do anything to me, Sev. It's just . . . well . . . I was avoiding you. But it's not your fault. It's mine."
Severus looked puzzled. "I don't understand. You're not making sense."
"Yes, I am. Just . . . listen for a minute. You know how when I came back through the Veil, I came back without half my memories of my old life? Well, some parts of that I didn't even recall, until now. But then . . . sometime last week, I started to remember our schooldays, Sev. And I remembered . . . what the Marauders did to you by the lake . . ."
Severus grimaced. "That was one of my worst memories."
"I know. They were really horrible to you."
"No, it wasn't just what they did to me, though that was bad. It was what I said to you. I called you a—"
"I know. I remember. But what I remember most is how mean I was to you afterwards. Yes, you were wrong and you hurt me, but Sev, I was wrong too. I should have accepted your apology and I didn't. I was . . . was so sure you were what Potter and Black said . . . a dark wizard, that you were a liar and I . . . never even gave you half a chance . . . I know I hurt you . . .I shouldn't have done that . . . it's been bothering me all week and I couldn't talk to anyone about it, because I was so . . . upset . . . that's why I didn't want to see you tonight. Sev, can you forgive me?"
Severus opened his mouth to snap out a quick affirmative. Then he paused. Remembering that awful day brought back all the hurt, anger, and confusion all over again. But what had hurt most was Lily's refusal to see that he was sorry and he wasn't at all what the Marauders had painted him as. He'd stayed outside the Gryffindor portrait hole all night waiting to talk to her the next morning, and when she had come out, she'd refused to even listen to him, to even give him the benefit of the doubt. Her coldness towards him had caused him a world of hurt and despair, had caused him to doubt if he was worth anything at all, and his only usefulness was to those who followed the dark road. After all, they were the only ones who seemed to want or need him then.
Once, he would have accepted her admission and that would have been that. But he was no longer that desperate heartbroken wizard. Now he was a new Severus, and for the first time he allowed himself to feel anger and betrayal at what Lily had done to him. For she was right—he had hurt her, but she had hurt him as well. Hurt him in the worst way a man could be hurt. His self-esteem, already damaged by the Marauders constant bullying, had been struck a mortal blow by her rejection, her assumption that he was dark and he didn't care for her. Not even as a friend.
Her talking about that long ago incident suddenly caused him to become hurt and angry all over again. It reopened a wound he'd thought healed long before, cauterized with his own sense of guilt and shame. But only now did he see that both of them—not just him—were at fault. And suddenly he snapped, "What you did—what you said—it hurt me so much that day that I . . . never forgot it. I died feeling guilty and unworthy. Do you have any idea what it's like to feel like that . . . all the time . . .?"
"Sev," she whispered, ashamed and horrified. "I'm sorry . . ."
"You want me to forgive you, Lily? Well, it's not that easy. I'll have to think about it." Then he pushed past her and walked away.
She stared after him, her eyes filled with tears. Sev, don't leave. I'm sorry and I don't know how to make it right. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. She knew that this was part of the reason she had been brought back, one of her greatest regrets. But could she fix what she had done? She knew she had to, she couldn't stand how she had hurt him or how angry he was, but how?
Before she could gather her thoughts any further, the door to the room opened and Arthur came in.
"Hi, guys! Just wanted to make sure everything was fine in here. Looks like it. Are you all having a good time?"
When a chorus of yes surged over him, he smiled. "Oh, and one more thing. Aunt Hermione and Uncle Ron have gone to the hospital because Aunt Hermione's about to have her baby . . . or babies, as the case may be. I'm going to be a grandpa again! Great Merlin!"
A/N: What will Ron and Hermione have? And when will Severus forgive Lily?
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