I Loved Her More
By Katie Sullivan
Spoilers: Minor Order of the Phoenix spoilers
Disclaimer: Severus, Lily, Harry and all related characters and concepts belong to the very talented and very rich J.K. Rowling. Alas, I own no one.
Harry was, for what seemed like the ten millionth time, doing detention for Professor Snape. It hadn't been his fault the cauldron boiled over and melted the shoes of everyone in a ten-foot radius. He had merely sneezed while dumping ingredients in, and ended up with just a bit more Kneazle hair than the potion required--like, three times more.
The boy sighed and dipped his quill back into the ink pot. He was halfway done with his essay on the importance of proper potions lab procedure. Snape had his back to him, measuring out the ingredients for the next day's lesson at an oak table.
Harry dipped his quill again, but it came out dry. He cringed, sighed, and did the only thing he could do. "Um, sir?"
Snape didn't turn around. "Yes, Potter?" he said in a tone of long-suffering patience.
"I'm out of ink...sir."
"Top left desk drawer. Don't spill any."
Harry crossed the room to Snape's desk and found the ink pot in the drawer. As he turned to carry it back to his table, however, a corner of his robe snagged the drawer below the one he had opened, and he had to give it a hard pull to free it. As he did so, the drawer slid partway open. Naturally, he glanced inside.
His eyes stared back at him.
His eyes, on his mother's face.
There was a photograph of his mother smiling up at him from the drawer.
Harry froze, trying to think of a reasonable explanation.
"Didn't you find that ink yet, Potter? I should think even you would be capable of that simple task. It's right there in the--" Snape whirled to glare at him. "What do you think you're doing? Snooping in my desk? Fifteen points from Gryffindor!"
"Professor...what's this doing here?" Harry was too stunned to feel the sting of Snape's words.
In a flurry of black robes, he was at his side, sneering down his long nose at the boy.
"What are you--" He stopped, turning paler than usual as he followed Harry's line of sight into the drawer. He lunged forward to slam it shut, but it was too late.
"What's a picture of my mother doing in your desk?" Harry said with a look of revulsion.
He couldn't imagine a more unlikely place for her image to turn up.
"That's none of your business, Potter," Snape growled, stepping between him and the desk.
"But it is my business...sir. That's my mother." Harry knew he was about to get more detention, more points from Gryffindor, or something worse, but he had to know.
Snape was breathing as if he'd just run a marathon, glaring at Harry with undisguised malice. "You meddling brat," he hissed. "How dare you?"
"My robe got caught; the drawer came open by accident. Now tell me why that photograph is there!"
"I suppose you think I owe you an explanation. You think the world owes you everything, don't you, Potter?" He was visibly shaken to a degree Harry hadn't seen since the Pensieve incident.
Harry met his gaze without flinching. "Tell me."
"I'll tell you," Snape muttered, making it sound like a curse rather than an acquiescence.
"As much as I hated your father--and make no mistake, I loathed the man. As much as I hated your father...I loved your mother more."
Harry looked like he had been punched in the stomach. "Wh-what?"
He was looking past the boy, almost as if he were speaking to himself. "Lily Evans was the most kind, beautiful, marvelous woman I have ever known. I loved her. In a way, I suppose I...still love her."
"But but but--" Harry sputtered.
Snape returned his glare to his pupil, his expression once again hardening into a mask of fury and disdain. "And yes, Potter, I am capable of such emotion, however hard that might be for you to imagine. You'll perhaps regain your will to live if I tell you that she did not reciprocate my feelings. She was gracious, of course--it wasn't in her nature to be otherwise. But nothing more."
Harry still looked nauseous.
"Now get the hell out of my office before I forget one half of your parentage in favor of the other, and perform an Unforgivable on you. We will never speak of this again."
Harry was still frozen.
"OUT!" Snape roared.
Snape, Lily, Harry Potter and related stuff belongs to the very talented J.K. Rowling, not me.