Hello again, thank-you all for reviewing – I was amazed at the response! Thank you all so much, reviews seriously make my day

I also have one thing to mention: when picturing what these kids look like, please don't picture the ones from the movie – especially Albus. In the book Albus has black hair like his father, and is said to resemble him very much, unlike the brown-haired movie version. Similarly, characters such as Rose have been significantly altered.

Now, to the bit you actually read…

Disclaimer: This site is called FANfiction, it's obviously written by fans.

Chapter 2: The Hogwarts Express

Scorpius Malfoy awoke on the morning of September 1st with a strange feeling of anticipation in his stomach – the sensation one gets when it's Christmas, or your birthday, and it takes you a moment to realise.

Blinking owlishly as daylight trickled through his window, it came back to him all at once. Today was his first day at Hogwarts!

He leapt out of bed, silky pyjamas fluttering from the sudden movement as he hastily unbuttoned them, throwing on a robe and stuffing his pyjamas under his pillow. Dipp and Pipp, two of his family's house elves, came into his room.

"Hello Scorpius!" they said, ears flapping in excitement. "Dipp and Pipp is going to be missing Scorpius when you is at Hogwarts!"

Scorpius was the only Malfoy who wasn't referred to as 'Master' or 'Mistress' by the house elves, something he was secretly proud of. Becoming friends with the house elves had been the best thing Scorpius had ever done. Not only did they tell him about the thousands of passageways riddling Malfoy Manor, but they were the perfect pranking partners in crime – they could slip things into food, break into rooms, mess with the laundry. As long as Draco hadn't specifically forbidden it, they could do it.

"I'm going to miss you guys too," Scorpius gave them a customary fist bump. He meant it, too. The elves had belonged to the Malfoys since he was four years old, and they were almost like strange siblings. A prick of nostalgia surprised him as he realised he wouldn't be waking up to the elves' fussing every morning.

"We made breakfast!" Dipp announced proudly.

"Scorpius will get too thin at Hogwarts," Pipp added uneasily. "We is having to fatten you up."

"We have bacon," was Dipp's cheerful interjection. Pipp's eyes lit up.

"Oh yes, and pancakes, and Scorpius's favourite topping…"

"And even waffles for Master Capricorn, sir." Dipp said with a nod. Scorpius smiled.

"Sounds excellent – thanks guys!" he said as he finished tying his robes. They both nodded enthusiastically before disappearing with a pop.

Scorpius walked down the five flights of stairs from his secluded bedroom (which happened to be the entire fifth floor), and strolled into the dining room. As he walked through the oak doors, he was greeted by the rest of his family, who had already arrived.

In the Malfoy home, the first day of school is very important every year. In fact, as neither of his parents had any particular religious inclination, the occasion was probably more important than Christmas. Education was everything, his father often repeated.

Scorpius had watched enviously for the past two years as Capricorn was showered with gifts and adoration as he prepared to leave for Hogwarts. This year, he was included in the celebration – to say he was ecstatic was an understatement.

The dining room was decorated the same way it was for every celebration. The traditional dark purple drapes had been substituted for brilliant Slytherin green ones. Their dining table was always covered with a tablecloth – something to do with mahogany being expensive – but today the tablecloth had been bewitched to look like a mysterious pool of water that rippled realistically. It was Scorpius's favourite. 'Floating' in the middle of the table was a generous amount of food, far more than a family of four purebloods with selective appetites could possible eat, as well as a couple of wrapped parcels. His stomach knotted with excitement – it was a Malfoy tradition for anybody leaving for the start of the Hogwarts year to be given a few farewell gifts.

"Hey!" he greeted his family. "This looks fantastic – thanks! You too, Dipp and Pipp."

Scorpius said the last part more quietly – he and his family had different opinions about the importance of house elves.

His father looked up from the morning edition of The Daily Prophet and gave a thin grimace, which Scorpius and the rest of the family generously interpreted as a smile. Capricorn clapped him on the back as he walked past him to sit in his chair, and Mother smiled at him, the skin in the corners of her eyes wrinkling.

"Well, now I've got two sons going to Hogwarts," she said happily.

"Mmm, maybe we'll finally get some quiet around the place," Draco muttered wryly from behind the newspaper. Scorpius, used to his father's humour, just snorted.

"I think you'll miss us terribly, Father," he replied with a wink as he sat down at the table. Draco raised a doubtful eyebrow and took a sip of coffee.

"Can we eat now?" Capricorn asked impatiently (his languid glances at the food had gone ignored). Draco glanced at Astoria for confirmation, and she nodded. Scorpius immediately sandwiched a few bacon rashers in between two slices of bread, drowning them in barbeque sauce before attacking it with relish. The rest of the family followed suit. The table was silent for a full minute as everybody ate.

In five substantial (his preferred adjective over 'disgustingly massive') bites, Scorpius's sandwich had disappeared and he was eyeing a distinctively shaped parcel on the table hopefully. His father caught his gaze and genuinely lit up, giving Scorpius a conspiratorial wink. Scorpius's heart fluttered, but he didn't let his hopes get too high.

"Wait until breakfast is finished," Astoria said with a slight purse of her lips. Scorpius bit his lip and nodded, piling more food onto his plate.

"Excited, Capp?" he asked. Capricorn shrugged nonchalantly.

"Sure, I mean, it's not as special after a few years," he said with an air of indifference. Scorpius surreptitiously rolled his eyes at his brothers forced sophistication.

"Bet you're excited to see Vivian Pratt," he needled, savouring the outraged look Cap shot him. If looks could kill…

Astoria and Draco simultaneously raised their heads in interest.

"Who's Vivian Pratt?" Astoria asked. Capricorn went beet red.

"Just a girl in my year," he muttered.

"Slytherin?" Draco asked.

"Ravenclaw," Capricorn couldn't conceal the flash of alarm that flickered in his eyes. Draco weighed the concept in his head.

"I suppose that isn't too bad," he decided. "But Cap I warn you… if I find I'm to be a premature grandfather…" he let the threat hang empty in the air as Capricorn choked.

"Father!" he spluttered in indignation. "Just… no! Yuck!"

Draco smirked.

"I don't know… from what his letters say, they can't wait to be alone on the Astronomy tower again," Scorpius snickered.

He ducked in time to miss the lazy blow Cap had aimed at him, but couldn't escape as his brother began ruffling his hair none too gently - Astoria decided it was a good time to intervene with presents.

Draco – who had nearly spat his coffee – decided to leave Scorpius blissfully unaware of the common uses for the Astronomy tower, and agreed with his wife.

"Boys, here are a few gifts for the start of the school year," she said, gesturing to the packages. Scorpius didn't need any further invitation. Moving away from the fuming Capricorn, he reached for the package he'd been eyeing earlier, praying to Merlin it was for him. It was.

As soon as he'd seen the packaging, he'd known it was either a broom or a very cruel joke. Carefully unwrapping the paper, he gasped in delight at what he saw. Lying in the torn wrapping was the fastest broom in the world; the coveted Eclipse 300. It was beautiful.

Running his hands over the flawless handle, he could barely stop himself from drooling.

"Thank you so much Mother and Father," he said in a hushed tone of reverence, itching to go outside and ride her.

"That's okay, son. Hopefully you can make the team this year," Draco encouraged. Scorpius remembered the notice that had arrived with his Hogwarts acceptance letter.

"To Mr Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy, Fourth Largest Room (Attic), Malfoy Manor

HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY

Headmaster: Elliot Frostier

(Previous Head Auror for Ministry of Magic, Order of Merlin, Second Class, Member of Local Confederation of Wizards (United Kingdom delegation))

Dear Mr Malfoy,

We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed the list of all necessary books and equipment.

Term begins on 1st September. We await your owl no later than 31 July.

As well as this, we are pleased to release a special announcement. For the first time in Hogwarts history, First Years will be allowed brooms and are permitted to try out for their respective House Quidditch teams. All grave injuries will not be considered the fault of the school; as such, if parents have concerns about their child flying, please owl either myself or the Headmaster.

Yours sincerely,

Madeline Ermengarde Dufflepud

Deputy Headmistress"

Scorpius fully intended to try out for the Slytherin team – with his Eclipse 300, he would be unstoppable! Father had been especially pleased at the news, as Capricorn and Astoria shared neither his passion nor skill for Quidditch – he needed at least one of his sons to metaphorically carry the torch.

"Father! You've never given me a racing broom!" Capricorn complained with a sour expression.

"Son, I didn't know you flew," Draco said in mock surprise. "Come now, it isn't like we deprive you of gifts."

Astoria gave a snort. Seeing as Capricorn had received an assortment of extremely expensive presents – including the promise for him and a few friends to spend the Christmas holidays in one of the Malfoy estates in France, for crying out loud – she felt it laughable that he would feel justified in making any complaint.

As well as the Eclipse, Scorpius had received a book called 'Unusual Tricks and Curses' by Stromae Sharp and (once he'd reached the privacy of his room) a hand-stitched broom polisher from Dipp and Pipp. He placed the book next to one of his favourites, Common and Olde Hexes for Underage Wizards and Witches (the book wasn't entirely legal) in his trunk and closed it with a click.

Looking around his room, he felt a little foolish for saying goodbye to it before closing the door. How little he realised that the next time he entered this room, things would be so different.

.:. RTH .:.

If anyone had paid attention to four particular figures as they made their way through Kings Cross Station, they would have noticed something distinctly odd about them. It wasn't their cloaks, which billowed formidably behind them, or that they had owls of all things perched on their shoulders, or that although the youngest couldn't be older than eleven, they all carried themselves with an aristocratic grace that radiated superiority. No, it was the fact that as they briskly walked towards the barrier between platform nine and ten, they disappeared. One moment they were there, and they next they were gone.

If you weren't a Muggle, however, you would have understood.

Scorpius energetically pushed his trolley through the barrier, excitement coursing through him. He looked up to see a spry of steam erupt from a red train engine – The Hogwarts Express! He was finally going to Hogwarts! Apprehensions threatened to surface, but he quashed them and resolutely waked with his family through the crowded station.

"Capricorn Atlas Malfoy, get back here!" Astoria reined in her son, who had been about to slip into the crowd to join his friends. "How could you think of leaving without saying goodbye to us?" she demanded good-naturedly, tousling his hair and planting a sloppy kiss on his cheek. Draco and Scorpius watched as Capricorn protested under his mother's ministrations, chuckling.

But Scorpius had more on his mind than farewells and common first-year trepidation. As his grey eyes scanned the train station, he wasn't taking in the scenery. He was searching for someone – the mysterious Harry Potter.

If what he'd seen in Ollivanders was right, his son Albus would be in his year. Scorpius had yet to bring up the incident in the wand shop to his father – it had appeared to disconcert father for the rest of the week, and both of the Malfoy boys knew better than to be on the wrong side of Draco Malfoy's temper. But, his short conversation with the Vranovski twins had confirmed that there was more to this green eyed Auror than he had been told. Deliriously famous, yet Father seemed to hate the man. It was simply too delicious a mystery for Scorpius to pass up.

He snapped back into focus as Capricorn began teasing him.

"You're going to be the first Malfoy in history to be sorted into Gryffindor, I can see it," he said – probably attempting to pay him back for the comment about Vivian Pratt at breakfast.

"Shut up," Scorpius rolled his eyes. "Father, Cap is bullying me!" he grinned impishly as his brother glared.

"Cap, don't tease," Draco chided mildly. "I'm sure your brother will be fine. Now boys, remember you can always write home to us – Scorpius, you'll have to use Darius, obviously."

Darius was Capricorn's owl – a grey, sleepy thing who had black rims around his eyes that looked like odd spectacles.

"We will," they promised, and at that Capricorn gave a few hasty final farewells before joining his friends.

Scorpius didn't mind. He was only a scared first-year who had been abandoned by the brother that had promised to look after him at Hogwarts. No, it was fine if he left to play with his friends. He didn't mind, really – probably better off without the prat anyway. Friends were higher priority than your own flesh and blood.

Mother had also left and was currently chattering with a group of high-society ladies (most likely exchanging idle gossip, knowing Mother).

A prickle along the back of his neck made Scorpius feel as though somebody was watching him. He turned to see the green eyes of Harry Potter regarding him curiously.

Father's grip automatically went to his son's shoulder, and he gave a chilly nod in the direction of the man. To Scorpius's relief, Potter returned to his children. Those eyes had looked friendly, but there had been something deeper.

"That was the man from the shop, Father," he fished.

"Yes. Yes, it was – I'd hoped you'd forgotten about that," Draco said distractedly. "Be careful, son. Try to forget about Potter." Far from sating his curiosity, it only deepened the mystery. Scorpius pretended he hadn't noticed his father had slipped out the man's name. "I know his son Albus is in your year – I'd try not to make an enemy of him. Then again, I also wouldn't advise being too friendly. That whole family is as Gryffindor as they come – no sense of tact or self-preservation."

Scorpius understood what his father was trying to say. In the delicate dialect of purebloods, Draco's direct assessment of Albus Potter was the equivalent of his father yelling at the top of his lungs – STAY AWAY FROM THE BOY!

"I understand, Father," Scorpius inclined his blond head. Draco nodded and adjusted his collar.

"I'll miss you," he said, before giving his son a sly smile. Scorpius felt his father stuff a small package into the package of his robes.

"What…?"

"Shh. Open it alone, in your dorm." Draco gave Scorpius a final squeeze, and Astoria re-joined them from where she had been gossiping.

After much patting and sniffling and many exclamations that his mother was 'feeling practically ancient with her youngest going to Hogwarts', Scorpius managed to prise himself from his mother's embrace, hoping she couldn't feel how quickly his heart was thudding. He caught sight of Mrs Vranovski, standing aloof from the crowd as usual, and assumed Holly and Koko were on board. With a deep breath and a final pat of encouragement from his father, he marched up to the train and handed his ticket to the conductor, who clipped it and let him on.

With a heave of his trunk, Scorpius Malfoy was on board the Hogwarts Express. He scanned his eyes across the full compartments, feeling slightly lost. This dissolved when he heard a shout.

"Scorpius!" Holly – or was it Koko? – was gesturing for him to join them in one of the middle compartments. It was Holly, Scorpius decided as he drew closer.

He slid open the door and took a seat.

"Hey guys!" he noticed it wasn't just the twins. Silas and Graham, another two of Scorpius's pureblood acquaintances, were sprawled on the chairs.

"Nice owl," Scorpius gestured to the tiger-striped owl on Silas's shoulder.

"Thanks," he replied, playing with a lock of black hair. Silas was tall for his age, with tanned Italian skin and shockingly purple eyes. "Da found him in a shop near our villa in Romania, and we both loved him. Name's Druid."

"I like it," Graham said, sneezing and quickly chewing a pill. Everyone in the compartment knew he suffered from an unfortunate owl allergy – meaning he had to take Patina Poppy's Multi-Purpose Allergy Pills to stop his uncontrollable sneezing.

The twins asked Silas how Romania had been – he began explaining how fantastic the Black Sea coastlines were – whilst Scorpius and Graham began an intense conversation about Quidditch.

They had been animatedly discussing the difference between and respective effectiveness of the Wronski Feint and the Plumpton Pass when the other three joined in. Soon there were three sides – Scorpius and Koko valiantly defending the Wronski Feint, Holly and Graham who kept insisting that at least the Plumpton Pass actually resulted in catching the Snitch and a solitary Silas who kept insisting both moves were irrelevant because the Seeker doesn't even play for most of the game.

This notion was berated by the other four debaters, and Silas didn't bother trying to contribute again.

The train hadn't even set off yet, and they were already in a passionate, Quidditch fuelled argument. Silas, who had been watching other students rush on through the glass in the door, suddenly gave a low whistle and nudged Graham.

"Look – now that's what I call a good-looking girl."

The girl in question was a red-headed witch who, by the way she was looking unsurely around the train corridors, was most likely a fellow first-year. A light spray of freckles dotted her high cheekbones, but instead of making her plain simply added to her uncommonly pretty face. Not Scorpius's type, but pretty.

Graham was quick on the uptake, seamlessly moving between the role of blood-thirsty Quidditch fanatic and pure-blooded gentleman. The group watched in amusement as he walked towards her, running his fingers through his brown hair.

"Hi there – what's your name?" he asked in what he probably thought was a casual yet manly tone.

"Rose," she said distractedly, her eyes flickering around as if she was expecting someone.

"First-year?" he said hopefully.

She nodded.

"Me too! My friends and I were just wondering if…"

His question was cut short by the arrival of another boy. Scorpius froze in his seat as he recognised the black haired boy with the broom slung over his shoulder. Albus Potter.

"Hey Rose," he said casually, initially oblivious to the second boy's presence. "Ready to find a compartment?"

"Actually," Graham said, "I was just inviting Rose to come sit with my group. You can join too, if you want?" Graham looked like the last thing he wanted was this black-haired girl-snatcher sitting with them.

Albus shrugged.

"Okay, if you're fine with that Rose?"

"Yeah," she said. Albus looked at the boy, poised to ask the defining question that would most likely decide whether or not he would like him.

"So… what Quidditch team do you support?"

Graham's eyes lit up. "The Holyhead Harpies aren't bad, but definitely the Tutshill Tornadoes. They hold the record for winning the League Cup five times in a row and they have the fastest ever recorded win in a League Match!"

Rose joined in.

"Yeah the Tornadoes aren't too bad, but my dad reckons that everybody only started liking them after they started winning."

"I think that's the basic point isn't it?" Graham snickered. "To pick the winning team?"

Rose merely shrugged.

"My mum played for the Holyhead Harpies, so most of my family supports them," Albus said nonchalantly.

"What?!" Graham said, impressed. He opened the carriage door and gestured for the two to come in. All three sat down, and the rest of the carriage pretended they hadn't been listening in to the conversation. "That's wicked!"

"I'm Rose – this is Albus," Scorpius watched as the aptly named witch introduced herself, and felt a sudden shiver of apprehension. If he knew who Albus was, would Albus…

No, that was impossible – the Malfoys were powerful, but not necessarily that famous.

Then why had Rose suddenly pointed at him and started muttering to Albus?

"I'm Graham Bane – those two are Holly and Koko Vranovski (don't even ask me to try and tell you which is which), that loser is Silas Macintyre, and in the corner we have…"

"Scorpius Malfoy," Albus took the words out of Graham's mouth, a strange expression on his face. Everybody exchanged looks of surprise.

"Have you met?" Holly asked, looking at Albus as if she was trying to remember where she had seen him before.

"No," Albus said, exactly at the same time that Scorpius had said "Briefly."

They exchanged curious glances.

"Ollivanders, remember?" Scorpius said, watching his green eyes widen in realisation.

"Oh," was all he said, but there seemed to be a few deeper layers of that story.

Except for Graham, who had obvious interest in a certain Rose and Scorpius who was desperate to unravel the mystery of Harry Potter, the carriage had little interest in the newcomers. Fragments of separate conversations began to trickle around to compartment, confusing Scorpius. He thought Holly and Koko told him this boy's father was famous! Why weren't they paying more attention?

Oh.

"You didn't tell us your last name," Scorpius said. Albus shrugged.

"Honestly, I just want to be Albus."

Scorpius could relate, but couldn't resist seeing what the other's reactions would be to famous Albus Potter and his pretty friend Rose.

The train gave a lurch, startling everybody on board. Silas heard Albus and immediately snapped up his defences.

"Pureblood, Half-blood or Mu-ggle born?" he said suspiciously.

"Silas you know all of that is a load of centaur dung," Scorpius groaned. Silas merely raised a questioning eyebrow at Albus and Rose, expecting a response.

"Pureblood," Albus said. "I'm not inbred, though – thank Merlin. My Dad's a Half-blood, see." Silas gave a curt nod and turned to Rose.

"I don't see what this has to do with anything," she glared. "But if it makes things better for you, I'm a…" she paused suddenly and looked at Albus. "I've never really thought about it, but Mum's a witch and Dad's a wizard… how does it make sense that I'm a Half-blood?"

The response to that question wasn't offered by anybody, given present company. Scorpius cursed Silas for bringing up a controversial topic – it was no way to make friends on the first day. Gralaus obviously agreed, and they were almost as in-sync as the twins as they steered to conversation away from dangerous waters – although in Gralaus's case he was more interested in steering it towards a certain witch in the compartment.

"For a pureblood, you've missed a basic," Scorpius had often been told that his smirk resembled his father's. "Not introducing yourself with your last name… my father says nobody does that unless they're ashamed."

Relishing the look on Albus's face, he couldn't help but casually add, "For those of you who didn't know, his full name is Albus Potter."

Something instantly clicked between four purebloods. There was a moment of silence that was the calm before the storm.

"Potter? As in Harry Potter's son?!"

"THE Harry Potter?!"

"My father told me to stay away from his kind," Silas muttered under his breath to Scorpius.

"Mine did too," Scorpius affirmed. "It was Graham who wanted that witch here."

Rose noticed Albus was getting increasingly uncomfortable and flustered and gave his arm a reassuring squeeze. She knew how much he hated being the son of the 'Boy-Who-Lived'. For three words, the cast a pretty long shadow that was hard to crawl out from behind.

Holly and Koko had been silent, almost pensive, which alone was a considerable feat for the two normally hyperactive girls. Their mother, despite not being a part of elite Death Eater circles, had most certainly not lived on what many would consider the 'light' walk of life. It was well-known in the Vranovski household that Mrs Vranovski had despised the meddling of the likes of Albus Dumbledore in some of her 'habits', and she had been perfectly clear that 'fraternizing with some of the sodding Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors' would result in immediate disinheritance…

Well, it would suffice to say their feelings regarding this boy were incredibly complicated.

Unsure quite how to react to this news, everybody slowly drifted into sluggish small-talk until, finally, the towers of Hogwarts could be seen nearing the windows.

"I think this year is going to be very interesting," Silas's voice broke the quiet mood.

Nobody argued.

.:. RTH .:.

Rotting in a dark cell in Azkaban, a skeleton of a man groaned, covered in a sheen of sweat as he was forced to relive one of the worst – and best – memories of his life.

'It was finally over. With a gasp, he left the world, with Lily's eyes being the last thing he saw. Not being a religious man, Severus Snape had never really contemplated death. Now, as he stood in this hazy, white void, he wondered what was going to happen. As everything became more material, it appeared that he was standing in a garden. A solitary swing set dangled next to him, and it felt like Nagini had stabbed him all over again. This was the garden of his childhood, where he and Lily had played for so many hours. Lily.

Severus looked up and saw a red-headed witch coming towards him. His heart leapt. He had spent so long waiting, praying to see her again. Finally, after all of the spying and lying and being manipulated by both sides – Dumbledore and Voldemort – here was some peace, where he could finally be the person he had always dreamed of being. That hope was shattered as he saw the expression on his love's face. She was glaring daggers at him.

She approached. His heart hammered. The usually articulate man was lost for words.

"MY SON, SEVERUS! YOU DARED TO TREAT MY SON LIKE THAT!" she slapped him on the face, burning with righteous fury.

He winced – not from the slap, he was used to pain, but from the words. Not even Lily loved him anymore. Even in death, Severus would be eternally alone. He was in shock.

"Lily… I…" he choked.

"No, Snape." He flinched at the use of his last name. "Do you know what you were? A bully. Nothing but a bully. At least James grew out of it."

Severus was white, every nerve in his body shaking as if he'd been held under the Cruciatus Curse. This pain, however, was much worse.

"You. Don't. Understand," he spat, resorting to his old defences. "Do you think I could be a friendly person with the children of bloody Death Eaters at the school? If I had even been fair – heaven forbid nice – to the Boy Who lived and every other sodding Gryffindor and Hufflepuff that traipsed trough my classes, don't you think eyebrows would have been raised? Yes, Harry looks like a carbon copy of James. Yes, I regret how I acted. But Lily, I didn't know how else to react! My father…"

"Yes Severus, I know all about you childhood. We were friends, you know?" Lily said sadly. "You need to stop making excuses! Neville Longbottom, poor lad, had his parents BRUTALLY TORTURED INTO INSANITY by Bellatrix. Yet when asked who he feared the most in the world, do you know who he said?"

Severus could feel his blood freezing as he tried to ignore how much he just wanted to hug Lily and never let go. He knew what the answer was.

"Me. I was his boggart," Snape could barely whisper.

"Why would that be, Snape? You took this Death Eater act to a whole new level – except I'm not so sure it was an act. I know life has never been kind to you, but you could have been so much more, Severus. This is all your own doing. You push people away – push and push!"

He had never wanted to push Lily away, and he voiced that thought. Please, he couldn't spend whatever eternity death was alone. He should probably be used to it, he thought bitterly to himself. Lily continued her tirade; it seemed she had been waiting for years to do this.

"Snape, if you truly loved me you would have been kind to my son. Even, no, especially in his first years at Hogwarts. He had been living with Vernon and Petunia Dursley for the past eleven years – I would have thought you of all people would understand what it was liked to come from an abusive home." Tears were glistening in Lily's eyes and her breathing became shallow as she tried to suppress her sobs.

This was truly news for Snape and his mouth went dry as he realised the ramifications of what Lily was telling him. Potter had come from an abusive family. God, and what had he done?! Called him Prince Potter, bullied the lad from every aspect he could…

Severus Snape may be a vicious teacher and an ex-Death Eater, but he did not tolerate child abuse. He was reacquainted with an emotion he hadn't felt for a long time. Burning shame.

"I didn't realise," was all he could say.

Lily didn't seem to accept that excuse. Her green eyes, normally so warm and loving, were cold.

"It wouldn't have mattered, though. Even if Harry wasn't treated worse than the house elf of a dark wizard," Snape winced at the analogy, "I'm sure you still could have found it within yourself to not mercilessly antagonise him."

The conversation wore on – and the further it went the more Snape's hope wore thin. Yes, he truly was a despicable man, and he wished there was some void he could fall into that would consume him forever.

He started as he felt something touch his shoulder.

"Severus, I don't think many of the things you've done are okay. I was disgusted to see how many of our actions were deferred as expressions of love for me. I love James, Severus. He didn't put me under a love potion or the Imperious for us to get married – we fell in love. I know this is very hard to accept, but…" she bit her lip, unsure how to express this in the gentlest way possible.

"I'm sure you've noticed your Patronus is the same as mine."

Severus nodded – how could he not have!

"James's Patronus is a stag. Mine's a doe. It's a perfect match. On the other hand, yours turned into a doe after I died. Exactly the same as mine. There's a difference, Severus, between love and infatuation."

She tried to let this sink in. Snape's face crumpled in realisation.

"I've been a fool." He was tempted to sit on the swing, but he hadn't stooped to that level yet.

Lily agreed.

"You know, Severus, I haven't just come here to dig up your sins."

Snape attempted to quash the absurd flutter of hope that obstinately rose in his heart.

"No?" he managed.'

The Dementor seemed to sense that this memory had turned into one of hope, and the memory dissolved.

The prisoner writhed on the floor of his cell, trying to succumb to the mercies of unconsciousness, but his brain wouldn't leave him alone. Needles of pain arched through his mind as he tried to grasp even one clue from the rapidly fading vision.

There had been something in that memory… a woman. Maybe she was from his past? He desperately tried to piece together what had happened. The rest of that memory disappeared as the Dementor retreated, and the only sound that could be heard were the sobs of a broken man.

Suddenly, his eyes flew open. He could remember a tiny piece of the memory.

His name. His name was Severus Snape. That was a start, wasn't it?

He clung onto those two words desperately. He could almost have sworn he'd died just before that memory… no. That was impossible. Who was Severus Snape, that he could cheat death?

Reviews are very much appreciated, I want this story to be the best it can be. Thank you again for those who have already shown support, and I tried waiting every morning for the right time to post (I'm in Australia, and most of my readers are American), but eventually I gave up.