The Sugar Quill
Author: Sweeney Agonistes (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Faith  Chapter: Chapter Two
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Severus had been summoned to the Dark Lord’s side that night to give a reckoning of himself

Severus had been drinking a lot ever since he had lost his family. He was sitting in a pub on Christmas Eve with a glass of Firewhisky and taking great pleasure at scowling at anyone who happened to cross his path. People learned to steer away from him, and after a while, it was like he had an Invisibility Cloak on – nobody saw him. He did not exist. And he liked it that way.


But then a very short man with a funny blue hat on – you know the type, the kind with big wings coming out of it – sat down at his table. Severus glared at him, but he did not go away. Instead, the man smiled at him and said, “It’s Christmas Eve, and I have a present for you!”


“I don’t want a present,” Severus said, downing his Firewhisky and glowering at the man.


“Be that as it may,” said the man cheerily, “you’re getting one anyway. Go home and wait, and three spirits will come to you and say what they will.”


“Why are you giving me a present? I don’t even know you!”


But the little man with the funny hat only winked at him and Disapparated.


So Severus went home to a very small, very lonely flat and waited for these spirits that would come to him. He wondered who they would be, and what they would have to say to him. He thought that it might not be very good, but then he remembered that the man said that their visit should be a pleasant one. He hoped it would be.


Severus washed his face and behind his ears, cleaned his teeth, and put on his pajamas. He got into bed and read a book, trying to keep himself awake so he could meet the first spirit. But he was very tired, and so he fell asleep.


He started awake when he felt someone sit down on the edge of his bed. He rubbed his eyes, astonished – it was his sister Eurydice, whom he had not seen for years. “Eurydice!”


“Hello, Severus,” she said with a small smile.


“But you’re a spirit – are you really dead?”


“No,” said Eurydice. “I am still alive – this is just a bit of magic. We should get going now.”


Severus got out of bed. Eurydice snapped her fingers, and the next thing that Severus saw was a fireplace. There was a warm fire crackling, and Severus reached out his hands to warm them – his own flat was very dark and cold.


He looked around and saw that he was in a room at Mistraldol with the people he considered to be his real family – Geoffrey and Melisande Klarion, and their son Errol, and a very much younger version of himself and Eurydice. “This is that Christmas – ”


“After Errol had his trial,” finished Eurydice. “I wondered if you would remember.” She looked sad.


“That was the last really happy day I had,” said Severus. “Of course I would remember.”


“Watch,” said Eurydice, and she gestured to the happy family in the process of opening presents.


Severus watched as Errol opened a rather lopsided sweater made for him by Eurydice, and he smiled. It didn’t hurt to think about Errol as he was then – as long as he didn’t remember what Errol was like now.


They watched from present-opening to sharing Christmas dinner to going to bed, thoroughly stuffed and happy. When the Klarions had retired to their various rooms, Severus looked at Eurydice. “Why are you showing me this?”


“To remind you that you were happy once, and you can be happy again.” She smiled at him sadly. “Not now, but eventually you will be happy. Have faith, Severus – we’ll keep working to make sure that the Dark Lord is gone forever in our separate ways. I love you.”


And then Severus suddenly found himself away from Mistraldol and back in his bed. He lay awake for a while, remembering that Christmas and how wonderful it had been to completely relax, even though it had just been for a day. Eventually, he fell asleep.


When next he woke, a dark figure stood over him. Severus saw blue eyes and dark curls framing a pale face. “Esme,” he said softly.


“Severus,” she said. She did not look happy, but he didn’t think she was there to do him any harm.


“What are you here to show me?” he asked.


“You’ve seen the past; I am to show you the present.” Without warning, she waved a hand and they were off.


Once more, he saw Geoffrey and Melisande Klarion in the drawing room of Mistraldol, laughing over some old memory, looking very much alive and together and happy. He watched them, wishing that he could join them – if it hadn’t been for the Dark Lord –


“Hindsight will never make things better,” Esme said softly. She gave him a sad smile. “Come – there is still one thing left to see here.”


They walked silently down eh halls. Severus took in everything he could, remembering the days he had spent with the Klarions – they had been too few.


Esme stopped him outside the library (“—this very room – ” said Errol to the wondering Garlands) and said, “You won’t like what you see in here.”


“I can’t not look,” said Severus.


Esme opened the door to the library and gestured for him to enter. He did.


And there was Errol, sitting in a chair, holding little slips of paper in one hand and a larger, yellowed square in the other. Severus moved closer, wondering what the larger paper was.


He saw that it was a picture – a picture of himself and Errol as children. For once, they were both smiling, not just Errol.


But Errol the grownup wasn’t smiling. He was looking at the little bits of paper, reading them over and over, and glancing at the photograph, seemingly trying to reconcile what was on the little papers with the picture.


Severus looked over Errol’s shoulder at the smaller papers. The words Severus, Dark Lord, and Death Eater jumped out at him immediately. So did spy, good man, and friend.


Severus fell back, staring at Errol. He had known that Errol had lost his memory, but this –


Errol suddenly threw all the papers on the floor with a violence Severus had forgotten that he could possess. “I can’t remember!” Errol cried, and buried his head in his hands, shoulders shaking.


Severus turned to the door and ran.


Esme was waiting for him. She did not ask any questions; rather, she looked at him expectantly.


He said, “Is he always like this now?”


“He has bad days. This is not the worst.”


“Will Aunt Melisande do nothing for him?”


“She has tried. On days like this, he will not see anyone – including his mother.”


Severus stood there outside the library, unable to say anything. Esme said, “It is time to go.” She leaned forward and kissed his cheek. “Have faith, Severus.”


Mistraldol faded from around him, and he was back in his bed. This time, he could not go to sleep as easily – he kept remembering Errol’s misery.


He fell into an almost-trance, thinking and staring at his ceiling. It was only when he heard footsteps entering his room that he looked away.


It was James Potter.


 “What are you doing here?” Severus snarled. He didn’t want to let James know that he was really scared. He knew that Eurydice and Esme weren’t really dead, and it was unsettling to have his last apparition be a real ghost.


“I’m here to show you your last vision,” said James Potter. “You may as well come and get it over with, Severus. I know you never liked me in school, but just come and see what I have to show you and I’ll leave.”


“All right,” Severus growled.


They didn’t go to Mistraldol this time – this time, they were in the dungeons at Hogwarts. “This is Professor Borgia’s classroom!” said Severus to James.


“It’s your classroom,” said James. He pointed at the head of the classroom, and there he was – but he looked so much older and sadder and unhappier.


This is what I have to look forward to?” hissed Severus. “I may as well go ahead and kill myself now! I don’t have anything or anyone to live for now, and from the looks of this, I certainly won’t have anything to look forward to in my future!”


James said, “Just look who you’re teaching – and what that means.”


Severus looked at the students. They were young – first-years. And there, a few rows back from the front –


“It’s Harry,” he said to James. “It’s your son.”


James smiled sadly. “He certainly couldn’t be anyone else’s, what with that hair of his.”


Severus grunted and said, “What does this mean?”


James sighed. “Don’t you see, Severus? You’re free of the Dark Lord. You’re teaching. You’re at Hogwarts, doing what you love most – you’re free.”


Severus considered this. James continued, “All you have to do is have faith that things will turn out all right. You’ll still have people who care about you – the Headmaster and your other colleagues. You’ll be fine, Severus – just have faith.”


Severus nodded.


“Please – watch out for Harry, Severus,” said James in a sudden rush. “I know you won’t like him, but you – you owe me, Severus. Please.”


“All right! Just get me out of here!” Severus suddenly felt that he couldn’t bear to stay any longer – that seeing his future was too painful. Even though he would be doing what he loved, as James had said, he still looked so lonely…


“Goodbye, Severus,” James said. He waved a hand, and then Severus was back in his bed. He was tired, and he fell asleep.


But he was woken up one last time – that same funny little man in the winged blue hat was bouncing up and down on his bed. Severus barked, “What are you doing here?”


“I wanted to see what you thought of your present,” said the man, still bouncing, the wings on his hat waving back and forth.


Severus said, “I didn’t see the point.”


The man smiled. “Didn’t you?”


Severus looked at him.


The man, still using the mattress for a trampoline, did a somersault in midair. “Have faith, Severus! Magic happens on Christmas!” And then he disappeared.


Severus sat up in bed for a long time that Christmas Eve night, thinking. Somehow, things didn’t look as bad as they had when he’d started out that evening. Yes – he would have faith, and things would work out.

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