For the first time in many years, Severus Snape slept the deep, placid
sleep of the innocent. No tossing or turning, no Death Eater dreams.
was gently comatose, and – could it be? – the sunlight filtering in
the lone window on this Christmas morning illuminated his face and
him look as though he smiled. Perhaps he did, for that same warm
that illuminated his patrician features made him wake up. That
oddly enough, manifested itself and became fully realized as he
And then he remembered what had happened.
He gathered his blankets about him in horror. Could things be any
Minerva McGonagall had seen him vulnerable – had seen him
for Merlin’s sake – she had the upper hand on him –
The initial wave of panic subsided, and he sat back among his
Pillows – lots of pillows. He looked over at his armoire where he
his extra bedding; its doors were open. His extra pillows, one of
few luxuries he allowed himself, and then only after a particularly
day, were indeed gone.
Were indeed on the bed.
He felt a sharp spear of resentment. She had no right to go
his personal belongings.
A voice whispered, Even for you, Severus?
Well. He settled down again.
He seemed to remember what happened after that dreadful outpouring
he remembered falling asleep. And – yes, there it was – he
watching her through half-lidded eyes, watching her draw assorted
out of the armoire, looking for those elusive pillows. She turned
coming back towards the bed, not looking at him, settling the
and thick, soft blankets around him with infinite tenderness. He had
known that she had the capacity for something so delicate in her.
then that last – resting a hand briefly on his shoulder, a sharp
of breath that sounded to his well-educated ears remarkably like a
being held back, and the flutter of robes and clicking of heels as
left the room quickly.
A most interesting occurrence.
He rose from the bed, stepping as lightly as possible to the
where he kept his robes. As he dressed, he recalled his words about
The Black Lion. Actually Meleagrant McGonagall, Quidditch star and
– wickedly – good card player. Severus remembered those card games
on missions for the Death Eaters, waiting sometimes hours for their
victims to get home. Meleagrant McGonagall, the Black Lion, the
Eater who avoided suffering…how did he get involved with that
He straightened his collar and reached for his greatrobe. And her
He couldn’t see Minerva McGonagall married.
Or could he?
At that point, Severus realized how very little he had thought
his colleague. Perhaps because she had been his teacher – one never
all that much about the private lives of one’s teachers. A minor
Now that he did think about it, it made sense. She had
of how much she had loved her husband, and it seemed to him that a
like her could love only deeply, with all of her substantial core –
was too sharp, too tough, to love any other way.
He had to laugh, and he did: a short bark that echoed mockingly
his rooms. Idiot! Why had he never seen it before? In her own way,
was just like him. All rigidity. All corners. All facades.
defenses – except when you had her in an odd situation.
Like last night.
He remembered something else suddenly in a flash – right when
had ordered the Black Lion taken out of commission, right when her
had been murdered, Dumbledore had lost –
Dumbledore had lost a son.
He racked his brain, searching for that information, mentally
the files in the library of the Order –
What was the name? Thomas? No. Theo? Not that, either. It was
a bit more – well, English-sounding…
And then he made himself remember what Minerva had said about her
It clicked. “Theron,” Severus said aloud.
Dumbledore’s son. His only son, if Severus recalled
Severus had never met him – by the time he had joined the Order,
Dumbledore was dead – but from the bits and pieces he had managed to
mostly from whispered conversations among the other members of the
he had seemed to be a good man. A lot like his father.
And that would explain the many times he had found her in
office – many more times than usual for a deputy Headmistress.
Unexplored depths to Minerva McGonagall.
A shadow fell across the windows briefly – likely an icicle
from the eaves of the building – creating odd patterns in the light.
He thought that maybe, just maybe, he could risk it –
Risk enough of himself to make a friend.
He left his quarters and stalked down the mercifully empty halls,
enjoying, as he always did, the way his black greatrobe billowed
He stopped at a portrait of a sleeping girl on a cliff.
Taking a deep breath, he knocked.
Minerva McGonagall poked her severe head out. She looked surprised
see him – perhaps even a bit embarrassed – but she recovered
He began smoothly. “I was wondering…”
He stopped suddenly and looked at her. She was looking at him, not
so many others did, not like he was some loathsome insect, but as
he were a person.
My life, indeed, he thought. My life.
He said, “I was wondering if you would perhaps join me in a game