TEAM PHOENIX ENTRY: Fuschia "Playing Azkaban" Title: Playing Azkaban Author:fuschia Team: Phoenix Genre(s): Angst Prompt(s): Pensieve, Ménage à Trois Rating/Warnings/Kinks: R, * incest (Harry/Lily/Snape), underage (between those of like age). * Word Count: 6,200 words Summary: Using a pensieve confiscated during a raid, Harry enters two memories of Snape and Lily that Snape has left behind. A/N: Thank you to Millari for the early talk-through and feedback, Lefty for the line-edits, Treewishes for the endless encouragement and for the beta, and the mods and my team for their enduring patience!
At fifteen, his mother doesn't kiss at all the way Ginny does.
Or, at least, the version of her that exists in Snape's memory, in the oversaturated textures of the foreign pensieve, doesn't. She presses her lower lip more strongly against his than Ginny ever has, and when she opens her mouth she does not press her tongue forward but draws his inwards; inside her mouth, her misaligned teeth catch him unaware, like unseen rocks catching his foot beneath the surface of a river he once thought familiar.
Even with all the pictures of Lily he has seen, has hoarded, when he sees Lily now, he knows that own memories have blended so slowly, so surreptitiously over the years that he never noticed when Ginny's strong, even face had blurred into Lily's sharper jaw line in his mind, or when her ginger braids intermingled with Lily's loose ponytails. Lily's hair isn't ginger at all, but darker, the deep red of some potions ingredient he always confused with another – chokecherry, matrimony vine? – a plant whose dark, hard berry he could never crush the right way, that would always leave its gluey red residue, tacky as pitch, on the tips of his fingers, on the pages of his potions books.
At fifteen, Snape doesn't kiss much like Ginny, either, but Harry is not ready to think about this, yet, not even as Lily breaks her kiss with him to draw Snape's face in closer. In the pensieve, Harry is no older than they are, the back of his hand burning with half-healed cuts that ooze a memory of myrtlap essence, and it is not difficult for Lily to push all of their mouths together at once, her hands tangled in both of their hair, the three of them even in height as they kneel in the Forbidden Forest, roots and needles painful beneath their knees.
Later, Harry thinks that his mother's hair, as it was then, in the Forbidden Forest, in Snape's memory, was the exact color that lined hood of her Gryffindor cloak, deep inside, where it folded into shadow.
But now he cannot think of cloak or color, not with her body pressed to his, not with both of their bodies pressed to Snape's.
A greenish light flickers at the edge of Harry's vision: a snake scale, the slide of a sickle moon, then grows stronger, luminous as the remnant of an unforgivable spell.
Harry pushes his mouth into both of theirs, urgent, as the light grows stronger.
Without the swirl of memories misting the very bottom of the lopsided bowl, Harry might not guess that the crude, clay basin they find in the raid is a pensieve. It looks nothing like the one he first used in Dumbledore's office, with its diving-bell deep curve of stone and raised, runed edges, and it certainly nothing like the one they have inherited in the Aurors' office, mirror-smooth teak with its voyager scent of clove and saltwater that fills the office whenever they open the cabinet where it is kept.
Hermione once told him the Aurors' pensieve had been a gift from the mystics in Bombay, proffered long before the Muggles mucked everything up between Britain and India. The first few times Harry used it, the experience had been similar to using Dumbledore's, but in spots, jarringly different. Opening his mind to it felt not exactly like falling through a broken stair, but more like someone had shortened each step along a familiar staircase just enough that you landed on your off foot at the end. Sometimes his memories would loop back on themselves, or freeze, jittering around the edges like a film out of sync with a projector. More often, though, an entire memory would fade into tones of rose or sepia, as though he were now seeing that particular past through parchment stained by ink or tea.
Every pensieve is different, according to what Hermione says. Some were designed to do more than just show you memories. If there was another design in the office pensieve, Harry couldn't figure it out any more than he could read the scrolling script of letters burned into the bottom of its shallow bowl.
A scene is still unfolding at the bottom of the pensieve in the dark wizards' raided room, and it looks different than any scene he has watched in Dumbledore's pensieve, or in his own. At the center, three figures catch his eye: one motionless, one struggling, one upright and reptilian-graceful. A flash of white, a bare foot, pale as bonefish, stretching out to the motionless figure. "No," Harry whispers angrily, in time with the small, struggling figure in the pensieve below, "don't touch him."
"Harry!" Ron's voice is sharp. The memories are dissipating, coiling upwards like smoke, and he and Ron look at each other quickly, across the squalid room they have raided, Ron's wand at the throat of a squat figure Harry can barely see through the fog of the rising memories, the rest of the advance squad already casting binding spells on the rest of the small group they had taken by surprise. "Harry!" Ron calls again, "what's in there?"
Almost without thinking, Harry leans forward, and tips himself into the pensieve.
Not into another memory, though, but into another body.
Harry wraps the ill-made pensieve in his traveling cloak when he brings it back to the Ministry. He carries it close to his chest like he would carry a living thing, a stray cat covered to keep it from fear, or some unidentifiable creature he might bring to Hagrid, wrapped tightly in case its bright-eyed face or stoat-sleek fur hid a dangerous bite or sting, an incurable poison. Where the pensieve presses against his chest, he feels rather than hears a low hum, a current like electricity, like fast-flowing water at the edge of a riptide, that seems to pull at him, trying to pluck him forward, to tumble him back in.
"Is that it?" Hermione has already heard, of course, is already waiting for them in the Aurors' office. She rushes forward from behind Ron's desk; the quill she has been using continues to move across the parchment, finishing her thoughts even as she looks at the bundle in Harry's arms, looks quickly, too, at both of their faces. "Is it still working?"
Ron shrugs off his cloak. "Yeah, sure. We're fine, thanks for asking."
Hermione rolls her eyes. "I would have heard if you weren't." She and Ron share a quick, sharp look that quickly softens. Harry looks away from them with a smile as he sets the pensieve down on a table next to the cabinet that held their office pensieve.
"Did you see the memory?"
"Yeah," Harry said, "part of it. It was the night Voldemort came back." No one flinches at the name.
"Was it any different?" Ron asks, "'Cause that's what 's all worried about. They think they're trying to-"
Harry shakes his head, cutting Ron off. "It didn't look any different. It felt different, though. Like I was inside the memory somehow. Inside someone's body, not just watching."
With eyes closed, he feels it, too: flying, broomless, with the same gut-deep wrench of apparating, tinged at the edges with a sense of familiar vertigo he could not place at first; and he was rushing toward a scene he did not want to revisit: a graveyard, a body, a boy.
At the last moment before the memory completely faded, as the marshy graveyard ground grew closer, as he felt the memory-body aim itself towards a specific spot in a circle of bodies, he wrenched himself free. For a moment, instead of landing back in the Death Eaters' cramped hideout, he was flying through the spring night alongside the memory of the man's body. The man turned his hooded head to look at Harry, mouth agape; Harry could have sworn the man had seen him, the memory had seen him, but then a flush of green light rose like a curtain all around the vision of the past, and he was back.
He tries to explain this to them.
Hermione looks up at him. "You know what this is, Harry? You can feel it, too, can't you?"
"Yeah," says Harry, "I think I know."
"What?" Ron asks, a grumpy slowness in his voice.
"They infused it with temporal magic," Hermione explains. She holds her wand out above the pensieve's awkward edge, whispering some spell Harry's never heard before. Where her wand trails around the outside of the uneven rim of the bowl, eddies of greenish light seep out like smoke curling through the cracks of a wall. A tentacle-wisp of it brushes against the office clock as it rises, and the hands of the clock suddenly spin backwards, then awkwardly forward, out of sync with each other's motion, before settling, weighted arrows, to both point straight down. Hermione frowns, watches the strands of smoky light break apart after rising only a few more centimeters, and lowers her wand. "Well, at least they tried to. Didn't do a very good job of it." She shrugs. "Not sure what they were expecting would happen. Memory magic and temporal magic don't really mix, do they? The Ministry's tried that at least twice trying to make a new time-turner."
"Can't be good if this lot was mucking around with it, though," Ron said.
Hermione shook her head. "Can't change the past through a memory. Can't even reach it. At least, not in theory, although there has been some research—"
"We should get upstairs," Ron interrupts. "They'll need us for processing the raid."
"Can you go without me?" Harry asks. "I want to try it out."
"That thing-," Hermione says, pointing at the pensieve "needs to go to the Department of Mysteries."
"Yeah, but not until the morning, right?" Ron asks, looking at Harry. Hermione follows his gaze, closes her mouth. There are times, since the end of the war, that they don't need to talk anymore. If Harry needs to do something, then he just does.
"Fine," Hermione says," but first thing in the morning you're handing that over, right?"
After they leave, Hermione's quill finishes a final sentence with a flourish, stabbing a full stop all the way through the parchment.
Alone, Harry enters the first of the two memories found in the bottle of asphodel Snape had hidden amongst his more noxious potions ingredients. It was three months after Snape's death when Slughorn found them, and Harry was still important enough then that Slughorn didn't even watch them first, but gave them to him, still sealed in their long dried-out bottle, a whorl of smoke-like green with a vein of metallic red pulling through it like a thread, a trace of dragon's blood. Harry watched them several times in the Hogwarts' pensieve on the day he opened the bottle: two child-figures first, familiar now from Snape's other memories, all scratched legs and playacting, stretching into two bodies at the edge of the Forbidden Forest, their movements urgent with anger and adolescence.
In the new pensieve, in the memory, colors are so sharp at the edges that Harry's head begins to throb almost immediately. He feels as though he has been wearing someone else's glasses all day by mistake, or else been staring out of a blurred window for too long, like dreary childhood rides, forced into the back seat of the Dursleys' car, crammed up against the rain-smeared window, as far away from Dudley and his orbit of computer games and candy wrappers as he could get. He closes his eyes, shakes his head; he can't even feel his glasses. Maybe they fell off when he came into the pensieve? Was that even possible?
With his eyes open, though, nothing is out of focus, and, in fact, everything seems to be in needle-sharp focus all at once: the swing set in the distance, one swing angled oddly, kinks knotting the length of one of its rusted chains; the grit-cloud of sand raised by children as they kicked across the playground, hands shielding their eyes from the glare of the overbright, egg-yolk yellow of the pensieve's sun; the motionless shadows of leaves against the edge of the playground's withered grass, the knife-nicked bark of the tree against which Harry leans.
A tiny spider, its legs embroidered with tiny threads of silver hair, is crawling towards him, moving slowly over the deep sea-waves of the corrugated tree-bark; without wanting to, without thinking of it, Harry slams his hand over the spider just as it struggles to crest a high crenellation.
The hand against the bark is thin and sallow, its fingernails caked with crescents of dirt.
Harry has just enough time to sense himself in Snape's slight body when Lily comes, as he knew she would, as she always did in the flat-memory of the normal pensieve, running into the scratchy patch of woods beyond the playground, turning for a moment to see if she'd been followed, her dark hair loose and tangled. It's summertime, hot enough to be near to Harry's birthday, so many years to come, and she wears a puff-sleeved blouse, grass-stained at the elbows, and high-waisted shorts that leave her legs long, exposed. A half-formed or faded bruise clouds the skin on the outside of her left thigh; a long scratch trails from ankle to knee along her right calf, beaded with drops of blood that have dried like thorns, asymmetrical.
She looks nothing like Ginny, he thinks, as the girl Lily throws herself into a roughly tomboyish tackle against Snape, pushing him off-balance. In the sharpness of the foreign pensieve, he seems to see all of her at once, or none of her, the details ...he is an observer within Snape's body, passive.
Harry does not try to pull himself out of Snape's memory-body, but lives the memory with him; Snape's slightly stammered greeting, their brushing aside detritus of cigarette butts and the dull metal triangles of pull tabs to sit with each other, knee to knee, then side by side, and talk about their Hogwarts letters, Lily peppering him with questions he knows she has asked before, many times. Harry knows how the memory ends, and now, from within Snape's body, can feel Snape's heart rate increasing. Snape knows, too, what question she will ask last.
"Sev," she says, drawing swirls in the dirt with the pointed toes of one foot, not looking at him, "tell me about Azkaban again." She puts the stress on the wrong syllable when she says Azkaban, but Snape does not correct her.
"All right," he says. She looks up at him through her hair and smiles.
"Is it as awful as you say?" She sits up straighter, crosses her legs. The scratch opens up slightly as she moves, several drops of blood breaking open, smearing red streaks across her skin, across the fabric of her shorts where she rests her crossed calf.
"Worse," he says.
"I wonder what that feels like," she says, "to have your soul sucked out of you."
"Is it really like a kiss?" she asks, then laughs. "I wonder what a kiss feels like."
Snape's boy-heart thumps loudly in his chest, his ears, rhythmic and strong.
"I'll be a Dementor first," Lily decides, and she is leaning over him, and her hair trails down, tickles his nose, which he then felt embarrassed about, because maybe his nose was too big, and it got in the way. "Sev," she says, sitting back on her heels. "You have to open your mouth. "Right?"
Green light floods the memory from all sides, and Harry is back again, adult and alone, trying to remember the grassy scent of his mother's hair in youth, in summer.
The memory draws him back, an Erised he cannot resist.
When he is finally able to pull himself free of Snape's memory-self, he doesn't realize, at first, that he's as young as they are. Having pushed his way out from the pressure of the memory, its wet-cloak weight as heavy as the Imperius curse, his first thought is that he's done something terribly wrong, because his view hasn't changed much, hasn't shot upwards, really, but just shifted a bit to the left.
He is more surprised, though, when Lily speaks to him.
"Hello," she says. She cocks her head to one side, standing on one foot for a moment to scratch an insect bite on the back of her calf with her toes; the bottom of her foot, briefly visible, soot-dark with soil. In a clump of grass behind her, her trainers lay in a pile together with Snape's, their laces entangled. Snape has jumped up from where he was sitting and stands beside her.
They don't seem to have noticed that he appeared out of nowhere, or out of Snape's body, but this isn't something Harry can explain any more than he could explain why Snape's memories could see him, could speak with him like he was any neighborhood boy who'd wandered into their hideout space beyond the playground.
"Hello," Harry says, uncertainly. His voice sounds oddly high, unfinished. He wonders for a moment if he's speaking parseltongue, but he doesn't feel the friction of susurration pushing through his mouth, and realizes he is talking with a voice he has all but forgotten, the voice he had before he knew Hogwarts even existed.
The boy Snape angles his body in front of Lily's, raising his chin to look at Harry more directly from underneath his fringe. "This is our place. Get out."
Lily shoves him gently with her elbow. "Sev," she says, "maybe he's new. I mean, I've never seen him with Tuney's gang."
Snape shrugs, but does not take his eyes off of Harry. Harry can see that their clothes are equally ragged: Snape's shirt is too small, frayed at the collar, and Harry's memory of Dudley's hand-me-down t-shirt swamps his child's body like a shroud, hanging past his knees. Snape has grabbed a slender, knotty twig from the ground and holds it as though he were holding a wand, but with a looser grip than the adult Snape ever would. This is a boy who has not yet held his own wand, or learned to guard against bullies who'd shout expelliarmus at him in the hallway as casually as they'd leglock him.
"What's your name?" Lily asks, leaning in closer.
"Do you live around here?"
"Mum..." he opens his mouth to say it, but it feels foolish. The redheaded girl with the scratched legs is not his mother. He nods. "Just moved." The lie sounds natural in his eleven-year-old's voice; he'd been used to lying by then.
"Do you want to play with us?" she asks.
No, he thinks, no. I don't want to play with you. I want you to know that I love you. I want to tell you how you save me. I want you to know what's coming. I don't want you to know what's coming.
"Sure," he says.
"He doesn't know how to play," spits Snape, fingers still curled over his pretend-wand.
"Maybe he does," says Lily. "Have you ever played Azkaban?" She lingers over the word, but says it wrong again.
He smiles. "Do I get to be a Dementor?" She bursts into a smile that is not unlike Harry's, mouth open wide but teeth still clenched together. "See, Sev. I knew he must be a wizard, too."
"He can play," Snape says, coldly, "but only if he's a prisoner."
Harry loses count of how many times he visits the playground, plays Azkaban with his child-mother, with the child-Snape. Each time he enters it, he vows to say something to them, but each time he chokes back the words, reintroduces himself, and lies down on the dirty ground to let them pretend to suck the soul from his body, to look up at their impossibly young faces, at the lines of sunlight crossing his mother's calm face, the smell of branches and flesh.
After a while, though, the memory-children remember him, and Lily greets him when he arrives. As dawn nears outside, around his adult body, his adult world, he decides.
"Hello, Harry," Lily says, standing up, brushing dirt from her hands. Snape says nothing. "Did you come to play Azkaban with us again?"
"No," Harry says.
"Then go away," Snape says, angling his chin away to hide a smirk beneath his curtain of greasy hair.
"Listen," Harry says, talking to Lily. "I need to tell you something."
"Is it about Azkaban?" she asks.
He shakes his head. "No."
"I love you."
Lily laughs and swings her chokecherry-dark hair out of her face as she turns away to share a disbelieving look with Snape. "What?" she asks, nearly doubling over with renewed laughter.
"I love you." She starts to turn away, laughing. "Listen, please," he says, his own child's voice not strong enough to shout the way he wants to, to stop her laughter and make her see. " Lily. Please. You saved me. You save me. I just needed...I just wanted to say thank you, to say that I love you."
But Lily just laughs more. When she looks at him, her eyes are empty, the flat green of the lake in its weed-choked shallows, of emeralds gathering dust in the Slytherin hourglass. They are not the eyes from the photographs in the album in his room, not the eyes of the woman in the mirror of Erised, not even the lucent eyes of the figure who emerged from Voldemort's wand. Unlike Harry, Lily has seen nothing at eleven, has not lived in a broom-closet under the stairs, sleep broken by memories of curses, of searing pain, of a woman screaming. Of her screaming, Harry thinks, and steps forward to get closer to her, reaches a hand out to try to touch the side of her face, but Snape blocks him, his own scrawny body strong.
"You, too," he says, quickly, grabbing at Snape's twig-thin wrist, turning his eyes on Snape. Snape recoils, twisting his arm away and curling his lip at him in a grimace that Harry could remember so many times on the face of the man this boy would become. "You save me, too," Harry says, softly, his eyes locked with the distrustful eyes of the boy in Snape's memory.
The light of memory's end begins to mix with the overripe sun, the sharp shadows.
"Wait, I know!" Lily shouts, clapping her hands together. "I know what you're doing. You're playing loony! You need to go to hospital. St. Mungo's, right? " she asks Snape. "Let's play St. Mungo's."
The green coalesces around him, and the memory pushes him out.
He kisses her first with a foreign tongue.
With Snape's tongue.
It's not that he wants to kiss her, or that he even wants to enter the second memory Snape left behind, but now that he's started telling her, starting telling them, he doesn't want to stop.
Maybe they could understand it at fifteen, if not at eleven. Or their memories could, these memory-selves in their shreds of stolen time, looping through playact or passion.
He lives Snape's second memory over and over again, too many times, before he can pull himself out of the memory body. Snape's anger at fifteen is as pure as Harry's had been, certain of itself and its right to exist, an electric current arcing through the body, not the muddied throb of adult anger mixed with regret or uncertainty. His mind, too is stronger, the memory more acute, and Harry cannot fight his way out.
He's already memorized their brief confrontation, Lily's actions, Snape's. He'd memorized them the first time he'd ever seen the memory – a fight over someone else – his father, Sirius?- as they crashed through the edges of the Forbidden Forest, alternately rushing at each other and pushing each other away until they stand, dangerously far from familiar grounds, motionless. The pupils of Lily's eyes dilate in the low light; beneath her untucked shirt, her chest rises in ragged breaths.
It is physical force rather than electric that breaks the silence; Lily grabs the front of Snape's shirt; pushes him backwards, down, down, to the foot of the tree, against its roots. Thin as he is, he cannot fit between treeroots anymore, the way he used to lie among the roots, immobilized, a prisoner or a patient, in the place beyond the playground.
Lily slams to her knees next to him so quickly he doesn't have time to do anything more than push himself half upright, leaning his back against the trunk of the tree and she is there beside him, bare knees against the hard and root-veined ground; she does not straddle him, as she used to, but sits askew, her legs together, abraded skin welling drops of blood.
She leans forward, and her hands are on his face, pushing her first two fingers into his mouth until he let them in, sucks on them, tastes the mix of ink and sweat on her skin. He presses back up against her, reaches for her hair, but she takes her fingers from his mouth and pushes him down again. "No. Stay still. You're in Azkaban," she says.
The rising green light muddies Lily's pale complexion as her face grows near, as she pins his wrists, leaning down to kiss him.
Harry tumbles back into his own office unable to separate the taste of Lily's mouth from Snape's, or the taste of Snape's mouth from his own.
When Harry is finally able to pull himself out of Snape's memory-body, it is disaster, again and again.
"Potter," Snape hisses, fumbling for his wand.
"James?" Lily asks, her eyes narrow. Harry's body, an echo of his fifteen-year-old self, is indistinguishable from his father's, and with their wands drawn, Snape and Lily won't let him close enough to see the color of his eyes.
Each time, as the memory begins to end, Lily sees. "No," Lily says, placing a hand on Snape's forearm. "Harry?" she asks, uncertainly.
Before he can answer, the green light engulfs them, and he is back on his bruised knees, forehead resting against the uneven rim of the pensieve.
Please remember, Harry thinks, please be ready.
He can already hear the whir of elevators winding through the Ministry as workers begin to pour in for the coming workday. The enchanted window in his underground office flushes orange-rose with false daylight drawn from the streets far above him. In the poster tacked above his desk, Ginny swoops through the recursive loop of her chaser's dive, the morning light, imported from above, illuminating the fine hairs along her forearm. Each time Harry returns from Snape's second memory, unsuccessful, Ginny's crown of closely braided hair has glows more strongly. The shaft of light that bisects the office lengthens, glinting, now, against the lacefly-wingtips of the snitch on the far edge of Harry's desk.
Harry hears footsteps descending, growing closer to his office, and wrenches himself forward into the pensieve one last time.
Please remember. Please be ready.
It has been the same, again and again: the electricity of anger, of more than anger, arcing in Snape's chest, his galvanized body, then the too-deep touch of Lily's fingers at his mouth just as Harry is able to pull himself free of Snape's memory-body. Then, too, again and again their livid and uncertain eyes, the flush that rises from Lily's swollen lip like a rash, Snape's snarl of misguided recognition.
Harry does not know whether to shout or cry when they do remember him, recognize him right away. He pulls himself out of Snape's body almost immediately this time, twisting out to the side so that he tumbles onto the ground beside Snape, hits the back of his wrist painfully against the edge of the same root that he felt digging into Snape's shoulder blade a moment before. Lily lets go of Snape's wrist, pulls herself away from him and sits back on her heels, but does not reach for her wand.
The three of them stare at each other, Harry breathless, Snape and Lily breathing too hard. Far above their bodies, above the ancient forest, above centaur-eyes turned momentarily away from the stars, a thinning strand of noctilucent clouds reflects a distant light that could be twilight or dawn. A thestral coils downward to dive into a deeper thicket of trees, its opal eye in shadow.
"Harry?" Lily asks, reaching out a hand across Snape's body, but Snape has wrestled his wand free, and knocks Lily's hand aside as he points it at Harry, his arm across Lily's body, his narrow chest a shield. Snape doesn't say anything, this time, doesn't accuse Harry of being James, or even ask him what he wants. The three of are still looking, face to face to face, for far too long.
There isn't enough time for this, Harry thinks.
"Lily," Harry says, still unable to say the word he wants to say to this girl with her schoolyard socks and her untucked blouse.
"Harry," Lily says, again, but she is not asking. Harry closes his eyes for a moment, imagining that she remembers his name from having given it to him, from having said it to him over and over again when he was a baby, and not from a half-remembered day on the edge of a hot Muggle playground. As Harry leans closer to her, the dull end of Snape's wand presses deeper into his ribs.
"Stay back," Snape says, voice low. He has lifted himself almost upright on his knees now, pressing side to side with Lily. Where Snape's robes have fallen open Harry sees that his uniform shirt is thin to the point of transparency; he can see the sparse, wiry coils of hair on Snape's chest. In the strong, cold wind that rushes in from beyond the lake, Snape's robes billow forward again, covering chest; when his greasy hair falls into his eyes, he snaps it back from his face with the same sharp twist of the neck he would use as an adult. The same wind blows Lily's loosened ponytails forward across her shoulders, blows the hem of her skirt up, slightly, around her bloodstained knees.
Beneath the familiar, mossy smell of the Forbidden Forest, Harry breathes in the scent of their bodies, sharply sweet, like a cloved orange left behind long after Christmas has passed, the scent that would form the fleeting low heart-note of amortentia for him for the rest of his life, the one note he could never identify.
"Did you come to play Azkaban again?" Lily asks. Lily's fingers are on Snape's forearm, but she is not pressing down, and Snape has not lowered his wand.
"No," he answers, pushing himself closer, pressing into Snape's wand as far as he can. He leans forward, and they are conspirators again, the three of them, playing wizard games too close to the eyes of Muggles, only now their bodies have grown or shrunk into awkward angles, adolescent. "No. I didn't come to play anything. I came to tell you that I love you."
Snape's wand digs deeper still, but his eyes are no longer clouded with anger; he is looking at Harry, seeing something, that Lily cannot or does not want to see: the reflection of James' face in Harry's, the mirroring of Lily's eyes. Lily tilts her head to the side, opens her mouth, but Harry can see the teasing smirk that is beginning to form, an echo of the smirk he'd seen so often on his Aunt Petunia's face, and he interrupts.
"Lily," he says. Mum, he says, in his head. "Please listen to me. There isn't much time." He takes a deep breath, feeling the unexpected narrowness of his own chest, "I love you."
Lily shakes her head, and starts to laugh. "I don't understand," she says. "Sev, do you--?" As Lily turns towards Snape, though, Harry sees the snake-scale flash of green starting to rise in the corner of his vision, and, with the love and anger of his desperation, pushes Snape's wand from his chest and pulls Lily up on to her knees and kisses her. She opens her mouth beneath his, and she is kissing him with a kiss that is nothing like Ginny's, nothing like Cho's, either, even though he tastes the wet sting of tears now, too. Lily thrusts her still-wet fingers into his hair, opens her mouth wider, pulls his tongue in.
This is love at fifteen, written on the body.
Harry kisses her as deeply as he can, not knowing any other way to show her this, now, with no time left, with her chest still patchy with the flush of anger, of desire, that Snape preserved in his memory of her. When he breaks the kiss, he is crying; she looks at him, silently, her eyes locked with his. He leans his forehead against hers, whispers I love you over and over again.
In the space beside them, Snape has dropped his wand and is looking at them both with narrowed eyes. Lily keeps one hand in Harry's hair, reaches out towards him with the other. "Sev..."
Harry, struggling against the oncoming light, reaches out, too, and he and Lily draw Snape to them, and Snape does not resist. Lily pulls their faces together, presses her lips against Snape's cheek, twice, before opening her mouth and pulling both Harry and Snape to her, their awkward three-way kiss, teeth knocking against teeth, lips growing numb.
Harry frees himself of the kiss long enough to whisper against the boy's neck, unable to meet his eyes for fear he will not say it. "I love you, too," he says, quickly, urgently. "Thank you for protecting me."
In the growing light, Harry clings to them as long as he can, mouth to mouth to mouth.
Back on the floor of his office, Harry reaches his fingers up beneath his office to wipe his eyes, but, here, his eyes are dry, and the word-scars on the back of his hand have faded back into illegibility. For a moment, his adult body weighs over him, heavy with unaccustomed blood and bone.
Footsteps are nearing the landing; Hermione's, Ron's...he sits up quickly, begins to draw the memory from the confiscated pensieve. For a moment it trails from the tip of his wand, a phoenix tail of glimmering red shot through with a vein of deepening green.
In a moment, he decides.
He pulls the first memory, now flickering between two and three small figures, a pantomime show, from the office pensieve, and swirls his wand so that the second memory drifts upward in an uneven spiral. The threads of memory attenuate as they rise, and when they brush against Harry's face, for a moment all is blurred, adult bodies and child bodies blended into one.
His body. Snape's body. His mother's body.
He feels the salt and sting of their three mouths, feels the greasy curl of Snape's hair against his cheek, and then feels nothing.
"Harry," Hermione says, hand on the opened doorframe, "are you all right?" Her face is pale, Ron's hair uncombed.
He nods. "Yeah. ‘Course." he says, shrugging. He nods again, as though convincing himself of his this, pushing himself up off of the floor. He looks at the lopsided rim of the pensieve. "Help me carry this to the Department of Mysteries?"
"Sure," Ron says, coming in to the office.
Hermione follows, tilting her head to one side. "What were you looking at?" she asks.
Harry opens his mouth to tell her, but stops, shaking his head and smiling.
"What is it?" she asks.
"I don't know," he says, his smile fading. "I can't remember."
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