Harry plunged his head into the Pensieve. He couldn’t believe it had taken him all this time to look through his old memories, as much as his parents meant to him. Given how many times he’d been in a Pensieve, with or without permission, it should have been foremost on his mind. He felt the familiar sensation of falling into blackness, and suddenly found himself in the living room of a small cottage which looked oddly familiar.
Lily Evans Potter sat in a rocking chair next to a fireplace, gazing adoringly down at her son as she nursed him, and crooning to him under her breath. Harry felt slightly uncomfortable at first, as if he were intruding on an intimate and inappropriate scene, but it was his own memory, after all.
When the squirming of the toddler made it evident he was less interested in nursing than playing, his mother disengaged him, tucked her breast back into her shirt, and propped her son on her hip, leaving him to gaze around the room. His green eyes passed right over his adult self, leaving the elder Harry distinctly disconcerted.
“James, love, it's late. I'm going to go put Harry down.”
“All right, sweetheart,” rasped a very hoarse James Potter, leaning over to give his wife and son a kiss and hug. He coughed almost soundlessly as Lily spun around and they drifted off.
Fifteen-month-old Harry Potter extricated his chubby fist from his mouth, and opened and clenched his fingers in turn. “Bah-buh, Da-ee!”
“Good-night, Harry,” James whispered.
“James, will you drink some more of that tea with honey and lemon, please? It will help your laryngitis. Trust me on this… Muggles DO know some things, you know!” she said in a tone that bordered on indignant.
Yes dear, James mouthed, in mock aggravation, winking playfully at his wife and blowing her a kiss.
As Lily unsuspectingly carried her toddler son up the steps, her grown son who survived the later events of that night followed her, gazing longingly at the portraits that lined the walls. He knew he would come back and view these many times. At the top of the steps, Lily turned in the door of a small, brightly decorated nursery, and laid the toddler on a changing table while she changed his nappy. Just as she finished, Lily's head turned sharply and her eyes narrowed at a sharp rap on the front door. That's odd: they weren't expecting any visitors; but it was probably Remus or Peter or Sirius, so she shrugged and put the toddler in his cradle. “Now let's get you ready for bed, hmm?”
Harry began playing with some soft stuffed toys in the cradle as his mother turned her attentions on getting a matched set of pajamas for him, and enough covers for the cold weather of the late English autumn. Suddenly, the door flew open, and a body the elder Harry could not see flew through the door, then whipped off an Invisibility Cloak.
The newcomer was obviously not James, but had his back to Harry and Harry couldn’t tell who he was, though he thought the man looked vaguely familiar. Frozen in place by shock, Harry didn't see the other man's face, and didn't immediately recognize the frazzled black, shoulder length hair or the slender build. The voice, too, sounded familiar, but he couldn't quite place it. Then he remembered – he'd heard it in his Dementor induced losses of consciousness his third year at Hogwarts.
“Lily! You have to get out of here! Now! Right away! The Dark Lord is outside: he's come to kill you, kill your son!” the man whispered hysterically.
“What?!” Lily demanded of the newcomer. Harry was confused; they were apparently on a first-name basis.
Harry saw the reflected kaleidoscopic lights of the curses downstairs coming through the door.
The man turned back to Harry’s mother. “Black – he revealed the secret to the Dark Lord directly, I heard him. He’s downstairs! Get out of here!”
DAMN! Harry thought. That wasn’t right, Sirius had never been the Secret Keeper! But then again, everyone had thought it was until fairly recently.
Both adults jumped and gasped at the unmistakable thump of a body dropping. James had just fallen.
The strange man whipped the Cloak back over his head and whispered hoarsely to Lily, “He can’t duel me if he can’t see me, Lily. Take Harry and GO! It’s him! Go! Run – I’ll hold him off.”
But it was too late. Voldemort burst in the door, with a short, dumpy Death Eater Harry did not recognize behind the mask.
“Stand aside. Stand aside, girl!” Voldemort commanded in that hateful hiss of his.
The cloaked man fired a few hexes at Voldemort as the latter advanced.
Voldemort looked confused, and looked around, unable to tell where this new threat was coming from. He paused slightly in his advance, and glanced around.
“Not Harry! Not Harry! Please – I'll do anything!” Lily pleaded for her son.
The cloaked man fired another curse, stronger this time, but missed, and in so doing, gave his position away. Voldemort turned his wand in the direction whence the red light had shot out from under the invisibility cloak, and hissed threateningly “I’ll deal with you LATER. Petrificus Totalus!”
“Stand aside, you silly girl… stand aside, now...”
“Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead –”
“AVADA KEDAVRA!” Voldemort roared, and Harry watched breathlessly as he watched Lily jump in front of the curse aimed at her son, and saw her body fall. Unbelieving, he heard Voldemort roar the second curse, saw the flash of the green light and saw it hit his toddler self smack in the head. Then, as he’d been told so many times since hearing he was a wizard for the first time, the green light of the curse rebounded into Voldemort and blasted him away, sending him into uncertain exile for nearly fourteen years. The other Death Eater picked Voldemort’s wand out of the pile of robes left in his place and Disapparated.
Harry heard the sound of disconsolate sobbing, and knew it came from the cloaked man. But what wrenched his heart worse was to hear his younger self crying in confusion. He wanted to reach out to himself but knew that was not possible. He watched helplessly as the man with the black hair shook his head as if to clear it and looked confusedly around, blinking owlishly. With the debris and dust still in the air, Harry still didn't get a good look at his face.
He watched as the other man stood unsteadily, and walked to the cradle.
“No. I am sorry, Harry… your mother is gone. “ Adult Harry winced at the anguish in this man's voice, and watched in wonder as the man waved his wand almost imperceptibly and Lily's body disappeared underneath what he recognized as a Disillusionment spell.
“Da-ee!” the toddler demanded.
“No. Your father is gone as well.”
“Sea-wuz?” the toddler questioned, sounding hurt and confused.
“Sirius is not here. Nor do I know where Lupin – Remus, is.” The hateful sneer in the man's voice gave the elder Harry a start. He recognized that voice… but no… it couldn't be. It couldn't possibly be…
The toddler pointed down at the other man's left arm. “Pier!”
“Hm? No… I am not Peter. I do not know where Peter is, either.”
“Pier!” the toddler said, jabbing the man's arm insistently. The man looked down at his arm and groaned in what could only be described as despair.
The dust had mostly settled when the man gathered the Invisibility Cloak back to himself, and picked the toddler up awkwardly with a promise to deliver him to someone who would care for him, and prepared to Side-Along Apparate the young boy out of the ruined house. As he turned to Apparate, Harry saw the other man's face for the first time, and gasped aloud.
It was, undoubtedly, Severus Snape.
* * *
Harry sat up sharply in his seat, eyes wide open. Hermione and Ron looked at him, alarmed at his blanched face.
“Are you alright, mate?” asked Ron, deeply concerned.
“That must have been awful, seeing your parents murdered,” Hermione said sympathetically.
Harry looked back and forth between the two of them. “Yeah. It was,” he said, rather belatedly. “Uhm, hang on, I need to look at something else, too,” he said, and extracted another memory, and placed it into the Pensieve.
“You want one, or both, of us to go with you, mate?” Ron offered.
“NO!” Harry snapped, and then relented at the shocked look on his friends’ faces. “Sorry. Something... surprised me, and I need to try to make sense of it. I'd rather not have anyone else see until I figure this out.”
“All right,” Ron said reluctantly, as Hermione looked on with suspicious eyes.
As Harry disappeared into the Pensieve once again, Ron said, “Great bloody git. He just saw his mum and dad murdered, and says it surprised him?! Well of course it surprised him. That mess would surprise anyone!” Ron shook his head and rolled his eyes.