Severus Snape's head snapped up at the hysterical pattering of an owl's beak on his window. The smallest owl he'd ever seen was twittering madly about his office window. He opened the window to allow the animal entrance. He could easily close his fist around the thing and it would still have room to breathe. How it was carrying its bundle, he had no idea.
He removed said bundle from the leg of the owl and absently tossed it some owl treats. He wondered if the excitable little being would be able to swallow them, and looked up in alarm as it hacked dangerously, apparently having swallowed a big piece too fast. He pointed his wand and diced the treats so the stupid animal wouldn't kill itself trying to attend to a basic bodily function.
A very small tube was encased in a piece of parchment.
Odd. That looked like a memory. But what was wrong with it… why was it so small?
Frowning, he locked his door, pulled out his Pensieve, and dumped the memory into it. He tried to watch it from his current vantage point, but it was blurry and indistinct. He'd have to go into the Pensieve.
It was an exceedingly short trip. All he saw when he put his face into the silvery substance was a pale, bared left arm with an ugly, fading brand on it, and a chubby toddler's fist jabbing him and insisting, “Pier!”
His arm. His Dark Mark. Harry Potter's chubby toddler fist, insisting that Peter Pettigrew was similarly marked.
A fact he'd not known the night of that incident.
He blanched as he sat up straight in his chair.
He'd never shown that memory to anyone – not even to Albus! As far as he knew, there were only two people alive with that recollection of the evening: himself, and one other, who was undoubtedly out for his blood.
Alarmed, he turned his attention to the parchment.
It was an equally short letter.
You have answers, I have questions.
Let's meet to talk.
Same time. Same place as when this happened.
Cryptic, but effective. He bristled at the familiarity evident in the use of his old moniker, but very few people knew it, and as most of those that did were dead, it was as reasonably secure as it could be.
The request itself was out of the question, of course. Merlin, he was in more danger now that the boy had done that, than ever before in his life, since James Potter's stupid son couldn't block emotion out to save his own life, much less the life of anyone he hated.
He looked up at the owl. “Do you know who sent this letter?” He winced as the owl twittered around madly. Merlin's beard, the thing had more energy in five minutes than he had in his life. “Yes or no will be fine. Are you up for another long trip?” The owl hooted happily, so Snape grabbed a piece of parchment and scrawled across it carelessly.
Out of the question.
Close your mind!
He tied this to the owl's feet and tossed it out the window, and went back to work, putting the incident entirely out of his mind.
* * *
A few weeks later, another owl he didn't recognize came tapping at his window. He allowed the owl entrance, and removed the parchment. Apparently the animal had been instructed to not wait for reply, as it took off immediately through the window he'd not yet closed.
He recognized the handwriting, of course; how could he not, after having taught the boy for six years?
He was sending different owls, though; that was good.