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Portrait in the Headmaster's Office by Elena78
Graphic by Elena78

He sat with a solemn look upon his face, his hands placed on his desk, his wand firmly in his right hand, staring at the swirling mist inside his pensieve. After all these years, memories that he had buried deep within the glowing bowl now stabbed at his heart. He looked around his dimly lit office, finally a place of more importance than ever, and knew that even this glory, if it could be called that, would end soon.

With a heavy sigh Severus Snape looked back to the bowl in front of him, dipping his wand into the swirling mist, he recalled yet another painful memory and set it aside. Bit by bit he was recalling what needed to be told to Harry and bit by bit, Severus felt his heart being stabbed just that little bit further. He had peace from them for ten wonderful years, but then Harry Potter had to come to Hogwarts. He hated the moment he heard from Dumbledore; the moment he had asked for his help to protect Harry once he was on the school grounds.

He hated Harry. From the moment he saw the boy close up in his first potion lesson he knew straight away he hated the boy. Harry looked so much like his father, but what sickened him the most was Harry’s eyes. Those brilliant, emerald green eyes stared up at him as if mocking him, letting him know of the woman he once loved produced a son with a man he hated most.

As Severus recalled one more memory, the memory that Harry had seen before, he could feel the stabbing pain of regret flood through him once again. What Harry hadn’t seen was the next memory when he tried to apologise to Lily for calling her a Mudblood. The memory played out before him, causing his eyes to mist over as he drew in a long, deep breath. Now was not the time to show emotions and with a swift wave of his wand, the memory disappeared and swirled in amongst the others that were set aside.

“You don’t have to do this,” a familiar voice said behind him, making Severus tense up in his chair.

“I thought I asked for privacy,” Severus replied back in an icy voice.

“Harry doesn’t need to know more than what is necessary, Severus. He doesn’t need to know so much about you,” Dumbledore continued, ignoring Severus’s wishes to be left alone.

With an irritated sigh Severus rose from his chair and turned around to face the portrait that hung above him on the wall. “In case you haven’t caught on, Harry may have inherited his mother’s eyes but unfortunately, he didn’t inherit her brain. He is incapable of understanding the simplest of things. For Harry to know and understand, he must know enough to connect all the pieces. As it is, he can’t do anything without someone holding his hand. How on earth will he understand what I need to tell him without these memories?”

Dumbledore seemed to stare at Severus, deep in thought. A few moments of silence passed between them before Dumbledore spoke again. “Do you care about Harry, Severus, or are you only helping because of your guilt?”

Turning away from the portrait in a huff, Severus closed his eyes and tried to squash the anger rising in him. “If you don’t mind, I have things that need to be done,” he said through clenched teeth as he turned back around to look up at Dumbledore, but the portrait was empty.

Severus sat back down in his chair, unable to rid the anger that Dumbledore stirred up within him. Staring at his swirling memories, Lily’s face smiled up at him from inside it and he sighed as his anger evaporated. Did he care about Harry? Severus shook his head. No, the boy was simply too much like his father to ever show him any kind of…kindness. It was those eyes, looking at him like Lily once did.

It was for her and her alone that he helped Harry now. Severus knew that if Lily was alive, she’d be more than disappointed in him. She would never have approved of his spying role, nor would she approve of the way he had treated Harry over these past few years. He was almost certain that if Harry ever caught up with him, he would see her face delivering the killing curse at him that he knew Harry wanted to deliver himself.

Shaking his head, Severus cast aside these thoughts and concentrated on what needed to be done. There were only a few more memories to go and then he was ready to face Harry, when that time came. Somewhere inside of him Severus knew that he would not survive this war. If it wasn’t Harry that killed him, he was almost certain that Voldemort would. Time would only tell as to which and if he could deliver his memories in time.


It was a couple of weeks later that Severus found himself back in his small house in Spinner’s End. There were a few things he needed to sort out while he had the chance. Harry was catching up fast and he knew that the Dark Lord was a small step ahead. He accepted that his life would soon be ending and in many ways, he was looking forward to it. He had put his life on the line for so many years now that he was growing tired. He no longer wanted to live with the guilt over Lily; the pain that hit him every day because he was too weak to help her.

Gathering the last of his papers and placing them in carefully labelled boxes, he watched as each one disappeared. His will was written but these particular papers were being delivered to those that remained faithful to the Order. The Ministry was under the Dark Lord’s power now and he knew that nothing he had just sent away could ever come across the eyes of those loyal to him.

He then set about his task of clearing out his personal collection of books and assorted herbs and potions. He was slightly irritated with himself for leaving it this late; however, his new role at Hogwarts had left him more occupied than he once thought. The Dark Lord made him check in every week to update him on the goings on at the school, plus with the Carrows around, Severus knew he had to tread very carefully. Getting a night away was difficult but once he gave Amycus permission to act in his place, no further questions were asked to where he was going.

A couple of hours later and Severus was just finishing up when he was alerted to someone else’s presence in his home. He smiled to himself, knowing that it was Harry that had reached him first. He placed the lid of the last box in its place and watched as the box disappeared. He turned around and came face to face with Harry whose wand was pointed directly at him.

“Isn’t there other places you should be, Mr. Potter?” Severus asked without a hint of emotion.

“I have no better place to be at the moment,” Harry replied and Severus could see the anger in the young man begin to surface. “Any last words before you die?” Severus chuckled to himself as he reached into his robe pocket. “Don’t you even think about it!” Harry shouted.

“Think about what, Potter?” Severus said calmly. “You have caught me unarmed.” He spoke the truth; he had left his wand in another room, not expecting to be disturbed tonight. “I only wish to give you this,” he said and pulled out a vial containing his memories. He threw the bottle at Harry. The last thing he saw was emerald eyes as the room filled with a bright green flash.


The green light that surrounded him was fading and Severus expected everything to go black and his life to end. However, the green light faded and was replaced by a bright white light. As the light faded, different colours swirled around him forming into solid objects. Severus blinked his eyes trying to stop the nauseous feeling inside, confused by the fact that he could still feel and think. Wasn’t he supposed to be dead?

Opening his eyes, he gasped in surprise at what he saw around him. The wind picked up around him. The sun was shining bright and he could hear birds singing above him. The familiar creaking of chains sounded out and he turn to his right where he saw a set of swings, gently swaying in the breeze. It was then that Severus recognised where he was. It was the Muggle park that he used to go to and see Lily play in when they were children.

“Severus?” he heard a familiar voice call out to him and he spun around, trying to find her.

“Lily?” he whispered.

“I’m here,” she replied and Severus turned around and could hardly believe his eyes.

Lilly stood before him, as beautiful as she always had been. She looked younger though, like the way she looked in their last year of school. He reached out a hand to touch her, wanting to make sure this was real, but his hand stopped as he looked at it. His hand no longer held the signs of aging, but was back to its once youthful look.

“Is this real?” he asked and could not hide the shocked expression on his face as he realised that his own voice was also back to its youthful tone. His eyes met Lily’s and he saw her smile and nod her head.

“It is real, for us anyway,” she said softly and held out her hand to him. Severus gently placed his hand in hers and she led him over to the swings.

“I bet I can swing higher than you,” Lily said as she turned to face Severus.

Noticing the cheeky grin on her face, he chuckled. “You think?” he asked as he sat down in a swing and waited for Lily.

Once they were both seated, they stood back and counted down from three. They both swung higher and higher, laughing together like they used to. After a while, Severus had forgotten everything, trapped in a moment of true happiness. They had left the swings and played catch, made themselves dizzy on the merry-go-round, tried to see who could swing the furthest on the Monkey Bars and played like they were children once again. If this was heaven for Severus, he never wanted to leave it. So many years had passed where he always thought about Lily and now, here she was.

Lily was now leading him somewhere, demanding that he keep his eyes closed. He obeyed and enjoyed the feeling of their closeness, something he never hoped to feel again. Once Lily allowed him to open his eyes, he saw a huge picnic blanket spread out with all kinds of food and drinks for them. He felt his belly rumble and only just realised how hungry he really was. He smiled at Lily and took her hand in his. They sat down in the middle of the blanket and began to chat and eat. For him, it was like she had never died.

A comfortable silence came upon them as they ate, lost in their own thoughts. Lily would chance a look at him and smile and blush before turning away, leaving him with thoughts that made him blush too. After a while, Severus braved a look at her and noticed the sadness written on her face.

“Lily, what is it?” he asked softly.

“Our time is almost up,” she whispered and knew that Severus wouldn’t understand.

"What do you mean, almost up?” he said with a more irritated tone and Lily sighed.

Taking his hand in hers, Lily stood, making Severus follow her to the middle of the park. “I was given this time with you, but it is almost time to go,” she said sadly as she turned to face him. “I wanted to thank you, for everything you have done and for protecting Harry.”

Hearing Harry’s name made Severus remember. He felt like a zillion things had whirled through his mind, ending in a bright flash of green. Looking back at Lily, he felt the familiar stab of guilt run through him again and he frowned.

“I thought you would have been disappointed in me,” he said softly.

Lily shook her head and lifted her right hand to softly caress Severus’s cheek. “Never disappointed,” she said just as softly as he had spoken and she took a step closer to him. “I was still able to watch over you and Harry to see what was happening,” Her hand slipped down from Severus’s face down over his chest and rested over his heart. “I know the truth, Severus, and I can never be disappointed in that.”

Although he knew that he was dead, he wasn’t sure if his heart still had a beat where they were. Severus knew that if he did it was beating right out of his chest right now. He wanted to feel everything he could in this moment, but as soon as Lily’s hand touched the cool skin of his face, then over his heart, he lost all sense of everything. His mind went blank, he felt numb all over and yet, Lily’s hand seemed to spread a warmth all through him; the kind of warmth he had only ever dreamt about.

Taking a small step forward, Severus closed the small gap between them, leaning down slightly and capturing Lily’s lips with his. Her lips responded to his straight away. She was kissing him back just as fiercely as he was kissing her and as if a veil had been lifted off of him, Severus found his feelings being awakened inside of him. All the years he had missed her and all the guilt he felt inside, poured out of him and into his kiss.

Wrapping his arms tightly around her waist, he lifted her up into his arms, twirling her around and smiling against her lips. Lily gave a light squeal but smiled back at him as their kiss broke and he placed her gently back down on the ground. They were both left feeling breathless but happy to fight for each breath. They stood still, staring at each other, lost in a moment that they both didn’t want to end.

“Lily,” a voice echoed around them and both Lily and Severus looked around them, wondering where the voice was coming from.

“I have to go,” Lily said sadly but Severus wasn’t ready to let her go. He held on to her more tightly, pulling her into a tight but gentle embrace.

“I want to go with you,” he whispered into her ear and felt Lily shake her head on his shoulder.

“It just isn’t possible,” she whispered back before pulling away from him slightly. Tears shone brightly in her eyes and as her tears began to fall, Severus lifted his hand to wipe them away. “You can’t stay here and I can’t leave,” she whispered as she closed her eyes and leaned into Severus’s hand.

“Why not?”

Lily opened her eyes at his question and took the hand that cupped her cheek into her own. “Because you have somewhere else to be. I wish…” Lily was cut off by someone clearing their throat behind her. Lily didn’t need to look back to see who was there, as she already knew.

Severus looked past her though and looked at the younger version of James Potter. Anger flooded Severus as he turned his eyes back to Lily. “I don’t understand. What is all of this?” he asked her sternly but all Lily could do was cry softly as she watched the pain she knew he felt flood through him.

“Consider this my gift to you,” James said as he approached them. “I don’t mind you sharing a moment with Lily when I have all of eternity to be with her.”

Severus pulled Lily away from James, making him stop his approach. Looking at the girl in his arms, Severus gently placed a finger under her chin and lifted her head so she was looking at him.

“I love you, Lily,” he whispered and watched as Lily’s face lit up with a bright smile. Her emerald eyes sparkled up at him.

“And I love you, Severus,” she whispered back. “But please understand, this moment is all we get to have,” she said, her eyes pleading for him to understand.

Severus looked back over Lily’s shoulder and saw James watching them. He wanted James to be angry, to be jealous, but he wasn’t. James understood and as he looked back at Lily, he too understood and nodded his head. He let his hands fall away from Lily and took a step back away from her.

“We would have made a better couple,” he whispered to her.

Lily sighed in relief and flung her arms around Severus’s shoulders, holding him tightly. “Yes, we would have,” she whispered to him as she felt his arms tighten around her waist, desperately clinging onto her knowing that it would be their last embrace.

“It’s time,” James whispered from beside Lily and Severus felt Lily let him go. His hands fell away from her waist and he closed his eyes, not wanting to see her with him. “Severus?” James said and as he opened his eyes, he saw that James had extended a hand out to him. Severus looked at his hand for a moment before he took it in his, shaking the hand of the boy who was once his enemy.

“Thank you, for what you have done for Harry,” James said and let go of Severus’s hand. He nodded at James, not able to speak as his eyes fell back onto Lily.

She held out a hand to him and took it with his, holding onto her tightly. “Please tell Harry that we are very proud of him and that we love him,” she said, almost choking on her words.

Severus shook his head. “I don’t understand,” he said as James was pulling Lily away from him. He clung desperately onto her hand, not wanting to let her go. “Lily!” He called out just as her hand slipped from his and she disappeared into the bright white light that had consumed him again.

“LILY,” he screamed out, but only silence greeted his ears. Closing his eyes again, wanting to black out the brightness of the light, he could feel pain tear through him like a knife.

Shaking his head, he chuckled to himself. He thought that once he had died he would never feel again, yet here he was, whatever he was, feeling more pain now than he ever imagined. Letting out a sad sigh, he finally opened his eyes and blinked a few times to try and figure out where he was.

He was looking into a very dark room but he could see a small ray of light to his left. He frowned as he thought he should recognise the room he was in but simply couldn’t place it. He blinked a few more times, wondering if perhaps his eyes just needed to adjust and felt something warm splash down his face.

He wiped at his face, shocked to find a tear had fallen down his cheek. He hadn’t cried since he was a boy. He let out a heavy sigh. His lips burned as he remembered the kiss he shared with Lily. She felt and tasted better than what he could ever dream of, but the new pain he felt now was worse than he could bear. If he wasn’t dead already, he’d wish that he was.

“I trust that your visit with Lily went well?” a very familiar voice said softly behind him. Severus turned around and nodded.

“Yes, Albus, it did. How did you know?”

“I helped to arrange it.” Albus Dumbledore smiled at his former colleague and stepped up to stand beside him. “Are you ready to live the next phase of your existence?” he asked softly.

“Where exactly are we?” Severus asked and heard Dumbledore chuckle beside him.

Suddenly the room around them lit up and Severus looked around him. A loud round of applause echoed around him along with several cheers. Severus closed his eyes and shook his head. How could he have forgotten? Opening his eyes he looked across the room to the other portraits hanging on the wall.

“Welcome home, Severus. Welcome home,” Albus said beside him as he too began to clap his hands.

Looking down, he could see that the office he once worked in was full of people, those that had survived the battle, he could only guess. His eyes found a pair of emerald eyes and just the smallest trace of a smile curved at his lips. Harry had survived. He nodded once in Harry’s direction and saw him do the same as he heard Lily’s voice echo inside his head. Once the celebrations were over he knew that he would have to request a moment with Harry but for now, Severus realised that he’d have to get used to being a portrait in the Headmaster’s Office at Hogwarts.

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