Ghosts of the Past
Severus was preparing dinner when Julia entered the kitchen and looked at him with a worried expression.
"What is it, Julia?" asked Severus, turning down the heat to let the stew simmer.
"Er... There were two women in the apothecary..." Julia hesitated.
"Two customers?" asked Severus, encouraging her to talk.
"Yeah. One of them was telling the other that they should go away, 'cause you're a Dark Wizard. She said you killed someone and you should've stayed in Azkaban forever."
Severus felt a chill in his stomach. He had always feared the moment when he would have to talk to his children about his past.
Severus was so concentrated on his thoughts that he hadn't noticed that Harry had joined them and was now kneeling down next to his goddaughter. "Julia, please listen to me. That wizard who died, Dumbledore, was a wise and powerful wizard, and Severus respected him a lot. Dumbledore had been mortally wounded and was going to die anyway. So Dumbledore asked Severus to kill him, because that way Severus would be able to help me defeat a very dangerous Dark Wizard. Severus did as Dumbledore requested. Severus is not a killer. He's a hero."
As Harry talked, Severus looked from Julia to Harry and back again. Harry had a calm and determined look on his face; Julia stared at Harry intently, and seemed more relaxed when he finished.
"Was it You-Know-Who, the Dark Wizard you defeated?" asked Julia.
"Yes," said Harry. "Who told you about him?"
"Oh, everybody says you defeated You-Know-Who," replied Julia.
Then she stared at Severus with shining eyes. Severus slowly opened his arms to her, and she ran into them, clinging on to him without saying a word.
Ginevra called Julia from upstairs for bath time. Julia stared into Severus's eyes again. He saw love and trust in her eyes, and felt relieved.
Julia smiled. "I'm coming, mum!" she shouted, and ran out of the kitchen.
Severus looked at Harry, who was gazing at him expectantly. "This time you saved me, and I have to thank you. One day, however, I will have to talk to my children about my past."
"They're too young." Harry smiled. "Julia's just four, and the twins are not two years old yet."
Severus shook his head. "If you mean too young to understand... I do not expect them to ever understand."
"They love you. They will understand," said Harry.
Severus swallowed hard. "I hope what just happened never happens again. I don't want them to know from other people. I want to be the one to tell them. How do we know... the right moment?"
"I don't know. We can't always choose the right moment. But don't worry too much, Severus. They will understand."
There was nothing Severus could do besides hope that Harry was right. Sometimes Severus thought he didn't deserve the happy family life he enjoyed. The tension of not knowing how his children would react when they found out the truth about his past was perhaps the price he had to pay for his happiness.
Ptyx, April 2007