Christmas in Limbo by SerenaEW
Summary: Christmas Eve 1997. All is not well.
Harry Potter's successful capture by Nagini in Godric's Hollow prompts some divine intervention and leads to astonishing revelations.

One of quite a few Harry Potter fanfics inspired by Charles Dickens' "Christmas Carol".
Categories: Parental Snape > Biological Father Snape, Fic Fests > Bingo! Fic Fest, Snape Equal Status to Harry > Foes Snape and Harry, Snape Equal Status to Harry > Comrades Snape and Harry Main Characters: .Snape and Harry (required), Lily
Snape Flavour: Canon Snape, Kind Snape
Genres: Angst, Drama, Family, Horror
Tags: Alternate Universe, Snape-meets-Dursleys, Time Travel
Takes Place: 7th Year
Warnings: Abusive Dursleys, Torture, Violence
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 3 Completed: No Word count: 4651 Read: 994 Published: 24 Dec 2022 Updated: 08 Jan 2023
For Auld Lang Syne by SerenaEW
Author's Notes:
Card 1: G1: Watched
Card 5: G1: Wand to the throat
Card 9 (JA's Card 2): B2: "Outside forces are at play here" - not limited to this chapter

And no. The fact that Auld Lang Syne is sung as a New Year's song has had no bearing whatsoever on me deciding to post this now. None whatsoever.

Happy New Year, everyone!

White fog greeted him. 

Well. This was it, then.

He knew he was dead. He had to be.

He had expected more pain, to be honest, but, well, here he was, lying on something that looked and felt a lot like a patch of foggy grass. 

For a moment, he thought he could hear a rustle beside him. He thought he could feel a set of eyes on him, reminding him of the Grim's gaze before he had accidentally hailed the Knight Bus after blowing up Aunt Marge. 

But he couldn't tell for sure; the fog was obscuring his view — it did not let him see past his arms. 

Perhaps he should be alarmed by his lack of sight — You want to be more careful, he remembered someone telling him — but since there seemed to be no sign of a gloating Voldemort or the like, he decided it was probably safe to find out first where exactly he was. 

He groaned, a low noise in his throat.

"Potter. Really?" a voice sneered above him.

Harry scrambled up, wand in his hand before he even had to think about it. 

"What — what the hell, Snape!"

The man looked more like a vampire than ever, with his greasy black hair falling over his face and the deep purple shadows under his eyes, and his ever-unchanged black robes.

Harry wondered for a moment how it was possible that his wand had just appeared in his hand, seemingly out of nowhere; but as the piece of wood was humming with its familiar, comforting warmth, he wouldn't question that too much. 

Not with Snape standing before him. 

"I must have been drugged in my sleep to dream of such an absurd scene — or murdered in my sleep, more likely," Snape mused aloud. "In that case — this must be some sort of afterlife — Hell, literally, if I were to be stuck with a Potter for all eternity."


Yes. That had to be it.

"I very much do not fancy seeing you here, Potter."

How the hell could the bastard just stand there and — 

"Same could be said for you, traitor!" 

Harry hadn't realised he had raised his hand and wand until it was pointing at the man's neck. 

Snape shrugged. "Go ahead, then, Potter. Curse me all you want. It does not matter, does it? Since we seem to be already dead." 

At Snape's nonchalance, white-hot anger built in Harry's chest, shoving the wand in his hand into the vulnerable flesh. He exhaled through clenched teeth to stop himself from cursing the man on the spot. 

He wanted answers.

Snape's sneer deepened. "And — I may have been many things in my life, but not a traitor to the Order. Small-minded as you are, Pot- " 

"Liar! "

The word was out before Harry could even think. 

Snape's brow rose, as it often had when he had found a comment of Harry's particularly questionable in the past.

"That I was as well." 

The man sounded almost… smug about it. As if it were something to take pride in. "But again, I can not expect your Lilliputian brain to understand the necessity for deception. Apart from that, it seems…" 

Snape's expression turned mocking. "Your 'sheer dumb luck' must have run out this time." 

"I only wanted to pay my respects to my parents in peace. Your Master," Harry spat right back, "used his biting and strangling snake to trap me — " not that Harry thought the man would, in any way, be affected by his statement, seeing as Snape had watched Burbage being eaten by said snake without batting so much as an eyelash.

"— I must have died before Voldemort got to me."

Harry took a deep breath through his nose. He wasn't sure he would need to breathe in this strange foggy world, but it helped sharpen the swirling chaos clouding his mind — into anger. Onto Snape, where it belonged. 

He would not think about having, once more, lead his best friend into another of Voldemort's traps. 

Bugger. Hermione. 

Hermione, who could be dead as well, if not stuck in this hellscape.

Snape made a noise in his throat that sounded like a mix between a groan and a growl, and it stoked Harry's anger to unprecedented heights.

Because, had Dumbledore's murder , by that man before him, not sent them on this wild goose chase, he would never have ended up there. There, where his parents had died, because, again — Snape had given Voldemort the prophecy.

There, where said prophecy had ended in Voldemort's victory, and Harry's own demise — and possibly his best friend's.

"I assume you would be happy that I am done in for good — if it wasn't for the fact that we are stuck here in this hell, with each other. Is it not?"

With a step forward, Harry found himself eye to eye with Snape, challenging him to say anything to the contrary.

Snape glanced at Harry's wand arm and rolled his eyes. "Honestly, Potter, why would I have saved your neck over and over again if I wanted you dead? The opportunities were rather endless." 

"I don't know," Harry answered. He pressed his wand firmly into the man's pulsing artery. 

Snape's actions did make little sense most of the time. He had demanded Harry and his friends be expelled at every opportunity — and yet, he also had… for instance, he had refused to give Umbridge poison when he could have.

Then why…?

Opportunity was the keyword here. 

"Maybe, perhaps…  you wanted to wait until the right moment for me to die," Harry answered his own question.

Snape's face showed no recognisable reaction to Harry's words.

But — perhaps it was from the way Snape held himself, more stiffly than before. 

From the way his eyes went even colder, impossibly emptier. 

Perhaps from the way his breathing had evened out into an almost counted rhythm — Harry was sure he was on to something. 

"What? Did I guess right?" Harry's tone became frigid. Had he listened more closely, he might have noticed how similar it sounded to Snape's at his most furious. "Out with it, Snape, just admit it."

The man didn't answer, didn't move, didn't even blink. 

"Harry, stop."

A female voice had joined the fray. It was not loud by any means, but could be heard perfectly echoing through the silence though there was nothing for it to echo from. 

Snape flinched.

Harry felt his limbs go numb. He would know that voice anywhere. He had heard it often enough in the presence of the Dementors in his third year. In the graveyard in his fourth year.


"Sweetheart. Stop."

"No!" Harry didn't dare to take his eyes off Snape — who stood there, almost petrified — but shifted so that he could watch the figure approaching from behind the man. 

"No! You can't be her! My mother would not be telling me to — "

"— Cedric — Cedric Diggory — asked you to take his body back to his father, in the Little Hangleton Graveyard."

Harry felt his hand drop to his side. 

"Mum? Is it really — ?"

Snape snarled, spinning towards the redhead. "I will not be fooled so easily. What was the last flower Lily Evans sent to me?" 

Snape had pushed himself before Harry, holding an arm out before him. 

Even without a wand, Harry thought the man looked imposing. 

And his mother… She looked just as young, and just as beautiful as he remembered her being from that day in the graveyard. Or perhaps more like years ago in the mirror, when she had been presented to him, as real and vibrant and solid as any living person. 

Except — this time, her smile held more sorrow than joy; her green eyes, once sparkling, were now dulled with grief. 

"A withered blue lily."

Snape slowly let his arm drop, though his posture remained guarded.

"I'm sorry that it took me so long to see your perspective, Sev." Lily looked like she wanted to reach out, but caught herself at the last moment. "I'm so sorry." 

"Mum? You — knew — " Harry was too astonished himself to see Snape's eyes widen at his mother's words. 

"Yes, I've known Severus for a long time, sweetheart. And I'm sorry that I hurt you so much — you both. Harry, — "

"Potter," Snape snarled, "has been nothing but insolent, disobedient and seeking trouble with his idiotic friends. And look where that has gotten him. He is no better than his good-for-nothing — "

"That is enough, Severus Snape," Lily cut in. Harry couldn't recall having heard such anger in her voice before. 

Snape's tirade stopped abruptly.

"Considering you are supposed to be one of the Order's most successful spies, Severus, you are being a blind fool — especially for convincing yourself that Dumbledore's idiotic plan would have meant anything but both your deaths. I would suggest you refrain from further judgement until you are conscious of all the facts."

Snape blinked at her, mouth slightly open. It was the first expression of emotion Harry could remember seeing on the man's face — besides disdain, hatred, and occasionally rage, like after the failed Occlumency lessons in his fifth year.

The surprise was a nice change.

Lily waved a hand to dissipate the mist in front of them. It revealed the interior of a familiar house — Number 4 Privet Drive — at night. 

Harry gasped. 

"This is the memory of Christmas Past. See for yourself."

"Mum — ?"

"Lily — ?"

Ignoring their instant protests, Lily gripped them firmly by their hands and stepped in, taking Snape and Harry with her.

To be continued...

This story archived at