Disclaimer: Anything you recognise belongs to J.K. Rowling. I own nothing, make no money from anything, and am writing this purely for personal enjoyment.
A/N: 1. This is my first attempt at something like this. Let me know if it's worth continuing it.
2. My Latin is terrible. If my usage is incorrect, please tell me.
3. Un-beta-ed, British spelling used.
4. I have read way too much fan fiction to know if any of my stuff is original. If you feel I have stolen something of yours, tell me and I will credit you / remove it.
Chapter 1: The Fidus Servus Oath
When I reached Albus's offices, I was irritated to find that the Golden Boy was there as well. With him having just graduated, I was hoping I would be spared his presence from now on.
"Ah, Severus. Please have a seat. Tea?"
"No thank you, Headmaster. What did you wish to see me for?"
"Sit down, sit down, my dear boy. All will become clear in good time."
I flung myself down in the chair next to Potter's. For some reason I still live in hope that Albus will cease this benevolent patriarch pretence. It isn't as if he is above issuing orders when it suits his purposes, and he's done it in front of Potter before.
"There are just a few more details about your apartment that we need to finalise, Harry. You accept that it is unwise that your friends stay with you?"
"Yes, sir. Besides, they have their own lives to lead."
Even I, disinterested as I was in the Golden Trio, could hardly have missed the overwhelming preoccupation Weasley and Granger had with each other. Nevertheless, I was surprised – I had assumed that they would tag along in this as they tagged along in everything else.
"But you needn't worry about being left completely alone, Harry. I will be sending some-one with you who can assist you should you be attacked."
This was news to me too, and my presence for this conversation had better not mean what I thought it meant. Potter was obviously thinking along the same lines, because he shot me a horrified glance.
"Surely that's not necessary, sir. My friends will be visiting often, and I do have my work to do – I don't need company. And it may still be years until Voldemort is defeated. You can hardly assign anyone to me for that length of time."
"Don't worry about that, Harry. Severus here has no outside commitments that he need worry about."
Albus cast me one of those looks, and I subsided. Let Potter convince him of the ridiculousness of this plan. Clearly a temporary derangement on Albus's part lead him to consider it at all.
"Sir, one of the purposes of my further training is to teach me to act self-sufficiently. I hardly think that this arrangement would help that."
Despite myself, I'm impressed – going for the logical argument instead of the myriad of emotional reasons.
"Oh, I don't see why not. Severus will take your orders, and simply act to protect you."
Potter was opening and closing his mouth like a retarded fish. I would have been far more amused if it weren't for the fact that I was similarly affected.
"But, sir… You can't believe that."
I flinched. It shouldn't have surprised me that he didn't trust me. I might have saved his life innumerable times over the last seven years, but once a traitor, always a traitor. I suppose I had hoped that despite our mutual hatred we had developed somewhat of a working relationship.
"What, do you think that Severus is going to kill you the minute my back is turned?" asked Albus, the amusement clear in his voice. I'm glad some one was enjoying all of this.
"Well, no, but… well, our track record. I mean, can you really think he will take orders?"
So that's what he meant. To my disgust, I felt relieved.
"Simply cured. A Fidus Servus oath will ensure appropriate behaviour."
I replayed that sentence a few times to check whether I really had heard correctly. I stood shakily.
"Albus, I absolutely refuse…"
"Harry," interjected Albus smoothly, "will you give Severus and I a few minutes alone?"
"Of course, sir."
Unwillingly, I waited until Potter had left the room. But before I could open my mouth again, Albus stood up and walked to me. Gone was the kindly old eccentric. This was the man who had faced down Grindelwald and struck fear in Voldemort's heart. My knees went weak, and I couldn't bring myself to meet his eyes.
"Do you recall a conversation we had in these rooms almost eighteen years ago now?"
The night I returned to the fold. Not something I could forget.
"You went down on your knees and told me you would do whatever it took, for the rest of your life, to assist the light side and atone for your sins. Have you reconsidered that promise, Severus?"
Albus was playing the ultimate card, something he had never done before. He had allowed me a fairly long leash in how I conducted my duties, and I guess I had come to expect it.
"Do you think that acting as a personal servant for one of the most powerful wizards on the light side is some-how unworthy of you and that promise?"
I had, but that clearly wasn't an acceptable response.
"So you will devote your whole mind and soul to this new service?"
Albus was right. It wasn't for me to choose my own penance. And this would be very appropriate – my descent had been caused by a lust for power, it was only fitting that I relinquish all my power to another. That the other would be Potter was simply an additional, well-deserved, humiliation.
Finally satisfied, Albus returned to his chair.
"I am sorry, my boy. I wouldn't ask this if it wasn't necessary."
"If I may ask, sir, why is it necessary?"
It was a simply a request for more information, not a questioning of his orders – I was not about to risk anything else.
"Harry needs some-body. Not only to act as a body-guard, but also to take care of his personal needs. He is… rather inclined to forget about them if left to himself. You are one of the few people powerful enough to act as the first, and the only one of those Harry would accept to act as the last. And only under these circumstances."
I nodded. It was more of an explanation than I was expecting. I did appreciate the irony that it was my deliberate distancing of the boy that allowed this forced intimacy to occur.
"Why don't you go and prepare for your departure while I finish my discussion with Harry?"
I nodded again, and turned to the door. I had no doubt that the headmaster would be able to convince Potter to agree. I should have remembered that Albus always got his way if he was determined enough.
The lab and potions closets where already in order – I always did a thorough clean-up and inventory at the end of each year. Preparing took little more than removing the supply lists and lesson plans from my files and placing them on the desk for my replacement. My rooms took very little longer. Aside from my clothes and books, I had no personal possessions. Almost two decades, and I still treated this place like a temporary haven. Well, my existence was shortly about to become even more barren.
I shrunk my belongings, and made my way back about to Albus's offices. Potter was back sitting in the same chair.
"Are you ready? Good! Let's get on with the oath swearing, shall we? Harry, if you would stand over there?"
I moved in front of him, and dropped to my knees. I offered him my wand above my head, eyes cast down.
"I, Severus Snape, offer you, Harold James Potter, my oath as Fidus Servus."
Following Albus's prompting, Potter place his right hand on my wand and said, "I, Harold James Potter, accept your oath."
The wand tingled in my hands, sending streaks of energy through my body. I knelt there for a while, recovering, until Albus urged me to my feet.
"Well, best send you through right away then. Mr Weasley and Miss Granger are already there, Harry."
I was firmly escorted to the portal and pushed through. The end of one life, and the beginning of another. Things would never be the same again.