Disclaimer: All recognizable characters and settings belong to J.K. Rowling.
1979 – small cottage in Castle Combe, England
Lily bustled around the living room, straightening the cushions and frames at decorated the tables. The room was already neat and tidy but Lily was too excited to keep still. She couldn't wait for her husband to get home to their small yet charming cottage. She had the most exciting news to tell him!
Lily smiled and put her hand on her still flat stomach. A baby. She still couldn't believe it, she was going to be a mother. And she just knew that her husband was going to be thrilled once he heard the news. They had talked many times of starting a family, dreaming of what it would be like and how their house would be filled with nothing but love and happiness.
Lily smiled as the Floo activated and the man she loved more than anything stepped out.
"Lily," Severus said, his eyes brightening at seeing his wife.
Lily enveloped him into a warm hug, loving the feel of his arms around her. She always felt so safe. "You're later than I thought you would be," She lightly admonished.
"I know, I'm sorry," Severus apologized. He gave her a small smile. "I have a good reason, however. I have some big news for you, Lily."
Lily grinned up at him. "Oh, you do?" I have big news for you too, she thought with excitement. She decided to wait until he spoke before making her big announcement. "Don't keep me in suspense Sev," Her eyes were bright and curious as she looked at him.
Severus took a deep breath. His news would shock her, maybe even upset her but he was confident that he could get her to understand what he had done. In fact, she would be proud of him. "You know how Lucius has been after me to become a Death Eater," He said slowly.
Lily frowned. She had thought Severus had stopped being friends with Malfoy. "Yes, but I didn't know you had spoken to him much since we graduated Hogwarts." It was one of the reasons their marriage had been kept quiet. In fact, only Albus Dumbledore knew that they were married, as he had been the one to perform the ceremony. Voldemort wanted Severus to join him, everyone knew how talented Severus was in potions and Voldemort had heard about it from his followers. With his attention on Severus, he and Lily had decided to keep their relationship a secret for her safety until Voldemort focused on someone else.
"I ran into him in Diagon Alley a couple weeks ago," Severus admitted. He sighed at the disapproving look on Lily's face. "I know you don't like him, and I am not fond of him as well. However, he said some things that made me think."
"Think about what?"
"About joining the Death Eaters," Severus said calmly. He was not surprised when Lily's emerald green eyes flared with anger.
"Are you telling me that you are actually thinking about it?" Lily asked. "I thought you didn't believe in all that pure-blood nonsense!"
"I don't," Severus assured her. "Honestly Lily, I don't. I never did. It's not about that."
Lily folded her arms. "Then what is it about?" She asked coolly. "I thought the whole reason we were keeping our marriage a secret was because you wanted to protect me from them."
"Protecting you is what this is all about," Severus answered earnestly. "Having power and respect. Being the kind of man you can be proud of. Just being a member makes people show you respect."
Lily stared at him. "You can't be serious," She said in a hoarse voice. "This had better be a joke, Severus." Suddenly her eyes narrowed. "Is this about what happened in Hogsmeade last month? When you ran into Sirius Black and James Potter?"
Severus's face darkened. "They acted like the bullies they've always been. And they wasted no time in calling me Snivellus!" He spat out.
"I know that," Lily said softly. She and Severus had stopped hanging out during Hogwarts after an incident their fifth year but during their last year of school, they had started talking again. Their friends had no idea that they had started talking again. She and Severus hadn't wanted people giving them grief over their friendship so they had kept it quiet. After graduation, Lily had realized that she was in love with Severus and told him so. He had been shocked, telling her that he had loved her for years. By the end of the summer, they were married. There wasn't many people that knew as they had lost touch with their friends.
"And Potter was talking about making a play for you," Severus continued, a sneer on his face. "Right in front of me! I couldn't tell him you were my wife! Do you know how that felt, being tormented once again by them?"
"So you are thinking of joining the Death Eaters just because of them?" Lily demanded.
"Because of them and people like them!" Severus snapped. "I've been looked down at my whole life, starting with my own father." His tone turned bitter. "All that encounter did was remind me how I will always be seen by people. And when they find out we are married, they will wonder why you would settle for someone like me."
"I don't care what other people think!" Lily cried. "If anyone thinks that, I wouldn't want them in our lives anyway. All that matters is that we love each other."
"And I proved how much I love you by doing what I did today," Severus said quietly.
Lily paled. "What did you do?" She whispered. Suddenly she reached forward and grasped his left arm, pulling up his sleeve.
"No!" Lily gasped, feeling like she might pass out when she saw the dark mark.
"Lily, please just listen to me," Severus said, his tone pleading.
"How could you do this?" Lily didn't bother to wipe away the tears from her face. "I'm a muggle-born, the Death Eaters kill muggle-borns! And muggles!" She took a step back. "Have you already been killing people?" She asked in horror.
"No!" Severus shook his head. "It was nothing like that, those are just rumors! In fact, I can protect you better by being a death eater. Anyone who looks down on muggle-born or half-bloods will not dare treat us with disrespect. My father will finally see that I am someone important and bullies like Black and Potter will never make fun of me again." His eyes gleamed at the thought.
"Oh Severus," Lily said sadly. "You don't need their approval. And this wasn't the way. We have to fix it." Her eyes darted around the room as she thought. "We'll go to Albus!"
Lily stared at him. "No? This was a mistake Severus, and Albus may be able to help us."
"I am staying a death eater," Severus said. "You will see that it is for the best. Please Lily, just give it a chance. They aren't what you think."
"Never," Lily said softly, fresh tears forming in her eyes. If it was just her, she would stay and make Severus see reason. His thinking was all twisted up! But she had a baby to think about now and she had to protect her child. Their child. "Severus Snape, either we go to Albus right now for help or I'm leaving."
"Do not give me ultimatums Lily!" Severus said angrily. Why couldn't she understand he was doing this so that they would have a better life? So that she would never have to be ashamed of him?
"Do not give me a reason to!" Lily shouted at him. She put a hand to her stomach, fighting to stay calm.
"You need to think about this more, that's all," Severus said in a cold voice. He began to occlude to hide his anger, pain and uncertainty. "You'll see that this is for the best." He turned and headed for the floo. "I'll be back later and we can speak more, when we are both calmer."
Lily watched him go, her heart breaking into a thousand pieces. It was over.
1979 – Diagon Alley
Lily turned around from the window she had been looking into as she mindlessly walked along the street of Diagon Alley. "Hello James." She said dully.
James Potter frowned. "Lily, what's wrong? No offense but you look terrible."
Lily snorted. "I don't doubt that." She pulled her cloak tighter around her, to hide the bump that was forming. The book she had been holding fell out of her hands.
"Is, um, is anyone with you?" James asked as he bent to pick the book up. He had always wondered if she and Severus had gotten together.
Tears filled Lily's eyes. "No, there's not." She whispered.
"Lily, what is wrong?" James asked as he glanced at the book and froze. It was a pregnancy book.
"I – I was married," Lily held back a sob. "But it didn't work out between us and we ended the marriage."
James took a deep breath. "You were married to who?"
"Just to somebody I thought was different," Lily said vaguely. "He doesn't want me or the baby." She lied. The truth was that she had not told Severus about the baby.
James's mouth dropped open. "You're really pregnant?" He handed the book to her.
Lily bit her lip and nodded, hugging the book to her chest.
"Who is he? I'll make him see the error of his ways!" James said furiously. Who wouldn't want Lily?
Lily shook her head. "I'm not telling. It's nobody you know."
James sighed. "Lily, people are going to wonder when they see you pregnant but without a husband," He said cautiously. In the wizarding world, circumstances like these could be treated rather judgmentally.
"I don't care," Lily said. "I'll say my husband died or something."
"But no one knew you were married..." James raised an eyebrow. "Lily... let me help you."
"Marry me and we'll let everyone think the baby is mine," James said impulsively.
"No, I can't do that," Lily shook her head.
"Why? I've always cared for you," James said. "Still do."
Lily shut her eyes. "I'm not in love with you, James. It wouldn't be fair to you."
"It doesn't have to be permanent," James said quickly. He was sure that if he could get her to spend time with him, she would fall for him. "We can have an amicable divorce down the road. Think of your baby, it will be better for him or her this way."
Lily paused, thinking. If there was any doubt in Voldemort's or his followers minds about her and Severus, marrying James would erase it. Everyone knew how much the two hated each other. But how could she do that to Severus? She wanted him back... she would get him back, once he realized his mistake. But would he forgive her for marrying James? And how would James feel once he found out it was Severus's baby she was carrying? She shook her head. "I don't know."
"Think about it," James said earnestly. "Please?"
Lily sighed and nodded.
1979 – Hogsmeade
Lily fiddled with her menu at the Three Broomsticks. "Why did you want to meet with me, Sirius?
"Well, James told me about your problem," Sirius said with a apologetic look.
Sirius leaned forward in his seat. "Listen Lily, James really wants to help you out," He said.
"He deserves to be with someone who can love him back the way he wants to be loved," Lily said softly.
"He wants to be what you need, even if it is just as a friend," Sirius said. Besides, you'll fall in love with him, he assured himself. "Listen, I need to tell you something. I know."
Sirius hesitated. "I know Snape is the father of your baby."
Lily stared at him. "How do you know?"
"I saw you two, months ago," Sirius confessed. "In Diagon Ally. You were holding hands," He grimaced, still wondering how she could have been with Snivellus. "You kissed. It was obvious you were together."
"We tried to keep it a secret," Lily whispered. "I remember that day, we just went to one Apothecary. The streets were basically empty, I didn't think anyone saw us. Did you tell anyone?"
"No," Sirius said. "I thought about telling James but it would have gutted him. He really likes you and knowing you were with that -"
Lily held a hand up. "Stop. I love Severus and I still do. I still hope things will work out between us which is another reason I can't take James up on his offer. Besides, once he knows the baby is Severus's..."
"Oh, he can't know," Sirius said quickly. "It's not that I don't think he would still want to help you, but it would be easier for him not to know. And Lily, if I saw you then someone else might have too. I know Severus is a death eater now, but if they ever suspect his relationship with you..." He trailed off.
"I know," Lily whispered. "They would punish him for being with a muggle-born, they could hurt our baby. That is why I left, I'm waiting for Severus to leave them."
"He won't," Sirius sighed. "He's a dark wizard, always has been."
"No he hasn't," Lily snapped, her eyes flashing. "You don't know him Sirius Black. I know his heart and he is a good man. He thinks being a death eater would mean he could protect me, he doesn't realize what kind of group that really is."
"Then he is an idiot," Sirius said bluntly. "But that is not the issue, the issue is if you marry James and claim the baby is his then anyone who may have been suspicious about the two of you will stop. It is for your safety Lily and your baby's." And in time, you will fall in love with James like you should of in the first place, Sirius thought with satisfaction.
"If James is sure about this," Lily paused and then sighed. "I'll do it, at least until the war is over or Severus comes to his senses. James has to understand that."
"He does," Sirius assured her. "At least, except for the fact that it is Snape."
"Don't tell anyone," Lily pleaded.
"Believe me, I won't."
1980 - Hogwarts
"Is something wrong?" Lily asked hesitantly. She was visiting Madame Pomfrey for a check-up. She had thought about going to Saint Mungo's but thought it would be safer to get checked here, at Hogwarts with someone she trusted. Just in case.
"No, the baby is healthy," Poppy said with a slight frown as she read through the diagnostics she had run. "It's just... have you been casting a lot of spells lately? Anything that could affect the pregnancy? I feel like something is off."
Lily bit her lip and looked away.
Poppy looked at her in concern. "Lily? You know you can tell me anything, dear."
Lily took a deep breath. "You can't tell anyone Poppy. Anyone. No matter what. Not even Dumbledore and especially not James. Do I have your word?" Her eyes were serious as she looked at the Mediwitch.
"You have my word," Poppy promised.
"James is not the father," Lily admitted. "Severus is. I was pregnant when I left him. He doesn't know, of course and James doesn't know."
Poppy eyes widened. "You were with Severus Snape? He's the father?"
Lily smiled ruefully. "We were married. We kept it a secret because he had Voldemort's attention on him. He wanted Severus to join him." Lily's eyes filled with tears. "And he did. I was about to tell him about the baby when he told me he had become a death eater."
"Oh Lily," Poppy said sympathetically.
"Only one other person knows and for the safety of my child, no one else can know," Lily wiped her eyes. "Not until Severus comes back to the light."
"Do you think he will?" Poppy asked gently.
"Yes," Lily said firmly. "He's a good man. He's just, his thinking is turned around. He thinks being a death eater will protect us, protect me. He doesn't understand what he is getting into, I'm sure of it. He's a good man," She whispered. "And I, I went to Albus. I didn't tell him about the baby but I asked him to help Severus, whenever he was ready to return to the light. He promised he would."
"You still love him," Poppy said quietly.
"Very much so," Lily gave her a small smile.
"What about James?"
"I ran into James in Hogsmeade and he could tell I was upset," Lily confessed. "I also had just purchased a book about being pregnant and he noticed. I told him I had been with someone but that it had ended and the father didn't want anything to do with me or the baby. I hated lying but... I had no choice. He wanted to know who the wizard was, he was so angry on my behalf," Lily shook her head, laughing a little.
"He has always cared for you," Poppy said.
"I know," Lily sighed. "I refused to name the father, obviously. Then he said it wouldn't look right for me to be unmarried and pregnant and that he would marry me. That I shouldn't be alone raising a baby."
"Oh my," Poppy breathed. "What a thing for him to offer."
"I believe he thinks I will love him the way he wants me to, eventually," Lily said. "But it will always be Severus for me. I told him that I couldn't love him the way he deserved but he still offered to marry me. He promised to take things at my pace and be a good father to the baby. I believe him. Eventually he will probably want out of the marriage as I can't be the wife he hopes for but for now, it helps not to be alone."
"It is also added protection, in case any of the death eaters suspected of your and Severus's relationship," Poppy added.
Lily shut her eyes for a moment. "Yes, I thought of that too. I feel awful, lying to James and especially not telling Severus the truth. I'm sure he has heard of my marriage to James, he must hate me so much," She said sadly. "Maybe I should have just told him the truth. What if I made everything worse?"
"You did what you thought best," Poppy assured her. "You have to protect your baby and until Severus sees reason, it is probably best he doesn't know. From what I hear, children of death eaters are raised to follow Voldemort."
Lily grimaced. "Yes, I know. And that would be only if Voldemort didn't have me and the baby killed. After all, I am a muggle-born and I can see hurting our baby would be a punishment for Severus marrying me. However, Severus doesn't see this. He doesn't think Voldemort would do anything like that." She said in frustration. She knew what Voldemort was doing, telling lies to lure people to join him and not letting them know what they were really in for until it was too late.
"You poor dear," Poppy said, patting her hand. "You need to try and stay relaxed. Things will work out."
"I hope so," Lily said. "You promise not to say anything? To anyone?"
1981 – Diagon Alley
Severus turned around, pain hitting him as he stood before Lily. He had missed her so much and their falling out was all his fault. He had been so foolish to become a death eater and even though he had now turned spy for Dumbledore, it was too late for him and Lily. She had moved on with the one person Severus could never forgive her for. James Potter. And as his eyes dropped to her son who sat staring at him in his stroller, she had likely not been faithful during their short marriage.
"Looks like his father," Severus said, resentment in his voice. "Has your eyes though," He added absently.
"Do you really think so?" Lily asked with a small smile. "He does look like his father, I agree." She got Harry out of the stroller and without giving Severus any warning, put their son in his arms.
"Would you please hold Harry for a minute, Sev?" She grinned a little mischievously.
"Lily!" Severus protested, awkwardly holding the baby.
"Hi! Me Hawrry!"
"Hello," Severus muttered as he looked into the boy's familiar green eyes. Harry beamed at him.
"He likes you," Lily said softly.
Severus stared at her before narrowing his eyes and handing Harry back to Lily. "Can I help you with something?" He asked coolly. Part of his demeanor was the reputation he had to keep up. It would not due for word to reach the dark lord that he was friendly with a muggle-born. When the dark lord had questioned him about his relationship with Lily, he had played it that he had only pretended to like her because he knew that James Potter did. Thankfully he was fluent in Occlumency and had been able to hide the fact that Lily had been his wife.
Lily stared at him, biting her lip. "Are you, um, doing well?"
"Very well," Severus answered.
"Are you still..." Lily paused, glancing around to see if anyone could hear her.
Severus rolled his eyes. He knew what she was going to ask. "Yes I am, and still very proud of the group I joined," He lied. He swallowed painfully when he saw the disheartened look on Lily's beautiful face. He hated that he had disappointed her and wished it was safe enough to tell her the truth, that he had seen the error of his ways and was now a spy for the light. But it wouldn't really matter, he reminded himself. She was with Potter now. Married and with a baby. It's not like she would come back to him if he told her the truth. And how could he forgive her for being with Potter? That man had been horrible to him during their school years, Lily had even defended him to Potter and what does she do? Marry him immediately after leaving their marriage. And the pregnancy happened quickly which led him to believe she had been unfaithful. His heart hardening, he glared at her. "Oh gee, have I disappointed you?"
"Sev," Lily said softly as she put Harry back in the stroller. "I just wish...I," She sighed. "I'm worried about you."
"Don't be, I couldn't be happier," Severus said with a smirk. "Especially now that I am free from a unfaithful wife."
"Did you think I wouldn't figure it out?" Severus asked furiously. "You leave me and go straight to Potter's arms! You marry him," He spat out. "And then have his sprog so fast...you must have been pregnant when you left me!"
Lily's eyes widened in shock. She bit her lip and seemed to be debating something internally.
"Don't bother coming up with an excuse," Severus said, bitterness in his voice. "I should have known it was too good to be true. You choosing me over perfect Potter. Was it just part of an elaborate joke? To hurt and humiliate me?"
Lily gazed at him with pain in her eyes. "No Sev, please don't believe that. I loved you! I still -"
"Enough!" Severus snapped. "I know the truth. I was never good enough for you was I? Was it some sort of test, for you to be with me? See if you can change the slimy Slytherin? Or maybe it was a bet of some sort," He said with a mock thoughtful look.
"Stop that!" Lily hissed, her temper emerging. It hurt, knowing he was thinking these things. She loved him, how could he ever have doubted that? "You had a choice and didn't choose me! Did you ever really love me Severus? Or was I something to obtain in order to beat James?" She regretted her words as Severus's face took on a look of loathing. Severus had cared about her before they had even met James and though her now husband had flirted with her all through their Hogwarts years, she had been firm that she only saw him as a friend. It had always just been Severus for her and he knew it! By Merlin, she knew deep down he knew that.
"I suggest you and your brat keep moving along," Severus said in a low, dangerous voice.
Lily glared at him. "You don't scare me Sev. And don't you dare call our s-"
"Lily!" A happy, warm voice called out. Remus Lupin beamed as he approached his friend. He grinned when Harry squealed and held out his chubby little arms. He took the child, settling him on his hip, only then noticing that Lily and Harry were not alone. "Severus," He said hesitantly.
"Lupin," Severus said with a hateful look in his dark eyes. He made eye contact with the toddler in his arms and something clenched painfully in his heart. It wasn't supposed to have turned out this way. He and Lily should still be together and the child should be his. But she had cheated on him, turned to his enemy and made a life with him. Severus hated her, he had to. It hurt too much to still love her, to miss her. She was just like everyone else in his life, she never truly cared about him. He had to come to terms with that and move on. Using his Occlumency skills, he buried all the love, the caring, the regret he felt towards Lily. All that remained was bitterness and anger and he relished in it. He would do his part in the war and spy for Dumbledore, he owed the man that much for giving him a second chance. But he was done missing Lily, thinking of Lily...
"Is everything okay here?" Remus asked lightly.
"Everything is fine, Remus," Lily answered softly. She was about to ask Remus to take Harry for a walk so that she could talk to Severus when her ex husband began speaking.
"Everything would be fine if this...Mudblood would let me be on my way," Severus said nastily.
Lily's eyes flared in anger but it was Remus who spoke.
"Watch your mouth," Remus warned, his soft amber eyes seeming to turn more of a bright gold.
Severus took a wary step back. The memory of facing the werewolf his fifth year was still vivid in his mind. He glared at both adults before stalking off, his robes billowing behind him.
1981 – Hogsmeade
Sirius was whistling to himself as he walked down the road to Hogsmeade when noticed who was walking towards him. His eyes narrowed. "Snivellus," He mocked as the Slytherin reached his side.
"Black," Snape practically snapped out.
"On your way to a death eater meeting?" Sirius asked sarcastically.
Snape pursed his lips together. "Of course. I'll give your brother your regards, shall I?"
Sirius gripped his wand, tempted to curse the other man. He was sensitive about his estranged brother, Regulaus and everyone knew it. Even Snape. "Keep your mouth shut," He whispered.
Snape merely smirked and began to continue to walk.
"I don't know how Lily can love you or how that sweet little boy is yours-" Sirius muttered to himself as he walked away. Unfortunately for him, he had forgotten that Snape had the hearing of a bat.
"What did you say?"
Sirius spun around, taking in Snape's pale face. "I didn't say anything."
"Oh yes, you did," Snape hissed. "I heard you. Lily still...loves me? And the boy, Harry? He's mine?"
Sirius shook his head, cursing himself for his loose tongue.
"I see the truth in your eyes," Snape whispered. "She still...and Harry! He's my son! I have to talk to Lily!"
"Wait!" Sirius said desperately. Without hardly moving, he got a grip on his wand. "There's something you should know first."
"What?" Snape snapped, clearly eager to go find Lily.
"Obliviate," Sirius said, his wand in Snape's face. As he walked away from the now confused man, he brushed off the feeling of guilt from seeing the hope in Snape's eyes. He was a death eater and Lily and Harry wouldn't be safe with him. James loved the boy like his own and that was how it should be. The Potter's had been like a family to him for years and James was like a brother. He would do what it takes to make Lily stay with him. Whatever it takes.
1981 - Hogwarts
"The Dark Lord is targeting Lily's son," Severus said, unable to hide the panic in his voice. Whatever had happened between them, he didn't want anything bad to happen to Lily. "He will go after them, Headmaster."
Dumbledore nodded, his eyes serious. "I will help them hide, Severus. Thank you for telling me so quickly."
"He believes a mere baby could be his downfall," Severus said in disgust. "All he can talk about is killing him. Killing a one year old."
"I will do what I can to protect them," He assured Severus.
"I don't particularly care about James," Severus said bluntly. "Except I know the loss of him would be a loss to the Order."
"And it would hurt Lily," Dumbledore said softly.
"Yes, but she would grieve and move on. She's good at moving on," Severus said a touch resentfully. He sighed. "But she wouldn't move on if something happened to her son. She wouldn't survive the loss. You must protect them."
"You still love her," Dumbledore said with a small smile.
"No," Severus denied. "I don't love her, I despise her but that doesn't mean I would want her dead. For what we did have, however real it was, I want her and her son safe."
"If you like," Severus drawled. He turned to go. "I will be in touch if I hear anything more. You must move fast Albus."
"I will go to them right now," Dumbledore said. "Thank you Severus, you may have saved their lives. Harry's especially as he is the target."
Severus inclined his head in response as he left the Headmaster's office.
1981 – Godric's Hollow - Halloween
"Come on Harry, walk to me," James coaxed. He beamed as Harry toddled over to him. "Good boy!"
Lily chuckled as she watched them. "He's been walking for awhile and yet every time you act like it's the first," She teased.
James shrugged. "It's still exciting," He insisted. He smiled at Harry as the toddler babbled away. "He's such a good kid. Handsome little guy."
Lily smiled. "Yes, he is."
They heard their door open and they both looked over.
"Take Harry and go! I'll hold him off!" James shouted as Voldemort moved in their direction.
Lily grabbed Harry and ran upstairs. How did he find us? She wondered as she burst into Harry's nursery. She put him down in his crib and stood trembling, waiting. She gave a cry as she heard Voldemort shout the killing curse. James, I'm so sorry, she thought as grief for her friend filled her. She turned to Harry, who was staring up at her from his crib. "Oh baby, I love you so much," She whispered.
Voldemort entered. "Move aside," He sneered.
Lily stayed in front of Harry. "No, please! Not my Harry, please don't hurt him!"
Voldemort narrowed his red eyes and pointed his wand at her. "Have it your way. Avada Karvada!"
Severus, I'm so sorry, I should have told you, Lily thought before the curse hit her and she fell.
Voldemort glared at the baby who was crying and once again cast the unforgivable. His eyes widened in shock as the curse backfired.
1981 – Hogwarts
"So we failed," Severus said numbly as he dropped into his sofa chair. The Headmaster had flooed into his home to tell him the news. Voldemort was gone but not before killing Lily and James. "I failed." Lily...
"No Severus, you did everything you could," Dumbledore said, sorrow in his normally twinkling eyes. "They trusted the wrong person."
"I've been saying he shouldn't be trusted for years," Severus said bitterly. She was gone. His best friend, the only woman he loved...had loved...was dead. "Her son?"
"Survived," Dumbledore said. "He's fine except for a lightening bolt shaped scar on his forehead. I left him with Lily's sister. She has a son the same age, surely she will care for him."
"Not the Petunia I remember," Severus said as he stared at the flames in his fireplace.
"People change, especially when they start a family." Dumbledore said, sounding as if he hoped that is what would happen.
"In Azkaban," Dumbledore said sadly. "I never would have guessed."
"I'm not the least bit surprised," Severus snarled. "May he rot there the rest of his days."
"Will you be all right Severus?"
Severus shrugged. He had thought Lily leaving him would be the worst pain imaginable but this... "At least her son lives. That is all she would have wanted."
"Yes," Dumbledore agreed. "And for him to continue to be protected. Death eaters are still about and some will want revenge on the downfall of their master. As for Voldemort, as there is no body we cannot say for sure he is dead."
"My mark has faded to practically nothing," Severus pointed out tiredly.
"He is gone, powerless for sure. Hopefully forever. But if not," Dumbledore hesitated. "I know you have done much already for the Order, for me by spying. I have another favor to ask."
"It wasn't a favor that I spied, I was making up for the mistake of joining in the first place." Severus said, finally glancing at Dumbledore. A mistake that had cost him everything. "What favor?"
"That you take the position of Potions Professor and Head of Slytherin House at Hogwarts," Dumbledore said. "Slughorn has decided to retire, effective immediately. You were his best student, the best potions student Hogwarts has seen in years."
Severus didn't say anything. He did need a job, though he could start a practice of his own. But being a professor meant he could live at Hogwarts instead of this depressing house he had grown up in. He also had the cottage he and Lily had lived in but he never wanted to got there again. He would also have access to the Hogwarts labs and ingredients so he could work on his own personal projects. Not a bad deal, really.
"The day will come when little Harry starts school," Dumbledore continued. "His life could still be in danger. Would you help me protect him?"
Severus closed his eyes. Would he never be free of a Potter interfering in his life? For Lily, a voice whispered in his mind. For the woman he both loved and hated. The woman who gave her life for her baby. A woman who had meant everything to him. "No one can know. I'll still have a reputation to keep if I am to keep in touch with remaining death eaters so I can keep tabs on them."
"Of course," Dumbledore nodded, a brief smiled flashing across his tired face. "Thank you Severus." He hesitated, wondering if he should tell him about the conversation he had had with Lily, all those months ago. "About Lily -"
"Please, I don't want to talk right now," Severus said hoarsely.
Dumbledore nodded. "As you wish." He said softly.
After the Headmaster had gone, Severus finally let the tears he had been holding back fall down his face.
TBC: If you get a chance, would love to get some reviews! =)