Chapter One

I'll be the first to admit that I, Severus Snape, am a heartless, cold- blooded, conniving, cynical, hateful bastard.

Look at me, big Death Eater with billowing, black robes, pacing threateningly in front of my fearful students. Their rapt attention brings a sneer to my thin, white lips. My tongue is begging for escape and I can taste the condescending remarks far before I actually speak them.

Look at me, big Death Eater with billowing, black robes, clutching my left forearm in tear-jerking pain, as His mark burns black on my pale skin. He'll expect me to apparate to his side, my face masked. He'll want my thin, white lips to kiss the hem of his robes. I'll wash my mouth out later with some heavy-duty spearmint Muggle mouthwash. No one dares to say it aloud, but The Dark Lord tastes of dirt.

Look at me, big Death Eater with billowing, black robes, falling into an old man's embrace because tonight was too much and the pain is getting to me. It's coursing throughout my body, through my veins, into my bloodstream, and oh, the horror, my heart is hurting. The tears have matted my eyelashes to my face, my throat is choking on a sob. My thin, white lips are chapped and bleeding, and the headmaster dabs at them with the tissue he has used to wipe my eyes.

Look at me, sallow-skinned Slytherin boy, with nothing more to show for life than greasy hair and scarred wrists.


Albus's voice is quiet and gentle as he runs a soothing hand through my hair. His nail runs across my scalp, causing a tingle that runs through my body, and overriding the punishment of my other master. I close my eyes, not wanting to fight the fatigue I felt, but managed to murmur in reply, "Yes, Albus?"

"I do not want you returning to him."

Silly Albus. He knows I must return. The Dark Lord does not tolerate quitting. If you quit the Dark Lord, you quit life. It should be the Death Eater motto.

"Naughty children must be punished, Albus," I whisper wryly. "I am a naughty child and therefore, I must accept the consequences of my actions."

The old man doesn't say anything for a while. I knew his train of thought. He most likely started back at my years as a student, when I first walked into the Great Hall. Everyone was chattering excitedly, except for me. They only talked to me to ask about the heavy purple bruise beneath my eye. Of course, Father had to make his mark before I headed off. Father always had to make his mark.

Father is still making his mark.

"Severus, you do not deserve punishment." Albus said softly, rubbing my back with a gentle, aged hand. The man did know how to comfort, I had to grant him that.

"I've done terrible things." I mumbled.

You can't start your adult life as a Death Eater and not do terrible things. That would be blasphemy. I constantly wonder why I had chosen this path, as all I achieved was getting a mark burned into my skin and kissing someone who tasted like they had just rolled around in a pile of dog feces.

Hmm . . . dog. Maybe I had wanted to kill Black.

Funny how it still sounds appealing, despite Black already being dead.

"You've made up for the terrible things, Severus. You've been a devout server for the Light, my dear boy, and no one could ask more from you." His words were kind, as was his tone. The headmaster is a kind man.

Sometimes he made me furious.

"What I've done is unforgivable," I snapped. My eyes are starting to burn from unshed tears. I really do not want to start crying like a lowly first year Hufflepuff again.

"You will not return to him," Albus started firmly. "I will not allow you to."

I stared at him, gaping like fish.

"I am not a child, Albus. I'll do as I see fit."

"No, Severus," the headmaster said gravely. "You will do as I see fit. If you continue spying, you will die and I will be left with one less professor, one less student, and one less child. Under no circumstances are you to return to Voldemort."

I growled. He had no right to treat me this way.

"And if I do?" I asked defiantly.

What would the old man do? Spank me and send me to bed early?

He looked at me with that incorrigible twinkle in his ocean eyes. "Perhaps."

Bloody Hell. The man really could read minds.

"Can you-?"

"It was a guess."


'Go to bed, Severus. I'll find someone to take over your classes tomorrow. You need rest."


When I awoke the next morning, I found my body in sufficiently less pain than the previous night. Albus had ordered house elves to bring me brunch around 11 o'clock. I groaned in satisfaction at the smell of the eggs, bacon, toast, puddings, and fruit before tucking in. Once again, the old man knew how to comfort. Breakfast in bed, indeed. I could get used to this. Maybe I should take a few more late night Death Eater excursions, ending with me writhing around on the ground in the torturous pain of the Cruciatus curse.

I bit my lip to keep from laughing. Sometimes I found the Dark Lord to be very humorous with punishments. How he would torture one of his entourage for the slightest thing; like say, tripping on a tree root.

One of us would fall, and then another couple of us would go down along with him, as illustrated in that insipid Muggle game, Dominos.

The Dark Lord would turn around to glare with his oh so evil red eyes, look for the instigator of the chain, and say something simply amazing and profound like, "Only Muggle-lovers trip over tree roots. Crucio."

The painful screams would light up the night like Christmas decorations and the rest would laugh as if drunk on eggnog. The Dark Lord, in turn, would look incredibly pleased with himself as if he had just made an extraordinarily clever joke at a comedy club.

"Is Professor Snape alright, sir?"

I wiped the malicious grin off of my face and looked down at the house elf. "Yes, Professor Snape is fine," I replied.

"Can I get you anything, sir?"

"Um, no. That's all right. If you could just get rid of these . . . " I gestured to the empty plates, which vanished immediately. "Thanks." The house elf disappeared. I leaned back into my pillows and closed my eyes, humming theme to the delightful Muggle story, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas .

You're an evil one, Mr. Snape.

Oh, how I tried to be condescending. How I longed to be heartless! To be unfeeling would be the greatest gift for anyone to bestow upon me. All I felt was guilt, rage, and longing. I often pine for companionship, for love, for things that I don't feel. So I suppose I want to rid myself of desire and emotion. I suppose I want to become an empty shell. I don't even want hate to rule my life, for then I would be The Dark Lord. For then I would smell of fecal matter and make poor, lost souls kiss the hems of my dirty robes.

Speaking of, I smell awful.

I swung my legs off of my bed and retreated to bathroom for a much-needed shower. I even washed my hair this time, a rare occurrence for me. Merlin knows I hate to walk around with clean hair. My reputation is at stake.

After getting dressed, I decided that it was time to step out of my rooms. Perhaps have tea with Albus. He liked it when I popped in for tea unannounced. I'm not quite sure why. If I were he, I'd suspend myself from the ceiling by my pinkies. I suppose that Albus does not see me as an insufferable brat, as I see my students.

Students are ridiculous things.

I could actually hear one crying now, as I passed one of the boy's bathrooms. A wave of concern passed through me and I tried to squash it, but the bugger just would not leave me alone. I grunted, exasperated with myself, pasted the trademark Snape sneer on my face, and walked in.

Of course, it was him. Harry Bloody Potter. The Boy Who Fucking Lived. Who else would it be? He hadn't noticed I was there yet, as he was curled in a tight ball in a corner next to the far stall. A shallow pool of blood surrounded him. Looking closer, I noticed his pale, exposed right arm, sliced with a ribbon of red. Then I noticed the sharp dagger he held in his left hand, which was shaking uncontrollably. Blimey, it took me a long time to notice things.

"Mr. Potter," I said softly, kneeling next to the boy. "What have you done to yourself?"

He looked at me, then. Those frightened, emerald eyes were filled with regret, resentment, and guilt. He took in a ragged breath, before shaking his head and dropping the dagger to the ground. It fell with a resounding clatter.

"I can't do this anymore, Professor." His voice shook, but his tone was calm.

"Do what, Potter?" I asked, keeping the bite out of my own voice.

"Live," he replied simply. "I cannot live. I cannot save them. I cannot kill him." He picked the dagger back up, and trailed it through the blood on the bathroom tile.

"But you must-"

"No, I did not ask for this," Potter interrupted me. "I did not ask for my parents to die, or to be raised as a Muggle slave. I did not ask for my fame. I did not ask for your ridicule. I did not ask to defeat him in the first place and I did not ask to be my godfather's cause of death. I did not ask to end lives in the act of saving them." He drew in a breath and looked at me searchingly. He was no longer afraid to meet my gaze. When I said nothing, he continued. "Professor, I do not have asthma, but it is hard to breathe. Every night, I pray for my lungs to collapse so I won't have to see sunrise the next morning. Every sunset I hope will be my last one." He looked pointedly at his mutilated arm. "This will not kill me, Professor. I will live to see tomorrow."

I bit my lip. The boy had never acted like this before. I never even realized he had a brain.

"What class should you be in right now?" I asked, still unable to lash out at the boy.

He smiled wanly at me, his eyes twinkling somewhat in amusement. "Yours, Professor." He looked back to his dagger, sighed contentedly, and raised it to slice his arm again. Before it managed to touch his flesh, I snatched it away. He looked at me in surprise, before smirking. "But, Professor, don't you want me to die?"

What was he on? Had he taken some sort of potion? He was much too calm. He sounded as if he felt nothing, but he looked as if he had just been run over by the Hogwarts Express.

"No, Potter. You can't do this to yourself," I replied. "It's not helping you. You can't kill yourself."

"Why not?" he asked. "Who cares?" I opened my mouth to respond, but he quickly cut me off. "I don't want to hear the fate of the wizarding world, Professor. I want to know who cares about me, not The Boy Who Never Died."

"Lupin," I said automatically.

"Lupin does not care about Harry," the boy returned harshly. "Lupin cares about James's son." He sighed deeply, leaning his raven head against the cold wall. "Strike one, Professor. Try again."

"Granger and Weasely," I snapped, annoyed by his tone.

"Ah, yes," he threw me a lopsided smile. "Hermione and Ron do care. But the joy of having a trio, Professor, is that when one leaves, there's still two left. Their friendship will grow stronger when I'm gone. We'll call that strike two. Have another go."

I stared at him and he studied me curiously. When I was unable to come up with a third party, he gave me a winning smile and lifted his hand to touch my clean hair. "What about you, Professor?" he asked, his voice wistful. "Do you care about me?"

I raised an eyebrow at him. That was the last thing I had suspected him to ask. My feelings about Harry Potter, were indeed, mixed. I hated his father, although his mother was one of my closer friends. I sympathized with boy, though I raged at him as well. He was lonely, I could sense that, but he was also the golden boy. His peers and the press ridiculed him constantly. He had scars on his wrist that outweighed even the scar on his forehead. And those green eyes.those green eyes shown so vacantly.

I pulled up the sleeve of my robe to show him my own arm, heavily scarred from my teenaged years. He smiled again, looking down at my pale arm, and taking a shaky finger to gently trace the old lines. When he looked back up at me, his eyes burned red with unshed tears.

"Will you take care of me?" he whispered, his voice as small as child's.

I lifted my hand and brought it down gently upon his head, as Albus had done for me the night before. His hair was soft and boyish and as I stroked it with my long, white fingers he closed his eyes, and released another ragged breath.

"I will take care of you," I agreed quietly.

He opened his eyes again, searching for a lie. When he found that I was serious, he said, "And I will take care of you, too."

I scooped him into my arms, leaving the dagger and the blood on the floor. Without another word, I took him to the hospital wing.

"I'll save you before I go, Professor Snape," he whispered in my ear before Poppy shoved me out of the room. The hallway was deserted and I stood alone, feeling very small in my billowing, black robes.