Disclaimer: This is definitely not the work of JK Rowlings – that incredible author of immense talent – nor is any copyright infringement meant to her, Warner Bros., Scholastic, Bloomsbury, or anyone else. I am making no money from this either. I am simply borrowing Ms. Rowling's creations and taking them out for a mental spin in my mind's convertible. I will have them back soon and mostly unharmed.
This story was written in response to all those "cute, little Snapie" stories out there. I have enjoyed reading them, but I couldn't help but wonder if perhaps a small Snape was perhaps a bit more problematic then those authors were imagining. After all, nothing in Snape's life is ever simple, is it?
Chapter one – The Battle
The battle swirled with a ferocity that Albus Dumbledore had never experienced before, and he had lived a very long time. Indeed, he had been in battle prior to this – far too many times against far too many opponents, but still, nothing rivaled the sheer force of magical energy that this stand against Voldemort was creating. For Voldemort had foolishly attacked the strongest bastion of magic the wizarding world had ever seen – Hogwarts. And Hogwarts, along with help from the older students and teachers, was holding its own. Still, the Death Eaters were unleashing as much destruction as they could. Realizing that their hopes for an easy victory had been dashed, they clearly hoped to turn the tide of battle in their favor by creating panic in their enemies. They were using every trick in the book – animating trees, creating infernos in the sky, and calling forth every willing demon from the Forbidden Forest. The teachers in turn had grouped the older students into small bands with similar talents to their own, and were busy matching the Death Eaters with equally powerful tricks. Professor Sprout and her group had created traps among the natural foliage that slowed the attacks. Hagrid and his band of less than merry students had unleashed those creatures in which Hagrid had carefully cultivated a relationship and they were wreaking havoc. Flitwick had helped direct the powerful charms and hexes that were meeting the Death Eaters with constant force. And McGonagall's group was unleashing all the power and fury that wild and immortal thinking teenagers can create once aroused. There were other bands at work too, and Dumbledore sent out telepathic orders to each in turn, watching the battle as it turned decidedly in favor of the Light. But Dumbledore knew that he had predominantly two entities to thank for Hogwarts success this bloody night. The first was the castle itself. Few knew or were willing to believe that Hogwarts was actually a sentient creation of the founders. It had been enchanted with an ability to think and a will to survive. The fact that Voldemort and his minions had sought to damage it in their initial assault caused it to rise up against them. Now it hurled stones at its enemy, launched wrought iron arrows from its parapet railings, and sucked wayward Death Eaters into its stones if they wandered to close. The second well of gratitude belonged to Severus Snape. He had alerted the Light to Voldemort's plans, arriving back at the castle minutes before the attack, but long enough to gather the younger children to safety and the older ones to their pre-appointed groups. He had then led a small band of Slytherins and Ravenclaws along the grounds, reporting Death Eater positions as well and accurately as any of her Majesty's Royal Scouts could ever have possibly done. Dumbledore knew too that the Head of Slytherin would soon leave this group to locate Voldemort himself, and then carefully contrive to move the Dark Lord to a preset location, where Harry Potter would hopefully dispatch the menace and end the bloodshed.
"Headmaster, I am going in." The voice of Severus Snape filled Dumbledore's head. He and other Heads of Houses had been working on this ability for months. They had perfected it just in time.
"Godspeed", was the only thing the old Headmaster could think to answer.
Dumbledore listened in on Snape's thoughts the best he could. He heard him argue with fellow Death Eaters about the need to speak with the Dark Lord. He could sense his fear as he made his way to his other master. He knew Severus' repulsion as the reptilian man touched Severus' face and thanked him for the information on where Potter was 'hiding'. And despite the noise of whirring hexes that circled around him – indeed flying once within inches of him –he could clearly hear Severus' chant to himself "let this work, let this work, let this work."
And work it did. The Dark Lord was met at an unexpected moment by the wand point of one Harry Potter. Voldemort made the mistake of laughing, thinking his men with him and Potter incapable of a killing curse. But the arrogant man had been so focused on thoughts of his oncoming glory that he had not noticed his minions quietly being picked off by Flitwick's well trained hexers, and now he stood facing Potter alone. He had not even lifted his wand when Potter uttered a curse in Parseltongue. The curse was an ancient one, discovered by Snape in the margins of one of his previously forgotten dark arts texts. It could be uttered only in Parseltongue, only by one whose mother had been killed, and then used only against the murderer. It called forth the combined power of a child's pain and a grandmother's fury. It had been created by a coven of heartsick Slytherin grandmothers over eight hundred years ago, for use by their grandchildren against a marauding wizard nobleman whose men took and killed all the village's women. It worked as well now as it did then. With a flash of blood red light, Voldemort was gone.
At the instant of his death a searing pain gripped the mark of all Death Eaters, and one Severus Snape. The mark burned and sizzled and smoked, taking the flesh along with it. The Death Eaters dropped to their knees and Dumbledore cut all mental ties with Severus so as not to be distracted by his pain. The students in charge of binding the Death Eaters went to work, for once the mark ceased to burn and disappeared, they would be out of time. It was easy to find them though, for their screams of pain made their locations obvious, and within a few hours all were bound and being removed by aurors whom entered Hogwarts' grounds once the Death Eaters' containment spells were removed. In the meantime Dumbledore was busy processing his loses, which although light, where still heartbreaking. Nine students were dead, all either Gryffindor or Hufflepuff, one staff member –Filch, 14 dead magical creatures, and 23 seriously injured others. It was because of all this that the usually all-wise headmaster did not think to reconnect with his Slytherin House Head until he was asked for his whereabouts by Harry Potter himself, who was now resting against a tree. Ron was sitting slumped next to him, tears for Dean Thomas still staining his face. Hermione Granger, who had been resting her head against Harry's shoulders sat up at the mention of Professor Snape's name and looked too questioningly at the Headmaster. The old man frowned and took a deep breath before attempting to reestablish the mental link. When he did so he jumped to his feet with a look of panic on his face that caused the trio to scramble to their feet as well.
"What is it Headmaster?" squeaked Hermione.
Dumbledore looked around frantically for another staff member and waived McGonagall over to him. "I need you all to come with me," he stated with a firmness that no one questioned.
Then he placed his wand in his hand and uttered a quick "Point Me" spell and added Severus Snape's name. The wand spun and as soon as it stopped Dumbledore set off at a run. They ran past broken logs, burning tree trunks and even a few aurors stooped over dead bodies until they came to an old oak tree by the edge of the forest. There they found Severus Snape sitting, back against the tree trunk with his wand pointed at his own heart. He was clearly trying to gather the courage up to say the spell that would put a final end to his misery.
The sound of five people coming towards him attracted the admittedly split attention of Snape, who knew immediately that this was now a 'now or never' decision. He would have less than 3 seconds before the old geezer had his wand out and the spell took at least 1.5 seconds to recite. He therefore began the incantation immediately. He never did get past "Avada" however, not because of any lack of will, but rather because his addled mind had forgotten that the old man was also a powerful wizard whom not only did not need a wand if he chose to go without, but also had a direct connection with his mind. A thunderous "Stupefy" resounded in his brain, and Severus Snape fell over, his wand rolling harmlessly away from his hand.
The children, and they were still children to the Headmaster, as well as the Minerva, joined Dumbledore in gathering around the dark and dirty form of the unconscious Potions Master. His robes were torn and his face scratched from crawling through underbrush earlier that day, and once again the older wizard noticed that his youngest Head of House had so many circles under his eyes and lines on his face that he might have well been judged the oldest among the four. He sighed and bent down to touch the young man's temple. He whispered the word "Leglimens" and was immediately surrounded by visions of swirling dark shadows that were filling Snape's subconscious. The oppressiveness of the scene and the feeling of being sucked down were so intense that when he released the spell he knew immediately what he must be done. He looked into the questioning eyes of those around him and explained.
"Several months ago, while researching the spell you used today Harry, Professor Snape came across a spell that he asked me to perform on him if he was to survive Voldemort's defeat. It is a very complicated spell and is considered dark as well. Few are aware of it anymore but all the same it did not seem like an appropriate solution. I refused him. He asked me repeatedly for the following month, attempting to argue his point, but I always refused." Dumbledore paused at this point because his voice was cracking.
"You said an 'appropriate solution'," prompted Hermione, "for what?"
The Headmaster thought a moment and then continued more calmly, "For his decision that life was no longer worth living for him."
It was Harry's turn to question, "What does the spell do, Sir?"
Dumbledore sighed. "It would make him…well, rather, it would return him to, an earlier form."
The students looked confused so McGonagall stated it bluntly for her young Gryffindors. "I believe what the Headmaster is saying is that Professor Snape wished to be made a child again."
They all looked to the Headmaster for confirmation of this. "Yes, a child. And a small one at that. He wanted to be made as young as possible and then placed in an orphanage. He was hoping I would be able to alter the magical paperwork on him through my contacts at the ministry. He was hoping his second life might be…well, superior than his first."
The next query was softly spoken and its owner surprised the Headmaster. "Why didn't you do it?" asked Ron Weasley with all sincerity.
"I have always believed in facing yourself, not running away," was the Headmaster's reply. "Although I believe I may have been misguided this time. It is either this spell or St. Mungos for Severus now."
Minerva shook her head firmly. "Not St. Mungos. He'll never survive a week there. They are overloaded as it is, and with the new admissions from the battle he'll find a way to take his life. I am sure of it."
Dumbledore and she exchanged a few silent communications with each other and then he nodded. "I will perform the spell. But I will need you four to help. I have expended large amounts of energy these last few hours and I am a bit weak. Allow me to draw what strength I may from you?"
The others nodded their assent. They formed a circle around the unconscious man and pointed their wands at him as instructed. Dumbledore closed his eyes and began a quiet chant. After a few moments the old wizard found himself being drawn into Severus' mind. While he was aware that his corporeal body remained on the forest's edge, he also found himself standing in a dark stone corridor, one end in a distance too far to fathom and on the other end of the hallway a doorway of bright light. He continued to repeat the spell's incantation and eventually there slowly emerged the form of Severus Snape from the distance. He walked towards his Headmaster, but his ultimate goal was clearly the light in the distance. As he passed Dumbledore, unseeing, Albus noticed that Severus was considerable younger. Somewhere in his twenties if he had to guess. As he continued walking Severus became younger and younger, his form shrinking rapidly as he approached the light. Suddenly Albus was aware of what the light meant. It was the point of no return. The time before a person existed. No wonder the spell was considered dark magic. Although his body was both old and exhausted from the day's events, Albus took off at a run after his Potion's Master who was now a very small child. But as he picked up speed it seemed that Severus did too. The small child was running now and then miraculously he was now floating towards the light. Albus dived to grab him and caught hold a tiny limb just before it touched the light. He pulled the infant toward him. Small tufts of black hair hung about the tiny head, and unfocused black eyes peered at him. His skin had a white, waxy substance on it. Albus' eyes wandered over the infant body. Small ribs showed through and there appeared a stump at his navel. "No, no, this will not do at all my friend. You are far too small to care for like this. One your size needs a mother, and that I do not have for you."
He pulled the babe to his chest and began to walk cautiously in the other direction, away from the lighted doorway. As he walked, using the smallest of steps, he could feel the body grow larger in his arms. Occasionally he would look down to check on the child's progress, and he would be met with dark eyes and a frown, but never a sound. Eventually Dumbledore stopped and looked the boy over thoroughly. He was still small, and as Severus had always been tiny for his age – up until puberty that is –it was difficult for Albus to judge. He finally decided that he was somewhere near a year and a half, and that he was probably old enough to deal with, but young enough to make a fresh beginning. "We have arrived, I believe," Albus said softly, trying to smile at the clearly confused child. And with that he ceased the incantation his subconscious had continued to chant all the while and he found himself once again on Hogwarts ground. Lying on the dirt, atop a pile of black, dirty robes was now a small boy with a very unhappy look on his small face. Staring at him in amazement were the other members of the spell circle.
McGonagall was the first to speak. "Well, that seems to have been a success. We were becoming worried Headmaster. It is getting late." She nodded her head toward the sinking sun.
"Of course, I apologize, it appeared to be a much shorter time to me. To us," the Headmaster added quickly. "We should go inside. I am sure the aurors have more questions for all of us. And I would appreciate if no one would mention the situation with our Head of Slytherin."
Ron could not keep back a chuckle at the use of Dumbledore's description, but Hermione silenced him with a glare.
"Of course we won't say anything Headmaster," Hermione responded, "but you aren't really going to give him over to an orphanage, are you? I am sure there is someone who would take him in."
Dumbledore's eyes gave a twinkle in the growing darkness. "Are you volunteering, my dear?"
An embarrassed Hermione gave the tiniest shake of her head. The Headmaster chuckled, "I thought not. Our Potion's Professor is not at all popular. Something that I do not think was lost on him. But no, Ms. Granger, I do not intend to put him in an orphanage. I will care for him for as long as possible, or until I find him a suitable home."
And with that a very tired Albus Dumbledore headed across the grounds and up the castle stairs with several members of the House of Gryffindor in his wake and a very young Slytherin in his arms.
Authors note: I realize that this chapter is not very long, but I just wanted to get the concept out there to see how it is received. If you like it (or not) let me know.