The Story of Severus: Chapter Ten
Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling owns everything.
Summary: Snape's past has been left a mystery. Why did he join Lord Voldemort? Why did Dumbledore clear him? Did he have a relationship with Lily Potter? How was he connected to Lily and James? And what about the prophecy?
"What was that?" Lily whispered nervously, lifting Harry and shifting him to her left side. Although she knew in her heart who it was, she begged James with her eyes to reassure her. James stood up and stared at Lily, his own eyes panicking.
"Lily…Listen to me- Lily, take Harry and go! It's him! Go! Run! I'll hold him off-"
"I can't leave you!" she said determinedly. He shook his head briskly, trying to find words to convey his tumultuous emotions. However, his voice was interrupted by another crash, one that sounded particularly like the front door being broken in.
Lily's green eyes went round in shock. "James?"
"Lily…" he placed a finger on her lips to quiet her and she stared up at him, fear evident in her eyes. "We've got to be brave. For Harry."
"It was Peter. He switched with Sirius," Lily breathed, a trace of bitterness in her voice. James turned abruptly and stared at her pale face.
"Peter…" he whispered, looking at Lily, then letting his eyes travel to Harry, cradled in Lily's arms. It was Harry Voldemort wanted. His son. And the pathway to him was paved by Peter. He clenched his fists, knowing he was not going to let Peter succeed tonight; he would protect Harry with everything he had.
"He chose Harry," Lily whispered through sheets of silent tears. "He chose him."
James bit his lip; for the first time in his life, he hadn't an idea as to what to say.
There was another crash, and Lily looked at James frantically. He hugged her tightly, determined to be strong for her. He was going to die. He knew it well enough. But he would do everything in his power to keep Lily and Harry from suffering the same fate.
"You've got to get out of here," he said resolutely. "Apparate, Floo Powder, grab a broom, anything," he told her as he grabbed his wand and lifted it. "You have to save Harry."
She looked at him, shocked that he would even say such a thing. "James- I won't leave you," she told him stoutly, "You know I love you too much to let you face him alone."
James stared at her. "If you love Harry and myself, you'll do what I ask," he said.
"I can't," Lily whispered. She wrapped her arms around him, and kissed him for what she severly hoped would not be the last time. Harry began to wail as footsteps echoed upon the staircase.
"I love you," he said quietly, and Lily was shocked to see tears when she met James' eyes.
"I love you too," she told him, embracing him once more.
"Go," he commanded, pushing her towards the door. Lily stared at him helplessly for a second, but at his final word, she stumbled from their room into the hallway, clutching a wailing Harry tightly in her arms. She quickly threw herself into the guest room, and stood behind the open door, staring out the crack between the hinges, where the door met the wall. Breathing heavily in fear, Lily watched James warily step into the hallway, his trembling arm extended, clutching his wand.
A shadow made its way across the wall towards him, and the person associated with it seemed to materialize, though he had been there all along.
"James Potter," said the cold voice of Lord Voldemort. It sent a chill down Lily's spine, and she clutched Harry tighter, peering through the crack at James. She was unable to tear her eyes away from staring at James' pale, alert face. He swallowed, and willed himself to stare into the cruel red eyes of Lord Voldemort. "Where is the boy?"
"He's not here," James said defiantly, drawing back against the wall.
Lord Voldemort's face curled into an evil grin. "You forget I am accomplished at knowing when people are lying," he whispered. "Where is the boy?"
Lily bit her lip to keep from sobbing and tried to rub Harry's back in an attempt to keep him from crying out.
"I…I don't know," James said.
Lord Voldemort brandished his wand and opened his mouth, but then stopped to stare at James. He shot an obvious look with eyes flickering toward Lily's hiding spot. "You needn't die if you hand over the boy."
"Never!" James shouted, unfound bravery washing over him, "I love my son too much to hand him over to the likes of you!"
At his words, Lily began to cry, then started whispering prayers under her breath, begging him not to do it. She needed James in her life. She loved him more than anything. He had loved her since the moment he met her; she couldn't live without him.
Lord Voldemort cackled gleefully and lifted his wand, giving James no time to react.
"Avada Kedavra," he shouted, and Lily's vision was blurred by her tears and a huge flash of green light. She couldn't block out James' last feeble cry and the sound his body made when it hit the ground. Stepping back against the wall, Lily heard the footsteps of Lord Voldemort heading closer to her. The footsteps that would bring about her death, and the death of Harry. The ones that had just taken James' life. James, who had died to help her protect Harry, and she knew she would do the same.
"Give me the boy," said a terrible voice, and Lily whirled around to meet it.
"Never," she snarled, wrapping a protective arm around Harry, and using the other arm to pull out her wand.
He sent her a cruel grin, then took a step closer to her and Harry. She swerved around him, then backed out the doorway into the hallway. She had to see James one last time.
"Where do you think you're going, Mudblood?"
Lily ignored him and raced towards James, quickly kneeling down beside him. She placed her back against the railing overlooking the first floor, and held Harry as she let her shaking hand reach out and touch James.
"How sentimental," said Lord Voldemort, still with that cruel grin plastered across his evil face.
Lily ignored him once more. "Your father died to save you, Harry," she whispered, pressing her lips against his ear so that it was only Harry who could hear her. She took Harry's hand in her own and pressed it against James' face, which was already losing its warmth. "I'm going to do the same," Lily said, "and whether it will help in the end, I suppose I'll never know...but make me proud, Harry."
"Give me the boy," Lord Voldemort said, angry that he hadn't heard her whispers. "Give me the boy and I can bring him back to you."
Lily stood up, then spit at his feet. "NEVER! I love him!"
"Very well then..." Lord Voldemort said, and he held out his wand once more. "Step aside…I don't need to kill you too…Your dear husband seemed to get in the way, however."
"Not Harry, not Harry, please not Harry!" Lily shouted, his wand held square between her eyes.
"Stand aside, you silly girl…stand aside, now…" He licked his lips, anticipating the two words that would secure his future.
"Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead-" She cradled Harry in her arms, his screams and her tears echoing in the hallway. "Not Harry! Please…have mercy…have mercy…"
But it was the fact that Lord Voldemort had no mercy that made him so horrifying. "Avada Kedavra," he shouted once more, and, amidst emerald light, still clutching Harry, the tears still tumbling down her cheeks, Lily Potter's lifeless body fell on top of her husband's.
Lord Voldemort stared at the crying child, still propped up in his mother's lifeless arms. He rose his wand once more, staring at this boy. This defenseless, crying child who could one day have the power to vanquish him. He won't live long enough, he told himself, then uttered the curse, the ironic curse that he believed would secure his future but instead would destroy it for fourteen long years. "Avada Kedavra."
There was a flash of green light so huge, that the other houses in Godric's Hollow were lit up for moments. There was a sound like an explosion, and a swirl of green smoke rose from beside the bodies of James and Lily Potter, a swirl of smoke that soon spun out the open window, the only remnant of the Dark Lord. For a moment, a fleeting moment, there was silence.
And interrupting that silence was the cry of Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived.
And interrupting his cry was the front door slamming open to reveal the electrifying power of Albus Dumbledore, tailed closely behind by Severus Snape.
"How…how did he survive?" Snape asked quietly, staring at the tiny child wrapped in his arms. Giant green eyes flickered up towards him, illuminating a terrible lightning bolt shaped scar upon his tiny forehead.
Dumbledore stared at Snape for a moment, trying to clear his mind, trying to hold in the tears that desperately yearned to drip down his cheeks; tears he had held in to keep so many others strong.
"I can only presume this, Severus," Dumbledore said quietly after a moment, as he stared at Harry, who was fidgeting within his blanket. "Lily and James loved him so much, and their love…" he trailed off, then slid his glasses back up his crooked nose. "Perhaps there is much stronger magic that we have yet to discover, Severus."
Snape suddenly felt the strong urge to be sick; his stomach felt like treacherous seas during a powerful storm. "Professor?" he whispered, feeling the inside of his mouth go dry, "I…I loved her so much…Professor…" he swallowed and stared at the ground. "Why didn't she…?"
"Perhaps sacrificing one life is the only way to secure the survival of another," Dumbledore said quietly. "But this is only speculation, Severus. Nothing is for certain."
"What of…the Dark Lord?" he asked, a distinct bitterness in his voice.
Dumbledore stared at him. "Severus, it isn't wise to fear his name. You have every right to fear Lord Voldemort, but his name…I must advise you to say it for in the future, It will all be for the best."
"What about…Lord Voldemort?" He couldn't escape the shudder of his lips at the sound of the name. He slid the arm of his robes up, then stared at the Dark Mark, remembering the terror he had felt. He looked away, inadvertently focusing on Lily's lifeless body and feeling tears well up. He knew he would never say that name again.
Dumbledore shook his head. "I suppose that the curse rebounded, Severus."
"Then, the boy is alive…Is it safe to say that The Dark Lord is gone?"
Dumbledore looked at the ground, then back at Snape. The man standing before him had suffered more heartbreak than any man he had ever known thus far. The only woman he'd ever loved was married to and had a child with his childhood rival. And now he was holding the child in his arms. How he must feel for Harry; to want desperately to cherish him as the son of Lily, to see her eyes when he looked at him; but to hate him because he was the son of James. Dumbledore shook his head once more, then took Harry from Snape's arms.
"Nothing is for certain, Severus. We can only have hope." Snape bit his lip to keep from crying out. How could anyone have hope in a life so bleak? He turned to leave, but a frail hand that contained more power than anyone in the wizarding world stopped him with a touch on his shoulder.
"Yes?" Snape said gruffly, turning to face Dumbledore.
"You may not see it right now, but you have done great things tonight, Severus, whether you wish to acknowledge them or not. You came to me to try to save the Potters, even James, your childhood rival. You risked your life to try and save Lily, James, and Harry. You've done so much, Severus, so much in so little time."
Snape stared at Dumbledore. He took a deep breath, but one breath could not conceal the rage in his voice. "So much? So much? They're dead, Professor! Lily and James Potter are dead! I've done nothing. Nobody could have done anything," he whispered. "Not even you."
"You are quite wrong, Severus. Although, I must agree with you, that I would not have been able to do anything to save them. In the past, when Lord Voldemort has wanted someone dead, he has always gotten his wish. Harry here is the first person to defy him thus far. But, looking past young Harry's accomplishment, Severus, you too did the incredible."
Snape felt more tears welling up in his dark eyes, but he brushed them away angrily. He didn't want to feel anything at this point. He tried to push his emotions far away; imagining he was on one side of a river, and the need to cry and scream and collapse was miles away one the other bank.
"And what have I done?" he spat. "What have I possibly done that is which to be commended?" He stared at Dumbledore, and noticed a tiny trickle of tears that had begun to slide from his eyes down past his nose, and into the depths of his snowy white beard.
"You loved her, Severus. You loved her."
Albus Dumbledore knelt to touch Lily's cheek while Snape retreated into his robes, willing himself not to look at Lily.
"She was quite a woman, Severus. She and James died courageously. Nobody wants to die, but sometimes it is for the best."
"How could that be for the best?" Snape yelled. "How could her death be for the best?"
"She died to save Harry's life," Dumbledore said calmly. "You should be proud to have known her. Her death will change the future. By sacrificing her life, she secured Harry's."
Snape looked at Harry, who was snuggled in Dumbledore's arms. "How could her death possibly change the future?"
Dumbledore sighed. "I did forget that you haven't heard the whole prophecy." He took a death breath and recited what wouldn't be heard for fifteen long years. "The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches. Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies. And the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not, and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives."
Snape was quiet as he stared at Dumbledore in astonishment. "He said that the boy had the power to vanquish him…But…"
"We have reason to believe that Lord Voldemort did not know about the second half of the prophecy, only that the child born in July had the power to vanquish him," Dumbledore responded.
"He didn't know it all," Snape said, "Because if he had, he wouldn't have…He would have known…"
Dumbledore stared down at him through his half moon shaped glasses, "Severus, this is very important. There will be many who will believe that Voldemort is not coming back, and many who know in their hearts he will but refuse to believe so. And there will be those who will refuse to believe it even with evidence under their nose. But the prophecy will hold true; Lord Voldemort could not have died tonight because Harry Potter did not lay a hand upon him."
"And his scar?"
Dumbledore ran a finger over Harry's forehead, touching the scar, which was still glowing green. "The Dark Lord has marked him as his equal," Dumbledore whispered.
Snape quietly stared at Harry, and a terrible wave of jealously surged through him. Jealously for the love between James and Lily, and the love Lily had for her son. His own love for her meant nothing at all. Shaking his head, he turned to Dumbledore.
"How did He get her?" he asked bitterly.
Dumbledore took a deep breath. "Their Secret Keeper must have broken his fidelity towards them."
"Who…Who was it?"
Dumbledore shook his head. "That is something I do not think I can say."
"So it didn't matter anyway? Even if I hadn't come to you, they still would have died?"
"Severus, I said it before. It is incredible…Despite your hatred of and jealously towards James Potter, you came to me, Severus. I believe that's quite an accomplishment. If I do say so myself," he said, shifting Harry to his left side, "Lily would have been incredibly proud of you. And," he said, "If you hadn't come to me, there would be no one to vouch for your innocence."
Snape looked at him in shock. "You…you would do that?"
Dumbledore smiled. "Certainly. I will, of course, be in charge of doing so."
"It won't be an easy task," he said quietly.
"It will be far easier than overcoming an Imperious curse, Severus," he said, but Snape didn't smile. "Don't look so bleak, my boy…I know my way around the ministry quite well, and as consuming as those influences are, sometimes they are quite beneficial. This would be one of those times."
He ran his finger over Harry's scar once more.
"Thank you," Snape said awkwardly.
"You are quite welcome. Now, Severus, I need you to make your way to Hogwarts. You will be under my protection for as long as you dwell there. I will have much to do in the coming days. The Ministry of Magic will be here in moments, and I will have to find a safe place for Harry to live until he is ready for Hogwarts."
Snape nodded. "Tell Madam Pomfrey that I've requested her to give you room and board, and then we will talk about the subject you will be in charge of."
Dumbledore smiled. "You'll be teaching at Hogwarts, obviously. Funny how the Potions post needs to be filled, and that was one of your best subjects. Besides, how could I have you living there with nothing to do. Give this to her," he said, holding out a peace of paper with the Hogwarts crest upon it. "She'll understand. And, I'll have to be going," he said. "Ah, yes, the ministry is here at last. Quickly now, it'd be best for you to leave now."
Snape nodded thankfully and apparated.
"And either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives," Dumbledore whispered to Harry, who had fallen asleep in his arms. He felt tears well up in his eyes. "My boy, you have quite a future ahead of you. You had a mother and a father who loved you dearly, and that has saved you from a terrible fate." Breathing in, he whispered, "I know you will one day bring hope to all those who have none. And hope is all we have."
And with that, he climbed down the stairs to meet with the Ministry, little Harry still in his arms, his long dark robes billowing behind him.
Severus stood in his room later that week staring out the window onto the Hogwarts grounds bathed in moonlight. He couldn't deny that he was lucky; he was forever indebted to Dumbledore, a man who his father had told him time and time again that he couldn't trust. Dumbledore had cleared him of all charges in relation to Lord Voldemort, and told everyone that he became a spy for the Order at great risk to himself. It was all technically true although in the process of doing so, it hadn't seemed like it. Dumbledore had made his actions on the thirty-first of October quite valiant. His excuse for doing so was that so many had forgotten that love was such a powerful force.
The Potter boy had been sent to live with Muggle relatives, to "grow up away from it all," as Dumbledore had said. Severus secretly agreed that it would be best. He still hadn't come to terms with just what he thought of little Harry Potter. He was Lily's son after all, which was a prize unto itself, but the son of James Potter could have all the arrogance his father did. He supposed when the time came for him to actually meet the boy he would make his decision on just what to think about him. No doubt the son of Lily would always be under his protection, but if he reminded him anything of his father, it would certainly be hell to pay.
And the Potions master would be retiring at the end of term, so Snape was left to doing small tasks for Dumbledore until next year. He still didn't enjoy the quirkiness of the man, but he had great respect for him. Dumbledore was easily one in a million, between his fetish for Muggle sweets and his jovial interjections, but behind those sapphire eyes was a man that Severus Snape revered; this was a man who was seemingly fearless, ready to protect anyone who proved his or her worth towards him, and Severus was quite glad to be under his protection for as long as he lived.
"Master Snape…May Jinn light the fire, sir?"
Snape was yanked from his thoughts by a tiny house elf in tattered clothing who was positively shaking.
"Why…yes, thank you," he responded, and in almost no time at all, there was a roaring fire in the fireplace beside his new bed. The house elf left, and he removed his boots and cape, still staring out the window.
He'd been through much in his lifetime, between the strained relationships at home, meeting and falling in love with Lily, and then losing her to James. He pulled off his robes sadly, then stuck his fingers in the pockets to make sure nothing was inside before they were taken to be washed. He felt the corner of something poke him and he slid the picture of Lily and himself out of the pocket.
He felt quite sick looking at it. Lily was dead, and this picture represented everything he had wanted and couldn't have. Thinking he would just chuck it in the fire and be done, to try and forget it all, he looked at it once more, then turned to the fire.
"You'll regret it one day, Severus," said a voice from behind him.
The newfound respect for Dumbledore had suddenly faded slightly.
"I don't know what you're talking about," Snape said, feeling his face flush. He was dwelling so much on the past, why shouldn't he chuck it away and be done?
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," Dumbledore said wisely, and Snape turned around to face him.
"I'll never love anyone as much as her, Severus. I won't repeat anything."
"You misunderstood me, Severus. I meant that by throwing away your picture, you are throwing away any connection you had to Lily Potter, Severus. Don't you think you would owe it to Harry, just once, to show him what a woman his mother was? He'll never have any memories of his own…Perhaps you could share yours with him when the time is ready?"
"Perhaps I should share some of the memories I have of his father as well," Snape said snidely, turning back towards the fire.
Dumbledore nodded knowingly. "Perhaps you should. One day, your experiences will profit many, Severus."
Snape turned back around with a look of incredulity and placed the picture back in his pocket, but Dumbledore was gone. There was only the flicker of the candles on the table behind him, and the flapping of the curtains in the slight November breeze.
And hope. Hope that the future of Severus Snape would not be as bleak as his past. And hope that the choices and sacrifices made by so many will have been made for a reason.
[ THE END ]