Severus comes home
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of the Harry Potter Universe. No copyright infringement is intended and no compensation has been, or will be received.
'The protections on this place are abysmal.' Though the statement from the dark corner did not startle Albus Dumbledore, he did raise one bushy eyebrow as he sat behind his desk.
'Severus,' he said softly, looking into the shadows exactly where his former pupil was crouching. 'It's been too long. How are you my boy?'
'Did you hear me old man?' he snarled at the headmaster's seeming indifference. 'I have broken into Hogwarts – your office. Does that not alarm you?'
'Do you mean to attack me Severus?' he asked almost mildly.
The dark haired man snorted loudly from the shadows. 'I am many things, headmaster, but not a fool...' He broke off, letting out a soft sigh before going on in a voice barely above a whisper. 'At least not about all things... I have no illusions old man...' Though he was still practically whispering, his voice nonetheless expressed his rage. 'I am very well aware of the fact that I can be of no threat to you. Even the dark lord is little more than a fly to be crushed by you if you so desired...'
'Voldemort is considerably more dangerous than the average fly, Severus.' Dumbledore answered him mildly.
'I know that!' Severus Snape fairly screamed, stepping out of the shadows to reveal his dishevelled hair, wild eyes and blood-soaked robes. 'Do you understand that it was he who sent me here?!' he demanded savagely.
'I had surmised as much, Severus,' Dumbledore answered him quietly.
'Stop using my name like that!' Severus screamed, his hands clenching into fists at his side.
The headmaster's only outward reaction to the younger man's outburst was to further raise his eyebrows.
'Stop calling me Severus like you think I've forgotten my name!' He advanced then across the office until he was standing in front of the headmaster's desk. In a flash he drew out a long silver jewelled dagger. Still the headmaster didn't register alarm – indeed the look he gave the younger man was merely inquisitive.
Severus didn't move to attack, instead he held his right arm out over the desk, his sleeve pulled back, the dagger clutched in his left hand. His voice when he started chanting was almost sub-vocal but the resulting magic swirling about was unmistakable. Finally after nearly a minute of chanting Severus slashed the dagger viciously into his own arm just at the crook of his elbow. Opening and closing his fist several times the drops of blood were swept into the eddy's of magic coalescing around him creating a fine red mist-like cloud.
Slowly he lowered his arm, oblivious to the blood still dripping from the wound. As the magic had surrounded him he'd released the dagger leaving it to float point up in front of him slowly absorbing the red mist. He uttered the last word of his spell just as the last of the mist disappeared into blade.
As the dagger began to slowly sink down toward the desk, Severus seized it and plunged its' tip deep into the wooden desktop directly in front of the old wizard. 'Voldemort,' he said savagely. 'Sent me to gain your trust and act as a spy for him.'
Dumbledore merely gazed at him without speaking, his face giving nothing away as to what he was thinking.
'I came,' Severus continued, 'to offer myself as a spy for you. Accept and I will not only tell you all that I know, but I will willingly dedicate my life – and my death if needs be to destroying Voldemort. Decline, and my life is forfeit. I will not return to his service.'
The headmaster gazed at him, his expression still unreadable for several moments before he spoke. 'That was a very old magic, Severus. Where did you learn it?'
'Does it matter?' He sighed, looking out the window when Dumbledore nodded. 'Christmas,' he answered so quietly the headmaster nearly missed it.
'That was nearly five months ago...'
Severus nodded. 'At my grandmother's... Someone was saying that I should go away until I figured out how to get my life back...' He seemed lost in thought but Dumbledore didn't interrupt him when he quieted for a moment, letting him continue at his own pace.
'Before I left my grandmother gave me a book and told me to take my life back. That it wasn't too late... this...' He gestured to the blade still protruding from the desk. 'This was in it.'
'What has made you decide to offer this to me? Why would you now decide to turn against your master?'
Severus chuckled bitterly – the old man wasn't pulling any punches. 'Giving you my life isn't enough? Now I must spill my soul as well?' He sighed again after a moment, seeing that clearly he would have to spill his soul to prove his intentions.
'I went to him for power – not the kind of power the others sought from him perhaps, but power nonetheless. I wanted knowledge! I wanted to know every spell, every charm, every potion... every magic ever known! He promised me that. There is no good or evil he said Only power and those too weak to seek it.'
'Did he give you the knowledge you sought? Then why do you leave?' Dumbledore asked when Severus paused.
'He gave me knowledge, yes. Spells, charms, potions... but not all. Only one side – a charm for joy was less than useless to him. And the cost!' He swung his eyes to meet the old man's gaze. 'The cost was too high! As for power,' he growled then, leaning in, his blood-soaked hand staining the desktop. 'I've come to realize that there are those who have power – true power and those who don't. It is the weak who seek power that is not theirs to have – that they have not truly earned.'
Severus looked into the unreadable gaze of the headmaster for several moments, looking for acceptance, unsure what he would do if he never found it there.
'I may be of not threat to you sir,' he said finally. 'But I did wander this castle for over an hour before I came up here.' His dark eyes gave the headmaster a piercing look. 'I passed twenty-three different students and three faculty I could have killed without breaking a sweat. In all that time I only passed two people whose paths I avoided. Two professors who might have posed me a threat if I'd attacked.'
'But you didn't harm any of them.' The headmaster made it a statement, not showing the slightest alarm that Severus had just said he might've killed so many students. 'Why didn't you?'
Why indeed? 'Because Voldemort said to gain your trust. I could hardly accomplish that by murdering your students and staff.' He sighed, meeting the old wizard's gaze for the first time that evening not in challenge. 'But more importantly I didn't want to. I don't like most people sir, but I don't see why I should kill them. I'm quite content to leave people alone to do as they please away from me.'
'Live and let live?'
'Something like that...' Severus looked around the office wearily for a moment before speaking again, his voice cracking from the strain. 'May I sit down sir?'
Motioning obligingly to an armchair Dumbledore waited for the younger man to lower himself painfully into the chair before speaking. 'You're injured,' he said softly. 'What happened to you?'
'Nothing out of the ordinary,' Severus answered, shifting in the chair in a vain attempt to get more comfortable. 'I'll be quite fine by morning. This...' He motioned jerkily to his stained robes. 'This is not my blood. I have not come to you this evening after witnessing an especially heinous act or crime, nor have I just suffered any especially severe penalty. If it's not Voldemort himself, it's Lucius hexing me for one reason or another. This is normal...' He broke off, swallowing deeply before going on.
'Voldemort is a fool – obsessed with power he can never have, and Lucius is a bigger fool for following him. I,' he snarled. 'I am the biggest fool of all, thinking I could go along – ignore the less comfortable aspects of aligning myself with them, so I could gain the benefit of the knowledge I didn't think I could get elsewhere...'
'Do you think I should trust you now Severus?' Dumbledore's voice carried no hint of accusation, or challenge when he spoke, still Severus stiffened involuntarily.
'No,' he croaked finally. 'Nor should you take me back. I am without redemption.' He choked, holding in his emotions as he reached into his filthy robes to withdraw his wand and place it on the headmaster's desk.
'Snap it,' he whispered, sitting back and looking away from his wand as though embarrassed by it. 'Burn it, I don't care. I don't deserve it.' He looked at the headmaster, his eyes begging him to understand – he needed to unburden himself. 'If you could draw out every spell I've cast with it, you'd find fifty-seven unforgivables among them.' He held out his hands, palms up for Dumbledore to see. 'I've made potions and poisons that kill, and kill horribly! That I was not the one to actually administer them does not alter my culpability. Though I have never personally killed... I have stood by and watched and done nothing while fourteen people, wizard, witch and muggle were murdered. Azkaban is too good for me sir. I will die a hundred times for everyone I have harmed and still I won't have begun to repay my debts.'
His monologue done, Severus slouched further into his chair, wiping angrily at the few mutinous tears that had sprung to his eyes.
'And if I choose not to believe you've truly had a change of heart? What will you do?'
His whole body trembling, Severus tried to keep his voice calm as he answered. 'Then I will tell you what I know, pray you listen and can use the information to save several lives...' He brought a trembling hand across his face to wipe away a cold sweat. 'Then, I suppose I will wait for you to send me to Azkaban...'
'Will you take Veritaserum to prove your loyalty?'
'Yes,' he answered immediately. His hopes starting to rise. 'Though I should tell you that I've developed an antidote to the stuff. I will give you the formula of course. I – uh, withheld it's discovery from... It lasts approximately twenty-four hours so to be safe you should hold me guarded and isolated from ingesting anything for at least that long first.'
'Quite a useful invention that.' Dumbledore raised his eyebrows. 'Why did you not share it with your master?'
'Because – ' He faltered. Neither he, nor Lucius deserved to see such a beautiful potion. 'I didn't like the thought of the kinds of things they could do with such a thing. It was a power I didn't want to give them.'
'Would you mind if I had our potions master take a look at it?'
Severus snorted, very nearly like his old self from his school days. 'Not Rebmenov. No offence sir but it's a very complex concoction. I doubt he'd understand it.'
Dumbledore smiled slightly under his beard. 'Still, I'd like someone to take a look at it and Evan certainly knows more about potions than I do...'
'Are Black and Evans still working for you?' He knew they used to work at the ministry and so technically for the Minister of Magic. But everyone knew that meant ultimately for Dumbledore these days.
'Though I'm loathe to admit it, they are probably the only two on your side who might understand it – give it to them.'
'Very good.' Dumbledore smiled. 'They've been working together on some potions research of their own. I'm sure they'd be fascinated by your discovery. Oh, and Lily is going by Potter now...'