My hands are stained.

There are the potions stains, yellow and red and blue and green. There were nicotine stains. There have been blood stains.

Out, out damn spot!

Damned. Yes, damned. Coming from the Latin damnum, meaning damage or harm. In my case, all apply. I am a damned soul. I have caused both damage and harm. Damned. Spat as an invective. Intoned as a prison sentence. Shrieked as a battle cry. Enemy, judge, and ally.

My soul is stained. My heart is cracked. My conscience alone carries me from day to day as it has for nearly thirteen years. I live a condemned life.

My home, my dungeon, is a haven. My haven is cold and made of stone. Once a year it is inspected by Ministry officials in case I have turned to my old ways.

My old ways. The way of the damned. The way of the dark. Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction. They think that I will go back. Never! I quail to remember who I was, what I did then. I was a murder and an assassin and a thief and a spy and a blind man.

When I was a child, that was what I dreamt of doing. Father, imposing figure that he was, laid the path at my feet. And I, the fool, followed it. I so longed for his approval that I forgot the world, forgot to think for myself. And all my days were trances. Too true. Why do the Muggles always have the right words to say?

I lay myself at the hands of the light.

My eyes had been opened. I had gone to the home of a classmate, one Simon Knox. I killed him. My comrades killed his wife. And I spent the next day staring at my hands. My hands are long and pale, much as they were then. I was awed that they were not still stained with the blood of a man I might have once called friend.

I remembered his eyes. They had not begged for pity. They had held no remorse. No, they accused me. At night I dreamt of them. By day, they haunted me in the eyes of the portraits and my comrades. I was near to driving myself mad.

So I turned myself in. I gave myself over. I prayed, as much as a man such as me can pray, for a quick death, as I had given my victims.

No, I worked my penance on this Earth. I fought and killed and stained myself further.

To what end?

I saw him today.

He is so small. He is a mess. He is weak. He is naïve. He is trusting.

And a little child shall lead them.

He, this rude child, is my chance out of condemnation. He know this not. I will not tell him. I lay myself at the feet of the Light once. I am not so foolish to do so again, much less at the muddy feet of an eleven year old boy who knows nothing of this world. If my only chance is with young Harry Potter, perhaps I shall be damned.

I stand at the front of the classroom, reciting the speech I give every first year class. The boy watches me insolently, clearly uncaring that I do not do this for myself or for my students, but for the Light. He cares so little for our world that he is incapable of answering even the most basic of questions, though the Muggleborn behind him leaps at the chance to become one of us.

If he is so uncaring, so heartless as to abandon us – I dare not think it. But it seems so true. If he fails us, then the Light shall fail. I do not know why; Albus is not so trusting, but he has counseled me enough to know. This boy is our only hope. If he should fail… And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor / Shall be lifted- nevermore!

I will not let this happen. I have lived longer and seen worse than this scrap of a boy. I have stood against Death Eaters and Aurors, the Dark Lord and Headmaster Dumbledore, classmates and pupils. I do not care if he will have our world. I shall force our world upon him until he takes it as his own. I will not let Harry Potter fail us as I have failed.

Power was my temptation. Murder was my sin. Fear was my hope. Teaching was my penance. Harry Potter shall be my redemption.

Snape quotes, in order:

Shakespeare's Macbeth

Gospel of Matthew

(misquotes) Edgar Allen Poe's To One in Paradise

Book of Isaiah

Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven