Well, here I am yet again! And with a new story to boot! I know the someone-gets-sent-to-Azkaban storyline's kind of been done, but I've never seen one where our favorite Potions Master is the unfortunate one to go. (Even as I write this, I bet half a dozen people are getting ready to write and tell me so-and-so has a story just like this... :P) I know it's usual poor Harry that gets locked away, but I couldn't help but wonder how someone like Snape, who's already had such a dark and miserable life, would deal with being sent to Azkaban by those he thought he could trust. I thought it'd be an interesting concept to explore...
Anyway, hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all associated characters are not mine, nor are they being used for profit in the telling of this story.
Chapter One: Wrongfully Accused
Fire burned low in the fireplace of Dumbledore's office as the old Headmaster scanned the report on his desk. His normally twinkling blue eyes were distant and sad, filled with a deep sorrow that seemed to reach down to the very depths of his soul. Even Fawkes, perched on the back of his chair, sat quiet and subdued as if he could sense his master's distress.
"Are you sure of this?" Dumbledore asked, looking up at the young man in front of him – a recent recruit to the Order named Alex Shore who had graduated from Hogwarts several years before from Ravenclaw.
"Yes, Sir," Alex replied, solemnly meeting Dumbledore's gaze. "All these missions the Dark Lord has known about before we even strike are too much for mere coincidence; there is a spy within our midst. Last night's mission only proves it. There is no other way the Dark Lord could have known about our plans unless someone within the Order told him."
Dumbledore stared at the report in his hands, wanting nothing more than to deny what it said. But there was no way for him to ignore its terrible conclusion. It just made too much sense. And last night's raid only proved it...
The week before, Dumbledore had received information about a secret Death Eater stronghold somewhere on the East side of London. He and other members of the Order had immediately made plans to attack the stronghold and capture any Death Eaters they found. If reports were right and their attack was successful, their raid would have been a major blow to Voldemort's side.
Unfortunately, it seemed Voldemort had already known about their attack, and set a trap for them.
The raid had been a disaster. They had been cornered and outnumbered more than four to one. Over five Order members had been killed before they were finally able to retreat. Many more had been injured. It was something of a miracle they had only lost as many people as they did.
But for as terrible a blow the raid had been on the Order, it was nothing compared to the terrible blow it dealt Dumbledore to know the identity of the one responsible.
"It can be no one else?" he asked, his eyes almost pleading with Alex to tell him it wasn't true.
"No, I'm sorry, Sir. All my information points to only one person..."
Dumbledore hung his head in defeat, his shoulders slumping with the weight of what he knew he had to do.
"Contact other members of the Order," he said, looking away from Alex with tears in his eyes, "and tell them what we know..."
The young man gave a solemn nod and left, leaving Dumbledore alone to stare at the report.
Behind Dumbledore, Fawkes gave a mournful trill.
Number Twelve Grimmauld Place was not the brightest of places. In fact it was downright dark and dreary half the time. Old residence of an ancient line of purebloods, it was the architectural epitome of everything the dark aristocrats of the wizarding world adored.
To many it would seem the unlikeliest of places those fighting the Dark Lord would ever make their headquarters.
But to Severus Snape, the old Black mansion seemed a somehow fitting place for the warriors of Light to make their base.
War, no matter which side one fought for, was wrought with secrecy and lies. Just because one side fought for truth and justice didn't mean it didn't use the same methods of subterfuge as the other.
It was the same in every war, no matter how history portrayed its heros or told how they won the valiant fight. Because hidden deep underneath their grand facades of good deeds and honorable causes, they were just like the ones they were fighting against; willing to use lies and deceit to get what they needed to win.
The Order of the Phoenix was no different.
He should know because he was the dark element of their valiant campaign. He was the one they relied on to do the things they couldn't bring themselves to do. The one to lie and cheat and gather information they thought they were too good and pure to get themselves. He was their inside informant, their spy. The one no one wanted to admit to knowing or having on their side. What he did was not considered honorable or trustworthy, even by those he spies against. His existence was nothing but a necessary evil, a dark means to an end.
And it was for this reason Severus Snape found the Black mansion so fitting a place for the Order of the Phoenix to make its base. It was the outward display of the Light side's darker, hidden self.
Sweeping up the steps like a black wraith, Snape rapped his wand against the battered, paint-pealed door. A loud series of clicks sounded on the other side – like a rattling chain – before the door slowly swung open with a creak.
The front entrance hall was quiet and dim. Snape couldn't detect any sign of movement or sound from anywhere else in the house. Not that he really expected to though... After last night's raid, he doubted anyone within the Order was going to be having any type of celebration for a very long time.
He only hoped Dumbledore would not let grief get in the way of what needed to be done next. He knew many people would call him cruel for saying it, but they did not have time to sit around crying about what happened. There was no time for tears in war. Mourning would have to come later after they'd won. What they needed to do right now was to regroup and strategize. Lord only knew Voldemort would never let something like this get in the way of him making his next move...
Damn bleeding hearts... Snape thought with a scowl. It was emotions like this he knew the Dark Lord was counting on to gain the upper hand in their ongoing battle.
He could only hope tonight's emergency meeting would do something to make up for last night's disaster; the anonymous note he'd received earlier that night about it at least suggested Dumbeldore was planning something...
Snape made his way towards the door that led to the kitchen-basement. That was where they always held meetings; it was one of the only rooms in the house large enough to hold everyone in the Order and offered a certain amount of extra privacy.
As he made his way down the stairs, he saw a faint glow of light appear from below. He couldn't detect any hint of sound, but knew others already had to be there.
Not thinking much of the abnormal quiet, he swept down the rest of the stairs and into the dimly lit basement. What he met though when he finally emerged from the shadows of the night was something he never expected to see.
Every member of the Order was already there, crowding the room and staring back at him in utter silence.
Snape instantly froze halfway into the room. For a minute he wondered if he was late. But then he noticed the looks of those staring back at him. They were looks of hatred and anger.
A loud bang sounded behind Snape. Whirling around, the acerbic Potions Master found the door to the stairs suddenly shut tight – blocking off his only exit. Slowly turning back around, Snape scanned the assembled room, wondering what the hell was going on.
His eyes finally found Dumbledore on the other side of the room. The old Headmaster looked tired and worn. Like he'd suddenly aged several years overnight. A pained expression darkened his normally bright and cheery face. His eyes were downcast and dull, staring at the floor as if unwilling to look up and meet the Potion Master's questioning gaze.
Dumbledore's group of Gryffindor lackeys stood in a close circle around him. McGonagall, Lupin, the four oldest Weasleys, Moody, Shacklebolt, and Black were all there including some other boy Snape had only begun to see at recent Order meetings. They all stared back at him, each of them silently relaying their own inner emotion.
McGonagall solemnly regarded him with something Snape could only describe as a look of betrayal in her pale grey eyes; Lupin stood silent and grave, as if still trying to decide how he felt; Moody and Shacklebolt eyed him with dark, vengeful eyes – like how he'd imagine they'd look right before they apprehended a wanted dark wizard; the Weasleys stood like a small spot of red in the sea of angry faces, betraying no outward emotions; Black just stared at him with hateful eyes, his haggard face twisted with loathing and disgust; and Dumbledore... Dumbledore refused to meet his eyes. But from what Snape could see in Dumbledore's downcast eyes was a deep resonance of hurt and betrayal.
Snape looked around at the other members of the Order crowding the room again. He could feel their eyes boring into him, as if accusing him of some unspoken crime.
"Dumbledore... What's going on?" Snape finally found his voice, his usually confident tone betraying his confusion and unease.
"That's enough out of you," Shacklebolt said, stepping in front of Dumbeldore as if shielding him from Snape's question. His voice was dangerous and hard, warning Snape not to try anything stupid as he and Moody both stepped forward and leveled wands at the confused Potion Master's chest. "Just drop your wand and step away from it."
Snape stared at the Auror as if he'd just gone mad. What the bloody hell was going on?
"Dumbledore, what's going on?" he demanded, looking towards the old Headmaster. "What's all this about?"
Dumbledore slowly looked up at him. As he met Snape's gaze, Snape felt his heart clench with the sudden realization there were repressed tears in the old man's eyes.
"We know what you did, Severus..." he said, his dull blue eyes speaking of untold hurt and betrayal. "Just do what Shacklebolt and Moody say and come along peacefully. Please don't make this any harder than it already has to be..."
Snape stared at his old Headmaster and mentor in utter confusion. "What do you mean 'what I did'?" he demanded, a hint of fear beginning to taint his normally silky voice. "What are you talking about?"
Dumbledore shut his eyes and took a deep breath as if trying to keep the tears in his eyes from overflowing his defenses. Beside him, McGonagall put a comforting hand on his forearm. As if collecting himself enough to speak, Dumbledore looked back up at Snape.
"We know about the raid, Severus. We know that you told Voldemort about our plans, and that it was your information that led to him setting that trap that killed several of our numbers. We know that you are working as his spy inside the Order."
Snape stared at Dumbledore as if he couldn't believe what he'd just heard. Dumbledore thought he was spying for Voldemort? How could he possibly even think that?
"That's insane! I would never tell the Dark Lord that!" he shouted. He stared at Dumbledore in angered disbelief. "I would never return to his side! You of all people should know that!"
"I thought I did..." Dumbledore regretfully whispered.
Angry murmurs were beginning to circulate the crowded room.
"Once a Death Eater, always a Death Eater!" someone shouted.
"It's your fault Tonks and everyone else died!"
"We should have never trusted him!"
The room erupted into an unintelligible cacophony of angry shouts and curses.
Snape frantically looked to Dumbledore.
"Dumbledore! You must believe me! I had nothing to do with last night! I would never betray the Order!"
"I am sorry, Severus, but we have sources that say otherwise... " the old Headmaster said, looking away from the stunned Potions Master.
Snape stared at Dumbledore in disbelief, feeling as though his stomach had just dropped out from under him. This wasn't happening. This just couldn't be happening!
Shacklebolt and Moody were approaching, their wands aimed at the Potion Master's chest.
"Drop your wand, Snape," Moody growled, his magical eye fixed on Snape as though trying to spear him with its gaze.
Snape was only distantly aware of the two Aurors closing in on him from different sides. He didn't even care that he was cornered and outnumbered. All he could do was stare at Dumbeldore, the man he'd entrusted his entire life to after turning away from the Dark side all those years ago.
"Drop it, Snape!" Shacklebolt yelled.
"Dumbledore! You have to believe me!" Snape shouted, starting to grow desperate. "I would never go back to the Dark Lord! I would rather die before I ever went back to him!"
Dumbledore still refused to look at him.
"Expelliarmus!" Shacklebolt shouted. Snape's wand went flying out of his hand and rolled to a stop half a dozen feet away. Moody quickly followed with a full body-binding spell.
Snape staggered backwards as rings of magical energy flew out of Moody's wand and wrapped around him in a crushing, immobilizing embrace. Shacklebolt and Moody both stepped forward and seized him by the arms.
"Severus Snape, you are hereby under arrest by order of the Ministry and sentenced to Azkaban for crimes of being a known Death Eater and follower of He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named," Shacklebolt said. "You are also charged with being a willful conspirator in the deaths of Nymphadora Tonks, Elphias Doge, Dedalus Diggle, Emmeline Vance, and Sturgis Podmore..."
Snape couldn't believe this was happening. It was like some kind of bad dream he couldn't wake up from.
Shacklebolt and Moody were beginning to drag him towards the door. He could feel the eyes of everyone else in the room follow him with their dark, hateful glares. Several of them called out their approval as he was drug past.
"Rot in hell, you bloody traitor!"
"Dementors are too good a punishment for what you've done!"
Snape desperately looked to Dumbledore one last time.
"Dumbledore, please! I risked my life for you!" he frantically cried, struggling against his restraints. "I risked everything to help you win! Why won't you believe me?"
For a brief moment of time Dumbledore met Snape's eyes. But then with a sorrowful look on his old wizened face, he adverted his eyes and turned his back on the frantic Potions Master, sealing him to his fate.
Snape froze, his entire body going slack. He felt like his entire world had just come crashing down around him. Shacklebolt and Moody were still dragging him out the door. But Snape could not bring himself to fight them anymore. All he could do was stare at Dumbledore – the only man he'd ever come to trust.
And it was with that final, haunting image of Dumbledore's turned back forever seared into his memory, Severus Snape was taken away and locked in Azkaban for four long and very lonely years.
To be continued...
Like it? Hate it? Please tell me what you thought. I'm seriously going to be relying on feedback for the first chapter to see if I'm going to continue with this or not. Thanks for reading!