Chapter Five—Severus Snape

Three years, four months, and thirteen days I served as a loyal Death Eater. Until one day, I awoke, the sense of dread in which I had slowly been drowning, threatened to overtake me. I had been promised many things, some of which had come to fruition. But I had yet to find what I had been looking for. If I had to give it a name before I would have said knowledge, power, control. I still want these things, but I also want…more, something I can't identify, a nameless quality I've only heard of in fairy tales. So, I turned to the one person I swore I would never ask for help—Dumbledore. He offered me salvation. He offered me redemption. He offered me emancipation. But it would come at a price. The words sacrifice, duty, and responsibility swirled around my head like a fog. I remember agreeing, though I wasn't really sure of what the terms were. All I knew was that 'He' didn't own me anymore. I may still bear his mark, but my will is my own.

"Severus, I won't lie to you," Dumbledore told me, making sure I understood. "This is not the easy path. It is a path of labor, a path of toil, a path of self-sacrifice, a path in which you must devote a great deal of your effort and energy; you will have to forget yourself, you will have to serve those that have despised you, you will have to serve the witches and wizards of Britain." If he wanted to sell this idea to me, he hadn't seemed to be trying too hard. Does he know what the Dark Lord promised us when we pledged our loyalty to him? His path was much brighter than the headmaster's seemed.

"The path I will point out to you will bring pleasure, it will bring you a constant place in society, it will bring you the choice things in life, to eat and to drink and clothing to wear. You shall be popular in the society in which you shall move, and your whole life will be one constant round of pleasure," He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named had told us. And for someone who had spent his whole life miserable, the lure of pleasure and popularity had drawn me like a thirsty man to a desert oasis. But it had all been a mirage, and like a disillusioned traveler, I found myself drinking sand.

And so here I am, repeating the oath that will not only saves me, but binds me anew, "I, Severus Snape, do solemnly promise to commit my time and energy, my love and devotion, my very life and soul to the work of the Order of the Phoenix. I turn my back on the darkened path, and turn my eyes upon the Light. Death does not frighten me, only failure."

"Please note that discussing Order business outside of its membership is strictly forbidden," Dumbledore reminds me needlessly. I nod. Then I touch my wand tip to the end of his, and they both light up, bathed in a golden light. Each member present files past me, and they too repeat this gesture, some scowling at me, while others avoid my eyes.

Perhaps this too is sand. Many of the other Order members despise me. There are Black, Potter, Lupin, and Pettigrew—school day enemies whose scars I still wear. Alice Longbottom will barely look at me, despite the effort I made to warn her of the Dark Lord's intentions. Moody attacked me in the hall the very first night, and Arabella Figg had the gall to wiggle her finger at me. Albus alone, with the possible exception of Lily Potter, trusts me. It doesn't matter what they think. I have a job to do, a duty to perform, and they can all be damned. Of course, they all begrudgingly acknowledge that without me, they most certainly are.

The End

A/N: The quotes by Dumbledore and Voldemort are paraphrased from a story about Hercules by Anonymous, (that guy really wrote some great lines, and so many of them!) In the story Hercules is approached by two beautiful women, the first one says something like what Dumbledore says. Her name turns out to be Duty. The second, who sounds like Voldemort, is named Vice.

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