All characters belong to Jo, I just love playing with them.
The dark haired young man in front of Albus Dumbledore seemed to sway on his feet for a split second and his hands gripped the desk between them to steady himself, knuckles white.
'They're dead?' he repeated and all colour was draining from his already unhealthily pale face. He looked at the Headmaster as though searching for confirmation that the words weren't true; all the while knowing this confirmation would never come.
'I was too late,' he said tonelessly. 'I have failed.'
Albus Dumbledore put a hand over his tired face and rubbed his eyes.
'The baby survived, Severus,' he said at last. 'He is alive.'
'Alive?' Severus echoed disbelievingly. 'Ha … Harry is alive?'
Dumbledore nodded. 'Yes. How and why I can only imagine, but he is alive.'
The pale young wizard seemed to snap out of a reverie. 'Where is he? Albus … WHERE IS HE? We need to …'
'Hagrid is getting him as we speak. As a matter of fact I need to leave now to …'
'I'm coming with you,' Severus interrupted, but the Headmaster put up a stopping hand. 'No, Severus. You've done enough. I want you to stay at Hogwarts. Hagrid, Minerva and I will take care of the child.'
All Severus could do was watch as the Headmaster strode across the office and stepped in front of the large fireplace to his right. 'What will you do with him?' he asked quietly.
'He will be left in the care of Lily's relatives.'
'Muggles,' Severus spat indignantly. 'You're leaving him with muggles?'
'Surely you don't want to raise the boy yourself, do you Severus?' Dumbledore asked calmly.
The young man blushed. 'Of course I don't,' he huffed.
'I didn't think you would. Incidentally, I feel this is perfect time for you to renew the promise you gave to me two days ago.'
'Promise me that you will not let your own prophecy interfere with the one of the child.'
'But if this is my destiny, then it is Harry's as well!' Severus argued heatedly and for the first time Albus Dumbledore appreciated just how young the wizard in front of him still was. He suddenly felt very tired.
'I understand, my dear. And if that's truly the case, then destiny will find a way through, don't you think? However, with the way things stand now, I must ask you to do everything in your power to prevent that from happening.'
'Listen, Severus,' Albus added wearily when the other wizard didn't answer. 'If I didn't believe this was the best for everyone involved, I would never ask this of you. I would never ask this of Harry.'
He stepped into the fire place and looked at the young wizard expectantly. 'Do I have your word?'
Severus tried to speak, but found his throat too tight for words.
'Sibyll might be wrong,' he managed to say at last.
'That might well be, Severus!' Albus was getting impatient. 'But if she's not, then Harry has far more important goals awaiting him than your happiness.'
He regretted the words as soon as they had left his mouth.
Severus' face turned into a stony mask.
'Very well, Headmaster,' he nodded politely. 'You have my word.'
To be continued