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The crux of the problem, from the very start, had been trying to find a substance powerful enough to unite all the other ingredients and make them react. Without it, the potion wouldn't really be a potion, just a brew with some rather strange components, which Snape wouldn't drink even if he was given all the gold in Gringotts.
He had found the solution sometime in his fifth year at Hogwarts as Potions Master and Head of Slytherin House. Experimentation, trial and error... they had all lead to Snape discovering that one critical substance. In theory, there were a few substances that could be used, but as mentioned before in this account, most of them were of heinous natures. The ones that were not, were either not currently in existence, or were in existence but with unknown locations.
So what was it? What was this one key component that could effectively make him the most powerful man alive? Why... it was the soul.
The human soul is such a powerful object that one can hardly imagine. It is one of the most beautiful and - at the same time - most terrible things one can imagine. It has the potential to do truly great things: amazing or terrible, maybe... but thunderously great.
So how to harness the soul? Another few years' research and experimentation followed... to no avail. It could of course be done by killing someone and capturing their soul. Or creating a horcrux.
But neither of these were really feasible options. That's when Snape went to Dumbledore. And Dumbledore - unsurprisingly, of course - had just the solution. The potion was perfected in Harry Potter's first year at Hogwarts. With its completion, Severus Snape retained his crown at Potions, while Albus Dumbledore rightly earned the title of the greatest wizard alive. Snape had discovered the potion; Dumbledore had made it possible.
So just how was the soul harnessed? What must be recognised is that only the soul of the person who is to be resurrected can be used. What must also be recognised is that the soul is an incredibly powerful substance; thus, not all of the soul is required. A minute amount in fact. That was the genius of the potion. Unlike Voldemort's horcruxes, this potion would do no damage to the original soul. Snape had thought that even when a person died, their soul had a connection with their body... no matter how weak. The brilliant man had theorised that he could use the potion - with the small fragment of the dead person's soul - to call upon this connection, and bring the soul back into the body. Of course, this meant that the crucial fragment of soul had to be collected before the person's death.
The reason why only Dumbledore could use this potion was that he was the only one who knew who to capture a small, minute fragment of his soul - the brilliant white liquid that Snape had thrown into the cauldron just a few hours ago - without causing any damage to it. Others could try by making horcruxes, but they would cause irreparable damage to their souls by ripping fragments from it by the horrendous act of killing... and then... who knew what would come back from the other side?
But Dumbledore had discovered a way. Two ways in fact. One was a very complex spell that only the old wizard knew. Involving nobody knew what. Dumbledore had not told Snape about that part - saying only that if Snape knew the knowledge to successfully - without damaging the original - remove a fragment of the soul, he would be in constant danger from Dark Wizards trying to conquer death. What Snape had deduced by himself was that the spell was obviously one of the ancient magics, involving power beyond imagination. The sort of power Dumbledore possessed. The sort of power that could separate a fragment of soul from a person without causing any damage to the original soul.
The other way was, of course, Fawkes. Many suspected simply that Fawkes was Dumbledore's pet phoenix. How wrong the poor fools were. Snape had made the startling discovery one evening in his third year as a teacher at Hogwarts. He had looked at Fawkes, staring benignly at him, had looked at the Headmaster also regarding him with exactly the same expression, had put two and two together and had received a reassuring nod from Dumbledore confirming his theory. Fawkes wasn't Dumbledore's pet... well at least, he was much, much more than that. He contained a part of Dumbledore's soul. How Dumbledore had managed it was really beyond Snape. He had only ever really seen one other example of a similar case and that was Nagini, the Dark Lord's serpent.
The other ingredients, it has been mentioned, were not particularly hard to conceive. Many people knew that the tears of one phoenix were extraordinarily singular in that they had amazing healing abilities; very few individuals knew that the tears of twelve phoenixes - an ancient magical number - were one hundred and forty four times more potent. They could act in the same way that Unicorn Blood acted - albeit without the associated curse, and that was a good thing.
Felix Felicis was also required, in rather large amounts. Because really, resurrection also involved one fair-sized portion of fortune and good luck.
And finally, among other - less significant - ingredients, the soul. To ensure that Dumbledore came back sound and whole, Snape had used both Fawkes and the fragment of Dumbledore's soul that the Headmaster had separated years earlier and left in Snape's custody.
For the truth of the matter was, the real reason why Snape was bringing back the legendary Albus Dumbledore was because it was a necessity. Those fools who accepted Dumbledore as dead also accepted their own defeat. It was true that Potter would play an immense part in Voldemort's demise. But there was no way - absolutely no way at all - that a teenager and his two friends could destroy horcruxes created by one of the darkest wizards alive. Just no way. With Dumbledore gone, no one could stop Voldemort. No one at all. There was no hope without the Headmaster. Absolutely none at all. It wasn't exaggeration; it was all true. Without Dumbledore, nothing anybody did would make any difference. Voldemort would win the war easier than he could kill an unarmed Squib.
So why had Snape killed him? Because he had to. The Unbreakable Vow.
Of course, he would have died himself, or blown his cover, rather than kill Dumbledore if he didn't have a way to bring him back. He was Dumbledore's agent... would never betray the man who had given him a second chance. And if he ever saw Potter again, he'd make sure (after giving him all the help he could to destroy Voldemort) that the little brat knew that Severus Snape was Dumbledore's man... through and through.
So what was the sight that had so startled Snape?
"Ah, Severus... how absolutely charming to see you again," Dumbledore apparated from within the cauldron - only his head visible, giving the rather comical impression of a head floating around - to outside it.
Snape stood up and bowed stiffly. "Headmaster."
The great man stepped forward, placing his hand on Snape's shoulder. "Albus from now on Severus. I positively insist it. You have more than enough earned that right over the years."
Snape looked up. "It worked."
Dumbledore nodded, flicking his wand. His robes changed into a deep red. "It did. As you know it would."
Snape remained silent.
"And now I think, Severus, a visit to an old friend is a necessary prerequisite before I can start reassuring everyone that I am back."
Dumbledore paused. "Tell me Severus, I am sure you remember that night you told me... about..."
Snape nodded, clearly knowing what Dumbledore was meaning.
"I told you I pitied your past. I was wrong."
Snape looked up in surprise.
"The fact is Severus, that I do not pity you or your past. For the latter has moulded the former. 'I am a part of all that I have met,'" Dumbledore smiled as he quoted Tennyson, "'and yet... all experience is an arch where through gleams that untravelled world... whose margins fade forever and forever when I move...' so true. Everything you have ever experienced has moulded you into what you are today, Severus... and I wouldn't want that changed for the world. Seldom have I ever met a more loyal and truer friend. You have truly showed me today what love is all about."
Snape remained silent, deeply moved by Dumbledore's simple yet sincere and well meant praise.
"And now Severus, I must be away. I shall see you, in approximately one hour, at Headquarters."
"Farewell then, my friend."
Snape had vanquished the cauldron, the chairs and all the equipment and ingredients he had used. There was nothing now in the great hall apart from him - a dark figure standing in the single ray of sunshine that entered through an open window.
And as usual, when he was alone, when he wasn't busy and thinking about other things, his mind turned inevitably and unavoidably towards that one person who he still held in his heart.
As chance would have it, he had seen her again. That however, is a tale for another day.
Suffice it to say, whether she was married or not, Pétale Black would always be Severus Snape's, and he would be forever her's. After all, it is extremely seldom - as our protagonist has already told us - that two people experience a thunderbolt... or for that matter a Perfect Moment.