None of the characters belongs to me.
The story plays in the early 1980s, several months before Voldemort's dissaperance. Contains of all books (including HBP) mentioned, however no real spoilers included.
The last curriculum vitae now... Severus Snape. Who wouldn't remember him? The extraordinary clever and very lonely student fascinated with the Dark Arts since his first year. The Slytherin who fought James Potter and his Gryffindor friends by each occasion, however always managed to stay unhurt and in the majority of cases also unpunished as none of the teachers had the heart to give him detentions because he simply defended himself... Yes, he came through Hogwarts unhurt and unpunished - except of that one day in his sixth year when he almost lost his life. Except of the same one day when he probably completely lost his way... The cunning Slytherin boy who joined the Death Eaters immediately after his seventh year. The dark clad young man with self-confident face who appeared in Hogshead a year ago to apply for the teaching post and who left rapidly after hearing the prophecy Sybil made without even starting the interview…
The headmaster of Hogwarts was sitting at his desk in the circular office of his and was going through the small pile of applications for the Defence Position once again. It was year after year harder to get a competent teacher for the cursed position. This year's applicants were the worst Dumbledore had remembered. The headmaster was afraid that the only competent teacher would make the Death Eater boy. But allow somebody to teach one of the crucial subjects in the times of war, if you know he was sent to spy on you! And if you know even better that his master, the Dark Lord as the boy would call him, want to recruit new Death Eaters by infiltrating the position.
Dumbledore wasn't sure if Voldemort thought him so stupid or knew all too well that the headmaster had almost no other option. Knowing the position was cursed by the past Tom Riddle himself, the second option seemed to suit better.
But why would Voldemort send the same young man who had been already declined months ago? That was a mystery. The aging headmaster decided to solve it and invited Snape together with the other applicants to Hogwarts. He was sure only about one thing - Severus Snape was the most unlike candidate to be accepted for the position. Curiosity was one thing but safety of the students and school was crucial at the moment. And neither the Death Eaters nor their master should have any access to Hogwarts…
When the young man arrived he was completely different than in Hogshead. His face was tired from the lack of sleep and his body was painfully thin. The self-confidence of that day dissapeared in the meantime and young man's eyes were somehow sad and in the same time quite nervous. As he should confess later he was afraid the headmaster would never hear him out. The invitation to Hogwarts two days ago was completely unexpected.
Dumbledore was surprised to say the least. He wasn't sure what to think. After greeting the young man with „Mr. Snape," he showed him to the armchair in front of his desk. Severus Snape sank in the offered chair. Sitting there in the big, Gryffindor red armchair with his black robe and pale face he was looking like a small, lost boy. And maybe – just maybe – he really felt this way. Seeing him like this, Dumbledore wanted to welcome the boy warmly and offer him some help if it should be needed but he couldn't bring himself to act like this to a Voldemort's spy. For the same reason he even didn't offer a cup of tea to the young man. However, he should have been surprised once again.
The boy was looking at the headmaster's table and seemed to be more than nervous. But when he started to speak his voice was clear. It sounded a bit ashamed and was very quiet, however Dumbledore understood each word perfectly. The boy wasn't speaking about himself and he hadn't mentioned the position he came for either. He just asked: „I guess you know for whom I was working since I had left Hogwarts?" And when Dumbledore nodded and said his quiet „I do.", the young man added: „He sent me to you half a year ago and also today I'm here on his orders. I'm confessing this to you but I hope you will appreciate the information I came with and won't send for the aurors. I will leave immediately after you have heard me out and you don't need to see me ever again…"
Snape looked up to the headmaster's face and their eyes met for the briefest moment. „I would just ask you to send me your written rejection later." Dumbledore saw the boy was indeed ashamed of himself – probably also because of his plea. However, he understood all too well why would the boy ask – and the boy's tone was indeed pleading – for something like that. Considering the nervous young man in front of him and all the lifes already unnecessary lost in this war he decided to act in accordance with his heart. He addressed the boy with his given name to show he was sincere. „I won't send for the aurors, Severus. I had been aware of your alliencies before you came today and didn't sent for them either. I don't think it would be necessary to invite them now… You may leave anytime you want to and I promise to let you go if you leave the school grounds immediately." Snape's gaze was at the table once again. „I will," he whispered.
Then the boy confessed to the headmaster what he had heard in Hogshead (and Dumbledore was relieved to discover it was only the first part of the prophecy) and why he left so rapid. After it his voice broke for a moment and it took several moments before he could start to speak once again.
„I regret it now but I gave the Prophecy to the Dark Lord back then and… it has been several months since the Dark Lord found out who the prophecy was speaking about… I suppose you are aware it could concern two childern. I … I'm not sure if I would have come because of the Longbottom child but you know about the life dept I owe to Potter." The name was voiced with a huge dislike. „…I wanted to warn you. Please…" – Severus's voice was slightly shaking but when he looked up to the headmaster's face and their eyes met again, Dumbledore saw sincerity in his gaze – „tell the Potters and Longbottoms to be very careful and hide somewhere. The Dark Lord decided recently not to wait until the children would be a real danger to him and he want to attack both the families soon… I'm not sure why but he consider the Potter's boy to be the bigger threat to him. Please, warn them and know I'm really sorry…" The end was whispered.
Snape took a deep breath then. It was out and he could leave now. He was standing up as he wanted to leave the office and his old school as soon as only possible. The headmaster raised his hand up to stop him forgetting his previous promise to the boy for a while. In the same moment headmaster's phoenix left his perch by the window to land on the lap of the young man. Fawkes turned his beautiful head to the pale face of the young man and the bird's small black eyes bored into the dark eyes of his. It took only an instant but Snape didn't like the feeling. It was similar to Dumbledore's intensive gaze – you had the feeling someone saw the very dephts of your soul. The phoenix's sight was even worse – the young man had a feeling none of his thoughts had stayed private. He felt more ashamed than before and tried to stand up once again. The phoenix didn't let him. Instead of it the bird sang several beautiful tones. The young man sank back in the armchair and thoughtlessly caressed the bird's feathers. Fawkes turned his head to the headmaster in expectation of his further action.
Dumbledore was looking on the scene in front of him. This was indeed unexpected. If Fawkes let the distressed young man to caress him, he had to believe he was sincere in his regret. Dumbledore shook his head. He felt the same way in the brief moments their eyes met, however he had also a strong feeling the boy knew some occlumency. And the boy confessed he was still Voldemort's spy. Dumbledore was asking himself what to do and was thankful to Fawkes for giving him this short moment to reconsider the situation.
It took several minutes before Snape came to his senses again. Fawkes was leaving his lap and the young man could finally stand up. „I need to leave now, headmaster," he said and turned to the door.
„Severus, wait!" stopped him the old man's voice and the headmaster approached him quickly. Dumbledore's hand grabbed Snape's arm and the young man had to turn to the headmaster. Their gazes met. Dumbledore's was full of concern, Snape's full of confussion.
Dumbledore asked: „Where do you want to go now, Severus? I won't allow you to go back to Voldemort" – Severus flinched hearing the name – „to be tortured and possible die because of this confession of yours! You are aware Lord Voldemort is a great legilimens, am I right? He will know you have told me." – „You don't need to worry – there won't be any innocent" – Snape smirked – „blood on your hands. The Dark Lord is indeed a great legilimens but I'm not that bad in occlumency either..." – Dumbledore interrupted the younger, harsh speaking man knowing the boy couldn't believe the headmaster was sincerely concerned because of him: „Severus, I could read you today both the times our eyes met! Please, be reasonable!"
Now it was on Snape to consider the old man in front of him. „Do you really worry so much because of my safety?" He asked then quietly. The headmaster nodded: „I do indeed. You came to me, Severus, and I won't allow you to risk something so precious as your own life because of it." – „It's not so precious but I won't risk. You really don't need to be so concerned." The young man's words were softer now. „I'm much better in occlumency than you have seen today." The boy allowed himself a small smile. „I wanted you to believe me. Try it now." He looked in the headmaster's eyes. Dumbledore saw the boy's eyes turned into dark tunnels. He smiled a little bit and asked: „How?" – „How have I learned? The Dark Lord wouldn't send a spy to you without taking care that he has at least a little chance to succeed…" Snape smirked once again: „Not after the fiasco in the last spring… I was really lucky to bring him the prophecy." Dumbledore frowned. „But I was sincere – I indeed regret I gave it to him now… Back then the Dark Lord ordered me to learn as much occlumency as I can manage myself. Sadly, I never found time for it with all my other duties." The boy hadn't liked them, that much was obvious. But he hid his distress and continued: „There was another encouragment from his side this winter. The Dark Lord saw it so crucial that I learn the skill that I hadn't had to join the raids for several months now. He was so sure there would be an opening for the Defence job this summer that he provided me with more books on occlumency this winter… It took me some time to master the subject but when I came to him several weeks ago he was overconfident with my efforts." Snape smiled slightly. „He allowed me to apply for the teaching post in Hogwarts once again… He thought I could make the best spy now. Pity I don't want this position anymore..." He turned to the door again, but Dumbledore was still holding his arm. „Headmaster?"
Dumbledore wasn't sure he should ask. But he did for the boy's sake: „Severus, when did you stop supporting Lord Voldemort?"
Snape was silent for a long time. Then he turned his gaze to the headmaster and said very quietly: „I'm still a Death Eater, headmaster. I brew potions for purposes I'm sure you don't want to know about... But if you ask when I started to doubt some of the Dark Lord's decisions – it was several months ago… After the prophecy, if you wanted to know so much… But I used to have doubts even before… I… I'm a half-blood myself as you are aware… and I … I don't agree with the pure blood ideology anymore. … I probably never really had… I know too many talented muggle born wizards and too many incompetent pure bloods for it. … I …" he hesitated. „I haven't used the Dark Magic for the past half year when I was concerning on occlumency studies and… and I see now what you meant speaking about the dangers of using it too often."
Dumbledore nodded, he could again read the young man's eyes and they were sincere. „Why are you going back to him then?" The boy smiled bitter: „I don't have anywhere else to go… You can't leave the Dark Lord's service so easy. You remember Regulus Black, don't you? There was a short notice in the Prophet when he died. Killed by a lightning was written there, if I recall correctly. But we all saw the Dark Lord killed him. And it wasn't pretty…" He stopped for a moment deep in thoughts but continued immediately after he spotted the look on Dumbledore's face: „Don't look so concerned! We all joined him of our own free will. You are not responsible for our sakes! … Why should you feel that way?"
Yes, indeed, why? The headmaster smiled sadly. „You were all my students. Even Tom Riddle was once… You don't know the name, do you? That used to be Lord Voldemort before he turned completely dark… However, he came to Hogwarts probably already too late. But I could have taken care at least of you, the younger ones…"
Snape was suddenly looking angry. „You tried, don't you remember? I was sitting here in your office several times and you tried to convince me that there were reasons the Dark Magic was called dark. It's my fault – and my fault only that it took me so long to realise you were right… And I know for sure you tried to speak also to the others… Don't take our guilts on you!"
Dumbledore was still looking sad when Fawkes sang several tones again. Snape smirked: „Even the bird see it the same way!" Dumbledore nodded: „Oh yes, he does. And he knows mostly better than I do… This is a war and nobody can take guilt for all the deaths if he hasn't started the fight but it pains still. And it pains to know that my students joined the worst evil ever…" Dumbledore was speaking quietly and more to himself than to Severus. Then he looked up again and saw the face of the young man. It was concerned and the headmaster had to smile softly – a Death Eater concerned with the worst enemy of his master! But Severus Snape was no more a loyal Death Eater and he didn't like the boy going back without having anyone to turn to…
„Severus, I don't want you to go back this way. You came for a job today and if you would have received it, you would have had a safe home outside of Voldemort's rangs. Please, don't decline me right now – will you considere to work for me? I won't offer you the Defence job – I'm sure that you know the rumour about the curse on it. And you know well from your own student's years that none of the teachers have managed to stay longer than one year in the recent past. In your position it could mean a very fast death and that's something I really don't wish for you… I would appreciate if you could obtain some information from Voldemort for me time to time but I will give you the job even if you are not willing to. Anyway, you would be probably safer if you seemingly stay loyal to Lord Voldemort. I may help you to improve your occlumency slightly for this case as well – however, you are already an expert. You have been always a talented student, Severus… Nevertheless, back to the job I want to offer you. I have no idea if you know it but we are going to have another opening in Hogwarts later this year. Your old Potions Professor decided to retire and I remember he was speaking rather enthusiastic about your abilities… I suppose I could persuade him to leave earlier now that we have such a talented applicant. " Dumbledore smiled. „It has another good point – the contract of the Potions Teacher requires of the Professor to brew the majority of potions for the hospital wing. You wouldn't have much free time for joining Voldemort's raids should you decide to accept the position."
Severus Snape was shocked to say the least. He was staring at his old headmaster with disbelief. „Why?" He managed to voice when the old man stopped. „Why would you believe me? … I could have really come just because of the Dark Lord's wishes…" He frowned a bit then: „The Dark Lord was right in one point – you are far too credulous! It would have been easy to convince you!"
Dumbledore smiled softly: „Why, Severus? You came to me today being as unselfish as a man can only be. You came with the deepest regret and confessed you are no more loyal to Lord Voldemort. You even put your defences down for me… And even if I wouldn't believe you, Fawkes did from the moment he saw your eyes… I have to confess to you, I still have doubts but I have already told you – Fawkes knows mostly better than I do…" He looked sharply at the young man then. „Be sincere, Severus! Both with me and yourself! Do you doubt Lord Voldemort and the Dark enough to turn away from it forever?"
Severus Snape locked his eyes with the headmaster's gaze, sligthly nodded and said quietly: „I do... I have never considered to fight against him though. … I have told you it had been some time I started to have doubts about his goals. However, I had never thought the Dark Lord could be defeated before I had heard the prophecy. … I … I really want to join your side now. Today has helped a great deal to convince me there is still something to fight for… I appreciate you have been concerned because of me even if you have had doubts… and I promise to help you against the Dark Lord with all my abilities."
Dumbledore searched the boy's eyes and was sure the young man was speaking truth. He smiled brighter and his eyes twinkled: „Thank you, Severus. Be always this sincere to me and I promise to never doubt you again." Dumbledore's hand reached to Severus. Snape took it hesitantly. The headmaster was smiling: „Welcome to Hogwarts, Severus! You will take the position, am I right?" When Snape very slowly nodded, he added: „Marvelous! I will speak with Horace Slughorn later today and let you know when you may move in... Professor Snape, will you care for some tea now?"
Have you liked it? I hope so. Written for fun – reviews not really necessary. But I will be happy to discover your opinion. Should my English be too bad (I'm not a native speaker as you have probably already recognised) and some native speaker willing to correct my mistakes, I will repost the story later.
O.K., some mistakes corrected now. Hopefully not many left. (-: