Trading My Sorrows

By Shadow Ballad

Genre: Drama/Spiritual

Pairings: None so far

Timeline: AU fifth year, Sirius Black has been pardoned and is the DADA assistant to Lupin

Warnings: T for violence and some language. This is a story detailing a person's conversion to Christianity, so it will contain religious themes. If this offends you, please do not read and then flame me for offending you. Reader, thou hast been warned. : )

Disclaimer: To put things simply, I do not own anything. Oh, the town is made up, so…don't go looking on a map for it. : )

Chapter One: Prodigal

I've lost so many years
There's nothing left but tears…

I had so much already,
Yet I wanted so much more
But in this world of things
I was so naïve
I walked into their arms
And lost it all.

Eden's Bridge, Prodigal

Hell found him that night.

As soon as he Apparated to the clearing for tonight's meeting, masked men in black robes surrounded him. He nodded to them, attempting to take his place among them when one stepped from the circle, his wand pointed at the other's chest.

"Well, well, if it isn't the traitor!" The platinum-haired Death Eater spat on the ground, his ice blue eyes never leaving the onyx black orbs of the man before him. "You have some nerve coming here tonight, Snape!"

"I have no idea what you are blathering on about, Lucius," Severus Snape said coldly. He lifted his chin defiantly and fixed the other man with his fiercest glare.

The spy's emotions roiled inside of him. He had been discovered. Damn! Surreptitiously he glanced about, swiftly counting the Death Eaters surrounding him and attempting to put names to them. Avery, Nott, McNair, Crabbe and Goyle Sr. …and of course, Bellatrix Lestrange. His ruse had ended, it seemed.

He could not really say that he was surprised, only disappointed that he had failed Albus so soon after his return to the fold. Apparating to meetings during school days had become more and more frequent, which had disturbed him. Now, he knew why.

But Snape, long prideful of his reputation as the strictest teacher in Hogwarts history, was not about to go down without a fight.

"Oh, but I think you do," Lucius told him, raising his wand. The other Death Eaters followed suit. Snape shifted, drawing his wand from his left sleeve and holding it close to his body. He may have been the best duellist present, but facing seven angry Death Eaters all at once stretched his odds of winning quite thin.

"I believe that I am the best judge as to what I do and do not know," Snape said, holding Malfoy's gaze with stoic calm.

The Malfoy patriarch snarled at him. "Crucio!"

Snape nimbly dodged the curse, only to find everyone else launching their own attacks against him. "Protego!" he shouted, blocking a Stupefy from Crabbe and bending out of the way of McNair's Petrificus Totalus.

Adrenaline coursed through his body as he moved, skilfully avoiding hexes and blocking curses from all seven enemies. He never once stopped moving, as that would mean certain death.

"Incarcerous!" bellowed Nott. Snape just managed to twist away from the ropes shooting out of the Death Eater's wand. This left an opening in the circle, a chance for escape.

Snape took it.

"Get him, you fools!" he heard Malfoy screech as he ducked behind a grove of trees. Panting, he reached into his robe pockets and uncorked a vial. The Potions Master wasted no time, throwing it straight into Avery and Nott's path as they barrelled past his hiding place.

Immediately the two Death Eaters burst into flames. They collapsed, screaming, as their burning bodies lit up the forest. Snape didn't stop to feel proud as his experimental potion did its job admirably. Instead, he withdrew another and threw it at Crabbe as he ran by. The hulky man collapsed, his eyes bulging as he clawed at his throat.

Snape fled, not lingering to watch Crabbe faint from the effects of the invisible, poisonous gas. He sprinted back to where he had originally Apparated, praying to the gods that the Dark Lord hadn't put up an Anti-Apparition ward.

He was just about to attempt his escape when a "Crucio!" from behind caught him off guard. Awkwardly he threw himself out of harm's way, rolling on the ground to stop in a kneeling position.

"Expelliarmus!" he shouted, narrowly missing McNair as he backed into the woods. The spell bounced harmlessly off of a tree and dissipated in the night air.



This time, Snape knew he was caught. With a sinking feeling in his chest he blocked Bella's supercharged Cruciatus curse, but couldn't turn in time to dodge Malfoy's Impediment Jinx. He fell to the ground, frozen and defeated.

Many colourful swear words ricocheted off his skull as the four remaining Death Eaters surrounded his prone body. He heard Malfoy shout "Incarcerous!" and felt magical ropes binding him effectively just as the Impediment Jinx wore off.

"Well, well; if it isn't wittle Snapey," said Bella in her baby voice. "What a pwesent for the Dark Lord!" She cackled down at him and kicked him viciously in the ribs.

Snape leered up at his captors. "It never ceases to amaze me that Voldemort allows such idiots to serve him." He smirked at the scandalised expressions that glared down at him. "Like master, like servant, I suppose."

"Wretch!" screeched Bella, kicking him in the stomach and chest. "You dare speak his name! Crucio!"

The spy managed not to scream, an ability he had been cultivating ever since the fateful night he had joined the Death Eaters. How he wished he had not been so stupid! He did, however, get quite a bit of amusement from frustrating his captors, who clearly wanted to hear him scream his throat raw.

"Bella, that's enough!" snapped Lucius a minute or so later. "Our Master wants the traitor relatively untouched. The honour of breaking him belongs to the Dark Lord and none other." Bella sneered at her fellow Death Eater, but dutifully backed away from their captive. Not even she would dare provoke Lord Voldemort's ire.

Snape, who decided that since this was his last night alive he should take full advantage of it, was about to tease them on this point when he was roughly jerked to his feet. He found himself enveloped in Goyle's gorilla-like arms before being carelessly tossed over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.

"Come on then," said Bella sourly. Everyone knew how much she hated to be deprived of torturing someone.

The odd procession set off into the black woods, their way lit by a quick Lumos spell from Lucius. Snape wriggled experimentally in his bonds. They held him fast, and his struggles earned him a sharp cuff to the back of the head from his captor.

"Be still, or I'll slam you into a tree," rumbled Goyle. If not for Snape's desire to face the Dark Lord with all his faculties intact, he would have gladly welcomed Goyle's invitation. Merlin knew it was better than being lugged about in such an undignified manner.

At that thought, Snape snorted to himself. He seemed to be developing a rather dark, ironic sense of humour in the face of his dire predicament.

The Death Eaters and their prisoner continued on in silence before coming upon a torch-lit clearing a few minutes later. Snape, who had been rapidly devising escape plans in his head, nearly groaned. From what he could see of the clearing, at least fifty more Death Eaters were present.

"Bring the traitor forward," hissed an unnaturally high-pitched voice. Snape's blood ran cold, and he couldn't suppress a shiver of dread. Goyle jerked the one-time spy off his shoulder and spun him around to face the bane of the Light's existence.

Lord Voldemort sat on a throne in the midst of the clearing in all his wicked glory. The light from the torches danced on his chalk white face, making his red snake-like eyes glow like malevolent fire. One of his skeletal hands gripped the arm of the throne like a white spider, while the other held an ebony wand trained at Snape.

Suddenly Goyle painfully gripped Snape's arms and shoved him forward, forcing him to kneel before the Dark Lord's throne. As his knees hit the hard ground, he found that his captors had completely forgotten to disarm him, instead choosing to gloat over his capture. Swiftly he Occluded his mind, careful not to let his elation show on his face or in his thoughts.

"Ssseverusss," hissed the Dark Lord coldly. Snape resisted the urge to recoil. "Sssuch a disssapointment. I alwaysss liked you, you know. My mossst faithful of followerssss…fond of torturing ssstupid Mugglesss with your ingeniusss poisonsss…" He stroked his chin, giving Severus an appraising look.

Snape didn't quite care for the tone of nostalgia in the monster's voice. Past experience dictated that when Voldemort waxed nostalgic with someone, it meant that person could look forward to a particularly painful death.

The Dark Lord certainly didn't disappoint. "Crucio!" he snarled, suddenly overcome with rage. Snape bit down on his bottom lip, determined not to scream for the Lord as he had not screamed for the servants. An agonising minute later Voldemort lifted the curse, his red eyes flashing angrily at being denied the screams of the traitor before him. Slowly he picked himself up from his throne, black robes whipping about his skeletal frame in a non-existent wind.

"I have alwaysss enjoyed that about you, Ssseverusss," he said, light amusement tingeing his voice as he stopped just before Snape. Snape resolutely locked his gaze on Voldemort's feet. "You were alwaysss ssso ssstubborn, ssso ssstrong. It endsss tonight!" Despite himself, Snape flinched at this proclamation. The Dark Lord was notorious for keeping such promises.

Abruptly a cold, dry hand grasped his chin, forcing his head back. "Look at me, Ssseverusss!" snarled the Dark Lord as he jabbed the point of his wand into the soft flesh of Snape's throat. "I want to sssee the fear in your eyesss as I ssslowly take your worthlesss life!"

Snape gazed into the angry red eyes of the barely-human being before him. He felt Voldemort sharply probing his mind and automatically strengthened his mental shields. Long ago he had promised Albus that even if he was captured, he would protect the Order's secrets until the moment he died.

Feeling reckless, Snape narrowed his eyes and spat in the Dark Lord's face. "Go to Hell, you sadistic bastard!"

Shocked gasps rippled throughout those gathered in the clearing. That someone – a traitor, no less! – would dare address their Lord in such a manner was unthinkable!

Apparently, Voldemort agreed with them. With a hiss of undisguised wrath, he backhanded Severus and sent him sprawling onto the grass at the Dark Lord's feet. "Crucio!" Snape writhed on the ground in pain, his bonds digging into his body. He felt his teeth bite through his bottom lip; felt the blood run down his chin, and still, he refused to scream.

This infuriated Voldemort even more. "Beat him, kick him, break him!" he hissed to his followers, who immediately complied. Never once did the Dark Lord let up on the Cruciatus Curse.

Five minutes later, Snape felt as if a herd of hippogriffs had run him over. He could feel at least two broken ribs, a broken ankle, and a head wound that was certainly a concussion. Above him, the Death Eaters gazed down at him in triumph. Even worse than seeing Lucius Malfoy's arrogant features gloating was seeing Voldemort's skeletal face contorted in malevolent glee.

"Thisss, my preciousss ssservantsss, isss the price a traitor paysss for betraying me," Voldemort said from above, nudging Snape's wounded body none-too-gently with the toe of his boot. "I sssuggessst that anyone elssse presssent contemplating the sssame thing mark well hisss fate!" Snape could just imagine the look the Dark Lord was giving his servants at that moment. He was terribly glad he was on the ground and didn't have to see it himself.

While Voldemort was busy terrifying his followers with promises of death should they betray him, Snape experimentally tested for Apparation wards. To his immense delight, he found nothing. He snorted. Apparently Voldemort was counting on hurting him so much that he would be too weak to do much of anything at all.

His thoughts were interrupted as the snake man addressed him again. "Ssso, Ssseverusss. Are you going to beg me for mercy? Pleassse, do it. Not that it will get you anywhere…" Several Death Eaters laughed at this. Snape rolled his eyes, too busy concentrating on pulling strength from untapped reserves to pay attention to the gloating words above him.

The Death Eaters amused themselves for a few more moments, taunting him with gory descriptions of torture. Just as Severus was convinced that he had found enough energy within him to Apparate a short distance, they abruptly fell silent. His mind was just starting to wonder why when a hand roughly jerked him from the ground by his hair. His cry of pain died on his lips when he came nearly nose to nose with the Dark Lord.

"What sssay you, Ssseverusss? Will you beg, for my pleasssure? I promissse your death will be much ssswifter should you do ssso," he said, an unholy expression of delight on his chalk white features.

Snape had had enough. Surreptitiously tightening his hold around his wand, he scowled at Lord Voldemort. "Oh shut up, you stupid, blathering Mudblood!" he snarled in a voice usually reserved for the likes of Potter and Longbottom.

The following moment of shocked silence greatly amused the Potions Master. Even Voldemort himself seemed to be in denial. Snape took the time to smirk cheekily before mustering his strength and Apparating away.

"Oof!" Snape landed heavily on ground that turned out to be quite hard and very wet. Rain pelted his abused body, and the cold night air attacked any skin exposed to it. Shakily he pushed himself to a sitting position, swiping a hand across his eyes to wipe away blood and rain.

The forest to his left looked depressingly familiar. A sudden burst of lightning illuminated black, dead trees and sparse vegetation. The answering boom of thunder left him momentarily deaf. Snape just managed to catch a glimpse of what looked like a village to his right when another shock of lightning lit up the sky and blinded him.

"Damn it!" he swore, waiting for the afterglow to fade away from his eyes before attempting to stand. Leaning on a tree made a much easier job out of it, but he did fall a few times. His drenched robes were very easy to slip on. Cursing freely he stripped off the standard issue Death Eater robe and tossed it into the mud, spitting on it for vindictive pleasure.

Wherever he was, he wasn't as far away from the Death Eaters as he had originally hoped to get. He raised a hand trembling with cold and fatigue to his eyes, shielding his eyes from the lightning and perusing the village off to his right. It had to be a Wizarding village; to his knowledge, no Muggles lived this far away from their cities and civilisation in general. Shivering violently in the cold autumn night, Snape peevishly wished he was anywhere but where he was. Except, of course, back in the Death Eater's clearing. Even this – wherever this was – was better than that. Sighing, he moodily snapped a branch off the tree to serve as a crutch and tottered his way through the rain toward the village. He was already soaked to the skin; a little more water couldn't possibly hurt.

Just as he was nearing the outskirts, a chill that had nothing to do with the frigid weather went down his spine. He froze. The only time he ever had that particular sensation was when he was being watched or followed. Risking a glance behind himself, he saw, to his immense dismay, shadows even darker than the night near the forest. Fate chose that moment to send another burst of lightning, which revealed at least a dozen Death Eaters looking in his direction.

Suddenly filled anew with adrenaline, Snape didn't wait to see if they had seen him. He cursed violently and began to run as fast as he could. His broken ankle protested painfully, but he ignored it. His life was far more important at the moment, and pain was merely an easily ignored agitator.

The wind carried angry voices to his ear. His heart beat wildly somewhere in the vicinity of his throat; they were closing the gap! "Damn, damn, damn!" His black eyes darted about frantically, searching for someplace to hide. An old stone building loomed up in front of him, surrounded by a wrought iron gate. What looked suspiciously like tombstones littered the lawn in front of the building. He quickly changed course and made for the building, hobbling along on his crutch and gasping. Running after severe bouts of the Cruciatus Curse and an old-fashioned Muggle beating was certainly not something Snape would recommend.

The wooden doors were centimetres from his fingertips when his crutch caught in a hole in the stone walkway. "Bloody hell!" he exclaimed as he collapsed face-first on the remaining step. His breath came in short, painful gasps as he attempted to push himself to his feet. Snape swore again as his weary arms gave out, putting him back in the same position, only with much less energy.

"Get him!" voices shouted in the storm behind him. So it ends, Snape thought despairingly. Too tired to go on fighting, the Potions Master laid his forehead on the stone, waiting for rough hands to grab him and Apparate him off to Voldemort and a slow, painful, torturous death.

Suddenly light pierced the darkness. Reflexively Snape lifted a hand to protect his eyes from the glare. He vaguely wondered if he wasn't already dead and this was the proverbial light at the end of the dark tunnel when gentle but firm hands grabbed his arms and dragged him up the stairs. A resounding bang behind him startled him, and with his last vestige of strength, Snape looked to see the backside of the wooden doors of the building outside which he had collapsed.

Presently he became aware that he was not alone, and looked up to see a man in a black robe kneeling next to him. For a moment Snape panicked, thinking the man a Death Eater, when angry voices and insistent pounding confirmed that the Death Eaters were still outside.

Pieces fell into place within his tired mind, and he belatedly realised that this was the person who had pulled him inside. Suddenly filled with a need to protect his protector, Snape weakly reached out and tugged the man's sleeve.

"They're…Death Eaters…run…leave me; I am…the one they want," he gasped. The effort of speech left him even more exhausted than before, and he fell back down onto the cool, dry stone floor.

"Do not worry, friend," said a mild voice from above him. "Those evil men are barred from entering this place by their very nature."

Snape decided that being confused and exhausted was far worse than being just merely exhausted. "What do you mean?" he whispered as loudly as he could.

The pounding and shouts were joined by curses and hexes that rattled the doors. But, just as his companion had told him, they could not enter. After a few more minutes of trying to force their way inside, the Death Eaters apparently realised that their efforts were futile and left the two men inside alone. Bitterly Snape hoped that Voldemort would torture them soundly when they returned empty-handed.

A hand on his forehead brought Snape back to the present, and he looked up into the face of his rescuer. The man appeared to be middle-aged, with dark hair and eyes and a pleasant expression on his oval-shaped face. A pair of rectangular spectacles sat on the end of a long, slightly pointed nose. Dimly Snape realised that the man was speaking to him, and weakly shook his head to let him know he hadn't understood.

The man gave him a smile worthy of Albus Dumbledore and fiddled with his glasses. "I said, you seem to have gotten yourself into a bit of trouble," he repeated patiently, humming a tune Snape didn't know to himself as he resumed poking about Snape's body.

"Can you stand?" he asked moments later, then rolled his eyes in a self-deprecating manner. "Of course you can't, not with that broken ankle of yours. My apologies. It is a bit late, even for me. Here, let give me your hand."

Hesitantly Severus took the proffered hand, giving the man a quizzical look as he did so. Who was he, and why was he helping a stranger being chased by obviously dangerous men? And, while he was on that subject, why weren't they able to follow him inside? He haltingly voiced these questions to his companion as he leaned heavily on his shoulder.

The man chuckled genially and helped him sit down on a wooden bench. At second glance, the room was lined with wooden benches, and at the front there was a small wooden table on which sat a cross and two chalices. Behind it sat a pulpit. Ah. He was in a church.

"My name is Lawrence Beckett, and I'm the pastor of the Wizarding church here in Kilterbury," his rescuer said. After poking and prodding Severus gently for a few more moments, he withdrew a short wand from his sleeve. "Accio towel and bowl." As soon as the objects appeared in the room, Snape's rescuer filled the bowl with a water charm. After dipping the towel in the bowl of warm water, the pastor gently set about cleaning off Snape's blood-stained face.

"And as to why I'm helping you…" Pastor Beckett continued, "well, that is my job." He chuckled and wrung the towel out on the ground. "I'll clean it up later," he said at Severus's incredulous look.

The man then asked Severus to remove his frock coat, cravat and shirt so he could clean any wounds on his chest. Too exhausted to argue, Snape meekly complied, though he did feel a bit awkward stripping to the waist in front of a complete stranger.

He watched the pastor as he cleaned the less serious cuts and abrasions, soaking up much of the blood with the wet towel. His normally pale skin was a mottled purple where the ribs had been broken. "They certainly did a number on you," his rescuer remarked cheerfully. Snape resisted the urge to roll his eyes and groan. The man was almost a direct personality clone of Albus eternally-happy Dumbledore!

"I'll need to get some healing potions for the more serious wounds and the broken bones," Pastor Beckett said after a few minutes. "You'll be fine here; none of evil disposition can enter this place. It is protected by the holy power of God." With that said, Snape's companion got up and disappeared through a doorway to Snape's left.

Absently Snape realised that his last question had finally been answered. He sniffed disbelievingly to himself. "'Holy power of God.' Yes, whatever you say, Pastor…"

He took the chance to look about the small Wizarding church. Behind the table with the cross on it there was a large tapestry depicting three men being crucified. The one in the centre had some sort of nimbus about his head. Snape supposed this was Jesus; as a child he remembered his mother telling him stories about someone by that name. The other tapestries and murals in the room confirmed his suspicions, as did the small but beautiful stained glass windows near the front of the church.

At one point he recognised one person depicted on a tapestry. The man was standing amid what looked like a garden, a wand spouting white light held aloft in his left hand. His face, framed by brown locks, looked gentle and sincere. He had seen this person before, in many textbooks on medical and healing potions, and of course, in the establishment that held his name. "St. Mungo…" Severus murmured.

"I'm sorry, what was that?" Snape jumped, not aware that Pastor Beckett had re-entered the main sanctuary. He half-heartedly gestured at the tapestry of St. Mungo.

"Just…looking," he managed to say before erupting in a bout of dry, hacking coughs.

"Interesting, aren't they? Here, drink this," the pastor added, passing Snape a glass vial.

For the first time in his life, Snape accepted the potion without question and downed it without asking first what it was. There was something about his companion that demanded he trust him.

"…thank you…" Snape whispered after drinking the medicine. Pastor Beckett gave him a kind smile and took the vial, only to replace it with another. The Potions Master, too exhausted to protest, drank that one too. Uncomfortable but not painful movements in his chest and head followed, and Snape was delighted to find that he could breathe unhindered once again. The concussion seemed to be gone as well. Gratefully he nodded to the pastor, who gave him a jovial smile in return.

"There is a special room for guests here," he said as he gave Snape back his clothing. "I highly recommend that you stay here until you're fully rested and healed."

"I would like that," the dark-haired wizard replied. He glanced once more about the church, suddenly overcome with strong feelings of longing, as if there was a hole in his heart yearning to be filled. Confused, he looked to the pastor, who had gone to the podium and was shuffling parchments about.

"This place…it intrigues me," he confessed a few moments later, eyes trained on his feet in embarrassment.

"I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have in the morning," his companion said. Even though Snape had only just met him, he could hear a smile in the other's voice. It almost made Snape smile himself, but such an action was nearly foreign to a face accustomed to sneering and scowling. Instead his lips twitched upwards a bit, and he looked up into the cheerful face of the pastor.

"Would you…show me to the guest room? Please?" he added. Yet another thing he was unaccustomed to: being polite. What was it about this place that had such a positive effect on his normally negative disposition? Snape chalked it up to exhaustion and decided to analyse the question more in the morning.

"Of course," said Pastor Beckett. He walked down a few steps and over to the pew Snape sat in. He offered his hand, pulling the younger man to his feet and wrapping an arm around his waist to support him. Deeply mortified at being so weak and vulnerable, Snape carefully did not look at his companion's face and instead gazed about at his surroundings.

The two men passed through what appeared to be a study, lined with bookcases. At the far end near another stained glass window there sat a desk piled high with books, parchments and an inkwell and quills. Three comfortable looking chairs sat around the desk.

"My office," said Pastor Beckett, following Snape's gaze. Snape nodded absent-mindedly, his mind fixated on the books and his hands eager to pick them up and read them. Had he the strength, he would have perused the nearest bookcase, but instead allowed himself to be steered out of the office and down a short hallway lined with four doors.

Pastor Beckett was humming to himself again as he stopped by the nearest door, opening it and helping Snape inside. A plain but comfortable-looking bed was on the far wall, accompanied by a small wooden nightstand on which burned a single candle. A wardrobe sat next to it. On the opposite wall sat a desk, supplied with an inkwell, quills, and parchment. A simple wooden chair completed the ensemble rather nicely.

"Here, let me help you to the bed. You must be exhausted," the pastor said after letting Snape look about his room. He sat down on the bed and made to lay down when, to his surprise and embarrassment, his companion knelt down and gently began to remove his shoes.

"I…you don't have to do that!" Snape protested, his pale skin flushed a rather bright red colour. Pastor Beckett merely chuckled.

"No, I don't; but I want to. Helping other people is something I'm rather good at, if I do say so myself," he said, sitting back on his heels to face Snape. His smile dimmed somewhat as he noticed that Snape's extreme discomfort with the situation.

"I am not used to…such displays of kindness," Snape managed to choke out through his embarrassment. He refused to meet his companion's eyes, which he was sure were filled with disgust or, even worse, pity.

"Indeed?" was his companion's only reply for a few moments. Then, "That is a shame."

Surprised, Snape looked up to see only kindness in the other's dark brown eyes. "How so? You do not know me. For all you know, I could be the most despicable person in the world!" Snape didn't mean to yell at his rescuer, but speaking what he considered to be the truth seemed to sharpen his tongue.

His outburst was met by yet another infuriating smile. "For starters, I don't have to know you personally to be kind to you. Kindness to others is something heavily stressed in the Bible. And I know you are not, to quote you, 'the most despicable person in the world' because of the simple fact that you were able to come inside. As I told you before, this place is protected by the holy power of God. None held by the power of evil with no wish to resist it can enter here. If I might be quite frank, I don't think your coming here tonight was an accident."

Snape gaped at him, dumbfounded. Here was a man who didn't even know his name or background, and was willing to help him in a time of need! Vaguely he suspected that Pastor Beckett would help almost anyone who would sit still long enough to let him.

After giving Snape an encouraging smile the older wizard rose. "Well, I best let you get your rest. Good night…oh my." He gave another self-deprecating chuckle. "How rude of me! I never even asked for your name. May I?"

Snape was overwhelmed by a feeling that he could trust this man with not only his name, but his life. "Severus Snape," he said, hesitantly holding out his hand. Pastor Beckett took it with a grin and gave him a firm, friendly handshake.

"Good night then, Severus!" With another chuckle and smile he was out the door and closed it behind him to give his guest privacy.

Shaking his head in amazement, Snape got ready for bed. Stripping to his shorts he climbed into bed and blew out the candle. As he snuggled down into the surprisingly comfortable blankets and pillow and drifted off to sleep, he heard a pleasant tenor voice singing. It was the tune the pastor had been humming to himself earlier.

"…whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say: It is well; it is well with my soul."

A/N: So…what does anyone think? I already have about seven chapters planned out so far. My usual policy does stand, though; as long as one person is reading this, it gives me incentive to finish. I don't really want to take up bandwidth space with a story no one is reading. Although, I will probably finish it even if I don't post it here. It is more of a personal project than anything. But, it is my hope that maybe someone will be touched by it, as arrogant as that sounds…so…even if you're just reading to read, please, enjoy!

Oh, and if anyone would like to beta for me, just let me know…heaven knows I need one. : )

Shadow Ballad