Disclaimer: The brilliant Jo Rowling owns these characters, the wonderful people who work on Wicked own this song, and charming me owns a computer. :) I hope you enjoy, please review.
I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
Albus Dumbledore had many memories, being as old as he was, but he certainly did not forget as many as people sometimes presumed him to. He still remembered the day that Severus Snape had shown up at his school as a first year. Pallid, quiet, and exceptionally bright, he had been sorted into Slytherin and instantly thrust into a gang of mostly older students. They brushed paths few times during those years; Severus had not gone out of his way to make trouble and he'd had no real reason to see the Headmaster. None the less, Albus was not surprised when he found out that Severus had joined the Death Eaters. He wished, of course, that he would have done something more, but it was certainly the outcome he had predicted.
His first real interaction with the young man was when Severus had come to him seeking forgiveness for his former actions. For one of the only times in his life, Severus Snape had not been on his guard, and had told him of his mistakes with deep regret. Not only from that experience did the two men come to know each other better, but they had also both found a ally, a trusted companion…a friend.
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
The role of a double agent added much stress to Severus' life, that much was plain, but he did not seem to resent Albus for it. For the most part, Severus remained silent of his activities outside of grading papers and lecturing students. But it was clear after the Dark Lord vanished that Severus was certainly not about to complain about being relieved of one of his jobs.
He did begin to complain one day when he saw the student list for the coming term.
"Harry Potter?" he read aloud in the staff room. "Harry Potter?" He looked at Albus scornfully. "Potter?" he spat. "Potter's coming?"
"He's been down on the list since birth, Severus," said Albus pleasantly. "Surely you had noticed?"
"He can't come here."
"Why ever not?" Albus placed his elbows on the table, intertwined his fingers, and put his chin on them, watching Severus with a mingle of curiosity and amusement.
"He – he's been living with Muggles!"
"As have all the Muggleborn witches and wizards."
Severus glared at the student list. "You could have told me more than a week prior to the event, Headmaster."
"And what would you have done?" Albus inquired, looking at him with a pensive expression.
"I – I would have been prepared."
"To do what, Severus?" said Albus, sounding amused. "Devise ways to make the boy's time in your class as terrible as possible?"
Severus placed the parchment on the table, rose, and eyed Albus. "Do you enjoy this?"
"I think that it will be a good experience for both of you."
Severus left the staff room cursing quietly under his breath.
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you:
Severus entered the Headmaster's office and seated himself opposite Albus. With no introduction, he pulled up his left sleeve abruptly and held out his arm for the other man to see: a tattoo of a skull, with a snake protruding out of its mouth, burning a deep black…
"It's coming back…" said Severus unnecessarily, avoiding both Albus' eyes and the skull's. "Karkaroff's too…stronger and clearer than ever…"
Albus had figured this before Severus had come to him. But he could tell from Severus' face, as he roughly pulled the sleeve back down and snapped it to his side, that he had known his information would be merely confirmation for the older man.
"I just thought you should know…" Severus muttered, black eyes fixed on the window.
"Thank you, Severus," said Albus quietly. "I am glad you came. Is that all?"
"That's all," said Severus in a undertone, and he rose to leave.
"Severus?" Albus called.
The younger man paused and turned, finally meeting the other man's eyes. "Headmaster?"
Albus paused, watching him. "When Voldemort" – Severus flinched – "does return…I just want you to know I have my complete confidence and trust in you to make the right choices. Always."
Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
"Severus," he said, "you know what I must ask you to do. If you are ready…if you are prepared…"
"I am," said Severus.
His eyes were glittering strangely, and he was a little paler than normal.
"Then good luck," said Albus, as he watched the Potions professor sweep out the door. He was fairly assured that Severus would not have much trouble getting back in with Voldemort, but he could not help but feel slightly uneasy.
Severus returned around two hours later with news. Voldemort had been skeptical at first, he reported, but Severus was fairly sure he now had most of his trust. He relayed to Albus everything he had said to Voldemort to win him over, and his reactions.
When the tale had been told, Albus leaned back in his office chair and smiled. "Well done, Severus."
Severus bowed his head briefly with a nonchalant air; but a flicker of a smile, albeit a tense one, but a flicker none the less, appeared on his face. "Thank you, Headmaster."
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good
"What?" Severus said immediately, as though praying he had misheard.
"Yes, Severus," said Albus. "You will teach Harry Occlumency. You have heard my concerns; it must be done."
"Why can't you do it?"
"I have shared with you why not; I cannot risk provoking Voldemort" – his companion flinched – "anymore than I must."
"So I must do your dirty work," Severus concluded bitterly. "I see."
"No, I don't think you do," said Albus quietly. "Not if that is how you talk of it."
For a moment, Severus did a very good job of looking unswayed by this remark, but then a light flush crept into his face and he looked down. "My apologies, Headmaster. I do realize the importance of teaching Potter, but…couldn't someone else…?"
"You are one of the most accomplished Occlumens here; you are the only one suited for the position."
Severus still looked as though he might try to decline; his expression was that of calculation.
"I know you can…" said Albus gently.
Only a scowl for a response.
"Fine." Severus stalked out of the room.
It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
Severus Snape didn't like thinking about the day he had gone to Albus Dumbledore to ask to be forgiven, and a chance to be redeemed. He was not a man who groveled; he was not a man who wore his heart on his sleeve. Yet that day told different, that was the day he had become like those he detested. But it had gotten him where he was now, and he respected Dumbledore for that. He respected the older man for being willing to trust him, and then – what he still occasionally marveled at – actually being able to trust him.
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
"I take it you've heard, then?" said a voice.
Severus peered over the newspaper he had been holding in front of his face. "Good evening, Headmaster. I was wondering when you'd return."
"There were certain matters to attend to, surely you can understand," said Dumbledore, sitting down in the seat opposite Severus'.
"And the boy?" Severus questioned softly. "He's still alive?"
A faint smile touched Dumbledore's lips. "At the moment he is alive and well, yes."
"But Potter and Evans…"
"I'm afraid so."
Severus' muscles tightened. He broke Dumbledore's overly inquisitive gaze, folded up the paper, and looked down steadily at it instead.
"Do not be too hard on yourself," said Dumbledore quietly. "You could not have known it would result in this…"
"Don't," Severus spat angrily at him, now glaring into his eyes. "Don't. We both know I knew perfectly well what I was doing. I knew it would result in murder. Certainly not what murders, but I knew full well death would be a key part in relaying the portion of the prophecy to the Dark Lord. I knew he would want the prophesized one dead, and would go to lengths to do so. Do not make excuses for me."
"We have had this discussion, Severus," said Dumbledore in a low tone. "You have made mistakes, as have many men; that does not mean you should not enjoy some happiness in your life."
Severus resumed staring hard at the Daily Prophet.
"Voldemort" – Severus twitched – "is gone for now; this is a cause of joy as well."
"Yes," said Severus softly, looking at the article. "Yes, I suppose so." A pause. "Happiness does not come without a price, does it?"
"I would not say that, but it is sometimes the case."
Severus met his eyes searchingly. "You don't blame me?"
"It is not blame that matters now, it is redemption."
The younger man lowered his head. "I think you trust me too much."
"Are you complaining?" Dumbledore wondered, smiling kindly at him.
"Certainly not," Severus murmured. "I just don't think I deserve it all."
"People have often questioned my judgments on different matters, saying I am old and cannot be making such decisions," Dumbledore said. "Are you in agreement?"
Severus met the twinkling blue eyes. "Not yet, Headmaster."
"A very optimistic statement," said Dumbledore, beaming. "Good night to you, Severus."
"Good night, Headmaster." Severus' mouth twitched in amusement as Dumbledore left his office.
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend:
"I must go back to the feast, Minerva, I've got to give out a few notices. Come, Severus, there is a delicious-looking custard tart I want to sample…"
Severus was led from his own office by Dumbledore, as the two made their way to the Great Hall.
"Headmaster," said Severus as courteously as he could manage, "they were in a flying car, they were seen by Muggles, and they drove into the Whomping Willow. Surely the punishment Potter and Weasley deserve would be greater than what you – "
"If they were any other students, Severus, you would not be so adamant about this."
"Of course I would!" he intoned furiously. "A punishment is given out based on the action, and – "
"Come now," said Dumbledore calmly, "you know that expulsion would not have been the fair – "
"Not for your favorite student, no, of course not," Severus shot at him.
They were at the entrance to the Great Hall, but now Dumbledore stopped and looked at Severus hard. "I trust that the boys will not make the same mistake again. If I did not, yes, a different consequence might have been in order. But they did not mean for this to happen, and I trust them both. Much as I trust you," he added severely.
Severus did not lower his gaze. "Surely punishment is based on what happened, not the attitude of what happened. Besides, Potter clearly did it for the attention – "
"Severus," said Dumbledore good-naturedly, smiling at him, "do you really think Harry needs anymore attention?"
"In his opinion, it seems," Severus mumbled.
Dumbledore touched him briefly on the arm, eyes twinkling as he smiled at his former pupil. "Let's go try the custard tart, shall we?"
Severus respected and loathed that twinkle. At that moment, he loathed it.
"Only you would think about food at a time like this, Headmaster," said Severus tartly.
But never the less, he journeyed to the staff table with Dumbledore and took a small portion of the dessert.
Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a skybird
In a distant wood
"…and he will be expecting information about you and the Order, so I will have to leak certain things to keep him unsuspicious."
"Naturally," said Dumbledore easily. "Is that all?"
Dumbledore leaned back in his chair and smiled at him. "Well done, Severus."
Severus inclined his head, the corners of his mouth twitching upward despite himself. "Thank you, Headmaster."
"Sirius is gathering the Order members as we speak," Dumbledore informed him.
Severus' eyes narrowed, almost reflexively.
"You two are on the same side now, Severus," Dumbledore reminded him.
"But of opposing views none the less," Severus muttered.
"Allies do not have to be friends, merely trusted associates."
"Will all due respect Headmaster, the day Black and I trust each other will be the day the grass turns pink."
"Old wounds can be healed if you try, Severus." The Potions master frowned at this. Dumbledore studied him for a moment, then raised his wand and pointed it outside. He stood and beckoned Severus to follow him to the window. Severus peered out warily. It was dark, but there was no mistake: the grass surrounding Hogwarts was a neon shade of pink.
"Your sense of humor has always escaped me, Headmaster," said Severus dryly.
"Ah, to each his own," said Dumbledore cheerfully.
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you:
"Good evening, Severus. Might I impose upon you for a few moments?"
Severus allowed Dumbledore into his office, watching him carefully as he sat down opposite Severus' desk. "You're not well."
"I have been better," Dumbledore agreed mildly. Severus seated himself behind his desk, watching the older man closely.
"Not since the attack at the Ministry a month ago…"
"I am a old man, Severus, my time is drawing to a close. Which brings me to why I am here."
Severus waited, but Dumbledore did not continue; merely peered at him through half moon glasses. "Yes, Headmaster?" said Severus after a pause.
Dumbledore studied him pensively before speaking. "You know that I trust you completely, yes?"
Severus was slightly surprised at this declaration. "Well – yes, I – "
"You know that I trust you completely?" said Dumbledore again, with a little more urgency in his tone.
"Yes, Headmaster," said Severus slowly.
"You know that I have my complete confidence in you?"
"Then I must ask something of you."
"Alright." Dumbledore had asked many things of him before, why was he beating around the bush so?
"Next year…I will be teaching Harry information he needs to defeat Voldemort." Severus flinched. "I will prepare him so that when I am gone he will not need me. At the end of the year…you will know when the time is right…you must complete the task I set you."
Severus was growing impatient. "Which would be…?
Dumbledore looked at him closely.
"You will have to kill me."
Because I knew you:
Severus had wanted absolutely no part in the task. He outright refused. Albus listed countless reasons for him to go through with it: Draco would not become a murderer; Voldemort would trust him for good; Harry would be prepared to go fight Voldemort; he could have the D.A.D.A. job he had always wanted; he would be able to lead Harry to some of the Horcruxes and thus earn back his trust…
But Severus remained firm in his decision.
It was not until several days later that Severus consented – though he was still very hesitant, and was quite angry at Albus for even 'proposing such a ludicrous idea'. But Albus trusted him, and was certain that in the end Severus would listen to him.
I have been changed for good
"I'm almost done," said Severus, panicking slightly at the Headmaster's weakened state and nearly adding too much salamander blood to the potion.
"Take your time," said Dumbledore, though he was slumped over in his chair and his voice was very quiet.
Severus may have been disheveled, but he hadn't been hired to teach Potions for nothing. Within minutes he was forcing a thick mixture down the older man's throat, then he stepped back and watched for results.
Dumbledore shivered for several moments, then his body untensed and a relaxed expression appeared on his face. He smiled. "Thank you, Severus."
"How do you feel?" Severus asked.
"Much better," said Dumbledore. "The damage did not spread too far, thankfully." He rolled back his left sleeve to reveal a withered, black hand. Severus was repulsed.
"It is fine," said Dumbledore, the hand vanishing beneath his long blue sleeve again. "My condition would have been much worse had you not been here. And it was completely worth it; Voldemort is slightly closer to being defeated now."
"Yes, about this plan of yours," said Severus quickly, "I don't think – "
"If you are referring to your assignment, Severus, I must remain firm in my words," said Dumbledore calmly, though the expression on his face showed that there was no debate in the matter. Severus resisted the urge to shout and rage at the old man.
Dumbledore stood and took a few step towards the door before drawing in a quick breath and bending over slightly.
"Headmaster?" said Severus anxiously.
"Fine," said Dumbledore, righting himself. "Good night, Severus."
"Good night," Severus muttered grudgingly. As though either of us can have a 'good night' after all that has happened this evening.
And just to clear the air
I ask forgiveness
For the things I've done you blame me for
"Have you found out anything yet?"
"I'm trying," Severus said impatiently. "Stop pestering me about it."
"You must find out what Draco is attempting, Severus."
"What do you think I've been doing? The boy won't tell me anything, he thinks I am trying to steal his glory."
"I'm sorry for putting you in this situation, but you really must – "
"You're sorry?" Severus snarled. "Thank you, Headmaster, that means a lot."
"I am sorry, Severus," said Albus quietly. "I do not mean to hurt you so, but you must realize – "
"That your murder by my hands is the only way? No, I do not realize that."
"I do not mean to bring such pain to your life, yet that seems to be all I accomplish."
"Do not try and win my pity, Headmaster."
"Try and win your pity? No Severus, I am merely offering my sincerest apologies. I just wish they were enough."
But then, I guess we know
There's blame to share
And none of it seems to matter anymore
"This is all my fault, isn't it," said Severus quietly one day, when they were alone in the staff room.
"What do you mean by that?" Dumbledore asked him.
"All of this…what you are asking of me…I can't really blame you, can I?"
"You most certainly can," said Dumbledore quietly. "I – "
"No, no!" said Severus, turning away from Dumbledore and placing his hands on the back of a chair. "This is my fault! I am repaying for the foolish mistakes I made when I was young, aren't I? This is all my punishment; and it doesn't even matter what I do now because what I did…follows me everywhere." He gripped the back of the chair hard and clenched his eyes shut.
"Severus," said Dumbledore gently to his back.
Severus remained facing the opposite way, trying to regain his composure.
"My dear boy, many of my words to you seem to go in and out as swiftly as the wind blows," said Dumbledore softly. "But hear these words, remember them, and believe them: you are not to blame, and I am not to blame. We are to blame."
Like a comet pulled----Like a ship blown
From orbit as it----Off it's mooring
Passes a sun, like----By a wind off the
A stream that meets----Sea, like a seed
A boulder, half-way----Dropped by a
Through the wood----Bird in the wood
"You must make further inquiries in your House, Severus, I will not ask again."
"Then don't ask!"
"You must try harder."
"I'm trying as hard as I damn well can!"
"Are you really?"
"Yes," said Severus through his gritted teeth, scuffing up a bit of dirt on the ground with his shoe. "Though, as you know, I am less than inclined to do as you want concerning…"
"Our agreement has not changed, Severus; you must do as I have requested."
"Maybe I don't want to go through with it!" Severus' volume raised slightly in temper. "Haven't you ever considered how much you are asking of me?"
"Of course," said Dumbledore, locking his eyes firmly with the other man. A ruffle in a nearby bush distracted the two momentarily, then Severus rounded on the foolish old man again.
"You are the only one the Dark Lord fears! If you are gone – "
"I am aging Severus, I am no more of a threat to him right now than a first year is," said Dumbledore. "I have accepted the truth, and you need to as well. Your position and life are far more valuable than mine, as is Harry's."
"I don't want to do it," said Severus quietly. I can't do it, is what he was thinking.
"You can do it," said Dumbledore gently, knowing what he was thinking without using Legilimency. "I trust you."
Severus wasn't sure if trust was a good thing anymore. He glared at the Headmaster, wondering how he could respect and resent at the same time so much.
"I'll do it." He stalked away, unsure if he hated himself or the old man more at that moment.
Who can say if I've been changed for the better
I do believe I have been changed for the better
"I suppose this is good-bye, Severus."
"Don't talk to me like that, I haven't even k – even done it yet," Severus snapped. "Are you and Potter going soon, then?"
"In a few hours time." Albus watched the younger man sadly, as Severus crossed his arms and critically gazed out the window. "Severus," he said suddenly, "if you could run your life over, would you eliminate me from it?"
"Certainly not," Severus mumbled. "I wanted to go to Hogwarts more than anything, you know what my house was like…"
"I meant after. When you became a teacher, and a double agent. That was quite a lot my doing. Would you eliminate me from your life, if you could?"
Severus looked carefully out the window. "No, I don't think so, Headmaster," he intoned quietly. "Though Merlin only knows why," he added bitterly. "You bring me flashes of happiness only to drive them away with storms of misery."
"We have both changed one another, I think," said Albus thoughtfully. "For the better, do you think, Severus?"
"You have always tried to look at things too wisely, Headmaster. I have no idea." Severus glanced briefly at Albus, then looked away again; as though afraid to keep looking.
Albus stepped closer to his former pupil, so they were side by side. He looked out the window, as Severus was doing, and his eyes met the setting sun. Trying to fight the sudden pain inside him, he clasped a hand on Severus' shoulder. Severus flinched at the contact, appeared to toy with the idea of pulling away, but then remained where he was. The two men watched silently together as the sun slowly set.
And because I knew you:
"Severus!" Filius Flitwick spluttered, lunging into his office. Severus looked up, knowing what was coming.
"Death Eaters – in the castle – " Flitwick wheezed. "You've got to – come and help us – "
Severus didn't have time to think. He Stupefied Flitwick and hurtled out of his office. Lovegood and Granger were standing outside, watching him. Out of his mouth came something about how Flitwick had passed out cold, and that the two of them should go help while he went to fight the Death Eaters. Luckily, they seemed to believe him, and went scurrying away. He almost regretted that they were gone; now there was nothing to stop him from finding Draco and Dumbledore and committing…
He ran up the staircase and thrust open the door, eyes taking in the scene: there was Draco, there were several of the other Death Eaters who had come, and there was Dumbledore…
"We've got a problem, Snape," said Amycus, "the boy doesn't seem able – "
He sounded weak, weaker than he ever had. But how dare he speak his name now, how dare he make this worse?!
Severus said nothing; he shoved Draco away and the other Death Eaters melted to the side. He wouldn't have noticed them even if they were nose to nose with him; he saw only one now.
Never had Severus felt such revulsion with himself, never had he felt such hatred towards that man who was presently slumped against the wall.
Because I knew you:
Albus watched him closely. He could tell Severus was angry with him, angry beyond words; and that he hated him right now. But he must still go and….
Make the right choice, Severus; not only for me, not only for you, but for us.
Because I knew you:
The man clad in black raised his wand and aimed it at the figure slumped against the wall.
I have been changed
"It's coming back…Karkaroff's too…stronger and clearer than ever…" – pg. 598, GoF, US edition
"Severus, you know what I must ask you do to. If you are ready…if you are prepared…"
"Then good luck." – pg. 713, GoF, US edition
"I must go back to the feast, Minerva, I've got to give out a few notices. Come, Severus, there is a delicious-looking custard tart I want to sample…" – pg. 82, CoS, US edition