Disclaimer: JK Rowling already called dibs on everything. All the characters and even the plot is all hers. Go Rowling!
A/N: Hey everyone! My first one-shot! How exciting. Anyways, I've been writing this for a couple of days now because I got the idea in my head and couldn't get rid of it. I guess this story came into my head after re-reading Half-Blood Prince and finding clues that led me to change my perception of Severus Snape. While I still think there's some evil in him, I'm starting to lean towards the side that for some reason Dumbledore and Snape planned Dumbledore's death. I mean, for one thing Dumbledore knew that Malfoy was trying to kill him but didn't chuck him out of the school; he didn't even give the kid a detention! That's only one of the clues, but there are many more that I tried to explain in this one-shot. So, enjoy this little story.
It takes place before Half-Blood Prince. Well, actually, technically it takes place after the chapter when Narcissa Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange go to Snape's house. It was tricky to write because both Dumbledore and Snape have such distinct personalities and I tried to stay in their characters as best as I could. Please review!
A Man of Many Layers:
Many people didn't recognize that he was a man of multiple layers. Actually, most of the dull and pointless people he came into contact with only saw him as a greasy haired, hooked nosed, possibly intimidating ex-Death Eater. Nobody bothered to see past his haunted appearance and into the complex personality he truly had. Well, no one except Albus Dumbledore that is.
That fact alone was one of the only reasons he found himself walking up to the tall gates of Hogwarts castle. His life was a complicated one; he would easily admit that. In fact, his life had become just like one of those Muggle movies where a secret spy is given a mission to investigate into an enemy that is attempting to take over the world.
Severus Snape scowled slightly as he pulled out his wand and waved it around the gate until there was a small click and the metal gate allowed him entrance into the grounds of Hogwarts. He didn't exactly fear the news he had to present to the headmaster, but he wasn't really thrilled to do it either. Of course Albus wouldn't shun him away and call him a cursed man and shout at him that he never wanted Severus to set foot inside of the castle again. However, the newest development he had come to discover was heavy and concerned himself and the wizened headmaster in the deepest way.
"Oh, Severus, do come in," Albus announced from behind his oak desk the moment Snape had knocked on the door.
Snape entered, his traveling cloak billowing out behind him. He quickly surveyed the office, his dark eyes swiveling over the many trinkets and antiques that Albus seemed to have an obsession for collecting. "You got my owl I presume, Albus?" he asked, approaching the desk.
The old man nodded, his bright blue eyes surveying Severus intently. Snape controlled a shiver. "Naturally. I daresay your owl must have come a long way. It needed a full two days to recover before taking off again," Dumbledore replied as he conjured an extra chair out of thin air and placed it on the opposite side of the desk. "Do take a seat, Severus."
Taking the offer, Snape sat down, his body stiff against the back of the chair. Fawkes, the headmaster's Phoenix, began signing softly as if it already knew the information that Severus had come to share. The serene hum of the bird caused Severus to feel uncomfortable; he had never been a man to have a soft heart.
Albus propped his hands in front of him and curled them together; one of his hands was blackened like someone had attempted to burn it off. "How is your hand doing?" Snape asked curtly, nodding off to the injured hand the he himself had tried to heal.
A smile crossed across the man's wrinkled face. "As good as ever," Dumbledore answered, winking ever so slightly.
"Good," Snape replied, nodding slowly.
"Now, as I'm sure the reason for this meeting doesn't revolve around my injured hand, what is it that you wanted to talk about, Severus?" Dumbledore asked politely, as he curled the tips of his long, white beard with his finger.
"Obviously the man came to talk of some highly important matter concerning his former allies."
Snape and Dumbledore turned to locate the source of the voice. A man dressed in robes of green and silver was watching them from inside of his picture frame. His dark eyes were focused on Snape and something about the way he looked at him made Snape feel like the picture of the dead headmaster was mocking him.
"Thank you, Phineas," Dumbledore said, nodding off to the portrait politely.
Phineas yawned widely, so widely in fact that a bit of drool rolled down his bottom lip and into his pointed beard. "Not a problem, Albus," Phineas replied in a bored manner, "I was just simply wondering how his mates are doing. What has You-Know-Who and his deranged group of miscreants been up to lately, mister Snape?"
Severus sneered, his lips curling upwards in an unpleasant manner. With an obvious glance at the portrait of Phineas Nigellus, Snape said, "I wonder if we may talk privately, Albus. Away from untrustworthy ears," he trailed off, smirking at Phineas.
"Don't worry; old Professor Dippet is snoozing away," Phineas replied easily.
Another portrait, no doubt of Professor Dippet, immediately opened his eyes clearly having never been asleep in the first place. Most of the portraits had a tendency to fake sleep in order to not disturb Dumbledore's meetings in hopes of hearing the latest news. "Excuse you, Phineas!" Armando Dippet cried indignantly, straightening his robes.
"That is enough, Phineas," Dumbledore stated, raising his hand up in the air. "Please go to your other portrait and see if anyone is inhabiting Grimmauld Place."
Inwardly, Severus smirked wider, knowing that Albus merely wanted Phineas out of the way as to insure no further interruptions. What, with the Order having to relocate out of Grimmauld Place and Snape being a spy in the Death Eaters' midst, Dumbledore would have been alerted of any action inside of the Black family's manner. "I don't see the use; my great-great-grandson has probably burned away at my other portrait," Phineas protested, giving another fake large yawn.
"I can assure you he hasn't; now, kindly go," Dumbledore said.
With a sigh, Phineas Nigellus stood up from his chair. "Very well; don't wait up."
Silence enveloped the two of them as Phineas disappeared from his portrait. "Now that we are free from interruptions, what is it you wish to tell me?"
"Sir, I recently had a visit from Narcissa Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange. Narcissa appeared to be quite disturbed," Severus explained, the smirk gone from his face as he went purely business.
Dumbledore nodded. "How so?"
"Her son, Draco, has been given a chance to join the Dark Lord's—"
"—I am well aware of young Draco's acceptance into Voldemort's ranks," Dumbledore broke in, though not in a rude manner. It was simply a way to cut to the chase and save time in having to retell things that were already known.
For a split second a look of surprise crossed across Snape's face, but as quickly as it had formed it got swiped off to be replaced with a blank look. "How do you—"
"You are not the only one who is aware of the secrets of Tom Riddle, Severus" Albus explained kindly, peering at Snape over the tops of his half moon spectacles. "Anyways, do continue. You say Narcissa seemed deranged?"
"Yes. The Dark Lord has presented Draco with a dangerous job to do that will surely cost him his life whether he fails or succeeds…" Snape trailed off and glanced around the office once again. It wasn't really out of nervousness, but he didn't know how much he could tell the headmaster without Voldemort knowing.
As if he had read his thoughts—which maybe he had—Dumbledore sighed wearily. "Severus, you are an accomplished Occlumens. Lord Voldemort doesn't need to know what you don't want him to. Now, please tell me what this job is."
Nodding fiercely while mentally putting up a wall inside of his brain, Snape looked back towards the headmaster. "I don't know the finer details, but I do know that the main part of his mission is to find a way to get some Death Eaters into the school and…" Snape broke off for a fraction of second, his black eyes meeting Albus's blue ones, "the Dark Lord wishes that he murders you."
The occupants of the surrounding portraits began protesting in outrage, not one of them pretending to be asleep any longer. Dumbledore, however, merely nodded as if he had expected nothing less of Voldemort. To Snape, it appeared that Albus had already known for some time that something like this was going to happen. He wouldn't really put it past Dumbledore either; the old man wasn't called the greatest wizard of the age for nothing.
"Severus," Dumbledore said, breaking the silence, "how would you like to take up the post of Defense Against the Dark Arts for this year?"
Snape's mind immediately jumped into overdrive. The defense teacher? Merlin knew he had wanted this all of his life—well for all of his teaching career—and now here Dumbledore was, simply handing the job to him on a golden platter. Not only that, but the offer seemed oddly out of place. Hadn't Snape just practically sentenced Albus to his death?
"Excuse me?" Severus asked, masking his surprised reaction with a look of an utter lack of any emotion. He had perfected his techniques of hiding his emotions over the many years of his life to the point that he almost didn't have any.
"Well, I daresay no one wants the job now that the last professor got run out of the school by a herd of Centaurs," Dumbledore explained easily.
"But who will take over Potions?" Snape asked.
"I have someone in mind," Dumbledore stated cryptically. "So, what do you say, Severus?"
"But the job…the Dark Lord cursed it. None of the professors last longer than a year," Snape said, none of this adding up in his mind.
Dumbledore's eyes twinkled. "I never knew you to be a man who was afraid of a little curse."
Snape immediately jumped to defend himself. "I'm not. I'm just merely wondering how I will continue to report back to you after my one year term is up. The Dark Lord will get suspicious if I continue to run off back here to Hogwarts."
"I will have no need for your services after this year, Severus," Albus answered quietly, stroking Fawkes with one of his long slender fingers.
It appeared that Severus wasn't the only one confused. Many of the portraits began whispering to each other, some of them not even trying to bother to conceal their dumbfounded expressions. "Severus," the headmaster continued, "you would do anything for me, for the Order, right?"
The old man's blue orbs seemed to pierce their way through into the very depths of Severus's soul. Snape found himself subconsciously building up his defenses around his thoughts even more. "Of course. You know I've been loyal to the—"
"—So, if I asked you to completely join the Death Eaters and cut off relations with me, you would do so?"
His confusion continued to build, but he ignored it. "Yes."
"If I asked you to abandon Tom Riddle's ranks, you would do it?"
"Haven't I already?"
Dumbledore continued to observe Severus closely. Slowly, Severus felt his defenses falling and a blurry image of him holding hands with Narcissa Malfoy and kneeling on the floor surfaced to the front of his mind. He cursed mentally.
"There is something you have not told me, Severus?"
There was no way of lying now. "I made the Unbreakable Vow with Narcissa…to carry out Draco's duty if he finds himself incapable of performing his task," Snape answered, hating himself. He really shouldn't have done it; he knew at the time he shouldn't have done it. Yet, Bellatrix had already been suspicious enough of his loyalty to the dark side, and if he had refused to help he may as well had turned in his Dark Mark and Avada Kedavra himself.
Fawkes turned his majestic head and stared at Dumbledore who, in return, looked back at his bird. It appeared that the two, man and bird, were communicating in a way that only they themselves knew how. Something began burning on Snape's arm, and he subtly touched the stinging spot with his hand; the Dark Lord was calling for him.
"This news worries me, Severus," Albus finally said quietly, "however, it does make it easier for me to share to you what I must ask of you."
Forgetting the pain coming from his dark mark—for he had felt it a countless amount of times before—Snape straightened in his chair. "What do I need to do?" he asked.
"I must ask you again," Dumbledore began, "if you would do anything I asked you to do without hesitance?"
"My full loyalty lies with the Order," Snape replied, his tone somewhat cold as if he were sick of his loyalty and honesty being questioned.
Dumbledore nodded. "Forcing an act of murder upon an innocent child is a sin; a terrible sin that should never be committed." Albus observed Snape. "Draco isn't a murderer."
Contrary to popular belief, Snape had a knack of picking up on subtle hints and nudges, and as Dumbledore continued to watch him, Severus had a feeling he knew where this was going. "Headmaster, I wouldn't underestimate Draco. He does have a lot of his father in him…"
"And you have a lot of your father in you; yet you are not the same people," Dumbledore countered wisely, nodding off in Snape's direction. "No, Draco is not Lucius; I know he will not be able to kill me, and he would be unwise to try."
"Draco has the lives of his entire family on his shoulders; fear can cause a person to do extreme actions."
"Which leads me to the final mission I am giving you, Severus; you must carry out your and Narcissa's Unbreakable Vow."
Snape's leg involuntarily twitched slightly. His facial expression remained blank but his mind was running wild with a whirlwind of thoughts. Carrying out the Unbreakable Vow would mean—
"You are doubting my judgment, Severus?" Dumbledore asked calmly as if he hadn't just handed out his own death sentence.
"Sir," Snape began, shaking his head, "the Dark Lord tells me things; you—I—would be playing straight into his hands."
"Forgive me for saying, but I believe I understand more about Tom Riddle than any one of his Death Eaters do," Dumbledore replied.
Snape remained silent and although he knew that the headmaster was right, he couldn't help but feel angry at being told he didn't fully understand the Dark Lord. Though, Snape recalled, there were few who actually did. "What about Potter?" Snape finally asked.
The corners of Dumbledore's lips turned down as he frowned slightly. "I believe Harry will be ready by the end of this year to go out on his own."
Something close to a snort almost escaped from Snape's throat. As much as Snape truly did trust Dumbledore, he couldn't help but strongly disagree that Harry Potter would ever be able to accomplish anything on his own. At the same time, however, Snape really couldn't deny the fact that Potter was a powerful wizard for his age. In third year, and again in his fifth year, Snape had heard or seen that the young teenage boy could produce a corporal Patronus, something that many grown Wizards could only dream of accomplishing. Yes, Potter was very much like his father James Potter, but Snape would never openly admit the potential Harry had.
"I do not doubt you, Albus, but Potter…he allows any kind of praise to go to his head to the point where he acts without thinking. He doesn't have the experience to know what he's truly up against—"
With a raise of his hand, Dumbledore immediately quieted Snape. "I trust Harry just as I trust you, Severus. He has already faced Voldemort four times since he started school here. This year I will teach Harry the rest of what he needs to know. He'll be ready."
There was such a note of finality in the old man's voice that even Snape had a problem disagreeing with him. "Now," Albus began again. Snape watched as he got up out of his chair and strolled over to the window where he gazed out over the grounds, "are you willing to promise to carry through with my plan?"
The moment of truth. Snape stared at Dumbledore hard. Out of all people he couldn't believe that the headmaster had chosen him. Well, on second thought, he actually could believe why it had to be him. It was the perfect idea; Snape was, in hindsight, a Death Eater. Voldemort would praise him beyond any other Death Eater; dear Bellatrix would never doubt his loyalty again.
Yet, then there was the Order of the Phoenix. Merlin knew that half of them didn't trust him now. What would happen if he went through with Dumbledore's plan? If he swore to do it? He would never be welcomed into their presence again and he would be forced to stay with the Death Eaters. No one in the Order would vouch for him, and the one person who would truly know the whole story of the situation would no longer be there to persuade the others.
Snape focused onto the kind eyes of the headmaster. He really had no choice; he'd already made the promise to Narcissa Malfoy. If Draco couldn't do to it, and it came down to him, Snape knew he'd have to do it or else his life would be taken. Why could he so easily make a promise to Narcissa but not the same one to Dumbledore? Glancing back at Albus, the only Wizard that the Dark Lord had ever truly feared, Snape nodded as a determined look spread across his face.
"I'll do it."
Dumbledore nodded. "You must promise that no matter what, you will go through with it."
Nodding again, Dumbledore walked over towards his office door and swung it open with a swish of his wand. "I'll expect you back here on September 1st to take up the post of the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher."
Snape nodded, standing up as well. Now he knew why he'd been handed the Defense job at last; he would never be welcomed back at Hogwarts come the end of the school year. It wouldn't matter if the cursed Defense job sent him away or not. "I'll see you then, Headmaster."
"If you can manage to get away, don't forget about the Order meeting tonight."
Somehow he doubted he would show up at the Burrow for the meeting tonight as his dark mark gave a rather large twinge. Somewhere the Dark Lord was waiting for him. Nevertheless, Snape nodded and walked out of the office, his long black robes whipping around the corner as he went.
What had he just gotten himself into? The fact that he was a man of many layers would never be thrown out in the open and seen by others. In the next nine or so months, he would simply be known as Severus Snape, the loyal servant to Lord Voldemort and the murderer of Albus Dumbledore the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Didn't anyone else find it odd that Dumbledore finally gave Snape the Defense job even though he knew that Snape wouldn't last longer than a year? Anyways, thanks for reading and please feel free to review!
Have a great day!