Disclaimer – Anything you recognize belongs to the goddess, JKR. A prelude to 'Trust'.

Faith

I visited your tomb today.

No one saw me. That would not have been the wisest course of action. I am, after all, one of the wizarding world's most hated men.

Second only to Voldemort himself.

What an honour.

I think even Lucius Malfoy is not as vilified as I am.

Your tomb still resonates with some latent power. When I touched the cold, white stone, I thought I could almost feel it pulsate beneath my fingertips… caught a note of some ethereal music.

It made me consider, for a brief moment, if you really were dead.

Sometimes, I have such difficulty believing it…which is, of course, quite ironic since it is I who killed you. Unwillingly? Yes. But what difference would that make? You would still be dead and I would still be here.

You marked me as your murderer and that is how the world sees me now. All those hushed whispers about my supposed loyalties are not hushed any longer. This is the legacy you have left me.

I murdered my only friend…perhaps the only person who ever gave a proverbial damn about more than my capacity to hurt…or kill.

A sacrifice for the greater good. That's what you told me. You were dying, in any case…you feared becoming so weak that the Dark Lord would infiltrate your mind and then, truly, all would have been lost.

Not even Potter would have been able to save us.

Draco is in the other room. His mother is here too. She never sleeps…just sits there watching him as he suffers countless nightmares.

He is still so young but he stubbornly refuses to take a sleeping potion. The nightmares are his penance for the crimes he considered committing…the crimes his father would not have hesitated to commit.

There is something singularly Gryffindor about the way he seems to practically enjoy suffering.

And his mother…simply watches. It's almost as if she realizes that any moment could be their last. The Dark Lord does not know that I am protecting them…not so much from him but from Lucius.

Lucius may be father and husband but he is a Death Eater first and foremost. If he perceives his family to be a liability…well…he will deal with it.

I cannot allow that to happen…although even I wonder how long I can protect them.

I am not as strong as you.

Do you remember the night you destroyed the horcrux contained in that accursed ring? You very nearly died in my care and all you could talk about was Potter.

"I can't die yet," you said to me in a desperate whisper. "Harry still needs me…there is much he does not understand."

What Potter does not understand could fill an entire library.

There are rumours, you know. Rumours that he will not return to Hogwarts to complete his final year. No doubt, he will not be alone. Without you here, my guess is that attendance would turn substantially lower. Your presence has a tendency to calm people…even in the midst of crisis and utter chaos.

I think, however, it would be a shame if Miss Granger were not to finish at Hogwarts. As much as it pains me to admit it, she was a somewhat better than adequate student. She certainly had her rare moments of intuition and insight…certainly impressed that louse, Slughorn.

You seemed to think that there was more to her than met the eye. A tag-along know-it-all with frightening hair and a familiar that was obviously part demon.

And yet, she did demonstrate n astonishing capacity not to judge – something so un-Gryffindor.

She kept Lupin's secret.

She trusted him.

Would she be able to extend to me the same courtesy?

I think trusting a werewolf would be immensely easier than trusting the wizard who murdered Albus Dumbledore.

And yet…you did say that there would be someone close to Harry who would trust me and pass along the information I have been gleaning from the Dark Lord's rantings. I can't imagine it would be Mr. Weasley. Despite coming from a good family and having some skill with a wand, he is far too quick to judge. The little spat with Potter in fourth year is evidence of that.

The Dark Lord has become something of a lunatic, you know…increasingly erratic. Because I am his 'special favourite' (and that term sickens me to the core), he shares his darkest secrets with me. Secrets of domination, destruction, rebirth and genocide.

I think I may end up hating you for that most of all.

But the information on the horcruxes must make its way to Potter otherwise this whole enterprise will have been in vain.

And I will not allow your death to have no lasting purpose. You bound me to this path…an ill-advised Unbreakable Vow…and I have no choice.

So, if that means I must subject myself to the grief stricken curses and hexes of Hermione Granger…well, so be it.

I suppose, if you were able to have faith in me, I can have faith in someone as well.

"Severus?" Narcissa has come by me. It breaks my heart to see her so despondent. We were close once.

"I have some affairs to take care of," I explain as I put on my traveling cloak. It is as worn as I am and I'm rather surprised the moths haven't started on me instead.

"Will you be safe?" I hear the unspoken question. Are they safe with me gone?

"We are, none of us, safe. Watch over Draco…I will return in a few hours," I pat her shoulder in an awkward attempt at comfort. She does not smile…I wonder if she will ever smile again.

With a nod, I quickly leave my home…my well-warded abode in Spinner's End and make my way to a discrete place from which to disapparate. I was able to divine where the Granger family home is located and found myself unexpectedly impressed that Miss Granger had attempted to make it Unplottable.

As I now consider my options in how to avoid being castrated, I feel that pulse of latent power in my fingertips again…

I can just make out your voice telling me I am doing the right thing.

Almost on instinct, my hand goes to my pocket…but it is empty.

Not a single lemon drop to be found.

It almost makes me cry.