Of Light and Darkness
You look at him as he sits there in your office. You sigh and you say to him that the road he has chosen will not be easy. You both know he already knows this, despite how he must hope for you to take the difficulty away. Or maybe, maybe he doesn't hope for you to take anything away. Maybe he wishes to live on in quiet self-flagellation. Sometimes you do not understand Slytherins.
Who are you kidding, old man? Do you ever understand Slytherins? Doubtful. You turn to look at him, walking around him as you speak. He looks more than a little intimidated. Good. You don't want to have him thinking you're a pushover. You want him to see you are just as powerful as Voldemort himself. Won't he think your compassion weak? Or . . . is it compassion he needs to see?
He leaves, and you stew on these questions. You have never truly known how to deal with him. He is both hot and cold, and at the same time dead and alive. You have no idea how to bring out the best in him or even the worst—you don't even know what the best or worst in him looks like.
This sad, ugly little boy. This murdering man with a black heart to match his robes. What is he? He both tugs at your heart and frightens you. Part of you wants to keep him in line, another wants to scare him away. Intimidation is all you have in your repertoire. Because you fear that in one moment of passing vulnerability from you, he will latch on and suck like a leech until you are exhausted. Permanently.
How do you turn off the need to lighten up? How do you turn off the anger at Voldemort, at a boy named Tom, long enough to act civil to this traitor of your enemy?
Tom. Is that what brings you to such levels of disgust with this boy? Do you see how very like Tom he is? Is that your defense for treating him like you do these days, Dumbledore? Shame on you, you coward! Dark-haired, pale, aggressive, needy, so much older than they are, mean-spirited, impressive, greedy, reveling each time they mar. And yet . . . this boy is not Tom at all! You know that, somehow.
Tom is a slimy, selfish, lost creature, through and through. As for this boy . . . he, Severus Snape, has something good in him, you know. Why else would he befriend Lily Evans? People who seek such light have a thirst for light in general, not for darkness.
So he knew dark spells. What does "dark" even mean? Are things so black and white? Any child with such knowledge before attending school obviously did not choose such things for himself, right? You don't know.
It hurts to see him in your office, invading your space. Because, not only does he scare you in and of himself, his beauty scares you. You want the shadow that is Severus Snape. But you are afraid that shadows disappear in the light, and that if you get too close the world will know, once and for all, that you are not, and have never been, the light. You yourself are shadow. If you intimidate him enough, maybe you can scare him away—or at least keep him at arm's length until you know for sure he can be trusted.
His soul is battered like yours, but is not too far gone. His redemption is just around the corner. Maybe, in a few years, his shadow will seek your false light as you seek his hint of darkness? Two shadows in the universe. A shadow does not last forever, but neither will the two of you.