She spotted the book she needed and climbed the small ladder to get it. The book next to it caught her eye. The simple silver lettering down the spine of the book read "Ancient Dark Arts". She loved all her husband's books, but some of these darker ones scared her, especially with a child around now. She pulled at the book she had come here for, but the shelf was jammed tight with books and it stuck for a moment. She pulled harder and the book gave way all at once, causing her almost to fall as the one beside it slipped off the shelf as well and came crashing to the floor. She sighed heavily and then started down the ladder to retrieve the fallen book. She was about to pick it up, when something on the page it had fallen open to caught her attention. "Protection Spells: Chapter1. Concealing A Child."
When Severus came home that night, he checked the kitchen, the study, and the living room, finding his wife in none of these places. He noticed a soft light coming from the library. As he entered, he saw a tuft of her hair peeking out from behind the back of an armchair. She was facing away from the door and towards the fire. The fire was low and the room was left in almost total darkness. He knew she had heard him enter the room, but she made no indication of it. He could hear her breathing. He knew she was mad. Usually when she got mad, she got herself all worked up, she crossed her arms, she yelled at him in a way he found irritating yet kind of cute. She never gave him the silent treatment. Standing there, looking across the library at her back, he actually felt afraid. This was an unprecedented level of anger. He had no idea what she was capable of. His mind raced through the possibilities of what this could be about. Now there are lots of things that a man can do to make his wife angry, but he was Severus Snape, he had done none of the normal things.
He approached her slowly, cautiously, not wanting to make things worse. When he was within a few steps of her, she jumped up and spun around to face him. He could see the anger now in her eyes. He had never seen her this angry, he didn't know she could get this angry. She spoke the words slowly, coldly. He could see the amount of control it took just for her to reign in her anger enough to speak to him.
"You used DARK MAGIC on our CHILD."
So that's what this was all about. He should have known that she would find out eventually. He really should have known.
He then noticed her trunk on the floor to her side.
"Are you planning on leaving me?" he asked emotionlessly.
"Is there anything I can do to get you to stay?"
She held out a closed fist.
"You can tell me the truth."
His eyes traveled down to her fist which opened to reveal a small vial.
He had trained himself over the years to be able to resist Veritaserum. That was why he brewed his twice as strong, so no one would be able to resist it. He picked up the vial and turned it over to see the label. Damn, it was his own brew. She must have taken it from his lab. He grimaced to himself at the old joke about potions masters who were always were poisoned by their own creations. It just went to show you that being good at what you did just came back to bite you in the ass.
He drank it down in one gulp. Her eyes never left the vial.
She waited a second for his eyes to become glassy and then started.
"Are you loyal to the Order of the Phoenix?"
He closed his eyes. He had really hoped that she wouldn't ask this question.
He could feel her slipping away from him.
"The dark magic I used because it was the only way to hide him."
"That's not an excuse." Her voice was impossibly low, deadly.
He snapped. He was yelling now. He had never yelled at her before.
"What was I supposed to do? There was no other spell. What kind of spells do you think deal with this kind of thing? What kind of magic do you think Lily used to save Harry?"
"The spell that Lily used to save her son is considered some very dark magic. A life in exchange for another one, that's pretty much as dark as it gets."
"But there was no spell, it was her love that saved him."
"That's how the story goes, isn't it? Poor little innocent Lily. She acted without thinking. She loved her baby so much and it was the Love that saved him. Isn't that the story.?"
"You're not suggesting…"
"She knew EXACTLY what she was doing."
"Lily was not involved in the Dark Arts" she said, without the conviction she had intended it to have.
Hermione remained silent for a moment, processing everything that had just been said.
"How can you be so sure?"
"Because I taught her the spell myself. It was not pure love that saved him, it was research, preparation, and lots of practice. It was planned far in advance."
"But Lily….Lily was an Auror."
"Yes, she was, but she stumbled upon the truth."
He took a breath and waited for a few moments. He had meant to tell her eventually, he just hadn't thought it would be so soon.
"There is so much you don't know, so much that has been hidden from you, that has been hidden from everyone. Dark Magic isn't the evil that you're brought up to believe. In fact, it is just an older form of magic. Much of it was done without wands. Much of it is far more powerful than any form of magic currently practiced today. Much of it revolves around protection of the family, a primal need. Because it is so powerful, it was dangerous in the hands of less talented witches and wizards. You can only imagine the mistakes that were made and the lives that were lost because of it. The ministry decided that this magic was too powerful, too dangerous, and outlawed it. The persecuted anyone who practiced it, burned spell books, and tried to erase it completely from the memory of the society. They branded it as evil, thereby making anyone with an interest in it an evil wizard in the eyes of society. Unfortunately, without this knowledge, the wizarding world was left open to attack from wizards who secretly gained it, such as Voldemort. But still, the ministry refused and the cover-up was perpetuated and the dark arts remained hidden. Lily was killed to protect this secret."
Hermione shook her head
"You can't be saying that the ministry was behind Lily's murder."
"I think maybe it's best if I tell you the whole story…if I start from the beginning…
"It was a few years before Harry was born. I was a Death Eater. Tom had sent me on a mission, to find one of the wizarding communities that were rumored to exist far from civilization, far from the watchful eyes of the ministry, still practicing the old ways. I was to become integrated into one if I could and learn everything. Lily was an auror for the ministry as you know. Because of her past friendship with me, she was put on the team of aurors who were trying to track me. They figured that her knowledge of me could be a huge asset to the team. They watched my every move and tracked me like an animal. Lily was very good at her job, her partner was merely there to make sure she stayed out of trouble, to make sure that her past friendship with me didn't complicate things once she caught up to me. I had found one of the legendary hidden wizarding communities deep in a forest in Germany, but I had not yet been able to break the wards in order to access it. Lily and her partner caught up to me, took my wand, and bound me to a tree. During the night, a dragon attacked, killing her partner and gravely injuring Lily in the process. It was my chance to escape, but I couldn't leave her there in that condition. I tried my best to heal her, but the damage was pretty severe. We were spotted by some of the residents of the town I had been searching for. They took us in and healed Lily. They were amazing people and we were both intrigued by the magic they practiced.
"We lived together in that community for six months. It was the best six months of my life. The whole community fell in love with Lily. They taught us their ways and told us the truth of what the ministry had done to them. Lily was outraged that she had been lied to, and as an auror had been a part of this. She had believed in her job so strongly and now was questioning the very fundamental beliefs that she was required to hold in order to perform it. I too was questioning my beliefs. I had become a Death Eater because of my interest in the Dark Arts. I now saw that they were not being used as they had originally been intended. I saw that there was more to them than hate and destruction. It was here that I was taught Legimency and wandless magic. I kept my identity as a Death Eater secret from them. Lily was the only one who knew. I spoke with her of my problems with the ways of the Dark Lord and his followers. Our friendship returned to what it had been before I had taken the mark.
"I think we would have stayed in that perfect world forever if one day my mark hadn't been discovered. They saw me for what I was and even though I tried to convince them that I had renounced the Dark Lord, they threw me out, and Lily too, telling us never to return. We decided it was best if we both returned to our old roles for the timebeing, while we came up with a way to take down both Voldemort and the ministry, to let the truth be known. Lily returned to her husband and job as an auror and I returned to the service of the Dark Lord. She found that she could no longer carry out her duties as an auror without question as she had once done. She tried to explain all she had learned to James, but he refused to believe her. The final breaking point was the birth of her son. She refused to let him grow up in a world based on lies and deceptions. She started making plans to go public with her knowledge, when the ministry discovered her intention. I know it is unfounded, but I have always suspected that it was James who reported her to their superiors out of concern for her mental health. The ministry created the prophecy about her son, spreading it to Voldemort, assuring the wizard would come after Harry and that Lily would learn the consequences of her actions. After not seeing her for three years, she showed up at my house in the middle of the night, begging me for a spell that could save her son. There was a desperation in her eyes. I searched all the old bookstores until I found a book, and then taught her the spell. She disappeared into hiding and I never saw her again. It was her wish that if she and James were to die, that I would take Harry to the forest community and ask them to raise him. I tried to convince Dumbledore, but he refused, taking Harry to live with his horrible muggle aunt and uncle. The forest dwellers could have taught him what he needed to know to kill Voldemort. They start teaching magic when it first shows, not once the child turns eleven. Most of them grow up not even needing wands. By the time Harry arrived at Hogwarts, it was too late. I can't help wonder, if I had succeeded in changing Dumbledore's mind….if things might have turned out differently."
"And now you have another chance?"
She sunk down into the armchair she had been sitting in before he came in and buried her face in her hands. How could one conversation change everything she thought she knew?
"So sometimes you lie to the Order..."
"To prevent certain information from reaching the ministry."
"Were you planning on telling me all of this?"
"Yes, but not yet. I wanted to wait until Toby showed his first sign of magic. I want to try to find the forest community again. I want him raised there. They can teach him things that I can't teach him. They can prepare him in ways that I never could."
"What makes you think they'll take you back in?"
"It was one of theirs who made the second prophecy."
"Ok, we'll go as soon as he shows magic."
"So you're staying with me?"
"Obviously. But if you ever lie to me again..."
"I won't. Especially now that I know you've been in my veritaserum stores."
She smiled, a smile that contained endearment, mischievousness, and malice all at once.