A/N: I had, for a long time, been toying with the idea of a Godric's Hollow story. But, on reading DH, I was unsure of what I could do, where I could take the narrative that would be interesting to read and write. This is my attempt to fill in those gaps, to string all those moments that J.K.Rowling has so beautifully dropped into her stories together. I hope that you enjoy!
Thank you to my beta Megan who, undoubtedly, the biggest thanks of the them all goes to! Thank you to Rosie who was willing to come out beta retirement to read what I'd written.
One wet and blustery night Severus Snape overhears something in the Hog's Head that will change the course of wizarding history forever. Marriages are made, children are born, vows are broken yet little does Snape know how his actions on that fateful night will affect the life of one woman and her child. The Dark Lord's power is growing, the Order are determined to fight but it seems that fates will be decided on the enbittered love of one man.
Chartering the events from the prophecy to the death of the Potters. This shall be a dual perspective piece, focusing on Snape and Lily. This is not a love story.
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters. I merely borrow them. No need to sue.
A tall man with a sallow complexion and malevolent black eyes pushed open the door to the tavern, narrowly avoiding crashing into a twittering witch with roaming mad eyes who was trying to exit as he had walked in. He scowled at her as she mumbled a cantankerous apology before he made his way over to the sawdust-strewn bar.
The barman of the Hog's Head moved reluctantly over to serve, his wiry grey beard sweeping against his chest as he asked gruffly, "Drink?"
"Firewhiskey," was Snape's smooth response as he pushed the money across the bar. The barman barely counted it as he slid it towards him, scooping the coins into his hand a long with a good deal of sawdust before pocketing the money and disappearing beneath the bar. A persistent butting against Snape's leg caused him to look down and to cruelly kick away the goat that was trying to get his attention. The barman reappeared just in time to see the goat give a disgruntled bleat before scurrying away across the filthy floor. He set the grimy glass down in front of Snape.
"I'd rather you didn't make a habit of kicking my pets," the barman grunted, his brilliant blue eyes regarding Snape fiercely. Snape picked up the glass and began to move away from the bar. The barman jabbed a dirty finger in Snape's direction before saying, "I take things like that personally."
Snape debated saying something but, deciding that it was not worth effort, he remained silent as he withdrew to the shadowy corner. His eyes remained fixed on the barman until he disappeared out the back. He lifted the glass to his nostrils and inhaled the pungent alcoholic scent, but he would not drink it.
The Dark Lord would be disappointed that he had failed. He had thought it highly unlikely, even when charged with the task to acquire a position at Hogwarts, that Dumbledore would be daft enough to accept him. Of course, there had been no room for questions. The Dark Lord had been adamant: what better way to get close the old man?
"You are known to him, Severus," he had hissed. "He knows you of old. Severus Snape: trusted student, talented potions-maker…"
"But I fear," Snape had reluctantly interrupted causing Voldemort to fix his gaze upon him. "I fear that he may suspect…"
"Your fears and your suspicions are of no concern to me. All that concerns me now is getting close to Albus Dumbledore."
It hadn't worked, Snape thought to himself. Dumbledore was no fool. When he had gone to him that afternoon in pursuit of employment Dumbledore had known at once that he could not be trusted. Snape had known, even before he had taken the seat offered to him on the other side of the desk, that the Dark Lord's plan would fail.
"To what do I owe this unexpected pleasure, Severus?" Dumbledore had said coolly, genuinely, as he stared into the face of his old pupil.
"I have heard," Snape had begun carefully, "that there will soon be an opening in your staff. I hear that Professor Slughorn is to retire."
"May I ask where you have heard this?" Dumbledore asked.
"We are still in contact," had been Snape's short reply.
Dumbledore exhaled a resounding "Ah" before sinking back in his chair slightly and saying, "Of course. Horace does like to keep in touch with his more discerning pupils." He had paused, his piercing eyes attempting to gain Snape's attention, but Snape knew better. "So, now you would like to take up where he shall leave off?"
Snape shifted rather uncomfortably in his seat before saying, "I was, in fact, thinking of the Defence Against the Dark Arts position."
A wry smile twisted Dumbledore's lips as though this was response was unexpected yet amusing. It gave Snape the distinct impression that Dumbledore was jeering at him.
"I fail to see the joke in that," Snape articulated coldly.
"Forgive me," Dumbledore's smile did not disappear. "You simply took me off-guard with your request. I only assumed that due to your unquestionable talent at potions that it would naturally be in that subject your interests lie."
Snape's top lip twitched. "Things have changed. Interests change." As he had said this Dumbledore had finally managed to catch Snape's eyes and he felt the familiar signs of someone attempting to read his mind. But Snape was too well practiced and as soon as he felt his thoughts loosening, somehow being drawn from him by Dumbledore's intense gaze, he shut off his mind.
"Undoubtedly," Dumbledore replied, perhaps suspecting although not saying, as he rose to his feet. The meeting was over. "I am sorry to say that I don't think there is a position that would suit you." Snape was on his feet and Dumbledore had extended his hand across the desk, "But if things change again, Severus, then I may be more than happy to reconsider my decision."
Snape sneered to himself and looked down at the ring-marked table. It hardly seemed to matter anyway. Regardless of whether or not Dumbledore suspected Snape's involvement with the Death Eaters nothing could prevent the inevitable. The Dark Lord's plan to place Snape at Hogwarts may have failed yet there would be other plans, more effective plans, of that Snape was certain. It was no longer necessary to skulk in the shadows, to move cautiously, tentatively, so as to not attract the attention of the Ministry. And soon the time would come to take action; irrevocable action that would determine the fate of many. And he was a part of it, an integral part; he, Severus Snape, would help to forge the destiny of the wizarding world.
The door to the Hog's Head opened and, almost instinctively, Snape drew away from the light and, reaching his hand inside his robes, closed his hand about his wand.
"Aberforth," the voice called from the doorway and Snape tried to merge into his surroundings as the wiry-bearded barman reappeared and swiftly covered the distance between the bar and the door. The man who had just entered the tavern removed his wet travelling robes, revealing that he was none other than Albus Dumbledore. "Is Sybill well?"
The barman gave a derisive snort before taking Dumbledore's robes from him. "Bloody kook! Can't see why you'd even consider her. Already made her way through most of the sherry…"
Snape watched as Dumbledore shook his head and said with a small smile, "I wouldn't think you'd mind that as long as she was good for the money."
The barman seemed to resent this comment and, after hanging the robes on the pegs by the door, said brusquely, "It's not my place to question the actions of the esteemed headmaster of Hogwarts." He turned away from Dumbledore, who sadly shook his head before ascending to the floors above.
Snape hesitated: if he could slip unseen up the stairs and find out what Dumbledore was up to then surely this would be a way to soften the blow when the time came to tell the Dark Lord he had failed. Snape was certain that, if he could find out something valuable, then it would make some difference. Leaving his glass of Firewhiskey untouched on the table, he waited for the barman to disappear once again before moving silently across the room to climb the stairs.
It was difficult to climb the ramshackle staircase without being heard but Snape managed, after creeping at a snail's pace, to finally reach the first floor landing. A thin beam of light fell from a chink in a door that had not been fully closed, beyond which he could hear voices: the resounding voice of Dumbledore and another, more ethereal voice.
"But my dear Professor Dumbledore…" the ethereal voice pleaded.
Snape positioned himself so that he had a good view of what was happening in the room and he watched as a spindly woman, draped in shawls, with large, magnified eyes took a step closer to where Dumbledore was sat before the fire. "Is there nothing I may say…nothing more I can do to convince you of the importance of instructing your pupils in the noble art of Divination?"
Dumbledore sighed and, after passing a weary hand over his face, said, "I fear not, Sybill. I am sorry if you feel I have wasted your time but I do not think that you will be suitable for the position."
Nothing significant Snape thought with disappointment: another teaching position that was yet to be filled at Hogwarts. He could not see how that would be of any use. But before he turned away to return downstairs a sharp movement in the room caused Snape to remain, watching as the woman suddenly lurched forward, knocking over the empty sherry bottles on the table before Dumbledore.
"Sybill?" Dumbledore automatically rose to his feet, placing two firm hands on each of the woman's shoulders, staring directly into her glazed eyes. "Sybill? Can you hear me?"
Snape watched as the woman's head lolled backwards and a voice, so unlike the misty, sing-song tones of before, said hoarsely, "The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches…" There was a creak at the bottom of the staircase, Snape was almost certain. But he had no time to turn. It was too important that he listened. "…born to those who have thrice defied him…" Another creak and, without removing his gaze from the chink in the doorway, Snape's hand found his wand. "…born as the seventh month dies…"
He did not have the time to withdraw his weapon. Two heavy hands came down sharply on his shoulders and he was pulled roughly round by the barman, whose disgruntled face was only inches from his as he snapped, "What are you doing creeping around?"
"I…I…" Snape relinquished his grasp on his wand and, throwing up his hands to protest his innocence, continued, "…must have come up the wrong way…"
"You're bleeding right you did! Albus!" Before Snape had a chance to collect his thoughts the barman had flung open the door and had pulled Snape with him into the room as he said, "Albus! Found this slimy fellow skulking around in the corridors."
Dumbledore's blue eyes regarded Snape for a moment although he still seemed distracted by what the slender woman with the thick spectacles had just said. His eyes did not fix on Snape's as Snape had automatically assumed that they would and he turned back to the woman, who was steadying herself, teetering as though drunk, by the table before saying with a dismissive wave of his hand, "This is your place of authority, not mine. Do what you will."
The barman dragged Snape back out of the room and kicked the door closed behind him. The whole building seemed to shudder and Snape writhed futilely as he was unceremoniously pulled down the stairs and, with an almighty heave, pushed out the front door.
"Don't think you can come in here to kick my goats and listen at keyholes!" were the barman's last words to Snape before slamming the door shut. Snape sat panting on the ground for a moment, feeling the rain that was falling, pelting his face and soaking his clothes. Eventually he pulled himself to his feet and set off down the deserted, darkened street of Hogsmeade before disappearing into the night with a swollen crack.
"It's only Snape!" Amycus Carrow called, lowering his wand. His two companions, his sister Alecto and Walden Macnair, who had been approaching hung back and Amycus, pocketing his wand, turned around and walked with Snape as far as the door. "So, what news?" he asked.
Snape cast a look of thinly-veiled disgust at Amycus before articulating slowly, "What I have learnt is for the Dark Lord alone to hear…"
Amycus sneered and dropped back, allowing Snape to enter the house unaccompanied as he returned to his duty as sentry. The house, which had, until a week ago, been the residence of a wealthy Muggle doctor and his family, was dark. The hallway, which had seen most of the damage when the Death Eaters had blasted their way through the front door, was full of smashed furniture. Great pieces of plaster had fallen from the ceiling and the wallpaper now drooped from the walls. As he reached the door of the living room Snape slowed as the man with the silvery blonde hair turned to greet him. Loud voices emanated from the room beyond.
"What is it?" Snape asked Lucius Malfoy. "What's happened?"
"Wilkes is dead," Malfoy muttered stiffly. Snape could not conceal his surprise as Malfoy continued to explain, "Killed by Aurors."
"Who?" Snape queried, his skin prickling uncomfortably as he heard a hissing voice on the other side of the door say, "Your apologies mean nothing to me. There is no room for mistakes."
"We do not know yet," Malfoy answered, his words obscured by the cry of "Crucio!" from within and the unworldly shrieks of pain from whoever it was that had failed. Eventually the shrieking stopped, replaced by stifled sobs, and Malfoy turned to Snape and said callously, "I hope you have something more successful to report."
Snape grimaced and the door to the living room opened. He took a step inside and saw the crumpled form of Augustus Rookwood lying huddled on the floor. Voldemort was standing, one hand resting on the fireplace, looking down at the sobbing man with complete distain. He did not register Snape's entrance and he turned to the dark haired, flaming-eyed woman at his right and commanded, "Get rid of him, Bella."
Bellatrix purred a grovelling thank you as though he had just awarded her a prize and Snape watched as she grabbed Rookwood by the shoulders and forcibly ejected him from the room. Only then did Voldemort acknowledge Snape as he turned his bloody eyes to him and said, "Ah, Severus. As you can see, things are not going according to plan."
"M…my Lord…" Snape stammered, summoning a false confidence as he drew closer to the man by the fireplace. But Voldemort stopped him from advancing any further by raising a hand and his eyes held Snape's for only a moment before he said, "But I can see that you have failed me too, Severus. That is…" Snape watched as Voldemort's snakelike fingers caressed the wand he was holding before finishing, "…unfortunate."
"If you will permit me, my Lord…" Snape had begun speaking. Voldemort's mouth twitched. "I confess that I was unable to convince Dumbledore to give me the position at Hogwarts, but I heard something else this evening which I think will be of use." Voldemort was listening. "There was a woman, a Seer, who had applied for the position of Divination teacher. Dumbledore came to see her in the Hog's Head. I listened, my Lord, to see if I could learn anything useful. The woman…she made a prophecy…"
"A prophecy?" Voldemort exhaled, vaguely perplexed.
"Yes, my Lord. A prophecy that foretold the birth of a child…a child that will have the power to…" But Snape need not finish the sentence. He could feel his mind loosening, the mistiness of recollection seemed all at once to be clarified as Voldemort's eyes bored into his.
"The power to vanquish me?" Voldemort was incredulous, amused. He broke eye contact and sunk down into the chair by the fire. Snape could not take his eyes from his face. ""…born to those who have thrice defied him…" Voldemort repeated the words that Snape had overheard only an hour before "…born as the seventh month dies…You have done well, Severus."
There was a long silence before Snape found the courage to ask, "This will be of use to you, my Lord?"
"Oh, yes. Yes…" Voldemort hissed, his mouth twisting into an odd, contorted smile. "What you have just told me is of huge significance."
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