I do not own Harry Potter.
Albus Dumbledore was not as old as some of the first-years believed- that is to say, he wasn't five hundred years old. He was, however, elderly. He had, in fact, been around many years, and had lived through things that most still living beings could not recall from memory. He had beaten a fearsome wizard, he had accumulated magic of great power, and he was respected. But Albus was a jolly man by nature, and not because of the wonders his gifts of fortune presented. His life, to be granted, was difficult when he was young- and as he grew, the troubles he faced became worse. But he learned to look at things in all ways. He had lived a long, full life, but Albus wouldn't change a thing about it, for every deed he had done had formed the man he was today: withered, old, and wise. And although he had become respected through acts of great bravery, Albus' fondest memories were those of Hogwarts.
There had been bad times, of course- such as when a young girl named Myrtle was killed by a basilisk; such as when a young half-giant was expelled for what Albus knew for certain was not his misdeed; such as when young students fought, and argued, and overlooked that which connected them. Albus had long before become a patient man, so when students did not respect him, he merely smiled at them, and tried his best to make them think otherwise.
When Severus Snape walked through the doors of Hogwarts, Albus was not wary- he seemed a good boy, with a bright smile, talking to a young girl named Lily Evans, laughing about some joke that remained a mystery to Albus, for he had been seated on the headmaster's chair, at the head of the room. Severus was dressed in black robes that looked a little old, but still in good form. He was holding a wand in his hand tightly, as if afraid it would disappear forever, were he to grip it any lighter. His hair was somewhat greasy, matted, and long- cropped just below his ears. He had a crooked nose, that looked as though it had turned crooked unnaturally, that jutted from his face, but despite this, his face still held the innocence of childhood. He had a warm grin on his face, and his eyes twinkled with excitement.
Lily Evans, the young witch he walked with, was wearing the dark robes as well, though her's seemed newer. She had long hair, that was a mix between red and brown, and it curled at the end. She was laughing, too, her eyes shining with emotions Albus was always pleased to see when students walked into his school: kindness, and love. He had no doubt that these two students would be a welcome addition to Hogwarts. And, they were, of course. All students were welcomed in Albus' patient eyes- but as the years wore on, the grin that had lain on Severus's face turned too often into a scowl, his eyes became hollow, and he still held onto his wand tight- perhaps tighter. Albus was walking along the grounds one afternoon, when a shout of anger called to his attention. He walked quietly around a stone corner, to see a very angry Severus Snape, and several other students.
James Potter was a cocky young student when he arrived to Hogwarts, with short black hair and glasses. He had already become fast friends with a boy named Sirius Black, who came from a prestigious family of 'purebloods'. Albus had been wary about Sirius Black, as he knew the boy's parents and brother, and unhappily expected the boy to have as narrow a mind as his relatives. To his delight and surprise, however, the boy seemed to be the black sheep in the family, with a rebellious hatred towards their beliefs that purebloods were the best type of wizard. However, he also seemed to have a knack for pranks, and mischief, and though Albus had to hide a few smirks to remain stern in the boy's eyes (he was sure his eyes twinkled a bit too much with laughter as he chastised him), some of the problems he caused were more disruptive then Albus could tolerate with a patient smile. James also become friends with a boy named Remus Lupin, a bright student who Albus immediately took a liking to for his manners and observation of most rules. However, as the years progressed, he seemed drawn into detentions as often as his chums, Sirius and James, and though he was never the mastermind for the problems, nor was he always proud of the activities, he still engaged in them.
Remus Lupin, Albus found, was also a werewolf. He debated with himself about allowing the child admittance into Hogwarts, and he finally decided that prejudice was not welcome in Hogwarts, and that no child should be untaught due to things they cannnot control, such as being a werewolf. He also contacted a potions-maker to make Wolf's Bane, so the young boy would not be running off in the middle of the night on a full moon, stark naked, covered in fur. Albus had seen to that! He had also talked to the student, expressing his concerns, and laughing kindly when Remus had frightfully demanded whether he was to be expelled. By the end of the first month at Hogwarts, all had been sorted out, and there were no difficulties.
Remus, Sirius, and James- the three students Albus saw most during those years. Of course, Severus as well- complaining about those three aforementioned children.
It was on that afternoon, when Albus discovered Severus, glaring at Remus, Sirius and James with cold hatred in his eyes. Lily Evans, who Albus had seen less and less with the young Mr. Snape, was looking torn and hurt, and Albus could barely hear the whispered words that Severus Snape uttered. At first, he'd hoped he'd misheard, but the hurt flash across Lily's face, and the anger flaring on the three boys' was enough to know he hadn't.
"-mudblood!" He hissed, glaring at them through the curtain of hair over his eyes.
"You dirty little prude!" James shouted, raising his wand from behind his dark robes. Sirius and Remus raised their wands with equal speed, each seething with a rage Albus had never felt from a student before.
"Mr. Potter, Mr. Lupin, Mr. Black." Said a light, sad voice, as footsteps echoed in the hall. The boys lowered the wands, each looking equally dreadful, as they turned down the hallway to face the professor, coming closer and closer. "I do think that raising a wand to another student is against the rules, and against morals?" Severus didn't sneer or smirk- he simply seemed hollow. His face was blank, and his shoulders were slumped. Albus slowed to a stop before the boys, then smiled slightly at Lily. "Ms. Evans? Might you go to my office? The password is butter biscuit." She nodded shakily, her eyes glistening.
"Yes, professor," She said, before turning and walking slowly down the hallway.
"Now." Albus turned to the four boys, anger shining in his eyes. "What is happening here?"
"It was his fault, professor!" James instantly shouted, his eyes alighting. Remus joined suit- all for one, and one for all.
"Yea, sir! He called Lily a mudblood- and he was a real prick about it, too!" He suddenly looked abashed, and Albus could almost read his thoughts....was prick a bad word? Albus smirked at him, then turned to Sirius.
"And what is your excuse, Mr. Black?" He inquired expectantly.
"He's a bastard who deserved an unforgivable curse," The young man muttered darkly. He looked up sharply. "Not that I was gonna, o'course." Albus resisted rolling his eyes. Of course. He turned to Severus, who was fidgeting nervously.
"And, are these accusations true, Mr. Snape?" He asked, eying the young man closely. Severus took a slight breath before answering, his chest stuck out, his chin jutted, his nose as crooked as ever:
"Yes, sir- I called Lily a mudblood." His voice cracked seconds in. His dark eyes found Sirius: "Not a bastard though, you little-"
"Severus." Albus said sternly. Severus' eyes found the floor quickly. Albus turned back to the other three. "And you raised your wands at him."
"Weren't gonna do nuthin!" James protested, but Albus held up a hand. The boy quieted.
"Yes sir." James muttered lamely.
"Don't you think you should apologize then- all three of you?" The faces turned shocked.
"To him? Bloody hell, I'd rather go out at the end of the month with Lupin!" Sirius shouted, as Remus punched him in the arm. Sirius rubbed his arm, looking, annoyed, at his old friend. Remus simply shrugged at him, smirking, then turned to Albus,
"Sorry, sir." Albus held in a sigh.
"To him, not me, Mr. Lupin." Remus nodded and made the apology in the same exact mechanical tone to Severus. "Mr. Potter? Mr. Black?"
"There is no way I'd apologize to that rotten, spoiled littl-" James stopped at the glare he was receiving from the headmaster. "What? I have rights, don't I? He called Lily a-"
"I am aware of this, Mr. Potter, and Mr. Snape shall be apologizing as well, I assure you." James mumbled a insincere apology then. Sirius remained defiant.
"I'd rather spend a century in Askaban." He seethed. Albus sighed, holding the young man's eyes.
"So be it. Three detentions with professor Binns, yes?" Sirius, glaring, managed a curt nod. Albus nodded. "Good. Off to bed. Severus- you come with me." The other boys trotted off as Albus and Severus walked the other direction, towards the office, and Lily Evans. "Butter Biscuit." Albus growled at the statue.
----- End Flashback
Ever since that afternoon, Albus had a hard time associating the bright, happy Severus Snape of eleven, to the sulky, moody slytherin with Severus Snape's face. He would prowl through the hallways, avoiding other houses, and even his fellow snakes. He didn't speak to Lily Evans, as far as Albus could see, for at least a year. The three boys, Remus, Sirius and James, constantly made trouble with him- worse then they had before the incident. Lily was now speaking with James more often then anyone else, and though Albus saw her begin to approach Severus a few times, she often simply shook her head, and walked away, seemingly deciding to give up.
James and Lily, however, stayed as close as ever. James was becoming increasingly popular, as he played for the Quidditch team, helping them win game after game. Severus claimed to have no interest in the sport, and read in the library instead of watching. Albus watched as, during his final year, he became friends with a few students that he, Albus, didn't particularly care for. They held their noses high, and were strong believers that purebloods were the best type of wizard, and that anyone who was not from a pureblood family was below them. Though Severus' father was a muggle, the fact that he hated him, and that he was in slytherin, seemed enough for them. At first, Severus seemed slightly wary of them, mainly only talking to them in the Great Hall, where Lily and the others could see him. James and Sirius would be fuming, as Remus would try to dissuade them from getting their revenge. Lily would just concentrate on her food, never raising her head, a strained look on her face.
After time, however, it seemed the friendship between Severus and the students seemed to develop into a true relationship, and not just something Severus was doing to annoy Lily and the Marauders, as they were called then. He continued being friends with them, spending more and more time with them in the dungeons, where Albus could not scrutinize them.
Finally, Severus' graduation had arrived. He was nothing like he was years before, at eleven, when he had first arrived. He had sallow pale skin, hollow, cold eyes, a skinny body, and greasy black hair. His mouth never moved from it's tight, judging scowl unless he spoke, and he only spoke in a controlled, even voice, that was cold, condescending and judging on it's own. His 'friends', if that is what one could call them, followed him everywhere that evening, smirking as he made snide remarks to his former friend, and her current friends, who glared at him with such hatred, Albus had been worried a wizard duel might begin.
"Well, Potter, I guess this is goodbye." He said, his lips curling into a smirk.
"Don't expect me to get weepy-eyed, Snape." James replied coldly, standing protectively near Lily.
"I guess this is goodbye to you, too, mudblood," Severus continued, smiling at the reaction he caused. Lily's green eyes shone with fury.
"We'll miss you, Snivillus," Sirius said sarcastically, before pulling his wand out. Remus and James followed suit, as Lily shook her head, her eyes hollow now.
"Oh, shut it, boys- he's not worth it." Albus watched Severus closely from where he sat, his half-moon spectacles resting on his long nose. There was a look on Severus' face Albus hadn't seen before. It was a look of loss, he finally decided. Of hurt. The look remained on his face as he muttered,
Albus had known it the day Severus entered Hogwarts, and he had known it the day he left, saying those final words to an old friend: Severus Snape was a complex young man. He understood this completely. However, the years went on, and Tom Riddle, a former Hogwarts student, a young man Albus had been wary of years before, was finding young wizards to join him in some sort of mad attempt to cleanse the world of muggles. He was becoming increasingly powerful, and he had a sort of frightening charisma that interested wizards from around the world. They were titled Death Eaters when they joined him. As the war began, Albus found out that Severus was a Death Eater. It pained him to find this out, because, though Severus obviously was not a bright, happy child, Albus had never expected him to be a murderer. The order of the Phoenix was created, and Sirius, James, Remus, and Lily all joined, along with many other wizards, purebloods or not.
It had been a howling evening in winter. Some students remained in Hogwarts, though most were at home, for their parents were petrified for their children's safety. The students that remained were there for the same reason, as the parents believed they would be safer in the confines of the school. Albus was having a depressing evening, knowing that Voldemort, as he was called now, giving up the name he was given at birth, was becoming more powerful, and less humane. He heard shouting outside his office, and saw a sudden burst of light. He calmly stroked his beard as Severus Snape strode into the office, a look of forced determination on his face. But Albus could easily see through the facade. Though Severus had a strong front, his eyes did not lie. He was terrified.
"Severus. It's been a while. Lemon drop?" He held up the proffered candy, but the young man angrily dismissed them, and began to pace. Finally, after a moment, he swung to face Albus, a look of disgust, shame, and rage on his face.
"Listen- I heard there is a rebellion brewing. And I heard you're leading it."
"Rebellion?" Albus echoed, his eyes never leaving Severus' face. The man seemed decades older then he was. He had no more wrinkles then one his age should, yet his eyes looked old- they were dim, and weary. Bags hung beneath them on his pale, sickly skin, and his mouth was a scowl much greater then the one he had worn at graduation. "What do you mean, my boy?"
"Stop treating me like some idiot student!" Severus shouted impatiently. "I just have to know- is it true?! Are you going against Him?!"
"Him?" Albus asked again, gesturing to a seat. "Dear boy, you'll have to explain." Severus glared at him.
"You're a manipulating old lunatic!" He shouted, ignoring the chair. "I was stupid to think you'd go against him. You're past your expiration date." He began to storm out of the office, but froze as Albus chuckled lightly.
"If you wanted to ask me about some strange rebellion, or whatever it is you're going on about, I'd think you'd give a reason." Severus turned, hope alight in his eyes.
"Do you mean there is a rebellion?" Albus didn't respond, simply smiling at him with his eyes over the half-moon spectacles. "Well?"
"Your reason?" Albus replied. Severus stared at him with scrutinizing and wary eyes.
"I have to tell them something."
"Oh? And what are you planning on telling this rebellion?" He gestured to the chair again, and Severus took it.
"That someone is in danger." There was fear in his eyes once more.
"There are many people in danger."
"Lily." He finally managed, his voice a low whisper.
"Lily Potter?" Albus asked in shock. Severus nodded slowly, grimacing slightly at the name 'Potter'. Albus leaned back in his chair.
"Do you know when?" Severus shook his head, looking tired, and angry. He stood again, and continued to pace.
"I shouldn't have come," He muttered, more to himself then to Albus, though Albus listened anyway. "You're right- everyone is in danger. Everyone is being cautious. Lily is too, I'm sure."
"You did an honorable thing telling me, however," Albus replied, standing, his glittering robes laying, dazzlingly, on the ground. They trailed behind him as he walked to comfort Severus, who had a tired, angry look seemingly attached to his face for eternity. "But you have to tell me how you know, now." Severus turned, shock shining in his eyes. Albus smirked. "I know, and you know- we both know, Severus. But- to prove to me- you have to tell me." Severus scanned his face, as if looking for insincerity, but all he would find would be patience. He bit his lip. Albus smiled supportively at him. "If you truly wish to abandon His ways, you must-"
"I didn't say I was trying to leave him!" Severus replied coldly. "I was just telling you to warn someone who I know to be respectable that there could be a chance of danger." Albus smirked knowingly at him. He then sighed, and asked,
"And why could you not tell Voldemort to spare her?" Severus looked over his shoulder, his face paler then usual.
"Must you say his name?" He hissed. Albus shrugged.
"All right then- why can you not tell Tom?" Severus raised an eyebrow, looking almost amused. Then his face darkened.
"Lily isn't a pureblood. She's what He wants to exterminate. A-" His voice cracked slightly. "-Mudblood." Guilt shined in his eyes, but Albus ignored it.
"And do you hate Mudbloods and Muggles, Severus Snape? Do you believe they should be 'exterminated'?" His eyes no longer twinkled with kindness. He had hardened them. Severus turned his face to the floor. "Severus?" Albus repeated coldly. "This is no prank you have committed. You cannot merely stand there and hope I will take pity on you. You graduated Hogwarts, and used the skills we taught you to inflict pain on the innocents. You have no right to act as you are. I demand an explanation." Severus looked up, his eyes wet.
"I have none."
"I think you do, Severus, even if it is not a good one. I doubt you joined Voldemort-" He ignored the fear that flashed momentarily over the young wizard's face. "-simply for fun." Severus shrugged one shoulder. He looked up, and fear, shame, and loathing were all evident in his eyes. Loathing for himself, for the Dark Lord he had joined, and despite what he knew, Albus said, "I will trust you, Severus Snape. Let it not be placed in faulty hands." Severus looked at him with hope shining in his dark eyes.
"Oh! Thank you, sir! I promise! Just- please, let her be safe?"
"I will try my best," Albus agreed. The twinkle was back, now, as he wrote on a piece of parchment and attached it to an owl that was perched on an oak stick. "But," he said, as the owl flew out the window and into the blackness of night. "-you must do something for me as well, Severus." Fear returned to his face, but Albus continued his easy-going manner. "Sit, for a moment." Severus sat jerkily, looking paler with each passing second. "I have to make sure my trust was given to the right person, right?" Severus nodded slowly. "I need you to tell me. Everything. I need you to tell me what you are, who you work for, and what you've done. I can't trust you otherwise." Severus slowly looked up, and jerked back the black robes he wore, exposing his forearm. A devastating tattoo sat there, black as death itself, against his pale skin.
"I am a death eater." He stated bluntly, though the words sounded as though they gave him as much pain as fiery acid, or an Unforgivable Curse. Albus nodded supportively. "I work for Lord you-know-wh-" He paused and took a slight breath. "-Voldemort. I've- I've done horrible things. I never played with them, made them feel more pain then they had to to die- but- I still did it. I still killed muggles, and wizards, and-" He slowly looked up, and met Albus' eyes. "I still went against the innocents. I still worked for the Dark Lord. I am still no better then the rest." Albus smirked at him, but it was kind and warm.
"Do not be so hard on yourself, Severus," He said. "Yes, you may do so for what you have commited, but do not say you are as bad as the others. You have shown great strength and promise in coming to me, and unveiling your lord's plans."
"Promise? Promise for what?" Severus asked warily.
"Promise for being an assistant to the rebellion." Albus replied simply. "In hampering Voldermort's plans. In saving Lily's life, and others like her. We both know that you garner no amusment nor satisfaction from the death of muggles, or fellow wizards. It was of bitterness that you joined, and of fear you remained. And it shall be with bravery that you rise."
And so Albus and Severus spoke throughout the night, deciding how to best risk Severus' life. The entire evening consisted of 'And if he gets suspicious's and 'And if this happens's. Severus maintained an air of dignity and bravery, and fear showed only in his glossy eyes, dark, hollow, and mournful. Finally, as dawn approached, Severus had to return, for if he was gone too long, there would be suspicions. The final thing he said before he left, was,
"Is it true, though, sir?"
"Is what true, my boy?" Albus asked the young man, who had turned in the doorway, looking much wearier, though now with good reason, as they had spent the entire night concocting a wildly complicated plan for Severus to become a double agent to Lord Voldemort.
"What about her?" Albus replied, still puzzled.
"Did she really have a son?" Albus smiled kindly, and nodded.
"His name is Harry."
The years that followed were slurred and long, and though they felt like decades at the time, in memory, they passed like seconds, as all memories do in the end. Albus and Severus remained in touch, especially after the death of Lily and James, which hit Severus much more then Albus could have anticipated. The young man was drunk on the Hogwarts grounds, shouting at a tree, when the headmaster managed to wrangle him in, demanding what the matter was.
"She's dead!" Severus shouted, swaying, and leaning against the stone wall. The tree in front of him didn't respond. Silver lines of tears traced down his pale skin. "She's dead, and it's my fault, and that prick Potter is dead, too, and it's all my fault, and that damn-" He collapsed to his knees, still crying. "-that damn Black! He told Him where they were! Of everyone! I thought he was just-" He hiccuped loudly, and it echoed through the stone corridors. "-I thought he was just a bloody little arse to me, but he sold them out! That damn Black sold them out!"
"Severus?" The young wizard jumped to his feet, and swung wildly to see the bearded wizard, who watched solemnly from the corner. "The grounds are empty right now- of professors. They're out celebra-"
"What's there to celebrate?!" Severus shouted, glaring with such cruel hatred that Albus nearly stepped back. "Lily- Lily and Potter are dead. He's just as alone as I am!" Albus looked at him strangely.
"That damn Harry Potter!" Severus replied, sinking down, slumping against the stone. "He'll never know her. And that is hell. And she's dead, and I'll never see her again, and it was my fault, me and that traitorous Black!" He took a long swig from the bottle he held, as Albus watched disapprovingly. He sighed, then muttered,
"Acio." In his drunken stupor, Severus gazed in awe at the floating bottle. When it was a foot away from him, he leaped and clawed at it, but it floated to Albus' outstretched hand all the same. "Severus." He said sternly, trying to avoid the hopeless eyes. "Harry is not alone. He is at a relatives. They will care for him. And he has all the wizarding world to love him, for they all toast to his name. As for you, you helped stop the reign of the Dark Lord. You stopped the deaths of others like Lily from happening. Yes, she and James are gone, but they stopped Voldemort by that sacrifice, and you must simply be proud and thankful in the knowledge that you knew them, and that you helped them." Severus kept his eyes on the floor. "As for Sirius Black-"
"Don't say that name!" Severus hissed. "If I see that betraying-"
"Severus. Anger is natural. But you must not let it consume you. You must control it. For Lily. For James. For Peter. For the Longbottoms. For every great soul who has perished in this war." He paused. "Can you do that?" Severus mumbled a reply. "Good. Now- there is one thing about Voldemort's 'death' that I would like to discuss with you.."
Albus explained on that cold evening that there was no true proof that Voldemort was fully dead, and that Severus would have stay on his toes for, perhaps, the rest of his life. A stony mask of resolve formed over the wizard's face; one which Albus hadn't seen dissipate since. He nodded, sobered the next morning, then left. His application for a teaching position came the next week. Albus replied that, though that Defense Against The Dark Arts already had a teacher, Potions did not. Since Severus was quite talented in both fields, he took the position.
The years passed in mundane routines. If there were ever rumours of the Dark Lord's return, Severus and Albus and other trusted members of the Pheonix would meet and discuss it. All were false alarms. In what seemed like seconds, a decade had passed, and Albus was looking at a particular letter with great interest. Harry Potter, son of Lily and James. He took a slight sigh, and asked to see Severus. The man swept into his room, his black robes swirling behind him in the great eery effect he had mastered over the decade of living in the bleak dungeons.
"Severus," Albus greeted. "Lemon drop?" The corners of Severus' lips twitched.
"You've known me for nearly twenty years." He told the headmaster, who smirked.
"I have always hoped that one day you would acquire a sweet tooth," He replied, eyes glittering.
"Ah, you'll have to wait another twenty years, I suppose, then," Severus replied, sitting in the chair. He was at ease in the office nowadays, as the past was nearly buried. Nearly. "What is it then?" He asked.
"I've a letter to send off to a young wizard," Albus replied casually, eyes tight on Severus' face. Severus didn't respond at first, but his eyes narrowed.
"Oh?" He asked in the silky voice he had also adopted over the ten years.
"Yes- a Harry Potter." The narrowed eyes flew to full size. But he took his time replying.
"It's been a decade, has it?" Albus nodded slightly. Severus stood, and practically glided to the door. "Well, I do hope he enjoys the school." The door closed, and he was gone.
When Harry Potter was announced, and the young be-specled boy sat perched upon the stool, the sorting hat on his mess of black hair, Albus watched Severus out of the corner of his eye. He was worried about him. Though he had matured and grown, he had also become somewhat childish in the manner that he trusted no one- not even, Albus was sad to realize now, Albus himself. He trusted him enough to risk his life...but not with anything else, strangely enough.
"...Better be....Gryffindor!" The applause and cheering was deafening. Albus clapped his hands together softly, smiling approvingly as the young boy searched for it. Albus next turned and looked at Severus. His face was sallow, his eyes cold. He had seen it just as Albus had seen it. The resemblance between Harry and his father was uncanny. He was a miniature James. And, as he rushed to the table in the middle of the great hall, grinning as he sat beside a red-haired boy, and many more red-haired boys, he seemed just as the cocky James Potter had on his first day at Hogwarts. Albus could only hope that the resemblance was not too much for Severus- that the man would take his hatred of James out on the innocent son. He stood, made a silly little speech that aroused great applause, then commanded the students to eat. A great roar of chatting came up, and filled the hall as food appeared on the platters. Harry's face was one of shock and amazement, before he clawed into the food.
The year went by quickly. Too quickly, really. One teacher Severus had anxiety towards turned out to be, quite frankly, Voldemort. Well- a young, nervous boy with Voldemort eating away at him, really. Either way, he was not to be trusted. Harry was put into mortal danger, and forced to use magic against one of the greatest wizards of all time, after less then a year of knowing he possessed magical powers. However, for the second time in his life, the young, inexperienced Harry Potter defeated the brilliant Voldemort. Severus, of course, was horrendously upset, yelling about lack of self-preservation, lack of school security. Of course, Albus figured he had seen the other resemblance Harry bore. His bright, green eyes, that belonged to his mother. No amount of James could tear Severus from Lily- and, Albus supposed, that should carry on after she had died as well.
By the way, during the first flashback, with James, and the whole 'mudblood' thing, that wouldn't have been the first time he had called Lily a mudblood. That's why it wasn't that scene with him flipping him over, you know? Anyways, yea. Just wanted to clear that up. Sorry for any spelling mistakes.