A/N: Editing this story 2015 - I haven't touched this story in two years and I feel like now is a good time to get to work on it once more. I am re-writing parts of it, editing others, and finally getting to new chapters. I'm so sorry that it has taken me so long to get back to this but I am back to it now and I hope I can convince you to start from the beginning with me, once more, and enjoy this alternate universe I am trying to build for Harry and Snape. Thank you so much for reading!
Chapter 1: A Promise Kept
Darkness had fallen outside, in what seemed a great rush, like the light was afraid and the armies of darkness were moving in to claim it.
To the people of the small village, the darkness was no surprise. Things had been changing a lot lately. It was almost believed that a dark force had been changing the weather - turning even the skeptics into believers. Many people were used to taking refuge in the comfort and quiet of their homes to escape from whatever evil that was brewing in the world, and whether you were muggle or magical you knew there was something very wrong and sinister afoot.
Dark times had befallen everyone, but there really wasn't an explanation for those who did not know of the Dark Lord.
Severus Snape paced by the windows in his sitting room as the darkness increased - choking out the light. He could feel the Dementors on the wind, and shivered at the worrisome thought that popped into his mind. The mark on his arm throbbed and there was a whistling in his ears. He knew something was happening on both side of the battle. He had been privy to intelligence from both side, but his heart was good and his mind was elsewhere on this night. A year ago, on this very night, he'd made a promise he was afraid he'd have to keep, and as the darkness became thicker the memory became brighter, he knew there would be no escaping that promise.
As the great battle was coming to its head, Snape was in hiding. He needed to stay away from both the good forces and the bad - some even believed him to be dead. Soon everyone would know what side he was on, and he worried about what the future held for him. If the good forces won, he would be hunted, killed, and made an example of, but if the dark forces won, he would suddenly have to act in a way that was against his better judgement. In both cases he was a Judas, and had sold a part of his soul, only to lose it all.
Feeling guilt for the choices he had made, the promises that were bound to his soul, and the uncertainty of the future, Snape resumed his pacing - trying desperately to push thoughts behind the walls in his mind, and thinking of the time when everything changed.
A memory that he was trying to suppress kept coming to him. He felt young and inexperienced, and he began doubting his own powers, because no matter how hard he tried this memory crept back to him and tormented him. He did not regret what he had done, but he was afraid - more scared than he had ever been in all of his life - and he knew that things would not end well. There was darkness in his mind, in his memories, and in the future to come, and he was deadly afraid that even by thinking about it, the truth would be known.
There once was a time when his heart and his mind were determined to walk on the dark side - to give himself fully to a darkness that he believed to be the truth. But there came a time that changed all that - a moment, a glimmer, a curse, that had come too late to go back and too soon to move forward.
Severus Snape could no longer fight the memories back into submission. He had to sit down in a lonely chair in his sitting room. He closed his eyes and concentrated very hard, trying to push the memory back, but it was burning into his mind as if someone else were controlling it. Someone wanted him to remember. Someone with more influence on him than any other human being - even the Dark Lord didn't have such powers.
Something was very wrong and he could not let his mind wonder. He concentrated and built a wall, but it crumbled every time he started, and no matter what he did the tumultuous noise of the encroaching curse made it fall to let the memory through.
Suddenly there came a violent knocking on the door - startling Severus away from his journaling. His flat in London was in one of the less desirable areas and very seldom did he ever have visitors. Very few people knew where he was, or what he was doing, because he had been playing the double agent for a long time, and no one could know it. He cautiously palmed his wand and walked slowly through corridor and into the vestibule. The knocking came again as he drew nearer to the door. Looking out his peep hole he recognized the witch on his door step, and pulling the door open angrily, he cast a spell that would cause a haze to appear around them. No one could know that she was there.
"Lily, what on earth are you doing here?" he hissed as she pushed her way into the house, "you know it is too dangerous for you now. You shouldn't be here."
"Where have you been Severus," Lily demanded as she planted her feet, spun around and looked him straight in the eyes. "I will not hear any more lies from you. Where have you been?" she asked and the sheer force of her speech pushed him backward.
"I have been here," Severus answered truthfully.
"Why?" She asked her eyes burning with rage.
"Because Dumbledore has asked me to keep my distance from you," Snape answered.
"Why?" She was trembling now.
"Because your whereabouts has to be kept a secret from Voldemort. That is why you have a secret keeper," Snape said watching her with immense pain in his heart, "I wouldn't have found you even if I wanted to and so that I couldn't have given you away if Voldemort had tortured me for the information."
"Do you trust him?" Lily asked he voice harsh and demanding.
"Trust whom, Black?" Snape asked.
"No, Pettigrew," Lily answered.
"No," Snape said as he turned away, "but then again I don't trust much of James' judgement, and I never have. Why would he not choose Sirius? You mean to tell me that, that snivelling Peter Pettigrew is your secret keeper, not Sirius Black? You shouldn't tell me these things, so don't answer that question. If it is true, then your husband is a far greater fool than even I could have imagined."
"I don't want to fight with you about James any more Severus," Lily said her voice softening.
"As long as you and I live, and breathe, we will fight about James, and you know that Lily," Severus said as he leaned against the wall in the vestibule where they were still standing.
Thoughts of James Potter brought back horrible, humiliating memories, ideas and actions. He was a spoiled rotten man and terribly selfish, but Lily had chosen him, and Severus would never understand why - or perhaps he did and was ashamed that he never saw light and darkness in the same way that she had but she had made her choice and he would have to live with it.
"And you know that I will not be alive much longer," Lily whispered tears welling in her eyes. "So can't you, at least, forgive for my sake?"
"We have taken every precaution to protect you," Snape sighed, "but you keep breaking the rules. I half expected you to have Harry with you. I will not forgive James, not for the things that he has done to me, just as you will not forgive the dark things that I have done. I have tried to make amend, but you do not believe that I can be good, and now here you are telling me things I should not know because if anyone has seen you and suspects that I am playing both sides, I will be tortured and killed for information that might save Voldemort from the prophecy. You are breaking the rules. You should not have come here."
"I never thought you could ever be evil," Lily sighed, "you just made poor decisions. Just as I am now. I am sorry."
"They were decisions influence by jealousy and heartache," Snape confessed. "You knew I loved you, and that I love you still. You don't need to apologize to me."
"I know you do, and that is why I have come. Hate me if you must, but I need to use your love to my advantage because I am afraid, and I don't trust my husband's judgement. You are my only hope, Severus. I hope that you love me enough to accept what I am going to ask you." Lily whispered, a blush rising in her face.
She had always loved Severus, but not in the same way that he loved her, and they both kept many secrets from each other. She had chosen to pursue James Potter because he had asked her, and Severus Snape had always been too shy. Lily often wondered, when she realized the dark and nasty things that James could do, what life would have been like had she chosen Snape, had she acted on her first instinct and simply asked him instead. Would the child, that she feared for, know the goodness that was in Severus's heart, or would he die because of who he was?
"You confuse me with your prattle, what do you want from me? You must know that if it has anything to do with James's child, the answer is no," Snape stated feeling the anxiety he had always felt when faced with a profession of his love. He did love her, and he always would, but she would not love him.
"I should have brought him. How could you say no with a baby in your presence?" Lily asked. "He would be safer with you. I don't like the way Peter looks at him."
"I don't trust that snivelling, sorry excuse for a wizard one bit, and everyone knows that." Snape said. "I would rather have seen Black as the secret keeper. He would never betray James - it is his one good quality. They are two peas in a pod those two, so I don't understand why they have changed their minds."
"I don't either," Lily said as tears began to roll down her face, "and I know it is for nothing Severus. I am to die, it is written in the stars. Voldemort will find me and my son, his Death Eaters have already gone after the Longbottoms and look at what happened. I am going to die, but you already knew that," she added and shot him a vicious look.
Snape lowered his eyes to the ground, he had done what he shouldn't have done, and invaded Lily's mind, but she knew of his powers and she had taught herself how to block people out. It was a terrible misstep on his part, and he regretted it immediately.
"Did you just see everything you wanted to see?" she hissed at him.
"Lily, I'm sorry," Snape said his voice sounding small and insignificant.
"Sorry about what, the invasion of my privacy or the questions I am about to ask you?" Lily asked angrily.
"I can't help you anymore. Voldemort will be suspicious. I can't risk that," Snape said pleadingly. "I can protect you only in secret and only if I stay in the inner circle of the Dark Lord's army."
"I don't want you to help me Severus - you can't help me anymore. I know I have to die, but you have to promise me you will take care of Harry. Protect him Severus, give him a home, raise him," she demanded. "My family will shun him, treat him poorly, and as if he were a monster. He needs you."
"Lily I can't raise a child," Snape gasped. "I can hardly support myself. I had a terrible life on my own. How would I know what to do?"
"Promise me you will," Lily screamed, "you are the only one I trust in all this!"
"Lily no, I can't," Snape said throwing his hands up, "it's impossibly. He's not my child."
"The Potter's are dead, and my relatives are muggles and hate what we are. You are the only person that can possibly protect and raise my son. I would never trust anyone else," she sobbed. "Please Severus, I am begging you," she pleaded and fell to her knees, grasping at the hems of his robes and weeping at his feet. "You could be his only hope, or you sentence a baby to death as well. Must I die in vain?"
"Lily, I can't," Snape said once more, "you know Harry isn't going to survive either. No one can survive a curse from Voldemort. When you are found, he will be found, and no one has ever survived the killing curse."
Lily looked up at him. All of the life had left her face. It was as white as the marble floor tiles, "do you really believe that my baby is going to die," she asked nearly inaudibly, "and that I will die in vain? Can there be no hope in any of this? Is goodness really that weak?"
"He's marked for death," Snape said as he sank to his knees and took her into his arms. "You all are. I can't stop that. I can hardly prolong it. Unless the Dark Lord is defeated, you are marked for death and there is nothing any of us can do to stop it."
"My baby," she sobbed into his shoulder, "you have to protect my baby." She said. Her tear stained green eyes looked up into his and they broke his heart all over again.
Severus sighed as her head fell and rested on his shoulder. Her entire body shook. She cried and cried until she couldn't cry anymore, and even then she still continued to shake. Severus began to rock her in his arms as they sat in the middle of the vestibule floor.
She was no longer the strong brilliant witch he had known and loved for so long. She was a frightened, young, mother with a child - not a year old - and a terrible truth that lived in her heart.
"If Harry should somehow survive, I will protect him," Severus said in a low whispered as he took a hold of Lily's right hand. "By my honour, I will find a way."
"Will you swear to it?" Lily asked weakly.
"Yes, you know I would do anything for you," He said and the promise was binding.
"Severus, you promised!" The words erupted like a shriek out of the darkness. He sat bolt upright in his chair and for a moment did not know where he was. It was dark, the street lamps were shining in through his sitting room window and the screaming voice of Lily Potter rang in his ears as his eyes tried to focus in the darkness that surrounded him.
Snape stood up and, shaken down to his bones, he tried to walk around to regain his balance and put himself into a calm, collected, frame of mind, but the scream was echoing and he knew something terrible had happened, and then he realized that something was wrong. He frantically rolled up his sleeve and the mark of the Dark Lord began to fade. It was still there, visible, but only just, and the feeling of it moving, calling, and killing was gone. What could it mean?
Snape rushed to his study window and looked out at the small village he had recently settled in - he never stayed long in the same place. This village was quaint, quiet and was away from London - away from the hustle and bustle of the Death Eaters, and filled with Muggles that didn't suspect him of anything. To the villagers he was just a young man who kept to himself and was rarely seen outside of his little cottage. He knew he wouldn't stay there long, depending on how the battle ended, but as he looked out the window he realized the dark, sickening haze that had fallen over the village had lifted, and the stars and moon were shining brightly and happily in the night sky. In that moment, he realized that something had ended the battle, and he feared that it all had to do with Lily Potter.
Suddenly there was a quiet knock at the door and Snape rushed to answer it. There, standing in dim light of the street lamp was Hagrid, the Hogwarts game keeper, with a bundle in his arms.
"What are you doing here?" Snape asked as he opened the door and stepped out into the chill of the night. "No one, but Dumbledore, knew where I was. How did you find me?"
"Dumbledore will be here soon. He'll explain everything. Here take this," Hagrid said as he sniffled and wiped at his eyes as he tried to hide the tears that rolled down his great cheeks, and the sorrow that was heard on his voice.
"What is this?" Snape asked but as the bundle was shoved into his arms he felt it move.
Snape jumped and tried to force the bundle back into Hagrid's arms - his heart had stopped beating at the feel of the little bundle moving. He, all of a sudden, understood Hagrid's sorrow. Pulling away the covering he heard the soft cry of a baby and recognized the eyes at once.
"I can't take him," He said pushing the child back to Hagrid.
"You have to, you promised, so no one else can take him now." Hagrid said and turned into the shadowy street and left - disappearing between the cottages and into the clear, cool, night.
Snape stood for a moment with the baby in his arms before he turned and went into the house. He knew that the Potters had to be dead and that he would now have to raise the child of his arch enemy and the woman he had loved, since he was a child, on his own. His whole world had changed in an instant and the dark persona he had created for himself would have to change as well. He had to raise this child and he would not be able to keep it a secret.