CHILD OF DARKNESS:
The Final Chapter. It seems so weird to be writing that, after all this time, because this was one of my first ideas—but I like how it has developed. Thank you for all your support—I hope this final chapter makes you smile.
The door slammed open and Severus Snape stood in the doorway. "Well?"
Albus Dumbledore looked up at him from his desk. "He's dead." His eyes were dark.
Severus stared at him for a long moment. "...Actually dead? What of the family?"
Albus nodded. "Yes." He rose from his chair. "The child survives. His parents do not."
Severus lowered his gaze. "I tried."
"I know. And you have done well." He reached out a hand. He smiled, "Well done, Severus."
Severus exhaled heavily. "I need to sit down." He lowered himself into a chair, closing his eyes. "The Dark Lord is dead?"
"The curse rebounded. He was destroyed." Albus crouched next to Severus. "I am so pleased that you are still alive."
Severus opened one eye to look at him. "It was close. If he had survived, he was going to kill me. He saw no further use for me. You were right, Headmaster."
Albus stood, "I was hoping—in a way—not to be. I did not want you to be used, once again. Unfortunately..." He looked at Severus, "I thought there had to be some reason why he revealed such a thing to you. He could not have seen any benefit in it, otherwise."
Severus nodded. "It matters not now, for he is destroyed." He drifted into silence.
"I am glad that you saw the truth in the situation, followed the instructions on that piece of parchment—and did not despise me for the way I had to ask you to leave Hogwarts." Albus folded his arms uncomfortably. "So. Are you going to enlighten me, on how you succeeded?"
"He wanted me to create a potion of immortality. I have never seen such a recipe...it only grants temporary...almost invincibility...but if one was to take such a potion every day—then technically, they would be immortal. He asked me to make some for him." Severus replied. "I did so—and it does work, Headmaster. I am not sure how...but he tried to kill me—and I survived."
Albus stared at him, intrigued. "So then he would have asked you to replicate it..."
"Indeed. I simply switched the daisy petals for lily petals. Ironic really. He hardly noticed." He shook his head. "That meant the potion was useless."
"That was still quite a risk to take, Severus. If he had survived..."
"Headmaster, you asked me to stop him. I did. I knew that he would never survive if he took the potion that I created."
"You have performed admirably, as always, my dear boy." He paused. "I suppose, we ought to destroy that recipe."
Severus reached into his robes and drew out a piece of parchment. A page, torn from a book. "It is here."
Albus looked at it. "Immortality. A great weapon..." He stared at it. "Can I..." He reached out to take it—and then drew his hand away. "No."
Severus met his eyes, "Headmaster?"
"An old man—I am sorely tempted—do not let me..."
Severus stood up and threw the recipe into the roaring fire. He watched it burn.
Albus came to stand by his side, "You could have kept it."
"No. Because one day, it would have fallen into the wrong hands."
Albus put his hands on Severus' elbows, turning him to face him. "That is why you are nothing like him, Severus. You just summarised it in that one sentence. I hope you understand that now."
"I understood it when he was taking my blood for the potion. I looked into his eyes and I saw...nothing, Headmaster. He asked me if I saw what I wanted to see—and I knew then, that I had made the right decision to change the potion—because of that nothing. No emotion, no affection, nothing. Not like when I..." He trailed off and looked away. Albus tightened his grip, "How are you feeling about all this?"
Severus shrugged. "I am not sure. I am glad he is dead. I suppose I am destined to remain fatherless."
Albus touched one hand to Severus' cheek. "Severus. Look at me."
Black eyes met his. "What do you see, Severus? Tell me."
Severus just stared at him. He did not answer. He did not need to.
"You may well be a child of darkness, my dear Severus, but there is none of that darkness in your veins." He saw weariness in Severus' expression. "Go and sleep, Severus. You need to be up bright and early tomorrow to pick up your teaching. I hear the classes have gone to the dogs recently..."
Severus smiled, a true smile that brightened his whole face. "I can stay?"
"I have spoken to the Ministry—it turns out that our new Minister was tricked into signing that letter—and that someone else used his seal. So I informed them that you were instrumental in Voldemort's downfall and that I would never let you go again. They got the message. This is your home, Severus. No one can ever take that from you."
Severus crossed to the door. He reached out to touch the door handle—and then turned back. "Headmaster?" He rubbed his hand up and down his forearm for a moment, "I...I could have never have seen him as a father—he could never have meant that much to me."
"Why is that, dear boy?"
Severus met his gaze and held it. "Because...I think...I have realised that there is someone I already hold in that high esteem." His meaning was clear.
Touched, Albus smiled. "I will see you in the morning, Severus."
"Sleep well, Headmaster."
"You too, Professor Snape."
Albus watched him close the door behind him, smiling slightly. He turned back to the fireplace, watching the flames flicker.
His eyes caught on a piece of parchment lying in the hearth. He reached down and picked it up. It was half of the recipe that Severus had disposed of. Albus stared at it.
He knew that he shouldn't.
He thought about how Severus had dismissed it. The wrong hands.
He opened the drawer of his desk and pulled out a knitting magazine. He placed the piece of parchment inside, and then put the magazine away. Then he stood, and walked toward the door of his adjoining bedroom.
There we are then. Child of Darkness is now complete—but there will be a sequel in the New Year. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and review—and don't worry, because we will see more of Severus Riddle very soon!
Much love, always,