Author's Note: Sorry about the long time it has been since I updated this. I had a case of writer's block in that I had an idea of what I wanted to write, but no idea of how to actually get it down in a good format.
This chapter, as well as the rest of this fic, is dedicated to writer Snapegirlkmf. She has written numerous wonderful fics, mainly involving Severus Snape becoming mentor and/or guardian to Harry Potter. Unfortunately, her mother recently passed, so she is taking a hiatus from writing, and in honor of her I dedicate this fic to her.
In the evening, I was allowed to get out of bed to join the Petrovs and Romanovs for dinner. As soon as I had eaten a few bites, Sarah proceeded to try to persuade me from becoming a spy on Voldemort. "It's too dangerous, Sev!" she protested. "Even if you do master Occlumency. If You-Know-Who ever found out that you were a spy, he'd kill you, or have one of his loyal Death Eaters do it!"
"My mind is made up, Sarah," I responded firmly. "I have to atone for my mistake and this is the best way to do about it."
She shook her head emphatically. "There are other ways, Severus Snape! Furthermore, I refuse to let Ivan end up having to grow up without a godfather."
"Sarah, it's a waste of time and breath trying to talk Severus out of it," said Niko. "He's determined to do it. And don't you think Mum and Mother Lise didn't try already?"
"You're supposed to be on my side, Nikolas Vladek Petrov!" retorted Sarah. "What Sev wants to do is too risky and I will not have Ivan lose his godfather over this!"
"Just eat your dinner, Sarah," interjected Maria calmly. "And the way you're talking, you sound like you have no faith in Severus's abilities at all and expect him to be found out and killed the next time he shows up for a Death Eater meeting."
"That's not it at all, and you know it, Maria Lisette!" snapped Sarah, completely ignoring her untouched dinner to glare at her sister-in-law. "I just don't want Severus to take the risk!"
"You're not in any position to give him orders," pointed out Stephan. "It's his decision to make and as he's of age and you're not his owner-"
"Oh shut up, Stephan Elijah Romanov!" she interrupted nastily. "I know how old he is and that I don't own him. That doesn't mean I like his decision or can't try to talk him out if it."
"You're wasting your time and breath, Sarah, like Niko said," said Ana impatiently. "Just give it up already."
"I will not give it up, Anastasia Katerina! This-"
"Sarah, I have made up my mind," I interrupted. "This is something I feel I have to do. If you're so worried about Ivan growing up without his godfather, then just name someone else to be godfather instead."
"I WILL NOT, SEVERUS TOBIAS SNAPE!" Sarah shouted, face red with anger. "Niko and I made you godfather and we're not changing our minds!"
"That is enough!" said Mr. Romanov sternly. "Sarah Rachel, be quiet and eat your dinner. This is Severus's decision and he has made it. No amount of arguing is going to change his mind, so just calm down and accept it."
"I will not!" Sarah all but shouted, getting angrily to her feet. "How can you all just sit there and eat after hearing what he plans to do? You don't care about Sev at all!" With that, she stalked out of the room, her crimson skirt whirling about her.
Niko sighed and stood up. "I'll talk to her and get her to see reason. Sorry about this, Severus. We do care for you, but unlike Sarah, understand that you feel you must do this in order to atone for your mistake, even if we don't like your decision." With a shake of his head, he walked out the dining room.
I set down my spoon in my half-eaten bowl of soup, having completely lost my appetite after Sarah's outburst and leaving the room. Mrs. Romanov looked at me. "Severus, are you sure you won't rethink your decision? What you are planning to do is very risky."
"I'm sure, Mrs. Romanov," I answered stubbornly. "I made a huge mistake and becoming a spy on the Dark Lord is the only way I can truly atone for it."
"All right then," she said. "We'll stand by your decision and help you. Sarah will come around in time and do the same. Now please finish your dinner. You're already thin enough as it is."
I forced myself to finish the bowl of soup and a slice of bread, despite my loss of appetite, but turned down dessert. Mrs. Petrov would not let me help clear the table or wash the dishes, so I headed back to my room. Sarah and Niko stopped me on the way.
"I don't like what you're doing at all, Severus Snape, but I will help you in any way I can to make sure it goes smoothly," said Sarah, a very unhappy look on her face. "We've all learned Occulemency from Father Vladek, so we can help make sure your mental shields are strong. Ivan is not losing a godfather."
"Thank you, Sarah," I replied.
"Just because I'm giving in to the inevitable doesn't mean you're getting off from me. Ivan is your godson, and you are going to get to know him. As soon as he turns four, he is going to be spending every Saturday afternoon, unless either of you have other commitments, with you. Is that clear?"
I nodded and agreed to the Saturday afternoon visits, though I was inwardly wondering how I would interact with Ivan. I had absolutely no experience with younger kids, beyond the occasional telling first-years the directions to various places at Hogwarts. I just hoped the war would be over by the time he was four, with the Light side winning, and that I made it through intact. With the Petrovs and Romanovs to vouch for me, I would also avoid being sent to Azkaban as a Death Eater, though that wasn't my main concern at the moment.
The next day, Mr. Petrov gave me my first Occulemency lesson, which mainly consisted of me meditating and clearing my mind of all thoughts. He then went over the things I had read in the book on Occulemency and told me to practice meditating and clearing my mind every night before going to sleep.
After that, I had Occulemency lessons every evening after dinner. On the fifth lesson, when I had mostly mastered meditating and clearing my mind, I started learning how to create mental shields that would prevent others who knew Legilimency from reading my thoughts. During the day, I worked at the apothecary, brewing potions for Mrs. Petrov and Ana. I received a salary of five Galleons a week and room and board for my work.
By the time I was able to produce a weak mental shield, the Dark Lord summoned me and several other Death Eaters for a meeting. I concentrated on setting up my shield and thinking firmly that I was a loyal Death Eater and embraced everything that the Dark Lord believed in. The meeting composed of the other Death Eaters being sent on a mission, while I was told that I would be his main Potions brewer and ordered to brew a few rather nasty potions. I turn told the Dark Lord that I had a part-time job at Petrov's Potions and had a brewed a few potions that Dumbledore's side had ordered. I also mentioned that I had the opportunity to overhear or pick up interesting tidbits at the apothecary, as the owner had a daughter and son-in-law that were Aurors and often dropped by. I really didn't want to say that, but I had to appear to be a loyal Death Eater, and Maria and Tobias had been the ones to suggest it.
The Dark Lord looked pleased at that and ordered me to keep my ears out for any information of use. He then stared at me. I did not look away as he clumsily entered my mind, and focused on thinking thoughts that were loyal to him. He withdrew, finding no thoughts of betrayal, and after giving me some money for the Potions ingredients that I would need, dismissed me.
When I returned to Petrov's Potions, I told Maria about the mission the other Death Eaters had been sent on. She thanked me and then Apparated away to notify Professor Dumbledore, as she and Tobias had joined the Order of the Phoenix, a group set up by Dumbledore to fight against the Dark Lord. Mrs. Petrov took the money I had been given, saying that she would donate it to St. Mungo's, and handed me the ingredients that I would need for the potions that I had been ordered to brew.
I started brewing the first, a Pain-Inducing Potion that caused pain that was almost as bad as the Cruciatus Curse. As prepared the ingredients, I reminded myself that I had to act like a loyal Death Eater and not brewing the potions wouldn't help my act. When Ana finished the Skele-gro potion that she was brewing, she silently joined me and helped me with the Potion. When I protested, she said, "I'm not going to let you do this alone, Severus. Besides, when you're done with the potions the Dark Lord ordered you brew, you can help me brew the antidotes to them."
"Thank you, Ana," I replied. We managed to finish brewing the four potions that day, and made plans to brew the antidotes to them the next day.