*Author's Note: The idea for this one shot was inspired by two things: first, while leaving the cinema after my eighth time seeing DH: P2 I heard a woman say something along the lines of, "What kind of person ignores a screaming baby?"; second, while watching the first HP movie I thought, Well, we know Severus was there that night. What if he didn't ignore Harry? What if he was the one who brought little Harry out of Godric's Hollow that night? Of course, this is Severus Snape we're talking about, and as much as I love him, it was never my intention to make this a cute, fluffy little one shot. No, this was the single most emotionally draining fanfic I have ever written. If you want the full experience, and can read while music is playing softly in the background, than put "Dumbledore's Farewell" from the HBP soundtrack on repeat. I'd also like to note that, while I took some issue with the last movie (i.e. Harry chucking himself and Voldemort off one of the castle towers. Seriously?), my favourite scenes by far were Severus' memories. I think the part where he is clutching Lily to him should have been Canon, and I think whomever had the idea to do that scene is a complete genius. I have never been so heartbroken while watching a movie.*
*Author's Note on dates: For the purposes of this one shot I married Lily and James 13 August, 1979. From what I've read they both graduated in 1978, and that they married after they graduated, but nothing specifies when exactly. It seems reasonable that they would be engaged for anywhere between six months and a year before tying the knot. It is known that Lily became pregnant in the fall of '79, so seeing as Harry was born 31 July, 1980, it's reasonable to assume that she conceived him sometime in September to October 1979. Lily and James also went into hiding while she was still pregnant, and Harry was 15 months old when Voldemort came looking for them on Halloween 1981. If anyone has more information, or exact dates, I would love to hear about it.*
The Night Severus Snape's World Fell Apart
Severus Snape Apparated to Godric's Hollow shortly before eleven o'clock. It was very dark; all the lamp posts on the sidewalk in front of the house were out. There was still a few Muggles trick-or-treating around him, but they could neither see nor hear him, though they passed within touching distance. Godric's Hollow was still warded, making it invisible to the Muggles as they passed. Every now and then one would stop by the gate and stare, but he knew all they saw was an empty lot. They had no idea what had transpired merely hours; no idea that Severus' world was swiftly coming apart at the seams. A storm was approaching, as was evident from the occasional flash of lightening. Severus could feel it getting closer. Perhaps the storm had been the result of the Dark Lord's demise. He wasn't sure, nor did he much care; his only thought was of Lily.
When the news had reached him of Lily's death he'd immediately sought out Dumbledore, who told him to go to Godric's Hollow and wait for him there. He didn't want to believe that it was true. He told himself that there had to be some mistake. The Dark Lord had promised to spare her. How could she be dead? Looking at the house now, all it's windows dark, and with a sizable hole in its roof, was there any doubt that she was gone? With a numbness that was both agonizing and a godsend Severus made his way up the stone path to the front door. It was splintered and hanging off its hinges. He could smell the electricity in the air as another flash of lightening lit the sky. He pushed open what was left of the door, the wood screaming in protest, and entered what might have been the sitting room. He didn't know for sure. He'd never been to Godric's Hollow before that night. Another flash of lightening illuminated the small room and across the way he saw stairs.
Severus walked across the room, slowly, and began to climb. A sense of dread filled him as another flash of lightening lit the world around him. He didn't bother to take out his wand. He didn't care if someone jumped out at him from the shadows and cursed him into oblivion. It would have been a well deserved fate. He was at the top of the stairs when the world around him was brought to light again. James Potter, his eyes open and wand clutched in his hand, lay dead at Severus' feet. Potter's feet were bare and he was in a robe, pajama bottoms visible underneath. Severus gazed down at him and recalled the first, and only, letter Lily had sent him since graduation.
I'm sure you know this by now, but James and I are married. The ceremony was small and took place at his parents' on 13 August. I wanted to invite you, Sev, but I knew you wouldn't come. Even if you had I know you wouldn't have been happy for me and that, above all, is what I need from you. James is a kind and decent man, Sev. I know you hate him, and maybe you have a right to that hate, but I love him. Please, please try and be happy for me. James has matured so very much since our days at school together. I think even you would be surprised by how very grown up he's become.
As much as Severus wanted to sneer down at the lifeless face of James Potter, the man who had made his school days a living hell, the man who had taken from him the only person he had ever loved, he could not. He thought about reaching down and closing the man's eyes, but there was too much hatred still, even though Potter was dead. Severus couldn't bring himself to give the man even that much. He closed his eyes briefly as he passed the body. The hall in front of him lit up as another flash of lightening, accompanied by a loud clap of thunder, issued from the heavens above. At the end of the corridor was another door, also hanging off its hinges. Severus' sense of dread skyrocketed. He wanted to run down the hall. He wanted so badly for Lily to be in that room with her son, alive. He'd never wanted anything to be true as much as he wanted that.
Not many people know this, but I wanted to tell you: I'm pregnant. Not very far along, mind, only a few months, but I'm very excited. James doesn't want to know if the baby is a boy or a girl, but I couldn't help it. I had to know! I'm going to have a boy, Sev, a baby boy! I wish you were here, so that I could hug you. Yes, I know, it's silly. The doctor's say it's hormones. Perhaps that's the reason I'm writing you? James doesn't know that I'm writing this letter, and I hate to keep secrets from him. It's best this way, though. I know my writing you would upset him. Not because he hates you, even though you may thinks that's why, but because he loves me and he doesn't want me to be sad. How can I not be sad when I think of you, though? If I could go back and change what happened between us I would, but that would require you to change who you are, and I don't know if you ever thought I was worth it. I'd like to think you thought I was worth changing for, but for all the years I was your best friend I don't think I ever truly knew you, Sev.
It seemed to take ages to reach the end of the corridor. Severus didn't know if that was because he was moving slowly, or if it was time itself that had slowed down. He pushed aside the mangled door and promptly collapsed against the door frame. Tears filled his eyes and spilled down his cheeks before he even realised that he was crying. His heart felt like a giant's fist was squeezing the life out of him. Yes, let me die! I want to be dead, too. Please, let me die. He couldn't stand and so he crawled, on his hands and knees, over to the lifeless body of his beloved Lily. She was lying on her stomach, her fiery hair splayed out around her like a halo. Her skin was so pale. If not for the paleness it might have been that she was just sleeping, except for her open eyes.
"Nooooo," he choked out and grabbed her hand. Then, the need to touch her, and to hold her, was so overwhelming that it stole his breath away. The tears streamed down Severus' face as he crawled to Lily's other side and rolled her toward him. Her eyes, once so full of life that they sparkled like burning emeralds, now looked up at him unseeing. A great choking sob escaped his mouth and he couldn't bear to see her eyes like that, dead and lifeless. He reached a shaking hand to her face and closed her eyes, but that was just as bad as seeing them look lifelessly up at him. He caressed her cheek with his palm, as another sob wracked his body. He pulled her into his lap, wrapped his arms around her, and clutched her head to his chest.
"Noooooo, please," Severus wailed, his breath coming out in ragged gasps. He began to rock back and forth, his cheek upon Lily's silky tresses. "Please, take me. I don't want to live! Please, please...oh, Lily!" He could barely breathe for all the tears, but they didn't stop coming. He stroked her hair and his heart felt like it was going to burst. "Lily...m-my Lily. I'm s-sorry. I'm so, so sorry. Please," he sobbed, his tears falling onto her hair. "Please, forgive me. I love you...I love you..." Severus clutched at his dead love and screamed his grief, wordlessly. He howled his despair to the heavens and prayed that they would open up and take him. He didn't want to live in a world that didn't have her in it.
After what seemed like an eternity Severus came back to himself. The storm was in full blow outside the house, the wards the only thing keeping the rain from falling inside the nursery. For the first time that night he became aware of a small wailing. He'd heard it before, upon entering the room, but his own grief had blotted out the noise. He turned, Lily still clutched in his arms, and saw that baby Harry was crying in his cot. His fat fits clutched the bars and little tears streamed down his chubby cheeks. Her eyes, Severus thought. He has Lily's eyes. The toddler's tears had set his eyes ablaze and they burned an emerald which would have rivaled Lily's. On his forehead was a jagged scar which looked exactly like a lightening bolt. It stood out red and angry against his otherwise pale face. Something inside Severus broke at the sight of Lily's son, alive and squealing, while she lay dead in his arms. He was suddenly so furious that he cried, "Shut up, you stupid little brat!"
Harry's tears stopped for a second while he regarded the man on the floor, but then they started up again, and louder.
"You should be dead!" Severus yelled. The rage he felt at himself, at the baby in the cot, and at the Dark Lord, boiled over. The tears started up again and he hugged Lily to him once more. "She shouldn't be dead. It was you he wanted! Not her..." He stroked Lily's hair, and then her cheek. "You should be alive," he sobbed into her hair. And then, as if someone had uttered Finite Incantatem, the rage was gone and grief took its place.
"My fault," Severus murmured. "My fault, Lily. It's all my fault. Please forgive me." He kissed the top of her head and rubbed his cheek into hers. His tears were gone again. The baby behind him still cried, but Severus ignored him.
Let her go, a voice inside his head said. You must let her go. Attend to the baby. "I can't," Severus breathed. He knew it was ridiculous to answer the voice inside his head, but at that moment he didn't care. "I can't let her go."
You must, the voice said, and now it sounded like Lily. You must let me go, Sev. My son needs you. Severus gasped at the sound of his love's voice, even though he knew it was all in his head.
Dumbledore's says that we must go into hiding, that the baby's life is in danger. I don't know all the details, but he insists that we must leave, and soon. I can't tell you where we're going...I wish I could, believe me, Sev. I don't know when, or if, I'll ever see you again. If I have to remain in hiding for the rest of my life in order to protect my son I will. I hope you can understand that. I hope that one day you do understand the love a parent bears their child. You may think it cruel of me to say now, but I had hoped we would have children some day. I loved you, Severus. A part of me still does. If anything happens to me and James, please promise me that you will make an effort to be a part of our son's life. I know that he will be taken care of if something were to happen to us and I'd like to think, to hope, that you would be one of those who looks after him. Even if all you do is teach him at Hogwarts that will be enough. I know it will be difficult for you to look at him without seeing James, but please try. He's my son, too.
"I promise," Severus whispered, and gently lay Lily's body down on the carpet. He arranged her hands so that they rested on her stomach, and leaned down to kiss her cheek. "I promise, Lily,"
He rose slowly, his hand lingering on hers, until he was upright. He turned to the cot, and the baby within. The boy had stopped crying and was looking up at him. His hair was dark brown and unruly, just like his father, but his eyes sparkled like dew on freshly cut grass, just like Lily. Knowing that it would be cold and wet outside Severus cast about for a blanket and found one thrown over a rocking chair. He took it and approached the cot again. At the same time he reached down to pick up Harry, the boy extended his chubby arms toward him. Severus picked him up carefully, having never held a baby before, and brought the small boy to his chest, where he held him there with one arm. With the other he wrapped the blanket around the tiny body, and then adjusted Harry so that he was cradled against his shoulder. With Harry secure Severus turned and, as one last tear trailed down his face, left the house.
He was on the stone path leading to the sidewalk when the sound of a motorcycle caught his attention. A moment later Hagrid touched down on the street and stopped right outside the gate to the house. "Professor Snape," the half-giant said, and sniffed loudly. Severus could tell from the thickness of his tone that he was crying. "So it's true, then? Lily 'n James...?"
"Are dead," he replied, his tone clipped, and slightly colder than he intended. "Where is Dumbledore?"
"He went ahead ter Privet Drive. He told me ter meet ya here and bring little Harry ter him." Hagrid nodded his shaggy head at Snape. "Is tha' him?"
Severus fought against a sneer and a nasty retort. "Yes," was all he said.
Hagrid extended his arms, but Severus didn't hand him Harry. "Dumbledore told me to bring the boy to him."
"Well, he doesn't want Harry ter be Disapparated with, so he asked me ter bring me motorbike and take him tha way." Hagrid gestured behind himself at the bike in question. "If ya wan' I can extend the side car 'n you can ride with me ter see Dumbledore."
"No," he said and shook his head. Dumbledore could wait. Severus would seek him out later. He walked over to Hagrid and handed him the bundle that was Harry. The boy blinked sleepily up at the two of them, and started to suck his thumb. Then, he closed his eyes. "You take him to Dumbledore. I will see to the removal of Potter and Li-" Severus' voice broke. He willed the lump in his throat to go away, but it would not. Hagrid looked at him curiously, but said nothing. He nodded, then, and walked over to his bike. Once he was seated, and his goggles were on, he started the engine. Severus saw Harry startle awake, but he didn't cry. Hagrid was clucking at him like some ridiculously large mother hen, and the boy closed his eyes once again. He turned away and a moment later he heard Hagrid fly off.
He stood alone outside of Godric's Hollow once again. He was glad the Dark Lord had been vanquished because if he hadn't been Severus would have killed him when next they met. He yanked up his sleeve and glowered at the Dark Mark tattooed there. He looked at it, the mark of his own cowardice, and stupidity, and he hated himself more in that moment than he ever thought possible. He wanted to claw at his skin until the black abomination was gone. He wanted to burn it off, to strip his own flesh away so that he wouldn't have such a constant reminder of his failure; of his betrayal to the only person who had ever mattered to him, the only person he had ever loved.
With Voldemort gone there was only one person left whom Severus had to kill: Sirius Black. He'd been James and Lily's secret keeper, and therefore, the only one who had known their whereabouts. As much as he despised Black, Severus had been surprised when he learned his old tormentor had been the one to divulge Lily's hiding place. And for that, he will die, Severus thought. I will find him, wherever he is, and I will kill him with my bare hands. Magic was too quick and clean for the likes of Black. For his part in Lily's death he would suffer as much as possible. Severus would see to it, even if it was the last thing he did. That was his promise to Lily: to avenge her death. Her son would be looked after. He wouldn't need Severus in his life. But Black...Sirius Black was all his. He just had to make sure he got to the secret keeper first.
Please don't let the darkness consume you. I may not know much, but I do know you are so much better than that. Perhaps, one day, you will realise it, too. Be well, Severus, and know that you will always have a special place in my heart.
With one last look at Godric's Hollow, Severus Snape Disapparated. It was just after midnight.