Striding along the corridor, he cursed inwardly. Whilst his face was hidden by a hood, he had spent seven years here; surely there was more than just a chance one of those damned portraits would recognise his gait, or else that one of the bright torches would momentarily show a glimpse of his face. Damn that whiter than white, incessant do-gooder, Albus Dumbledore.
He was a fool – a cursed fool – for doing this. He was risking everything. And for what exactly? A child's dreams; a teenager's memories. The type of nauseating sentimentalism he had for so long sneered at in others. The type he would continue to ridicule soundly whenever he came across it. There was no hypocrisy: he was even more disgusted with himself than he had ever been with his-
The man snarled, and made an effort to change his mannerisms, and particularly the smoothness of his walk. Far too many of these portraits had observed him in such a mood before. When he was younger it had served well to walk off his emotions, but he had left that immaturity long ago. Now he should need no such thing to control himself. At least the time of day meant that the students who might recognise him were either safely in classes, or studying in the library. It was the only remotely positive thing about Dumbledore's insistence of an early afternoon meeting.
He knew the real reason for the timing of the meeting, of course, he was not a fool. Many people underestimated the man, taking his odd mannerisms as signs that despite his vaunted intelligence and magical power he could be easily manipulated. As though Albus Dumbledore was naive!
He snorted the word softly, before grimacing. He was thrown today, and he had to recapture his calmness and collectedness before their meeting. Dumbledore may have been known for his honesty, but the fact he told the truth in no way guaranteed against misdirection or other manoeuvres. He had long come to the conclusion that Dumbledore's truthfulness was an extremely effective mask for his scheming.
He curled his lip. So many of his acquaintances liked to pretend they were in charge, deluding themselves that they weren't a pawn of one of the two forces in the world today, yet until they learnt how to assess their master and their master's rivals they were destined for mediocrity. That mixture of arrogance and stupidity was a dangerous one. He twisted his mouth into a slight smile: it made them easy to manipulate.
But yet was he much better? He may be as good at taking someone's measure as anyone he had come across, and yet here he was betraying the very essence of who he was. He stalked around a corner with a wordless grunt.
The man knew he couldn't afford to show Dumbledore his thoughts and feelings. No-one could see those. There were things and memories that could not – must not – ever be divulged. If someone knows you, then they know exactly how best to manipulate you; and if they know how to do that, it is a guarantee that they will. If there was one thing he had learnt, it was that everyone was in life for one reason above all others.
X x X x X x X x X
"I half wish you hadn't told me." Lily said nervously. "At least if I'd had no warning I wouldn't have this feeling of dread." Dumbledore opened his mouth, but she shook her head wearily. "I don't mean that."
"There is no compulsion for you to be here," Dumbledore told her gently, "indeed, if you would rather not, there is no reason you should not leave."
Lily shook her head, "Professor, y-"
Dumbledore held up his hand. "Albus, Lily, please. You are no longer my student – you haven't been for rather a while now."
Lily smiled slightly. "Albus, then." She paused, before continuing. "We both know I'll be calling you 'Professor' again before I leave! Albus, you know perfectly well what my answer is. You knew what it would be before you even asked me."
Dumbledore gave no sign of denial.
"I will do anything that may help my son."
Too tactful to offer baseless reassurances, Dumbledore smiled gently. He paused for a moment as he sipped his tea.
"Have you and James decided upon your Secret-Keeper?" He asked eventually.
Lily's lips twitched as though stifling a laugh in reminiscence. "Sirius."
"You are both completely sure about this?" Dumbledore probed.
"Of course." Lily frowned. "Albus, Sirius and I have had our differences in the past, but that is exactly where they are: in the past." She gave an ironic, self-conscious smile. "James and I have had our differences in the past."
"Indeed." Dumbledore replied, eyes sparkling.
"If the two of us still had issues," Lily continued, "we would not have asked him to be Harry's Godfather."
"Sirius still remains James' friend first and foremost. Are you happy to trust his closest friends over your own? You and Caroline are just as close as James and-"
"Carol has her own family to look after," Lily interrupted, "and I will not risk her child's life in an effort to save mine. How could I possibly put her in that situation, Albus? What if Voldemort were to torture her child in front of her? How could I ask her to remain silent?"
Dumbledore searched the bright eyes opposite him, but said nothing.
"And Grace – Grace..." Lily trailed off.
"Grace has never been the same since Angersleigh." Dumbledore finished the sentence for her quietly. "Unfortunately it is not surprising that it has left her with demons, and I should never ask her to endure that again either." He paused. "Lily – and I shall say this to James, also – if I may be of some service to the two of you here, you need only ask."
Alarm spread into Lily's features, and she stood abruptly, putting down her teacup and saucer. "Professor, what's happened? What do you know? Sirius – no, I can't-"
Dumbledore almost rose himself, but resisted the impulse and settled back into his chair. "I do not believe there is any cause for alarm. I merely urge caution. I find it nearly inconceivable that Sirius might ever help Lord Voldemort, however, there are practicalities involved here. If you should happen to be in trouble, and were to need the Order's aid, for instance, were I your Secret-Keeper it would be that much faster and easier in coming."
Lily shook her head. "But if we were to need it when you were trying to stop a Death Eater raid elsewhere, that would be a bad thing. If Voldemort found out that you were our Secret-Keeper, he would make sure you were doing something else so you couldn't help us. There's something you aren't saying." She forced her tone into calmness. "What is it Albus?"
Dumbledore looked troubled. "The Fidelius charm should not be necessary. Time and time again we have had safeguards in place which should have been more than adequate to keep the three of you secret, and yet they were barely enough to keep you safe. I fear it has happened too often to merely be bad luck." He could see Lily bristling, and finished speaking quietly. "I see few alternatives to the idea that someone close to you has been informing Voldemort of your movements."
"Who?" Lily asked stiffly.
When Dumbledore's answer wasn't immediately forthcoming she walked to the window and scanned the grounds below, palms flat on the windowsill to stop them from shaking.
"It is not Remus." She opened her mouth to continue, but stopped herself.
Dumbledore frowned. "Why should I suspect Remus Lupin, Lily?"
There was a pregnant pause. Lily looked away from the empty courtyard towards the Forbidden Forest, where two winged beasts had risen above the treetops: the Hippogriff rearing its beaked head aggressively and diving at the ghastly looking Thestral.
Dumbledore allowed the silence to continue, aware that there were deeper currents beneath the surface.
"You shouldn't. No-one should." Lily narrowed her eyes, paused, and then pursed her lips. "Sirius doesn't understand how Voldemort could possibly find where we are so easily either."
"He suspects Remus?" Dumbledore's eyebrows rose in surprise before dropping to furrow in thought.
Lily turned back away from the window, but still hesitated before responding. "I think seeing his brother unmasked like he did – he won't admit it of course, he pretends he's only surprised he isn't the only Black living not to be a Death Eater – but I think it shocked him despite all his issues with his family."
"You think he expects to be betrayed by those friends he has that are closer than family," Dumbledore stated pensively.
"That's not the only reason," Lily answered, a little reluctantly, "it's other things, too. There was that accident we had with the Barohan charm, and then other spells have been going wrong too. He says that some of the protective spells we've cast must have been sabotaged, rather than just not being strong enough. And Remus – being the perfectionist – would be the most likely to spot any tampering-"
"Unless he were the one doing the tampering." Dumbledore nodded. "However, were there interference in the making of the spells themselves, any ciphers instigated by Voldemort would not be easy to detect."
"Has Remus become more solitary in his habits since you tried the Barohan charm?" Dumbledore asked.
"Yes. And Sirius hasn't helped, either-"
A knock at the door interrupted her. She jumped, swinging around, and fixed her eyes on the door in a turmoil of emotions. Dumbledore raked her face with a searching gaze.
He raised his voice, and spoke calmly: "Come in."
The door swung inwards, the entrant's two confident steps halting abruptly. For an instant, there seemed absolute stillness.
Lily broke it. With an animalistic snarl she covered the yards between them in the blink of an eye, drawing her wand as she did so. She pressed it into the man's neck, dislodging his hood as he hastily stepped back into the now closed door. She swallowed, and, with a shudder, breathed deeply, staring into the shocked eyes with naked hate.
"Give me one reason I shouldn't kill you, Snape."
Severus Snape tried to jerk backwards, but merely hit his head on the door. "Lily, I-"
"Don't!" Lily snarled the interruption. "Don't call me that."
Snape's eyes darted to and fro, unwilling to risk moving anything more than that with the wand pressed into his Adam's apple. Dumbledore stood calmly in the background, unmoved by his visitor's desperate looks.
"L- What do you want me to call you?" Snape croaked out.
"Potter," Lily replied, a vindictive glint of satisfaction in her eyes at his reaction, and she took a step backwards as though to study it, "Mrs Potter. Mother of Harry James Potter. The innocent baby you told Lord Voldemort to kill."
Snape twitched at each name as though struck by pain. "I didn't know it meant you!" He cried frantically.
"It didn't mean me!" Lily's voice rose shrilly. "Voldemort doesn't want to kill me – he wants to kill my child. My- Harry's not- he's..." Her eyes glistened with tears and the wand shook."
"I didn't know!" Snape cried again, his voice breaking with an emotion that wasn't fear. Or rather, that wasn't solely fear. "I didn't even know you were pregnant, Li- I didn't even know." He repeated.
She swallowed, and forced herself to breathe, wand trembling violently. She didn't immediately reply, and the moment hung there threateningly.
"Why should I let you live?" She asked again, the attempted forced calm intertwined with pure emotion. "Give me one reason."
"They – They'd send you to Azkaban." Snape said after a moment's hesitation.
"I could turn you over to the Ministry. You've heard how they are pushing through their verdicts without formal trials for certain well known Death Eaters. One Dementor, Snape, that's all it takes."
He forced himself to swallow, hands clenched by his sides. His eyes flickered towards Dumbledore pleadingly once more, but the man merely eyed him through cold eyes.
"I'm not a –" Snape stopped speaking at the look in Lily's eyes.
"You're not what?" Lily laughed.
It was a scornful laugh, and his blood ran cold at the sound of it. It was so far removed from the Lily Evans he had known, and he had known her longer than any other person in the Wizarding World had.
"You're not a Death Eater?"
"A well known Death Eater." Snape corrected anxiously.
"Well enough known." Lily snapped back. "Especially after James and I talk to the right people."
"I came here to help!" Snape blurted out the only thing he could think of that might save him.
"To help." Lily repeated derisively. "You came here to help. How? Why?"
"Because I don't want you to be hurt."
"So let me get this straight, Snape. You came here because you care about me. Why do I find that so hard to believe?"
Snape swallowed, and closed his eyes in mortification. He said nothing. He had betrayed their friendship already – why then was this extra betrayal too much for him to bear?
Lily's voice softened – paradoxically as it seemed to Severus. "'Filthy Mudblood'. 'I don't need your help'. 'I want nothing to do with you'. 'Mudblood who-'"
Snape's eyes snapped back open. "I had a reputation!"
Lily's eyes fixed his icily.
With a huge effort, Severus Snape finally found a semblance of control. "There were people in Slytherin with money and connections. If I were ever to drag myself out of – my family's situation, I needed them."
If he had hoped that Lily's familiarity with his childhood would somehow lead to understanding from her, he was sorely mistaken. Her reply was steeped in sarcasm.
"And, of course, a friendship with a 'Mudblood' would ruin any chance of success."
"It does for a Slytherin." Snape replied quietly. "Especially one trying to enter politics."
He held her eyes defiantly, and so saw the disgust contained within. He refused to look away.
"Presumably your reputation no longer matters."
"I don't want you to get hurt," Snape repeated calmly, and after a moment's hesitation continued, in an effort to prove to himself he was no longer on the back foot, "besides, presumably if I played a role in defeating the Dark Lord, my future and connections would not be completely hopeless."
"You are solely here because of me?" Lily didn't bother trying to hide her scepticism. "You would not be here if the Prophecy had named someone else's child?"
Severus Snape shook his head slightly.
"And you think that's a good reason to trust you!" Lily exclaimed in disbelief. "You're not here because you think it's wrong to kill an innocent child, you only don't like it because I'm involved."
Snape's eyes narrowed. As much as he would have liked to reply with a riposte – there was no rational reason to automatically place a child's life as being more important than his – he knew perfectly well which arguments would help his cause and which wouldn't. You didn't argue with emotion and expect to win.
"You don't have a sense of right or wrong – you're a Death Eater! If it was someone else's child you'd happily do the slaughtering yourself."
"Just because I disagree with you about what's right or wrong doesn't mean I have no morality. If I didn't, I wouldn't be here, would I?" Snape struggled to keep his voice calm, to regain the sardonic edge that signalled him as being in control of his feelings. He wasn't sure if he'd succeeded.
Lily just glared at him. Snape found himself looking away. Eventually he spoke again.
"I could have lied, Li- I could have said I'd have been here if it was someone else. What would it have accomplished? You would have known I lied. How many months and years did we talk about things like that; you trying to persuade me that people were somehow inherently worthwhile, and me telling you I couldn't believe you? How would pretending otherwise have made you trust me?"
"So how can we trust you, then?" Lily shot, ignoring the reference to a time when they had been friends. "What can a murderer and a torturer say or do to make us trust him?"
The question hung in silence. It was a question Snape had tried to answer before even asking for this audience, but all the answers he had come up with had been directed towards Dumbledore and sounded insufficient to him now. He raged at himself internally: they had seemed inadequate before, too, but still the fool inside him had hoped for a miracle. Besides, while Headmaster Dumbledore was known for giving second chances, there was no possible reason for Lily to give him one.
Dumbledore spoke his first words since the door had opened. "With your permission, Severus, I should at least be able to gauge your sincerity now."
"With my permission?" Snape repeated dubiously.
"It is invasive." Dumbledore replied simply.
"Have you ever heard of the branch of magic known as Legilimency?"
Snape tried, but failed, to hide a flinch. He blanched.
"I have." He swallowed. "But I don't think it will help. The Dark Lord tried to view my memories and couldn't for some reason. He tried repeatedly."
Lily narrowed her eyes. Even she had to admit that the slight break in Snape's voice when he mentioned the word 'tried' would be impressive acting were he being dishonest. It was persuasive in its subtlety.
"You will not allow me access?" Dumbledore probed with a steely glint in his eye.
"It's not intentional," Snape replied quietly, casting his eyes to the floor. He raised them back to Dumbledore's face as though suddenly realising what he was doing. "It's reflexive – when he tries to see something private, I just... don't – can't – let him. You can try, but..." He trailed off.
"Very well," Dumbledore replied softly. "Would you rather remain standing, or be seated?"
Snape actually trembled. A couple of seconds later he spoke in a composed voice once more. "Seated please."
"Lily – would you mind?" Dumbledore asked politely.
She jumped slightly, as though not completely aware just how close her wand still was to his neck – barely a foot away. After a moment's hesitation she took a pace backwards, before stalking back to the window, turning, and pointing her wand at Snape once more.
Snape watched her cautiously as he slowly made his way towards a chair. The only part of her that moved was the hand holding the wand, as it never left Snape's chest.
After a quick enquiry as to whether or not Snape was ready, Dumbledore raised his wand. "Legilimens."
As far as Lily could tell, nothing had happened. Neither of them moved an inch. The only symptom that something unusual had in fact happened was just how motionless their bodies were. Save the movement of their chest as they breathed, they remained unnaturally still for at least twenty seconds.
Abruptly, Dumbledore stepped backwards, blinking. A quick glance at Snape saw him cringing in his chair, head averted. As a couple of seconds went by with nothing happening, Snape cautiously turned his head to look at Dumbledore.
"I see how you still live, at least," Dumbledore said calmly as they made eye contact once more, "that was both a novel and a visceral reaction. You are certainly not a trained Occlumens, although you have natural aptitude and could likely become one."
"What you saw hardly helps my case, however, does it?" Snape replied bitterly.
"Not in enough of a manner to be of a great deal of use," Dumbledore nodded. He linked his hands together pensively. "Tell me, Severus, if we were to accept your offer of assistance, how exactly do you see the future unfolding?"
"I would offer the knowledge I have of the Dark Lord, his methods, and the Death Eaters, in exchange for sanctuary," Snape replied, a little hesitantly.
"You show remarkable belief in my powers to keep you from harm," Dumbledore noted serenely, studying Snape's reaction.
Snape shrugged fatalistically. "Unless what help I can give allows you to defeat him, I will be killed. You may be the only man he fears, but you won't be able to keep me safe for ever."
"You must admit that such resignation to defeat makes it harder to believe your claims," Dumbledore pointed out, quietly.
"You wouldn't have said that if I wasn't a Slytherin," Snape replied, provoked.
"You are a Slytherin," Lily pointed out.
Snape turned to look at her, half the room between them, with Lily's wand still pointed at his heart. He searched her face for the child or the teenager he had known, but nowhere could he see the empathy and kindness that had defined her in his eyes. The very thing that had brought him here in the first place seemed nowhere to be seen. His better judgment, which had seen its most persuasive arguments not just discarded, but flat out ignored, in favour of this meeting now screamed that any hope of seeing those qualities from Lily again were worse than futile. Was he really doing this for a memory that had no hope of being reborn?
Quick thinking could still – perhaps – extricate him from this ill-advised debacle and see him live as the Dark Lord's servant. Life of any sort was preferable to death.
"Just because I'm a Slytherin doesn't mean I can't have traits from other houses," Snape defended himself.
"Judging by how quickly the Hat sorted you, you have none," Lily replied in a voice like the crack of a whip.
"I can think of few Slytherins widely noted for their willingness to embrace an unfortunate fate." Dumbledore's quiet observation was a counterpoint to Lily's anger, and it robbed both of their voices.
The silence extended for what felt like minutes – Dumbledore feeling no need to break it, and Lily relishing in Snape's discomfort.
He closed his eyes and held his breath, before expelling it in a rush as he turned away from them both. "The only way I can see of having a chance to stay alive is even more dangerous, and you'd find it even harder to believe me if I suggested it."
"More dangerous than death?" Dumbledore probed gently.
Snape shook his head bitterly. "Death isn't the worst thing He can do to you. Death's kind by comparison."
His eyes held a haunted look for a moment, before they hardened once more; as yet again he searched to find the composure that was so elusive to him. He was known for his unflappable nature, and yet no such trait had been in evidence since he had entered the Headmaster's study.
"And yet you would tempt that fate if you could?"
"I..." The words stuck in his throat. As much as his analytical side would howl in protest, he could not truly claim he did not know. Were that the case, he would not be standing here now. He narrowed his eyes almost angrily. "Yes." Before anyone else could say anything, he added an angry wordless noise. "But it's academic – you would not trust me."
"So what do you want to do?" Lily cut in scornfully.
"Let me spy for you."
Lily laughed a brief laugh bereft of amusement, but filled with derision. "How gullible do you think Albus is? What possible reason could he have to believe you?"
"I said there was no hope I'd be believed. What can I do but give my word?"
"Your word? Your promises aren't worth the air you speak them on."
"Then what can I do?" Snape asked angrily. "Isn't the fact I'm here at least proof of some of my sincerity? When I tell you what I know about the Dark Lord, will that matter? What can I do? Was there no chance for me when I stepped in this room? Did I just come here to my death?"
"If we come to no agreement then you shall be free to leave, Severus, I gave my word." Dumbledore's voice was mild, and he met Lily's eyes as she glared at him.
Snape itched to move. Every muscle in his body wanted release, and his head was screaming at him to take that offer and leave. Whilst Lily's attention – and wand – was directed elsewhere seemed the perfect opportunity to move, but as he shifted his weight her eyes shot back to watch him.
"Headmaster," he began, managing to avoid fidgeting only by an effort, "does Li-"
Lily made an angry noise in her throat, and took a step towards him, wand raised threateningly, causing Snape to go red.
He closed his eyes, and forced himself to say the hated name. "Does Mrs Potter speak for you, too, or is there a point to my being here at all?"
"I value Lily's advice, Severus, but no: she does not speak for me. However, the question of trust is clearly an important issue – even were you not to act as our informant, just by being under my protection you would be in a position to provide Voldemort with information. I confess that I had hoped your request to meet signified more proof as to your intent."
Snape bowed his head for a few moments, and then stood, gathering up what composure he could. "Don't think I came here without trying to think of something that could do that. I don't know what I could offer to counterbalance things I have done. My lone hope was the words you used to say when I was at school here, Headmaster, about the importance of giving second chances."
"Giving a second chance isn't the same thing as helping someone betray you!" Lily shot angrily.
Snape didn't breathe, stiffening, and then turned. "Thank you for allowing me to leave this room both alive and not in chains, Professor Dumbledore." He walked to the door. "I'm sorry to have wasted all of our time."
He hesitated as he put his hand on the door handle. "You may not believe me... Mrs – Potter – but I hope you escape the Dark Lord. You and your son."
"But not my husband?" Lily replied scornfully. "That's the biggest difference between the two of you – he wouldn't wish anyone dead that was innocent."
Snape's shoulders stiffened. "There are many differences between us, he, for example-"
"True," Lily interrupted, "James is not a coward."
Snape turned. "You think I'm a coward? Bravery isn't the same as foolishness, and realism is not cowardice." His eyes shone with a sudden, fierce light. He took a couple of steps forward, back towards her. "There's one thing I can do that might convince you. Might convince Professor Dumbledore, at least – I doubt anything would convince Mrs Potter."
Lily ignored the resentment in his tone. "Which is?"
"It's illegal," Snape replied, "so I'm sure you wouldn't want me to do it."
Lily stepped forward herself, pointing her wand directly at his face, and then repeated herself. "Which is?"
"The Unbreakable Vow."
Doubt shone momentarily in Lily's eyes. Dumbledore's eyebrows lifted.
"With a carefully worded promise allowing you to keep to the meaning of the words, but not the spirit of the promise, no doubt."
"You word the promise," Snape replied immediately, "it's up to you. I'll agree to it."
Lily's eyes narrowed in suspicion, and she glanced at Dumbledore's intrigued face. "You think Albus will leave you a loophole?"
"Not Headmaster Dumbledore. You word the promise Li- Mrs Potter."
Lily twitched and her eyes creased to slits.
Snape continued in a voice that would ordinarily have sounded sincere to her: "You may not trust me, but I trust you."
When Lily didn't respond, Snape turned, and strode towards Dumbledore. He stopped a couple of feet away, not looking at Lily, or at her still raised wand.
"Headmaster: if you are willing to flout the law, then take my hand." He allowed the challenge to fill his voice. "I shall be bound, and you will know my sincerity."
Lily held her breath in shock as Albus Dumbledore stood slowly, studying the man in front of him.
"I have been forced to operate outside the bounds of the law before now," He replied quietly, before slowly extending his own hand, "and there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that spell. It is simply one that should be used with great caution. Lily, if you are willing to be our Bonder, please proceed."
She stared at them both in disbelief, and for the first time, her wand arm shook from nerves. Snape dared her to do it with his eyes, and Dumbledore eyed her with trust. She swallowed, and pushing her doubts to one side, she stepped forward with resolve, placing the tip of her wand on their clasped hands.
"Will you, Severus Snape, promise to work diligently against Lord Voldemort until he is completely defeated?"
"I will." Snape replied with satisfaction.
A thin thread of flame burst from Lily's wand, wrapping around both his and Dumbledore's hand like bracelets removed from a smith's forge.
"And will you, Severus Snape, promise to follow Professor Albus Dumbledore's instructions?"
The second narrow wire of flame interweaved the first, the red hot light seeming to grow both in size and brightness as it did.
"Finally, will you swear to only ever offer aid to Lord Voldemort or his followers if it furthers the goal of hastening Voldemort's defeat?"
Snape's voice rang out clearly, and he almost seemed to grow in stature as the third beam of fire bound itself to the first two, wrapping the two hands in a thick, rope like flame.
Lily took a couple of steps backward, stunned.
Dumbledore nodded slightly as the flame disappeared. "I think your intentions are clear, now, Severus."
Snape exhaled, but then caught his breath once more in sudden resolve. "Wait. There's another oath I need to make."
He strode the two paces to Lily, and seized her hand – completely ignoring the wand which was now by her side.
"Lily," He told her fervently, "I promise that I shall do whatever is in my power to prevent the Dark Lord from harming your son."
Lily tried to draw back, but Snape refused to release her hand.
He looked over his shoulder. "Professor, please. If you were willing to accept my vow, then allow me to make one to Lily by being our Bonder."
Dumbledore's hesitation was only for a moment. He joined them an instant later.
"Only if Lily is willing." His voice was calm, and he locked eyes with Lily.
Lily swallowed, but stopped trying to resist. "Use their names," she demanded, "Voldemort's too."
A look of fear overtook Snape's face, but he steeled himself as he waited for the wand to oversee his oath. "I, Severus Snape, vow to Lily Potter, that no matter what, I will do everything in my power to prevent... Lord Voldemort... harming her son, Harry Potter."
"Do you promise you will aid Harry against Voldemort?" Lily demanded suddenly, as though spotting a loop hole.
"I will," Snape replied, holding her eyes. "I promise."
F I N
A/N: This had been stuck in my head every since reading HBP, and I had to write it eventually. It fits in with the canon universe before Deathly Hallows was released (or at least doesn't contradict), and possibly you could just about squeeze it in to the canon universe despite the scene with Snape's memories. This is the first time I've ever been tempted to write a one-shot, so hope you enjoyed it. It allowed me to address little bits and pieces I was always curious about in the HP universe, so I enjoyed writing it anyway.
If anyone's wondering, this isn't necessarily part of the Scrivenings of Slytherin universe. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. The only time you'll know is if I write a sequel to SoS and tell you in that... :p